Why you so sweaty?

Dec 27 5:00PM
I am finally sitting at the airport with my cocktail. I have finished packing…. You may remember some airport issues that you have had, but I can tell you, the explosive swipe test is quite accurate at the TSA checkpoint.. in London Heathrow, Chicago O’hare and in Dallas/Ft Worth. I have come through and been chosen on several occasions to submit to a swipe test. I have had to do a lot of pre and post talking with the local law enforcement to explain my peculiar set of circumstances on two separate occasions. Fortunately, with the EOD community so small, the average six degrees of separation usually dwindles to two or less.
Not wanting to “pop positive” on checked baggage or have the fortune to meet more of my own on terms not-quite-equal, I opted to choose items for my trip that would not be of suspicion. This was difficult and required several checks. I made certain that my Demo bag didn’t go this time but had forgotten some of my other items as I was packing

1. After I settled all of my video gear into my very handy C-4 satchel (man-bag) that I normally pack my electronics in when I go to the range… I realized that the Lot numbers and the not very clandestine “M183” nomenclature on the bag could raise some eyebrows at some point… unpacked.

2. Flying gloves… I have used them almost every day for many months also at a bombing range for picking up everything from time fuze to blasting caps to bulk explosives and a flotilla of other items that will have every probability of setting off alarms at unfortunate moments. Packed, unpacked.

3. Notepad… that I have used reliably for the last year of recording grid findings, accomplishments and where my crew would  sneaky write random notes on pages for me to find later.. but has been handled by many sets of heavily contaminated gloves, set down on blast seats and carried with the  demolition materials. Almost packed.

Yes, I think there is a remote chance I could still get waylaid but I feel I have done my best to avoid another interesting conversation with an excited TSA employee.

Dec 27 8:30pm
 I am on the plane. Exhausted from an enormous day packing the camper and my bags, loading the motorcycle, storing the camper, storing the truck, car and motorcycle trailer.

 Continental…. I’m not sure if it’s me or if the seats on this plane are much smaller than the Southwest seating I am used to. Or maybe the guy next to me is bigger than everyone.
 Many of you know my OCD that encompasses hugging, touching, crowds, crowded areas… frottage is completely taboo.
The flight attendant has a more generous portion of waistline than the narrow aisle will support comfortably. she is brushing my arm and head frequently with this corpulence. I am spooning my neighbor who is also a heavy breather and groaner. We are shoulder to sweaty bare shoulder in this cigarette box  busload of people. If I have ever had any wish to again sleep next to a man, it seems to have been granted this evening . It’s a short flight but it seems to be stretching out into the very distant and  unforseeable future.  

Dec 28 0300
I have an eight hour layover in Dallas/ft Worth. I have been productive and gotten myself extreme sport health coverage with Patriot. It seems like they are one of the few companies that specialize in this product.  $198/3  months. I really hope I don’t have to report on their reliability. Even more, I hope I can sleep for a little bit but I’m too excited to meet my friends later!!

Doggone

I can almost speak Dog… Well at least one dialect. Scout-ese

I’m used to his proximity and his needs… eating, pooping, running…..rubbing loneliness out of his ears and fur. I’m used to hearing and feeling him shuffling around in my little camper… we are in very close quarters here. 
He settles in for the night just when I do, he grunts and snores and makes a great big sigh when he has done circles, scratched the rug and found the right spot to sleep.
He’s a little bit lazy in the morning and stays in his snoozy pile unless he hears the food bowl or the front door open. 

He’s gone now, I dropped him off in Fallon yesterday with my tenant (I still have a house in NV.) I miss his huge presence.

I’m listening to Etta James, just ate breakfast… A slice of pumpkin pie. With whipped cream. Ive been circling the camper, making small efforts at packing for the trip, making to-do lists, looking at cookbooks to see what I’ll make for Christmas dinner, contemplating if I’ll make coffee or get Starbucks, and peeking at internet articles of Shibari.. The Japanese art of rope bondage… I was describing my neighbor to my  little Japanese friend in Fallon this weekend and were looking online at some articles when we came across this.
Intricate wrapping, knotting and suspending people (not always, but usually nude) over the ground. I think it’s fabulous… but like every other new sport, hobby or interest this takes time to learn.. And while I love thinking about it, I’m pretty sure there’s not much room left between Paragliding, Writing, Cooking, Biking, Running, Paying attention to Scout and actual Work. Bummer.

Three days left ’till i go… Next post will be about the trip, logistics and transportation.

 Hope your Holiday is as interesting as mine..

Obligatory Paragliding FAQ

What is Paragliding?   Paragliding as opposed to hang gliding is a soft fabric in an oblong shape attached to a harness and seat that works similarly to a parachute. It has open cells on the front edge of the wing to catch air and keep the wing inflated. It is laid out flat on the ground either in front or behind you for two primary different means of launch. Either one results in the wing being lifted  above your head. Then, walk or run toward the front of the launch and be  lifted into the air.

Where can you paraglide?   There are different kind of sites. We can soar a ridge like the one at Torrey Pines Gliderport in San Diego  which is very fun and easy to fly, but we are limited in where we can go. We can also fly in the mountains. This is where the sport becomes very challenging, way more fun and a bit more dangerous. You can travel long distances in this way.

How do you go up?   In the mountains, the idea is to find a thermal.. or hopefully, thermals, ride each one up high and try to fly longer distances. A thermal is a warm rising column of air formed by the heating of the Earth that can be of varying size and strength. In the hot summer months, the thermals here in Southern California can be very strong and dangerous. Few if any pilots will attempt midday summer thermals.  During certain times of the day..early and late typically, they are milder and generally  flyable for the average pilot. The thermals in Colombia are reportedly big, fat, friendly bastards that are the primary reason for my choice of flying destination!

Another method of flying is to catch a convergence. This is two large, opposing masses of air that meet and form a powerful band of lift that the savvy pilot can use to fly long distances with relative ease.

At a ridge site, we wait for the wind to blow toward the face of the cliff or ridge we are flying. This wind  hits the cliff, becomes compressed, and is forced directly upward forming a band of lifting air that we use to soar up and down the face.
These are the main methods, there are  a couple others, but you should just come down and hang out with us if you are interested in learning more!!

Is it dangerous?   Yes. However, the advances in wing technology have pushed the sport into the realm of average safety for outdoor sports. If one is flying within their personal limits and adhering to safety constraints, it is possible to have a long, accident free flying career. When pushing the limits of you and your equipment, the chances of becoming a flight casualty increase exponentially.

Can I do it?   YES! You need to find a school you are comfortable with learning at, take the time off, and just go. Different companies have different learning styles, so it’s a good idea to talk with your instructors to get a feel of who they are and what their philosophy is. If you want to take a tandem ride with me, you will have to wait till late next year when I will hopefully have my license!!

Paralysis

Aside

I’m paralyzed. I have fifty things I should be doing but I’m sitting in my warm car wearing my last pair of clean clothes listening to my dog breathe. It’s almost flyable at the ridge, it might turn on, but that could take all afternoon and no flight. I think I have plans for tonight, but I forgot who I might have made them with, so that means I really have to do laundry or be forced in to smell-testing evening wear. Or a laundry bail- out… which is more likely to happen.
The Girl Next Door might want to shoot some pool.. Which I’m super hoping might happen but… who did I make plans with??
Maybe some whipping practice will focus me.

Cool Whip

I have now written no less than three or four pieces about this neighbor. She is fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. I at first thought because of her novel hobby and her patent frankness about it… However seemingly inappropriate it might be….but it’s definitely more than that.  

What I  started to write about is the hilarity I find in her social brazenness, her complete naiveté of propriety around sex and discussions of the same, and the encyclopedic wealth of insight I am gaining into the Kink community. But I’m not just learning about her…. She’s also been teaching (inadvertently) me about my failings and preferences…. Why I am attracted to certain people and why certain relationships have crumbled for me…what I should be paying more attention to in a prospective partner but most of all, the value in finding commonality with someone who is so beyond my own scope of experience.

The reason I have not wanted to publish the other pieces is that while I find the story hysterical, She has become dear to me and I am afraid of making her appear as more of a colorful fiction than a whole person. 

Having said that, I can’t wait to tell you that I am learning how to use a whip! A four foot, intricately hand crafted, single-tail bull whip. This has been something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember (well, since Indiana Jones) … And my fortune in meeting someone who just so happened to have a couple lying around is barely short of miraculous! I’m practicing every day and am getting pretty good at overhand whipping and whipping from the side. What is tragic, is that now that I’ve met this exciting gal, I won’t be here long enough to learn how to crack a whip in a figure eight pattern or from a big overhead circle or learn to spin fire. (she’s super good at that too).  

This is what else we’ve been up to.
I love personality profiling. I am very interested in the dynamics of different types and how they work together. I have a friend that does this for a living and she’s been fielding a raft of phone calls from me for several days now.

It’s been a long time.. Probably since I was a kid that I met someone that was as mesmerizing to me as Elisabeth…  I was curious why, so compared our Emergenetics profiles. Question answered. Our thinking styles are nearly identical but our behavior is complimentary… As well, she is the Meyers Briggs profile that I am routinely drawn to. 

I don’t know if you find this as fabulous as I do, but if you are ever around and have a burning desire to chat it up about profiles, I’m in!

None of this has a bit to do with paragliding.. Actually I had meant to tell you about getting my Brazil visa and tomorrow being my last day at work, but I haven’t been flying at all and I got totally sidetracked somehow…

The Girl Next Door

I have made some pretty bad decisions. I can’t help thinking that this may be one of them.  Everyone has a skeleton or two… My problem is, that I just can’t wait to tell everyone about mine…. 

If you are ok with the lesbian part, but is the limit of your comfort with discussions about sexuality, this would definitely be a good place to stop reading.

But first, I’m going to tell you a different story. 

I think I was eight or nine years old and had been playing some mudpie games with my little friend Amy, a peach faced, sweet, black haired girl that I had known for a couple years already. I can’t remember how it came up, but in the middle of one mudpie, I informed her flatly that “I hate Jews.”

 She looked at me.. “I am Jewish.” 
We kept making pies.

I was…stunned. 
She didn’t seem Jewish.. Or Jewey or any other thing that I heard being negative at all about this sort of person.
For days I kept hearing in my mind the terrible things my father would tell me about Jews, blacks, homos, or anyone else he could not, would not  or did not want to understand. And then I heard my little friends sweet voice telling me she was a Jew….and I knew that he was definitely wrong about Jews.

But who and what else was he wrong about? At this young moment, I stopped trusting my fathers blank judgement. I questioned everything either silently or openly about what my parents told me. I had to know the truth. 
This kind of questioning of course led to some difficult social consequences in the household and certainly did not endear me to my father. 

I got into the habit of questioning. Questioning friends, authority, my lovers and even myself. The answers have been surprising and often very challenging. 

I think this is also one of the reasons I have become involved with the communities that I am a part of now. I wanted to know why it is so hard to be a Navy EOD tech. I wanted to know who the people were that like to do the activities I was interested in.. Do I have the courage to learn to fly?

You’re probably wondering where this windey road is going…

I just moved in to a spot at the RV park. I noticed a couple of my neighbors.. A lady with a barkey weimarauner, and a good looking middle aged guy caddy corner behind me. I just saw him out of my side window one morning. He was watering his plants. 

A day or so later, I had a camper emergency. I had somehow got my tiny, slide in camper stuck on the bed of my truck and in my haste to get my truck out from underneath it, I bent the spindly legs of it forward  at a sick angle..  in a way that made me very afraid to go near it. For any reason.

I had to fix it.

I called the only person I knew that was close enough at the time to come over, but it was clear that he’d had a few celebratory glasses of beer already.
My handsome neighbor came out and with a very warm handshake and a definitely not- man smile, introduced himself as Elisabeth.  

!! I was so happy, I was beside myself at having a butch lesbian as my handy next door neighbor. She saw the problem and within minutes, we had the troubled camper back on solid ground. 
I told her I owed her dinner and asked if the next night would be good.

As we were driving to dinner, I exercised my small talk skills by asking her what her hobbies were… She began to tell me that she did something sexual counseling but I had just missed my exit and had to find a turnaround. As I got back on track, I asked her to please review her hobby because I thought I may have incorrectly heard her.
Elisabeth: “I guess I was being evasive”… “I am an educator in the leather community ”

My eyes get big.

Elisabeth: “I’m BDSM”  (meaning Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism)

The wheels are really turning now. What do I know about this? Who do I know that is into this already? I think I remember a couple that I hung out with was rumored to be into this. Also,  I had to ask myself… What have I been up to? Does it qualify in any context?

Funny questions… Funny answers..

So, I decided that I just need to ask every question that popped into my mind. And I did and am…. I have been barraging this poor neighbor with every stupid and bland question in the book for about a week now. I have been to dinner with her every night and have found countless reasons to stop by her (very nice) camper to sneak cigarette drags and pump her for information. 

This is what I have found:
She’s polite beyond the average standard. Her expectation and interest in her lifestyle nearly mirrors my expectation and interest in flying a paraglider. She is educated, aware, extremely intuitive of others and her surroundings…. And, is causing me to rethink some poorly thought out judgements. 

So, while I can’t force myself not to think about kinky sex right now, I am still somewhat disturbed by knowing that in her world, wearing a fuchsia hankey in your left pocket means you are a spanker but in the right pocket means you are a spankee.

Just sayin.’

 

Forgetty Betty

Countdown

Less than a month left. Twenty-four days, to be precise. I breathe in, breathe out and keep the feet moving. 

I gave notice at work.

I’ve lost my keys a half dozen times and drove off with my phone on top of the car, but the amount of things I’m getting done is amazing. I’m pulled too thin but don’t know a better way than just keeping my head down and making it happen. 

There is a little red haired gal that I keep thinking about, I met her about six months ago when I was flying at the gliderport.  I couldn’t take off, wasn’t enough wind, there was a deep orange sunset happening and we were the only people out. I was trying to empty the sand out of my wing from a beach landing I’d had earlier and she came down to the cliff edge to help me. I discovered that she was also the gal I had noticed a few weeks before that showed up riding a Ducati Monster. 
We met briefly a couple other times and each time I find something else better about her.. She likes classical literature, has a penchant for organic, local food, is a fellow pilot and doesn’t have a TV. She has  piercing, intelligent clear blue eyes, a smile like sunshine, a swagger and unfortunately, I just found out,  is straight. 
Swing and a miss. 
Ahhhhh. Alas. 

Countdown

I am entering the final weeks before my departure. Perhaps it is causing me to wax philosophical. I am unsure why this struck me as so worthy of consideration.. maybe my great love of  having a birds-eye view of the world, maybe my perpetual excitement of the ability to  see huge expanses of apparently still unspoiled natural beauty in my own country.

This was on my return flight from Denver. I had recalled this for a friend and she thought I should post it here..

I chose a window seat. I love sitting in the window but it’s a bit of a challenge to make it to the head. Durning drinks service, I squeezed out and made the single trip, I was trapped by the drink and food cart returning to my seat, so while stranded in the wait station, I was able to peek out the tiny  flight attendant porthole. I think I see the Grand Canyon. It’s huge chasm is at the perfect time of day for picturesque viewing. The bottom in deep shadows, striated reds and black and desert tans held down by a perfectly clear blue backdrop. I snapped a few pictures.. And kept wondering if it for sure was the Grand Canyon. Finally the attendant returns to the rear and asks me if I want anything to drink or eat. I said no, but did she know if that was the Grand Canyon?
Attendant: “I don’t have time to look out the window.”
Me: “you never look out the window?”
Attendant: “no. We never have time”
Me “not even a peek?”
Attendant: “no, we’re much too busy for even a peek.”
Me: “what about right now? Surely you have just a second, I think that’s the Grand Canyon down there”
Attendant: “I’m sure I’ve seen it before, this isn’t my first time over it”
Me: “Mine either.. How do you know if it’s the Grand Canyon or not?”
Attendant: “you”ll know it if you see it.”
Me: “I am never sure… I have been to some pretty majestic places and am always curious when I pass over”
Her face pinches up and i fear i may be rapidly approaching arrest..I know I’m pressing her, but I’m too interested in this persons curiosity level and almost don’t let it go.. But I do.
Attendant: “would you like something to drink?”
Me: “No. Thanks”
I felt sad somehow.

Maybe it’s just because they were overworked, underpaid women working for a bankrupt airline with little room in their cabin space for anything else, but it still makes me wonder how we can create interest in things outside our own scope where there is none, or very little. How do we stop paying exclusive attention to our Sprites and crinkly bags of peanuts… how do we encourage others to be thrilled with the world that we live in? How many more people feel like I do? I hope many.