Friday, January 27, 2012

Vomit comet

I know no one cares.  I suppose no one keeps up.  The fact remains that I'm on a boat and it's a departure from normative behavior.  It's a fishing boat.  It's actually a factory trawler, or The Katie Ann F/T.  Whatever.  It's a boat.  It's kinda big.  It's not mammoth by any stretch.  I saw mammoth the other night on our way out of Seattle.  A container ship.  Looked like a tanker, but with big corrugated steel boxes everywhere on it.  That was a behemoth.  The Katie Ann is like 300 feet long.  It is the biggest boat I've been on.

The work is long.  But it isn't that bad.  I assumed, or feared, at the least, that I would break down because I've done very little to take care of my body over the last few years.  It turns out that I'm a machine.  Once I made the decision to do whatever needed to be done, it became easier to cope with some of the hardships.  No pun intended.  We haven't caught any fish yet, because we haven't begun fishing.  We are going to Dutch harbor first to unload some stuff and load some other stuff.

I'm already changing.  Being away from whatever surroundings I found myself in over the last few years, I'm beginning to find myself.  I would be afraid of losing my personality or becoming introverted, but I'm more afraid of merely having a personality.  I still laugh.  All day.  I still find a way to enjoy myself no matter what is happening.   And it's a good thing.

We have a group, who I have called the African all stars.  They are from Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Somalia, Guinea, and a few others.  Oh, and my bunkmate the Egyptian Magician.  Anyone remember the Jerky Boys?  The skit with the guy pretending to be an Egyptian magician?  Ya well he isn't like that, but the dude is pretty funny.  Hella cool too.  Most of the people are.  Even the African all stars are funny for the most part.  But seriously, these dudes work about like geriatrics.  Their pace is inert.  If the post office and DMV were to come together in a merger of inefficiency, then it would be crewed by these guys.  Strangely, it doesn't even really bother me.  I mean, hopefully they pull their weight when there are fish on the boat and don't cost us much time between trips, but apart from that it's not a big deal.  Just a few more colors of the rainbow.

We have a Hawaiin looking dude who talks like a redneck who's from Louisiana.  It's hella funny.  You can't pre-judge the accent of anyone around here.  The way a person looks is neither a guarantor nor indicator of how they speak.  One of my new buddies is a Samoan named Junior.  Of course he is as big as a house.  There are a few Russians and Poles and Phillipinos as well.  The cool Swede named Tom is just measured and pleasant as can be.  Something about that accent just lends credibility to everything he says.

And there's only one girl on the boat.  She's cool.  I've talked to her quite a bit.  Everyone has a story.  Life happens to all of us.  It seems that fishing and processing boats are clearing houses for those of us who have the most interesting stories.

So we were putting the factory together the other day and the allstars were in effect.  The foreman was my boy Mamadoo.  He's not part of the all stars.  He's MVP status though.  Anyway, they were gibber jabbering in some unknown tongue.  Me being me still asked, "Hey.  What is that you're speaking?  What language?"  Mamadoo is 6'4" and around three bills.  And he's always smiling at least inwardly.  I found out why when he answered.  "Is Mandingo.  We speaking Mandingo."  Ahh.  I get it now.  I've heard about Mandingo men and I salute you sir. 

I laughed my ass off when they said that, acknowledged that they were living breathing Mandingo men of legend in my sight.  They asked what was funny.  I said I heard about you.  They looked confused.  I chopped my knee with my hand, indicating an oversized phallus.   They smiled knowingly.  There you go.

I see a lot here that I think is funny.  I see a lot that is noteworthy.  While everyone was seasick today-and when I say everyone, I mean most, but nearly all at least faked it to get out of work-I went up top to check it out.  I had a moment.  The sea is calling me.  The air called my dad.  I couldn't follow in his footsteps.  Or at least didn't.  The air never called me.  I think the sea is.  I didn't get sea sick except for a little vertigo for like thirty seconds and some general fatigue.  It came and went in twenty minutes.  The swells that this vessel climbs and rides down hypnotized me.  The birds who fly through the air were descending on schools of fish.  A few whales came up for air.  A rainbow formed in the mist.  God's promise.

And there is promise here.  There is hope here.  The free fall of my life was nothing more or less than that which brought me here.  And here I am.  The weeks preceding this trip really brought into focus a need to get on with it.  'It' being life.  Whoomp there it is.  It's not too late to do new things.  We are not passengers in life.  We are drivers.  Like the driver of this boat.  While life may be no more tameable than the sea, it can be navigated safely and effectively.  Knowing when to go with, across, or against currents is key.  I struggled against the current for too long.  I'm answering the call.  I'm answering the bell.  One more round.


Peter Anderson said...

awesome, dude. just awesome. great post, and sounds like thee's been a breakthrough. glad to hear it. sail hard, brother.

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