Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting for Hockey

Okay. I gave football a real try. I learned the rules. I learned player names and even coach names. I watched the network pre-game shows and even picked games last year through the Fox Sports website. I root for the Bears, but since I live in Boise, I hardly get to watch them.

When I was young, it seemed my whole extended family obsessed over football. I didn't understand the game, and I hated it, because no one talked to me when the game was on, and no one wanted to explain to me what was so fascinating to them about it.

I especially hated the fact that the game clock could have two minutes on it, but the game itself could drag on for a good twenty to thirty minutes while I patiently waited to get my dad's attention (or not so patiently).

I hated football with a passionate ignorance. I reveled in my lack of knowledge.

But now I can follow the game. I understand what's going on, and, from an educated point of view, I can now state, without passion, that I'm over it.

Sorry, football, but you bore me.

The only thing you've got going for you is that you're on right now, and I've still got a few weeks until hockey begins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some Fine Pictures

This August my husband and I traveled to South Carolina to visit with his parents. The day after we arrived in South Carolina, we all drove to North Carolina to visit additional family and participate in some family traditions and celebrations. These photos are from the first two days of the trip, not including all the lovely people I met (and Ambrose reunited with). 

As we hit the road from South Carolina to North Carolina, we stopped at a roadside stand for some freshly boiled peanuts. 

Now, I'd had "boiled peanuts" from the Saturday Market in Boise before, but these were in an entirely different league. Where the peanuts from Boise had a bit of crunch to them, these were more like beans.

See, I could smush them like a well-cooked bean in my fingers. They were also saltier than the peanuts that I'd had before, and that was a good thing. 

We were going to North Carolina, from South Carolina, so of course we went by way of Tennessee..

Ambrose at a scenic overlook in Tennessee.

Me, being more awesome at the same overlook. (That's my wall now. Actually, no, it isn't. It smelled like someone peed on it. But the view was great.) 

It's hard to see in this picture, but this sign was just around a hairpin turn, and was followed immediately by another. Did I mention I discovered a new propensity for car sickness on this trip? 

The Smoky Mountains in the morning. 

A green view from the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Ambrose and his Dad on Grandfather Mountain, before the swinging bridge.

View from Grandfather Mountain.

Grandfather Mountain actually provides a volunteer at this bridge who takes photos for people, which is how this picture contains me, Ambrose and his Dad all at the same time. 

Personally, I think calling the bridge a mile-high swinging bridge is a bit disingenuous - sure, the elevation is technically one mile above sea level, but it isn't as if the drop below the bridge is anywhere near that high. 

Ambrose and I on Grandfather Mountain - after his Dad figured out how to use our camera :)

The USGS benchmark on Grandfather Mountain. Yes, I think this is neat. I'm a mountain geek.

The swinging bridge, with the peak of Grandfather Mountain in the background. Part of me wanted to climb to the peak, but more of me still felt too carsick. And I didn't have my hiking boots.

I found out inside the museum that this flower is endangered. But I forgot what it's called. 

The drive down from the swinging bridge is not for the faint of heart. 

Also not for those lacking well-maintained brakes. . .

The mountain has wildlife habitats. We didn't get to see the deer or the big cats, but the otters did come out after a few minutes of waiting. 

I could have watched the otters play for a long time. So cute!

The eagles were also out, but not playing. They looked like we were all there on their sufferance - go ahead, tourists, take pictures - we all know who's in charge here.

The bears were a bit more lively.

Probably because it was getting close to their feeding time. . . 

It might not have been while backpacking, but hey, a bear encounter's a bear encounter, right? I mean, just because this bear was in an enclosure, patiently waiting to be fed while a crowd gathered doesn't mean it isn't capable of going on a rampage and killing all humans...

According to my tour guide (Ambrose's Dad), the land for this road was sold on the condition that the road builders did not mess up the land. This architectural challenge resulted in sections of road like this, where columns support the road above nature's splendor. And yes, because the road is so curvy, we were on the same road I photographed. 

We came across this sign on the way away from Grandfather Mountain.

This is the Appalachian Trail. With me standing on it. For that, as well as the friendly and hospitable people I met, I plan to come back to North Carolina. 

Ambrose on the Appalachian Trail. That section is his now. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tone of Choice

I have a tendency to obsess over meaning. When I speak with other people, I tend to over analyze what I say to them, what they say to me, what I perceive as their reactions to what I’ve said or done… If I let myself go on too long, then I usually end up upset or irritated at myself. Because, of course, I’m always at fault in my own head.

But I’ve gotten better about letting myself go down those kinds of dark, spiraling paths. So, when a man had some odd words to say to Ambrose and I before our last backpacking trips, I didn’t take it personally.

But I did analyze it a bit.

We had just explained that we were going to backpack to Johnson Lake up the Little Queens River. Now, I had backpacked there myself not four weeks previously. I knew that I could do it, and, based on other trips we had taken that summer, I knew Ambrose could do it as well. Unless something catastrophic had happened to make the trail impassable, we were good.

But this man, this man leading a horse, looked at us, dismissed us with his eyes (there’s that analysis again), and said, “Good luck with that.”

In and of itself, not such a bad phrase. Add a little friendliness to the tone, maybe a smile, and you’ve got a perfectly nice thing to say to a person you’ve only just seen for the first time.

Such friendliness, however, was lacking in this man’s tone. Instead, a sarcasm dominated, a clear doubt in our ability to accomplish our stated goal. It was almost accompanied by a snort of disbelief.

Why, I thought later, didn’t I have the perfect reply ready? I could have smiled sweetly and asked if the trail had been washed out since we had been there not four weeks prior? Had there perhaps been a fire I hadn’t heard about, which this man would be happy to inform me of? A bear sighting, mayhap?

Still. It would have been more to his advantage than mine, had he replied in a friendly manner. Because his next words were to inform us that he was going up the “big” Queens River (not its name).

And I happened to know that after the crossing of the Queens River, about three miles down the trail he intended to take, the majority of the trail was washed out and near impossible to find or follow.

However, I was so shocked by his tone that I had nothing to say.

Though as we walked up the Little Queens, I did find myself thinking about the wash out.

Yeah. Good luck with that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finishing Is Not Failure

I'm not a serious athlete. I have no goals to become a professional athlete, but like many other people who have no intention of going pro, I have run races. Races I had no chance of winning, even split out to a minute degree of age categories.

But I can finish.

I've run 5Ks, 10Ks and one half marathon. I finished each one.

Sure, I puked after that 5K in Nashville, when I was completely dehydrated the morning after a travel day. I had to walk parts of the half marathon after starting out way too fast (yes, a 9 minute mile is too fast for me). My last 10K was a parade of pain that put me on the path to seriously rehabilitating my ilio-tibial band issue (a two year odyssey).

But I finished every race that I started.

Six months ago I set myself a goal. I decided that since I knew I could write stories that could get rejected, I would set about to collect rejections. The idea was to force myself to write more, submit more and desensitize myself to the inevitable rejection.

I submitted a total of eight times in that period, gathering eight rejections. I remain 69 rejections away from my goal of 100.

I could say that I have failed. After all, I have nowhere near the hundred rejections I was seeking. That could just be the end of that. I didn't write enough, and I let myself get discouraged by the rejections.

It's funny, most of the rejections were form rejections, but the one that was a bit more personalized bugged me more. Not because it commented directly on my work, but because it directed me to read the publication to which I was submitting. I do want to get a sense of what they like to publish, but I also don't want to be sending them more of what they've already published.

Be original!

But also be like these other stories that fit our aesthetic!

Figure out our aesthetic by buying our magazine and reading what we've published.

That'll be $15.

Ahem. I know that I did not spend as much time writing fiction as I wanted to over the summer. Part of that was due to writing other things, especially the blog entries on backpacking. Part of it was due to spending a lot of time backpacking, which I wouldn't trade. I know I have to work on the craft of writing stories, and that I also have to work on my own belief in my ability to do so.

100 rejections is a longer race than I thought it would be, but I intend to finish. However long it takes.