Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

I’m *huge* in Germany. June 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized,Writing — Teri @ 3:23 pm
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As a teenager and a Gen X 20-something, I was obsessed with music — buying music, live music, MTV (yes, we all know that was before The Real World ruined… well, the world), reading about music, I loved it all. I hung out with a crowd that obsessed over music. And in that crowd, there was always one kid in the crowd who would pull the most obscure, crap band out of the pile and proclaim it as the next ____________________ (Fill in the blank with The Beatles, Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones, the Hoff.) Every time. The piece de resistance for the inevitable argument was, “Dude, they are *huge* in Germany!” (Or Japan. In the mind of the American teenager, the two are indistinguishable.)

I had a flashback to those arguments during a conversation recently. One of my former professors asked me how my writing was going. Seriously, my cheeks flashed hot. I fumbled with words to write back to her that, well, yeah, I had kinda didn’t do much with it. I told her I had a blog for a while, but I didn’t really have anything to say anymore. I told her I had freelanced for a local paper for a while, but reporting wasn’t really my thing. I told her I can write a mean grant proposal… and I’m *huge* in Germany!

I thought back to my classes with her. She would give back papers by slamming them on your desk and then with her finger jabbing at the paper, say, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” If she didn’t like a passage, it would come with a note to see her during office hours. Then you would sit beside her as she had you dissect your own writing and do it better. She would tell me I had natural ability. When I would demure, she would burst out, “You have a voice, Miss. USE IT.” Grammar and sentence structure can be taught, she said. Writing with a true voice is a gift, she said. But still you must write, she said. Or the voice will become a whisper. (Yeah, she had a flare for the dramatic.)

Her response to my feeble email was short. “I could wax poetic about wasted opportunity, but I will just send this instead:”

Apparently a picture is worth a thousand words.

Apparently a picture is worth a thousand words.

Above her signature it said, “I expect a writing sample from you tomorrow.”

Sixty-eight days of summer with a blog post for every day. One down, 67 to go…

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Race Report: Tour de Lila September 6, 2011

Head cow said to the other cows, "Nobody move. That girl ain't right."

I was about eight miles into the ride when I realized a cow was staring at me. Actually, not just one cow, but a field of cows. They had stopped grazing and seemed to hold their breath as they watched me chug down mouthfuls of water. I suppose I was a sight. I was alone on a country road where forty-some-odd bikes had already ridden through. I was red faced, dry mouthed and was working on a hateful disposition. Moments earlier Z had been riding behind me. After too many “we need to catch up!” and “use your gears!” I told him to go ahead of me. Instead of drafting, he took off. Insert the hateful disposition right there. As I caught my breath, I noticed an old farmer was watching me from the barn. Deciding I was too pitiful to be a threat, he moved along with his Saturday morning chores. The cows, though, they were suspicious. Why was this chunky girl trying to ride a bike down their road? Why didn’t the skinny men in tight pants wait for her? Is that milk in that bottle?

The Tour de Lila was the first bike ride Z and I had participated in. We loaded our bikes and headed to my mom’s house the night before. She stuffed us with spaghetti and meatballs. She gave us the big bed so we would be rested. The ride was 15, 25 or 50 miles. I was told it was a family ride. In truth, the only “families” that showed up were professional riding teams from the local bike shops. They all headed out on the 50 mile ride on their $5,000 bikes. As I watched them roll out, I thought that they really did look like the guys from the Tour de France. Z and I were signed up for the 25 mile ride. We were riding our mountain bikes. My spin instructor, Justin, assured me that I could easily do 25 miles. As I stared into the deep brown eyes of a cow, I thought, “I’m a fool. There is no way I can do 25 miles. This isn’t freakin’ spin class. There is wind out here!” Z had doubled back, so I ended my water break. We were almost to the point where a decision had to be made — turn left and go 25 miles, stay straight and go 15. Up ahead [he left me again], Z signaled to turn left. I stayed straight. I figured if I was going to ride alone, I might as well blaze my own path. The local bike shop guy came by in his van to see how I was doing. Good, I said. Keep going, he said. The 50 milers passed me too. They cheered encouragement. I was doing a respectable job (meaning I hadn’t fallen off my bike), when the first hill came. And it came with a vengeance. It’s true, I don’t entirely understand how to use my gears. I thought I had the general concept, but in practice, I was failing miserably. I got off of my bike and walked for a moment. The bike guy in the van was back. “Are you OK?” Yes. “You sure?” Yes. “Bike OK?” Clearly he did not think I was OK and wanted me to stop being delusional. “I’m fine. That hill almost killed me.” He looked concerned. “I’m fine,” I said and got back on my bike and peddled off. There were three more major hills, but I didn’t get off of my bike. At one point I looked like I was barely moving, but I was on the seat with my bike in the upright position. Small victories, people.

The irony is that when I finished the ride, I felt good. Good and energetic. I finished 15 real road miles in an hour and 10 minutes. The bike shop riders were averaging about 22 miles in an hour. In spin class I can finish 25 miles in 50 minutes on a base ride. I probably could have done 25 miles for the Tour de Lila. I know now I could have done 25. Next time I’ll have a little faith in myself.

Currently Reading: The Happiness Project is still sitting on my bed stand and Sarah’s Key is in my bookbag waiting to be read. I really haven’t read anything since I went back to work on August 25th. According to Stephen King, if you don’t have time to read, you have no business writing.

Training Log: My training has been off the rails since the beginning of August. Next 5K is this coming Saturday. I absolutely get the NO EXCUSES, JUST DO IT! philosophy, but I also get that I have to show up at work and do household chores and finish my freelance articles and shower and sleep. I’ll figure it out, because I think two blogs saying “I did it, but it wasn’t pretty” is enough.

 

Tiny Room Tour: Out With a Bang August 12, 2011

Filed under: Currently Reading,Family,Field Trips,Food,Road Trip,Writing — Teri @ 8:35 pm

Oh, the luxury! The Tiny Room Tour finished up the summer dates in spectacular style. Monday afternoon we loaded up and headed out to Banner Elk, NC to stay at the Mast Farm Inn. Along the way, I was making phone calls and recording interviews for my article due to the community paper the next day. I tell myself that I work best under pressure. By the time we rolled through Boone, then along the back roads of Banner Elk I was thrilled to see the green roof of the inn. We walk in and meet Danielle, the innkeeper. I instantly love her. She’s loud and friendly and laughs a lot. When we asked about local restaurants for dinner, she enthusiastically told us about her favorites. She won my heart when she kept saying, “they specialize in local, organic food.” She asked what we wanted to do while we were there. I said, “We — oh,” and looked over at Zef. “OK, well, I used ‘we’ loosely, because I haven’t asked Zef, but ‘we’ want to hike and kayak.” Z cocked his head to the side and look at me as if he hasn’t had a say about anything since five minutes into our first date. Danielle howled. She took us up to the Aunt Leona Room, a third floor dormer room without a TV and directed us to Vidalia for dinner. Danielle promised the onion rings were amazing and they were. Z had spaghetti with lamb meatballs and I had a tomato and goat cheese salad. Z loved the lamb. I told him to enjoy it, because I was never, ever making it at home.

 

Profile View. See the Indian head?

 

The next morning we woke to our 8 o’clock coffee delivery. Breakfast was at 8:30 in the dining room. It was a vast and amazing plate of homemade yogurt with granola, vegetable quiche. ham and biscuits. I was stuffed and the forecast said it may rain, so we opted to go for a hike and put off kayaking until better weather the next day. My idea was to wander down some paths, maybe take in a waterfall or two, then head back to town for some shopping. Z had other plans. He looked at the list of trails and immediately zeroed in on Grandfather Trail, where you access part of the trail by climbing up wooden ladders on the mountain face. I thought he was insane, and luckily so did the park service, because they closed the trail for the day because of high winds. We were told we could go to the west side of the mountain and take the Profile Trail. I suppose because we were still full from breakfast, we didn’t pack very much water or food for the hike. I suspect we also thought Profile Trail would be easy. And the first mile was easy. We passed a rocky stream where we played in the cool water. We marched up the inclines past Foscoe View, Profile Campsite and Profile View. Once we reached Shanty Springs, I was starting to think this wasn’t much fun anymore. This is where the climb became technically strenuous. I had already finished most of my water and it was starting to get hot. We passed a couple on the way down. The man, probably in his late 20’s with a bandana wrapped around his head and a professional camera hanging from his neck, was invigorated! He told us to keep going, it was totally worth it. A girl about his age came down the rocks a few minutes after he did. She nodded meekly to his enthusiasm. I looked her in the eye. We exchanged an all-knowing glance that all men are deranged. The couple moved pasted us and kept descending as Z and I started up the rocks. The path is a series of rock formations that we had to navigate. At some parts I found it easier to climb up on my hands and knees. Other parts, I slid on my butt. I asked Z how far we were going. He wanted to make it to the west side head of the Grandfather Trail. “It’s about three miles. Actually, 3.1,” he yelled back at me. It was like a 5K to the sky. I could do that, I told myself. When we reached Calloway Gap, Z decided we should go a little longer. “We’re almost to the peak,” he pleaded. I dragged behind him. My big breakfast had fueled the way up but was now gone. I didn’t have any water left. My legs were shaking. We had the option of going to the Watagua View or Calloway Peak and the elusive Grandfather Trail. Watagua View was closer. “I’m not going the long way,” I told Z. That climb was the hardest thing I had done in a while and I was done. But first I had to get back down. Where going up the trail was physically challenging, going down was mentally challenging. I turned my left ankle three times since I lost the ability to land my foot squarely. I slid down rocks. I was slightly concerned about falling off the trail and down the mountain. When we reached the bottom, I chugged a hot Coke and downed a snack pack of walnuts from the truck. My hands were shaking and I had no strength in my legs. Z, on the other hand, was fine. He leaned against the back of the truck and stretched his legs while I debated going into diabetic shock. When he hopped into the driver’s seat, I informed him that we were going straight to Mellow Mushroom Pizza — despite dusty ankles, despite reeking of bug spray and sunblock and despite the wild look in my eyes. When we got back to the inn, I was still feeling pretty down on myself for having such a hard time on the trail. We met Danielle’s husband, Ken, in the hallway. We told him about our day. He seemed genuinely impressed that we finished the trail in four hours. I used the burst of confidence to will my tired legs up to our third floor room.

 

I think I said an expletive when I saw this portion. Silly me, I wasn't even to the strenuous part yet. (Trail is much steeper and rockier than appears in photo.)

 

The next morning I had to roll myself out of bed because all of my muscles were locked into position. I winced going down the stairs. My upper thigh muscles were unforgiving. I tried to convince Z that antiquing would be a fun alternative to kayaking. He scowled at me and asked for the nearest outfitter. As I ate my fruit danish and drank my OJ, I was grateful that you sit while kayaking. We were the only kayakers on the river with a few tubers and fishermen. And why were we the only kayakers? Because everyone else had the sense to know that it was too shallow to kayak. The mountains, it seems, are also suffering through a drought. At points in the river, we had to get out and drag our kayaks through ankle deep water. Other times, I just reached out and pushed off of the river bed. Z christened our outfitter Rocky Bottom Kayaks. I hate this was Z’s first kayaking trip because it wasn’t as fun as it should have been. Luckily we have a knack for coming away with stories even in the dullest of circumstances.

Currently Reading: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Finished Reading and Loved: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

 

Ay, Caramba! and A Holy Freakin’ Moly July 28, 2011

Apparently today at our house it was Let’s Finally Be Decisive and Change Our Entire Lives Day. Z and I have made three very important leaps forward — leaps into the deep, dark unknown.

Decision #1: It’s time to make some babies in a Petri dish. Hey, there is romance and then there is fertility. Don’t confuse the two. Z’s test results were good: The Time Trials were a success! Z made Dr. M run through the options once again. Insemination was taken off of the table. My eggs get more and more decrepit every single day and, as far as Dr. M is concerned,¬† it’s best not to chance giving birth to a baby dinosaur. [How is that for gender disparity — Dr. M said Z is working with slightly deformed goods, but mine are just aged, and yet THE WOMAN is the problem. Typical.] So we are inevitably back to working with in vitro fertilization. My fertilized eggs will be monitored in the dish for five days before the best and – hopefully – brightest of the bunch get returned to the mother ship. [If I’m going to all this trouble, this kid better be a daggone rocket scientist.] If the first round doesn’t work with my eggs, we go to donor eggs and the process starts again. I’m going to be buying baby food with my social security checks at this rate.

 

This is how I imagine a petri dish full of my babies.

 

Decision #2: Z wants to own a business. We looked into a franchising possibility today and are super excited about it. We’ve been conducting our due diligence. Once things become more concrete, I’ll be less mysterious on the topic. On our way back from the doctor’s office, we are discussing all of the possibilities. Z will manage the business and staff and I will create the marketing plan. I was blurting out ideas when he informed me that he expected me to keep my day job. Say what?! So, wait, you expect me to 1) keep my day job 2) have a kid and 3) also work at the family business? He went into his passive-aggressive happy place trance before he emerged an hour later to declare, “We’ll still need your work health insurance if we have a kid.” That was just rude putting all of the responsibility for our baby dinosaur’s health on my shoulders. I’m going to need Z to work on his daddy and his negotiating skills.

 

Who needs an MBA?

 

Decision #3: I was feeling bold the other day and submitted a writing sample to a local community paper. And lo and behold, I am their new contributing writer. It’s a volunteer position, so I have to keep my day job. [Reoccurring theme, anyone?] I worked on my first story today. It’s 500 words about an upcoming event. I was interviewing the event coordinator, when in mid-sentence, my brain screamed out, “Who the heck do you think you are? You aren’t a writer! You can’t submit this story for publication! You don’t know what you are doing!” My subject was too distracted by the thousand details still to be done and the stifling temperature in the venue to notice that I was having a nervous breakdown in front of her. Luckily I have a really poor attention span, even for my own breakdowns, and recovered quickly. Yeah, I can do this. [I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!] When it becomes a reality and I see it in print, I’ll post it here.

 

I bought these to soothe my apprehension, but they just made me nervous, so I hide them under the bed.

 

All and all, you can’t really argue with a day filled with a baby dinosaur, a husband with a purpose and 500 words for publication. I’ll be thanking my lucky star tonight.

Stress Reading: On Writing by Stephen King. So far it’s more of an autobiography¬† than a book on writing advice. Pleasant read though.

Training Log: Oh boy.