The Kübler-Ross model, better known as the five stages of grief, can really be applied to all areas of life. For example, while writing my 101 goals in 1001 days, I was definitely in stage one, denial. It’s not that I was unrealistic in setting my goals; and even after a week’s contemplation I still believe I will meet and, in some cases, surpass my goals by July 2012. That said, I think I was smoking something illegal when I came up with a few of these goals. There is really no other explanation for it. And while those of you who know me might remind me that I’ve become the worst RW of all time since quitting cigarettes back in July of 2006 (July 7th, 2006 to be exact), maybe I inhaled someone’s second-hand smoke while writing these. Granted, my neighbors don’t look like crack-imbibing junkies but how well do you know people, really?
Some friends refuse to indulge me in my second-hand crack smoke theory and have come right out and asked me if I’ve lost my mind. Well, yes, I have; but honestly, my mind was gone years ago. I think I lost it right around the time I hit puberty and while I’ve looked high and low, I really haven’t found it to date. So I’m not sure I can use that as an excuse. The funny thing to me is the goals people are freaking out about; I placed an internal bet with myself regarding which goals I would get the most comments and flak about and to date the tally is Me: 0 ; Rest of the World: 4.
I figured I’d at least get a few “are you crazy?” comments about my goal to swim with sharks. I guess either people answered that question (yes!) themselves or assume I’ll find some nice, safe shark to swim with in a comfortable tank somewhere. Well, they’re right. Granted, there are three great hammerhead sharks, a few sand-tiger sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, a giant manta ray and about 50,000 other types of fish including grouper that love to head-butt people. But we won’t think about that. However, I did get many comments on my goal to run a triathlon. And everyone’s comment was the same – Um, Jeri you do you KNOW you’ll have to ride a bike, don’t you? Well, yes I do. Rather I did. Rather, I know a triathlon has three components, one of which is biking. So yes, it registered somewhere in my mind that committing to a triathlon would require me to bike. What did not register is that I, Jeri Gloege, at the age of thirty-five, will now have to learn how to ride a bike.
I know, I know, I can hear you now. How in the world did you make it to thirty-five without knowing how to ride a bike? Small children go out every single day in their cute little helmets and ride all over the place. Yes, yes I get this! I do! Trust me. I dodge the little booger-eating, death-wishing, kamikazes on two wheels every afternoon and evening while walking the dog or daring to pull my car out of its parking spot. And as for how, it’s simple. During the school year I spent the majority of my time with a parent who had very little interest in me, much less interest in teaching me something. During summers, I was out in the country with my grandparents with horse stables a mere three minute walk down a gravel path. And in case you didn’t know, fields and gravel roads are perfect for horseback riding and not so perfect for bike riding.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a bike. Santa Claus brought me one the Christmas after I turned six. It was blue and sparkly and came complete with training wheels and a big basket on the front. I rode it twice. The first time was in my neighborhood in Raleigh. I crashed into the neighbor’s mailbox and vowed to never get on it again. The second time was when my dad moved the bike from our back deck to my grandparents. I rode it on the grass long enough to plunge off into a thicket of nettles. From that day on, the bike sat out by the tool shed and held various hoses across its handlebars. The basket was a great catchall for the frogs, snakes and rabbits I collected. It rusted out over the winter and remained in its spot until I turned fifteen whereupon my grandfather took it to the dump. I never thought about bike riding again until I was goaded into buying a mountain bike by the person I was dating early in the summer of 1998. He swore he could teach me how to ride a bike. We parted ways a mere seven weeks later right after I met Jason and that brand new, never used mountain bike was given away a year later. I had a new baby; who needs bikes when you have a new baby to play with!
One helpful person sent me a spiffy article all about biking statistics, including accident statistics. Did you know that most accidents and the most severe accidents occur during recreational riding? Yeah, me either… until I got this lovely article!!! So while I appreciate the knowledge, I think it’s best if I remain as ignorant as possible until my 1001 days are over. Mmk?
I also thought I’d get some comments about living backcountry in Yellowstone for four weeks. As I was typing this goal, I could feel my mother shudder at the thought of her child spending four weeks out in nature, without a proper toilet or hot showers. You see, my mom’s idea of camping is staying at the Holiday Inn. She might stay in a cabin in the woods at some point in her life but only with a written guarantee that she won’t have to spend any more time outside than is necessary to walk from her car to the cabin (aka less than a minute). This guarantee must also include the aforementioned bathroom with hot shower and the fact that she will not see the following animals: snakes, bears, raccoons, mice, snakes, insects, spiders, rats, or snakes. I’ve tried to explain to my mom that if there are snakes, she has a guarantee of little to no mice or rats. But alas, snakes rank higher on her terror list than mice or rats. There would need to be an entire paragraph in her guarantee promising that every snake within five square miles has been beaten to death with a blunt-edged shovel and then the carcasses burned to remind other snakes in the ten miles around the original five square miles that snakes are not welcome here. But to her credit, she has not said a word. Of course she may not have read the list yet. Which means I’ll get some form of commentary at some point. And even if she does not comment now, she will definitely inform me of how nuts I am before I go. So I figure this is a delayed reaction on her part. On the other hand, I did get a reaction regarding my desire to go to South Africa and from the last person on earth from whom I expected this sort of reaction.
“Did you know there were AIDS in Africa”. Well yes, I did but last time I checked there were incidents of AIDS here in the United States so I don’t think that is a good reason not to go. Also, I don’t plan on going to South Africa and having indiscriminate sex with random people. I don’t do that here at home so why would I do that there? ”There are a lot of black people in South Africa.” Well, yes there are. 4 out of 5 South Africans are black Africans which is roughly 79% of the population. There are a lot of white people in South Africa, too. In fact, there are about 5 million Caucasian South Africans according to the 2001 Census. And with one of my best friends being a black South African (and a sister who is African American), the fact that there are “a lot of black people” is not really an acceptable reason for me to go or not to go anywhere. “I know you like to go off the beaten path but do you really want to go someplace and live in a hut with wild animals?” Well, yes I do, actually but here’s the thing about South Africa (and other parts of Africa too). There are (hold your breath, wait for it) CITIES! In fact the city to the right is Johannesburg, which, last I checked, was in South Africa. There is also Cape Town, eThekwini, Buffalo City, Tshwane, Msunduzi and, my personal favorite for name alone, Nelson Mandela Metropole. I’m sure I’m missing a few but you see my point. It’s not like I get off an airplane and am immediately thrust into a hut in the middle of nowhere praying that the lions don’t eat me. And obviously the rest of the world does not find South Africa to be primitive either. The 2010 Fifa World Cup will be held there!! And if I can afford the World Cup tickets and airfare, that’s when I plan to go!
I also expected some sort of commentary around my desire to attend the Exotic Erotic Ball in San Francisco. Sure, I got a laugh out of my BFF, Angela, but when she realized I was 1) serious and 2) expected her to come with me, she got all pensive before announcing she was in. However, I did receive an interesting email warning me about The Mother Earth Gathering, this lovely awareness festival held in Oregon each year. No, I did not know that the Mother Earth Gathering was held by witches who will enslave my mind and force me to join their crazy, hippy cult via the use of crystals and chicken blood. But, thanks for warning me. Um, next!
Finally, I expected at least a good laugh of skepticism over my goal to do something ridiculous or outrageous, video it and post it on YouTube. After having my website plundered by an old college roommate, who downloaded my photos and writing and claimed them as her own – not to mention the lovely stalker scare from 2003 – I’ve been incredibly careful about what I post and where to the point of paranoia. So I figure most people don’t believe I’m going to do this. And if not for the fact that I wanted my goals to force me completely out of my comfort zone, you would never see me on YouTube, much less out there doing something ridiculous. Instead, the concern seems to be about me performing comedy or acting onstage. And to you, and you, and you – no I won’t mention all those times we did x, y and z that you asked me not to talk about again ever even though the recounting is hysterical. And as for you, no one cares that you got a little smashed and peed on yourself at this one club every single time we danced there during the two years we were roommates. As for you, Jason, sorry dude, you’re fair game. Maybe we can come up with a nickname for you so no one – everyone – knows who I’m talking about, ok?
So maybe I have bitten off a lot. Maybe I’ve even bitten off more than I can chew, to borrow a favorite expression of my Memaw’s. That said, I’m looking forward to ongoing work to meet each and every one of my goals. Am I in denial? Sure, why not. And maybe I’ll have to go through each and every one of the stages in the Kübler-Ross model over the course of my 1001 days. But isn’t experiencing those moments really what life is all about? I don’t know but I’m sure willing to find out. At least I am now… ask me how I feel after I get back on a bike.
To catch up on my actual progress, visit the 101 Things in 1001 Days page!!!