Tag Archives: college memories

The Hills Are Alive

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. – John Muir

A couple of weeks ago, I engaged in a Twitter conversation shared by one of my outdoorsy contacts. The basic question posed was about iPods on the trail: Are they okay or do they defeat the purpose of being in nature?

Now, let me start off by stating that I have never used my iPod out on the trail. I always hike with someone, typically with Jason, so it is a social as well as nature experience. However, I always listen to music en route to the trail and post-hike. I had been contemplating popping in the earbuds on our now defunct High Sierra Loop Trip. I didn’t intend to wear my iPod the whole time, but I did hope to find some moments of musical solitude.

So stupid me, I shared that music enhances my experience with nature. This was promptly met with a questioning, dismissive response from the question poser. Par for the course, I’m finding, with the outdoors crowd on social media┬á ­čśÉ

Music has played an integral role in my life from a very early age. When other kids were enjoying tee-ball, I could barely wait to start playing the flute. While I’m sure other parents would have frowned upon it, my mom let me watch MTV with her (you know, when they actually played music). As I entered adolescence in a cloud of depression, music was my salvation, my only real friend. I was a band geek – and proud of it. My weekly lessons with a private instructor and other performance-related activities were my main extra-curricular.

But nowhere has music influenced me more than my memory. Songs, sometimes the most random of them, have become inextricably tied to experiences and moments in my life. And just hearing a particular song can fling me back – my thoughts, my emotions – to that exact point in time…

…Summer of 1989. Church camp. Love and Rockets So Alive. Probably the most random song to connect to church camp. Due to it’s popularity, it was constantly on the radio that summer and, without fail, it seemed to be on almost daily when I was in the arts & crafts cabin. I grin every time I hear it.

Church Camp
Me – Front row, left

…Summer of 2000. Working as a Guide for UW-Madison’s SOAR program. Barry White You’re the First, the Last, My Everything. For our retreat at the beginning of the summer, we were each asked to bring a song that meant something to us. One of my fellow guides brought this song. A mix CD was made of all our songs, and we would play this particular song all the time to pump us up before (and during) an orientation session. It was the best summer of my life, so the memories are beyond precious.

SOAR 2000
Me – Front row, center

…Summer of 2010. (Apparently, summer is a big season for me). Yosemite National Park. Cutting Crew Life in a Dangerous Time. Have you ever seen the movie White Water Summer? Kevin Bacon. Sean Astin. It’s excellent – If you haven’t seen it, you should. The song plays during a key moment in the movie, which you can watch (and listen to) here. I had the song on repeat during our drive up to the High Country. It had a slight impact on me.

Contemplation

And even though I didn’t have my iPod on me, I didn’t need it. The song was playing in my head the whole hike up to Nevada Fall.

Getting Closer...

The last few evenings, I have been reminded of how music enhances the experience of nature. Jason and I have been watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and it is set to the most amazing soundtrack (which I own, of course┬á ­čśë ). When the images combined with the sound brings me to tears in my living room, I think the importance of music in the outdoors speaks for itself.

As I said in at the beginning of this post, I have never used my iPod out on the trail. But I would. Just as nature can be spiritual for people, so can music. Combine the two and incredible things can happen.

Question

iPods on the trail: Nature’s friend or foe?


Fish Fry Rewind

I failed to write about last week’s fish fry outing. Since Jason had buddies over for poker last night, it opened the perfect opportunity to share ­čÖé

Last Friday’s fish fry was a good one, as Jason and I met my old college crew at MJ Stevens north of Milwaukee.

The group of us have gotten together every few months for fish (primarily) and our past experiences have been, um, interesting to say the least. The first attempt left the group doubling over in their respective homes later that night with stomach “issues.” The second attempt found us at a snooty restaurant, where we clearly felt unwanted, with extremely poor service. The most recent left us all hard of hearing thanks to an insanely loud polka band right next to our table. I don’t know if we could have handled another bad experience┬á ­čśë

Not to fear. MJ Stevens was AWESOME! The fish was incredible and HUGE! We could order one, two, three, or four pieces. My friend Ryan was warned, but he started the four-piece trend. Jason did it, too. I was smart and opted for two.

MJ Stevens Fish Fry

I only snapped this one bad picture┬á ­čÖü . I realized halfway to the restaurant that I had forgotten my point-and-shoot camera. But even when it came to taking pictures with my phone, I felt really shy. I must have been dealing with the “framing paralysis” I’ve read about.

I really wish that MJ Stevens was closer to home. It would definitely become our regular haunt if it were.

Taking Too Big a Bite Out of Life

I can truly attest to gaining weight after getting married. I’ve gained about 20 pounds since our wedding a year and a half ago. Ouch!

Just after finishing undergrad and just as I was starting my graduate work, I was able to lose about 40 pounds. It felt incredible and it really wasn’t that difficult. I used a calorie tracking program on my old PDA and combined┬ámore sensible calorie intake with regular exercise. When my dad passed away in 2006, I wound up losing about another 10 pounds. The stress of finishing grad school combined with the emotional toll of losing a parent resulted in a loss of appetite. Then a summer off while job hunting gave me plenty of time to fit in lots of activity – and voila, I was in the┬ábest shape of my life.

Since starting to work full-time, moving into our home, and getting married, my calorie intake had gotten completely out of control. My aim now is to reign in back in. I’m not going to get back to my ideal weight┬áuntil my eating is under control. I have a program on my iPhone to help me track my calories, so my goal this week is to stay in balance each day. No more overeating.

Not only will this help me with my weight loss goal, but it will help me feel better and hopefully more energetic.

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