First thing’s first. This morning, as I was waking up, I was very sad to read about John Prine’s death yesterday. For the past few weeks, he’d been suffering from the effects of COVID-19. I knew he’d been on a respirator, and the longer a person spends on a respirator, the less likely it is that he or she will be able to recover. I knew he’d already beaten cancer twice, and that he was in his 70s. I still had hope that he would pull through. I won’t claim to be one of his biggest followers. I love his song, “Angel From Montgomery”, and have sung it many times. I also recently discovered some of his other creations, including the adorably quirky “In Spite of Ourselves”, a duet he did with Iris DeMent which makes me think of my life with Bill.
Thanks to my friend, Susan, I recently purchased several of John Prine’s albums and introduced his witty genius to Bill. We’ve enjoyed a few nights listening to Prine’s brand of offbeat, humorous, and poignant storytelling in the form of beautifully crafted songs. A lot of my friends are genuinely sad that we’ve lost another American treasure. I won’t pretend to grieve as much as they’re grieving, since I am admittedly late to the party. I do remember playing his music by request on my radio show back in college. Incidentally, college is also where I discovered Bonnie Raitt, who made Prine’s song “Angel From Montgomery” a hit back in 1974. I know Bonnie is grieving, too.
Anyway, I’m genuinely very sorry to see John Prine go. I was really pulling for him. And I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Fiona, and their sons. Besides music, John Prine and I also had Stuttgart in common. He lived there during the 1960s, doing his stint with the Army. I read that he downplayed his military service, saying that he spent it drinking beer and “pretending to fix trucks”. I spent a lot of my time in Stuttgart drinking beer, too.
And now… what’s this about Catholic lesbians?
Because I don’t want to write much more about the depressing subject of COVID-19 right now, I’m going to shift subjects. This morning, as I was looking at Facebook posts from the past, I noticed a quirky status update I wrote on this date in 2016.
Just so everyone knows, I am neither Catholic nor a lesbian.
And it’s true. I’ve never been a Catholic, and I’m definitely not a lesbian. However, I am on an email list from DignityUSA, which is an organization that celebrates “the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics”. I’ve got nothing at all against that mission. I don’t care what people do in their bedrooms as long as everyone involved is able to consent. I think love is love, and everyone should be allowed to experience it. But it’s not a cause that I’m particularly passionate about, either.
So how did I get on DignityUSA’s mailing list? It’s kind of a funny story.
About ten years ago, Bill and I took our first cruise on SeaDream I, one of twin mega yachts owned by SeaDream Yacht Club. It was our first luxury cruise experience, but we were not really financially equipped to afford a luxury cruise. In those days, Bill was still paying child support for his youngest daughter; I still had student loans; we also had car loans and a lot of credit card debt.
I managed to find a five night Caribbean cruise taking place in late April 2010. I booked a guaranty rate of $1599 a person, which was a great deal for a SeaDream cruise, but still quite expensive for us. I had a feeling that if could just get Bill on the ship, he’d be sold on all inclusive cruising on small vessels. Naturally, I was correct. After our first cruise, Bill was as big of a SeaDream fan as I am.
Our first SeaDream cruise really bowled us over. On board with us were a couple of approachable celebrities, a group of rowdy Brazilians, some obviously wealthy people, and people who were more like us. It was mostly all inclusive. The food was amazing. The service was incredible. The scenery of the Caribbean was glorious. I actually got to meet the people who launched Joan Jett’s career and they still talk to me today. Michael Moloney of Extreme Home Makeover was also on the ship, although I didn’t know who he was. Yeah… we were blown away by it so much that I pre-booked another cruise for 2011. The next cruise was 7 nights, and cost a lot more than $1599 a person, although we did get a 15% discount for pre-booking onboard.
We scheduled our second SeaDream cruise for November 2011, in honor of our 9th wedding anniversary. I worried about how we’d manage to pay for it, while simultaneously salivating at the idea of going on another wonderful cruise with SeaDream. Someone on Cruise Critic had posted a tip that people could buy coupons for SeaDream cruises on some Web site that I no longer remember. All we had to do was make a $100 donation to one of the listed charities, and we’d get a $500 voucher for the luxury cruise. It was akin to getting $400 off of our cruise for donating $100. I thought that was a good deal, so I bought a coupon for DignityUSA and applied the voucher to our second delightful cruise.
I don’t remember if there were other charities to choose from besides DignityUSA. Knowing me, I probably did think it would be a good group to support. I think certain religions can do a lot of damage to some people, particularly strict religions where a person’s diet, dress, or sexuality are dictated. However, I do think a person can be of a non-traditional sexual orientation and still be religiously faithful. Some people get peace, faith, hope, and love from their religious beliefs. I don’t fault them for that, even if I’m not particularly religious myself.
Anyway, ever since then, I’ve gotten emails from DignityUSA. I think I also used to get mail from them, but that stopped after we moved a half dozen times. Sometimes I look at the emails, but since I am neither a Catholic nor a lesbian, I’m afraid that’s about as far as it goes.
I should probably unsubscribe from DignityUSA’s mailing list, since I’m only a casual and rather accidental supporter of their cause. However, for some strange reason, I just don’t have the heart to do it. I do support their cause on some level… even if I don’t believe in Catholicism and I don’t really understand what it’s like to be homosexual or transgendered or any other way other than straight.
As for our love affair with SeaDream… well, it’s been about seven years since our last cruise with them. Our third cruise– which had stops in Italy and Greece– was probably our favorite of the three. However, I didn’t pre-book another cruise that time because it was a year before Bill left the Army and we didn’t know what his job situation was going to be like in 2014. I did have my eye on one of the cruises offered last summer, but Bill was reluctant to book it because, again, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to arrange the time off for when it was sailing. Also, SeaDream cruises are even more expensive now than they used to be, although to be honest, I’m not sure if the line is going to survive in the wake of the virus crisis. Based on what people are posting on Cruise Critic, it looks like their treatment of people who had signed up for cruises this year is alienating a lot of their customers (even though their crew on the ship is fantastic).
Still, I’m grateful that Bill and I were fortunate enough to sail with them three times. I see from Facebook memories that we booked our last cruise, which was on Hebridean Princess in Scotland, about a year ago today. It’s amazing that a year ago, we didn’t have a care in the world about a pandemic. And now, we’re seeing it ruin and end a lot of lives and livelihoods, as it also somehow brings people closer together in all kinds of ways. I suspect I’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks.