Steven West

What a great time to be a kid and be in school. Hundreds of video games with sweet graphics, applications that can do everything but tie your shoes, face-time, texting, and the “digital life” list goes on and on. How much more fun and interesting is school now that information is only clicks away. Remember encyclopedias and the library? Not only can students read about subjects anymore but they have the ability to watch any number of videos right from the palm of their hands, wherever they are. History, geography, science, writing and math instantly at their fingertips. Dictionary, thesaurus, calculator, you name it. Just enter the  term and bang, there it is. Don’t know how to spell “thing-um?” Google it. Hard time with calculus? Another word for comprehend? What’s the symbol for nitrogen? You get the idea, just Google it.

When I went to elementary school thirty something years ago we didn’t even…

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How To Eat Fish Head (not really)


For those of you who have not read any of my posts, I like to be metaphoric, so this post even though it really does describe how a person would eat fish-head, it is not necessarily about that at all.

As children we were probably told most of the same things by our parents, the golden rule, wipe your feet, don’t pick your nose, and of course take what you can eat. Most of that stuff is pretty common sense right? Huh. I thought you would say that.

Well, some folks find even those simple little rules difficult to follow, and I am going to be completely honest when I say even I too sometimes don’t like what I have bitten off; and I serve it back to the people around me. As the old saying goes however, don’t bite off more than you can chew ( or want to?). I understand that phrase better, and it is easier to understand if said that way. I have also learned sometimes things in life are just plain hard to swallow, nice pun right?

O.K., I’ve taken care of foreshadowing the metaphor and delivered a pun, now let’s get back to business with the fish-head story. While living in The Bahamas for the past year I met some really great people. They don’t have very much to speak of, that is materialistically speaking they don’t have much. In the islands, if it doesn’t come easy, you don’t need it. These people have learned to live with what they have. It’s not a simple task to get things in the islands and if you can get them, they are very expensive.

My Bahamian friend Gary is poor, and after borrowing fifty bucks from me, he invited me for supper as a way to show his appreciation.

My brain went into some kind of paralysis when I saw supper on the counter looking at the pan it was heading for (bonus pun). I do not know what kind of fish it actually was, all I do know, it was whole. Some of you may find that normal. Not me ewww. He prepared the fish in oil as a type of saute. Green pepper, onion, and garlic were diced and placed inside the gutted body of the creature. I believe the spices he used were simply salt and pepper. Twenty minutes in the pan covered with foil to steam, and they were ready to go. He served it with potatoes, rice, and beans.

We sat in the living room which was also the kitchen, dining room, and a bedroom for his son. We sat next to each other so it was easy for me to watch the procedure for ingesting this meal. When in Rome……,right? I dug in. I started at the tail-fin, the meat fell off the skeleton like perfectly cooked spare ribs; it was delicious. But what about the head? Do you eat it? I thought to myself as Gary began to suck the brains out of his catch, literally. I didn’t do it. I did nevertheless just explain how to by what I saw, and heard, again ewww. I gave my fish-head away to Gary and he smiled pleasantly knowing the food would not go to waste. He never criticized me for not eating the head for I had scarfed down everything else like I had never eaten before and he could tell I enjoyed it.

The moral of the story is this: Some like the head, others like the body, and some like both. However, it is not always pretty, or what we are used to. We have to learn to accept what is served to us and be grateful for one another who serve it.

Thank you Gary for showing me how to eat fish head (really)!

I’m In Love With a Stranger

I am in love with a stranger. How can I tell her? Or should I show her? Whenever I am around her I feel as I did on my wedding day long ago, as I promised my life to another. There is this love inside of me I must give to her. How? She too is half of another, yet I think she is also in love, for every time I see her she smiles at me and says, ” Hi-ya.”

I see this stranger and speak to her daily. We small-talk about the kids and work as I serve her coffee each morning; light, sweet, and a shot of caramel flavor. These few minutes of peace with her are the highlight of my day and she doesn’t even know it. She is so incredibly beautiful. How do I break into this woman’s heart without breaking this woman’s heart?

Each day I express the love for my wife and compliment her beauty. I watch as she gives my children the attention they need as only a mother can do. At the end of the day I see her beaten, tired, and exhausted of all energy.The grey of experience grows from her scalp. The duties of motherhood have taken away half of the woman and the time once belonging to me. However, this isn’t about her.

This is about my selfishness that comes inherently with being a man,so I am told. This is about my needs and desires and even a bit about fantasy. Can I love the stranger? Will she love me back?

I can. She is my wife. She is the actress who plays two lead roles in her own life, one is familiar to me, the other is not. She is a woman, and as perfect as she is, part of her is a stranger to me and I want to know and love them both. I am in love with a stranger, how can I tell her?

I’m Giving Back the Money

I was compelled to follow up on the blog I wrote yesterday because of what it did for my future.  After obtaining all of that money I know that most of you would probably say something like, “Don’t spend it all in one place,” or “Put some away for a rainy day,” or “Money is the root of all evil,” you know, one of those cliché statements your parents said to you when you were a kid, and their parents to them. You may be disappointed to know I disregarded the good advice and did the exact opposite. I took the shiny metal and tossed it away into a wishing well. No I didn’t. I made that part up. In spite of that the words do have a metaphoric meaning however if you can swallow getting to the end of this blog.

If you have not read the story about my two cents I will briefly elaborate. I earned the two coins with my blood, my sweat, my tears, and my two front teeth, no really I did. Sleepless nights and stressed-out days just worrying about the small stuff, and in case you haven’t heard, it’s all small stuff. However, it consumed me anyway. I have been searching my entire existence for a peaceful soul. I found it. It has been with me all along. I discovered it in writing.

When I started writing, several days ago now; it opened a flood gate of ideas for me to right about and suddenly I feel free. The money doesn’t seem as important to me anymore as does the freedom, the freedom to express myself writing my thoughts. (Warning to self, 300 words, warning). Blah, blah, blah, with that being said I would like to give my two cents back to those of you who wished me well (the metaphor). I mentioned earlier about my future, well my future is you.

Thank you for the kind words, follows, and most of all, your time. Now please go read “Two cents closer to being a writer,” or another one of my blogs and make me my money back.

Two Cents Closer to Being a Writer

I officially started my writing career four days, six hours, forty-seven minutes, and twelve seconds ago when I decided to make a change in my life. You see, I have been attempting anything and everything from going back to school full time to working on construction jobs out of the country to being a charter boat Captain in the Bahamas. I would be away from my family weeks at a time, sometimes longer. All to pay the bills. I pick-up side work installing doors and painting, stuff like that. I can’t really give you a title for what I do, and there isn’t enough time for me to write what I have done in less than a billion words. Let’s just say I know a little bit about a lot, and all about nothing. You could use the phrase “Jack of all trades”, however I don’t personally care for that, besides my name is Steven and Steven of all trades definitely doesn’t work.

The change in my life I mentioned earlier is most likely a bit more deep than I intend to go in this blog and more importantly, I need to keep some material for future posts. For now however, I will focus on the writing part. As far back as I can remember I wanted to write but I hated writing, it was so hard. So I never became a writer. Oh well, I had nothing to write about anyway I was just a kid. Boo boring story right? Hold on it gets better.

Forty-two years,  four days, six hours, forty-seven minutes, and twelve seconds. That is how much time I invested in gathering interesting topics and experiences to write about. Travels, trades, people, places, etc., you get the picture. The only problem I had however was can I make money doing it? Can I pay the bills with words? The answer is Yes. I started pouring out the words and as I wrote I remembered things and then wrote some more. I followed the advice of other writers and started to gather and post content. I can now say I have officially become a writer; for when I woke this morning I discovered it had happened for the first time in my four- day-old career. During the night, while I slept, I earned two cents from one of my posts. I did it! I’m two cents closer to being a writer.

Just Google it

What a great time to be a kid and be in school. Hundreds of video games with sweet graphics, applications that can do everything but tie your shoes, face-time, texting, and the “digital life” list goes on and on. How much more fun and interesting is school now that information is only clicks away. Remember encyclopedias and the library? Not only can students read about subjects anymore but they have the ability to watch any number of videos right from the palm of their hands, wherever they are. History, geography, science, writing and math instantly at their fingertips. Dictionary, thesaurus, calculator, you name it. Just enter the  term and bang, there it is. Don’t know how to spell “thing-um?” Google it. Hard time with calculus? Another word for comprehend? What’s the symbol for nitrogen? You get the idea, just Google it.

When I went to elementary school thirty something years ago we didn’t even have a computer in our classroom. No, I didn’t walk to school both ways up hill. I did however have to wait for one of my parents to take me to the public library to research topics and prepare oral book report presentations. When writing, a dictionary and thesaurus were always within reach. Math calculations were done with the brain and if we were lucky and the teacher permitted, a calculator. Drawings were sketched on paper with pencils and geography was studied on a globe and map. Today I carry those items in the palm of my hand everywhere I go. If I need to know where Eleuthera is?  I Google it.

We seem to take technology for granted, sometimes accusing it of absorbing too much of our time. However, If you think about it, technology has given us time not taken it away. For example, that car ride to the library and back home and the time to do the research. Now you do all of that same research from your dining room table and with a power-point no less. Then save it to a hard drive no bigger than your thumb, no typewriter written pages in a folder. Have you ever used an old-time typewriter? Probably while you were listening to 8 track tapes. Now you can even use dictation applications, dictate to your left hand, write with the right or whatever. What is it called when you can write with both hands? You know what to do, Google it.

There is no doubt that staring at an electronic device all day probably has some kind of negative effect on us somehow; if looking at the screen and driving for instance. However, if we look at the time technology has given us to live and learn, especially our children, we can only be grateful. If you need help remembering how it used to be, just Google it.

Painkillers for Wet Money


For those who don’t make it to the islands in the Caribbean very often and for those yet to make it there; I thought I would fill you in on the wet money secret everyone knows about. At least, that is, everyone that takes a turn to the north-northwest just as they begin navigating the Sir Frances Drake Channel.

 On the island of Yost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands is a little place similar to the way I picture heaven. It’s called the “The Soggy Dollar Bar.” It is an oasis tucked into clusters of palm trees and sitting on the fine, white sand and coconut littered beach of White Bay. With just a few barstools and lots of hammocks, this tiny little place lives up big-time to its name. You see, The Soggy Dollar does not have a dock to pull up to; you simply jump off your boat and swim to it. No worries mon, the water in White Bay is crystal clear and calm.

Sounds fun you may say, right? After all, whenever you have sun, sand, and booze you’re bound for a good time. The Soggy Dollar doesn’t disappoint, especially when it comes to their signature drink “The Painkiller.”  I enjoyed my first Painkiller almost 25 years ago; however it’s been a while since I’ve been back. Tommy Bahamas Restaurant chain sells a “Painkiller 2” and it tastes as close as you can get to the original. However, proper and dry attire is required to go in and get one and when you do they’re ten bucks, so I thought I would give you the ingredients. As far as the wet money goes you’ll have to improvise.

1 oz. Pusser’s Rum (no substitutions, must be Pusser’s)

½ oz coconut milk

3 oz pineapple juice

2 oz orange juice

Shake ingredients in jigger, pour over ice in highball glass, and grate fresh nutmeg over top. The nutmeg is an important part of the drink it tastes good and is also an aphrodisiac. I’m just trying to look out for you.

 Garnish with cherry and orange slice, if desired.



No Rest New Writer

Yes, I am a new writer. A beginner to this electronic world of submitting written thoughts to the masses in an instant. It must be easy I thought, everyone is pressin’ pros, hubbin’ how-to’s, and pinnin’ their pass-times. Maybe there is something in this for me; after all my English teacher in high school said I was a good writer and I should stick with it. I quit school that year and moved to the Virgin Islands to be a sailor. So much for that writing stuff.

For the twenty-something years since then I’ve been filling my bag ‘o stories with all kinds of people, places, and things to describe and share with anyone willing to listen, and now to read. I even went back to school and graduated college. Now it should be even easier for me to write having all kinds of experiences and an education to fall back on right? Wrong.

The experiences to write about are not the hard part. The hard part is putting it all together on paper in a way that makes sense to my audience and has good organization, proper punctuation, and so on. So much to remember, so much time spent to get it right. I tossed and turned in my bed last night, half asleep, half sleep-writing. All of the how to’s and don’t do’s of the craft were spinning around in my head.

I am a new writer. I am learning with every word I type and tweaking my style, that is, when I find the style fitting of my personality and experience. Maybe then I will rest.

Practice makes perfect, I keep telling myself.



Illegal American:No More Palm Trees and Coconuts

I was turned in, and as the Customs and Immigration officials interrogated me my stomach sank deeper and deeper. I began to envision the next couple of weeks stuck in a Bahamian prison. Fathers day would not be with my three boys but with hardened criminals eating fish head for supper. I didn’t know I was breaking the law, at least at first that’s what I said. I told the officials the truth however; and the truth was I was making money, good money. With each question asked I moved closer to incarceration. At one point I almost considered running as my fight or flight instinct filled my blood with endorphins. I didn’t run however knowing that on a small island there is no place to hide.

While I waited for the officials to question others to back up my statements I remembered back to 2007, when the economy in the US was still thriving. I owned my own catering service that was doing quite well even though I competed with illegal Mexican immigrants, lots of immigrants. As our economy slowly tanked so did my business yet the competition would thrive and my blood would boil. Who do these people think thay are coming to my country, taking my business, and money that should be reserved for me to earn for my family, here. These people have some nerve.

I was engaged in the same actions and I was caught red-handed. I was an illegal American, yet at the time, in my mind, I had every right to do what I was doing. A man needs to provide for his family right?

The officials returned and were now very cordial to me as my statements checked out. I was asked to leave the island on my own free will, and I did. Just in case you were wondering I took some people fishing for pay.

A Bahamian Fish Tale


I don’t think I could ever call myself a true fisherman, however I do have some fish stories worthy of a quick read. Most salt water fishing I had done was in the Gulf Stream about 65 miles off the coast of South Carolina; out past Frying Pan Shoals. I was the mate of a 95 foot fishing vessel carrying passengers for full day fishing charters. I was completing the 2,000 hours of sea time I had left to obtain my license as Captain, 50 ton master to be exact.

As mate I caught all kinds of fish and cleaned up all kinds of vomit on the deck of that vessel. Sea bass to king macks, snapper blues to blow-fish, I saw them all. As you can imagine a boat of that size kept me pretty busy especially when there were a lot of passengers aboard. Cutting giant squid, baiting hooks, removing fish, de-tangling, and more de-tangling of what seemed to be miles of mono. Fishing to me had always been fun, however it was rewarding only to the passengers I served and not to me. To me it was just hard, smelly work. That is until the day I found myself fishing completely alone a couple of miles off the southwestern coast of the out-island of Eleuthera, The Bahamas. To the locals its known as “The Cape.”

The day was perfect. Flat water, clear skies, a favorable full moon phase, and tide flowing high. I was aboard a 21 foot center console skiff with all the fixins. I motored southwest toward Cuba at about 35-40 knots. The 225 hp Yamaha outboard moved me along effortlessly across the crystal clear blue water. Coral heads 85 feet below the surface seemed almost touchable.

I was motoring to a place I could easily see off in the distance. It was the place the ocean fell off into the sea or the sea fell off into the ocean I am not sure which. It was where aqua-marine turned a sapphire blue as deep as it literally was, thousands of feet straight down. It was the drop-off, the wall, the place where the fish were; the big fish. At least that’s what I was told. I heard the stories of schools of Mahi-Mahi jumping completely out of the water bringing bait-fish to the surface as they chased their meal. A real sea bird buffet.

In just minutes I reached my spot. I would not be fully disclosing the truth if I didn’t say it was a bit eerie to hover over this seemingly bottomless cliff to a place no-one has ever been. I lowered my out-riggers, fed the mono out of the Penn reels through the loops and gadgets, and one-by-one set the rigs free. A friend of mine at the dock, Capt. Ken, told me the Dolphin were favoring neon green and blue feathers on a ballyhoo rig. I had twelve I made up earlier that day. I engaged the motor, set my speed about 8 knots at 180 degrees due south, and found Peter Tosh on my Ipad. How could life be any better? Oh, I forgot, it was better, I had some Bud lights.

I can’t remember which pole went off first but when it did the adrenaline started pumping. The buzzing sound of the reel clicker spinning is an instant high. Fish on! Before I could even reduce my speed the powerful zip of of rod two, then three, and if you can believe it, rod 4 all at the same time. I hit the school I had heard so much about I was right in the middle of them; now I have to get them in the boat or no one will believe me. I brought in the port stern line first, got her to the boat and knocked her off with the gaff. Yeah I thought the same thing, dumbass, however I am trying to stay on the boat you know. I proceeded to take in the the next three all with success as you can see by the photo above, but that’s not the coolest part. As I brought in the final of three fish I looked down and time stopped. There was no sound, no movement; just fish. I hovered above what I think were thousands of fish. They floated along that drop-off as if they were mirrored from space above floating mid-air. It was breath-taking. Their colorful tetra-blue, green, and yellow skin shimmered like gold coins falling from the sky.

I sat for about 30 minutes to recover my breath and I returned to shore at half speed. I didn’t want that rewarding feeling to go away. That was the best tasting fish I have eaten to this day.