Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My 8 Year-Old Self

Okay, so as my (fourth or fifth) re-introduction to blogging, I’ll be stealing a friend’s idea.  You can read about it HERE.

Basically, if I was to run into my 8 year-old self, what advice would I give?  What would I say?

“Hey Dweeb, stop letting your mum cut your hair.”

Really, here goes.

You’re in for a tough few years.  Your mum is growing a brain tumour, and she’s going to be in the hospital for a while.  But don’t worry, she’ll be okay.
Don’t worry so much about fitting in with the other kids.  You’re weird, you’ll always be weird, own it.  People will like you much better if you stop trying to be like them and unapologetically be yourself.
That goes for moving to the rat-hole of a town where your family just moved.  You’ll make some great friends, you’ll make some rotten friends.  And your next ten years are going to see you getting more and more isolated because of the lack of stimulation in that town.   AGAIN, stop trying to make it work.  It won’t.  Bide your time, read, learn about the outside world and what you want to do in it.  You’ll avoid a lot of hurt by not trying to be like THEM.  You will get out, and you will have a great life.  Watch those “it gets better” videos on YouTube, they’re not just for the sexual minorities.
Speaking of which, you like girls, right?  That’s not going to change much.  But here’s a shocker.  You like guys too.  You just haven’t met an attractive one yet.  But when you do, it won’t be an issue.  One or two friends will turn their backs on you, but they don’t matter.  They have no value for you, and you’ll know this before you let them in on it.  The ones that count, the ones you trust, will stand by you.  Every one of them.  Your parents will be really upset because of their religious beliefs.  But when a couple of homophobic murders happen to other kids, they’ll see your value and support you as well.  Coming out to mum and dad will be one of the most important days of your life.  You will look back on it as the day you proved yourself, reassured that you’re the man you say you are.
Don’t get so stressed out about education.  Those people running your school have inflated egos, and are trying to get you to buy into “the system.”  Trying to brainwash you into working hard even though you’re a child.  Trying to make you think like everyone else, so that nobody challenges them.  Challenge them every chance you get.  Don’t be rude, don’t be offensive.  But stand your ground.  Ask ‘why’ every chance you get.  It’ll make you a better person, and you’ll come out winning in the end.  Or at lease at my time, nearly 40 years old.
Girls like you as much as you like them.  Don’t be so god-damned shy.  Talk to them like you would anyone else.  You’ll have A LOT more sex before you realize later in life that they just want a good shag sometimes too.  They’re not all waiting for a marriage proposal.”

Or do I just say this?

Go nuts, live your life.  You’ll have some tough times.  You’ll have some good times.  It’ll toughen you up, and you’ll need that for the rest of your life.  But in the end, I think you’ll be a pretty good guy.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Not a Sparkling Adventure

Alright, let’s try this again… hahaha

I changed jobs recently, and can now access Facebook, blogs, and such.  I may not be the most PRODUCTIVE employee, but I’m much nicer these days.

So what’s been going on for the last 5 months?  Work, work, work, work, sailing in the Caribbean, work, work, work.

I assume that out of those options, the sailing might be the most interesting.

In February, myself and 19 other Toronto sailors chartered a few boats from Sparkling Charter out of Guadeloupe.
The adventures started during our overnight stopover in Montreal, where we found a bar in Dorval and got incredibly drunk.  One quick pint at 10pm turned into closing the bar at 3:30-ish full of whiskey.  The hotel in Guadeloupe was alright, a bit quiet and more expensive than we’d expected.  But the food, drink, and swimming pool were appreciated.

The remainder of the holiday was what nightmares are made of:
1.        Our boat had leaking water tanks, and after 2 days of using our smaller tank, we moved to the bigger one and discovered that it had leaked.  We could not find fresh water for the remaining 5 days of our week.  We called the charter company, and they gave us incorrect information on where to get more water.  Cuts got infected, and we were dirty for the holiday.
2.       Our foresail was worn when we got the boat, and it tore in a gust on the 3rd day.  Sparkling Charter refused to bring us a replacement (violating our contract), and this forced us to limit our travels. 
3.       There were many other minor problems with the boat that added to our frustration, but not as big as the other 2.
We gave up and returned the boat a day early, to ensure that we had enough time to discuss the failures.  Also because we were desperate for a shower.

The charter company was friendly and apologized profusely for the failures on the boat.  On the Saturday morning, they arranged a taxi to drive us to the airport.  As soon as we cleared customs, they phoned us saying “where are you?  We didn’t know you’d left.  You owe us 4000 Euros for the damaged sail!”

While we were disputing it, they managed to take the funds from our credit card.  We’ve written them disputing the charge, but with no response.

An awful end to a terrible holiday.  For any search engines that find this:  DO NOT RENT BOATS FROM SPARKLING CHARTER.  READ THIS POST FOR DETAILS.  OUR DAMAGE DEPOSIT WAS TAKEN IN AN UNETHICAL MANNER WITH NO RECOURSE.  It turned a $3500 boat rental into a $9000 disaster.

As far as Guadeloupe in general, we found the majority of people were friendly if you spoke French, but condescending and rude to Anglophones.  We were asked to leave one store because we weren’t fluent enough, a pharmacist refused to give me something for the infected cut on my hand, and a waitress stole money from me and denied it while the cash was still in her hand!  It wasn’t all bad – the staff at the hotel had some friendly people, and Terre-Haute on Iles Des Saintes had one fantastic restaurant/bar (whose name eludes me) that we frequented as often as we could.

High Point of the trip:  Motor-sailing (because we had no foresail) from Dominica to Iles Des Saintes.
2nd High Point of the trip:  The shower I had on the 2nd last day, once we returned to Point-a-Pitre.
Low point of the trip:  Realizing that we were washing our dishes in the seawater in a mooring field with no ‘holding tank rules’, where people dumped their toilets directly overboard.  I was also putting my hand with the open cut into that water every time.  But for the record, we poured bleach on the cups and plates after washing, just to make sure they were clean.

I will never ever go back to Guadeloupe.  I was actually glad to come back to work after that trip.