Thursday, March 20, 2008

I burn, burn like a wicker cabinet...

...chalk white and oh so frail,
I see our time has gotten stale.
The tick tock of the clock is painful
All sane and logical
I want to tear it off the wall...


Standing the watch. Most days, I don't have a lot of room to complain about my job; especially when the ship is sitting in Norfolk like this, and I get to go home most nights. Eight hours of alternately standing at the gangway to prevent intruders and roaming the ship to watch for fires, floods, and other catastrophes; it's mostly lots of standing, sitting, and walking as I watch the world go by and cling desperately to my last vestiges of sanity. Boredom is an ever present danger - but I get a lot of writing done. Note the previous entry, my short story "Bowels of the City"; note the current entry, 'anablogged' on the gangway and (one must assume, since you're reading it) later typed up and posted here for all to see.

It's a wonderful feeling, to be writing again, and I can lay most of the credit at the proverbial feet of the RP site I've taken up with recently. I'd forgotten just how much fun it can be to spend a night in a chatroom, pretending to be a fictional character. I've made some new friends; RDI has quite a pool of talented writers, and several of them have been generous enough to share encouragement and advice with me. So, if any of you are reading this - hello, new friends!

Ship's schedule - well, OPSEC always, so I can't mention places or dates. I don't think I'll be out of line to say that the ship will be out to sea for a spell at the end of this month/beginning of the next. Other than that, it looks like we're in port pretty much the entire spring, heading into the yards sometime around mid-May, here in Hampton Roads, and not coming out again until mid-June. I'm hoping to stick around through most of the yard period and then take a portion of the summer off. Maybe I'll finally do some of that traveling I always seem to be talking about doing for fun, and never quite get around to.

April's coming up, bringing its own set of headaches with it. Both of my siblings have their birthdays in April, for one; James and I are still observing a civil but stony silence between each other and Jessica's at university overseas, but it seems only polite to get something shiny for each. I'll not go into too many details here since I'd hate to spoil the surprise (and I know you're reading this, Jesy, seeing how I tagged it with your name), but it'll probably involve Amazon for the one, and the ABC store for the other.

Or both for both, maybe; even considering that we are siblings, we have eerily similar tastes in a lot of things. It's probably the reason we drive each other so crazy when we're together for too long; we're similar enough that we get on each other's nerves, but just different enough that we can argue, viciously and at length, about it.

Ah, well.

As most people who know me IRL (and not a few of my OL only friends) are aware, I'm something of a caffeine fanatic - a caffiend, if you will, although I can't take credit for the term. I've gained something of a reputation among the watch teams as the man who makes good coffee - probably because I'm not adverse to making a pot of Starbucks or other decent coffee rather than rely on the Maxwell House or Butter Nut the ship stocks. I'm more than willing to share - as long as I get my cuppa, first.

I raise the subject because one of the watch members, Mickey, recently gave me a can of Cafe Du Monde, a rather nice French Roast from New Orleans. I liked it enough that I've ordered a couple of tins from their website, including their signature blend with chicory. I've never had coffee with chicory, before - I've heard it's something of an acquired taste, so while I have high hopes that the two cans of it I've ordered will be excellent, I can't really say that I have too much in the way of expectations. With any luck, the case has arrived at my parent's house by now and I can stop by after work and take delivery.

((Addendum to the above; it did. I gave a tin each of the French Roast and the chicory to my parents, and I owe a tin of the French Roast to a watch partner. The rest are mine.))

My watch partner, Frost, has similar tastes in music to mine (not hard; my musical interests are notoriously eclectic) and a similar penchant for getting songs stuck in his head. As a result, one of us will be humming or singing a song and soon have the other joining in. It leads to some humorous situations - singing the chorus to "Sloop John B." during night watch on the bridge, for example, or serenading JB - our ordinary seaman, and not the brightest bulb in the bunch - with "Ode to Joy" whenever he says something stupid in his "be proud and give me a cookie" voice. Whatever helps time go by, eh?

It occurs to me that I need to make a shopping trip soon; I find myself in need of groceries. I'm a little leery about buying food for home, since our schedule is so erratic. I'd hate to buy, say, eggs and milk right before we put out to sea for three weeks. I hate having to throw food away. Even if I don't get anything for home, though, I could still use coffee and breakfast bars for the ship - I should stop by Farm Fresh on my way back tonight - or maybe Fresh Market on my way home, and get some sushi for dinner. Mmm... sushi. I could use some more SmartWater, too.

There was a time when I thought people paying for bottled water was silly. There was a time when I thought cell phones were silly, too, though. Nowadays, it's difficult to imagine life without my electronic leash. While it's rare that I call anyone - and let's face it, the Sidekick is a large mass of failure as a phone - I love its web connectivity wherever I go. And most especially on these long day watches.

I don't know why the day watch always seems at least twice as long as either the dog or the grave. Maybe it's because I can't crack open a novel when the boredom starts getting to me. Maybe it's because there are more people coming through the gangway, thus requiring that I pay closer attention to what's going on in my immediate surroundings, and less time inside my head. Hell, maybe it's just because I'm a night owl, and I'm inevitably overtired and undercaffeinated during these watches. Any or all of the above, I guess.

Still no real ideas as far as Script Frenzy's concerned; eleven more days until the event begins. If I don't come up with it at least a vague idea soon then the next month may well be... interesting. I'd hate to be a nonstarter again, this year - I didn't get word one last year, which is odd when you consider how excited I was in the months leading up to it. Maybe that was the problem - I burned out all my enthusiasm in the month leading up to it.

Even with the format change this year - 100 pages instead of 30,000 words - I'm a little nervous about the whole thing. I couldn't ask for much more in the way of time in which to write; plenty of time on watch in which to spin ideas and scratch notes to myself, after all. It's just thinking up an idea... a plot, a story, some sort of visual tale to tell. Maybe a comic. Maybe a TV series. There's an idea floating around in my head, I just need to grab it...

Meh. Almost done with today. Two more day watches, and then we go to the graveyard shift again - unless we sail. Or they change our watch schedule again. Or any number of a thousand other, equally entertaining prospects. Every day's an adventure, right?

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