Thursday, January 27, 2011

HONG KONG --City I Love-- ...a memoir

We are flying over, coming into Hong Kong. It's dark outside, but I should be able to see city lights soon. There! Right below us - white and some red; a bit sparse... those aren't city lights. I recognize these lights; they are the kind of lights I am familiar with! They are ships in the harbour - probably waiting at anchor.
We are still pretty high up, but now I can see the clusters of lights forward of us that is HK! I can't see them because it's all dark, but I know that down there too are mountains, mountains we used to climb when I was a child to overlook the city. Sea, city, and mountains. That is HK.

Being back in Hong Kong I realized...

>> You walk a lot! (maps with tourist spots have them marked in how many minutes it will take to walk there! i.e. "20 min. by foot")

>>You get a lot of exercise (I know now why we didn't need to do anything else to keep fit!)

>>When you blow your nose it's black from pollution

>>Everyone talks about money. A LOT. How much do you get paid at your job? How much did that cost? What do you pay for rent?

>>Everything is "squished"

And lastly, and maybe most importantly, I realized that

>>I am ready to give up HK as home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you!

Naomi Sue Nelson
Lebanon, Christmas 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Day

Got back to the ship from Challenge Team last night...

I was standby today. This morning I did [no, had the privilege of doing] garbage with the Captain. That is a servant, people.

And THEN I got the biggest surprise - a very special Christmas present of TWO DOZEN ROSES from my man in MN!!!!!! Now HOW did he get them delivered right to the ship somewhere in Lebanon when he's in MN???! I'm asking that too! :)

The most amazing gifts always come when I'm least expecting anything and on the days when I don't feel pretty.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shock of Return

I am so overwhelmed right now. Coming to the ship in the first place was a very easy adjustment, but for some reason this coming back is really hard! I don't know where to start. I feel like I need to decide, respond, and DO everything RIGHT NOW (including responding to the million e-mails that piled up to swamp me after two weeks gone).
I miss Ben. Chat doesn't work and there's no way to connect with you. I just need to talk. But I can't.
So many people left while I was gone. I don't recognize half the faces in the dining room anymore, cause new people came. And to top it all off, there's a big noise from the engine room in the wall right by my bed! How will I sleep?
The ship doesn't feel "mine" anymore. It feels foreign. I remember living here, in this cabin, in this bed... I put all those pictures on the wall... But now I feel like an outsider looking in - just somehow I got mixed up on the wrong side.
Maybe it is in part due to the season, because I'm not home. But even that is not cut and dry anymore, because I don't know where I would feel most at home.
So I am going to take a shower. And then unpack. Because, after all, I have one month left.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


What was it like the day you left home to join the ship?

May 12th. The day that will live in infamy; the date burned in my mind. The day I left home.

Last everythings were over – last night in Dali, last supper, last walk on the dike, last bike ride, last good-byes… last ride on our bus. Am I ready? Ready to leave? Not only Dali, but Hong Kong, and my childhood. I’m leaving the only life I’ve known. It’s over.

Alone. I was out on my own, and I was alone. I had to stand in a horrid line, waiting to scan my bags, just out of conversation reach with my family. It was a torturous 45 min. where I could see them and they could see me, but they were on the other side of the barrier. I can see them, even now, standing there, and I knew full well that that would be my last picture of them, burned in my memory. Plenty of time to think about what I was doing going away and not going to see them for two years. I was glad whenever the line of tall, imposing Americans blocked my view of my family's somber faces as they waited to make sure I made it through ok. I tried not to look. I had to be strong. I could not cry; I was in a line with people all around me, and anyway my makeup would smear. Then my bags went through, I grabbed them up quickly, and took one last look back willing myself to see over the scanner and all the heads, and attempting a smile so they would know I was okay. And then I was gone.

As I boarded the steps to the plane, I looked back over my shoulder and somehow knew that this was it. I had left childhood behind forever. Then I turned, and with feigned confidence took a step forward.

What was it like to travel to the ship?
The roads here are not unlike the ones in Hong Kong - only that we can drive for longer. The narrow cement blocks making the median... the way the trees look... the frequent overpasses and exit/entry ramps... the blue signs over the road... the sound barriers and the graffiti on the sound barriers and on the back of all the signs.
I can't stay awake so I try to sleep, leaning my head against the window curtains. Every time the bus slows or turns a sharp corner I nearly fall off. I am jerked awake and have to work hard to keep from falling off my seat.
Half in a daze I stare out the window at the picture perfect German cottages we are passing. I guess... it is sort of like I thought Germany would be.
I try to imagine the silent woods haunted by the ghostly figures of concentration camp prisoners marching, marching... Up till now, that was the only picture of Germany I knew.

What was your first impression of the ship?
It was smaller than I thought it would be.

What was/were the first day/s on the ship like?

When did you first feel at home on the ship? (Did you feel at home on the ship?)
Home is not a familiar place, home is a mental decision. The ship was home to me before we even arrived because I knew that's where I was going to be.

What advice would you give someone joining the ship now?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS day

Watched Beat the Drum in our Hope Theatre tonight. It's so realistic. If you have the chance, watch it! Maybe seeing AIDS from a whole new perspective - through the eyes of an AIDS orphan - will make you think for just a minute.

I had a chance to meet some people like Musa's father and you can read my experience of coming face to face with HIV/AIDS in Cynthia's Story.

Hmmm... maybe I should get tested once I'm back in the States (I haven't done anything promiscuous, just been in contact with a lot of HIV+ people).

Best quote from the movie: "Even though Stefan was dying, he fought to make something of his life." Made me think - am I? Are YOU?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Egyptian Dream

I didn't even dream this dream of visiting the pyramids and the sphinx because it was too far out of my reach. Beware, because sometimes He gives you something beyond your wildest dreams! (For $35)
I wish I could rewind to my studying Ancient Egypt in school, knowing I would go there someday. I don't know if the books came alive or if I walked right into the pages, but man, if you read about places and history, take it seriously! Someday you might find yourself seeing it in real life!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Traditional Libyan dress (notice the henna-painted hands)

A young boy bearing a picture of Muammar al-Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya, led the procession onto the stage, and the reciting of famous speeches started. Suddenly a group of boys carrying toy machine guns with real shooting noises ran around as the other children fell on their faces at the call to prayer. Complete with cultural dances (above) and incense burning, this was an insider's snapshot of history and customs I was lucky not to miss!

So much can you learn about the political state, culture, and religion of a country through it's children!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Hold

Somehow, on my first day in the book hold, I got to be in charge of the 23-page list! It was like a race to trying to keep five people busy finding the stacks of books, checking the ISBN number, pricing them and giving them storage shelve locations.
I'm not sure how many titles - out of the 7,500 different titles we have onboard - were on the invoice, but I can assure you that the length of that list was comparable to Santa's!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


It's Halloween. Not that it matters. Not that anyone on the ship even noticed, but it is. It means it's fall. Winter's coming. And after winter, I come home.

For Ben

Another summer day Has come and gone away In Paris and Rome But I wanna go home, mmm...
May be surrounded by A million people I Still feel all alone I just wanna go home...
Oh, I miss you, you know...
And I've been keeping all the letters That I wrote to you Each one a line or two "I'm fine baby, how are you?"
Another airplane Another sunny place I'm lucky I know But I wanna go home...
I'm just too far From where you are I wanna come home
And I know just why you could not Come along with me That this was not your dream But you always believed in me...
Another winter day Has come and gone away In even Paris and Rome And I wanna go home...
Let me go home
And I'm surrounded by A million people I I still feel alone Oh, let me go home...
Oh, I miss you, you know
Let me go home I've had my run Baby, I'm done
It'll all be all right I'll be home tonight I'm coming back home...

- From the song Home by Michael Buble -


ShipSHOTS #14 Heavy Fuel Project

Watch the episode!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I had the most beautiful off day today, and the icing on the cake was this gorgeous sunset when the sky went ablaze with yellow, orange, red and purple!

I'd like to put these two pictures together to make one long-ish picture... maybe someday I'll know how to.