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Tuesday, July 29 2003 @ 10:27 PM PDT

Contributed by: matt

Like most people, one of the reasons I started this place up was to get back in the habit of writing consistently so that I could improve my abilities in that arena. In order to get further faster (I have the attention span of an addled gnat), I've also been doing some writing exercises.

One of the exercises I did was to start with an imagined snapshot in time and space, and describe it. The goal was to try to capture and accurately portray one of those "You had to be there." moments.

The starting point I chose was, "Slept in the car because it was raining. Woke up. Had to pee."

Constructive criticism is encouraged.

The rain beat down incessantly. It was almost seven in the morning, and daylight still couldn't be detected through the clouds. I had just woken up, and even the heavily oxygenated forest air wouldn't clear my head. It had started to rain about a half hour before I had pulled over for the night so I had slept in the truck to avoid dealing with a wet, muddy tent in the morning. Now that morning had come, I found myself sitting in the passenger seat with a crick in my neck, wishing that I had slightly less foresight.

As a kid, whenever somebody had to pee really badly on a car trip, we'd torture them by talking about water. We'd make them picture a trickling stream running down the side of a dew covered mountain, the cool, crisp water bubbling merrily over a cascade of a thousand miniature waterfalls. We'd talk about the rushing rapids of an angry river whose banks were the sole relief for thousands of square miles of melting snow. We'd do our best to paint in our victim's mind the power and intensity of Niagara Falls, dumping the entirety of a huge river down into a chasm created by eons of erosion, and the way the thunderous arrival of water in the pool is only outmatched by the aesthetic splendor of the curtains of droplets and mist escaping, however briefly, the confines of their natural containers.

With what appeared to be the full force of Niagara coming down around me, I didn't need the goading of the children of my memory to amplify the intense pressure in my bladder. In the haze that was my mind that morning, that single need quickly became my top priority.

One of the things you come to accept while camping, which was essentially what I was doing, is that there are many things you take for granted within the confines of civilization, and most of the things you take for granted center around bathroom activities. Waking up, using the toilet, bathing, and grabbing a cup of your morning beverage of choice is a routine that most people feel is necessary to feel like yourself by the time you walk out the door. When you're camping, the whole process is either bass ackwards or thrown out completely, especially when it's raining like hell.

This particular morning, I woke up, quaffed down the dregs of a warm bottle of iced tea in a vain attempt to satiate the perversely out of place dryness in my mouth, put some clothes on, laced up my boots, dug out my jacket and hat, opened the door, plopped my foot into a mud puddle, and lumbered straight into the outstretched arms of mother nature, scorned.