Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's A Hard Life

So, I'm enroute to Wyoming again. I left after work today and made it to Heber before I got too tired to drive any more. It took me awhile to find a hotel in which I could stay that would have a place big enough for me to park Bertha and the Beast, but I finally found one - the Holiday Inn Express. They had two rooms available, and they were kind of pricey. I took one, though, since I could barely stand the thought of trying to find somewhere else.

I walked in and discovered I have a hot tub in my room!

I'm living the good life people. The good life.

Excuse me while I go for a soak and read New Moon a bit.


Holding Out For A Hero

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need.

I need a hero.
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight.
I need a hero.
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light.
He's gotta be sure and it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life.

Somewhere after midnight in my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach there's someone reaching back for me.
Racing on the thunder end, rising with the heat
It's gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.

I need a hero.

Bonnie Tyler originally sang this song on the Footloose soundtrack, but I recently restumbled upon the song while listening to the Shrek 2 soundtrack. And loved it. A lot.

As I listened to it (over and over again), I thought about the kind of guy I'm holding out for. He doesn't necessarily have to be "fresh from the fight", but I like the idea of him being strong and sure. A few years ago, I made a list about the qualities I want in a man. I think it's time to update it, since the last year or so has given me new experiences and interactions that have added clarity to my thoughts about men. A little.

My Hero:

1. Intelligent. I love to hear a smart guy talk about interesting things. I especially love debating with a smart man, as long as we can both stay fairly civil. I don't really care if he has had a lot of education (I have a friend who won't date someone unless they have her degree or higher - she has a Masters), because I think a person can be extremely intelligent without a degree. Also, one can have a college degree and be as dumb as a post. No, what I care about is if his mind works. Does he like to learn? Is he interested in things outside of his personal area? If not, I can be friends with him, but I don't see how I could be with him forever.

2. Positive. Have you ever been around a person who never seems to have anything positive to say? It's tiresome! I understand that people have bad days/weeks/months/etc., so a little negativity is acceptable. Sometimes, it's even a little funny. However, when it seems to be an inherent part of the guy's personality, I can only handle it on a limited basis. I can't imagine spending the rest of my life with someone who can't seem to have a good day to save his life.

3. Helpful. I love to go camping with my dad. The first time I went with him, I was struck by how helpful he was. He never sat around watching other people work. If he saw something that needed doing, he did it. If he saw someone working, he helped. I began to notice that he is like this at home and other places, too. I really admire this quality, I hope to emulate it, and I certainly want a man who has it, to some degree or other.

4. Likes My Company. This seems like an obvious thing, but I've noticed that it isn't always. I've had boyfriends who seem to only want to be around me when they don't have anything else to do. They'd rather be with friends, play video games, or sit at home watching tv than hang out with me, their girlfriend. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect, or want, my guy to be with me every second of the day, not even every other second of the day. I don't have to come first all the time, but every once in awhile, yes. My grandpa once told me why he thinks his marriage was so successful; they both would rather be with each other than anyone else. Not that they couldn't be happy in the company of others, they just preferred each other's. That's what I want.

5. Libido. Forgive me, but this has really become an important quality to me. Mostly due to the lack of it I've found in some men. I don't even think it made my last list - I took for granted it was a given in a relationship - but now I'd rank it pretty high on the list of deal breakers if it's not there. (This current list is not in order of importance, by the way.) I want a man who wants to kiss me! Why is that so difficult? I want someone who likes to make-out (sorry, grandma!), to cuddle, to hug, to hold hands, etc. I don't want to feel like the only one who wants the physical side of the relationship. When I'm with a guy who won't kiss me, etc., I don't feel attractive. It's hard enough for me to feel attractive without having to feel like that because of the man I'm with.

6. Strong. Yes, physically strong would be nice. I noticed when I moved how much easier it was for men to move my stuff up the flight of stairs than it was for me to do so. Muscles are an amazing thing. However, I also mean strong in other senses. I want a man who is spiritually and emotionally strong as well. Not that he can't have weaknesses, but when I need a shoulder to lean on, he's strong enough to help support me. Someone I can look up to, someone I can count on, someone who has integrity. Strong. Hmmm. I once had a micro-second crush on an Elder Strong on my mission, but that's a story for another day. Maybe.

7. Interested In Me. Another supposed given, but again, I've experienced the lack of this with a guy who was my boyfriend! I guess it's because I have a healthy interest in other people, so I tend to want to get to know more about the men I date. It starts to irritate me when they don't show any interest back, when they don't ask a single question about me that goes beyond "how was your day" or "how was work". If you've heard the Rascal Flats song, "Take Me There", that's what I'm talking about. I want someone to be interested in what makes me tick, who I am, who I was, who I want to be, etc. Not that I want them to grill me on every date or during every conversation, but to occassionally step out of themselves and ask, "So, Julie, tell me about the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you." Or something like that.

8. Brave. Frankly, yes, I would rather have a guy who isn't too scared to squash a bug or check what went bump in the night, but that's not exactly what I mean. By brave, I mean a guy who has the courage to ask me out if he likes me, to make the move when he wants to kiss me (see #5), to continue to progess the relationship even though we're both scared to death. Someone who doesn't run at the first sign of trouble or difficulty.

I'm sure this list will evolve, as it has since the last time I blogged about it. In fact, I hope it does, because every fairly significant encounter I have with men affects my list, and I want more encounters!

Then, someday, a guy will come along who will just...fit. My hero.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I don't have a tattoo.
Sorry, I thought I'd admitted that in a comment, but when I went back and checked, I hadn't.
I purposely waited for awhile, but then I guess I forgot to fess up.
You should know by now not to trust everything I say.
I'm glad you do, though.
I guess I should stop abusing that trust.
I'll try.
Do you believe me?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

On The Road With J-Rigg

This week, I tested the park rangers and maintenance people for Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, so I spent part of Sunday and Monday in Page, AZ and Tuesday in Bullfrog, UT. This meant a lot of driving time, and as I drove, I started thinking it would be fun to share with y'all what you might experience if you went on one of these trips with me. I thought of a lot of things, but now that I'm home I can only remember half. Maybe next time I'll write my thoughts down and do another post. Maybe.

1. Port of Entries. I struggle with POE's. I understand the purpose of them but it's totally outside the scope of my business, so it's frustrating. Almost every time I enter a POE, the person at the desk can't figure out why the government is regulating what I'm doing. I can't either, but it is, so I'm doing my best to stay up on the regulations. Each jaunt inside a POE costs me time. The costliest was that fun stop at the Loma POE when Dad and I were returning from Colorado - it lasted 90 minutes and I found out a whole heck-uv-a-lot-uv stuff that I should be doing that I wasn't. It could have cost me thousands of dollars, but since Dad is charming and I'm innocent looking (ha!), she didn't actually fine us. Most of the time a POE stop lasts 20-30 minutes. This may not seem like a lot, but when you hit two that's an hour! And, when your trip is an 8-hour trip, you really don't want another hour tacked on!

2. Going the speed limit. I refuse - REFUSE! - to get a ticket while driving Bertha and the Beast. First, I've never received a ticket in my personal vehicle (only been pulled over once in my life - knock on wood - and that was for an expired registration; the cop knew me so didn't give me a ticket, thank you!). Second, my boss would love to hold it over me that I got pulled over, even though he has twice on the way to outreach clinics! I cannot, willnot, give him extra ammunition!

However, there's another reason I go the speed limit - not getting stuck behind slow vehicles. This last trip, I spent the majority of my travel time on little undivided highways, and I really enjoyed not having to stress about passing. I usually had a clear run of the road because smaller vehicles zoomed past me and out of sight quite quickly.

Downside to driving the speed limit - I AM one of those slow vehicles that small vehicles hate getting stuck behind! Hey, Bertha's pretty tough, so she manages to pull the Beast and go the speed limit almost all the time! It's not my fault that most other drivers want to go faster than the law says they should!

3. Braking. Have you ever heard the saying that a semi can't stop on a dime? Well they can't. There's something about having a huge, heavy trailer behind you that makes stopping quickly impossible. In fact, I've determined that I need to start stopping a good 5 miles before I need to in order to actually stop behind the stop sign/light. I'm not joking. (Okay, maybe a little, but not much!) This fact was put to the test a lot this last trip. The safety guy for Glen Canyon instructed me on the best way to get from Page to Bullfrog. He must have hated me and wanted to kill me, because sometimes the shortest distance between two points involves lots of mountain passes with steep, narrow, winding roads that mean going slow or dying. Bertha doesn't like going slow when the Beast is behind her, she likes going fast! I'd try to keep her under control, but suddenly I'd turn a corner and be going down an 8% grade that looked like a string of S's. There were times I'd be praying and whistling (see below) like mad because I could NOT slow down to save my life (not just an expression under these circumstances!). Plus, I worried about my brakes giving out on me! That would have been really, really bad. Fortunately, I knew what to do so they wouldn't, but then it meant sometimes going a little faster than was probably safe. Sigh. If it hadn't been for the amazing scenery, I think I would have been an emotional wreck. However, it was gorgeous!!! Someday I want to go back, in my car, of course.

4. Whistling. I realized awhile back that I whistle when I get into a tight spot while driving. Whether it's navigating a sharp turn, passing a wide-load semi, or going through construction and trying to fit my wide load on a lane that is barely wide enough, I whistle. Now, those of you who know me really well know that I don't really whistle all that well, so you'll know that I use the word "whistle" loosely. Sometimes I pucker up and all that comes out is a stream of air and maybe a little note or two. However, when I'm really panicked about a situation, that whistle of mine comes out loud and clear. Hope that you're never with me when that happens - if you are, best to cover your eyes, there are "rocks" ahead!

5. Men. Two items of business fall into this category. The first is something you already know about - men flirt with me when I'm on these trips. Not every trip, but enough of them to make it funny. This last trip was no exception. No, he didn't kiss me (thank heavens!), but he was very flirtatious! It was fun, nothing else. The other thing is how impressed men are with the fact that I'm driving the truck and trailer. I pull up and they are amazed I don't have someone driving it for me. Then they tell me where the trailer needs to go, which usually involves backing it up, and they offer to do it for me. I politely decline and then wow them with my ability to back it up without hitting anything or having to pull forward a million times. That month of practice sure paid off! Ofttimes, the man says that he couldn't have done it any better. Also, when I'm testing guys, inevitably, some of them will comment on the size of the trailer and ask who drives it. They are shocked when I say I do. Justin, the guy who flirted with me, not only was impressed that I drive it but that I managed to survive the road I took to Bullfrog. Me, too, Justin, me, too.

6. My left arm. If you have a really keen eye, next time you see me ask to look at my arms. My left arm is slowly becoming more tan than my right. I try to keep it out of the sun while I drive, but it's near impossible. Right now the difference is slight, but I wonder what it'll look like by the end of the summer. Hmmm. Maybe I'll stop trying to keep it out of the sun so I can have it really tan and the other really white. That'd be kind of funny!

7. Fueling. Braking isn't the only thing that is more difficult while driving Bertha and the Beast. I've never obsessed so much about where I'll be able to find fuel! Sunday night, I seriously couldn't sleep because of it! It's not like any 'ol gas station will do. First, it has to have diesel. That eliminates some stations right off the bat. Second, I have to be able to get in and out of the station without killing anything or anybody. That eliminates many, many more. Tack on the fact that I'm in the middle of nowhere, and the truck is averaging less than 10 miles to the gallon (ofttimes more like 6!), and finding a place to gas up becomes the prominent thought in my mind. I love truck stops like Flying J. They have nice big lanes and wide, open spaces behind the pumps that make getting out of there a ton easier. Plus, they have big parking lots in which to park while going inside for munchies. Big bonus! I love these places so much that I've become a card-carrying member. Huh - I really am becoming a trucker!

8. Other simple stuff. While I'm at it, nothing is simple when driving a big truck and trailer. Turning (especially right-handed turns) becomes arduous because you worry about whether the whole rig is staying in your lane. Finding a place to stay for the night that has a parking lot big enough is also a toughie. Fortunately, I usually drop off the trailer the night before a job THEN go to the hotel, but there have been two times I haven't. The first time I found a hotel with a Flying J next door, so I parked there and walked to the hotel. The second time I lucked out and had a hotel with a parking lot for RV's. I didn't fit in any of the lanes, so I parked across several of them. Tee hee. Also, I only eat what I can find in a truck stop because I can't fit in any restaurant parking lot. Changing lanes is also a lot of fun when you can't see where the back of your trailer is. There's an unwritten code that the semi you're passing will flash his lights to let you know when you can get back over. Too bad every vehicle doesn't obey this code - my life would be a little easier, I tell ya!

So, do you feel like you can kind of tell what's it like for me on these trips? Mostly, I spend my time trying to stay alive, keeping Bertha and the Beast in working condition, and eating. Seriously, if I don't eat, I want to sleep. Sleeping would make it hard to stay alive and keep Bertha and the Beast operable. Since I don't want to gain a million pounds, I try to snack on healthier fare. Flying J offers fruits and veggies, so I get them a lot. I really like sunflower seeds because shelling them makes me stay awake. I stay clear of chocolate, chips, soda, and greasy foods (except the occassional corn dog - I recently realized I really like corn dogs at Flying J's).

One quick story, then I'll stop, I promise. On the drive to Bullfrog, I went on some pretty crazy roads. The worst was between Escalante and Boulder. The road ran over the tops of some really huge hills, so it went up and down a lot. The road was narrow - oh was it ever narrow! - so I barely fit in my lane. There was about a 6" shoulder on either side of the road, then a steep drop-off. To top it off, to either side of the hills were these great expanses of nothingness. I was higher than anything else around me by a few thousand feet (or so). I felt vertigo like I've never felt before. I stopped looking at the view because I worried that I'd turn eversoslightly and the back of the trailer would edge off the road just a bit. I knew that if it did, the trailer would go over the edge and pull the truck with it. I imagined how it would feel to suddenly be going backwards off the cliff, knowing I was about to die. It wasn't a pretty thought. It was an amazing, terrifying, humbling experience. One I won't soon forget.