27 September 2007

side bar.

Quick updates today.

I'm feeling much better this week. The love of family & friends helped tons (thank you! much, much love to all of you- even anonymous love...), but also, as often happens, sometimes a good ol' utter and complete breakdown is necessary to clear out the emotional cobwebs to get everything back to normal. And actually, as also often happens, normal this side of breakdown feels much clearer and easier than the other side.

Anyhoo. My weeks are crazy busy of late. I'm seriously home only to sleep, and not much else. Other than that, I'm at school to study, then for class, then for work, then back to studying, or off to another job. It's madness! But I'm feeling good. I'm finding hidden moments for myself, and because I'm so busy, I'm appreciating them a ton. Today is a great example: I completed the study-class-work combo, and came home for a 15-minute snooze before heading to the restaurant (shower be damned! Neoprene funk on skin is easily covered with lotions and perfume... Welcome to the restaurant, fine diners!). After rushing around for 15 minutes getting ready, I realized I was a whole hour early! Which leaves a nice chunk of minutes for me to pack for my weekend excursion.

What weekend excursion, you ask? Saturday at midnight is lobster opener and this year I'm working on the boat all weekend long. We go out for a day trip tomorrow, return to harbor, fuel up, then head out again at 9pm to be at Anacapa for a midnight dive. Rumor has it we also do a 2am dive, so it's going to be a crazy night. I'm not sure how the rest of the weekend will go, I'm not sure how crazy it's going to be to be on the boat all weekend, but I'm prepared for an adventure ;)

School updates: Today in mixed gas class we cut 8" pipe underwater with a Wachs hydraulic saw. Because I helped prepare the hydraulics part of the equation, Instructor Geoff let me be the first to use the saw underwater. I'll post a pic of the saw later, but will say this: it was pretty rad.

I'm definitely becoming a fan of boys toys.

20 September 2007


If your life was a movie, what kind of movie would it be?

I was walking away from work tonight, at the restaurant, passing by the patio at Don's neighborhood dive bar, and a song was playing. I don't know what the song was, but it was something classic rock-y, sort of drifting out across the parking lot. As I was walking, I watched a woman leaned over her car trunk, fishing for something way in the back, so that all I could really make out of her person was her ass and legs, in faded jeans. From behind me, at the restaurant, dishwasher Eddie called his goodbye, "Be careful, mi reina."

I'm not sure why, but the whole scene struck me like something out of a movie. Maybe because it had a sense of desolation that sort of matched my mood- the dark alley, the music, the christmas lights strung up around Don's fake plastic trees, the dim light from the car trunk, the random people on the periphery.

How long does it take to change a mind? To beat it into submission, to knock free all those crusty old ideas that don't work anymore? A woman read my palm once and told me that sometime around now, I'd experience some kind of illness, or trauma. For the most part, I'm a pretty damn healthy individual, so I've always been a bit wary of this prediction, but could that miniscule interruption in my lifeline indicate instead a sort of spiritual trauma? Because that feels accurate, if you believe in that sort of thing.

A last note, a request for a little love. I know you read this- I can see you fackers that check this site regularly, but never leave any comment, or make any mention of visiting. And I'm baffled. Some of you I can figure out, based on web addresses and locales, but others... I've tried time and time again to figure out who the hell I know at GMAC residential funding- because you visit several times a week. Are you interested in perhaps moving to Santa Barbara, and want to know more about the city? Or do you like to read about flange fittings and Kirby Morgan dive hats? Or are you simply coveting my bike? I know you're sending some incognito love vibes, but I don't know how you are, and for a crazy neurotic like me, it's discombobulating.

So send a little love, because I'm needy and fragile this week.

14 September 2007

roger that, topside.

Mixed gas diving today. First dive on helium.

The focus of 90% of MDT classes is on the diving, but, and here I'll relay to you by far the favorite quote of instructors in the MDT facility:

"The title of Diver is not a panacea for the skills or knowledge you
lack. It merely entitles you to a unique form of transportation."
This quote finds its way into everything. It can be seen on walls, various plaques throughout the building, syllabi, quizzes, etched into the toe reinforcements of the instructors' socks. They love this quote, because almost everyone in the building is there, initially, because they love to dive. But commercial diving isn't about diving, so much as it's about the work you do underwater. Hence, the quote. We learn to dive as a formality. The real training is in the work we learn to do while underwater.

So, getting back to today's class, mixed gas diving. My day actually started last night, cramming the completion of a mixed gas diving manifold schematic into an already very busy day, and then continuing into the wee hours of the morning, reviewing gas laws and equations for a quiz this morning. I slept a few hours, woke up early to continue studying for a few more hours before class and lab from 9am-2pm. Thursday is my Friday, though, and despite the busy-ness of the day, I had fun- I love being at the facility early, plus I kicked arse on the quiz. It was also our first day of diving for this class. Last week we pumped and analyzed our breathing mixes, today we got to re-analyze and dive the gas mix. Easy, right?

Our instructors like us to be task loaded. Maybe all diving instructors like to do this- it's the only real way you can test a diver's mettle underwater- by weighing them down with things to do, to see how they'll do, and what they'll do, and also if they'll freak out doing it. So today, in addition to diving the 77/23 HeO2 mix, we also worked on a flange disassembly/re-fit-up project in the tank. Easy, right?

In addition to task loading, our instructors like to make conditions as realistic as possible for us. So, in addition to diving helium, and working on the flange fit-up, sometimes we work cooperatively with another diver (and keep in mind that divers can communicate with topside individually, but cannot communicate directly to one another. Divers instead give messages to topside who then, in turn, relays the message to the other diver... very complicated.).

Another reality of working in the field is little to no visibility. Which means that sometimes, increasingly, the duct tape comes out and a few slices are taped to the hat viewer, leaving us... on helium, working with heavy equipment, with another diver, sightless as a newborn chihua.

I'm being dramatic though, dragging it all out like this. It's actually just sort of par for the course at this point. I think Geoff, the instructor, derives a tremendous sadistic joy from torturing both himself and us with this stuff. Mostly we have fun. We yell and get frustrated, but then we laugh about it afterwards and discuss what went wrong, what can go better the next time.

Like today, my dive with Zeke was pretty miserable. My gas mix was switched from air to HeO2 almost immediately upon descent. In situations like this one, communication is crucial, a point that Geoff had mentioned several times during our morning briefing. Unfortunately, I'm near-indecipherable whilst on HeO2. I tried talking slowly, enunciating, everything I could think of, but still no one could understand what I was saying, and communication suffered. After about 10 minutes, Geoff crumbled and let us take the tape off the face plates. We fit the flange back together, but it was off by one or two bolts. I have no idea how we would have ever gotten it back together blindfolded.

13 September 2007

of a wednesday.

My second day of welding wasn't as awe-inspiring as my first- but still fun.

School's starting to kick in. I'm busy, stressed, a bit frazzled. I like the idea of graduating at the end of this semester for a few reasons, primarily because I'm so tired of being stressed about money. Somehow this place is like a vortex of financial stress. I don't know what it is, it's as though I'm creating my own personal hell in Santa Barbara. The stress and frustration seems to dissipate when I'm away from here, but it descends like a plague when I cross over from the VC into Santa Barbara County. I know it's a mindset, and as such, is completely under my control, I just haven't found a way to overcome this... Yet. (god knows I've tried... there must be a way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Argh.

Can't put too much stock in my low-ish mood of today. It seems the week or so after a visit to Minne is a bit challenging, maybe a wee bit lonely. But being able to hang out with my family for a while, to chase my niece around, snuggle with my fave bully, hug my dad, break it down with my mom... These things make a short, wee dip in my mood very, very worthwhile ;)

06 September 2007

what a feeling.

If you can ever, possibly believe it to be true, I had the coolest day ever at school today.

I might have mentioned I was not extremely excited to begin a certain class this year, a certain class known as Underwater Welding. Some of the primary causes for my lack of excitement about this class included that 1. welding underwater seems foolish and ill-advised, and 2. I'm not the world's most amazing welder. I mean, I'm no Alex Owens (see below), if that's what you're thinking, neither above nor below the water line, but I didn't suck today, and I actually did a half-decent job at welding underwater, which, understandably, came as something of a surprise.

03 September 2007


Some good cliche statements are running through my head at the moment: this hurts me more than it hurts you, and breaking up is hard to do. Both true for me at present.

I broke up with someone a few weeks ago. Someone I'd been dating for the better part of 5 months, which is a decent run for me. We got along really well. In some ways. In other ways, we couldn't have been further apart. I liked him a lot, I cared about him a lot, though I'm not sure he'll ever believe I did. We had fun when we were together, shared good conversation, regularly enjoyed Sunday breakfast over the Times.

But I questioned why we were together sometimes. We had so many different opinions on so, so many fundamental topics: money, work, relationships, the meaning of key relationship concepts like selfishness, and sacrifice. We also had a few fights, and after the first of these I decided to take a little break. And then, slowly, we worked our way back to being together. And again I found myself wondering why we were together.

Our second big fight came right before I left for my visit to Minnesota at the end of July, and I guess that one freaked me out more than the first. The concept of violence in eastern cultures extends from the external to the internal, so that a person's emotions can be considered violent, but may not be expressed externally, in an outwardly violent manner. I never felt physically threatened by him, but I did feel somehow emotionally threatened. And I know he never meant to seem threatening, but a few times, while arguing, I felt really uncomfortable, in a way I knew wasn't quite in line with someone I should be so close to.

So, when I returned from MN, I had hoped we could mend the fence, continue on as before. But I think sometimes when emotions are truly exposed, lines are crossed, and you can't ever really go back. I think that happened with us. I came back to SB, and I really wanted things to be the same, and they were, actually, but without any substance underneath. I remember this when I was young, and my parents would fight- maybe someone would come over, and they'd sort of have to act normally, until they were really acting normally, and then everything would be ok again. A sort of marital fake-it-til-you-make-it routine. We were doing that, the two of us, right when I got back. And it sort of worked, except that there was all this shit, this unsaid emotion and anger and blame underneath, but not so far underneath.

And it was too much. And I ended it. And I felt really shitty about it. And I still do.

I guess that's the surprising part. It's not that I don't want to feel bad about it, because obviously there's an emotional investment there, and a mourning period is normal and required. But I keep finding myself crying briefly, at odd moments, and sort of sending him telepathic apologies. I'm sure by this point he's over it, focused on other things, but I'm still doing it, still feeling really shitty about it. Which maybe says more about me than him, or us, or the relationship. But it certainly makes those cliches feel pretty true to life.

01 September 2007

ode to a fisherwoman.

Awesome news (engagements!) in the past few weeks for a few awesome ladies I know: new roommate Claudia, old high school friend Jan, and, most recently, ballsy Bennie roomie, Meghan. But one of these things is not like the other (as in, not the traditional mode of becoming affianced), as made obvious in the email poem I received from her yesterday entitled, "fishing for the big one."

So one day a boy and girl set out in a little green canoe
they paddled and fished
their way through a lovely summer day on the Kawish

After a fresh shore lunch and a laze in the sun
the dark clouds rolled in
So homebound they turned

But the girl stopped them short
in a beautiful bay
and insisted they fish more, despite the now-stormy day

You see, This mischevious girl
had a trick up her sleeve
the lure she pulled out, the boy could not believe!

"This will catch the big one" she smiled
handing him the rod
which he readily grabbed, giving her a nod

Because he saw the lure was huge----
sure to catch a big fish
but "wait, what's that?", he looked tilting his hat

On the lure were markings
which seemed out of place
so he yanked it out, right up close to his face

"Will you be my catch for life?"
The lure blatantly asked
And with a curious smile, the boy replied yes!

Congrats to my girlies- and the lucky boys who snagged em (or got reeled in by them!) ;)