Work In Progress

A Short Bit about the First Drop into the Insanity Bucket

Note: A few hours ago, I submitted my final update in NaNoWriMo, the writing challenge I participate in every November. For those who are curious, I hit the goal, not that it means anything in the circle of life, but still. As a mild tribute to my questionable accomplishment, I thought I’d drag out the following randomness, a previous post concerning my NaNoWriMo project from three years ago. Said mess involved one of my long-gestating novels, “Cruise Control”, concerning a wretched but festive family cruise. Enjoy.

Well, now.

We’re less than two hours into our epic journey, and the regret of agreeing to participate in this adventure is already a heavy weight, crushing my soul and eating away at the foundations of my will to live. There is bitterness in my heart, and it is not the poetic kind found in 19th-century novels where someone named Anastasia is troubled about not getting nominated as Butter Queen during the Annual Harvest Festival. No, my bitterness is focused on certain family members that we should have had committed years ago when they first began doing annoying things that just weren’t right.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, pardon me for doing so. Suffice it to say that it is sometimes difficult to provide a pleasing, non-confusing narrative when you are bouncing about in a Death Mobile headed toward Hell, as I am doing now, my trembling fingers punching at the keys on my laptop. I am hoping that my desperate journalistic activities, huddled as I am in the backseat of a Satan-tainted Toyota RAV4, will be discovered amongst the ruins of whatever smoking wreckage we leave behind, and that my name will be cleared of all wrongdoing. Or, at the very least, there will be a nice asterisk by my name in the record books, with a footnote explaining He really didn’t know what he was getting into when he signed up for this mess.

First, a bit of background.

Back in happier times, when the sun was shining with benevolence and birds were singing with insipidity, someone in the family, not really sure who to blame at this point, came up with the brilliant idea that we should go on a cruise in the Caribbean. At that particular brain-storming session, we were fully invested in a nice Happy Hour where the alcohol was flowing as freely as first cousins getting married in Texas. The suggestion was welcomed with universal, besotted acclaim. It was the best idea that anyone had ever had, bar none, with the possible exception of the creation of bacon-wrapped shrimp, because after you’ve achieved nirvana by eating one of those, the memory tends to stick with you, more so than the first Moon Landing or who really shot JR.

And as is always the case with folks sucking at the teat of alcohol whilst contemplating travel plans, everyone around the now-grimy table (because we all become pigs when the senses are dulled, fact of life) rallied behind the vague proposal that we travel as a unit to island countries. We weren’t sure which particular islands, as the planning didn’t advance to anything concrete, mainly because the “Geography” category on Jeopardy has never been a source of comfort for anyone in our family. Still, we were going to do this and nothing would stop us.

Of course, by the next morning, nearly all of us had completely forgotten about the proposal, because that’s just how margarita conversations work. You talk big during the consumption process, then you belch and move on with your mundane life where nothing exciting ever happens and the rent is always due. All of us, that is, except for Mom. She refused to let the dream die, continually bringing up the concept at family gatherings and sending us websites where scantily-clad but happy people frolicked about on large vessels with smiling service people ready to satisfy your every whim.

Nearly a year later, after much hemming and hawing and trying to figure out when we could all take vacation at the same time (an agonizing process that could easily kill weaker beings), we are actually getting on a boat in Galveston in a few hours. I will be cruising the wide-open seas with 14 members of my family.

Fourteen. That is not a typo. It might be an ill-advised quota, and possibly criminal in some states, but it is not a typo. I will be trapped on a boat with lots of relatives, all of us slammed together, with no ability to simply get in a car and go back home when they all inevitably get on my nerves. I assure you that my anxiety medication has been fully refilled, and I have a secret backup plan to simply slip away at one of the ports of call and never be heard from again. I’m thinking my new name will be Reynaldo. I like the sound of it.


Note: Please keep in mind the “work-in-progress” angle. I’m just snagging these snippets from the draft files, unclean and tainted…

Story behind the photo: A small platoon of the army we were. If memory serves, this was toward the beginning of the cruise when we still loved each other. I’m second from the right, and I have no idea why I look like a demonic Lurch. Maybe it was a phase I was going through, but I’m glad I left that look behind. Still have that chin, though…


22 replies »

  1. My God. Fourteen souls heading up the gang plank in G G Galveston- the horror. It sounds like a modern day ‘Marie Celeste’ in the making.
    To my eye there’s a touch of a hirsute John Lithgow on the face of Jolly Sailor TwoRight.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Congrats on hitting the mark with your Nanu Nanu🖖👏👏💃🏼🎉
    I’m reminded of the Family Roadtrip… me, the ex, daughters aged 3 & 9, MIL & FIL, and just for funsies 12 yr old nephew… all in a Dodge Grand Caravan, 10 days on the road… stops at the Grand Canyon, Devils Tower, Custer Battlefield, Pine Ridge Rez, Sault St. Marie, MI and Sault St Marie, Ontario Canada… all 7 people survived with minor cuts and bruises… oh, except Daughter, she got stung by a bee, about by a deer tick, developed Lyme…
    Anyway…yes, yes, I know… Write About it … 😘

    Liked by 1 person

      • I wrote it all in a paper journal… unfortunately during one of the moves the journal got damaged. Some of the pages are legible, some are just gone😭😭 I should be able to piece most of it together, but many of the little details are lost.
        I really should write it all out so it’s safe from further damage… paper and brain 😉😂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on meeting your NaNoWriMo goal, Brian. That’s big. And impressive. I can’t even imagine being trapped on a cruise with 14 relatives. I only have one remaining relative (husband doesn’t count), and were I on a cruise with her, I would jump overboard within the first hour. With great relief.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The main thing that saved us all was the immensity of the boat. I truly did not see some family members for days at a time, with brief sightings when we would pull into one of the ports and we would cross paths on the dock as we headed to different excursions…

      Liked by 1 person

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