Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A little rain must fall

For all the non-Oregonians reading, what do you think of when you picture my fair state?

Hats off to those who said “wine,” but I’m guessing at least half of you said “rain.”

(Feel free to insert your own Oregon joke here about how we don’t tan, we rust. Or maybe the one about how our state flower is mildew).

While it’s true spots like Portland and Eugene are supremely soggy, that’s not the case here in the high desert of Central Oregon where it seldom rains. Though Pythagoras and I both grew up in rainy parts of the state, we’ve been on the dry side for 13 years.

That’s just long enough to alter our perception of rain to the point that we briefly considered canceling our hike when we woke Saturday morning to see drizzly conditions. Then we remembered real Oregonians have gills. We scoff at umbrellas. We don’t consider it a true hike unless there’s mud, dammit.

So we set out for a hike around Tumalo Falls. By the time we returned to the car, it looked like we’d both spent the last few hours standing fully clothed beneath the falls.
I posted that picture on Twitter with some silly comment about it looking like I peed my pants in reverse. I didn’t think much of it until an online pal wrote that she was sorry the rain ruined my hike.

That struck me as funny.

Maybe it’s the fact that if Oregonians let rain ruin things, we’d have very little bliss in our lives.

Or maybe it’s that the rain kind of made the hike.

I left my jacket at home, so Pythagoras chivalrously loaned me his. The dog – unaccustomed to soggy soil – kept spinning out and making us laugh. And the smell of the high desert when it rains is the closest thing I can think of to heaven.

I guess I never considered the rain might be a negative.

Admittedly, I’ve always been an optimist. I probably couldn’t have endured such a bumpy journey to publication if that weren’t the case.

Even so, it can be tough to keep a positive attitude when you’re in the trenches gathering rejections or struggling with a book that won’t cooperate. You have it in your mind how things should go, and any deviation from that can send you into a tailspin.

But sometimes what seems like a setback can turn out to be the best thing. There’s no doubt I was crushed years ago when Harlequin/Silhouette canceled the Bombshell line a month before my debut was scheduled for publication, but I look back now and breathe a sigh of relief. That’s not the sort of book I wanted to write in the long-term, but it took a major shakeup to prompt me to realize I should take a different path.

While you probably won’t always feel like dancing for joy when the downpour hits, there’s almost always something to be gained from it.

Are you an optimist, or do setbacks tend to hit you pretty hard? Can you recall anything that’s happened to you that seemed heartbreaking at the time, but turned out to be the best thing for you?

Please share in the comments. I’m still trying to get the rainwater out of my underwear.

30 comments :

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It rains here a lot so we're used to it! But we use umbrella's... lol

CJ xx

TheLabRat said...

Try using an umbrella when you ride a bike everywhere (I wear hats). I'm actually a recent transplant from California and technically I'm in Washington (Vancouver) but I'm hoping to land Oregon side when I finally get these stupid finances sorted out.

For the record I started following your blog because you're funny. So finding out you're local (ish...I'm guessing you're nowhere near Portland or else that would have been one heck of a drive for a hike) is a happy bonus. I've been hunting down Oregon and Washington bloggers to cyberstalk while I get the lay of the land.

And also...your hair looks awesome curly.

Patty Blount said...

An optimist? Not by nature. I have to work at it. I'm more realistic than either optimistic or pessimistic though I suppose that often resembles pessimism.

I worked for a horrid boss back in '97. He ridiculed me in public. As you know, I'm NY born and raised so yeah, have an accent. Sue me. Anyhow, he thought it would be great fun to use a staff meeting for diction lessons. He stood up, wrote this on the white board; "draw ring" and then erased the R, explaining to all 15 people in the room that "There is only one R in 'drawing', Patty."

That's just one of many personal and insulting incidents I endured for 2 years with this guy. I reported him to HR and their response was to send me off to Dale Carnegie training: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I finished the course, regained my confidence, quit that job and ended up here, where I do what I LOVE, and make nearly three times the salary I did then.

Found out he relocated cross-country to work for Microsoft and they FIRED HIM!

What goes around, comes around.

Laura Maylene said...

Pfft on people who can't handle rain. Though I have to admit I've only visited Oregon in summer months, when it's been sunny and beautiful, so it's hard to imagine that during the other 9 months of the year, Portland and Eugene are apparently soggy messes. But who doesn't love rain?

I'd like to think I'm an optimist overall, but honestly, just the thought that my first book could fall through is too much for me to even imagine right now.

Alexa O said...

Barbara Kingsolver once wrote "what we dread most can sometimes save us."

I love this, and think it is so true.

For one thing, once the thing you are dreading comes to pass, you can breathe deeply and stop dreading it.

So yes, I suppose I am an optimist.

Today at least. :)

Penelope said...

Great, great post. I'm definitely an optimist myself.

I had to marry the wrong person to discover what I really want and need out of a partner. I got an amazing child out of the deal, but divorce and single motherhood seemed crushing at the time. Fast forward two and a half years...I couldn't be happier and I wouldn't have learned what I learned without that specific experience.

Danica Avet said...

Yay for rain. I do like rain. I love to listen to it, to smell it, to feel it. It's lovely, really.

Okay, so when I was orphaned earlier this summer by an agent who loved my work, I was depressed, but decided to keep going. I even tried to resurrect the same series and hope someone would want it. But lately, after working on a completely different project, I think I was trying to force myself into a market that's already brimming with the same type of stories.

I'm still writing paranormal, but I'm to the point where I'm going in a different direction and I think my writing is much better for it (as well as my chances for publication). So my downpour may have been for the absolute best.

Candyland said...

I just hit a BIG setback. I'm not really sure what to think about it or where to go from here. I'll just keep doing what I do...I guess:/

Linda G. said...

I'm optimistic by nature. Not that I don't get cranky when a deluge hits, but I tend to get over it pretty quickly. If somebody hands me a bag of horse sh*t, I start looking for the pony. ;)

It probably helps that I'm stubborn. Nobody's going to tell me what I can't do.

Sharla said...

Hmmmm, probably not an optimist by nature, but I've become one by necessity. My hubby is the biggest "glass half empty" person in the world, so I have to balance things out.

In doing that, it's become automatic for me to find the silver lining in things...even seeing that something isn't in God's plan yet. And that everything happens for a reason. Doesn't have to be our reason...or make sense...or even make us happy. It serves some purpose.

We can dwell in how we wish things to be, or make lemonade (wine coolers) with those darn lemons and still have a good time! :)

Jason said...

I don't necessarily see myself as an optimist or a pessimist, so I guess by default that makes me realistic.

When I hit a setback, I will usually stew on it with a negative vibe for a bit. Try and ignore it. Let the anger/disappointment marinate a bit.

Of course, you can only do that for so long before you have to take a new perspective on it and make the best possible whatever it is out of it. (Yes, I fully know this, yet I keep doing it every time anyway. Does that make me insane?)

As for the rain, as a lifetime Oregonian it doesn't bother me a bit. Now, my dog, who grew up near you Tawna, really can't stand it. Sorry pups, but you are going to have to get used to it...

Clever Betty said...

I was married to a man from Mumbai, India for 5 years. We're divorced but still friends. He was so much fun. The rain thing reminded me - he and I were planning to go to the park and hang out. It started pouring down rain. My first reaction was disappointment. He just laughed. They have monsoons in India. A little rain wasn't going to stop him. We went to the park and had the whole damn place to ourselves. It was sooo much fun.

Clever Betty said...

I was married to a man from Mumbai, India for 5 years. We're divorced but still friends. He was so much fun. The rain thing reminded me - he and I were planning to go to the park and hang out. It started pouring down rain. My first reaction was disappointment. He just laughed. They have monsoons in India. A little rain wasn't going to stop him. We went to the park and had the whole damn place to ourselves. It was sooo much fun.

Clever Betty said...

I was married to a man from Mumbai, India for 5 years. We're divorced but still friends. He was so much fun. The rain thing reminded me - he and I were planning to go to the park and hang out. It started pouring down rain. My first reaction was disappointment. He just laughed. They have monsoons in India. A little rain wasn't going to stop him. We went to the park and had the whole damn place to ourselves. It was sooo much fun.

Pauline said...

I'm from Vancouver (the Canadian one) where it rains a lot, dogs wear raincoats and we don't carry umbrellas either - I only started wearing mascara after moving to a drier country. Setbacks hit me hard but I bounce back. I think the important thing is not to let setbacks harden you or close you off to the next experience. I'm an optimist at heart. Why wish for bad stuff to happen when you can be hopeful for the good stuff?

Clever Betty said...

Tawna - Not sure how I posted that comment 3 x but I'm sorry. I'm a techno klutz. Hopefully my apology will only post once. If not, you can put me in a corner for a while.

Amanda said...

I'm an optimist even when I have absolutely no reason to be...and, I love the rain.

Squeaky said...

Did you know that the smell after rain has a name? Petrichor. *contented smile*

Gina said...

My first thought at the word "Oregon" isn't rain or wine. It's "Trail" Followed by "You have died of dysentery." And losing oxen at the ford. Because I am a nerd of a certain age. Enjoy the rain though. :) One of my biggest pleasures in college was playing Frisbee on the field hockey field during/after a big summer storm. The field was artificial turf, and spongy, so it squished and bounced when it was wet. You don't mind a flying dive catch so much when you're falling onto a water bed :D

lora96 said...

It is better to be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.

Yes, folks, I read that on a sugar packet at my local chinese restaurant but that doesn't diminish it's value. :)

lora96 said...

It is better to be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.

Yes, folks, I read that on a sugar packet at my local chinese restaurant but that doesn't diminish it's value. :)

Glynis said...

I'm a transplant to the Pacific NW, now living in Van-tucky. Husband is a native duckfoot. We went back to my home, DC, for vacation a year ago. While there, we had a couple of days of awesome, summer showers. Didn't slow us down a bit, though it was fun watching everyone skedaddle.

I no longer "hunch" over when it rains, and I cannot tell you where my umbrella is. Looks like I'll have moss growing on me in no time.

Jan Markley said...

I usually give myself a certain amount of time to get over a publishing hurdle and then I get on with it. I documented my own roller coaster ride to being published on my blog.

Dr. Goose said...

I moved, with Daisy, from the NW to Denver in '98. It was 5 yrs. of cancelations due to rain. Cancelations due to rain?

They would also slow down to 20 mhp when it rained but would go 80 mph in the snow.

Claire Dawn said...

95 % of the time, I'm an optimist. But when I'm being pessimistic, it's abnormally bad. Like death to the world, bad.

Mommy A. said...

I read this post and had to say something I've always been afraid to say. I know I can because of the somewhat-anonymity of the blog world. My dreariest, rainiest, down-pour-iest day was the day I lost my mother.A rain so bad I thought I was going to drown in it and I would never again see sunshine.
Now, on her birthday and 14 years after her death, I can say that losing her forced me to grow up in a way I never would have as the coddled, spoiled baby of 7. And having survived that, as well as being her daughter for all of the years I had her, has made me a better wife, mother, and person in general.
Thanks for the reminder.

Tawna Fenske said...

Crystal, I'm not sure what it is with Oregonians and our refusal to use umbrellas, but there's a running joke that when you DO spot someone carrying one, it's almost always a tourist.

TheLabRat, I grew up in Salem and Pythag grew up in Portland, but I always avoid listing our current hometown on the blog. It's not tough to figure out from the Central Oregon context clues, but it's one of those things I do because of his job. Oh, and thanks for the curly hair comment. I'm supremely lazy about my hair, which stays pretty straight in dry climates, but it tends to turn curly when it gets wet. Welcome to the Pacific NW, by the way.

Patty, that guy sounds awful! Guess he got what was coming to him, eh?

Laura, LOL, I love the rainy side of the state in the summer months when it's not so rainy, but trust me -- you get awfully sick of it day after day after day between September and June!

Alexa, great Kingsolver quote! I adore her.

Penelope, I've made that same analogy with my agent situation -- I had to pick the wrong agent first to recognize how truly amazing my current agent is now.

Danica, I'm keeping all fingers and toes crossed that good things are on your horizon!

Candyland, ((hugs)) and I'm sorry to hear you're having a lousy time.

Linda G, OMG, that horse shit/pony thing is hysterical. Did you just make that up?

Sharla, great points all around! Pass me those lemons, please.

Jason, our dogs seem very perplexed by the rain when it happens. They stand there hunched up like they're being doused with nuclear waste. Snow though -- bring it on!

Clever Betty, that sounds like a terrific memory! (No worries on the duplicate comments...Blogger sometimes does that, it's a bastard that way).

Pauline, amen to everything you said!

Amanda, being an optimist when you have no reason to be is the best time to do it :)

Squeaky, you are a wealth of fascinating information. Either that, or you're full of crap. I'm going to go look up that word now :)

Gina, LOL, you must be a history buff! Your rain experience sounds like lots of fun.

lora96, I should get that line tattooed somewhere on my body. Or on my husband's body, that would be better.

Glynis, ah yes, the "hunching" is a common thing among new arrivals to the Pacific NW. Kills the shoulders!

Jan, time to lick the wounds is always important!

Dr. Goose, I remember the first time I saw a sporting event canceled for rain when I was living in Montana. I was baffled, until I realized they pretty much never cancel anything for snow.

Claire Dawn, ah yes, the dark place is a bad spot to be.

Mommy A, I'm so very, very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Even though it sounds like it's made you a strong person, that's such a heartbreaking thing to deal with. ((hugs))

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

TheLabRat said...

Glynis...I'm in Vantucky too! Aptly nicknamed little burg we live in. I was in downtown Portland waiting for the bus back to Washington one day and met a guy from middle-of-nowhere West Texas who also lives here. He said, and I quote, "I'm tryin' to move out here becuase Vancouver is just a little bit redneck." This was said in a great Texas clip. I lolled.

Matthew AT Banning said...

The first thing I think of when someone mentions Oregon is the beach and the taffy in Seaside :)

We did a band trip to Portland roughly six years ago. Absolutely loved it and would definitely love to come down again :) Hopefully in the hear future :D

LadyGenette said...

A little bit of rain, a steady drizzle doesn't bother me in the least. Since I grew up in Arizona with many, many vacations to places where water actually comes from the sky, rain is a blessing to me. The only type I don't like is the kind that makes it hard to walk in flip-flops--torrential rains with 40+ mph winds. Anything less than that and I'm outside enjoying myself.