Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Personal: Start Spreadin' the News...

I took this photo last May. It was one of those perfect New York Spring days, all those crazy New Yorkers sitting in the park enjoying the sunshine and reading, chatting or throwing the ball for their dog. My sister Joelle and I were walking all around Central Park fantasizing about living there. Little did I know...

Almost a whole year later I got a call from CBS News Radio that there was a job open at the network. At the time I was very conflicted. I grew up in Washington, my family is here, my friends are here, Jeremy and I JUST bought a house and ...I love my job!

I can't just move to New York...I thought...

you can't just do that, you can't just up and move to New York city, I mean could I? Should I? Is that crazy? Can a girl just up and move to New York? What will Jeremy think? He said yes before when we were thinking about moving...hmmm...really New York ? huh? no!!! yes!!! no...maybe....

So I decided to explore it a little...take the next step - however apprehensively. So I went to New York and pretended I lived there. I got up in the morning I ran around Central Park - like that's what I do...
I get up in the morning because I'm a New Yorker and I gotta stay in shape so I run in Central Park.
And I LOVED IT! Even the middle of my run a big fat stinky truck drove really slow behind me causing me to inhale bad air...I still loved it!

After my run I spent way too much money on orange juice and I think I bought a banana for a dollar! ...but still I loved it! I loved the busy, I loved the dogs in the park, I loved the smell of hot dogs at 9 in the morning and I loved the mean lady who bumped into me and then was annoyed because I was sweaty...Loved that bitch (I realize it could have been the endorphins from my run - but still)!

Later that day - still pretending I lived there... I walked to CBS - on 57th and Broadway. Coming down from the running endorphins I tried to look at CBS objectively.

Are these my people? Could I work here? Are they crazy in a good way like I am? Is that too much to ask? Do they like me? Am I smart enough? Are THEY smart enough? Do they care about the world? Am I a news girl? Do I ...could for freaking CBS NEWS?!!
I went back to the hotel still confused but also trying to stay in that "I live here, I'm a New Yorker" mindset. So I bellied up to the bar at the hotel and sat for a good long time being ignored by a lot of tourists and the bartender. I finally flagged the bartender down and gave blood so I could spend eight dollars on an Amstel light.

Then the most awkward, funny, strange in a good way, couple bellied up next to me. Hank and Darla Ann or something from Iowa! They were in town because they are taking their 3rd foster child on her graduation fantasy vacation. They hated New York! Too expensive, too crowded and TOO DAMNED LOUD! I talked to them for hours... in my.... I'm Tina Nole, New Yorker who works for CBS News persona...and I fell in love with them too!

Darla and Hank are those true American Midwest type people. Salt of the earth. He drives Harly's, she works at a bank. And together they have 2 kids and have adopted several others. They still cry about the one they really couldn't save. An eight year old who was severely abused when they got her, beat them both up before she was 11 and took too much from them as they were trying to care for the others. Darla suffers from bells palsy and has some facial paralysis on her left side - but could down the drinks like no bodies business.

They met in high school but Darla would have nothing to do with Hank until years after they were both divorced from their first spouses. Later they saw each other in town and fell in love. They live in a big house filled with love and lots of parties with their neighbors and kids friends. All their children, adopted and otherwise, are going or are IN college.

Anyway I digress...

Hank and Darla made me love New York even more. Partly because they hated it and partly because I knew if I moved there I would meet more Hank and Darla's.

The next day I woke up late and walked and walked and walked my way through New York. The weather was horrible, hazy and muggy. And I tried to hate it. I took the subway to the West Village and hoped to see rats ( i know they are there but I didn't see 'em). I shopped at snooty boutiques hoping to encounter pretentious sales people. I paid five dollars for a two dollar cup of coffee. I walked through Union Square and watched the dogs in the pathetic ity bity dog park. I looked for things not to like. But I didn't find 'em. Except for the WORST singer EVER in the subway - everything else was very manageable.

Now you might say I don't know what I am getting myself into...and BOY AM I NAIVE...but I'm going.

I move to New York August 24th. Jeremy and Matilda will stay in our house for the first year and we'll see each other every other month --at least.

I found a nice stranger on craigslist who I will rent a room from...Michelle -(good news is she's really fun, smart and interesting so I am not afraid), I will be working for CBS News Radio as a writer. And my blog will likely change a bit to something about a Seattle girl in New York..but I'll keep ya posted.

Wish me Luck!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Personal: Internal Summits

I realize all you might want to know is whether or not I made it to the summit of that mountain but I feel like I can't tell you the end of the story without first giving you the details of the journey. (now don't scroll down to the bottom of this post - you'll ruin it)

I headed to the mountain after work on Tuesday, pretty tired from a weekend of preparation and a long day at work tying up loose ends. The drive was great - I sang out loud and day dreamed about what was ahead...I had no idea.

I arrived at the Whittaker Bunkhouse around 8:30pm. The bunkhouse is really just a big community house with several rooms that have beds and bunk beds - I was lucky enough to find an empty room so didn't have to share. The house was full of climbers ready to make their summit attempts the next morning, sorting gear and giddy with anticipation of what was to come. I spent my evening eating Cheese Itz in bed reading my book and trying not freak myself out with anxiety. I knew I had to wake up early for climb school the next day so I tried to go to sleep early. Which would have been easier if the guy in the room next to me didn't have so much gas...I shut out the noise and conked out at about 10:30.

The next morning was fairly gloomy but fun. I sorted through my gear as I packed for the day and realized I would need gortex due to the pouring rains outside. I had a dull headache but put it out of my mind as I knew I had some things to learn before the summit attempt the following day. So I rented my pants, and then hopped on the bus with the rest of the climbers from the American Lung Association.

It took us about 40 minutes of driving through windy roads to get to the trail site from the Bunkhouse. I am prone to car sickness and so sat in the front of the bus, but I'm social so found myself turning around a lot to chat with the other climbers- this resulted in a pretty severe case of car sickness as I arrived to trek the hour to our climb school site. I'm sure that the fresh air and anticipation cured me though and I felt much better when we got to the trail.

Climb school took place on the snow in the very cold and very rainy foot of the mountain. I told my teammates I thought Rainier was just hiding from us because she knew we'd conquer her the following day...little did we know....

At school we learned what to do if we fell off the mountain feet first, head first and/or any other way we could think of. We were taught how to save ourselves and our teammates in case of dangerous fall, how to walk in our crampons, use the ice axe, and what to do on the ropes. It was a bit scary but a lot of fun - we pretended to be falling from the top of the glacier and practiced stopping our selves - just in case we MIGHT be in a situation whereby our bodies are traveling fast down a glacier three thousand feet towards it's demise. But most importantly we realized that our lives were literally in each others hands.

At the end of the day my headache was worse but I was so excited by the day and the possibilities of the next that I ignored it. Instead I wondered why I was involving myself in a sport whereby I might have to save myself from falling off a mountain thousands of feet above sea level.

After climb school it was time to check into my new room and prepare for an evening fireside chat with LOU WHITTAKER!! How cool!! My head became increasingly painful and I continued to pretend I was fine. Until about 15 minutes into Lou's talk when my head was splitting and I began to feel nauseous. To make a long story short - I was lucky because Jeremy came to visit me at about 7pm and ended up helping me deal with what proved to be a really bad bought of hypoglycemia or something - still not sure. I spent the better part of the evening barfing and shivering in my bed...and hoping and praying that I could just feel better so I could climb the next day. Well - this was my first experience as part of a life or death team...which was awesome! One of my teammates Hugh happened to be a paramedic, he gave Jeremy electrolyte pills and good advice - 90 minutes later I was a new woman and ready to tackle the mountain the next day...I couldn't believe it when I woke up feeling well normal again!!!

So...the climb...

We started out at about 8am - for Camp Muir. While the beginning of of the climb was quite uneventful, there were some cool moments... As we were walking up just past Pebble Creek we heard the loud whistles from the Marmots - then we saw one up on it's hind legs - looking like this:
Then two more popped up doing exactly the same thing when a coyote (who one of the climbers says was a fox - I still think it was coyote)...came trotting fairly close to us on the hunt for some marmot meat. It was full on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom...I was rooting for the marmots and I think they were successful in their escape.

After that our journey to Muir was full of advice from our guide Brent who loved to tell us what to wear, how to manage our food and how to breath as we were ascending towards camp. Here we all are at rest stop bonding and sharing food:

We arrived at Camp Muir at about 3pm, found our bunks and prepared dinner. The bunkhouse at Camp Muir is very interesting it's a fairly tiny shack and we all slept in the same room side by side. I couldn't get a picture of it that day because the weather was so terrible. But here's a shot of the camp on a nicer day:

For dinner I shared some pretty awful dehydrated mac and cheese and Teriyaki chicken with Pamela (the event organizer for the climb for clean air and an awesome person all around). After that we got another good preparation talk from the guides and tried to sleep at about 6:30pm...which wasn't easy - the wind was howling all night long. I kept wondering if it's really THAT windy out there or does it just sound like that when you're 10,000 feet up on a mountain. Turns out it was the former.

We were awoken by our guides at about midnight and instructed to eat breakfast, pack our summit pack, get our crampons on our boots and head outside ready to climb the mountain. At this point I was pretty scared - how am I at about 100 pounds going to stay on a mountain with those howling winds ready to blow me right over?

"it sounds worse than it is" - the guides tried to reassure me..." we won't let you get blown off"

"uhhh...ok" I pretended to be reassured.

So I did what I was told - I put on my helmet, goggles and headlamp - (it was dark outside and very very windy), I strapped on my backpack and I clipped into the rope. So I was basically tied to two people behind me and the guide in front of me. Barbara was right behind me and she is the most positive person I've ever met in my life. Really a wonderful woman all around - when things felt tough I would yell behind me - "how ya doin' Barbara?" -- inevitably her response was I'm H-A-P-P-Y! - she spelled it was pretty funny. Behind her was Jason an awesome guy with a great accent - the kind of guy who makes you feel confident that he's got your back. And our guide - Gabriel... was in front, leading the way. Gabriel is an excellent guide and all around interesting and kind person. I have a whole new appreciation for what he goes through - not only is he guiding inexperienced climbers up a 14 thousand foot mountain...he's encouraging us every step of the way, zipping up our coats if we couldn't do it because our hands were cold, shouting directions and so much more...those RMI guides are absolutely amazing!!

The first journey over the cowlitz glacier was easy. They teach you to pressure breath and rest step in climb school in order to save your energy. It was dark and quiet as we made our way across the glacier to Cathedral Rock. Here's a picture of the glacier and cathedral rock on a nice day - I was crossing it of course in the dark...but just so you get the idea of where I was headed:

Climbing over the rocks in our crampons with winds whipping at us was terrifying. I fell down a lot and was happy I couldn't see down to where I might land if I fell off the rocks entirely.

From the rocks we entered what they call "the Gap" - ohhh how I longed for annoying colored coordinated workers with headphones on asking me if I needed to try something on....The Gap - or Cathedral Gap was a narrow trail with a steep slope. This was the hardest part - the wind was blowing gusts up to 50 miles an hour and I was literally being blown up and down the trail. I fell over and over again and often could not get up because of the wind pushing me down. At one point I looked up at Gabriel when I was down and yelled - Can I just crawl the rest of the way - but the wind was so loud he couldn't hear me. Every once in a while he would yell - Good job guys!! - I just thought -- WHAT? Good job? I'm getting the hell beat out of me. I can't even describe how scared I was, I just kept thinking, if I live through this it will be amazing and at some point I am going to be off this mountain. I could hear the climbers behind me fall too and also yell - "wait" or "ouch" - from time to time but mostly I could just hear the wind and see the ground as I was being pummeled.

After crossing through Cathedral Gap we got to Emmons Glacier which was much more manageable but my hands were very very cold and I was shaking with fear from the hour and half I had just experienced being thrown about on the side of the mountain. Physically I felt like I could go on but I was so frightened I decided that this was it for me.

I got to the rest stop on the glacier, put on my down jacket, sat on my pack and cried like a baby. Loud crying..sniffling...tears of disappointment and fear. I looked at my teammate Barbara who was on the rope behind me and I said "I'm sorry, I'm done." She said, "I don't blame you, you were being thrown around up there"

One of the guides came over and said "I've never seen it this bad" - and I asked if it was going to get worse. I said if it's going to get a little better, the winds I mean - I can go on, but if it's going to be like this the whole time I can't go on. He said - "it gets much worse, you did great"

At that point I cried some more and sat on my pack and shivered.

I wasn't tired physically which was the good news (THANK YOU DILLON - -- it was the fear that got me.

I thought I can't even go back now. It's too scary, I'm going to get blown around again - I can't do it.

But I did. John - the best guide EVER from Rainier Mountaineering Inc. - hooked me to his rope and put me right behind him. There were 4 of us on that team heading back and many more behind us. All in all a few made it to the next rest stop at Disappointment Clever and turned back, and 4 got to the high point - but no one summited that day. Our guides told us later that it was the most miserable climb they'd ever been on and one said it was the windiest he'd ever seen the mountain. So in the end I didn't regret my choice to turn back.

On the way back after crossing the gap and the rocks I had some time to think. I wondered whether or not I should have pushed forward, I enjoyed the silence as we crossed back over the Cowlitz glacier and I cried a little more about not being the tough girl I thought I was.

I was very very humbled by my experience on that mountain. There really is something strange about knowing your life is in the hands of someone else and some THING else for that matter. I saw myself being totally and completely reliant on my guides - they were the experts and I was in their world and I felt like a child in so many ways.

I learned a lot, I think I've changed quite a bit and I want to go back and do it again....perhaps on a sunny day.

Finally after we arrived back at Muir we rested and waited for the others to return. When others came back they cried too and we all seemed to understand why. It was damned scary and disappointing to not have made it to the top. But understandable - here's a video of Camp Muir when we were leaving to go home:

You get the idea about the scary conditions...

So I'm home now and safe and all I want to do for the rest of the weekend is to not regret - be thankful, hang out with Jeremy and give my dog Matilda lots of belly rubs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Personal: The start of my climb to the Summit of Mt. Rainier

Well I have finished my training and am now on the carb eating hydrating portion of this upcoming event. Two teams have all ready climbed up and come down and were apparently amazing. I have all ready heard stories of how great these people are and how they helped each other on the scary parts I'm hopeful... but to be honest -- I'm TOTALLY SCARED TOO!

I will be up at the training camp this evening and will spend most of Wednesday at climb school learning the ropes - as it were. I will wake up early on Thursday and climb to Camp Muir with the RMI guides and my climb team from the American Lung Association. After that, we are awoken at about midnight or something crazy like that and will hopefully summit around sunrise.

I will keep you posted along the way and post pictures when I return.

Wish me luck!

THANK YOU A MILLION Times over to those of you who so generously donated to the American Lung Association and supported the Climb for Clean Air! Your money is going to help a very very important cause - one that affects all of us. As one who suffers from asthma myself I thank you so very much.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Personal: Training for the Climb

I told you I would update my progress as I've been training to climb Mt. Rainier with the climb for clean air - sorry it's been a bit. When I began training about a month or more ago - I increased my running route from 3 miles to 6 or 7, and began hiking with weight. We hiked little Si, which was a cinch, and Wallace Falls which was lovely, but also a cinch.

So I upped the training a bit in the past few weeks. I hired the BEST personal trainer EVER - who I love (if you want her info just email me I do strength training with Dillon (my trainer) twice a week, with weights and various other exercises that kill me...I like to tell Dillon that it's not a good work out until I start resenting her (and I do). I also participate in a running group once a week, which is a crazy work out with distance and sprints to build strength and good cardio. Finally I top it all off with playing ultimate frisbee twice a week, and either a hike with weight or running stairs with my pack.

So really all I do these days is work at KIRO and train. But I'm feeling great and am less apprehensive about the climb as I am getting stronger. I have a mantra..."hurt now so you don't hurt on the mountain."

We'll see...I'll keep ya posted.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Personal: Climbing that crazy mountain


Picture smilin' tired face on the top of that thing! That's right, I've taken on the challenge and will be climbing Mt. Ranier on July 19th, 2007 with the Climb for Clean Air...and that very date just so happens to be my birthday! Wahhoooo....(i hope i make it).

The whole thing is sort of freaking me out to tell you the truth. I know, lots and lots of people have been up that thing and I will be very very well guided with the Mountainers, so it should be a cinch - right? Right?

I will keep you posted on the training I'm going through and of course you can hear all about it during the climb as I will be doing live interviews back to 710KIRO on July 19th from (hopefully) the top.

So far my training has consisted of - eating better - I replaced my breakfast of coffee and Doritos with eggs and carrots ...(ok....and a handful of gold fish crackers).... - and yesterday I increased my regular 3-5 mile run to include a really big hill that I, quite honestly, didn't make to the top. BUT - I have plenty of time and promise to step it up a notch this weekend with a hike to Little Si, (which I've done before) carrying a 15 pound hike...step one on my way to the mountain!

If you'd like to join me - and I think you should - Check out the Climb for Clean Air
You can still sign up and raise the money...and wouldn't it be a great accomplishment to climb the mountain and raise money for an extremely important cause...Lung Disease....(I have asthma so it's extra close to my heart).

AND if you want to sponsor me or donate some cash to the climb, shoot me an email and we'll getcha connected.

OK - now wish me luck!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Personal: Matilda....A Bad, Bad Dog

Well the blog is titled DOGS, Blogs, Politics and the Personal, so I figured I should take some time to talk about dawg.

Ya see, it's THAT time of year again...not the coming of Spring or Valentines Day... It's the annual Westminster Dog Show!!! I love the dog show. Partly because my family friend Dave Frei is the commentator and he's very funny (hi Dave)...and mostly because I love dogs...of course.

When I bought my dog 6 years ago I had visions of Westminster- no I'm not a show dog person, never showed a dog in my life...but the breeder (yes I have guilt that I didn't get her at a shelter so don't bug me about it) stressed that she came from Champion Lineage...she's of the "Brasco bunch" or something like that - 30 champion dogs in her lineage. So I took her home, went to puppy school, flunked out and that was the end of Matilda's asperations of stardom...

Anyhow, this is Matilda...

I realize she looks like a nice little creature, a friendly cuddly little beast -- but make no mistake - this is the face of a very bad dog. I know you just want to give her a smooch right there on her peppery lil nose right now but don't be fooled. She's devious and terrible. I believe I've already mentioned her affinity for cheese and all things in most refrigerators. Her latest indulgence? Candy...

A few days ago Jeremy accidentally left the downstairs door open, where Matilda usually spends her days. Well the sneaky lil canine took that opportunity to raid the candy jar on top of the kitchen table. Now this might have been a harmless adventure from a simple and curious dog...but not this time - oh no. First of all the candy jar had half a box of the super nice chocolates Ron Reagan gave me for Christmas. Second of all chocolate is toxic to dogs.

(I'll spare you the details from my moments of panic and calls to the vet only to find out she likely didn't get enough to hurt her)

The fact that she got into the candy jar in the first place isn't the big issue here. It's the crafty things she decides to do with the contents of the jar that I take issue with; you see...when Matilda goes on these food scavenging expeditions she likes to hide her bounty in various spots around the house. For instance last time she raided the refrigerator I found a stick of butter under my pillow.

This time...a Reese's Peanut Butter cup tucked neatly into the downstairs futon cover, a Lindt chocolate, perhaps reserved for later, hidden under her toys in her toy basket, vanilla chewy taffys? -- deep in the cushions of the chair by the couch. I will likely be finding candies and chocolates scattered around the house for weeks.

Every once in a while I see her nosing around in the spare bedroom - I still haven't figured out what's in there. She's freakishly smart, I wouldn't be suprised to go in there and find she's actually been making a treasure map of her findings to play with when we're not home.

In the end I'm glad she's ok - and now we realize the baby locks on the fridge aren't enough, it's time for a pad lock on the downstairs door - and on the candy jar. Finally if there's ever a crafty dog cattagory in Westminster, we're in!

And because I can't resist, a few more shots of Matilda in her finest moments:

Where she sits when Jeremy isn't home...pathetically awaiting his return.

Herding some sheep, because that's what Cow Dogs do...

Impatiently awaiting someone to throw a ball...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Personal: What do you want to be when you grow up?

I'm sure you've seen the story; the one about the astronaut from NASA who was plotting to kill another astronaut in a sort of crazy love triangle...

This story got me thinking...

Every child in America over the age of 5 is asked: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I was asked it many times as a kid: "What, what, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I often answered "A veterinarian" sometimes I answered "A pilot, like my dad" or "I want to run college bookstores like my mom". But I didn't really know what they were asking me and of course had no idea what career I should be focused on between climbing trees and sticking gum in my sisters hair.

I imagine Lisa Nowak was asked this very same question, and maybe she answered "an astronaut" like a lot of kids did. After that, young Lisa must have worked very very hard - she has been an astronaut since 1996 and flew her first shuttle mission last July, serving as a mission specialist aboard the Discovery. She's someone we would all be impressed by because we judge people by their career accomplishments before we consider their craft of character.

So I wonder- why is career the question we always ask of our youth? Is it an American thing? We are so driven by our jobs that we groom our children for the right profession as early as age 5. Is it simply ingrained in us?

What if we didn't ask the question of WHAT? but of Who? WHO do you want to be when you grow up? WHO is the woman/man you hope to be? I wonder if it would put a different goal into our brains and I wonder if our country would be well...different - with different values (whatever that means).

But as I was asked, like most of us - this question of WHAT, instead of WHO ...I decided long ago this question of WHO is something I should replace with that question of WHAT. And so I have...I think of it often and I still wonder if I actually AM the woman I want to be. Do I have the patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, drive, strength, curiosity, compassion, honesty, sense of humor, skills in spelling.... of the woman I hoped to become in my youth? Nope...probably not. But I'm working on it.

Are you?