The Head Test

Warning: toilet humor a-head. [If you don’t understand how brilliant that pun was yet, you will in two paragraphs and then I expect an effing parade for how hilarious I am.]

Now that it’s been cleared up that yes, in fact, there are toilets on board Black Powder, I thought it would be a good time to talk about poop.

A nautical toilet is called a “head.” Don’t ask me who made that brilliant f*cking decision, since, in my opinion, your head is about the furthest thing you want from it.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “I’ve gotta hit the head.” This doesn’t refer to one’s accuracy while nailing something into the wall which, if you’re like me, is bound to be crooked, nor does it refer to the most effective way to crack open a piñata at a bachelorette party. [Think about it. Then laugh out loud.]

Nope, it just means, “I’ve been holding it long enough and now I’ve really gotta deal with this #2 business, so I’m going to get down to the head, try to steady myself against the wall to prevent falling off in the event an asshole ferry captain comes too close and sends a 6-ft wake in our direction, use as little toilet paper as possible, flush, and PRAY.”

Such is the glamorous life of traveling on a boat. When we were growing up, heads were much less effective, and much more prone to overflowing/clogging if you so much as farted while peeing. Flushing toilet paper was a HUGE no-no and would most definitely result in a clog that was probably not at all equivalent to the actual load, but more akin to flushing 14 fucking socks and a condom at once in a land-head .

Let me paint a picture for you: a full, overflowing toilet that you have to try and plunge on a f*cking floating vessel, which is most definitely a rocking & a rolling more than a little bit. That’s like trying to keep a full bowl of water from spilling over while riding f*cking Splash Mountain. Not cute.

And since we’re getting comfy-cozy up in here [TMI moment], I’ll let you know that as a child, my parents had to change the toilets in our house to what they called “Super Flushers,” solely for me because, hey, what can I say? I’ve always been a prolific pooper.

[VIMH(c): gross.]

So, I grew up in fear of the head. There are few things more embarrassing for a 13-year old girl than to have to have your father come and plunge the head while entertaining the entire extended family on a 3-hour tour. Or worse, your father has to go and plunge the head because your 13-year old BFFL[AEAE] didn’t follow the rules and now no one can make eye contact the entire rest of the day.

Plus there’s the whole business of the dreaded holding tank. Yes, it is every bit as disgusting as you think it would be. There are Coast Guard ordinances that prohibit flushing all of our digested Doritos directly into the drink, because, thank god.

So instead, you carry all of that shit with you until you get to a Marina where you can, yep, pump it out. Everyone remember Cousin Eddy in Christmas Vacation? Shitter’s full, guys.

Anyway, this was probably the most exciting news about Black Powder:
The heads on board were the fanciest.
Most efficient.
Heads known.
To.
Man.
I mean, they still would be sensitive, of course, but can you imagine being able to flush a modest amount of toilet paper instead of throwing it in the garbage, hiding it underneath mounds of clean toilet paper, and praying to god you don’t see anyone else’s used toilet paper in the process?

Perhaps the best part about these heads were that the system took the gross stuff, macerated [gross] and cleaned it to CG standards, so it could be flushed overboard, completely eliminating the need for a holding tank! No shit! [pun completely intended]

[VIMH(c) rolls eyes.]

Perhaps solely because of my personal proficiency in this area, or just because of bad timing on my part, I soon discovered on our trip to deliver the boat North that these heads were comprised of 10% porcelain, 10% fiberglass, and 80% LIES.

Somewhere in the intracoastal waterway in Georgia, on a beautiful, sunny day, probably just three glorious days into our trip, I made a quick visit to the lady’s loo, most likely happily humming Georgia on my Mind because, duh. I fearlessly did what needed to be done, and flushed away, joyously pirouetting around the 2-square foot space.

AND THEN. SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENED. MY HEART STOPPED.

But no! How could this be?? These were the fancy heads!!

My childhood nightmares came flooding back with the seawater that quickly did the same into the toilet bowl: My brother’s face taunting me and laughing while I sweat and cried one hot July day in 1999, that fateful day in August 2001 where I swore it wasn’t me, only to be given away by the toilet paper stuck to my shoe which forensics confirmed matched the offending party’s toilet paper, and finally, the dreaded day in the summer of 2002, when we had my sailing class over for modest refreshments on the poop deck and the love of my life, my sailing instructor, suffered the same fate as I, dooming our relationship forever.

I knew what to do. I quickly snapped into action and grabbed the marine plunger. I plunged and plunged and plunged and plunged for my life, sweat pouring and the muscles in my arms searing with pain. After about 20 seconds of trying, I decided I’d tried hard enough and did what any girl would do in this situation: called my father.

As it turns out, it wasn’t my fault. The problem was with the macerator [gross], and unfortunately, my poor father spent the day with his head in the closet fixing the damn thing.

In the past three years, they’ve been unable to completely fix the heads, mainly because the previous owner thought he was f*cking MacGyver and totally IKEA-hacked the entire electrical system. So my hopes have fluctuated up and down. Just when I’d think I was safe, the head would remind me who’s in charge. And the fear of the heads returned.

UNTIL NOW.

Once again, my parents have equipped a home of theirs where I will be making an extended stay with “Super Flushers,” this time of a nautical nature.

I’m ecstatic. Albeit a little wary. It will take some time for them to earn my trust. I’ve been hurt too many times before. But I’m willing to give it a go a-head.

[VIMH(c): groans, rolls eyes]

For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy this video sent to me by my lovely mom & dad, courtesy of Franzia, demonstrating the “toilet paper test,” as specifically instructed in the owner’s manual of the new heads.

Holy Cliffhanger, Batman

Ok so that may have been a little unfair.

But, if I’m being completely honest, the only reason I published that last post without finishing my thought was because I needed to leave to go have my soul sucked out [by Upper West Side moms and international tourists] at work [we’ll get to that part], and I just wasn’t sure I’d have the #courage to follow through and post it if I had time to walk away and think about it. And isn’t that ironic. [don’t you think.]

But, I did it. Immediately regretted it. Then un-regretted it. [rinse and repeat 10x] And you all saw the inner-workings of my brain and you are reading this second entry so I guess it wasn’t as scary and weird and tragic as I thought you thought it would be.

But don’t worry, we’re just getting started. [Now, you’re traveling through another dimension– a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone.]

Ok, ok, maybe we aren’t quite in Rod Serling aka LiveJournal circa 2001 territory, but, depending on the day, we may get there, so proceed with caution.

You guys. I just made it this far without saying ‘f*ck.’

Once, when I was about 16, my cousin, S, who is 7 years older than me, dropped the f-bomb in front of my sweet little old Memere. We all stood in shock and S turned BRIGHT red. Memere walked right over to S and said quietly in her ear as we all held our breath, “Don’t worry, we all say ‘f*ck.’”

Defining moment in my life. Because. We all say ‘f*ck.’ And if you say you don’t, idk if I can trust you really because Memere said we all do and therefore you’re either lying or you’re calling my Memere a liar in which case I will round-house kick you in the face, Chuck Norris style. [And this moment with Memere was brought to you BEFORE Alzheimers, so you know it’s legit.]

Anyway, back to the f*cking cliffhanger.

Back to bravery and back to stupidity. Back to Columbus and his stupid quote about the stupid effing ocean. What is she doing that is so stupid??? Drumroll, please…

At the beginning of June, I’m going to be leaving New York to deliver my parents’ boat 3000 miles from Rhode Island to Houston, TX.

I reckon some of you feel a little blue-balled.

That’s pretty fair.

Most people’s impressions are that it is going to be a seriously awesome two-month vacation, which, is essentially true.

It’s also going to be a bonding [read:tumultuousexplosivepoliticsandreligionfree] experience for myself and my Mom. My dad got a job in Houston and for the first time in my life my parents are going to move away from me and abandon me and have fun without me and forget about me and find new kids and send them to better schools and buy them better toys and love them more and and and !!!!!!!

Sorry, knee-jerk reaction.

If anyone ever reads this who doesn’t know me personally, I feel like I need to clarify a few things. I am married [we’ll get to him]. I live away from my parents and I have for just about 10 years [with exception], including college. I am wayyyyyyyy old enough to not be reliant on them [in theory], and my above reaction is therefore pretty annoying and needy and mostly satirical but also a little bit genuine.

My dad has to be in Houston at the beginning of May, so, aside from a few weekend visits from him, my mom and I will be making the trip in its entirety together with her long-time friend, A, who is an experienced nautical captain.

When I say “long-time” friend, I mean that this woman taught me how to sail and how to play hearts and tie knots but most importantly how to un-velcro my shoes when I was a year old solely to drive my mom nuts. I can’t wait to do that shit.

This trip is also meant to serve as a soul-searching mission for me, personally. [As insight into our relationship, I accidentally said this out loud to my mom who said, “good luck, you don’t have a soul, it’s black, it’s evil, you’re a heathen” idk something like that I’m paraphrasing.]

By the way, I know how lame and cliche that sounds. And I know how #firstworldproblems it is to have to go soul-searching. But, since I’m lucky enough to live in the first world I feel like I should take advantage of first world solutions, such as soul-searching missions through the hot, wet, crocodile-infested swamps and bayous of the South-Eastern and Mid US.

In addition to the boat being a boat, the boat is also my parents’ home. Two years ago they sold their house and moved onto their boat, Black Powder, named after yes, the ammunition material, which, yes, was used in the [blank] shells that, yes, they manufactured and sold with the, yes, replica nautical cannons they used to manufacture in our basement, as, YES, a side business because they get bored easily and basically they’re kind of cool I guess [relax, 14-yr old self, you still have a couple years to hate them].

And yes, as a friend pointed out to me recently, this is pretty much the most WASP-y thing ever.

Though they sold the business last year, if you are a curious cat and need to know more about what I’m referring to, Google ‘RBG Cannons.’ If you look hard enough–or just like the third link down– you can find a operational guide that my brother and I produced to send out with the purchases of their cannons. [It is pretty much the funniest thing ever, as will be attested to by at least one of my friend’s ENTIRE FAMILY who watch it on the regular when they get drunk on caipirinhas. You know who you are.]

Here are some real-life questions we’ve received about the trip so far:

Q: Are you delivering the boat in the water or on land?

A: Well, unless by ‘delivering the boat on land’ you mean pulling it on wheels like f*cking oxen across the plains while suffering from diphtheria [a la The Oregon Trail], I don’t think that would take 2 months. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Q: Are you going through the Panama Canal? 

A: Ok, so a couple of things could be at work here. #1: When you think of the geography of the good ol’ U.S. of A, you think of it completely ass-backwards and even though Texas stays in the same spot, Rhode Island is now California and California is now the [cooler & warmer] smallest state in the f*cking union. #2: You’re 10. #3 You think that the most efficient way to get somewhere is to travel 6000 miles out of the way, just so you can finally see what Cuba looks like up close. #4: You failed geography in the 5th grade but your mom was dating your teacher and so he let it slide.

Whatever it is, Google has this cool feature now where there is a MAP OF THE ENTIRE F*CKING WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. Maybe if you knew that it would have prevented you from asking this question out loud.

Q: Texas is in the ocean? 

A: If your question is whether or not Texas is the last floating land mass left-over in Kevin Costner’s Water World, I commend you for relating to an excellent film. Otherwise, please read the above answer and look at a f*cking map.

Q: They have boats there?

A: Hm, I don’t think they thought about that. I sure hope we aren’t the only one.

Q: Where will you sleep/go to the bathroom/eat?

A: Ok, so I don’t completely blame people who ask this question, because I don’t want to pretend like I haven’t been completely #blessed to have a childhood and a life that involves boating. BUT. I did tell you in the beginning that this boat is their home. So, like, get it together.

Yes they’ve lived on it in the winter and yes it has heat and yes they have toilets and no it isn’t so big that they have hired crew and no they aren’t Thurston Howell III and his wife [who never had an actual name besides ‘Lovely,’ because, as any Dominican cat-caller in my neighborhood will tell you, that’s what we’re here to be].

Black Powder is cool. Yes, it’s big by many standards, but it isn’t a floating McMansion. It’s older and has history and is tasteful and most importantly it has enough projects to keep my dad busy on the weekends.

They bought the boat three years ago from Fort Myers, FL. They delivered her up to RI, and so much of this trip is going to be familiar, albeit backwards.

My husband and I joined the crew in Jacksonville and took her up through the Intra-Coastal Waterway, through some of the weirdest and most secluded ports, seemingly endless wilderness and deserted marshland, all of which would make you think of Deliverance. [The final stop of our first leg of the trip was in Coinjock, NC, where a very kind and hospitable man and his very small dog drove us an hour to the nearest airport in his truck where his rifle hung on his back window just below a window sticker that read ‘Biscuits & Porn.’]

The trip also took us through some of the most beautiful coastline in the Atlantic; dolphins followed us for most of our trip and I just wanted to jump in and have one save me from a shark and we’d be best friends forever just like in Zeus and Roxanne and I’d go diving with him and his friends and we’d find shipwrecks and save people from drowning and have all sorts of adventures and hijinx on the high sea.

Technically, the trip consists of miles upon miles of incredibly narrow canals that require precision to avoid running aground, hours of planning out ports along the way for provisions, fuel and water, and yet more hours of figuring out plans B & C, in case the weather, wind, or current decide we can’t make it to our planned stop that day, and we instead need to find a cove to batten down the hatches and anchor for the night.

When I made the decision to leave to take this journey, it was a harder one than you might think. It’s been difficult for a lot of people very close to me to understand why it was such an important decision and why I was making such a big deal about it, and that’s ok. You don’t have to get it.

This past year has been full of some personal trials that have threatened to put me over the edge. I have been fighting a mental illness that almost got the better of me, taking care of a sick family member, dealing with a career I haven’t had the energy or drive to pursue in my few free moments, and have generally just felt like I was drowning in a black hole of emptiness that I was sucking everyone around me into.

Maybe a person better than me could have taken this is all in stride and had thicker skin and been more positive and more driven and focused and more consistent and less whiny and felt less entitled and maintained more perspective and and and and and and and and and and

[cursor blinks]

[VIMH©: Hey, miss me? Seems like you’re getting a little comfy and personal up in here. You should delete that last part because it’s boring and annoying and F*CK no one wants to hear about that because everyone’s got shit and you just went from being mildly funny and possibly charming and talking about somewhat interesting things to making it way too deep and meta, dude.]

[cursor blinks]

Ah. The inner struggle.

The thing is, when I decided to go on this trip, I saw it as an opportunity to clear my head. Get out of the hustle & bustle that, yes, the city inherently brings, but also that comes from that pesky VIMH©.

Find quiet.
Find strength.
Focus on a specific task.
Deliver the boat.
Sleep.
Wake up.
Deliver the boat.
Yoga.
Write.
Read.
Sing.
Deliver the boat.

Take the very physical and concrete obstacles and move them slowly and precisely out of the way.

Battle weather.
Heat.
Nature. [CROCODILES AND HUGE ROACHES AND MOSQUITOS OH MY]
Nurture personal relationships.

But most of all, battle me. Battle the VIMH© that says no, you can’t, you aren’t good enough, you are losing, you are failing, you are nothing, you are bipolar you are worthless you are weighing everyone down you will never you will never you will never you can not

[VIMH©: Hey! That’s my line!]

[cursor blinks]

The more I thought about writing this blog, the more I thought it could be interesting to many people for many different reasons. A good friend of mine referred to it as a floating Eat, Pray, Love. [Don’t worry, husband, I won’t take an Italian lover.]

It was all about what angles I could take when writing it. Three women on a boat taking this huge journey; a mother and a daughter; three women and three dogs [we’ll get there]; no good yankees moving down south [Houston, you have a problem].

But, as I said in my last post, I didn’t know where to start. I could have just posted pictures and basic entries about the places we go and see and do and the trials and tribulations of the trip and update you all on my mosquito bite count because I’m O+ and for some reason they love me so I’m basically just going to be one giant mosquito bite……

But that would have seemed dishonest, insincere, safe.

Not brave.

I told a friend of mine who knows me very well about the trip and about how I was giving up a fun career opportunity to do it and he looked at me and told me I was brave.

That never occurred to me in this instance. I think I have been brave at some points in my life, but it hadn’t occurred to me before then that THIS trip at THIS time could be seen as brave. I always just thought it was stupid.

Then again, Columbus was stupid. [See what I did there? Brought this shit full-circle.]

I’m going to have the courage to lose sight of the shore [VIMH©], search for new horizons, and hopefully come back with something that remotely resembles the West Indies [me as an actual person], or at least something I can swear is the West Indies until the day I die.

So, I’ll be using this blog to share the preparation of and execution of Black Powder’s big move, [operation dumbo drop?] my musings, my soul-searching expedition.

Read it if you want to. Skim it if you care to. Look at my pictures if you want to.Think I’m boring and #basic if you want to. Think I’m stupid if you want to.

Think I’m brave if you must. Maybe when this is all over, I’ll think so too.

T MINUS 58 DAYS.

Bon Voyage

Bravery and stupidity are often times one in the same. In my experience, at least.

[cursor blinks over and over]

Where the f*ck do I start?

[blink, blink]

[cursor mocks me: “You can’t do this. It’s a huge undertaking and you don’t know how to follow through.”]

Woah. That’s a low blow. The cursor is starting to sound a whole lot like the voice in my head.

[voice in my head mocks me: “Look at yourself. You’re a disgrace. You just started this thing with one of the biggest clichés on the face of the f*cking planet.]

Woah. The VIMH [did I just make that abbreviation up?]—VIMH© [better play it safe]—has a sailor’s mouth too.

And, by the way, VIMH©, I don’t think that is the BIGGEST cliché on the planet.

For instance, I didn’t start with Webster’s definition of bravery (noun: brav·ery \ˈbrāv-rē, ˈbrā-və-\ the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening) OR the definition of stupidity (noun:  stu·pid·i·ty \stu̇-ˈpi-də-tē, styu̇-\ the state of being foolish or unintelligent; a stupid idea or action).

I didn’t use that opportunity to then link those two words by pointing out that doing dangerous, frightening things (bravery) is usually foolish and often unintelligent (stupid).

[blink, blink]

I also didn’t start with one of the 819 quotes you can find when you Google “quotes about bravery,” which, I also, definitely, 100%, did not do.

Quotes such as:

“Success is not final; failure not fatal. It is the courage to continue that makes the
difference.” [Churchill]

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” [Picasso]

“Show me how big your brave is.” [Bareilles]

“I wanna see you be brave.” [Bareilles]

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” [Unless you’re Mexican. Then, you are confined by the wall paid for by your country designed by a bigot to keep your rapists out of #Murica.]

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” [Columbus]

[blink, blink]

That last quote strikes a chord. Like a C major chord. Very #basic and mediocre but usually decent place to start.

However, that last quote [from the man who discovered our continent and proceeded to rape and pillage the poor unsuspecting locals] DOES have a few things a C major lacks:

Specificity.

Commitment.

The ocean is pretty huge. There are sharks that want to eat you and Moby Dicks that want to crush you and huge sea monsters with tentacle-y things and OMFG have you ever SEEN pictures of the things that live in the DARK DOWN THERE?

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

No, but really, it’s like this: It was pretty effing stupid of us to venture out across this vast amount of water without having a clue what was underneath or what was on the horizon and having a pretty good feeling that you were just going to fall off if you went far enough.

But by the time the boat is built and the crew is selected and the rations are packed, there ain’t no going back. You better believe the Spanish monarchy isn’t going to let you leave them at the altar, even if you’re Julia f*cking Roberts. And that’s a pretty big commitment to something pretty f*cking stupid.

But, hey—like Picasso said up there (^), what would life be? We would be pretty crowded over in Europe and we wouldn’t have the Bahamas. And, like Churchill said up there (^), why not give it a shot? We gave Columbus his own holiday and he never even got to Japan like he was fucking supposed to in the first place.

In fact, it should be an inspiration to all of us f*ck-ups in the world that that asshole didn’t even do his job right and they still threw him a party. AND he never admitted that he effed up! Swore they were Indians ‘til the day he died. Talk about commitment.

But why do I find this quote so specifically appropriate right now?

Well, because I’m about to do something pretty f*cking stupid. Again.