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


  1. I love the water and love swimming but hate boats because I get motion sickness. We went sailing for a work event once and I had to take so much Gravol to keep myself from puking that I basically wanted to curl up and sleep.

  2. hee, hee, heee. Remember the time we tossed you out in the middle of Devil's Lake? And remember when we went to the Boundary Waters and you sat in the bottom of a canoe between two other people? And remember all those summers when I made you take 4 weeks of swimming lessons so you would get lots of practice and get really good. I love you so much that I wanted to make sure you would 1) never drown, and 2)learn to love the water as much as I always have. I love you, Peachy! Thanks for putting up with me!

  3. Congratulations on the promotion! :D