Monday, January 3, 2011

And away we go.

Today, London. Tomorrow, the world.

"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" by George Harrison

Friday, December 31, 2010

Year's End.

I sat down at the computer expecting something poetic and insightful to come to mind, but I find myself with few revelations to offer. I intended to sum life up in a few sentences based on just twelve months, as we often try to do at year's end, but nothing I write feels adequate to describe what the last year has meant to me.

2009 feels like a decade ago. This year, I have studied for and taken the LSAT, graduated from college, moved to Germany without a job, succeeded at getting a job, failed at getting a visa, lost my job, and then succeeded at getting another job. Nothing about the last year has gone according to plan, and, like the glimmer from a silver lining, there is something beautiful in that. If I have learned anything from this last year, it's that when expectations fall apart, life carries on without want or worry.

Right now, the sky is filled with the bursts and blooms of celebration. A continuous thunder fills the air as Berliners throughout the city launch fireworks to the crest of the skyline in recognition of another year past, and I'm reminded of how much I truly appreciate everything that has happened in these last twelve months. I owe so much to everyone for their support and confidence. It's been tremendously challenging at times, but I'm here relatively unscathed and I'm staring headlong into another year that promises even more adventure and discovery.

From time to time, I have joined the revelers with my own rockets, precariously launched from an empty wine bottle through our kitchen window. Regardless of what happens from here on out, I am happy right now, and I'll remember the time I've spent here fondly. And I have a lot to look forward to: new sights, new people, a new year, and, when the time comes, long-awaited reunions; but right now, all I'm thinking about is how many of these rockets I can manage to launch out this window at one time. Like father like son, I suppose.

By the way, Berlin, the city that defines what is hip and fashionable throughout Europe, rang in 2011 with David Hasselhoff and Paul Potts. O Germania, how I will miss thee.

"In the New Year" by The Walkmen

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A brief tour of the ship.

I figured this is as good a time as any to give a quick rundown on what's happening up in this blog. It's chock full of fun and exciting features, so here's an overview.

You may or may not have noticed those tabs just under the logo banner up there. They'll lead you to everything you could possibly need ever. They are even conveniently labeled for ease of navigation. As you can see, we have four pages on the menu for you:

1) Home: This is where you are right now. Look, I can't explain everything to you.

2) Pictures: This is where I'll post pictures when I actually get a camera. In the meantime, DRAW ME A PICTURE OF A BOAT AND SEND IT TO ME. I'll post it over there. Here's mine:
3) Follow Me: This is where you can see where I am and where I'm going. There's a map with my course plotted and an itinerary with the dates and cities.

4) Voicemail: This has all the information you need to call me. Since I'll be working the majority of the day everyday, there's a 100 percent chance that I will not answer, so I've set up a voicemail to take your calls. The number and Skype button are also over there on the right hand bar--------->

That's it. Yeah, I lied about the fun and exciting part, but how else was I going to get you to read all this? If you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along. The best way to reach me is a message in a bottle.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This post contains my best love

This is a letter written by the twelve year old Midshipman, George Perceval, to his parents on Christmas Day 1806, one year after he fought in the Battle of Trafalgar with Admiral Nelson. Aside from being a bona fide seaman and consumate badass before hitting puberty, he was also a twelve year old drunkard:

"My dear Papa & dear Momma,

I take this opportunity of writing to you to inform you that I shall go on board the Sabrina the first opportunity that offers itself. Momma, I assure you that I did not forget the promise that I made for I eat some Christmas Pye and drunk all your healths and wished you all a long, happy and merry life. This letter besides contains my best love and a kiss to all. Fare you all well a thousand times and good bye.

I remain
your very dutiful son
George James Perceval"

He drank to their healths like a champ. If you look carefully, you can see the exact point where he pounded a Jaegerbomb for his auntie's mumps.

Really though, even tanked, this twelve year old was able to say what I want to say this Christmas better than I could, so take his letter as my own. Today, I'm going to eat some pie and drink to the health of my friends and family. If you are reading this, you can be assured that at some point today, I have thought of you. Fare you all well a thousand times and good bye. Cheers.


A very special Christmas carol as performed by a very drunk Harry Nilsson:

Bona Fide

I got my travel arrangements in the e-mailbox last night. I fly out of Berlin on January 4 at 11 AM and land in Heathrow (weather permitting) at noon. Then I hop on a shuttle to the Holiday Inn (like a gangster and such), where they have booked me a room and are paying for dinner and breakfast. This will be the last moment of leisure for a long time, so I plan on opening up everything in that mini-fridge and watching Dudley Moore movies.

This is not the exciting part of the message, though. To get my ticket, I have to show the airline a letter from my employer (which, henceforth, will go nameless due to a certain confidentiality agreement I just found in my contract). Anyway, the letter reads, "This passenger is a bona fide seaman. If your policy allows, please extend the 40 kilos seaman baggage allowance." I'll give you a moment to get the jokes out of your system.

Jolly good! Now, as nice as it is to have a company pushing the boundaries of airline baggage rules for me, it's the first sentence that really got to me. That's a pretty damn cool title to have. I mean, yeah, I'm not exactly climbing the mast in a tropical storm or loading powder into the guns, but as far as that checking clerk is concerned, I'm a bona fide seaman. It's in Latin; it doesn't get more official than that.

That's all I really wanted to say. Until tomorrow, friends.

And now, because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Commencing countdown, engines on.

Check ignition and may God's love be with you.


Please can you advise if you are able to join Queen Victoria on the 5th January in Southampton and attend the White Star Academy and then you will tranship to Queen Mary 2 on the 13th January in New York to begin your full contract?"

I received this e-mail earlier today. It's the culmination of my tenure in Germany, albeit not quite the finale I was hoping for. You see, I came to Berlin to teach English for a year while my girlfriend did research, but due to many complications, I was unable to get a work visa. So I was forced to consider other options and start making preparations for some sort of plan B, which leads us to now.

Plan A has failed. Plan B begins very soon.

I will be (literally) going around the world on board a cruise ship (the world's second largest cruise ship, in fact). And as much as I'd like to say it's a pleasure trip, it turns out I'll be the one with the tray of food, running back and forth to the some of the pickiest customers in the world. For the next six months, I will have to shave every morning, put on my tuxedo, and don the traditional white gloves for High Tea, none of which I've done since performing in "Hello Dolly" in high school. This could all go terribly wrong.

I've been holding onto this information for a while now, for a couple reasons; 1) this whole endeavor was borne from my failure to make things in Germany work and 2) I've become so accustomed to things not working out that I half expected an e-mail telling me all three of their ships had sunk (followed by the oft received consolation, "we regret to inform you that we do not have any available positions at this moment, but we will keep your resume on file in case a ship resurfaces in the future.")

In any case, here I am, waiting to do something I've always dreamed about with a mixture of bittersweet excitement and giddy trepidation. As a friend reminded me recently, it's not exactly the way I had planned to travel the world on a boat, but why be picky? I'm not sure what's in store for me. I don't know if this adventure will be worth following, or if I will even have any time to write in between my 10 hour per day/7 days per week schedule. All I really know is that from time to time, I'll be able to look out the window and see something I have never seen before, and that's kind of cool.

So that's the rambling and underwhelming introduction to the next six months of my life. The countdown starts now. 15 days...

Play me out, Mr. Bowie.