Not as easy as it looks

Sitting in my Boston Whaler at 10:30pm on a warm summer night, I was trying to use a sextant to take a position reading. It’s not like I was lost; I was bobbing in the swells just off Fish Islands and could clearly see my house on the coast. I got to thinking what it must have been like for early mariners, out in the vast oceans, trying to get a fix on their position. When you consider the vast distances, even a single degree of variance could result in hundreds of miles worth of error as time passed by.

Sure, larger ships had inertial navigation and could be precise down to minutes and seconds of longitude and latitude, but they were pretty expensive and took a lot of knowledge to properly program and read. GPS wasn’t even a gleam in a boater’s eye, and with satellite positioning available to literally everyone it’s almost like cheating.

I turned my focus from the bright points in the night sky and looked at the surface of the water. Zillions of little bioluminescent creatures live in the water and air movement on the surface and marine life beneath it caused nebulae and star like points of light that sometimes seemed to mirror the sky above. A fish of some sort darted beneath my boat, a comet tail of fluorescense streaming behind it. This was a part of the magic of the water that seemed so beckoning to me. Wavelets drew lines across the peaks of the tiny rollers, a cook lightning that zigged this way and zagged that way as I watched.

Peering over the gunwale and staring deep into the water, I saw the passing of something big; perhaps a shark was patrolling the water below. So long as it didn’t turn and breach I was content for it to go its way and me mine. Off to the port was a small island of glowing light, no doubt a few jelly fish with luminous creatures trapped within them.

I rested my head on a bumper and stared into the water, feeling my eyes grow heavy as I looked into the hypnotic waters and allowed my mind to just wander. I was relaxed and that’s why it was so startling to hear the soto honk of a ship’s horn slicing through my reverie like a blade. I say up erect and realzed I hadn’t been paying attention to my drift and was now floating in the  deep channel where the ocean going cargo craft plied their way out of the sound and into the sea. The ship passed within 100 feet of me and at the short distance, the ship appeared to be a giant. I braced for the wake that was sure to follow and wasn’t disappointed. First I rode the bow wave and as soon as I fell into its trailing trough, the stern wave picked me up and raised me nearly 15 feet before leaving me rocking violently. The ship sounded its horn again and I watched it go, its deck lights giving a pristine look to what was no doubt  mass of rust and grease. I was to her port and saw her green nav lights clearly. Aboard her, on deck, I could make out men in the process of making the ship ready for deep water,

I laid back on my cushions and watched it slowly recede, it’s well of light disappearing as it moved towards the horizon. As much as the well of brightness that were her deck lights, her prop wash was aglow and fluorescing brightly by the disturbed creatures who used light to make their complaint of distress.

I picked up the sextant again and once again tried to get a sighting. And once again I returned the instrument to its box in defeat. It was going to take some hands on training by an experienced man of the sea, the written instructions just didn’t convey whatever trick it took to use the night sky as my signpost.

 

Die a Tribe

“No.” I said. Sounded final. On purpose. I rolled away as she started to chatter about going back and seeing the old haunts. I rolled to my room and stopped in the doorway, a blockade and she took the hint. She sighed and went off to the kitchen. I’d been talking about hot dogs. The kind bought from street vendors in New York. Sworn to be kosher, heaped with sauerkraut and slathered with yellow mustard. Roast beef sandwiches from Jewish delis, cut paper thin and melts in the mouth. Seasoned with Swiss cheese and horseradish mustard and some mayo. On a hoagie roll. Sub my foot. A hoagie.

I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to see what time and people have done to my memories. Street vendors with microwaved dogs, likely from the A&P –Safeway, whatever they have now. Google earth has already made me sick, looking at what’s happened to Butler’s Island, the Five Mile River and Rowayton. Smeared with affluence, the old stately colonials replaced with gargantuan boxes designed by some psychotic experimenting with belladonna. No more neighborhood, an infliction of painful change that made mincemeat of my recollections. My personal treasured memories soiled like a diaper and held up as art. Effing’ nouveau riche. More money than brains. Used to be they hung out in Greenwich, now they’re everywhere, turning coastal Connecticut into something unrecognizable and alien and just plain wrong. Gorgeous hardwoods with ivy wrapping them in a loving blanket, clear cut so someone has the sense of space. Bite me.

Yeah, I’m angry about it.

These are my memories and how dare anyone, how dare time …reach into my head and stir the pot, screwing up thoughts that used to soothe like comfort food. Now I think of that aerial view, compliments of Google, turning my foundations, my base into rabbit pellets gathered beneath rusting cages. Time, my friend, doesn’t necessarily make things better. Cripes, even the channel buoys are gone, no doubt their bells too much an annoyance to someone with a distasteful ear for buoys and the ear of government. The pier that used to moor the Antiope, a PT boat converted to family cruiser, gone like the raked leaves of fall. As if there were any oaks and maples to drop them now.  I look at the image on my computer screen and my eyes become marbles, poking up through shallow water. You can’t go home again. Yeah, I see that. It makes me more misanthropic –yet understanding of the generation before me that looked with horror at what we wrought. Except that it’s MY generation, we baby boomers, who have seemingly screwed the pooch. Tradition. That’s what’s been lost I think. Maybe it’s just me. Who knows? I sure don’t.

So no. I don’t want to go back there. Had I stayed there… had I stayed there I would have assimilated the change, likely without notice. But fifty years spans then and now and it’s just all wrong because nothing looks right. Like waking up from a 50 year coma and wondering what that crap on the radio is. Where’s Perry Como and Mantovani? Not as if I LIKED Perry and company. No, I’m a rocker. Except now it’s not called music, they call what I grew up on Classic Rock. Classic, like Coke without sugar. Instead it’s fructose or glucose or perhaps just morose. Cripes. Put me back to sleep and don’t wake me till time ends, starts over, and we come full circle to that place fifty years ago.

No, honey. I don’t want to go back and see. Just leave me alone to sit in my room and quietly recall the way it used to be. To hear the laughter of friends merging with the whisk broom waves quietly lapping the sands. To feel the winds and inspect the chop as I get ready to take my boat out to meet distant whitecaps, my friends loaded with soda pop in returnable bottles we’ll trade for nickels to buy a Look bar. The thump of water skis and coiled tow ropes and the squeak of bare feet on fiberglass, a rainbow of harmless oil slick behind a burbling outboard. The air thick with humidity, the smells of history and ageless salt, decomposing kelp and seaweed. The warmth of the sun or the practical joke of overcast sneaking a sunburn on youthful backs and little noses.

Perhaps a touch of parental affluence –but not wealth. We kids worked little kid jobs to earn our way in gas and oil and the accoutrements of water play. Today the kids living there would look down their sculpted noses. No way we could afford to live in the imported rarefied air pumped in by dollars so far beyond even my parent’s dreams it’s not funny. Actually, I probably couldn’t get near the old homestead. Diverted by stern faced cops who don’t care who you were, it’s all about who you are. No, it’s not my place anymore. Google was bad enough. I think seeing it in person would be like a knife to the heart. Of course, I see a parallel here; where I live I have watched the change inflicted by passing decades. Did you know that when I got here I looked at a house for sale. They wanted sixty-eight thousand for it. I note the same house sold a few weeks ago for just over two hundred thou. The quiet neighborhood now bracketed by a couple of convenience stores, the nearby elementary school is converted to condos. No place is exempt. I wonder if someone sits in Stamford and looks at Spokane on Google earth and has the same sickening sensations I have looking eastward. Probably. Newman lake a smelly pit of algae, the crystal waters of a lake fed only by rain runoff long turned to an ineffectual algae-clogged  trickle –yet the lakeside houses still amplified in price. I can just hear the lament –sounding a lot like my own, tinged with the same senseless anger at the changes. Ravaged by time. Ravaged by change.

They’re saying it too. “Hell no, I can’t bear to see it.”

Five Big Ones

With the house about ready to be gutted for renovation, I’ve been giving thought to what I should do for the time we can’t be in the house. Two or three weeks we’ll have to vacate. The power and water will be on and off, continual noise, all of the windows removed… it will be necessary for us to get out of the way. Since I keep getting ripped off for vacation trips, I thought that maybe this might be a good time to vacate. For the past few summers I have been wanting to go somewhere festive and warm. A place on a beach with warm ocean to languish in. I think about jet skis and and tours and the other elements of vacation. But it never failed, something came up and so the possibe trips never materialized. But now, well, now just might be the time.

I did a little checking with the travel websites and discovered something. I looked at Oahu, Hawaii, San Diego, California, Padre Island, Texas, and Key West, Florida. Oh, I checked on Bermuda too. In each and every case, it would cost $5000 for travel and accommodations. How can that be? Why does it cost the same to go and stay a week in San Diego as it does Key West? Or Hawaii, whatever. How can that be? I mean, if it costs $5k to go to Hawaii for a week, then it seems like San Diego or Key West ought to be about $1200. There should damn well be a serious discount for American citizens visiting the lower 48.

No News, Is (often) Good News

No April Fools…I am alive and well.
I recently have been logging hours back at work. I am focused on customer upgrades to a new version of our software. Throughout the week I will hear nothing about upgrades and in my status meeting that I facilitate I always enter it not knowing what to expect. Although, 90% of the time if I haven’t heard about something prior to the meeting, no news is good news.
That’s the case with the project we took on last year to re-boot my immune system and dominate Multiple Myeloma. The reprogramming process is going well, albeit I have been dodging sick kids left and right over the last two months. All there is to report is a little neuropathy which we are throwing a lot of Vitamin B at and postponing maintenance.
Most of my time is centered around the kids and coming alive as a dork again by growing interests in what Cassie reminds me are dorky things like studying Customer Development in my spare time. So life is returning to our new normal. It hit me last night that three kids is like three points in space that create a flat plane (unless they are linear of course, Phil = dork). With one and even two kids, we had a lot more freedom, but with the third, our playing field is set and now we can focusing on growing a fun and awesome family.
To that end I have enjoyed every moment of every day that I get to hold and interact with Ruby. She turns 1 this month as I head towards my one year anniversary of my first bone marrow transplant. Cassie and I cannot even recall any memories of Iris until she was two, so we are gobbling up Ruby time. Although we may not ever believe Iris existed prior to age 2, I am falling more fondly in love with this girl the older she gets. She now says that she loves me, but only in addition to mommy. She’ll even kiss my knee from time to time. Last weekend we went out on a date to her restaurant of choice and she even dominated a sundae…yum!
Ocean continues to grow and mature at a speed unknown to man. I now know what it means to be extroverted. He can’t get enough daddy time and he wants to do everything that I am doing. So he’s a little dominator in training with a great sense of humor. Last week when I took him to school he got all the kids calling him “bobble head” in stead of Ocean.

I hope everyone else is well and still dominating! I hope to engage the MM community more as our life continues to stabalize after a year of colorful chaos.


1..2..3…4…5…Blast Off!

Today is an extra special day for us all. It was just over to 2.5 years ago when our lives were changed forever due to a disease known as Multiple Myeloma. I remember it very well. Rather than my life flashing right before me, I was troubled by the image of Ocean growing up without ever knowing his father and the devastation that could bring to his life. At the time of diagnosis, almost everything we read about Multiple Myeloma was doom and gloom. The life expectancy we consistently read about was 3-5 years. Below is Ocean a few months before we learned of my diagnosis which came on 8.8.08.

Well, we hardly believe those statistics any more thanks to aggressive therapy and new treatment options. Although, I do relish each additional year I am able to spend with Ocean, Iris and now Ruby. Ocean’s birthday is pretty emotional for me because it is a reminder that I cannot take for granted my time with him and that it could be snatched up in a moment’s notice. Today he turns 5 and although most people say, wow, time sure has flown…for me, I feel like the kid should be 10 by now given all that we have been through and experienced since he was born on Feb. 28th, 2006 in Concord, NC.

So cheers to Ocean today! This kid brings a lot of laughter and bright moments to our world that hasn’t been all smiles; albeit he makes us forget. The kid has been smiling since day one and I am certain that nothing will be able to stop him!


Do you like Myeloma?

“Do you like Myeloma..Daddy?” was the question that came from my four almost five year old son. I was totally caught off guard. One, because he pronounced Myeloma better than most adults, and two, the fact he even knew the word.
His question still has me in a tailspin. You would think the immediate response would be “NOOOOOOO!”…but that was not what came to mind. I am still caught up in this question days later and my thoughts are a little scattered….I just don’t know exactly how I feel about Myeloma. Obviously I wish it would depart from this earth as early as yesterday, but I don’t feel an angery/firey get out of my life now -type response.
Like any bumps in my life I tend to see them as redirection onto a better path and an opportunity to know myself better. I can say that Myeloma has definitely provided both redirection and many opportunities for me to better understand myself and those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not “thankful” for the disease nor do I view it as a gift, but I don’t hate it nor do I feel like I am in a “battle” against it. Weird…I know.
To set the record straight…Ocean was referring to Myeloma buddies…NOT the disease. I wish he would have told me that up front before my mind went down this rabbit trail to understand how I feel about my Myeloma. As for Myeloma Buddies….I think they are LEGIT!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
-Phil