SCUBA Discovery Class: part 2

So I obviously survived my SCUBA experience. Yeah! I tried not to feel too nervous about it but only partially succeeded. About half way there I realized I forgot the paperwork. But I figured they had copies on hand that I could fill out again so I didn’t go back. And they did.I was the first student to arrive. And after waiting for more to show up they figure out that I was the only one. There had been six at one point but they all dropped out the last few because they were sick. You wouldn’t want your first SCUBA experience to be with congested sinuses. So I ended up with a private lesson for the group price! Plus there was a second instructor in training. It was great being the only one because everything happened at my speed. The only down side was having no one to gauge against how I was grasping the concepts.

The equipment is so much nicer than what my Dad worked with. It was really cool. I want to take him to the Dive Addicts store so he can see how things have evolved in the last 60 years. I had a hard time breathing until the instructor reminded me to focus on inhaling and the exhale will take care of its self. I just learned the very basics of clearing the face mask of water and getting my ears to adjust to the change in water pressure as we went into the deep end. It is hard to do with the mouthpiece in but I did succeed in getting pretty far down in the deep end. I had a hard time controlling my body underwater. It was my first time in swim fins too.

It was kind of fun but mostly hard work. I figure it is probably a lot like skiing for the first time, the learning curve is steep and it only gets better as you master some of the basic skills. By the time I got out I was exhausted. As I drove home I realized I was a bit sick to my stomach. Lunch helped that but my head of off the rest of the day. I think I had a bit of motion sickness. At first it was the same feeling I have when I’m on the verge of getting car sick. Later in the day I realized it was the same feeling I get after taking a couple of airplane flights.

I’m really glad I took the class. In my older age it feels like it is important to try new things and not get complacent about life and learning. I doubt I’ll do it again. But I wonder if my Dad would like to try the new equipment and see what it is like. If he wants to do that I want to be there with him. Then he could show me some of the ways he taught SCUBA.

(The took a couple of pictures during the class but they haven’t put them up on their Facebook page yet. I’ll add them here when they do.)

SCUBA Discovery Class

image from diveaddicts.com

On Saturday I’m taking an introductory class to SCUBA diving. The idea makes me a bit nervous. I’m not all that comfortable in the water and not a great swimmer. But my Dad suggested it would help me write about his time as a SCUBA instructor and I think he is right. I planned to take it in November but when I broke my hand a couple of weeks before they class that just wasn’t going to work. So I got to put it off. But now the day of reckoning is almost upon me. I’m sure it will be a learning experience and who knows maybe I’ll really enjoy it. I’ll let you know next week how it went.

Have you ever done something just so you could better understand a person or a subject? Are you glad you did?

Key West: update

Well, I don’t have total success to report but I did get some writing in (about half of the days). My parents are coming down on Friday, so I should get some time with my Dad over the next couple of weeks. When he called today he wanted me to find a road map for the 50s. I was glad I could tell him that I already had one. I even had it out on my desk from today’s attempt at writing about his cross-country drive to get to Key West from San Diego.

I also called about setting up a SCUBA class. Not surprising there isn’t anything available for October but they haven’t set up November yet. So they will contact me when they get that arranged. I have mixed feelings about taking the class. It’s just an hour so how bad can it be. But I think it will really be helpful in writing this history, so I’ll do it. Maybe it will be more fun than I expect.

I hope I’ll be reporting more writing progress with next weeks update than I did this week.

Key West: update

Progress made this last week but somehow managed not to write anything. I finished going through the “Buddy Line” newsletter for the Underwater Swimmers School last week. So far this week, I took the info I pulled from the “Buddy Line” and filed it in the folders I have set up under different subjects as reference when I actually start writing. I think this information will really be helpful. I don’t know of anything else I should gather or research so no more excuses for not to get started. Hopefully once I start writing it won’t be so painful to keep going. I’m committing to have some writing done by next week’s check in. In a perfect world I’d get at least 500 words written five times by then. Wish me luck!

Key West: update

I met with my Dad again yesterday to work on his history about the three years he was an instructor at the Navy’s Underwater Swimmers School in Key West, Florida. The goal was to try to make sure that I understand all the equipment etc. that he used. I’m amazed at how much I have learned about SCUBA and what he did there. I’m sure there is still more to know, but it is time for me to get back to writing. That is where I will figure out what I need to know.

Someone started a Facebook group for the Underwater Swimmer School. I created a Facebook account for my Dad so he could be apart of it. Not too many members yet but one was a student while my Dad was there and he remembers him. He even remembers that my Dad was known as Red in those days. He commented on how he lead them in PT drills (I think that was the term he used). I’m not sure what that means. Looks like I already have another question for my Dad.

Key West: update

I found an introductory SCUBA class. It lasts about an hour and costs $25. Not bad. I think I’d better wait for my seasonal allergies to pass before I jump into the pool. Popping my ears doesn’t work to well when my noses is stuffed. Plus the last week or so my allergies are driving me crazy. Too much time outside one day sets me up for a really bad day the next day.

I’ve had mixed success on writing 500 words per day. I was good last Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday not a word was written. Monday I did my 500 words and worked on a list of possible stories that might be included in the book. On Tuesday I got my 500 words in but it was a late night rush to get it done. I did better today having just finished my writing along with some research on the building of the railroad into Key West and the Castro revolution.

One thing I found helpful this week, that I finally did last time I chatted with my Dad about Key West. I used my phone to record the conversation so I could refer back to it and not worry about taking notes. I also took a short video clip with my camera of how to clear the water out of your face mask. I highly recommend it. Both have been helpful. With today’s technology it is super easy to do.

Key West: a new challenge

practicing in the pool at U/WSS in Key West

Yesterday I spent some time chatting with my Dad about his memories from the Underwater Swimmers School. As he was explaining how different parts of the SCUBA equipment work he came up with and idea that is both exciting and scary. He wants me to take a SCUBA class. That is not something that I’ve ever thought of having on my bucket list. While the thought is kind of scary and invokes claustrophobic images in my head, I think it would really give me some insight into this history and even other volumes of my Dad’s Navy experience. So I’ve add finding a class to my to do list for the week.

I’ve been working on writing at least 500 words on this project everyday. It is rather haphazard now but I’m doing it and that is a very good thing. My parents are heading back to Idaho tomorrow. I’d hoped they would stay down until the end of next week so I could get with my Dad some more but my Mom really want to get back home. They will be back in a couple of weeks.

I had no idea where this story project was going to take me when I started. It is stretching me in so many ways I never imagined. It is good to learn and do new things especially as I get older. I don’t want to get so old that I’m not willing to try to do new things. What ways have your family story projects helped you to learn new things?

Writing Challenge: day 58

The last day of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge has finally come. Kind of unbelievable. At times I wondered if I’d ever get through it but I was determined, no mater how long it took me to complete this. One of my goals with the challenge was to make a regular habit of doing something toward my Dad’s Key West history. For the most part I’ve accomplished that. I’ve also learned how much I still have to learn about writing creative non-fiction. But I have a plan for continuing to move forward with the history and improving my writing skills. Here are highlights of Lynn’s advice on the last day of her 28 day family history writing challenge:

  •  Take a lesson from this challenge and enlist the help of others.
  •  Continue to improve your craft.
  •  Find your ideal time.
  •  Plan your writing.
  •  Seek deadlines and accountability.
  •  Believe you are a writer.

The last one hit me the hardest. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I’m not a writer.” I am now vowing to never utter those words again. I certainly won’t become a writing if I keep saying that. To accomplish my goals I need to become a writing. The other one that needs some attention is finding an ideal time to write. While I’ve gotten this done almost everyday during the challenge, I haven’t been consistent with the time. So I’m setting a goal to figure out when that is and try it and adjust until I really do find the best time to write everyday.

Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me through this challenge. I think I’ll do at least weekly updates on how the Key West history is doing.

Writing Challenge: day 57

Second to the last day of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge! And fittingly today’s topic is about last lines. I’ve honestly never thought about this topic before. At least not consciously. Just another example of how much I have learned and still have to learn about writing. Here are the things that Lynn suggested to consider in writing great last lines in a family story:

  • Your last lines certainly need to bring a sense of finality to your story.
  • Your last line should resonate with your theme.
  • Your last line should be about your main ancestor and his final thoughts.  If you’re writing a memoir, then your final thoughts should be expressed in those last sentences.
  • Your last lines should demonstrate your ancestor’s growth or your growth through your family history journey.
  • Your last lines should slow the pace of your story down and ease the reader to the end.
  • Your last lines can teach a lesson or moral (of course without being preachy).
  • Your last lines should leave your reader with an understanding of how your ancestor’s life proceeded after the story is over.
  • Your last lines should be uplifting and hopeful.

Lynn also talked about writing the ending in advance. It helps in plotting the story to come full circle to the ending you want. She also has four formats to try in writing the last line.

  1. As a line of description
  2. Demonstrating your ancestor’s actions
  3. As a line of dialogue by your ancestor
  4. As an internal monologue by your ancestor or a thought or feeling by you the narrator.

Another excellent lesson by Lynn Palermo!

Writing Challenge: day 56

“Reading Like a Writer” is the topic for today in the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge Day 26. Just two days to finish. I’ve loved reading since the 5th grade when my teacher taught me to read for the enjoyment not so I could write a book report. Most of my reading in the last few years has been audio books that I listen to while I make dinner and do the dishes etc. Since starting this challenge I’ve noticed some of the tools authors use to tell their story that I’ve never noticed before. From reading the list below I see there are still more ways I can learn from my reading. Here are Lynn’s suggestions on how reading can help us to become better writers:

  1. Concentrate on reading books in your genre but don’t limit yourself. Read a wide range of books in a wide range of genres.
  2. Just like writing make reading a habit – a daily habit.
  3. Set a reading goal, I try to read 3 books a month.  I wish it could be more. Set a goal based on your own schedule. Join a book club; this is one of the best ways to make sure you’re reading on a regular basis and exposes you to a variety of books that others are choosing for you.
  4. Carry your reading with you; make the most of every opportunity to read.
  5. Read for enjoyment but also analyze character, plot and theme when reading.
  6. If a book resonates with you, read it a second time focusing on the more specifics of the story structure, the writer’s style and choices.
  7. Pay attention to the words, the preferences the writer makes and the organization and flow of those words.
  8. Don’t be afraid to take notes. It deepens your learning, gives you time to absorb what you’ve read and provides a resource for future reference.
  9. Write a review of a book you read, this provides you the opportunity to share some lessons you learned or explore some of the ideas it brought up for you.
  10. Read a wide range of writers from great writers, classic writers to current writers and unknown writers. There is a writing lesson in every book.
  11. Don’t waste time reading a book you don’t enjoy or understand. There are too many books in the world, put it down and move on to the next.
  12. Take cues from other writers.  Experiment with concepts you see other writers doing, then take it one step further and manipulate it and make it your own.