Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mermaids Do Exist

Ever since I saw Mermaid Lagoon in Peter Pan I've been in love with mermaids.  Pretty, long-haired sirens enjoying their lives in the sun beside the tranquil ocean seemed like the most idyllic existence imaginable. And ooooooh, the colors!  Long red hair, or maybe blue, violet, or green.  No rules!  Iridescent tails like liquid rainbows.  And seashells.  I absolutely love sea shells and have been collecting them since childhood.  (Thank Neptune my recent home has a garage.  Yes, my collection has gotten that big.)

Five years ago I sat in front of my laptop and saw a post about a mermaid convention in Florida.  My reaction was this:

A MERMAID CONVENTION!?  (Picture shouting, dancing, and jumping for joy.)

I booked a flight immediately.  I didn't know a single real live mermaid but I was bound and and determined to meet one.

That first venture was solo but I made friends and now attend another convention in Greensboro, North Carolina -  NCMermania - on a regular basis.  Held annually at the Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC), NCMermania is a gathering of professional mermaids, mermaid wannabes, and mermaid enthusiasts from all over the world.  The variety of the people who attend this even can only be exceeded by the variety of the creative costumes and tails displayed.

And that's one thing I especially love about the real mermaids.   If you were there you would have seen mermaids and mermen of all shapes, sizes, colors, lifestyles, and genders, all swimming side by side, splashing and playing as happily as any Disney movie mermaid.

Would that the real, real world would take a dive into getting along this well.

On "Acting Your Age"

It is 5:45 in the morning in the Cayo district of Belize.  I am awakened by the sound of birds and what might be an automatic rifle - or it could be bad plumbing.  I went to bed 4am home time. God knows what time I fell asleep what with the very loud, very bad karaoke blaring though my window from the bar.  I'm too tired to get up and investigate. 

After fifteen minutes, I get up.  Much too excited to sleep.  Field school starts today and there will be a tour of Cahal Pech and a lecture by Dr. Awe, a noted expert on ancient Mayan culture.  (What I do not know at this moment is - heat exhaustion.  But I will get to that later.)

I've made it to the Belize Valley Reconnaissance project, a decision to spend two weeks in itense heat digging for artifacts with a bunch of college students.  A decision which has caused some of my friends to doubt my sanity.

Well, I love archaeology.  It's fascinating. And I love college kids. They're fun and, for the most part, their minds are refreshingly open. What's wrong with doing something you love with people you enjoy?  Where is the rule book that sets the age limits for certain activities?  If there is one, I do NOT want to see it.  I wouldn't pay a bit of attention to it anyway.

If you like Comicon, LARPing, or World of Warcraft, why should chronology stop you?  I like all of those things.  I do all those things.  I cosplay.  I play video games (okay, on easy mode).  If youth is wasted on the young, well, I'm recouping my losses. And, hopefully, I might be setting an example for another older someone who has given up one or more joys in life because of something as insignificant as an acculturation that tells them "You're too old for that."

"But there are physical limitations as you age," you might say. And you'd be right.  Some are very real reasons to refrain from an activity you enjoy.  (Maybe not a good idea to ski with osteoporosis).  But some "limitations" are just excuses offered out of fear.  Fear of looking silly or of being accused of "immaturity".  Take a look at my credit score, the fact that I am bondable and have passed every mandatory background check that my former employers in the fields of education and real estate have required.  Please use those things as a determinate of my maturity, not the fact that I occasionally dress up like a mermaid.

Which brings me to the heat exhaustion.  When I left for Belize the general admonition was "Drink lots of water".  No one mentioned that I could wash out every mineral in my body.   After two liters of water and a great morning learning how to set up units in the field, I found myself experiencing chills (in 98-100 degrees), and palpitations. Heat exhaustion.  Rats!

Instead of pushing myself, I chose to miss the lecture tour, something that I considered to be the highlight of my trip.

I'd say that was adult behavior.