Sunday, February 12, 2017


This is Anneli. I think rather than try to write a story here about Anneli I will simply copy and paste one of her facebook posts here. She's a painter, activist, mom, graphic designer, adventurer, writer and all around great person to know. I loved hanging out with her and painting her portrait. We actually collaborated on this one. I painted in pencil and watercolor and left it for her to work on. Then she painted in the background with oils. She dropped it off yesterday and I photographed it and continued working on it some more in Artrage 5, a digital painting software.

This story by Anneli comes from an adventure she took last year with her friend, Jonathan, traveling from Maine to Iceland on a container ship.

Day 5, Friday | Amuse-Bouche
We left Newfoundland last night after 12 hours loading, unloading, and fueling up before our ocean crossing. It took us about 3 days to get there from Portland, Maine. I had really big plans to write an entry every day, but have now realized I will just have to write when I have the opportunity. Mainly because I can no longer remember what day it is, and just to further mess with us they keep pushing the clock forward a half or a whole hour every day.
Argentia, Newfoundland is a small Canadian port out in nowhere, far east at the edge of the ocean. We woke up yesterday morning to see a landscape out our window that was reminiscent of Lofoten, Norway, with its dramatic and exaggerated mountains. There were people on small skiffs cruising the bay picking off puffins with rifles before scooping them into nets. FYI: Up here, guns don’t kill puffins — men and women in black ski masks kill puffins. The port was literally a concrete dock with a few small buildings and pretty much nothing else. No stores, restaurants, shops — it is about as functional as it gets. So much for tax-free shopping — not that we need anything.
Since we started on this trip, Jonathan and I have been literally and figuratively stunned by the amount of hearty food we’ve been served. Not just some Cheerios from a box, either — serious, home-cooked, no-bullshit hot meals at 8:00, 12:00, 18:00 — and for good measure there is some sort of baked pastries and coffee at 15:00 just in case the other three meals aren’t enough to give you cardiac arrest. If you have a problem with gluten, meat, or sugar — this trip is decidedly not for you.
Yesterday everyone had their hot breakfast as usual and suited up to go out and do their respective jobs. This was really the first time we had an opportunity to see them in action as they secured Selfoss to the shore and started a long, hard day juggling massive containers on and off the ship, in a snow shower no less. One thing is increasingly apparent: this is no work for pussies. The alcohol ban on board makes a lot more sense when you understand what a detail oriented job this is. Mistakes can result in huge losses, not only in profit but in lives. Precision and safety are everything.
Knowing this, our meals make more sense as well. Hearty traditional food for hard work — but it also it means important downtime for the crew. Something steady, dependable and enjoyable. A family meal of sorts where everyone gathers for their food. And arguably a nice reward for not dropping a container on someone. The food is the social connection, along with hanging out in the smoking room. Kalli tells me that the “smoking room” is a newer concept, that smoking used to be an important social connection between all the crew onboard, a common pastime that has been somewhat toned down by the designation of a specific area for this activity.
“I guess I need to start smoking,” I tell Kalli. I’ve probably smoked a half a pack since the beginning of the trip in second-hand smoke alone.
He shrugs, “It’s never too late to start.”
Just a few days ago, still somewhat full from some delicious hot lunch only a few hours earlier, I’m working in our cabin when Captain Kalli comes by. Jonathan is presumably hanging off the ship somewhere like a squirrel with his GoPro.
“There’s a special surprise for coffee time today,” he says.
Naturally, I’m delighted at this unexpected news. I love surprises.
“Where is Jonathan? There’s a surprise for him, too,” he continues.
“Oh, I’m sure he’s still on the ship. Hopefully.”
Excited by the prospect of a surprise, I scurry down to the mess room and am met by Jona, the only female crew member. She is holding a plate for me. The anticipation is palpable.
A cream puff! Who doesn’t love cream puffs? A cream puff shaped like a…
A chocolate covered penis cream puff.
I burst out laughing. Jona is visibly pleased.
“I made these for you,” she says, proudly. “Here’s one for Jonathan,” she shows me the plate with a pair of beautifully formed, perky breasts.
Jonathan is not yet here and has no idea that a spectacular set of boobies are waiting for him along with some delicious cocoa.
“You are an artist, Jona.”
I’m about one coconut sprinkled testicle in when Jonathan shows up and receives his plate, somewhat dumbfounded. He clearly wasn’t expecting this either.
“You get the boobs,” I say matter-of-factly in-between a mouth full of balls. There really is no proper etiquette for eating these sorts of things.
I look around and can confirm that everyone else has normal cream puffs. I am at once honored and flattered. After eating the lamb testicles in aspic a few days ago, I feel that this is some sort of reward. We’re officially in now. Phallic karma.
Done with my cream puff, and after a few highly inappropriate comments about the pastry that I won’t mention here, I head for the smoking room.
I think I need a cigarette.

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