To shore up or …

imagedream my way out to sea?

Well, speaking for myself, always in regards of myself (save for when I’m voicing LBM’s stories but then, that’s really only a narrative of someone else’s experience anyway, isn’t it?), I’m choosing to leave the shore a lot more often.

And while for the most part it’s been instilled into a greater percentage of us, that our life’s practice must contain a whole lot of shoring up as it were, well, I’ve noticed that hasn’t always been so much fun.

Fun? one would ask me.  Is that all life means to you, is to just have fun?  Sure fun is good but it can’t be all there is, all the time.  Have you not a sedate thought as to the direction of your future?  Are you just going to throw sensibility and caution straight out into the gale force winds, shrugging your shoulders at the very word, ‘serious’ … Seriously!?

Okay to be fair, I took quite a few things with as solemn an approach as I was raised to do, while making my way through this world; through this first half of my life.  You know, I’ve noticed however, as time goes by, the seriousness of it all begins to fall away.

🤍 And thank goodness it has done exactly that for me.  It couldn’t have happened at a better time, this unencumbered ability to just be!  Trust me, this has nothing to do with a financial perspective as I haven’t one anyway.  Someone just asked me, “How can you be like that, especially during this CoronaVirus scenario?”  I don’t know if I could really ever explain it, I just know it.

 

Get this:  two days ago I accidentally dropped a hot water pot to the ground, at my feet.  It was three quarters full and had just come to a complete boil.  The pot was momentarily resting at a level just above my head.

You see, my brother’s house is currently kitchen-less during renovations and so that’s where the pot’s base was, atop the refrigerator as there’s really no space here in the hallway.  And I take full responsibility for the accident, I do.

Now as it made its way down, it bounced off a mid-level (about waist high) shelf, flipping itself on its side and that’s when it happened.  As it hit the shelf, the water burst out from the pot, it doused my entire left hand, to also include both sides down past my wrist, and then both of my legs (I was wearing shorts) as it hit the floor!

Shocked?  Oh yes, for sure! 🔥 It took a moment to realize I’d just been badly burned.  I picked up the pot and set it on a side table, quickly making my way to the bathroom faucet for a good drenching of cold water💦

There was very much a raging fire burning from within my hand which encouraged me to repeat over and over, ‘I’m fine, I’m good, I’m brave, it’s going to be all right,’ and over again some more.  I said this out loud because I wanted to be sure LOL my affirmations were being heard somewhere out in the universe!

I was also being very, very appreciative that my head or face wasn’t involved in this mishap.  I intentionally ignored my legs because the nerves of my hand were screaming a lot louder.

After a little bit, the cold water from the faucet was not cold enough so I had to get the pitcher of cold water out of the fridge and slowly trickle it onto my hand.  Emptying the pitcher, I had to return to the faucet but it did feel better than at the beginning.

This process went on for quite some time until I could finally pull myself away from the running water to attempt applying something soothing onto the surface of my hand.  CBD to the rescue!

It was an all day, all evening process; in and out of the running cold water and frozen washcloths but do you know, in all that pain, I was able to sleep most of the night through, waking only from the misplacement of my hand.

And do you know why?  Right from the beginning I reminded myself to absolutely not take this seriously, despite the intense pain and I’m not kidding!  While it’s true my legs received a lesser amount of 💦 splash, I didn’t attend to them at all.  I had felt the burn when it happened and for a short while after the fact but they managed themselves I suppose.

🌸 Today, the 3rd day, there’s redness only at the inside of my wrist and a little on the back of my hand.  I’m trusting that’ll be gone before long, perhaps even before my birthday next week ☺️ and pain?  Non-existent LOL save for when I knocked my hand up against something yesterday. ⚛️

I’m so appreciative that I was able to, in such a crisis, remind myself to not take it too seriously.  I’m not certain how my reaction will take hold in alternate circumstances but I have to say, I see this has been a very good direction for me and I’ll keep comfortably on this path.

Perhaps my story will awaken something in yourself … a positive application of self-trust, a bit more relaxed about life and a healthy dose of more fun!  Look, I know how severe this burn was, I see the manifestation of the near immediate healing and I also know how great I felt comforting myself 🌹with simple ease and pleasure of being light-hearted 💙💕💖

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89. Quy Nhơn Chicken 🐓

The next morning, in conversation with Chief Steward Phil, he liked very much the thought of tailor-made slacks too.  He asked if I wouldn’t mind taking care of the transaction for him.  I offered a smile attached to a ‘No problem chief!’ and so he scribbled his measurements on a slip of paper and handed it to me with a few dollars from his wallet.

It may be only the 2nd time I went ashore but it felt like I’d already done it a hundred times.  Hot and muggy was the forecast for, like the entire time I would be here so naturally there was an ongoing thirst for ice cold beers!  🍻

Upon reaching shore, my first order of business was a detour to the Indian shop delivering CS’s order and measurements.  I was told 36 hours should see all the slacks ready.  

The first establishment we chose to walk into had a few people sitting at the bar, others were seated at tables; the majority of bodies being young Vietnamese girls and music played crisply out of a jukebox up against a side wall.  No sooner we sat down at a table, we were flocked by some of these girls.

In what sounded like their best broken English they’d proposition us to buy drinks for them.  They took our drink requests which would only be beer 🍺 and went up to the bar.  No hard liquor or sodas even were served here.  

It would seem the sodas were reserved for drink in the cafés.  I gotta say, these bars certainly knew how to grab their share of business from the foreign visitors! 🍹 The girl’s drinks we bought for them (later we learned) was simply colored water and each one cost near twice the amount of our beers!  

In our socializing I learned the power of the American dollar in Việt Nam;  approximately $5.00 would cover feeding their entire family for a week and the impression we all got was they’d pretty much do anything for these dollars.  

Some girls smoked our cigarettes and others did not but all were quick to light ours for us.  They were skilled in giving a nice little massage here and there, arms, shoulders, neck and/or running their fingers through our hair.

I smiled big when I looked at one of the guys across the table from me … his eyes closed in sheer delight and grinning away as the girl on his lap was massaging his brain!  

The one girl attentive towards me began massaging my head, gently pulling on my hair (which I had lots of it), of course it felt nice. 

The guys and I continued to talk amongst ourselves for the most part as we could tell they weren’t about to leave our company so easily.  It was of little matter to them as they too conversed amongst themselves. 

“Tonight you stay with me and you pay,” one would say to her guy and another would verbally climb over that (sometimes literally) and using as persuasive a voice as possible, “No! You come with me!”  We each heard this approach circulate around our table.

🍻 After a few beers and a considerable amount of dollars later, I noticed it was getting dark.  We all agreed it was time for food. A couple of us made sure to keep an eye on the time, curfew is definite, there was only one boat back and make no mistake, we’d best be on it! 

The girls collected a few dollars from each of us and a couple of them went quickly outside, coming back with some freshly prepared chicken for us to eat.  

It was made in a street kitchen just outside the bar.  Of course they ate with us.  The chicken was flayed open, seasoned, cooked between two racks over an open flame and it was delicious. 🍗

“Now we go home.” they’d say to us, gently tugging at our arms.  “No, no! We’ve got to get back to our ship!” protested a couple of the guys; definitely speaking for all of us in the group. 

We promised them we’d return tomorrow and breaking free at last, we headed as swiftly as possible through the town and down to the beach.  

We remained in the Qui Nhơn harbor for just over a week.  The best description of my daily routine on the ship; same, same.

Every early evening almost immediately following the dinner shift and next morning’s prep, I’d scurry down that rope ladder to catch the boat into town.  

Returning to the same bar as before, these girls who overnight became our friends, were waiting for our return.  

On the fifth day I picked up the slacks; lookin’ good!  After the shopkeeper showed them to me, I paid him and he wrapped them up so nicely, knowing they would have to travel a very long way.  

I asked him to wrap up the Phil’s slacks separately.  I noticed the shop had some postcards amongst their wares so I bought a few;  one for Diana and my kids and some for the family in Fiji.  

Back at the bar which we had made our own for the week, our company had now become more like one on one, no longer flanked by many.  We’d play the jukebox, dance with the girls, eat chicken, socialize, drink beer, and generally let our hair down as it were; wanting only a little bit of fun and relaxation.  

We remained diligent to the curfew at the end of every evening and always managed to wiggle away from our friends just in time.

A couple of days before our ship pulled up anchor, I was able to send out those postcards from our ship’s post office.  By now I was confident that half of my ‘war-zone pay’ salary, the 1st paycheck, was already on its way to my family in Santa Monica, via the pay center in New York.  

You know I felt great that I was providing for my family even while on this other side of the world but I never thought my life would go down a path like this one.  

While I cannot even compare to the soldiers’ lives here in Việt Nam at this time, I certainly was learning to understand a small piece of it.

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A coastal town located in central Việt Nam, Quy Nhơn wasn’t established as a city until 1986 and it is home in the Bình Định Province. 

 

 

 

 

 

85. Open Sea Routine

First full day out on the ocean and with the Golden Gate’s disappearance into the now, east, so too had to go my thoughts of what’s to come.  Well, at least on hold in the back of my mind.

It was time to go full steam ahead in the expected routine of my job which has only slightly varied from when we were at docks.  The transition was smooth enough as far as I was concerned, demonstrating to the CS I knew my assignments very well.

After breakfast our Chief Steward calls a meeting of kitchen staff, chef included.  “Things change a little now that we’re out to sea, you’ll find the law is different than when we were at dock.  Trash of any kind and especially cigarette butts will never be disposed of overboard, is that clear?  There is a proper place for everything and I do mean everything!”

He went on, “It’s now time to get dressed up real warm ’cause we’re gonna stock the deep freeze and the main refrigerators.”  Coats, beanies and gloves were provided and we quickly bundled up.

The supplies that were loaded prior now had to be put away in orderly fashion; items must be readily available.  Bottled water, juices, milk, meats, veggies, etc., no hassles and wasted time trying to locate anything.

“Consider one of the engine room guys coming into the kitchen for a drink or snack, they shouldn’t have to waste time searching for anything in the refrigerators, so organization is always priority,” the CS spoke as he pointed out where to place the various items.

The boxes were opened, the large freezer and fridge shelves were stocked and the empties were broke down flat, bundled and placed in the holding spot.  At the next port they’d be removed.  The dry pantry was handled the same way minus the coats, gloves and beanies of course!

3rd day – our Chief Steward calls everybody to gather.  We would now receive instructions for handling a case of emergency.  An alarm was sounded. “Line up on deck and wait for the 1st or 2nd Officer’s instructions.”  

In each of our cabins there was a life jacket for every individual.  “Do not stop to put it on.  Grab it and get topside asap!  You can put it on as you go or once you are up on deck.   We will do this drill every third day.”  

I realized quick enough we’d be eating real good on this ship.  You say you feel like having a pork chop, the kitchen obliged by sending out a hot plate with about a half a dozen of ‘em!  There was no chance of anyone dining alone because someone would catch a whiff and be beside you in no time flat, sharing in the delights.

Away from the kitchen CS had the linen closet key so I always had to ask for that; seems like we had greater concerns than to worry about linens disappearing – oh well.  At least three times a week I’d change out the sheets and towels I used, all of us being responsible for our own.

Making certain the Skipper’s quarters were always clean and amply stocked with the necessities for his comfort was another factor of my duties; remember he was my personal assignment.

Daily routine breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  Once in a while the Skipper would make casual conversation with me.  I was the only Hindu person on board his ship and he asked me if I was actually from India.  I shared with him the short version of being born and raised in the Fiji Islands.  He was kind enough and for his liking, our Captain soon nicknamed me ‘Fiji’.

Coming out from one of the cabins, Nancy Sinatra’s hit single, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” sounded throughout the corridor -other tunes too but that one several times a day.  

Two of the deckhands, a middle-aged man and his son from the southeastern U.S. were the occupants of that cabin and this seemed be their favorite song.  It didn’t take long for that tune to stick like flypaper in my brain and to this day, it surfaces at the funniest of times.

My break after the lunch service was always a breeze, kickin’ it on the aft deck.  Often I’d get to see various fish leaping from the water and capturing my attention.  Otherwise I gave in to a sea of thoughts.  And in the evenings I anticipated with great pleasure, the sunset.

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These Boots Are Made For Walkingreleased in November of 1965 and was written by Lee Hazelwood.  By the end of January, 1966 it had topped the charts taking over the  #1 spot in both the U.S. and the U.K.  Cinema utilized the song in Full Metal Jacket, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and most recently in Ocean’s 8, just to name a few.