Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Story of My Life…

…in four easy steps.

I was talking to LJ the other day and she reminded me that my mom’s birthday was a few days away (really, what would I do without this woman?). So, I procrastinated for the requisite day and then I called my family. I was in the middle of telling my dad that I was going to send a belated birthday card to my mom, per my usual lateness, with a Target gift card in it; that was when my dad informed me that sending money to my parents is completely inappropriate (really, what would I do without my dad?). So, I was talking to him about what would be appropriate to send.

At that point my mother chimed in like a ghostly voice from someone else’s phone call, “Write a blog about me!” “Didja here that?” my dad asked. “Yeah, but I don’t think you guys quite understand the dry spell I’m on. I mean I haven’t been writing regularly and it really isn’t flowing, etc.” Well, you know how it ended I guess. Let me just say that it takes me a while to write these things usually. I have to either be fired up about something (see last post), or I have to have a really cool idea that may take some massaging before it’s ready for full blog-dum (yes, I just made that word up. Up yours Webster). So, I had to do some prep for this and in doing so I actually had a pretty cool revelation. First, however, let me just say that writing about someone else’s motivations or personal characteristics is pretty much impossible unless fiction is the goal, so I decided to write about what I knew for sure…myself.

It is interesting how someone who is involved in your life can actually direct the paths you take, even if you think you are making the choices for yourself. This may seem like an obvious statement, but I have to admit it shook me a bit when I realized it for myself. Let me set the stage. It is the summer of 1990, I’m 12, and my mom is tired of seeing my ass in front of the TV. I remember she is driving me back from some place and gives me an ultimatum, as only parents can. She tells me that I can take acting lessons, photography lessons, or SCUBA diving lessons. I chose SCUBA because I thought it was outrageous to think that my parents would actually pay for it and I could get back to watching Transformers and playing whatever Nintendo game I was on at that time. Three weeks later I was four feet underwater in a local pool and finishing homework assignments that taught me about Boil’s law, pneumatic breathing systems, and human biology as it is affected by submersion in water.

Jump ahead five years; I’m now 17 and I am ankle deep in some nasty muck inside an ivy and weed covered spring house on the outskirts of a plantation house where my mother docents. She has some how convinced me that this would be a way better project than blazing a trail near the cool river at the rock cliffs where I literally spend all of my spare time rock climbing. No, here I am dredging old crap out of this 150 year old refrigerator, while mosquitoes are slowly draining not just my blood but my will to live. I have to admit to myself though, I am curious as hell to see what the next handful of slimy mud will uncover. I proudly line up my 1945 Coke bottle, a twirling baton, some old ceramics I can’t identify, and some iron fragments on the bank of the rivulet of the stream coming out of the stone door.

A year later, my mom tells me that after I graduate from high school I should think about taking a trip. I spend some time thinking about it but my best idea was going to Florida for yet another diving trip. She tells me I should think bigger. I came back with a backpacking trip or something when she suggested that I go west with some friends, way west. A few weeks later my bags are packed and I have a meticulously assembled black plastic binder with every hotel I should stay at as well as awesome sights to see and a minivan fully packed with two buddies in tow. I made my way west through Texas and up through The Great Basin, seeing sights that I had never dreamed I would see in person and especially not with the freedom of just myself. It is an amazing thing for a kid to see just how big the world really is and just how unprepared you are for it. I came back with a lust for adventure and exploration.

Before I left for the west, my mother suggested that I take all of my outdoor skills and apply to work at a high adventure camp, some place where I would be comfortable. She and I walked through some applications for an internship in Antarctica and more for some dream jobs at high adventure camps across the U.S. I didn’t hold my breath for any. But about a week after I got back from my trip, I was on my way to the Florida Keys. I’d gotten a job at the high adventure camp “Sea Base”. There I lead groups of kids snorkeling over pristine coral reefs, deep sea fishing, and other awesome activities that were really probably more fun for me than them.

One average humid and hot evening I was talking to my mom from a payphone near my base camp when she told me I needed to start thinking about college because I would be getting back soon. She had already sent me something that might help. For the next month, I was brow beat to read through this book that listed just about every job that has anything to do with SCUBA diving. I came across one that I thought was pretty cool, “Marine Archaeologist”. So eventually, I got into one of the five schools in the country that actually offered it as major.

Let me just wrap this up from here. Those who know me know that I am now employed at a commercial archaeology firm in Reno Nevada. They have heard all about my harrowing tales of adventure, high jinks, and discovery as I have explored through the most remote parts of the “high desert”. I won’t bore you with all sorts of deep emotional revelations, nor will I wax poetic about how life is funny, blah, blah, blah. What I will say is that it is pretty clear, at least to me, that I wouldn’t be here, doing this if those events hadn’t happened when and how they did. I’m also not going to say that other events didn’t contribute. Yet, when I thought about those pretty major and overall good events in my life they were all due to my mom (really, what would I do without her?).


mommyjolle said...

Awwwww....SO much better than a Target card! Old people prefer nostalgia over nick-nacks (yes, the spelling is purposefully incorrect)
The only thing I have to add is...PAY IT FORWARD!

super_spam said...

Any babies in the future, Mark?

Steph and I are expecting our first in April. It's a girl!! (at least so they tell me)....we're naming her Katherine. If it turns out to be a boy we'll name him Igor or Mark or something.

Happy B-day Momma J!

Mad Mike said...

The thing I'm most amazed at is that I wasn't mentioned in your "little biography". As being the most enigmatic character that changed your life I was expecting at least a small footnote.

thousandlegs said...


ACE said...

Wow, you were nice! Don't make it a habit it just wouldn't be you. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Matthew Lumpkin said...

From I have gathered from this and traveling last year with whats-his-name, both of your parents rock.