I Said “Seaman”, NOT “Semen”. SHEESH. Grow Up, Would Ya?

With regard to the recently released film, “Captain Phillips” about the ship that was boarded by pirates, I am boycotting it. I forced my very handsome tugboat man to audition, and he went through two videotaped auditions (including sides, which is part of the script) and he was NOT hired for a major role. I believe it’s because he’s so blindingly beautiful that he would have grabbed the spotlight from Tom Hanks, who MUST have felt threatened.  My hub’s audition tape was AWESOME. So. There you have it.
______________________________________________________________________

Not this!sperm from etsy But THIS4780_CruiseShip+Captain

I thought it’d be fun and informative to conduct an interview of my seaMAN, my merchant mariner, my tugboat captain, my sometimes-he’s-here-sometimes-he’s not husband of nineteen years. What kind of man is the husband of Princess Rosebud? What’s it like being a merchant seaman? He didn’t always go out to sea for months at a time. We met in 1991 at a local boat company where he was the master captain of several vessels and I was in the marketing department, and he worked around our harbor for many years.

It was “annoy” at first sight…

I’ve written about our love story in “Just a cup of coffee” and “Just a cup of coffee, part two”  with many more chapters in draft form as the story unfolds.

As you’ll see, he’s pretty serious when discussing his career; otherwise he has a very dry sense of humor, not too snarky. He’s really a very good natured, even tempered guy. Like I always say, he’s the turtle to my rabbit.

On an enchanting side note, as I walked out of Trader Joe’s this morning, a homeless man told me I had a beautiful smile. Life is good, y’all. A compliment is a compliment. It was appreciated!

Let’s Play!

Twenty Questions for a Merchant Seaman

The interview of this mariner took place while he was home between assignments. He’s a professional mariner, an academy graduate, and has been in the tug and tow industry for a quarter of a century. He’s also captained 700 passenger vessels and worked in just about every aspect of the maritime industry (except fishing).

Thank you to TheFurFiles, tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily, ibdesignsusa and  Yvonne La Brecque Deane for playing along and submitting questions.

WORK-RELATED QUESTIONS:

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

Not his tug, just an example of the type of work he does.

What types of boats do you work on?
Mostly I work on vessels of limited tonnage-under 3000 tons. I’ve worked on numerous unlimited tonnage ships but currently am assigned to work boats and tugs.

Do you think it’s a good career for young people to pursue?
I think it’s is a good career, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be able to live for long periods of time in close quarters with others, and it’s difficult to be away from home.  It hasn’t been dramatically effected by the downturn in the economy.

Can you talk a little about the adjustment period from being home to being stuck on a boat 24/7 in cramped quarters.
The worst is right when you report aboard find your room, bed, etc. it takes a couple of days for the pain of being away dulls then you get into a routine of standing watch and life aboard ship and your new shipmates then things settle down and its not that bad.

What do you eat while you’re out to sea?
I’m a vegetarian which makes it a bit challenging. I eat a lot of brown rice and lentils and vegetables; sometimes seafood. We stock up on high quality foods unless we’re away from port for extended periods of time, then most of the food has to come out of the freezer.

Does everyone cook his/her own food?
Most boats I’m on have a cook on board. Every once in a while I’ll bake for the crew and email Rosebud for a recipe and a coaching session–I’ve made apple pies and brownies and banana bread. She’s a great instructor.

What do you do out to sea when you’re not working?
I work out, do my knot tying, read, watch videos, listen to music, and play my ukelele.

I know that you were involved in Desert Storm. Can you talk about what role you played?
Yes, it wasn’t much but the ship I was on was prepared to support the war effort. We were loaded up with military equipment some of the exploding type but were redirected when the bombing stopped and did not reach the Gulf.

What do you do nowadays in times of conflict?
Even if we are not directly involved with the support effort, our service is important. Keeping our credentials current gives the US a support force that can be called during times of war. This has happened throughout US history.

What do you do with a dead body?
We follow the orders of the medical adviser.

What do you do if you need to restrain a crew member because of a mental break or a crime?
Restrict them to their room, or lock them in if necessary. Otherwise restrain them somehow. ZipTies work without hand cuffs until the next port of call.

How far is too far for the United States Coast Guard to make a medical rescue?
I think about 1000 miles.

Have you encountered pirates?
Not directly,  but I ‘ve been in dangerous waters where there was an elevated risk.

What’s the smallest craft you’ve encountered on the high seas?
An ocean going row boat.

What is the biggest drama that’s taken place while on duty?
Usually it has to do with unruly crew members causing trouble with other crew members or while ashore; getting into fights etc.

Have you ever been near a tsunami?
I haven’t experienced a tsunami, but have been offshore enough times during tsunami warnings. It’s n eerie feeling when you are offshore when that happens–actually being far offshore is safe because you rarely feel the effect of a tsunami in deep water.

What is the Jones Act?
Jones Act laws are what’s left of US job protectionism. We should protect the laws that protect US jobs. Without laws like these, we would lose our jobs to cheaper foreign labor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that foreigners are less safe. There are very professional foreign flag merchant mariners world wide, but most countries have the same protectionism which would prevent me from taking their work. The anti Jones Act drive predominantly rides along the lines of cruise ships which are just about all foreign flagged vessels. It is a complicated thing that gets distorted. It’s all about profit. Proponents of Jones Act laws are claim that in order to remain competitive…blah blah blah, we need to rescind these laws. They claim that since most of our products imported and exported are done so by ship, the cost of transporting these goods by US standards are hindered by the high cost of US labor. Relatively speaking, US seaman rates are higher than internationally, but in the big scheme of things our labor merely cuts into the higher profit margins that big companies would gain and do gain when they re-flag their fleets. APL (American President Lines) a company that benefited from Jones Act laws during WWI and WWII by giving them priority in carrying US goods to and from war zones have now shifted most of their assets into the foreign market. Most APL ships you see today fly foreign flags and carry foreign crews. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the end of the Jones Act in my lifetime. In the world of Costco and Walmart, its all about the cheapest goods. My job is expendable if a pair of jeans can be purchased for ten bucks.

How important is it to the economy to have a vibrant merchant fleet?
It is important to the economy to import and export goods. This has to be done by ship or barge. It is nice to buy “Made in the US”, but there is nothing wrong with buying foreign either as long as US manufacturers can compete fairly in the international market. US is restricted by environmental and labor laws that most foreign companies are not, making it very unfair for US manufactures to compete both in the domestic and overseas market. The US jobs that our merchant fleet create are in the hundreds of thousands I’m sure, but is a relatively small job creator in the big realm of things. Keeping a strong US merchant fleet provides good paying jobs to a whole bunch of people all around the country.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS; HE’S A MAN OF FEW WORDS, NOT LIKE ME!

At the time you met Princess Rosebud, did you ever think she was going to be your future wife?
Probably not at the time, I was a bit lost then, and now I’m not lost.

When will the next ChaCha purchase take place?
2028.

What do you love most about your lovely wife?
I love how she makes the most awesome homecomings that last for weeks on end and that she loves the simple things I bring home for her, like rocks and shells and stuff that washes ashore. She loves the other stuff too, but it’s not all about the nice things that I can’t always afford.

What’s your favorite movie?
Apollo 13,  Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan.

What’s your favorite food?
I love my wife’s cooking, her homemade granola, tuna melts, all of her desserts, that chocolate swirl bread, and buckwheat pancakes. I really like to eat.

What do you like to do when you come home?
It takes a while to catch up on sleep and adjust to a different schedule. I take a lot of naps for the first few days. I try to get back to the gym immediately. Of course, I’m sure you’ve read about all the surfing I do and now that I have a standup paddleboard–like Rosebud said, “no wave’s too small”, and that’s pretty much the truth. We like to hike and camp, too. What I really like to do is drive my princess around on her many daily errands from the grocery store to shopping excursions. It helps to bring me back to a normal life, as does the list of chores and projects around the house and yard.

boat_captain_fisherman_t_shirt-r3d30f65e60844ccda55bfb7dcd4b615a_804gs_512

SAILOR MERRY: Gay seaman won’t be charged for having ‘unnatural’ sex in cheating case (vancouverdesi.com)

“…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!