Posted: Fri – October 8, 2004 at 04:05 PM
Well. That was interesting.
So. Where to begin? For me it would be easier if we went backwards in time, starting from right now. Like that movie, “Memento,” that was causing such a buzz last year.
Just got the credit card replacements today. Which allowed me to go back and re-vitalize my .Mac account, wherein this blog is hosted. To those of you who noticed my absence, thanks for noticing!
You know – in a strange way, not being able to post was somehow liberating – I was freed from the implicit need to scan memeorandum on a daily basis for ammunition to re-fill my bile glands. Neither was I compelled to launch into much-anticipated, breathlessly awaited opinions on who won the debates, whether vice presidential (Cheney, by a length) or presidential (Kerry, by a lap), or whether they would make a hair’s breadth of difference (I don’t think so, in the long run).
And since you’ve been spared my political commentary, lo! these many weeks, I’ll encapsulate the depth and breadth of all I’ve thought and learned over the past month: I am simply astounded, given the vast amount of talent in this country of 300 million people, whether that talent be in the law, business or politics, or whether it is measured in terms of intellectual capacity, cultural understanding or moral strength, that we are once again going to the polls in November to choose the next leader of the free world, and we are once again stuck with trying to make the least-worst choice. What is it with us?
Because I was at sea for three (count them, three) weeks (not that I’m complaining, no one shot at me), I missed the entire RatherGate kerfuffle, including the aftershocks, that blazoned new names across the blogo-heavens, while casting down the minions of Sauron from their creaking pinnacles at Barad Dûr (ed. Hold on – how does a pinnacle creak?)
Eh. I’ve been at sea, my metaphors have gotten rusty. It’s the salt air. The sun was in my eyes. The deck was up. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts!
And while away, in the midst of a three-day final battle problem aboard the USS Carl Vinson, the Hobbit’s purse was stolen from her car. Which led of course to our having to cancel all of our credit cards, checking accounts, etc. Just stop everything!
Which I can now reveal to you is damned awkward, if you haven’t lived through it lately. Because in order to be sure that no one else gets access to your capital or credit, you’ve got to go a non-trivial time without access to them yourself. Which is one thing when you’re 19 and hiking the Appalachian Trail from end to end with nothing more to worry about than where the next candy bar is going to come from, and a whole other thing entirely when your only son has gone to college leaving you alone in a house full of women!
So, how was my time at sea, you ask? Uneventful. The strike group did a great job actually, and the ship herself is a good fighter. I’ve had the opportunity to sail on any number of aircraft carriers in my career, and I can say that of all I’ve ever been on, Vinson was far and away the tautest ship. For one thing, everywhere I went everyone was shouting “Attention on deck!” and throwing themselves up against the bulkheads. Which was a little embarrassing, because I figured out ultimately, after coming to attention and throwing myself against a bulkhead a number of times, that it was me they were talking about. So we all would stand there for a moment not saying anything before I’d finally figure it out and say, “Carry on,” so we could all go back about our lives.
Now, it’s true that this was my first time to sea as a captain, but I’m fairly certain nothing like this ever happened on any ship that I was on before, unless that captain was The Captain, which I most assuredly am not.
There were a number of other features, which stand out in stark relief to those of us in the business, but would be sand-poundingly dull to share with my land-locked readership, so I will spare you those details.
And how was I billeted? I’m glad you asked – in the very lap of luxury was I, and my captain roommate:
Not much better or worse than what you’d get in any of your federal penal institutions, but we were guests after all.
The food? Let’s just say I should have lost weight. The fact that I didn’t is not the fault of the Supply Officer.
The old joke among the aviators is that you can tell the moment you’re aboard ship, because you instantly become hungry, horny and sleepy, all at the same time. Ship time is not like beach time, in a way that can be hard to describe – once you’ve been aboard for 24 hours or so, the ship becomes your frame of time reference – you are aboard. You have always been aboard. You always will be aboard. This is the only life there is, there was never any other, everything else is an illusion.
All your previous at sea time telescopes, and leaps across the intervening periods ashore to join with this time at sea.
But then the day after you leave the ship, it is as though it never was. It is like the memory of pain.
But, you’ve got this to look forward to every day:
Which is nice.
OK – got to go. It’s good to be back, look forward to seeing everyone around the neighborhood.