Coming Out Slingin’

By John R. NoceroJennifer Rawley, Molly Downhour & Patricia Graham

John:    According to Goeke (2018), in the early 1960s, a Manhattan comic book company was on a roll. They had just created a slew of characters that quickly became popular among fans. But when they wanted to create yet another hero, they got stuck. They already created the strongest guy in the world, someone who could fly, and now were thinking, “What else is left?” As they thought about what to do, one writer looked up and saw a fly crawling up the wall. He thought to himself, “Wow, suppose a person had the power to stick to a wall, like an insect.” That writer was Stan Lee, and he created the best superhero Marvel ever made.

Spider-Man does something that no other magic savior can – bring the realm of heroes down to Earth. He’s a teenager in way over his head. If he doesn’t learn fast, he won’t be a very useful guardian. But the more he practices, the more he’s forced to sacrifice his relationships, even his dreams, to do what he needs to. Sound familiar? That’s the pain of anyone trying to accomplish anything meaningful. As a result, Spider-Man is the most relatable superhero of all time. This connection runs deep.

Question for my three friends: What was the time you were in way over your head but came out slingin’?

Jen: This week I had a reminder of a notable time I was in over my head – a home renovation. We sold our mountain home a few days ago, after owning it for almost four years. We purchased the property when it was in a decrepit state following a foreclosure. The house could only have been described as ugly; it had good bones, but that was all. We purchased it for the land it was on- 2.5 acres on the side of a mountain west of Asheville, NC. After diligently searching for months to find something, we were excited to make an offer and turn it into a cozy mountain home. We were also thrilled with the price tag which allowed us freedom to renovate without going bankrupt.

We spent the first several weeks making it safe to sleep in and the four of us stayed in a single bedroom and shared a bathroom for over a month. The kitchen, laundry, living rooms- every space, was completely torn out or otherwise non-functional except the master suite. My husband and I did most of the cosmetic work ourselves and we outsourced electrical, plumbing and dry-walling.  It felt like each time we would gain momentum we would have a setback. We struggled with hired help that would show up for several days and then suddenly disappear. Later on, we would sit on projects waiting for pay day. I made a major mistake with paint- I bought all semi-gloss instead of flat or eggshell and painted two massive living areas with high ceilings before I realized I could almost see my reflection (and every single imperfection) on them. Nothing about the house was square, therefore everything we did had to be modified to correct it. Not a single cabinet, tub, piece of molding, or flooring fit without effort. I worked full-time at the hospital thru it all and I recall many nights working until very late painting, installing floors, grouting and literally putting blood, sweat and tears into our home. We were both exhausted and there were days we could barely move from the work.

After about six months, we were at the point where most of the house was livable and within nine months we had it fully decorated. We left some work for future, specifically a fourth bathroom and the kitchen (which we had cosmetically upgraded but ultimately planned for an overhaul much later). We spent countless hours in the yard, which was much larger than we originally thought and overgrown. Each time we cut the grass, we would mow an extra row outward eventually realizing the property had once been magnificently landscaped. Once finished, we lived happily and comfortably until I had an unexpected job transition about two years ago. We had been undecided about selling it, but ultimately it was too far for a weekend getaway and we had to admit it. We listed it last month and had five offers in the first week.  It was bitter-sweet, but closing on the house, and this chapter of my life, has been amazing. I am so glad we never gave up, that we fought thru the challenges and finished the renovation. Now, we are able to take the hard-earned equity and move on to our next big thing! We don’t know what that will be just yet, but for today, it’s a sense of accomplishment and peace which is more than enough for now….and I think it passes John’s “coming out slingin'” test.

Molly:  Rather than sharing a story about myself, I’m sharing a story of a real super hero who came out slingin’. It was the summer before my senior year in college and I was a nursing extern at a children’s hospital. My patient was a 10 year old little girl, who had be set on fire by her father. I learned in morning report that her mother and brother were killed in the fire. She had already had 10 surgeries by the time she was my patient that day. My assignment was to do her full body dressing change. She had no legs beyond her knees, her arms were webbed for future skin grafts, and she only had one forearm with a few fingers. Her face was badly burned, missing ears, a reconstructed mouth, and only a few patches of hair. I was devastated by her suffering physically and emotionally and overwhelmed with my task. I didn’t know where to begin other than to gather supplies and pre-medicate her for the dressing change. Sensing my struggle, she tells me to start with her legs and work my way up. Her counsel was for me to go slowly, but steady and not to stop. She told me she would cry, but to keep going until I was done. She walked me through the whole thing and was basically taking care of me. Never mind the fact that I was there to take care of her! Once I was finished with the dressing change and had cleaned up, she looked at me and said, “I’m going bowling today, so you better pick out something cute for me to wear”. I was not about to let her down. We agreed on the perfect outfit which included me tying matching bows in her hair. I had always known I wanted to be a nurse, but this brave girl gave me the determination to come out slingin’ just like she did for me that day

Trish:   On somewhat of a whim, I bought myself a motorcycle. I didn’t go small. I bought a never-owned 3-year old, cherry red metallic, all chromed out 1731cc V-twin engine, 650-pound plus beauty that was smiling at me in the dealer showroom. She was beautiful, and she reminded me of my dad.

When I was young, my dad owned a red Honda chromed out motorcycle and he would take me for rides quite frequently. I sat on the back, holding on to him wearing my very own shiny helmet and we would ride and ride. I lost my dad over 7 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He taught me many things, but he didn’t get around to teaching me how to ride a motorcycle.

So, I got this gorgeous beauty in the garage (it was ridden home for me). I bought all the gear and I had to go classy, of course. I bought a shiny black helmet and black patent leather riding boots. I got the gloves, goggles, had a crash bar (uh- I mean, highway bar) installed and I was ready to roll. I studied the motorcycle permit book and passed my test on first go around. I signed up for the State of Georgia DDS beginner motorcycle training class and showed up all pumped up.

I was the only female in a weekend-long class of 10. I figured we’d be in class all day on day 1 and learn to ride on day 2. Nope. Brief introductions and then out to the practice tarmac. Helmet on, boots on, gloves on. Get on the practice bike. I followed along getting the bike started, learning the handlebars, clutch, throttle, and brakes. I was so fine, right up until I had to find the power band on the throttle and go. I realized that I was in way over my head at that point. I was too excited about the thought of riding all this time that I didn’t realize how hard it was to learn!! All 9 guys were already on their return route and I was still at the starting line trying to figure this bike out (a small-size 250cc Honda Rebel!) I was so scared and embarrassed. I had to learn to ride this thing! I had feel close to my dad again, to understand what he meant by the unique feeling it was to ride a motorcycle. The freedom and exhilaration. I was shaking, embarrassed, and scared after stalling the bike for the umpteenth time. Now the 9 guys were on their second to third return route. Despite the trainer’s patience and reassurance, I almost pulled that helmet off and threw down my gloves. But I didn’t. I took a breath, thought of my dad, found that power band, and made my way back and forth on the route. I graduated from the riding portion of the class with only a few points taken off for my slight out-of-bounds figure 8 and one wrong answer on the written test.

I got my official license a week later and came home and took my monster bike out for a 2-hour ride around my development. It was way easier to ride than the trainer bike and I got to feel “that” feeling my dad spoke of. I was way over my head at the time I signed the dotted line and bought that bike and didn’t realize it at the time. When the learning got real, I almost caved, but I came out slingin’! Two-finger throw to those of you who ride…

Originally published 9/28/18 on LinkedIN see it here

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