Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PERCEPTION: First in a Series in non-chronological order

I’ve started this post 3 different times. What I’ve finally realized I’m trying say too much/have too many thoughts for one entry. Brevity of word has rarely been an issue with me.
I’m in between trips for work—professional conferences. The one I just returned from was very productive for me-professionally as well as personally. I made some good networking connections, and had some meetings that will be beneficial to my institution, as well as a professional organization that I serve on the Board of Directors. I also was told that I’m going to be invited to serve on a committee with an international professional organization, a precursor to being asked to be on the Board of Directors of this organization. I was smoking—on fire!
A friend & former vendor(P) whom I’ve known for 8 years—in fact it was at this same conference that we met in 2008, commented, “You look great/healthy. You’ve lost more weight. You have a different ‘aura’ about you. You are exuding a confidence that I haven’t seen for a long time. You are once again the Randy I first met. It’s great to see you this way again.”
P has always been good about keeping in touch during the interims, when I was no longer her client, when I was out on medical leave.
It’s GREAT to feel this way again--to be seen this way again. After being beat down at the 5th Ring of Hell for 3.5 years, from Dr. “Throw me under the bus”, being appreciated and acknowledge is still something I’m getting used to. Part of my best revenge is that a person I hired at 5RH who is still there, takes every opportunity she can to tell my former boss how of my successes, and brightly I'm shining in this job. I’m glad others can see the good changes in me.
The next conference will have some overlap people, but it’s an organization that I am new to as a result of the job I now have. It’s a sub-set or specialty area within my profession. The worst part is that I’ll be away the night of the election. ©wtf/rle

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking the Plunge

Given that my last post may lead one to belief that I am one of a delicate or frail nature, I thought I should write a post to validate my ‘butch’ factor to show that I’m not just some wussy fag.
The picture here is framed and sits on my desk in my office as a reminder to me (and anyone who may question my testicle fortitude) that I’m not a wuss. This is from over 10 years ago, when I had much more hair on my head (in volume and length) , and none of the hair on my head (or body) had begun to migrate to white. That’s me in the hole in the ice. I did the Polar Bear Plunge. This was in a the Boundary Waters (between Minnesota and Canada). I was with a group of close friends that I met/knew when I was grad school. They all remain among my closest and best friends in my life. I had been in said Boundary Waters with some combination of all of these people on a number of times, on (with the exception of Amy’s then husband) on various canoeing/camping trips with the campus church group I was a part of (before I became a godless heathen). In fact, in was in some of these trips that most of us in the group solidified or deepened our friendships. Amy was actually the last woman that I dated (or attempted to date) before finally coming out of the closet. But those are a volume of stories in and of themselves. The fact that she remained (remains) a great friend says a lot about the kind of person she is.
This trip was our (my) only winter trip as a group. We stayed in a cabin, not tents this time, as the actual temp of minus 15° F was beyond our parameters of ‘roughing it’.
The day we arrived, we found the owner of the lodge out on the lake, with this plywood framed ‘box lid’ to one side, and he was re-cutting/punching the hole in the ice, in case anyone wanted to do the “PBP”. I was intrigued. It took a few days to work up my courage. I had questions. He supplied answers:
“What’s the procedure?”
“You stay in the sauna for a while to get your body
temperature good and hot. You run from the sauna, down the path (50
yards?) to the hole. You jump in.”
“How do you get yourself out? Isn’t it difficult?"
“You have someone holding on to each hand/arm when you go
in, to make sure you don’t go down below the water level. They help pull
you out.”
(this is the day I learned the difference between ‘buck naked’ and
stark naked’.)
“I highly recommend you do this buck naked, which means you
wear socks—only socks. This is to keep your feet from getting cut on rocks or sharp ice pieces in the water and from freezing and sticking to the ice when you come out."

Getting out of the hole was my biggest concern. Once that issue was resolved, I was ready. I was going to do it that night when we did our nightly sauna ritual after dinner. I also decided that if I was going to do this, I wanted photographic evidence, as nobody would ever believe I did it by verbal recitation alone. Lynette would take the pic. She was the photographer of the group. Jeff and Amy would each have ‘arm duty’, and Joel would be the stand by in case a third pair of hands was needed to get me out of the hole, and to serve as towel boy when I came out of the water. We all were in the sauna. After our usual amount of time, all of the others with the exception of Joel went to the cabin to get dressed and prepared for my plunge. Joel stayed with me to keep me from losing my nerve. People were in place. The ‘lid’ had been removed by Jeff. Lynette was in position half way down the trail to get a shot of me running down the trail. I start my ‘buck naked’ sprint from the sauna. Lynette clicks the shutter. “OH SHIT,Randy. That was the last picture on this roll of film! “
I couldn’t stop at that point. I had to keep going. And, I did. Let me state for the record, I have never done any hard core hallucinogenic, mild altering drugs. This experience was transcendental. Because my body temp was hot from the sauna, when I jumped into the (literally) icey water, my body did not get cold in this ice water. It was a shock to my body/system. My heart raced. When I came out, steam emanates from every pore of my body. It was bizarre! Additionally, because it was minus 15° F, my socks turned immediately to ice upon exit. I’ll just say this one thing on this issue—there was shrinkage like I didn’t know was possible. I think my nuts ascended up to my clavicle(s). Because it was such a wild (and not unpleasant) experience, I told Lynette, “Go load the camera. I’m doing it again for the photo! I have to have the photographic evidence.”
I did. The picture above is the result, and the proof.
People can (and do often) say a lot of things about me. But they can’t say I back or turn away from challenges. If there’s something I really want to do, I can most of the time find a way to do it. I’ve often been told in my life, “You can’t do that.” If someone tells me that I ‘can’t’ do something or don’t have what it takes, that pretty much is all the incentive I need to do it, if for no other reason than to prove the naysayer wrong, out of my own sense of obstinance . So I can be able to come back and say “fuck you-I did it”. I did the Polar Bear Plunge. Given the chance, I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.