My Second V4 (Dirty Dancing, Leavenworth) || ROAD TO ACTUAL V5 LET’S GO

Hello friends,

And welcome to Where’s Wetzler, the internet’s premier website for “How to Boulder V5,” or how to not boulder V5, or how to get injured doing stupid shit like the other day when I injured my hip flexor trying a V5 dyno that was, well, pretty dumb.

I was at Leavenworth with a solid crew and we were at Barney’s Rubble in the alcove area and there were all those dumb V3’s and that one V3 that becomes a V5 if you dyno and Pablo, this semi-crusher I was with, was getting close, and I was sort of getting close and at one point I specifically remember thinking: OK, my body is done, and then I give it another go and feel my hip crunch and by the next morning couldn’t lift my leg out of my car without using my hand.

So.

Sick.

HOWEVER, despite having a hip that felt like shit I got up at 5:30am the next morning, couldn’t get back to sleep, and drove to The Washout where I was determined to try Dirty Dancing V4 if my body would allow it. To give you an idea of how determined I was let me say two things: 1) I was pretty injured, and 2) I got coffee. Why is the coffee significant? Well, because I don’t usually drink coffee. Coffee makes me insane. Coffee makes me less moral. Coffee also makes me have emotional crises. But, BUT!, one of my biggest sends ever came after waking up really early, driving to Leavenworth, and getting coffee, and the morning I wanted to try Dirty Dancing it just felt right. Coffee has been shown in studies to boost athletic performance, and I’ve certainly felt that. You feel invincible, or at least less scared, or at least like you can do more than normal. And being injured, I knew I needed every edge (pun intended given the nature of Dirty Dancing) I could get.

ANYWAY, I warmed up on Unknown V2 at The Washout, called Slam Dunk on Mountain Project, and that was fun, though I didn’t do the problem. I couldn’t quite grip the crimp just below the lip, and I also didn’t want to. I just wanted to pull on some damn stone, get the shoulders going, get the fingers going. I also did some jumping jacks. And once I was more or less warmed up I said to myself, “I’m just going to see if I can establish on the boulder. Like, I’m just going to see if I can hold myself on the wall.”

Establishing on Dirty Dancing is not easy. You either have to use a weird undercling or a high right hand and a terrible left hand crimp. But! I did establish, and then I decided to just try and see if I could bring my left foot up to the first dish, since lifting my left leg was what hurt my hip flexor.

And I was able to do that, too.

Now I was really established.

Next step, bring the right foot up to a small edge.

Reposition the hands.

Bring the left foot up.

Reposition the hands again.

Oh god, you’re getting close to the good holds now.

Bring the right foot up. Look for an edge. How did I never see that edge before? Put the right foot on it. Stand up. Now look for the good hands. There they are! Oh god, now just to get my feet up.

And I thrutch and squirm a bit and the next thing I know I’m sitting at the top of the boulder with my head between my knees feeling a bit emotional.

I’ve just sent my second V4.

I was able to enjoy the ride back to Seattle despite the ailing state of my hip. I basked in my send. I put a snus in. I watched as the clouds became thicker and darker as we (the Subee and I) approached Steven’s Pass. It started raining just before we crested Steven’s pass and despite the clouds I was able to look out over the Skykomish Valley and experience some more emotion, almost equal parts foreboding, optimism, and melancholy, but in a good way, if you can imagine that, and then we descended the curving road to 2600 feet, 1800 feet, 1600 feet, 1000 feet. When I got back to where my boat is moored in Seattle I screamed as I tried to get my leg out of the car and realized I definitely needed to use my hand to assist it every time. Now, almost a week later, I’m still using my hand, but I could probably do it without. I just got a book called A Guide to Better Movement by Seattleite Todd Hargrove and he says to NEVER MOVE INTO PAIN. Like, never make something hurt on purpose, just to test it. And I’ve gotten into a bad habit of this because I always want to test injuries and ask: Has it gotten better? Has it gotten better? Even though constantly testing it can just reinforce to your nervous system that, yes, you have pain in that area. Pain can become a habit, and you don’t want that habit.

Or at least I don’t.

So, last weekend involved a conflicted couple of days. On the one hand I injured myself (though not terribly, I don’t think), and on the other hand I sent something that meant a lot to me. I experienced that mystical experience of being alone, in the forest, climbing on granite, moving up, up, up, not as if being pulled by some invisible cord toward the sky, as some have described it, but more as if each time I moved my feet up the entire world beneath them disappeared, and the only thing that existed was where I was and the rock above me, until eventually there was no rock above me and I was sitting on the top. In other words, at one point I knew I was fairly high and probably not above my crash pad, but it was almost as if that world didn’t exist.

It was a wonderful feeling, and exactly the reason I boulder. It is an experience unlike any I’ve had in any other discipline. And even though I’ve just kind of tried, trying to describe it would be folly.

Coffee on the Beach

Good morning, friends. How are we doing today? I’m drinking black tea, as you might’ve guessed. I thought about trying to fast today but then realized that I can’t drink black tea on an empty stomach and so had some nuts. My knee has felt pretty shitty this last week, and I’m not really sure why. Diet? Running a mile? Hiking six miles? Climbing very lightly but still jumping off the wall a couple times from a few feet up? Am I not ready for that even though it felt completely fine? Or maybe I just need to stop touching my knee constantly, constantly massaging it, checking the LCL to see if it’s intact.

No climbing today, as that just seems inadvisable considering the state of my knee I described to you just now. It’s not that it hurts, it’s just that it feels kinda…weird. Like every so slightly stiff. Or actually that the fear is stronger lately, the fear of walking on uneven surfaces, the fear of unexpected lateral movement. That’s a much better way of describing it.

The fear.

But that same fear goes away quite a bit when I put my knee brace on.

Yesterday, as you might’ve guessed, I was out on the Olympic Peninsula checking out Barold’s new property that recently got cleared and had a road put in on it. I spent a night out there surveying the burn piles, roasting hot dogs, taking walks, and generally looking at the stars. It’s amazing how much more briliant the stars are out there than Seattle. Thousands and thousands of twinkling orbs, a general celestial glow pervading throughout. In Seattle when you look at the stars you can only see the big guns, the Big Dipper, Orion, but when out on the Peninsula you realize that behind Orion is a blanket of thousands of other stars, quivering, pulsating, dreamy. The milky way throbs. The blackness is total. And to have that arena above you while in front of you are the glowing embers of a fire, well, it ain’t too bad.

Barold and I had coffee on the beach yesterday. Yes, you read that correctly: coffee. I’ve had a coffee embargo the last couple weeks, but I’ve decided these embargos must be lifted from time to time! Let the people be free to make mistakes, to indulge in excess, etc. etc. Also, as they always say, moderation in all things, including moderation. Which is why from time to time you must jump off the high dive, even when you don’t really feel like it, especially when you don’t feel like it, and even better, when you DO feel like it, and this is why I indulged in a glorious thermos of coffee yesterday on the beach.

Looking out we saw a bald eagle sitting on the piling that marks where the waves break when they’re really big. That doesn’t happen very often. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it happen. We walked out to the point, an alluvial fan created (ostensibly) by the river and storms shaping the sediment. Here we could see little peelers ripping down the beach, and I wondered when I’ll be able to surf next. I should be able to surf before I can boulder, I mean that sort of makes sense — surfing is a much lower impact activity — but surfing is also unpredictable. You don’t know what the wave is going to do, what the ocean is going to do. You don’t know the contours of the bottom. Surfing everything is fluid and liquid and slippery whereas in bouldering everything is static and your body is the only thing that moves. Your body must adjust to the contour of the rock. Your body must be accommodating. The rock will not yield! No matter how much power you might bring, the rock will not yield. And so it will only let you up if you learn the secret key, and that key consists of how strong you are, how much you weigh, how hard you’re able to pull down, and more importantly your technique. If you can combine and excel in all these aspects, the rock might let you up. Might.

Though actually the rock is indifferent. It is fabulously indifferent.

What am I talking about.

I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I need to do my physical therapy.

I think I’m going to do that right now.

Talk soon.

– Wetz

The Island Behind

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye.

– Traditional Scottish Song

–The word of the Lord.
— Thanks be to God.

– Popular Church Refrain

I’m on the ferry coming back from Bainbridge, where I spent the afternoon/evening at my parents’ house. As I said yesterday, my original plan after physical therapy was to drive to Leavenworth, but then I thought, I don’t want to drive out to Leavenworth. But I do want to get off my boat. So I went to my parents’ house.

The seagulls are preening themselves this morning. They have such brilliant, white feathers. They are perfectly clean. No one is speaking on this ferry. Everyone is quiet. Everyone is wearing a mask. And now there’s a crow next to the seagulls, cawing. It’s just flown away. The seagulls did not bat an eye, so engrossed are they in their self-care. I wish I had a cam with which I could follow these two particular seagulls for the next 24 hours. What would they do? Where would they go? Will they spend most of the day on this piling next to the ferry? Where do they sleep at night?

Two Canadian geese drift into the picture on the water below. The geese have been very active around my boat lately. I don’t know if it’s mating season or what, but they’re always honking ferociously and a fight seems to have always broken out. Meanwhile the heron stand on the pier, in groups of 10-20, impassable. They look like old businessmen hunched over in grey suits. They fight too, and their fighting is hilarious. They rear their necks back but never seem to touch each other. Theirs is an elegant, capoeira style of fighting. And then they go back to being hunched over, looking out at the horizon.

The ferry leaves and the island recedes into the distance. We’ll be in Seattle soon, with all that that brings. The honking, the homeless, people generally seeming stressed out. I’ll get off the ferry and walk the two miles up the waterfront to my car, passing the strange tourists who at 8:30am are out walking the Seattle waterfront. There are always a few. Families. Sometimes masked, sometimes not. You wonder where they’re from. Renton? Yakima? South Dakota? I don’t understand what they’re doing, their thought process. But I prefer not understanding what they’re doing. I’m sure their explanation wouldn’t make sense to me.

The ferry groans slightly as it turns right to leave Eagle Harbor. It begins to shake. Everyone is still preturnaturally quiet, still wearing their masks except for one guy who has his mask off to eat and drink his coffee. Naturally, I despise him for this. Who are you to have your mask off, asshole? How is your coffee drinking somehow more important than the safety of those around you? I am a spectacular hypocrite, of course, because if I had a muffin, if I had an americano with just a little bit of heavy cream, if I had a latte and a scone, if I had a large earl grey tea with just a little bit of heavy crean, if I had a mocha, if I had a green tea, if I had a drip coffee, if I had whatever this guy is drinking, whatever this guy is eating, I’d be doing the exact same thing.

And there, look, he just put his mask on. Maybe he isn’t Satan. Maybe he’s actually a great guy.

Now we’re fully in the sound named after Peter Puget and the island has lost its grip on us. Not that it ever had a grip on us. But it was caressing us, and now the caress of the island is gone, the caress of tranquility, and the city and the skyline and the dirt and the noise spring ever more into view. The ferry is gathering speed now and shaking ferociously. Screws are coming loose. We sound like we’re about to take flight. We must be doing 20 knots now. The wake we’re putting off is tremendous as we round the last buoy and head straight toward Seattle, straight toward the metropolis, straight toward our destinies. What are my fellow ferry riders up to today? Are you all off to work? To visit friends? To conduct business transations? To go shopping? I have no idea. I imagine the first guess is the most accurate. This is, or was, a full-fledged commuter boat. Thousands of people would ride it every morning. The atmosphere then was always lively because anytime you have that many people in an enclosed space the atmosphere becomes lively. Groups of people who ride the boat together everyday, having the same conversations, gossiping. This was their last respite before working 9-5. And then in the evening they’d do it all over again, and when they got to the island everything would be quiet, or at least in comparison to Seattle, and they’d have dinner, and they’d hang out with their families, maybe do a little extra work, watch some TV, go to bed, get up and do it all over again.

But that was then.

I wish I had a coffee.

But I’m done with coffee.

Should I stop by Whole Foods on the way to my boat?

I have therapy at 10am.

Today is Tuesday, the year of Yaweh two thousand and twenty-one, the ninth day of March. Today the sun will set at approximately 6:06pm and there will be civil twilight until 6:36 and then nautical twilight for another half hour after that. At 7pm there will still be some vestiges of sunlight. And then in four days the clocks will change and at 8pm there will be some vestiges of light. This to me is always a bigger marker of spring than the actual day spring starts. Spring to me is a smell in the air. You’re walking one day, maybe in February, maybe in March, and a smell hits your nostrils and you think, That’s spring. That’s when spring arrives. It doesn’t have much to do with the official day.

I see Magnolia off to my right and I long for the island behind me.

A Cafe Day in Hermosillo | The Grand Road Trip

Traveling alone means looking at lots of empty chairs across from you.

OK, Marko, everything you got into this post. This is going to be the best blog post you’ve ever written. Hermosillo, January 29th, 2021, and you’re about to write the best post you’ve ever written. You’re going to talk about the full moon and Hotel Ibis and how your knee is fucked and how you might go to Los Mochis tomorrow. You’re going to talk about the cafe you went to today with the guy who bummed you a cig and you sat outside the cafe talking about traveling and what there is to do in Hermosillo. And then you’re going to talk about how you’re not sure where you wanna go tomorrow, how you’re not sure where you wanna go in general on this trip, and you’re not sure if you’re ever gonna heal. That’s what you’re gonna talk about. Come on, Marko, everything you got.

Hello. My name is Mark. I am in Hermosillo, Mexico, right now, and tomorrow I might go to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Or I might stay another night in Hermosillo. I am still not sure. There are so many choices! Or I could go towards Chihuahua, in the state of Chihuahua. Or I could just turn right around, drive the 6-8 hours it probably is up to Phoenix, re-enroll at Arizona State University, and start my life over. I could try to join the waterski team. I could hang out with my friend Kevin in Gilbert. And then after a year and a half I could call it quits and go back to Washington.

Jesus.

OK, let’s sort of start over. I’m in Hermosillo. The road trip has gone decently so far. I got pulled over by the cops twice yesterday but I’m over that. YES, I got fleeced for 900 Mexican pesos. YES, I was super pissed and when I drove away from the second “cops” I was slamming my horn and screaming obscenities. But it’s all my fault. It’s my fault for entering the country in a narco infested area. It’s my fault for driving a fucking Subaru with Washington plates. It’s my fault for not knowing how to handle those situations. It’s all my fault!!! Why did I have to drive through Caborca. It’s such an ugly name. I knew bad things would happen in Caborca, though actually in Caborca all I did was go to the grocery store and feed a stray dog some chicken. God, imagine living in Caborca. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad???? It would be fucking terrible.

Breathe, Marko.

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, North America, Western Hemisphere.

OK, so what did I do today. I went to a cafe and got a matcha latte. Check. Went to a cafe and got some chai. Check. Chilled with the guy running the cafe and his sister (who also ran the cafe). Check. Smoked a cig with the guy running the cafe. Check. Thought the cig was going to wreck me but then remembered Mexican cigs are weak as fuck. Thank God check. Went to another cafe, Cafe Central, and got a frappe. Check. Talked to my friend Eli on Whatsapp. Check. Stressed out about where I’m gonna drive tomorrow. Check. Checked Google Maps like 18 times. Check. Considered whether or not I’m gonna stay in San Blas. Check.

Etc. etc.

Watched hella episodes of Alone.

My neighbors are so fucking annoying slamming their door. What is wrong with people.

Hermosillo is not a town I would be racing to get back to. Hermosillo feels a lot smaller than it is. There are supposedly a million people here, but it feels WAY more like 900,000. Possibly even 800,000. The best thing about Hermosillo so far are its cafes, and the fact that it’s January and the temperature is perfect. The worst thing about Hermosillo so far is, well, I guess that it’s in the desert. The desert is not my favorite place. After going to ASU for a year and a half I don’t miss the desert. I need rain and green and hippies. There aren’t that many hippes in AZ, at least that I know of. Maybe in Sedona. Maybe in Sedona people rarely shower and use those all-natural deodorants that kind of make you smell like shit. Or maybe there’s just a bunch of rich people in Sedona.

I have no idea.

No idea at all.

MASALA Cafe (caps your brother’s).

OK, I’m……………

Probably.

Going.

To.

Go.

Bed.

Aka watch another episode of Alone (italics your 8th grade geometry teacher’s).

I’m probably going to….take another shower?

I’m probably going….stretch?

I’m probably going to…sleep well, and not worry about getting up early.

And I hope all of you sleep well too.

Because I love you.

– Mark

Did Christopher Hitchens Drink Coffee? (#12)

The other day I googled, “Christopher Hitchens coffee,” trying to ascertain whether or not Christopher Hitchens drank coffee, and was dismayed to find that the results were paltry. Which is why I’m going to make the results. Yes, friends, today’s post attempts to answer the question: Did Christopher Hitchens drink coffee?

First of all, it’s common knowledge that Hitchens drank tea. He even has an article about it. Here’s what Hitchens says about tea in the US:

“It is already virtually impossible in the United States, unless you undertake the job yourself, to get a cup or pot of tea that tastes remotely as it ought to.”

Christopher Hitchens, Slate, 2011

In the next paragraph he then compares tea to coffee, and in a subsequent paragraph says, “Until relatively few years ago, practically anything hot and blackish or brackish could be sold in America under the name of coffee.” He’s not directly saying he drinks coffee here. But he’s implying that he knows something about drinking coffee. Or that he knows something about America. Or that he knows something about things brackish.

Let’s move on to an article that appeared in The New Yorker, also, serendipitously (or just dipitously), in two-thousand-and-eleven. The article was called “Dinner with Hitchens” and written by the uproariously needling Lauren Collins. Lauren, bless my heart, had the pleasure of having dinner with Christopher Hitchens (and Salman Rushdie!) as well as Hitchens’ wife and agent. There’s one telling sentence in this article: “…I had fantasized about talking (or, more accurately, listening) late into the night, but the party had broken up around midnight, with Hitchens, coffee mug in hand, wandering off into the fug.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What the fug is a “fug”? I had certainly never heard that word before this article. But apparently it’s a “warm, stuffy or smoky atmosphere in a room.” So it’s not actually a place. It’s like wandering into a cloud of smoke. We can see Christopher Hitchens doing this, indeed receding into the mist not unlike a young Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, coffee mug in hand, probably muttering about something or other, a wry smile on his face, his mind certainly moving a thousand miles a minute.

But the important part is he had a coffee mug in his hand.

Which was presumably filled with coffee.

Then there’s this article: “Lunch with the FT: Christopher Hitchens,” written in 2008 by the apparently venerable Edward Luce. This is my favorite article I’ve come across so far in my Hitchens/coffee research. It’s well written. It provides a window into Hitchens’s personality, his life. It talks about how Hitchens attended Oxford at the same time as William Clinton who, from what I can gather, Hitchens thought was a scumbag. It doesn’t, however, talk a ton about coffee. It just has this sentence: ” The thalis are cleared away and we move on to coffee. As we sip, a burly Rastafarian walks past….”

But what else do you need to know? They ate Indian food, they moved on to coffee. They sipped it.

You might be wondering why I care whether or not Christopher Hitchens drank coffee. Well, Hitchens is one of my favorite orators/writers who’s ever existed, and when I find an author I like I like to see what their routines are so I can possibly emulate them. I’m particularly interested in whether or not writers drink coffee. Karl Ove Knausgaard, one of my other favorite writers, drank tons of coffee. Tons of instant coffee, for that matter. Roberto Bolaño, my other favorite writer, famously drank chamomile tea. And smoked tons of cigarettes.

At the same time it’s important to note that you don’t have to emulate the habits of your favorite writers. In fact, you’re probably better off not doing so. I’m not going to smoke just because Karl Ove, and Roberto, and Christopher all smoked. I’m not going to suddenly start drinking gallons of chamomile tea. But I do like to know what they did. I do like to try to figure out how they did it. So that one day I might do it myself.

-W