June 23, 2006 Friday
We are not the most news-making vessel to ever leak along, in elongated Mediterranean circles, so I must redefine the term. Below is a collection of odds and ends that I have been collecting this week for you, like the careful rationing of flour to finally create the smallest of edible cakes. I hope this too will be sweet to your mind’s tongue. By the end this collection, as a whole, might make as much sense as chicken wearing pants, or so we can hope.
The Hook Up
The email I meant to write a few days ago was to say that I was doing very well, and happy for getting something accomplished. Chiefly among my victories was getting Berkey, the funny, short ship’s postal clerk, to slip in my package to you and a few postcards to various people into his outgoing bag, whenever that might be. There never really is any knowing when mail might be whisked off the ship via a helicopter. Just like in the Senate’s environs you getting to know this summer, it is important to make your connections here too, and to me the most important guy I know is the Diviner of Mail. Berkey is my Red, and my trade is helping him write a resume. Even this afternoon I wrote you a fresh letter, in case the clouds of paper communicaition parted, but they have actually closed once again. But I will continue to write them, and you will one day get a flood all at once.
To Err is Genius
I did something stupid about two weeks ago. Okay, yes, I do dumb things all the time, but this was a tarnished gold mistake. We were in sonar in the beginnings of an exercise, and I was already nervous, trying to rack my brain and be helpful, juicing my mind out of the Damage Control world they had sent me for so long, and back into the demands of the present. I was asked suddenly to get a “surface picture” (you can easily follow me on this, because you know as much as I did). I went out to adjoining Combat, and began to draw what I saw on the screens– a picture, right?– and that was all. Of course everyone laughed, a lot, and Cliff said it should be framed, my doodle of circles (they had in reality asking for the bearing and ranges). OK, to not bore you with any more Navy than possible, I was actually happy it happened. This can only help me later, I thought. It is brought up often, and in this case I freely smile and laugh, because it actually was very funny.
A Neophyte Rant of Staggering Opinion
After finishing both Naked by David Sedaris and A Breathtaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers, this is my review. While Sedaris has a wry, ironic, and at times dark look at growing up, Eggers, covering roughly the same arena of male misadventures, goes that extra mile to make the reader buy into the title he has not given his character, but himself the author. For this reason Naked succeeds in the very way Genius fails. While Sedaris presents us with scenes and topics that make their own point and justify his own understated brilliance, Eggers is only too happy to make every page a testament to his ego and rambling, takes on everything under the sun, confusing black humor with utter tragedy, by telling a sad joke and then taking the time to explain the joke to you, in case you missed it, throwing poisoned spit-wads ’til the last breath. There is a difference, however, between a Holden Caufield character and what Eggers has presented. Staggering Genius was a struggle for me to finish because it is so evident every passage is not to further the story but merely prove his novel’s thesis title. In so doing the main character, if not the author, comes off as a preening prick who while talented can be copied, given enough cocaine.
If you have made it this far and have not become a roadside casualty to this marathon, this all ends on a high note. Two nights ago I had a dream. It was among the most vivid I can recently recall, most likely because I had stirred awake with little more than an hour to go before reveille, and never allowed myself to return to a deep sleep:
I am on the floor of the Senate, but do not confuse my dream Senate with authenticity. My Senate had not a floor as it has in real life, and was much smaller. Instead of a semi-circle of desks before raised podiums, there were merely long, simple, mahogany slatted tables in which politicians were seated at. I myself saw with a small group of strangers, standing in the entrance to the chambers. A Senator from Massachusetts that was not John Kerry, in the small aisle between the long tables, faced me, speaking to his fellow law makers about a wasteful measure. His seated audience was facing me too, as they do in plays or on TV. The reason I know he was from Massachusetts was that Ted Kennedy was seated at a table in the far back table, nodding his head to the speech, and then interrupting his junior to add his own bit.
As this is a dream and seldom makes sense from moment to moment, I was to have brunch on the far side of the Senate floor, and turned to a man behind me to ask if I could make my way through the aisle and past the Senators in the middle of their debating. He said yes, as the side passages were indeed roped off. The man I asked went himself down the aisle, which made me feel bold as he was doing it, emerging on the other side to find a grouping of small tables arranged as a restaurant, where I could eat while observing America’s laws being formed. From up above the entrance, at my new perspective, I could now make out a gallery of young men and women, reverently sitting in silence, yet practicing with gusto all of the clichéd hand gestures and facial morphings, showing they too have a future in power politics. Smiling, I drape my coat over the chair and think of what I wan to eat.
Then I check the time on my cell phone, yet when flipped up it revealed itself to be a camera phone, and the upper screen shows an office from the vantage of a doorway. A woman is taking papers from a copier. As dreams go, this is my first dawning that you are possibly somewhere in the Capitol building, and as I rarely have control over my dreams, I began to hope. Just then you walk into the camera’s shot, in dark suit and hair up, then walk away again, clutching at folders you are carrying. I quickly forget about brunch–what was breakfast now!–and make my way to the door, shifting my phone left and right to get a better idea, via the video feed I am getting, of the office you are in. The office is carpeted blue, and at the entrance is an emblem emblazoned on the floor, remarkably like the presidential seal. Something tells me I have passed by this office before, and I could find my way again. All I can think now is how surprised you will be to see me as I pass out of the chambers and turn to my right and down the passageway. Not far now, just another turn or two, down another hallway and–
“Carlson, Calrson, hey, you have watch in half an hour, but I thought you’d want to be woken up early to get some breakfast.” I groan. So close.