What is love?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Love is watching your boyfriend parachute down to the ground -- landing about a half-mile off the airport -- and wondering if he's OK.

Love is jumping into your white Honda Civic.

Love is zipping down a gravel farm road pocked with enormous puddles that splash mud all over the place like raging diarrhea.

Love is frantically scanning the bean and corn fields for anything that looks like a boyfriend and/or a bright yellow parachute.

Love is finding him waiting by a dusty silo.

Love is tossing all the old McDonalds bags in the trunk to make more room for his gear in the car.

Love is picking him up when you should have made his sorry ass walk back to the dropzone for giving you a heart attack.

The Wind Beneath My Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Eternal love to Kelly, who designed this fabulous template.

Thank you!

Life's a Beech

Sunday, May 22, 2005
This morning I awoke in a metal casket. Sunbeams muscled their way onto my face, a frame of silver sheets forcefully reflecting the morning light. The air was warm and thick.

I was curled up with my boyfriend in the tail of a Beech 18 airplane.

It all started with a party at the airport. The kind of party where everyone is drinking too much, dancing too furiously, laughing too loudly.

At some point -- possibly hours later -- all the lights were out. The music was throbbing. We spun around in circles and twirled glowsticks on strings and were transfixed by trails of light.

The morning-after wreckage looked like a rave got into a fight with a NASCAR rally. Cigarette butts peppered the hangar floor. Empty amber bottles -- once filled with cheap domestic beer -- covered every available surface. (And even some unavailable surfaces, like a high rafter on the hangar door.) Broken glowsticks had been discarded in the ashtrays, but only after leaving toxic neon splatters everywhere.

And I woke up in an airplane.

At some point, I had crawled into the plane, which had long ago been cleared of seats to accommodate skydivers. I passed out with my head toward the cockpit, my legs stretched toward the tail. A rolled-up black towel was my pillow. A Lands End coat and someone's old, stiff poncho served as bedding.

Because the Beech has large, inflated tires on the front and a tail that hangs down like low-slung pants, the plane is on a permanent slant.

Throughout my few precious hours of sleep, it was disorienting enough to find myself inside a plane. It was even more confusing to have my boyfriend wake me up every so often to say, "Honey, wake up. We're sliding again."

Eventually we gave up and balled our bodies up in the tail, just two pieces of drunk cargo.

I love this photo

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.

I Don't Remember, I Don't Recall

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I'm reading "Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya" by Jamaica Kincaid about her treks around the globe to gather seeds for her garden.

A passage in the very first chapter struck me: "The greatest difficulty I experienced was that I often could not remember who I was and what I was about in my life when I was not here in southwestern China. I suppose I felt that thing called alienated, but it was so pleasant, so interesting, so dreamily irritating to be so far away from everything I had known."

And so it is with me and skydiving.

There's a natural separation from the outside world that occurs at the airport. There's no CNN -- if a TV is on, it's showing skydiving videos. There's no radio -- if there's music, it's techno coming from someone's iPod. There are no newspapers -- if somebody is reading, it's a copy of Parachutist magazine.

This is precisely the reason why I was probably the last person in the world to find out the U.S. had captured Saddam Hussein. At the time, I was staying in Zephyrhills, Fla. at Skydive City. When I finally left the dropzone and wandered into town, I saw a TV running news of the capture -- which had happened a week prior.

If you know anything about me, you know this runs contrary to my regular life. Normally I check my favorite web sites for updates about every three seconds. I have seizures if I forget my BlackBerry. The New York Times is my crack.

During the week, I can be pretty high-maintenance. I wear heels like skyscrapers and change purses every day to match my outfit. I live on bubbly mineral water, steamy grande cafe Americanos and organic takeout gourmet salads. I won't use a public restroom stall if someone has left a drop of urine on the toilet.

But the dropzone is my Bizarro World. There, I'm a dirty, smelly bitch in old yoga pants. I've had entire meals of old chow mein noodles I scrounged from a random cupboard. I've pissed in conditions that would make a wild animal woozy. Not to mention, I don't even get service on my BlackBerry out there.

For two whole days, I relish this contrast. I love that I don't have my job, my clothing, my status, my friends or anything to fall back on. It's an entirely disarming, unnatural, enlightening situation. All the things I once knew have been lopped off me, and suddenly I have to be this brand new version of myself. Someone I'm still unearthing.

My friend Joe asked me yesterday, "Who were you before you started skydiving? What did you do?"

Truth is, I don't remember.

Top-secret confidential messages with secret secrets

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Chris, Chris and Ahmad at Artimis: Delays on ground possible. Take sky instead.

Joe from SPJ: A very reliable, hip source said, "Skydiving is the new sensation."

Kevin G.: Ydive-skay?

I'm going this Saturday and Sunday. Who's in?

Blue (Sky)Crush

Sunday, May 15, 2005
You know it's been a drunk night when you wake up, look at your cell phone and realize you called one of these guys at 3:33 a.m. -- and you don't remember anything.

So ... um, yeah. Maybe you had a bit to drink.

But really? It's his fault for being so crushable. Handsome + Nice + MOST AMAZING SKYDIVER IN THE WORLD = Hubba Hubba.

That photo, by the way, shows the making of the 53-person vertical freefly world record in late April.

That means 53 people made a formation all while flying head down -- and they were all on the same level with each other, in close enough proximity to hold hands with each other, all while plunging to the ground at about 180-200 mph. And, oh yeah, they only had about 30 seconds to put it all together.

The completed version of the world-record formation looks like this. It's absolutely incredible.

Maybe that's what you were calling SkyCrush about.

Hating my boyfriend

Friday, May 13, 2005
I buy organic. He lives off Velveeta.

I roam bookstores for hours. He kills hookers on Grand Theft Auto.

I max out my Gap card. He thinks one pair of shoes works for everything.

Just about the only thing that my boyfriend and I have in common is skydiving.

That's why now -- as he's away in California for the longest time we've ever been apart -- I'm not sad. I'm not pining for him. I'm just fucking jealous.

Because he's at Perris Valley, one of the greatest dropzones in the world, and he's studying with Jim Slaton, one of the greatest canopy pilots in the world.


Plus, Boyfriend just got sponsored by this parachute company and will be getting a brand-new, custom-made Xaos 27 canopy for free. That's like winning the skydiving lottery.

Stupid boyfriend and his mad skills.

See, I have this different theory. I think things should be the exact opposite. I should be sponsored by some company -- any company -- because I'm NOT very good.

Really, who needs sponsorship more -- a great skydiver? Or a crappy one?

It's kind of like my theory about drinking and other related vices. What do germs want -- a healthy body? Or a sick one? Healthy, right? So I might as well drink and smoke and keep my body as crappy as possible so that the germs won't want me.

When you think about it, my theory makes perfect sense. Because I'm not a great skydiver, I'm more dedicated and more diligent than the really skilled jumpers. I'm out at the dropzone every weekend. I'm packing as fast as I can. I'm getting on every load possible. Heck, I'm even living on my old emergency stash of Y2K canned peas so I can spend more money on skydiving.

In a perfect world, I would be adopted by a show called "Really Extreme Makeover: From Average Skydiver to AWESOME." I would be given brand new gear, a full-time coaching staff and my own plane that would zip me to altitude all day, every day.

But noooo. Instead I'll have to do things my boyfriend's way. Practice.


The Amazing (Drunk) Race

Thursday, May 12, 2005
I didn't do any skydiving this past weekend, because my best friend was visiting from Miami.

However, she and I got wasted in two timezones and three states and made scores of drunk dials -- all in four days.

And when you think about it, that's really more impressive than jumping out of a plane.

Leap of love

Friday, May 06, 2005

Originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.
Here's me. And my boyfriend. In love. In the sky.

Shiver me timbers!

Sunday, May 01, 2005
Today I sat next to the pilot on the first load of the day. The temperature gauge was stuck to the window next me. As we slid down the runway for takeoff, I glanced at it.

50 degrees on the ground.

The higher we climbed, the lower the temperature sank. Rationally, I know this makes sense because of science and stuff. But in my mind, it always seems like we should get warmer because we're closer to the sun. But whatever. Can't be frontin' on the weather, yo.

At 13,000 feet I looked at the temperature again.


When the door opened, the blast of arctic wind caused everyone's breath to come out in billowy clouds. It was ski weather cold. Frozen nosehair cold. Minot, North Dakota cold.

I'm usually very mentally aware during skydives, but I found myself unable to concentrate during this jump with John and Bud since I was freezing. To imagine it, take cold ... and then add a 150+ mph wind chill. Gah.

So while my body was shivering, my mind was all:


Skydive, skydive, skydive. CRAP, MY THONG IS FROZEN TO MY ASS.


But I did pull, obviously. And then once under canopy, I checked my teeth to make sure all of them were still there. (Every time I jump in the cold, I have this irrational fear my teeth will crackle and shatter, like ice cubes that develop fractures when you pull them out of the freezer. I'm pleased to report they're all still there.)

Under canopy, the wind was really bizarre and gusty. Turbulence curled off the airport hangars, and I could feel my canopy dip, sway and slightly collapse. But out of all the parachutes out there, mine is pretty much like an aging hooker -- she's always good no matter what you do to her.

About 10 to 15 feet off the ground, you're supposed to flare the parachute -- pull down on the toggles to slow your forward and downward speed at the same time. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who is distracted by all things pretty and/or shiny.

So when I was 15 feet off the ground, I tightly gripped my toggles and thought, "One, two, three and fl---. OOH! DANDILIONS!"


I ended up grass stained. Muddy. And still my fingers were too numb to pull my frozen thong from my wind-chafed cheeks.

I didn't jump again all day.