Mike has been working on a boat for the past few years.

At first he decided to build one from scratch, which he did. It was just a little guy, something to tool around with in the harbor. Mike is one of those men that gets an idea, figures out how to do it, and then does it, which is one of my favorites of his qualities.


The first boat. I’d include a picture of him driving it, but I’m pretty sure he’d kill me for posting shirtless pictures of him in swimwear on the Internet.

Last year, he found an old, larger boat he wanted to restore. He had tinkered with the engine, patched it up and gotten it sea-worthy, but then thought he’d like it to look a little prettier. After all, this boat was an untouched relic of the 1960’s and she’d seen better days. Plus, it needed some more work, I think. I’m no boat expert.

So that is the short version of how I came to spend the past few days wet sanding, washing, and painting part of his boat.

It started out a few evenings ago, after the heat dialed it down a few degrees. Instead of the usual routine, going out to work in the garage while I wrote, he asked if I could give him a hand. Seeing as the writing had been going nowhere all day, I shrugged, signed off and followed him out back.

After he walked me through the process several times (like I said, I’m no boat expert), I got the hang of it. Wet sand the whole mess, rinse, wipe down, dry off, then apply thinned-down marine paint with a sponge. Got it.

At first, I just wanted to go back to my unfruitful writing. I had to wear gloves to protect my hands from the mineral spirits, and I hate wearing gloves. It makes blowing my nose really hard, and I am constantly blowing my nose (thank you, perennial allergies). Plus, my Internet readers need me, even if what I’m writing is total crap. I am a busy woman.

After I had finished the process though, as I pulled off the detestable gloves I caught myself admitting to Mike, “That was kind of fun.”

“Well,” he said, still fiddling with the engine, “if you have time tomorrow, it would really help me if you could do another coat. You don’t have to or anything, just if you want.”

“Sure,” I told him, really meaning “maybe,” which also could mean “probably not.”

However, as I sat at my computer the next day, I decided that in lieu of a run or an hour of yoga in my living room, I would do another coat on the boat. You know, for exercise. I put on my headphones and darned if an hour passed without my even noticing.

Today, I went for a run in the morning, but found myself answering the siren song out in the garage again afterward. It only needs maybe one more coat and it’ll be finished.

See, I’ve always liked working with my hands. It’s in my genes – my family is made up mostly of craftspeople and trade artists. Being the son my father never had, I grew up with my dad calling me out to the garage to help him with his projects. Most of the time, I enjoyed this; learning how to apply paint without drips, sanding cabinets and applying finish, learning how to use various tools and machines. Performing such skills is somehow meditative.

Sometimes, in my very cerebral and imaginative existence, I forget about that part of my personality. While unemployed, I’ve had the privilege of rediscovering a lot of the forgotten corners of myself and what makes me happy.

I may not know what the future holds for my career, but I’m doing better than okay in the meantime. At least, as long as I can keep painting the boat.


It’s starting to look a bit like this…just kidding. It looks nothing like this.

Image Source

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Drafted Into A Project — 30 Comments

  1. It’s funny…when I sense depression or ennui (see, I know French words too) setting in, I need to remember to build something. Building something, seeing physical (functional) accomplishments, is something we people person, artistic types, don’t get to do very often. It’s nice to write a good piece (or paint a picture) that people like, but to make something that actually has a purpose in our lives? Just another part of the complexity that I (I’m assuming you as well) am.

    Post pictures of the second project as well…(I have an abnormal amount of boat enthusiast friends who would read and comment).
    Chris Plumb recently posted…Cosplay, Larping, and Furries: Oh MyMy Profile

  2. This so reminds me of one of my favorite books–Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
    “Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for for others to see the serenity at the center of it all.”

  3. That’s excellent that your dad taught you all that. I’m learning it now both from Kevin and HGTV. 😉 I really enjoy fixing things, painting and building. I remember years ago learning to tape and spackle when we redid a practice space. I thought it was a blast. Very therapeutic too. Just something really productive to focus on that gives a great feeling of accomplishment. Sounds like a great thing to keep your spirits afloat. (see what I did there? har har)
    Linda Roy recently posted…Cocktail Saturday: Raging BullMy Profile

  4. I am a writer at heart – but I also love to use my hands and am starting a business that will revolve around my using my hands – to make things that are useful. I think it’s a great balance between cerebral and physical – and it’s nice to get lost in that kind of work – in a good way, like you did with the boat.

  5. Just an old plywood boat, 75 Johnson, electric choke.

    The picture of your boat reminded of that line from a country song. I’m glad you’re getting your hands dirty, the boats going to be even more special for it. 🙂
    Ken recently posted…#168. or, AdversityMy Profile

  6. I think my husband and yours would get along famously. As I type this he is in our garage, painting the floor with some kind of special sealant and setting up a “laboratory” where he can do his projects. I know you’ve been feeling a little off lately with all the forced change and the job search. I’m so glad for you that you’ve been able to rediscover this part of yourself, and do something that makes you feel good. Can’t wait for pictures of that boat out on the water 🙂
    Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…“Let Us Tell How Holy This Day Is”My Profile

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