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Ner's Random Musings on a life of interesting insights

a world of interesting factoids about nothing and everything


November 7th, 2007

Season 4, week 1: Fishing for freedom @ 12:16 pm

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Fishing for Freedom

Lj Idol, Season 4, Week 1


It was a desert springtime in the year 1987, and Dad was going to pick me up early from school. I couldn’t wait. I was a kid then, and it would be a year before I would know anything about morphine, bedpans, traction, or body casts. It would be a year, almost to the day, that I would lose a “normal” childhood as I ran between my friends Josh and Richard on the playground. It would be a year from then that I would fly through the air as if I were on the upward incline of a waterslide. It would be a year from then that I would feel excruciating pain, pain that a child should never feel; and the crack, the flat crack that everyone would say they heard as I spllintered both of my femurs. But I was not to know these things. All I knew then was that I was a kid, and I could do anything. That’s what Mom and Dad told me. They’d say, “Noel, you can do anything! You may be blind, but don’t let that stop you, do anything!” So when they called me on the intercom that day, I left Mrs. Cottner’s first grade class, and we embarked upon the most fun, most unencumbered trip I’ve ever had with my Dad.

John Kowalski was there too, and what a guy he was. My Grandpa died just five months earlier, so my sister and I looked at him in later days as my new Grandpa John. He worked for the state of Arizona with my Dad as his boss. Dad was a welder, and John always said he was a good worker. Dad wasn’t at school at the time; he hadn’t decided to take the plunge and start his engineering education yet, but I know that they were talking about it at the time. Dad wanted to take all of his knowledge learnt from working on railroad bridges and transfer it to something where he could really supplements my Mom’s teacher salary with a job that wasn’t Super Shuttle. Grandpa John wasn’t there to give Dad a paycheck, he was there because he was a family friend now, and he loved my sister and I. No girls were allowed on this trip though; this was for MEN only, and I felt so special that I was included. I could do anything!

So after going to the store to get the camping essentials (bate and tackle, CheeseIts, chips, cookies, beef stew, and water), we headed up the road to Bartlet Lake. The road was windy, and it seemed to take forever to get up there, but the time didn’t matter, I was one of them, and we talked about manly things all the way up there. We talked about how we might pitch our tents, and we talked about what fish we might catch. We’d also brought guns, and Dad and John promised me that they’d help me shoot them. This trip was going to be cool, and I WAS going to take something back to Mrs. Cottner’s class to show and tell. I was also going to write the class turtle a letter and tell him that I’d brought him back some really tasty fish flavoredfood for him.

When we got there, the air was cool and crisp, and the sun was as it usually is in the deserts of Arizona, warm and incessant. We got our poles out, strung them with line, and trekked down from where our campsite would be, down the steep hill to the lakeside. I remember that hill. Mired with brush and brambles, creosote and sage, and cluttered with rocks and boulders, it was a major hike for a seven year old. But I could do anything, and I relished the hike.

We sat among the cattails and moss, bated our lines, and dropped our lines into that clear calm lake. Dad said that we had to wait quietly for the fish to come and take our hooks. He said that if we talked too loudly, the fish could hear us through the line, and then we’d be in trouble because we would scare them off. I didn’t care how long I had to wait. My goal was to catch ,b>THE BIG LUNKER</b>, and if I had to remove my kid urges to constantly chatter and question, I would do it. I became one with my pole, and peace filled me as I felt the warmth of the sun on my face and smelt the clear desert air, unstained by Phoenix’s polution.

We didn’t catch anything that first day. I remember that my Dad kept telling Grandpa John and I that this was his normal luck, and that no matter who went with him, even if it were a guide, that he’d not catch anything. He still says this to this day.

The next morning, we got up early, and Grandpa John made bacon and eggs for breakfast that morning. He even had a contraption that made all kinds of weird gurgly noises. I was incensed with it. John told me that it was a coffee perculator, and the two words seemed almost as foreign as science fiction to me. Naturally, I asked him how it worked, and he told me he didn’t know exactly, but that the hot water perculated up through the grounds as it sat on the camp stove, and ultimately made coffee. Grounds? Coffee? All I knew was that it smelled amazing, and I was delighted when John offered me a small styrafoam cup of the hot nectar. I’ll just say that it wouldn’t be until I was fifteen or sixteen that I would gain an appreciation for coffee. At seven, coffee was not a nector, and frankly tasted disgusting. It was my first cup though, and I’ll never forget John giving it to me.

After breakfast and my brush with certain death by coffee, we set up targets somewhere away from our campsite. This was to be my test as a blind marksman, and I was going to succeed by gosh. I remember the target that we shot at because Dad made sure he told me. I had no idea who Momar Qadaffi was, but I remember hearing something on the news, and I knew that the U.S. wasn’t on good terms with him, but my Dad said that’s who we were shooting at, so shoot at Qadaffi we did. Now whether or not it was an actual picture of his face, I don’t know, but I remember feeling the target pattern afterwords, and it was definitely holey and decimated. I remember the ear muffs that we wore. I remember the recoil of the .22 in my hand. I remember being amazed that my Dad was trusting me with a firearm. But I could do anything, and that’s all that mattered! And we were shootingan enemy, and that’s all that mattered too.

That evening was the evening that I caught my first fish. Dad had to head up the hill to the campsite to get something, and left me to be one with my pole and the dusk. As I had done the previous day, I mentally rehearsed what I would do in the event that I would actually catch something . Feel the jerk downward, jerk the pole up, reel in. Easy. It had to be “automatic”, and being the nerdy kid that I was, I hoped that I could sideline all of my kid emotions and pull in my lunker. When the jerk actually came, I was first surprised, and then confused. Was this supposed to be how it would happen? Was this The Jerk. To be sure, I jerked upward, and started reeling. If I was wrong, The grasshoppers and waterbirds were my only witness, and no one would know. I pulled out all of the stops and banked the … thing. I didn’t dare touch what was on the end of my line, mostly because it was making growling noises and flopping around on the ground. Dad didn’t tell me that catfish growled, but this one sure did, and until he came up the hill, I kept my distance from the thrashing specimen. I was fascinated by my twelve inch catfish with it’s spines, slime, and sharp teeth. I held that thing high, smiled, and said, “Let’s try again, Dad!” I could do anything!

The next morning, we ate our breakfast and then, as real men do, we smelled ourselves and weren’t happy with the olfactory assault. So, being real men, we all trekked down to the lake, stripped, and hopped in. In contrast to the warm air, the water was goosebump cold. I remember being chest deep in the cool water and worrying that I’d lose the bar of soap in the lake. I remember the smooth rocks and sand at my feet, and I remember curious fish nibbling at my legs as if I were the best bate nature had ever created. I remember getting out, freezing, drying off with the towel, and feeling cleaner than I’d ever felt before.

We caught six fish (five bluegills, and my monster catfish) those three days, and would have stayed longer had we not been deluged by an old-fashioned “Arizona gulley washer”. Luckily, we had all of our gear on higher ground, so we were able to clear out in time before any theoretical wall of water could sweep us away.

As I lay in my various hospital beds in the coming years, I would think back on this fishing trip as a time that I felt completely free and unfettered. Even when I was free of bodycasts or IV Antibiotics, I still felt and still feel weighted down with the possibility that I’ll hear that flat crack and feel that agony, despair, and hopelessness. I could do anything then, I can still do most things now, but That worry just looms over me, threateningly. Oh what I would do to time travel back to the spring of 1987 when all that mattered was that I could take a story or an artifact back to Mrs. Cottner’s first grade class. I could do anything!
 
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Comments

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From:sunnyblue
Date:November 7th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Your story made me smile. I don't think you've told me about that trip before. Sounds perfect.

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From:djner
Date:November 7th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't thought of that story in a while. Since I wrote it, I've thought of other good childhood memories. Perhaps I'll write about them later on. I hope it wasn't too long. Glad you liked it.
From:kindapoetry
Date:November 7th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
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What a sweet story. Thanks for sharing.
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From:djner
Date:November 7th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked it. Hopefully it will help me stay in the running so I can continue to force myself to write outside of my "box". THanks.
From:awallens
Date:November 7th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
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This was a great memory! Thanks for sharing!
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From:djner
Date:November 7th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked it Amber. Man there are lots of people's stuff I need to read, I've gone through one page now, four more to go so far.
From:anchasta
Date:November 7th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
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What a great story! :) Good entry.
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
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Glad you enjoyed it. Hope I can write more soon within the bounds of the contest.
From:kelly0182
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC)
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That is an awesome story. Being female and reading this it was like I was allowed to sit in on "The Boys Club"

You've got my vote : )
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
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Glad, at least I'll have one vote. What I wanted to spotlight most, and I'm not sure that I did this, was that it is the defining point of my childhood. After that, things were different. Perhaps I'll write the details of what happened to me in second grade. It would be slightly depressing though, so I didn't for this one. Amazing how much I remembered from that time, and it kept coming back as I wrote it. Thanks again, and thanks for the upcoming vote. I'm voting for you as well.
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From:elva_undine
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC)
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Being completely foreign to the world of men and camaraderie, I have to say this post holds a lot of attraction for me. It seems like such a vital experience, and really, like you said, one of freedom. Thank you.
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the comments. I've actually not done too many "manlyish" things, so this probably will be my last "story with the boys". I'm glad you understood the "freedom" thing. It was supposed to be the main thrust of the piece, but I think I somewhat sidetracked myself. Still working through entries, so hopefully I'll read yours soon.
From:tulip_in_yellow
Date:November 8th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
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I miss fishing with my step-dad. The greatest thing I ever learned from that man was how to de-scale a fish, slice it open, de-gut it, and fry it up over a campfire. I think me being female had a small part in the two of us not being close at all, but me being a girl seems to fade in importance when it came to the fishing trips.

Nice entry.
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Definitely like fishing with my Dad. I don't get to do it as much as I'd like to these days which is sad, but at least I can remember back on it. Glad you liked my story. Thank you.
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From:mme_furiosa
Date:November 8th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
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This is such a fantastic story. I am going to just make an ignorant ass of myself here, but I had NO IDEA that there were so many blind people on LJ. It just never occurred to me. Thank you for so succinctly showing me a piece of your childhood.
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked the story. I liked writing it, most of that time.

About the blind people on LJ. I'm not sure why so many of us are in the contest but there's something that's interesting about the "blind community. Maybe I'll write further about it later. Basically, all or most of the people who are blind or visually impaired, and who are technologically connected pretty much know each other. It's somewhat like a small town, gossip spreads quickly in small circles. When for example, I finished my degree or mentioned that I was doing chemical engineering, many people would tell m how crazy I was taht I'd even try it. Everyone knows that I'm the chemistry guy, and if they've got questions that are very scientific or technical, they can ask me. I can't hide :).

So I think someone mentioned Idol on their friends page or in one of the blind people communities and that's why many joined. All of our writing talents are not created equal, but I was pretty amazed myself that lots of blind people wanted to compete. I was surprised that I threw myself into the fray, especially since I have like negative time having the profession that I have.

Edited at 2007-11-08 02:17 pm (UTC)
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From:xo_kizzy_xo
Date:November 8th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to "third" the Boys' Club comments. Around the time when my entry takes place, Daddy, his business partner (who had his cottage at the other end of our road), and an assortment of other guy friends would pack up their rods, reels, and guns and go into the woods for a couple of days. Daddy didn't fish nor hunt. He was "in charge of the beer", as he put it ;)

There's a sweetness to this I can't put a finger on...it's not a cloying sentimental sweetness, but sweetness nevertheless. I don't think it has anything to do with "later on" either -- I mean, you could leave out the "last time" part and the essence of the story would still be there.

Good job! *hugs*
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Glad you enjoyed it. I was after telling the story (95% of it was that), but the 5% was what was imporrtant to me. I probably could ahve done away with the concluding paragraph (I antagonized over that one), but like I've said before, I'm not a professional or even amateur creative writer (I guess I am in the contest though), so all the training I've had is in journalism class in high schoo and one creative writing class.

Thanks so much for your comment. I usually don't write that long of comments to Idol entries. Perhaps I just don't have enough time or something.
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From:lilmissmagic71
Date:November 8th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
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wbat a wonderful and poignant look into the world of men! *grin* I loved this entry for it's honesty and sweetness... and the underlying sense of accomplishment... it almost reads as a Rite of Passage piece... Loved it!
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From:djner
Date:November 8th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
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In a way, it *2as* was somewhat of a rite of passage. Nothing could compare later with the time that we had. Thanks so much.
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From:1_rhiannon_1
Date:November 8th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
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That was a great entry! Thanks for sharing that with us!
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From:djner
Date:November 9th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
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Glad you liked it. I hope I can share more with everyone soon.
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From:spydielives
Date:November 8th, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
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*with some trepidation*

I liked this entry. My "grade" was 4/5.

There were a few typos, punctuation mostly. There were couple of grammar issues, but nothing especially distracting. There is a problem with the HTML.

The big thing: the paragraphs were long, and hard to not skip.

I am not a professional or anything, so you can take or leave what I say. The lower mark was almost all with presentation, and very little to do with content.
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From:djner
Date:November 9th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the "grade". What I did as far as getting it pasted in is that I pasted it in as text. I had the option to past in as html and since I wrote it in Word, I probably should have done that. Next time, if tehre is one, please let me know if I do this) if the pasting as html helps. I've always had issue with putting too many commas in. I'm not a professional either, that's why I'm here. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
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From:kittenboo
Date:November 9th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
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what a great story and i love the way it's written, pulled me right in! thank you for sharing!
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From:djner
Date:November 9th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked it. I liked writing it for sure. I try to suck people in, it's fun :).
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From:superhappytime
Date:November 9th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
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that's a good story...I remember fishing as a boy...though I wasn't usually as interested in fishing as I was in swimming...
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From:djner
Date:November 12th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
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I tend to sink like a rock when I swim, so fishing is a good alternative, especially if I'm on the bank or in a boat with a life jacket strapped on me. I'm a wimp, what can I say.
From:lilerthkwake
Date:November 10th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
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essentials (bate and tackle, CheeseIts, chips, cookies, beef stew, and water)

*giggle* I loved this story! You did a great job making it real for us. Thanks for sharing.
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From:djner
Date:November 12th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
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Cheese-its are definitely essential, especially for a seven year old :).

Ner's Random Musings on a life of interesting insights

a world of interesting factoids about nothing and everything