Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fired Like a Clay Pot

It was a strange week at work last week. A co-worker had gotten fired on Wednesday, and management hasn’t said anything more on the topic other than “She doesn’t work here anymore.”

The remaining employees are whispering to each other in the cubicles, speculating about what had happened to my colleague. I gather that the firing occurred at the very end of the day, when the rest of the staff had gone home. Her office is empty, and the feeling at my workplace is sad and strange.

It brought be back to the time I had been fired from a job. At the time that it had happened, 10 years ago, I was completely humiliated by the experience. I didn’t tell my friends I’d been fired. I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t tell anyone, yet here I am telling you on the Internet. It was a horrible experience that took me several years to fully get over. I had nightmares about it, and fantasized about what I would say if I had ever bumped into my former boss.

I was working for one of those “next big thing” dot coms back in the summer of 1999. They just secured a crapload of venture capital money, and were supposed to be all the rage. (They closed their doors a year after I’d been let go.)

I was called into a meeting where I sat across from the VP of my department and the guy from human resources. They told me to bugger off, and I stood up and numbly left the room. I went back to my desk to pack up my belongings. It was an open cubicle setting, so it was rather obvious that I was leaving. I held it together reasonably well, until a co-worker helped me take my things out to my car. (Which I appreciated so very much at the time because I wouldn’t have to make a second trip back to my desk. A humiliating second trip.) At that point I burst into tears in front of a woman I barely knew over a job I’d had for a month or two. She, obviously and understandably uncomfortable, wished me luck and hightailed it back into the office.

I always wondered how my firing was handled on the day after. Did they have a staff meeting to explain my absence? Did they send out an email? Did they take advantage of the space that once was my desk and put the photocopier there? Or an espresso machine?

The day after I was fired I had to go back to the office. I had a personal package Fedexed there, and of course it arrived the day after I’d been fired. I couldn’t stand to go back in there one more time, so I waited in the car while Todd went in to get the package for me.

It felt like it took him an awful long time. I sat behind the wheel, the window down because it was a hot summer day. One of my co-workers came out of the building, spotted me sitting in the car and came up to say hi. I didn’t work too closely with him, he was the VP of Business Motivation, or some other bullshit dot com era job title.

He leaned against my car and expressed his condolences to my boobs. I thanked his face for his concern; he told my boobs that they’d be sure to find another job soon. Pretend Me sat up straighter, lifted the front of her tank top and said, “Do you want me to just show them to you so we can settle the mystery?” Real Me warned, “Don’t even think about it, you’re gonna see this jerk again. It’s a small world, and you are looking for a job.”

Real Me won and I kept my shirt on. Real Me seethed about how this man’s 15 year old daughter was a summer intern in the office, yet there he was ogling some 25 year old in the parking lot. Real Me wishes she had the courage to lift her shirt that day and humiliate that guy as badly as he’d done to me.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Know It Was a Good Weekend When...

...four nieces and a nephew vandalized the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker....

...and then they camped out in the living room...

...after draining two flavors of slushie from the machine.

Both of my sisters visited for the weekend, and brought along their five kids and our aunt. On Saturday night we headed to Providence for Waterfire.

While we were at Waterfire Todd made a donation at the Dreamgarden. He handed two of our nieces a ribbon on which they wrote a wish. Their wishes will hang from this star for the rest of the summer.

Then each of my nieces and nephews were given a card to write down a wish. They each set their wish down next to one of these candles on the ground.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chopsticks: The Home Improvement Tool of the New Millenium

In 1997, when Todd and I started going out, I lived in the world's smallest apartment. It was the kind of place where the kitchen was so small I couldn't open the fridge all the way. It would open halfway because the walkway between the fridge and the sink was so narrow that the fridge door couldn't open all the way. Putting leftover pizza away was a feat of engineering that usually required a plate and foil.

There was no storage space to speak of in this apartment. There were two tiny closets. The closets were not deep enough to store clothing. I had to turn the hangers slightly to be able to close the closet doors. The building was erected some time before the wheel was invented and I suspect people used smaller hangers then, and didn't store leftover pizza in the fridge.

The bathroom had its own issues. Sure the tiles were charming, but a radiator pipe ran floor to ceiling right near where I stood when I used the sink. If I had a nickel for every time I burned my shoulder on that hot pipe I could have covered the rent for at least 2 months. There was no faucet with which to fill the tub; I had to run the shower to fill the enormous tub when I wanted to have a soak. Located high up on the wall, near the ceiling, was the bathroom window which allowed a scenic view of the bedroom if you stood on the sink on your tip toes.

Storage was lacking in the bathroom until Todd came over for the weekend and built a shelf. He bought a piece of that white wire shelving and fastened it to the wall using hemp string and a chopstick. I knew on that very weekend that he would be the man for me. He secured a shelf using a chopstick. How MacGuyvery cool is that?

Now it's twelve years later we're preparing for our new fridge to be delivered tomorrow. The one that came with the house sucks. It doesn't close properly. Griffen ate the handle one day when he wanted to get something to eat. It's a side by side fridge freezer jobbie, that we can't, ironically, fit leftover pizza into. Tonight we pulled the old fridge from the wall and disconnected water line that runs to the in-door water dispenser. Todd disconnected the main water line that runs into the house from the well, so we wouldn't have to work in a puddle, then we moved the fridge to the other side of the room.

"So, this presents an interesting problem. We'll need the water on tomorrow morning when we take showers. But it'll just pour out of this line if we turn it on," Todd stroked his goatee, deep in thought.

I wasn't paying attention to the water dilemma until he called up from the basement "I am going to turn the water back on. Tell me if water comes out of the water line."

I sat and waited, no water came out, "No, it's not. It's fine!" I called back to him. He joined me in the kitchen when I asked him, "So, what did you do?"

He pointed to his genius fridge water line plug. Jammed into the end of the water line was a chopstick.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Strip Mined

I often misinterpret things. I hear something and take it to mean the exact opposite. I dissect the sentence looking for the correct meaning. Was there a double negative in there that made me take it the wrong way? Is it a dissonance with a homonym? Like, is my fridge wearing running shoes? The other day I had one of the dorkiest misinterpretations ever. Ashamed I kept it to myself, until I confided in Todd in an unguarded moment as we rode together to work the other day.

One day I was listening to NPR on the way to work, and there was some discussion about whether minors be allowed to strip in Rhode Island. Of course, I took it to mean “miners” instead of “minors” and thought, “Seriously? Is this really a problem? Why can’t a miner strip? I mean, if they can’t make enough money mining coal they should be able to dance, right? Who are we to say what a miner down on her luck can and can’t do? This is America, dammit!”

No, of course the controversy pertains to minors. As in people under the age of 18.

Which is a good thing, because I would think that pickaxes, shovels and the stripper’s pole would be a lethal combination.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Rubber Sandwich, This is Night Hawk. Come in, Rubber Sandwich

Leave it to Todd to give our nieces and nephews secret agent code names. Back in June, 7 of our nieces and nephews invaded our house. On the Sunday morning of that weekend only 4 of the 7 were left. No, we didn’t sell them on the black market. They went home with their parents.

We took the remaining 4 geocaching on that Sunday morning. Todd decided on the way there that because we were going on a secret mission, we needed to have code names. He left them to pick out the perfect code name. Spencer, 11, named himself “Night Hawk” while Rachael, 15, named herself “Rubber Sandwich.” I let Cassidy, 5, a.k.a. “Rainbow” name me. She thought about it for a few seconds and promptly christened me “Beautiful.” She is still my favorite to this day.

My sister reports that my crack team of secret agents is still living incognito, even though the mission has long been over. All she hears at home are conversations between Night Hawk and Rubber Sandwich.

One night they all went out as a family with my sister’s boyfriend and his two sons. One of boyfriend’s sons is also named Spencer. They met a woman who asked my nephew, “So, you’re named Spencer, and he’s named Spencer. Does it get confusing with two Spencers around? Do they call you Spence to tell you apart?”

He replied, “No. They call me Night Hawk.”


Friday, August 14, 2009


It used to be that it would take days for an afternoon to pass. When I was a little kid it felt like summer was years long, and a single afternoon would last all day and into the next. I’ve heard people say that the passage of time feels faster as you get older. Ain’t it the truth.

I looked at my 35 year old face in the mirror this morning. The mirror was attached to a wall in a house owned by me and my husband. My mind began to race, “When the hell did I get old enough to have a house? A husband? I’m 35? What??” I certainly do not feel 35. What is 35 supposed to feel like, anyway? I dabbed on a little more moisturizer around my eyes and hoped for the best. I tweezed a grey hair and sighed.

I once saw a bumper sticker that said “Time is the thing that keeps everything from happening at once.” But why does it have to go by so quickly? And why does it feel like it hasn’t gone by at all?

I drove to work this morning thinking about summer afternoons that wouldn’t end. I was already looking forward to the afternoon, when I’d get to leave work for the entire weekend. Maybe I’ll get never ending afternoons once I am freed at 5 o’clock.

Time’s a funny thing. You don’t really notice it go by as it’s happening. I mean, you can watch the hands on the clock rotate, but everything else pretty much looks the same. Then you realize that a lot has changed, but in the day-to-day routine you never notice it.

It’s been 13 years since I graduated from college. I know this because my nephew Krystian was born that same year and he just turned 13 last month. I received my diploma and held his newborn body within, seemingly, minutes of each other. Now his voice is starting to get deeper, he’s writing his own music, and it’s taken him 13 years to get to this point. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been married. It’s taken that long for my niece Cassidy to get born and grow to 5 years and 11 months. She went from in utero, to infancy, toddlerhood to a first grader in that time. My mother’s been gone for nearly 8 years now, enough time for my niece Hali to grow into the precocious 8 year old she is. She only knew my mother for 10 months of her life, and now she's this tall girl with incredibly profound thoughts.

All this happened right in front of me. How did I not notice it as it was happening?


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


There’s something amazing about watching people learn to scuba dive. It was the thing I liked the most about my stint as a dive shop owner. (And there was a lot I liked about that job: bringing my dogs to work with me, nobody telling me what to do, talking about diving all day long, etc.) The most fun part of the job was watching new students come back into the shop completely energized after their first open water dives, and they talked in a steady stream of exclamation points “And we went to 20 feet!!! And we saw starfish in the rocks!!! It was so cool!!!”

On Saturday our friend Sean was running a class that a few friends of ours were taking, and Todd and I went along for the first open water dives at Fort Wetherhill in Jamestown. On the first dive, Sean took them to 15 feet, and just had them try to sort out their buoyancy. It’s actually quite dangerous to be too buoyant that you float to the surface unexpectedly. But on the other hand it’s rather uncomfortable to be too negatively buoyant that you bumble around on the bottom too. So the idea is to establish neutral buoyancy, where you actually feel weightless. The visibility was lousy, as it often is in Rhode Island, but it was made worse by newbies stirring up the silt on the bottom. I hovered off to the side and helped keep the six students together, while Todd “sheepdogged” and went all over the cove to retrieve lost students. The phrase “herding cats” comes to mind.

I could read the frustration on the faces of the students underwater and was taken back to my first open water dive in Sydney Harbor. I joined the dive club on campus and took the lessons in my first month in Australia. The first open water dive was done from a rock entry, which meant that we walked out to the end of some rocks near the ocean and did a giant stride entry from the “cliff” into the water. The top of the cliff was maybe 6-8 feet above the water’s surface, and I hobbled out to the edge barefoot with 40 pounds of scuba gear strapped to my back. Nobody told me about needing scuba boots, and the barnacles on the rocks scratched against the soles of my feet before as I painfully hobbled to the edge where I donned my fins and jumped into the water. It even says in my dive log from that day, “I need boots. Ouch!”

The movement of the waves shoved me back and forth as I descended. I felt discombobulated and uncomfortable. As I climbed out onto the rocks after my dive I bashed my knee and I still can feel a slight bump from it, some 15 years later. My lips were raw and salty, like I’d eaten too many potato chips. Once in the parking lot I scanned my surroundings for a bus stop so I could escape. I hated my first dive, but I hadn’t driven myself to it and was stuck going on the next one.

Luckily the next dive was a calm beach entry. The sun had come out. Large blue grouper fish approached to check out the bubble makers invading their habitat. I kneeled on the sandy bottom and watched in awe as they circled above me. I was officially hooked.

I relay this story to every new diver I meet and say to every single one of them, “All you have to do is tolerate the first open water dive. It’s weird, it’s uncomfortable. Just get through it, on the second dive you’ll have a better sense of what to expect.” Every new diver I’ve met always confirms my assertion. “You were right, the second dive was much better,” they always say.

That was also very true with the group on Saturday. On the second dive, Sean took them through some skills underwater. The group lined up and kneeled in a row as Sean went one by one to have each diver demonstrate the skill. The divers stayed still. They understood a little more how to control their buoyancy (I am still learning about buoyancy even now. I still learn something new with every dive.) And they all said the same thing at the surface, “The second one was way better! I felt more confident!” Yesiree!

On Sunday we took the “Under Achiever” out for a spin to see how it’ll do as a dive boat. Todd and I first rode out to Hope Island and dropped the anchor. The ride south to the island was a bit hard on me. Even though water is fluid, it is still a hard surface when a boat crashes onto the surface after getting thrown upward by the waves. I tried to sit in my chair and felt my ribs do a bump and grind dance with my clavicles every time the boat slammed into the water. I let out an involuntary “OOF!” every time the bottom of the boat flopped into the surface.

Once anchored, we followed the line into the murky green water to the bottom at 20 feet. I extended my arms out in front of me and could not see my fingertips. Visibility was 2-3 feet. We bumbled around on the bottom, looking for quahogs. I didn’t look for any, and just kept my eyes on Todd. If he strayed more than 2-3 feet away from me he would slip out of sight. His light blue fins revealed his location, though I was close enough to him to risk being kicked in the face. I held my hands in front of my face to catch his kicking fins, and didn’t bother with sight seeing. We ascended and declared the site “sucky” and got back into the boat.

A few moments later, thank you 150 horse engine, I dropped the anchor just north of Patience Island where the water was calmer. We descended to 15 feet, and I clipped the catch bag to my BCD. Todd crawled along the bottom, stirring up the silt as he hunted for clams. He handed several dozen to me before I became weighed down by the catch bag. At this spot I could still see a foot or so beyond my fingertips, but once Todd stirred up the mud, visibility became zero. I reached out and grabbed his arm just to make sure I knew where he was.

Carrying the catch bag for Todd underwater is much like carrying a purse on land. “Here, can you stash this in your purse?” he asks, while handing me his cell phone and his gigantic collection of every key he’s ever gotten (we joke that he’s in janitor training with all those keys. What do they open? Who knows?!) I toss them into my backpack purse and brace myself from the weight. He handed me clam after clam, like so many keys and cell phones. The quahogs in the catch bag added weight to my left side and discombobulated my sense of buoyancy.

The salt water stung my right eye as we dove, and I closed it and looked through the left one for the duration. I am a bit persnickety when it comes to my gear. If there is a single strand of hair caught in my mask seal, water will freely flow into the mask, irritate me, and ruin my dive. I closed my right eye, and made my way through the fog using on my left. (Every season I toy with the idea of taking a page from the book of Taoist Biker, and shaving my head for dive season. Maybe someday.)

We ascended and brought the clams aboard. Todd rubbed his hands together in delight over fresh clams for dinner, while I lamented how my house would stink from their preparation.

With the anchor safely stowed, we bombed around the bay and explored. We still had our wetsuits on and I cannot decide if we looked like dorks with them on, or if we looked cool. Though I think I would have looked cooler with a shaved head after all.


Friday, August 07, 2009

It’s Like Having a Giant Salty Swimming Pool

At first I was resistant to living in Rhode Island. I am a Connecticut native, but I went to college here in Rhode Island. When I was graduating, I was hell-bent on moving to Boston. The Boston area was my be-all-and-end-all at the time. Three months or so after graduating I woke on the floor of my very own apartment in Melrose, Massachusetts—just north of Boston. It was 1996, and I landed a job with a hot software company on the edge of the big boom that made the Boston area thrive. People my age were starting companies, getting truckloads of money from venture capitalists, and Internet incubators were fostering young companies trying to go public and make gobs of money.

That morning when I woke up I felt like a grown up. Well, almost. I was a grown up whose furniture was in a garage in Connecticut whose brother would deliver it in a few days. I was a grown up with nothing to eat in the fridge for breakfast, and walked to the bakery on the other side of the commuter rail tracks for a muffin and a juice. But I had my very own place, an electric bill in my very own name, a wacky landlord and a bitchen pad.

Eventually I hopped from that pad to another. Then I hopped from the job at the software company to one at a very-big-deal-Internet-incubator that was all the rage in 1998. And then I fell in love. At first I refused to admit I was in love, but I was smitten in a way I’d never been before. We got a place in the city, in Brighton to be exact, and I was thrilled to live there. My love had started a business in Providence, Rhode Island and commuted more than an hour each way to get to work on time. He worked late. He worked hard. I worked north of the city in Andover, MA, so Brighton was really the ideal location for us to live until we had to make some decisions about our future.

Jobs came and went. We moved out of the city to a more affordable and more sensible place just south of Boston in Norwood, MA. I took at job with an online technology magazine located in the city, while Todd still commuted to Providence. His commute was shorter, but still a pain in the ass. I took the train to work where I read, gossiped with my cousin, worked on my Masters degree and knitted on the way to and from work.

Then in 2001 the world fell apart. Approximately five minutes after the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon, I was “made redundant” as the British would say. Todd had said to me “Hey, how about you find a job in Rhode Island? I really really need to be closer to my office. We can buy a house, and it will be a lot cheaper in Rhode Island than in the Boston suburbs anyway.”

He was right. Everything he said made perfect sense. But I still cringed a bit about the thought of living in Rhode Island. After all, the letter “R” does not exist in Rhode Island. Well, it’s become reincarnated in places other than where it belongs, like on the end of words like “idea.” For example, “I have an idee-er, let’s take Andree-er’s cah.” For those of you who do not speak Rhode Island, I’ve just said “I have an idea, let’s take Andrea’s car.” Boston was still the be all end all to me. The tall buildings. The T. The lights over Fenway Stadium (even though I am not a baseball fan, it’s still cool to see) and the variety of night life, concerts, and places to go.

Now I look at my life and wonder why the hell I haven’t moved to Rhode Island sooner. I love it here. I love the proximity to the ocean. I love that I can take my boat and anchor it anywhere in Narragansett Bay and go for a swim on a hot day--which is exactly what we did on Wednesday night.

I told you the other day that we’ve bought a power boat that we can scuba dive off of. This opens up a whole other part of diving in Rhode Island that was previously a pain in the butt to get to. It has a 115 horse motor that will get us to sites fast, rather than puttering along on a heavy sailboat that goes 7 miles per hour if we’re lucky. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Sabine’s slowness! But she’s hard to dive off of.)

On Wednesday night after work Todd and I dropped the “Under Achiever” into the water at the town dock just down the road from where I work. We motored out of Greenwich Bay and into the main part of Narragansett Bay. And we did it quickly. In minutes we were parked near Hope Island in the middle of the Bay. We changed into our bathing suits and dove into the ocean off the side of the boat.

We splashed and swam, then climbed back into the boat. Todd gunned the engine, and the wind dried us. We pulled the boat onto the trailer and headed to a dinner out before 8:00.

We have a gigantic swimming pool at our disposal in the Bay. We don’t have to skim the leaves off the top of it with that screen-on-a-stick thing, and we don’t have to sprinkle scoops of chlorine into it every night like my Dad did to our pool in Connecticut. We don’t have to ask the neighbors if we can come over and use it. All we have to do is jump in.

And now I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Summer Sailing Adventure Part 5

Friday 17 July 2009

We tied up to the mooring ball in Tiverton, and lamented that it would be our last night aboard. Typically we try to take vacation for 2 weeks at a stretch, so some serious miles can pass below the keel. Unfortunately I only had a week of vacation time at my disposal.

We headed to one of the swankier restaurants in Tiverton to celebrate our last night. However, we did not dress for the swankier restaurant. I walked into the joint with my hair tied in a bandanna, in ratty shorts and a tank top. Todd wasn’t dressed much nicer than that. The maitre d’ eyed our appearance, then caught herself staring and seated us. We ate a lovely meal, I pounded a few mojitos, and then we headed back to the boat.

Once aboard we needed to take the boys ashore. They hadn’t been all day long. Griffen paced, and Nemo, miraculously, hadn’t soiled the deck all day. Our lack of coordination screwed us again, Griffen ended up in the water while we prepared to get them into the dinghy to go ashore. We shrugged our shoulders and decided to let him swim alongside the boat all the way to the public dock—approximately a quarter mile away.

Griffen loves to talk while he swims. He chatters excitedly in squeaky puppyish barks as if to say “This is great! I am having such a fun time! I love to swim! I love you guys for letting me swim!” The problem with his swim chatter is that he has to open his mouth to do it. If he opens his mouth salt water flows freely down his throat. We learned several years ago that salt water and the doggy digestive tract are not friends. At all. We learned the meaning of the phrase “projectile poop” the hard way (kinda like my experience on my way to work yesterday).

Tired dogs and people climbed back aboard and settled in for the night. Overnight a massive thunderstorm blew in and carried buckets of rain. We listened as it pelted the cabin top over our bed—but thanks to our diligence in the spring not one drop fell on our bed.

Saturday 18 July 2009
We freed ourselves from the mooring and headed west to cross the bay and return to East Greenwich. The wind blew from the south, which is perfect from Sabine as she prefers her wind to blow across her beam (her perfect point of sail is when the wind is blowing in perpendicular to the direction she’s traveling, so directly into her side). We had a leisurely, sunny and windy sail home and only slowed to clean off the deck several times. (See above, “projectile poop.”)

We tied up to our home mooring and sighed. Coming back from a sailing vacation is always difficult for us. I distinctly remember our first sailing vacation on Lake Champlain in 2000. We were out for 10 days on a 26’ Pearson Commander called Sugar Magnolia. Sugar Mag had a 10 horse outboard engine; Sabine has a 53 horse inboard engine. Aboard Sugar Mag, bathing was either done in the lake, or with a solar shower, while aboard Sabine it’s done in a tiled shower with hot water. Drinking water on Sugar Mag was carried in gallon jugs purchased at the store; Sabine has a sink in the galley and bathroom with fresh running water. Cooking was done on a butane camp stove aboard Sugar Mag, while it’s done on a propane stove in the galley aboard Sabine, or on the gas grill on the aft deck—depending on what we’re having. Sugar Mag required us to bring a cooler filled with ice to keep perishables and beer cold; while Sabine has a top loading fridge.

But those 10 says aboard Sugar Magnolia were blissful. We first felt the bittersweet ending to a sailing trip as we tied to our mooring at Chipman Point Marina in Orwell, Vermont. It’s always the same feeling every time a sailing trip ends. While we’re happy about the places we’ve gone, sights we saw, and experiences we had there’s a slight sadness in that it has to end and more places, sights and experiences have to wait until the next trip.

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Crappy is the Only Way to Describe It

I’ve mentioned before that the road I live on is pin straight. The speed limit is 40 on our street, but I often drive speeds greater than 50. This morning I drove at a speed greater than 60 just in time for a cop from the town just south of mine to bust me for speeding.

It would seem that I have lost my touch. It used to be that I could talk my way out of speeding tickets successfully. Was it because I was in my 20’s instead of 35? I’ve gotten a warning after driving over 70 in a 40 and running 2-3 traffic lights once. I’ve gotten a warning for going 50 in a 30 and largely ignoring the flashing lights of the cop behind me until he accosted me at the gas station I’d stopped at.

Not yesterday. The cop handed me a speeding ticket, and warned me to slow down. My last speeding ticket was in 2007, so I cannot use my “get out of jail free card” that is offered to speeding drivers in Rhode Island. (You can use it every 3 years.)

I continued to drive to work, when a truck pulled out in front of me. The truck’s bed contained a pile of manure. I had the top down on my Jeep, and slowed my car so the foul aroma from the truck could dissipate. The truck hit a bump. The bumping dislodged a football size lump of manure. The football fumbled onto the hood of the Jeep and promptly splatted on the windshield. I cowered behind the steering wheel, and was fortunate in that none of the splat landed inside the car and onto me.

I turned on the windshield wipers and squired the washer fluid. The shit smeared back and forth on the glass. I squinted as I tried to see through the cow dung clouding my vision. I headed for the truck stop near the on ramp for the highway, nearly in tears.

Once at the gas station I grabbed the squeegee located near the pumps and tried to clean the shit off my car. I wandered from squeegee to squeegee looking for one that had water in its bucket. I washed the window, and attempted to clean off the hood. Really I managed to frost the hood of my car in poo. Luckily the gas station attendant spotted my predicament and let me pull around back to use the hose.

I rinsed the car and debated going the 5 miles back home to take a pre-cautionary shower. I examined myself in the reflection of the gas station’s windows, hoping I didn’t have a smear of dung on my back that I couldn’t detect. But that didn’t stop me from compulsively checking in the ladies’ room mirror at work.

Craptacular way to start the day!


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Summer Sailing Adventure Part 4

After my bummer of a last post, I need to continue to re-live my vacation.

Thursday 16 July 2009

At the end of the last installment, we were held hostage by a small craft advisory in Westport, Massachusetts. We attempted the trip back to Narragansett Bay, just to be tossed around in the ocean like a tub toy.

The moment we got tied up to our mooring, we considered our options. There isn’t much to do in Westport that we could access on foot, and rain was forecasted for Thursday. We got on the Internet and reserved a rental car for Thursday afternoon so we could expand our exploration range.

The rental car arrived at the marina, and we set off to explore with a copy of a hand-drawn map of the area. Once we were a few miles inland, sprawling green pastured farms lined the road side. We stopped at house and barn that was converted into a general store. We wound our way through the maze of hallways into rooms that were once living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and kitchens that were converted into spaces where saleable merchandise lined the shelves and tables. We had lunch. We ate ice cream.

We ended up in a seaside village called Padanaram (PAY-duh-nair-um) where we window shopped and watched the fishing boats return from their morning trips. We stopped in a jewelry store, where Todd purchased my vacation bling. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us; we buy each other a gift while we’re on vacation. He often buys me something sparkly, and I usually buy him a book or a T-shirt. This year’s bling is a necklace with a turquoise sea glass pendant made by a local artist.

We continued on to explore New Bedford, Massachusetts which was once a thriving sea side town. Much of the industry has left the area, and it shows in the unkempt buildings and the saddened expressions of the people walking around. Just miles from New Bedford are upper class neighborhoods with gates that keep everyone out of their lush green lawns and pristine exteriored homes. But in the heart of New Bedford are boarded up windows, graffiti tagged walls, weeds creeping through the cracks in the pavement and broken signs. All I could think was the potential that the town has. All it would take is money and jobs to turn the place around. But for the moment, it's a desperate ghost town.

Before returning the car we ran a few errands for the boat. We hit up the local Bloodbath and Beyond to buy some new silverware for the boat, a new bathmat for outside the shower, and a few other odds and ends.

Friday 17 July 2009
The battery powered alarm chirped at 7 AM. We leapt out of bed and looked out the portholes. The wind had died down substantially as it wasn’t howling anymore, but the tide was still incoming. We fired up the diesel, cast off the lines, and pointed Sabine out of the harbor.

We continued dead south until we reached the buoy that instructed us to turn west. The waves were minimal compared to the day before. The sun was shining, and the wind was still headed directly from the west. Sabine doesn’t like to sail windward. We often joke that where ever we go the wind will always be on the nose. We continued to motor toward the bay, without having to raise the sails.

After a few hours we turned north into the mouth of the Sakonnet River. This is the river that separates the east side of Newport (Aquidneck Island) from the eastern-most portion of Rhode Island. We’d never been up the Sakonnet, and have always wanted to check out that side of the state.

The wind shifted from the south west, which was perfect for us. We were headed directly north. We raised the sails and killed the diesel. When ever we turn off the engine and sail, it feels a bit like the world has stopped. The roar of the engine ceases, and I always expect that the boat will stop moving because that’s the way it works in a car. It is different on a boat because it will continue to coast on the residual inertia created by the propeller spinning below the water line. Eventually that momentum will slow, and the boat will continue moving from the pressure of the wind on the sails. The relief of turning off the engine and listening to the wind, and each other, is always welcome.

We found an anchorage just south of Tiverton, RI where we ate lunch and lounged around on deck for a few hours. Griffen jumped into the water to chase down a kayaker, I napped, we worked on my book for a little while and relaxed.

Then we released the mooring and headed into Tiverton for the night.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been in such a pissy mood. Since I got back from vacation, reality’s been hitting me a bit harder than I’d like. I haven’t been handling it all that well. My fight or flight instinct is pointing to flight.

Work has sucked a bit lately. They’ve changed my job around, and I am not 100% convinced that I like the new gig they’ve laid out for me. The parts I really liked about my job have been reassigned to someone else, and they left me to do the parts of my job that I really did not like. I did those parts of my job that I didn’t like because it, like it or not, it was my responsibility to accomplish those tasks. And now I am stuck with doing those tasks all the time. The part of my job that I looked forward to is now gone.

I am sad, annoyed and disillusioned. No talking about it with the powers that be has made a bit of difference. I groan as I roll out of bed in the mornings. I hide at my desk all day and avoid everyone I work with. My choices are to leave the job, in the state that has the second worst unemployment rate in the country. My odds of landing another gig, never mind one that I would hate less, are slim to none. Or I can stay and suck it up, knowing that I am not psyched. I don’t want to leave, however. I liked the job I did. I liked the company. I liked the people. My job felt purposeful. But I dread what they’ll ask me to do next.

I am trying to look at the bright side, but can’t seem to find it yet. My excellent husband brought home a bright side for me just the other day. We’ve been talking about getting a small, trailer-able power boat that we can dive off of. Shore diving in Rhode Island is kind of been-there-done-that for us, and we’re getting the itch to check out some new spots in the middle of the Bay. We found a boat for a great price. Todd sea-trialed it on Wednesday, and we bought it the following day. It's nothing special, just something to cruise around in with tanks and gear in the back.

On Friday afternoon he picked me up in it after work, and we took a quick spin on Greenwich Bay and took along one of my co-workers. It ran well, and we were very happy with the motor’s performance as we tooled around. (Then it started raining cats and dogs. The three of us were completely drenched. But that’s another story.) We trailered the boat and headed for home, thrilled at the prospect of getting in a few new dives this summer.

Today we towed the new boat to the ramp, thinking we’d spend the afternoon bombing around the bay playing with the new boat. I’ve never really driven a power boat, and I need to learn how to get around on this one. We dropped her into the water, and I parked the truck and trailer in the boat launch’s parking lot. (I am shockingly bad at backing trailers into spots, and have to make 23544974 attempts before getting it right. Learning curves.) Todd waited for me at the dock, with the motor running. We untied it from the dock and put it in gear and it stalled. We started it, put it in gear again, and then it stalled again. The tide carried us as we started and stalled, started and stalled, started and stalled. I noticed a slick of gasoline trailing behind us and we determined that there is likely a hole in a fuel line.

We beached the dive boat on the shore. I held onto it while Todd went to get our dinghy from the marina just down the road. The plan was to tow the boat using the dinghy pack to the public boat ramp. Eventually I saw him approach on the dinghy and asked him “Did you walk down there? I didn’t see our truck go down the road.”

“No, I got a lift from some guys hanging out at the ramp,” he replied. “That’s a story I’ll tell you about in a minute.”

We tied the dinghy to the dive boat and towed it back to the ramp while Todd told me about the man that gave him a lift. This man had lost his job and was evicted from his apartment in February. Since then he’d been living in his car and was kind enough to help Todd out even though he only needed to walk about a quarter to a half mile down the road. It's damn cold in Rhode Island in February. I imagined this man lying in the back seat of his car on the first night he slept in it. The despair that he must have felt while the windows fogged up from inside and he hunkered down under, hopefully, a warm blanket. Then in the morning he'd open the door, crawl out and stretch his cramped legs in the cold morning air while he blew on his hands and rubbed them together to warm them.

We pulled the boat onto the trailer, and I drove the dinghy back to its dock down the road. We tried to give the man a few bucks for his trouble, and he refused to take our money. As we rode home Todd lamented the dive boat’s engine failure.

“Well, how can we possibly be annoyed at an outboard motor’s failure. A homeless guy was nice enough to help us out because we were inconvenienced by a motor boat engine,” I shrugged.

I know that sentiment applies to other parts of my life other than the engine’s failure to give us a good time. I should be thankful for what I have. I want to be thankful for what I have. Because I do have a lot to be thankful for. And I feel like an asshole for not being more grateful.

Yeah, work sucks.

But it could be a lot worse.

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