Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
-- Lewis Grizzard

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Day Time Stood Still.....Really, it did!

Well, it’s that time again…..time for the clock to tic past another year of life for me.  I tend to get very introspective at this time every year.  Don’t ask me why, just like the accident-prone tendencies I have, it just happens that way.

I’m not sure when the “can’t wait for my birthday” excitement of childhood morphed into the “What have I done with all these years” thinking.  I am figuring it was a very gradual change, and maybe like the gray hair and laugh lines I now am the not-so-proud- owner of, it just shows up.  Regardless, 32 years have gone by since the world was blessed (or maybe cursed) with me.  32 years……really isn’t that long of a time, but when I think back and start listing off the things I’ve done, experienced and seen… almost doesn’t seem long enough.

In 32 years, I have managed to learn to walk with my feet strapped together and connected to a metal bar, have had my fair share of kidney stones (the first at age 2), ate a bottle of aspirin, got thrown off a horse, have been struck by lightening, almost drown in a canoeing accident, have had a hysterectomy, accidentally ODed on medications for seizures (from the aforementioned horseback riding accident), got plowed into at a four-way stop by a giant tree-trimming truck, got sucked into a five state/ seven county investigation of drug trafficking (obviously by mistake), got run over by my own parked car, had a giant tree fall into my tent while camping in KY during a thunderstorm, accidentally set myself on fire outside a Ball State dormitory, inadvertently I chemically burnt myself (and subsequently discovered a severe allergy to Black Magic) while cleaning plastic plants at my first job at Chuck E Cheese, and most recently, I have grown several cysts in my eyeballs…..And somehow I have survived them all.  (this is not the complete list…. you’d be reading this until my next birthday if I listed them all!!)

Out of curiosity, I decided to ‘google’ and ‘bing’ my birthday to see who I share a birthday with.  I came up with one (yes, only one…..well, one that I recognized anyway)…..and I’m proud to say that me and Willie Nelson share a birthday.  Upon digging a little deeper, I found some interesting ‘holidays’ take place on my birthday as well.  My birthday falls on “National Oatmeal Cookie Day”, as well as “Raisin Day”….hmmm….made me stop and pause as to why they didn’t just have a “National Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Day”…..too bad I don’t like either one!! (of course my dislike of raisins could have something to do with the fact that I shoved one up my nose when I was a child and proceeded to snuff it deep into my sinus cavity!)  I also share a day with  “Manual Typewriter Day” (I have always enjoyed writing), “World Healing Day” (who doesn’t want that?), “National Honesty Day” (I do enjoy being honest…..sometimes too much so….), “Hairstylist Appreciation Day” (since one of my close friends is my current hairstylist, and I do appreciate her, it fits), and in Thailand it’s also “Consumer Protection Day” (which seems strange to me, isn’t that where some of the recently recalled lead-based paint toys, and BPH-laced sippy cups are made??)

I found that my special day comes in the middle of “National Karaoke Week”, “Lawn and Garden Month”, “Poetry Month”, “National Pecan Month”,  “National Welding Month”, “Records and Information Management Month”, “Stress Awareness Month”.  and finally, the one that made me chuckle the most “National Humor Month”!  My big day is also the day that Bugs Bunny (one of my favorites) was debuted long ago, and also the day that a man named John Clais patented the first scale (okay, not so much a favorite of mine) in 1772.  Another one of my favorites, the ice cream cone made its debut in 1904.  Two crazy records that were set on my special day that I found?  The largest banana split ever, a whopping 455 miles long, was made in Penns, and a crazy woman named Ashrita Furman did 8, 341 somersaults for a total of 12 miles!

My parents, siblings and friends have long teased me about my oddness.  There have been stories crafted that I was once part of some distant alien population and was abandoned when the “mothership” mistakenly left without me, or that I was left on a doorstep by gypsies, or hatched out of an egg.  If I was a more sensitive sort of person, I might have some long-residing issues with these stories and their hidden meanings, but after much self-therapy, I’ve learned they were stories crafted simply because no one knew what else to say in regards to my existence.  And, during my research into other notable events on the day of my birth, I discovered that maybe, just maybe the universe didn’t know what to do with me either.   On the day of my birth Big Ben (that giant clock all of London uses to tell time) stopped working, inexplicably, for 54 minutes….curious, right?  Even more strange than that…..on the day of my birth, it actually snowed in the Sahara Desert for over a half an hour, where the average winter temperature is between 50 and 60!!

I guess all of this introspection and self-awareness brought on by yet another birthday hasn’t really unveiled anything I (or anyone who knows me) didn’t already know.  I’m strange probably always will be, I always have been and will always be accident-prone, I’m not getting any younger, and I am yet another year older.


(p.s.  thanks Mom & Dad for all those years of love, attention and first-aid.  Now that I am a parent, I can truly understand all the love, hard work, patience, hours, tears and worry that goes into having a child.  I can only imagine how I must have compounded that ten-fold.  Thanks for being loving even when I was hard to love, patient when I was incorrigible, and for all the advice you gave (and still give) even when I rolled my eyes in protest.  I love you and miss you both.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Diary of a Fat Woman---Entry 2

So, I am officially one week into my “attack on fat”.  I must say that I am pleasantly surprised at my zeal and dedication thus far.  I am doing the Zumba class 3 times a week and going to the gym for at least an hour and a half three times a week.  When I am not at the gym or in a class I find myself trying to re-calculate my schedule in my head and find more time to work out.  I have had vivid dreams of working out, stepping on giant scales that teeter between my ‘goal weight’ and my ‘now weight’, and even dreams where I wear work out clothes into the office and then realize I am in the wrong place in the wrong outfit.  I guess most would call this thinking and behavior “obsessive”……. I am affectionately calling it “focused”.

This week’s first Zumba class was easier than the last, but also more intense.  I even managed to sweat through the four layers of ‘boob strappage’ I find myself forced to wear in order to avoid injury to my chin and face with stray breast movements.  I kid you not that the top half of my Zumba ‘uniform’ includes the following assortment of support: an underwire bra, a sports bra two sizes too small, a Spanx-like tank top with built-in bra shelf, and one tight-fitting, “lifting seams” workout top.  I must admit it holds me in and down quite well, although it feels as though if I take a deep enough breath everything might come bursting out, and it creates a most un-attractive, rather large, oval-shaped uni-boob in the center of my chest.  But, fashion must take a back seat to this newfound ‘focus’ on fat-busting.

I’ve mentioned the jinggly scarf we wear during these Zumba classes and I am happy to report that Ginger and I found and purchased our very own scarves at an expo we attended with our friend Martha this week.  Ginger went with a very nice white one to match her shoes, while I chose a more obnoxious, bright orange one that won’t match a thing.  Alas, I am no longer a slave to fashion, but now a slave to the possibility of being able to wear actual “fashions” again.  Plus, if this Zumba thing doesn’t work out, I could always find part-time work directing traffic in all the construction zones popping up in my area!  (It’s always good to have something to fall back on, right?)

I must confess that my initial apprehension to wearing this bell-covered scarf was very narrow-minded of me.  Now that I own one, I find myself wearing it around the house while doing the housework.  I am really enjoying the fact that I can put away the dishes while jinggling myself a tune.  I put in a CD, fold the laundry, and all the while shaking my rear to the beat.  When I make the kids’ lunches, do the dishes, pay bills, or even comb my hair, I shake, shake, shake away merrily.  I wish there were a way for me to calculate how many extra calories I am burning with my newfound enjoyment of being noisy.  I’m sure I look like a lunatic, but again….focus, focus, focus.

Today was ‘weigh-in’ day, and for the first time in my life I was actually excited to step onto a scale.  I had ribbons of memories of the hours I’ve worked out, the buckets of sweat I have shed, and the days of not being able to lift my arms or walk normally streaming through my head……surely those would all mean so much when that number settled on my ‘new weight’.  Proudly I stepped onto the scale, confident in my progress……When the numbers finally stopped, I about fell over!  Only 3.6 pounds???  ONLY 3.6 pounds?  What happened?  Suddenly those ribbons of memories became more intense, quickly breaking themselves down into numbers……..2 hours and 15 minutes of Zumba, 6 hours of gym time, gallons of sweat, and countless hours of moving about like Frankenstein grunting and in pain……..and for 3.6 measly pounds???  The taste of defeat was quickly engulfing me. Ginger, sensing my disappointment jumped in with a quick sets of fitness facts….like how much water I had drank, how long it took me to put on the 50 pounds I want to lose, the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, something about how it might take a week or two before the weight really begins to fall off, and that losing 3.6 pounds a week for the next 3 months adds up to over 40 pounds. This is why you go to the gym with a good friend.

I’m not sure when, but at some point between pulling me back from the edge and putting her shoes back on Ginger noticed a BMI feature on this scale.  Okay, another number with which to measure progress, no worries.  The more numbers, the better the chance that one of them will come out in my favor, right?  I stepped back on the un-forgiving scale, entered my height and waited nervously while the scale calculated a total BMI…Good thing Ginger was there, because I was headed right back for that ledge…….

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Diary of a Fat Woman---Entry 1

It is with shame and disgust at myself that I even should have such a diary to keep, but I must face this dreadful fact in order to correct it.  I am a fat woman.  I couldn’t tell you my ‘BMI’, as I haven’t a clue….. I’m sure if I did know what my “number” was, it would make this whole thing that much more shameful and disgusting.  My weight I do know, but I probably won’t reveal that until I am on the other side of this “Fat” thing and am writing entries in what will, with pride, be referred to as “Diary of a Has-Been Fat Woman”.  But, that is getting ahead of myself……

My girlfriend (whom I will call “Ginger”) and I began this veritable ‘assault on fat’ on Wednesday this week.  We joined a local ‘Zumba’ class.  Basically, it’s the new and improved version of what was the craze known as ‘Jazzercise’ in the 80’s…..Only this version includes strapping a multi-colored scarf covered in tiny bells and miniature cymbals to your rear.  Talk about adding insult to injury…..not only are you fat, but now you are fat and noisy!!  This is another one of those activities that my sense of humor benefits me.  You most certainly have to be able to laugh at yourself while enrolled in such an activity!  You do strange and sometimes complicated dance moves, odd hip thrusts, and other various pumping/circulating gestures using your pelvis.  All while wearing the aforementioned jingling butt scarf.  

As the class progressed, I became increasingly aware of how out of shape and un-coordinated I am.  The head “zumba-er” is quick and agile, while the rest of the class attempts to mimic her precision moves.  It’s strangely comforting to see others in the same boat jingling and jangling to cranked up, peppy and rhythmic pseudo-techno music.  In all honesty, I spent a good third of the class doubled over in laughter at myself and Ginger struggling to follow along with the ‘thrusting this way’ and the ‘wriggling that way’, ‘step-step-hop-ping’ and the ‘pump-pump-kick-ing’.  My girlfriend is a few notches above my coordination level, so seeing her moves made me realize just what I had to be looking like with a sort of brutal honesty.  I fell into another bout of laughter at the fact that as my hips and attached bells are going one way, the flab and fat go in the opposite direction…..Between that and the fact that the two of us nearly knocked each other out in our failure to ‘step-step-punch’ in the same direction, it was an hour filled with noisy humiliation and hilarity.

We have only done this Zumba thing once, but we have plans to participate in two such classes this coming week.  I’m unsure how much jingling and bouncing it will take to lose my giant goal of 50 pounds, but I am assuming with the amount of laughter Ginger and I did, that has to count as some kind of bonus calorie burning, right??

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Couldn't Win Today......I Have Accepted That

There are days in my life when even I am perplexed by the string of accidents and “can only happen to me” occurrences…….

This particular day began like any other…..Alarm clock blaring the day’s start, waaaaay too early.  I shuffle down the hall in my smiling pig slippers to retrieve my first dose of much-needed caffeine.  I shower, put my face on and put my contacts in.  I am standing in front of the closet, picking out the day’s outfit when out of the corner of my eye, I notice an unruly chunk of hair on the back of my head….the kind that is not going to cooperate without some serious convincing.  I plug in the flat iron, set it to the highest temperature, and go back to choosing my clothes.  After much delay and internal debate, I decide on a cream colored jacket, a teal knit shirt and dark jeans.   Pressed and dressed, I begin the task to attack that lump in my hair.  Being the oh-so-coordinated gal I am, as I was attempting to select a portion of my hair’s troubled spot, I managed to flat iron over my fingers as well.   Okay….so a flash of pain, a few moments of “OOOWWWs!!”,  and small blisters forming…. Not a huge deal…  Being the accident-prone, clumsy, oh-so-coordinated gal I am, I have assembled a collection of first aid supplies that rivals any rescue ambulance, so I had just the thing….. Prescription Silvadene (leftover from a previous accidental burnt flesh incident)….perfect for these kinds of minor second-degree burns.   As instructed, I wash the area with mild soap and apply the ointment generously.  First aid rendered, I proceed to get back to the battle with my hair.  A couple of passes with the flat iron, an odd crackling sound and a few whiffs of burning hair, I realize I have transferred half the Silvadene from my burnt fingers to my hair.  Now I not only had lumpy, uncooperative hair, but I had lumpy, uncooperative, greasy, burnt-smelling hair…..And not enough time to start over!  I pull my hair back into a half-pony, sigh, and accept yet another defeat in the on-going, long-running fight with my stubborn hair.

My kids are in the kitchen arguing over which breakfast cereal is whose and who should have the privilege of pouring the milk this morning.  The cat and dog are chasing each other back and forth through the hallway, barking and meowing as they pass us all in the kitchen in a brief flash of fur and wagging tails.  I am trying to referee the kids, refill the pet’s water dishes, pack lunches and switch purses when I hear some odd sounds coming from the microwave.  I look up to see little flashes and sparks of light bouncing around inside…..Like a mini Fourth of July show…..  What in the world???  Suddenly the image of me stirring my oatmeal a few seconds before resurfaces in my head and it occurs to me that I must have left the spoon in the bowl when I put it in for another 30 seconds.  The digital screen is now flashing “error error error” in quick succession, which I find kinda funny and I have laugh to myself…..Maybe I should have just had cereal with the kids.  It’s at that moment I notice that I don’t hear the kids arguing anymore, there is a brief moment of peace, and then the mother’s instinctive “the-kids-are-too-quiet” anxiety kicks in.  I stop the microwave’s insulting message and can hear spurts of hushed laughter and “shhhh’s” coming from the bathroom.  I walk into the bathroom to find my children in the midst of a full-fledged water fight using their brightly colored rubber fish bath toys.  The bathroom has been transforms into a water park!---There is water running down the mirror, streaked across the ceiling, and dripping onto the floor.  My son’s hair is soaking wet and my daughter’s shirt and pants have giant wet spots all down the front.  I quickly end their ‘festival of water’ with threats to take away television for the day, and smile to myself as I walk out at how well that still works.

By now in the other room the cat and dog have ended their game of “parade”, the dog is hopping around whining to be let out, and the cat has disappeared to an undisclosed location somewhere in the house.  I walk out onto the deck with the dog, hook her up onto her lead and stop to watch three spastic squirrels chase each other across the neighbor’s fence.  Apparently the dog was as intrigued as I was and began to run in circles around me expressing her excitement.  Without warning, she darted off in their direction, with eager determination to grab one of those bushy tails… she would have had a good chance too, had it not have been for my legs and feet being tangled up in her lead.  Now, I am the kind of person that trips over nothing and falls while standing still, so when both of my feet are wrapped together with a cord and there is an 80 pound dog at the other end straining to give chase, its not going to end well.  Needless to say I end up on my rear, being pulled jerkily across the deck in spurts of strength as the dog struggles to give chase.  She finally relaxes and gives up the fight as the squirrels scamper off, scared off by all of the commotion, but the damage is done. …..My butt and hip are thudding in bright bursts of pain.
I pick myself up, rub my sore hip and head back into the house, content to leave the dog outside for a few minutes to do her thing.  I sit for a second to regroup……so far I’ve burnt two fingers, and bruised my hind quarters, not to mention destroyed my microwave and witnessed the flooding of my bathroom…..So far, the day seems to be winning.  

I hear my son shriek,  “the bus, the bus, Mom!”  With the speed and precision of an all-star quarterback,  I launch his backpack and lunchbag in his direction, yell “love you, have a good day” and hear a “you too” as the front door slams shut....Okay, one child off to school, one to go.

My daughter emerges from her room dry and wearing an outfit suitable only for a mental patient singing Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ at the top of her lungs.  A short battle of wills over clothing choices ensues, and after five minutes of deal making, I miraculously convince her to change her clothes.

Returning to the microwave to rescue my breakfast, I find it is cold on one side and burnt and crispy on the other and there is now an oatmeal/cement-like substance covering every corner and cranny of the microwave. It is at this point I decide to forgo breakfast all together.  I finish changing purses, pack up my lunch, let the dog in and load the dishwasher.  Thirty minutes later the bus comes to retrieve my youngest and a golden swath of silence engulfs the house.  I am tempted to just sit down and soak it up, but hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work I go.

Forty-five minutes later I am strolling along the sidewalk toward the office, listing in my head the things on my desk I need to get to first.  For some strange reason my workplace seems to be a popular vacation destination for Canadian geese this morning.  There are geese wandering around the grass, waddling through the parking lot, squawking and honking at each other as they fly overhead.  I am halfway to the door when I feel something drop onto my left arm and look down to find a mushy splotches of unknown origin on what was my clean, cream-colored jacket.  Gross!!!  I shudder in disgust and head back to my car.  Being the accident-prone gal I am, I have learned to be prepared for such occurrences in my life, so I keep a collection of cleaning, grooming, and various personal hygiene items in a duffel bag in my trunk.  Between what’s left of my Tide Stain-Stick and a package of Wet Wipes, I manage to remove most of the offensive spot from my jacket.  Having done all I could do to remedy the situation, I head back for the office.  At this point, I have all but decided to concede to the day altogether.

Six hours have passed and I am back on that sidewalk, ducking and watching closely for any other ‘loaded’ geese that might be flying over, heading for my car.  I am driving home, country music blaring, singing along to “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and notice a mysterious red warning light has come on.  My mind conjures up images of me standing on the side of the road, trying to call for help and now I can’t quit watching that little light, like it is suddenly going to provide some kind of important information.  I speed along nervously, windows open, trying to ignore the warning light and breathe in what’s left of my ‘me’ time.  I glance up from that dashboard warning light just as something small and furry runs out into the road, swerve into the other lane in a desperate avoidance maneuver, and BAM, a crunchy ‘Thud!’ follows.  I look into my rear-view mirror to see a reddish brown pile of dead squirrel laying in a heap where my tires had just been.  I have just murdered a squirrel.  And to think, earlier in the day I saved one………

Friday, April 1, 2011

Once upon a River

It was mid-July, 1996 and the Weather Channel promised it would be another blazing hot, bake-in-the-sun day.  The sun was just peeking over the horizon when I headed off to meet some friends (Todd*, Mike* and Nora*) for an all-day, much-anticipated, 10-mile-down-river canoe trip.  By the time I reached their house, they had the mini-van stuffed with coolers, life jackets, inner tubes, Super-Soaker water guns, and other miscellaneous gear.   Everyone still had that “it’s what time?” puffiness sagging under their eyes, while I hummed and buzzed along amped up by my continued consumption of un-holy amounts of coffee.  I popped my ‘Weezer’ CD in the dash and cranked it up.  Soon, the minivan was a cacophony of voices singing along to “If you want to destroy my sweater, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, pull this thread as I walk away”.  By the time we reached the canoe rental place, everyone was awake, smiling and ready to embark on what would surely be a great day.

The four of us paired off, split the day’s supplies and loaded up the canoes. One canoe was a putrid, pea-ish green color with what looked like dried seaweed matted to the bench seats (a.k.a. “Nessie”), the other was off-white, had red sun-faded number 5s painted on the sides, and looked as though it could possibly defy the odds and sink on land with the amount of dents it had (a.k.a. “Kujo”).   Vessels aptly named, we set off for the 10-mile adventure.

The river was running abnormally high for July, but none of us complained.  This meant we wouldn’t have to push “Nessie” or “Kujo” at any point of the trip.  We could amble along un-hurried, stopping for as long as we wanted and then be able to make up the time with the speed of the water.

It was a perfect day.  The sun was up and bright and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  We were four carefree, laughing, jubilant fools soaking up some good old summer fun.  We splashed each other with the oars as we paddled downstream, we tied the canoes together and took turns challenging one another with daring rounds of varying balancing acts and ‘canoe-hopping’.  I, being the most daring one of the bunch, decided I could land a jump in the other canoe, without capsizing either boat; then proceeded to place a bet to make it more interesting.  I squatted down, visualized the jump in my head, pumped my legs a few times and took off… I landed the jump, but as I was landing, my foot hit the edge of one of the coolers and I lost my balance, thus tipping the canoe at such an angle, half it’s contents fell right into the swiftly moving river.  I, without good judgement, quickly reached over trying to rescue my jean shorts before they sank to the bottom, and in doing so fell out of the boat, cracked my shin bone on the side of the canoe and was forced to abort the rescue of my shorts.  I couldn’t do anything but laugh as I hauled my wet rear back into the canoe because I had managed to create all this chaos without flipping the canoe…I had won $50!!   I lost my shorts, gained a giant bruise, and won $50… so at this point I was ahead of the game.

We banked on a sandy outcrop to rest while we ate lunch.  We cooled off wading in the shallow water, squirted each other in an impromptu water gun fight, and spent a good half an hour trying to catch a turtle that had been sunning himself on a nearby log.  None of us knew how far we had gone, but we were all banking of the fact that we were ahead of the time frame due to the swollen river.  We spent another hour or so soaking up the sun, chatting and laughing.  Finally, we decided it was time to push “Nessie” and “Kujo” back into the water and continue on.  We tied the canoes together and attached two giant-sized inner tubes behind them and shoved off.

Todd* and myself were floating along behind in the inner tubes while Mike* and Nora* steered the boats.   I could hear them exchanging banter up front, “steer it this way”, “no, not that way….you have to paddle on that side”….and on and on it went.  A few minutes more of this gentle teasing and differing opinions and then their tones changed slightly.  Todd* decided to swim back up to the canoes and help out, as the water was beginning to speed up a bit.  I was quite comfy in my tube, so I decided to stay put and enjoy the ride.  Todd* restored harmony to the captains and along the river we continued to travel.  I was thoroughly relaxed when I heard one of the guys say, “hey, head’s up…the water is getting kinda rough up ahead”.  I sat up a bit, pushed my sunglasses back onto my nose, and started singing Weezer’s “Sweater” again, in attempts to re-create the sing-along from the morning drive.  To my surprise, no one joined in, and my voice was the only one echoing back from the high limestone walls on either side of the river.  They all seemed to be seriously focusing on the paddling, so I craned my neck to see in front of the boats at what was demanding so much of their attention.  I noticed we were drifting to the right side of the river, even though they all seemed to be paddling intensely.  Todd* turned around and pulled the empty inner tube into the canoe, pulled my tube closer and tied it off so I wasn’t as far behind as I had been, and told me to “hang on”.  “Can do, Skipper” I chirped.   Our boats picked up some speed and began to move toward the limestone wall, I stuck my legs out to push off the wall, just in case.  Just before I braced for impact, my inner tube rotated some and I was now parallel with the wall, and BOOM!  Luckily, I was able to keep balanced on the inner tube, and after a minute of dragging along the wall, we were headed back in the direction of the middle of the river.   Todd* looked back to check I was still in one piece.  I waved back and began singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, to which he only shook his head and smiled.   He told the other two that we needed to pull off somewhere and pointed back in my direction.   One by one they took turns looking at me, shaking their heads, and grinning….I decided to lay back and enjoy the rest of my floating, but as I re-adjusted myself I noticed something red running down the side of the inner tube.  What the???  My arm was bleeding.  There was a 10-inch swath of raw, bleeding, scratched up skin…and now that I had seen it I realized why the others were shaking their heads at me…I could just hear them re-telling this one… “and, of course, guess who got hurt?”

We were moving pretty quickly as we came around a bend in the river.  My captains decided on a clearing up ahead on the right and aimed our canoes for it.  We started in one direction, then another, then another and there were heated discussions, some conflicting instructions shouted and a few choice opinions on how best to steer a canoe as we changed course back toward the left side again.  From where I was sitting it was almost kinda humorous, that is, until I noticed we were on a speedy collision course with a rather large stretch of overhanging trees on the right bank.   I got another “hang on” shouted back to me from some genius in the boat, and suddenly I found myself bouncing and smacking into a large mass of branches and trees.  Before I knew it, I was lodged under a fallen tree totally submerged under the water and in desperate need of oxygen.  I clawed, pulled, and kicked at the inner tube, figuring I was better off without it at this point.  I finally dislodged myself and managed to poke my head up out of the water and gasp for fresh air.  I was totally encased in veritable jungle of branches and trees, twisted and tangled in every direction. It was at this moment the wisdom of that last “hang on” began to register in my head.  I grabbed onto a tree branch and clung to it for dear life, terrified I would go back under the water and not be able to get out again.  The river was so strong and moving so fast that the muscles in my arms began to ache from the strain of holding my upper body out of the water.  I struggled to free my right leg then my left.  There I hung, plastered to that tree, upside down, dangling there like a sloth.  My head, arms and legs were out of the water, but the rest of my body remained in the rushing water.  As I was trying to come up with a plan of escape, I began to notice the water pulling the bottoms of my bikini downstream.  Now I have never been one for public nudity, but at this point in the game, I was not about to let go of that tree and go after them.  So there I hung, muscles aching and beginning to twitch, with the bottom half my swimsuit flapping in the swift current around my knees!  One thought led to another and I suddenly became aware that the triangle parts of my triangle-style, American flag, bikini top were now located somewhere under my left armpit.  With nothing better to do, I found myself hanging there, naked, having this mental image of myself being rescued, with a crowd of local reporters giving the play-by-play, live on all the local news channels.  As they pull me out, the crowd claps and cheers, and then the collective GASP!…..

I’m not sure how long I clung to that tree, or how long it was until my friends realized I was no longer attached to the canoes.  Honestly, I am not really sure I remember how the whole thing ended.  The one thing I do know is that by the time I was retrieved, I was no longer in possession of an American flag bikini.  Good thing I won that $50--  I not only had to replace a pair of jean shorts, but I had to buy a new swimsuit as well.

(*Names have been changed to protect the innocent)