Many moons ago in Children’s Theatre, my friend Jenny McKillop (now a big deal in Alberta's Musical Theatre scene) and I created the Bad Attitude Box. We originally drew it on a piece of paper we would hand off to each other. We would draw stick figures of ourselves inside the Bad Attitude Box with word bubbles as to why we were put there. "I Hate Math Tests with Trigonometry" I wrote. "I am Captain of the B.A.B," writes Jenny "because I wanted the lead for the musical and am stuck in the chorus, hating life." We would laugh at ourselves and each other as we took turns in the Bad Attitude Box.

Occasionally I find myself taking a big ol' step back into the Bad Attitude Box. Usually my forays into the box don't last too long, but I like to take a solid pout, stomp my feet around and grumble a little. I am blessed to be pulled out of the Box by someone offering a rope, a hand, a laugh.

I find myself drawing the lines and stepping inside the box as a wire haired, abrasive female guest continues to address me as Hanna.

"Hanna. Where is my purse?" She asks, clenching her jaw. " Hanna, can you fill my water bottle?" "Hanna, have you seen the girls matching blue Patagonia jackets?"

"Holly," I politely remind her. "Holly, not Hanna."

She persists in the use of Hanna for the next five days. I give up on fixing this. My three fabulous co-leaders send me into peels of laughter the next morning at the Post Hotel. We are sitting having breakfast, dining like royalty,  hollering over the antics of our people for the week. Step out of the box.

I find myself laying back on cement, wishing for my head lamp. Kevin has wedged himself under the van and next to me. Together, with his alan key, we release the bike from the tangled van underside. The bike I drove over.

It doesn't matter how the bike ended up in my blind spot. It doesn't matter who put it there. I turned the key in the ignition and drove forward. We release the bike, frame bent, wheels busted. Handlebars turn up into an angry 'V' shape. I am in the Bad Attitude Box. I made a careless, reckless, ridiculous mistake. As I drive back to the warehouse and put my tail in-between my legs I walk to the L and T guru to tell him I've made a big whoops. He opens the door to the office. I sit down. He closes the door. I brace myself.

"I think you need this," he tells me with a small smile, handing me a beer he was holding. He passes across the drink and the paperwork for van accident report. "You're lucky" he says, "that I was planning on destroying that bike at the end of the season. Really, you made my job easier."

A beer and paperwork and I am lifted out of the box.

I am listening about the other women that have raced all summer. 2:50. 2:45. 2:40. 6:23. 6:05. The times sit in my head. I can beat them. I can win. I can be better than all of those women. I am gripping the steering wheel with a hold that would break small animals necks. I want to win. I want to be fast. I want to race. I want to do better. I want to excel. I feel constrained by my sixteen hour work days, the endless travel, my inability to train how I want. My mind ticks forward. I am hot under the collar of my borrowed dress.

We get out of the car and I swing my red purse in an angry circular motion.  I want to beat them I tell him, my frustration with my situation making me feel crazy. He laughs and has no idea. I put myself into that box. He grabs my hand and winks at me as we walk into the restaurant. Out of the box I go.

I am pedalling forward towards Millarville, the wind whipping my braids back behind my shoulders. I am running low on water and patience with myself. I am playing with my new clips, a new seat and post alignment I tried. It takes me fifteen minutes to work the clips properly. I am angrier than an Angry Bird on Angry Island. Damn stupid clips. I am muttering to myself. I have pedalled myself straight into the bad attitude box.

Uphill as I drop down, my right foot finally, magically, clips in. In a small click I am transported out of the box, back into the beauty of the farm land, the pedalling, the freedom of being out, sun shining, heart pounding happiness.

Each day creeps closer to a departure overseas, I jump in and out of the Box. This morning, two notes from folks working in Tuscany.

"We can't wait to have you back," one writes. "We all have missed you terribly and can't wait for your return.  Big Love."

I take a big step out of the box, towards the sunlight of the Tuesday and all the good things that are waiting for me in the next weeks.

No Bad Attitude Box here.

Family camping, symptoms you always do this to me.

You ring me out and hang me to dry. All I do is sleep, drugs run, rush, push, go, go, go. You put me into a place I have never felt. You force me to sleep less, eat less, think constantly, act, react, press on. You are just one tough bitch to deal with.  You are without mercy, without a break. You are six of the hardest days I have to contend with all year. You break me down into a mushy mess of nothingness and just when I think I have nothing left to give, 8 miles into the hike you demand more. Want more. Need more Love more Attention more Affection. More energy.

When all is said and done I look into the mirror and see myself. Sleep deprived. Out of focus blur. Dish Pit Madness. Put on the chickie pails and cut the cord of your rapidly fraying rope. Do your laundry. Re pack your bags. Sanity check. Tweeze eyebrows. Remind yourself why you do what you do.

After all, this is GO time in the season. Your only responsibility. Is. To. Go.

Head lamps lighting the camp kitchen area, our camp crew is slaving away at clean up. I am mixing hot water bleach and working through the dishes that 31 people make each dinner, hours of scrubbing leaving my hands raw, working away at the grease and the grime untouched by six days of work and very little showering.

Camp Assistant is making me laugh. We are looking at the dull axe. I cut wood in flip flops. Drive a van with under five hours of sleep. Rack 20 pound bikes overhead. Haul large bags. Deal with rotting food.  Use a hammer to solve all equipment issues. Camp Assistant is saying.

"We do a dangerous job with inadequate tools."

Eleven thirty pm and the Rockies sun has set, I am hysterical with exhaustion, hunched over the dish pit table, laughing until tears come to my eyes and stream down my face.

That about covers it all.