Martha | Diary
During the 40 days and 40 nights of the Ark's voyage, our 12 crew members will be recording their thoughts and feelings about their Arkmates, the tasks and crises they'll be facing, and the dreadful prospect of walking the plank before the Ark reaches Mt Ararat. For Martha's Diary, read on... and click the "comments" links to add your own comments to any of her diary entries.
|What a relief||May 28, 13:45|
|With only four of us left, nominations have come to an end and our fates are in the hands of the public. I'm relieved - I loathed nominating my Arkmates.
I feel so sorry for Esther . . . since Jez left, she seems - well, FLATTER somehow - as if the vivacity had been suctioned out of her, leaving only an echo.
And John is similarly quelled, falling into fits of self-loathing and angst. Oddly enough, Paul is still in good spirits, which I wouldn't have expected. As for me? Well, Diary, I may be boring and prosaic, but there's a lot to be said for that when it comes to handling stress. With Samson gone, my emotional comfort zone has increased, as I no longer have to tip-toe around his sensitivities. Not that I HAD to do that in the first place, it just seemed courteous and thoughtful not to freak the big guy out unless necessary.
|Coals to Newcastle||May 28, 13:40|
|Putting on a "soap opera" last night was a bit funny because what IS this voyage except one long extended journey into melodrama??? But it was still entertaining . . . got my spirits up, particularly when I got to be John! Unfortunately, spirits plummeted all around when the T-Rex dropped dead. John immediately plunged into melancholy, blaming himself for the lizard's demise. Well, what else could we do but try what had seemed to work before - i.e. dancing and singing? Evidently the big green guy wanted to dance but it was too much for its constitution . . . it dropped like a large olive-colored rock. Must have been a strict Methodist.|
|Jezebel||May 27, 7:11|
|I do hate that Jezebel is gone . . . she was such an invigorating force among us. And Esther is so very sad that I ache for her. The worst of this is losing the friends you make . . . and the guilt for being happy you're not the one jumping. Or the guilt you have because you wanted to be the one jumping . . . with some of us on here, it could go either way.
I had a difficult evening . . . jotted down my musings in the earlier entry, but didn't explain the circumstances. I had another horrendous night of sudden trances that left me soundlessly contemplating various portions of the Ark . . . I was less than relieved to finally step out on deck, because the first words I heard were "It's time to bid Jezebel good-bye" and I rushed down to the Dove Pad to say farewell . . . I'd missed the entire evening!
And suddenly, it was raining - pouring, actually - and the Ark started to heave and roll against the waves . . . very appropriate, because not a few tears were shed . . . a lot of them from me. I shall miss her moves so much . . . and I'll always wonder what that tattoo of hers REALLY said.
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|Sorting Things Out||May 27, 7:06|
|I awoke from one of my many entranced states throughout the evening pondering this question: We all talk about God "caring" for his creation - with the underlying metaphor of a Shepherd protecting his flock - but yet destruction occurs, people die, dreams are lost. For ten men had Godom and Sommorah been saved . . . surely the legions of the righteous should be able to avert disasters?
But yet they come. Wars happen. Famine strikes. Disease rages. Ignorance rules. Millions die.
We are told it is because of OUR sin - that we are descended from those who sought what they should not desire to have. And so we are condemned and yet freed through willing sacrifice. And I know that this is so, because my belief is founded in faith that Jesus is the Christ, the promised one.
But yet I could not reconcile disasters - how they happen, their scale, their scope . . . I have heard some talk of an "active Evil" loose in the world, but in that I cannot believe. A Lucifer - a fallen angel? A Devil - with forked tail and hooves? Can Evil be personified into a single unit, or is it by it's nature random, individual and opportunistic? As I believe it cannot be a coherent force, there is only one conclusion.
Disasters happen because God does not prevent them. He does not interfere because interference is outside his desire - he seeks partnership. And it is in partnership with God that we surmount disaster; through being granted the strengths to withstand them. And we can withstand all that we are called to bear - even death.
God will not interfere. It is all my choice. I will expect no miracles, desire no flaming shrubberies . . . in partnership with Him, I am more than myself. Through the intercession of Jesus, I am forgiven. I seek to make perfect that within myself which holds back from true union with Him.
And then, when there is famine, or war, or tribulations, or fevers . . . I will go where I must go as I wish to go. Safe within the confines of His will, all of my destinations are the same.
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|Traumas and afflictions . .. ||May 24, 23:23|
|Samson was voted off the Ark last night . . . it was a tough evening - beginning with an ailing T-Rex and ending with me frozen in a doorway, unable to follow Samson out to the Dining Room. I had a few private words for him . . . as I'm sure he did for me, but I had no chance to deliver them. I got out to the plank just after he'd plunged . . . so sad.
Everyone says he was very brave and kind as he left, making his farewells to everyone . . . I feel terrible that I missed it. Not that my presence would have helped, but it couldn't have hurt!
Anyway . . . had a surprise birthday party for Jezebel tonight, loosened us up a bit (everyone except John had a drink or two, John doesn't NEED alcohol!) and we went down to check on the T-rex. Discovered he was no better . . . and then discovered that Dancing seemed to perk him up for a bit . . . but not for long. And who can dance forever?
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|My Life on Stage||May 22, 21:37|
|Truly, all the world's a stage . . . last night, my Arkmates and I put on a . . . version? rendition? hilariously inaccurate? of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I haven't laughed that much since I came onto the Ark - unless it was at Jez and Esther's "cat-fight" during the talent show.
I certainly wasn't a convincing Romeo - any more than Paul was an accurate Juliet. And his goatee tickles. I thought I saw Samson flinch during our "love scene". His turn as the Nurse was funny if odd - he kept referring to nipples and smearing. It's as if the ghostly presence of Simon is influencing his behavior!
The fight scene between Esther and Jezebel was great - their moves are totally cool, involving leaping. Mine is a very low-key and rather hard to decipher thoughtful chin-rub. Samson flexes suggestively . . . watching his chest muscles ripple is almost hypnotic.
Nominations again tonight - and I suppose we are all succumbing to a sense of inevitability. After all, chances are all of us will be nominated at least once . . . if not tonight, then next time. It's important to look at it philosophically, as a risk one took knowing full well the consequences.
All the same, it doesn't get any easier or more pleasant. On the plus side, it doesn't take anywhere near as long as it did at the beginning!
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|Romeo?||May 21, 21:45|
|We're doing a play and I'm cast as ROMEO? I sense the wicked hand of Jezebel at work in THAT casting decision! Of all the characters with whom I have nothing in common . . . a young man with testosterone effervescing through his veins, swordplay, all that swagger - how on EARTH am I going to do that? Unless I play him with a lisp and a limp wrist or something . . . << sigh >> . . . why couldn't I be the nurse? I'm GOOD at being the nurse!
There's something about this Ark that likes people to be placed in situations they don't enjoy or don't do well . . . nominations, for example . . . but then there were other times as well - that talent show! I don't like it when I have to gird up my loins and be taken where I don't want to go . . . but then, I suppose that's the point! If we never did what we are afraid to do, we'd very seldom accomplish much.
Simon left the Ark last night . . . dare I confess to these confidential pages that I'm relieved? I couldn't equate the Simon I knew from before with the oddly obsessed man on the Ark. I suppose that's because the only times I ever saw him before, he was with Jesus. And Simon would NEVER have snickered in a such a juvenile fashion about breasts when Jesus was around. I wonder if Simon has figured out that Jesus is STILL watching what he does? What is it about the visible symbol that makes us stick to the rules ungrudgingly, when in its absence we abandon our adherence or find it so hard?
|Why is the Sabbath so strange on the Ark?||May 19, 4:15|
|Maybe because it feels rather . . . contrived. There is certainly something to be said for the perspectives others during worship; frequently they begin from points of view quite foreign to me, so it's quite mind-stretching at times! But there's something wrong about it, too . . . and I've only just figured out what it is!
Something about writing things out that brings answers or inspirations to mind . . . I think it's the lack of Sabbath rituals that make the day so bland. Where are the candles and the prayers before meals? For that matter, where are the MEALS? Where are the moments of shared reflection - fat chance of having a moment of silence much less a plurality of them with Simon spouting off and John pacing like a caged beast!
At home, there was a symmetry and an order to the Sabbath . . . it was restful, predictable yet not. Like walking down a path worn smooth by the feet of thousands upon thousands before me . . . the blessing over the bread, the songs of Sabbath, the quiet of a day devoted to silence and rest.
The odd itch of today made me rather peevish - I indulged in a minor bit of man bashing with Jezebel towards the end of the evening. I feel much as I do when I've polished off an entire tray of halvah . . . replete, yet guilty with a half-pleasure in the tang of the guilt on my tongue.
Eve may be gone from the Ark, but I've got a bit of her wicked tempestuous streak in me . . . what my grandmother used to call "a touch of the old Eve" . . . << sighing softly >>
|And then there were seven . . .||May 18, 13:37|
|Paul tells me he has written words to the tune of the theme song for "Gilligan's Island", which I happened to have been watching in the lounge the other night . . . was suddenly struck by the fact that the only character at all analogous to ME was Mrs. Howell - as Jezebel would definitely be Ginger and Esther would be cast as Mary Ann. For some reason, this irritates me. I don't know if it is because, compared to them, I AM a middle-aged woman pre-occupied with (to Jez and Esther) silly issues. << Sigh >>
Am I old? I don't FEEL old, or whatever it is I expected old would feel. There are certainly a few more creaks in the apparatus, but everything still works . . . if a bit slower.
And I LIKE slower! I remember "impetuous" youth, what little I had of it. I had too many responsibilities and duties during those years . . . had no time to do more than contemplate impetuous behavior - and witness it in the persons of my brother and sister. But as the eldest, I had things to do; and after our parents died, I was the only one to do them.
But does this make me shallow? Am I one-dimensional, or even just two? What sort of experiences do I have to have before I'm fully fleshed out as a person? Can a fairly common woman from a provincial village lay claim to all the necessary sophistications? << sighing again >>
Sophistications. What a word! I suppose I mean the educated debate . . . the opposing viewpoints . . . the learned discourses between scholars. A knowledge of a world wider and more strange than Bethany ever prepared me for.
I suppose that Mrs. Howell is the necessary intersection between Ginger and Mary Ann . . . and that's not such a bad place to be, actually.
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|An oddly restless day||May 17, 1:43|
|Couldn't settle down no matter where I went or what I did . . . felt as I did when I was a child and felt the whisper of a spider web on my neck or face . . . no matter how I worried at it, how many times I brushed my hair or washed my face . . . I could still feel it. An odd disconcerting feeling, to be sure.
Even our luxurious new bathing chamber leaves me a bit cold. The mosaic is nice, if a bit too "pretty", and it's a pleasure to be work up a good lather and have a thorough rinse - I was getting a wee bit ripe in spite of all the pool time! But I don't feel comfortable in that room . . . too formal, maybe? Too open and sybaritic? It could be that Samson's penchant for lounging on the massage table offering free rub-downs to all and sundry has something to do with it - he keeps trying to entice me over there, too!
I'm a bit miffed with the Lord this evening, as I have no right to be - surely that's a good part of my discomfort. One of His comments about my nominations took me aback - although on sober reflection (and I do mean sober - Paul never returned to have that drink he promised me), I don't think He was entirely correct. I'll have to bring this up with Him at some point.
Wandered in and lay down for a bit during the nomination process, while everyone else was cavorting in the bath room. Well, except for Paul, who paid a surreptitious visit to a sleeping Jezebel - rather suspicious, that. Perhaps he DOES love her, after all. Wished I could talk to Jez, as I had some questions that have been niggling at me since my dinner with Neb. This whole royalty-deity thing is tough to puzzle out; I worked out a few points talking out loud while Jez slept away on another bed. Wonder if any of my comments percolated into her drowsing consciousness . . .
|Jealousy||May 15, 4:31|
|Got to thinking about jealousy again tonight after watching Samson fret, fume and threaten all day. If I'd had any idea he was so unstable, I'd have been much more cautious about how I handled his proposal - but then, I was floating on a sea of hormones and sheer giddiness kept me from thinking!
What on earth Jesus is going to have to say about all this rather perplexes me - what should I have done? << Sigh >> In retrospect, I should have quashed Samson firmly the moment he popped the question, but I just wasn't capable of it. Those big dark eyes! I've always been a sucker for puppies and small children . . . not that Samson's the least bit small, but . . . you know what I mean - the nurturing thing was part of the attraction. Wanting to make other people happy is a worthy ambition, but since one almost never knows exactly WHAT will make someone happy . . . it's a bit of a toss-up how it turns out.
And I'm still wondering about that! At least Neb is gone - not that I'm glad or anything, but it does remove a certain amount of tension from the atmosphere! And he was so charming last night at dinner, I think I was beginning to get a little bit of the message through to him; we talked about responsibility and sheep . . . don't ask, it made sense at the time.
But what to do with Samson now? My perspective on him has changed . . . after my own quick bout with jealousy (over Eve), I'm much more sensitive to it than before. Of course it's a bit hard to imagine that anyone could be jealous about ME - but then, it was a bit hard to believe anyone thought me desireable in the first place!
Thank God Paul is fixated on Esther, Simon on . .. whatever, but it's not ME, and John is so well behaved in general. With any luck I can hang out with Maggie for a bit - Jez and Esther are pretty obviously paired off in mischief, not much encouragement from them for conversation. But I daresay I'm old and boring as far as they're concerned . . . rather a relief, actually.
|Repercussions||May 14, 14:11|
|I can hear Samson meticulously destroying something in his bedroom . . . I only hope it isn't Neb! And I never knew what the gnashing of teeth really sounded like . . . and whatever he's muttering doesn't sound positive. I'm starting to be a wee bit nervous about the coming evening - if Samson gets planked tonight, he may go off the deep end before he goes into the deep. |
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|Dinner with Neb||May 14, 14:05|
|All my life I've been an understudy! Last night was Neb and Esther's big "date" . . . she slept through it and I was asked to fill in! The first time I've seen food on this boat since I set foot aboard! I was so busy eating the breadsticks I hardly heard a word Neb said at first, but after a few moments my stomach settled down and we got to talking ... although it was hard to concentrate because of the incredibly sappy music wailing out of the radio. And then Paul and Simon burst in, which got Neb all testy . . . but we managed a bit of conversation, although I don't think I'm converting him.
I'm a bit curious to see how Samson reacts to the news of my dinner . . . he's so jealous of anyone talking to me (more than a bit irritating, that!) that it was a good idea for God to call him upstairs for a chat. That cleaver in the kitchen might have been used other than symbolically before the evening was out!
Fallout from the homily continues . . . does anyone think I ENJOYED 'fessing up??? Had to do it, though - in spite of what people think. If we can't talk about our failures, what's the point in talking about our successes? And aren't we supposed to be able to be honest? It's like dirty laundry - are you supposed to wash it in the dark of night? Why is it some people want us to have only clean clothes in public, when we all get dirty? Not that I'm like John in that - if the pool hadn't been filled up when it was, I was going to toss him overboard for a quick tow through the water - all those honey droplets and half-chewed locust wings were getting on my nerves. Why do prophets disbelieve in bathing anyway?
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|Another lover . . . ||May 13, 4:38|
|It's late . . . very late, or very early . . . I went out on deck and watched the stars as they danced slowly across the sky . . . you can see them so clearly, so cleanly, out here. And this came to me . . . like a gift.
Solace I have sought me from the stars
as they do whirl entwined across the sky,
The gentle lift of waves beneath my restless feet
a dance in parallel 'cross space and time.
Spelled, entranc-ed, made entire
by words I hear at echo in my heart.
Sonorous thunder, mighty wind,
sea sand sieved by wave and tide -
and pinned here as I am to this
unquiet night, yet there is peace
among the heart of my storms.
Here am I, your servant, Lord.
Thou the storm of my heart,
the impassioned suitor for my soul.
|Taking yet another turn for the weird . . . ||May 13, 0:11|
|Nominations tonight. Turned out even more strangely than I had anticipated . . . instead of two names for others to vote on, there are FOUR: Samson, Esther, Mary and Neb.
The mathematics is interesting . . . evidently one person had a clear majority and then three others tied for second with either two votes or three votes each. So it's a four-way contest that MAY result in the most-nominated person staying! Truly, God works in mysterious ways.
Aside from the stress of the nominations, it was an interesting evening. Esther and Jez tried to get up a game of "I Never" in the pink bedroom while the nominating was going on, but it wasn't a big success. Games like that aren't going to work with a crowd like ours - something more along the lines of Bible Trivia would have gone over better. . . I'm afraid the only people on board who are into that kind of gaming are - well, Jez and Esther.
Talked to Neb for a bit this evening. Kept trying to get him to define divinity, but he dodged and wove his way around the question, nattering on about how he felt the responsibilities, pressures, etc. Either he doesn't have the mental equipment necessary to think through what omniscient means, or his definition of godhood doesn't include it. Which would be very odd, as gods are supposed to be . . . well, omniscient.
John gave in to a fit of grouchiness tonight - brought on by the parlor-game and the pick-up line game everyone else played last night. I didn't hear the summons to the study and I totally forgot about it, because I was talking to Samson. He's still clinging to me, but I plan a gentle campaign of detachment because he needs to let go. After he's standing on his own, we can talk about it again.
Mary tried to nominate herself tonight and was told she couldn't . . . that poor girl, she's so confused and hurting. I wish I knew how to help her other than just listening.
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|A New Day||May 12, 4:31|
|Well, it was interesting. Inspiration came to me as I slept last night - was supposed to preach on fear, thought I'd confess to a personal failure to show that I'm growing in understanding and that I was willing to accept the consequences . . . don't know if it went over quite as I'd expected, but I don't care. Said what I needed to say!
Talk of atonement, is there anything WORSE than getting up in front of people and admitting that I was a coward and did something totally and utterly wrong? And apologizing to the injured party - Samson - and to my Arkmates, because I wronged them as well by allowing myself to think that MY needs and comfort levels were so important.
I know I've made people uncomfortable, but there really wasn't any level of calculation involved . . . I wanted to feel clean again. Righteous. << sigh >> I don't know if that's how they saw it, but I did my best to make my point clear. And Samson understood, which was the greatest gift of all!
It was FEAR that kept me from being honest - and I"m not afraid any more. It was FEAR that made me sad, angry and defensive with Jez. I wonder now if it hasn't been fear that's held me back for so long . . . kept me from being who I am supposed to be.
They'll probably nominate me tomorrow. If I didn't know myself so well, I'd nominate myself! And it'll hurt - a bit, maybe more than a bit.
But a good clean hurt has to feel better than I was feeling before . . . I only hope that the others look inside themselves to see what it is THEY fear. My guesses?
John . . . fears intimacy, although he craves it. Not sexual intimacy, but true intellectual companionship.
Paul . . . fears being thought helpless and needy, he thinks it is a weakness to need other people's support. "Depending on God" is the phrase he trots out whenever he needs justification for cutting himself away from other people . . . and who really wants to argue with him?
Neb . . . fears discovery of his feelings of inadequacy and his actual humanity. Being a "deity" suits him very well . . . he never has to admit to anything or explain himself.
Simon . . . fears being thought of as a light-weight country boy . . . he covers by pretending to urbanity and sophistication and fails miserably. What he thinks is cosmopolitan repartee is actually prosecutable as sexual harassment in most enlightened nations . . . plus, I think women terrify him unless they're wearing an apron.
Samson . . . fears "loneliness" he says, but I don't think that's it. What he really fears is being forced to define himself BY himself. Everything he says about himself is based upon a desire to have another person define him . . . living up to a reputation is easier than chiselling out an identity for himself. I think he'd actually be a perfect shepherd or even a bartender . . . all that strength makes other people think he has no mind and no one expects him to use it. As for compassion or tender feelings . . . who expects the Terminator to bring flowers or enjoy white Zinfandel?
Mary . . . fears anything that might threaten her ferret. Which I don't get, unless the ferret is actually a metaphor for her soul.
Jezebel . . . fears vulnerability and dependency . . . she cloaks this with an almost violent sexuality that tantalizes while it threatens and with what she calls "mischievousness" . . . but which is actually an exploitation of the vulnerabilities of others. If she can get them where they live, they probably will be too threatened to go after her soft spots. And she does have them - her meditation tonight was interesting. Transforming what you fear into something you should embrace . . . and handing that "leashed" fear over to God . . . I thought that was very insightful.
Esther . . . fears that she is what she is . . . young, beautiful and fun-loving . . and a Queen. She wants to be a girl, but feels that she can't really be girlish . . . except that she can't help herself . . . and then she has to regroup and polish her crown. One cannot help being fond of her . . . or wishing she could have a few years under her belt as someone less defined by position and more by her own substance. Which I suspect is actually very impressive, if only she'd let it out.
I'm not the only one with fears . . . but I've yet to hear many of those on board admit to being afraid of what is inside of them. And these are just MY impressions, Diary . . . And I'm probably wrong.
Well, if I go, I go . . . not that I'm being fatalistic, I'd LIKE to stay on board for a while, but then - who doesn't?
|Simon Peter and Time Travelling||May 11, 18:21|
|Simon and I were talking yesterday on the animal deck and he asked if he was "invading my space" by standing too close. I said that space wasn't an issue for me - for me, everything is about time. He made some offhand comment about time-travelling . . .
We went up on deck to talk about it, and I told him I'd been thinking a lot about time travel since I came onto the Ark. All these people from different eras on one ship, how could I not consider it?
I came to the conclusion that all of us are time travellers . . . that we look backwards and look forwards when it comes to the choices we make, that we seldom live "in the moment", which is a talent that Jesus had (and I, alas, do not). I know that living in the moment sounds like an excuse for hedonism and selfishness, because consequences are important and we depend upon the past to teach us about future consequences, but what I mean by it is more that we need to take the time we have NOW and not live in either the past or in the future.
After all, who knows what the future will hold or what incorrect lessons we may infer from history? Jesus lived in the moment and for the moment, and I think I should too. I can't let myself be distracted by what might be/might have been/should be/etc.
NOW. That's where I am. I'll have lots of time to contemplate Eternity later.
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|And then there were nine . . . ||May 11, 18:16|
|Well, Moses is gone.
He was so interesting . . . we only had a chance for a few conversations, but I enjoyed them. He and I and Maggie spent an hour in the kitchen one evening, talking about Jesus and I found his curiosity so moving . . . I can see why God likes him so much, I liked him myself!
Visited the animals last night - the hatch wouldn't open earlier in the day, but I could hear elephants trumpeting away, so I knew there was something down there! Turns out to be more than elephants; the crocodiles are unrestrained (the rest of the animals are in stalls) which is rather odd . . . but my ankles are unblemished and nobody else appears to be maimed, so it seems safe. I'll keep my distance just the same; they might be part of God's Kingdom, but I think I'll just admire their toothy grins from across the aisle.
Samson spent ages talking to the unicorn about me . . . rather embarassing in a way! Of course my embarassment might also have something to do with the fact that I was waiting to find out if he was the "one" for the plank . . . I still feel guilty about nominating him. After carefully examining my feelings on the matter, I've decided that - while not totally disinterested - my choice was still correct. After all, my criteria for choosing has to be the same for all of my Arkmates, and he certainly fit!
Are they in the process of changing/growing as we voyage? Yes or No?
Are they interested in learning/admitting faults? Yes or No?
Do they behave as Christians should, acting from love? Yes or No?
Maybe not the best criteria in the world, but I have to work from SOMETHING or risk being arbitrary and unfair in my choosings.
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|A rumor of animals||May 10, 1:26|
|I took a day for myself today - something I really needed because of what happened last night, after God announced that Moses and Samson had been nominated to take the plunge. I'm afraid that I left my bedroom in the wee small hours of the night and crept down to the study for an hour . . . or two . . . actually, it was more like three, if I must be honest . . . and I renewed my acquaintance with that lovely bottle of the Macallan. We got to be rather intimate towards the end of the evening . . . I woke up with my arm wrapped around its echoing emptiness and my cheek pressed against the label. I've been trying to massage the imprint off my face ever since . . . as on my left cheek is a ghostly copy of the words "18 Years Old" and a sort of coronet thingy. Since the words printed backwards, it looks even more weird.
Anyway, I woke with a horrendous headache and a very foul taste in my mouth. I can't decide if it's because the soda water has sodium in it or if it's because I gave Samson as one of my nominations. I didn't feel like sorting it out then, so I went back to my bed and back to sleep.
And then this evening, when I sort of woke up a bit, I could hear all manner of outlandish noises, which I take to mean that there are in fact animals on this Ark. Either that, or the others were having a heck of a party in my absence.
Don't feel much like celebrating, myself.
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