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Emily Grossman

Speed of Relativity

April 27, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Someone once said you're about as happy as you choose to be. I always cringe and scowl when I hear that, partly because it's true, and partly because whoever said it didn't step into my shoes before walking and spewing such silver-lined proverbs.

I'd had a hellish week, to say the least. Due to some flaw in communication and over-zealous commitment on my part, I'd agreed to perform at the coffee shop on Friday, teach lessons and perform a concert with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in Homer on Saturday, and perform again on Sunday afternoon in Kenai. Out of spite, I chose to wedge in a strenuous mountain hike on Sunday evening in thigh-deep rotten snow that couldn't be trusted more than 75% of the time. Jolting post-hole hiking, lots of thrashing.

After three days of teaching, I drove to Anchorage for Wednesday night symphony rehearsal, then spent all day Thursday trying on hiking shorts at various stores around town in preparation for spring, only to find that my overly developed quadriceps and glutes have deemed me some freak of nature that can't properly fit anything currently on the market for hiking shorts. I drove home to Soldotna Thursday night after symphony rehearsal determined not to eat another scrap of food until I could lose five pounds and fit into the prescribed hiking short mold (which I suspect has been determined by waifish models who don't know a mountain from a mole-hill of diet pills).

My fasting plan proved incongruous with Friday's workload. Friday, I needed to bake for an upcoming ladies' retreat. In eight hours, I made ten batches of focaccia bread dough, two loaves of french bread, 97 rolls, 93 cinnamon rolls, 102 snickerdoodles, 96 key lime bars, and 75 bowls of chocolate mousse. Now I ask you, how's a baker supposed to bake without testing the product? I cursed the ladies' retreat and prayed that all the women would leave ten pounds heavier than when they came.

I had just enough time to wash my hands before hitting the road to Anchorage again for the Friday night dress rehearsal. 150 miles of driving after an eight hour shift, and before a three hour rehearsal--I must be insane. Looking at the cut on my index finger, which I'd accidentally included when slicing limes earlier, I thought about paper cuts and lemon juice and how it really feels, and wondered why all I felt these days was edgy and sour. I wanted to tell the whole world how much everything sucks for Emily, wanting people to care but fully aware that no one really wants invitations to pity parties.

As I drove, I thought about car insurance rates and the price of gas. I thought about saving money and health insurance. I thought about unpredicted late spring snowstorms and global warming. I thought about bears and hand guns, and the tennis playing sales clerk who belittled me in defense of bear spray. I thought about weight loss and unhealthy body image. I thought about politics and religion. I thought about hell and handbaskets. By the time I hit Girdwood, I was fully pissed and on a roll.

That's when we all hit the slush, all of us at the same time while trying to pass that car that was going too slow to make dinner by 6:00. I saw the brake lights and tested my own, wondering what the fuss was about. At that precise moment, I found out.

My left tire got sucked into a rut of snow and slush, and the car pulled to the left. I knew instantly I had to get down somehow from 70 mph to regain control. Fishtailing, I swerved to the left and right, pumping the brakes and trying to correct with the steering wheel. Alas, I was going too fast; the tires had no traction. We were almost in control, my car and I. And then, like a choreographed ballet, we spun a beautiful pirouette in 5 o'clock traffic, between passing lanes and oncoming headlights. I saw the guard rail, a couple of SUV's, and then the ditch.

I'm not sure how I ended up facing the direction I'd come, nor how it came to be that I'd jerked to a halt in a tiny asphalt pullout on the side of the road. But at that point, I remember being convinced that the pullout had been specifically created for this occasion, and I was right on time for my appointment with destiny. What were the odds that I could pull a stunt like this and come out alive, much less without a scratch?

I sat in the pullout and screamed obscenities of gratefulness, and then I cried while I looked at the stupid cut on my finger.

From sharelle taylor
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 11:10 AM
Brilliant!
From sharelle taylor
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 11:10 AM
Brilliant!
From Ray Randall
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 2:43 PM
That was too close. Whew.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 10:36 PM
Emily, I was going to say I wish I could write as beautifully as you do, but then I thought it’s not just your good writing, but it’s your frame of mind and the way you think, the way you see the world and yourself in it, and the way you put it all together and create another world beyond conventionally accepted...

Sigh! How I wish could...

From Donna Clegg
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 11:40 PM
Ditto what Yixi said and I am so glad you're ok. I had a near disaster with my children once when I was in overload mode. After the anguish of the "what could have been" subsided, I made a promise to myself to try and not over commit. That's been many moons ago and I still think about that day. Your baking activity made me want to jump up and bake something. Would you share your key lime bar recipe please?
From Drew Lecher
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 12:30 AM
Emily,
Vicky, my wife, and I just read your amazing blog. Thank God you are okay. Coincidences are not.

Don't over-book your life. We all do at times, but it is rarely worth it.

Now, about that baking………any left-overs?:-)

Have you tried backcountry.com? (1 (800) 409-4527) Vicky just discovered them this past year and has gotten great gear & stuff at terrific savings when on sale. They stand behind their products fully.

Hang in there. Keep your eyes upward:-)
Drew

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 1:10 AM
Yixi, Sometimes I feel like a coin that needs flipped. On one side I am angry and obsessed and driven for perfection, and on the other side I am obsessed and driven toward beauty, peace, and stillness. I often get the two mixed up. Thanks for the compliment.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 1:20 AM
Donna, I think that when we think of others, we are more likely to make wise decisions involving commitment and risks. Thank God it's not just about me, or I would drive myself into insanity. Instead, I have my husband George and my family to think about, and they remind me every once in a while to reconsider what is important.

BTW, I hadn't made key lime bars before, so I googled it and picked the first recipe that popped up, from Cook's Illustrated. It turned out fine, if you don't mind squeezing all those tiny limes.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 1:21 AM
Drew,

I suppose it's pretty arrogant of me to think the world can't do without me. I was in superhero mode, and I was convinced that no one could survive without me coming to save the day.

Do you ever keep telling yourself you can do everything, just suck it up and dig in? I'm too stubborn to say no sometimes. Don't know what all I'm trying to prove... Oh, but if you only knew all the things I turned down this month!

Also, I've thought about it repeatedly, and I can't say that I believe in coincidence. I do believe that God's ways are freaky mysterious, and I'm taken aback every once in a while by His continued benevolence and generosity in my life. I don't know why I spend so much time running around in a fume, except that I've forgotten again to be mindful of His goodness.

I get these great reminders every once in a while, though... :)

Thanks for the encouragement again, Drew.

Emily

(ps: backcountry.com rocks!)

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 3:39 AM
pps I just checked the camp fridge for leftovers, and there weren't any. :(
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 4:30 AM
Emily, I'm so glad that you are still with us. Please take good care of yourself.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 4:35 AM
Where do I trim things out of my life? For me it is a constant question. And it's always when things are utterly insane that things like this happen, I relate!

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