Monday, September 21, 2015

Clearer Skies Ahead

Sometimes the things we are most worried about, the things we are crazy anxious over and can't sleep over, turn out to be very anti-climactic. After stressing over something for months, it turned out to go ... ok. Just ... ok.

And now I feel ridiculous for the last few months of stress.

And I wished I could get back all those months and what I lost during all that stress.

But it's over, and I learned a lot about myself. And a very good lesson ... one of those things you just need to learn for yourself. 

And not I really do feel like I see clearer skies ahead. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie Review | Everest [IN THEATER]

I have been looking forward to this movie since I found out it was in production. Into Thin Air was a favorite when I was growing up and Everest is one of those topics I have read the entire Wikipedia page about (and gone off on several tangents from). Combine that with my love of all things mountain and glacial and amazing views and that makes this movie something I was really excited about.

Unfortunately there were no screenings for this one, so I had to wait to see it in theater today. Bummer. But .... still opening night. And IMAX 3D, of course. Which, by the way, totally worth it for a movie like this. Those views and all that snow rushing around ... you feel like you are on the mountain and in the blizzard ... I was shivering in my seat.

The movie great in my opinion. Suspenseful and intense, and probing on some key issues in the mountaineering community. And, of course, beautifully shot with amazing scenery. And great acting by all. The film does a good job of balancing basic education for the viewer (how the climb works, what the climbers bodies go through, what can happen, etc) and the action itself. You need to know the basics to understand what is going on on the mountain.

Even knowing what was going to happen, the movie is still so powerful. The sheer struggle of man versus the elements at it's most primal. Wow. The emotion, pain, camaraderie, beauty, struggle, skill, power, motivation and pure determination is so evident throughout the entire film. You cannot look away. And the actors pull off strong performances that bring these real people to life and give those who have perished a voice. 

To summarize, Everest follows Rob Hall and his expedition (and that of others) up Everest in the tragic 1996 spring summit attempt that ended with 8 lives lost after issues on the ascent combined with a terrible blizzard on the decent caused insurmountable challenges for many on the journey.

The film depicts a number of different challenges faced by those attempting to summit Everest. Beyond the sheer physical challenges of going to the height that a 747 flies, there are other topics at hand. One is that by 1996, climbing Everest has become quite commercialized with many guide companies - like Hall's - leading groups up attempting the summit all at the same time on basically one path. That causes bottlenecks and holdups which can be fatal. And some of these companies were not the most professional and didn't always put their customers/climbers best interest first. And that the climbers themselves aren't often as educated, trained or prepared as they should be. Another issue the film covers is role of climbers to help one another when possible, or to know when it is time to let go and move on because nothing can be done. Also, the role of the guides to help their clients and not only get them to the top, but bring them back (and know when it is sometimes just not going to happen). Also, the idea of the trust these different groups put in one another when it comes to shared resources like ladders, ropes, oxygen tanks, etc. And the film does all this well!

And of course, there is the heartbreaking story of Rob Hall and his pregnant wife back in Australia, Jan. After the issues and decisions made on May 10th during the summit, Rob was left high on the summit when the blizzard hit, determined to help one of clients. Over the next day, all attempts at rescue failed and Rob said goodbye to Jan via a patched through satellite call to his radio. Which everyone on the mountain heard as well via their radio. And Jon Krakauer relayed in his book Into Thin Air.

Everest is definitely worth seeing. in IMAX 3D. And if you haven't read Into Thin Air, do that too.

Also, its crazy to think that the younger person to scale Everest was a 13 year old, and the oldest was 72. Wow! And, by the end of the 2010 season, there had been 5,104 ascents to the summit by about 3,142 people .... with 77% of those being since 2000. Crazy! When this film takes place - in 1996 - the 33 people who attempted to summit on the same day was high. However, May 23, 2010 saw the summit reached in that one day by 169 climbers!!! That's more people getting to the summit in that one day that in the 31 combined years from the first successful summit in 1953 to 1983.

Movie Review | Sicario [SCREENING]

And so it begins ... "it" being movie awards season. Woohoo! Along with crisp fresh fall weather and apple picking comes award-worthy movies, great performances and weekend after weekend of sitting in dark theaters. 

First on my list was a screening for Sicario. This films comes out October 2 and stars Emily Blunt as an idealistic FBI agent in Arizona that gets pulled into a crazy, complicated multi-agency war on drugs right on and between the Mexico/US border with two very interesting characters and their crew - Benecio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. 

The film is definitely good. It's gritty and dark, and at times if is just plain disturbing and makes your stomach turn. But it's honest - this is the war on drugs. It shows you things you maybe don't want to see or believe. Strong performances by all in their unique ways - Blunt for her quiet determination Brolin for his casual cockiness, and Del Toro for his single minded focus. 

Overall, definitely worth seeing, but might be too much for some as it sets the stage in a pretty gruesome way right from the start. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Weighing in on the situation

I have always struggled with my weight. Always.

Since high school, my weight has been a challenge for me. I've never been naturally thin and it takes a great deal of control and careful eating and a lot of consistent exercise to look and feel my best. I am not the person that can embrace my look and be comfortable at any weight and size. I tend to close off when I feel like I am overweight and frumpy.

But when I lose the weight and look and feel my best, I am my best. I am confident, happy, proud, excited. I am more social and outgoing. I am a better person all around.

Unfortunately, over the last 7 years (just thinking of the years since college ended essentially), I have only actually maintained at my goal weight for probably 60 days max ... combined. The rest of the days and weeks and months and years have been spent feeling overweight and flubbery and not pretty. Or working hard to get between overweight and fit. 

So here I am again, still back at the heavy end of my spectrum. I have about a 30 pound range between my heavyest (where I have been before many times and am right now) and my ideal. It's been a challenging summer and things haven't been easy, so perhaps I have an excuse. But the problem is that I always seem to have an excuse.

I want off the rollercoaster. I want to just be the fit and happy and healthy me. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Baby Spice is all grown up and getting married!

This girl is my oldest friend. Known her since the first day I walked into kindergarden in Mrs. Benson's class at Hoover Elementary. Didn't speak a word of English, but I walked into class all nervous and she was one of my classmates. And she was nice.

Since then we have listed on the same street for a few years. Had lemonade stands and made up games together. Dressed up and made music videos to Spice Girls songs. Went through elementary, middle and high school together. Traveled to Italy, Belgium and France together. Survived cross country moves (on her part). Met up in Switzerland. Had phone dates. And much more.

And one of the best part of our friendship - besides the awesome shared history - is that she is the kind of friend that you can pick up the phone even after a few months and it feels like you talked just yesterday.

She's awesome. And she's getting married in three short weeks. Eeeek.

And a few weeks back we celebrated her at a fun-filled bachelorette weekend at a cabin up north. I was going through the photos to share them and was just remembering what a great weekend it was. And how much I value her friendship and love and respect her.

Erica (aka Baby Spice) - You're awesome girl! So excited for you and ready to celebrate your marriage!

The bachelorette and the bling!

Duck faces!
Snowshoeing in Colorado!
Dominating Switzerland! 
OMG ... mountains! In CO.
Well hello there Venice! 
Bonjour Paris!

Manual Labor and a Feeling of Accomplishment

My  parents are renovating their house, starting with the garage and entire exterior. As part of the garage renovations, I was enlisted to come home for a weekend and assist in cleaning out the garage.

Seems like a doable task. Clean out some bikes and some yard tools, etc.

So not the case.

We moved into this house 20 years ago. It is crazy what a family of three can accumulate in 20 years. And then you realize that my family is not the typical family and that we accumulate more like 8 pack-rat's worth of stuff. Geez.

Every single space in the garage was used up. Every usable inch was covered in shelves and boxes and everything imaginable. Between the wall beams, in the ceiling rafters, in boxes, in drawers, in cupboards, on shelves. E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. It took two days to empty and clean the garage and get it ready for the new walls and ceiling and organization system.

Of the items in the garage we FILLED the giant garbage with a lot. I was actually pretty impressed with what my dad was willing to part with! Then we filled a big pod with more stuff. And we moved things to the porch. AND a few things were left in the garage (i.e. 3 bikes).

When you look at what went in the big plus the trailer and the porch, I still am in awe that all of THAT fit in the garage. AND they still had room for two cars (it's a 2 car garage BTW).

It was pretty rewarding work. Painful and gross and my allergies are a disaster from being outside and all that dust ... but still rewarding. After working week after week, month after month in a job where sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm moving forward at all, it was nice to just do something where there was a clear start and end and it was very obvious when things were done.

But it was gross. So gross. Since the garage wasn't insulated and finished, little critters and lots of dirt collected. For 20 years. 20. Years. I cannot even begin to explain that amount of dust and stuff (gross stuff) that collected behind all stuff that was collected in there.

But now it's gonna look all fancy and clean and with its fancy walls (!) and ceiling (!) and storage systems. And I have been contracted to return to the garage when it's time to put all the stuff back so I can put my mad organization skills to good use.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

92 Hours

What a crazy labor weekend. My parents and I were guests - and photographers - at their really good friend's daughter's wedding. So that meant a 14 hour drive (each way!) and a 14+ hour day of shooting in between the driving. Ready to just pass out. 

Work AM
Depart Minneapolis noon
Arrive Mankato (1.5 hour drive)
Depart Mankato
Drive 8 hours to Chicago 
Arrive Chicago midnight 
Overnight in Chicago

Depart Chicago 8:30AM
Drive 7 hours to Detroit
Arrive Detroit 4PM
Hotel - Shower - Change
Get together at parent's of the bride's home
Hotel at midnight

Up at 7AM
At hotel starting to take photos at 8:30AM
Photograph wedding straight through until 12:30AM 
Hotel - Shower - Pass out

Depart Detroit at 11AM (instead of 8AM .... ooops)
Drive 14 hours straight
Arrive Mankato 2AM
Sleep a few hours
Up at 6:30AM
Drive straight to Minneapolis to work 

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