Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pinnacles Part Deux

I checked another mile off of the 30 mile total. It was painfully hard. I didn't complete the 5.2 mile loop that traverses the peaks of the Pinnacles, with it's 1200+ ft. elevation and path winding through jagged rocks at the top of the mountain. I made it a third of the way to the top, maybe slightly higher. And at the top of my journey, I walked out on to a lone rock jutting out across the valley beneath. I stood and took in the full-circle view.

Off to the south the mountains opened up to show me the land rolling off into the next valley. The west overlooked the same reservoir I had climbed to on my previous visit, though it looked much smaller from where I stood, high above it. The north and east hinted at all that lay in store as my mountain trail curved around and out of sight and somewhere beyond that the land rose in red-rocked splendor as to the treasures that lay ahead.

For when I go hiking -- my not-quite four year old toddler at my side -- I go treasure hunting. My son is always looking for the elusive "x" that marks the spot where his treasure is hidden, and it's become quite the adventurous game for us. Every cave, every gnarled tree, every beautiful view... they all are treasures. The game is to find the next one. And he does! He seeks with gusto and enjoys his finds with an ever growing appreciation for the beauty of the world around us. Sometimes he scribbles his version of an "x" in the dirt with a stick and enthusiastically exclaims "I found the treasure!" and sometimes he waits for me to find it, but certainly each hike is time for us to seek and find far more than the Pinnacles themselves. There is more treasure in them hills than mere words can describe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creature Comforts

I got an area rug for my new place. The kind with the uber thickness that cushions the feet. You step on this thing and you sink into the floor like it's memory foam and say "mmmm, oh yeah" and then you lay down face first and just smile... and take a nap.

It's also pretty. Not Persian pretty, not Native American hand-woven pretty, just cut thread with a pattern in looped thread to make gentle swirls, scrolls and curves throughout. Think color on color fabric....

It sheds like a long-haired Himalayan cat.

Dammit.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The price of eggs

Today was a weirdly defining day for me. No awesome hiking moments, although I should add a few miles to my map this week or next... but there was this one local paper....

I picked up a copy of a local free mag -- like Georgia/South Carolina's "Skirt" magazine or Kansas City's "The Pitch" (if both of these are unfamiliar to you, don't worry, the story won't suffer for it).

There was an ad inside looking for egg donors, with a website, and advertising $3K compensation. Three grand for something I can't use anymore. So in a "what the hell" moment, I went to the website. I read through the FAQ's, the "about us" section, and got all the way to the online application. And then I went so far as to fill that out.

I got to the last two questions. They were "why do you want to be an egg donor?" and "what would you say to the recipients of your eggs?" respectively. At that moment, the only answers I had were "for the three thousand dollars" and "have you ever considered adoption?"

At that moment I knew that the money would never be a good reason, nor valid enough, for me to donate my eggs -- albeit anonymously -- to infertile couples looking for medical miracles. And the money, by the way, was potentially equal to $24,000 as they pay three grand for up to a maximum of eight egg harvestings.

*note: the next portion may be downright inflamatory for some alternately opinionated souls. But then, if the reader will check again, one will note that this blog is named "Jaded Objectivity".

But as easily as I could've written the proper fluff about how "all I want to do is assist couples trying to conceive a child and help them bring the joy of parenthood to their relationship by enabling them to expand their family..." blah, blah, blah... or "if my eggs can make another couple's dreams come true..." it would've been a bunch of bull.

There are children that need homes. Many are wards of their respective states because their parents are drug addicts, abusive, both, or something else. There are children born that aren't wanted. There are children abandoned. There are baby factory-minded women that bear children specifically to sell them in private adoption. And that's just the tip of the iceberg that is the needs of existing children in this country.

So really, my eggs don't need to be made available for some decently well-off couple with enough money and dreams to burn to spend on medical alternatives to natural conception. They are my eggs. They are neatly tucked away in side my body. To get them would be akin to mining for oil or diamonds (choose whatever metaphor you like).

Oh, and the potential for a Jerry Springer show where my son is dating his genetic half-sister twenty years from now does send a bit of a chill up my spine.

So there ya have it. I realized that while I'm sure I can be bought, my price is higher than $3K an egg harvesting. If anyone out there wants my eggs.. you're gonna have to pony up more than that. The other moral of this story is "adopt, adopt, adopt!!"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reservoir at the Pinnacles

The Pinnacles

October 21st is the eighteenth anniversary of the car wreck that changed my life. That day was the single-most defining day in my entire life. Not because I almost died, but because I was forever altered. Let me explain:

The morning of the twenty-first was like every other. I awoke a bright-eyed teenager, full of big dreams and immortal in my own mind. That afternoon, the injuries I suffered redefined me. When all the x-rays were taken, all the specialists were visited, and a week had passed, the injury toll stood at a concussion, several broken ribs, a broken ankle, and a sprained ankle. Doesn't sound too bad though, does it?

Seven years later I had my first reconstructive surgery to completely rebuild one ankle. Nine years following that one I had my second reconstructive surgery, completely rebuilding the other ankle. In the sixteen years between the accident and the second surgery, every single step I took was bone grinding on bone. Somehow, that detail had been missed or overlooked by numerous doctors and surgeons. I had a rap sheet pages long on countless sprains on both ankles, but who takes an ordinary young kid seriously when they assume she's crying wolf? Well, not many, it would seem. Oh, and I need a third surgery to reconstruct the first ankle... only this time I need cadaver parts, because there's nothing left in my own ankle to use to strengthen it.

But the details of the injuries don't really enlighten the reader to the scope of how my life changed. To begin with, I quit dancing. Dancers need strong ankles; that's one big dream dashed overnight. Secondly, my weak ankles wouldn't hold me up, so I quite literally sprained them from simply walking on a flat floor, nevermind stairs or hillsides or rocks or other uneven terrain. My love for the outdoors, hiking and jumping on my trampoline was benched in favor of my new parent-drilled mantra - “protecting my ankles” - which was synonymous with “sitting down and doing nothing”. My trampoline was sold.

The years became riddled with physical therapy and a parade of doctors and specialists that reviewed my case every time I moved, which was several times in those sixteen years, from family moves to going off to college and coming home and moving out on my own. I had several different versions of ankle braces, depending on the doctor's beliefs regarding my injuries and various prosthetics.

My stamina went down while my pain tolerance went up. I cannot stand for more than ten minutes, and cannot walk for more than twenty without resting. This is after two surgeries, and I am vastly improved from where I was. I can predict the weather with amazing accuracy, as barometric pressure affects each ankle differently, as do cold fronts. The arthritis in my ankles worsens every year. But my last surgeon really put a point to my injuries when she looked at the x-rays and MRI's and said “I don't know how you walked in here. These indicate you shouldn't be able to walk at all, let alone with the amount of pain you must be in.”

So here we are, two years after my second surgery, but before my third. I cannot run ever again. My ankles will not endure it. I walk with braces on both ankles to assist them. My activities are severely limited, and I have said goodbye to many dreams in the last 16 years.

The one I thought I lost forever was hiking. Not mountain climbing, with carabiners and ropes, just simple hiking with good boots and a bottle of water. This week, however, I tackled a 2.2 mile trail at the Pinnacles State Park in California. It is the trail they recommend as “good for children” with it's moderate difficulty and 400 ft. elevation. But for me, 2.2 miles was the equivalent of a marathon. It was a mental challenge as well, knowing that I'd not walked more than a mile and a half in over seventeen years, and that mile and a half was a year ago on a quarter-mile track. This was rocks and a cave and up a mountain. And then back down the mountain.

It took almost four hours. I walked with a walking stick and afterwards I walked on a cane for two days. But I did it. I walked through that cave and up that mountain, challenging my mind and body in a way it hadn't been challenged since I was a teenager. At the top was a small lake and beyond that was a rim trail that overlooked some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen – Grand Canyon and Niagra Falls included. Because this scene was hard-fought to visit. This was at the top of a mountain I'm not “supposed” to be able to walk up. I stood there, leaning heavy on my walking stick, breathless from the experience, not exhaustion. Looking upon the jagged, toothy rock formations of The Pinnacles and the rolling mountains beyond, I saw red rocks fade to brown hillsides that faded to blue land off in the distance. At that moment I was more alive than I've been since I was fifteen years old.

And I'm going back. Finally I have a new dream. There are over thirty miles of trails at Pinnacles. I'm going to walk every single one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

so here's the thing

with a brain capable of intelligent and witty banter comes great responsibility...

So I have this brain... and plenty to say... and I'm wearing a figurative ball and gag. Weird, if you know me.

But what does my adoring fanbase want to read about? Snippets of everday life? My oh-so-subtle opinion on everything under the sun? How about just a nice 5 second glimpse at photography to give you something to view daily that requires no thought unless you want to invest in thinking?

I know... the decisions are endless.

So give me a shout with your opinions, so I can attempt to make this blog again as interesting as it once was. I mean... better than ever!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

ch-ch-ch-changes

It's been a long slow road I've traveled lately. Full of hair-pin turns and unlined roads and occasionally unpaved ones.

California is beautiful. It's arid, it's sunny, it's full of a culture that is not "southern". So how did I get here?

Well, my dad. With his passing came the freedom for me to spread my own wings and chase the life I always wanted for myself.

That wing-spreading caused some spider webs to shake off, and the dust stirred up. When it all settled, my marriage was over. After much discussion and introspection, my marriage is perhaps what it always was... a great friendship. But the love that we shared was one of respect, friendship, loyalty, but not one of great passion. Perhaps one of great compromise. Turns out we were compromising on the wrong things, and not at all on the right ones.

So he helped me pack and hugged me goodbye, and here I am, not entirely sure how I got here. I think I got here by following my own heartbeat, softly but solidly drumming in my ears. Perhaps I got here by faith, maybe by stubbornness, by chance even by selfishness.

I'm sure for every ear that heard the whole story, there would be a different opinion. Speculation is the stuff of gold-diggers, real estate investors, and risk-takers. This is not about fueling the fires of speculation. Fiction is for that. Maybe I'll write a great novel out of my experiences.