The Cast of Characters & Quick Guide to the Story

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sea Call

View from the end of Grace Court, Brooklyn.
One of my favorite things about the Brooklyn Heights apartment where I've been staying is that from here I can hear the horns of the ferries and boats pulling into the East River. When I walk down the street to my place, I can see the water in front of me. It's the only time I see the water in New York, odd as it may seem given the fact that Manhattan is... an island.

The books I've been reading lately are: Peter Pan; The Perfect Storm; and A Voyage for Madmen.

I have a playlist which includes the following: The Downeaster Alexa; Into the Mystic; my friend Claire's song, Visit Me; Take Me to the Water by Nina Simone...

Each day when I dress, I look at the contents of my suitcase and my backpack and am reminded of the fact that I still live like I would on a boat. When I leave the apartment, I often look like I'm just off a boat - my rubber boots the best protection against the snowdrifts and the slush; my west marine jacket the best protection against the wind; my fuzzy fleece my best weapon against the cold.

I have no curling iron and minimal make-up in my possession. No dresses (not that I would wear one given the cold) and no high-heeled shoes.

In a sense, I have never been far from the sea in my mind, possibly in part because I haven't given myself much of a chance to become grounded.

Reading the stories of the men in Voyage for Madmen, who set off hell-bent on non-stop circumnavigation, there is something recognizable about the mentality - the restlessness, the desire for an odyssey... and among some of them, an inexplicable desire to be surrounded by water.

As I take my leave of yet another place, I am filled with a contrast of emotions - the desire to stay, or simply stay put, conflicting with the call of the sea.

I pluck a grey hair from my head and consider my situation. I'm not getting any younger. I think of the Yeats' poem, Sailing to Byzantium. What am I looking for this time? Will I find it? Or at least will I find that sense of peace that I found before?

I can only hope.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Preparing to launch

So it's official. In just a few short weeks I will show up for my new post. I've accepted orders - it's all been very formal - the orders are in fact around 70 pages long! - for a new boat, a beautiful vessel, that I will join in Savannah, Georgia.

Everyone at the restaurant has had to suffer my repeated question, "Have you seen my boat?" After which, if they haven't (and sometimes even if they have), I pull out my phone and show them a few pictures of her under sail.

Family meal
My second sublet in New York has been a studio in Brooklyn Heights. Another fortuitous Facebook match-up. But this apartment has been more or less vacated, since its owner is moving out. The first night I arrived, not having eaten all day, I had very little to make dinner with - strange leftover ingredients from a few meals with friends: broccoli, bacon, vermouth (for my martinis), currants, and some Korean hot sauce. Voila.

In my last weeks at the restaurant, I have taken great pleasure in making family meal - which feels a lot like serving up meals for a crew. This is a meal commonly served to the staff at restaurants prior to the beginning of service. At some restaurants, it becomes a competition among the cooks, who otherwise don't get a chance to show their own talents and preferences because they are bound to the chef's menu.

So one night last week, designated with the task of making the vegetables for the family meal and handed a bunch of broccoli... well, you can guess how this story ends.