This is the grumble edition of PickFIsh Tales. A rant, if you will. What I’m sick of. I ‘m just going to list them, in no particular order, not most to least or vice versa and I think if I listed them alphabetically, you’d all think I was anal retentive or have OCD or something. However, despite what I just said, I think I am most sick of the weather. I know, I know. It’s Alaska, it’s supposed to be cold. Well, even 49 degrees is cold for Alaska in June. This part of Alaska anyhow. I’m sick of being cold. Of working in it on the boat, working in it in town while mending at the warehouse, of waking up in it in the morning (I still have yet to figure out what is wrong with my heater in my camper. It only works if you manually turn it on, which I do in the morning once I wake up but I still have to wake in the cold.) I’m sick of the rain, too. I might be more sick of that than the cold. If it were sunny but brisk I think that would be better than rain.
I’m sick of being tired all the time. I made the mistake this morning of adding up all the hours I’ve been putting in. I remember doing this once a long time ago then going one step further and figuring out what I was making on an hourly basis. It’s a good thing there weren’t any sharp objects around then because it was a pretty dismal amount. Like 7 bucks an hour or something. I knew better this time to stop where I was and not add up my hourly wage. But, I didn’t know enough to not add up how many hours a week I was putting in. We are currently fishing two 36 hour periods a week here on the Flats. That’s 72 hours just in itself. Then figure in run time and skipper likes to leave the night before. Just leaving the night before twice a week adds at least 24 hours, possibly more (but I’ll say 24 hours because anything more than that will just be too depressing). Then ballpark that I’m mending about 15 hours a week and that’s ……holy shit! 111. No wonder I feel like I don’t have time for anything. I don’t!
This is on top of the fog in my brain created by lack of sleep. Its only 2 nights a week but somehow it lingers. On those 36 hour openers, I get about 6 hours of sleep but it is broken up into 11/2 to 2 hour chunks. Nights before the opener, I usually get 5-7 hours of sleep. Trouble is, when I get to back to town, my body only sleeps about 6 or 7 hours because that is what it is used to. Besides, sleep cuts into other activity time.
This fog creeps in and you lose the ability to think. All fishermen know what I’m talking about or anyone else who is sleep deprived on a regular basis. You get that 1000 yard stare and just look at something, blankly, and know you know it but you can’t think. Then someone else will come along, who is not a sleep deprived fisherman, and look at you, incredulously, and will give you a hand. “Jen, 2+2=4”. “Oh, ok, uh..thanks” and I’ll sheepishly walk away. The other morning I woke up on the boat and couldn’t remember the skipper’s name. Shit. What’s his name, what’s his name? I mean, this is only the 2nd season I’ve fished with him. I’ve only known him for about 10 years. Jack? No. A list of all the guys I used to fish for came pouring in. Dave? No, that was the Gene S back in ’94. Mike? No, good guess, there were 2 Mikes, the Coral down in southeast and the Whiskey Creek out in Bristol Bay. Louie? Christ no, it’s not Louie! It did come to me, eventually, but what a feeling not be able to think of something so simple, something that I probably say 100 times a week and a face that I see more that I get to see my own boyfriend’s! Anyway, I’m sick of that.
I’m also sick of my hands being sore. Not just the little nicks and cuts I get because my hands get dried out from salt water and crack, but sore from picking fish and mending. I’m sick of the ache in the fingers and the sting in my knuckle of my right middle finger, the knuckle just under the fingernail. It’s a small joint, but it hurts. I’m also sick of smashing my hands on things when they are cold and wet. Under the hatch covers, the level wind….I haven’t smashed them bad enough to cause any damage or bruising, just enough to smart for a while. And you know how things hurt more when your hands are cold. I know, I know, I should be grateful I even have a job. I’ll try to remind myself of that next time I slam my fingers in the hatch cover.
I’m sick of my feet being clammy in Xtra-Tuff’s all day long. I’m sick of my clothes smelling like fish. I’m sick of smelling exhaust. Sick of my ears hurting from wearing earmuff’s while running. (I have this nice expensive pair of Bose Noise Cancelling head phone that are light and comfortable, but I can’t wear them on this boat because there is too much vibration and they make noise.) I’m sick of flip-flopping around all day. Sick of slamming into things and getting all bruised up like an apple. Sick of having to hold the throttles for the entire 2 hour run down to Softuk because they don’t stay up themselves. Sick of the loud bang everything makes on an aluminum boat. Sick of the color of aluminum. Grey. (On a side note, did you know that you can’t put an copper bottomed pot on aluminum? Electrolysis. The copper eats through the stainless steel. On the other hand, if you have meat that needs to be thawed out, just slap in on the aluminum deck and it will thaw in a minutes. You can’t just set the Styrofoam package down, you have to put the meat side down. Makes me wonder if I strip down if I would thaw me out? Just a thought.) Let’s see, I was on a roll here………Oh, sick of my hair being a mess, sick of not getting enough showers, sick of looking at my huge pile of laundry and mail and the too tall grass in my yard and my unplanted flowers. Sick of not posting my blog on time. There is more, I’m sure, but you get the idea.
But then, on the other hand, after all that, I get my paycheck and think, OK. I’ll do it one more time.