Archive for August, 2008

happy birthday to me at 14,000 feet - part 1

The original idea was to go skydiving on August 9th, the day before my birthday.  Things don’t always go according to plan.  Yesterday I finally jumped.

I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now.  After I finished chemotherapy at the end of August last year, I realized I’d better get on it.  But I was scared.  I put it off.   And I put it off.  I found any number of reasons to postpone and then in May or so realized if I was going to do it, I had to make a firm plan with a deadline.  Why not jump on or around my birthday?

Originally I invited a large number of friends to go and caravan up to Maine because I thought we’d get a group discount.  Asking people “Would you be interested in skydiving?” made for an interesting peek into their personality.  I was very often surprised by the answers I got.  People I thought would be into it weren’t and vice versa.   And both camps were forceful in their replies either way.

For a while there I had eight people coming with me, but scheduling was a hassle and money was a problem for some.  My skydiving group wound up just three: me, Tony and Terri.

We met at my place at 10am and headed for Sound Bites for breakfast, but the lines both there and at the Neighborhood forced us back to Johnny D’s.  This wasted 30 minutes of our precious time - I blame only myself.   That and the mile of traffic at the New Hampshire tolls almost made us miss our 1′o’clock “class.”  But we phoned to say we were running late and Terri sped gaily forth and got us there in the nick.

I put quotation marks around class because one could hardly call it a class in the traditional sense. They sat our group in a room whose quality was the equivalent of your uncle’s rec room complete with well-used, likely trash-salvaged couches with awful colors and worn woven patterns and a giant low-res TV.  A young pierced and slightly ratty punk-haired girl throws a DVD in the player and narrates along with footage of a woman’s first dive and gives pieces of advice here and there, like not to wear any jewelry and to empty your pockets because “that lucky penny isn’t so lucky when it flies out and hits someone in the face.”  During the next portion of the video, which was footage of experts and trick moves she had comments like, “Yeah, that move is so bad ass.”

Then we arrive at the liability portion of the class.  The over-copied barely legible legal papers they’ve given us to sign detail how we decided to jump out of a plane of our own free will, so this agreement absolves NESkydiving of all blame if we are injured or die as a result of our dive.

And that concludes our “class.”  We head out to the main gear store to pay our balance minus deposit.  Because there was a lot of cloud cover in the morning, the jump schedule is backed up.  They ask us to be patient and wait for our names to be called.

I knew there’d be waiting involved so I brought activities, but we were all so keyed up there was no way we could concentrate on a card game.  We watched as the skydivers landed and others planned out their in-air choreography.  Really cool stuff.

skydivers 1I took some shots of the sky, too.  How bizarre it was to look up at nothing but sky and clouds only to have it slowly fill up with 10 to 20 parachutes right before our eyes.

skydivers 2

So we waited and waited and waited.  When they called our names we all looked at each other with excitement.  Naturally I ran to the bathroom first.  Came out and met my Jump Master, Scuba.  He was as gregarious and I am so I was immediately very comfortable.  He got me all geared up/strapped in to my harness when it clouded up again.  We were put on an indefinite hold.  - You can’t jump unless the plane can see the ground and the ground can see the plane.

Since we had time I asked Scuba if he could show me exactly what we’d be doing using this wooden mock plane they had there.  We went through the motions of squatting and scootching up to the low-clearance doorway.  I would have my hands on my chest straps and he would push my head back along his shoulder so he could see as we jumped out.  As soon as we were out the door I was to thrust my pelvis forward (or “push the bush” as his Jamaican fellow divers call it) and kick my legs back behind me as though I were trying to kick his rear end.  Once he tapped my shoulder I could put my arms out.  After a minute of free-fall he’d open the chute and we’d glide down to earth.  I started to grasp what the hell I was about to do.

Tony and Terri opted to wear the offered flight suit, so in the pictures they look like official skydivers.  But the suits were warm and it was hot out, so they took them off till while we sat and waited for our group to get called up again.  Since I wasn’t wearing a suit I kept my harness on.  After about half an hour I got up and announced I would ask Scuba to help me out of my harness; surely once I was unfettered they’d call our names.

Which they did.  After some more waiting on the truck that would transport us to the plane, we were on our way.

roo & tony  tony & terri
roo & terri

trio i think we’re ready  Excitement by this time was so electric I didn’t have room in my body to be nervous.  I knew I wasn’t about to back out at this point.    They drove us over to the plane, loaded us in attached to our JMs and we scooted back straddling one of the two parallel benches.

Once the plane took off I stared out the window with an enormous grin on my face.  Scuba said, “Now there’s the look of someone who wants to skydive!”  :)  Yep.  Tony was sitting next to me in front of his JM Matt and Terri was with her JM, Chad, right in front of me.

Once we hit 10,000 feet Scuba started tightening all my straps and double checking we were hooked onto each other as we should be.

the wild sea

My band played on August 1st at the Lizard Lounge. By happy coincidence my dad was in town for a sociological conference, so he was able to attend his first real venue show. And what a show! The place nearly sold out, which made me feel great.

Instead of a potentially awkward stage announcement, we unveiled our new name, The Wild Sea, by giving away stickers and zipper pulls with our new logo on them at the door.

Aaron Lippert, our friend and talented musician, opened the evening with an acoustic set.  He knocked me out, as usual. What a voice on him!

Our set was so incredibly fun, it’s going on my top 5 best shows ever.  The audience was amazing!  So receptive and energetic; they really fed the performance.  This is an essential yet overlooked detail.  ESSENTIAL.  A live show is a brief symbiotic relationship and I am so excited and appreciative when things fall into place like they did that night.  It was brilliant.

The communication amongst the seven of us on stage was excellent as well.  Another ingredient without which, as you can imagine, a great show is impossible.

Here are some photos my friend Kim took.  Afterward she handed me the camera saying something about how she took a ton and hoped some came out.  Well I had my work cut out for me paring these babies down; she did a fantastic job.  Thank you, Kim!!!  You’re awesome.

LL - emotive shot heartfelt singing LL - ghost frank

And thank you all who came out to the show.   You make it all worthwhile.  There is immeasurable satisfaction in the songwriting itself; when I finish a song I feel a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched.  But playing those songs live brings in a whole other dimension and it’s magical.

LL - singing   LL - b&w   LL - matt and frankie rockin  LL - silly roo

health update

Had another PET scan and the results look good. My oncologist, Dr. Jain, doesn’t think I need another scan for 6 months, which is a huge relief. The plan had been to get one every 3 months. Yikes. I didn’t used to mind them so much, but now…? The fatty contrast liquid they have me drink 3 hours prior to exam time makes me gag to even think about. It comes in a dark grey pull-top travel shampoo container and it’s like drinking wintergreen flavored Wesson oil. Readers of my blog know I am not a vomiter, but man, this time I came so-so-so-close.

It was a good thing I decided to take the day off, even though my exam was done and I was out of the hospital by 11am. I’ve always had a sensitive stomach; this intensified everything. I got a lot of reading done in my bathroom that day…. yeah, WOO.

Speaking of which, Dr. Jain also wants me to get another colonoscopy fairly soon. No one told me getting cancer would be this much fun!! Who needs amusement parks and roller coasters? Who needs caramel apples and hot dogs? And I’ve had my blood taken so often I don’t even flinch or wince when they stick me with the needle. I am hardcore, yo. HARD-CORE.

reading and walking

Lately I’ve seen more than a few people walking and reading. At the same time. Adults. On the sidewalks downtown. On the sidewalks in my neighborhood. In the hallways of my office building. What’s up with that?

Reading is great, she wrote understatedly, hee hee, and I think reports about the decline of reading in this country are greatly exaggerated. Every time I visit Border’s downtown or my new favorite shop, Porter Square Books, them places is hoppin’. Scads of people milling about, drinking coffee, browsing, reading to their children who sit atop floppy over-sized stuffed rabbits, and standing in lines, lines, lines at the checkout counter. I’m happy to see so many people reading, it brings me mucho joy. But walking and reading at the same time?

I am a multi-tasker myself, so maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s weird. I can’t even read on the treadmill with any efficiency. The words get wonky and frankly, if I’m planning to raise my heart rate f’reals, reading won’t give me the oomph music does.

Perhaps I’m just jealous. I do love to walk and I love to read, but I am unable to combine the two.

On the other hand, I love to look around. I derive a large part of my enjoyment of walking from the scenery. The world doesn’t just pass by in a slightly out of focus swish like it does in a car, it presents itself in seeming slow motion, comparatively. You get to know the names of streets you’re on (if they are, in fact, marked, which, if you live anywhere near me, you know they aren’t), you meet people’s dogs, you catch sight of crazy cool cloud formations, you feel the air, you pass stores you only heard about and think, “Oh! That’s where ‘Fresh Killed’ is!” and you get in some solid people watching, on their bikes, in their cars, running by, or also walking. It’s fantastic. On Wednesday evening I walked home from work again instead of going to the gym because it was too dang nice out to fathom being at the gym.

But I digress. (If I had a car, that’d be one of my bumper stickers. Along with “I’d rather be laughing,” “I’d rather be walking,” “I’m probably singing, ” and, my old favorite, “I love undo!” It would read with a heart shape and the undo symbol from Word. Don’t we all wish we had an undo button in life?)

ANYhoo, back to my topic. What was my topic?… OH YEAH, so why would a person want to walk and read simultaneously? Let’s say I’d just gotten off the T and I only had a few pages left in a book. I’d want to finish it right then. This is the only time I can imagine I’d want to read as I walked, especially in a crowded, pedestrian heavy part of town like downtown Boston or my neighborhood, Davis Square. Even then, though, I’d stop somewhere to finish it, then walk. Beyond the usual pitfalls of possibly running into another person on the sidewalk, there are countless unknowns on your path; curbs and bottles, strewn clothes of the homeless, welts and bumps in the pavement, uneven brick sidewalks, construction, low-flying pigeons, and probably other unaware-of-others read-walkers.

This is all aside from the fact that when you read and walk you’re displaying antisocial tendencies. You’re in the middle of a community and it’s as though you’re wearing a tall hoop over your head with a shower curtain pulled closed. Ok, fine, I’ll leave YOU alone.

When and if I finally get around to writing my personal etiquette book, I’m including a chapter on this subject. It’s not that I’ve never encountered a book I found so engrossing that I didn’t want to put it down. It’s just, it seems rude.

sleep is a good thing

Sleep. Oh so essential and yet, over the years, so ignored by yours truly. Very strange this compulsion of mine to stay awake. It’s as though I think I might miss something if I close my eyes, even if all I’m doing is watching tv or doing a crossword. If I’m watching anything I’m probably eating absentmindedly as well, which is no good.

I’ve begun to realize how much better it is to get enough sleep.

THAT UP THERE, yeah, I wrote that almost a month ago and kept it in my drafts. I’m here now to say I was experiencing some of the health benefits one gets when one has enough sleep. But now I’m not getting any. …Sleep, that is.

I’m not getting NO sleep, but frankly, this is the kind of thing that happens when you first start dating someone. Especially if that someone is also a musician. I might be a musician, but I have a day job so that I can afford my terrific apartment. Chris is a drummer and that’s his main source of income. Gigs are usually at night, so he’s rather nocturnal and I end up staying out late. Having a good time, mind you, but not getting enough sleep. That’s all. I just thought it was funny how I’d planned this whole entry about my sleep epiphany then I go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like not sleeping.

ok, ok, who is Chris, right? Is that what you’re asking? I don’t write for a while and suddenly I’ve got a boyfriend and WTF, right? Right.