Monday, December 29, 2008
Dirty Panties in Paradise
At which point I step on a pair of dirty, wet, little girl panties complete with poop smear. “God damn it. Dog GAMN IT!! Why the &*#$_(* is the cockpit full of filthy wet clothes!” bursts out of me in a high volume, strident screech fit to wake not only the family but the anchorage, the birds on the shore, and the dead. So begins a typical day of cruising life.
You’ve probably heard the cruising axiom, “Routine maintenance in exotic ports of call.” The Don Quixote version is “Dirty panties in paradise.” Everything that aggravates me about being a parent is compressed into a twenty by twenty foot space, heated to 90 degrees, and filled with sand and fish scales. Including my temper. I crossed an invisible line in the filth a week ago where I stopped cooking dinner, ceased having sex with my husband, and started sewing fanatically with a pair of Bose headphones and back issues of You Look Nice Today and Penny Arcade flowing at high volume through my synapses. My former employees will recognize this tactic as it very closely resembles my management days when I’d close the doors, crank the NiN, and stop answering voicemail, IRC, and email. This is the Toast equivalent of going on strike.
The problem is physics, specifically Boyle’s Gas law. As you compress the same number of atoms into a smaller space, they run into each other and the boundary more frequently and generate more heat than the equivalent number of atoms would in a larger space. A family in a spacious suburban home smacks each other around, uses the last bits of toilet paper without getting a new roll, and occasionally burns a hole in the hardwood with forbidden candles. Squeeze the same family into 14” town row in suburban Philadelphia, and the volume rises, the Italian gestures start to emerge, and the family begins to earn the sobriquet “passionate.” Now take that family and compress them into a big, plastic, floating milk carton, slap the lid on, then start taking bets how long it will take the friction inside to increase the surface temperature to a point where you can bake tortillas.
As a cruising family, we need to figure out ways to let each member release the pressure of tight quarters and intimate living. Yesterday, I left the boat entirely for a quilting bee and didn’t come back until it was dark. Ruth fed my family on Victory Cat demonstrating both the generosity of her soul and the obviousness of my desperation to those around me. An escape such as that requires planning and cooperation, friends in the anchorage, and a sympathetic spouse. I spent the day in detox, sipping limonadas, cutting quilt fabric, touring the beautiful home of an ex-pat, and stretching my mental and emotional muscles to unbind the clenching kinks of constant small irritations. I took some deep breaths and read a book for an hour. I drank a beer and watched a good movie. I relaxed down to my smallest toe -- the one on the left that I can bend out independently of all the others a la a Vulcan greeting and therewith completely gross out the average six year old.
At which point, I knocked over a half open bag of trash, tripped over the hydraulic line for the water maker and damn near knocked myself out as I fell into the pile of dirty dishes stacked two feet deep in the microdot piece of shit we call a sink. “God damn it. Dog GAMN IT!! Why the &*#$_(* is the sink full of filthy dishes!”