Monday, March 31, 2008

A few illustrative Tomball photos

At Easter lunch my brother's family and I spent a lot of our time on the back patio, where it was quieter. I like this photo because it shows how we are observers, watchers, not necessarily the doers - some of the stepnieces were playing with a beach ball in the yard and we watched because there wasn't much else to do right then.

"Teddy" (that's really his name) belongs to one of the youngest, blondest stepnieces, who is part of the family's two sets of twins. In looking closely at Teddy (I admit, killing time) I saw that one of his legs had been carefully reattached with pink thread. Because of the tight stitches that leg didn't bend like the other one did - a lot like Uncle Harvey! At Harvey's second redo of his hip surgery, the surgeon inserted extra metal pieces to make sure the hip wouldn't pop out again, meaning there will be more stability...but less mobility.

My brother's older son Adam might have been a bit bored when this photo was taken. Adam loves these sunglasses and wears them in all types of weather. His excuse is that he can't find a glasses case that fits them, so has to keep wearing them so they won't get bent or broken.

Later that week when we visited a historic farm and nature preserve outside Tomball, my other nephew Jacob was thrilled to have so many sticks to choose from - back home in Michigan he had had to give up his favorite stick after bopping his brother with it one too many times. Maybe I should try picking up sticks and dragging them around - he seemed to get some Zen-like calm and focus from it.

I love this group photo - Adam has picked up a stick, Jacob is now playing with two sticks, and look at Super Woman, front & center...alert and confident and ready for more French fries! (Also see the power bracelets on both of my wrists.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Orange, Purple, and my Mother - Tennis Shoes and my Brothers

For the first entry in my new journal (that has a fuchsia suede cover), 2/15/08, I wrote that I thought I was making progress at reclaiming the color orange from R., a former friend I'm no longer in contact with (and no longer buy orange gifts for). Actually though she brought orange back to me – at one point I had covered every available surface in my childhood bedroom with mod contact paper featuring orange (and purple) flowers - but as a preteen I decided that orange was tacky, dated (too 1960s for the 1970s), and orange apparel clashed too much with my red birthmark. (It has always been a huge frustration that colors that go well with my skin and hair don’t always work with my birthmark.) A couple of years ago I started feeling a new attraction to orange, but I had spent so many years with gray and navy that it felt too bright to wear or look at often. I found myself using it in needlepoint, first on a project meant for R., and then on more pillows that I kept for myself. The pumpkin-orange yarn is a beautiful color, almost appetizing (a food color), and you learn in needlepoint that certain color dyes shrink the wool less than others - black and navy make twisty-thin wool yarn, but pumpkin shades are thick and non-twisty. I now have more orange in my home decor but I'm still leery of wearing it - I do have a couple of Target t-shirts I wear under sweaters, but that's the wimpy extent of my orange wardrobe.

I gravitated toward orange in the 1990s but was slower to come back to purple, at least the bolder shades of it - I never stopped wearing the milder ones like periwinkle and lavender. I like the vivid purples but felt too introverted to wear them, or maybe I was still recovering from my childhood purple outfits, like the 2-piece flannelish polyester pantsuit ordered from Sears, with a scoop neck and little fake buttons (no buttonholes), ordered in chubby size (this was a year or two before my life's first diet...God, how long ago was that?!). My mother later got me, also from Sears, a pair of purple bellbottom jeans (well, more like flares, although I wanted bellbottoms), which sadly I hardly wore because even after my weight loss I was obsessed with the size of my butt and wanted to hide it with a dress. The popular girls at school each had a couple of coordinating outfits, colored jeans with striped knit shirts - my version was the purple Sears jeans I hardly wore and a scratchy Sears sweater that I never wore...I had a complete intolerance for scratchy clothes, which I now realize might be part of what today is considered the "Highly Sensitive Child" temperament, an actual category of personal traits and not just bratty behavior.

It's interesting that in some ways I was more body-confident when I was a chubby child I always wanted lower v-necks on my jumpers. My mother kept altering the 1960s patterns to be more modest, even though I wore a blouse or turtleneck underneath (a mock turtleneck, since the Tomball climate was so warm). I couldn't do much about those V-necks but I did try to cinch my velveteen smock dresses (I feel Mother-love in writing that word, velveteen) with my chain-link belt - which couldn't have been an attractive look, but back in my days of higher self-love I thought I was stylin'.

On one of my last shopping trips with my mother before she got really sick, she told me I had to decide between an orange pantsuit and a purple plaid dress, we couldn't buy both that day. I chose the purple dress (which I always wore with purple knee socks...horrid memory!) but couldn't stop thinking about the orange dress. It was a muted, kind of tweedy orange and the top was long enough to wear as a dress without the pants (talk about dated!). I think maybe we did go back once to look for the outfit but it wasn't there, or wasn't in my size, or maybe we didn't shop together after with Mother faded away, but the memory of the dress is still strong.

Mother and clothes, brothers and shoes...last month while in a doctor's waiting room I was looking in People at photos of celebs in Converse shoes…and strongly mixed with my self-focused shopping thought, "so cute, but those shoes would not look right on you" (too flat for flattery, no extension of line), I felt a pang for my brother Tim. Converse was Tim's tennis shoe brand, in high school and maybe before or after - I'm not sure how many years in total, but it's hard to think of Tim as a teenage older brother without picturing him in gold Converses. Well, correction, until a few years ago I had forgotten he wore them, but my hometown friend Marq, who also knew Tim, has described memory scenes of Tim in those shoes, and now he's permanently wearing them in my memory as well. Tim wasn't into clothes - he wore a few favorite outfits until they faded and frayed - but he did shop for gold Converses. Finding his color in the desired size was a challenge back then, since there were many fewer stores in a driving radius of Tomball and it was eons before the advent of web shopping, not to mention the recent explosion of Converse colors and prints - gold (kind of an orange-yellow, not shiny gold) was about as fancy as Converse got. I vaguely remember being with Tim on a shoe-shopping trip and wondering why he was so obsessed about those particular shoes - one of his few visible quirks.

Several pairs of tennis shoes ago, I bought New Balance canvas shoes, having admired the ones my brother Dave was wearing and figuring if they fit his feet, they might fit my (genetically similar?) feet too. I liked how the shoes looked, but being white canvas they didn't stay pretty and weren't super comfortable. After that I bought other New Balance shoes, but after seeing that People magazine in the doctor's office I made a huge style U-turn. It started rather innocently - I looked online for gold Converse shoes to find an image to attach to a Tim-related blog posting, but then I realized how many cute Converse varieties were out there and started ordering them for myself. As online reviews warned me, Converse All Star lo-tops have no arch support and aren't comfortable for long standing or far walking. I have found myself unconsciously kicking and stretching my calves while wearing them, which makes me feel closer to Tim...he had a habit of rocking back and forth on his feet while he was standing, something I figured was just another quirk (he really did have only a few) and something he did to relieve stress but heck, maybe it just had to do with wearing Converse shoes for hours.

Now that I have ordered my ___th (too embarrassed to say the number) pair of Converse shoes, I can no longer say they have much to do with memories of Tim, but they still make me feel good. I keep ordering 7's because I know that 6 1/2's would be too small, although the 7's are a bit too long...I think the extra length makes my ankles look slimmer (addressing my earlier concern about lengthening my line). Here are a few samples, with the dotted ones being my first purchase and the Art Deco ones being my most recent (I won't say, my last). It's hard to see in this photo, but the gray pair have an ORANGE logo on the tongue - thus they are a great bridge as I progress from gray shoes toward orange.

I actually had a nightmare about the PURPLE print pair - in my bad dream, I was examining the inside of the shoes and the canvas liner had turned to white!, was no longer purple.

Blackout, featuring canned okra and collard greens

People who drink have their own warning signs that change over time, and with their degrees of use/abuse, and don't always correspond with the official warnings of the American medical establishment. I had a Chardonnay experience several weeks ago that startled me enough to provide the motivation to make what, so far, seem like positive changes in my alcohol consumption.

SMALL DISCLAIMER: I'm sharing this story in the service of blog honesty and my ethic of personal expression, not as an invitation for readers, friends and family to help police my wine glass count.

If graphed, the drinking of my lifetime would have a number of peaks and valleys. This past winter the numbers started climbing up again, and the Cancun trip, with constant free beverages, was hardly a drying out. I didn't like the way that wine had pushed into my daily routine or my sense that I needed it to write. In a way it was a relief when I felt so disgusted by my blackout, because on some level I wanted to be pushed into making changes.

Craig started grilling in early evening, and I wandered in and out of the house with a glass in my hand, spending time with him on the patio and doing projects in the house. Coincidentally, I also had several rather intense phone calls, during which the people I was speaking to chose this particular Sunday to share dramatic life updates with me. I had a mixture of feelings, concentrating hard on listening to the callers and responding appropriately to important sharings, feeling joyful that people were talking to me about real things (it doesn't get any better than that, in my opinion), and enjoying the fresh breeze on the patio...well, not exactly fresh, what with Craig's 4 kinds of meat blazing on the grill and his chimenea (which we pretend helps with mosquitos and flies) going full steam (full smoke).

I was using a rather small wine glass and refilling it with colder wine from the refrigerator before it got empty, but I can't pretend I didn't know how much I was drinking because I never turn off that part of my awareness - I took note of the falling level in the bottle and knew I was past my usual limit. Worse, I was drinking very quickly, and losing touch with physical warning signs.

After my last phone call I sat down at our computer, changed my blog background to purple to go with my new creative vision, changed the text to white so it would show on the purple, and wanted to start a new posting...but I knew that would be a big project so was reluctant to get started...and at some point I sent two emails. Ladies & gentlemen of the sobriety jury, this was my first element of blacking out - I had no memory of having sent the emails until I noticed them in my Sent folder, two days later. Both messages were perfectly coherent and appropriate - they sounded like Sarah - but I hadn't remembered sending them.

After the blogging, my next memory is of being in the kitchen, so Craig must have pulled me out of the office with his caveman ploy, ordering me to make him a side dish for his grilled meat. When he went to the store earlier for his meats-to-grill (he doesn't buy real groceries, just shops when it's time to grill), he also bought a can of okra and one of collard greens, which he seemed excited about although I figured they would taste pretty darn nasty. (I like these vegetables fresh or frozen, but canned...?) I struggled with the can opener, but I do that sober too (it's a very cheap opener and the blade arm always falls off), and then I drained the green stuff and poured each can into one side of a Pyrex pie dish. The two vegetables did mingle a bit but I didn't think that mattered. I was more concerned by the extra liquid in the dish (apparently my draining hadn't been very thorough, but then, those particular vegetables hold a lot of liquid) but there wasn't a good way to get it out at that point. I turned the microwave on for 2 minutes - for some reason I am very clear on that, I guess because I have certain microwave timings that I like to use (excuse me for this boring detail meant to illustrate my presence of mind), 3.30 minutes for my favorite mac & cheese, 2 minutes for refrigerated leftovers, 4 minutes and turn/stir for frozen things.

I asked Craig if the side dish met his standards and he laughingly said no, "Your presentation sucks!" I couldn't argue with him, since I had offered him the stuff still in the Pyrex. I think it was his idea to put butter on it - he asked me if we had real butter (he pretends he is too good for margarine, although he eats it all the time, unknowingly). I pulled out a stick of butter (probably past the expiration date since I haven't baked in ages, but I didn't check since Craig is convinced expiration dates are a marketing ploy anyway), only dropped it once, cut an appropriate sized piece and put the rest back in the proper place in the refrigerator (I know this, because I checked the next morning, on the hunt for more signs of drunkenness). I don't know what kind of dish I melted it in (Craig loaded the dishwasher that night) or how long I melted it for (maybe my other standard timing, 1 minute?), but I dimly remember watching butter pour, so I guess I was the person who buttered the vegetables.

I next remember acknowledging I had had too much to drink and needed to lie down. Craig, thinking it would help, brought me a glass of water with a straw - very sweet of him, but I promptly spilled the water and then had to call for him to come clean it up, since I didn't want to raise my head from the bed.

Unbelievably, I woke up just a couple of hours later, didn't feel too bad and made myself something to eat - actually, soy mac & cheese, my cure for many things. Craig had cleaned up the kitchen and the dishwasher was whirring - the house seemed in control. I started in with my usual kind of chat, that my dad had told me he wasn't sure who would sleep where at Easter (our use of his guest room was in question), and speculated that maybe I should have had Craig take me to the emergency room to get a charcoal dose for all the alcohol...Craig said to both comments that I was repeating myself from earlier. He doesn't have a very good memory but since only a few hours had gone by, I had to take his word that I was repeating to him things I had absolutely no memory of having uttered earlier. (But like with the emails, what I said to him was perfectly coherent and in character - Sarah remained in control..except for the water glass...and the okra...)

My anxiety medication probably made the disorientation worse, but that's no excuse, and obviously being on medication is another reason I should not be drinking in large quantities. Anyway...Sarah is doing better now and will try to keep doing so.

And a P.S. - the state of morning-after remorse welcomes punishment, and I got mine the next morning when I had to package all of Craig's leftover meat for the freezer. He refrigerated it but I had to pick up with my hands all the slimy pieces from the trays he used in the fridge, letting the red meat juices drip off, had to wash the greasy, bloody trays, and had to smell the cheap beer he had used to marinate the bratwurst...quite a sensory load for 7 a.m.

While looking for a photo image of a pile of cut okra, I also found a fancy shot of okra on a plate - the presentation on the right might be what Craig wanted and didn't get from me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cancun Highlights & Lesser Points (formerly a sidebar)

Cancun Highlights (Hudson Awards, Feb. 2008)

Incredible view and lovely surf noise from our 5th-floor room - looking out the window was a mini-vacation.

All-inclusive (i.e. free to Craig and me) food and drinks at the resort's 3 restaurants and 5+ bars - when we finished eating and drinking, we just got up and left instead of waiting for a check - it will be hard (though very necessary) to break this habit, back in the real world.

Well-stocked, well-priced downstairs jewelry store - I made so many trips there that the clerk started laughing when I took a photo of the store's sign on my last day.

Vigilant hotel security - little fear of leaving valuables in the room or at one's table while overloading one's plate at a buffet.

Very clean facility with fresh-smelling rooms and public areas - and no visible insects.

Unobtrusive service that seemed sincerely friendly - the staff appeared healthy and well paid, minimizing this North American liberal's Third World guilt.

Overall a very efficient operation, but just enough "manana" delays to slightly slow the North American personality - waiting for elevators forced us to take deep breaths and chill, etc.

Seeing Craig happy and relaxed (also well-beveraged and well-fed).

Bearable sunshine varied by clouds - cool for swimming but good for photos, napping and reading.

Constant humidity made bearable by the constant breeze - my skin never felt dry and my hair never went limp.

(Due to the fresh air and free booze), early bedtimes and deep sleep, not just for me but also Craig, Mr. Night Owl.

Being treated as a VIP - feeling truly appreciated by Hudson management.

Meeting other Hudson winners and getting reinspired about the company and our potential.

Guilt-free time for reading & napping.

Completely relaxing massage in a beautiful private room - one of the best massages I have ever had (a real compliment since I trained as a massage therapist and have friends & relatives who still practice massage therapy).

Constant refills of bottled water - and the caps were so hard to remove, there was little question the water had been industrially treated.

High hygiene standards at the hotel - OK to eat raw vegs & fruit.

Same time zone as Texas, no jet lag (just a culture lag).

Rain forest showerhead, draft-free room - I was less obsessed with being covered up than usual - Craig will confirm that in Texas I wear sweatshirts about 360 days of the year - I'm cold in the winter, and I'm cold from the summer air conditioning.

Cancun Lesser Points

It was never purely hot while we were there - it was less rainy than predicted but often windy, which made the weather a bit cool for swimming or even sitting outside.

Our room had, literally, 18 light switches - some of them I never figured out - a couple of times at midnight Craig yelled at me to just shut down our whole electrical grid (it required a key card to activate) instead of clicking things on and off to figure out what did the jacuzzi mood lighting, what did the closet backlight, what did the makeup mirror, what did the nighttable under-marble light, etc.

Drinks were never really cold and food was never really hot - this suited the climate, and the food was safe to eat, but sometimes I missed frosty glasses and steamy entrees.

It was depressing to contemplate the unlikeliness of my ever being able to afford the resort on my own dime.

Occasionally the poolside canned music got to me - Vangelis' theme from "Chariots of Fire" at 8:30 a.m. seemed a bit much.

The Le Blanc never offered paper napkins - this assuredly cut down on airborne trash but made one's fingers perpetually sticky.

Being at a company event did not provide the anonymity one usually experiences at a hotel - we kept running into people we were supposed to know and should make chitchat with.

It was hard to get used to no cell phones (the roaming cost was prohibitive), which meant we had no way to track each other down. Craig developed a complex (I believe the word he used was "abandonment") when I veered off schedule 3 times in one day (to take self-portraits, sneak to the jewelry store, etc.) and he couldn't find me at our designated meeting places.

The constant humidity made me more puffy than usual - now back at home, I am waiting to lose 5 pounds from fluid correction, but that hasn't happened yet...still waiting...patiently waiting...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cancun Report, part 4 (A small bit of culture)

Craig played golf on Wednesday and Friday and I had a long massage on Friday, but we had planned one major shared activity (in addition to our daily shared activities of napping, eating & drinking): a city tour of Cancun. The tour was simple--4 of us in a van with a driver and tour guide. We had 3 stops: a scenic beach spot for photos (described as the highest point in Cancun, though it looked flat to me), the local tourist market, and a two-for-one: the Scenic Rotating Tower of Cancun right next to Cancun's Mexican Popular [Folk] Art Museum.

The Rotating Tower looked like an ancient carnival version of a space needle, and after hearing that it didn't safely operate on windy days (Thursday felt windy to me) and thinking about Mexico's standards for carnival ride safety, relative to the U.S. (which has its share of accidents), I elected to wait on the ground. Craig didn't argue with me since he has experienced the Scared Sarah and she is not a fun companion. He took some great photos from the Tower but said I had made a good decision not to go--"it went up pretty fast and it spun around faster than I expected."

To get to the Folk Art Museum you walked through a store selling folk art, which made for some disorientation because the museum was crammed with beautiful crafts you would have wanted to buy, but they weren't for was really a museum (as opposed to the store 6 feet away, which sold minor, modern versions of the museum items).

Cancun Report, part 3 (Views, views & more views)

Any hotel we stay at after the Le Blanc will be so disappointing in terms of vistas--it seemed that all the windows there, regardless of size, had incredible views.

Every floor had a 24-hour butler station by the elevators, and while I'm sure the butlers were too busy to look out of their windows very often, I was entranced by what I saw every time I waited for an elevator. The elevators were in a kind of tower area, with one side having a view from the hotel's front and the other side having a rear (beach) view.

Even the main lobby and bar areas had picturesque windows:

Most of the Le Blanc's rooms are built around an atrium, and since the ground floor of the atrium isn't open to the public (hotel staff only), it made a serene center for the surrounding rooms. (In the first photo below, our room is on the left.)

Cancun Report, part 2 (Pools to Infinity)

It would be easy for me to make fun of Craig for calling these "affinity" instead of "infinity" pools, but then I would have to make a joke, too corny for this blog, about how people have an affinity for infinity pools--and more importantly, I can't throw stones because I too was befuddled by infinity pools when I first saw one in a friend's travel photos...knowing I was showing ignorance, I had to ask her what was going on with their fancy resort's fancy seemed unsafely perched on the edge of nowhere. I have since heard the term on cable travel shows and formed the impression that infinity pools are a new trend, fresher than underwater tile mosaics and lightyears beyond hot tubs.

Per Wikipedia:

An infinity pool (also named negative edge, zero edge or vanishing edge pool) is a swimming pool which produces a visual effect of water extending to the horizon, vanishing, or extending to "infinity"....The effect is particularly impressive where the invisible edge appears to merge with a larger body of water such as the ocean, or with the sky.
The Le Blanc had a large infinity pool at the lobby level--between the hotel and the beach, so that it appeared to merge with the ocean. There was also a smaller infinity pool on the 3rd floor terrace that from this higher vantage point seemed to merge with the sky, and from some angles the ocean below.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cancun version of myself

One of my favorite travel quotes is from essayist Lance Morrow in Time magazine, 5/31/82:

It is always one's self that one encounters in traveling: other people, of course, other parts of the world, other times carved into stone now overgrown by the jungle--but still, always oneself.
And a similar, much older quote, from Socrates [470?-399 BC], from his essay, "On Travel as a Cure for Discontent":

Why do you wonder that globe-trotting does not help you, seeing that you always take yourself with you?

Sure enough...Cancun Sarah was the same as DFW Sarah...spending too much on jewelry, drinking too much wine, eating too many carbs, and being too self-critical. Reading was my only virtue, but to make time for reading I sacrificed (ha!) physical activity.

Speaking of jewelry...after my second purchase from the lobby jewelry store, I was really gratified to hear from a Canadian coworker a tale that went something like this: a sophisticated stranger (well-dressed and well-accessorized, demonstrating shopping savvy) had volunteered to him the wisdom that he should avoid buying jewelry at Cancun's casual markets, since a better deal (better quality at good prices) could be found at the Le Blanc lobby jewelry shop.

I liked this story so much I went to the lobby shop a third time, but since it was a small operation and I had already scrutinized every shelf in it, I couldn't find anything new to buy. Another confession...I already owned a ring identical to one they sold there, having purchased it from an online store that specializes in Mexican silver...I accidentally wore my ring into the store and when I saw its twin on display, hid my hand in my pocket lest I be taken for a shoplifter. Shop-aholic maybe, but not shop-lifter.

The salesladies at the shop were very pleasant but not intrusive--in fact, during most of my time browsing there, they were doing some kind of inventory project. I think I prefer being ignored like that to the perpetual harassment you find in street markets...being ignored in an actual store is almost as peaceful as shopping online, in this introvert's opinion.

Packing for the trip, in selecting jewelry from my extensive collection, I realized there was one easy criteria--no to the Asian pieces (karma bead bracelets, yin & yang emblems) and an enthusiastic yes to the folk art-type stuff. I had to pack my skull earrings (made by an Arizona jeweler, but reminiscent of Mexican folk art) and my silver & glass sun pendant (purchased from the Mexican silver site). And, after a couple of drinks Thursday night in Cancun, I had to capture these two pieces in a photo. (Fortunately no one else entered the ladies' room while I was taking 50 pics of myself in an attempt to get one usable one.) I accidentally got a good shot of my lobby shop amber ring while doing a close-up of the earrings. And NO, my face and hand are not really that is a camera distortion.

I was excited to receive a compliment on another piece of jewelry (non Mexican) worn on Thursday with my blue shirt. Actually, I think it was worded more like, I have noticed you wear a lot of jewelry, and some of it is really nice.

Although this enlarged photo from Wednesday night is blurry, it shows my typical jewelry overkill--three crystal bracelets and my new amber pendant from the Le Blanc shop (worn with a chain I already had--how thrifty of me!), on top of a pearl & gemstone necklace from Le Blanc (that matched a bracelet on my other wrist).

My friend Julie, another jewelry fan, had some impressive insights: she understands that I'm attracted to pieces of jewelry as little sculptures, pieces of a method to explore who I am and a way to express myself to others. Jewelry is also a diversion for me--something nice to look at when things get drab and boring--and, last but not least, something to collect. (The reasons people collect things deserves its own blog...that discussion is beyond the scope of this one! As Julie points out, collecting probably serves a psychic need...some might say psychotic, but psychic is a kinder and more insightful word.)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cancun Report, part 1 (Bookworm at the Beach)

I will add more text and photos later this week - more hotel views, notes on jewelry shopping, and lots of sunrise surf shots. Please also see the Cancun Highlights sidebar to the right.

FROM OUR ROOM – from the balcony, and even from a napping or reading position on the bed – we had beautiful water views. Maybe I should be more embarrassed to say this, but I could have had a good vacation just staying in the room all week, lounging in various states of undress and sleepiness and watching the ever-changing water and lighting outside. If I had designed the room (a funny thought since nobody would ever ask an indoor lover like me to design anything at a beach resort), I would have put the king-sized bed, instead of the Jacuzzi, next to the window.

MY HANDSOME, SOPHISTICATED HUSBAND was a wonderful companion and professional asset (i.e. did not embarrass me with coworkers or management). These photos may give the impression he was constantly drinking in Cancun – that is not true, although free alcohol was constantly available – at the hotel’s several restaurants and bars, and from our room’s liquor cabinet. It is true that Craig is an especially good photo subject when he's drinking – he gets extra relaxed and smiley.

FABULOUS RESORT – in 2005 an older facility was remodeled into today’s Le Blanc, a transformation that in PR terms took it from “all-inclusive to all-incredible.” With 260 rooms, it’s one of the smaller hotels in its area but has full-service amenities including a top-ranked spa. The exclusivity appealed to my snobbery and need for privacy. It was always possible to find a quiet spot outside by one of the pools or scenic vantage points. Hudson chose Le Blanc over other Mexican resort hotels because they felt it truly offered a special experience. I loved the white interior and exterior walls (the “blanc” of the name), the cleanliness, friendly service, and special touches – for example, every morning, an employee went out to dig the resort logo in the beach, viewable from our balcony.

THE HUDSON AWARDS CEREMONY on our first night was truly impressive, even though I hadn’t had a chance yet to figure out who more than a few people were. I’m not sure where or how the formal Hudson portrait will be used, but we did all cram into a frame together. It was great to meet fellow recruiter Tiffany Bliley (seated next to me in group shot) and other congenial Canadian coworkers.

For once in my life, I felt dressed appropriately and asked Craig to capture on camera "Sarah in a dress" and even "Sarah in heels." (If I look a bit slumped it's because I had developed a massive headache from the 6 hours of meet & greet.)

SWIMMING & BATHING SUIT WEARAGE – I asked Craig to take this photo of me, thinking my blue shirt would look pretty next to the ground floor infinity pool. In retrospect, how silly do I look…in a long-sleeved t-shirt with bikini-clad people behind me. That day was a busy one, with our Cancun city tour and various meals, and it was rather windy and overcast for swimming (not that the weather stopped anyone else, but it dissuaded me).

The following day I had a massage in the morning but put on my bathing suit after lunch. Craig accompanied me to the sunniest, most wind-protected pool we could find at Le Blanc. I went down the pool steps until I was submerged up to my shoulders, but I was still cold, and it was still windy and overcast. There were few other swimmers...Craig was tired after his morning golf game and other people around the pool were dozing, reading, and trying not to snicker at my tentative pool attempts and loud need for reinforcement from Craig – “But I’m still cold!” “Honey, I think if you get more wet, you might feel warmer.” Very soon I retreated to our room to put on dry clothes, which took some time because while there I decided I should photograph myself in the wet suit as proof I entered pool water. (I didn’t want to ask Craig to do the photo because he was sleepy, busy devouring a hamburger, and rarely shares my photojournalistic vision.)

I also captured the image of myself in my new coverup, which is super-comfortable but which I belatedly realize resembles nothing so much as a Grandma housedress. I guess if I was 6 inches taller the look might be sexier, but that is an insurmountable “if.” Not that a coverup is really needed with a shorts-set tankini, anyway.
I have to say that walking around our sunny, airy room's cool tiles in my bare feet, playing with my camera, was more fun than trying to swim at the pool.