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Monday, May 26, 2008

The Black Sturgeon River Senior Staff Travel

What it means to be senior staff. This question crept into my brain once or twice on this trip and I realized that it means a lot. It seemed that a lot of us senior staff at one time of another had a gut-check. A gut-check that concluded with either leaving, making a career change, or having a crappy course or OB phase. Some had just rolled with it. I imagine these folks have stayed pretty detached. Its hard to say. Anyhow, I joined a few fan clubs on this trip. Here's who and why:
Ryan Larson- This fella is always honest and sincere, up for a good hard challenge and incredibly capable with hard tasks. I got to see his very deep laughter on this trip. The kind where his eyes were watering and he put his hand over his mouth and just shook with the thought of hilariousness. It was a gift to see him enjoy himself that much. I spent some time prior with Larson on a northern river. The weather was much worse then, and we were all in a bit over our heads. I certainly wasn't ready for the kind of despair I was encountering on a daily basis. Ryan kept his head, and while I didn't see him laugh like i described above, I did see him doing everything he could for the group. We had dry fire wood, hot fires, warm water, and excellent gear. For all his contribution to my world of whitewater experience, I have a ton of gratitude. I love whitewater, and hope to love it as much as him someday very soon.

Sarah Milne- My amazing PCE partner and trip mate. So much needs to be said for the effort she put in to the PCE. I could tell that my goal of coming in early was not necessarily hers. She reacted to my desires like a leaf in the wind. What did I want? Once she knew she did it. I think in the end she was pretty pleased to have pushed it together. And with out her my dream might not have ever came true. On the sturgeon Sarah was a wise ole sage. She was sassy when we were, she was not punitive or condescending, and she dedicated her talents to us all and consistently helped out. Her ability to be a strong unwavering rock star is a talent I would like to practice.

Katie Liermann a.k.a "Lier-cat"- A barrel of laughs. The type of humor she has is so good. Her facial expressions, dry-wit, and dedication to the pun is unmatched. She kept me in high spirits and my abs in prime physical condition due to the quality and quantity of belly laughter. We laughed so hard we cried. Not only full of jokes, Lier-cat has a genuine interest in people and is easy to talk to. If we could have stopped laughing I'm positive we could have had profound conversations.

Robin Zinthefer- What an undercover dynamic person. She is on top of her game here at OB and has a ton of worldly insight to boot. She is amazingly compassionate and helpful. I had not talked much with Robin prior to this trip and I realized all that I had missed out on in that time. We started at the very same time in OB and have had some similar experiences and the differences we have have a lot to learn from. I really need to engage Robin a lot more and gather all I can from her experience.

Anita Gebauer- What can i say. Anita is entrenched in the world of enlightenment and spiritual emotion right now. She has brought a huge amount of that very same thing to my life through working, traveling, and living with her. I feel very close to Anita and at times that means I can get as frustrated with her as I can with myself or my family. This trip really showed that I take Anita's positive contribution to my life for granted and that I should cut her and myself more slack sometimes. Anita is so good at helping people. She walked an extra half mile to give Dulce some water yesterday. The type of friendship I have with Anita could last a lifetime if it is payed proper attention.

Jayne N- Well, I'm a bit biased here. Jayne and I have been together now for a year and some four months. Really not a long time in the scheme of things. The ability we have to collaborate is phenomenal, I think we also know when to stay out of each others' way, also a very good skill. We are both very headstrong and put a huge emphasis on communication and understanding. While we may over analyse what each other say, we can still manage to paddle a boat through whitewater and make it look good. Every day that I get to watch Jayne interact with her world I appreciate her choice to keep me very close in it. I was pretty sure when I met her that I loved her mind and I noticed her beauty too. We met on a river. If at times it seems like nothing else is making sense, we'll both always have a love for rivers.

Matt Pearson- I was picked on quite a bit for my apparent worship of Matty. Let me share where this has come from. Go ahead and think back to our fireside chats. Did anyone else feel the emphatic belief of OB that would radiate from his words? How about that uncertain but bold step into the challenge and unknown of instructing and life with OB that would swirl in the ideas that Matt would share? And the furrow of the eyebrows which I interpreted as wholehearted desire to be good at this work and be the person he wants to be, even though its hard. That is what I saw in Matty P out on the black sturgeon. I also saw a funny, sincere, and quiet fella that wanted to have a good time. His energy lit a fire in me and that's something I'm always on the lookout for. Thanks Matty.

So not much more needs to be said about how wonderful the trip was. A Cecere-ism sums it up perfectly, "Living the dream."

Monday, May 12, 2008

11 states in one month, a drivers diary

It began when my last course of the Texas season ended. As we know, most ends result in some type of beginning. Near April 7th. This was Zach Burn's birthday. We celebrated at a small bar outside of the metropolis of Presidio, la escondita (the hidden). We were celebrating many things; Zach's birth, the NCAA championship basketball game, and the finale of a 28-day OB course that Zach, me, and this wonderful woman Kat Ketter had worked. It was all going quite nicely. We must have had a tailwind as we traveled the 5-hour drive from El Paso to Presidio in our 15 passenger Ford Econoline Van.

The three of us and our course director, Chris Brown, arrive at la escondita to the joy of my girlfriend, who I hadn't seen for more than 12 hours in the last 28 days. Also there were some really great friends and the promises of more to show. The table had been decorated as well as the walls and the dog. We were going to party!

Our friends trickle in and sure enough the management at la escondita can't keep up with our burgeoning requests for beer and food. There was only two of them and they are on desert antiquity time, i don't blame them. So our good friend Clancy gets behind the bar and starts un-capping dos equis after dos equis much to our merriment. The night is just warming up when the game starts. Blue vs. White. Who really cares, I can't remember who won even all I know is there was a sick three-point shot at the buzzer sending the game into overtime, in which the team who made the buzzer beater of course came out victorious. You can ride a energizing wave like that for quite some time. there was no stopping them.

Then the phone rings, Dallas area code. It was a parent who had read her child's course journal. That was her first mistake. Apparently her child had been fornicating with another student for the duration of the course. Oh my god. At this point all the beer drained from my body and sunk into my feet which were abnormally heavy and groggy. I had to sit down and think. Could this have really happened? Did I have any feeling that this was true what-so-ever? The answer kept coming back no. no. no. I put myself into up most humility zone and said, well, this happened, now what?

What happened next is no less shocking and unsettling than the original news. Turned out that the student had lied about having sex with the student in her journal to sound "bad-ass". The student said that she commonly lies to seem tough and cool. Essentially a fantasy world of lies and negative behaviors. Sadly, this is what life is like for so many of the world teenage women. I feel for them.

With a calmed heart about the whole scenario I began the daunting task of ending the Texas season. This was the point in my life that I realized how deeply the desert had reached in me. To the core. Living in SW Texas on the border of MX has had such a profound impact on my life. I would say that I know what true beauty is now.

Packing up and leaving was a huge challenge. Jayne left earlier than me and did a large part of the packing up. I intended on packing up both of our cars and towing one with the other. A Jeep liberty towing a Deawoo nubira, both stuffed to the gills with Jayne and my life. Don't forget the little Dulce. She was of course, in tow.

We started in Texas and then it went like this:





Minnesota ( great hotel in Albert Lea is none other than the Albert Lea INN, stop by tell them I said Hi)

I embarked upon this trip with what is commonly referred to as the "Long Haul." A few staff members sign up to drive three fully loaded and trailered 15 passenger vans from Texas to Minnesota. They are carrying all the gear that makes Texas an Outward Bound base. This would include but not be limited to: tarps, stoves, kayaks, canoes, backpacks and paperwork. The four of us would get a hotel room each night and chill out with some fast food and TV. Dulce would freak out and commandeer the comfy spot at the foot of my bed.

As soon as the Alumni service trip was done, Jayne and I left for Elmira NY, my home town. On our route we traveled through:








New York

What the worse thing that could happen when driving? An accident. sure. So we hit a deer about and hour outside my town. Luckily the deer died on impact and Jayne had some great AAA coverage. We rode in the tow truck with Dulce on my lap and arrived in typical Liz fashion; at two o'clock in the morning in a tow truck with a broken car. Long story short, the insurance company called my car a total loss and are settling with me for 2, 000 dollars. That's 2x as much as I paid for the car about 5 years ago and four trips across the US. I got some well needed couch time at moms and rented a car to get back to Ely.

Now I'm here. The sun is shining and the bugs aren't out yet. I am filling out my paper-work to go to Italy and Dulce is covered in mud every chance she gets.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

el primero

So, this time around I want to have something to say. Its hard for me to concentrate and spell. Not sure how this will go. I've always wanted to learn Spanish, or any other language for that matter. A romance language would be preferred. Italian would also be nice.

I've been working for an experiential outdoor education organization known to many as Outward Bound (OB). OB provides an experience for all people to find out what they are truly made of. To test their limits and to find the outer edges of their growth potential. That roughly translates to a lot of sweat, tears and hope. Late nights, long days, swatting mosquitos and dodging flesh-eating cactus. I work mostly with adolescents and college age folks. It is an emotionally heart-warming job.

The only other jobs I've kept have had something to do with the following three fields; retail, the outdoors and education. I have worked at the old Plantscapes greenhouse/landscaping business, Klein's All Sports, Eastern Mountain Sports and as an instructor for Cornell Outdoor Education. My bosses at these jobs were also amazing role-models and friends. That has really helped me over time develop my own leadership style. As it stands right now I am a lead instructor for OB in Minnesota and Texas. Life is good.

I have pivotable points. So does my friend Anita Gebauer. In fact she invented the word pivotable. The spell check will not let that word pass, but Anita will. So will I. I believe I have a few but I can highlight three for you here. I'll try chronological as well.

1. The amount of care and attention I received from my fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Tanner. I was really off in the wrong direction and Mrs. Tanner gave me positive attention when I earned it instead of consistently giving me negative attention which I was surely deserving of. She also got me into the T.A.G. (Talented and gifted) program. Where I remember I made a chicken wire paper mache dolphin. A budding young environmentalist.

2. When I was 14 I met a girl from Ohio on-line and proceeded to "date" her. So essentially I ran up a 700$ phone bill. The day Mom got the phone bill she was crying and carrying-on rightfully so. I was quite upset myself. So in between screams and yells having to do with my stupidity and lack of giving a shit she asks, "what are you gay!?!" In between my sobs of sorry I answered "i think so," and that took care of the intimidating job of telling my mom I was gay. easy as that.

3. Last but certainly not least, I would say that Sept. 11 2001 had a very large affect in my life. I feel that on that day I was hurled outside of my tiny bubble and into the big bad scary world. To keep it simple I felt more responsible for the pain in the world. It was motivated to do whatever I could to alleviate that pain.