Tag Archives: Adventure

Invitation To My Shower

15 Apr

You are cordially invited to a very special occasion.     It’s a shower!

“What?” you say. “I didn’t know you were getting married!”

Nope, it’s not a bridal shower.

“Oh my God, you’re pregnant!?”

Uh, not that I know of.

“Then what?” you ask.

You’re invited to my “Life Dream” Shower!       

Date: Now through May 1

Location: Online     

Where I’m Registered: Kickstarter

So what brought this on? Well, I believe you know about the book I’m writing. No? Oh, well you should read An April Fools Day Announcement. In order to help with the expense of researching my book, Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist, I started a Kickstarter project on April 1st. With just over two weeks left, my Kickstarter could use a Kickstart. So I’m throwing myself a shower.

I’ve attended countless bridal showers in my life. These have ranged from a small group of women going on about how wonderful it is to find your soul mate and endless descriptions of the lace and sparkle explosion commonly known as a wedding gown, to a large party with both men and women, and booze and games including “How Well Do You Know Your Mate?” Whatever type of bridal shower it is, it’s expected that you will show up with a lovely gift of a household appliance, beautiful linens or perhaps a spa day to help the bride relax from the stress of wedding planning. Don’t worry, in order to make it easy for you, she’s made a list of exactly what you can buy her. You can find this list at Macy’s, Target, or even Amazon.com

A month or two after the bridal shower, you get the honor of attending the wedding of the happy couple. You’ll get all dressed up, sit through a ceremony that includes oohing and aahing as the bride walks down the aisle, hearing the beautiful vows a couple may have written for each other, and taking bets with your friends on how long it will last. Then you get dinner, dancing and drunk (not necessarily in that order). If you’re really lucky, you’re crowned as a bridesmaid. In this case, you get to spend $350 on a dress, not of your choosing, which you will most likely never wear again as its sole purpose is to make the one woman not wearing it appear more beautiful.

As the night nears the end, there’s one more unique custom. Men will gather for the throwing of the garter and the women, nay, the single women get the honor of lining up to catch the bridal bouquet. This generally ends in an elbow to the ribcage and someone wearing that, um, “beautiful” bridesmaid’s dress, on the floor assuring everyone, “I’m all right, it’s just a scratch” (could they not afford to give flowers to all of the single women instead of having them fight over one bouquet?). Following this she gets the joy of a man groping her leg to put on the garter while the guests yell, “Higher! Higher!” For all of this, all you have to do is give a present; yes, another one. Don’t worry, they’re registered.

Wedding Cartoon

After a year or two, you’ll receive another invitation; it’s a baby shower! The happy couple is expecting. They’re not only expecting a baby, but another gift. Yes, you’ll get a nice lunch and you’ll play games such as, “Whose baby picture is this?” and “How many squares of toilet tissue will it take to wrap around the mother-to-be’s belly?” You’ll also get to hear friends and family who already have children discuss pregnancy bladder issues and spit-up. Not to worry, to make the gift-giving easy they’ve, once again, registered at Macy’s, Target and Amazon. But they’ve also added Babies R Us. StorkWhile I’m not opposed to marriage – I’m actually a fan – I’m not a huge fan of big weddings. And I’m certainly not opposed to babies. As most who know me will tell you that, given the choice of spending time with adults or spending time with kids, I’ll always choose the kids (they’re usually much more entertaining). I always wanted kids, it just never happened (take a look at Grace and you’ll better understand).

Since I’ve never had a bridal shower, a baby shower, or a wedding, I’ve decided to have a “Life Dream” shower. I’m asking that all of that money you’ve saved on not buying me those life event presents, you consider spending on my shower gift. I’m not registered at Macy’s, Target, Amazon or even Babies R Us, but I am registered at Kickstarter. In return, I have the best party favors ever! No, they’re not chocolates with the happy couple’s name in gold leaf, nor are they candles that smell like vanilla with a hint of orchid. They’re books, tote bags, complimentary motivational speaking engagements, opportunities to contribute ideas to the book, and even paid lodging to join me on a Drop Me Anywhere trip. As long as I hit my goal, I’ll guarantee that I won’t return your gift as, what ever you give will be the perfect size and color.

I’ll keep an eye out for your RSVP on the Drop Me Anywhere Kickstarter page. Thanks for celebrating my “Life Dream” shower with me.

 

It’s April Fools’ Day and This is No Joke

31 Mar Book Logo

It’s a big day. No, I’m not talking about April Fools’ Day, although it’s one of my favorite days. Once, while working on a ship, my April Fools’ Day prank was to glue one of the other officer’s shoes to the cabin floor (relax, I was dating him). I figured we had acetone on board to dilute it. How was I supposed to know that he’d rip up the shoe and half the floor with it?

Anyway, April Fools’ day seems like the perfect day to launch my Kickstarter project. A brief Kickstarter explanation for those unfamiliar with it; Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding site around. “What’s crowdfunding?” you ask. Really, have you been locked in a closet? Crowdfunding sites allow creators of new projects, products, apps, and random business ideas to present them to the cyberspace crowd (you) and ask for help with funding in exchange for fabulous rewards (although the rewards I’m offering are, of course, much more fabulous than the most fabulous of the others).

What will my Kickstarter campaign be funding? If you remember, at the beginning of the year – January 1st to be exact (I’m all about those special days) – I launched a website called www.DropMeAnywhere.com. It’s an interactive travel reading and writing site. It’s about travel without a plan. You, my virtual travel buddies vote on where I go without a plan. And while I’m there, I do some volunteer work because well, it’s the right thing to do.

Based on the success of the website (yup, it’s a hit!), I’ve decided that there’s a book in this. The Kickstarter campaign will help fund Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist. How will the book be different than the website? Well, while the each day on the blog tends to be a different story, the website will be a memoir of the year of doing the project. I may even hold back the stories from a couple of the locations and save them for the book. And, as any juicy memoir has its, hmmmm, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, this will also. I call them the untold stories from the road. Men have asked me, “Are you going to write about me?” I’m never sure if they want me to, or if they’re afraid I will. Regardless, in this case, the answer is. “Yes, I probably will.”

You should know, it’s not easy for me to ask for help. If you read my post “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help” written a few years ago, you’ll understand. But here I am asking, “Will you help?” In this case, I alleviate some of my guilt by offering you those fabulous rewards (sure am hoping people are using the search term “fabulous” today). Also, if you like good books – entertaining, full of great information, good stories and well, there’s the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll part – then you’ll get to read one in 2015. Finally, have you ever felt there was something you wanted to do in your life, but were afraid to do it because it meant risking a lot? Well this is mine. And I’m doing it. I feel that so much of my life so far has led to this. Working in the travel industry for twenty years; writing, both professionally (yes, for money) as well as for myself, for nothing at all except to tell a story and practice technique; and a lifetime of being a keen observer of the world through a pair of fairly snarky eyes.

The link to my Kickstarter campaign is here (and pretty much linked wherever you see the word Kickstarter). I’m asking for $18,000 and my campaign ends on May 1. Why that amount and that ending date? This won’t cover the entire project. But, as Drop Me Anywhere is a partnership between me and you, I’ll throw in my money too – remember, I’ve already done so on the first trip to Newfoundland. What? You haven’t read about it? Please start with “Oh Canada” to get an idea of the feel of the book. Between the 8-10% Kickstarter and Amazon payment fees as well as the U.S. Government’s share (hello I.R.S., I ❤ you), well, the money going to the project will be significantly less. As far as the ending date goes, most successful Kickstarter campaigns are 30 days or less. Oh, and one more thing, if I don’t reach my goal by the ending date of May 1, I get nothing. . . nada. . .zip. . .zilch. . . a big, fat zero. How scary is that?! Don’t worry, if I don’t hit my goal, you won’t be charged for anything you may have pledged (and you won’t receive those fabulous rewards).

Besides pledging, you can also help in another way. Spread the word. Not like gossiping or anything, but more in the social media realm. While there’s a fine line between gossip and social media, I have no problem if you share it with the lady standing in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store while she’s browsing through the National Enquirer (what? Mila Kunis and Macauley Culkin are getting married? She’ll definitely leave him Home Alone). Whoever you choose to share this Kickstarter campaign with, please do it quickly. . .and often (getting better at this asking for help thing).

Again, here’s the link. Oh, and stop by www.DropMeAnywhere.com and vote on where to “drop me” for the next location – Take Me to the River.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, HERE’S THE LINK!

 

Come Fly With Me

5 Jan

Drop Me Anywere Logo

Hello all. Yes, I know, it feels like forever since I’ve written here. I’m sure you were worried about me. I appreciate the Get Well cards, E-mails and flowers you all sent. Oh wait, yours must have been lost in the mail. What with Christmas and the UPS package delivery fiasco, I’m sure your ‘Get Well’ card will be arriving any day now.

Actually, I wasn’t sick at all (except perhaps for the traditional New Year’s Day hangover). I’ve been busy with a new project. It’s called Drop Me Anywhere! “What is it?” you ask (thanks for asking). Well, a little backstory.

You all remember I left my job at Disney Cruise Line for some very much needed R&R (you can read about it in Sabbatical). It’s been wonderful. I did a lot of yoga, drank good wine and scotch, reconnected with friends, wrote, traveled a little, had surgery (remember that? No? Read here) and generally got my body, mind and relationships healthy again. When I was ready, I began looking for jobs that I would again be passionate about. It turns out most of these jobs were overseas, with many in England, where I would like to try living. I applied for many of them. Some even contacted me to ask me to apply. And some led to interviews. It was all very promising until they found out I’m an American. When companies figured out they’d need to sponsor a visa for me, I became, well, less desirable. Yes, I’ve had relationships where I was told I was high-maintenance (which I continue to dispute), but when it comes to a job, apparently easy is more important than qualified and passionate (wondering if easy is more important than passionate in a relationship too – hoping not).

During this time, my friend April texted me with a few questions.

“What three things would your dream job entail?” was one question.

After just a minute of consideration I answered confidently, “Writing, Travel and Helping the World! I’d settle for two out of three.”

As, at this time in my life, I’m not settling, and nobody was offering me a job that I felt I would be passionate about, I’ve decided to create my own. Yup, full-time travel writing. Yikes!!

Drop Me Anywhere came about through a Twitter travel chat I was participating in. These are organized chats with 5-10 questions using hashtags (#) to delineate (big word – writer here) the specific chat.

One question was, “If you had a travel show, what would it be called and what would it be about?”

“Mine’s called ‘Drop Me Anywhere,’ I answered, “and it’s about traveling without a plan!”

The response was overwhelming, with people telling me I needed to film a pilot, get it on YouTube and make a Kickstarter campaign. Wow! Please believe me when I say I had not thought of the title or the topic until about thirty-seconds before I typed that answer.

I let the idea rest for a couple of weeks figuring out that, although I’ve done on-camera interviews, my comfort zone truly is writing. I contacted a well-known travel writer who I had an E-mail exchange with about a story he was writing a few months before.

“Is this anything?” I asked

He wrote me back telling me he loved the idea and what might be the best way to go about it. I guess it’s something! Next thing I know, Drop Me Anywhere was born.

So what makes it different? It’s the first interactive travel writing and reading site. It’s a partnership between you and me. You get to vote on where to send me without a plan. Yup, that’s right, you get to tell me where to go (insert your joke here). I’ll generally leave within 2 weeks or so without researching. I’ll write about the adventure and also provide information and links to vendors, lodging and activities. But wait, there’s more. . .

I’ll be spending a day, or part of a day volunteering for a non-profit organization I find over there. And after that, I’ll write about them on Rebel-With-A-Cause so you’ll know about them too.

One more twist to this new project – I’m calling it “Kickstarter Miles.” It has nothing to do with Kickstarter, but airfare is expensive, even when booking in advance. With just two weeks’ notice well, even a trip to Santa Monica can be expensive. So, if you have an extra few thousand frequent flyer miles that you won’t use in the foreseeable future, how about throwing them my way? Just click on the “Donate Miles” page and you can contact me to show me how generous you are. You’ll also see what great rewards you’ll receive for your donation.

Finally, you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be my usual snarky self on Drop Me Anywhere, so we all get to make fun of my life. And I’ll still be posting on My Own Adventure here and there as, when traveling or not, I still find this an amusing world and it helps those voices in my head express themselves. Rebel-With-A-Cause will remain informative and interesting, yet snark-free, as I’ll make fun of my own life, but not of someone else’s. These will be people who do good work and I hope my telling of their stories will do them justice.

So, please click on the Drop Me Anywhere link read a bit more about it. Please subscribe and vote (yes, you can vote without subscribing but this way you’ll get an E-mail when I post about the voting results).

I must go to check my mailbox now as I’m sure your Get Well card will have arrived today.

Sex and the Single Writer

16 Sep Writing-blogging-clipart

I know what you’re thinking. “Where has Carole gone? I’m going through a bit of snarky withdrawal.” I’m with you on that. Well, I’d love to say I was too busy traveling the world, doing crazy things and talking to strangers (never learned that lesson) to put my fingers on a keyboard. But that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve been lying low. Yes, there was a weekend trip to Las Vegas but, as we all know, what happens there stays there. I’m now preparing for a little business travel in my old line of work. Nowhere exotic (unless you consider Philadelphia and Chicago exotic), but it will keep me off the streets for now (at least in Arizona). And I’m sure I’ll find lots of amusing people and situations to share with you.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in why I write. It’s not something I do for fame – I’m not exactly a household name. . .yet. Fortune? Oh yes, rolling in the dough here. Writing this from my 21 room mansion with a bowling alley and airplane hangar (going airplane shopping as soon as I finish this). No, I write because I must. It’s like an unexplainable build-up that I must release. Yes, it sounds like an orgasm and well, perhaps it’s comparable.

First there’s the subject idea. When an idea hits it’s like seeing that guy across room. My heart flutters a bit and I lose track of my thoughts. Then there’s the research – traveling somewhere, talking to people or reading up on a subject. In comparison to sex, or the steps leading up to it, this would be the date. We meet for a drink and dinner to get to know each other. Sometimes, the research is already done, as reading something, having a chance encounter or traveling somewhere is what has inspired me. In the dating world, this would be considered slutty behavior and comparable to jumping in bed with someone.

Now that I’ve researched the subject, or spent a few weeks getting to know the guy, I am ready to do the dirty deed. It begins slowly – foreplay. I have notes, a few sentences or words that I know I want somewhere in the article. I start on an introductory paragraph – think of it as kissing. Before long, I am well involved in the words (ok, completely opposite of sex unless we’re tallkin’ dirty talk). Now I’m totally immersed in the writing and the ringing iPhone barely registers. Things become very organic and instinct takes over.

Finally, I come to the ending paragraph. But this is not the release. Not yet, anyway. I only read over what I have written after it is completed. You don’t stop in the middle of having sex to analyze whether it’s good or not. It’s only after, when the deed is done, that you lay there and take a deep breath and think, ‘that was amazing!’ This is the orgasm!

**Please note, sometimes I read through the article and think, ‘this is crap.’ This I do not publish. After all, bad sex is normally still pretty darn good whereas bad writing is just bad.

 

 

Going Back in Time

10 Aug

Last week I had another travel adventure. After traveling to 50 countries and 50 U.S. states, where’s a girl go to find some adventure? Singapore perhaps? Bora Bora? Oh so close but not quite. Last week’s travel was to the tourist mecca of Detroit, Michigan.

If you’re quite finished laughing I’ll explain. I grew up in Oak Park, Michigan and lived in the state until I was 24 years old when I walked into the bank I had worked at for seven years and declared, “I quit! I’m going to sail the Caribbean.” And I did. Exactly where is Oak Park you ask. Well, if you were from Michigan I would hold up my right hand and point to a spot somewhere in the pad on the bottom of my palm over towards my thumb (it’s a Michigander thing). As you may be from somewhere else, I’ll defer to the movie reference. You’ve probably heard of the Eminem movie, 8 Mile. Well, I grew up at 9 Mile (we’re very creative with our street names there).

As I have very little family left in the area, I don’t often get back. Last week I headed to Detroit for my high school class reunion. Yup, 10 years (ok 30 years, but I graduated as a fetus). Please note that I will henceforth be referring to this event as my 10 year reunion. You can choose to believe what you like.

Class of 83

The weekend included many events beginning with a tour of my high school. Yup, all those years I avoided going to summer school and here I was, on a Friday morning in the middle of summer, sitting in the high school cafeteria. Suddenly I felt like Molly Ringwald in the Breakfast Club. After coffee and bagels we were greeted by Mr. Washington, the current principal. While he was telling us about the current structure of the school district and the accomplishments of Oak Park High School I had a moment of panic. I whispered to my former classmate sitting next to me, “Oh my God, we’re older than the principal!” A few minutes later Mr. Washington put me at ease by mentioning that he was a graduate of a neighboring high school two years prior to us. There is a God!

After a very surreal two-hour tour during which we saw some of our old classrooms, the science lab, the planetarium, the football field, the band and choir rooms and, my favorite part, the auditorium and the little theatre. I spent much time in these as I was a theatre geek (my claim to fame was performing in repertory theatre when I was 17 as Peppermint Patty in the musical Snoopy). We ended up at the swimming pool (indoor, it’s Michigan for goodness sake). As Mr. Venetelli, our high school Spanish teacher had joined us, he also gave up some secrets. So, the teachers used to going swimming during lunch. What? Our teachers were, well, real people? This of course led to the question of which teachers were sleeping with which other teachers. With a couple of exceptions, Mr. Venetelli gave up very little information (either that or our teachers were a bit boring).

From there it was lunch at the Coney Island. If you’re from Michigan, you will understand this. If not, that is a reason to head to the Motor City for a visit. Our high school hangout was Davison Coney Island. A mere half-mile from the high school it was where we would go to lunch. The experience on this day was a bit different. In high school, a not-so-pleasant lady would come around to each table with a cigar box and students were required to pay before receiving any food or drinks. While it seemed rude at the time, looking back as an adult it made a lot of sense (although she could have been more pleasant, but I’m sure she was over us). If I had never before felt like an adult, this would finally be the day I did. After we ate, our checks were laid on our tables with a smile. It was like a Bar Mitzvah. No cigar box! Today, you are a man (uh well, you get it).

The next night was the big event. Yes, the official 10 year reunion evening. As I was staying at the hotel where the event was taking place, I had a little pre-prom party in my hotel. And, as some of my classmates cleverly left their spouses at home, this gave all of us the opportunity to not walk in alone. It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy some liquid courage before heading down.

One of the first people I ran into was my middle school music teacher. Coincidentally, her brother was my very first boyfriend. His name was Robert Green. I was a cute but awkward 13 year-old (at least I felt awkward) and he was a chubby 13 year-old boy with braces. The perfect match. He was not a good kisser (we were 13. Who was?) He bought me an engraved heart stickpin for my birthday. I was not even remotely in love with him, just with the idea of having a boyfriend (try not to judge, I was 13). Anyway, his sister was sure to inform me that he is recently divorced and showed me a photo of him with his 15 year-old son. Surreal. Next I run into Jeff, the jock. I tell him it’s good to see him and he immediately asks, “Where do I know you from?” Uh, I don’t know, high school perhaps???

Reunion night

The next day was a picnic in the Oak Park Park. This is the place we all grew up in. Whether it was pushing our dog down the slide, sledding at the Oak Park hill, playing on the train (the funnest train that never moved), playing softball in little league or hanging out while skipping school. It was a weekend filled with great memories and OMG moments.

After spending time with old friends the following are the random thoughts which crossed my mind or conversations I had during the weekend: Do you stay in an unhappy marriage? Hell, do you even get married? What about kids? Crap, I forgot to have kids. Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have kids. Do I want to be in this relationship and have someone needy now that my kids are grown? Do I need to be needed? Being single, if I die, how long until someone finds my body? How strange is it to talk with kindergarten friends about buying new appliances? And to drink wine with them instead of milk from the milk machine? Instead of white or chocolate the question becomes white or red? Pop? It’s a Midwest thing (I am now a soda person, although I drink neither).

Finally, what did I learn from my 10 year reunion? Life is hard. I’m not complaining. And I’m not saying that my life has been any tougher than anyone else’s. Everybody has tough times. Some more than others. When you look at it, I won the birth lottery. From where I was born, to my parents, to my childhood friends. Lucky. Oh, and if you have the chance to go to your 10 year reunion (or perhaps, 30 year)? Go. Facebook is not the same.

If Disney Characters Worked at the DMV

21 Jun

I recently received a letter from my friendly Department of Motor Vehicles.

“We’re contacting you in regards to your driver’s license which expires in the year 2030. In Arizona we issue 30 year licenses because our state government is a little crazy (Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for example). Still, we understand that you’ve had a stressful few years and perhaps you look a little different from when you first moved to this beautiful state. Therefore, we kindly request that you present yourself, along with your check for $12, to your local DMV to obtain a new photo.”

Are you kidding me? Don’t they realize that I look exactly the same as I did back in 2000 (perhaps even a little better)? So, in order to continue to drive legally, I reported to the DMV.

You know it’s a bad sign when you pull into the parking lot of the DMV and there’s not a parking space to be found. After circling multiple times, I finally grabbed an open space and, with a growing sense of dread, headed into the unremarkable, brick building.

As I entered I heard numbers being called.

“B129. E011, G726”

It felt like I was in a giant BINGO game. I headed over to the picture taking area, where I was promptly told I had to go back to the long line near the entrance in order to receive my ‘paperwork.’ What ‘paperwork?’ I have the letter that says what I need.

“F541, G727, C232”

Understanding that, just like the security line at the airport, this is one of those times that you simply say, “Yes Ma’am,” I headed over to the dreaded line. This line had about thirty people standing in it, all looking stone-faced as if they just stepped out of the latest zombie movie. I stood there and waited. . . and waited.

“E012, D592”

Finally, I reached the front of the line where I was handed a form to complete and a number. I was told to wait for my number to be called and then I could go get my picture taken. As I sat down I asked others how long they had been waiting. With a smirk they replied, “Over an hour.” Oh joy!

I completed my form and waited. I sat there thinking about the Skype chat I just had with a former Disney co-worker prior to my trip to the DMV. Perhaps it was that conversation, or the incessant number calling, or the odorous gentleman sitting next to me (Dude, I’ll hold your spot. Go home and take a shower!) but I somehow found myself escaping into a daydream. And as the numbers grew more and more faint. . .

“B130, C233, F092”

I daydreamed that Disney Characters had taken over the DMV.

DMV for PowerPoint

As I drive my beautiful car ‘Lightening McQueen’ into the parking lot of the building marked, ‘Motor Vehicle Department – The Happiest Place on Earth,’ I see various people dressed in turquoise pointing me (using two fingers, of course) through the parking lot. I am directed to an empty space about a mile from the building’s entrance where I park and am immediately collected by a long tram. I sit and am told to keep my hands inside and remember where I parked (uh, isn’t that why I have that emergency alarm on my key FOB? So I don’t have to remember). I am instructed to wait for the vehicle to come to a complete stop before exiting and to enjoy my day at the DMV.

“Wait, my day?” I ask the driver. “But I only need a photo.”

“Aahhh yes. You should plan on spending the day as we want you to get your money’s worth.”

I walk through the entrance to the tune of “Be Our Guest” and, in an attempt not to wait in the ridiculously long line at the front, I find a window with nobody waiting. I approach the employee, who seems to have the power to read minds as he corrects me to tell me he is a Cast Member (perhaps he’s a Genie). I ask if I can get a Fast-Pass to go directly to the photo line.

His response, “That is one wish I cannot grant.”

I do the walk of shame over to the never-ending main information line and wait. . . and wait (some things never changes). When I finally reach the front there is a boy working the desk. Well, I think he’s a boy. He looks young but a little wooden. I tell him I just need a new photo for my license. He hand me a form to complete and a number. As he tells me the wait shouldn’t be very long I swear I see his nose grow longer.

I sit down and complete my form. Once I’m finished, I take the opportunity to people watch. I see a man step up to a window where the beautiful, yet over-dressed, blonde behind the desk immediately slams down her closed sign exclaiming, “It’s 12 o’clock! I must go!” And mumbles something about a pumpkin and mice.

Clock strikes 12

There is a really short Grumpy guy working the next window. And next to him is a really beautiful lady that says she’s much too sleepy to work and needs to go take a long nap. At the end of the counter is a tall guy with a Goofy grin on his face.

All of them are supervised by a scowling lady walking behind them and looking over their shoulders. When she starts screaming at one cast member who must have a skin condition as he has spots all over him, he seems frightened and apologetically responds, “I’m sorry Miss DeVille.”

 DMV Ticket Finally, I hear, “A044.”

Cartoonish birds and butterflies start to circle me and I hear the song, ‘Whistle a Happy Tune’ as I skip up to the photo window (yes skip, I’m beginning to enjoy my fantasy). I’m greeted by, what seems to be another boy, this time wearing a funny green hat. His name-badge says Peter. He seems to have a tiny ball of light moving around him that he talks to. Perhaps he’s schizophrenic. He asks what he can help with and I tell him I need a new driver’s license photo as, apparently, the DMV thinks I might look a little older than I did in the previous one.

He leans in a gives me his wise advice, “Never grow-up!” Peter Pan

“I’m doing my best!” I explain.

He instructs me to stand in front of the green screen while he takes my picture. I imagine all kinds of background inserted on the green screen in my photo. He then tells me to think of a happy thought, smile and snaps the photo. Finally I’m told to go to “the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.”

“What? I’ll be here all night ‘til tomorrow morning?”

“Just take a seat,” he says.

I sit. Eventually, I hear, “A044.”

When I step up to the window I encounter a beautiful red-head who is wearing a dress that is much too tight. She hands me my new driver’s license while asking if I need anything else. When I mention that the service here is pretty bad, she tells me that it’s not so, it’s just drawn that way. Uh, ok.

At long last, new driver’s license in hand, I head to the door while whistling a happy tune. As I leave there’s a giant mouse standing there waving and shouting, “See ya real soon!” Uh, I really hope not.

Mickey Mouse

“A044. Last call for A044.”

I’m shaken out of my daydream, so I stand up and yell, “BINGO!”

I look around at everyone staring at me, put my head down, get my picture taken and take a seat to wait some more.

Perhaps if Disney owned the DMV it would be a bit more fun. But then again, a driver’s license would cost more than a car.

Overcoming My Fear of Flying

12 Jun

I have a fear of flying.

“What?” you say. “Aren’t you the one who travels the world finding adventures? Surely you cannot be afraid of flying!”

With that you would be right, and wrong. I have no issues with airplanes unless I’m assigned a middle seat as I am deathly afraid of that. The fear of flying I’m speaking of is the Flying Trapeze. So, in honor of my birthday (Monday, and yes, I’m still waiting for your present) I took a trapeze lesson.

First, let me explain why birthday adventures are so important to me. I love birthdays. It’s the one holiday that’s all my own. I don’t have to share it with anybody (it must be lousy to be a twin but I guess you’ve learned to share in the womb)! And while I may not be able to remember what I did last Thursday, I remember where I was and what I did on most of my birthdays. I spent two birthdays in Alaska with the sun setting at about 2:30am and rising at about 4:00am. I spent one in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was working but ducked into a pub for a little birthday drink. One was celebrated on a Tall Ship from the 1930’s in the middle of the Caribbean while looking at the wash of the Milky Way Galaxy and wishing on five shooting stars. I rode a bike around Berlin (with clients) on a birthday a few years ago. And last year I did my birthday trip to England (read On A Wing and a Prayer) and then flew to New York to celebrate the day with my oldest friend.

After much consideration (okay, after a fleeting thought) I had a brilliant idea. Trapeze! I did a Google search and, lo and behold, while I was out of town these last two years, Trapeze U opened up in four miles from my house. My only concern was an issue with my back as of late. Oh, and the fear. Yes, there was that. I waited until the day of my birthday (again, June 10, still waiting for your presents) to see how my back would feel that day.

I woke up with my usual run to the medicine cabinet and picked up an ice pack from the freezer. After a while, my back was feeling better and I decided to commit. I pulled up the website and booked my ticket for a “Monday Night Special.” Yikes!

I spent the day getting free food (love the local restaurants that understand the importance of your own personal holiday) and running errands. I went to the gym as I though it important to be warmed up, stretched out and as light as possible.

The lesson was scheduled for 7:30pm as, at 113 degrees, the temperature is too hot to touch your steering wheel let alone swing on a trapeze. I arrived at about 7:00pm and sat in my car staring at the empty swing while trying to imagine myself up there. It didn’t look very high. ‘Yeh, I can do this,’ I convinced myself. I entered the office and was greeted with a friendly, “Hello.” I energetically responded and made some amusing quip (it’s important that these people like you as they’re responsible for whether you live or die). They handed me an info. sheet and release to sign. All was fine until I got to the line about “Your Emergency Contact.” Crap. I wrote down my sister’s name and immediately texted her to stand by her phone “just in case.”

After various others filed in and completed their paperwork, we headed outside. They hooked us all up in safety harnesses. These were tightened so that my waist was about the size of my thigh, although with my larger thighs, this is not saying much (thanks mom!). All I can think is, “Does this safety harness make my butt look big?”). They then separated us into two groups – first timers and previous flyers. There were 6 of us first timers and 5 experienced. Of the first timers, I was the oldest. The others were teenagers. Fabulous! The experienced ones consisted of teenagers, an eight year old (Azalea, known as Z), Z’s mother, Seven (yes, that’s her name) and a 51-year-old (Linda).

They asked us first timers to line up while they instructed us on positions and listening. We then practiced how to grasp the trapeze, jump and let go of the support pole (very important it’s done in this order). The instructor told us that immediately after we started our swing they would tell us to kick up and hook our knees around the bar and let go. Uh, what? Don’t I first get a chance to just swing? You want me to immediately go upside down? You’ve got to be kidding.

The experienced people went first followed by the first timers. I’m third in line. While Katie, the 13 year-old in front of me swung, I was called to climb the ladder. It’s a very narrow, metal ladder wrapped in rope. I began climbing on the outside and when I reach the first rung painted red (where the net was at, I was told to step on the inside and climb the rest of the way. This was one of the toughest parts as the ladder not only hurts your hands and feet, but we seem to have a battle over which one of us was shaking more. The

Trapeze Ladder Climb

The Dreaded Ladder

higher I climbed, the more terrified I became. ’Why can’t I be a normal person who celebrates their birthday with cake and perhaps a cocktail?’ I thought. Finally I heard a voice behind me saying, “Two more steps.” I got to the second red ladder rung and was told to hold on with both hands and step back onto the platform. This part was less scary than I thought it would be, but that’s most likely because I just wanted to get off the ladder. I stepped onto the platform and grabbed the cable thinking good thoughts and doing some yoga breathing. I asked the guy his name and immediately forgot it (really, my mind was elsewhere). I listened closer than I have ever listened in my life. Oh, and I DID NOT LOOK DOWN!

The man whose name I cannot remember (let’s call him Voldemort) hooked my safety

Ladder to Platform

Get me off this ladder!

harness to cables and told me to spread my legs (uh, I’ll just leave this one alone) and hold onto the cable with my left hand. He held onto my safety harness while using a pole to bring the trapeze bar closer to us (breathe). He then told me to grab the bar with my right hand and push my hips forward. Done. When he said, “Hep” (circus term for go) I let go with my left hand and go. This was completely wrong order and I also didn’t jump as was supposed to. Basically, I just held on and fell. Immediately I heard, “Kick your legs up.” I kicked, but my legs didn’t quite make it under the bar to hook onto it. My hands hurt. I heard the guy on the ground tell me to kick my legs forward like I’m sitting and let go. As always, I’m good at falling. I landed in the net grateful that it didn’t hurt my back. I stood up and did the crazy chicken net walk over to the edge, grabbed onto the marked spots, laid down and flipped off the net. I stood there and yelling, “I flew!” Perhaps I didn’t accomplish the whole upside down thing, but I got off that platform without delay and I swung.

We got a couple of more turns in our rotation during which I still could not quite get my legs up there. “Damn, you’re strong girl,” was the comment from Voldemort. Apparently that was my problem. I kept bending my arms and basically doing pull-ups. Ha! I can’t do one in the gym but I did about 40 on this night.

They then lined us up again to instruct us on how to hang upside down and pass to a catcher. Yes, let go of the trapeze with our legs and be held by a guy on another trapeze. There’s just one problem here – I still hadn’t hung upside down (okay, there’s probably more than one problem but that’s the first one).

I climbed up and told Voldemort that I would not be doing the catch. He seemed disappointed. Sorry, not happening. I gave the upside down thing one more try. They showed me a different way and I gave it my best shot. The only thing I accomplished was hooking my leg around my safety harness and screaming. Aah, comedy relief. Through a variety of twisting moves I unhooked my leg and hung by my hands anxiously waiting to be told to let go. Again, I’ve got the falling thing down.

One great part of the experience was bonding with the others in my group. We traded E-mails to send photos. I headed home for a dip in the pool and in the scotch.  I have not been able to raise my arms above my head for two days now. A birthday to remember.

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