14 January 2013

Raft-UP: Two-Toned Task Management

"Yeah, I see it. I just can't tell
where it's coming from."
WANTED: Mature couple experienced in all aspects of world cruising. Must be skilled in route planning and navigation, weather tracking, clearance procedures, diesel mechanics, marine electrical systems and electronics and sail repair. The successful candidates will also possess extensive handy-person aptitude and be completely trilingual (English, French, Spanish), with competence in at least one Germanic language. Additional duties will include, but are not limited to: provisioning, menu planning, cooking, cleaning (inside, out, and bottom), laundry, dish washing, and general straightening. Only those interested in paying their own way and living in a dinghy need apply.

In the meantime...

Here on JOY, our division of labor is color-coded somewhat differently than in the traditional pink and blue manner. We have come to use beige and taupe as our rubric, two tones that we do honor to by the very consideration of them as colors, however unflattering the context. Taupe, I have often remarked, is what beige wears to a funeral. Yet, it is their very odiousness that renders these bland anti-hues the optimal signifiers for how all work gets apportioned, to wit: jobs we hate (beige) and jobs we hate worse (taupe). In short, our labor is parsed not by gender, but by relative level of revulsion. Thus, what is "taupe" for Jane will with luck be only "beige" for me and vice versa. We each strive to live as taupelessly as possible.

The most prominent (to us) example is engine repair. We have three or none depending on whether one tallies by mere existence or actual functionality. Not long after we first took ourselves seriously about sailing around the world, it dawned on us that "sailboat" was a bit of a misnomer. But I chose to be steadfastly undaunted by this revelation because, I believed, I had certain biological proclivities working in my favor. I refer not to testosterone, but genetics.

A strain of near-genius runs in my mother's side of the family which manifests in random and unpredictable ways. My aunt Edith, I am told, was a brilliant pianist. (I saw her only once when I was four and have no memory of her or her alleged prodigious talent.) In her son, whom I did know, it surfaced in all things mechanical. Owing to the part of the country from which my mother's family hails, my cousin was not "Tim," or "Timothy," but "Timmy," (and sometimes, more unfortunately, "Timbo"). My mother was quite handy as well, although her actual near-genius lay elsewhere, but Timmy was the true mechanical adept of the family. He understood, or rather, intuited anything with parts, as though pieces of machinery revealed their innermost structures to him by virtue of mystical blueprints borne on their surfaces discernible to him alone.

When our eagerness was honed to earnestness, that is to say when "engines" became "Yanmars" and "Westerbekes," I assumed I could summon my inner Timmy and by dint of this evolutionary bond, experience an epiphanic understanding of diesel mechanics.


In expectation of activating what, alas, turned out to be a long-severed rung on the double helix of my genetic strand, we even sent me to a crash course in engine repair. The legacy of that investment is that routine engine maintenance remains my beige while engine-and-everything-else repair will continue to bolster the economies of sundry developing nations.

Conversely, cat care, which is to say cat "outputs," is the taupiest job on this boat as far as I'm concerned. I won't do it. My justification is quite simple: Everyone who wanted to own cats has to clean up after them; everyone who loves someone who wanted cats can feed them, pet them and, very occasionally, brush them.


Cooking - beige for Ean; taupe for Jane
Cleaning - ditto
Organizing - pastel beige for Ean; world of taupe for Jane
Laundry - beige for Jane; the way Ean does laundry, taupe for Jane

Jane actually likes the seafarin' stuff like planning routes, tracking weather, navigating, researching clearing in and out of countries, etc. That's why she's the captain.

That pretty much covers it, save for blogging which, technically, I should not even make mention of, as blogging isn't a job for either of us.

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The Monkey's Fist

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