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As the pilot circles above Canberra, I think he’s tricked us and flown instead to Boise.  I see round, brownish foothills, big blue skies, endless roads, wide-open space.  I step off the plane and it hits me – warm, dry air.  My throat fills with tears, and for a split second, I think I’m home.  But I’m in Australia, and just minutes away from a beloved friend.  I look up to see Tobie, holding Asha, waiting for me at the gate.  I step into their embrace, feel Asha’s hand on my hair.  It’s been a year, a really long year, since we’ve seen each other.  Asha pulls a stuffed rabbit from my backpack and cuddles it.  Aaron grabs my bag and we head out.  I’m leaving the airport in a car, with friends.  No taxis, no queues, no crowds.  This feels like home.           OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I delight nonstop in the ordinary bits of a day in Australia.  I am staying in a house!  The houseflies are huge!  It’s so quiet – no trains, buses, cars, honking, screeching!  It’s so dark – I can’t even see my hand in front of my face when the lights are out!  The birds – they’re huge!  The people – they’re huge too!  I get to drive a car!  It’s cool at night – I can sleep with the window open!  I get to drive a car!   They have a dishwasher!  A stove! They have real sausage here! I get to drive a car!  I get to see a kangaroo!

I really want to see a kangaroo.  Tobie promises me they’re everywhere.  She and Aaron chat about the best place to find them.  We sneak out at dusk, drive around, get out and stalk through neighborhoods.  But for the first five days, nothing.  Not a hint of a kangaroo, unless you count the dead one we pass on the highway.  We make a plan that if we haven’t seen one by the last day, we’ll go to the zoo.  A captive kangaroo is better than no kangaroo.

On the sixth day, we drive out to the bush.

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Geared up to hike, we pile out of the car and apply sunscreen.  Then Aaron points to something on the hill.  Sure enough, kangaroos!  They DO live here!

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We see heaps of them that day, hiding in the bush, sitting out on the open, hopping about where they please.

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We even see a koala bear and a platypus, and we’re not at the zoo.  We troop about for hours.

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Satisfied and hungry, we pack up.  As we drive away, we pause to see just one more mob.  And just like that, two of them bounce down the hill and head straight for our car.  They stop just short of us, lick their arms, stare for a minute, and then bound back up.  It is a perfect Aussie goodbye.

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I know then that it will be really hard to say goodbye.  And not just because of the kangaroos.

To my sweet friends Down Under,

Aaron – thank you for teaching me to drive on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road.  I know I hit the wipers more than the turn signal, and occasionally went into the wrong lane, but you stayed cool.  I felt so alive, driving around with your hand-drawn map and no idea where I was going.  Thanks for my morning coffee deliveries, for everything, and most of all for letting me steal Tobie for two days all to myself.

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Asha – I had a wonderful time with you, little friend.  You’ve grown so big.  I can still hear you outside my bedroom door, asking if you could just take a peek at me.  I loved watching Dora and playing Swiper in the bush.  I’m glad we tried out all the stuff in my makeup bag, plus my shaving cream, hairspray, and mousse. You were great with your training chopsticks!  I remember you bravely carrying your little schoolbag on your shoulder, walking into your classroom.  Thanks for showing me your school.  And for sharing your books and hiking snacks.  I can still feel your hug as we stood at the window, waiting for the taxi to come.  You were still warm from sleep, wearing your jammies.  You kissed me and said that maybe I could come back tomorrow.  I wish I could, little one.  But we’ll see each other again soon, and until then, check behind all the trees, just in case Swiper is hiding….

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Tobie – thank you for the loveliest week in forever. It was amazing to be in your home, to know that you were just on the other side of my bedroom wall.  I’ve missed you terribly.  Our trip to Sydney!  We talked for almost 48 hours straight, only taking time off to sleep.  It was so luxurious, wandering the streets, trying on shoes and jewelry, eating those gingersnap-butterscotch whoopee pie things, stretching out in bed and talking the night away.  I can still feel the salty air on my skin, the Sydney sunshine all around us. And you – all dressed up in your lace top and heels.  Thanks for talking me into a nightcap at Palmer and Co, because without that drink, we might never have started dialing up the USA!  I loved every minute of it, even the bus ride home to Canberra in the dark, munching the last of our cookies.  It was great to be at the National Library, to see where you work.  To go all the places you go and imagine your life.  To ride bikes and play with Asha at the park.  Thanks for taking those days off work to spend with me, for relentlessly searching for kangaroos, for clearly explaining what a singlet is, for keeping my secrets.  I continue to be amazed by you, your ability to move all the way around the world, to make a new life, to flourish, to get more job offers than I ever have, and to still be your humble, brilliant self.  I picture you that last morning, climbing onto your bike for your commute to work. One more hug.  I’ll keep our memories safe in my heart and think them when I’m missing you.  You’re one in a million, Tobie.

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I love you.  And I’ll see you soon too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is 5:30 a.m. in Siem Riep, Cambodia.  The sky is still dark and the hotel lobby is quiet.  Our driver waits with a sign saying Jillian Huang.  We hop into his tuk tuk and head out.  I curl up against Po as we whiz through the dusky, cool morning air.  We arrive in thirty minutes, with a bump and a lurch, at the Bakong School.  We are right on time to serve breakfast.

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We are met by the school coordinator, who proudly shows us a few school buildings on our way to the open-air cafeteria.  We pass four wooden signs and he explains the school motto, reads each one aloud for us.  Learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, learning to live together.  A few dogs poke around lazily.  The sky lightens, the air hums with anticipation.  We are shown two giant pots of porridge, given the ladle and bowls, and instructed to put two scoops into at least 100 bowls for breakfast. I keep watching for the students to arrive.  Maybe they come 6:15 today, the coordinator says.

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Then I see them.  One, two, four, seven.  They roll around the corner, prop up their bikes, wander over to the tables.  They shake off sleep, watch us carefully, curiously.  I fill a few bowls, wink, say good morning.  Most of them shyly avert their eyes.  A few smile back and giggle at my funny faces.  The crowd swells.  They jostle for position and squeeze their way into a spot at one of the tables.  Po and I practically run the bowls over to each student.  We take turns scooping, carrying, saying good morning.  Some students come back for seconds.  Most all of them bow and thank us.

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After finishing their meal, the students wash their own bowls and spoons, returning them to the pantry for the next group to use. They assemble as a group to put up their flag.  Then they head off to do a few school chores, like sweeping the courtyard and porch, tending the school garden, cleaning their toothbrushes.  I ask them about the vegetables in the garden and they point out which ones are growing the best, smile ruefully about the crispy-looking brown ones. They have carried manure in small bags to school to use for fertilizer.  I try to guess the age of one boy, saying aloud that he must be 9.  No, ma’am, 14.  He grins and looks down.  Then he softly wishes me luck for every day for the rest of my life.

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We move on the library, meet the librarian.  Each book is numbered with a sticker on the front to keep things organized.  The principal comes by and we thank him for allowing us to see the school.  He nods and smiles.  At the computer lab, the teacher asks for a class volunteer to come up and speak English to the visitors.  After some giggling and prodding, a student steps forward to say hello.  Suosdey, we say back in Khmer.  I, too, feel nervous speaking another language.  She says that she would like to be a doctor.  A surgeon, really.  The next student we meet says that he would like to be an English teacher.  My heart is literally burning, as if a hand is squeezing it.

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We wander into the courtyard to watch the morning exercises.  Each child takes a turn leading the class.  Po and the coordinator encourage me to jump in, so I do.  Up, down, to the side, touch your toes, jump up.  Laugh and laugh some more.  Do it again.  After warming up, I can almost touch the ground.   Dust fills my sandals.  I’m sweating in the jungle heat.  But the children are unflappable.  Soun, muoy, pii, bei.  One, two, three, four.

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Before we know it, it’s time to go.  Our driver signals that he’s ready leave.  We shake hands, give our thanks, and hop into our tuk tuk.   But I want to stay.  I want this to be my school too.  I want to wash the bowls, sweep the courtyard with the little stick brooms, practice my Khmer words.   I want to say good morning every day, check out library books, read stories, learn together. I feel a huge lump in my throat.   I turn around and watch the school until it fades into the jungle.  Aw khun jann, thank you very much, I say to the whole world, for such a special morning.

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I have worked with children my entire life, teaching piano lessons, reading storytimes, building library collections and programs. High-fives, belly laughs, bright eyes, and hands raised earnestly are the rewards of learning with children. Kids lift me up, help me live in the present, remind me of what is important in this world.  They see who I am and like me anyway.  There isn’t a better gift.

There are places in the world, like Bakong School, that will stay with me forever.  To see students succeed despite all the rigors of life in Cambodia, I was humbled.  I have never suffered such a lack of basic needs, never faced such adversity. Would I be as cheerful and brilliant as the little ones at this school?  They want to learn, to be together, to have a routine, to have a favorite teacher, to have their own backpack.   The same things mattered to me as a child, matter to children all over the world.  They deserve it.

Caring for Cambodia established the Bakong and eight other schools in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Check out http://www.caringforcambodia.org.  They build schools.  They train and pay local teachers.  They provide books, school supplies and uniforms.  They serve two meals a day and give toothbrushes to each child.  They teach basic health and sanitation, providing clean water, soap, and washcloths.  They work with families to encourage school attendance.  They believe in the power of education and they know how to get it done.  They have high ethics and standards, respecting each and every student.  I witnessed the outstanding work with my own eyes.

Po and I have donated to Caring for Cambodia because this is something we can do to affect positive change.  We will continue to donate.  If you have any money left this Christmas, or any other presents to give, please consider this organization.  Any and all gifts change the lives of students.  You can donate online in US dollars.  Your donation is tax deductible.

To the students at Bakong School, I hope you become doctors, teachers, tailors, shopkeepers, business people, travelers, farmers, fishermen, parents, readers, whatever you can dream.  It was an honor to spend a morning with you.  I wish you luck for every day for the rest of your lives.

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I don’t know how to write about a vacation absent of boots. It’s family vacation time, and that has me breathing just as hard as an uphill climb. I fly with Po to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  My bag of bathing suits weighs more than my gear for Nepal.  We circle over thick green vegetation and land with a bump. Dense, wet air takes my breath away, as does my niece Allison.  She shrieks at the sight of us and storms the baggage claim doors at the airport.  I shriek too when I see her.  She is leggy, coltish, almost thirteen, and beautiful.  I try to think of cool things to say while we wait for our bags.  Apparently if something is cool, you can say it’s beast.  That was so last month, Alli says, just say it’s so boss. I am old auntie in an instant.  My sister drives us to our rented beach house in Palmetto Dunes Plantation.  Don’t commiserate with Alli, she warns.  I need you to be on my side when it comes to late night boy texting.  I nod.  I can see why boys want to text.  For the next week of family vacation, things can be divided into boss and not boss.  I hope I can keep it straight.  Texting boys is not boss.

We arrive and immediately find a roach.  Po pokes it to see if it can fly.  We name it Chuckie in an effort to get over our terror of him, as we’ll be spending the week with myriads of his family members.  Not boss at all.  Joe and Clara rush in to see their Ninja Uncle Po for the first time.  Minutes later they agree to hug him.  They examine Chuckie and Po coaxes the roach into a bug box.  They make plans to catch lizards the next day.  Luke comes in from exploring the lagoon.  He’s blond, tan, unassuming, and going on fifteen.  His earnest hug is boss – my reward after a long day of travel. We settle down for our first night- our whole family under a canopy of palm trees, held by the mysterious waters of the lagoon.

We fish.  The family part of the trip is definitely taking second fiddle.  Canoes and kayaks rest on our dock, buckets of stinky bait await.  The boys pore over maps, buy licenses, book charters, rent gear.  They crash through ocean waves, catching sharks. Struggle to hold a 50-lb cobia on the line.  Navigate through the lagoon, bringing home flounder and redfish.  Sneak off after dinner, run through the dusky air in anticipation of the next catch.  They smell of salt water and dead squid, which is why I suspect a particular alligator visits daily.  They fish from the beach, rods dug into the sand, braced against the surf.  They catch baitfish from the dock.  The grown men drink beer and show the young ones the ropes.  Luke almost always catches the biggest fish. We are just days away from filming our own episode of Swamp People.  We are ragin’ Cajuns.  All we need now is a few missing teeth and a gold mine.

We cook together at night, vying to fix our favorite recipes.  I see an entire pantry shelf taken up with Lucky Charms, Oreos, and Pringles and blurt out something about needing to find a proper market.  My brother teases me about organic food.  I’ve become the hippie eater I used to mock years ago.  I force Jen and Aimee to eat quinoa with blueberries for breakfast.  We whip up every possible delight – fish tacos, broiled flounder, creamy sausage pasta, steamed mussels, juicy steaks, guacamole.  And on Ladies Night, the boys serve us raw oysters on a bed of ice.  Ten around the table, jostling for elbow room and passing the plates.   It’s my night to pray.  Dear God, thank you for redfish, blow-up pool toys, toasted pine nuts, Starbucks Java Chip Frappucinos, sharks, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, kids.  And for this very boss food, Amen.

We swim day and night, slipping between the pool and the ocean.  Salt and fresh.  Warm and cool.  Joe and Clara see the beach for the first time.  Tide pools are explored, sand castles built.  Joe collects a dead jellyfish and multiple dead crabs.  He releases the living sand dollar and the sea “menenome”.  Only expired things can stay in what he calls his Bucket of Death.  We hold hands and teach them to jump waves.  Salt water fills their mouths and the shock registers on their faces.  Alli and Luke swim out to Uncle Po, who can do handstands under the waves.  He calls it ninja training.  We scream and bob about in the warm surf, wondering if sharks really do live close to the beach.   Alli swears she sees one jump.  My sister Aimee watches the kids nervously.  Don’t go out too far, she hollers.  Pete snaps a photo of the gang in the water.  We suck in our guts just because.  That part isn’t boss, of course.  Neither is the Bucket of Death, which Joe wants desperately to cart home.

 

We talk.  Sitting around our pool in the morning sunshine, I catch up with my sisters.  I tell them everything about walking to Everest.  I get their advice on matters of the heart.  We drink in our brief chance to hear each other’s voice without a phone.  I learn which kid called the teacher fat, who refuses to dance in class, who got a 93 on a school project, and who wants to be a pathologist.  At the pool, four-year-old Clara accepts my offer to swim without her top.  She rubs her naked belly with delight.  I’m not wearing my top, she squeals.  She invites Jen and I to remove our tops too.  Joe burps the alphabet after ingesting too much pool water.  He claims that my scary dinosaur story made him pee the bed.  I wonder if he’s the one heading to medical school years from now.  Over oysters and wine one evening, I learn that Alli wants to be just like me.  I am part honored, part panicked.  She wants to be a librarian, I ask?  No, Aimee says, she just wants to be like you.  That’s so boss.

We jump on our bikes and whiz through the dark, sultry night air toward the General Store.  Dodging mossy branches and sidewalk cracks, we race each other.  I remember how free it feels to ride my bike fast for ice cream.  Then to eat an ice cream sandwich so fast as it melts all over my arm.  It’s boss being kid for a few minutes, and I love it.  I wish we could just ride together on through the night and through our whole lives, never stopping.  I freeze this moment for all times.

Friday comes and I marvel that the week with my siblings has gone by so fast.  And I’m not breathing hard anymore.  I’m just together with them.  We drag out the old carcasses of the past, some funny, some hurtful.  Numbed with a drink or two, we fling them around and laugh, forgetting that sometimes the memories that stick are the ones we’ve tried to shed like an old snakeskin. Our shared blood and bones mean that that they have half my story and all of my love.  We swing our swords knowing we are in the same army.  We have each others backs till the end of time.

We say goodbye and it physically hurts.  I feel each of them in my arms and beg my leaky eyes to dry up.  I hold Joe’s hands and we look closely at each other.  His bright eyes burn all the way through me.  I promise to send him presents and tell him that I’ll see him when he’s in the first grade.  He nods and holds my gaze with all the conviction in the world.  Pete, Aimee, Matt, Jen, Luke, Alli, Joe, Clara.  I fly away that morning, but only my body leaves.  My spirit stays in South Carolina.

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We land in the early morning fog.  I get my first peek at Singapore.  I can only see the nose of our jumbo jet.  And one palm tree.

I stumble into the famous Changi Airport.  I look for the promised orchids and I am not disappointed.  They bloom profusely in every color and shape.  This place can’t be an airport!  Gorgeous carpet and pod-like chairs invite me to stop and rest.

Hermes, Chanel, Prada.  I’m drowning in luxury.  Starbucks latte and spicy noodles with egg for breakfast.  Even the food court is delicious.

The bathrooms ask for your rating on a touchscreen.  I tap the smiley face excellent.  Koi ponds teem with huge orange fish.  Internet is free.  Computers are everywhere.  You can Skype for free.  Kids can make art rubbings with crayons.  Water gurgles from fountains and drowns out the chaos.

I want to stay here until April 15.  I’ll need to get a room.

 

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As I mash through the cement-like snow on my way to the Stargazer yurt, my feet feel like lead.  I trip on my snowshoes, dropping down to one knee.  My trekking poles sink in deep.  It’s only 1.3 miles up.  It feels steep.  I’m not moving as fast as the others.  My snowshoe strap is loose.  My uphill ankle turns in dangerously. My friend hauls forty-five pounds on her back wearing only a sports bra.  Skin to wind, she says.  Po is towing way more than fifty pounds uphill in a sled while on skis.  I have a seriously lighter load than the rest.

Am I having a panic attack?  The pressure to do well jacks my adrenaline to the point that breathing is hard.  What if this happens in Nepal?  My friends point joyously at the yurt – see how close it is?  Sweat is pouring off me.  When did snowshoeing get so hot?

I stop and adjust my straps.  Take off my hat and gloves.  Tighten up my pack.  Every piece of equipment has a million buckles and connecting them properly takes me forever.  I start walking again.  I am alone now, as everyone else disappears over the ridge.  The sun is brilliant and the horizon is littered with snowy peaks.  Idaho is all around me. Despite all the snowy trails looking the same, I don’t feel lost.  Just one step at a time, I get to the top.  I realize that it isn’t hard to breathe at all.  My pricey outdoor shirt has mostly wicked away my sweat.

The yurt is a warm haven from the winter night.  I’m delighted that we have a toilet and toilet paper.  I do wonder why the toilet has no door.  It does have a fancy wall with a star.

I posthole up to my thigh in snow as I explore.  Where will I get undressed?  I watch as our crew stokes up a roaring fire, shovels snow to melt for water, and turn on the mysterious-looking lamps dangling from the ceiling.  I elect a bottom bunk so that Porter can hop in and keep me warm.  I spread out my sleeping bag and set up my tiny travel pillow. Sausage and kale soup bubbles in the pot and we butter up the bread.  We play games and drink cocktails with lime.  We peek at the moon and various planets through our telescope.  Damn it all, this is fun.

I use my headlamp to walk to the toilet in the dark.  I find a way to modestly wriggle out of my sports bra.  I brush and floss.  I tuck into my sleeping bag and read while my friends play a raucous game of rummy.  G-Love in the background, I doze in and out of sleep.  Dogs are crashed out on the floor.  Finally the last light is off and the star-filled sky wraps itself around us.  Snoring is the only sound to break the silence.

I wake up to feed the dogs.  Porter is panting frantically for his breakfast.  The sky is a streaky pink and purple.  I’ve survived a night in the winter wild.  I honestly feel great.  To celebrate, I use one of my face wipes to scrub up.  And then I whip out my Chanel eye shadow just to see how a person might apply makeup in a yurt.  It’s easy. How wonderful to wake up in your clothes for the day!  I imagine doing this for fifteen days in a row in a Nepalese teahouse with no heat.  Even that can’t bring me back to Earth.

As we hike down to our car in the afternoon sun, I liken myself to a glacier.  There was a time when unshaved legs, greasy hair, and the same clothes for twenty-four hours would have ground me to a halt.  But I’m inching persistently in a new direction.  Measured in weeks or months, or at a quick glance, it appears nothing has changed.  But then you notice that patch of grass that used to be covered in snow, that girl who no longer showers every day, and you know for sure that you are seeing a new force, an eye-shadowed Jillian in Boots on the move.

Thanks, Po, for all the pictures.  I think you were even more excited than me!  Also, they provide proof that I wore the same clothes from start to finish.

Book your own Stargazer adventure!  http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/recreation/stargazeyurt.aspx

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I am anxious to host our first Everest Expedition Dinner.  Our house, at nearly the top of Horizon Drive, is the party site.  Instead of just making paella and leaving well enough alone, I think of ways to torture people.  What if we answer Everest trivia questions?  Have a white-elephant useful-for-trekking gift exchange?  I could make a paper-mache replica of Mt. Everest?  An ice sculpture Mt. Everest?  Good friends intervene.  Which is a relief because I’ve never carved ice.  I could make this party weird in a hurry.  I back off, settling for just the carabiner napkin rings.

Then I am struck with a brilliant idea.  Our guests could walk up to our house for dinner!  If you can’t walk to the Huang’s, you can’t walk to Everest.  That idea swirls around in my mental jet stream.  Prayer flags flutter in front of our house.  Porch steps become “The Huang Step”.  Fixed lines lead from the edge of our driveway up to the front door.  Saggy lines, obviously not secured by the Ice-Fall Doctors, but lines nonetheless.

Friday arrives, the day of the party.  I stand in my driveway wearing my new hiking skirt, grasping my new poles.  I feel a wee bit silly and a great deal obnoxious for asking perfectly lovely dinner guests to park their cars on Resseguie, wear their hiking boots, and march up to our house correctly answering Everest trivia questions or taking penalty sips of Makers Mark.  Po dresses up in shoddy slip-on shoes and a giant duffle strapped on by a tumpline.  Mark shows up early to serve as the world’s largest trivia-asking Sherpa. We wander down through the Khumbu Mudfall to meet our guests.  I think maybe they won’t show up.

But there they are!  In great spirits, ready to answer Everest trivia or get boozy trying.  They scuba dive, trek, and climb all over the world.  They already have bags for the trip.  They’ve seen terrible toilets.  Eaten strange food.  Been cold.  Been miserable.  Played ridiculous games at parties.  They’re simply the best.  And they’re back for more.

We eat and drink joyously.  Glasses clink and toasts are made.  We learn who’s the oldest, the youngest, who was born in the Year of the Cock, and who’s taking mascara on the trek.  One of us dozes off.  We watch a slide show of previous trips to Nepal.  We laugh at Mark bent over a small yak.  Marvel at the beautiful Nepalese children.  Drink in the magnitude of the pink-tinged Himalayas. We gobble chocolate pie and wrestle with the dog.  Later we rummage through Rob’s bag looking at the assortment of pills, gadgets, and plastic bags.  Rob is ready to bandage any blister and to repair any backpack buckle break.  I never even think about a buckle breaking.  Rob has extra gloves in case you lose yours.  He also suggests taking a small jar of peanut butter for extra protein.  We finish our last drops of wine and hug goodbye.

Our planning dinner is over.  Mark offers to shuttle everyone to his or her car at the bottom of the hill.  But our guests decline, click on headlamps, and head into the night.  I watch their lights bob in the darkness.  I hear their chatter fade softly.  I can’t wait to be with them on my first official expedition.  I love them already. Rob, Jill, Po, Chad, Kevin, Katie, Pat, and I can definitely walk to Everest.

See my Facebook profile for more pictures of our party.  Thanks Rob and Jill, for the pics.

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It’s time to get a sponsor.  Really, every proper adventuress has one and I can’t wait much longer.  I’ve poked around at the local gear stores but no dice.  Of course I was too shy to ask.   And if you want something, you have to ask for it.  Since I’m more familiar with gear that comes in shades of red or has an applicator, I’ve written the following letter to Chanel to ask for their support.

Dear Chanel,

I am going to Kala Patar, elevation 5,455 meters (18,192 ft), and from that vantage point, I will look upon Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.  My trip starts on March 27, 2012 and I want to take Chanel with me.

I am a girl accustomed to creature comforts like hot water, coffee, lotion, and Black Pearl nail polish.  On this trip, I will walk for sixteen days suffering a lack of oxygen, enduring crippling headaches, drinking yak butter tea in place of coffee, and having only 33 pounds of supplies in my possession, which adds up to roughly four pairs of socks after you count the weight of my sleeping bag, boots, backpack, energy gel, and toilet paper. I will probably forgo my makeup.  I picture myself wandering the trails with a pale face and nearly invisible eyes hidden beneath some sort of wool hat, which I’ll wear for the whole trip to avoid revealing my hair in all its unwashed glory. My fellow trekkers claim that I will not mind smelling like a yak.

Many trekkers and climbers have a sponsor who provides them with rugged outdoor gear to be tested on the journey.  After a few visits to the local gear shops, it became apparent that I’m not the type of girl they are looking for.  But no matter, I have my sights set on better things – like a superior face cream from Chanel.   

I would love one jar of Sublimage and I will use it every day of the trip.  Women all over the world could see first-hand how your cosmetics stand up to harsh climates and some of the Earth’s most impressive terrain.  Additionally, I suspect that Sublimage would be delicious on a cracker should I find myself stranded.  I am planning to post to my blog jillianinboots.wordpress.com, and will recount my adventures amid the jagged peaks of the Himalayas.  Our expedition leader is an amazing photographer who’ll document our journey’s ups and downs and capture us living life to the fullest.

I believe that beauty is only skin -deep and we have to be comfortable in our own skin.  Admittedly, it is a luxury just to trek to the highest point in the world, let alone have perfectly moisturized skin while doing it.  But for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, I would love to wear the finest face cream made by the most recognized house of haute couture.   Chanel makes the stuff of dreams, and when wearing Chanel, I can go anywhere in the world.

How did I do?  Ideas?  My next job is to get this letter into the hands of a benevolent Chanel employee somewhere in the world.

As an aside, I had to look up the term “adventuress” to be sure it was a real word.  It is.  The definition has two options:  a woman who schemes to win social position, wealth, etc., by unscrupulous or questionable means OR a woman who is an adventurer.  Since  my letter and intentions seem utterly scrupulous to me, I’ll go with B.

Truthfully, I’ve already been sponsored by a real professional.  I officially have a logo for my trip.  Move over, Chanel.  This came from my true friend Glenn Riley, no ask required and no unscrupulous means involved.  This is real sponsorship- the support of another person who believes I can go anywhere in the world.  Thank you Glenn, I love it.  I will have it embroidered onto my fleece in Kathmandu.

Learn more about Glenn Riley in this Cincinnati Magazine profile: glenn_cincinnati_mag_article,jpg

See why I love Chanel:  http://www.chanel.com

 

 

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