Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sendoffs and Slideshows

It is getting close now. I leave for Nepal in three days. The upstairs of my home is strewn with gear in various stages of repair and organization. Lin and I go over the hours left, commitments made, and the sparse snatches of time left for us to spend together.  

I did my last slideshow before leaving for Everest. It was at Meridian Middle School, where Lin works as a sign language interpreter. A big shout out to the staff and students there! The thing I like about middle-schoolers, is they have the courage to ask the questions an elementary school student would not, questions like “How do you pee and poop in Antarctica?” Describing the process of handling one’s own frozen excrement is never easy, but knowing Lin was signing my words made it that much stranger. While such inquires are  no doubt legitimate science-based quests for knowledge, I could not help but wonder if in part they were prompted by a desire to see my answers signed by Lin as she stood next to me. This was especially the case with the followup question “Does your pee freeze before it hits the ground?” I am fine either way. They were good kids. 

I have done a few interviews lately. One was with Amy Kepferle at the Cascadia Weekly, a regional variety newspaper. Amy and I were in the original cast of the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham when it opened so many years ago. I called to ask if she might help me get the word out about my fundrasier for the Bellingham Boys & Girls Club. She did a nice piece which you can read at http://www.cascadiaweekly.com/pdfs/issues/201310.pdf It's on page 14. 

The other interview was with The Bellingham Herald.   Kie Raylea, a reporter with the Herald, interviewed me over the course of several phone calls. Kie asked insightful questions that brought me to articulate ideas I had only vaguely bounced around in my head. Her piece was featured on the front page of last Sunday’s paper. A good friend of mine immediately emailed me his congratulations, writing “You’re the first person of my acquaintance who has made the front page of the Herald for something other than criminal activity.”  You can read the Herald article at http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/03/24/2933408/bellingham-man-climbs-mount-everest.html 

The Bellingham Boys & Girls Club threw a nice sendoff party for me. The kids there had fashioned a wall size Mt Everest out of individual portraits and offerings of encouragement. One cautioned me to “Watch out for the Abominible Snow Man.” Another featured myself with extraordinarily long icicles hanging from my nose. There had also been geographic confusion, with some children believing I am climbing Mt Everett. You have to love these kids. I was presented with a nice plaque signed by the children, and a Boys & Girls Club flag which I hope to raise at the summit. 

My neighbors, Don and Natala, also threw a sendoff party for me. The whole neighborhood came. I hope each of you reading this enjoys a similar honor some day. It was so heart-warming to receive such encouragement and hopeful wishes from people with whom my only other pedestrian connection is that of fending off the rogue beaver which emerge from Lake Samish.  We are a community renewed, having pledged to break bread again soon regardless of mountain climbs.