What’s the difference between…

…Port Authority and a crab with breast implants?
One is a crusty bus station and the other is a BUSTY CRUST-ACEAN.

Get it? Just a little dad joke for you in honor of Father’s Day.

Anyway, we last left our heroes in Atlantic City, and, though their change of luck didn’t help at all in the casino, it did seem like things were actually looking up…

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Out on the town in Atlantic City

 

PART ONE: Training Wheels;
or, Does Anyone Have a Functioning Easy Button?

Saturday we woke up to a beautiful, calm morning and left for Cape May, NJ, dolphins surfing our wake the whole way there.

[insert laughing-so-hard-he’s-crying-cat emoji]

You didn’t think it was that easy, did you?

After several long days, all of the BS of the first week, and a lack of true way-lay days, we were tired, hung-over and more than a little burnt out.

Let me take this moment to educate those of you non-boat people who don’t know about the docking process. First, when you arrive at your destination, there are a few options. You can grab a mooring in the harbor, which is basically a huge floating anchor that you rent, you can drop your own anchor in designated spots, or you can pull up and dock. For obvious reasons, docking is much more convenient, as you can hook up to shore power [so your West Wing Netflix binge doesn’t have to end], and with three dogs, you can bring them ashore without having to launch the dinghy [ours is obviously named Loose Cannon].

At first glance, it probably seems pretty easy, right? I mean, it should just be like parking a car, and the hardest thing about parking a car is parallel parking, and I happen to be really great at that so I don’t know what you are all complaining about.

In reality, the only way docking a boat would be the same as parking a car would be if, while you were trying to park, the concrete constantly morphed and moved and the curb threatened to gauge into and destroy your Range Rover, oh and then you had to jump OUT of the car while it was still moving [sometimes like a good 4-5 feet down] and lasso a fire hydrant to pull your 2-ton vehicle in with your bare hands, trying to avoid having it pull you off of the curb and on to the street in between the car and the curb which basically at that point is as dangerous as falling into a volcano that is due to erupt.

Add tide and wind into the equation [which could either be pushing you towards the curb or away from the curb], upgrade your Rover to the super heavy-duty model [making it a mere 34 tons], and then place a whole bunch of other 34+ ton vehicles all around the empty parking space, all of which will contain people who gawk at you while you try to park, starting a sweat storm rivaling that of a whore in church.

[It’s pretty much the best entertainment of the day to watch a new transient come in to port and try to fit into a space they’ve never been into before, or pick up a mooring when it’s super windy, so long as they aren’t anywhere near your boat. Especially when it’s a shiny, brand new powerboat and it’s clear the captain did not think through his decision to buy a boat and he thought it was going to be a lot more fun and easy than this and his dogs are barking and his children are crying and it’s raining and you know his wife is going to divorce him as soon as she gets off that GODFORSAKEN PIECE OF—It’s awesome. Boat people are terrible.]

Basically, it takes practice. Lots of it.

My dad is generally the master of the docking, and he’s got it down pat [after the one time on our way up the ICW when the dockhand tied a line on too soon and the tide was ridiculous and he tried to back up without knowing that he was tied on and so the stern of our boat swung into a beautiful 100-foot yacht and its million-pound anchor ripped clear through like 4 of our stanchions, just narrowly missing fiberglass].

On this trip, A is handling most of the dockage, but my mom can do it even though she doesn’t think she can, so she practices when it’s an easy slip to get into/out of. Also, generally, we’ve been asking for face docks, which is basically an end space, so we don’t need to slip in between other boats. The technique of actually helming the boat in to dock is seriously difficult and stressful and, as A keeps saying, the whole time all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to break my parents HOUSE.

So we have our Captain: A. We have our Admiral/First Mate: my mom. So besides just being along for the ride, my titles on board are as follows, not necessarily in order of importance: Chief Stew [aka galley wench, there is some division on board regarding whether or not we like that word but whatever I’m the cook]; Chief Historian; Chief Technology Supervisor; Chief Musician and DJ; Chief Drunk; Chief Yoga Instructor; and Chief Dockhand.

As dockhand, I get the lines and fenders [cushy bumpers to protect the boat] ready for dockage, and take them all in and put them away as we leave port. I’m usually the first person off the boat when we come in, and the last one to jump back on as we leave. A lot of the marinas we’ve been to have had dockhands that will catch our lines, and whichever of my fellow lady pirates isn’t at the helm will help if and when possible.

Compared to actually helming the take-off and landing, my job sounds pretty easy, and usually it is.

However, there are some intricacies when it comes to getting off successfully, one of which is deciding, based on wind and tide and room and other factors, which lines to remove and in which order. Generally, you want the wind and tide to help you off [and on] if at all possible, so making a careful decision in this regard can help swing the boat in a particular direction, and take some of the heat off of the skipper.

Depending on the conditions, we usually tie up with four lines: one from the bow, one from the stern, and two spring lines, which run from the center of the boat, crisscrossing. Springs are used to hold the boat close in place, preventing an unceremonious slam against the dock while you’re nestled in your bunk at 2am. That’s a lousy wake-up call.

[PHEW. That was a long lesson. There will be a multiple-choice test following this entry.]

Back to Saturday morning. Atlantic City. Tired. Hung-over. Brains not really functioning at full capacity.

The water was flat calm, there was virtually no wind, and we were on the end of a dock that was empty besides us. Piece. Of. Cake.

My mom takes the helm, because, duh it’s going to be so easy.

Then, we notice that there seems to be some sort of kayak race coming through the harbor, the course of which was directly perpendicular to ours. So, engines running and lines nearly prepped to go, we decide to wait it out. 5, 10, 15 minutes go by, and it seems like they’re done. So, the engines go back on, the lines get re-prepped and—wait a second—it looks like they’re sending out another wave. Another 5, 10, 15 minutes go by, I’m now standing on the dock and my mom is at the helm, and we decide to make a break for it.

I release the bow and stern lines. We have decided to use the spring to swing the bow out to port. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to release that last spring line from on board, so you rig the lines up so that both ends are secured to the boat and there’s just one loop on the cleat on shore, and, when ready, you just swing it off and be on your merry way.

I’d done this just a few days before with no problems. Only thing was, the last time, A had prepped the lines for me. This time, I was supposed to do it. Oops.

As we are above to move away from the dock, A looks at me, incredulously, and tells me to get on the boat… DUH. I forgot I was doing the spring from the boat this time. Holding the end of the line in my hand, I run back to the stern and attempt to get into the boat from the swim platform. Except it’s locked.

Now, with the very, very end of the line in my hand, by body stretched out to capacity, I start shouting for someone to come and unlock the swim platform! They don’t hear me. UNLOCK THE SWIM PLATFORM. A finally hears me and lets me in. I climb the side rail and crawl over to the starboard side.

The bow swings out, but the spring is still wrapped around [but not secured to] the cleat on shore. I manage to swing it around a couple of times so that there is just one wrap on it, hanging off the side rail of the boat like a true pirate, end of the line in hand.

End of the line in hand.

The end of the line is not supposed to be in my hand, it’s supposed to be attached to the boat. This is the communication that followed:

A: Lyss, attach the spring! Attach the spring!
Me: Attach it to what? Wait—what? Where is it supposed to be?
A: Attach it to the boat! Cleat it off!
Me: [scrambling to get to a cleat.]
My Brain: ::whhrrrrrrrrrn:: [powering down, lights flicker, goes dark. back-up generator powers up, running on fumes]
Me: [looking up to A] I don’t understand.
A: Lyss! To the—
Mom: I can’t move! I can’t move! I don’t know what to do!
A: The spring is still attached, just hang on a second! Back it up! No—not forward!
Mom: I think they’re coming out again! More kayakers!
A: What? We have to keep going!
Me: WHERE DO I PUT THE SPRING?!
Mom: I think I want to stop—let’s pull back—A, come take the helm I’m going to go throw up–
A: No! — LYSS ATTACH THE SPRING to the boat!
Mom: Nevermind, they aren’t coming out —I CAN’T MOVE! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!
A: THE SPRING IS STILL ATTACHED TO THE DOCK!
My Arms: [being yanked from their sockets as I try to pull 34 tons with my bare hands]
My Brain: ::vrrooooommmm:: [powers back up]
Me: [secures the end of the line to the cleat directly in front of MY FACE]
[bow of the boat swings back out to port, my mom puts it into gear]
Me: [swings the spring off super easily JUST LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE TO START WITH]
Lady Pirates: [deafening silence]

After I finish clearing the deck of the lines and fenders, I go up to the fly bridge where A and my mom are navigating out of the harbor. We laugh for approximately 15 minutes straight [a liiiiiittle bit of pee comes out], and thank GOD it was 7am on an empty dock because YOU KNOW if anyone was watching they would have had quite the show.

PART TWO: Over-Lubrication;
or I’m An Idiot

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Sunrise over Cape May

After an 11-hour trek from Atlantic City, we arrive in beautiful Cape May, where dolphins really did greet us on our way into the harbor.

From Cape May, you enter into Delaware Bay, cross the Chesapeake-Delaware (C&D) canal, and enter into Chesapeake Bay. Delaware Bay can be quite a bitch when the weather is rough, and, with high wind and seas in the forecast, and, since we all very clearly needed a break, we settled down for a much needed two way-lay days until the weather chilled the eff out.

Sunday was a brisk 98 degrees, so we spent the day relaxing [read: drinking vodka] by the marina’s beautiful pool. Monday was windy and cooler, and we took the opportunity to explore the adorable little town of Cape May, and bring the dogs with us for a stroll along the waterfront. It actually was starting to feel like a vacation.

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The Nut House. Cape May waterfront.

Tuesday, we made the run up the Delaware and into the canal, stopping in Chesapeake City for the night. We stayed at a marina with dockside dining and a huge bar, but since we don’t partake in those types of activities we just stayed in and went to bed early.

JK OBV. We ate at the restaurant, which was unfortunately not ready for the season and super under-staffed. In solidarity, I gave the poor bartender many looks of “it’s ok! you’re really busy!” and knowing smiles, plus a solid tip [AKA MORE THAN 20% 20% IS THE MINIMUM, PEOPLE.].

The bar being super full, vodka being super drank, and with the boat pulled up right next to the bar, I decided after dinner that I was going to make my first attempt at fulfilling my goal of meeting the locals. My crewmates, shaking their heads, reluctantly left me at the bar.

GUYS ARE SO PREDICTABLE.

Within three minutes, a man pulls up a stool next to me, “Is this seat taken?”

My first instinct is of course to roll my eyes and say something snarky, but I remind myself of my intentions, and invite him to sit down with me.

He is late 50s, a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman’s younger brother, with a kind smile and a definite “local” vibe. BINGO BANGO.

After chatting for a bit, I made it abundantly clear in probably a vodka-inspired, super obnoxious and egotistical manner that I was not going to sleep with him but that I would still love talk with him for a bit, but AGAIN, if you’re here to pick someone up, like, it’s not me sorry.

[VIMH©: You are seriously an asshole. Not everyone at a bar wants to sleep with you.]

I tell him about my trip, about my blog [and I actually ask permission to write about him] and we talk about his life. He lives in a house right behind the marina, which is his late mother’s house. She passed away last November after a battle with dementia, and he, the youngest of 5 siblings, had moved in with her to care for her until she passed. Apparently, his oldest sister was given control of all of his mother’s assets, except for the house, and she was abusing her power to the point of some serious family drama.

He tells me that the waterfront land we are sitting on used to be sports fields for the neighborhood, and about how when the city sold the land YEARS AGO, they did so with promise of building new fields, which of course has yet to happen.

We talked for almost 2 hours before we parted and so I should have a really, really super juicy story except that the details are a little fuzzy.

Oops. I let you down, guys. I OVER-social-lubricated. Too much vodka. I remember being so totally interested in everything he was saying though. So, there’s that.

He also left me a nice note in the cockpit of the boat that I woke up to which was pretty creepy but also nice. My mom was concerned.

You guys. I’ll do better next time.

Anyway, thanks for the chat, Dale.

PART THREE: When in Rome;
or Crab-Walkers

The next day started with a gorgeous run along the canal with Copernicus and A and Galen [only not really because A is an actual, real runner and I’m pretty sure she runs like 50mph cause all I saw was her dust]. The sun rose, the dog lived his best life, and OH ALSO ALMOST GOT EATEN BY AN EFFING EAGLE.

I DIDN’T KNOW EAGLES LIVED PLACES, GUYS.

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Copernicus watching the sunrise on our run along the C&D canal.

This dude was definitely stalking my dog, and he totally could have picked him up—he swooped maybe 6 feet in front of us so I could very clearly see that he had a wingspan as wide as mine and I was thinking I was going to have to fight an eagle, guys. And I really don’t know how to fight an eagle—besides to IDK like insult his mother?—and so I just started shouting at it and it flew away. AKA I did fight an eagle and I won.

We were heading to a cute little place called St. Michael’s, and, although we topped off at like 5 knots thanks to the tide, we enjoyed an otherwise pleasant ride into Chesapeake Bay.

Then, we remembered who we were and discovered an oil leak from our starboard engine.

Commence panic.

We monitored the leak on the way in, and tried frantically to find a mechanic when we got to the dock. OF COURSE it was 530 when we got into this tiny little town and so OF COURSE their only mechanic was probably already drunk by then.

To get our minds off of things, and, much to my mom’s dismay, accepting that we would likely not hear from anyone until the morning, we went to a restaurant in the harbor because we were DETERMINED to get some good crabs, Maryland style.

The first restaurant I worked at in NYC was called Ditch Plains, named after a surfing beach in Montauk, one of the favorite spots of the celebrity chef and our owner, Marc Murphy [super nice dude]. We used to do these crab boils in the summer. All you could eat Maryland Blue Crabs, hush puppies and corn and probably some other stuff.

PEOPLE LOVED IT.

WE HATED IT.

[Omg it was just so gross. We laid out newspaper on the tables and people just like legit threw their crab guts everywhere and then we had to clean it up.]

HOWEVER. This time, I was on the other side of the table, I was in Rome, and goddammit I was going to act like a Roman. And plus, our chef at Ditch had showed us how to properly eat these things so I was totally going to nail it.

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No false advertising, here.

We sat outside on the deck, ordered a dozen medium-sized crabs, some hush puppies OBV and—oh what’s this? Oh it says the local favorite is the pickles and cheese! Well, I like pickles and I like cheese and it says it’s a local favorite so let’s do that too!

A plate of straight-up dill pickles and Velveeta cubes are dropped on our table.

Commence laughter.

Our adorable waitress sets our table with wooden mallets and paper placemats that have DIRECTIONS on them for eating the crabs.

I started to get a little nervous. Directions? That’s some serious shit.

The crabs come to the table and look seriously amazing and so I take my first one and follow the directions. My mom was a little hesitant. She’d never seen this before plus they didn’t bring us bibs like we expected and, you know, she needed to watch me first since I was the expert.

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Directions necessary.

I take off the apron as instructed, crack off the top shell and then—intestines. Like straight-up, curly-cued, Walking Dead-style mother effing intestines are the first things to fall onto my placemat. My mother’s eyes widened with horror as I quickly flipped it back over and attempted to hide it in the middle of the table. I ate the claws and then decided to start again.

Now—let me just say. A is a shellfish eating champion. She always has been. As a kid, we would all vacation together on our boats and we’d get lobsters and man she really knows how to eat that entire thing whereas I’m like a simple claws-and-tail kinda girl, as is my mom. Neither of us ever really ventures into the nether-regions, really just wanting to ignore the fact that there are other things in there besides glorious, delicious lobster meat.

So. A is going to town, doing everything right and really making the most out of those crabs. My mom is trying. Like she’s really trying really hard to be a Roman soldier, guys, and be a good sport and be like the Romans but she is really not succeeding. I am doing my best as well, but now I’m just “developing my own technique” for eating these crabs, because I’m really petrified to see any more intestines.

My “technique” consists of eating the claws, and then jamming my knife into the top shell, trying to find the meat like a complete barbarian, really probably only getting to approximately 60% of it. [BTW, what I DID actually eat was totally delicious.]

Then, there were the flies. I mean, we’re outside, duh, there are going to be flies. But I am talking FLIES. Like LORD OF THE FLIES. As our rapidly growing pile of shells overflows the bucket provided, the flies come and do whatever the hell it’s rumored that they do, landing over and over and seemingly calling more friends to terrorize us the more we swatted at them.

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Crabs pre-flies.

A doesn’t care about flies. She’s totally chill with the flies. She’s just into that delicious crab. We are not chill with the flies. My mom is ESPECIALLY NOT CHILL WITH THE FLIES. She will not be Netflix and chilling with any mother-effing flies not no way not no how.

She excuses herself from the table no less than 4x, then secretly pays the tab and stands next to the table at a safe distance while we laugh at her and A finishes the last two crabs.

Solid effort, lady pirates.

 

PART FOUR: Meanwhile, in the Engine Room;
or, IT’S THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC

Actual percentage of crabs eaten notwithstanding, our little excursion provided a good distraction from the problem at hand: the oil leak.

We secured our slip at St. Michael’s for Wednesday and Thursday nights, but they weren’t able to give us a slip for Friday night and so we’d have to leave Friday. Two problems: oil leak. And weather. The weather on Friday was supposed to be atrocious, huge thunderstorms and a small craft warning.

If we couldn’t get the apparently ONE mechanic in town to fix it on Thursday, we were pretty much screwed. The nearest port with any hope of getting a mechanic was 6 hours away.

We took the gamble and set out Thursday for Solomons Island, under crappy, rainy skies. We did engine checks every 15 minutes to make sure that the leak at least wasn’t getting any worse and the drip was still at the same speed.

Finally arriving at Solomons Island, although there are many, many boat yards and mechanics, we are unable to find anyone to fix the leak. One guy told my mom it would be “a couple of weeks” before he could get to it. A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Commence more panic.

Commence me calling my dad and suggesting he come visit for Father’s Day.

It calms the situation at least a bit to know my dad is coming and, worse comes to worst, he can probably fix it himself. As a last ditch effort, following up on a local lead, my mom had made a call to a guy who is a mechanic “on the side.” We buttoned up the boat and prepared for the storm about to hit, praying for a miracle.

The storm passes overnight, bringing along quite the thunder and lightning show. When we wake up on Friday, it is rainy and gloomy much like our hearts when we think about the prospect of staying on Solomons Island for any longer than two nights.

Then, we get our miracle. Our “on the side” mechanic gets back to us and is at the boat within an hour, has it fixed in another hour and is gone as quickly as he came, leaving my mother giddy with glee. No more than another hour after he left, the sun came out, the afternoon was beautiful, and my dad arrived for the weekend.

Commence drinking and debauchery and poor ukulele playing. Today, we cross over into Virginia. Goodbye, Merry-Land.

Happy Father’s Day, all.

xo

 

Hang on, lady, we going for a ride

 

Now sit right back and I’ll tell the tale, the tale of a fateful trip that started out for Texas-but-basically-could-never-get-out-of-the-Northeast-and-so-my-dad-took-his-old-job-back and we abandoned ship. Yes, we abandoned ship. [I trust you know the melody and you can just fill in the phrase with extra words a la Daveed Diggs in Guns and Ships.]

Dramatic? Maybe. But then again I’ve never been known for my subtlety.

Ok, so we didn’t abandon ship. And my dad didn’t get his old job back and move back to RI. But, if you got a kick out of our first doomed three-hour tour of the biggest little state in the union [terminating in a “failure to launch” party in Newport], the roller-coaster that has followed will just tickle you pink and purple. As our captain, A’s father put it, so far this trip has been like walking on glass: slow and painful.

This one’s a little long guys. Take it in parts if it’s too much to handle, I think we can all agree that this week has been A LOT.
Continue reading

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.

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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.]

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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—

IMG_9358

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

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.