I Am The Storm

Last week I had lunch in Marin with an old friend and mentor who chastised me for not posting anything here for two months. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t wanted to write, but I’ve been held back by a mental block that feels about as big as the Pacific ocean. In the last six years the point of this blog has become less about me saying stuff about what happened at work, and more about giving others a glimpse of what it’s like to be in this industry as well as giving them some information about where to start if they’re interested. I’ve received a high number of emails and messages over the years from strangers asking questions or offering support, and the experience has been fascinating and wholly rewarding. If I am to keep writing, it’s because I think talking about my experiences can help others and I still believe it can, so I won’t stop anytime soon. That being said, the big personal revelations that make for moving or informative content don’t really come along every day, and I’m no longer interested in offering up mundane descriptions of my life just to fill the silence because I doubt that interests anyone. Also, ranting about work when I’m frustrated is not something I’d like to make a habit of, and it seems like some of my more recent posts were leading into that territory: at this point, I think it’s better to say nothing. Seems like I’ll have to find a middle ground somewhere here, which is exactly what I’ve been struggling to do lately.

Incidentally, today (January 14) is the 6th anniversary of my first crew-up ever, on the Sidney Foss in 2010 for a trip up the inside passage to Valdez with a deck barge.

It’s been a trying couple of months, let’s start there. I turned 30 in October (which was awesome) then went to work; in mid-November I had to get off the boat due to severe back pain (not so awesome – I couldn’t put on my shoes, I certainly couldn’t work, just packing my bag was brutal); and I’ve been off work ever since, in and out of doctors’ offices and lying on the couch knitting hats (my Etsy shop has garnered an alarming number of orders so far, the last of which went out in the mail yesterday; I culled my listings and upped the prices to compensate for how much work I’ve actually ended up putting into the finished product, and doubt I’ll get many more orders this season as winter begins to wind down… thank goodness). I’m feeling happier lately, but a month ago I was miserable, watching the world go by without me. I hate not working.

In December I went to see a spinal specialist to talk about the condition of my L5-S1 disc, and found out it was not nearly as bad as the radiologist’s report made it sound. The disc is mildly herniated which was causing painful inflammation, but surgery is not needed and I’ve been doing physical therapy for the first time in my life which has been a huge help. Years of rowing followed by working as a deck hand on tugs and cargo barges took their toll I guess. When I got home from that appointment, I glimpsed myself in the mirror to discover my first gray hair on the top of my head and was oddly excited about it. At this point, getting older is not something I’m afraid of; I feel more like myself than I ever have, and leaving my 20s behind is exactly what I want to do.

I visited the San Francisco Bay Area in December and again last week, to stay with my mother and reconnect with old friends in the maritime community as well as those outside the industry. It was startling to realize how little I’ve traveled to California in the last year, when I used to drift through all the time – since I put my name on an apartment lease in Seattle a year ago I felt it was a good time to stay in one place for a while. It was also pleasantly surprising to find that though I hadn’t been around, I actually hadn’t been forgotten. I’ve carved a niche for myself and have been struggling to gain a foothold in that niche only to find it’s been mine all along, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before, ready for what comes next. I’ll be back soon I promise.

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