Monthly Archives: March 2013

the boat I am haunted by

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The 38′ wooden Piver trimaran that I bought and lived on for almost a year was called No Smoking.  She happened to be docked at the same marina where my partner and I lived aboard our first sailboat, Serenity, a 36′ wooden monohull.

We fell in love with the idea of living on a boat with more than one hull.

“Trimaran” and “catamaran” just sound so much grander than “monohull.”  They sound like promises, dreams, or flying carpets.

My partner, Rob, and I got married in September of 2010, just one month after we bought No Smoking.  A month later, in October, we left our current home (Block Island, RI) and sailed south, aiming for Florida and then the Bahamas.

Sailing, like writing, is a blind journey.  You can start off with an “outline” or a “plan,” but the ocean and the creative flow of the human mind, often throw the wildest obstacles into our paths.

I kept a blog of our sailing trip south HERE.

Read it with kindness, and I regret to inform you that as of now, it is still unfinished.  The end of that fateful journey was our beloved No Smoking shipwrecking onto a peninsula beach along the coast of New Jersey.  We were hurrying back to Block Island, and I was pregnant.  We took risks, but with sailing, like writing, there are always risks.  Our GPS and nautical charts weren’t up to date enough to show us that beach.

There’s a lot of reasons why we shipwrecked.  And the blame?  Was it the ocean?  The wind?  The shoaling?  Wrong information?  Rash decisions?  Yes to everything.  It was our fault as much as it was the fault of the sea, because sailing, like writing, is it’s own force, but we have to be responsible for ourselves, too.  Responsible for our mistakes.

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We now live in the bottom floor of a log cabin in the woods, which would have been my greatest fantasy as recently as five years ago.  But five years ago, I had not yet known what it was like to sleep in the cradle of the sea itself, feeling the sound the waves made as they slapped against our hulls.  I had not yet watched sunset after sunset (and a few sunrises) reflected in the shining waters around me.

The woods are still magical to me, but they’re not the same as the ocean.  When I am on the water, I miss trees, but they don’t haunt me.  The sea haunts me even when I’m cruising, because it just goes on seemingly forever, and inside the sea are creatures larger than our boat.  And they are always there – floating through the abyss, devouring plants or each other.  We sailed through the Gulf Stream for a while, where the bottom of the sea was thousands of feet below us.  My writer brain was perpetually, deliciously haunted by the animals I imagined (and often, too, by the possibility of the mythological—mermaids and selchies, gods and goddesses, sea dragons).

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Now, I sit by a window with a view of tall pines and maple trees, but inside my mind, I am remembering scenes like this:

NC-AlligatorAnchorage

 

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Balancing Between, an Introduction

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This was the Introduction of my still-in-process poetry collection currently titled: Balancing Between: Deafness, Death, and Other Journeys.  I’ve cut it from the manuscript itself, but it’s a fitting first blog post to introduce you to me, Kristen Ringman:

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As a younger writer, I wrote in the context of dreamed philosophies yearning towards the natural world I felt humans were losing more each day.  Like a proper teenager, I wrote about things I often couldn’t even touch.

Now, as my ears have spent many years deafening, my writing has found its way back to my own body.  I’ve explored sweltering countries like India and Kenya, fallen in love with their red soil, their roads that cut through fields like a scar, and the way I suddenly felt at peace beneath their banana palms or banyan branches.  I’m always more at home in foreign places.  I’ve watched loved ones die of one cancer or another, and whether it was in India or America, the cancer reared its wild head like a lion that knew it would never be tamed.  Humans still stood by, powerless to such bodily invasion, holding words or scraps of tissue in their palms.

These experiences I have swallowed, along with the taste of lovers, mangoes, and hot chai, have all shaped my writing as a form of navigation through the margins of the world.  I’m always caught between cultures, between words read on lips or hands, between my desire to please myself and my desire to please someone else.

Writing is my way of drawing the right lines between myself and other bodies, lines that are as red as the roads in India or Africa, and just as deaf.  Writing the things I have touched.

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