The summer of 2014 has officially begun for me. I just got home from my last class of the spring semester, I’m not taking any summer classes, and we’ve started packing for our first road trippin’ adventure.
This milestone gave me the opportunity to reflect on my last couple of summers. It was a nice trip down memory lane. I’ve had some pretty incredible summers. Monumental. They’ve included travel to exotic locals, outdoor pursuits, laughter, joy, pain, tragedy, love, family, friends and so much more. I’m so excited for this summer, and we’ve got some crazy cool plans for the coming months.
Taking a look back, 2012 gave me the opportunity to climb the highest peak in the continent of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in an effort to raise money for the Cancer Climber organization (founded by my buddy Sean Swarner.) I met the most amazing people and was humbled by the beauty and challenge of Africa.
At the summit: 19,304′ above sea level.
Approaching high camp, a.k.a. garbage camp.
Truly a life changing experience. That summer was liberating, challenging and mind-blowing. I also went skydiving, gallivanting with old friends and explored several 14ers in my backyard.
The summer of ’13 was similarly impressive. I rafted the Grand Canyon. Yes, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I spent 16 beautiful days with 16 beautiful people in one of the most amazing places on earth. We hit the tongue and rode it straight (mostly! Oops, Lava!) for over two weeks of laughter. Thanks to LBK (Josh Kruger) for giving me the opportunity to take the trip. It was another one for the books.
Head first into the spray! Face shots for dayz.
Exploring the countless side canyons was a true highlight.
We live here right now?!? COOL!!!
So what does this summer hold for Joan and I? Sooooo many things!! Five trips back to Colorado, including a bachelor party (sorry Joan, I’ll be going solo for that!), the Dolores River Festival and 100 Miles of Nowhere, and a Rockies Reunion. We get to enjoy our family in Colorado a couple of times and play with our nephews, siblings, parents, cuzes, etc. We’re performing several times and teaching a three-week circus camp (Funtown Circus!) and exploring our new home in Flagstaff. We’re leaving for a week long camping trip in the vast deserts of Utah tomorrow. Life is good and summer is just beginning. Here we go!
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”
For best results, please have the following tune playing (loud) whilst reading this post…
Pick me up and turn me round
(So I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It’s ok I know nothing’s wrong . . nothing
Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you’re standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Always for love
Cover up say goodnight . . . say goodnight
But I guess I’m already there
I come home she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time Before we were born
If someone asks, this where I’ll be . . . where I’ll be
Hi yo We drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
Share the same space for a minute or two
Love me till I’m dead
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head Ah ooh
(Thanks, LJ, for the care package. And obviously, I own zero rights to Talking Heads property and I’m broke so don’t sue me.)
What’s your fondest memory of childhood?
I have so many great ones to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one.
There were all the family vacations to Moab, UT to ride the White Rim Trail over several days.
We went to Disneyland/world once each, and did the whole tourist thing.
And then there were lazy Sundays doing nothing much beyond watching the Denver Broncos with dad.
My dad taught me to love football. If you’d like to know about my prowess on the field, you’d have to ask Anthony Poponi or The Dave Noir (we played a few years of flag football together, and we were all pretty rusty. Actually, “rusty” implies that skill has decreased with time. Truth be told, we started rusty.) No, while I enjoyed playing football, I’ve come to realize that I’m much better at watching it.
I’ve always been a hometown fan. No matter the odds, you could find me pulling for the Broncos. And for a lot of my childhood, this taught me disappointment, then acceptance.
Until the season of 1997, when the Broncos won their first Superbowl (XXXII) in franchise history. The John Elway era ended with a repeat Superbowl win (XXXIII) in the season of 1998. And it was good.
What followed Elway’s retirement was a sad, winless post-season drought. On the rare occasion that the Orange Crush would make it to the playoffs, they’d likely be tossed within the first round. Opportunities were missed. My dad and I would watch, despondent from the couch, hopes high but expectations low.
After a series of greasy, could be plumber, cry-baby, (somehow fitting Orton in here), no prayer quarterbacks, my team has landed the prettiest girl at the dance. P.F.M. And he’s taking us to the Superbowl this Sunday. The Broncos are a new team with P.F.M. at the helm. While currently living in Arizona, I don’t have the opportunity to watch many games with my dad. But, without fail, we always talk about the most recent game over the phone.
A package addressed to me arrived on the doorstep yesterday. I eagerly took it inside and cut it open. This is what I saw:
That’s my Broncos hat from childhood. My initials and home phone number (!) have all but faded away, written on the inside with felt tip marker. This thing is from when I was single digits years old! And it came with a Dales Pale Ale stuffed inside it! And a chocolate bar!
I know the title of this post says my dad is cooler than your dad. Sorry if that hurt your feelings (or your dad’s feelings.) Your dad is probably pretty cool as well. But did your dad find your favorite childhood hat in the attic and send it to you since your team is back in the Superbowl? Did he stuff it with your favorite beer?!
My dad is super cool. We aren’t able to watch the game together this Sunday, but we’ll definitely talk about it over the phone.
It took a couple of weeks to get settled after the holiday break, but I’m back in classes and into the swing of the second semester.
This cute little cat with the tasteful beret (come to think of it, it’s kind of a raspberry color…) really epitomizes the spirit of those first two weeks. I’ve been in a state of constant vigilance since the start of the semester, and it has been a little trying. Getting used to new classes, expectations and a fresh schedule has required my full attention. But I think I’ve come down with something. A few other members of my cohort have shown symptoms as well. I’m not sure what the prognosis looks like, but I think I’ve got a little thing called “Graduate Student Guilt”.
GSG is described as, “a hyper-vigilant state in which otherwise reasonable graduate students are irrationally and illogically anxious and nervous about phantom commitments, imagined assignment due dates and fictitious upcoming exams.”
GSG is most common in first year graduate students, however it has been diagnosed in 10th year All-But-Dissertation (ABD) doctoral students. While the sufferer tends to believe a steady diet of caffeine and Tostino’s Hot-Pockets to be the cure, GSG has best been treated through a series of rational discussions with a significant other (also known as “talking off the ledge”) and long hours of rest. This condition is more frequently diagnosed at the beginning of academic terms.
I’m still in the early stages of this affliction, and my outlook is uncertain. I’m remaining positive and we’ll see how it progresses. I’ve got a great support system. I’ve actually been lucky enough to encounter many individuals who have successfully made it through their battles with GSG. Overall, they still seem pretty neurotic, but I remain optimistic. Wish me luck, friends…
Have you ever experienced GSG? Any advice for current grad students who occasionally feel the crushing pressure? Share your insight in the comments!
Across the room, the shining red digits of the clock taunted my restlessness.
“Just close your eyes, the more you dwell on it the less you’ll sleep,” I told myself. I drifted in and out of consciousness for what seemed like hours and gave myself permission to check the clock again.
On the other side of the bed I could sense a similar sleepless agitation from Joan. We tossed and turned for a while longer, with the optimistic hope that sleep would come and give us passage to a more reasonable hour of the morning. “Want to get up and catch the sunrise at the Canyon?” I asked sarcastically.
A long pause.
“Umm…yeah! Let’s do it!”
We had already been planning on taking a day-trip to hike around the Grand Canyon. Sure, we weren’t planning on leaving for another seven hours, but what the heck? Neither of us was really getting any rest. How cool would a sunrise at the 7th natural wonder of the world be?
Turns out, really cool.
Yes, I look incredibly smug in this picture.
We found an excellent perch away from the crowds and prepared ourselves for a breathtaking dawn.
We were started cold but knew the sun’s warmth would soon be upon us.
And in came the sunshine…
The sun began to spread, showering the landscape in light.
As the the day began, so did our hike.
Signs warned of the dangers of heatstroke.
The trail crisscrossed and lead us down, down, down.
Cheerful morning hike!
A look back at where we started.
Walls all lined up.
Deadwood. Ooooor live wood.
The return trip. All uphill from here.
Adventures need good partners. I’ve got the best.
The view from the top is much different from being down on the Colorado River. This was my first trip to the rim of the big ditch, and Joan’s second (but first in adult life.) In case I’m stating the obvious, it’s enormous. Like, really, really big. Friends, come and visit us and we’ll got check it out. Seriously, it’s only 90 minutes from our house. How crazy is that?
Here’s to making yourself feel small once in a while. Cheers.
Friends, what have you taught me?!?
A few weeks back, I posted A (non-)ode to Bad Coffee (which you should read for context before going on), a tongue-in-cheek gripe session about the chalky, bark-flavored swill I’ve been drinking during graduate school. It’s sold as “coffee” but I think it was mislabeled.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So far, the non-ode has yielded six pounds of delicious, high-quality, free trade coffee beans. Is more on the way? I’ll have to wait and see.
Attached to a pound from Durango’s Raider Ridge Cafe was a response poem, reprinted here without any form of permission:
An ode to Good Coffee:
Here is some coffee that is not shitty,
It will wash away your sad self pity.
It does not taste of bark or soil,
It will not make your tummy boil.
It is 100 percent Fair Trade, you see,
The beans are roasted locally.
It has the most delightful aroma,
It would even wake you from a coma.
The taste, oh my! It will make you swoon,
You may choose to add cream and stir with a spoon.
So toss out that cheap bad coffee swill
And dig out your trusty coffee mil.
Don’t fret about saving your hard earned dough!
I think by now you already know:
That some thiings in life
Are not worth such strife.
Special thanks to my bean providers, Dave Noir (from Kaladi Coffee), Mother Dearest (hooking it up with Camp4Coffee) and Tracey and Jarrod (of the aforementioned Raider Ridge Cafe). You’ve all reinforced the notion that I should bitch and moan until treats arrive to shut me up. I appreciate it!
Now, about the shitty beer I’ve been drinking…