Tuesday, May 30, 2017

All this for a ring?

                    According to Taylor, Craig should have proposed months before he did.  But Craig was in NO rush. He was waiting for the perfect situation (or he was just terrified of commitment). So when his family planned a 40-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon, that was his cue. Luckily Craig proposed on the trip because it might be the only part of the trip they can smile about. Sure, the two lovebirds love nature and hiking, but this trip was more like a hike through hell. It all started when they set their tent up on the ostensibly safe sandy shore of the Colorado River. They needed a place to store their 50-pound packs while they went to explore a nearby waterfall. 

          After a few hours they headed back to their tent and to find it and their packs in 10 inches of water and precariously close to being swept away by the river. Since when does the level of the Colorado River fluctuate hourly??? Their packs were soaked--clothes, sleeping bags, food, phone, EVERYTHING. After laying all the contents of their packs out to dry on the rocks like a disorganized garage sale, saying a few choice words that started with F and S, and setting up camp on higher, and hopefully safer, grounds they went to bed praying for a better day ahead. 

Trying to dry our stuff before the sun goes down

          Little did they know the next day would be the worst day of them all. Brock, Craig, Bryan, Paige, and Taylor started to hike at 6:30am in an effort to avoid the scorching midday sun. They had 9 miles of hiking before they were supposed to find a spring to filter more water from. Well, after 9 miles of hiking and about one liter of water left between the five of them, they found the spring bone dry. Not a single drop of water. Now it was 11:30am and the day was hot (about 95 degrees). Panic began setting in as they realized they would either have to hike 9 miles back down to the river to get water, or continue forward on the trail and hope to find some other source of water. Their hopes were low but they decided to continue hiking forward. After a few miles and still no water optimism, friendliness, and resilience quickly faded replaced by spite, rage, despondence, and mind-altering thirst. As if the lack of water and the heat weren't threatening enough, Taylor's body decided that an asthma attack would be a nice addition to the adventure. An inhaler would have been convenient but of course she left it at home. Craig felt helpless because all he could do was comfort her and tell her to breathe (over and over and over again), but little did he know he was a huge reason she was able to calm down and breathe easy again. Shortly after that incident, Craig's older brother Brock began showing signs of severe heat exhaustion resulting in a very dramatic removal of all his clothes but his underwear. They were all desperate for water so they tried press forward with the search but Brock was not doing well so they decided it was time to find shade and hangout until the sun went down. At this point the one liter of water they were salvaging was gone. Channeling his hours of watching Naked and Afraid Bryan attempted to wring water out of yucca stalks. Together they share the one teaspoon of yucca juice.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. So they cut up the limes they were saving for a later meal and sucked all the juice from it that they could. It wasn't enough. The next attempt was Brock opening the canned chicken he had in his pack and shotgunning the chicken juice. It must have been pretty gross because he spent the next few minutes gagging. After an hour of resting, Taylor and Craig were getting anxious and worried so they decided to leave the group and hike a little further to find any sign of water. There was another spring on the map a few miles away but after being pranked once by the map, the group was not too optimistic.  By some miracle they came across a pothole (5 feet across and 2.5 feet deep) full of old rainwater, hundreds of tadpoles, who knows how many parents of those tadpoles, and a layer of dead bugs. Taylor yelled up to the group "Eureka, we found water" and the rest quickly ran down to met up with them (Brock had quickly paused to put back on some of his clothes). They had never been so happy to drink from something so disgusting (they filtered it of course).

However, after 2 hours of standing in the pothole and filtering water for the group, Brock yelled "Taylor, get out of the water. NOW". She turned around to see why he was so serious and that's when she saw the 3 foot black and white snake slither towards her in the water. Taylor had done a good job of staying optimistic up until this point. The snake was the stick that broke the camel's back. She jumped out of the hole, carelessly spilled a liter of freshly filtered water, and was screaming things like "I'm done with this trip", " I hate the stupid Grand Canyon", and "I don't do snakes!" 

She left Brock and Bryan in the pothole to finish filtering water while she went to grab her backpack and to help set up camp for the night. As if the day couldn't get worse, she picked up her pack to see thousands of red ants covering the entire thing. She kicked her bag (which stubbed her toe), started crying and walked away while telling Craig she was "done". Craig—being the gentleman that he is—brought her pack back to camp, took out everything inside, found and discarded the open food Taylor had foolishly left exposed in her pack, and got rid of all the ants. After a large chicken burrito dinner and being well hydrated, everyone's spirits seemed much higher. A new sense of hope was instilled in the group but they still couldn't wait to wake up and get the heck out of the wilderness. As the sun dropped and the moon came up, so did the bats, which meant Taylor, citing an irrational fear of the creatures, was in a hurry to get secured into her tent. Just as she was zipping herself up into her sleeping bag, Craig says "Hey, let's go look at stars". In her head Taylor was thinking are you freaking kidding me??? Look at stars?? With Bats and bugs all over the place? After a traumatic day like today?? Taylor promptly told him no and shut her eyes. But then Craig changed the question into a demand. "We haven't had any alone time, so we are going to look at stars. Get up". Taylor reluctantly got out her tent and they walked away from the camp to find a place to sit down. After a few minutes of talking and trying to find the constellations, Taylor's hand touched a black case that was next to her on the ground. She turned her headlamp on to see that there was a pocket knife case beside her. She told Craig that one of his brothers must have dropped it and he asked her to open it up to see who's it was. That's when it happened. She pulled the knife out and noticed a sparkling ring at the bottom of the case. Although she had been waiting months for this moment, she was not expecting it, especially after a day like today. She quickly turned her headlamp off so that he wouldn't see her blush and cry. Craig told her to stand up so that he could properly propose. After he asked if she would marry him, she couldn't stop talking (it's what she does when she's nervous). She told Craig how cute and brave he was, she told him how much she loved him, and she also told him that she's been mentally engaged to him for the past 6 months. But in all of her blabbing, she forgot to say YES. So Craig had to ask again and she said yes, twice :). After the proposal, Taylor was practically hiking on clouds and everything seemed to past by in a blissful blur of cacti, lizard, and occasional sips of water. All that matter was she made it out of the canyon alive, with one finger a little heavier than it had been before she started. 

Oh, and excuse our french sign language but this is truly how we feel about the Grand Canyon...


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

This one's for Lady Gaga (and you)

To the people who criticized Lady Gaga’s “belly fat"... 

You just perpetuated the impossible, ridiculous, unhealthy—and quite frankly, stupid—societal expectations of what a person should look like. 

Aside from the ludicrous posts and tweets that I read calling attention to Lady Gaga’s “flabby” stomach, I overheard a woman say, “if you’re going to go on national TV and show off your body, at least do some crunches and try make your body look good.” After overhearing that, my blood’s boiling point was lowered to 98.6 degrees, steam was coming out of my ears, and my next blog idea surfaced. 

To be honest, I’m not a huge Lady Gaga fan so I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m writing this because I want to defend HER. I’m writing this because I want to defend EVERYONE. I’m writing this because I want to defend YOU. Yes, even those who publicly shamed her. 

It's comments like the ones about Lady Gaga that trick all of us into thinking that we are what we look like. It's judgmental comments like those that fool us into believing that the pinnacle of our existence is how skinny or fit we can be. It's comments like those that devalue actual health and give space to unhealthy eating practices—whether it is disordered eating or a full blown eating disorder. It's comments like those that provoke feelings of self-hate, depression, and anxiety—not only for those who you share them with but for yourself as well.

The unrealistic standard of beauty may have originated in the media, but its fueled and promulgated by us whenever we talk down about the way a person looks. By speaking negatively about someone's body, you’re giving life to an unrealistic ideal that is hurting you and everyone you know. When you criticize the way a person looks, you’re ultimately stacking your own cards against humanity. And guess what? YOU are a part of humanity. You’re stacking your own cards against yourself. How? Well, when you decide to comment on a person's body, you're reducing everything they are—their amazing human complexity—down to their shape and figure. Whether you like it or not, you've also just reduced yourself. You're making a statement and that statement says, "all your talent, all the good you do, everything you stand for and represent, all your accomplishments, all the things that make you unique, are not as important as how fit or skinny you are." You essentially rob yourself of all the substantial value you bring to this world.

However, just as we can give power to this disparaging standard of beauty, we can also take that power back by changing the messages we spread. You and I both know that you are so much more than a body. There is a depth and a beauty to you that cannot and should not be chiseled down to what size of jeans you wear. We must not chisel anyone else down in the same insidious way because we can't do it to someone else without doing it to ourselves.  

I’m not writing this from a pedestal. I have been the mouth behind TOO MANY unkind comments regarding other people's looks and bodies, so I’m speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you. I urge all of us to stand up for ourselves by biting our tongue when we feel inclined to judge another person by their body. It might not seem heroic when you do it, but you truly are changing the world. No one benefited by the rude remarks directed towards Lady Gaga, but we all benefit when we decide to value humans for who they are and not for their bodies.