Thursday, June 20, 2013

No Longer a Landlubber

Oh hi!

Remember how I wrote about that interview I was going to have?  Well, I got the promotion!

Big smiles :-D

*whew* So glad that is over.


In other news - it's 86 degrees outside and I'm working when all I really really want to do is be here:

Either at Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI, or in a kayak, or both.
Or here:
Chillin' in the bow of Dixie on the Mighty Mississippi.
Even on a cloudy day, there's nowhere better to be.
(and yes, feet are gross, but this picture makes me happy anyway)
Or here:
Once again... Dixie with three of my favorite men after an all-day regata.

I've lived in a river town my entire life and I've always felt a connection to bodies of water - breathing is just easier when I'm near the river or my favorite lake.  As soon as I learned to drive I would often spend days sitting by the river and writing or reading.   Plus, I love to swim and play in the water.

But I never used to like actually going on the river in boats.  I actually used to have a terrible fear of being in any watercraft smaller than a yacht (not that I'd ever been in many of those).  I'm not kidding - I'd have full-blown panic attacks - hyperventillation, crying - all that jazz.

Like I said, I love to swim, and I'm actually quite good at it.  So the fear wasn't really about drowning or of the water itself.  The fear was about being thrown overboard, or capsizing and getting sucked under, or hurt somehow on my way into the water - I was afraid of something happening to make it so I'd be unable to swim myself to safety.

My mother, who had been witness to my fear on many occasions and who didn't want her water-loving daughter to live with such a handicap (bless her) thought it would be a great idea if we took mother/daughter canoeing lessons when I was 16 or 17 years old.

I was skeptical, but she invited her best friend and her daughters who were my best friends to join in the lessons with us.  I'm sure there must have been some other threats or bribes going on that made me agree to participate in the lessons - or it was simply a matter of pride for me since the other girls were joining us - but I agreed nonetheless.

Our first day, we met our instructor in the parking lot of a local marina.  He explained that we would just be paddling around the marina that day and wouldn't go into the actual river.  That didn't sound too bad to me because although the marina was deep, there would be a dock or shore near enough if my worst fears came true.

After we spent some time standing next to our canoes and learning how to paddle, it was time to get in and give it a try.  Mom and I lugged our canoe to the water.  She held the canoe in place while I tentatively stepped in.  I took my seat and did my best to stabilize the canoe with my paddle as Mom took her seat.

My heart raced and my breath started coming out in short gasps as we paddled into the middle of the marina.

"Keep calm, Ann." Mom said from her seat behind me.

"Shut up, Mom!" I yelled back at her, trying and failing to keep the panic at bay.  (This was at a tenuous time in our relationship, what with me being a teenager and all.)

We paddled some more.  I looked back and we were about 100 feet from the shore.

The next thing I knew, something was very wrong.  My hands were still on the paddle, but something was definitely very wrong.  My legs felt too free and my oxygen tasted too fishy.

I was in the water.

Of course I was in the water.

After what felt like three hours, I fought my way back to the surface.  I checked to make sure my mom wasn't drowning - she wasn't.  In fact, she had her head above water, an arm over the canoe and was simultaneously cussing and laughing.  I glared at her before I started swimming back to shore.  She laughed at me and I continued to swim on even though she was asking me to help her lug the canoe back to shore.

But at that point, I knew that I was right and she was wrong - watercraft were the devil and that class was stupid.  For the rest of the course (3-5 more sessions) I would be forced to go along with my mother but refused to get back in a canoe.  I would instead sit and read - and glare anytime she'd try to show me how much fun it was.

To this day, we disagree over who ended up tipping the canoe.  I blame her for paddling too hard, she blames me for being too fidgety.  But once again, I'm sure I'm right.

A couple of summers later, I ended up going camping with some friends.  That was when I was finally able to get into a canoe and actually enjoy myself.

Then, several years ago, my friend Mac started taking us out on the river in his dad's boat.  It still took all of the courage I had to get into the boat, but I started going and I started enjoying myself.  Then, a few years ago, Mac bought his own boat.

Mac and I have been friends for many years, so he knows two things about me:
1.) I get panicky in boats
2.) I'm a control freak.

So he took those two things and put them together.  The conclusion he came to was that I needed to learn how to drive the boat.

I'm not going to say that it totally fixed the fear - I still have to huddle in the back of the boat with my head buried in my lap if we're going to be going very fast - but it definitely helped!  Now that I understand exactly how the boat is supposed to move through the water and cut through the waves, I can understand what motions are normal and I'm able to recognize when there might be actual danger.

Thank the gods that I've learned to love going out on boats.  Now I can really enjoy the water I love so much. With kayaks I can explore hidden areas on the lakes I love so much, and with Dixie (Mac's boat) I can see areas of the river I never would have dreamed of before.

And this weekend I shall get to go out on the river for the first time this year!

Dixie's callin' my name!

I hope you all have your own amazing summer fun to look forward to this weekend!

Annie Jay

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not All Tornadoes Go to Oz

First things first – I had the most lack-luster make-out dream ever last night.  No, no, not a sex dream - just a good ol’ make-out dream. 

A boy (will I still be calling them boys when I’m 60 years old?) I have a crush on was hanging out with me, then we started making out and it was… well… blah.  Even in the dream world, my internal dialogue was all clinical and “Ahh, yes, there is a tongue in my mouth and scratchy man-face against mine.  That’s what is happening.  I guess I can allow this to continue and study the effects of this tongue and man-face for a little longer.” 

So I woke up about as far from hot and bothered as it gets.  And really, I guess that’s not such a terrible thing.  But really, Mr. Dream?  Let’s work on the fantasy a bit, mmmk?

In other news - We had tornado warnings allll over the place Wednesday night.  I think the sirens sounded off four times between 5pm-9pm.  When the sirens go off it means that either a tornado has been sighted, or a thunderstorm severe enough to cause a tornado with some swirly clouds (that’s the technical term, btw) has been spotted nearby.  You are supposed to take cover.

Iowa as a whole mostly looks just like this.

Flat.  Flat.  Flat.

Prime tornado country.

But Dubuque – Ahh, good ol’ Dubuque.  With our Mighty Mississippi barrier to the East and rolling river-valley hills to the West, Dubuquers tend to feel impenetrable when it comes to tornadoes.  For most of my life tornado sirens have been met by the locals with an uncontrollable urge to go stand outside and dare the bastardly tornado to even just try to fuck with our city.

But then I started living alone.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but living alone leaves me with this fear of dying alone and my family not being able to find my body and well… let’s just say it causes me to be a tidbit overreaction-y.

The first time the sirens went off Wednesday night, I was home alone.  I was sitting on my couch reading Insurgent (which is good and you should read the first book Divergent if you haven’t) so I was already tense with adrenaline and kind of living in a post-apocalyptic world in my head.   Then the sirens started blaring outside of my windows and rain came pouring down.

Of course, I stayed calm.

Calm like a dragon in a straw-hut village.

I quickly changed out of my work clothes into jeans, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt and hiking shoes.  Then I put all of this stuff in my Camelbak:

No, I have no idea how I got it all in there along with three liters of water.  Decades of playing Tetris, perhaps? 

Yes, I might have been a bit over-prepared for a tornado.  Because even if a tornado were to strike, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be like the apocalypse so most some of those things might not have been absolutely necessary.

But I think it’s safe to say I’ve got fire covered. 

And gigantic sword-y-knife-y-thingies that are completely impractical but are also kind of my security blanket.  So SUCK IT.

Then I walked downstairs to go chill out in my building’s basement just like every other overly (and impractically) prepared person would do.  But when I got there, I saw that a lot of my neighbors were sitting around in the basement, looking bored and playing on their cellphones.  When I walked in, completely geared up, they all looked at me with more than a little bit of fear in their eyes.
It didn’t help that my allergies were so bad that I was completely makeup-free and hair-product-free so I looked like… well… like this –

I wouldn't say this is the LEAST attractive picture ever taken of me, but it's right up there.

And that’s when my fear of rejection won out over my fear of death.  So I decided to do what every good Dubuquer does –

I went and stood outside to look for tornadoes.

And as usual, we were protected from the tornadoes once again. 

Han came over after the first tornado scare and we hung out watching Game of Thrones (OMFG SEASON 3!!).  His addition to my party of one emboldened me and every time the sirens went off for the rest of the night, we just simply walked outside to check out the weather.  Doing so ended up being the right choice because once the torrential downpours stopped, t was damn pretty outside.  We stood outside and watched the lightning exploding in the sky for a half hour and I took some pictures.

You'd think he was posing for the picture

I dare you to use that water-logged walkway

At least now I know that I have the mental capacity even when panicked to pick up at least some stuff that might help me survive if the situation should arise. 

Zombie Apocalypse?  Come at me bro!

I hope you’re all surviving your own spring weather!

Much Love,

Annie Jay

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Navigating The Friend Zone

I spend my time in the company of many men.

Oh Jesus…that is not supposed to sound nearly so “I rent hotel rooms by the hour”. 

We’re off to a good start here.  *ahem*


Dudes - I hang out with a lot of them.  I like to play video games; talk about sci-fi and politics; and have a dark sense of humor - these are all things that I find more commonly in men than I do in women (please forgive me for making gender-biased generalizations).  

Plus, men are just nicer to look at ;-)

This is always how my life has been and it’s been pretty damn good for the most part.  But the problem with this is that at all times, there's almost always someone stuck in… drum roll please…

The Friend Zone

Those of you who have lived in some mythical fairyland where the people you lust after lust after you equally - or who have been happily married since you were five-years-old - might not really understand the consequences of being in The Friend Zone.  

The Friend Zone is that dreadful limbo where you are stranded after meeting the man/woman of your dreams.  You begin to fantasize about a life together - a life filled with shared XboxLive accounts; couples' vacations to Comi-Con; and finally living that Han Solo/Princess Leia fantasy.

But then reality sinks in and instead of falling passionately in love, you fall madly into a brotherly friendship where high fives are the closest you’re going to get to bumpin and grindin.

We’ve all been there.  Every single one of us has at one point or another been in The Friend Zone.  I think I can also say with confidence that we have all, at some time in our lives put someone in The Friend Zone. 

None of us enjoy being there but we all tolerate it. Why?

We tolerate it because being granted with the company of the object of our affections is better than being shunned by him/her altogether.  And we just know that time - sigh - time is all we need.  We'll keep plodding along with the “friendship”.  We'll keep dropping everything and everyone to spend five minutes with our Friend.  We just know that if we're able to keep up the “friendship” that one day the stars will align and he/she will realize the mad love he/she has for us after all!

Because that's the beauty of The Friend Zone; it's never really about the friendship, it's about hope.  It’s about the hope that one day they will see you the way you see them.

So we live on in this charade of "friendship" and continue to pine away; chipping away at our souls bit by bit each day.

We laugh awkwardly and smash TVs whenever they mention a new romantic interest.  We hope that one day they’ll be drunk enough to awkwardly make out with us and awaken the sexual tension that has been brewing for years.  When we are on vacation, we dream about the return flight and how they’ll be waiting at the gate for us with tears in their eyes and a sign that says “Friendship Isn’t Enough”. 

We’re waiting for that grand awakening moment.





Whether or not that day ever comes, I can guarantee you that it will never happen if you just continue to hang on to your fantasy.  Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t.  But sitting around, waiting for that person to finally come to their senses is only hurting you in the long run.  They aren’t ready to wake up and see the awesomesauce that is you.

But someone else is.

I can guarantee you that someone else out there right now is looking for the Princess Peach to their Mario.  But you’re not going to see them if you keep holding on to your fantasies about your Friend.

Get out of The Friend Zone and throw your hot ass back into the world of single, smart, beautiful people just waiting to throw you against the wall and have their way with you until Happily Ever After.

Much Love,
Annie Jay

PS – You really have no idea how many “hand job” jokes I had to edit out of this piece.  I’m trying to class this joint up.  You’re welcome.