Monday, November 29, 2010

Wormy in my Pocket

"Miss E-bizbiz, I got to put the wormy in my pocket."

"Oh, Ok," I reply, mindlessly stirring some mac and cheese. "Wait, what?!"

"I got to put the wormy in my pocket, Miss E-bizbiz," he informed me again.

"The what in your pocket?" I asked, hoping his little fist held an imaginary creature.

"The wormy! In my pocket!"

"Little man, I cannot understand what you are saying. Show me what is in your hand."

As his little fingers spread, I saw what he meant by "little wormy." What was left of an earthworm, covered in lint, curled up in his palm.

"Outside with that! Now! Worms stay outside." I marched him to the back door so he could return the wormy. From ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Ah, the wonders of three-year-olds. No boundaries. No rules. Just discovering.

Seriously, though. Worms stay outside.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My other goal

Incidentally, I also decided I am going to run in the Music City Half Marathon in April 2011. That means I will be training for another half (this time, I plan to be half-way serious about my time). So maybe I will run in my second half marathon within two weeks of my potential graduation date. It could happen.


I am writing. My. Thesis.

And I don't like it. My writing. My research. My arguments.

If graduate school was a native tribe in Somewhere, South America, then hitting this wall is a rite of passage that means I have blossomed into a true graduate student. But, alas, I am still "student." I am so very tired of my research topic that I just want to scream. Every last little nerve in me wants to graduate and be done, so I will push through.

My next rite of passage involves swallowing the research that I bit off and can now hardly chew. It means saying "no" when people want to go out. It means sacrificing sleep so I can fit more hours in my day. It means less play and more work (but not all work and no play; we know what happens then). It means putting down my pleasure reading and picking up my thesis works. It means putting my Netflix on hold for a few months, as I have no time for movies.

Upon my graduation day, there will be tears. That is the next rite of passage within my grad school tribe. But the tears will be ones of joy. I will wear my cap and gown, shining (war paint and feathers would be way cooler and would probably better signify the journey I had to make in order to cross that stage).

Until then, I make my fingers type out the boring academic words that compose my master's thesis, dreaming about freedom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow (there'll be sun)

"Fight on, my men," says Sir Andrew Barton,
"I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I'll lay me down and bleed a while,
And then I'll rise and fight again."

I really did try to work on my thesis this evening. I tried tried tried so hard. I even went to the library. But sometimes, thesis-writing just does not happen. And considering that I have have spent 2.5 hours in my quasi-writing endeavors, feelings of epic failure are currently pulsing through my veins. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will rise and fight again.

Incidentally, while some kids dream of growing up to be astronauts or doctors, I dream of growing up to finish my degree. I dream of coming home from a long day of work and NOT have a the idea of writing haunting me. I dream of thinking about going out and having a big time WITHOUT the dreaded T-word hanging in the back of my mind. One day, it will happen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

friends don't let friends take benedryl

All week long I have been telling myself that my sore throat, aching ears, and stuffed nose are just symptoms to allergies. That's all! Allergies! Nothing else. I am not sick. I am not sick! I don't get sick. I don't get sick! I can't get sick! NOOOO! I am not sick.

It is no wonder, either. Part of my job consists of greeting and talking to visitors as they come through the visitor center (out-of-state germs). I am exposed to public school children, usually ten-year olds, about three times a week (dirty kid germs). I work with high school students at least once, if not twice a week (too-cool-for-school germs). I am also the Puggles director for my church. I love two-year olds, but they are little germ machines (the germiest-of-germs). It does not help that I also make several trips to public schools and the library over the course of a week; those places are real-live petri dishes.

I feel that I have a fairly strong immune system, but it can only handle so much. So I am going to go take some pseudefed and tylenol (you know, for my allergies) and charge on through my day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

different kind of tired

I know, I know. I haven't been posting as much as I would like. During much of my free time (the little I have), I have been writing on my thesis like a good graduate student. I need to get myself grad-ee-ated. To complicate my schedule, several days of my work week have been spent working in Natural Resources, doing the work of a biology technician. So far, that has been comprised of killing exotic, invasive plants and chipping the results. Read: physical labor.

I do not think on my toes the same way I do as "ranger." I do not have to constantly pull mental files to answer questions. I do not have to make calls, plan events, deal with massive numbers of school school children, sit in meetings (and receive sucking head wounds), or type out reports. I can tell the difference by looking at my typing hands.

When I work inside, I do not have to cut plants, spray herbicide, and shove tree limbs and trunks into a wood chipper. When I work inside, I do not come home with dirt under my fingernails and scratches from my hands to my shoulders. When I work inside, I can come home to shave my legs without having to see the many shades of blue, orange, purple, and pink bruising covering my legs or avoid the scrapes (heaven-forbid I run a razor over those open wounds). When I work inside, my hair stays neatly pinned to my head and, generally, no mascara runs ( I don't even bother with makeup on my resource days).

After I come home from a day of working in Natural Resources, I am not only physically tired, I smell HORRIBLE, have dirt streaks on my face, sticks in my hair, particles of nature in my waistband, hair sticking in every direction manageable, and spots of blue skin from where the herbicide soaked through my clothes. The very last thing I want to do is... anything but shower and sleep. I am still trying to get into my swing of things.

The cover for the handle of the chipper. I love it.

I show felled trees no mercy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Trail Running

For most of the year, I avoided trail running to prevent raising my risks of injuring myself while training for the half marathon. So today, after some researching at the battlefield (no, my efforts to get a hammock hung for me there have been to no avail... I work there AND research about the place THEN use it as my personal recreational area), I went for a run. For whatever reason, I ventured off down our trails instead of staying on the loop.

I think it was the preceding research that motivated me to move away from the road. I had spent a few hours reading about soldiers' accounts of their surroundings, whether it be before, during, or after the battle. I had landscape descriptions on the brain.

I forgot how much I love running through the forested areas (especially in the fall when there is only a 0-5 percent chance that I will get ticks or poison ivy). I found it especially enjoyable (and challenging) after reading those soldiers' accounts. I think I ran faster thinking about how fast they would have ran through there. I also appreciate the fact that I did not have bullets whizzing past my head "as thick as hail" or see forests fall "like scythes cutting grain." Some within the park service argue that battlefields and military parks should not be used recreationally and treated as places of "hallowed ground." But I argue for the benefit of allowing visitors to use the place for hiking/biking/walking/running. We connect to the space in our own ways.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Also, I am aware that the desk I described sounds scattered and far from neat. Because it is. Ha.

Who has time to maintain an organized desk, much less a clean room? Not this chick.

concrete and grace

If you were to look at the contents scattered across my desk, you might be a little confused about what I do (or even who I am, for that matter). Tangled with two pairs of dangle-y earrings is a pair of neon yellow earplugs. A shiny park ranger badge sits next to a play-doh container. My watch and keys sit on top of a box filled with markers. Hot pink stationary rests on top of a stack of DVDs (including "The Rundown" "Blood Diamond" and "Little Miss Sunshine"). I have several video tapes from recent editing projects on top of blank CDs and DVDs beside a wildland firefighting manual. Plastic green army men stand ready to fight next to a light up pig key chain and a toy NPS patrol car. A disco ball, external harddrive, and Post-It note block are lined along the front of my dry erase board (that serves no other purpose than to remind me of awesome quotes like, "In matters of style swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock" by Thomas Jefferson, and "Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry." I also have Smokey Bear and "See Rock City" magnets pinning tickets to said white board (one airline ticket to Iwo Jima and a Killers concert ticket). A plastic hat cover (hat "condom" as my coworkers like to call it) is folded neatly and rubber banded next to a chocolate tin that is filled with Sharpie markers (I wish it still had its original chocolate, though). I have a stack of bills tucked into a book about the "Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885-1945" with a calculator on top. A bedazzled skull and crossbones card is pinned to the shelf next to a paper cut out pirate ship scene. I have coins (and two dollar bills!... I am rich!) under the many cords that connect my many electronic devices. A museum exhibition guide from the Frist's "Golden Age of Couture" leans against a shelf that has a park ranger print next to it.

And never mind my collection of sock monkeys on the shelf underneath my very top shelf loaded with books about WWII and the Reconstruction.

I like breaking assumptions. I work in a job that people mentally assign as masculine. Not only am I a park ranger (fully equipped with my Smokey Bear hat and ranger boots!) but I am a knowledgeable ranger at a battlefield (even if my Knoxville-visitor friend insists that I don't know my history). A girl!? Who knows about military history!? And wears high heels off-duty?!

It reminds me of one of my favorite songs:

"We are fire inside, we are an army asleep; We are a people awaking to follow their dreams; We don't have time for your games, we have our own goals to score. There are trophies to win (instead of being one of yours)." You can't keep me in my place. I don't fit into whatever box you have attempted to create for me. And I like that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jet Ski

Check out direction #43 on the following map:

View Larger Map

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Sea-Shore

"The sea-shore is a sort of neutral ground,
a most advantageous point from which to contemplate this world.
It is even a trivial place. The waves forever rolling to the land
are too far-travelled and untamable to be familiar.
Creeping along the endless beach amid the sun-squall and the foam,
it occurs to us that we, too, are the product of sea-slime.."
-Henry David Thoreau

While I would like to record what my whole week at the cape was like, I think I will just share a moment that defined my whole week. Our training facilitators let us off two hours early one afternoon during the training week to go explore the area. While I could not have asked for better weather for most of the week, the only rainy day happened on our "break" day. Additionally, I forgot to charge the batteries to the camera I had brought along. Of course. Storms AND no camera. Brilliant.

I traveled with two from Pipestone National Monument (doncha know). We started as quality American tourists- consumers devouring the gift shops that stretched along Provincetown (technically in search of a sweatshirt, but we happened to find some other little trinkets along the way, too). We had hoped the weather would clear up enough to make it to the beach, but there was no break in sight. We drove to the beach as the sun sunk into the horizon. As we sat in the car, somebody pulled out his phone (the smart kind) and said that if we waited a few minutes, the radar showed a break in the approaching clouds. Then he piped in, "but I bet there is a killer rainbow out there right now." That was all this itchy body needed to hear. I opened my door, braved the rain, and bolted over the dunes onto the beach.

From one side the sea breeze slammed the rain drops onto me while the sun smiled from the other direction. Arching from the ocean, over the beach and life-saving station, beyond the grassy mounds beamed the brightest rainbow I have ever seen. Vistas that beautiful can't even be found on a postcard. The waves crashing, the seagulls diving, and the sunlight dancing on the tall blades of beach grass breathed life into my picture-perfect view. The sight amazed me enough that I didn't realize how the rain and cold started seeping into my core; at one point I couldn't feel my fingers, but I didn't care. The expanse of the world lay in front of me, why would I leave?

The sea begs mystery; I found myself caught in my historian shoes, pondering the many lives that had seen this same view. Beach-goers, coasties, early settlers, natives, even pirates. For a minute, the mystical world of the sea captivated me; I would have believed that mermaids played along that very same beach if you told me so.

Alas, dinner reservations demanded that we return to town. But I have stored those few moments I spent on that beach in my "Life Does Not Get Better Than This" mental folder. A. MAZ. ZING.