I’m running like a mad woman down a mountainside in sweatpants, t-shirt, slippers, and wet hair in 40-degree weather, through mud puddles, gravel, and overgrown brush. Why, you ask? Let me tell you.
About once a month, I drive down to the North Carolina Smoky Mountains to visit my husband as he finishes up school. While I’m here, I do much of my correspondence with the New York City music scene by e-mail and phone. I send out resumes, headshots, musical recordings, and videos to possible employers and all but beg them to hire me for an advertised gig that I’ve found online. It’s a taxing life, with little stability, but one that I am willing to give up job security, our four-bedroom house with a yard and a pool, and any sense of a normal life for. Dedicated, or crazy?
I applied for an internship several weeks ago with a large New York City record company. I thought, Here is my chance to learn all the ins and outs of the business, make some contacts, and maybe get some discounted studio time. I worked hard on the resume and carefully crafted the cover letter that I sent hoping for a call back, interview, and eventual hired position. Weeks later, however, after still not hearing from them, I pretty much gave up. Such is life. Such is the business. I packed up the Hyundai, loaded up the dog, and again drove the 12 hour distance to Franklin, NC to see my husband.
While I am here in Franklin and waiting for him to return from class, I have no TV, no cell phone signal, no dependable landline, and a 25-minute drive down a mountain to get to any kind of civilization. The neighbors are few and far in between, mostly consisting of trailer homes or small log cabins with confederate flags mounted on the mailboxes and overgrown with the thick woods of the surrounding area. The road is not paved, only dirt, one lane, and very rough.
I sat on the bed, watching Friends DVDs on our trusty laptop computer when I was shocked to hear my cell phone ring (Walkin After Midnight by Patsy Cline happens to be my current ring tone). The area code was NYC. I answered, “Hello?”
“Hello Elizabeth, I am calling about your recent application for our internship.”
“Oh!” I said, “Great! Just one thing, I get very poor signal here so I might cut –“ AH! My phone lost signal. I panicked and tried to call him back. Nothing. I tried the landline. Nothing. Are you kidding me? What if I was having a heart attack or something? How do these people live like this? I threw on the first pair of shoes I could find which happened to be a pair of my husband’s slippers with an automated foot massaging system built into the soles and took off out the front door with my cell phone.
I ran as fast as the battery operated slippers would allow while obsessively hitting the redial button on my phone, hoping the clouds would miraculously part and that satellite in outer space would smile upon me for just a moment. I began to slow down, out of breath and cautious of an upcoming neighbor’s home. The best piece of advice I’ve heard from a local in this town is, “Mountain people just wanna be left alone.” You don't have to tell me twice. I began to walk, not wanting to draw attention to the psycho looking stranger tearing through their front yard, when something stopped me dead in my tracks. A huge, black rottweiler looked up from its napping position on the front porch. Okay, I thought. Cesar Millan says be the pack leader. Don’t be afraid. I’m the pack leader. The dog stood up, tensed, and growled. It took a few steps toward me. That’s when I noticed, no leash, no fence. I couldn’t retreat fast enough. I did a 180 and worked my hamstrings harder than they’ve ever worked before, booking it up that practically vertical mountainside. I could see the headlines now, "Out of Town Yank Mauled to Death by Trusty Guard Dog; Body not Found for Days."
After a few minutes of adrenaline fueled sprinting, I was far enough away from the monster to slow down. I consoled myself about the lost phone call over and over, What will be, will be. You can’t change what’s meant to happen – or not happen. Despite my positive affirmations I grew more and more annoyed and angry as I trudged back up the hill. I was angry at this town, angry at the dog, angry at the slippers whose “on” switch had been inadvertently flicked and were now buzzing at my feet, and angry at t-mobile for not putting a cell phone tower nearby. I continued to flip open my phone, hoping in vain for the signal emblem to reappear.
That opportunity has long vanished. Since then however, another window has opened – another internship with endless possibilities if I dedicate myself. My goal is to record an album with the help of the talented contacts I’ve made. Then again, who knows what the future may hold for me. Plans don’t always work out the way you think they should. But no matter how committed I may be to my goals, it turns out that for me, the line between dedicated and crazy is an unrestrained, mountain man's rottweiler guard dog.