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February 14, 2013: Waiting for my Ship to Come In

My mother used to (and probably still does) play the lottery. Always, there was this hope that she’d win enough to pay off her debts (of which there were few). She’d then buy a huge house. The other winnings would go towards living expenses. She never did mention setting aside some for the purchase of a horse. Instead, she said that if there was any money left over, that it would go toward Eleanor and my college expenses. Mother called this “waiting for my ship to come in.”

Hearing this, I pictured a huge vessel, the size of the Queen Mary, pulling up to the dock. There, mother would stand, her

Alys paddling in SE Alaska

gold-blonde hair blowing in the wind. I’d look in awe, first at her, and then at the ship, to which she’d say in a very smug tone “I told you so.”

I’m my mother’s daughter. My own leanings have been similar. I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket, not ever. And I probably never will. But I too live a life in which I believe that someday, my ship is going to come in. It, in appearance, will resemble my mother’s ship.

Nope, no lottery tickets here. Rather, I’ve been waiting on the hefty book contract. In its wake will be a series of huge and never-ending royalty checks. And so, out go proposals, which like well-trained homing pigeons, come back to roost. But I persist, because as with scratch tickets, you just never know.

I’m now working on a Rasmuson Artist Award grant. I’m going for what I see as the big time, an $18,000.00 fellowship. Undoubtedly, this money will go to a quilter, that is someone who has proposed to make a football field sized image of the Mat Su Valley, that is the pre-colonist days. Or it will go to a performance artist, that is someone who has proposed to simultaneously sing, dance, and play the clarinet in a work entitled “Bong Hits for the Mat Su Borough Assemblymen.” No, I at first thought, I cannot compete. So why try? The answer is that if I don’t, the Queen Mary will remain dry-docked.

As with my mother, the prospect of getting some money is a motivator. I would first pay off my debts. Then I’d buy a place with a larger horse pasture, and after make an offer on Solfari that the current owners would not be able to turn down. There would, of course, be more than enough money left over to cover our trip costs.

So I persist. I now feel good about my modest proposal. Actually, it started out as a modest proposal, but now is anything but. I originally sought funding, so that I might finish up Material Matters, a book in which I write about composing myself as a writer and as small-scale manure facilities manager. But then I, in a hot chocolate induced burst of optimism, decided to expand upon my first idea. I’m now proposing to add a visual imagery component, which is one in which I use visuals to make the connections inherent to the writing personal essays and picking up horse poop.

Dispatch readers (all three) know where I’m coming from, so I don’t need to elaborate. There’s no sense in my (as Fran B would say) spending time getting such readers’ knickers in a twist. So I’ll leave this at that. The trick is going to be to get those doling out the grant funds to see where I’m coming from. This is a very tall order, even taller than the smoke stacks of the dry docked ship in the harbor.

I’m nearly done. I’m going to have Pete give me an assist with putting together a budget this weekend. And then it’s on to the next metaphorical scratch card. I’m going to finish yet another book proposal. It’s entitled The Equestrian’s Guide to Horse Trekking, and the recipient will be Trafalagar Square Press.

As I write this, I can hear the ship horn, and also smell the diesel fuel. Gulls are circling above. My mother is standing next to me. I say to her in a smug voice, “See? I told you so!”

Next: 46. 2/15/13: Snow