7 Simple Rules to Follow When You’re Lost: Lessons on Life From the US Forest Service

What To Do When You’re Lost in the Woods: Literal and Figurative Life Advice From The US Forest Service

“A clear head will find itself”

The 1946 U.S. Forest Service safety flyer “What To Do When Lost In The Woods,” originally made for hikers and campers, contains quite a few kernels of wisdom that might be heeded by those who have lost their way in a more figurative or creative sense as well.

This pamphlet was found in a Colorado cabin by Jen Christiansen at Scientific American, who tweeted about it. You can read the full text here.

And remember

6. “A thinking man is never lost for long. He knows that, surviving a night in the forest, he may awake to a clear dawn”

7. “Keep the old brain in commission and the chances are you will come out of the woods on your own two feet.”

Thanks, Forest Service. I feel better already.

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Oh, Summer

Waiting For Bardot

Did I mention that I am currently teaching English to businessmen in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the night? Lately I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, in a not-exactly-glamorous way. Teaching at night, photographing a kids’ birthday party complete with bored adults and a bouncy castle during the day, pizza making, cake baking, and wrangling my puppy to make sure he didn’t actually eat any of my relatives during a birthday party in my tiny apartment.

Today  has been one long nap. Can I even make it to the beach?

images via {This Isn’t Happiness} and {Fabulous}

A Return

Image

New year (well, it still feels like one…slow starter I guess) new plans, new blog theme, new dog and new dedication to writing more often.

I’ll be trying to post at least once a day.

Some of my old entries from Korea are now dumped into one month from last year, some are erased and everything before that is also gone.

As a wiser feller than myself once said…c’est la vie. Here’s to fresh starts.

Oh my darlin ‘

Sitting tonight in my favorite make-your-own bibimbap place on a rainy night. Rainy nights seem to be good for reflection. Maybe it’s the meditative rhythm of the raindrops, or maybe it’s the underlying metaphor of the world being washed. I think, for me, it has more to do with childhood walks in the rain, deep in the woods.  Rainy days used to be an event- rather than staying inside, I got to put on my rubber boots and coat and wander through a world made new by water, looking for bright orange salamanders.

So, I’ve never disliked rainy days like some people do. They’ve always seemed a little magical to me.

They play very interesting music in this bibimbap place.  When I walked in, the little old lady and her husband were listening to ragtime.  I picked a table right next to the toasty woodstove and stood with the old lady, who smiled with me as we rubbed our hands together over the stove. Soon, they started playing old American folk songs, starting with “Clementine.”

That got me thinking about being a little kid again.  Growing up in a succession of rambling old farmhouses around the country with no TV, I found a lot of other ways to amuse myself.  My father had this small paperback book called “The Backpacker’s Songbook” that I used to pore over as though it were a storybook.  I knew every one of those songs by heart.  My father would get out his guitar and we’d sing them, too, but I liked to just sit and read the lyrics. They always started off sort of sad and pretty, but by the third verse or so, some poor girl was getting dragged down to the river by her one true love.

As I sat there in front of my tray of neatly arranged Korean dishes, I began to wonder how much those tragic songs planted seeds of mistrust in my child’s brain. I sure didn’t want to end up like Clementine or Little Maggie. Even “Beautiful Brown Eyes” turns out to be a tale of woe. But on the other hand, I wondered what it felt like to “lay ’round the shack till the mail train comes back, a-rollin’ in my sweet baby’s arms.”

Those songs taught me a lot.

Willie, my darling, I love you,
Love you with all my heart.
Tomorrow we could have been married,
But liquor has kept us apart.

Chorus: Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes,
Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes,
Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes--
I'll never love blue eyes again.

Down through the barroom he staggered
And fell down by the door.
The very last words that he murmured:
"I'll never get drunk any more."

(Chorus)
Seven long years I've been married,
And I wish I was single again.
A woman never knows her troubles
Until she has married a man.
(Chorus)

Quick Update

I finished moving all the old entries from my mobileme site. They go back to last February, when I first came to Korea, but I couldn’t find a way to import the blog and keep it archived by month. So, all the posts are in “November.” You can go back to the beginning by clicking on “November” and then a list of entries should come up. I had fun reading through them and re-living the first couple of days on Jeju.

Side note: One of the little things that I really love about Korea is that you have the option of smoking in the bathroom.

By that I mean on the toilet.

Most bathrooms have a thoughtfully-placed ashtray (which is often a beer can with the top cut off) right there at seat-level. I don’t actually smoke (at least not anymore..not for five or six years) nor have I ever wished I could smoke while sitting on the toilet, but it’s so nice and accomodating.

That just kills me.

48,796 Words To Go

Monday, November 3, 2010  

So, now that I've begun this month-long writing project, I think this blog will be seeing a lot more of me. You see, I am writing, and while I'm rambling on here, important ideas are brewing in my head that will somehow organize themselves. Or at least make someone out there laugh. That's all I hope to achieve, really. I hope that someday, one person reads something in this book that I'm writing and laughs as much as I did when I read the first page of  "A Confederacy of Dunces." Oh, wait… that's actually a pretty lofty aspiration.

I've actually gotten really, really productive since I signed on for this thing. Last night I created an entire new photo site and uploaded hundreds of pictures, cleaned my apartment, called my parents, and decided to join a gym.

Which is funny, because usually I procrastinate about going to the gym. And by procrastinate I mean….I think about joining one.

I did join a gym for a month this summer.

It was in the Vegas Casino, which is also a hotel. The lobby is an assault of gold and glitter, and the elevator to the gym is paneled in fake velvet. In order to get to the floor with the gym, you have to walk right past a bakery, which wasn't really a problem since I'm pretty safe from baked goods as long as I stay at least 50 feet away from them. I joined the gym because it has a pool, which immediately presented a problem.

You are required to shower before and after using the pool, which means increasing my agonizingly uncomfortable public naked time from the 20 seconds it takes me to  change while crouching behind the door of my locker to MINUTES before and after the shower.

I embrace nudity at home. I don't mind being naked in front of one, or maybe even two people. But being naked in a roomful of matter-of-fact strangers really freaks me out. People were just going about their business, heartily slapping on lotion, drying their hair, and happily chatting away while I darted back and forth from locker to shower, clutching my possessions around me like someone in a refugee camp.

I was sure that any minute, my deepest fear would be realized and I would run into one of my students' mothers. So, the gym turned out to be kind of stressful.

I haven't been back since my month ran out. But if I do join tomorrow, I'm going home sweaty.

this is me..don't I look stern? look, there's the computer I should be working on.

 

The Month of Writing Furiously

October 23, 2010  

So, I've decided to undertake a writing project of gargantuan proportions. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. During the month of November, I am to write 50,ooo words of an original novel. Somehow, I feel like this is just what I needed. I work best under pressure- it's very freeing. I feel like it smashes mental blocks with a sledgehammer of calm purpose. In college, I used to write all my papers the night before, and most of my poems a few hours before class. I love it. You have no choice but to get to the heart of the matter. Do or die. 50,000 words is roughly 175 pages, which is 6 pages a day. It can be done. I think if I write for two hours a day I can finish it, no problem. There's no judging of the work, so editing can happen later. Apparently someone actually published a novel that they wrote for this thing called "Water For Elephants," which is now being made into a movie (starring Robert Pattison, which is unfortunate. But still inspiring). You aren't supposed to actually start writing until Nov. 1, but all sorts of planning is definitely allowed. And if I fail to finish the entire thing….well, then I have been writing consistently for one month, which is pretty good too.  

Hello WordPress

my new scooter helmet came with these completely amazing goggles. so I put them to good use…

Oct. 11, 2010
The days are getting chillier and it feels like time for projects.
I spend my mornings these days trying to keep small children from eating their books.The desire to consume books has spread like wildfire among Yellow Class. I caught Tommy with nearly half a page in his mouth today.
I never have enough time at night.Desperation sets in at around midnight. Soon my time will no longer be my own. So this is what it’s like to live in the workaday world. Well, it’s not so bad. It’s the big trade-off I’ve been hearing so much about. At least here it’s peppered with a touch of the exotic, or at least amusingly unfamiliar. Being a stranger in a strange land suits me, perhaps better than anything before.
I'm in the process of moving all my old blog entries from my mobileme account. It seems they are going to start making me  actually pay for it….
The old entries won't have pictures anymore….it's too hard to find all the pictures again and I'm kind of lazy.
So, the old blog entries were all posted on the same day, but go all the way back to last February.

48,000 Words To Go…And I’m Going To Give Myself A Year

November 13, 2010

Sitting at a cafe, editing the work I've done so far on the novel. I think I've realized that I'm not going to finish the Nanowrimo project in a month. I can't seem to resist the urge to edit what I've written, and that ends up taking up a lot of my time. I just can't speedwrite through 25,000 words in two weeks. I've written 4,000 words (13 pages or so) of a rough outline and that's good enough, I think. I'm not sure that I really like the idea of writing a throwaway novel in a month just for the sake of finishing a challenge, although I guess that's the point. If anyone is interested, here is a very unedited rough sketch of part of the  first chapter.

***note: names of cars have been changed  to protect the innocent***  

I am told that there was a first house that collapsed, but I have no memory of it.

According to my father, it had been built in the traditional style, square and on stilts. One day the whole thing came down with a great crash and they salvaged the hand-peeled logs and began anew, building a second house that became a sprawling octagonal home for both humans and goats who lived underneath, waking us with their constant headbutting, indignant at being left out in the cold.

The expanse of soft, sheltered ground under the house was dark and cavernous, and one afternoon my mother and I discovered  one of our female goats named Abigail lying under the house, white belly heaving softly in the dim light. I can't remember seeing her face or even her head, just the great expanse of her curled body lying prone in the dirt.

"We need to get her water," my mother said, taking my hand and hiking up her skirt to climb back out from under the house.

"Then we've got to to go down to Tony Roselle’s and see if he can help."

I gripped her hand tightly, still listening to the slow wheezing in the dirt and feeling a crawling dread. We emerged from under the house and walked to the spring, where I waited while my mother filled a bucket and brought it back down to Abigail. The water, ice cold even in the summer, dribbled through my fingers. The spring flowed down the mountain, making a brief stop in an antique refrigerator that my father used to keep our perishable food in, which was also outfitted with a screen to keep the frogs out.

Sunlight dappled on the leaves of the tall trees surrounding the cabin, making harsh shadows against the bright green. Suddenly my mother reappeared without the bucket.

“All right, Ren. Ready?” I nodded.

She took my hand again and we began the hike down to Tony Roselle’s cabin. Tony had a wizened look and smelled of pipe smoke. My parents had sold him a few acres of their land to build a camp on a few years back. He was a teacher who usually came up on weekends. We couldn’t be sure he’d be home, but he was our only chance for help because my father was out running errands with our 1940’s pickup truck, Clara, and wouldn’t be back until late that evening. Tony’s cabin was small- more of a camp than a house. He saw us coming down the hill from his small plant-filled porch. He was wearing a plain white T shirt and had the usual pipe stuck in his mouth.

"Well, hello there."  "Hi Tony..how are you? Hate to bother you, but it’s one of our goats…there’s something wrong with her and she’s lying under the house right now. Ben’s away…. you think you could come up and take a look at her?"

"I don’t know all that much about animals, but I’ll see if I can help you out. Maybe try to get her out where we can take a look at her."

 We three began our hike back up the rough road to the cabin. As we walked, I forgot about the goat and focused on stepping in and out of the ruts along the edge of the road, some part of my brain watching out as always for the bears I was sure I  would one day spot on a walk through the woods. The rhythm of adult voices provided a lilting background hum to accompany my marching footsteps.

In my dream I am running down the familiar path from the field and garden, past the compost pile toward the house. To my right the woods are a dark mass in which I can see the bears, waiting and watching for the right moment. I trip over the little rock that sticks up on the path and I go down. Now I am unable to move, unable to scream- I know that the bears have left the woods.

For I Am A Rain Dog, Too

October 12, 2010

I think I've decided that if I could have any superpower, it would be time travel.  Among other obvious reasons, I have this idea that I could somehow have brief entanglements with all of the now aged or aging (or yes, perhaps dead) men from previous decades that give me that little *ping* in my chest. I'd meet them right in their heyday and then recall them fondly in my twilight years. The logistics of actually flitting in and out of their lives doesn't really matter…I'm sure I'd figure it out. Oh, it's a teenage girl fantasy all right, but one that has never really gotten the axe from my subconscious. I was reminded of this vague notion while listening to the title track off of "Rain Dogs" tonight. That song sends me right back to some inchoate place in me that is still eighteen, heading off down a pair of railroad tracks into the wild unknown. So then I was watching old videos of Tom Waits and thinking…man, I wish I lived in another decade. But ALL of them. Age…it's a funny thing all right. The slight flexibility of age in Korea is somehow freeing to me. I am two years older here, which means that fighting each passing month and scraping to hold onto a lower number for as long as possible suddenly seems irrelevant. Sometimes I like to pretend that we all emerged from caves at some point and have no concept of precise age. Well, I admit that I came up with that scenario as the months spiraled closer to February last year and I plotted my escape to an island on the other side of the world in time to avoid publicly ending my twenties, among other things. Somehow, such numerical precision seems to allow for a lot of slightly cruel social gauging. I don't really care, I suppose, anymore. But I admit that I am absolutely petrified of the physical aging process because there's just no arguing with that.

46,000 Words To Go…And I ‘ m Going To Give Myself A Year

Sitting at a cafe, editing the work I've done so far on the novel. I think I've realized that I'm not going to finish the Nanowrimo project in a month. I can't seem to resist the urge to edit what I've written, and that ends up taking up a lot of my time. I just can't speedwrite through 25,000 words in two weeks. I've written 4,000 words (13 pages or so) of a rough outline and that's good enough, I think. I'm not sure that I really like the idea of writing a throwaway novel in a month just for the sake of finishing a challenge, although I guess that's the point. If anyone is interested, here is a very unedited rough sketch of part of the  first chapter.   ***note: names of cars have been changed to protect the innocent***      

I am told that there was a first house that collapsed, but I have no memory of it. According to my father, it had been built in the traditional style, square and on stilts. One day the whole thing came down with a great crash and they salvaged the hand-peeled logs and began anew, building a second house that became a sprawling octagonal home for both humans and goats who lived underneath, waking us with their constant headbutting, indignant at being left out in the cold. The expanse of soft, sheltered ground under the house was dark and cavernous, and one afternoon my mother and I discovered Abigail, one of our female goats, lying under the house, her white belly heaving softly in the dim light. I can't remember her face or even her head, just the great expanse of her curled body lying prone in the dirt. "We need to get her water," my mother said, taking my hand and hiking up her skirt to climb back out from under the house. "Then we've got to to go down to Tony Roselle’s and see if he can help." I gripped her hand tightly, still listening to the slow wheezing in the dirt and feeling a crawling sort of dread. We emerged from under the house and walked to the spring, where I waited while my mother filled a bucket and brought it back down to Abigail. The water, always ice cold even in the summer, dribbled through my fingers. The spring flowed down the mountain, making a brief stop in an antique refrigerator that my father used to keep our perishable food in, which was also outfitted with a screen to keep the frogs out. Sunlight dappled on the leaves of the tall trees surrounding the cabin, making harsh shadows against the bright green. Suddenly my mother reappeared without the bucket. “All right, Ren. Ready?” I nodded. She took my hand again and we began the hike down to Tony Roselle’s cabin. Tony was an older man with a wizened look who smelled of pipe smoke. My parents had sold him a few acres of their land to build a camp on a few years back. He was a teacher, and usually came up on weekends. We couldn’t be sure he’d be home, but he was our only chance for help since my father was out running errands with Clara, our 1940’s pickup truck, and wouldn’t be back until much later in the evening. Tony’s cabin was very small- a camp, really. He saw us coming down the hill from his small porch that was filled with hanging plants. He was wearing a plain white T shirt and had the  usual pipe stuck in his mouth. -Well, hello there. -Hi Tony..how are you? We’re sorry to bother you, but it’s one of our goats…there’s something wrong with her and she’s                  lying under the house. Ben’s away…. you think you could come up and take a look at her? -Now, I don’t know much about animals, but I’ll see if I can help you girls out. Maybe try to get her out where we can see her          better. We three hiked back up the rough road to the cabin. As we walked, I forgot about the goat and focused on stepping in and out of the ruts along the edge of the road, some part of my brain watching out as always for the bears I obsessed about one day spotting on a walk through the woods. The rhythm of adult voices provided a lilting background hum to accompany my marching footsteps. In my dream I am running down the familiar path from the field and garden, past the compost pile toward the house. To my right the woods are a dark mass in which I can see the bears, waiting and watching for the right moment. I trip over the little rock that sticks up on the path and I go down. Now I am unable to move, unable to scream- I know that the bears have left the woods.