21 October 2006

back in the saddle, again.

The cheesy and overused title of this entry has a relevance to several different areas of my life at present.

1. I haven't written here for a few weeks, just as other forms of communication (email, phone calls) have suffered.

2. I'm working again, probably something that will endure, unlike the unfortunate experiment of trying to recreate my former work-hell in my new place of residence.

3. Related to the above, I'm diving again on a regular basis, in an attempt to overcome my aversion to excessive millimeters of neoprene and consequent need for ghastly loads of weight to counteract ang-as-fishing-bobber syndrome.

I'm on the flip side of my first big exam in the MDT program. Well, the first big exam following the swim eval, anyway. Monday marks the last official day of the first 8-week module of classes, the day for testing in Rigging, the day for demonstrating my blindfolded knowledge of the prescribed knots, bends, and hitches. But I'll save that ever-motivating anxiety for studying tomorrow. Yesterday was the big one: final exam for diving physics/ physiology class. This class met twice a week, for 2 hours; the text was the NOAA diving manual (which, if I haven't mentioned, is like the bible of diving. The best, most comprehensive several-hundred page diving reference one can own. I love this book.); the instructor gave much homework, and many pop quizzes and take-home tests, and had high expectations of us. The class is a building block, and unsatisfactory performance, as in all other MDT classes, hinders advancement to higher level courses.

The first time I studied the physics of diving, while studying for my divemaster cert., I didn't care for it, and passed with only the minimal understanding of its functions and applications (I also spent my days on a dive boat and my nights in seedy Thai beach bars with fellow dive bums... not the best conditions for studying.). This time around though, not only do I understand, but actually excelled in the class. This I find amazing actually, because part of doing well in this class is letting go of the idea that "I'm not good at math and/or science." Clearly I am. That said, I had no idea how much that one exam was weighing me down, and how anxious I was about taking it. Now that it's done, it seems life can resume again as before.

A few weeks ago, some friends asked me to join them for a night dive. I happily agreed, and that day went out to purchase a few night-diving accessories I'd been lacking: a dive light, a back-up dive light, and a hooded vest (not specific to night diving, but still a necessity). Wetsuits, vests, hoods, gloves, booties, etc., are made of neoprene, and is what keeps a diver warm under the water. Essentially, a wetsuit allows a thin layer of water to enter next to the skin where, because wetsuits are properly fitted as snugly as possible, the water is trapped and the body warms the layer of water, helping the body to stay warm. But, neoprene is buoyant, and a diver must compensate for this buoyancy with weight in order to descend for a dive. Adding a hooded vest increased my already-overwhelming need for weight, which I didn't quite realize until we were all in the water, my dive buddies a few feet below me, while my wetsuit defiantly floated me at the surface. I skipped the dive, and headed back to the shore to wait where total frustration kicked in. At about this point, I had a revelation I realized my training and experience, while decent, has still been pretty sheltered. I've never dealt with surf, or really poor visibility, or constant surge, or this cold, cold water that requires more gear than I've ever wanted to wear at one time. I realized I couldn't just simply assimilate.

I made a decision that I needed more experience diving in these conditions. As is often the case when light bulbs alight in one's mind, a serendipitous conversation occurred as early as the drive back home from the dive. One of my dive buds worked in the harbor, scrubbing boat hulls. I called the company the next day. My first day of training was 2 days later. So, my job is scrubbing boat hulls in the Channel Islands Harbor. I take a small boat, putter around in the marina until I find one of the boats on my cleaning list, tie off on the dock, fire up the on-deck air compressor, and I head underwater to scrub away all the marine growth and slime that accumulates in 1-2 months.

Lots of people go to the Marina on the weekends to sail, or clean their boats, or just to hang out. It happened that today, upon surfacing from beneath a boat, the owner had arrived in the time I was underwater. He asked me if I might look for a pair of glasses he'd lost over the side (not an uncommon request made of harbor divers, and usually accompanied by generous compen$ation). I descended to the bottom, no more than 10 feet. The bottom composition was a fine, gooey silt, which the slightest movement raised and suspended in the water, instantly and drastically reducing visibility. At one point, as I sat waiting for the water to clear, I looked down, hoping to see the tiniest fraction of the missing specs, and set my gaze upon one spot. Slowly, the water cleared, and for some reason, I continued looking at this particular spot. After a moment, I spotted not the glasses I was looking for, but something much more valuable. A wee octopus, camouflaged the color of the muck, was quietly and gently nestled into the muck, less than a foot away.

07 October 2006

et, voila.

Full moon tonight. Did you remember? Did you know? Did anything strange happen to you today that was strange enough, in retrospect, to be attributed to the moon in full wax? If not, here's one: I had a date tonight.

I've been thinking a lot of late about men. Understandably. In my new, shiny, California life, I'm surrounded by men. The women I know here are few: those I spend a few minutes with here and there in the locker room before/ after swimming class, acquaintances I've met through volunteering, one of the few others in the MDT program. Men, on the other hand, are abundant in classes, in the community. I seem to find myself in random situations/ conversations, more often than not, with men. It's easier, I suppose. I don't know why, it just is. And I know there are some others of you out there who would corroborate this sentiment. It's not that I don't want to form relationships and have female friends, it's just harder, more time-consuming, with more politics involved. The women friends I have now I've had for years, and have already waded through, long ago, all the emotional proving ground. It's hard, and not for the faint of heart. Of course I'm exaggerating a bit. But only a bit. But guy friendships are usually way easier (at least at the outset).

So, I'm surrounded by men most of the time. I didn't think this would bother me. I thought it would be an interesting novelty. It is an interesting novelty. But the same group of men, gathered en masse, with only one woman present, begin very quickly to forget their social graces, especially when engaged in a masculine discipline like diving. One on one, all is well, and normal conversations can be had, but gathered all together, guys can have nasty, dirty mouths/ thoughts/ actions/ ideas, and they can be very unabashedly vocal about the aforementioned (no, not all, but I will generalize, for the purpose of et, voila blog entry), and it's starting to freak me out.

That said, obviously, naturally, it would be nice to find a decent guy to date here in SB, hence tonight's full-moon date. But how does one reconcile nice-guy date, with gross, inappropriate guy-friend? If one becomes privy to the latter, how can he be ignored in the former? Because that's about all I could think about tonight, sitting across from this guy at dinner, was how easily I could see him, nestled in with the rest of the guys, making tasteless jokes, emitting questionable smells, only able to discuss beer and sports...

So, how do the 2 fit together? Because I certainly never saw the guy-friend in any of my guy friends, or guy-husband/ boyfriend-of-friend friends. But does the guy-friend exist in every guy? How do men and women ever come together, if we are truly so different one from the other?