Cristen J. and I are working on board a research vessel. A ship devoted to something about undersea pet recovery and medical research (pet rescue, or medical research to employ on pets in order to rescue them). Stacy D. is also on board in a managerial capacity. Cristen and I wear old 1920s style heavy duty underwater suits. Lots of beautiful underwater footage of exotic animals under the sea – bright, vibrant, striking color – it is like Jacques Cousteau footage retouched by Peter Max. Sea anemone, dogfish, clown-fish, seahorses with double and triple tails and ornate crowns made of living coral.
The colors and vibrancy of the undersea world was in sharp contrast to the drabness of things topside.
After a full day of work, there is a formal dress party on the ship deck. Ship officer uniforms in crisp white and khaki. Champagne. Paper lanterns. Seventies era organ music pumped through the ships PA system. Speeches are called for.
Cristen has a long monologue on the health problems she has encountered throughout her life, and how she was able to overcome all of them in order to be here today. Her words are filled with an honest emotion that is contrasted by the schmaltzy organ music in the background (Martin Denny’s “Ebb Tide” by way of the Lifetime channel movie of the week). Cristen is wearing a stunningly beautiful white and black outfit that has the ability to shift from a beautiful white linen suit (masculine) to a just as stunning white sequined long dress (feminine). While she is talking I am struck by the tears I can see welling up in Cristen’s eyes beneath her tight, compact glasses. The glasses are so tight fitting that the tears will never fall down her cheeks; giving her eyes a double layer of sheen.
A research paper blows by during Cristen’s speech, the paper has grading that relates to the research we are doing on the boat and how it is reflected by past life experience. The grades indicate that Cristen did not always take this work seriously, or perhaps her health concerns distracted her from devoting herself wholly to her dog Pete, a grade of “C-“ is given, with the instructor comments in sharp, jagged cursive “needs work”. Another piece of paper floats by, this one containing my own grades, consistently on the low side of average. I am not surprised by this, as it is true. I am just happy for the opportunity to be here.
Regardless of the organ music the speech is quite moving and effective. There is heartfelt applause and overheard comments in the background (“I had no idea…what a trooper”).
Wake up was gradual– I was hearing audiobook Ananasi Boys by Neil Gaiman; Fat Charlie’s dialogue was starting to ease into the dream as overheard conversation.