This Model is Unsupported, by Charlotte Kaufman

Charlotte and Cora Kaufman. Sailing across the Sea of Cortez from La Paz to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. December 2013.

Charlotte and Cora Kaufman. Sailing across the Sea of Cortez from La Paz to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. December 2013.

This Model is Unsupported, by Charlotte Kaufman

I plugged the Kindle into my laptop today and it didn’t register as a device on my computer. There were my Documents, my Downloads, my Pictures, the Google Drive back up, but no Kindle.

I restarted my laptop. I unplugged the Kindle. Turned it on, then off. Tried again.

No Kindle.

I could feel the hurt welling up. A pebble transforming into a lump and then a stone. An inability to swallow down the pain of loss and my first thought was WRITE. Write about the little Kindle that could. Don’t cry until you’re writing, I told myself. That’s the best way for you to let tears fall freely. Like when you wrote about saying goodbye to Rebel Heart. To the feeling of the Sunbrella stretched taut on the dodger under your hands. Her tall, white mast, your family’s haven, your daughters’ only home since birth. Of the terrifying feeling of jumping from ships and the height of those waves. Certain death a fraction of an inch away. Wrong jump? Guess incorrectly? A cracked ribcage between two hulls.

Everything rushing in those moments of rescue. The Pararescuemen calling for me.  Good men with good intentions. Of my refusing to rush. (I wouldn’t have refused if I had been any younger. A younger Charlotte would have obeyed). But I refused. I stopped and said thank you to Rebel Heart. I sent all my love and support to her before she embarked on her next and final journey into the deeps. Underwater to live. The whole of her consumed by barnacles, and crabs, and slithering creatures of the deep. And she kept us safe and we were sinking her.

Amazon said that the Kindle was over 10-years-old and that they no longer provide updates or backups for my model. “Would you like to take this credit towards a new version? This one will be unsupported moving forward.”


Unsupported like me when I left my parents’ home at 16.

Unsupported like parenting in America.

I chose the unsupported model.

The Kindle still worked. I could read each page except for the top right sentence. A relic of when Cora had dropped it, shattering the pixels on that portion of the screen. The pink, rubber cover, forever coated in a fine dusting of Baja sand that I could never get clean again. The scratches on the bottom left corner from … what? Who knew? Were they from surviving the rescue? From being tossed from one ship to another ship with the bag that held our Kindles, our laptops, and our passports? From being hoisted into the air along the side of a battleship, the great ship listing in the swell and buffeted by the wind of the approaching squall, my knuckles white in terror as the tiny RHIB bucked forward and sent us toppling against the rubber sides.

I knew it would die one day. An unsupported model. I just thought it wouldn’t be today. Not today. Not any day. Please, not ever. We have so little that survived. Give me one thing that survived. One tiny memento. The Kindle I rested on my pregnant belly, while I lay in bed miserable, sick, and sometimes suicidal during my first pregnancy. The Kindle where I uploaded and read an early draft of my friend’s first book. The Kindle I slipped under the pillows and out of the way when Eric and I made love in the V-berth.

‘At least the four of you survived.’

‘That’s what really matters.’

Of course it is.

But I can hold both truths at the same time. The gratitude that my family is whole after a rescue at sea, and the grieving of a truncated dream. Of the impossibility of ever saying goodbye with ritual, with respect. There was only the one moment of rushing, when I disobeyed, (thank god for growing older and growing more defiant). For that one tiny moment when the world grew quiet and I told her thank you before she sank below the surface, unsupported.

#TheThingAboutThings #RebelHeartBook #RebelHeart #KidsOnBoats #WomenWhoSail #CharlotteKaufman #IAlreadyMissMyKindle #AmazonKindle #ItsTheLittleThings

 ::::::::::::::::::::: T H E   S T O R Y :::::::::::::::::::::

If this is the first time you are reading my writing or learning about the rescue at sea that happened to us, here’s the backstory. In March 2014, we set sail from Puerto Vallarta with our two young daughters on our sailboat, Rebel Heart. During the passage, our 13 month old fell ill. A cascading series of events resulted in our calling for help. Activating our rescue beacon meant saving our baby and also losing our boat (and only home). We hit the button and survived a dramatic at-sea rescue but returned to international media criticism about our parenting. While the world debated our child rearing choices, I wrestled with the trauma of the rescue, the loss of our dream, and whether or not my relationship was strong enough to survive.

You can read my recent article in HuffPost about the events and my thoughts here:

 ::::::::::::::::::::: T H E   B O O K :::::::::::::::::::::

I have recently completed my manuscript about the events described above and am represented by Aemilia Phillips and David Patterson at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. For updates on my upcoming memoir, you can follow me on social media and sign up for my email newsletter.

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Admiration & Ire - Writing the Story of Rebel Heart

Image description: writer Charlotte Kaufman seated at a dining table with her right leg tucked under her left. She is looking at and typing on a laptop on the table, in front of a window with pine trees in the distance.

My friend, Maria, told me once that I attract admiration & ire. I told her that sounded like a hipster band from Portland and she laughed but also said, ‘nonetheless’ in the same breath. Maria is often right. I don’t know why people tend to be so hot or cold about me, but I’ve found this scenario play out time and time again. Maybe the ups and downs of being bipolar attract it? Perhaps it’s because I’m an all-in kind of person. There’s nothing I’m ‘meh’ about. Life is zero chill; it’s plus 10 or negative 20.

Eric took the girls camping this weekend so I’ve had days on my own to work on edits for the Rebel Heart book. I’m working on a section that details the media coverage of mine and Eric’s rescue at sea from our sailboat, Rebel Heart, in April of 2014.

Image description: an open laptop with an article from the Voice of San Diego showing an article from April 2014 with a picture of Eric & Charlotte Kaufman and their two daughters debarking the USS Vandegrift. The laptop sits on a wooden table and a short glass of red wine to its right.

I put a call out to friends on social media on Saturday and asked for readers’ help identifying posts and articles from four years ago during and after the rescue. You can read the request for help here. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to friend me too.

And the help (and love, thank you, friends), came rolling in. I had some friends message first and say, “Are you sure you want this? I feel bad sending this.” And I sent them a giant virtual hug and said, “Let’s do this.”

And for the next day I read comments like:

-You dumbfucks should all drown.

-Idiots! Narcissists!

-Your children should be taken away. Where is CPS?

-How dare you put your children at risk?!


-You must pay back the cost of your rescue!

-Your husband is dumb looking. (Seriously, how is ‘dumb looking’ an insult in someone’s repertoire? And also, have they seen Eric? My god, the man is hot!)

-You’re fat! Put on some clothes!

And when I say I ‘read comments’ I mean thousands. There are probably 10,000+ internet comments pontificating about what happened to us aboard our boat that April. This one article on The New York Times alone has over 1,000 comments. Now think about all the online and print publications, the websites, blogs, and Facebook pages that covered our story, and yeah, lots of people were clacking on their keyboards to tell the world what they thought of us.

Admiration & Ire is what my friend Maria said.

Because for all the negative comments there were a lot of positive ones too. So many people who I have never heard of and will never meet counteracted this type of fear-based parent shaming. And while I did not have the time or emotional energy to read the multitudes of comments four years ago I know many of my friends did back then and many were online swinging battle swords of support for us and for the cruising/sailing and liveaboard lifestyle with children. It’s why the hashtag #KidsOnBoats was born. And as I read through article after article reporting on our story, the ire was swallowed up by bright beacons of admiration. Like shooting stars of living-your-best-life, the comments from friends and strangers, and some strangers who are now my friends, blasted out from the screen and made me smile. Things like:

- These people are an inspiration.

- I wish I had parents like them.

- I wish I could spend time with my kids like this.

- We need more people who live this way.

- Wait, you can live on a boat with kids?

- I’m glad they were rescued and they’re safe.

- They shouldn’t pay for the rescue, that’s what rescuers are for.

- These people are my friends and they’re good people and good parents.

Image Description: an open bullet journal on a southwest-style couch cushion on top of a roll of markers organized to the colors of the rainbow. The left page of the journal says Notes - Media Section and the text of page is blurred. The right page says Rebel Heart and the rest of the text is blurred.

I’m glad I waited several years to write this book and tell our story. It’s given me perspective. It’s helped me to be able to look at both parts of the admiration & ire while I tell you about who Eric and I are. I’m glad I’m in control of the narrative now and that one day I’ll have a book I can hand my daughters to tell them about who their parents were when they met and began their adventures together.

Until then, I’m still writing & editing. More soon. #RebelHeart #KidsOnboats #WomenWhoSail

- Charlotte

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Women Who Sail Gathering - Puerto Vallarta, January 2019

Women Who Sail - Mexico January 2019

Excited to be speaking at this Gathering at the Bay of Women Who Sail in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico Jan 19 & 20, 2019. Saturday afternoon we'll be at Marina Riviera Nayarit from 3-5pm (women only) and Sunday night join us at Casa Malinda (open to all) from 5-8pm. Saturday's event is 100 pesos ($5) and proceeds go to orphanage Manos de Amor. Sunday night is cash bar and BBQ tacos with live music performed by Sonny Davis.

Join me and fellow guest speakers: Behan Gifford, Jen Durham Boyle, Caroline Spott (all speaking Saturday) and Anne Bryant, Dee Dee Christensen, Flo N Jasper, and Catalina Liana (speaking on Sunday).

Hope to meet you there. La Cruz, I can't wait to be back.

#RebelHeartBook #RebelHeart #WomenWhoSail #KidsOnBoats