Tag Archives: money

Rocket Woman

Last night some of my coworkers and I went to an indoor skydiving facility called iFly Seattle.

All I have are two words: Mind. Blown.

I have always wanted to go skydiving but that little detail about possible death has held me back for some reason.  So when Mike told me that one of his clients had just built an indoor skydiving facility where the rate of death is 0%, I was intrigued.  Then one of my coworkers, who has gone skydiving before, suggested it as a team-building activity, and I jumped (but not out of a plane) at the chance.

We arrived at the building having no idea what to expect.   We didn’t even completely understand how it worked — a tunnel of air?  That can hold up a person?  And that person doesn’t die?

We checked in and sat in a little classroom for a ten minute lesson on how to position our bodies in the wind, how to read the instructor’s hand signals, and that no, somersaults are not allowed for beginners.

Then came the this-is-becoming-real part: the flight suits.   We were each fitted with a surprisingly comfortable jumpsuit and then told to put earplugs in our ears.

This should not have been difficult.  I put them in and felt like they were set when the instructor walked over to me, looked at each of my ears, and then said, “No.  These will fall out.”  He took them out, rolled them tight, pulled my ear away from my head and jammed the earplug so far in I swear it touched the back of my eye.

After that, I was legally deaf.

Helmets were passed out, goggles were strapped on our faces, and we were finally ready — to be Team America, apparently:

Since one of my teammates had skydived before, we graciously allowed him to lead us into the unknown.  The instructor gave the wind controller behind the glass the thumbs up to turn on the air, and it occurred to me that Mr. Wind Control really just looked like a DJ, which I found far too casual for the activity at hand.

Our teammate stood at the door of the giant wind tunnel, and then he leapt into it and I immediately decided I was not going next.

He was flailing all around and then suddenly he got himself in the pose we were taught, and just like that, he was flying.  The instructor gave him tips here and there, but mostly he was hovering in the air as we all cheered him on.  Well, we could cheer as loud as we wanted but due to hundred mile an hour winds and mind-bending earplugs, he probably just saw a bunch of silent muppets through the glass, waving our arms around.

In a split sixty seconds his turn was over and I was up.  I did a little deflection dance, trying to get the person behind me to go ahead of me, but the instructor was having none of it.

I stood at the doorway and jumped across his arms.  The intensity of the air hitting my face and the weightlessness of my body was immediately disorienting in the best possible way.  I got into position as quickly as I could, and after he moved my arms around a bit, there it was: I was floating.  I was also grinning like an idiot.

I couldn’t stop laughing as I realized that this felt completely natural and also like the best thing I’d done in years.  The instructor spun me around and I saw all of my teammates through the glass giving me the thumbs up, which made me feel like I must not look quite as ridiculous as I felt.  That or they were just glad it wasn’t their turn yet.

All too quickly, my minute was over and I jumped back onto the ground.  I felt absolutely fantastic, like I had just been shaken alive from a stupor.

Easily the best entertainment of the experience was watching other people fly.  I had to physically restrain myself from falling off my chair with laughter as each teammate went.  It wasn’t that they were any better or worse than me, it was just the sheer absurdity of watching someone you know get pummeled by 110 mile an hour winds.  People’s cheeks were pushed back and their lips were rumbling like a cartoon character falling off a cliff.  As each person got out of the tunnel it took them a minute to realize their entire chin was covered in saliva.  Oh, this was good entertainment.  Good indeed.

We all got to go a second time, and this time I was confident and the instructor knew it, too.  He saw me steady myself and then he showed me a head nod, teaching me to turn my face so that my whole body would spin.  It was insanity — I would barely turn my head and I spun like a top.  It was unreal.

At the end of our session our instructor said that no one was behind us in line, and if we’d like to go for an additional minute it would be $20.  No one hesitated.

Ha.  I tried to trick you there.  Did you fall for it?  Did you think I’d spend $20 without hesitation?  If you did, this is likely your first time reading this blog.

Everyone else went a second time, and I sat there telling myself I’d already spent $66 on this, and I’d likely be back to bring Mike and other family members, so I didn’t need to go.  But as each person went I could hardly stand to watch their glee.

As the last person exited, I jumped up and yelled, “OK I’ll do it!” into the deaf ears of everyone around me.

I don’t know if it’s because I held out, or because I’d done well the last time, but I’ll never forget what the instructor did next.  Ten seconds after I entered the tunnel and was floating, without warning he gave Mr. DJ the thumbs up and the force of the wind shot us thirty feet into the air, twisting and turning and flying all around the top of the tunnel, racing back and forth and driving downward and upward.  I went absolutely bananas, totally ballistic with joy.  It was exactly what I’d imagined Peter Pan must have felt as he dove in front of the moon in Hook.

One of my coworkers later told me, “I’d never seen you so happy!  It was incredible!”

Best $20 I’ve ever spent, hands down.

We all left the building completely elated, telling each other what we’d felt and who was funniest.

There is one drawback to indoor skydiving, and it’s significant: the experience is just too brief.  There’s no way around it.  Three minutes of flying only convinces you that you want more.  Which is a pretty brilliant marketing plan, but it’s also torture when you realize it’ll cost another eighty bucks to return.

It’s just a hunch, but I suspect I’ll gladly part with my cash if it means I can give the DJ the thumbs up and rocket to the moon.


Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

Designing Woman: Part Three

People may think of a number of descriptive words for me, but D0-It-Yourself is not among them.

One of my favorite blogs that I read all the time is Young House Love, and they are all about the DIY.  But they’re DIY on crack.  They knock down walls and paint brick and tear out concrete.  They do an incredible job of making it look accessible, but it still scares the junk out of me.

Enter our hideous bar stools that the previous owner of our home left us — and refused to pick up when we found she had left them (but we could hardly blame her — they’re hideous, after all):

Not only is the pattern like something from a Ringling Brother’s Circus, but one of them was actually stained:

How did we live with them for 16 months?  If I think about that question too long I will go into convulsions, so in the interest of time, let’s skip that question.

When Mike and I decided that we finally had to get rid them, naturally we planned to throw them away and buy new ones.  But then some DIY-type friends heard our plan and were aghast that we’d waste money and resources on “such a simple project.”

Sure.  Simple for you.  This coming from the people who carve their own dining room tables.

We promptly ignored their suggestion and proceeded to look for new bar stools.  However, upon finding that any decent bar stool was at least $150 a pop, we figured why not try to fix our current ones?  If we fail we can always throw the embarrassment in the garbage and THEN spend the $450.

Off to the fabric store we went.  We chose a fabric, bought a staple gun and some backing and headed home for the dirty work.

First we took the stools apart to determine if we’d need to strip the fabric.

We decided that the backing on our new fabric was thick enough to prevent any of the old fabric from showing through, so we left the seat fabric on.

The fabric on the back of the stool, however, had to come off.  That was not a fun process.

We then proceeded to iron our new fabric to ensure it was perfectly smooth.  When I say “we,” I mean “he.”  We all know I don’t know how to iron.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern?

Everything worked like a charm until this point.  The next step was nothing short of maddening.  We had to align the fabric perfectly, staple it correctly and tightly, and make sure the corners didn’t look freaky.  We alternated between talking to each other through gritted teeth like seamstresses on Project Runway, and cheering each other on like we were at the Mathletes Finals.

After dozens of removed staples, we finally had it:

…and then we realized we had to do it again two more times, and we almost decided it would be easier if we just sold our house and left the new owners with two torn apart stools.  Let history repeat itself, we said.

But we motored through, and finished all three seats and one seat back.

Those of you paying attention realize this leaves two seat backs unfinished.  How long do you think it took Mr. and Mrs. Reph to finish those last two seat backs?  I’ll give you some hints:

  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to get five credits at a university
  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to grow 1/3 of a baby
  • it’s the same amount of time that Seattleites enjoy the weather each year

Three months, people.  Three months.  For three months, two of our chairs sat there without backs.  For three months, we told our guests we’d “just started” this project and that we were going to complete it “this weekend.”  It was sometimes the last thing one of us would say to the other before falling asleep, “You know, we really need to finish those bar stools.  No seriously.  It’s embarrassing.”  The other would always dutifully reply, “I know.  Totally.  Let’s do it this weekend.  Oh wait, we’re out-of-town.  Next weekend, then.  For sure.”

This went on for three months.

Until this week.  This week, in a fit of energy, we decided it had to come to an end.  We got home from a date, walked right into the dining room and started stapling like it was our jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen:


Aren’t they pretty?  But really, the attractiveness doesn’t even matter to me at this point.  The point is that they are done, complete, finito.

And just as I hoped, they bring in the red from the family room behind them, and help add a little color and interest to the space.

The other side of the victory is that what should have cost $450 ended up only costing $35 ($20 for the fabric and backing, $15 for the staple gun).  Even though they aren’t perfectly done, I’ll take imperfect at $35 over perfect at $450…at least for now.

Instead of teaching us that we are DIY-capable, this certainly proved to us that we should never remodel a home.  It took us three months to do the backs of two stools; I don’t think we should be knocking down walls and replacing granite counter-tops.  For the sake of our marriage, obviously.

To read about other design projects we’ve conquered managed, see here and here.


Filed under UpWORD (Beauty)

There’s Good News and Bad News…

Last night as I left a friend’s house, I got pulled over by a cop.  I have not been pulled over in years…come to think of it, neither has Mike.  We have a great track record, and as I pull to the side of the road, I’m totally annoyed that I’m the one who broke it.

“Hello, ma’am,” he says politely.  “Do you know how fast you were going?”

I hate when they ask this.  It’s a trick: answer honestly and you admit to breaking the law.  Lie and you look like a liar.

“Um, maybe 35 or 40, sir?” I reply.

“Well, in fact you were going 43, and this is a 35 zone.”

“Yikes,” I gulp, with the most pathetic look on my face.  “I’m so sorry, Officer.”  My father taught me to always address policemen as “officer.”  So far, it appears to be working.

“Where were you going in such a hurry?” he asks.

I don’t have time to think of something less embarrassing, so I tell him the truth.  “I was watching ‘The Bachelor’ at a friend’s house and now I’m just driving home….”

He fights a smile.  He has the kindest eyes I’ve seen on a police officer, and this gives me a ray of hope.  And I desperately need that ray of hope, because I know what’s coming next.

He walks back to his patrol car, and then two minutes later returns to my window. 

“Now, looking at just your speed, that’s about $150.  But did you know your tabs are also expired?” 

There it is.  I’m hosed.

“Actually,” I say to him, “just yesterday my husband noticed that and told me to change them.  I’m really sorry, Officer.”  This statement is one hundred percent true.  I bite my lip and look up at him.

He goes on, “And I can’t prove it, but there was a construction site about a quarter-mile before I pulled you over, so that would be another $150.  And the tabs would be $100.  Do you realize this is a $400 ticket?”

He says all of this, but has nothing in his hands.  Against all odds, I hear the tingling sound of victory bells three miles away.

“My goodness, I can’t believe that.  I’m so sorry, Officer.”  And I really am — I mean, who can claim to have their life together and be driving around on January 31 with tabs that expired in October?  Yes, October.

He smiles and hands me my license.  “Have a nice day.”

I am too shocked to speak.  I cannot even smile.  I look up at him and say “Thank you,” but it’s small and quiet because I am stunned into silence.

I didn’t get a ticket!  I thank God the entire way home for his divine mercy, because that’s the only explanation for that officer’s behavior.

I decide to tell Mike that I got one anyway, so that when I tell him I didn’t, he’ll be really excited.  This is a cruel game married people love to play.

I walk into our condo slouched over like Charlie Brown.  I don’t make eye contact.  I just say, “I got a ticket.”

“What?  No way!  How fast were you going?”

“43 in a 35.  But it’s the TABS!  The TABS make it $400!!” 

Now he remembers our little conversation yesterday, and he’s mad.  But right as I’m about to make his day by telling him it didn’t happen, he interrupts me.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?”  he asks.

What is he talking about?  I’m supposed to be dropping all of the bad/good news…

“I got a ticket today, too!”


I don’t actually cuss at him, but the dozens of explosives going off in my head at once won’t allow me to process a coherent response.

He apparently doesn’t notice that my jaw is on the floor and my eyes are three inches outside my head, and keeps talking.

“Man, am I relieved.  I’ve been dreading telling you all day, but now that we both did it, you can’t be mad!  This is awesome!”

His joyful glee needs to come to an end.  We are not in the same boat.  There is a crucial difference to our stories, and it’s time he knew what it was.

“AHA!  But I lied!  I did get pulled over, but I DIDN’T GET A TICKET.”

I thought of the most obnoxious dance possible and starting doing it with great enthusiasm.  In case you’re into details, it involved a lot of hip thrusts and pumping of arms.

I was dancing so violently I barely registered his expression of shock.  But being the ever-optimist that he is, it didn’t take long for his indignation to give way to his mental calculations. 

Suddenly he was ecstatic again.  “Do you realize what this means?!  It’s like our insurance will barely even go up at ALL!”

Mr. Sunshine has a point.  And I’m so grateful that I didn’t get nailed that I decide this is one of those moments in life that is most ironic, and we high-five.


Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)