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Fishing is generally reserved for outdoorsy people who are patient and entirely comfortable and committed to standing all day long with worm guts underneath their nails, the scent of fish lingering heavily on their…well, everything. People who can wear old, outdated jeans (unbelievable) that have become their “fishing” jeans out in public with muddied shoes and lure-encrusted hats and not feel horrified. These people might buy bait at Wal-Mart and aren’t overly paranoid that someone might snap their photo to be featured on the next edition of “People of Wal-Mart.”
None of this describes me, so imagine my surprise when I found myself the ecstatic recipient of a fishing pole for my birthday this year. Not remotely an avid fisherwoman, I was unable to even identify a box of fishing line upon unwrapping it, putting it together only when presented with a pole next. I was assured it was “a good one,” but with its glittery green sheen and smooth reeling, I knew it couldn’t be too bad.
Plus it was really shiny.
Holding the soft cork handle in my (newly-manicured) fingers, I was reminded of my former teenage hobby of pinning favorite pastimes and memories onto a huge corkboard in a mosaic fashion. Fishing had been absent on that board, but now here I would soon be, instead pinning worms on hooks to be sent to watery graves.
What strides I’ve made in life!
Owning a fishing pole was the first acknowledgement my hobbies were beginning to more freely revolve around the rustic, especially seeing as other birthday gifts were a set of golf clubs and a four-wheeler I got to borrow from a friend to celebrate the occasion.
Outwardly appearances aside, I am not quite the girly girl I used to be, and I like to think I am working constantly toward a new and improved me. Someone who could survive in the woods after dark without (as many) irrational fears (Sasquatch) and someone who can hold her own talking golf and fishing in a board meeting filled with 55-year-old male engineers. I suppose this is all fine, as I have a distinct feeling who’s still vying for the win on the Bachelorette or what Dairy Queen dessert has the least calories (dilly bars) will never be the hot topics I wish them to be.
I used to fish every once and awhile with my family as a kid and remember snagging a sunfish out of the middle of the lake with my Donald Duck pole, droplets of glistening water catching the sun’s rays – and my attention – for one brief second before the helpless fish flopping on the bottom of the boat disheartened me. The last time I was out with my brother, we caught absolutely nothing except a case of the boredoms. Not exactly a great start to fishing becoming my great new passion.
Then Clayton, with his boat, huge tackle box that takes me two hands to lug to the water’s edge, and easy ways of explaining the sport came along, his experience and love for it igniting an interest that grows in me each time we head out, poles in one hand, hand-in-hand.
Regardless of the amount of times we’ve gone, the first ten minutes are brutal for me – the girl with no attention span who likes to see results, results, RESULTS!
Me: “We don’t have all day, fish!”
Clayton: “Actually we do. It’s a weekend fishing trip.”
Me: (nodding pointedly to the water) “Well, they don’t know that!”
Me (ten minutes later): “…Is a weekend still two days?”
Clayton: “Sit down and get comfortable.”
Me (dejectedly bowing down my head): “Okaay.”
Around the time of that conversation (because it happens every time), I’ll wonder why I ever thought putting a worm on a hook, whipping that hook around dangerously (Last year, I caught myself! Literally. Right in the forehead. Mad skills.), and sitting around not catching anything for sometimes hours sounded like a pleasant idea. To keep myself occupied, I sing to myself a tune that always seems to work.
Sure enough, the line will inevitably take off, adrenaline shoots through my body, and I reel in a marlin – usually a pan-sized bluegill or laughingly small baby bass. The fight is real and hard no matter how big the fish is (thank you, lack of muscles!), and the feeling is oddly comparable to finding a glorious pair of expensive heels. In both instances, I usually end up putting each back.
My faith renewed, I begin to cast again and again, usually out-fishing Clayton and feeling quite smug about it, puffing out my chest proudly until I snag my line in a tree 15 feet above my head. A rookie after all, I am forced to puppy-eyes my way into him helping a deflated girl out.
We were in South Dakota fishing last May when I caught my first 11-pound carp, and then my second. The five-minute fights to pull them in were battles that ended with such self-accomplishment and elatedness. Holding the fish in the air as my trophy, I fell a little more in love (and not just because it, too, was shiny).
When things are slow, sunflower seeds and nearby happy-go-lucky ducks with tufted haircuts in major need of maintenance are a welcome distraction. When things pick up? Well, mostly my arm starts to hurt from all the reeling.
I really should lift weights or something. It’s getting embarrassing.
I remember the first time Clayton suggested we keep some bluegill for dinner. Astonished, I replied, “We’re gonna EAT them?!”
It seemed so wrong. So…cavemen of us. I was pumped.
“Yes, but first we have to cut off their heads, gut and descale them,” he said.
It seemed so much more wrong. I teetered on the edge of uncertainty.
“Then we’ll fry ‘em,” he finished.
I was back in.
Previous thoughts of a Pizza Hut medium supreme pan pizza and a half order of breadsticks went down the drain along with the fish scales and slime I would soon be washing off every exposed part of me.
It’s true that the thrill of a big catch and the sense of accomplishment outweigh trekking through poison ivy, warding off biting flies and wading through swamp-like waters. In the last year, I’ve learned to worm my own hook, including how to “thread” a worm (Why, yes, it is as awful as it sounds), and take a fish off the line, noting along the way that their razor-sharp fins will NOT hesitate to slice me into ribbons.
I tell myself that this hobby teaches me patience, which is a virtue I was previously lacking. I tell myself that I’m being like Jesus, except he was a fisher of men and I already caught the one I want to grow old with, walking down piers in our 60s, hand-in-hand and laughing just like the old couples in those heart medicine commercials.
I tell others I can’t go to the bar with them over the weekend because we’re going on a fishing trip, you see, and we wouldn’t even dream of being back until long after dark.
As a precursor to this blog, I want to wallow in self-pity and tell you that I have been sick for seven days. Biblical references state that seven days is the amount of time God spent creating the universe. I, however, have not been as productive in my weakened, congested, head-exploding state.
But Mr. Mucus certainly has.
A quick trip to mucinex.com made my cloudy mind so clear, helping me to better understand this seemingly mythical, but very real, evil character. You see, Mr. Mucus is a workaholic, and last week he became occupied with making my life miserable, putting in extra time at the office to give me a horrendous summer cold. (Could have put his overtime paychecks toward doing something nice, like buying me a pony, but apparently he thought I was just a snot-nosed kid.)
So busy and consumed was Mr. Mucus with this task that he hired more workers to bump up his phlegm inventory and in doing so, created a monster. He named this beast Sinus Infection. And Mr. Mucus saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very bad.
Of course by then, Mrs. Mucus was not a happy camper either, as her husband hadn’t been home in a good five days.
Just as she sought divorce papers, I found Mucinex.
According to Mucinex box information, one of the many benefits of the 12-hour pill (besides destroying all of Mr. Mucus’s inventory) is that it is also capable of making coughs productive.
It got me thinking one sleepless night when Mr. Mucus was once again hard at work and I was being held captive in the harrowing claws of Sinus Infection:
Exactly how productive are these coughs?
I like to think of them in little suits and ties, getting ready for work, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And so, I decided to put together a little pie chart on the industrious side effects Mucinex could have had on my coughs, should the information been taken out of context.
Mucinex made my coughs so productive, they…
In summation, the fight between Mucinex and Mr. Mucus? To put it quite simply, Mr. Mucus doesn’t stand a chance, especially once Antibiotics kick in (the door) to knock him out cold.
For those of you who have never heard of the television show, American Ninja Warrior, it’s going to be ok. Before last weekend, I hadn’t heard of the series either, but I’m confident we’ll get through this initial obstacle together. First things first: breaking the ignorance barrier so you can start living a far more awesome life right here and now.
American Ninja Warrior is a show that recruits contestants from various regions of the U.S. and lets them showcase their athletic agility and abilities by competing through a sequence of courses that include obstacles such as the Salmon Ladder, Warped Wall, Rolling Escargot, Doorknob Grasper and many more with equally imaginative names. Much like Iron Chef America is for the Food Network, G4TV’s American Ninja Warrior is a spin-off from an earlier Japanese series called Sasuke. Yup, we Americans like to take, take, take – especially if there’s a monetary prize up for grabs!
At the end of each season, fifteen final contestants head to Japan (or in this year’s case – Las Vegas) to compete in the last obstacle course – the impressively challenging Mt. Midoriyama, where the winner receives – you guessed it – loads of money!
Maybe that’s why “Midoriyama” means “green mountain” in Japanese.
Contestants usually have a well-balanced athletic background including parkour, mixed martial arts, personal training and other professional sports. Me? I bring to the table the most reckless secret weapon of all: daring to dream. That asset mixed with a hint of sheer clumsiness make me the ultimate badass. Or wildcard. To further specify, shot in hell.
A woman of lists, I put together some reasons why I am or am not qualified to be the next American Ninja Warrior. As you will plainly see, the reasons I’m meant to win seemingly outweigh the reasons I’m not. Besides, being American means I already have a third of this thing in the bag.
The most important thing is that I dream big, always in stealth mode but only sometimes wearing black.
Why I’m meant to be the next American Ninja Warrior
1. I can pronounce “Midoriyama.”
Or, you know. Close enough. I’m not a linguist. But I do love linguini, and sometimes close is close enough (Although I’m not sure ANW careerist but four-season failure David Campbell would agree).
2. I’m sadly ok with Nebraska being lumped into the “Midsouth” region.
When you’re from the Midwest, you tend to set your expectations low that anyone knows where you geographically reside. Instead, Nebraskans are easily impressed if others simply know the state exists in the U.S., or that we have electricity.
3. My tumbling skills are sub-par.
I took tumbling as a kid and was mediocre the whole time; I could never nail the handstand without the help of a wall or person to stabilize me. As an adult, I’ve kept pace with my clumsiness as a child – and then some. This has honed my key talent: I’m not afraid to fall.
Now, falling into the water under the courses that producers somehow dyed cerulean nuclear radiation blue? That’s a whole other story.
4. Three attempts before I can call it a day? SOLD!
Contestants are allowed three attempts to conquer the 14-foot Warped Wall, and I’ve never been an overachiever. Three attempts quietly says, “Hey, I tried, but let’s go see what’s on television now, huh?”
In other words, I also have a lot of Breaking Bad to conquer, so let’s get both shows on the road.
5. I have an inspiring story that sets me apart from the rest.
One time I was peer pressured to steal a troll pencil topper in grade school. I’ve lived with the guilt for 20 years. It’s called adversity, folks.
6. I enjoy free money.
I’m 99 percent sure I’m the only one who possesses this wildly defining quality.
7. I look good in black.
If that’s not a credential, I don’t know what is.
8. I’ve been meaning to spice up my resume.
People take American Ninja Warriors seriously, probably. It’s a title that evokes fear and the promise of threats, but those are just the every day approaches of earning a job.
Why I’m not meant to be the next American Ninja Warrior
1. Seems like a pretty long plane ride to (and fro) Japan.
Who would water my plants while I’m gone? Mail doesn’t collect itself, and my friends will all be busy holding colorful, giant signs possessing my name at Mt. Midoriyama. Signs like “Tuck and Roll (the competition)!!!!”
2. I’m more of a lover.
Although the non-combative obstacle courses are to my liking, no one likes to be a team of one in the game of love.
3. Duh – I’m a girl.
I might break a nail. On the other hand, that would probably feel a lot better than how I’ll feel after receiving the angry hate emails I’m about to get from feminists everywhere.
4. I would collapse under the pressure. Or the Unstable Bridge.
As a lover, I prefer to have crushes, not be crushed.
5. I don’t like being the center of attention.
Well, except on this BLOG, of course…
When I moved into my apartment complex a few years ago, it never occurred to me to ask whether it was located in a good or bad neighborhood. Maybe it was the sight of the elderly residing in adjacent apartments and strolling daily around the complex like clockwork at 7 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. that put me at ease. Perhaps I was simply too eager to move out of my parents’ house to ask pertinent questions (“And does this cardboard box have plumbing? No? But I see it has mood lighting. What? That’s just daylight streaming in from all the cracks? I’ll take it!” – me, end of rope, 2009).
After more than three years of living here, however, the truth about this particular neighborhood finally came to light – just as the sun peeked over my neat, charcoal gray rooftop.
Rabbits. Bunnies. Menaces to society. Whatever the term, it was spring, they were everywhere and we were clearly on their turf. It was a problem that multiplied in severity faster than you could locate a BB gun.
At first, though, it was cute.
“Look at that baby bunny!” I remember saying prior to “the incident.” “He doesn’t know how to feed himself! Where’s his family? I’m going to give him blueberries – do bunnies eat blueberries?”
It was a dumb question, because bunnies devour everything, my soul included. Completely incapable now of cooing at even the most adorable baby animal, I have become as heartless as Kanye West’s singing career.
Eventually, ominous gangs of rabbits were seen flocking around the complex at all hours of the day, perked ears and wide eyes on our every move, as if they were…casing the joint. Whaaa??
It couldn’t be.
But, as our luck would have it, of course it could.
As Clayton and I warily plotted our garden in the courtyard, I couldn’t help but notice we didn’t seem to be the only ones doing the plotting. Despite the fur balls attempting to look busy eating grass without a care in the world, it was clear their main focus was us. Get an honest day job, ya hooligans, I thought, shaking my fist like the saltiest of veterans.
I jokingly nudged Clayton and told him they had been devising their strike from the very beginning.
My discomfort level rose each day I left for work, passing rabbits that stopped in the middle of their breakfast to stare at me as I drove by, not blinking once (The rabbits, not me – their stony gazes were enough for me to dart my eyes nervously back to the road ASAP, fingers tightly gripping the steering wheel). I soon grew as twitchy as the noses on those seemingly innocent cottontails. Hippity-hopsters. Vermin. At once I knew my nerves could only be calmed by the ultimate rabbit kryptonite: a white fence about a foot tall we wrapped around the exterior of our patio garden. Then, we waited.
It seems we weren’t the only ones.
I knew there was a case of Mr. McGregor’s garden going on when a leaf or two went missing from the sweet basil and surrounding flowers. It was sporadic and not overly-suspicious at first, so I grew accustomed to blaming a few small caterpillars who had recently moved in. This neighborhood is going to hell. Chucking them as far from the garden as I could, my worries disappeared along with them – until a few weeks ago.
It was morning. Going out to check on the vegetables before work as I normally do, I discovered we had been brutally and mercilessly robbed. As if someone took a shovel and scooped every remnant of lettuce from the planter, the dirt had been pushed to one side — an obvious signal that the battle was now fully ON.
As far as evidence, there was none, although I didn’t have my magnifying glass and spy kit from my Boxcar Children fan days to verify that completely. And the crime scene? Well let’s just say it was so neat and clean you could perform triple bypass surgery on it. Even…eat off of it?
Gah! Foiled again!
I was noting with pride that the fence remained untouched when my eyes lit on a rabbit munching clover and eyeballing me rather rudely about ten feet away, a cautious look in its eyes. Owning the look as only a big fat thief could. Because my hair resembled a bird’s nest and I didn’t want to give the elders a heart attack before their time, I rethought my decision to run outside in my skivvies. Still, I glared from a crack in the blinds and, sizing him up, determined there was no way he could have been the perp.
Later that morning, we bewilderedly ran through the list of likely culprits. A bunny was an obvious offender, but they wouldn’t dig the entire string of lettuce out, they would bite it down to the stem like any other animal. A larger animal then, maybe a raccoon? What beef would a raccoon have with lettuce? Keep thinking. The neighborhood ducks – that must be it! Except Sir Quacksalot and Lady of the Lake would NEVER.
By mid-morning, I was 90 percent sure our crop had been stolen by…
I know. It was so hard on us after that, losing that sense of security and all. I no longer felt safe with only a screen door lock, sliding door lock and sturdy pole placed between the door and wall to protect me. Security alarms and outdoor cameras began to float through my mind. If they’re willing to steal lettuce, what else are these thieves capable of? I was abruptly filled with horror. Not the marigolds! Surely, not the marigolds!
No, as a matter of fact, I don’t think I was overreacting.
Fuming, I repeated my story to any coworkers who would listen that day, which were quite a few because hey – this was a huge deal. With each account, I grew more and more certain, and by the time a coworker told me he just had his cucumbers jacked and caught kids stealing it, I was ready to take action.
I returned from work that day ready to wage war, or at least sternly tell my kitten that staying up all night on surveillance was now her sole job, except of course for catching spidies – per usual. As I opened the front door, I noticed Chloe wasn’t lazily lying in the foyer waiting to greet me. Instead, she was sitting in between the patio blinds, intently looking at something (wait for it!)…
…in the garden!!
The robber! And sure enough, opening the blinds quick as lightening, it was a rabbit after all (bet you didn’t see that coming) that stared up at me from its comfy spot in the (painstakingly empty) lettuce bed, a confrontational look in its eye that dared to say,
It was not my imagination that it rolled its head forward toward me like that of a challenging, snarky teenage kid as it gave me that look. The rabbit even had the audacity to sit there until I began to slide open the door, screaming at it to get away. It ran as far as the clover patch and that’s when I knew: it was the one.
As any irrational girlfriend would do, I called Clayton to yell about a whole lot of overdramatic, trivial stuff in the greater scheme of life. Breathlessly explaining the situation, my anger mounting by the second, I opened the door and took off at a full gait toward the rabbit, the phone still firmly attached to my ear. Clayton’s attempt to sooth me went unnoticed as I gave a warrior cry and flicked off my flip flops to get better traction.
Guys, I chased that bunny around the complex. Three times. That dagnam marmot didn’t take me seriously until the second lap. It was so full of our veggies, in fact, that I almost caught it until, running blinded by fury into the parking lot, I realized I had spectators and stopped dead in my tracks. A car of parents saying goodbye to their son looked at me like I was crazy. A neighbor watched me curiously from his deck. A head ducked behind a curtain before I could make eye contact.
My arms fell limply to my sides, the phone still tightly gripped in one and Clayton’s voice a dim, “Hellooooo?”
I decided it would be in my best interest to return indoors.
Later that evening, I knew I had to let it go after maniacally attempting to run over the rabbits with my car after taking a couple gratuitous laps around the complex.
I am now affectionately called the “Bunny Chaser” among those who witnessed the tirade. Even weeks later, neighbors seek me out, telling glory stories of how they killed a bunch of black crows with strategically placed moth balls or chased other rabbits all the way to the bank (literally – there was one across the street).
In the meantime, I’ll be shining up my new BB gun out back in a rocking chair in plain sight, just waiting until next spring.