Day is for Resting

It’s so quiet at my brother’s house where I’m pet sitting. I’d forgotten it could be this quiet. No sound of the road. I can’t hear the wind outside because the windows are probably somewhat soundproof. There’s no humming of a washing machine or a dishwasher or even the refrigerator. I hear a crack every now and again and also some kind of very low whooshing sound that might be the hum of the universe. And of course I hear my fingers typing. But that’s it. Other than that, the silence is deafening.

Today is day two of what will be at least four — possibly five — rest days. My tendons and muscles are so happy to get a rest. I woke up this morning with my fingers completely swollen. I wondered: How long would it take to stop waking up with swollen fingers? Obviously diet has some influence in this. My diet lately has been….not great. With proper diet I bet I could stop waking up with swollen fingeres in about a week. Without proper diet I think it would take at least twice as long. Which reminds me…I’m thinking of fasting tomorrow. I say “thinking” because that’s all I usually do with fasting lately. I think about it. The last time I fasted for any significant period of time (i.e. 24 hours or more) was right around the summer solstice. So, late June. Which means it’s been at least two months since a proper fast. I’m due. My digestive system is screaming for a break.

In other news, I went climbing the other day at SBP with my friend and former physical therapist. He’s a much stronger climber than me. Not so much grade wise, but more in just technique and overall competency. He’s one of those people that climbs and you’re like, “OK, that guy climbs.” Some people get on a route and they can sort of do it just because they’re strong. And other people get on a route and you’re like, “Damn, that guy/girl knows what they’re doing.” You can just tell. They’re smooth. Even if they’re straining they go confidently between holds. They read problems well. They’re efficient. And this is exactly how my friend/former physical therapist is. Efficient, smooth, skilled.

I learn a lot climbing with people like that.

That session was Friday evening. It’s now Sunday. I won’t climb again until Thursday at the earliest. Temps are looking PERFECT for Thursday. Thursday evening could be a super sesh, though the whole day looks great. Though shit, I just checked the forecast for Gold Bar and now it’s saying a 30% chance of rain! Oh well, these things are never really accurate more than 48 hours out. Could always go to Leavenworth. Could always go to Mad Meadows, since I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN THERE. And for some reason I’ve been thinking about Dirty Dancing V4 lately. After my essentially religious experience on this problem, I’ve been thinking about how much I liked it and how much I’d like to repeat it. It really is a perfect boulder problem for my level right now. The holds are JUST good enough. Just bad enough. Just perfect enough. Just dishy enough. And also I want to try the V2 across from it again, Slam Dunk, and also the V5 next to that, Buried Alive, and maybe — maybe? — try the first moves of Lion’s Den V8. I mean, why not. I can heel hook. I can do compression (maybe). I can sit start.

Other problems to try:

Schist Cave Right V5

Footless Traverse V5

Weather Report V3 (got close last time!)

Shaniqua V5 (this thing looks rad and I wanna see just how high this start is cuz people are talking about how you need to stack like 40 pads)

Yosemite Highball V4 (couldn’t do the first move last time)

Alfafa vs Spanky V5

And don’t worry, a bunch of easier ones too.

Also, I’d love to go back to Gold Bar sometime soon. I haven’t hiked up to the Clearcut Boulders in a lukewarm minute. I have so many projects up there. And so many boulders I’d like to repeat. Basically I wish I could climb all day every day from now until the end of Septmber. And who knows, maybe once my tendons adjust I’ll be able to do that. But regardless of how your body hangs in, it’s hard to keep up stoke for that long. One thing I’ve learned: taking breaks is the best way to get back stoke. After a break your body is raring to go and your mind is raring to go, too. You’ve had time to reflect. You’ve had time to absorb good technique and hopefully ditch old patterns.

God it’s still so quiet in here. What am I going to do. I think I’m gonna go up to the high school and kick a soccer ball around a bit. I think I’m gonna eat some beets. And chug some whater. And maybe watch the rest of a 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film I got into just before I came here. Sunday, lazy Sunday.

A Terrifying V0 and A Trip to Canada???

Yesterday I woke up around 6am and got straight in my car and drove to the River Boulders in Index. The high temperature was supposed to be 95, so I knew early morning would be the only time to climb. I got to the boulders at about 8am after the obligatory stop at Safeway in Monroe where I bought two Bobo’s Otmeal Bars, a gallon of water, toilet paper and a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream from Starbucks. This is exactly how I order it: a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream. It’s key to say it in this manner so you don’t get a bucket of hot, steamed cream as happened to me in Starbucks in Vegas on the way to my first rope climbing experience in Red Rocks. It’s also imperative to say HEAVY cream instead of WHIPPING CREAM, even though they’re the same thing. If you say WHIPPING CREAM they might give you whipped cream, as has also happened to me. Mmmmmmmmm, bergamot with….whipped cream.

I warmed up on Unnamed V1, around the arete from Finger Crack V3. As the guidebook says, this does have fantastic movement for a relatively short, easy boulder problem. It’s got a lieback and a gaston and all sorts of ledges. The landing is semi-terrible so you don’t really wanna fall from the top even with a pad right under you. I warmed up by just hanging from the ledges a bit and climbing it twice, and then I tromped over to Unnamed Warmup V0, the one where you step off the adjacent boulder to start the climb.

This problem, Unnamed Warmup V0, is somewhat terrifying. You step off a boulder a few feet off the ground so that as soon as you start climbing you already feel pretty high. Also, you basically can’t fall till you get to the lip, since you might fall on the boulder you started on. I’d tried this on one, maybe two previous sessions. Last time I tried it it was just too scary. But this time I got my right foot up on a small edge and also used a high right crimp before going to the lip. I felt pretty insecure the whole time. Afterward I just kind of sat there, stoked that I’d done it, reflecting on how scary it was. I’m not exactly rushing back to do it again.

Then I made my way to the meat of the session, the Leggo boulder. Goal: send the two V2’s, hopefully send Chinook V3, and work Sigmund Freud V4, Gimme Back My ID V5, and Leggo My Ego V6. It sort of worked out. I sent the two V2’s easily. I sent Chinook V3, my first V3 in a long time, after much beta tweaking and puzzling and resting, which was really satisfying. What a cool problem. Slopers. A high right foot. Some weight distribution. Beautiful. How this problem escaped the guidebook’s creators is a bit mistifying. Maybe it just looked too easy.

As for the harder problems, I got completely shut down. I still couldn’t pull off the ground for either Sigmund Freud or Gimme Back My ID, and I made negative progress on Leggo My Ego. The techy section at the start is beyond me. I don’t think it’s cuz I’m not strong enough; I think my beta is screwed. At the same time I don’t really wanna watch videos to figure it out; I wanna figure it out on my own.

So that was the outdoor session. Then, in the EVENING, I went to SBP Fremont with the crew and fell in love with a problem. I think I fell in love on multiple levels, with multiple objects of affection, but the strongest feelings were for a heel-hooky black on the arete upstairs. Seriously, I’ve never seen a problem so good for practicing heel hooks. You could throw like four or five throughout the problem if you felt so inclined.

Tomorrow I’m going to CANADA. I repeat: CANADA. I just got my COVID test. I’m gonna  be catsitting from Saturday to Tuesday in Vancouver and hope to make two little trips up to Squamish. Dip my toes, as they say. See what Squamish is all about. Hopefully send a bunch of V0-V2’s and maybe even a V3 or V4. Maybe even a V14.

That’s all for now. Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Books, Bouldering, Beverages

I’m not watching any videos today. No climbing videos, no bouldering videos, no Saturday Night Live videos, no videos about how the universe works or how the world works or how dating works or how the human body works. Most days I spend an inordinate amount of time watching videos. Probably several hours each day. And it’s not that I necessarily want to be more productive, it’s just that watching so many videos, scrolling and scrolling trying to find the next dopamine hit, makes me feel kinda bad.

Slash, I went climbing yesterday, and it was glorious.

I went with Barry and Adi, and we climbed first at Upper Walls and then made our way over to Fremont Main, where we didn’t climb. The reason we didn’t climb at Fremont Main was because it was crowded as balls and getting food/beer sounded like a better idea. I remarked as we left Fremont Main that it felt like we had just climbed there, too. The feeling was the same, exiting out into the night air, backpack full of climbing stuff on, chattering away. And I’m glad we didn’t climb at Fremont Main, because after Saturday’s sesh at SBP Poplar my body was absolutely wrecked. Today is a hard rest day. Tomorrow will either be a rest day or an outside day but the high for tomorrow in Index, where I’d like to go to work Leggo My Ego V6, my current mega-proj, is 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means it’s supposed to be 78 by 11am. NOT EXACTLY SEND TEMPS (aka send temps).

In other news, I had a matcha bar this morning, a green hop tea, and now I’m having a Four Sigmatic matcha latte with lion’s mane (20mg caffeine, in case you were wondering [do I wish it had more caffeine? probably. I think like 30 or 40mg would be more appropriate, in this case. but hey, beggars can’t be systems engineers]). Also in other news, I’m currently reading the books Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari, and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. I got the Proust book the other day at Elliott Bay Books. I got Sapiens from the Bainbridge library, and I think it might be due quite soon. The annoying thing about Sapiens is it’s sort of like a graphic, glossy-page version, which means it ways (sic) about six kilos. When I’m tired af after a climbing session and I want something to put me to sleep there’s no better book than Sapiens; the only problem is it weighs a ton. Fourth world problems.

In still other news, I had collagen yesterday. And sort of cleaned the boat. And hung out with my friend Pat. And had some mate (it really annoys me when brands spell mate “maté.” like, I know why they’re doing it, they want to differentiate between the English word “mate,” as in “friend,” but it still annoys the shit out of me.) I also went for a run yesterday, at Queen Anne Bowl, and it was kind of amazing except I also think it kind of strained my left hip flexor. I’ve had problems with my hip flexor ever since I hurt it in May thrutching on the V5 dyno that is Alcove Right in Leavenworth. It’s been healing — slowly but surely — and yesterday was the first time I tried to run on it for any considerable distance.

Slash.

The seagulls are cawing outside my boat. I’ve just finished the matcha latte. I have no more caffeine on the boat. I do have some chia pudding, which I will most likely consume presently. Current plan: head north to BC on FRIDAY. Will I actually do this? Seriously, will I actually do this??? I have no idea. The only thing I do know is I want to get the hell up there before they close the border again. Because numbers are on the rise, as they say, numbers are always on the rise, and we have so many variants going around we can’t even keep track of them (aka like one variant, aka the delta variant). So who knows when I’ll actually get up to Canada. Who knows when I’ll get back to Leavenworth. I proposed to a friend that we go to Leavy on Friday and boulder in the 104 degree heat, but she mentioned something about heat stroke. I mentioned something about jumping in the Wenatchee River. She mentioned something about cryptocurrency and treasury bonds and how her mother used to wait tables in Illinois and we promptly reached an impasse. For some reason the whole interaction reminded me of the one time I went to Nashville, sharing the elevator with a guy who was on his way to a Garth Brooks concert, or on his way home from a Garth Brooks concert, or possibly just wearing cowboy boots. For some reason I found the guy tremendously wholesome because he had on cowboy boots and because of his accent and because he was in town for a Garth Brooks concert and staying at the Best Western or whatever the hell it was. But for all I know he beats his wife and emotionally abuses his children. Why should I have assumed he was a wholesome guy?

Aka chia pudding.

Yesterday I meditated twice.

I need new climbing shoes.

I wish I had more matcha.

Or mate.

Or maté.

The best book ever written is called On Man and God, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s 61 pages long and was published in 1961 by the Peter Pauper Press. It is currently one of my most prized possessions despite not being my possession. Why does the title Reading Lolita in Tehran make me want to punch myself? Or the title Waiting for Snow in Havana? Why can’t you just name your book something not cute? My dad just handed me a copy of the book The Intelligent Asset Allocator. Now there’s a book title, if I’ve ever seen one. The only way it could be better is if it were The Girl Who Allocated Assets, or something like that. Then  it could be sold all over town.

Waiting for Assets in Bolivia.

Now we’re talking.

 

 

Toe Hooks and Happiness

I’m sitting on the  boat drinking a FocusAid. I just got back from Whole Foods Greenlake where I got a hop tea, eggs and sausage, and then after sitting in my car chatting with a friend on WhatsApp went BACK into Whole Foods and got the FocusAid and an Urbn Remedy matcha bar. Why all the decadence? Well, when you don’t drink you can justify just about any amount of dietary decadence. And today marks two weeks of my newfound sobriety. I fell off the wagon a bit there in July. I don’t regret it. It was a good run. It was fun to experiment with alcohol again and have some drinks with friends, but it also served to remind me why I don’t drink. Getting back on the wagon felt like returning to an old friend. I value my health and my body and I want to be my best self. For the forseeable future, alcohol has no place in my life.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

How’s everyone feeling today?

I climbed at SBP Poplar yesterday with the crew, and it was wonderful. My body is completely wrecked. By the end of the session I was bleeding from my hand, my knee, my left ankle, and had bashed my right hip against a volume on my way down from a slab. Wonderful. When I got back to the boat I was talking to a friend about the sesh and said, almost without thinking about it, “I’m so happy.”

Which got me thinking: How often when we’re happy do we actually know we’re happy? So many times in my life I haven’t realized I was happy until I look back on the given time period and think, “Wow, that was so great.” Take when I worked in Alaska as a housekeeper, for example. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. But I didn’t think every day, “Wow, I’m so happy.” I was too busy laughing and playing ping pong. Only when the summer was over did I look back and think, “Holy shit, that was pretty much perfect.”

Hindsight also has the strange (but welcome) effect of diminishing the bad times. It’s not like every moment of that summer was perfect. But I also don’t think happiness consists of every moment being perfect. In fact, I think a lot of happiness has to do with Type 2 Fun (the kind of fun that’s only really fun retrospect).  The other time I worked in Alaska (as a lodge helper/fishing guide) also perfectly illustrated this. I spent half of those three weeks wanting to quit. It was hard work. Our boss was a despot. But now I look back on it almost as a formative experience. It was like being in the military. Getting up early, getting yelled at a lot, and from time to time handling firearms. I wouldn’t trade those three weeks for anything in the world.

Anyway, back to the SBP sesh. It started off real slow. Since I’d climbed the day before, my arm and finger strength felt low. The motivation was there — at the beginning I was basically prancing around and yelling — but my body was not quite on the same level as my psych. After really warming up, though, I started to climb a bit better. I sent one new black, which is always a plus in a session. Sent some oranges. Some purples. Didn’t really try any blues. There was a black that had a TOE HOOK to start out, and I desperately wanted to crank on it, but toe hooking requires a bit of hip flexoring, and my hip flexor still isn’t 100%.

Today I’m going to go to REI and look at climbing shoes cuz I noticed yesterday that the Miuras got their first microscopic hole in the toe. This hole will grow until they’re unclimbable. I estimate they have two to three more sessions left in them. Which sucks since they were just starting to get really worn it. Maybe I should’ve had them resoled. Where do you resole shoes in Seattle? The top shoes I’m looking at right now are the La Sportiva Solutions, Evolv Shamans, Scarpa Instincts, and the TC Pros for slab climbing. Or maybe just the TC Pros for all-around climbing? Or maybe just say screw it and get the 5.10 Moccasins and never look back?

Also, THE CANADIAN BORDER OFFICIALLY OPENS TONIGHT AT 12:01AM. Holy shit. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada. I want to live in BC. I want to live in BC and stroll the waterfront in Vancouver and go to the beaches and make little trips up to Squamish and Whistler and, hell, maybe even boulder in the Kootenays. However, I can’t pull the trigger on going up to Canada quite yet, because I might have dogsitting obligations down here first. And I’m not sure whether I’d drive or take my boat up there. Either way, I’m stoked.

And now it’s time to enjoy the sun.

 

 

No Rest Days for the Weary || Road to V-Tranquility

I have settled into a routine of bouldering every other day, and my body is deteriorating because of it. Detoriating or preparing to get really freaking strong. This is what happened last year: I started bouldering almost every day when my body just could just baaaaarely handle it.

I’d be at work and say to my coworker Bea, “I think I’m gonna climb today.”

“Didn’t you climb yesterday?”

“Maybe.”

“How’s your body holding up?”

“It’s hanging in there. Barely.”

And then I took a rest for a few days or a week or maybe the pandemic hit and suddenly I felt so good, so strong.

These are the things I need to keep in mind on a day like today, when I go to the gym and don’t send my project and if anything feel like I’m making negative progress. Because even when you’re not feeling strong you can still work on technique. In fact, when you’re not feeling strong may be the BEST time to work on technique, cuz that’s when you need it most.

Still kinda wish I’d sent that blue today, though.

Hurting my hip flexor has made it abundantly clear that my well-being needs to be the primary focus. Screw being able to climb, I just want to feel healthy, limber, strong. If I feel these things, then obviously I’m going to be able to boulder. I’ll be able to do a host of other things, too: play soccer, run, skydive. I would so much rather be healthy and boulder less than boulder all the time and have my body be destroyed. But this is a realization that has taken precisely that — destroying my body — to come to. My knee, my hip, my fingers, my elbow, my shoulder. The moral of the story is: Bouldering is hard on your body. It’s harder on your body than sport climbing. Why do you think the natural progression is to go from bouldering to sport climbing, and not the other way around? It’s because sport climbing you’re doing less intense stuff, just a lot more of it. If you can climb a V3 boulder over and over and over, you’ll be a killer sport climber. You might be the best at the crag on a given day. If you can climb V7 over and over and over, you’re going to be world class. Or at least national class. Or at least county class. Or at least city class. Or at least neighborhood class. Or at least street class. Or at least household class.

I’m tired. I was riding a high from mate about an hour ago but now I’ve come off it. I’m basically waiting to have dinner with friends. Not really sure what to do. It’s cloudy and cold outside. I could take a nap. I could clean my boat, but it’s already pretty damn clean. I could work on my writing project, but I’m taking the day off. I could apply for jobs, but I’m not ready for that, yet.

Maybe I’ll just do nothing.