Friday, January 26, 2007

To the top!

Reading Sam's post about his burning desire to thru-hike the Trail, got me thinking about my own dreams and such. Like Sam, I have often thought that thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail would be something I would like to do someday. I love the outdoors – I love sleeping in it, eating in it – just living my life in it. I love to camp, though I haven't done it in a while. There's nothing quite like waking up and stepping out of your tent to start a fire and have your morning coffee outside. I love it. And, I love doing anything physical outside. Does it get any better than spending a day on a mountain skiing? That's why I can fully identify with Sam and his wanting to spend six months outside in some of the most beautiful lands that this country has to offer. What an experience!

When I was younger, my dream was to climb Mt. Everest. However, at around $30,000 to do it, it was never really a very realistic one. For about one year, though, I read everything I could on the subject, from the people and customs of Nepal and Tibet, to accounts of countless exhibitions that had tried (both successfully and unsuccessfully) to reach the summit of the tallest peak in the world. I researched what gear I would need, the effects of oxygen deprivation on the human body, training regimens, etc. I even started working out in the oxygen deprivation room at the gym to see what it was like moving around at altitude.

Even the base camp at Everest is at a much higher altitude than what we're used to. Base camp at Everest is at 17,500 feet. At Base camp, you're looking at just a little more than 1/2 the oxygen than that at sea level. It gets less as you go up to the successive camps. There are four more camps between base camp and the summit. At the summit, you're standing on top of the world at 29,035 ft. On a good day, the temperature is at -15 degrees F, and on a not-so-good day, it could get as low as -100 degrees F. At this altitude, there is only a third of the oxygen than that at sea level. Most people are using supplemental oxygen, but there are those that have done it without. Can you imagine that?! To put this into perspective, jet planes fly at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. Humans can do amazing things, no?

Anyway, it takes a lot of money, and about a month to climb Everest. Because of these restrictions (that and the dangerous Khumbu Icefalls!) this was never really in my reach. It was fun to dream, though! Someday, I'd just like to hike up to base camp.

By the way, the Khumbu Icefalls lie between base camp and camp one. They are a MOVING SEA OF ICE that climbers cross using ordinary aluminum ladders. At any given time, a huge crevasse can form where there wasn't one just a little time before. The ice is MOVING!

I did get to climb a mountain while I was in New Zealand. It was physically very challenging, and one of the coolest things I've ever done. I summited a little mountain called Mt. Fyfe. Nothing even close to Everest, but a great experience just the same. It took eight hours, and I went from a rain forest at the base, to snow capped peaks at the summit. I had good shoes, a well-packed pack, and good company. I'll never forget that day.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My list of threes

This list has been going around among us, and as of yet, I have not done mine. Since I don't necessarily like these lists, but don't want my friends to be mad at me, I've decided to do a list. Not the list that's been going around, however. I'm going to do my own list of threes. Rob, you were the one person I thought I could count on to back me up on the ignoring of the list. So disappointing. Then, I thought you were brilliant with what I thought was a clever subterfuge, but alas, you actually did the list, which leaves me out here looking bad all by myself.

Here's my list:

Three words I like (I can't help but like these words. Whenever I say any of them, they make me smile):
- Baby. Awwww. They have such cute faces and cute hands.
- Kitten. They have such cute faces and cute feet.
- Jesus. Beautiful face. Beautiful hands.
(Oh yeah. Imbecile. I love that word :)

Three words I hate (this one I can't explain. I trust you all won't use these in successive sentences the next time you see me.)
- chipotle (huh? Like to eat the yummy burritos, I just don't like the sound of the actual word, nor do I like the way it makes my mouth feel when I say it.)
- toiletries
- slough (this one just sounds gross)

My three favorite things to do:
- spend time with my family
- martial arts
- ride a spirited horse
- travel to cool places by myself. Okay. That's four. But this one was a toss-up, and this is my list; I can make my own rules. I can put four things on my list of threes if I deem any two items a tie.

Three things I hate to do:
- wake up to an alarm clock
- websites (I hate designing websites. I don't know why, I just do. I have to do them quite often, too, so I really should try to get over this one.)
- say goodbye

Three of my greatest accomplishments:
- Making my parents proud of me
- The gymnastics trophy I won when I was 15. (I don't know why this one stands out in my mind, but it does. What a great feeling it was.)
- Finishing the Columbus marathon within time goal I set for myself.

Three regrets:
- My failed marriage (I just feel like I could have done something more)
- My actions immediately following the passing of my good friend's mother. It may be too late to make things right.
- Not going to Arkansas for my grandmother's funeral.

My three favorite smells:
- Mountain air
- Thanksgiving dinner
- A baby after a bath

My three least favorite smells:
- Dog poop
- Broccoli cooking
- A baby before a bath

Three things I will never do:
- Speed dating
- Jump through a flaming ring on a motorcycle
- Tag three people for this list.

Now, if only I could figure out how to password protect it…

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Friday, January 05, 2007

She's Sorry

Wonders never cease. The SM apologized! She actually apologized! She has NEVER done that before. I'm shocked! Astounded! Amazed! Flabbergasted! Dumbfounded! Blown over, bowled over, floored, nonplussed, overwhelmed, speechless! (well, obviously not speechless) :).

I got an email from her the last night with a very heartfelt apology, and a plea for forgiveness. Of course, she did offer up some excuses for her appalling behavior (leave it to me to be cynical), but nonetheless, I will give her credit for the apology. I noticed that I wasn't the only one listed on the list of recipients, either. She sent it to everyone who was there that night.

So, back to my cynical self…
Behavior that bad should have been followed up with a personal phone call to every single person, not a blanket email. She took the coward's way out as far as I'm concerned. But, at least it's an apology, and it's not something she's ever offered up before - email or no email.

I hope this is a positive sign that she's finally growing up a bit. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Sorry for all the typos and the grammar/agreement errors on my previous post. I was on a rampage, and after I was finished, I didn't feel like proof-reading it. It's better now. My sanity, and my post.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Seriously, it's shrink time.

For those of you who may not know this, I went to my Dad's this weekend for a visit. My stepmom, in all her cheesy glory, decided that she wanted to have a "renewal of the vows" ceremony for their 25th Anniversary. She made it just like a wedding… there was a ceremony where she walked down the isle, exchanged rings, said vows, etc. She had a reception, she sent out invitations with (get this) a registry card! She was registered! All day, she kept referring to herself as "the bride". My dad, poor soul, just went along with it. He could have cared less about having this huge ordeal. She's such a *&%#@ that if he objected, she'd make his life more miserable than it already is. She's all about being the center of attention. As long as everything is about her, she's happy as a clam. (Are clams really that happy?) My dad and stepmonster (from here forward to be know as the SM) live in Texas, so I bought a plane ticket that cost me $320 that I couldn't afford. PLUS… she asked me to be her photographer because she didn't want to have to hire one. So I had to lug my camera with me the whole way, too.

The day of the "event" the SM was flitting around telling all of us what to do, but not stepping in and helping out for her own stupid party. The whole morning my aunts (two of her sisters and her mother all made the trip to attend - all of whom I like) and I worked hard to decorate the hall for her. The lady who did the flowers was there to decorate this stupid arch the SM rented from Hobby Lobby. She rented two candelabra as well that were so cheap that the lit candles kept falling out of it during the ceremony. HA! HA!

After decorating the hall all morning (did I mention that she didn't help at all?), we went back home until the time of the shindig. The SM left to get her hair done. The lady who does her hair is a good friend, and I had asked the SM the day before if I could go at the same time she did to get a hair cut as well. With the holidays and all and how hectic everything has been, I didn't have time beforehand to get my hair trimmed. It was really no big deal, I just thought if Rosamine (that's the hair dresser, and she's AWESOME!) had time…

Well, the SM didn't ask, of course. She so selfish that she wouldn't want to think someone else would have nicer hair than hers. I know that's probably what she was thinking. She did it on purpose. My hair is nicer than hers anyway, even un-trimmed.

Anyway, after she got back, she and my dad got dressed and were getting ready to go. They had to be there earlier than the rest of us. Earlier in the day, I had mentioned to my dad about needing a back-up set of batteries for my flash. He said that they had some, and he'd make sure got them. With everything else that was going on, we both forgot about it until they were walking out the door. My dad was already outside, so I asked the SM about the batteries. I just wanted to know where they were kept. She storms back in and yanks open this drawer and starts rooting around in there, producing for me 2 AA batteries. I needed four. This made her extremely angry and she yelled at me something about "Why do you need so many!", so I pushed her aside and said "Leave! I can look for them myself!" Which is what I intended in the first place. I spent all this money on a plane ticket, saved her at least $500 when I agreed to be the photographer; the least she could do is supply me with four AA batteries! $%*#@!

All's well at the party. Besides the candles, the ceremony goes off without a hitch. She's acting all prima-donna-ish with her "crown" in her hair. (It was just a sparkly head-band thingy, but she kept calling it a crown. GAG.) The food was outstanding, and the DJ played good music. Most people left right after the cake cutting (yes, they even had a wedding cake and they cut it). There were only 40 people there including all of us family. After most of the guests left, it was pretty much just the family and three other couples. Well, that made her mad, too, that people would have the nerve to leave her party early. I'm sure most of them came for my dad, anyway. I doubt many people actually buy into her phony act. But all of us that were there had a great time. I got to dance with my daddy, which is always a meaningful thing to me. I adore my father, and any time I get to spend with him is worth everything I have to put up with in order to do it.

After all the festivities are over, it's time for the clean-up. Of course, the SM didn't help AT ALL. I guess she was afraid her crown might fall off.

During the event, I got a chance to talk to Rosamine, and we made plans to get together the following day to do my hair. We planned a 2:00 appointment. The SM was planning a HUGE turkey dinner for 4:00, so that should have been plenty of time for the hair. Of course, the SM invited all these people over for dinner the next day - again, she loves to be the center of attention.

Sunday dawns clear and sunny and 60 degrees! My dad and I had planned some father/daughter time and were going to go shopping at this great outdoor market there in The Woodlands where my dad lives. We had planned to leave at noon, that way we could shop for a little while, then he could take me to Rosamine's for my hair appointment, then Rosamine and I would come back to the houses for dinner. Good plan, right? Yeah, except that the SM couldn't stand the thought that my dad would do something and not include her. We were willing to have the SM and her sisters come along, but they weren't ready yet, and we were pressed for time. So we said we'd meet them there. Well, we did see them there, but the SM walked right by us and turned her head away and told here sisters "Don't talk to them." Oh, grow up! Her sisters were both so angry at her. All day they tried talking sense into the SM, but she didn't listen. She so sick in the head that she never thinks she does anything wrong; she thinks she's completely justified in acting the way she does.

My dad and I had a wonderful time shopping by ourselves despite her snub (I was glad she didn't want to be with us. I think my dad was, too.). Afterwards, he dropped me off at Rosamine's hair studio and headed home. Well, my hair took longer that we anticipated because when I got there, Rosamine decided that she wanted to do highlights and lowlights, too. So, we were running a little late for the turkey dinner. Rosamine's phone rang and I told her "I bet that's Barb." Sure enough, it was. "Where are you! Everything is ready!" Rosamine teld her to start without us, and we left about 5 minutes later. It took us about 10 minutes to get home, and when we pulled in the driveway, my dad, and my two aunts are sitting outside. Bad sign. The SM was on a rampage. She became seriously unglued - screaming and yelling about how everyone left her party early, and how no one bothered to show up for her turkey dinner (two people out of four that she invited did come), and how dare I not bring enough batteries, and why didn't I make sure my hair was done before I came down there, and that it was weird that my dad wanted to spend time with me alone without her, and on and on and on and on about anything she could find to complain about. By the time I arrived, she had locked herself in her bedroom and she was crying uncontrollably. My two aunts, who have been putting up with this for longer that anyone else there, were so fed up with her behavior that they swear they are never coming back for a visit. They don't want to see her again. She was saying mean and hateful things; she doesn't care who she hurts or offends. Her sister said it best "She's a mean, mean bitch. My sister is a mean, mean bitch." She's a spoiled prima-donna who thinks that if the world isn't revolving around her, then there is something seriously wrong, and she thinks that screaming and crying and pouting will get her what she wants. First, my cousin goes into her bedroom - comes out a failure, next Rosamine - failure. Next is Sandie, her youngest sister - failure. Bev, her older sister, the one who called her a mean, mean bitch, doesn't even play into her tantrum. Last her mom goes in and finally coaxes her out by telling her that she can open her presents from the party after we eat. Oh Brother! Once again, she becomes the center of attention as everyone tells her how delicious everything is, then gathers around to watch her open presents. Are you all sufficiently sickened yet? Meanwhile, my aunts were getting online trying to find flights out that night instead of waiting until the next day. They had no luck.

All this happened on New Year's Eve, so needless to say, I was up in bed very early. I was reading when I heard fireworks going off, so I guess I did stay up late enough to see the new year come in.

The next morning, I woke up early and the only other person who was awake was my grandma. She and I had a nice time talking and drinking coffee until the SM woke up and busted up our happy time. She came into the kitchen with a scowl on her face and proceeded to start putting away the clean dishes from the night before that were left in the drying rack. She was slamming cupboard doors and making quite a noise. I figured I'd help out and unload the dishwasher. Just as I was getting started, she said to me in her snotty voice "Don't bother. I'll do it. You don't know where anything goes and I'll just have to be looking for everything you put away for the next two weeks." I calmly closed the dishwasher and said to her "Okay. Suit yourself." She proceeds solo with her slamming and her noise-making and successfully woke up everyone else who was still sleeping.

My dad and I left for the airport soon after, and my two aunts were very jealous that I got to leave so early. They still had four more hours of the SM.

You know, she never apologized? Not to the company that we had over, and certainly not to anyone in the family.

It's good to be home.