A wet day on a boat.

We left the ferry terminal in a downpour this morning. There were over a hundred kids on board from the aquarium’s summer camp.

On the way back, I was sitting in the pilot house. The kids started singing, “I don’t know but I’ve told, Mr. Sam (one of the counselors) is getting old.” Over and over again. The captain said to me, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have three or four of those?”

“Yes, I’m glad.”

“Really?”

“I could handle one, maybe two,” I said. The captain has three kids. He was joking about how he has no time to himself, so he has to hide sometimes.

“I’ve never heard anyone who has kids complain about it,” I said.

“It’s worth it. When I had all the time in the world I was totally miserable.”

I nodded.

Off Monday and Tuesday

I’m off Monday and Tuesday now, and that means I’m coming to the end of another weekend. I’ve been meditating on life, which a classy way of saying I’ve not done anything special on my days off. I went to yoga, went to the pool, rode my bike, worked on my resume, rented a couple of movies, cleaned out my closet, and procrastinated on some other stuff.

My neighbor just parked his slate gray Mustang. He immediately set to work cleaning off the front end, spraying it with what I suppose is some bug-off product. All that work for something that always depreciates in value. As for me, I’ve got a couple new bumper stickers I’d like to vandalize my ubiquitous red Plymouth with.

Venting

I must be having some trouble readjusting back to my regular job. My workday is very constrained: I spend a good part of it traveling either in a car or on a boat, and don’t have regular or reliable access to a computer or phone during the rest. It’s difficult to get certain things done whereas in Tennessee I had a lot of flexiblity and resources at my disposal and could accomplish a lot.

This all stems from a frustrated attempt to get some travel paperwork taken care of over the last couple of weeks. It’s due Friday and just can’t bang it out. I’m pissed off way out of proportion to importance of this problem.

Dang.

On aquaria and natatoria

Today was nice and I inavertantly spent too much of it indoors, thinking it was really hot out. I straightened out my fish tank today. The pump broke while I was away and I replaced it last week but the water quality was still screwed up. I lost only one neon, though, and that big snail I thought was destroying my plants. I cut down a lot of the plant and got rid of much of the algae growth. The tank looks so clean now. I’ll check the water again tomorrow.

Went swimming at the Biloxi pool this morning. The pool is pretty neat; they can open up the roof and walls on nice days. The sun shone in today.

Island Saturday

This morning it rained, but the rest of the day was very pleasant. I helped the interns with a seining program this afternoon, a rare chance to actually get into the water. We caught some tiny pompanos, about an inch long.

I stopped for gas on my way back from the ferry terminal this afternoon. After I fueled up and got back in the car, the volunteer who was riding with me said, sort of off-hand, “I can paint houses. I’ll mix paint and finish the walls. One thing I won’t do is pump gas.”

“And why not?” I asked her.

“Well, I have to draw the line somewhere.”

Back to regular life

This time last week I was living in Tennessee and stressing out over fireflies. Now it’s back to regular life in Mississippi. Today I went back to work on the island. Same old, same old. Then again, how much could change in seven weeks?

On the boat ride back I sat below deck under the forepeak. There were a few people relaxing on the cushiony seats, including one of the regular fishermen. A nine-year old kid was sitting there too. I think he was autistic or something, because he was a little off. Very friendly and talkative, though. He didn’t seem to understand the difference between the beach and his home in Alabama, and kept asking if I knew so and so or this place or that. At first I thought he was just a little bumpkin kid, but he’d go on and on. The fisherman and another family joked around with him a little. He talked about the girl he was going to marry (Rebecca) and about the guy who cuts his beard (he had not the tiniest wisp of hair growing on his chinny-chin chin) and the truck he wanted to buy. Very strange. He talked like he was forty years old. The other passengers thought he was funny (like Forrest Gump) but I thought it was a little sad. He started playfully throwing a pillow around; this cued one of the other families to excuse themselves politely. His mother and grandmother were on board somewhere. I caught up with them later. “Did he keep you going?” his grandmother asked.

“No, he was fine,” I said.

Back in Mississippi from the Great Smokies

I got back to Mississippi early Sunday morning. I go back to work on Wednesday.

The assessment? I did well on my assignment and impressed a lot of people. I received a lot of nice compliments from both the folks who worked for me and the folks I worked with, but it was very stressful and I’m glad there was an end to it. I came away from it learning two important things: one, that I can be a supervisor and do it well; two, that I’m not in a big hurry to move up into that position.

Now I’m going back into the routine. It’s hot and humid and the sun is scorching me (in the shade of the east Tennessee forests I put on my sunglasses maybe half a dozen times in seven weeks). I’d like this to be my last summer in Mississippi if possible, and if I don’t have to work another winter here that’d be just fine too. The detail in Tennessee snapped me out of the trance (read: rut) I’ve been in since I moved to the Coast, and I’m ready to move on to somewhere better.

Photos from seven weeks in the Great Smoky Mountains:

On fireflies and stress

I wish I could have updated this journal more, but I’ve been busy and without consistent Internet access. Work has been great, but very stressful. I have to finish two things this week: train my seasonal staff and prepare for a two-week long event. The event is the mating display of synchronous fireflies. This park contains the only easily accessible public place in the Americas to see these fireflies, which flash in unison or in waves. I saw them myself this week. Their pretty cool, and they’re not even at their peak yet.

Been having some problems with my car. Nothing serious yet, but I’ll have to take it in to the shop. Something I don’t really have time for. If all goes well I’ll be back in Mississippi Saturday night.