From the seaman (soon to be a thankful landlubber):
"I am in the home stretch here on the Queen Victoria, and with the end in sight the days are starting to drag even harder. I've already created countdowns on the calendar on my phone and the paper one in my room, and it helps to be able to see when I've passed certain markers— yesterday was the 20 days to go point.
"The past few days we have been in the Carribbean. It's been warm and relaxing, but after tomorrow we'll be gone again, back to England and more importantly, the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic crossing was surprisingly smooth, nothing compared to the Bay of Biscay—unfortunately, we will be passing through there at least one more time. We spent two days at the beginning of this cruise in the worst seas we've had in my time here, and after that nothing really affects me anymore. As I've mentioned before, I don't tend to get severely seasick, but two days of constant violent motion will get to anyone.
"I've gotten pretty good at this gig. My reading is pretty darn good now, and once I get back home and get my jazz chops back up I might be a pretty good piano player. The musical director here has come to regard me as capable and trustworthy . This is both flattering and annoying, since it means that any extra piano duties on the ship tend to fall on me. It's been interesting seeing the politics of music unfold here—for instance, the pianist in the dance band here is incredibly good. He's an amazing soloist with great ideas and chops to spare and most people say that even though he's a better piano player than me (which I agree with); but I'd have a better chance of getting a gig over him simply because I'm easier to be around. So my plan now is to continue trying to be nice and practice, practice, practice.
"I know everyone is very proud and excited, but this gig really does suck. I'm reluctant to say this, especially to Bahk (who is clearly the most jazzed about the whole thing), but after close to five months of trying my best to be positive about the whole experience I've got to say I don't like it very much. I may continue to work on ships, but I'll be looking strictly for fill-in gigs, one month long at the longest. This is a good way to make money, but it's terrible for making connections and developing creatively. I've come to realize this is the easy gig—good money, less challenging music, and everything is taken care of for you. If I prove to be an utter failure on land after a couple of decades, then maybe I'll be back, but I think I will try to avoid the sea in the future.
Have a great Christmas and New Year's, and say hello to everyone for me. I have gifts for everyone when I get back, so we'll have to schedule a nice dinner so I can pass them all out (Nora will have to wait for hers, I think). I miss the feeling and smell of Christmas in Chicago— 80 degrees and palm trees just does not feel right. I get to New York in 19 days, and I have changed my flights so I will return to Chicago on the 15th."
The skater promises a letter as well. Hers forthcoming.