Tuesday, October 27

Ship Decor 'n' More. And hey, did you know Matt's essay was published in a book?

Decoration-wise, I've kept it simple. The walls and ceiling of my cabin are metal, so I use magnets to display postcards from my past and current ship travels, souvenirs from the Uffizi Gallery, the Borghese Gallery and Victoria, British Columbia's own Miniature World. Google it.

Caravaggio's Medusa looms over my bed to remind me that my friends think I'm an asshole for working three hours a week while getting to travel the world.

The most treasured piece in my cabin-away-from-studio is situated directly under the porthole. It is a Dio de los Muertos diorama that I picked up at the market in Puerto Vallarta. I adore the iconography and mythology of the Day of the Dead folklore (and I also love tchotchkes). This diorama has seemingly nothing to do with any of that. It depicts what I like to believe is an abortion, and when I saw it, I obviously had to have it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this brief but hopefully informative tour of officer's cabin 4226 aboard the currently hurricane-bound Norwegian Star. If you ever consider a cruise vacation, please do not hesitate to email me. I will implore you to consider other options, like spending a week on a landfill or parachuting into North Korea.


Matthew Loren Cohen is a musical improviser, composer and writer. His most recent essay, "Bar Mitzvah: The Musical!", appears in the HEEB Storytelling compilation Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish, which hit your local bookstore this week.

Friday, October 23

Cruise Cabin: Desk, Shower, Toilet Paper (Under!)

The desk is perfectly functional, as are the closets. There are no photos the closets because they are a mess. Spoiler: They have clothes in them. But they are quite spacious. The shelf above my desk is home to snacks and laundry accouterments.

The bathroom features a sink, toilet and shower. Compared to the relatively large size of the cabin itself, the bathroom is entirely too small.

Don't get me wrong—I appreciate that there is a bathroom at all, but I am a mere 5'4" tall and 135 pounds, and the shower can barely contain me.

I could not take a satisfactory photo of the shower because there is just not enough room from any angle to do so. But if you want to know how I feel when I bathe, go stand in your smallest closet and try to move around. Fortunately, for me, my tears get washed away with the water.

Oh, and of course the toilet paper is "under"

…though my room steward Bernadette (whose name tag, for reasons still unknown, says "Marie") insists on repositioning it every morning.

Thursday, October 22

Book Nooks and Crannies of Cabin 4226

It seems to be an unwritten maritime rule that all embellishments on a ship remind you that you are, in fact, on a ship. Admittedly, it is comforting when I catch sight of a vast expanse of water outside my window that the ship-wheeled and be-roped carpet is there to loudly remind me, "You are asea, cap'n!" Sometimes the CONSTANT UPWARD AND DOWNWARD MOTION of the ship just isn't enough.

As I mentioned in my first post, the porthole is the centerpiece of the room. But the most important feature of the cabin is clearly the luxurious upholstery pattern on the couches...

…and the carpet.

I have been trying for some time now to swap the end table and one of the couches for a larger bed (because though I may still be the height of an eight-year-old, I am 33), but to no avail. So, I have created a little book nook with the table and a couch and some postcards from Barcelona.

Unfortunately, I've read all three books in the nook, but it's a nice respite for a visiting crew member, should that crew member have any time off from directing passengers to their mustering stations or dancing in pink faux-fur to "Lady Marmalade."

The refrigerator is larger than the television, and channels are limited to CNN, Headline News, Cartoon Network, some bastardized form of TNT, and the feed from the camera mounted on the front of the ship. But I have plenty of cold beer to imbibe while Jane Velez-Mitchell and its hair shrieks at me ad infinitum.

The crowning feature of my entertainment corner, as it were, is the Samsung "World Wide Video" VCR. Fancy! I can't tell you how many times I've finished an improv show to jaunt back down to my cabin to unwind while watching a videocassette. OK, I can tell you: 0 times. The only video onboard the ship resides in the fitness center and is, hilariously, an instructional rowing tape.

Wednesday, October 21

Cruising with "Guest Entertainer: Matthew Cohen"

Well, hello. Welcome to my home. My name is Matthew Loren Cohen—you may remember me from the previous Homebodies post regarding my penchant for "under"-positioned toilet paper. Your gracious Homebodies editor Liz Arnold has presently requested of me a full account of my currently exceptional living quarters. Being that a.) it is impossible for said Liz Arnold to physically visit my abode, and b.) I adore twice-said Liz Arnold, I am ecstatic to oblige.

Until January 16 of 2010, I am employed as music director for The Second City, Chicago's legendary sketch comedy and improvisation theater, aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines's M.S. Norwegian Star.

Meaning, I live on this ship.

My adventure began on September 12 in Seattle for a week-long Alaska voyage before the ship repositioned to the port of Los Angeles for its current Mexican Riviera itinerary. I will finish my contract with a handful of two-week cruises through the Panama Canal, with stops in Mexico and Central and South America. I perform four shows a cruise (cruises last anywhere from seven to 14 days) and basically have passenger status when I'm not working. As I love to wear terrycloth and pretend I'm retired, this is a ridiculously good job.

Aboard the Norwegian Star, I reside in cabin 4226, which is what is known as an officer's cabin.

Officer's cabins are located on deck 4 (of 13 decks) on the starboard side of the ship (starboard = right-hand side; port = left. An easy method to remember such seemingly useless and archaic information is that both "port" and "left" are comprised of four letters.) The most attractive feature of an officer's cabin, apart from its single occupancy, is its porthole.

Most crew cabins, in which typically four to six crew members reside, do not have any windows whatsoever, so it is a luxury to wake up in a non-bunk-bed to sunlight. Especially as light in crew cabins is provided by our greatest enemy, the fluorescent bulb.

Cabin 4226 is roughly one-fourth the size of my 300-square-foot Greenwich Village studio apartment. By ship standards, that's palatial. Upon entering, the first thing you see is…the entire room. The porthole is directly opposite the door, and the cabin features a desk, two couches, a TV and refrigerator, a side table and a single bed.

Tomorrow, Matt backs us into the book nook and makes us cross-eyed with close-ups of the patterned upholstery...

Tuesday, October 20

First Guest Blogger...

So, remember Homebodies subject Matt Cohen, the guy who hangs his toilet paper under, not over? He's working on his second months-long cruise with the M.S. Norwegian Star, where he's the music director for The Second City, the comedy/theater group based in Chicago. Basically, he works three hours a week while sailing from port to port. Because I've never been on a cruise, and because I've asked him a million questions about life on a ship, he's agreed to guest-blog his cabin room. (It's awesome!)

So in the last week, when he wasn't pounding out fanciful chords for hilarious song and dance, he huddled in the corners of his room and took photos of his desk, his toilet paper, port holes, and the Las Vegas-style carpet. Ladies and gentleman, this week, please welcome the one and only: Matthew Loren Cohen...

Friday, October 16

Geraniums on MacDougal

Sorry I've been MIA! I wish I could say I've been going for long strolls in the neighborhood and gazing up at flower boxes like these, but I've been holed up writing and schooling for days. I'm also working on some very cool posts that are going up soon, but I wanted to share these pictures of my favorite flowers in Soho. They're in every window of an old Federalist-style building on MacDougal near King Street, where I live, and I LOVE walking by them. In real life, I stand on the sidewalk centered between the windows and stare up. Geraniums are a shocking contrast to the sky. They're so saturated with color, and I'm always amazed at how dense and bright they are.

Who lives here? I might have to slip a note of appreciation under the front door.