Losing Sight of the Shore

PART ONE: A Little More Than a Three- Hour Tour; or, I Wanna See You Be Brave
 
After a day in Sarasota of provisioning, resting, and anxiously reading and rereading the instructions for the life raft, we took off at 11:30 on Thursday from Clearwater, and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. Clearwater had been cranky the night before, and we were given quite the lightning show, glad that she was getting it out of her system.

Cranky Clearwater


The stretch was 142 miles of wide-open ocean, which would take us approximately 23 hours at our cruising speed of 8 knots.
 
Exiting Tampa Bay, we set our course for a buoy [323° to be exact] just outside Carabelle, FL, timing it so that we would arrive just as the sun was rising, its light guiding us back into the intra-coastal to Appalachicola, just about another twenty miles to the west.
 
The skies were clear, the sun was bright and the ocean breeze made the chilly 97 degrees actually feel comfortable. The water was a flat calm blanket of blue as blue could be [probs Cerulean if we’re talking Crayola here], and it seemed as if Poseidon got over banana-gate and was actually throwing us a bone. 

Entering the Gulf, we were greeted by an escort that seemed to be sent from the sea god himself as 8 or so dolphins, in the clearest water imaginable, surfed off our bow, seemingly leading the way. About 20 miles into our trip, with Tarpon Springs to our east, the coastline disappeared, cell service was lost, and we were alone with the sea. As the sun was setting, we found ourselves 50-55 miles away from anything besides the water and its inhabitants.

Oh, hey guys.

 
With only the three of us on board, we had carefully crafted a watch schedule to make sure we had enough downtime to maintain the energy to make it through the long run. Previously on the trip, we’d pretty much all be present on the bridge for the day, switching off steering and navigating, but without a structure for rest on a day like that, we might be liable to throw at least one of each other to the sharks.
 
We structured our watches in rotating 2-hour increments, 2 hours steering, 2 hours navigating, and then 2 hours off. When night came, the 2 hours as navigator could also be used for resting on the bridge, as stand-by for the lady pirate at the helm. When I steered, A was my 2nd, my mom steered and I was her gal, and when A was at the helm my mom took the backseat.
 

Blue, blue, blue


Of course, not much navigation is necessary when you are keeping one course for over 20 hours straight without any markers between. So when we were in the 2nd seat, we kept a look out, kept each other awake, and made sure we didn’t somehow manage to eff it up.
 
Refreshing doesn’t even begin to explain what it was like to put this big girl on autopilot out in the deep blue of the Gulf, after spending months of anxiously watching the depth finder while navigating through narrow canals shared by large commercial vessels [Virginia Cut, anyone?].
 
Since I’m usually the night owl, I took the helm for the first night watch, starting at sunset. I turned on the Hamilton soundtrack, knowing that singing every word from top to bottom would make the time fly by—oh. Yeah, that idea—maybe not so good on account of people need to sleep and stuff and Lin Manuel’s sick beats don’t really make a good lullaby for everyone I guess ok whatever my b.
  


We had been monitoring some thunderclouds that had been forming menacingly off the west coast of FL for some time. But, our skies were clear, we were 50 miles out from shore, and it seemed like the storms were hanging out ruining the end of everyone’s perfect beach day instead.
 
We had been hearing a little bit of Coast Guard chatter on the radio, but the reception was very quickly deteriorating. Luckily, before we completely lost it, we heard every other word of a securitae from the Coast Guard warning of severe storms on the coast:
 
“Securitae xxxxxx –uritae all stations xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx coast guard sector xxxxxxxxxxxxx severe thunderstorms xxxxxx west co—xxxxx xxxxxx 60 knot winds xxxxxxxxxx water spouts xxxxxxxxxxx caution xxxxxx Out.”
 
Thank god we heard that, cause, you know, before I was actually not really worried about that storm. And now…
 
WATER SPOUTS!?! NO, I MEAN, WATER SPOUTS THOUGH, REALLY POSEIDON, REALLY????????????
 
Great. Just great. 50 miles offshore, my beautiful, calm, little mental paradise of blue, blue, blue, in which I was currently frolicking with dolphins, was invaded by a giant SHARKNADO. Also, pretty positive those jerk clouds were enjoying the torment a bit too much, as they set their autopilot to 323° just to watch me squirm.
 
Without access to radar on our phones, we had no option but to watch the clouds light up, occasionally allowing a strike to break through and threaten the ocean below, letting off maniacal laughter and giving us the distinct impression it was coming for us and this was how it ended oh my god are you kidding me we made it all this way and went through all of this bullshit THREE WEEKS IN CHESAPEAKE and we just had a beautiful day in the gulf and now this stupid storm is going to attack us and strike us and sink the boat and then we’re going to have to get in the life-raft and float for months and months and months and omg we’re probably going to have to eat one of the dogs and omg I would die before I did that and OMG we will all kill each other first anyway so nothing even matters.
 
Then, a phoenix rising from the ashes with a magical sword, the enormous full moon pulled itself up from behind the clouds. The storm, clearly frightened of actual confrontation, stayed right where it was, a cyber bully talking a big talk and screaming obscenities, leaving no doubt that behind its computer screen was a fat, smelly, un-showered, lonely little jerk binging on Doritos. I SEE YOU, STORM, AND YOU HAVE ORANGE DUSTY FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER YOUR WIFEBEATER.
 


Moonlight poured down and lit up the glass around us so brightly it was almost difficult to see the stars. All was well. All was calm. Plus, Sagittarius was one constellation that was still visible, leading this fellow archer along.
 
I broke from watch at 1230, nothing to report, and enjoyed a brief nap on the bow, under the stars. I mean. I know. It was actually a dream.

 
PART TWO: ES-CAH-PAY;
or, Mom, Don’t Read This Part

 
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed [LOL LOL JK], I took up watch again two hours later. A laid down on the settee behind me, my crisis intervention officer for the next two hours.
 
And then.
 
Silence.
 
Stars. Moon. Ocean. Me. Silence.
 
You guys ever been in your head? Like, really, REALLY gotten in there, all deep and stuff? Jiggle some locks and open some long-sealed doors, go through some old junk and hold a yard sale [and not like a yard sale where everything is $5 even though it should have been $1 and no one is buying anything and really the only reason it’s all $5 is because you actually never wanted to part with it in the first place].
 
It’s kinda SCARY in there. I mean, y’all have met the VIMH©, but even SHE doesn’t dare go down that far. [As a matter of fact, she stood there, watching with a look on her face of pure terror, no doubt praying I’d return so she wouldn’t have to run the show.]
 

[VIMH©: She’s right. I don’t want to deal with that real-life human shit. I exist solely to second-guess Alyssa and tell her she can’t do things. And occasionally provide her with a hilarious joke that she can take credit for.]

 
When I started this blog, I started with a slew of f-bombs and an incomplete thought about why the hell I was doing this.
 
Why was I taking this trip?
 
On the surface, I know why. It was the trip of a lifetime, I got to spend time with my mom, I got to get out of the city, I got to reflect on the challenges that the past year has thrown at me, go soul searching and—have fun?
 
Be brave, right?
 
“You can never cross the ocean until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
 
Fitting, as I reflect on the past [nearly] 3 months, for this quote to cross my mind again while doing just that.
 
With nothing but the sea and sky around me, and with no shore as a crutch, I force myself to delve deeper. I think past the challenges of just this last year and I give myself credit for facing the challenges of the last TEN.
 
I give myself credit.
 
I never give myself credit. It isn’t humble. No one wants to hear about your struggles and how you overcame. And BTW someone always has it worse than you. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a husband who loves me, and the support of my entire family, so therefore my challenges aren’t legitimate.
 
But you know what? My 20s have been HARD. They have been MUCH harder than I ever thought they were supposed to be….
 
I fumbled for the skeleton key that suddenly appeared in my pocket [dress pocket, obv] and opened the big red door separating the expansive beauty of the Gulf around me from the dark scary part of my brain, and started to sift through the millions of pages of archives that make up my mosaic, zeroing in on those that seem to slice the deepest.
 

[Archive box #8876098: October 2009-2012]
The abrupt death of my husband’s father of a brain aneurysm two months before our wedding forced hefty life decisions on barely-adults just starting out their lives. Putting any career goals on the back burner, we stayed in RI, where I blacked out and was somehow swept into the banking industry, which I never had any intention of becoming a part of. I rose to a position that MBAs covet, and woke up silently screaming in the middle of the night. One mental breakdown later, we trashed our ready-made lives so I could pursue theatre, just 3 years late.

 
[Archive box #88876549: April 2013]
I started therapy [and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, after lots of doctors and 2 years of trying to figure myself out]. In that time, I stayed up all night re-teaching myself piano until my fingers ached. I basically forced my husband to move into an apartment in a dilapidated but beautiful old multi-family building where I spent hours upon hours attempting to renew it to its original glory even though it was a short-term rental.
 
I felt high and creative and brilliant. My close friends & family knew something was wrong. I spoke very fast; ideas and words, fleeing rapidly from arbitrarily moving lips, made no sense. I made bad decisions. Stayed out all night. Didn’t call. And fought. Fought. Fought. Kicked. Screamed. Fought.
 
Outside of those close to me, I buried this struggle under layers upon layers of different multi-colored, molded masks. I got so good at it that I could convincingly be a different person to everyone I met. A true chameleon, it became difficult to figure out who it was that I actually wanted in my life and whom I was just trying to win over. Which parts of me were genuine, and which were fabrication?
 
I convinced myself this was just who I really was. That this was the person I grew into. I convinced myself I just needed to find people who actually understood me. I convinced myself I was making it all up. I wasn’t sick. That it was blown out of proportion.
 
I nearly lit my life on fire during an un-medicated four months of mania.
 

[Archive box #78877654: November 2014]
After getting back on mental health track, we moved to NYC to allow me to give this career a good go. I booked a great regional gig. While I was rehearsing, my husband experienced a health scare while I was hundreds of miles away and spent a week in a stroke unit without me. He would later be diagnosed with an incurable condition affecting his vertebral arteries, much too close for comfort to the condition of his late father. This will affect him for the rest of his life.
 

[Archive box #879872334: April-September 2015
] After coming down from another show and with nothing on the horizon, I experienced the most trying time in the battle for my mental health: sleeping for days, ignoring my goals, skipping auditions and work, distracting myself by refinishing our NY apartment and lying to myself daily about how I felt and what I was doing. My doctor was overmedicating me via a 10-minute appointment once a month. I started with a new doctor and felt like there actually might be a way out.

 
[Archive box #79823472398: October 2015-May 2016]
My mother-in-law was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and, in my husband’s place, I spent nearly 7 months pretending that I knew what the hell I was doing, traveling back and forth from NYC to Boston to bring her to her appointments each week.
 
I burnt-out. I cried at night. I loathed myself. I did nothing for myself or for my career. I spent all my time working at a restaurant or drinking after my shifts until early in the morning and I felt like I was losing any semblance of myself.
 

 
I finished flipping through the last box of archives and sat still for a moment. Letting everything sink in.
 
So, no, self. You didn’t do this for fun, did you?
 
No.
 
You did it to escape.
 
The word ‘escape’ echoed in the hallowed halls of the archive room, and I heard an explosion outside as bombs dropped on my little town. [VIMH©: Told you so.] I ran as fast as I could [like a solid 20-min mile], lungs pumping and legs burning to the old stone church that stood in the middle of town, crumbling, looking for respite, opened the doors and found it on fire.
 
As a matter of fact, I noticed, the entire town was on fire.
 
The reality of the serenity and quiet that I was surrounded by rescued me from the inferno in my head, and I found myself staring off into the distance, tears running down my face.
 
On a very basic level, the word “escape” shouldn’t elicit the action-movie-worthy horror that occurred when the realization hit me initially. But, the thought gave me pause, as I was certain that what I’ve tried to do most in life is not escape. To face it all dead-on, find the right path to success, and go from there. In my life, in order to face one thing, I may have had to abandon another, but I’d like to think the abandon was less borne of escape and more of ambition or responsibility.
 
“Escape” isn’t really in my vocabulary. Wasn’t.
 
Yet, as I sat in the Captain’s chair, relatively alone on the bridge, and stared out across the expanse in front of me, I realized that ‘escape’ was exactly what I intended. The ‘soul-searching’ that I spoke of in my first/second entry, at the time, was meant to illicit fluffy connotations like: “connect with nature,” and “do yoga” and “recharge.” When, really, it meant, GTFO of dodge, skirt all responsibilities, and figure out whether or not you still think you’re a person.
 
You may be happy to know, that I’ve decided that I do think I’m a person. Maybe a little effed up, maybe a little incomplete, but I think I’m finally starting to become whole again.
 
This trip has given me the opportunity to remove all the distractions and challenges of real life and focus on the immediate, the moment, the simple actions necessary to complete a simple task: get to Texas. And that has in turn helped me focus on getting to know the real me, without the masks, and I think I kinda maybe like her…?
 
I realize that not everyone can get this opportunity, and I am so grateful for the support of my husband and my family on this journey. Like a true Sagittarius, the desire for adventure and excitement runs deep, and restlessness seems to keep showing up like a bad penny. Perhaps this escape was just what the doctor ordered.
 
Suddenly, on the horizon, lights. Shore.
 

PART THREE: To Be Continued;  or, I Didn’t Have Time to Finish

There’s a lot more to fill you guys in on, so stay tuned!

With the flooding in Baton Rouge, and the closure of a major lock in New Orleans, we decided to hire a couple captains to take us offshore, around Louisiana and into Galveston, TX.

Just a couple hours ago, we set off for this 55-hour journey, sometimes bringing us 100 miles offshore. Won’t have access to the internet, so wanted to post this update now!

You guys. WE MIGHT JUST GET THIS BOAT TO TEXAS.

Houston, you have a problem.

xo
PS: As an added treat, here is a video of me and one of our captains, Brian, playing horribly after too much tequila.


John and Brian, our captains

ROLL [OVER] CALL

I think I’ve mentioned in passing that the three of us lady pirates are accompanied by some equally as salty, trusty, canine counterparts. For those of you who are interested, I wanted to take this opportunity to stray from the usual narrative of the trip and introduce them to you. [Cat people need not read on. dogsrulecatsdroolkthxbye]


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Galen
[The Lover]

5-year old Beagle/ Golden Retriever mix

Likes: LOVE. Running. Making funny faces. LOVE. Being pet and touched LOVED and licking your legs. Did I mention she’s a lover?

Dislikes: When A leaves the room. A leaving the room. Anytime A is not directly next to her.

Fun facts: Galen is our resident southern belle. Originally from Georgia, Galen was adopted by A from a trainer and so she has great manners. She was adopted only a few short months before we delivered Black Powder up from FL, and her first boat trip was when she accompanied us on the final leg of that trip from Atlantic City. She got seasick within 15 minutes and I can’t blame her. She hasn’t been seasick since.

IMG_4421

Herreshoff aka Herry
[The Protector]

6-year old Dachshund

Likes: My mom. Treats. Whining. Barking at people who walk by. Barking at people who drive by. Barking at dogs and birds and sounds and wind. Barking at literally everything. Whining. Getting his way. Sleeping in the sun with his face on the ground with his little ears all over the place and his adorable chubby paws framing his face. Table food. Begging for table food. Getting table food.

Dislikes: His bark collar. Cats. Rats. Children. When my mom leaves the room. My mom leaving the room. Anytime my mom is not directly next to him.

Fun facts: My mom adopted Herry as a puppy from a family who had lost the little girl they bought him for. At the time, they had just purchased RBG Cannons, the signature model of which was the Herreshoff. Aptly named. Spoiled little brat but god is he cute and god does he love my mom.

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Copernicus
[The Wildcard]

6-year old Mini Schnauzer/Poodle mix

Likes: Adventure. Exploration. Knowing everything there is to know about a particular room. Securing said room. Hunting flies. Belly rubs. Inexplicably scaling 3-ft stone walls, opening doors, and opening the car window to stick his head out. Intimidating new people. Intimidating new dogs. Bullying his brother. Biting the heels of new people and the hands of new people who think he’s cute and want to pet him. Teaching people a lesson about how cute he is. Generally just being a dick.

Dislikes: New people. New dogs. Being told ‘no.’ When we leave the room. Us leaving the room. Anytime we are not directly next to him. [Sensing a pattern?]

Fun facts: We adopted Copernicus from Louisiana a year after we adopted our other dog, Einstein. I had always had two dogs and wanted Einstein to have company. Plus you can’t have an Einstein without a Copernicus duh. [Yes they are named after Doc’s dogs in Back to the Future and yes when my husband met Bob Gale he showed him a picture of them and told them their names and that man threw his head back and belly laughed and has never been happier than in that exact moment.]

______________

Copernicus was born into a household with an animal hoarder who had 40+ other dogs in the house when she was finally found out. He was 6 months old and was one of only 10 dogs that could be saved and adopted. [Sadface]

While our intentions were good, we really bit off a lot more than we could chew with this pup. When he came to us as a puppy, Einstein wanted NONE of it and was immediately over him and super pissed at us for even THINKING he would stand for sharing our attention.

This was really surprising to us. Einstein and Herry were adopted around the same time, and they got along very well. Einstein was also regularly socialized at daycare, and only had problems with dogs larger than him, which we originally thought was because a Rottweiler attacked him while he was in shelter. [Now, we actually believe that it is more likely he started it. He likes to talk a big talk and snarl at other dogs, and then whines and cries when they return the favor.]

Einstein’s aggression definitely compounded the problems that already accompanied Copernicus up north: namely, his possessiveness of toys, his need to hole himself up in small places, and, even as a puppy, his need to assert his dominance in constant school yard scuffles. [He was put into time-out very frequently at daycare.]

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Caught them loving each other once.

We assumed that they would work it out as dogs do, and they would adjust to living together and would be best of friends and snuggle all the time and then when one of them was on their death bed the other one would climb in with him and they would pass away quietly in the night like in The Notebook.

Wrong. They got to a point where they were comfortable ignoring each other, which, we learned, was the best it was going to get. They continued to have the occasional scuffle, and, while we originally blamed it all on Copernicus, we soon learned that Einstein was actually just super sneaky and very dramatic. He quietly snarls at Copernicus and then screams BLOODY MURDER if Copernicus comes anywhere near him. We’ve got his ticket now.

Anyway, as Copernicus got older we noticed he was becoming increasingly aggressive to other people in our house. It started when he was crate training and we discovered that he likes to have a safe, enclosed place to go to when he gets nervous. This was all well and good until someone walked by his crate and he promptly snarled and jumped in their direction, immediately assuming the likeness of a hosed-down Gremlin.

There were several instances where someone made him anxious reaching for him or just walking by him and he bit them. Blood was drawn. It got worse and worse. We would constantly find excuses for why it was happening—someone was near his bone, someone reached too quickly, surprised him, he was possessive of his space, etc, etc.

One day, my husband was lying with him on the bed when he decided he was grumpy and suddenly turned around, biting him on the bridge of his nose, narrowly missing both of his eyes. Up until then, my husband and I had not had any serious instances of him biting us that we hadn’t passed off as puppy nibbling, and he had never drawn blood from us.

We decided to bring in an expert, who recommended clicker-training. He also pointed out that Einstein seemed to be the instigator, which is when we started to realize he wasn’t the little angel he pretended to be. We discovered that while Einstein is the epitome of the old dog who can’t learn new tricks [or at least doesn’t want to], Copernicus responds very well to positive reinforcement and, through that, we were able to regain his trust and start to trust him ourselves. We learned to read his signs of anxiety and to know when to tell him to go to his spot to calm down.

We learned that perhaps the largest part of keeping him happy and others safe is to educate those who come into contact with him. He is really annoyingly adorable and people, understandably, just want to squash his little face. All he wants to do is SQUASH THEM RIGHT BACK AND EAT THEIR FINGERS FOR BREAKFAST. NOMNOMNOM

We learned that this dog will most likely never be completely broken of his tendencies, and the most we can do is keep him obedient to us, and react appropriately to his behaviors.

It’s funny. I remember being a kid and always being told to ask someone before approaching their dog. If you didn’t, and the dog bit you, it was your fault. I once tried to take a toy away from my babysitter’s dog and it bit me. Uh, duh. These are animals. Did my parents sue her? Uh, no. THESE ARE ANIMALS.

Today, if your dog is even a little bit aggressive, well first off, you are an idiot or a terrible pet parent. I mean, all you have to do is watch The Dog Whisperer and you’ll learn everything you need to know. Everyone knows that. Second, if your dog bites them or growls at them, even if you have instructed them not to approach, they are INCENSED. If your dog growls at their dog after you’ve told them they do not interact well with other dogs, and they still allow the dog to approach, they are INCENSED.

It is amazing to me how stupid people are when it comes to this. I was walking Copernicus in the park near our apartment one day about a year ago and had this exchange with an idiot:

Idiot Lady: “OH MY GOD HE’S SO CUTEEEEEE.” [approaches Copernicus]

Me: “Yes he is but he gets nervous around new people so please don’t touch him.”

IL: “Oh that’s ok, I love dogs. Dogs love me!!!” [idiot giggle, still approaching]

Me: [Pulling Copernicus behind me] “No, I’m sorry he’s really not friendly.”

IL: [Ignoring me, approaching him, hand towards his face]

Copernicus: [snaps, growls] “Damnit, I missed!”

IL: [Pulls her hand away, looks at me like she just witnessed me slapping a baby.] “YOU NEED TO CONTROL YOUR DOG!!!!!!!!!!”

OK then who the hell is going to control YOU YOU EFFING IDIOT.

Anyone who knows us well will tell you they have seen Copernicus come leaps and strides from where he once was. He warms up to new people much more quickly, and lots of friends and family who were once afraid of him now are comfortable sitting with him and playing with him and sleeping with him when dog sitting. We have had very few recent instances of him actually biting someone, at least without their acknowledgement that we properly warned them [although his new thing is to nip at new people’s heels like he’s herding sheep].

Such are the challenges of rehabilitating a rescue pup. But this process has not been without its rewards. Once he warms up, he is incredibly sweet and gentle, and god is that dog way too smart.

My husband and I decided it was too much for him to leave both the dogs with him for so long. [I mean, he’s already the superhero behind me, the breadwinner, not to mention the cool one.] We also decided it was a bad idea to have dogs out-number people on this trip. And while Copernicus truly is bonded more to my husband than me, we decided that the best decision was for me to take him and to leave Einstein. Einstein is chill, he will sleep all day, love you when you get home and demand your constant attention. He will do what you do, he will walk if you want to, he will Netflix and chill if you want to.

Copernicus suffers from serious separation anxiety and gets too lonely without Einstein. So, I took the problem child. [My mom was THRILLED.] Hopefully, the time apart will be therapeutic for both the dogs, and they will be happy to see each other come August.

So far, he’s adjusting well. He and Herry always just ignore each other, and, despite a few scuffles in the past, I imagine that he and Galen will become good pals by the end of this trip. [Fingers, toes and paws crossed]

xo

 

 

Failure to Launch

This morning, Black Powder set sail with a little shove from some friends & family and a generous send-off. Fellow yacht club members and staff came down to the end of their docks to give us a wave and wish us well as we left the harbor the only way we know how: obnoxiously blowing off cannons at 9 AM. Rise and shine, ya filthy animals.

Sweltering and humid at the docks, the wind quickly picked up and the breeze graciously offered us a temporary reprieve. I think we’ll sweat enough as we continue to head South, thanks very much.

These waters are friendly and familiar. We sail through Narragansett Bay and under the Jamestown Bridge, and then we are following the Rhode Island coastline for what is most likely going to be Black Powder’s last time. [You never know–my parents change their minds a lot.] We blow off the horn as we pass friends’ houses on the shore, and shoot cannons like the bunch of salty lady pirates we are.

We had planned to go off-shore overnight for the first portion of our trip, after a brief stop in Montauk, heading into the Atlantic and running for Cape May. But Rhode Island just can’t quit us, and, like the jealous ex she is, she will be slamming us with two days of wind and high seas, which would make that 36-hour leg just slightly less than fun and slightly more like a ride on a bucking bronco on top of an inflatable pool float blindfolded while my mom and I scream at each other, the dogs pee, poop and throw up everywhere, and no one sleeps for two days. That is prime mutiny territory, folks.

So, we’ll now be heading through Block Island Sound to spend the night in Old Saybrook, CT, and will plan to make the run through Long Island Sound tomorrow and— oops scratch that—

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This is my office.

As I sit here in what will be my office space for the next 9 weeks, a mere two hours into our grand voyage, my mom comes down to tell me that we are changing plans. We likely wouldn’t make it all the way due to fog and weather conditions so now we’re going to batten down on Block Island for a couple days. [WHAT A BUMMER WOW OUR LIVES ARE SO HARD.]

As I write, we are passing Point Judith, RI and will make the 10-mile run to Block–wait— What’s that? Looming large and ominous in front of us, a massive fog bank moves in from the Atlantic and envelops us, reducing visibility to maybe a half mile.

Rhode Island!!! How many times do I have to tell you it’s over? Stop calling my house late at night and breathing into the phone. Stop visiting my mother just because you were “in the neighborhood.” And most importantly, above all else, STOP DRUNK TEXTING ME DICK PICS.

We do donuts in the sound, which is as close to an idle as is possible with a moving sea beneath you, and wait. We’ll see if the fog will clear and allow us to pass or if it’s back to Newport for the night—

UPDATE. Just arrived in Newport. Will be here for probably two nights. “Failure to Launch” party to commence immediately.

OMG YOU GUYS. What if Rhode Island is Wayward Pines?! OR WHAT IF RHODE ISLAND IS THE ISLAND FROM LOST!? Maybe there’s no way out. MAYBE WE’VE BEEN DEAD THE WHOLE TIME.

Speaking of failing. It’s story time.

About 6 weeks ago, in preparation for our trip and before my dad took off for Houston, I pretended to be my father’s second son and learned about the engines, generators, power system and pretty much all of the things that make Black Powder float. The engines need to be checked regularly while under-way, monitored for temperature, fluid levels, and other boring stuff you wouldn’t care about.

In the same weekend, even though it wasn’t my dad’s birthday, I went with him to the firing range. Disclaimer: my dad has guns. I grew up around guns. They have always been responsible gun owners. My dad was a captain in the army, my grandfather was a lieutenant in the Providence Police Department and my aunt just retired from the same. My dad inherited my grandfather’s gun collection when he passed away, and because my Papa was one BAMF, this collection includes an EFFING LUGER HE STOLE OFF A NAZI IN THE WAR.

Since the guns will be on board with us, and since we’ll need to protect ourselves against pirates just like Captain Phillips, I wanted to make sure I knew how to load & fire the guns on board. Let me just start. By saying. You do not want to come at me with a Glock in my hands. Just don’t do it. You are not the captain now, LOOK AT ME—I AM THE CAPTAIN NOW.

In wedges, skinny jeans, and a pink top [because of course I want to draw as much attention as possible], I follow my dad into the range, which is already chock-full of the same type of guy who likes to condescendingly quiz girls on their sports knowledge after interrupting their crime novels at a bar. [I’m looking at you, Doug.]

Immediately, I know. I am going to prove myself to these dudes. Watch out, guys, this is how a bad-ass lady pirate does it. We start to prep the guns for firing, which involves cocking all of the guns and exposing the empty chamber when not in use.

My dad has a 1957 Marlin 30-30, which is just about the pride of his collection [much like his only daughter]. I pick up the cased rifle, taking a quick peek over my shoulder to make sure I don’t need to give an “I dare you to laugh” face to any of the spectators, who are obviously absolutely riveted by what they were seeing.

[VIMH©: They weren’t even watching you, you fucking egomaniac.]

Tossing my long hair over my shoulders, I’m careful not to chip my pink nail polish as I load the weapon. I set the target 20 feet away, and shoot the rifle off perfectly the first time, manually re-cocking the barrel after every shot, barely responding to the recoil and getting eight perfect head shots. I then turn around and look at my father, who is obviously beaming with pride. The warehouse is so quiet you could hear a pin drop as the crowd silently and anxiously awaits my next move. I put out my cigar on the ground and hand the Marlin back to him, saying, “Meh, I’m bored with this one, what else do you have?” The entire range erupts into applause, two large, handsome, shirtless men come pick me up and carry me around the room while mothers [where did they even come from!?] shove their babies into my face, begging me to kiss them. My mother is crying and I can hear my brother from miles away, lamenting his loss of favoritism. It is rumored that the range officer sold my paper target on E-bay for upwards of $10 million.

[VIMH©: …]

Once I came out of my fantasy, I unzipped the rifle’s case, slightly misjudging where the opening was. It promptly slipped out, slamming onto the hard concrete, butt-first, and shattering the plate. Like a BOSS.

The range officer ran over to assist in picking up the pieces of the butt plate [my name for it], which were scattered across three range lanes, and cried with my father over the damage [only cosmetic] of his beautiful, perfectly kept antique. Meanwhile, I stood frozen like an IDIOT with a bright red face and a sudden inability to control my laughter. My dad is a saint, you guys.

Did I mention how great I am with the Glock, though? That’s no fantasy. Anyone who tries to mess with these three lady pirates is going to be sorry. I just won’t be shooting the rifle.

Xo

 

Social Lubrication

Here’s a question. What is it about a girl sitting alone at a bar that makes men think that she is there specifically to make their acquaintance?

I don’t want to talk to you and I most DEFINITELY don’t want you to buy me a drink—why do you think I am sitting quietly by myself in a corner? Can’t you see I am very clearly trying to finish my trashy crime novel?! [After playing fast and loose and getting suspended from the force, our hero woke up to find herself hanging naked by her wrists in a barn! She’s finally going to find out who murdered her sister 15 years ago!]

Plus, I know that proper decorum dictates that I would have to talk to you at least while I am drinking said drink and that doesn’t even come close to your expectation of how I should thank you for your gracious gift. [I’m not new here, guys.]

Also, you’re drinking the $2 happy hour Bud Light special and I don’t think you want to pay for my Maker’s Manhattan.

AND PLEASE TELL ME HOW have you missed my constant left hand gesticulation trying to get you to notice the shiny thing that tells you to leave me the fuck alone?

A few weeks ago, I accompanied my mother-in-law to the last outpatient step in her treatment for the Multiple Myeloma she was diagnosed with in October. We stayed in a hotel in Boston adjacent to Dana Farber and she spent three long days having her stem cells collected for transplant. [This whole process is incredibly fascinating].

Over the course of these long days, she was heavily medicated and slept often [understandably]. For the times she didn’t need me, like the high-functioning alcoholic I am, I quickly found myself a cozy place at the hotel bar.

I’m the only person I know who can become a regular at a bar in 3 days. I became a fixture at said bar after my 3 visits on the first day in between trips to check on her treatment. [I see your judgment, and I raise you the zero fucks I give.]

The first visit on the first day was most likely after noon but definitely after 10am [you know what they say, it’s double-digits somewhere, amiright?]. I was all settled in to finish my trash novel, when along comes Doug.

Now, I’m sure you know why bars have mirrors behind them, right? So that the bartender can see people coming up when his/her back is turned.

You know what those mirrors are NOT for? Using them to [not so] covertly check out the girl sitting three stools down from you. After awkwardly making eye contact in said mirror no less than three times, Doug took this opportunity to interrupt my silence and ask if he could buy me a drink, since mine was almost empty.

[VIMH©: GODDAMNIT DOUG. Yes, I want another drink but NO I definitely do not want you to buy it for me, for the aforementioned reasons. NOW I have to pretend that I’m “not ready” for another drink (as IF) and hope that you’ll get the memo and go away while I sit and silently weep over my empty glass.]

Doug isn’t one to take a hint. Listen guys: Doug is from Boston. Doug doesn’t just give up. Doug is BOSTON STRONG.

He stumbles through his best small talk, as I do my best to seem as disinterested as possible without yelling at him, never fully turning my head towards him while muttering a few “hmm”s and “oh”s with a sterile but polite smile [one thing you master as a server in an NYC restaurant is the polite smile that protects your guests from the small serial killer behind your eyes].

Sports Center blares the news that the Supreme Court upheld Tom Brady’s suspension and my audible expression of disgust gives Doug the conversation starter he’s been anxiously waiting for.

He does what all guys do when they are trying to gauge if a girl actually knows sports or if she has a closet full of pink hats, giving him the perfect opportunity to mansplain the big yellow forks on the field.  Over my left shoulder I hear, “You like football?”

Cue eye-roll.

The restaurant is empty, save for a few stragglers finishing their waffles and scrambled eggs, which the hotel provides a 15% off coupon for [oh. Breakfast food is in this memory. Maybe it was before noon after all.]

[VIMH©: You’re a disgrace.]

The servers are sitting in a far booth folding napkins and the bartender is cutting fruit down the other end of the bar. The manager is doing his best to pretend he’s writing a very important work email on his phone when we all know he’s scrolling through Tinder. Doug and I are the only two at the bar. I see no way out.

I sigh a heavy sigh, put down my book, accept that I am just going to have to wait to see how our hero gets out of her latest pickle, and give in to The Doug.

Girls who know sports know the struggle. The tightness that comes to your chest when a guy or group of guys condescendingly challenges your sports knowledge, forcing you to swallow your anger, keep it cool, and enjoy expertly removing their testicles with facts and opinions, an innocent smile, and a quick hair flip.

Thoroughly embarrassing him, I school him on the actual facts of the Deflategate scandal [AKA not what the idiotic media sheep believe to be true], we talk four Superbowls, and the truth comes out: Doug is a Giants fan.

Cue even bigger eye-roll.

The only thing worse than being a Giants fan is being a Giants fan from New England. The only thing worse than being a Giants fan from New England is saying that you are a Giants fan because you picked the Giants when “the Patriots sucked.” [You people are the worst kind of people and you know nothing of loyalty and you are dead to me.]

Doug is late 30s, 5 o’clock shadow, blue eyes and a dopey smile. Now that I am actually looking at him, I notice that Doug’s t-shirt and jeans are marked with the same dirt that is trapped under his nine fingernails—the kind that doesn’t come off after washing your hands several times—the dirt and wear indicative of a hard day’s work doing manual labor.

At this point, I decide there is NO way I am going to get through this without another drink, and order one more from the bartender, which Doug announces once again is “on him.” The bartender gives me the look that a seasoned bartender knows to give in this scenario, the one that means, “You ok? Want me to throw him out? I’ll throw him out for you.” Having deduced Doug was a bit of a dope but generally harmless, I reassure him with a nod of my head, and accept my [not quite free] beer.

We talk for a while and I learn Doug’s life story, more or less.

As an icebreaker, he regales me with all the gory details of how he lost the better part of his left middle finger to a wood chipper. We talk about his job at the plant that powers the hospitals, how he works 12-hour days and then commutes an hour home, just to commute another hour back the next day.

I learn about his childhood in the backwoods of New Hampshire, and his 95-year old grandmother who, in the summers, ran a restaurant on her front lawn. She was diagnosed with cancer just three months ago. He tells me how he feels like he failed his little brother, who was fired from the job he got him at the power plant after a drug test, because he should have seen the signs he was using again.

His story was normal and funny and heart breaking and thoroughly fascinating, and when all was said and done I was actually quite happy I stopped being such a bitch and talked to him.

Truth bomb. I often use the excuse that “I hate people” as a defense mechanism that prevents me from feeling socially rejected.

In high school, I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t unpopular, I just generally existed in between several groups without connecting on a real level with many people. [There are a few exceptions, of course.]

Publicly, I attributed this to the fact that I hated most people anyway. In reality, I am just socially awkward and sometimes botch interactions with people, which was especially true when I was younger.

I was pretty [eye roll], so the Sorting Hat and human nature placed me naturally at the “popular table”, but I was a little weird and uncomfortable there, always feeling inferior to the pretty cheerleaders and the cool girls who knew how to talk to the boys without saying or doing something awkward. I was smart but didn’t try hard enough in school to connect with the kids with foresight, who took AP classes and set their sights on prestigious colleges when I just wanted to skate by. I liked acting and singing and so the drama club was where I eventually felt the most happy, but still felt that my outside popularity somewhat alienated me there as well.

I spent most of my time hopping around tables in the lunch-room when I was bored with people, assuming the persona I had created to fit in with each group. I wish I could go back and tell myself that it was ok to just be me.

College was similar: my [now] husband and I were fish out of water and so we assumed the part of the loud-mouthed, self-righteous Yankees invading the passive-aggressive territory of the Midwest. As I started to work in theater outside of school, I found myself accepted and comfortable and didn’t have the need to be loud and aggressive anymore [except for after tequila], letting that mask slide away.

As I grew up, I learned to fully embrace my awkwardness. I learned to laugh at myself and invite people to laugh with me instead of letting it embarrass me. That became occasionally charming and disarmed people and allowed me to open up and make real friendships that will last a lifetime. [The social lubricant helps with that. Thank you, alcohol.]

While recovering from the shadow of mental illness, I’ve tried to learn who I am and how I feel, and I realize I still have many faces. Now I know that the masks allow me to adapt and connect more widely with people, rather than acting as an insincere coping mechanism which protect me from having to get too close.

In my close circle of friends, I’m known as the Wildcard. Basically, this means that occasionally, after the perfect amount of social lubrication, I will suddenly go into “Wildcard status” and, without inhibition, do something crazy. [For example, the time I decided to tickle an Elmo in Times Square which resulted in that creepy, bed-bug infested knock-off chasing me through hoards of people and into a Sephora, where I told the security guards I didn’t know why he was chasing me and got him thrown out and instructed to leave me alone.]

One night on the subway, Wildcard status struck as a crazy-looking man walked through our car loudly preaching the word. Despite my husband’s and my friends’ protestations, I sat next to him and asked him about his life and why he was preaching on the train. Surprisingly, he didn’t stab me. Instead, I found out he lives a very normal life, is married with 6 kids and a bunch of grandkids, and he preaches on the subway in his spare time because that is what the Bible instructs him to do.

My interactions with this man and with Doug are further proof that I don’t actually hate people. In fact, I kind of like people. I like talking to people and learning about their lives, histories, circumstances, and passions.

I realized that these 3000 miles [on a boat from Rhode Island to Houston] will provide me an amazing opportunity to bring some stories to life from those we meet along our way. Stories like the one from the man from Coinjock, VA [remember the biscuits ‘n’ porn guy?], who was devastated when his dog died after eating anti-freeze, only to have a small white dog show up the next day and plant herself firmly at his side. [He also told us about the time he got arrested trying to take a black bear, dead by the side of the road, to make him into a rug. Wildlife officials don’t really take too well to fucking with protected species.]

I’m excited to think of the stories I can learn from people who have lived along the intra-coastal waterways of our great country for their whole lives. People who have made their livings in ways that I am not accustomed to and who live with a definition of happiness that is completely different than mine. Or yours.

One goal I am setting for myself for this trip is to do just that. I hope to be able to learn about them and myself as they open my eyes to a previously unknown world. I hope to share some of their stories with you as I am lucky enough to hear them. [I’m packing lots of Stoli, as I’m sure I’ll need the lubrication to break the ice.]

xo

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.