No, this isn't a Kevin J. Anderson-style hiking post. This is a story...well, actually two stories. These are two stories about my week so far.
As I mentioned before, I submitted my manuscript on Saturday. On Monday, during a brief break, I got an e-mail saying "Oh, I needed to mention that this needs to be no longer than 100,000." I promptly had a panic attack, had to take a walk around the office under the convenient pretense of filing (my boss needed me to do it anyway) and then came back. 100,000 requires me to cut at least 37,000 words from my manuscript.
So, here are the two stories. The first one was from when I was a wee lass of seven. I had the chicken pox quite badly and was out of school for a while. During that time, I had lots of hours on my hands, so I finished this huge project to write all of the numbers from 1-1000 in order. I was so proud of myself. This was not only an important homework assignment, but members of the 1000 Club got their names in the school newspaper. I turned it in to Mrs. Bartman, my teacher and she looked it over before announcing that I had skipped 367 and had to write 368-1000 all over again.
The second one is from when I was a little less wee. My parents, who celebrated their 40th anniversary last Friday, decided to take whichever kids were available on a backpacking trip to Peru for their 25th anniversary. I trained for months. I lost weight. I drank mate de coca like shots in the lobby of our hotel because that helps get lowlanders used to the Andes. On Day 3 of our 5-day hike to Macchu Pichu, we got to Dead Woman's Pass. Williams, our guide, warned us that it was the most difficult part of the hike and he was right. This was a punishing part of the Inca Trail. It punished me for being fat, for being a hiker, for being easily sunburned, for existing. (This is also, it turns out, when I started developing what became a 103-degree fever.) The trail narrowed from its usual 5-10 feet or more to about 2. at some points. The stones were loose. There was a drop so steep that all I could see were the tops of the trees hundreds of feet below. I literally got on my hands and knees for part of this trail in order to make it to the top. A couple of hours later, I reached the peak. Williams greeted me, gave me a high five, and promised me that I was almost to the spot where we were stopping for lunch. I grinned and told him to lead the way. He pointed across a narrow valley and halfway up the next mountain and said, "THERE! See that little yellow tent? That's where we're setting up lunch." I came THIS CLOSE to pushing him down Dead Woman's Pass right then and there.
I don't feel quite that strongly about these 37,000 words. After all, they're only 68 words per page. I can do that. But I feel like I did looking at that distant yellow tent--exhausted and like I just want to sit down for a while and ignore how far I have to go. I feel like I did at the age of 7 when I found out that for all my work, I had to back and work hard again.
It is for that reason that I will post at the end of this draft what I have on my t-shirt from that hike: I SURVIVED DEAD WOMAN'S PASS!