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The Masks We Wear & a Writing Identity

The Masks We Wear & a Writing Identity

When I was three years old my mom dressed me up as a clown for Halloween.  I guess she didn’t realize I was afraid of clowns.

“Eva, take a look at yourself,” she said.  I stood in front of the mirror and immediately started screaming.  She tried to take me around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, but since I wouldn’t stop crying and shrieking in terror, she eventually took me home and washed off the make-up.

I think we’ve all had this experience at one point in our lives at least, where we take a look at ourselves and don’t recognize, or even like, what we see.  We’ve been wearing masks, we’ve been putting on an act.  Sometimes you get so into your act you start to believe it’s your real self.  Then you wake up one morning, take a look in the mirror, and wonder, “who am I, really?”

Paul and Eva wearing masks at a Masquerade Ball.

Paul and Eva wearing masks at a Masquerade Ball.

This question has been confusing me lately.  First of all, I’m getting married in April.  For so long I was a single girl, and my identity was very much tied to being independent, on my own, doing my own thing.  Now I have to try to understand myself as a part of a couple.  Joseph Campbell says when you marry, “you’re no longer this one alone; your identity is in a relationship.”  He says, “it is, in a sense, doing one’s own thing, but the one isn’t just you, it’s the two together as one.”

That’s beautiful and wise, and maybe we’ll use it for one of our wedding readings, but it’s also scary as hell.  I spent thirty-three years trying to get to know myself, and now I have to dissolve myself into what Campbell calls the “alchemical stage” — two people being melted down and reformed into one.

So there’s that.

There’s also all the Buddhist and spiritual stuff Paul and I have been reading lately.  So many of these texts seem to say that to find happiness and enlightenment, we must stop holding on to the impermanent notion of ourselves as individuals and instead see the bigger picture.  In Turning the Mind into an Ally, Sakyong Mipham says “the web of thoughts we solidified as “me” is actually a series of vibrations…believing that thought patterns are a solid self is the source of our bewilderment.”  True happiness and liberation, he says, “is life without the illusion of “me” — or “you.”

That’s kind of scary as well.  I’m not sure that I want to let go of “me” and “you.”  Not yet.

But then, back to the question, who am I anyway?  Am I my thoughts and emotions?  (Mipham would say no.)  Am I my relationships?  (Campbell might say yes.)  Am I my actions?  If I am, what does it mean if there are some things I used to do that I don’t do anymore?  Am I becoming less of myself?  Is the “me” I thought I knew just an illusion?

Plate I made in 2nd grade.

Plate I made in 2nd grade.

Recently my mom sent me a care package and in it she included a plate I made in second grade.  The teacher must have told us to draw ourselves and the things we like.  According to the plate, I liked  washing the car, playing beach ball, “lesing” (listening) to music, and writing.

“Not much has changed,” I said to Paul.

“Do you like washing the car?”

“I like going through the car wash,” I said.  But really, it was the picture the in the bottom right corner of the plate that gave me such relief:  that picture of a pencil and a piece of paper filled with scribbles.  I’ve been writing stories ever since I was five years old.  I’ve changed in other ways; I’ve worn a lot of masks and put on acts for myself and others, but I can honestly say that writing has always been a part of who I truly am.

That’s comforting.

And the great thing is, not only is writing a part of the impermanent but still important “me,” but the act of doing it also helps me understand myself better.  When I’m feeling lost, when I’m not feeling totally like myself, I sit down at my laptop and write, and what comes out usually gives me a clue.  It’s a way to take off the mask and remember who I am underneath.

Eva Langston

Eva Langston

 

Creepy Twins, Haunted Manors, & Murder Most Foul: Excellent Halloween Reading

Creepy Twins, Haunted Manors, & Murder Most Foul:  Excellent Halloween Reading

I love Halloween. There’s something deliciously fun about embracing all things dark, eerie, creepy, and mysterious. And around this time of year, when darkness comes early, and dead leaves skitter across the road on the breath of a sharp wind, there is little I love more than snuggling up with a spooky story.

With Halloween fast approaching, here are some of my favorite books (in no particular order) to put you in the most macabre of moods….

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. Set in rural Vermont, this spine-tingling page-turner has it all: missing children, town legends, the raising of the dead, and a super creepy ghost.

The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield. The perfect Gothic tale for rainy night reading.  A young woman joins an eccentric old writer at her English estate and begins to uncover secrets from the past.  As if that wasn’t enough, there are creepy twins and lots of dreary weather.

Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley. Not a ghost story, but this YA novel is freaky as hell. A girl is kidnapped from summer camp. When she shows up at home three years later, she remembers nothing of what happened to her… but her other personalities do. Not an accurate portrayal of dissociative identity disorder, but a super creepy thriller that kept me up at night.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This one is like the American Horror Story of novels: a pull-out-all-the-stops, creepy for creepiness sake, smorgasbord of Hollywood horror. A fun house of a book to make your heart race and your fingers flip eagerly to the next page. (See my review on Burlesque Press.)

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. If you prefer your ghost stories to include some romance, this one is for you. Not as creepy as the others on this list, but very interesting and beautifully-written. I’ve never read a ghost story quite like it.

Wait ‘Til Helen Comes by Mary Dawning Hahn. This middle-grade novel was my absolute favorite in elementary school, and it still raises the hairs on the back of my neck. When her family moves into a converted church in the country, twelve-year-old Molly is afraid of the adjoining graveyard. But her younger step-sister seems strangely drawn to it… and claims to have made friends with one of its residents.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. In her now-classic novel, Anne Rice rejuvenated the myth of the seductive vampire. A compelling, dark, and atmospheric tale of a tormented soul.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. If you prefer your scary stories to be sprinkled with humor, magic, and fairy-tale-like whimsy, this is the short story collection for you. In the first story, “The Wrong Grave,” Miles tries to dig up his dead girlfriend to recover the poems he buried with her, except he picks the wrong grave (a mistake anyone could make, he says). Things only get crazier from there…

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. In this classic Gothic romance a young woman is haunted by the memory of her husband’s first wife. A psychological tale of horror and suspense, you’ll never forget Mrs. deWinter, the sinister Mrs. Danvers, or their manor home of Manderley.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. By now everyone should have read Gone Girl, so if you’re hankering for more by Gillian Flynn, try this intensely gripping crime thriller. But be warned: if satanic sacrifice and gory murder disturbs you, you may want to stay away from Dark Places.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

 

Cari’s 4-Point Plan for Yoga, Writing, or Anything Else

Cari’s 4-Point Plan for Yoga, Writing, or Anything Else

Over the weekend, my friend Cari came to visit, and I thought it would be fun for us to go to yoga together on Saturday morning. I’ve been practicing yoga for eight-plus years, but Cari just started a little over a year ago, and I wondered what level class she’d feel comfortable in.

“There’s a level two at 9:15,” I said. “Or an all-levels vinyasa at nine.”

“I’m fine with level two,” Cari said. “What type of class is it?”

On the schedule it was called Big A&#! Yoga, which I assumed meant a big, challenging class. I looked online to read the description. “This fun, challenging, and inspiring class is designed especially for bigger woman and men ,” I read. “Oh no, Cari. We can’t go to that one.” Cari and I both have rather small asses.

So we went to the all-levels class. Afterwards, we both agreed it was much too easy.

“I didn’t even break a sweat!” Cari said as we walked to my car. “To me, all-levels means they should give easier modifications, but they should also give more challenging modifications, too.”

We decided to go home and do some more yoga on my living room floor.

I led us in a few rounds of sun salutations, followed by a series of warrior poses. “Can you do side crow?” I asked. I assumed she wouldn’t since I only learned how to do the arm balancing pose last summer, but Cari said she did, and then she went into a more difficult version of side crow than the one I was doing.  I’d seen people do it before but never even attempted it myself.

“Oh my gosh, Cari, wow!” I said. I couldn’t believe she’d only been doing yoga for a year.

We moved on to inversion practice. In the past year, I’ve learned how to do a headstand, handstand, and forearm stand. Cari knew how to do all of these poses, as well as more difficult versions of all of them. I was amazed.

For years I thought headstand was impossible.  Then I actually tried it.

For years I thought headstand was impossible. Then I actually tried it.

When I first started doing yoga at the age of twenty-five, I went to a beginner Hatha class once a week for a year. After that, I started sampling different classes at studios in New Orleans, DC, Cape Cod, and Richmond, VA. Because I move around a lot, I rarely got to the point where I was familiar with any particular studio or teacher, and normally I only went to yoga once or twice a week. Most of the classes I took were “all levels,” which tended to mean the instructors didn’t do anything that might scare away a beginner: no headstands, no arm balances.

Occasionally, I would go to a more challenging class where the teacher would, for example, tell us to go into side crow. But I didn’t know how to do side crow, and it looked difficult, so usually I didn’t try unless the instructor gave step-by-step instructions, and often he/she didn’t. Instead of asking for help, I’d just do regular crow or some other pose I already knew how to do. The same with headstands. On the rare occasion that an instructor told us to do one, I might give it a try, but often I felt stupid and frustrated, so I would go into shoulder stand or some other easy pose instead.

It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle and started working at Yogalife that I really took my yoga practice to the next level. Because I worked there, I not only went to the studio regularly for my shifts (we were allowed to take the class after we signed in the customers), but I got free, unlimited yoga. I started going to class four or sometimes five times a week.

Yogalife had incredible teachers and a large selection of challenging classes. For the first time, I started attending Level 2 and Level 2/3 classes. The classes were tough, and the instructors expected us to try new things. They gave us step-by-step instructions for more difficult poses and time at the end to practice inversions and ask questions. And since I went to class regularly, I started to feel more comfortable asking the teachers for help with the things I didn’t know how to do.

In one year, I went from thinking I’d never be able to do an inversion to being able to do a headstand, handstand, and forearm stand.

This is forearm stand.  Mine doesn't look quite this pretty.

This is forearm stand. Mine doesn’t look quite this pretty.  photo credit.

 

And yet, sitting in my living room watching Cari do a series of insane arm balances I had never even seen before, I realized I still had a lot to learn.

I wasn’t jealous like you might imagine. I know (although I sometimes have to be reminded) that yoga is not a competitive sport.  It was more like I felt disappointed with myself. What had I been doing all these years if one year was all it took for Cari to have come so far?

I was sort of ashamed that I hadn’t been seeking out more challenging classes. That I hadn’t been attempting difficult-looking poses and asking instructors for help on how to do them.I felt the way I sometimes feel when I hear about authors who are younger than me writing award-winning or best-selling books. They’ve been at it for less time than I have, and already they’ve surpassed me. Am I not putting forth enough effort?

When it comes down to it, Cari did learn and accomplish an unusually large amount in one year.  The question is, how did she do it?  I think it comes down to four things:

1. She goes to yoga almost every day. 

2. She obviously goes to a great studio with teachers who know her and challenge her and give excellent instruction. 

3. She’s not afraid to try new things. She’s not afraid to fall. 

4. She loves yoga. 

Cari and Eva, drinking beer after yoga.

Cari and Eva, drinking beer after yoga.

I think “Cari’s 4 Point Plan” is a great prescription for how to learn and accomplish a lot in writing as well.  First, you have to put in the time.  Write nearly every day, and you’ll make progress.

Then, at some point, you need good teachers, even if those teachers are just books. Ideally, you need people who know what they’re talking about to read over your writing and point out where you’re not in alignment, where you need more strength. You need teachers who will challenge you.

You can’t be afraid to fail or look stupid. You have to put yourself out there and admit that you’re a writer. (Something I was afraid to do for a long time.)

And, of course, you have to love it. If you don’t love writing, it’s hard to put in the time and dedication you need to really make progress.

I do have these four things when it comes to writing. At least, I have them now. It took me a while to work up to where I am now. I wasn’t always so dedicated. I wasn’t always so willing to put myself out there and risk failure. But I got to this point eventually, and in the past few years I think I’ve made significant progress with my writing career.

It’s the same with me and yoga. I didn’t plunge in head-first the way Cari did. I dipped a toe in and then slowly waded out to the deep end over the course of many years. It wasn’t until this past year that I started putting in the time with great instructors who challenged me. But once I did, I learned and accomplished a lot fairly quickly.

In the end, it’s not about how fast you make progress. It’s about getting there eventually. But if you do want to make great strides in writing or yoga, or anything else, following Cari’s 4-Point Plan is not a bad idea.  And although I don’t want to make yoga into a competitive sport, I do want to challenge myself.  I found a level 2/3 class that I’m headed to tonight, and I’m thinking about signing up for a handstand workshop. Just because something isn’t a competition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for ways to challenge yourself and learn new things.

Crow pose.

Crow pose.

The Greatest Weekend: A Terrible Story

The Greatest Weekend:  A Terrible Story

Leo Tolstoy once said, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” It makes sense because both are ways of introducing immediate conflict, and we all know that you can’t have a story without conflict.

I don’t know if this counts, but this past weekend, my friend Cari came to town, and we went on something of a crazy journey around Minneapolis. It was pretty much the best weekend ever.

Cari arrived Friday morning. We walked around the ruins of the old Gold Medal Flour mill then took the train to Mall of America. It was cold, windy, and overcast, and hence the perfect day to spend at the mall. We had margaritas and Mexican for lunch then went shopping and found the dress I am more than likely going to wear for my wedding. We had three dollar beers for happy hour then saw the movie Gone Girl. We met Paul downtown for dinner at a Thai place, where we had a good laugh because I accidentally ate a hot pepper, thinking it was a bean.

The ruins of the Gold Medal Flour Mill in Minneapolis, MN

The ruins of the Gold Medal Flour Mill in Minneapolis, MN.  photo credit.  

Saturday, we woke up early, and Cari and I went to yoga class then came home and played around with inversions and arm balances in the living room. Paul fixed us lunch then Cari and I went for a walk on Historic Hill in Saint Paul. It was a quintessentially perfect fall day: sunshine, blue skies, brilliant orange leaves, and just enough of a chill in the air to put apples in our cheeks. We gawked at the turreted mansions on Summit Avenue and strolled past F. Scott Fitzgerald’s childhood home and the house where he wrote This Side of Paradise.

We then met up with Paul, and the three of us walked to 612 Brew in Northeast Minneapolis where we had one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted: Indian Spice Ale, which was basically like drinking chai tea-flavored beer. We talked and laughed and tried to play 80’s trivia before walking to Sociable Cider Werks, where we drank hard cider and played cornhole. (Fun fact: in Minnesota they call cornhole “bags,” and they call Duck, Duck, Goose, “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.”)

Cari and Eva at 612 Brew.

Cari and Eva at 612 Brew.

We started to walk back downtown because we had bought tickets for a play at New Century Theater, but we realized that at this rate we weren’t going to have time to eat dinner and make the show. Luck was on our side, however, because a bus was coming down the street, so we hopped on, and magically this bus deposited us at the Whole Foods a mere five blocks from the theater. We ate delicious healthy things from the salad bar and bought adorable pink cans of Sofia Coppola champagne.

But we had dallied too long at Whole Foods, and now there was less than five minutes to curtain. Laughing, we ran through the streets of Minneapolis and arrived at the theater just before curtain. We had second row seats, and we drank champagne while watching Eating Raoul, a ridiculous but fun musical about a couple who resorts to cannibalism. Afterwards, we walked home and had popcorn, the most scrumptious pumpkin cake in the world, and an impromptu dance party in the kitchen.

In the morning, I drove Cari to the airport, and even though I had something of a headache, it went away immediately after eating a yummy breakfast of bagel with cream cheese and lox. As Paul and I cleaned up popcorn and deflated the air mattress, I marveled at what a perfect weekend it had been. We’d done everything we’d wanted to do, and everything had worked out perfectly.

It was one of the greatest weekends in history, and yet, I realize, it makes for a terrible story because there were no conflicts, no obstacles, and even running to make the play added to our fun. So Cari coming to town wasn’t the stuff of great literature, but once in a while I don’t mind not having a very good story if it means I can have such a great time.

At the end of our epic Saturday.

At the end of our epic Saturday.

My Brain Idea: Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

My Brain Idea:  Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

The number one thing that gives me writers block is plot. Once I have a general idea of where my characters are going and some of the things that will happen along the way, I can happily chug along for weeks, writing 5 to 10 pages a day until I get to the end of a 250-page novel.

This is what I was doing with my latest novel until I got to page 90 and realized it wasn’t working and I needed to rethink the plot. So I reread parts of John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story. I read Chuck Wendig’s awesome post on 25 Ways to Unstick a Stuck Story.

For a few days I sat in front of my computer asking myself over and over again: “What’s her desire? What’s her motivation? How is she going to change in the end?” I wrote the same things over and over. I knew her desire and motivation, and I knew how I wanted her to change. I just didn’t know what should actually happen. You know, the plot.

Finally, when I couldn’t take the frustration any longer, I went outside for a walk.

In all the other places I’ve lived, New Orleans, Virginia, Cape Cod, Seattle, taking a walk was a daily (sometimes twice daily) occurrence because I lived in neighborhoods where I could easily pop outside for a pleasant stroll. But since moving to downtown Minneapolis, I haven’t been walking as much. Partly because I live on the 19th floor. There’s something about having to ride the elevator all the way to the ground level that makes me question whether Ireally need to leave my apartment. And although there’s a nice walking path along the Mississippi River, to get to it means crossing several large roads, and nothing interrupts the flow of a brisk walk more than having to stand on the street corner, breathing in car fumes, waiting for the light to turn green.

But, I was stuck on my novel, and no progress was being made, so I headed outside into the blustery fall day. The wind smacked me in the face, and I looked up, noticing how fast the clouds were moving against the blue backdrop of sky. Without trying, poetry began to form in my mind:

The clouds move fast here. The days whip by. Without any mountains, there is nothing but sky. The wind holds me back, but it wants me fly.

As I looked out at the waters of the Mississippi and the crumbling stone ruins of the old Gold Medal flour mill, I felt more like myself. I’m a writer, but that doesn’t mean I should spend all my time in front of a lap top. Sometimes I need to get out into the world and observe. I need to be alone with my thoughts and listen for any whispering words that might be carried to me on the wind.

By the time I got home, I hadn’t figured out my plotting problems, but I felt invigorated and hopeful. Here was part of the solution to my writer’s block: go on more solitary walks. Creativity comes when I feed my senses and give myself the time and space to breathe.

The ruins of the Gold Medal Flour Mill in Minneapolis, MN

The ruins of the Gold Medal Flour Mill in Minneapolis, MN.  photo credit

I don’t know if it was the walk or what, but shortly after arriving home, a brilliant thought popped into my head. It wasn’t the complete answer to my plot problems, but it was an important key that unlocked a vast room of possibilities.

When Paul got home and asked me how my day was, I was excited. “I had a brain idea!” I said. I probably meant to say “brainstorm” or “great idea,” but I decided not to correct myself.

“Oh yeah?” Paul laughed. “What was your brain idea?”

And so I tried to explain to him the plot of my novel and the brilliant idea I’d had.

“But what about…?” Paul asked, pointing out a gaping hole in the plot that hadn’t occurred to me.

“Hmmm….” My brain reached in all directions, trying to find another piece of the puzzle, one that would fit perfectly into that hole and add meaning to the overall picture. Suddenly, I had another brain idea! I explained my thinking to Paul.

“Yeah, that could work,” he said. “But what about…”  (The boy’s a mathematician, so he’s always examining my logic.)

For the next half an hour, we brainstormed about the plot, the theme of the book, and how what happens throughout the story could make the main character to grow and change. Paul’s questions helped me flesh out the plot, and our discussion expanded the room of possibilities for the entire novel.

And so here was the other part of the solution to my writer’s block: discuss my ideas with others. Maybe I need to join a writing group, or maybe I’ll just use Paul for awhile. Either way, bouncing ideas off of someone else is a great way to generate more ideas and solidify the ones you already have.

Now I have a pretty good notion of where my characters are going and what’s going to happen to them along the way. I’m content to chug along for a while. But I know writer’s block will strike again. And now I know what I’ll do when it does: go for a walk by myself, then find someone thoughtful to talk to.

photo (4)

Eva and Paul play it cool around writer’s block.

Review: Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters

Review: Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters

I will post my usual blog entry tomorrow, but today, here’s something special!

If you will recall, I interviewed Tawni Waters over the summer.  You can reread the interview here.

Her debut novel, Beauty of the Broken, was recently released by Simon Pulse, the YA division of Simon & Schuster.  You can read my review of the novel here.

Happy Wednesday!

Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters

Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters

 

 

Facing My Roller Coaster Fears

Facing My Roller Coaster Fears

When I was eight I almost threw up after going on the Music Express at Busch Gardens. (The ride that speeds around a circular track while also going up and down in a wave-like motion — no wonder it made me sea-sick.) After that brush with near-vomit, I was done with amusement park rides, and though I’d never gone on a roller coaster, from then on I refused to do so because I was sure it’d make me puke.

And so, all through my youth, amusement parks were stressful. At first, my friends would laugh and yank on my arm, trying to pull me into line for a roller coaster, but when I pitched a fit and absolutely refused, I was deemed boring and lame. I was left hanging out with the chaperone for the rest of the day, waiting around while my friends rode the “fun” rides.

I didn’t go on my first roller coaster until Freshman year of college. My friends and I went to Busch Gardens, and the guy I was sort-of dating at the time (we’ll call him Matt) literally picked me up and carried me into the line for Apollo’s Chariot.

“Nooo!” I screamed. “I can’t go on this! I’m pregnant! I have a heart condition! I’m under 52 inches!” Everyone just laughed.

“It’s fun. You’ll like it,” Matt told me. But I was not having fun. I was freaking out. At the time, Apollo’s Chariot was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Busch Gardens, and I was sure I was going to puke my guts out.

Apollo's Chariot (Busch Gardens Europe) 01.jpg

Apollo’s Chariot in Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

In those years since the near-vomit experience on the Music Express, I had built up my fear of roller coasters. Never having been on one had made the fear even worse — I could only imagine how horrifying and nauseating it was going to be.

As we neared the guy manning the ride, I increased the volume of my screams. “Nooo! Let me go! I can’t go on this ride! I’m going to die!”

No one batted an eye, and the next thing I knew, I was being deposited into one of the cars and the seat restraint was being secured. This was actually happening. I was going on this ride, and there was no way to turn back now. There was a horrible clicking sound as the cars began to make their ascent. I gripped onto the bar in front of me and took a deep breath, trying to slow the wild beating of my heart.

For a split second, we were perched on the edge of the world, and then we spilled over, and my stomach plummeted. I didn’t scream. I squeezed my eyes closed, clamped my mouth shut, and waited for it to be over. Two minutes later, it was.

“See, wasn’t that fun?” Matt asked as I stepped shakily from the car.

I didn’t know about fun, but it was wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. “Well, I didn’t puke,” was all I could say.

The SpongeBob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge inside Mall of America, Minneapolis, MN. 

I was reminded of this experience yesterday when Paul and I went to Mall of America. “Ohh! Let’s go on that,” Paul said, pointing to an aquamarine roller coaster called the SpongeBob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge.

I took one look at the ride with its horrifying first drop and series of loop-de-loops and was suddenly flushed with my old freak-out feelings.

“No, no, I’m too scared.”

Then it was just like old terrifying times:  Paul was laughing and pulling on my arm, trying to yank me towards the line, and I was starting to feel panicked. “No, no I can’t. I can’t ride that.” He kept pulling my arm, and the fear kept rising in my throat. I was nearly in tears before Paul backed off. People who love roller coasters have a hard time understanding those who don’t.

So Paul and I rode a baby roller coaster instead, and I actually enjoyed it. In fact, I almost wished it was faster and scarier. That’s when I realized that since the Apollo’s Chariot experience fifteen years ago, I’ve gone rock climbing and done ropes courses and taken flying trapeze lessons. Why was I so scared of the SpongeBob roller coaster? I knew I wasn’t going to die, and chances were good that I wasn’t going to throw up either.  I wouldn’t even get smacked in the face by a bird because we were inside the mall.*

I waited while Paul rode the Rock Bottom Plunge alone, and although most of me was relieved, part of me wished I was in line with him. Because the more I watched the ride, the more I realized it wasn’t that bad, and even if it was, it was over in less than a minute.  Besides, sometimes being scared can be fun, and the people leaving the ride had huge, crazed smiles on their faces.

My immediate freak-out reaction had been a conditioned response. Over the years, I had trained myself to be afraid of roller coasters, and maybe it was time for some retraining.

Every so often, it’s good to take a look at your fears and reassess.  Are you really scared, or are you just reacting with fear because that’s what you’ve always done?  All I know is, if Paul and I go back to Mall of America, I’m going to go on the Rock Bottom Plunge.  I will definitely be scared, but I probably won’t puke, and who knows, I might even end up enjoying it.

Paul and Eva

Paul and Eva

*Fun Fact:  When Busch Gardens held the opening ceremony for Apollo’s Chariot on March 30, 1999,  and Italian fashion model was brought in as a promotion.  During the ride’s inaugural run, a bird hit him in the face and broke his nose.

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