November 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo and the Grand Canyon

My nails are scrawny nubs.  It's the last week of NaNoWriMo and I'm woefully behind.  It reminds me of the first time I met the Grand Canyon....{drifts into a procrastinating flashback}

My family stood overlooking the expansive beauty of the Grand Canyon while I hung grippingly to the furthest rock away from the edge.

"Isn't this something?" my husband asked.

"Umm-hmm," I answered.  Beads of sweat lined my brow.

We hiked up the path and while my children pointed out different aspects of the area, all I could see was the absence of a fence.  Anyone could step off into oblivion.  I made my husband promise to hold the hands of our two younger children, enlightening him on how to secure the death grip.

My eleven year old daughter walked in front of me.  And everytime she crossed an inch over the center of the path, I cried out for her to get back in the middle.

"This is great, huh?"  I said, trying to not seem so controlling.

She shot me a look of exasperation. 

I was making it miserable.  So I swallowed hard and tried not to call out again until she was at least two inches off the mark.  She clicked picture after picture while I avoided looking into the gap altogether. 

My brain buzzed with dizziness and I didn't want to accidentally jump.  Something about being close to an edge always tempts me.  Not that I'm suicidal, it's just an impulse. And perhaps that's why I was so terrified.  I didn't trust myself to keep from skydiving minus a parachute.

After an hour, we reached the top of our hike.  A path that merged into a simple bridge which led to a large, lookout boulder for tourists to take pictures.

It seemed more like a place of insanity to me.  I froze.  Fear stole my voice as my husband neared the bridge.  I attempted to call out but only a sniveling whisper escaped my lips.

He didn't hear me; didn't even turn around.  He stepped onto the bridge.  The handrail was simply two pipes with enough room between them for a toddler to crawl through.  I clinched my fists in terror as I watched my husband pull along my youngest daughter and son.

My eldest daughter hadn't heard me either.  She strolled onto the bridge. 

I thought nausea would overcome me. 

She stopped at the center, pulled up the camera then bent against the railing to get a picture.

Finding my voice, I screamed, "Get across the bridge!"

Startled, she threw a scowl at me and hurried across.  Hindsight told me yelling probably wasn't the best decision.  Trembling, I sat in the crevice of a large rock as far away from the edge as I could.  I tried to focus on the little tree diagonal from me to gain perspective and calm my beating heart.

Two older men came up the path.  I kept my eyes on the little tree.  When they got directly in front of me, they paused to take photos.  The buzz in my head grew stronger and the world began to swirl.  I blinked quickly.  One of the men took hold of the tree trunk I was gazing at.  He used it as leverage, leverage, and backed off the path.

Were there no limits to this insanity?

He took another step.

With authority, I said, "Please, step away from the ledge!"

The two men chuckled.  But then they caught sight of my panic-stricken face, and sobered.  He pulled himself back to the path and gave a little nod.

"Of course, Ma'am.  I can see someone has a fear of heights."

A desperate noise like broken laughter escaped my lips.  They skirted along the path quickly as if narrowly escaping the insane woman on the rock. 

I heard my little boy's laugh.  He was chattering excitedly about what they'd seen.  When they reached me, my husband laid his hand on my shoulder in concern.  "Are you okay?"  I knew my ashen face and mascara-smeared eyes were telling.

"I'm fine," I lied, trying to sound brave but coming out garbled.

"Why didn't you go with us, Mommy?" my son asked.  He studied me a moment.  "Were you scared?"  He drew out the last word as if calling me a chicken.

"A little."

He took hold of my hand.  "You won't fall," he said, giving me a squeeze.  We walked down the sloping trail together.  He kept glancing at me to see if I was enjoying myself.  And for him I attempted, with great effort, to admire the view.  He was right, it was gorgeous.

But despite the allure of the famous Grand Canyon, the most beautiful sight I saw that day was our car waiting patiently at the bottom of the path.

{Back into reality with blank screen looming in front of me.}  I suppose this story has a moral.   If I can survive the Grand Canyon, I can survive NaNoWriMo.  Right?


  1. I hear you - I'm woefully behind on my NanoWrimo novel, too. And it is really scary at times. But, just think of the story you'll have to tell when you win...

  2. RZ - yeah...a story to tell...good thinking. Best of luck on your novel too!

  3. I think there is a picture book in that story! Great post...

  4. Sharon, I've attempted writing picture books. I find I have to cut a lot. Guess I'm too long-winded. :)

  5. You have to remember that the pictures show part of the story.


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