Sagebrush and Juniper

I’m standing in front of the supplements in Whole Foods in Bend, Oregon trying to find a certain kind of turmeric. It’s apparently liquid soluble and thus more “bioavailable,” and it must be said that when I took it before my digestive system felt better than ever, though that could’ve been because I was supplementing magnesium or any number of other factors. In the end I don’t find it and thus leave with only two wares: a hop tea by Hop Lark, and a Zevia black tea blood orange flavor. Neither of these have any calories, which is ideal. I can’t have calories. I’m fasting.

I traverse the parking lot to the Costco section where I parked. This is Bend, Oregon, known as an outdoor paradise, but I’m in a Costco parking lot, which is decidedly less paradisiacal. My plan when I get in the car, though, after drinking one of the beverages, is to drive east. I don’t know where I want to go, just not here, somewhere without cars, where the only things are dirt, sagebrush and juniper trees. I want to hear the sound of the wind on the high desert, to not be surrounded by cars and buildings and people. This will prove more difficult than I imagined.

I head east on Neff Road and pretty soon things are how I wanted. It’s just me and a road. No traffic behind or in front of me, and the houses are gone now, given way to ranches, and pretty soon these are sparse, too. With the help of Google Maps I make my way to where I think there should be some trails to hike up to some cliff-looking formations where there might be boulders, too. But every time I think I’m getting close the road either becomes a dead end or a private road or simply impassable. Every damn parcel of land out here is owned by someone. Every sage bush, every juniper tree, has a human owner, and the ones I see in the distance on the butte next to the cliff, though presumably free of any owner, are blocked by private land. There are no trails, only roads that turn into driveways adorned with hostile “Private. No trespassing signs.”

Private driveway.

Dead end.

No trespassing.

The butte looms in front of me like a dream and that’s all it will ever be for me, since access looks impossible. I briefly contemplate just driving down one of the private driveways but imagine some guy in a cowboy hat toting a gun sauntering off his porch to point it at me. I don’t feel welcome out here. I’m sure the people are welcoming once you get to know them but if you’re just driving around in your ’97 Subaru looking for a place to look at some damn rocks it certainly doesn’t feel welcoming.

Finally I give up and turn around and start driving towards Bend. After a few minutes I stop to pee and there’s a dead coyote lying near the road, flies buzzing around it, its fur the same color as the brown grass, soon to be fertilizer for the brown grass. I thought it might be silent here but above me power lines crackle and every 30 seconds or so a car comes screaming by. When I finally get back on the road I’m immediately tailgated by a man in a Jeep who’s so close I can see individual stubble clusters on his face. Eventually the degenerate passes me, and I’m free again for a short while. I have the road (sort of) to myself. As we get closer to Bend, though, the traffic becomes thicker, and pretty soon I’m back at the strip mall that houses the Whole Foods where I was just looking at the supplements. I failed on my quest to go to the butte, but it still felt good to get out of the city for a bit, amongst the juniper and the sagebrush, even if I barely left my car.

I Was Hoping These Were Gonna Be Gum || A Review of Neuro Mints

Today I decided to try a product I’d seen in Whole Foods for awhile, a product called Neuro Mints. Now, if you know me at all you know that I basically live in the supplement section of Whole Foods, or at least that I frequent it. I like to take a spin through there now and again just to see if anything’s on sale, if anything catches my eye, if I’m missing out on some MUST HAVE product that will instantly make me feel better.

And on one of these perusals I noticed Neuro Mints.

Three dollars a pop (for a pack of 12; on sale right now).

Two caffeinated flavors, cinnamon and mint, and one “chill” flavor that contains no caffeine and I don’t remember what flavor it is. The packaging is yellow. Probably lemon or chamomile or something like that.

ANYWAY, today I purchased the cinnamon variety. Each serving of Neuro Mints contains 80mg of “natural caffeine,” and 120mg of “L-Theanine” (quotes yours). They also contain some B-vitamins, a little sugar alcohol, some monk fruit extract, some stevia, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Basically everything that any supplement contains these days. One question I have is: If these are bent on improving cognition, why are they so damn basic? Really? Just caffeine and L-theanine and B-vitamins? If I want that I’ll pop a vitamin b pill and drink some damn green tea. Why not put a little gingko biloba in there, or some panax ginseng, some Alpha-GPC, some GABA, or some rhodiola rosea? This is my first critique with these mints, that they’re alarmingly basic. And that they have sugar alcohol. I hate sugar alcohol.

My SECOND critique, and the most scathing, is that these are mints, and not gum. God, I wish they were gum. How I long to be chewing right now, happily masticating. And indeed I THOUGHT they were gum right until I opened the package, despite the fact that they’re called “Neuro Mints.” I just figured they’d be gum. I wanted them to be gum. It made SENSE that they would be gum. And I was pretty bummed when I figured out they weren’t gum.

False advertising?

My third critique is that they don’t taste great. They taste a bit of artificial sweetener, with a bitter taste that might very well be the caffeine. They’re also kinda hard, and kinda big. They’re like double Altoid size. Honestly, I think I’d rather just have an Altoid. Also, they’re about 6x harder than Altoids, and since I like to bite mints or candy or whatever it is that I’m chewing on, I ran a slight risk of damaging one of my teeth. So yeah, don’t taste great, kinda hard.




All that said, so far I would describe how I feel as “disturbingly wonderful.” Wonderful because I feel great, joyous, light, excited for what’s to come. And “disturbingly” because I have no right to feel this way, or rather I didn’t feel this way a mere half hour ago. Which is of course disturbing because that leads me to believe that this state is chemically induced, and how will I feel when it wears off? Will I have to chase the dragon the rest of the day with a succession of cinnamon-flavored mints?



Also my stomach kinda hurts right now. This could be the effect of eating artificial sweetener on an empty stomach. And the longer this post goes on, the more jittery I feel. Some of the light, joyous feeling I described just paragraphs ago is already starting to fade.

In conclusion, would I buy Neuro Mints again? Absolutely not. Would I give them to a friend? Maybe, if he/she was a long-distance trucker who really liked mints. But other than that absolutely not. For now I’ll stick with my tea, and if I’m going to get caffeinated mints, I’m going to make sure it’s actually gum.


Hanging On | Road to Recovery

I think screen time activates my heart murmur. It didn’t seem to be happening today until I opened my computer screen, especially when I took the blue light filter off.

I’m drinking green tea.

It’s green tea mixed with a bunch of other shit like licorice root and burdock root.

Today at 1pm I see the sports medicine doctor. I couldn’t be more overjoyed/terrified about this. On the one hand they could confirm they think everything’s OK and I could start heading south as early as Friday. On the other hand they could tell me they think the original assessment is wrong and that I need an MRI and possibly surgery. Either way I just wanna get this over with.

SHAK is down today. Good. The sooner it corrects the sooner it can go up again.

SE Limited is up. Should I sell it and buy something else?

ACB still posed for a big break?

God I love this tea. It doesn’t taste like green tea. It’s delicious. And only SLIGHTLY caffeinated. Gets rid of all those free radicals so you can smoke till your heart’s content. I will be drinking wine within the next few years, I’m sure of that. Could even be within the next year. But I’m not quite ready not. Not quite.

I just want to know what’s going on with my fucking knee.

What could I do today to integrate my senex? Meditate. Clean up my boat. Do acid.

If SHAK finds support at the 110 level all bets are off.

After this cup of green tea I’m going to have another cup of green tea and hopefully walk to Whole Foods. I say hopefully because the last few times I’ve thought I was going to walk to Whole Foods I got to the parking lot, where my car is. I then got in my car and drove to Whole Foods, which is roughly the calorie-burning equivalent of walking there, but not quite. The temperature on the boat is 60 degrees. There’s water in the bilge compartment and I don’t care. I have an automatic bilge, why do I keep cleaning it out?

Should I be injecting peptides into my knee? I have collagen peptides on my boat but nothing to mix them with. They’re unflavored so they probably taste like bovine. I need smoothies to mix them with, and I have a Magic Bullet but since I live on a boat with just a refrigerator no ice cubes. How to get around the ice conundrum? I could turn up my fridge until it’s basically a freezer. But then I can’t have anything else in there.

I will have fasted 15 hours by 10am.

Today the sun sets at 4:53! When I get back the sunsets will probably already be after 7pm. They say a meniscus tear can take three months to heal with conservative treatment. So maybe that’s how long it’s gonna take? But what about this ACL stuff? I could see myself turning into one of those problem patients today who refuses to leave until he has answers. “Give me a fucking MRI!”

Today is probably a good day to wear sweatpants.

Twenty four minutes till I can eat.

Every summer feels like the last summer of my innocence. This last summer, for example. Bouldering every day. Hanging out with Carolyn. A mission to Mexico. What will next summer be like?

This last summer seemed so pure. It seems like something was lost. But maybe it’s good that it was lost. Maybe the negative elements of the puer aeternus will be lost. Maybe hanging onto that innocence is the problem. But it’s so beautiful.


Chopin Nocturnes | Road to V4

8:30am exactly on the boat. A candle lit. Tea made. Evgeny Kissin’s 1985 concert from Moscow playing on the stereo.

I couldn’t handle Fantasie in F Minor so I changed it over to the nocturnes, with which I’m much more comfortable. The tea is sweetened with almond milk. My goal today was to fast but that’s not happening. The weather outside is atrocious. Or my attitude towards it atrocious. Grey, rainy, cold. The three elements that define a Seattle winter. And yes, it doesn’t get that cold here, but the cold here is different than the dry cold. Vegas had similar low temps, but the wet cold here will chill you to your very marrow. It takes a few days to adjust. I think I’ve adjusted now. I’ve also bought a new puffy.

Light at the end of the tunnel for Leavenworth and also Gold Bar. Next week is showing at least one dry day, probably two in Leavenworth. Darren and I are supposed to go up there to chill, take in the Christmas lights and the Biergartens, and also go cross country skiing. And obviously I’ll bring my bouldering pad if we go. Because today is day three of rest from my recent pulley strain — I’m not calling it a sprain because even that sounds too major — and if I rehab properly I should be able to crank a little bit next week. I really really wanna try Feel the Pinch V4. Even though it’s supposedly on the hard end of V4, apparently if you know the sequence then it’s not that bad. And I’m studied the sequence like a law student studying for the bar. I’ve never even climbed this boulder and I can already tell you the moves: start matched on the lower sloper, left foot on high ledge right foot where it’s comfortable; left hand up to next sloper rail; then either match and then switch feet and move left foot out wide before going for pinch with left hand, or….OK I guess I don’t have it completely memorized. I will have to try this boulder before it really becomes imprinted on my brain. But I’m in no condition to try it now. Maybe in a few days. Today at most I will do a little light hanging from the roof of my boat. Or I might just take another complete rest day. One website said after a minor pulley injury to take three days off climbing and then rehab.

8:55pm on the boat now and I’m looking into zen meditation retreats in Washington State. Everything is done over Zoom right now, which is unacceptable. I shall have to do my own retreat. I’m on my second cup of tea and trying to find a classical song that I know the tune of but can’t remember the name. Mazorka? La Tarantella? Is that even a song? La Malagueña? The Venetian Boat Song? OK, not the Venetian Boat Song, but at least I’m listening to that now and it’s sublime. Also, the tannins in the black tea are starting to make me nauseous. How do I keep my fast and ward off the nausea? Vitamin D and fish oil? A jump in the lake? A guttural scream? All of these options seem viable. All IK know is I have a Zoom meeting in an hour and I need to get off the boat before that. Maybe walk to QFC but probably not. More than likely drive to Whole Foods in Interbay where I’ll get an energy bar and a matcha latte. Because I’m an adult and I do what I want.