Friday, 8 April 2016

T - minus half a day

38 days BE (before embarking). Like that word. Am deputizing it. 
Going slightly incoherent from hating job interviews (though the 8-hour pastry chef audition was delicious!), I jokingly snarled: I will only send out thirty more of these (application, scattered randomly into the winds, for any number of jobs imaginable, because I really aren't picky about menial labor and need a change) and the last one will be for a photographer aboard an ocean liner.
The General asked: and you would do that? Board a ship and stay there for a long time and - you know those things sail on water, right?
I replied: I was planning on doing that since before I met you. 
G: Then don't send any. Send just this one.

37 days BE
I carefully asked G if he was being serious about letting me on a boat. We've been together for nine years, with maximum of five days apart and never more than three hours out of text message distance.
We had The Talk. If he promises not to miss me too much, at least not in a bad way, and if he promises to be here when I come back, I promise to see the world, make some money, spend some time slaving away at a galley and getting new stories.

36 days BE
I mentioned my idea to Drej, one of my besties, and she told me of a girl she knew who did that exactly - took off to photograph on a boat. So, I began making contact with people who tried this out for size before me.

35 days BE
Applied randomly to anything having remotely to do with being a photie on a ship. I talked to the professor who made me an astrological card and she said that ye, in mid-April I will have a big shift in life. And that it’s about time, too.

33 days BE
Read a very instructive blog by a girl who worked aboard in a souvenir shop. Not too instructive about what to expect as a photie, but super instructive about how to avoid being robbed by fake agencies.

32 days BE
The first to answer my application was Ocean Images - they scheduled a Skype interview. Didn't have a Webcam or any means of getting it, so General bought me one. Our first expense. Since we had absolutely no money and even less to spare, every expense of the doe we borrowed was making things more serious.

30 days BE
Got two more replies from two more shipping companies, but the Ocean Images interview with a very nice woman sold it for me. They want someone to actually take pictures, not just push the big button. I began to question my age and abilities, because she was either genuinely impressed or just incredibly polite. She asked what does my husband say about this - I said if I didn't have his blessing, we wouldn't be having this conversation. She asked how I will function under superiors half my age. I replied a brief is a brief, doesn't matter if the client is 12 or a 100. She asked how I feel about the tiny bunk and crowded, functional hierarchy. I said: Lady, it'll feel like coming home. 

29 days BE
Got a call from a fella from Ocean Images, saying he doesn't have an ocean liner for me, but there is a small coastal cruiser sailing in a month, if I'm interested. It's so small I would be the only photographer. The only money would be what I managed to sell. 
Exactly the opposite of what I was expecting or was getting prepared for, but, somehow, that sounded made for me. Either they were unable to find a sucker for the worst job available or I impressed them so much they threw me right onto the dance floor. There goes that questioning myself again. I'll add in retrospect which one was it :D

It's March the 11th. Everything major that's ever happened to me, happened on March the 11th. I got into the army on that date. I got into the postal service and met The General on that date. Dad survived a heart attack. I opened my own publications agency on that date. Lots of stuff like that. And now Braemar, which will bring whatever it decides to bring. 

28 days BE
Am calling the road to Braemar - my ship - a Five Bumps Road. 
Bump one: I need to get the medical exam
Bump two: Need to get an English non-criminal-history certificate
Bump three: Got to get Yellow Fever vaccination
Bump four: got to get the Seaman's book
Bump five: need shoes and clothes.

27 days BE
Bumps one and four bumped into each other and I was starting to freak out. The medic agreed with the agency in Zagreb, Croatia, costs half as much as the one in Slovenia, but cannot provide me with results fit for Seaman's book application - even though it is the exact same exam. And the one in Slovenia aren't approved for by the agency. No way I can do both, they are too freaking costly. They are called bumps for a reason - I need to learn not to psych myself into hysteria every time I run into one.

As a result of my hysterics, four of my teeth - two adjacent pairs, began to ache like little bitches that they are. We tried finding a dentist, but none would take us. They all want money to see me on such a short notice. The General said to stop talking about it and let him deal with it. Fortunately that meant he'll find a dentist, not that he will PLAY the dentist for the occasion. I have fucking psychosomatic teeth, man. 

26 days BE
The agency agreed to postpone the Seaman's book requirement, costing me a visit to St. Petersburg, until I have more money. They also agreed to postpone the required safety training - either because they don't think it's that important or they expect me to photograph stuff when the ship sinks. 

25 days BE
Falling in love with Braemar's itinerary. I take it back when I said I want to sail the world. No, I want to get my sea legs close to the General and going to Scotland, UNESCO heritage sites and the freaking fjords! My route would be from April to December, 8 months. We will have to lie to grandma. At least a little. The agency said that if I prove myself, they'll send me to a pro portrait training in the US. 
    Do you realize I've never been to US and for a little while the world seemed too big for me to ever actually get there? Suddenly the world seems the size of a blue volleyball. 

24 days BE
Offed to get a Yellow fever vac. It would cost 40€, but when I got there, the really nice lady explained not only is my previous vaccination still legit, but also WHO is planning on announcing the one intake is viable for the entirety of one's life. So, that was an oddly pleasant surprise. 

23 days BE
Off to Zagreb, to get the medical exam. Felt really weird to have other people touch me, touch my boobs. Had to give blood, X ray my chest, check my blood pressure, sight, stuff like that. The end result was flawless health and total lack of drugs, booze, STDs, pregnancy or anomalies in my system. I half expected the doctor to tell me to live a little :D
Treated myself to a city archeology museum. Zagreb also has trams. Trams are cool.

22 days BE
Gran warned me I will have to clean rooms and make beds and wash dishes, because that's what work on a boat is like. And I should eat a lot of onions, so as to not get scurvy. And a war may start. And our government is corrupt. And the General will probably find a younger woman. And also there is water and I hate water.

21 days BE
When grief and homesickness kick in in advance, I make small, secret cards for G to open on various, specific dates, like end of May or on his birthday or on my birthday or when it's time to feed the dog... 

19 days BE
The admin over in the UK confirmed all my paperwork is now in order and my gear is splendid (yes, thank you, I love my gear, too, it makes me feel almost invincible), so I’ll be getting travel details in a few days – he said.

17 days BE
Some assholes blew up Brussels airport, killing over 30. My grandma isn’t talking to me anymore, upset with me. She was upset before, threatening me with describing all the duties of a house keeper’s position. I tried to explain that the photographer doesn’t do housekeeping, but she said – just you want and see! Everyone has to do everything on a boat!... I did not have the heart to tell her I don’t mind housekeeping. If the pay wasn’t so ghastly, I’d sign up for that if photies weren’t being sought after. Though my second dream job would probably be - an auctioneer.

10 days BE
Haven’t received travel plans yet, but I did receive the contract. Also went to the dentist and spent most of the time hiding under a chair weeping while he talked to me like I was a small child. He may have over-done the pain-blocking injection – five hours later I still can’t feel my face and he only used it so that he could examine me. I thought my teeth were in a much worse condition. They’re not. I’m starting to suspect they all ache because they’re crammed into such a small mouth. Once we decided it would be possible to come back after my tour, I fled.

 9 days BE
Travel details in. They asked to fly me in a day early and they pretty much had me at ‘may we fly you in?’… Made me feel like Cristina Ricci’s character at the beginning of Pan Am, when they fly her in via helicopter so as not to lack a purser on an important flight.

4 days BE
Packed almost entirely. Only missing some food and bandages for blisters… And which friggin’ paper book to take :/ Impossible decision L Kraut and Tea has 2700 subscribers. Also listening to Sargon of Akkad, The Amazing Atheist, Impression Blend, Jeremy Jahns and Bearing.

3 days BE
They called me from a Croatian shipping agency to attend an interview for a gift shop. Not sure why a photie would be called for a gift shop job, but I am neither young, thin or pretty enough to belong behind a gift shop counter and would never be happy there. I need to move, I need the air, I need the sights.

2 days BE
Made a good goodbye memory with mum and dad – lunch and helping mum spray the vineyard and then we hugged and cried a little and I said the Baltics will never be the same. I considered going up once more time the next day, but this memory was too perfect.

1 day BE
Saw gran and several of my friends and now I’m all ready to go. Will make sure I don’t re-pack until midnight, so as to mess up as much as possible. The plane is a bottleneck of packing. Will re-arange everything once I'm atb the hotel. Still no idea what book to take, but since it’s raining, I’m almost sure I’ll be taking the boots.