Category Archives: Experiences

Float Away the Pain

In my journey to coming off of Cymbalta to control my headaches I have been experiencing some severe withdrawal symptoms. Chief of which is nausea and what I like to call “Shocky Brain”. They are these zaps that happen about 20 times a minute where it feels like my brain is pulsing, my hearing becomes very acute and I feel dizzy. Sounds like a party, right?

So while surfing the Interwebs for relief, I came across a suggestion to try a sensory deprivation float tank. Intrigued, I searched for some place local, and came across MindSpa in Sarasota (an hour away). First off, the name MindSpa immediately had me thinking of MindHead in Bowfinger (this connection may have colored my experience, as you will see).

I decided to book a session and convinced my loving husband to take me on the 1 1/2 hour drive to Sarasota. He agreed begrudgingly, but at this point he would have done anything to get me out of our dark bedroom where I had been for a full day.

So Sunday afternoon we set off for Sarasota across the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Already being dizzy, this bridge was not helping.

20140727-154233-56553588.jpg

We arrive to MindHead, I mean MindSpa, which was located in a small professional office block with a chiropractor and an Insurance Company. Cross referrals anyone?

We are greeted by a lovely young girl (seriously, she was about 16 years old). I can’t remember her name, so we will call her Harmony. She gives us a tour of the small office starting with the first room where they have a couch with a giant Spaceballs helmet at one end.

Apparently they flood the helmet with all kinds of colors that align your chakras. Oooooh Kaaaaay. Then we pass the acupuncture room into the Sensory Stimulation room. Harmony invites me to try it, saying it often enhances the brain’s reaction to the deprivation process after have been oversaturated. I was hesitant, because A.) I was trying to rest my brain from stimulation. And 2.) I wasn’t entirely convinced this was an off shoot of Scientology, and this was where the subliminal programming would start. But hey, this is called a Big Adventure, so what the hey.

Sitting in a cushy zero gravity chair, Harmony puts some Oakley shades and headphones on me. I’m looking very 1989 at this point. Then she flips on the machines and my chair starts a lazy clockwise rolling from side to side and vibrates a white noise vibration I can feel and hear. There is some discordant music and chanting in some language (Thetan, maybe) coming through the headphones and lights flashing on the glasses. Here we go.

Maybe because of my heavy skepticism, the brainwashing didn’t take, but I did find myself relaxing, as if I was on a cruise ship, being serenaded by monks. Ten minutes later Harmony returns and unhooks me. I’m feeling a bit dizzy, but I’m about to have an hour to sleep it off.

The tour continues past the Nexalin room where they basically perform shock therapy. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

We finally get to the Float Room which consists of a very ugly large white cabinet. The entire room is coated in salt from the 800 lbs of Epsom salts that are in the tank. Harmony shows me where the shower facilities are and gives me a brief spiel about how to get in and out, setting the timer, some comfy positions, etc. I’m eager to get this over with started so I shoo Harmony and Matt out.

After a quick shower, I open the door, climb in and shut the door. It is dark. Very dark. I lay back and immediately float to the top like a cork. I take a deep breath and get ready to relax.

The deep breath may have been a mistake because the inside of the tank smells a little dank. Like changing rooms on the beach dank. I try to put that out of my mind and concentrate on the lovely laser show patterns of light I see above me. Wait, what? There is no light in here. Great, I’m already hallucinating.

I realize this is probably my mind just coming off my little sunglasses/rocking chair/headphones session so I continue to relax and sure enough they soon fade away.  I start to enjoy the feeling of floating free in space.

5 minutes later…

WHAT THE HELL??!?  Oh, whew, its just the side of the tank bumping against my elbow…  then my toe, other toe, elbow.  How does one keep still in this thing?  I’m keeping perfectly still.  Wait, what if some creepy ass, Epsom Salt Monster of Death has spawned in here and is disturbing the water?  Okay, calm down.  That’s highly unlikely.

10 minutes later…

GRAAWWWWWWWP!  Crap its the Epsom Salt Monster!!  When was the last time they emptied this thing anyway?!  It probably is nesting in my hair right now.  Graaawp, gurgle, gurgle.  Or, maybe it is my stomach.  I wonder if Matt will want to go to lunch in Downtown Sarasota after this…

Some unknown time later…

Snorg! Uh wah?  Oh, I actually did fall asleep in this thing, and woke myself up snoring.  Hmmm, I wonder how long I was out?  Ahhh, this is quite comfortable.

At this point my mind starts racing and ideas are coming at me.  Getting back to writing, of course, is the first thing I thought about.  Then about how I am so happy to be with a new Neurologist who is getting me on a new MS medication that is not an injection and how excited I am about that.  About how there are no shocks going through my brain right now.  It’s working!  These thoughts circle round and round my brain on a continuous loop.

236 minutes later (it seems)… 

I’m bored.

2 minutes after that…

Still bored.

2 minutes later…

Still bored, and now I have to pee.  I lay there, listening as hard as I can through my submerged ears, filled with wax earplugs.  Was that humming noise there earlier?  Is that the filtration system that Harmony said would be my hint to get out?  Are they sitting in the lobby, wondering what happened to me?  Do they not care because the sacrifice to the Epsom Salt Monster must be made and the longer I’m in here the more marinated I become?  Then I see 3 glowing green lights up above my head.  I was pretty sure they were not there when I came in this tank, so I figure I have somehow slept through the filtration system going off.  I feel around in the dark by my feet for the hatch and open the door back to light and safety.

I look at the timer perched by the open door.  Eleven minutes left. Oh, okay, I can hold out for that.

I climb back in and resume floating.  The first 5 minutes is me trying to remain still and stop bumping against the sides.  The next 45 minutes is me waiting for that damn timer to go off. I doze off again and wake myself up snoring again.

Finally…

The bubbles start blowing at my head, and my time is up.  I feel my way out again and make my way to the shower.  Dang it is cold out here!!   All the blood flows away from my extremities as I fumble to get the hot water flowing.  The shower is slippery and I shampoo my hair 3 times to get the Epsom Salt Monster Eggs out of it.  I dress and return to the real world.

It’s all very normal after that.  I pay the bill, Harmony gives me some information on package deals and other therapies.  I thank her for coming in on a Sunday for me and we are on our way.

Over lunch I relay my experience to Matt and laugh because while he was waiting, Harmony let him try the Color Dome Color Therapy (Spaceballs Helmet), but he kept his eyes closed because he too was afraid of being brainwashed.

So, would I do it again?  Possibly.  I was a little squicky about the hygiene factor.  I enjoyed the sensation of floating, but I can drive 5 minutes to the beach here and float for free.  I guess the whole experience was tainted with paranoia from the beginning, but I am happy to say that I have done it. I was feeling very relaxed and calm and the shocky brain is gone for now.

 

-Epilouge-

Got home after a lovely lunch and took a nap.  Woke up feeling well enough to start to write this post and take the dogs for a walk.  Sally REALLY wanted to say hi to a loose dog in the neighborhood and dragged me along with her.  Skinned leg and arm later and all the restorative effects of my float have been negated.  Guess I’ll have to go back (AFTER the scrapes have healed – ouch!)

20140728-192108-69668243.jpg

20140728-192510-69910263.jpg

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Moving Right Along!

Big news!  The Carter Clan is heading South!

Most of you have heard that Matt’s current job has been in a bit of limbo, and there has been uncertainty if the Atlanta Branch of his office would remain open past April.  Then, a few weeks ago, a contact of his in Oldsmar, FL (just northwest of Tampa) who works for a distributor of his company called out of the blue to offer him a job.  We had entertained the idea of moving to Florida for a while now, but the timing was never right, until now.  He is making the move to the new company, where he will be in essentially the same position, but with a nicer salary, better benefits and much more job security!

Of course this is exciting for us, as well as sad / overwhelming / bittersweet / nerve-wracking / scary…  This will be the first time that Matt has lived anywhere besides Atlanta, and this is the first time for me to move an entire house and also participate in the home buying experience.  For the first few months we will be renting a home while shopping for our (hopefully) forever home, so we want to make sure we are giving ourselves enough time to pick out the perfect one!

Now, you may be wondering, what is Kristie going to be doing in Florida? Well, I had a chance to sit down face to face with my bosses in Austin this past week to give them the news. And while the idea of a City Segway Tours Tampa / St. Pete sounds tempting, it just not may be in the cards, yet.  But, luckily the CST Family is a great one and I remain on good terms with them, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a future project with them.  So, to start, my full time job will be finding a house, while working part time in Social Media / selling stuff on Craigslist / applying for jobs / and taking care of my Furkids.

Matt will be heading down to start work on March 4th.  I will follow him mid April.

So there you go, the news we have been teasing you about.  It is going to be so hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful friends we have here in Georgia.  Please know that once we are settled, you are welcome to come down to stay – we are looking a place near the water, so start planning your vacations!  In the meantime, if you want to come help me paint / pull up carpet / scrub floors in order to get the house ready…  🙂

To the next Big Adventure!!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Oh Hi! You’re Still Here!

Time to change the subtitle of my blog, because the Mayan’s got it wrong, AGAIN! Silly Mayans…

Yes, I realize I have been MIA for six months, right after posting about how I was going to be blogging more.  But, see, there’s this thing called Real Life, and it took over in a crazy, crazy way.

I finished the show I was in and jumped right into another one for the holiday season, much to the disappointment to my husband and Furkids, who were missing me at night.  Then, sadly, 2 weeks before opening my mother passed away.  It was definitely a trying time. but I have been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful friends and family who have lifted me up and given me so much love and support these last couple of months. Also, getting to spend the last few weeks of my mother’s life with her, growing closer and sharing memories is a gift that I will cherish forever.

So, 2013 is here!  While I didn’t get all of my Big Adventure List done, I now have the opportunity to continue this adventure we call life!

This year marks my entry into my 39th year on this planet, so the Big Adventure List will have a new goal – to complete as many things on the list before Kristie can shout “Lordy, Lordy – Look who’s Forty!!”

And, new ideas have cropped up, so here is the List!!

Lose 30 lbs

Go on a road trip with friends

Go rock climbing

Hike part of the Appalachian Trail and camp out

Go to Space Camp

Explore the Grand Canyon

Complete a 5k or a Muck Ruckus Challenge

Go an entire day without using technology

Go Zip-lining

Volunteer at an animal shelter

Be in a film or TV show (even as an extra)

Learn another language

Hike part of the Appalachian Trail

Ride a mechanical bull

So, I have until April 24, 2014 to get this done – Wish me luck!!!

Follow this list on Pinterest!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can’t Wait For Summer

One of the best things about my job is, from time to time we get to meet some very fun folks.  Last April (on my birthday, actually) we were joined by local band Yacht Rock Revue a 70’s light rock tribute band.  They were filming a video for their new original single “Can’t Wait For Summer” and this was the result:

So. Much. Fun.

Tagged , , ,

Swimming With The Gentle Giants

Last week I had an absolutely amazing experience! I got to swim in the Ocean Voyager Tank at the Georgia Aquarium where I came face to face with a Whale Shark.

Why would I willingly get into a tank that not only has four of the world’s largest fish, but also is home to thousands of other fish – some that, if provoked, might want to snack on me?  Folks, the name of this blog is Kristie’s Big Adventure…  work with me here!

It started a couple of months ago when I submitted my Adventure List to the syndicated radio show, The Bert Show.  A week ago, I received a call from the show’s producer that I was in the running to be able to participate in the aquarium’s Swim With The Whale Sharks Program. I was elated! I was asked to come into the studio on Tuesday, along with other finalists to talk about why this was on our bucket list.

That morning, we gathered in the studio conference room – 7 folks very nervous about what we would have to do to get picked. Would we have to tell some sob story and get the sympathy vote? Would we have a challenge (there were a nervous few minutes when we contemplated what eating plankton might be like). We were ushered into the studio where they were live on air and we waited. After a brief tease, it was announced – we all would get to swim! Suddenly, six people who were my competitive rivals were my new best friends!

That afternoon we met at the aquarium where we were introduced to James who would be our host for the day.  We started out with a bit of history about the aquarium and the fish that we would be encountering on the swim.  In addition to the whale sharks, we would also be swimming with manta rays (the only ones in a US Aquarium), sting rays, zebra sharks, sawfish and the ominous sounding predatory trevally jacks.

After signing our waivers, we made our way down to the tank where we stood at the top.  The place is huge!  The tank, roughly the size of a football field, has over 6 million gallons of water which is recirculated every hour. Making the water salty like the ocean takes almost 2 million pounds of salt. While we were up there, many photos were taken and tweeted before we headed to the locker room to change into our wet suits.

After donning our oh so flattering wet suits, we were outfitted with our own regulator and air tank.  This was much easier to use than a snorkel, and it also helped to keep us oriented face down in the water.  The aquarium provided me with a prescription mask, so I could see clearly without my glasses (and the yellow mask made me easy to find in pictures and video). A quick group picture, and we were ready to get wet.

I was partnered as a swim buddy with Bert Show Cast Member, Kristin Klingshirn, who to say it mildly, was a little terrified. As we sat on the edge of the dive dock, we shared a last second look of “are we really doing this?!” and then it was into the water we went.

It took a while to acclimate ourselves to swimming slowly using just our hands to move us (they discouraged kicking, because it would send the fish away from us). There were a few bumps into the folks in front of us before we got into our groove.  Then we were actually able to enjoy what we were doing.

In a word, it was amazing.  The fish showed no fear as they swam under us, next to us and even toward us sometimes.  Kristin had a small encounter with one of the aforementioned predatory trevally jacks.  It swam right up to her face and stopped. After a few seconds of a staring contest, it darted off, scaring the heck out of both of us. The whale sharks would cruise right under us, sometimes even bumping us as the passed by.

We took a leisurely Figure-8 route around the tank, crossing over the acrylic tunnel that bisects the tank where we could wave at the spectators below. It was a peaceful swim – but a little tiring.  It is hard to describe the thrill you get when one of these magnificent creatures would swim close to you.  The manta rays were overwhelmingly beautiful, performing graceful barrel rolls and seeming to soar through the water.

The swim was over entirely too soon, and we reluctantly climbed out of the tank, each sneaking a last peek underwater before exiting. After a quick shower and changing back to our street clothes, we gathered once again in the education room to watch the video of our experience.

People who say that it is unethical to keep fish and animals in aquariums and zoos for entertainment value really miss the point of what the good people at the Georgia Aquarium are doing.  Without their research and conservation programs, we would know very little about these creatures and how we can protect the species in the wild. Every dollar that the aquarium makes goes towards their costs and funds research. They are not for profit. Swimming with the fish they are preserving and educating the public about has definitely been one of the biggest highlights of my Big Adventure!  Thank you to The Bert Show and The Georgia Aquarium for making it a reality!

(Look for me with the neon yellow mask!)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Spaaaahhhh!

Every once and a while you need to stop and just relax. It is next to impossible to do that these days with deadlines, phone calls, doctor’s appointments… the list goes on and on.

And nothing makes it harder to relax when you are battling illness.

You may already know about my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis almost a year ago and why I am embarking on this adventure, but what many folks don’t know is that my mother has also been fighting lung cancer for a year as well. As she is a fairly private person, she has kept her illness on the down-low, but I asked if I could share a bit of her story so you can see why a day of relaxation was over due for her.

Almost one year ago to the day, my mom got the bad news that a tumor was in her lower right lung. Being a smoker for so many years, it may have been inevitable, but she has been smoke-free for over 5 years, so it seemed a little unfair. However, she never showed any fear or worry about the diagnosis. From the beginning her attitude was, “Okay, so what’s the next step?”

Well the next step was an intense daily chemo regimen followed by radiation treatment. Throughout the whole process the prognosis was great, the tumor was shrinking and besides some tiredness, her side effects were minimal (and she looked great bald.  So jealous.)

Then in February, she started having a problem with fluid building up in her lungs and had to do a rather painful procedure called a pleurodesis that had her in the hospital for a while. Other than boredom and the occasional annoyance at the nurses, she really was a trooper through the whole situation.

Once she was out, though, it turned out that she needed to go through another round of chemo. Great news to get before Mother’s Day, right?

I knew I wanted to do something special for her, and I kept thinking, “Spa Day.”  I don’t know why, since she has never been crazy about massages and facials. Somehow, though, I just felt that she was holding in a lot of stress and might just be open to the idea.

Then Lesley at Bucket List Publications sent me an awesome email – Spa Sydell would treat us to a Mother / Daughter day at the spa so we could check that off our Bucket List -it was perfect timing all around!

We set up our day on a Sunday morning. It was quiet when we arrived to the Midtown location, and the staff was friendly and very attentive.

First on the menu was an hour long Swedish Massage. We were put in a couples suite, so we could see each other through a window. I had Patricia start on me. She combined a wonderful combination of Swedish Massage, Acupressure and a little deep tissue on my neck. I was definitely a noodle at the end.

Then it was on to our facials. Barbaretta was amazing.  After assessing my skin, she got to work with steaming open my pores while cleansing my face and performing a gentle exfoliation. She also treated me to an additional shoulder, hand and foot massage.  For a moment I thought I was getting a mini-manicure when she placed my hands in plastic baggies, then slipped them into heated mitts. Then I realized that was just her way of letting me not be able to defend myself while she performed pore extraction. Who knew there were so many nerve endings on the tip of one’s nose? Then it was onto a moisturizing mask and she finished off with a soothing face cream. I couldn’t keep from touching my face afterward, it was so smooth!

Then it was on to the mani / pedi. I sat this one out, since the tragic loss of my two large toenails while training for the 50 Mile Carolinas Challenge Walk last spring. My mom got the full treatment and left with her toenails a bright “Cajun Shrimp” color and her fingernails trimmed and buffed to a high shine.

After 3 hours of pampering, we were new people! After a yummy lunch at Zoës Kitchen, we felt ready to tackle the week (chemo for her and Dr.’s appointments and traffic court for me – boo).

The glow we have from our spa day will stay with us for a while, though. Thank you so much Spa Sydell for the wonderful day and thank you as well to Bucket List Publications for making it happen!

               

Spa Sydell Midtown

Hmmm, maybe some shopping after?

Do we have to give the robes back?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Books and Taxidermy

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book reading and signing by Jenny Lawson (aka @TheBloggess).  If you are not familiar with her blog, please take a few minutes / hours to read one of the most hilarious, honest, slightly profane and entertaining writers I’ve ever met:

http://www.thebloggess.com

Okay, thanks for coming back!  Funny, right?

Well, the signing was held at the Barnes and Noble in Buckhead, and clearly they did not do their research and see that the girl had been filling up bookstores all over the country during her readings and her book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” is on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Silly bookstore. When I got there, the chairs were full so I decided to go ahead and just get in line for the signing.

Jenny read a particularly hilarious passage from her book about a time when she thought a rapist had broken into her house (hilarious, because it just turned out to be her cat knocking over her purse), which we could sort of hear through the weak sound system.  We knew it was good, though, because everyone was laughing uproariously.  Once the reading was done, the book signing began.  My fellow line dwellers and I patted ourselves on each others backs that we went ahead and started the line so we wouldn’t have to wait.

Well, we waited.  And waited… and waited some more.  Finally, the woman next to me (who I shall now call Helen Reddy – Hear her roar) decided she would find out what was going on.  Turns out that the Barnes and Noble staff had failed to notice the line of about 150 people snaking through the travel section with books clutched in our eager little hands.  This did not sit well with Helen, and she made sure that the entire staff knew about it.  The senior manager quickly shuffled us forward into a new holding area – right in the middle of all the science books about space flight (must… resist…)  Here we sat for about 30 minutes.  Helen was definitely antsy, and again was asking for a manager so she could yell at her.  I was distinctly uncomfortable with how upset she was.  I really didn’t feel the need to complain – partly because of my recent decision to Just Be Nice, and also because she was vocal enough for the lot of us.  Besides, I had Jenny’s book to read while we waited.

Finally, Helen had enough, and she stomped out of the store.  Too bad for her, because that’s when the line started to move, now our line was positioned in the graphic comic book section.  I started to suspect that this was all Barnes & Noble’s evil ploy to get us to impulse buy (spoiler alert – it worked.)

At last the time came to meet Jenny – what a Sweetheart!  She is in that category of celebrity that I know I would be great friends with if I could just somehow hang out with them in a non-stalkery way.  I mean, how fun would a dinner party with Matt and I, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Colin Ferguson, Nathan Fillion, and now Jenny Lawson be?  Right?

She was awesome and signed my book and snapped a quick picture with me.  I give her credit, as well, cause I believe she was feeling very under the weather.

Do yourself a favor, subscribe to her blog, follow her on Twitter, and buy her book – you won’t be disappointed!

 

See, we are already Besties!

See – we are already Besties!  And yes, that’s a taxidermy monkey. If you have to ask, then clearly you haven’t read her blog yet…

 

It's worth millions now!!

If the inscription seems less than friendly, you have to read the post “And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles” which was my gateway drug into her blog.

 

Impulse Purchase for Matt

Impulse purchase for Matt…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Adventures In Babysitting

In my 20’s, I really wanted to be a mom.  I would be an awesome mom, just like mine.  My kids would be involved in sports, theater, dance – all of the good stuff.

As I moved into my 30’s, though, I started to realize a few things.  One, kids are expensive – especially if you want them to have all you had and more.  Unfortunately, an opera degree and a career at the time in musical theater wasn’t something that lent towards saving for a college fund.  Second, being the youngest of 3 girls, I luckily didn’t have the pressure of producing grandkids, since my parents already had 3, with two more in the works.

When Matthew and I started discussing marriage, he was emphatic that he was good with not having children.  I found that I was okay with that as well.  Many people, including my family, didn’t believe me and it took some convincing that I was completely happy being my nieces’ and nephews’ Favorite Aunt, and doting all my attention on my own Fur-Kids.

Then when I got the diagnosis that I had Multiple Sclerosis, I realized that maybe it was all part of some master plan that I did not have children.  To be a Super Mom, you need tons of energy and patience – two things that I have been struggling with over the past year.

Now, all my friends are having kids, and it is a blast to see them with their babies, so every once in a while I get the “What-If” twinge.

I was in the middle of one of those twinges, then my sister had me watch her 11 and 8-year-old for a week and that twinge quickly was satisfied!

Don’t get me wrong – I love Caroline and Jackson dearly. They really are two of the most well-adjusted, intelligent, funny and talented kids I know.  How did they get this way?  Because these are two of the most involved children I know!  It was a week starting everyday at 6:15 am and going until 10:30, filled with carpools, school projects, talent shows, dance class, soccer and tennis practice, and many, many snacks.

And I got to do it all by myself.  It really was fun, especially getting to see Jackson interact with his school and soccer friends as he had two school shows – Oceans of Fun and Passport to Fun.  I also learned that he has a new obsession with hair gel.  Yes, he is an 8-year-old Zac Effron in training.

And Caroline – how do I describe her?  Imagine a Tasmanian Devil crossed with a baby giraffe, add the intelligence of a future rocket scientist, and then have it talk at about 30 words a second and you start to get the idea.  It was great getting to see her practice her solo and duet for an upcoming dance competition – was this really the girl who just a few years ago was just learning to shuffle ball change?

Needless to say, we ended the week with all limbs attached, no permanent scarring (just some accidental face tattoos, by falling asleep while doing homework) and only one ballet shoe ruined (by Bailey the Wonder-Dog).  We even managed to make waffles, teach Abby how to swim, and play board games!

I however, was exhausted…  Two days later and I’m still needing sleep.  It really was an adventure – plus it gave me an appreciation for all the Super-Moms I know out there!  Now I’m really looking forward to a Spa Day with my Mom to thank her for all she did that I never really appreciated!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

On The Radio

Woah oh, oh, oh…  Sorry, brief Donna Summer moment there…

A few posts ago, I was reminiscing about my old Kia Sportage and it’s awesome bumper sticker…  What I didn’t mention is that car car died a horrible and noisy death – and it was captured live on NPR’s Car Talk!  As I was downloading some podcasts, it seems my episode was on re-run, and I got to hear it all over again.

Here’s the story – One night, I was coming home from rehearsal in Duluth, when my car started making this horrible rattling noise.  I slowly drove it home and left it in the garage for a few days while I drove Matt’s mother’s old car for a while, until I had time to get the Kia towed to the shop.  Then I had a thought – wouldn’t this be a great subject for the Click and Clack!  I called into Car Talk and left the details about me and my car – lo and behold, I was picked.

It made for great radio when…  well, you can hear for yourself.  My call begins around the 20:17 mark…

Car Talk – Buona Fortuna

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Free Fallin’!

Saturday could not have been a more perfect day.  Sunny, blue skies, wispy clouds, a gentle breeze…  a peaceful day that became very exciting for me for about 5 minutes.

Yep.  I went skydiving!

To be honest, this is not something I had been dying to do, nor was I dreading it.  I was a bit nervous about whether or not I’d actually be able to do it when the time came or if my sense of self preservation would keep me from jumping. Turns out, I had no choice – but I’ll get to that.

Skydive The Farm is an amazing facility in Rockmart, GA – about 1 hour outside Atlanta.  When we pulled in, I had my first twinge of fear (or as Martie put it my “S#!t’s Getting Real” Moment) when I saw the airplane taking of from a grassy field.  This was, by definition, a Buddy Holly airplane that I’m sure someone was controlling by remote control somewhere.  I do have a tendency to get airsick on takeoff, so I was not looking forward to that flight.

Once we parked and headed up to the hangar, I knew immediately I was with my kind of folks.  About 8 dogs were running around and playing.  Matt and I immediately regretted leaving Ford and Abby at home.  After signing in and filling out some waivers that I think had me offer my firstborn in there somewhere, we watched the best disclaimer video.  Ever.  Sidebar – working with City Segway Tours, we show an instructional video prior to tours that has a Stick Man falling off a Segway in a number of horrifying and hilarious ways.  About 6 out of 10 times we hear the phrase “Now I’m nervous” after the video.  Well folks, our video has nothing on this one…

I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but it was along the lines of, “You are about to participate in a highly dangerous sport.  There is no such thing as a perfect plane.  There is no such thing as a perfect parachute.  There is no such thing as a perfect jump instructor. You might actually die doing this.”  Then it went on to show an ambulance pulling into a field full of people shaking their heads and trying not to throw up.  I would have been terrified if I wasn’t trying not to giggle at ZZ Top who was explaining the video.  Well, actually, it was Bill Booth, the inventor of the tandem skydiving harness on the video.  He also has a spectacular beard.  Check it out, I’ll wait.

So, video watched, then it was time to meet Chucky – my tandem instructor. Super nice guy who, with his wife, are expecting a baby boy in September.  So I knew he had incentive to come back safe. He helped me into an incredibly tight and oh so not flattering at all jumpsuit. The announcement then came that I would be in the next load.  My tummy did a little flip.

I loaded onto the shuttle bus that took me along with about 11 other jumpers to the plane.  A shuttle bus that seemed to have a hive of wasps nesting somewhere.  It was pretty funny to see these guys who stare death in the face 10-12 times a day by jumping out of a plane freak out over a wasp.

Once we arrived at the plane, my butterflies were going full force.  Oddly enough, though, I was still more frightened of the flight than of the jump.  I don’t think my brain had processed past that part just yet.  We squeezed in sardine style, and in a matter of minutes were off.

The flight was surprisingly smooth, and soon we were climbing to 14,500 feet.  At this point, my brain had gotten to the point of realizing I was about to fall from a very high distance, and my tummy butterflies had morphed into very large fruit bats.

Then, before I realized what was happening, the door slid open and people started flinging themselves willingly out the plane.  At this point I panicked because as each person evacuated, the small plane would bobble and we had to redistribute the weight.  I was the second to last to head out, so I slid up to the door behind my cameraman, Andy.  Next thing I know, Chucky had me in the doorway, then suddenly I was streaking through the air heading to the ground like a dart.

Honestly, the whole thing happened so fast that the second I was in the free fall I forgot to be scared and immediately started having the most fun I had ever had in my life.  I free fell for 9,000 feet for about a minute.  Then, pop!  Up the chute went and we immediately came to a gentle glide for another 5 or so minutes.

It was surreal seeing the ground so far below up like a Google Earth map.  And it was so quiet!  An immediate sense of peace came over me at the beauty of it all.  So much so, that when Chucky offered me the chance to steer the chute, I declined because I was enjoying the view so much.  Then the most amazing thing happened – we saw what is known as a Sun Dog – a rainbow that is circular that was reflected off the clouds below us – and our shadow was perfectly in the center of it.  I was immediately cursing myself for not strapping a camera to myself somehow.

All too soon it was over and we were coming to a gentle stop in the middle of the field.  The adrenalin surge ebbed away, and quickly I was overwhelmed by a sense of “Boo!” as I realized I was finished.  Matt came running up with a bottle of champagne and I was immediately surrounded by my friends.  And all I wanted to do was cry because the whole experience was beyond words.  The fact that it has taken me three days to even be able to put this down shows how overwhelming the whole experience was.

Of course, no skydive is complete without the video and rockin’ soundtrack, so please enjoy…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: