Still alive! As I drove to the dropzone yesterday (without John, who has a bad cold) I became increasingly nervous about the upcoming jump, especially after nearly killing myself off last week . As I left Houston I was thinking of lots of good reasons to turn around (too windy, too bloody scared, etc.), but there were too many reasons not to turn around (the jump was paid for, I'd bought them kolaches, I really needed to jump out of an aeroplane, and I'd feel obliged to go into work).
There were six students. We went through the Malfunction Junction drills as usual, and then were assigned instructors. I got the one who rescued me on Friday! That was good, because at least he knew my history. We sat down together, and he told me he wanted me to do a tandem jump with him instead of another solo. We'd land in the student area and he would only give instructions that he'd give on the radio. So I was kind of on my own, but with someone strapped to my back. I was so relieved. My heartrate went from about 150 to 100. I had to pay another $29, but it was worth it.
Anyway, the jump went well. The freefall was, as usual, exhilarating. Then when we were under canopy I managed to find the holding area (the dirty pond) and steer the three-sided pattern to the landing area.
There were two glitches, however. When we reviewed the jump afterwards he asked me if I'd noticed anything about the canopy when it opened. "SQUARE and STABLE," I said, confidently. Unfortunately, it wasn't. He said that the slider  was only a quarter of the way down. That is not good. I hadn't noticed it. The way to correct that is to flare. Of course, I had flared to check that it was STABLE, and that had fixed it. But sometimes it doesn't. Yet another mistake, and something to store away in my skydiving mind.
The other glitch was that I did not have the arm/upper body strength do a full flare. The tandem chute is obviously bigger, but it's something I should be able to handle. I could pull the toggles as far as my waist but couldn't get them any further. The instructor had to help me out. Talk about a 145 lb. weakling. Anyway, he suggested I work with weights and try and build up more strength. Interestingly enough, almost everyone I've talked to today (at both jobs) have said that they regularly work out with weights. I guess it's time to start.
I may be making slow progress at this and it's getting expensive (so far five tandems and one solo where most people go straight to solo after two tandems), but every jump is just so amazing (yep, even the one last Friday) and I can't wait to get back and do another one. I hung around afterwards and watched jumpers landing. The other five students never went up as there was too much wind. After that I went home and then went to take the 4:30 Bikram Yoga class. Great combination, jumping out of an aeroplane followed by 90 minutes of hot yoga. It was a good day! And I've got some confidence back.
Next? Well, tomorrow, after some research, I will buy some weights. I've set the date of the next jump for October 30th, by which time I'll hopefully have built up some upper body strength. It's almost three weeks away, but hopefully I'll survive the wait.