If you see a 1994 white, four-door Honda Civic with Ohio plates and a skydiving sticker ...

Thursday, October 27, 2005
It's MINE.

Did I say I had a big, exciting Halloween weekend coming up?

Scratch that.

My car was stolen last night. From my driveway. While I slept. Along with skydiving gear and my new digital camera -- which is not covered by my insurance.

I'm so angry and scared and sick to my stomach, I can't even talk about it right now.

All I know is that I deserve some really good karma one of these days.

Very Superstitious

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I'm almost scared to write about the big Halloween weekend of skydiving I have planned at Perris Valley.

The last time I posted here about what was sure to be a fun-filled, exciting weekend -- July 4 -- it ended in a horrible nightmare of one person dead, another injured. Now I don't want to look forward to skydiving anymore. I don't want to jinx myself. I don't want to ever look back here again and have the eerie, sinking feeling that I didn't realize what awful things could come.

I just want to skydive and enjoy it as it comes.

So I do these things in the plane on my way up. Things to ensure my safety. Things to make sure that I stay on the universe's good side. Things to guarantee I won't be randomly plucked and thrown from the sky.

As the plane takes off, I kiss the first two fingers of my right hand, then touch the window -- giving the aircraft some love. Then I say a prayer twice within the first 1,000 feet of climbing to altitude. It's always the same: Please God, no bumps, no breaks, no bruises, no crashes, no collisions, no cutaways, and most of all, no death. Then I say a prayer for the others on board, asking nothing but good fortune for their jumps. I spend the rest of the way doing gear checks on myself and others.

Some might call my rituals OCD. It's probably more like magical thinking, the belief that one exerts more influence over events than one actually does.

I think skydiving is pretty magical anyway, so it fits.

There's good and bad, black and white. The longer I spend in this sport, the more I'm learning to accept them both.

Found Art

Friday, October 21, 2005

Paint-by-numbers, originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.

I'm loving this mural I found in 29 Palms the other day.

It's one of those little gifts that life gives you sometimes.

You're just driving down the road, looking for a military surplus store in the middle of a small town, and then you stumble upon THIS.


High desert, big fun

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Stormy weather, originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.

I stopped my car, stood outside, breathed deeply and finally felt like I was home.

The high desert is about an hour drive from Palm Springs. It's a more desolate place. Fewer golf courses, resorts and manicured lawns. But more art galleries, cafes and unassuming saloons.

I didn't have a map and didn't know where I was going.

I found Joshua Tree National Park easily. I had previously seen photos of the place and had no interest whatsoever in spending time there. I thought it would be all bleak, drab, a wasteland.

What I found instead was a place so beautiful, it made my heart clench. Perhaps it was the stormy day, with clouds filtering light on the desert terrain like stained-glass. Or maybe I've now grown to appreciate the stark beauty of this area. Whatever it was, the place was breathtaking. I can't wait to go back and spend more time exploring.

Next I turned down a random street that was filled with hairpin turns and steep curves through crumbly mountains. Every loop revealed more and more beautiful scenery.

I ended up in Pioneertown, my new favorite place in the world. It reminds me a lot of a little village I loved in Ohio, Yellow Springs.

There's a true artists' community here, with studios and coffeehouses and gathering places. Even better, there's an energy to the place that's as vibrant and as electric as any city I've ever visited.

I stood outside my car and breathed deeply -- and never wanted to drive away.

Chicks rock!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chick hybrid, originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.

I have so much to write, I don't even know where to start. I think I'll have to do a lot of catching up here in the next week or so.

I'll start with this past weekend, which was the Chicks Rock Boogie at Skydive Elsinore. This event for skydiving women is something I've wanted to attend ever since I was a student and working on my license. It was always just motivational to know that there were so many talented female jumpers out there in the world -- and for one weekend they all get together in some kind of skydiving sisterhood.

So there I was. And Chicks Rock was every bit as great as I thought it would be. For the $35 registration fee, we got incredible goodie bags with an adorable T-shirt, keychains, stickers, toys and more. That also included a big luau-themed BBQ and a 10-keg party with DJs on Saturday night.

The Boogie also featured body piercing, massages, haircuts and all kinds of demo jumpsuits and gear. It was more like a spa weekend than a boogie, actually.

And then the jumping. Oh my, the jumping.

It was amazing, and not just because Lake Elsinore one of the most beautiful dropzones I've ever seen. The women who were jumping were so awesome and so talented, I felt lucky to accompany them in the sky.

I made several all-girl skydives, which I figured would be kinda fun. And I was so wrong. It wasn't just fun -- it was emotional and powerful in a way I never expected. It was truly moving to be on a plane load completely filled with other skydiving women. My pride and admiration for them knew no depth.

There are certain moments when I remember why I skydive, certain moments that slice through all the other emotions in the world, certain moments when my path is crystal clear.

This weekend I had many such moments: Looking around me at a Super Otter filled with chicks, exchanging hugs, rooting for each other, sharing so much strength, love, joy.

That's why I love this photo of our all-girl hybrid so much. It wasn't the most solid or easy jump I've ever made. (That's me there in the base on the right, with the cloud print on my pants.)
But looking at this picture reminds me of how much chicks really do rock.

Jason walks!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
My boyfriend, Jason, is walking again. Kinda. Sorta. Close enough.

I'm so happy, my heart is bubbling like soda.

He went to the doctor this morning, got another round of X-rays and was finally cleared to get up out of his wheelchair.

His legs aren't very strong right now. Since the time of the accident, the muscle has shriveled away to the point where Jason can fit his index fingers and thumbs around his thigh. He's still in a lot of pain, and the right side of his pelvis still aches constantly. He's exhausted after just a few steps.

Still, he's able to move around with a walker after almost a month in the hospital and two months in a wheelchair, so that's pretty spectacular.

Jason won't be running any marathons soon. And he still has thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical bills to sort out. And he somehow has to find a new career.

But he's shuffling around with a walker -- and that's a step in the right direction.