Ahoy Mates

I remember I started the essay, “Ahoy mates.” My sister had won the essay contest a few years earlier in our high school to spend two weeks on the historic California vessel in the summer. She had made three boyfriends, one even took her to his prom. I thought it sounded like a dream come true.
First step was to win the essay contest. Luckily, no one in my podunk school seemed interested. I won the essay contest easily with only three entrants.
I envisioned flirting with boys on a boat and all the fun I would have in securing a date for prom.
The day came when we were to set sail. I kissed my mom goodbye and off we were to sail from San Francisco to Monterey Bay and back.
The first thing to settle was the sleeping arrangements. It seemed there were not enough beds for all the high school students from the Bay Area. One person had to sleep on a hammock. I was chosen since I seemed the least likely to put up a defense. My slight frame as a 16 year old was not too intimidating I suppose.
Then, much to my chagrin, they put us immediately to work. We had to pull ropes and say 1, 2, 3 heave. That is when I started to heave off the boat. I threw up 17 times and I know because I counted each time I threw up. I did this for two days straight. I read the side effects of seasick medication and thought I would just get my sea legs instead. First big mistake.
Now, that all the boys had seen me puke, I was not so sure they would want to date me.
After the exhaustion of being sick and pulling ropes and making calculations about our vessel’s progress, I would sleep in the comfort of a small hammock that I had to stand on a chair to get into. It was high and hooked on the ceiling. I climbed in and fell asleep. However, I am not a pretty sleeper. I am a mover and shaker in my sleep. I rolled off of the hammock and landed on our kitchen table on my side.
I tried to make friends with the other girls. One girl seemed nice because she wasn’t having any fun either. She had acrylic nails and was disillusioned because she thought it was going to be a cruise and not the hard work that they were making us do. Another girl seemed super sweet, but as soon as we bonded she got so ill from a mixture of seasickness and flu, we had to dock and her parents had to drive a couple hours to pick her up. I told her not to leave me here alone, but she reminded me I would not have to sleep in a hammock anymore.
The next few weeks I engaged in conversation with the other high school boys. The only one that was slightly cute looked like a mini version of Jay Leno. We had a night lookout together and I thought I would make my move. We were all alone while everyone was asleep. Just me and mini Jay Leno looking at the stars. I thought it was the most romantic way to fall in love. Instead of Jay Leno, he turned out to be mute Robert De Niro during a late night interview. I couldn’t get a word out of him. I pressed on and on to no avail. So I started to entertain myself and blather. He appreciated this even less. We ended up sitting in silence.
The only highlight of the trip was docking to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I kept saying during the trip how much I like blowing out fuzzyball weeds and making wishes. On our walk to the aquarium, the counselor picked one of the weeds and gave it to me. Just my luck, he was the counselor and too old for me.
I forgot what I wished for on that fuzzyball weed, but we got to sail underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day without fog and shoot off a fake cannon.


During low tide, one can see the sand clearly. It is a long stretch to enjoy the salt water on your skin.
I took the long hike and picked up various seashells. Half-broken and sandy, I rinsed my treasures once I reached the water. I looked down and noticed the pattern the waves etched in the crystallized earth.
Then, an older men slowly hobbled across the plains.
He didn’t look down like me. He looked up at the open sea.
As the mild waves curled around his frail ankles, he stared at the horizon for quite a while until a small child ran across the sand and splashed when she reunited with the water.

Wiggle Worm Ways

There is no such thing as no space on a couch when you are little.
You wiggle in and create it between your brother and sister and plop in the middle.
I wish I could be so bold now and not have lost my wiggle worm ways.
Who would I squeeze between now?
I think I know.
But I am not telling you.


I wouldn’t want to see auras.
It would be a curse to be blinded by colors emitting from the crowns of heads.
It might be beautiful at first, but then you would be caught in a rainbow slurpee of heads on crowded walkways.
I would much rather see the extraordinary in the ordinary faces of people and feel their light shine in my heart.
I am glad to breathe today and not see any auras.


I slowly remember the manzanita and madrone trees.
I recall a night under the stars all alone with a bonfire lit by one match.
I remember the taste of boiled algae cakes and spring water.
I remember swimming naked and hopping on river rocks.
I can remember the tune we sang to the Lord’s Prayer.
But, I don’t like the way these memories make me feel.
The boys remember abuse.

A Legend In My Own Mind

I was a legend in my own mind,
poised and self assured while I strutted down the grocery aisle.
I picked out a variety of TV dinners and swayed to the register.
I autographed the receipt and took my loot home in a car without air-conditioning.
I got back to my apartment and popped my dinner in the microwave and ate with the mice and hornets.
It never dawned on me that I was a loser.
Just one perk of my mental illness.