Holy hell, where is this year going?

Sooooo I haven’t updated since January.  And I don’t know how that happened.  But you can have bullets!

I am mired in thesis hell.

Yes.  This is pretty much summing up my life lately.  I’ve done three drafts of my introduction/literature review.  I’m hoping this was my last draft.  I cut it from the original 35 pages, to 23, to 17.  My adviser, Dr. LW, is on her way to Ireland at the end of this week (the lucky duck) and we won’t meet again until the end of the month.  Which is when the edits to the body of my thesis are due.  My actual thesis is due to Dr. LW on April 10th, then any corrections and the COMPLETED thesis are due to my editor, Dr. W, on April 14th.  The anniversary of the day Lincoln was shot.  Let’s all pray that’s not an omen.

– I am sick.

I talked briefly before about having chest pains and shortness of breath.  I thought it was pneumonia or bronchitis, one doctor even thought it was asthma.  Imagine my shock, kiddies, when I went to the hospital on February 25th and discovered that it wasn’t bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma, but a pulmonary embolism!  Yee haw!

So I’m on Warfarin (Coumadin) and Arixtra (shots in my stomach, what joy is mine) until further notice.  I get blood tests every three days (joy!  Rapture!) and I’m seeing a hematologist next Friday.  I have difficulty sleeping at night, the gym is out of the question, and my lungs hurt.  But the good news is, I’m not dead!   Hopefully we’ll find out the cause of the embolism next week, or shortly thereafter.  Fingers crossed.

I finished Book 1.  No, seriously this time.

As in, I printed out the complete manuscript yesterday, complete with the cover art and illustrations that Jess drew, and bound it.  I sent it to beta readers last night.  Guys, this is terrifying, and amazing, and exhilarating.  My baby — OUR baby — has finally seen readers, has seen the light of day.  And I am so, so proud of it.  And scared.  Holy crap, this is our baby and now I wait and see what other people think.  I mean, I love it.  And I know not everyone is going to.  But…I want them to!

I am not going to June Wildfire.

Due to the aforementioned blood problems, I’m paying $40 a week for the great honor of putting those shots in my stomach.  And with ticket sale date for June Wildfire in a little more than two weeks, there is no way I can scrape together the $120 for a ticket right now.  I’ll be going to the one in August, if I have to take money out of my tax refund to buy the ticket.  As one of my friends said, Wildfire is my thing.  And I want to do my thing.  But it’s not practical or affordable right now.  So I will do the adult thing and suck it up.

 

All right, that’s enough for today.  Going to try and write more than once a month!

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I want the world to know I burn for you

OK.  So here we are, almost a month in to 2014, and I feel quite behind.  Not behind where it counts, on my thesis (157 pages and counting) or on my books (finished the rough draft of Book 3, Book 1 is almost finished and ready to go to beta readers, and Book 2 is in its first round of edits), but on self-care, and setting my goals for this year.  Last year, I made a list of 10 goals, and I achieved six of them.  Not too shabby!  In the last month or so I’ve realized that I’m definitely a person who needs something to strive for, something to drive my nature.  2013 was SUCH an amazing year.  As soon as I got over the hump of my divorce and setting massive goals for myself, I went on to hit most of them — and feel really good about myself in the process.  So without further ado:

Goals for 2014:

1. Graduate.  Well, this is a no-brainer.  Right now I’m slated to graduate on May 15, 2014.  I’d say “fingers crossed”, but I don’t believe luck has anything to do with it.

2. Complete my Master’s thesis.  Obviously this goes along with 1.

3. Get a second job.  Ah, this is the toughie.  My hopeful plan is to start shopping my resume even before graduation, in the hopes of getting a summer job.  I’d love to be teaching this summer, and hopefully I’ll score a teaching position by fall.  But even if I don’t, I’ll need to find a second job to pay for my student loans.  Even if I have to work retail, I’ll have to grab something.  I’m fortunate enough to have a really great, secure day job right now that pays enough for me to live on (but probably not enough when the student loans start rolling in, come June).

4. Finish C25K.  I was doing SO WELL with this last year!  I made it all the way to Week 7 before arthritis sidelined me, and between school and the book, I gave up on it.  I restarted C25K this week, this time with a 1.0 incline, so I didn’t feel like I was completely back at square one.  So far, so good.  I’m doing Week 1, Day 3 today.  We’ll see how this goes.

5. Climb Bear Mountain.  I climbed Mt. Washington in September of 2013, and it was an amazing, amazing experience.  And one that I will never repeat.  In hindsight, with my physical issues, it was dangerous and foolhardy and I was in no way prepared for it.  But that doesn’t mean I want to stop climbing in general.  Drea suggested Bear Mountain in CT for this summer, and I think I’ll go for that with her.  Could be fun!  And at 1/3 the height of Washington, it isn’t nearly as dangerous.

6. Work out an adult budget.  *sigh*  I am so bad at this.  I’m great at paying my bills, I’m great at putting money away, I’m not so great at avoiding skidding into payday with minimal money in my checking account.  This needs to stop.  ESPECIALLY with the possibility that I very well may be living on my own come May, with student loans rolling in.

7. Stop having kittens over it and send the book out to more beta readers. Drea read Book 1 and she loved it.  She keeps asking for more.  I need to get over my ridiculous fear and send it to other people.

8. Get over my fears and ship the book to a publisher.  Damn right.

9. Work on my fire spinning, get more prolific with staff and flow wand.

10. Lose at least 10 lbs.  I’m on MyFitnessPal and I’m back to three times a week at the gym.  Hopefully this sticks this year.

I think that’s quite enough to be going on now.  Obviously I’m allowed to add goals as I go.

 

Not how I wanted to start off the year…

I’m manic today.

Two of my books are missing for my thesis.  Two.  I ordered them from Barnes and Noble a week and a half ago, and as of last night, I hadn’t seen them.  They were delivered by #$(#&$*(@&$ UPS to the BACK door of my apartment building, which is someone else’s private residence.  Usually, when this happens, they put the packages on the back steps leading up to my apartment.  Not so much this time.  I fucking hate UPS, I really do.  And they didn’t even really respond to my complaint, just said that I had to be a registered UPS user to file a complaint.  Fuck you very much.  I’m hoping that one of the boys who live downstairs is home this afternoon and that they have my package.  If they don’t, I’m well and truly screwed for my deadline for next week.

I have double- and triple-booked myself for this week, which is also bad.  I don’t want to spend every waking minute doing thesis but that might just be exactly what I end up doing.  I’m on my fourth cup of coffee today, that should carry me at least until 1 AM.  Lunch was nonexistent — the soup that I had in my car apparently froze and then thawed into sludge and was inedible.  So I’ve had toast and coffee all day, whee.

I have to spend tomorrow afternoon at Verizon (my phone contract with David is up as of today and I need to go on my own plan) and Wednesday afternoon at the DMV (have to register my car in my own name).  What joy is mine.  Yes, I would love to spend something like $1000 this week.  I don’t even HAVE that money in my account, I’m going to have to chip into savings, which really upsets me because I have more in savings than I’ve ever had and I HATE chipping into savings, but at the same time, I knew I would have to do that when I got the car signed over to me ANYWAY, so it’s not the end of the world.  Hoping that I can get a decent phone with my free upgrade through Verizon and that I don’t have to pay for anything really up front.

I do have SOME good news.  After a fruitless six weeks of trying to have my lung issues diagnosed, I finally went to Urgent Care in Newington and they took care of it.  All of my tests (EKG, chest x-ray) came back negative, and I apparently have the heart of an 18 year old (which is awesome), but my cough is horrible, really raspy and hacking, and I’m having trouble breathing.  So the doctor is treating me for pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma.  I’m on prednisone, a z-pack, and an inhaler.  And I’m happy to say that this battery of meds is working.  I made it through the night on Saturday without choking or gasping for air, and my lungs don’t feel quite so heavy.  So SOMETHING is working.  And that’s great.

I am nine days away from the deadline for my lit review and my perfectionism has resulted in procrastination which has resulted in panic attacks.  The three p’s of being a Virgo.  Amazing.

Work is insanity.  My boss’s email got hacked, and we’ve been inundated with phone calls all day about it.  One of my coworkers is even more manic than I am, and I just got sniped at by a woman who misunderstood me on the phone.

Is it Friday yet?

Peace and love to everyone

Merry Christmas Eve.

It is so hard for me to believe that the holiday is already here — or will be, in just a few hours.  When I was a child, I wished so fervently for time to speed up, for Christmas to get here.  I remember my father laughing at me and saying, “When you get older, you’ll wish time would slow down.”  He was right.  He was so right.  Because now I find myself here, on Christmas Eve, wondering…where did this month go?  Where did this year go?

It began in darkness, a darkness that lasted from Christmas Day last year (which I won’t recount because God did that suck), through to July.  And then everything became bright and beautiful again, as I rediscovered who I was…and began a whole new chapter of my life.

Yule was fun.  We had some issues but it ended up coming out all right in the end.

Now it’s Christmas Eve.  And the day is going to be jam-packed with excitement and family and church and festivities.

I had planned for a few weeks to maybe print out a hard copy of Book 1 for Jess.  She’s expecting it at some point, but I don’t think she expected it by Christmas.  A few months ago, when I asked her what she wanted as a gift, she joked “A finished book.”  Never let it be said that I do not try to get everyone what he or she wants for Christmas.  Now.  It’s not a complete copy by any stretch of the imagination.  Jess wanted a hard copy because it’s her turn to edit, and she is finding it too hard, with her ADD, to do it on the computer screen like I do.  So I thought…print it out, give it to her for Christmas (she got other stuff too on Yule).

I printed it this morning, all 188 single-spaced pages of it.  When it was done, I held it on my lap, just for a minute.

The book.  My book.  I wrote it.  There it was.  A finished book.

Sure it needs edits, but…that’s a book.  A book I wrote.

I realized as I held it in my hands that this Christmas?  Is perfect.  Because I unwittingly gave myself the best Christmas present in the world.

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and I wish you nothing but light and love 🙂

Reflections on this winter

I am not at home.  I am at a friend’s house, having escaped the storm and coming straight here from work, rather than wait for aforementioned friend to get out of work before coming here.  Nope.  I may be a New England girl, but I do not chance the snowstorm.  Said friend was justly rewarded for my intrusion by a straightened bedroom (I was bored, Yule is Saturday and there are only so many days and so much time left) and a cup of hot white chocolate peppermint tea (still obsessed) upon her arrival.  Life is good.  Very shortly, we will bake — bread (me) and cookies (her).  I just love the week leading up to Yule.

Yule, for those of you playing the home game and who may not have been here last year, is a very special holiday that my friend Jess has thrown every year since 2006.  Well, to be fair, 2006 was a hastily thrown-together joint year.  The five of us who attended were all horribly poor, our fare was a pork roast that my mother had charitably given me, and we gave each other the smallest, barest Yule gifts because that was what we could afford.  We made up lyrics to Christmas carols and decorated a Charlie Brown-esque “Yule tree.”  It was wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

In the eight years since then, Yule has become bigger and better, as we’ve become older and wiser.  Since Yule ’08, the Yule party has always been held at Jess’s house, and she acts as hostess.  I pitch in with the cooking (which we maintain is the best part of Yule), but it’s Jess’s show.

The point of Yule is a non-denominational celebration of friendship, the holidays, and the return of the light.  I am Catholic, and Jess is pagan, and our friends come from all walks of life in between.  Yule does not align itself with anything other than the winter solstice.  We do not have rituals, and religion is not forced on anyone.  We celebrate each other, our friendships, our triumphs and struggles, our love for each other, and the return of brighter days.  We eat food, play games (mostly horrible ones like Cards Against Humanity) and exchange presents.  Dinner is always as sumptuous an affair as we can make it without breaking the bank.  2010 was the infamous “Turducken Yule” — and yes, Jess did make a turducken.  It was masterful.  This year is going to be beef Wellington (Jess) and roast chicken, for those who don’t like beef (I am providing the chicken, but she will be seasoning it).

Yule is wonderful, it is exciting, it is exhausting — it is my favorite time of the holiday season.

Last year’s Yule:

Clockwise from R: Sam, Jess, Tina, Drea, Christina, Joe, and me.

Four more days.  I can’t wait.

So this is Christmas

As of 4:30 PM (approximately) today, I will be on Christmas break for six weeks.  Six lovely weeks.  And they are already jam-packed with excitement and plans and I just know it’s going to fly by as if it never was.  But I don’t care, because it will be delicious, every minute of it.

The funny thing is, I love Christmas, but I can’t remember a time when I was less in the Christmas mood than this year.  And it has nothing to do with my mood; I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  I just have my brain going in every single direction lately, and it is impossible for me to pin it down and turn it into a Christmas mindset.   I can pretty much chalk that up to two things:

Time: I haven’t had any.  I’ve been so incredibly focused on thesis and just GETTING IT DONE, I haven’t even thought about Christmas or the fact that it is now two weeks away (*shudder*).  I haven’t baked, I haven’t even played Christmas carols in the car, I’ve seen two Christmas movies (“The Holiday” — which was okay — and “Home Alone”, which I love), and my Christmas shopping?  Well, I made a list today.  That’s progress, I suppose.

The book.  Or books, really, as there will be five eventually.  Two are finished.  Well, finished in the rough draft sense.  Book One has had two thorough edits done by me, and is waiting for Jess to get through it with her own editing.  Book Two is on the shelf for now until I finish Book Three, which is in progress.  Book One was written from August – October, Book Two was written (in part) for NaNoWriMo, though I had some chapters done already when I started (that I didn’t count towards my word count, lest any of you think I cheated at NaNoWriMo — I will assure you, I won on my own merits).  I am so thoroughly wrapped up in this series, it has become a massive part of my day-to-day life, and I’d much rather listen to the “book soundtrack” on my iPod than Christmas music (do other people have this?  I’ve heard it’s a thing, but I definitely do it — pick out “perfect” songs and put them on one playlist).

But I am seriously behind on Christmas and that ends today.  After the thesis meeting I am doing some serious Christmas shopping.  And I am doing more tomorrow.  And Christmas crafting is also happening.  Every year I tell myself that I am not doing Christmas knitting, I am not, and somehow, it always ends up happening.  I have two projects, both about three-quarters done, that need to be finished by next weekend.  Piece of cake, really.  And then a couple of other projects that need doing.

For those of you playing the home game, my lungs are still shit — I woke up gasping in the middle of the night last night, which is new and different — and all tests have come back normal.  Sweet.  Of course, I’m happy that there’s apparently nothing horribly wrong with me, but at the same time, it is frustrating when people say you are “Fine” and you feel anything BUT fine.  I’m on a new anti-inflammatory so I am hoping that does the trick.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the first Christmas tree I’ve had since 2011, and my little Fontanini creche from the early ’90’s.  I’m missing a couple of ornaments, which bums me out, and I need to search the house a little better, I guess.

Start of the Holiday Season

I keep pinching myself every time I realize that it’s actually December.  I don’t know where this year went, I really don’t.  Looking back, I realize that I was intensely, insanely busy for most of it, so it’s not all that surprising that the last eleven months just flew.  But it’s hard to believe that in just four weeks, it’s going to be January and 2014.  Considering how crazy jam-packed this month is, I just know it’s going to fly.

It’s strange; this is technically my first year divorced, but it is my second round of holidays without David, since we stopped doing the family holiday thing last November.  David worked on Thanksgiving, and we were already living apart.  The last family events we went to together were David’s family Christmas party and his nana’s 80th birthday.  But we missed everything else, so fortunately I got all of that out of the way last year.  I was anticipating perhaps feeling some sadness on Thanksgiving — and let me tell you, there was no shortage of people saying “now, don’t go letting yourself get upset now” beforehand — but there was nothing.  Honestly, on Thanksgiving morning, I hugged my mom at one point and told her I was “so damn happy”.  I think she was a little surprised, but I know she liked hearing it.  Because it’s true.  I am happy.  I reshuffled my dreams and I’m working it out, and making the best of the hand I’ve drawn.  I think I’m doing more than okay.

The only real blights to my happiness right now are both things that I really can’t change.  The first being — I am fed the fuck up to HERE with my thesis, and with less than 30 pages to go, I’m just exhausted.  Really, done.  I know I have to do it, I have until December 20th but my own personal deadline is December 18th, and I’m just…done, guys.  I’m done.  I’m tired.  Finito.  I’m going to get ingloriously drunk the night that I finish the damn thing.  That’s a promise.  I have a bottle of riesling in my fridge and I’m not afraid to crack into it.

The second would be my stupid lungs.  Which still haven’t improved, despite a battery of steroids.  Jess keeps nagging me to call the doctor and I think I’m going to have to.  I’m still having trouble breathing, get winded ridiculously easily, and get chest pains most evenings.  Bullshit.

Right now I’m trying to balance thesis, work, social life, and Christmas shopping, all while trying to spend some time with myself.  I got some beautiful Dream in Classy yarn for FREE yesterday at WEBS — my dear high school friend Rob gave me a $30 GC for my birthday, and the yarn was $30, so score!.  And I’m planning on making myself a pair of fingerless mitts with it.  Just something small for me.   I’m foregoing most of the Christmas knitting this year.  I’m making a single hat for someone, but everyone else is getting other stuff.  Every year I kill myself with the Christmas knitting, but with school I just do not have the time to dedicate to it.  It’s all right, I’m going to be fine with other stuff.

The yarn, for those of you who like yarn pron, is Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere and is incredibly soft (merino/cashmere/nylon) and I love it.  This is the color: Chocolate Night.  LOVE.

I’m getting there.  Just two more weeks until the end of the semester.  This, I can handle.

Happy (Little) Gratitudes

I feel compelled to write one of these.   It goes without saying that I’m grateful for family, friends, etc.  But these are just the little things that are making my heart happy, these last few days.

Google Docs.   How did I never know this gloriousness before?  Special thanks to my friend Lyndsey who introduced me to it.  I have all of the drafts of the Fallen Beyond Salvation series up there, along with the rough drafts of my thesis chapters and my Christmas shopping list.  Seriously, being able to a) access from any computer and b) not worry about my own computer crashing?  Gold.  Pure gold.

Homemade sugar scrub.  I did this last night and my skin feels bangin’.  Going to make sugar scrubs for friends this holiday season, I think.

Teavana’s White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea.  YES.  You can pick up this liquid herbal joy here.  Jess and I bought a tin of it the other day, splitting the cost (at $40, it ain’t cheap), and that’s going to keep us from spending our money at Starbucks when we get together at her place, at least for a while.

Lancome Energie De Vie.  I got this as a 100 point sample from Sephora and I LOVE it.  It makes my skin feel incredibly soft and smells very familiar, I’m wondering if my grandmother used it when I was little, because its scent instantly transported me back to being a little girl spending the night at her house.  Of course, the full size retails for $55, so I won’t be getting THAT, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.  Much like the holiday season.

This week at work.  I have only a day and a half before I’m off for a wonderful four and a half day weekend.  I can’t wait.

Good friends.  ‘Nuff said.

Prednisone.  Lucky me has a lung infection…but at least I have steroids to clear it up.  And at least it’s not pneumonia.

90.5 completed pages of my thesis.  One chapter and 30 more pages to do between now and December 20th.  I CAN DO IT.  And then I get a month off.  Thank God.

Whoa! When did that happen?!

How did I let two months slip away from me?  Is anyone even reading this thing still?

Yesterday, November 18th, marked one year since I moved out of the apartment I shared with my then-husband, so I was feeling a burst of nostalgia and that urge to look back and see what’s changed, what I’ve accomplished in the last year.  It’s not an anniversary I ever thought I wanted to commemorate, but it’s one that I’m glad that I have.  Because when I look back on the past year, I see…a lot of joy, a lot of growing, a lot of learning.  I hadn’t lived by myself or with roommates other than David since 2009, and that’s quite a long time.  But I learned that I am still financially independent, I’m doing well, and even though I still don’t sleep alone as well as I did when there was someone else there, I sleep just fine.  I have no regrets about my conduct or my behavior in the past year.  I think I’ve done all right for myself, for the most part.

So what’s happening in the life of me?

School: I have 75.25 pages completed in a rough draft of my senior thesis.  I originally had hope that it would be completed by Christmas, but I see now that this was a ridiculous goal.  Although I technically am ahead of schedule (with two and a half completed chapters of four), my professor does not think that the editing process will be complete before the spring.  There are two pieces of good news that came along with this.  The first being, I don’t have to defend my thesis (which is AMAZING), and the second being that Dr. LW promised me that, if I complete all four chapters by December 20th, she won’t give me any work to do over Christmas vacation.  Which means FOUR glorious weeks off.  I can’t even imagine.  I may just be inebriated for most of it.
Dating: Well, I’ve gone on a couple of dates.  None of them really panned out.  That’s okay.  I’m awfully freakin’ busy.  The right guy will come along eventually.  Right now I’m not trying to push anything.
Writing: Would you believe that, on top of my already crazy thesis writing, I’ve undertaken the task of writing fiction?  I have!  My friend Jess and I pulled out the notes we had on a series we’d thought of writing back in 2007, dusted them off, and rebooted the whole thing.  And would you believe that the rough drafts of the first TWO books are finished?  There will eventually be five, but I’m really surprised (and psyched) that they’ve been coming along as well as they have!  I’m also doing NaNoWriMo (because I am completely, utterly insane) and I’m already at over 43,000 words with over two weeks to go.  I’m a writing machine, guys.
Holidays: I am so, so psyched for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  Last year’s holidays were rough at best, between the separation still being fresh and the question of divorce still up in the air.  This year, there’s nothing standing in the way of me and a wonderful holiday.  I couldn’t be more excited.  Plans are underway to decorate the apartment; Sam inherited a fake tree from one of her friends and I have to get my ornaments and creche from David’s basement.  I even managed to find Advent candles, so now I just need to pull together a wreath.  As for Christmas shopping?  I’ve barely started.  Not even thinking about it right now, guys.  Not even a blip on the radar.  I just paid my credit card bill (almost in full — the rest will come on Friday) and then I can use it for holiday shopping or emergencies if need be.   The only person who is “set” (as in, I know what I’m getting for him and just haven’t bought it yet) is my father.  Everyone else?  Well, it’ll come in time.  Always does.
I leave you with this hilarious photo from Halloween.  That’s me and Drea in the foreground.  Can you spot Jess?

Now I know I was built to last

(This is going to be image-heavy)Friday afternoon, around 4 PM, Drea and I left for New Hampshire.  It was a four hour drive that turned into something like five and a half hours because of Friday afternoon traffic.  We had fun on the drive up, as much fun as two people can have who are stuck in traffic and tired, and at least one of whom is terribly anxious.  The whole time, the climb was in the back of my mind, and I kept thinking, what if I can’t do this?  What if I get hurt?  What will happen?

We got to the hotel around 9:20, and guys…the proprietor was a dick.  He reminded me SO MUCH of our old landlord, Derrick, who used to just barge into our apartment for one reason or another (and who, Drea was convinced, was a sex offender).  He yelled at me when he found out we had two extra people in our room, and insisted I pay an extra $40.  I didn’t say anything because I was just so tired.  But when we finally got INTO our room, I burst into tears.  Drea had to sit down and hug me and tell me, yeah, it’s going to be okay.  You are GOING to climb that mountain tomorrow.

I don’t know why I was psyching myself out so early.  I usually take the Crazy Bruce approach to things like this.  “What’s the worst that can happen if you fall short?”  Is anyone going to die?  No.  (Well…funny enough, when Drea and I were getting water at base camp, the boys saw a list of fatalities, which included some 20-year olds, recently, on the trail we were taking.  Scary).  I had used this approach when Drea had been worrying about falling short on Katahdin.  But I couldn’t do it for me.

After she calmed me down, and we called Jess, Drea and I went to the gas station to get some provisions and batteries for the air mattress pump.  And when we got there, we beheld the glory that is New Hampshire gas stations:

Beer, cider, and wine in the gas station.  WHY DON’T WE HAVE THIS IN CONNECTICUT?!

Matt and Paul got to the hotel around 12 AM, Sam arrived close to 2:30 AM.  As I guess you can probably imagine, I didn’t sleep.  I was way too jumpy, too scared.  When the alarm went off at 6:45 AM, I was relieved.  One way or another, it would be over with by the end of the day.

We hit a Dunks before getting to Pinkham Notch, and then…we began.

Sam was there, too, but I took a terrible picture of him and Drea at base camp so I didn’t post it here.

We took the Tuckerman Ravine trail, which I’ve taken twice previously, so I knew exactly what it entailed.  The first two miles are nothing but straight walking, on boulders, which can get tiring, but it’s nothing compared to the latter half of the trail.  By about halfway, it was evident that Drea and Paul were in the best shape, and me, Matt, and Sam were lagging badly.  I think Sam was mainly lagging because of me, not because he needed to…but I was glad he did (more on that later).

We finally got to Tuckerman’s Ravine, which is just…beautiful.

(Yes, Paul’s in a utilikilt)

Hard to believe, but that bowl of the ravine?  We climbed that.  Seriously.

Climbing the Ravine was the worst for me.  I was seriously hurting by the end of it.  Every time I had to lift my left leg above my hip, it just burned.  I started crying a little at that point.  Sam held back and kept saying “You can do this, you know you can.  I know it hurts but you can do it.  It’s less than 2 miles, you’re already halfway, you can do this.”  But it was a nasty, nasty leg of the climb.

Finally we hit tree-line and got to sit for about 20 minutes and just breathe.

You can’t tell, but that hill behind Drea?  That’s the top.  A lot further away than it looks.

There was still .80 of a mile left.  And I could not have believed that it could be worse than the Ravine.  It wasn’t, but at that point, I was so tired and sore that everything was pretty terrible.  At this point, the hike becomes a boulder scramble.  You have a lot of points where you need to use your hands to scrabble.

Drea is optimistic.  I, on the other hand…am not.

We started the boulder scramble.  Paul and Drea pulled far ahead, and the three of us who remained, lagged.  At this point, I was almost exclusively crying.  I had to stop to rest over and over again, and I felt terrible.  On multiple counts.  My pelvic bones ached, I was embarrassed to be crying, and I thought other hikers looking at me were thinking things like “God, what a baby, it’s not that bad of a hike, get over it.”  What I didn’t know at the time was that Drea had gone up ahead, and was telling almost everyone who talked to her that her friend who had broken her pelvis was climbing behind her.  One person said to her “She is the biggest badass on this mountain.”  When I found that out later, that felt pretty great.

I need to insert here, because it’s important, I guess: I had seriously underestimated the gravity of that fact.  Like I did when my aunt told me back in ’05 that I was ‘lucky to be alive’, I had just brushed it aside.  I knew that it would hurt, I KNEW it wouldn’t be easy.  But I never thought that my pelvis would be the thing that stopped me on the mountain.  I thought it would be me.  I never thought “You know, you might just be physically incapable of doing this.”  Until I got to the boulder scramble.  There were a bad few minutes where I told Sam “I don’t think I can do it.  It’s not endurance, I just don’t think I can physically finish this climb.”  Of course, when you get past Tuckerman’s Ravine…you really have one of two options.  Get to the top, and take the bus down.  Or go back down on your own, which hurts probably more.  But I wasn’t really thinking that in the moment.

We finally got to the point where I could see the top.  We could see the orange weather poles.  I knew from experience that you see those poles, and then as you get closer, they fall out of sight again over the ridge…and then you see them when you hit the top.  So I knew we were getting close.

And then the worst thing happened.  I put my foot down on a loose rock, and I wrenched my ankle.

That was the worst.  I burst into tears and I just kept saying “No, no, I am so close, I can see it, it’s right there, no, this isn’t happening.”  Sam, the perfect Boy Scout, whipped out a couple of handkerchiefs from his pack and set my ankle, binding it up.  He said “You’re right, we’re damn close and you’re going to do this.  I know you are.”  He immobilized it perfectly, and I was able to keep going.  Turns out, in the end, it was just a wrench, not a sprain (thank GOD), and I was able to keep going.

But the last leg was bad.  I was sore, I was tired, I was hurting, I couldn’t stop crying.  Also, the wind speed was 50 MPH near the summit, so that was working against us too.  I almost felt like God was saying “You want this, but do you want it badly enough?  You gotta work for it.”  Hikers kept passing us, and saying “You are so close, you can do it.”  A man in his sixties patted me on the arm and said “I’m a Giants fan, Patriots, and I’m pulling for you.  You can do this.”  Drea and Paul appeared with a sign they had made with one of the gift shop bags, that said “Go Meg!  6,288 feet!  30 got nothing on you!”  But I was just…I couldn’t do it.  I could see the top.  But it still felt so far away.

Drea and Paul and Matt and Sam hung behind me and kept talking.  Drea said “You’re going to do this.  For yourself, for all those people who doubted you.  Everyone who said you couldn’t do it.”  And I gave it one more surge, one more push, and stumbled over the step into the parking lot.

And I burst into tears.

I stumbled around in a circle for a minute, gasping, crying, staring all around me, and then I sat down on that rock and just sobbed.  Drea sat next to me on one side, Sam on the other, and it was one of the best moments of my life.  I did it.  It was painful, it was horrible, but they were all right.  Once I was there, it all went away.  It was perfect.  Drea asked before she took that picture, and I felt kind of like “Well, I’m bawling my eyes out, do I want to remember this?”  But I did.  Paul said, when he saw it “there never was a more genuine moment”, and that’s pretty accurate.  I had nothing left to give.  But I was there.  And it was perfect.

And then, we summitted.  Because the summit is actually further away than just the top.  But the last leg was easy.  I did it with all of them.  Yeah, I limped my way up.  But I made it up.  Which is more than many people ever do, as Drea and Sam kept pointing out.

They let me summit first.  Even though by rights I should have gotten there last…they let me summit first.  I have, without a doubt, the best friends in the world.

This is the picture I sent my parents.  Who had no idea that I climbed the mountain until it was over.  I wrote “This is what I did today!”

Three times.  In 1994 (age 10), 2002 (age 19), and 2013 (age 29).  And guys, three times will be it.  Three is enough.  I knew when I reached the top, and I knew the next day when my pelvic bones were on fire…this will be it.  I will never summit Mt. Washington again.  But it doesn’t matter.  I did the climb.  I did it when it mattered to me.  I had to know if I could do it.  And I did.  I summitted Mt. Washington for a third time on a pelvis that had been broken in three places.

I couldn’t have done it without these guys.  They pushed me, every step of the way.  Because this was never just another climb to me, and they knew it.  This was something I had to do.  I had to.  I knew in my heart, if I didn’t do it this year, I’d never do it again.  I had to do the climb.  And I did it.

My parents were shocked.  My dad was jealous!  He said I should be proud of myself.  He couldn’t believe I did it.  A lot of people, I guess, couldn’t believe I did it.  I’m okay with that.  Like I said…I didn’t realize what a big fucking deal breaking my pelvis would be on my ability to climb.  When I summitted at age 10, it was nothing.  No pain.  At 19, sure, some pain, but I could handle it.  At 29…everything hurt.  I really would not have finished the climb without these guys pushing me.  This is the last time.

But I did it.

That is something that nobody can take away from me.  No matter what happens to me the rest of my life, I did this.

I’ve been beat up and broken down,
and I’ve been there a thousand times.
I may have walked through the worst in hell, my friend,
and we’ve all got our reasons why.
I’d give my life for the things I had,
and it all flies by so fast.
I may have walked through the worst in hell, my friend.
Now I know I was built to last.
– Redlight Kings, “Built to Last”