Day 22: Five Embarrassing Teenage Moments

I really hated being a teenager. I was picked on all the time. I had one friend and I lived in constant fear of being the target of someone’s prank or criticism. Unfortunately, this happens to a lot of kids. The lucky ones can look back and laugh. Frankly, some of this stuff is really funny, even if, at the time, I thought my life was over. Here are some of my funnier teenage trauma moments.

1. I had cranberry-colored hair. I had long (as in elbow-length) frizzy, semi-curly hair that I dyed with black cherry Kool-Aid. It was completely hideous. It probably didn’t help that I wore long-sleeved thermals under giant men’s t-shirts and really baggy shorts every day, even in the winter. It was the 90s. There are no photos.

2. My mom threw me a surprise 13th birthday party and the only girls in attendance were the ones who made fun of me at school. They had been my friends through the sixth grade, but I moved away for seventh grade. When I came back for eighth grade, they were horrible to me. (I could make another list of all the ways they tortured me between eighth and tenth grades.) The party itself was torture, though I never said a word about it…until now.

3. I read in a book that nearsighted women were more attractive because they had a “faraway look.” For an entire day, I didn’t wear my glasses or contacts. By lunch, I had a migraine. It turns out that faraway look is the result of a lot of painful squinting.

4. In seventh grade, a very cute boy in my class walked up behind me in the hall and told me it looked like I’d sat in chocolate or something. I was wearing white pants. It wasn’t chocolate, but it was definitely something. (All the women know what I’m talking about.)

5. I rode the school bus all the way through graduation. It was so pathetic that the middle school kids threw things at me and called me names. Still, I was so afraid to fail my driver’s test that I waited until it was absolutely necessary to take it (I needed a summer job). For the record, I failed it the first time.

Day 21: Well, it’s official…

• Barley is a binge eater. Over the weekend, he broke into the closet where the dog food is stored and had an all-out food frenzy. I have no idea how much he ate (he was missing for at least 20 minutes), but his abdomen was visibly distended when I dragged him, kicking and scratching, out of the food bin. He spent much of Sunday lying on his side, digesting and taking deep breaths. Frankly, I’ve been there more than a few times myself. Now, I get to look forward to all of that food making its way out.

• My computer is dead. The computer coroner called today and gave me the final word. There’s just no saving the motherboard. I’m planning a private service featuring a slideshow of misty images of the two of us cavorting on beaches and sharing romantic picnics. It won’t include the bit about me ripping the ‘e’ key off in a fit of rage. I’ll miss the old girl.

Sorry for such a short one today. My brain is tired.

Day 20: Five Best Shower Songs

1. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, Hank Williams, Jr. This is my go-to shower song. You don’t need a huge range, the words are easy to remember, and adding a Bo Cephus twang is so much fun.

2. Time to Kill, The Band. I sing this in the shower and during very difficult hikes. The words are plentiful and just challenging enough to keep my mind focused in a sunshiney, happy place.

3. Blister in the Sun, Violent Femmes. Lots of shouting, it’s better off-key, and the words are nutty.

4. White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane. This is impossible to sing well, but awesome to sing badly. This is the extended version. It’s a great song!

5. WKRP in Cincinnati theme song. A staple for any bad singer’s arsenal. It never goes out of fashion.

Ziplining is for sissies (thankfully, that means me)

As I mentioned before, my big trip this summer was going down to my hometown to swing through the trees with one of my favorite people on the planet, my stepmom Betsy.

Betsy swings through the canopy.

Initially, when she asked me to go with her and some friends from work and church, I accepted without hesitation. Then, like a typical mom she asked, “Do you think you’ll be alright with the heights thing?” Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m afraid of heights. You might recall that I freaked out on the side of Mount St. Helens last year. And on Mt. McLaughlin a few years before.

I told her I’d be fine, but I was thankful to have a few weeks to pump myself up and spend some time in high places acclimating myself. I went to the top of the stairs in my house and didn’t even break a sweat. I was ready.

Betsy and I before the great zip.

Thankfully, extra fortification was completely unnecessary. It wasn’t scary at all. Even standing on a swaying platform in a tree didn’t phase me. It helped that I was chained to the tree, but I honestly didn’t even consider falling a possibility. It felt completely safe and it was.

Our guides were adorable and funny. The people in our group were fun and friendly. Betsy was, as always, brave and hilarious. We had the best time. (Literally, the scariest part of the adventure was the porta-potty.) I recommend it highly.

We went through Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure out of Gold Hill, Ore. Not only did we fly through the trees, eat complimentary peanuts under cooling misters, and stop by an historic goldmine, we also experienced a van ride of epic proportions. I highly recommend. (Also note the fjord horses in the pasture on the drive up to the zip site. Those are my favorite!)

Day 18: Top Five Favorite Sandwiches

Since going gluten-free, sandwiches haven’t been on the menu, but I still daydream about them fairly regularly.

Here are my all-time favorites:

1. Roast beef with cheddar and horseradish

2. Betsy’s garden sandwich (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, sprouts, assorted other veg, plus cream cheese and a dash of seasoning salt)

3. Grilled cheese (American cheese on white bread is the best, but all grilled cheese is good)

4. Baloney on white bread with Miracle Whip

5. Peanut butter with raspberry jelly on white bread

Day 17: Now For Something Completely Different

Today is one of those days when the same phrase is running through my head over and over and over. Thankfully, it’s something completely wonderful and worthy of a share.

It’s Gertrude Stein’s “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso.” You can hear Stein reading it in this video. It’s the best way to experience the poem. The bit that’s knocking through my head this morning is, “One. 
I land. 
I land. 
The land. 
The land. 
I land. 
I land. 
I land. 
I land. 
As a so.” Now, I feel I should actively repeat it all. You can read the text of the poem here. I think it’s brilliant and beautiful.

Day 16: Five Things From My Time Off

I had a couple days off, but I was thinking about you all the whole time. Swear. Here are five things you missed over the long weekend.

1. Barley and Dougal got their annual checkups and shots. Both did great. Dougal’s butt had been oozing stinky brown juice, so he got that drained by the vet. While the vet squeezed it and gazed into space in a farsighted, almost Hollywood way, he said, “Wow, there’s a lot of fluid in there.” So darn gross, but at least it won’t be dripping onto my shirt anymore. Agh!

2. I finished the book “Wild.” I really enjoyed it, though I wish she had written more about her adventures on the trail. Much of the last two-thirds of the book was about all the time she spent off the trail, which was fine, but I had hoped for mountain lions, intestinal malaise, poison oak, and such. I was happy that most of the people she met were very nice. I like when someone’s reality contradicts my general opinion of the world; it’s a rare time I don’t mind being wrong. I’m foolishly wondering if I need such a trip to get over my crap and move on. It certainly seems to have worked for her.

3. I played a lot of Skip-Bo. It’s a two-player game that I play alone for the nonstop action. My left hand is on a winning streak. Right hand is getting antsy for a win. Does anyone know if those automatic card-shuffling machines work? Do they even make those anymore? It’s a pain in the butt to shuffle for Skip-Bo because it’s a huge deck. I have to do it in pieces.

4. Sometimes food is the best available option. I’m getting so hippy-dippy in my old age. I used to be black and white about everything. There were the right things to do and the wrong things, and I was never going to do the wrong things. Except when it came to food, when I did the wrong things all the time. Now, I’m realizing that we all deal with challenges in different ways and maybe food isn’t the worst option. There’s that lame expression about how when you know better, you do better. It might be true.

5. Women are amazing. Men are alright, but women are amazing. When things were rough for me last week, it was women who held my hand, laughed at my jokes, and made me feel like I could let go a little without seeing everything unravel completely. Women in general and nurses in particular are the strongest people in the world.

Summer of Si – Second Go

Proof that I made it to the top. Yes, I know I look awful. July 14, 2012.

The first two miles felt horrible. I considered turning around, to be honest. It was so, so hot and humid. But, I kept it up and managed to push through the I Might Be Dying Phase.

Overall, the entire hike felt easier than the first time. I thought I was making great time and would surely beat my previous climb time. Surprisingly, once I get to the top and checked my watch, I was five minutes slower. I have no idea how that happened. Coming down, I did a half-jog and shaved some minutes off the total time. Plus, I didn’t linger so long at the top. Those horseflies are brutal and it was so hot in the sun.

There was a gal there who recognized me from last week. She was very tan. There were more women than men this time and no jerky-thin runners. There was a woman wearing flip-flops, however. Ahhh, youth. My plantar fasciitis flared just watching her.

July 14

Time to climb – 1 hour 50 minutes (5 minutes slower than last week)

Rest time at the summit – 10 minutes

Total time – 3 hours 15 minutes (10 minutes faster than last week)

Sunburns – 0

Blisters – 0

Overall Experience – 7 (there were fewer people passing me)

Notes for next time – I got new shoes! I’ll debut those for my next trip. I’m very excited.

Day 15: Five Songs I Can’t Hear in Public

It’s a foggy morning, perfect for long, brooding, depressing songs. These are some of my favorites. I love sad songs more than happy ones.

1. Taxi by Harry Chapin. She was gonna be an actress, he was gonna learn to fly. She took off to find the footlights, he took off for the sky. (As a sidenote, thinking about Harry Chapin has sparked a new top five idea. I think I look like Harry Chapin. Perhaps I need to make a list of men I think I look like. That would be a winner!)

2. Poncho and Lefty by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Now they wear their skin like iron and their breath is hard as kerosene. That damn Lefty gets me every time.

3. He Went to Paris by Waylon Jennings. This is a Jimmy Buffet song, but I love the Waylon Jennings version the best. It’s a happy-sad song. We should all be this guy.

4. No Surprises by Radiohead. If you ever want to know what depression really feels like, this is it. As The Big Lebwoski would say, “It’s a bummer, man.”

5. The River by Bruce Springsteen. If I ever feel sad about being single in my 30s, this is the cure. I could be Mary. That’s something worse.

Day 14: Five disgusting dog stories

This dead mole was exceptionally large and juicy. We found it on a recent hike.

1. On a hike last year, Dougal took particular interest in a dead mole. I tugged him away and kept hiking up the mountain. We went a good mile before I realized there was the tiniest bit of fleshy tail sticking out the side of his mouth. He’d been holding the dead, rotting mole in his mouth the whole time. He didn’t give it up willingly.

2. Earlier this week, Dougal peed on my arm. Hot, yellow pee. I was bent down untangling Barley from his leash when Dougal began spraying wildly in all directions, catching my right arm and hand in the crossfire. (Barley peed on my leg once, but I was wearing pants, thank goodness.)

3. Barley ran ahead of me on a hike a few years back. I plodded along, noticing he was doing something in the tall grass beside the trail. He was grunting and the grass was waving wildly. When I got closer, I noticed he was rolling in a dead deer carcass. There was no fur left, just a greasy, disgusting pile of rotted flesh and bones. I think it was the best day of his life. The drive home was particularly unpleasant.

4. One of my primary duties as a dog owner is digging stuff out of their mouths. I don’t even think about it anymore. I just open the hatch and dig around for whatever they happen to be chewing on at the time. More than once, it’s been a semi-masticated cat turd. The smell of it. Good god.

5. As my final item, I submit a list of things they do so regularly, they’re not all that gross as single incidents, but together, create an impressive list of nasty: farting right in my face, barfing and eating it up again, rolling in and/or eating goose/horse/bird/their own poop, burping in my face, and Dougal’s anal gland leaking on my shirt.