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LJ Idol 05: Afterthoughts.

I had a good job, in North Carolina. Well, it was a reliable job. It might have become a good job in another three years, four, five. I was being groomed to become assistant manager, given the long shifts, the late shifts, put in charge of the store's yearly Inventory. It was heady responsibility, really.

I took my lunch breaks alone. There were never enough of us there to have more than one person in the back room at a time, nor was there really room. It was a tiny place, a closet behind the stock room with a broken TV on a shelf, an unclaimed box of pizza rolls in the freezer that no one dared touch, a filthy microwave and a table with a rickety top. The chairs were all various faded shades of orange and had stuffing poking out of them.

I brought books to read each day, for that precious thirty minutes. Feeding my imagination was more important than feeding my stomach. For two weeks, it was House of Leaves, and I scared myself silly. For another week, it was Wicked. And then it was Maiden Voyage.

Maiden Voyage is a book about Tania, an aimless girl in her late teens who is given a choice by her frustrated father; go to university, or take the tuition money and sail around the world. The book reduced me to tears. Here I was, earning easy money telling teenagers they can't buy beer with fake ids and old women they can't buy perfume with food stamps, earnestly looking into moving up the ladder, out of the store and into the corporation, and this book, this travelogue of a scared young woman sailing alone (save a cat) across the Equator and into adulthood made me a sobbing wreck in my own break-room.

I was late getting back to work that day. I spent an evening doing the math. And twenty days later, I quit. I quit and moved across the country, out of my the apartment that sucked my paychecks dry and back in with my parents. Since then, jobs have been scarce. I made the decision to escape a career right at the ultimate downturn of the economy, and since then, I have worked perhaps eleven months out of twenty-five, two of that for room and board and sailing experience alone.

I scour the want-ads, looking for a boat. I need one sturdy and small, with a narrow full keel, a full-stepped mast, and a stern-mounted rudder. I need a steering vane and a storm jib, vaccinations and visas, a life raft and an EPIRB. I need charts and a compass and a nest egg large enough to fly me home if I destroy it all on a reef in Tonga, distracted by blue whales and a storm. I will risk my life, and live in a space smaller than most minivans for three years or so.

When I get back, maybe I'll think about a career again. But it won't be selling beer and perfume.

Links are for those who do not know what these parts of a boat are, as I know I have some landlubbers on my flist.

This is my entry for LJ Idol - 05 Afterthought. Thanks for reading, and remember to vote on Saturday!.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
nerdwerds
Dec. 2nd, 2010 09:47 am (UTC)
somehow LJ Idol 4 is missing...

I envy your adventurous spirit. There are just too many things I couldn't leave behind.
i_id
Dec. 2nd, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, I took a pass on 04. Bit of burnout from writing 03.
skylanth
Dec. 2nd, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
Well, that's a quandary, isn't it? If you get a career, you can afford to go on the cruise, but you'll have to blow off the career to go sail, and be gone over a year, probably. Then you'll get back and have to start from scratch.

But then, if you don't start a career, you'll have no money for cruising and you'll be no farther along than when you first read that inspiring book in the break room of a North Carolina stockroom. Choices, indeed!

I go for option #1. I've changed career paths a couple times, it's worked out okay for me.
i_id
Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Probably more like three years.

I don't need to start a career for that, I just need a job. Any job. I couldn't do it in NC because my paycheck was pathetic. After rent/bills, I was probably bringing home $70/month.
skylanth
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Yup, saving is hard when you have the living expenses, this is true. I do highly recommend the crafts store at that next-town-over, even on a temporary basis for the holidays. The customers are generally nice and you seem to be fairly knowledgeable about many of the crafts. You'll just have to keep your mommy in the dark about your employee discount/refuse to buy her things as best you can.
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
I sent in an application and resume, but got a 'Thanks, but we're not hiring anyone with your qualifications at this time' email back.
skylanth
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
Oh, phooey.
basric
Dec. 2nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
The trouble with being adventurous is you need that nest egg to do it and unless you have an inheritance you have to work. Didn't sail but backpacked with a group of friends across Europe before the EURO change.

Worked hard when I got home and went back with a little money to play tourist. I admit the first time was the best. If you go, I wish you a wonderful time and that its everything you imagine.
i_id
Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
I had a friend who did that. Went walkabout.

Thanks, it's going to be amazing.
isis_lives
Dec. 2nd, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Having the time and the money simultaneously is a rare thing indeed!
i_id
Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
The time is easy, so long as I keep everything else in my life on a temporary basis. Which... Okay, that part's not easy.

The money is hard. Save a little, lose it all, save a little, lost it all...
majesticarky
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:49 am (UTC)
That is such a great goal! I hope that you accomplish it soon. Keep us posted : )
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Soon would be good. Likely to be about three years before I leave, unless I catch a windfall.
banyangirl1832
Dec. 4th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
I hope you end up raising the necessary funds!
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
I'm more afraid of the money woes than of facing storms alone!
edith_jones
Dec. 4th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure if this was a true story or not until I saw your gigantic tag 'the cruise' and clicked on it. [I hope you don't mind.] I was awestruck by your plans and if I didn't get seasick if I even think about boats, I'd want to come along.

Awesome entry. And you're awesome, too, for planning this out. Can I add you as a friend so I can keep up with what you're doing about this cruise? I want to know more about you and your plans. If it's okay, you're free to friend me back.

-Allie.
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Yep, totally true. Please do! I love talking about the cruise, and boats in general. Progress is slow, however.
edith_jones
Dec. 7th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
I have added you, thanks! Feel free to add back.

How long will this cruise be? And how long do you think it's going to be before you go?
wyrdfishes
Dec. 5th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Sometimes you reach a point where you have to either give up on a dream or say "Screw it, I'm doing this." I hope you get what you need to go after it. Great post. :)
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Giving it up doesn't feel like an option. Thanks
liret
Dec. 5th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I believe it's better to be working towards something then working to get by. Your goal sounds awesome.
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Exactly. I'm not even thirty. What else do I have to be doing, saving for retirement?
myrna_bird
Dec. 6th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
What's that saying? Something like 'Do what you love and the money will follow.' Great entry.
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC)
I think in this case, it's 'Do what you love and the money will flow (away.).' A boat is, after all, a wood-lined hole in the water into which one pours time and money.
nyxocity
Dec. 6th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
I hope you find what you need to make your dream come true :) This was a great post.
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:30 am (UTC)
Thanks. All I need know is to win a small lottery.
vaguelyclear
Dec. 6th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
I have to say, you're braver than me :)

It's an unusual dream, that's for sure, but that's what makes it so much cooler. I hope it all works out for you!
i_id
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:31 am (UTC)
Thank you, me too. :D
snarkerdoodle
Dec. 7th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Great post just on its own, but made even better by reading the comments and knowing that it's true. :)
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )