Ladies and Gentleman… The “Fat Lady”

Politically incorrect. Probably. But as they say, “the opera aint over til’ the fat lady sings” and she’s just now taken the stage. Tomorrow, May 10 is my last shoot day in this production package. “12-2” as it’s known within the world of Armed Forces Radio and Television, wraps tomorrow and with it, my tenure at Film House. Almost 11 years in one place, that’s a record for me by any stretch. After the last post glaringly missed the mark, I’ll dispense with the ambiguity here.

As you know, about a month ago I went to my boss and told him I was leaving. I told him about the need for a change and a new energy. I told him I wasn’t happy and needed to blow a hole in my current situation and seek greener pastures. He told me he admired my boldness. Said, “I’m not saying you’re not crazy as shit and I’m not saying it’s not a horrible idea. I am saying, you’ve got guts and at least you’re doing something about your situation, unlike most of us who are locked into our situations and not so free to do so.” Others weren’t so kind and most told me I was stupid for quitting a job in “this economy”. They marveled at the fact that I sold the house and with it most of my stuff. They were absolutely suspect at my coercing Melody into a “vagabond” lifestyle aboard, of all things, a freaking sailboat. I was a complete idiot!

Well, last week we all received an email from my boss… yes, that boss… all hands on deck meeting in the conference room. 11:00 am. Everyone now speculating and fearing the worst. See that’s what has been happening over the past three years over there. We receive an email and shortly thereafter, bad things happen. Pay cuts. Insurance revisions. Lay-offs. We were conditioned.

11:oo am: Everyone seated around a large, very large conference room table. Everyone quiet, worried. My boss came in and I knew right away, it was bad. He said, “I’m just going to cut to the chase. The 12 series is the last series… the DoD is pulling the contract, effective October. There’s no funding. I’m sorry.” BOOM. The breath sucked, slowly out of the entire room. Even mine. I no longer had a dog in the hunt and I knew this was coming… that’s why I was leaving. That’s why I sold the house… but it wasn’t supposed to come now. Not with me there to see it. It’s been a difficult year thus far with the loss of some dear friends. Young, vibrant friends and now I was witness to death that day too. Having to make those calls to wives, girlfriends and mothers. Telling the kids. Not telling the kids.

A couple people came to my office afterwards and said things like, “you look like the smartest man in the world right now” and “you must be happy, huh?” No. I’m not happy one bit. A lot of people I love will be hurt. Really hurt. Smart? No… lucky. For the first time in a long time, I trusted my gut and it happened to work out. Had we not sold the house a month before, I would be scrambling just like everyone else. This journey of ours would be dead. Cold and dead. I’d be wondering, why I didn’t trust my gut and see the writing on the wall. I’d be kicking myself for not doing it sooner and being caught behind the eight-ball. Oh, I’m terrified alright. But Mel and I have a deal now, we have a saying, “scratch out terrified, write in adventure.” It helps to change the dynamic and almost makes me feel a little better.

The point? Wake up tomorrow and know that you aren’t guaranteed anything. Be grateful if you’re financially secure. Be grateful if you still have your parents around. Be grateful if you have your health. Be grateful if you go to a job you like. Pay it forward. And… if you’re clicking along, gritting your teeth and wishing things were different take heed, they could be very different tomorrow… in more ways than one.

I’m feeling a bit melancholy tonight. I hesitated to write. Several “serious” blogs in a row tend to belabor the story. Bog it down in overly sentimental drivel. That’s not what I want to do. But this is a story about a journey and a large portion of one journey is ending tomorrow. That deserves inspection. Reflection. In production you spend more time with your crew than with your family. Actually… they are my family. And now, I guess we all have to push back from the table, shut up and listen. Sing fat lady. Sing.

Go With The Grain

It’s been a few weeks. I had some ideas and I even did a post about hockey. I deleted it. I feel like there must be a certain “grain” to this endeavor. That post felt a bit like a knot right in the middle of a nice piece of mahogany. So I cut it out. I’ve been at a loss for words a little bit since all of the madness has settled down. I mean, when I wake up every morning, I’m struck by temporary-ness of my surroundings. My clothes hang on a chrome and plastic rack bought from a big-box store. It barely holds what it needs too. It looked so hip and… current on the box. My shoes and jeans reside on a wooden shelf, open to the room and slammed right next to our little, double bed. Plastic totes full of socks and tee-shirts line the walls and it’s a little like living in a storage unit. After 20 + years in the music business, I know what that feels like. The hardwood floors are nice though. I’m not a carpet fan. The amount of dirt, dander and dead skin that gathers in one’s carpet makes me queasy. I like the hardwood. Jet however, feels differently. He prefers the Persian rugs. I got two rugs while I was overseas on a USO Tour in 2001 and they are beautiful. Were beautiful. We’re keeping them. One is in the living room and one in the bedroom. They aren’t very large but they mean something and I like looking at them. I like the way they feel on my bare feet. While in the middle-east, I learned about these rugs and developed a strong desire to bring a couple back. I became infatuated with the amount of skill and devotion it took to complete such an amazing work of art. Art that lasts centuries if properly cared for.

I can say honestly that mine are not properly cared for. They haven’t been cleaned since I got them and while I try desperately to keep them in good shape, it seems like whenever something gets spilled or Jet gets sick and decides to throw up at 3 am he does so on my favorite rug. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s his favorite too. This happened the other night and to add insult to injury it was raining. Pouring rain and cold. Jet was up all night making us very nervous with his licking at nothing, looking like he was choking and pacing back and forth. Up to the front door, circling, whining and back to his spot at the foot of our bed. So we got up, each taking turns rubbing his belly and asking, “do you think we should go to the emergency vet?” After a few rounds of this I said, “ok, let’s go for a walk.” I’ll take him for a walk and he’ll do his business and life will be fine. I’ll get an hour of sleep and we’ll move on. Well he didn’t do any business. He did pee on every errant bush, pole and curb along our cold, wet walk. Me? No jacket. No shoes. Jeans and a tee-shirt. Dumb. So, at 3 am me and my sick dog stroll down our temporary street in our temporary neighborhood in the pouring rain and returned home. Both of us soaking wet. Of course he waits until just inside the door to shake all that water off. Me… freezing cold, dripping wet, wide awake and not getting anymore sleep. I towel us off and crawl in bed anyway. Five minutes later… Mel is out of bed as his grumbling stomach is no better. Then he starts to circle and make that sound… It’s a horrible sound. His big shepherd ears slump out to the side instead of those proud erect ones he usually carries.

He threw up. A massive blob of undigested, very expensive food. And you know what? It was on my rug. His rug. Not on the hardwood floor. That would be too easy. Nope. We’ve had Jet for about three years and every, single time he’s gotten sick, it’s been on “our” red, silk Persian. He was fit as a fiddle after that. Tail wagging, prancing around like he won an award. And… up into one of two chairs we still own. Nite-nite.

The moral of the story? I don’t know the moral of the story but I know this. My grandmother had couches that were covered in plastic slip covers for her entire life. I remember as a kid, The plastic runners that protected her carpets from the front door to the kitchen. Tributaries of plastic meandered throughout her modest abode in South West Philadelphia. My ass never touched the fabric of those beautiful couches. My bare-feet were never allowed on those carpets. Some would say they were “properly cared for”. My grandmother died at 96. No one in my family has any of that furniture. The house sold to a complete stranger and all that “proper attention” at 54th and Gross street in Philadelphia went for naught. At least in my estimation. So, I guess I’ll enjoy my rugs in my way and Jet will enjoy his rug in his way. Either way… Someday… Someone, probably someone I don’t know, will inherit a work of art that has been walked on with the barest of feet, lived on, loved on, cried on and laughed on. And yes… puked on. And there’s nothing temporary about that.

Brokers and Agents and Surveyors, Oh My…

Well folks… I should have never stated “Monday” as my blog day. As soon as I did, the whole schedule went to crap. You know what they say about “good intentions.” That said, this was the week and what a week it’s been. With the house closing locked in and done, I readied for the trip to Panama City for the boat survey while Melody went through scores of boxes and plastic totes to decipher what we were keeping, selling, donating or storing. I drove to Panama City… again… on Sunday for the survey on Monday morning. Now… If you don’t know what a survey is, think “Home Inspection” for a boat. Same thing, only different. You have to haul the boat out of the water so the surveyor can see and check the bottom for any number of problems such as blisters (bubbles in the fiberglass), keel de-lamination (look it up), cracks, corrosion, etc… It’s nerve wracking and expensive. $350.00 bucks, plus $50.00 to pressure wash it, plus tax. All told, $454.00 for about 1/2 hr. on the 70 ton lift.

Yard worker scrapes the growth off her keel

Surveyors are like every other profession on the planet. Some are good some are crap and some are well… completely indifferent. When you want the best guy, you gotta dig. Call locals, ask questions, read reviews and, if you can, get a copy of some of the survey’s potential hires have done. I found a company that came highly recommended and when I called, I knew I had the right guy. Capt. Rick Corley from Capt. Tom Corley and Sons Marine Surveyors. Capt. Rick has to be in his early to mid-seventies. His father just past away at 93 years old and surveyed up to about six months before his death. Capt. Rick has been surveying boats for over 55 yrs. When I called him on the phone to discuss the potential survey, he kept me on the line for over an hour. He asked me more questions than I had for him. It was enlightening and put my mind at ease. But… It’s nerve wracking and expensive. $560.00 bucks. Actually that’s cheap compared to other quotes I got that were in the $650.00 area. It’s all priced by the foot. At 35 feet, my days of cheap bottom jobs, trailers and haul-outs are officially over!

Now Capt. Rick can talk. Boy can he talk. If he didn’t give me so much damn information that I needed, I would have been exhausted and frustrated. As it stands, I’m struggling to read his nineteen page survey! He is former military and very, very detailed. Well worth the money. We met at 9AM, did a quick look around, met the broker, the owner and the owners wife. We had a quick look around, fired her up, backed her out and drove her by motor to the haul out facility about 45 min. by water. This gave us the opportunity to check the auto-pilot, engine cooling, steering, etc. When we got to Bay County Boatyard, they had the lift ready and pulled her out without incident. Everything looked good with minor “issues” such as she needs new bottom paint and zinc, which I knew. Then, I paid the large sum of money to watch her descend in the sling and travel back to the marina where we broke for lunch, which I bought. After lunch, we went back to the boat and eventually, around 3PM finished up. I wrote yet another check to Capt. Rick for his services and sent him on his way. Then, I wrote another check to the broker (Who I’ll remain tight-lipped about until I have the keys in my hand… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5… deep breath) and still another check to the owner for allowing me to keep the boat in his slip for the month of April. At which time I’ll take her back to Bay County Boatyard for the bottom job and yes… another check. That sucking sound you’re hearing? My bank account.

With the survey process done, I drove home Tuesday. I’m now at work trying desperately to do… my job. Yeah, that thing I have for two more months? They actually expect me to accomplish something during that time. I now get to deal with “that Broker,” an insurance agent and the U.S. Coast Guard. I’m going to have the vessel documented… don’t ask. More paperwork and yes… cha-ching… another check.

So this is the point at which I go against my natural inclination to second guess everything. You know, when the craziness ceases and there is calm or, relative calm. Okay, not calm but less crazy than before? The voices creep in and say, “Did I just do something really stupid?” Yeah, that voice. NOT the Clint Eastwood voice. This is more like David Spade-ish. This voice is just my “old self” questioning the “new self”, trying to upset the apple-cart. Thing is… the “old-self” doesn’t know just how sick the “new-self” is with the “old-self.” As we age, or should I put this in terms of me and me alone… as “I” age, I find that tiny sliver of self doubt gains traction and likes to sabotage my attempts at “happiness” or whatever word you’d like to insert. But this little “adventure,” our “journey” is pretty iron clad at this point. We’ve sold the house. I’ve given notice at work. We’ve spent a very large sum of money on our next dwelling and it’s PAID FOR. Our cars are paid for. Pieces of shit mind you… But PAID FOR. The dog? Jet-pack… PAID FOR. Although he’s getting a little needy… But the broader point is; this snowball is rolling. It’s growing and rolling faster and faster towards some locale way down the hillside. And “old self” take heed… You’re in the F’ing path.

100%

You know, this week I was going to title this post “The Backlash” and I was going to tell you in a funny, cynical and smart-ass sort of way, about the negative feedback we’ve been getting from some folks. I know right? I never imagined that some people out there would be down right mean and outwardly hoping for us to fail. I mean I knew some people would be utterly clueless and never in a million years understand why I’d want to just give away a perfectly good “fill in the blank here, yada yada… whicha-ma-call-it” but come on. I came up with a couple of cool categories to describe the different groups of people we’ve encountered and I gave them names like “Claymore’s” yes, after the WWII land mine. Another was the “George Costanza’s” and things like that. I was going to post a snippet from an actual email that Melody received saying, “how utterly disappointed” this person was with her for making this “rash decision” ending with “I expected more.” Huh?

But I’m not gonna do that.

After my last post, you know the one about the Lincoln running me down? I’ve decided to take a different tack. I’m going to marvel at the absolute bitch slap handed to me today.

I had two incredibly difficult conversations scheduled and I would rather have a root canal than have either one. I had a meeting with the VP of my company to inform him I’d be leaving and shortly after that, I had to call Bill (The guy who owns the boat I backed out of buying~ last post). I still hadn’t spoken to him directly. I left him a voicemail and sent an email and hadn’t heard back. I expected he was pissed but I needed to speak to him. I owed it to him and didn’t want to skulk off with having just sent an email. I needed to “take my poison” and I was dreading it. Dreading both.

Now we’ve had a really busy and some would say stressful month with this closing and trying to find a new place to rent for the next two months, etc. We’ve sold or given away most of our stuff. And the dog… Jet… is absolutely confused. We’ve fixed the kitchen sink three, no… four times and finally it no longer leaks. We’ve got boxes labeled “books” and other’s labeled “Donate” and still other’s labeled “Boat.” Where is this all leading you ask? I’m getting there.

Today, in the meeting with my boss… I struggled… I mean really struggled to hold back the sudden swell of emotion that hit me as he arranged a couple chairs for us to sit facing each other. I had been fine reading my notes and going over what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. Positive. Nothing but gratitude and appreciation. I sat down and he looked at me, leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head and said, “So… what’s going on?” Like a cowboy in an old western just before a gunfight. As I started with, “First, I’d like to just say thank you. Thank you for a great gig for the last ten years…” Tears welled up. My hand holding my coffee cup started shaking and I was now careening down a river of emotions that I hadn’t planned on. All the stress? Now! It had to come now? “Holy shit,” I’m thinking… “this can’t be happening now. Not now. Get… A… Grip!”

After a moment, I regained my composure and continued. We had a heart-felt, honest conversation about dreams, goals, expectations and the dangers of getting too comfortable. We got through the details of my exit strategy and then… as we were ending the meeting… he stood up, looked me dead in the face and said, “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for taking control of your life and realizing that it’s not good enough. And I’m going to say the only thing I can say… I support you… 100%. I’m going to miss you. I always liked you. But I support you.” I nearly hit the floor. And then, he hugged me.

I’m not sure what I expected but I didn’t expect that. Maybe I expected to have to defend a position. A point of view. My validity. Maybe I expected a little more, “good riddance.” I don’t know… Maybe we’ve all gotten so jaded and used to confrontation and drama that it’s become the first response. Moments like these blow me away because of the natural conditioning towards anything but kindness and understanding for another’s situation. Why was I so stunned.

“Hello Bill? It’s Chris…” I braced for the onslaught of “you shady son-of-a-bitch… etc… etc…” and it didn’t happen. It was absolutely the opposite. “Hey Chris, I got your email and your voicemail and I’m sorry we couldn’t put this together.” WHAT? I agreed to buy your boat, started the survey process and pulled up short and you’re apologizing to ME? This is just bizarre.

We’ve got a place to rent now. Today… two days before we have to be out of our house. A good friend called and had a tenant unexpectedly move out on him. Really. Right when things were getting critical… we find a place. How funny. You know, from the moment Mel and I made this decision, nothing has been difficult. It’s all fallen into place. Maybe a little stressful at times but it’s worked. Every piece from the selling of the boat, the house and furniture to the new boat being available now that we have the money. And now… the apartment. Just when I think… uh, oh… here it comes. This is where things bind up and grind to a halt, I get surprised… again and again. Bitch slap.

I’ve had this piece of paper on my computer monitor for about three years now. It’s the full width of a piece of copier paper and it has a saying on it. A friend and co-worker gave it to me years ago when we were having one of our deep discussions about dreams, goals, expectations and the dangers of getting too comfortable. In plain, black courier it says, “I am abundant and the universe supports me.” Somedays I notice it and some days, I don’t. Right there in front of me. Not two-feet from my face. On a monitor that I look at every day for about eight hours. Somedays I actually miss it… Unbelievable.

 

Know what? I’m going to make a point to see it every single day for the next two months.

Compression

com·pres·sion/kəmˈpreSHən/
Noun:

The action of compressing or being compressed.
The reduction in volume

I’m late… and I know it. I’ve missed my usual Monday time-frame for my post and it’s very unbecoming. I’ll refrain from the excuses and begin with a short telling of events from the past weekend. I’ve done something I’m not proud of… I backed out of a deal.

To recap: Mel and I traveled to Naples, Florida to see another Cal 35. There are currently three on the market and we’ve now seen two. The third one is not an option. Needs too much work. And that… if you recall is how this damn blog started in the first place! I won’t go into all the technical details but after seeing the first one in Panama City, I (I stress “I”) wanted to see the one in Naples for piece of mind. In an effort to save money we found some really inexpensive (notice I didn’t say cheap) tickets on Allegiant Airlines. However they don’t fly from Nashville. In the interest of time I’ll give you the readers digest breakdown…

Friday: leave work early, drop Jet off at the “Pet Resort” (more than our hotel), go home to clean the house because the new owners wanna do their final walk-thru tomorrow… of course. Got going early on Saturday, drove 3 hrs. to Knoxville, Flew to Punta Gorda, drove to Naples, met the boat guy… Bill, had dinner and finally got to the Old Naples Pub at 9:45pm for our St. Patty’s day celebratory Guinness! Just in time cause…
they close at 10! Crap.

Saturday we woke early, had breakfast and met the owner Bill and his wife Sally. They were so incredibly gracious. They let us stay on the boat and met us the next morning with a cooler full of sandwiches and wine, the perfect set-up for a nice test sail. After settling up with the harbor master for the nights dockage, we pushed off to motor out and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. Everything was great… the weather, the company, the wind was freshening and it was almost perfect… almost.

TECHNICAL ALERT: This is where I have to regress back a bit… When I read the ad for the boat, it said the owner had Kiwi-gripped the decks. Now if you don’t know, sailboats have a rough area on the decks known as “non-skid” which is placed strategically to keep your feet from slipping when the decks are wet. Over time, it wears down and starts to become ineffective and unattractive. Most people paint the decks and that in turn creates a whole-nuther set of problems… painting the deck every couple of years… YUCK. I’ve had two boats with painted decks and I told Melody, “Don’t ever let me buy another boat with painted decks!” You see where this is going. However Kiwi-grip is a different product entirely and it’s much more reliable. Anywho… Upon walking up to the boat I noticed that they didn’t do such a great job painting the and the mast looked different than it did in the photos… It looked PAINTED! And it was… half-way up… he stopped… painting…

Now this is where my internal dialogue starts saying just be nice, stay over, do the sail, be diplomatic and go home. Another part of me says, “Go home now!” But the voice who wants to remain with my wonderful girl agrees with the first voice. So we enjoy a lovely night and I proceed to talk myself into a painted boat. “It’s really not too bad. I can repaint it in white and get rid of that nasty tan color. Ah, I can pull the mast and paint it correctly… fill in the vent in the fore-deck, fix the auto-helm, re-do the headliner.” You see where this is going. After-all there are only two Cal’s and we want the best boat for the money… This one just had a twenty-five hundred dollar bottom job, newer diesel engine, new standing rigging, new mainsail, and… painted decks. We sailed and it sailed just as it was supposed to… FREAKING INCREDIBLE. We had a lovely day, drank wine, sat at the dock and in the excitement, I tossed out a figure that was six-thousand dollars short of his asking price… annnnnd he took it. So, Mel and I told him we had to discuss it and we’d call him later.

On our way to the airport we talked. I ignored my little voice and my little voice didn’t appreciate it. The pressure of dragging my girl around the country in a fit of planes, trains and automobiles had gotten to me. I was telling myself, “you need to just make a decision and get moving. Time is running out… our escape time-table is being compressed at an ever increasing rate. My little voice began screaming… and I ignored it. I smiled through clenched teeth and we agreed to go for it. I called Bill and said we wanted to move forward with the purchase. He was over the moon. Said he and his wife had such a great feeling and really enjoyed us as a couple… I however felt very sad. Very compressed… “reduced in my volume” and Melody knew it. She said something like, “you’re not has happy as I thought you’d be…”

Monday morning 4 am:

Compression… major compression. Shortness of breath, heart pounding. My little voice now standing on my chest, a firm grasp on my throat says in a calm, “Clint Eastwood” voice… “Now you listen here bitch… I’m only going to say this one more time.”

5 am:

I’m on the couch in a full blown anxiety attack looking over photos and the survey the owner of the other boat sent me, reeling over the fact that I have to tell Melody, “…it’s not over. No deal. I gotta go back to see the other boat again.”

Melody knows me pretty well. She woke up and knew… she just knew… Jet, our dog, knew too. He left the room. I bared my soul, my fears, my reservations and said, I know you hate me but I have to go back… She cried. Balled. Big, red, swelled-up eyes. 5 am-I’m not awake-I’m hungry and I have to pee tears.

I had to call Bill. I felt sick to my stomach, like I was letting my dad down. I was going to call this nice retired couple who probably set their “next phase” into motion. I mean… why not… they sold the boat right? Ugh. I left him a message. I sent him an email. He hasn’t called me back. I feel like a total dick. I have to call him again and I’m not looking forward to the conversation.

Compression. The action of compressing. I feel it. With our house closing next week, no place to rent until we leave in June and no boat, I feel like I’m running. Running as fast as I can as a 1979 Lincoln Continental speeds behind me. My feet clip the front bumper with each stride and I feel the air suck past me into that big, chrome grill.

And I’m running out of road…

Graceful Transitions

It’s Monday and it couldn’t come soon enough. I was thinking about this post most of the weekend.  How would I transition from the last post and the emotions of the last week, to the emotions of this week and beyond?

noun:  1. movement, passage or change from one position, state, stage, concept, subject, etc…
             to another.

With that in mind, we’ll do it together.  Gracefully, respectfully… I turn the page and focus forward.

We spent the weekend packing the house.  It’s quite funny because we were done in about 3 hrs. See, we’ve donated and/or sold almost all the furniture and we’re just waiting for it to be picked up.  We’ve given or donated several loads of clothing to Goodwill and friends and yesterday we made a run to McKay’s Book Store here in Nashville. They just opened a new three-hundred thousand square foot wear house. They sell used books, cd’s, dvd’s… well, you know the type store. As we packed Saturday we loaded up our itunes with all the cd’s we could handle before tossing them in as well.  All told, we got a paltry $86.00 for our efforts and a $10.00 store credit.  BUT… that wasn’t the point was it?  We got rid of a ton of stuff and still made enough money to grab a couple bottles of wine and some dinner.  I couldn’t think of a more perfect exodus for that copy of “Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus” that I’ll never crack the spine on!

This coming weekend, March 17th… St. Patty’s Day… we’ll be heading to Naples, Florida to look at a Cal 35. That’s a sailboat.  We have pretty much decided this is the perfect boat for us at the moment.  As every sailor knows, every boat is a combination of compromises.  One has great sailing abilities but an exposed cock-pit. One has shallow draft but feels dark and cramped inside. Another will have all the creature comforts of home but sails like a dinner plate. That’s a bad thing. And the most important one for us right now… which one fits in the budget?  Money… You never want to sacrifice and buy a shitty boat just because it’s cheap. You’ll find one night, while you try to sleep in a blustery storm, drops of water caressing your forehead through that leaky hatch you saved ten grand on.  That will almost guarantee you and your lovely will be land-lubbers in no time at all.

The Cal 35 fits our criteria, and let me stress “our criteria” once again.  Everyone will have different needs or requirements when they pick their boats.  Just read a few forum’s and you’ll get mind numbing assessments of facts and figures, capsize ratios, balance to displacement, righting moment equations, comfort factors and so on. At long last, you’ll just have to know what you want.  For me… I need a boat that sails well.  She has to go to weather with a measure of confidence. She has to be well built with less than six feet of draft. She has to come from one of a handful of designers that I hold in high esteem. Sparkman & Stevens, Ted Hood, Bill Shaw, Carl Alberg and Bill Lapworth are just a few. The latter being the designer of the Cal 35. Bill Lapworth designed several Cal boats and early on changed the sailing world with the wave churning Cal 40. A legendary boat if ever there was one. So, without getting all technical on you… We searched for the last two years for our “next boat” and if you’re talking about under 50k, there are few as good with the reputation to boot.

She is sea-worthy, fast and has very nice accommodation’s down below.  She’s got a nice safe galley, navigation station, 6′-3″ of headroom and… a separate shower stall.  That was the selling point for my lovely girl Melody. Few things are more important after a day in the salty air than feeling fresh and clean. A shower, albeit not a glamorous one, makes you feel 100% human.  She’s got a lovely v-berth and quarter berth with tons of storage. Another plus for Mel, secret squirrel as I like to call her.  That girl can stow some stuff away… I’ll have to make diagram’s with “circle’s and arrows on the back of each one” (Arlo Guthrie reference there) just to be able to find the soap!  Her mast height is a little taller than I’d like at 54′ but like I said, trade-offs…

We’ve seen one in Panama City which had some nice canvas and a cool layout but had a lot more use on it.  We’re going to see this one before we pull the trigger just to have that piece of mind.  Ideally, I would like to not have a “Florida Boat” since they spend so much time getting pounded by the sun… but hey, if it’s been taken care of… with a good clean survey… it  is what it is.

So there, I think we’ve made a nice, clean and graceful transition here.  A technical, dissertation on a boat and the why-to’s and where-fore’s of our mindset.  Non-offensive. Nothing too heavy or thought provoking. No deep quotes from Emerson or Twain.  Nothing to ponder.  Just a nice, warm piece of dough that you can chew on until I wax poetic or have a momentary lapse of reason once again. Rest assured dear friends and followers… it will happen.  It will happen.

Per-spek-tiv

noun

the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship:

It’s Monday. It’s been customary that i write my blog entries on Monday’s. I’m not sure why that’s become the case. Maybe it’s because i’ve had the weekend to reflect but i think that’s a load of shit since i don’t really do much reflection here. This blog was to be an honest “on the spot” assessment of the “journey” we’ve undertaken. Stream of consciousness, drivel with moments of witty repartee. I said i’d be honest, “…warts and all” and today i guess is one of the wart days.

I’m not sure where to start. See, i’m conflicted.  Because i believe we’ve become a society of self-absorbed, ego-infested, lemmings who feel the need to incessantly post every mundane thought or action on Twitter and Facebook. We suddenly feel like it’s important to tell everyone, anyone who’ll listen that we just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or that our head hurts or we just “struggled” through 3 loads of laundry and now we need a break. I could go on for days about this but i won’t. Needless to say, this blog also falls into that senseless, self-absorbed, crap category. But i made a deal with myself to make notes about our experience because later i wanted to look back and see a road-map of thoughts and emotions that were written in the moment, at the time they occurred and not from reflection or reminiscence. My intention was to make the next, “rest of my life” a piece of art.  For ME… not for any of you.  I stopped making music and painting because my “next project” was this experience.  And… i’ve been so shut down for the last ten years, i felt the only way to discontinue that trend was to throw open the curtains and let everyone in.  Warts and all… Take part in the exhibitionism. Foolish.

About now you’re probably asking yourself, “What the hell is he talking about?” and i completely understand. See… If I ignore my post this week, i’m turning my back on the deal i made with myself.  I become a fraud because later i’ll be resigned to recall this particular Monday from a place of reflection. I’ll be forced to pull hard the strings of emotion and loss. Because let’s face it… time changes our perception… our per-spek-tiv.  It does heal most wounds.  Most…

My per-spek-tiv is definitely different today.  A very dear friend succeeded in killing himself this weekend and the thought of writing a blog about our boat search trip makes me sick to my stomach. The “…state of my ideas” is not clear right now.  I fluctuate between anger and sadness.  This “experience” has now shifted like the tectonic plates as i mourn for my other friend who was there when he did it and is now forced to carry that image in his head for the rest of his life. Brutal and inhumane… it makes me wanna sit on the floor and cry.

Warts and all…

So… you see my dilemma. Do i post this crap and feed the monster?  Or do i lock it down, choke back the tears, cover it over with bullshit and tamp it down deep into the dark, wet dirt.

Do me a favor, if you’ve made this far, don’t post any “I’m sorry for your loss” comments. Don’t tell me “…things will get better with time.”  Respectfully… save your breath.  You wanna be sympathetic?  Do something that matters.  Take a long lunch, go outside and look around. Lay on your back for a change of ‘per-spek-tiv’ and take a deep, deep breath. Now realize that life is a gift. Selling another widget won’t make you a better father or mother. Your BMW is not fooling anyone.  At least anyone who is still paying attention. Don’t judge people because chances are, you don’t know shit about what balls they are juggling in their lives and… if you have a problem, get help. Do a better job with your life. Engage. Mend your fences. Count your blessings. That’s what you can do.

Ignorance is not bliss. It’s simply ignorance.

Now… if you’ll excuse me, i’m going to make a peanut and butter sandwich.

My What A Lovely “P Trap”

noun: humor or frivolity, esp. the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect.

Humor or Frivolity indeed!  After the last couple of  “introspective” posts on property, security and metaphysical leaps of faith, it’s time to lighten the mood. That’s why it’s time to talk about plumbing… wait, what? Let me look at my notes here… Yup… Plumbing. I despise plumbing.

verb: feel contempt or a deep repugnance for.

Repugnance! Yes… Repugnance!  That is a damn fine word.  I have a deep repugnance for plumbing. What is all this about you ask?  The home inspection found some “issues” with some leaky supply lines to the sinks and toilet in my back-house. So, Mr. Home Inspector says I must fix or have fixed, said leaks and add a “P Trap” to the tub drain in my bathroom.  This is the point at which I felt like saying, “look, I’ll go have a colonoscopy, they’ll have a couple leaky sinks and no “P Trap (Whatever the frig that is) and we’ll call it even.”  Deal?

No deal.

This looks like a job for Mr. Sylvan Park Handyman!  I’ve seen the trucks for the last ten years driving around my neighborhood and now I am in need of rescue. DUMB LUCK! My neighbor drives one of those fancy white vans that reads something like; “No job too small! Licensed, Bonded, Insured… great dancers, who like long walks on the beach,  piña colada’s and puppies.  God fearing, atheist’s who love whales and show up on time!”  Ok, I’m reaching, that’s a lot to write on the side of a van.  I grabbed my phone, walked out into the yard, gathered my thoughts and prepared myself to… ahem, ask for help.  Something no man likes to do.  What to my wondering eyes do see? My neighbor, yes… that neighbor, enjoying a Krystal, grey meat “hamburger” on his stoop!  Dare I ask? I do.  I went over, introduced myself and asked if he had a few minutes AFTER he finishes that delicious looking, little grey cheeseburger to assess my situation.  He agrees.

A few minutes pass and a knock comes on my back door.  Gene is a strapping man.  Large, clean shaven and bald. Picture Mr. Clean, sans earrings.  He looks at my “P Trap” issue and complete lack of access to the area and begins with another thing no man wants hear, the vague and off-putting, “Hmmm.  Mmm. Hm. “Click, (draws air in through his teehth)” Mm.”  Ugh! Not the “click, draws air”  thing.  That’s expensive!  Then the damage.  “That’s really tight in there.  That could take two men about 2 hrs.  and at $115.00 for the first hour, you could be looking at $400.00.”  What?  $400.00 for something called a “P Trap?” That’s ridiculous.  Thanks Gene!  Nice to see you Mr. Sylvan Park Handyman, Son-of-bitch, rip-off jerk bag!  Put that on your van smacked-ass!

I got into my shitty little truck, drove to Home Depot, purchased said “P F’ing Trap”, glue, 90 degree this and that stuff and promptly marched home and cut a massive hole in the drywall. You want access? I got your access bitch… and in one hour, yes 1 HOUR… me… novice, no count plumbers-ass got said “P Trap” installed. $34.95!  Then, I went on to fix the two leaky sinks and the toilet and GUESS WHAT?

They still leaked.  Grrrrr.  Now Melody… my girl says, “Honey I used to be a plumber in a former life.  Why don’t you let me take a stab at this.  You did the “P Trap” and your obviously losing patience with this… so go for a run and I’ll fix it before you get home.

…Right

Repugnance leads men to do strange things.  I agreed.  Yep… I got out of the way of my penis and surrendered the wrenches and teflon tape with aplomb. I went for a lovely run and cleared my head of drywall dust and dank crawl space fungus while Melody toiled away under the sink.  When I returned I expected to find her as exasperated as I had previously been. Not so.  She went to the hardware store, bought a new hose (source of the leak) and installed it with thread sealant and then reorganized the entire under-sink area. Dry as a bone.

Now some people deduce that they were Napoleon or Gandhi in former lives.  Joan of Arc, Mary Magdalene… Not my baby.  Nope.  She was a plumber… And I have to say, that’s one “plumber’s-ass” I can handle.

Inspection

in·spec·tion/inˈspek’shuhn/

  1. the act of inspecting  or viewing, especially carefully or critically: an inspection of luggage on a plane.
  2. formal or official viewing or examination: an inspection of the troops.

The act of inspecting… Well I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.  February 8th I posted the “So this is where we are” blog about me (us) wanting to break away.  I believe the words were, “right now my brain is about breaking away.” And that was a Wednesday.  That Friday we had a showing on our house.  I said to Melody, “We’re selling this house today.” Consequently, we had another showing on Saturday and I repeated my sentiment.  Then… a showing on Sunday.  I was damn certain that we were selling our house.  I pressed my palms together and spied the heavens with all the muster I could muster.  And then… Sunday night… The call.  We got an offer.  After almost 1 year and countless price adjustments I finally tossed all my chips on the table and dropped to a price I knew would make something hit my line.  Today was the home inspection.

I met the inspector and agent at the door. I wanted to tell them that I’d been inspecting my “home” for years. The last couple years with extreme scrutiny in fact.  I wanted to tell them that I spent years picking the right bed, couch, tables and chairs to soothe my soul and pad my nest.  Candles and lamps; blankets and books.  Paintings, knick-knacks, music and memorabilia all in an attempt to foster development, remind me of who I am and provide security.  There’s that word again…

se·cu·ri·ty/siˈkyo͝oritē/

  1. The state of being free from danger or threat.
  2. The safety of a state or organization against criminal activity such as terrorism, theft, or espionage: “national security”
The state of being free from danger or threat… Hm.  When have we ever been free from danger or threat? Since the dawn of man we’ve roamed the earth in harms way.  Hunted saber-toothed tigers, discovered fire, electricity… language.  Think of the fella who invented and TESTED the first parachute.  Danger.  Threat. Of all the things we’ve “discovered” in this world, I think the facade of security is the most dangerous of them all. People grow up under the umbrella thinking if I just do the right thing, get the right education, marry Mr. or Ms. Right, work for the right company and play by golden rule, my life will be just perfect.  It’s unattainable. Perfection that is.  Will a Harvard education get you further in life?  Absolutely.  Does a 25 year marriage make you special?  Yes… it does.  Is  that the only route to take through this thicket called “life”?  Nope… There are many branches on the Tree of Life. Go out onto the limb friends… that’s where the fruit is.

Repairs can only begin after inspection.  I’m not suggesting we all sell everything, quit our jobs and leap off the ledge.  I’m merely suggesting you take a moment out of your day, lie down on your belly, stretch your arms far out in front of you and pull yourself out onto that ledge and peer over.  No need to leap.  Just appreciate the distance.

Yeah, I wanted to tell them that I’d been inspecting my “home” for years. The last couple years with extreme scrutiny in fact.  Now, we’re operating as if this house is sold.  Our home is within us and not for sale. Always has been.  Always will be.  I hope to pass along my house to a young Dr. couple who, with any luck will begin to pad their nest with candles, couches, lamps and blankets.  I know where they can get some… Cheap.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat…

So this is where we are.  If  you’ve been following along, you know this blog used to be about the restoration and love of my old Tartan 27 “moose”.  Well, after several years of enjoyment and restoration, we realized that we wanted to move aboard a sailboat and actually try living on it. Sadly, “Moose” at only 27 feet was entirely too small for a comfortable existence.  So, we need something bigger. That’s where we are now…

Personally… after owning a couple houses over the last fifteen years, I’m tired of it.  Cutting the grass, fixing hot water heaters, leaky roof’s and crazy neighbors.  I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars, as most of us have, on mortgages, kitchen upgrades, taxes, etc… etc.. and I don’t feel one tad bit more secure than I ever have.  The dream of home-ownership has never been for me.  I’ve tried to buy into it and picture myself with the picket fences, and all that crap but I can’t.  I’ve always been a wanderer, seeker and vagabond.  I grew up in a house where that was highly discouraged.  “Go to college, get a J.O.B and work for the same company for 25 years and retire with a pension” was the company line in my family.  A Marine Corps father and highly intelligent and over achieving siblings is what I was surrounded by. But I was the artistic kid and while I really tried to tow that line, I couldn’t do it.  Still can’t.

I could go on for days but that would be arduous at best.  Long and the short of it is, I found me a girl who is smart, beautiful, adventurous and also ready for a big change.  If this world has taught us anything over the last decade, it’s that nothing is guaranteed.  Nothing. Life is right now.  Happening in front of us everyday.  My Marine father is battling Parkinson’s Disease as we speak.  Melody’s mom is wrestling with Lupus and the tragic effects it has on an otherwise vibrant woman.  We aren’t guaranteed a healthy “old age” and even if we were, when I’m 70 years old, am I going to want to run around the globe and try new things, live uncomfortably if even for a day?  Chances are, I’m not.  I’ve been observing the world around me vigorously… differently after the events of September 11, 2001.  It was a day that changed my life forever.

Where I thought I’d find “security” I found absolute unrest.  I’ve been an artist my whole life… Like it or not, that’s the fact.  Sometimes I don’t much like it to be honest.  I’ve had a “regular” J.O.B for the last 10 years… and it’s nearly killed me.  So, the house is for sale.  I sold the drum kit I’ve had for 25 years.  I’ve given away things near and dear to my heart because I’m sick to death of STUFF.  Shit I own that brings me no comfort and provides no enlightenment what-so-ever.  My books, and a couple of guitars I will keep.  The rest… gone.

I do dream of having a small, eclectic cabin on the lake someday.  One with a library and large stone fireplace.  I’d like to have some chickens, grow my own food and write my crazy poetry and silly songs.  I would but right now, my brain is around breaking away.  It’s about throwing off the wet and musty blanket I’ve covered myself in for the last decade and leaping off the ledge.  This story, The “Story Of Moose” is no longer about a boat.  It’s about us, Melody, Jet (our dog) and myself.  We are “moose” and this is about our “journey”.  The journey that we’ve been on together for the last 6 + years and the journey we’re attempting to under-take as we go forward.