March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a civet. Civets live in southeast Asia. To me they seem like a cross between a raccoon and a housecat.

This is not the civet that came within a few feet of climbing me like a tree. I didn’t get a photo of that civet because I was busy watching my life flash before my eyes. That civet was just as blurry as the one in the picture, but it was running toward me instead of trying to get away.

Let me back up. In October 2010 we went to Borneo. I didn’t talk about it much at the time, but it was amazing. Life-changing, even, in that special “I’m completely insignificant” kind of way that can only really happen in a forest full of things that can kill you and no hospitals within two hours. I wish I were there right now.

We spent some of our trip in the Danum Valley area, which is a huge swath of primary rainforest (primary rainforest has never been clear cut — visually it is more similar to the California forests I know than dense jungle I expected). While we were there, we and two other couples were assigned a guide, Sly. The nocturnal animals of Borneo (mouse deer, civets) are just as active as the diurnal (monkeys, pygmy squirrels), so Sly took us for a night hike.

We wandered around in the rain with our flashlights, Sly lifting up huge leaves so we could watch miserable-looking wet songbirds tried to sleep. He found us both a terrestrial tarantula waiting out the storm in his burrow and an arboreal tarantula. Tarantulas that live above your head, by the way? Based on the response of the folks in our group, they are the stuff of nightmares.

On our way back to the lodge, we saw two tiny red dots bouncing erratically on the road in front of us. Two slightly bigger dots appeared behind them, bouncing at a slightly slower rate. As a group, we stopped walking and watched them move. The front set of dots were only ten feet away when we realized they were the eyes of a mouse. To be more specific, they were the eyes of a terrified mouse who was running as fast as he could to escape the hungry civet chasing him.

It took a few more seconds for the second set of red dots to transform into a civet in the beams of our flashlights. By then the mouse was only a few feet in front of us, headed straight for me. Just before he ran up my leg, he made a ninety-degree turn and headed into the plants on the side of the road. The civet, though, kept on course, blinded by hunger, maybe? Instinct? Our flashlights? In any case, that civet kept charging straight at me. I couldn’t move; they run really fast for such an awkward-looking critter.

He was only a foot or so away from me when he snapped out of his trance, staggered a few steps to the side to get out of the light, and turned around to flee. The seven of us just stood there, stunned. In that moment of silence, we heard something rustling to one side of the road. Training our flashlights on the noise, we saw the mouse climbing the hillside to safety. His tiny chest was still heaving from the chase, and he stopped every few inches to rest.

That mouse owes me a beer.


two songs that will always make me stop and listen

February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

(This one might also make me look like I’m crying, but I just have something in my eye. Hey, it’s dusty in the Bay Area.)

(How can you possibly ignore that bass?)

Hey, Discovery Channel? Call me.

February 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

When exactly did the Discovery Channel decide to host the redneck Olympics? They’re currently running shows about mining for gold, restoring old cars, guns, exterminators, storm chasers, and moonshiners.*

They have names like 'Tater' and 'Popcorn.' I wish I were joking.

Having grown up in a double-wide (it took me years to realize that’s a punchline), I’m confident I can help guide them in this new direction. Here are a few of my ideas:

– First Cousins (dating show)

– Where are My Teeth? (this could either be a dental drama or a sketch comedy program)

– Opossum Pudding (cooking show)

– Project Roadkill (young, fresh fashion designers create couture from…well, roadkill)


* I’d credit(?) them with the program dedicated to finding sasquatches, but that particular shame belongs to Animal Planet.


Sometimes my job is extra-awesome.

February 2, 2012 § Leave a comment


My boss is hitchhiking across Colorado for a ski “conference.”  I helped.

fun things

January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Somebody numbered the steps to Coit Tower. I made it up to 400 and then took the path.Image


January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Outside magazine sent me a free teaser copy of this month’s magazine. (For what it’s worth, that trick didn’t work.) One article included a line that said all great firsts have been done, that there’s nothing big left to achieve. The author didn’t elaborate and the line was probably just word-count-filler to him, but it’s been gnawing at me.

All great firsts have been done? Maybe he’s right on a really grand scale, though I don’t completely buy that. There’s always something left to do, if you dream big enough. That’s another post. For now, it’s not the grand scale that interests me, it’s the individual human scale. Not everything has to be grand.

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about firsts. This is where it started:

photo by Andrea

photo by Andrea

(There’s also a less-blurry video, and it’s worth a trip over to Flickr to see it until I figure out how to embed it here: First-time flyer.)

My friend Andrea introduced me to the flying trapeze, and it was amazing. Terrifying and exhilarating in a way I wasn’t expecting at all. It took me a while to figure out why this particular activity made such an impact on me. It wasn’t the sense of danger; I spend a good amount of my time riding my bike at high speeds in glorified underwear squished together with dozens of other people, most of them bigger than me. Danger doesn’t really phase me anymore. I wasn’t fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an acrobat or anything like that. It finally dawned on me that this feeling wasn’t entirely unfamiliar. I’d had it before, mostly as a kid. It was the way I felt the first time I’d done or accomplished something new. (If I had to box up the feeling into a single word, I think I’d call it triumph.)

When we’re little, everything is exciting and meaningful because it’s new. It’s an adventure. Taking one tiny, fumbling step is massive. And the next, and the next. Then our worlds expand, and after a while nothing seems that exciting because it’s all been done before, by us or by somebody else. Nothing is new. As a grown-up, you don’t get many opportunities to try new things. Those opportunities you do get, you have to seek out for yourself.  So.

I want more firsts. I started with trapeze; you?

Like a dog off a leash

January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

You know.  Coop a dog up all day. Take it for a walk, make it sit, stay. Then slip the leash over its head and BAM! Dog is gone. Out of there, tongue flailing, stupid grin on its face.

I am totally that dog.

Since July I’ve been dealing with my mess of a heart (literally, not figuratively), and yesterday I got the green light to start living again. Or at least to move; I actually feel like I’ve been living a lot more than normal. It’s amazing what a person can do when they’re not devoting a few hours a day to training. Mostly I’ve been working on my “grandma skills.”*

Among my current projects is mixing pink lamé (lamè?) and electronic music lyrics from the last decade. I also made myself a pair of wingtips. And a blanket. And a sweater that’s a little bit too old-lady-chic even for me. This blog is about to get a lot more colorful.

* This is particularly amusing when you remember that I don’t want to be a grandma. Ever.