2015 or Paddling Upstream

river

Downstream with a strong friend is a nice way to travel

This year has felt like paddling upstream. That sense of struggling against a current that is so intense that you can’t see the progress being made until you find a safe beach to pull off on. So here I am, finally beached after 365 days that felt like one continual mid-river flailfest. Happy to see that I have gained some headway.

2014 and 15 saw me falling in with some pretty amazing writer types and continuing to hang out with the splendid folks who have been encouraging me all along. People who feed my ambition and see more in me than I particularly see in myself. With their enthusiasm and direction 2015 had me writing up a storm and sending that storm into the broader publishing world. Without a specific plan I tried everything this year. Writing about adaptive diving, trying out a few personal essays, book reviews, and one deeply specific listicle.

For your reading pleasure, here are links to my year in writing:

These are the two personal essays that I am the most proud of having published. Both examine growing up with a disability. The first, Field Trip involves a pack of wolves. The second, Creation Myth features deeply incompetent angels.

This is a review I wrote of Tess Sharpe’s first YA novel Far From You for the folks at Disability in KidLit. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue working with them as they grow their catalog of book reviews that focus on how realistically writers are portraying characters with disabilities. Sites like this are why I love the internet.

Though the writing is more dry than the rest of my work, I have had a blast in my role as guest author for diving with disabilities at About.com. Here I have been able to help organize all of the scattered information that I was looking for when I first decided that taking up scuba seemed like a great idea for a disabled person. I started with the basics of what adaptive diving is and who it’s for then moved on to how adaptive dive instructors are trained and what kind of specialized equipment might be used to help facilitate successful diving. I then got to look at the differences between certification organizations with the hope that would be divers could use these articles to make informed decisions about what will best meet their individual needs. There is The International Association for Handicapped Divers, The Handicapped Scuba Association (who I certified with) Scuba Schools International Classified Divers, and Dive Pirates a worldwide network of dive professionals helping to facilitate dive opportunities for folks with a variety of disabilities through active fundraising and a model focused on community building. This work has allowed me to continue to engage with the scuba world and meet other adaptive divers who share my very serious loves of water, introducing newcomers to the sport, and goofing off.

The last few months of 2015 were almost entirely consumed with the horrific banalities of healthcare. A twenty three year old hip replacement finally gave out sometime in the middle of a summer solstice dance party atop a French Alp. This was a failure I knew to expect that took place in a rather fantastic manor. The inevitability of the repair surgery, the rather stylish setting that the prosthetic chose to fail in, and the army of encouraging friends both old and new, helped me get through the frightening reality of planning for a major surgery with an uncertain outcome. During a particularly bleak and snarky moment of planning my ridiculously wonderful friend Kristen Hanley Cardozo sat with me to write this elaborate list of nonesense activities for convalescing. The Toast agreed to publish it almost immediately. A fact that, no matter how far my writing career takes me, I’m certain will always be one of my favorite career stories.

The surgery went better than any other I’ve ever experienced and I’m back to better than I was before any French dance parties occurred. Looking ahead I plan to fill 2016 with as much friendship, writing, and travel as any dirtbag fun hog could hope for. More than that, I plan to be more organized in my approach to writing and life so that in time I can begin passing some of the good fortune and knowledge I’ve gained along to those I meet on my way just as my mentors and friends have done for me. For now, onward! To wherever the hell it is that 2016 will take us!

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Not For Dancing

 

 

A Sketchy Summer

Aiguille du Midi

Aiguille du Midi (As Seen From Gloria’s Window)

Ostensibly, I went to the alps this summer for writing. For whatever reason, often, I found myself drawing instead. I have a history as an art major (no degree, just lots of studio time, a healthy appetite for criticism, and outlandish ideas about the inessential role of beauty in human forms of expression). This is to say, I used to draw all the time. Continue reading

Purposefully Erratic

Approaching Aiguille du Midi

Approaching Aiguille du Midi

Traveling has left me caught in an expanding web of magnificent eccentrics. Last night I had dinner with a pair of mountain bikers I met in Chamonix this summer. Though we’ve known each other less than three months, I knew by the light in their eyes – knew by the grin that started in the right corner of Tom’s mouth and didn’t stop until the left corner of Gloria’s (across the room) – that their latest expedition was a grade A sufferfest. A two hour bike ride that turned into eight, uphill over roots and boulders, through the viscous, silty mud that forms in the rain that really hasn’t stopped falling all season. Only a coke and a few madeline’s to sustain them. Continue reading

A Celebration of Filth

I'm All Up On This Alp

I’m All Up On This Alp [Photo by Halliday Reynolds]

I woke up last Wednesday, pine sap matting a wad of hair to the back of my scalp, just above the beginnings of a redneck sunburn the likes of which I haven’t experienced since high school; before sunscreen was a thing. The previous days’ outfit lay strewn about my bedroom, covered in a Jackson Pollock masterwork of bar-b-que sauce, forest floor dampness, the black smudges of charcoal, pine needles, and a dash of red wine stains. None of this is bad; it’s glorious. Continue reading

Pretrip Nostalgia: There’s No Place Like Home…

Sad to Go

Sad to Go

Next week I’ll take the 210 to the 2 to the 5 to the 110 to the 105 to the 1. Then, I’ll hop on a plane and head off for an almost three month festival of lucky-swine Alpine writing workshop followed by a slow paced mountain and/or continent conquering aimless wander. I am excited and humbled beyond expression at the particular path my life is currently following. Continue reading

Good Looking Out, Smokey

Yosemite

Yosemite

For a week each spring we celebrate our National Parks. This is not nearly enough time. For ninety eight years the parks service has collected and curated eighty four million acres of Continue reading

Colonize the Montage

Dogwood Flowers Chillaxing in the Sunshine of a Sierra Spring

Dogwood Flowers Chillaxing in the Sunshine of a Sierra Spring

This past week has been completely overrun with two activities. The see through-tanning, internet-searching, hair-pulling minutia of planning my epic summer and a knock-down, drag-out, full blown, gloves off bout of RA fatigue. In the seven or eight hours per day that Continue reading

The Single Best Brownie and Latte in the History of Humankind

Mmmmmmmmmm Civilization...

Mmmmmmmmmm Civilization…

The above latte/ brownie combo may look run of the mill to the untrained eye. To the eyes of a deeply inexperienced outdoors-lady who has just spent three days drinking instant coffee, Continue reading

The Greatest Picture Never Taken in Denali National Park

This is a picture of a real live wolf! Squint, it's there. I swear it.

This is a picture of a real live wolf! Squint, it’s there. I swear it. If you’re on a smart phone you’re S.O.L. though.

Some people are possessed of a second sight. One specifically reserved for spotting interesting flora and fauna that the rest of us mere mortals miss. Personally, this skill set never developed Continue reading

Ripping Off Your Bunny Ears

Not an alp in Denali National Park

Not an alp in Denali National Park

I have disgustingly good news and I ask that you bear with me for a braggy second while I tell you about it. I swear there will be a pay off, just hang on.  Continue reading