About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

Single handing

By Erik Dolson

Ferry servicer between Anacortes and Sidney B.C. was shutting down until late the first week in November. The boat needed to be in Friday Harbor around the beginning of the month. Weather looked good for a passage down the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria. Time to go.

Engine checklist completed, I cranked over the engine. Oil pressure good. Temperature good. RPM smooth and good. Light gray smoke coming from the exhaust with the water.

Foxy’s a little over 13 feet wide. The slot between boats looked to be about 15 feet. I was pretty sure we could make it, but threading backwards required a little help, less than I was given, in fact.

“Don’t push! Don’t push!” I called out to the young man who thought he had to clear a boat by two feet when we only needed one. He leaped to the stern where the prop on my outboard hanging at the transom was about to dig a long groove in the side of his own boat. Damage averted.

In the harbor, I reminded myself of Roy’s advice: “Be deliberate.” I walked slowly to pull up and stow the fenders. I carefully wrapped mooring lines around the life lines. I walked slowly back, watching where I put each foot. I should have put Foxy in neutral, I realized. A stumble and fall overboard would have likely the same result here as out in the strait, unless I fell right in front of one of the little yellow water taxis buzzing about the harbor. The water is that cold.

Thoughts began to settle out in the straight, as did turmoil of last months. The unanswerable question: “How can you say you love me, and leave at the same time?” remained unanswered. I had no answer. But the volume receded even as I knew I had turned it up to ten, not Irish.

Oil pressure good. Engine temperature good. RPM good.

Life is not simple, for anyone. Sometimes I think there’s a dynamic balance between our capacity to organize versus the chaos we create just by living. Whether it’s the drunk  who struggles with the ATM machine, or me sitting silently in a patch of afternoon sun, or Irish, who referenced that “sinking feeling when you realize your life is a mess.”

The dinghy is secure. Hot coffee is in the pot up at the helm. Life jacket is at hand if I have to go forward. Fire Extinguisher. Tool kit. Oil pressure good. Engine temperature good. RPM good.

I gave her best care I could, so I thought. Physically. Spiritually. Financially. I knew it wasn’t enough, because I knew me. Of course I could see that in her eyes, too, though what I saw was pain because  I was unable to immerse myself in what we had, unwilling to change my priorities, to find a compromise that I didn’t believe in.

I told her I was toxic. She denied it but that made it worse because it said that I made this awful choice and could have chosen differently if I truly loved her.

There were no boats nearby. Large islands drifted slowly by. Tides were with me again, now twice in a row on a transit between the U.S. and Canada. The GPS showed nine knots, then over ten for a while as I rode the flood in from the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve not had Foxy out in the Pacific yet, and won’t consider myself a sailor until I do, with twenty foot waves or forty foot or even higher, hatches battened down, strapped by harness to jack lines, green water washing over the deck. Books and pans on the floor, maybe even having to heave to, sail opposite rudder, just to ride out the storm. That could well actually kill Irish, destroy her Parkinson’s weakened body, as if the boat and I had not come close enough already. May nausea of that shame mark me forever.

Recently I read that some choose to just tie everything down and go below during fierce storms, let them blow over, let the sea have her way, bob like a stick of wood if far enough out that a continent won’t get in the way. That’s something I should learn to do.

Flunking the test on fog, I untied from the mooring ball, everything looking good. I squirted across the channel to the dock where I wanted to tie up for a few weeks while some work is done. I heard no bellow from ferries in the fog, and kept a sharp eye out. Uneventful. Did good, I thought.

Ten minutes later I heard a ferry cross the track I’d just made. I heard it’s horn. I heard it’s engine. I damn near heard people talking on deck, but I couldn’t see its three story hulk 150 feet away, no further from me than it would have been had I been in its path without a radar reflector and the AIS for broadcasting my position sitting uninstalled on the desk below.

Hard to know what you don’t know.

But on the solo trip up the strait, I hadn’t had that experience yet. Then a long wake stretched out behind the boat, in a moment undisturbed by wind or wave, future or past. Oil pressure good. Engine temperature good. RPM good.

Connie Chung’s remarkable letter

by Erik Dolson

During the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing, retired newswoman Connie Chung wrote a remarkable letter to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who had come forward to describe a decades old assault by Kavanaugh.

Chung empathized with Ford after Republican men on the committee, and the president, implied the assault could not have occurred as she remembered it, in effect saying: “This didn’t happen or you would have told someone at the time.”

In the letter, Chung revealed a painful truth: As a young woman, still a virgin and in college, she had been assaulted by her family doctor from whom she had asked for a prescription for birth control. Read more…

A piggish man

By Erik Dolson

Unbelievable.

The awful words; the sneers; the mocking of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by the President of The United States. What an execrable little man.

That was obvious long ago, when he mocked a disabled reporter; by his use of disparaging nicknames; lying to the nation about affairs even as he was paying $130,000 to a woman he had sex with shortly after his wife gave birth to their son and he was bemoaning the impact of childbirth on her body.

Read more…

Men, imagine your rape

by Erik Dolson

Men should imagine themselves as victims of sexual aggression by other men. Go ahead, pull up that prison nightmare you’ve joked about for years, bar of soap included in the unlikely event your attacker wants to be gentle.

Feel the powerlessness? Experience the violation? How would you feel the next day? The year after that? What would you remember?

Imagine that if you report to the guards that you were raped, they won’t believe you, then ask if you encouraged the rape in any way or tried to avoid it, that they might simply laugh and say it’s not such a big deal, or even get off on it. Read more…

Please withdraw, Kavanaugh

by Erik Dolson

Brett Kavanaugh has shown the world that he is not a man of judicial temperament. He’s just a jerk of prep school privilege, enraged to the point of tears that his inherited entitlement is not making past bad actions disappear.

Those actions probably occurred under the influence of alcohol and youthful hormones. Is there proof? Yes, in his own hand on his high school yearbook page. His own calendar. Kavanaugh’s  explanations about what he wrote are laughable evasions. Read more…

Big Pharma sold me contaminated drugs

By Erik Dolson

This morning I read a press release about a recall of the blood pressure medication valsartan because of an impurity that’s a probable carcinogen. This impurity may have been the result of manufacturing changes at Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical – a Chinese company. I was prescribed valsartan six months ago.

So I went to my pharmacy this afternoon and learned that in fact, most of the valsartan they sell came from one of the companies implicated in the recall: Read more…

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

 

Exposure for blogMy book will be free for ONE WEEK as part of a Goodreads promotional effort. If $2.99 held back any of my avid readers, then now’s your chance! All I ask is that you leave an honest review on Amazon. For information on how to get the book for FREE, Click HERE!

If you don’t like “FREE” and you’d like to buy the book, of course that would be great, too. It’s for sale HERE.

Big Bore Bad Boys

Facts are sometimes lost around a race track. Maybe often around a race track. There were four cars involved, not three. It happened in less than two seconds. And nobody was at fault.

But those are facts, and probably don’t matter. Disagreements have a way of becoming facts and the fact is, most of the Big Bore Bad Boys won’t be racing at the Portland Historics this July.

I wasn’t racing when it happened, or probably would have been right in the middle of it. I took last season off to go sailing. I loved sailing but missed the racing, more than I expected. Irish has asked if I want to be buried in the race car and I said “yes, but not with my helmet on.” The helmet would just be weird. Read more…