Saturday, May 26, 2012

Leave the Pieces?

We're outside of a Dennys in a town East of Seattle. Andrew and I have been climbing for two days straight in hard, cold wind, and we're both wrecks. The last two places we stopped at were closed, so when I see the lights inside the Diner and the people sitting amibically in their booths, I throw out my hand in a wild gesture- half celebration, half invitation for Andrew to hurry out of the car. My iphone goes flying out of my hand and lands- smack!- right on its screen on the cement, the Apple equivalent of the C4 vertebrae.

Andrew scraped it off the floor and gingerly hands it back to me, his expression nervous. My phone is toast. This will be expensive. But it's okay. I have a job now. It's no big deal.

A few days later I'm driving on I-5, with capitol hill on my right and downtown Seattle on my left, when a stone jumps up from the road and pops me right in the windshield. It leaves behind a pock the size of a quarter, with cracks spider webbing out of it like something gone septic. I know what happens if you ignore those little chips- they weaken and weaken the windshield from the outside until one day the whole thing crashes down on you, maybe while you're driving out to the CVS to get a bag of chips or something, and you dead.

 It's okay. I have a job now, and I can pay for the little things that come up.
 It's not long after that that I leave my house in the morning to say goodbye to Andrew at his car. I have no shoes, no wallet or phone, no dog, no house keys, no cell phone keys, no gum, no hairbrush, none of the necessary thing. In the thirty seconds it takes to tell Andrew to Have A Lovely Day at the Job, my roommate leaves for the day, locks the door behind him and cheerfully bikes down the hill to work.

 Thoroughly locked out and completely alone, I slice through my screen with a railroad spike and tumble headfirst into the house. The rescreening is a pain in the ass. I can't reach the screws without a ladder. I have no ladder. I can't get to the Tweety and Pop hardwear during business hours because I'm on the boat during normal business hours, and also during abnormal business hours. So my friend Tyrel offers to do it, because he carries a ladder in his car and he is The Best Man In The World. This I say with confidence.

The rescreening only cost 30 bucks, which is nothing. I have a job now.

 I'm driving with Randal out of the ship yard and something bumps underneath the wheel. "What the hell is wrong with your car?" He asks. I tell him I have no idea. It's normally such a good car. What was wrong with the car was something about the break pads and that's all I could understand about that. It cost exactly the cost of ten re-screenings, plus tax.

 This all leads me to yesterday, the big grand daddy of them all. I'm waiting for my cousins to share a bowl of Pho with me at our usual Pho spot in Ballard. It's the day before the day before I leave for Alaska, and I want to eat Pho because it's 5 dollars a bowl and after all those damn repairs I can't afford anything else, job or no job. It had been another long and slightly demoralizing (can you be slightly demoralized? or do you have to really commit to it?) day at the boat. I asked for a hot chrysanthemum tea with honey, for the comfort, and then I threw it all over my computer. Not just my computer, but also the table, the chair, and my legs. I don't know, I just lost control of my hand or something. I jumped up- the woman who lifts a car off her child- and I shook my beautiful, silver, perfect, soothing, glowing Macbook like I was trying to make a deaf baby out of it. I toweled off the keyboard and I knew that it was bad. I oscillated between blinking back tears and really just letting loose with the sobs.
 In the end, I chose to save the sobs for the poor fool at the Genius bar who had the misfortune of getting me as a customer. I was crying so hard in that Apple store I almost expected a nurse to appear and gently but firmly pull the partition. My computer, as it turned out, didn't want to drink any tea. It zapped the logic board (what the hell is a logic board) to the tune of 800 dollars. Not only had I poured tea onto the keyboard, but then I'd dunked the thing into a box of rice, on the advice of a friend, hoping it would dry it out. It may well have dried it out. But it also filled the thing with rice. Tilt my computer to the side and it sounded like an African Rain Stick.

 The computer, the music, the photos, the laboriously pieced together Power Points on Nautical Terminology "Nauty Terms!" and the ethnobiology of Alaksa. I needed those things to keep my sanity and to keep my job. Without that computer and all the painstakingly gathered naturalist information and caches of bear photos for all the presentations were supposed to do- without that computer I don't even need to get on that boat. All my work is on that computer.

 I'm also the head medic on the boat and an expedition guide but none of that seemed to matter at the moment. Everything I need for my job is on that computer and nobody can talk me out of that statement.
Andrews hands on a Denny's menu
However, when you don't have 800 dollars, whether or not to spend 800 dollars is an easy choice. I continued to cry- real tears here, dripping all over the counter top, the genius recoiled as I tucked my computer back into its pink carrying case, like wrapping a dead dog in its favorite blankie. I bought an external keyboard with some hope that a half miracle would occur and the computer could march on with an artificial limb.

Before I left, the Genius opened my computer and picked out the grains of rice with a pair of tweezers.

I already spent my first two paychecks from the boat trying to fix all the shit I broke in preparing for the boat in the first place. If I don't get out of here tomorrow I'm going to break something else, maybe myself or a major bridge.

Luckily or unluckily, we are sailing tomorrow. We're starting our two week journey up the inside passage to Alaska and from now whatever I break, Bosun will fix and I won't have to pay a god damned thing.


katie m said...

You are hardcore girl. Impressive ability to pick yourself up and keep moving. Sending love and safety to you!!!

Catherine said...

This post was painful to read! It can only go up from here, right?