Friday, January 27, 2012

A "Real" Job

I am officially employed. Well, I've had three jobs since arriving. Seamstress for a week (sweatshop), hostess for a couple weeks, nanny for a couple months, and now Secretary.  I am the sole employee save the owner. So all accounting and business admin falls to me. It's kinda crazy.  I've gotten ahead of myself.
I was going to call the next post Cabin Fever. We had a rough couple weeks. We were agitated, claustrophobic, frustrated, stagnating, and depressed. Nothing was happening. Time to reevaluate everything again. Who am I? What am I doing? Why am I here? Where do I want to be? How do I get there?   The facts and figures of life seem to change so rapidly that we have to update and reboot about every two weeks. The plan today is never the plan tomorrow.
Over the past couple weeks we've talked a lot about what to do and how long we'll be here and why. We may just need to get comfortable and settle in. We have been on the boat for four months. In that time we have spent all of our savings, still don't have a motor or rig, and have been getting by on odd jobs. It feels like eight months.. I can't wrap my head around the fact that it has only been 4. Realizing that made me feel a bit better.  We spent 4 years saving money and waiting to get on a boat. Now that we have the boat it feels like we should be closer to the nomadic lifestyle we wanted. At 4 months we are freaking like our dreams have crumbled.   So close, so far. But, according to the grapevine, no one preps a boat for long term voyaging in less than 9 months. 2-3 years is more common. So maybe we are right on schedule.
Last week I was snapped out of the funk when the game changed again. We called an electrician.  Our electricity situation was ridiculous. We have been running an extension cord half way down the dock while we are sitting on fully charged and charging house batteries (the solar panel and wind generator work fine). The only reason we do not have power is because a wire got disconnected when the engine came out. And there is a clusterfuck of 100 wires in there. The whole system is a fire hazard. AJ traced all the wiring but did not know which wires in the engine room to reconnect.  Rather than days of trial and error we finally called someone who would be able to give us an assessment of our situation. Like the transmission - sometimes paying for an hour of labor/advice is worth the kick start. The electrician said that re-wiring the entire boat would cost about $15,000. 30% labor, 70% parts. The price of copper is skyrocketing.. but  Yeah.. don't think we will be spending anything like that, or hiring labor.  But he did say, “I can give you power back right now though if you like.” He peeked in the engine room, put two wires together, and boom,electric light. It's been three months since we had electricity. I scarcely know what to do with it anymore.  He didn't charge us for the consultation, or connecting the two wires.
He asked if either AJ or I had a job. He told us that he had to fire his secretary, started telling me about the job, and said that if I worked for him he would help us with our boat for a discount. He talked about it like he was trying to convince me to take the job and start tomorrow.  I already had the nanny gig, but it was only 20 hours a week so I had to consider the switch.  But when I said, yes, ok, I'll do it, he backed off with “Well sleep on it, sleep on it, we all need to sleep on it.”  I called him the next day as he had asked me to, and he talked for a really long time about how there was something about me that made him uncomfortable, but also something about me that compelled him ask if I needed a job. He seemed to be experiencing some serious internal conflict about hiring me, and was telling me about it for some reason. He asked to meet me for lunch. His main problem with me is that my current life goal is to leave town. I'm most likely going to quit any job with-in the next year. I can't guarantee anything. Legitimate reason to not want to hire me.  I get it, and was ready to walk away, and not have to continue to be present for all of his deliberating.   But then, upon his prying, I mentioned that I was TEFL certified. Me being an English teacher of sorts was the sign he was looking for.  He is from abroad and wants to improve his English for the sake of his business. He seemed to think that there had to be a reason he was compelled to tell me about the job. He had acquired a stack of 20 overqualified resumes only 24 hours after listing the position. And for some reason, despite his hesitations about me, I was the number one candidate and he didn't know why. I didn't know why either.  I am terrible at selling myself,  but I did manage to keep from saying out loud, "Yeah, I really don't know why you want to hire me either.  I'm clearly not your best option."
I have such anxiety with interviews and just about every social interaction that part of me does not want to be liked or hired.  I wanted to run away. But I didn't, and I got the job.  We need cash influx time now. This guy wants to pay me and save us money on our electrical system. Having an electrician for a boss can't hurt.  And it's is a job in the marine industry. Connections never hurt. I just had to tell myself, "Take the money. You can do this."  You are good enoughyou are smart enough, and gosh darnit people like you.  Right? I have no idea.
I have been entrenched in solitude for the last 4 years. I have been waging a  battle with social anxiety all my life, but it seems to have amplified since I got back from Germany.  Livnig in a country where you don't speak the language really cuts down your conversation/interaction time, especially if you're not very outgoing.  It's easy to slip into invisibility when you can't really talk to people anyway. And I couldn't work in Germany. I am seriously out of practice after three years away.   When I find myself in a social situation unexpectedly I get a fight or flight shot of adrenaline. When you have a hard time talking to people already, being on a stimulant makes it so much worse.   The thing about stress/anxiety disorders is they can strike when you think everything is fine, all the sudden, without warning you become a crazy person.  After it happens you feel devastated. How could I be fine and functioning one minute and have absolutely no control the next? That just adds to the anxiety and makes you fearful of venturing out. What if I do crack? AT work??  I had to put that from my mind. Maybe what I have really needed all this time is a job. Maybe all of that time spent alone was the catalyst for my heightened anxiety in the first place. Being a paranoid hermit seems like a strange personality trait for a traveler to have.  I feel like I am becoming the old man that sits on the porch with a shotgun in the middle of the woods.
This job means AJ can focus on the boat and not on making money, which is a more pragmatic solution for our situation. Poor guy needs a break after 11 years of Army. I have worked 10-11 hours a day for the last seven days.  So far I have not cracked yet. Not at work anyway.    I am in the office by myself all day, and training at night when the boss can be there.
Right now we are smack in the middle of "The Season".  January- March are the busiest months of the year for the marine businesses of Florida. For every business really because so many people come down here to escape the cold. So all of this overtime and extra business should fizzle out in a couple months.  This is my first week in the office and I think this is going to work well for me.


  1. Looks like you can write just fine!

  2. I find your guys blog very interesting, We sold our house in Colorado in May to Erich (AJ's friend), came to Florida and bought a boat to sail around the world. The boat is on the hard in Port Charlotte, Fl. getting a one year refit. Plan to put in around Nov.

    Keep Writing,
    Jimi and Lorie S/V Sanibel

  3. Hang in there guys, my three month re-fit turned into 798 days living in the boatyard rebuilding the perfect boat with the perfect girl. 3 months after launching I lost both. Back to the drawing board and Yep the next perfect boat has arrived. Earning it is what makes it so special. Summer is right around the corner, thank got sailors have such short memories. Alan
    P.S. cheers to quitting, its my daily battle.

  4. I love reading your blog! I forgot how similar we are with our anxiety issues. I understand how you feel, except for the Germany social void. I can only imagine the effect that would have on you. Well, you make me feel a little more normal ;).
    You are smart, and everyone really likes you too :)
    Only ten more years til we can be free. Haha
    Love you!
    Take care!


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