Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

Merchant Marine recruitingposterMy tugboat man is a proud member of the United States Merchant Marine.

He’s a merchant mariner.

He also served in Desert Storm. From the little he’s shared with me, it was a dangerous mission. I met him right after he returned, but I didn’t hear about his involvement until a couple years later when I was helping him update his resume. The merchant ship he was on supported the war efforts; it was unarmed, and he maintains that he saw no combat.

He’s humble and full of admiration for the true heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Most Americans honor those who’ve served in the military, and we can name the branches of the armed services — Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marines.

Here on the Pacific Ocean, we always remember to include the United States Coast Guard.fightingMerchant Marine

Hardly anyone would think to include the Merchant Marine, which has long been referred to as the forgotten branch of the military, according to Jack Beritzhoff, former merchant seaman and author of Sail Away: Journeys of a Merchant Seaman. 

“People don’t remember that the Merchant Marine was around before the Navy —  during the Revolutionary War, the Colonies hired merchantmen to protect our shores and cargoes.

At the height of the Second World War, when I served, there were over 250,000 merchant sailors bringing supplies to American forces and our allies, getting torpedoed by U-boats in the Atlantic and strafed by Japanese planes in the Pacific.

There are a lot of historians who say that it was our merchant fleet that won the war as much as anything.”

Please take a minute to learn a little more about the maritime industry and don’t forget the importance of our mariners.

nowfor7seasThe American Maritime Partnership has given me permission to reprint some of their excellent articles.

OVERVIEW OF THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

With more than 40,000 vessels engaged in domestic waterborne commerce, it is clear that this commercial armada is as diverse as the nation it serves. These vessels represent an investment of nearly thirty billion dollars.

Here are some more facts and figures that illustrate the size and scope of the domestic maritime industry:

  • A billion-plus tons of cargo annually, with a market value of $400 billion.
  • 100 million passengers annually ride ferries and excursion boats.
  • 74,000 jobs on vessels and at shipyards.
  • 500,000 jobs in total.
  • $100 billion in annual economic output.
  • $29 billion in annual wages spent in virtually every community in the United States.
  • $11 billion in taxes per annum.
  • $46 billion added to the value of U.S. economic output each year.

MAJOR CARGOS:

  • Grain, coal, and other dry-bulk cargos and crude and petroleum via inland rivers.
  • Iron ore, limestone and coal across the Great Lakes.
  • Refined petroleum products along the East and Gulf coasts.
  • Supplies for Gulf offshore operations.
  • Merchandise and construction materials to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The domestic trades serve more than forty states and ninety percent of the population.

America’s domestic trades have been the birthplace of innovations that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide:

  • Containerships
  • Self-unloading vessels
  • Articulated tug-barges
  • Trailer barges
  • Chemical parcel tankers
  • Railroad-on-barge carfloats
  • River flotilla towing systems

Click here to see a gallery of photos of vessels in the domestic trades.

Safety is another benefit that flows from U.S. laws regulating domestic waterborne commerce. U.S.-flag vessels are built and operated to the world’s highest safety standards. And no other nation sets a higher standard for mariner credential

Why We Need the Jones Act

AMERICA IS MORE SECURE BECAUSE OF ITS STRONG DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

Under U.S. domestic maritime laws, commonly known as the Jones Act, cargo shipped between two U.S. ports must move on American vessels. These laws are critical for American economic, national, and homeland security, which is why they have enjoyed the support of the U.S. Navy, Members of Congress of both parties, and every President in modern history.

THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY IS KEY TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC STRENGTH AND SECURITY.

From the earliest days of our nation, shipping has been the grease for America’s economic engine. Today, the maritime industry is by far the most economical form of domestic transportation, moving more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. Remarkably, the domestic maritime industry transports about one-quarter of America’s domestic cargo for just 2% of the national freight bill. Fundamental U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.

America’s domestic shipping industry is responsible for nearly 500,000 jobs and more than one hundred billion dollars in annual economic output, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds twenty-nine billion dollars annually with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is the envy of the world. Every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

A small number of individuals and organizations support repeal of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign-built, foreign-operated, foreign-manned, and foreign-owned vessels to operate on American waters. The result would be to take a core American industry like shipbuilding and transfer it overseas to nations like China and South Korea, which heavily subsidize their shipyards and play by their own set of rules. Additional losses would occur from the outsourcing of American shipping jobs to foreign nations. Particularly at a time of severe economic dislocation in the U.S., it makes little if any sense to send American jobs overseas and undermine an essential American industry.

THE U.S. NAVY SAYS THE JONES ACT IS CRITICAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY.

The U.S. Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America's] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Over the past several decades the Navy has consistently opposed efforts to repeal or modify key U.S. maritime laws.

America’s domestic fleet is an important part of the national maritime infrastructure that helps ensure there will be ample U.S. sealift capacity to defend our nation. American ships, crews to man them, ship construction and repair yards, intermodal equipment, terminals, cargo tracking systems, and other infrastructure can be made available to the U.S. military at a moment’s notice in times of war, national emergency, or even in peacetime. In addition, during a major mobilization, American domestic vessels move defense cargoes to coastal ports for overseas shipments.

During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002 – 2010), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including ships drawn from the domestic trades, transported 90% of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defense Department (“DoD”) has consistently emphasized the military importance of maintaining a strong domestic shipbuilding industry, stating “[W]e believe that the ability of the nation to build and maintain a U.S. flagged fleet is in the national interest, [and] we also believe it is in the interest of the DoD for U.S. shipbuilders to maintain a construction capability for commercial vessels.” A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, reached a similar conclusion:

The U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry is a strategic asset analogous to the aerospace, computer, and electronic industries. Frontline warships and support vessels are vital for maintaining America’s national security and for protecting interests abroad. In emergency situations, America’s cargo carrying capacity is indispensable for moving troops and supplies to areas of conflict overseas. A domestic capability to produce and repair warships, support vessels, and commercial vessels is not only a strategic asset but also fundamental to national security.

AMERICA’S DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY MAKES OUR HOMELAND MORE SECURE.

As America works to secure its borders, it must also secure its waterways. Homeland security is enhanced by the requirement for American vessels that operate in full accordance with U.S. laws and with the consistent oversight of the U.S. government. In that respect, the Jones Act is as effective a homeland security measure as any federal agency could ever write and enforce.

Today, it takes a small army of Customs agents, Immigration Services officials, homeland security staff, and others to regulate foreign ships that enter and exit the U.S. in international trade, even within the carefully controlled structure of U.S. ports. However, there is no precedent for allowing foreign-controlled ships operated by foreign crews to move freely throughout the tens of thousands of miles of America’s navigational “bloodstream.” Inland lakes, rivers and waterways go to virtually every corner of the nation.

There is considerable uncertainty about what laws would apply to a foreign shipping company operating in U.S. domestic commerce if the Jones Act were repealed. However, it is certain that the task of monitoring, regulating, and overseeing potentially tens of thousands of foreign-controlled, foreign-crewed vessels in internal U.S. commerce would be difficult at best and fruitless at worst. Repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America more vulnerable and less secure.

U.S. MARITIME LAWS ENSURE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES.

American domestic maritime laws ensure a level playing field by requiring that all shipping and shipbuilding companies that operate in U.S. domestic commerce play by the same set of rules. Allowing foreign companies to operate in the U.S. outside of our immigration, employment, safety, environmental, tax, labor, and others laws would be unfair. American laws are often stricter than the laws that govern shipping and shipbuilding in international trades. No other industry operates exclusively in American domestic commerce yet outside of our laws (e.g., paying third world wages to its employees). No country in the world would – or does – permit businesses to operate domestically without complying with its national and local laws. Companies that do business here must fully obey American laws, regulations and other rules.

CONCLUSION: IT’S ABOUT SECURITY

You don’t need to be an expert in the maritime industry to know that repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America less secure economically and militarily. Repeal of those laws would provide little benefit while making America more vulnerable.

Remember the Merchant Mariner on Veteran’s Day

Merchant Marine recruitingposterMy tugboat man is a proud member of the United States Merchant Marine.

He is a merchant mariner.

He also served in Desert Storm.

From the little he’s shared with me, it was a dangerous mission. I met him right after he returned, but I didn’t hear about his involvement until a couple years later when I was updating and re-typing his resume. (On a typewriter!)

Most Americans honor those who’ve served in the military, and we can name the branches of the armed services — Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marines.

Here on the Pacific Ocean, we always remember to include the United States Coast Guard.fightingMerchant Marine

Hardly anyone would think to include the Merchant Marine, which has long been referred to as the forgotten branch of the military, according to Jack Beritzhoff, former merchant seaman and author of Sail Away: Journeys of a Merchant Seaman. 

“People don’t remember that the Merchant Marine was around before the Navy —  during the Revolutionary War, the Colonies hired merchantmen to protect our shores and cargoes.

At the height of the Second World War, when I served, there were over 250,000 merchant sailors bringing supplies to American forces and our allies, getting torpedoed by U-boats in the Atlantic and strafed by Japanese planes in the Pacific.

There are a lot of historians who say that it was our merchant fleet that won the war as much as anything.”

Please take a minute to learn a little more about the maritime industry and don’t forget the importance of our mariners.

nowfor7seasThe American Maritime Partnership has given me permission to reprint some of their excellent articles.

OVERVIEW OF THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

With more than 40,000 vessels engaged in domestic waterborne commerce, it is clear that this commercial armada is as diverse as the nation it serves. These vessels represent an investment of nearly thirty billion dollars.

Here are some more facts and figures that illustrate the size and scope of the domestic maritime industry:

  • A billion-plus tons of cargo annually, with a market value of $400 billion.
  • 100 million passengers annually ride ferries and excursion boats.
  • 74,000 jobs on vessels and at shipyards.
  • 500,000 jobs in total.
  • $100 billion in annual economic output.
  • $29 billion in annual wages spent in virtually every community in the United States.
  • $11 billion in taxes per annum.
  • $46 billion added to the value of U.S. economic output each year.

MAJOR CARGOS:

  • Grain, coal, and other dry-bulk cargos and crude and petroleum via inland rivers.
  • Iron ore, limestone and coal across the Great Lakes.
  • Refined petroleum products along the East and Gulf coasts.
  • Supplies for Gulf offshore operations.
  • Merchandise and construction materials to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The domestic trades serve more than forty states and ninety percent of the population.

America’s domestic trades have been the birthplace of innovations that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide:

  • Containerships
  • Self-unloading vessels
  • Articulated tug-barges
  • Trailer barges
  • Chemical parcel tankers
  • Railroad-on-barge carfloats
  • River flotilla towing systems

Click here to see a gallery of photos of vessels in the domestic trades.

Safety is another benefit that flows from U.S. laws regulating domestic waterborne commerce. U.S.-flag vessels are built and operated to the world’s highest safety standards. And no other nation sets a higher standard for mariner credential

Why We Need the Jones Act

AMERICA IS MORE SECURE BECAUSE OF ITS STRONG DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY

Under U.S. domestic maritime laws, commonly known as the Jones Act, cargo shipped between two U.S. ports must move on American vessels. These laws are critical for American economic, national, and homeland security, which is why they have enjoyed the support of the U.S. Navy, Members of Congress of both parties, and every President in modern history.

THE DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY IS KEY TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC STRENGTH AND SECURITY.

From the earliest days of our nation, shipping has been the grease for America’s economic engine. Today, the maritime industry is by far the most economical form of domestic transportation, moving more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. Remarkably, the domestic maritime industry transports about one-quarter of America’s domestic cargo for just 2% of the national freight bill. Fundamental U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.

America’s domestic shipping industry is responsible for nearly 500,000 jobs and more than one hundred billion dollars in annual economic output, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds twenty-nine billion dollars annually with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is the envy of the world. Every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

A small number of individuals and organizations support repeal of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign-built, foreign-operated, foreign-manned, and foreign-owned vessels to operate on American waters. The result would be to take a core American industry like shipbuilding and transfer it overseas to nations like China and South Korea, which heavily subsidize their shipyards and play by their own set of rules. Additional losses would occur from the outsourcing of American shipping jobs to foreign nations. Particularly at a time of severe economic dislocation in the U.S., it makes little if any sense to send American jobs overseas and undermine an essential American industry.

THE U.S. NAVY SAYS THE JONES ACT IS CRITICAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY.

The U.S. Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America's] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Over the past several decades the Navy has consistently opposed efforts to repeal or modify key U.S. maritime laws.

America’s domestic fleet is an important part of the national maritime infrastructure that helps ensure there will be ample U.S. sealift capacity to defend our nation. American ships, crews to man them, ship construction and repair yards, intermodal equipment, terminals, cargo tracking systems, and other infrastructure can be made available to the U.S. military at a moment’s notice in times of war, national emergency, or even in peacetime. In addition, during a major mobilization, American domestic vessels move defense cargoes to coastal ports for overseas shipments.

During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002 – 2010), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including ships drawn from the domestic trades, transported 90% of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defense Department (“DoD”) has consistently emphasized the military importance of maintaining a strong domestic shipbuilding industry, stating “[W]e believe that the ability of the nation to build and maintain a U.S. flagged fleet is in the national interest, [and] we also believe it is in the interest of the DoD for U.S. shipbuilders to maintain a construction capability for commercial vessels.” A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, reached a similar conclusion:

The U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry is a strategic asset analogous to the aerospace, computer, and electronic industries. Frontline warships and support vessels are vital for maintaining America’s national security and for protecting interests abroad. In emergency situations, America’s cargo carrying capacity is indispensable for moving troops and supplies to areas of conflict overseas. A domestic capability to produce and repair warships, support vessels, and commercial vessels is not only a strategic asset but also fundamental to national security.

AMERICA’S DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY MAKES OUR HOMELAND MORE SECURE.

As America works to secure its borders, it must also secure its waterways. Homeland security is enhanced by the requirement for American vessels that operate in full accordance with U.S. laws and with the consistent oversight of the U.S. government. In that respect, the Jones Act is as effective a homeland security measure as any federal agency could ever write and enforce.

Today, it takes a small army of Customs agents, Immigration Services officials, homeland security staff, and others to regulate foreign ships that enter and exit the U.S. in international trade, even within the carefully controlled structure of U.S. ports. However, there is no precedent for allowing foreign-controlled ships operated by foreign crews to move freely throughout the tens of thousands of miles of America’s navigational “bloodstream.” Inland lakes, rivers and waterways go to virtually every corner of the nation.

There is considerable uncertainty about what laws would apply to a foreign shipping company operating in U.S. domestic commerce if the Jones Act were repealed. However, it is certain that the task of monitoring, regulating, and overseeing potentially tens of thousands of foreign-controlled, foreign-crewed vessels in internal U.S. commerce would be difficult at best and fruitless at worst. Repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America more vulnerable and less secure.

U.S. MARITIME LAWS ENSURE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR AMERICAN BUSINESSES.

American domestic maritime laws ensure a level playing field by requiring that all shipping and shipbuilding companies that operate in U.S. domestic commerce play by the same set of rules. Allowing foreign companies to operate in the U.S. outside of our immigration, employment, safety, environmental, tax, labor, and others laws would be unfair. American laws are often stricter than the laws that govern shipping and shipbuilding in international trades. No other industry operates exclusively in American domestic commerce yet outside of our laws (e.g., paying third world wages to its employees). No country in the world would – or does – permit businesses to operate domestically without complying with its national and local laws. Companies that do business here must fully obey American laws, regulations and other rules.

CONCLUSION: IT’S ABOUT SECURITY

You don’t need to be an expert in the maritime industry to know that repeal or modification of the key domestic maritime laws would make America less secure economically and militarily. Repeal of those laws would provide little benefit while making America more vulnerable.

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Here’s today’s Daily Prompt Challenge: Hindsight.  Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your first post.

This is MY deja vu–my first blog re-do–obviously my life is a deja vu redo Groundhog Day repeat. The captain was gone again, I was alone for a very long time…I’ve learned to use tags since then–maybe THIS time it’ll get read! 

My First Blog Post

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Day 60: Alone again! It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and I just completed a copy editing assignment for a brilliant young neuroscientist. Since my first pink lock and key diary at the age of eight, I’ve filled notebooks and journals with my thoughts and observations, and even minored in creative writing in college, but the hardest thing in the world for me to do is to let go of my own words. (I’m a word hoarder. Hah!)

Update: Now I’m a word spewer–since I started blogging, I can’t STOP writing!

Although I easily re-write and proof and edit the work of others (and love to do it), my own words seem to be trapped somewhere; I am never quite satisfied with the finished product; I always feel that one more re-write is always needed—just one more, and then another and another–and I am determined to overcome this obstacle by blogging about my life as a wife of a Merchant Mariner. To other MM wives, I’d love to share our experiences, problems, frustrations, and solutions. There are thousands of us around the world—let’s create a community and help one another. What do we all do when our guys are gone? In what ways do our lives change when they’re away on assignment and when they’re home? How do we cope with the work-related absence of a spouse, whether it’s due to the military, MM, or any other career that involves a lot of travelling? Are you sad? Maybe relieved sometimes, if you were to be completely honest?

Update: Still hoping to create the community of Merchant Mariner Wives. I’ve met Snipewife who’s awesome, but there has to be others! Come out and play! 

Also, from time-to-time, I will review either a product I’ve used or a book I’ve read and share my opinion. I have great things to say about Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect nail polish. I have it in Satin 04. It claims to hide ridges and imperfections with a “breathable porcelain-smooth finish.”  The website says it’s enhanced with ginseng, camellia oil, and lotus to promote stronger, healthier nails. I was really impressed with the finished product and it really does give a professional look. I’m going to try it in other colors and will let you know. Update: it worked great, very shiny, lasts a decent amount of time, and is inexpensive.

Here’s a mini-version of my back story: I’m a (was a) stay-at-home mom; when my son left for college, I stayed home. Don’t you think that’s funny? I do. That’s my standard joke/response when I’m asked what I “do”. Some people think it’s funny, some people think I’m obnoxious. Story of my life.

I’ve been married to a Merchant Mariner tugboat captain for about eighteen years, nineteen in February 2013. For the first fourteen years or so, our life was pretty ordinary and except for a few assignments that took him away for a week or so, his schedule kept him working in local ports.  In 2009, he changed companies and became the kind of Merchant Marine who goes out to sea for extended periods of time and travels to the four corners of the globe. When I tell people that my husband is a MM, most either think he is a “Marine Marine” or they don’t know what a Merchant Mariner is or what they do. My guy is an academy graduate (he won’t let me say which one ‘cos he’s paranoid that someone will figure out who he is) and has been working in the industry since graduation.

merchant marine sealWhat exactly is a Merchant Mariner?? For those of you who don’t know, the United States has a fleet of  Merchant Marine vessels,  ships which are owned and registered in the US and fly under our flag, but are separate from the military. (We are proud supporters of American-flagged vessels.) For example, car ships carry cars (obvs!), container ships hold cargo of TVs, bananas, soda ash, or even sand and gravel.

tug barge

NOT the captain’s tug, but a good photo of a tug pushing and pulling a barge. Tugs are hard little workers. I think I can, I think I can…

The Merchant Marine supplements the military in times of war, transporting goods and equipment to areas where it is needed. The people who crew Merchant Marine vessels are known as Merchant Mariners. Perhaps you remember hearing about the Maersk Alabama, a container ship seized by pirates a few years ago? Tom Hanks stars as the captain in the soon-to-be released film of the Navy Seals’ rescue of the ship and her crew. People who work on tugboats are called Merchant Marines. My guy is a tug and tow Master, although he has decades of experience on yachts, passenger vessels, and just about every type of boat, excluding fishing. No Deadliest Catch stories here! Tugboats pull (or push) barges all over the world, assist all types of ships in and out of their berths, and work in marine construction and the oil industry. It is really more complex that than, with a rich history and great anecdotes, but I am only the wife of, and my perspective is a different one.

Update: I begged and pleaded and guilted and flattered my captain to get him to audition for the Tom Hanks pirate film–they liked his initial video audition so much the casting director even sent sides (that’s a script to those of you who are NOT in the know like I am), but he didn’t get the part. He really should have. I was totes planning to go as his personal manager to Morocco where they were filming.

Back to my story…this lifestyle has been quite an adjustment. When he’s home, he’s a 24/7 at-home husband, just like being retired, and a different routine ensues–one of compromise and diplomacy. When he’s away at sea, I become a sort of “grass widow” (a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business) and have learned to structure my time alone to stay occupied while waiting for my best friend to come home. We modern mariner wives are really no different than wives of a few hundred years ago whose husbands went out to sea. We might have email access and satellite telephones, and are able to stay in touch more frequently than the occasional letter posted from faraway ports, but we are essentially on our own for a great deal of time. We have to be completely independent and solve problems and fix broken washing machines and cars and take out the trash and mow the lawn by ourselves, unless we have kids still living at home on whom we can foist these chores.

My confession du jour? I fully rely on retail therapy to help me cope. That doesn’t mean I actually PURCHASE a lot and spend a lot of money, rather, I am an accomplished fashionista BROWSER, (which should be an Olympic sport, as far as I’m concerned.) I have endurance and I possess stamina. I’m a hunter AND a gatherer. A shot of wheatgrass and I’m good to go for hours in my quest for a treasure, a good deal, or something I just have to have, and can’t live without; the next get. You know that Shopaholic film? I’ve seen it about a dozen times; it’s like a training film for me…  A day or so after my MM leaves, I fortify myself with a protein drink, a double shot of wheatgrass, and lay out my itinerary with quasi-military precision. I first make the rounds of my local stores; TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Homegoods, just like a warm-up in my boot camp class, and then move on to H&M, Anthropologie, White Market/Black House. After that, I venture further away to the Nordstrom Outlet, DSW (yes!!!), and then our local mall for BloomiesNieman Marcus, and the boutiques-Tory Burch, Hermes, and the holy grail at South Coast Plaza in the OC…Chanel…Chanel…Chanel. I want/need a Chanel 2.55, the original black quilted bag with the chain strap. I am saving for a pilgrimage to Paris to pay homage to Coco at the original location. I. can’t. wait.

Update: I just can’t do it to y’all again, I know I’m probs on your last nerve with the whole Chanel thing, but it was cool for ME to tell myself, “Hey girl, your dream DID come true! Way to go to think it, believe it, and it will happen!”

Today, I was on the hunt for another blazer; blazers are super trendy and forever a classic fashion staple,  but it has to be the right blazer in the right color and cut. I ended up at a local consignment shop and while I didn’t find the desired blazer, I discovered the treasure of a Tory Burch sweater with gorgeous logo buttons. I found a similar style for around $250, and I got it for $40. It’s in perfect condition and looks like it’s never been worn. The pic doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rich cocoa brown with TB logo buttons and totes adorbs. Update: This is the same consignment shop where I just scored the vintage Valentino.tory burch sweater

Well, it’s back to editing for me and building my Etsy store where I can sell all the ropework jewelry and beachy décor we create. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into my world.

Update: STILL working on that Etsy store! Almost done tho, hopefully so I won’t completely miss the holiday season…

Thanks to one and all who’ve read me and followed me and commented and offered guidance and humor and friendship. The world still revolves around me, I suppose it always will…alas, that’s the cross my long suffering tugboat captain must bear…And if you’ve un-followed me, don’t forget that Santa could leave a lump of coal in your stocking, so maybe y’all need to rethink that decision. Right???

 

“…we sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

This is my deja vu–my first blog re-do–obviously my life is a deja vu redo Groundhog Day repeat. The captain was gone again, I was alone for a very long time…I’ve learned to use tags since then–maybe THIS time it’ll get read!

My First Blog Post

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Day 60: Alone again! It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and I just completed a copy editing assignment for a brilliant young neuroscientist. Since my first pink lock and key diary at the age of eight, I’ve filled notebooks and journals with my thoughts and observations, and even minored in creative writing in college, but the hardest thing in the world for me to do is to let go of my own words. (I’m a word hoarder. Hah!)

Update: Now I’m a word spewer–since I started blogging, I can’t STOP writing.

Although I easily re-write and proof and edit the work of others (and love to do it), my own words seem to be trapped somewhere; I am never quite satisfied with the finished product; I always feel that one more re-write is always needed—just one more, and then another and another–and I am determined to overcome this obstacle by blogging about my life as a wife of a Merchant Mariner.

To other MM wives, I’d love to share our experiences, problems, frustrations, and solutions. There are thousands of us around the world—let’s create a community and help one another. What do we all do when our guys are gone? In what ways do our lives change when they are away on assignment and when they are home? How do we cope with the work-related absence of a spouse, whether it is due to the military, MM, or any other career that involves a lot of travelling? Are you sad? Maybe relieved sometimes, if you were to be completely honest?

Update: Still hoping to create the community of Merchant Mariner Wives. I’ve met a handful and they’re wesome, but there has to be more! Come out and play! 

Here’s a mini-version of my back story:

I’m a (was a) stay-at-home mom; when my son left for college, I stayed home. Don’t you think that’s funny? I do. That’s my standard joke/response when I’m asked what I “do”.

Some people think it’s funny, some people think I’m obnoxious. Story of my life.

I’ve been married to a Merchant Mariner tugboat captain for about eighteen nineteen years. For the first fourteen years or so, our life was pretty ordinary and except for a few assignments that took him away for a week or so, his schedule kept him working in local ports.

In 2009, he changed companies and became the kind of mariner who goes out to sea for extended periods of time and travels to the four corners of the globe. When I tell people that my husband is a MM, most either think he is a “Marine Marine” or they don’t know what a Merchant Mariner is or what they do. My guy’s an academy graduate (he won’t let me say which one ‘cos he’s paranoid that someone will figure out who he is) and has been working in the industry since graduation.

What exactly is a Merchant Mariner?

What do they do?

For those of you who don’t know, the United States has a fleet of  Merchant Marine vessels,  ships which are owned and registered in the US and fly under our flag, but are separate from the military. (We are proud supporters of American-flagged vessels.) For example, car ships carry cars (obvs!), container ships hold cargo of TVs, bananas, soda ash, or even sand and gravel.

The Merchant Marine supplements the military in times of war, transporting goods and equipment to areas where it is needed. The people who crew Merchant Marine vessels are known as Merchant Marines.

Perhaps you remember hearing about the Maersk Alabama, a container ship seized by pirates a few years ago? Tom Hanks stars as the captain in the soon-to-be released film of the Navy Seals’ rescue of the ship and her crew. People who work on tugboats are called Merchant Mariners.

My guy is a Tug and Tow Master, although he has decades of experience on yachts, passenger vessels, and just about every type of boat, EXcluding fishing. No Deadliest Catch stories here!

Tugboats pull (or push) barges all over the world, assist all types of ships in and out of their berths, and work in marine construction and the oil industry. It is really more complex that than, with a rich history and great anecdotes, but I am only the wife of, and my perspective is a different one.

Update: I made my captain audition for the Tom Hanks pirate film–even was sent sides (that’s a script to those of you who are NOT in the know like I am), but he didn’t get the part. He really should have. They cast a professional actor, which is  not what the casting director said they planned to do. Darn!

Back to my story…this lifestyle has been quite an adjustment. When he’s home, he’s a 24/7 at-home husband, just like being retired, with an adjustment period of compromise and diplomacy. I have to remember someone else lives here and sleeps here and he has THINGS THAT HE PUTS EVERYWHERE.

When he’s away at sea, I become a sort of “grass widow”, and have learned to structure my time alone to stay occupied while waiting for my best friend to come home.

We modern merchant marine wives are really no different than wives of a few hundred years ago whose husbands went out to sea.   We might have email access and satellite telephones, and are able to stay in touch more frequently than the occasional letter posted from faraway ports, but we are essentially on our own for a great deal of time.

We have to be comfortable with being completely independent and solve problems and fix broken washing machines and cars and take out the trash and mow the lawn by ourselves, unless we have kids still living at home on whom we can foist these chores.

My confession du jour? I fully rely on retail therapy to help me cope. That doesn’t mean I actually PURCHASE a lot and spend a lot of money, rather, I am an accomplished fashionista BROWSER, (which should be an Olympic sport, as far as I’m concerned.) I have endurance and I possess stamina. I’m a hunter AND a gatherer. A shot of wheatgrass and I’m good to go for hours in my quest for a treasure, a good deal, or something I just have to have, and can’t live without; the next get. You know that Shopaholic film? I’ve seen it about a dozen times; it’s like a training film for me!  A day or so after my MM leaves, I fortify myself with a protein drink, a double shot of wheatgrass, and lay out my itinerary with quasi-military precision. I first make the rounds of my local stores; TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Homegoods, just like a warm-up in my boot camp class, and then move on to H&M, Anthropologie, White Market/Black House. After that, I venture further away to the Nordstrom Outlet, DSW (yes!!!), and then our local mall for Bloomies, Nieman Marcus, and the boutiques-Tory Burch, Hermes, and the holy grail at South Coast Plaza in the OC…Chanel…Chanel…Chanel. I want/need a Chanel 2.55, the original black quilted bag with the chain strap. I am saving for a pilgrimage to Paris to pay homage to Coco at the original location. I. can’t. wait.

Update: I just can’t do it to y’all again, I know I’m probs on your last nerve with the whole Chanel thing, but it was cool for ME to tell myself, “Hey girl, your dream DID come true! Way to go to think it, believe it, and it will happen!”

Today, I was on the hunt for another blazer; blazers are super trendy and forever a classic fashion staple,  but it has to be the right blazer in the right color and cut. I ended up at a local consignment shop and while I didn’t find the desired blazer, I discovered the treasure of a Tory Burch sweater with gorgeous logo buttons. I found a similar style for around $250, and I got it for $40. It’s in perfect condition and looks like it’s never been worn. The pic doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rich cocoa brown, and totes adorbs.

Well, it’s back to editing for me and building my Etsy store where I can sell all the ropework jewelry and beachy décor we create. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into my world.

Update: STILL working on that Etsy store! I can’t get all the pix just perfect. Almost done tho, hopefully so I won’t miss the holiday season!