Posts tagged ‘Janna Cawrse Esarey’

Literature meets Reality, and Employment

We spent a long weekend in Vancouver, BC, the main purpose of which was to play with Rainbow City Band in the Vancouver Pride Parade on Sunday.  I don’t know why it requires a road trip in order to give myself permission to read, but that’s how it seems to play out.  Anyway, I finished a book I’ve been pecking away at for about 3 weeks, only the third book I’ve finished all year.

It’s not the kind of book that I’d normally pick up and read, as I almost exclusively prefer modern fiction.  Last winter, however, I learned that the wife of someone I work with at one of my clients published a book about their honeymoon trip, a romantic little cruise in a snug little sailboat from, oh, Seattle, out into Puget Sound, meandering out the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the Pacific Coast a ways.  Then a little farther: down to Mexico, Peru, and then across the Pacific to the South Seas, Asia, and wherever.  Just to get to know each other.

Curious, I read a few paragraphs at the Amazon site, and I found myself engaged in the tale as well as her lively writing style, and I downloaded it to my Kindle for Mac.

I’m a sea kayaker, and I’ve had to prepare for expeditions that required managing resources vs. time vs. cubic volume, so I was immediately intrigued by the magnitude of their undertaking.

Soon it became clear that this tale would be as much about the evolution of their relationship as it would about how you equip yourself to backpack across the Pacific, and I faced a dilemma that book clubs around the Pacific Northwest would not have to consider.  While the book clubs were deciding whom to root for in this relationship, I, who worked two doors down from the male protagonist, had to decide just how much “I” was “TMI”, and how much was necessary to abet a story that I by now really wanted to read.

At the outset, I felt a little skeeved out, like I was hanging around outside their bedroom window waiting for them to get naked, which might not be all that blameworthy if they were strangers.  But I ultimately found the tale of the journey so compelling that I plunged on.

The author said that at some point on the trip she was (re)reading Moby Dick, and that’s how I ended up approaching this book.  Melville alternated chapters between documentary descriptions of the technical aspects of whaling, and the epic story of Ahab and his mythic quest.  Most of us who have read Moby Dick only remember the essence of the mythic quest, and not how many gallons of oil can be rendered from a sperm whale.

And, whether she intended for me to or not, that’s how I approached this book.  It was interesting enough to read about how their relationship evolved in the salt-encrusted crucible of the Dragonfly.  But I often found myself in Moby Dick-mode, skimming over the Relationship stuff to learn just how the hell you cross the Pacific in a boat only a few orders of magnitude larger than the one I use to paddle around South Puget Sound for a few days.

That said, I enjoyed her depiction of the adventure of the voyage, how they related to fellow-travelers in other sailboats, the technical sailing concepts and her personal journey to mastering them, and what they did on land and the ways in which they connected with island inhabitants.

So now on the days I spend with this client, it’s interesting to try to parse how much I’m supposed to know about my co-worker from personal interaction with him, and how much I know from reading his wife’s book.  It would be an interesting exercise to read the tale from my coworker’s perspective.  Doubt that’s gonna happen.

The book is The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esarey.