Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Good Riddance 2014!

What can I say? At the risk of wearing too much emotion on my sleeve, this year fucking sucked (and the next one doesn't look too promising either). Oh well, I tried hard.  I got up and dusted myself off after numerous and on-going setbacks. I am not generally one to believe in superstitious bullshit or esoteric hocus pocus, but I do believe in all kinds of luck in the universe - good luck, bad luck, and dumb luck being the most common forms. Generally in life we try to position ourselves for good luck while consciously avoiding the bad. I accept that we exert some control over our world but there are many and unpredictable variables to consider as well. Hopefully I have run the well dry of bad luck for a while. Hell, I would be pleased as punch if a little dumb luck blew my way too.  

That being said, the prayer flags didn't blow off my porch today. I suppose that, in and of itself, is good tidings. You see the idea behind prayer flags is that the wind carries blessings and good will to benefit everyone around and it was one crazy, blustery day outside. The air must be lousy with prayers and/or good luck (or whatever other nomenclature you prefer). I guess we can only strive and hope that they find us all soon in 2015.

Good Riddance  - A throwback to better times.  I had to post something if I was using the title.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rounding the Corner?

Whenever you are out hiking in a new place, do you find that you have the urge to always push a little further to see what's around the next corner?  Sure, you might have a schedule to keep and maybe you only allotted yourself enough time to get back for dinner, but you just can't resist finding out what else is out there.  As someone who prides himself in being early for just about everything, I also take great pride in choosing to be late because I hiked too long and went too far.

Lately I find myself in a unique situation in terms of rounding a corner of a different sort.  In just the last two weeks I have been able to engage in more sustained activity following a five week setback in my surgery recovery which has been fraught with complications and a slower than usual healing process.  For a while I didn't really care what was around the next corner due to frustration.  It was as if I was one of those people who went hiking for all the wrong reasons.  You know the people who are all too willing to turn around practically before they start; people who don't have the passion for what they are doing; people that are never compelled to see what's next.


Obviously there is a half-assed metaphor in there but for me it is also meant to be taken literally.  For weeks now, months even, I have been plodding along just forcing myself to get up and go.  Along the way though I learned something.  I learned the value of perseverance in the face of zero motivation.  On many occasions leading up to last weekend I didn't exactly want to get out. Nevertheless I kept going and I finally rediscovered my curiosity for what's around the corner again.  It has been a long, long time since I enjoyed a bike and climb weekend but it happened and it was fun.  It was nothing hardcore.  No gnar was shredded.  It was just good fun and all I wanted was to keep on going.

Clever urban single track

Monday, September 29, 2014

Unattended Piles of Junk

I sit in my tiny, new apartment experiencing a flood of confusing emotions.  Hanging on my walls are the disjointed decorations that I have carried with me year after year, from place to place.  All of the pictures are snapshots that I personally took while visiting exotic locations and doing amazing things, all of which are accompanied by all those silly, little knick-knacks, infused with memories, and together they tell a rich story.  When viewed as a collection they stand as an homage to my past; a past full of promise, full of adventure, and rife with accomplishment.  I sort of fucking hate it all.

I while away the time in my new home trying to figure out the right place to stash all of my stuff.  I have never been a decorator of any worth.  I have never been a nester.  This fact is obvious as I create random piles of junk which are then supplanted by different random piles of junk.  There is a pile of important papers and a pile of miscellaneous papers.  There is a pile of clothes that I wear and a pile or clothes that are just there.  There is also a huge pile of toys from various hobbies which look woefully neglected.  When I create these piles I have a vague idea of what I should do with them but I never get around to doing it. It becomes obvious that I don't believe there is a perfect place for any of this stuff and, in fact, I don't care where this shit goes.  The pictures on my walls are a testament to a life lived outside.  They stare down at me like the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, critical of what I'm doing.  I cower below their glare, feeling trapped.  If I could crawl under my piles of junk and hide right now I would.

Deep inside I sort of feel like all of that unattended garbage.  It's all crap from the past that has little relevance or bearing on my present.  It's stuff I don't want to be bothered with.  As much as I want to embrace the meaning it all once had, I simply can't.  Recently I had surgery to fix a problem that was supposed to improve my "quality of life."  The doctor was very convincing when telling me it would benefit me and, even though the wait leading up to it had been rough, I still believed in a promising future following the procedure, one full of adventure and success as was my past experience.  Unfortunately, the attempt failed.  As I sit here under the close examination of my own personal Dr Eckleberg, sitting in my junk, I don't believe in those promises any more.  Now looming over me is the question of how I will rectify who I once was and who I thought I could still be with who I am now.  This junk needs to find a place.

Friday, August 1, 2014


While sitting in the mountains of Southern Idaho this weekend I read "The Kilimangaro Device" by Ray Bradbury and, even if I wasn't in Hemingway's beloved Sawtooth Mountains, it was hard to believe that Papa had not taken in this same vista nearby.  

I wonder if when he sat here, did he see what I saw.  I also wonder why he didn't see what Bradbury saw.  This was a good moment of reflection for me.  It was one of those stolen moments when you feel lucky for being in the right place at the right time.

Our perspective can play a big role in the way we actually experience things.  Within the span of a minute or two I probably took 6 pictures of the same view as above.  They all essentially shared similar elements but this one was the best.  Why?  It's hard to say exactly but I think that is what is called serendipity.

The photo to the left is another example of a perspective shift and just as serendipitous.  I think I prefer the normal orientation to this one but it becomes a whole new creation with a whole new meaning when turned on its head.  Maybe my preference for the natural view aligns me more closely with Hemingway but the Bradbury in me insisted on trying something else.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


So I considered sharing an update from my own personal experience but then I stumbled across this guys explanation which is pretty spot on.  You can imagine me saying this exact thing minus the part about having a two year old.  I am about at the same stage right now.  He has other updates later down the road which I intend to watch but he makes me laugh and that is too painful so I will wait.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What Next?

What next?  I used to be pretty successful at answering that question.  I used to be equally as good at putting that answer into action.  It is actually quite easy when, if in every other aspect, things are normal.  I can attest to that from experience which makes this sound like a resounding endorsement for those pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap types.  Ironically, it's the exact opposite.  People need support.  Compassion is a virtue.

It has been a pretty rough and tumble recent past for me although I keep on getting back up.  I would regret it though if I didn't acknowledge a few people like my mom and some good friends like Wayne.  If not for them, I wouldn't have the chance to get back up quite so easily.  Thank yous are in order for sure.

Several months ago it became very apparent that I needed a hernia repaired.  Simple enough since, even though it is major surgery, it is probably the most commonly performed surgery out there.  1 in 4 men will get a hernia.  Most of them at some time will require an operation.  Some don't.  Unfortunately for me, I did and mine came at a time when I was transitioning between jobs.  I also had no insurance so it had to wait.  And I waited, painful as it often was.  Waited through one job rejection after another which in turn meant one insurance rejection after another since the two were inextricably combined.  Yeah I know, I can hear those that don't agree with my leftist leanings telling me that I am a lazy freeloader.  The problem is, I worked during that time.  I mostly worked full-time even; sometimes two jobs.  What it also meant for me was that those jobs didn't offer insurance being with small companies or in a temporary position.  But the ironies don't end there.  I ended up getting a good job with insurance but it was caught in a holding pattern while I waited to qualify.  Unfortunately, the hernia did not recognize the wait.  It kept worsening.  So then what?

Thankfully for me there emerged another option.  Some of you deride it as Obamacare but I welcome it by that name.  I followed the process and I got insured.  It was, in fact, as easy as sitting through one of those job sponsored open enrollment classes.  It was boring as shit, sometimes confusing (although really no worse than the usual insurance crap), but doable and now I am scheduled to get the help I need in a very short time.  

So does the system work flawlessly?  I can comfortably say hell no.  I am sure when all the stupid, post-treatment, this-is-not-a-bill paperwork starts rolling in and the clerical errors send me to collections (which happened before Obamacare) I will be just as furious as I was five or ten years ago.  But that only attests to the fact that we need to work even harder to simplify the process even further and make the coverage still more ubiquitous.  It attests to the need for a single payer system.  But there is also something new.   It now keeps a person who is capable and educated and willing to work from being needlessly marginalized because they can't get necessary medical help when changes in life happen.

I really hope my hernia surgery goes well - I mean really.  I want to be working again with the same vigor and confidence that I had before.  More so, I want to resume doing all the things I have come to identify so passionately with like biking and climbing.  But I also want people to know that I have gone through the process and that it has worked up to this point.  If you want to argue with me about the pros and cons of health care please do.  I think open dialogue is necessary to fix the problems, both old and new.  But if you really enter the conversation, please do so with solid facts, not rhetoric, because I am bringing hard-earned, first person experience to my defense, not a bunch of blowhard talk show bullshit, big on ideology and short on reality.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In Awe of Fitzroy

From my visit in 2004

Rock and Ice Magazine story 

For days I observed the Fitzroy skyline with complete reverence.  It is perhaps the most magnificent setting I have witnessed.  As a mediocre climber and as someone who has followed the history of the region, I am in total awe of the latest climb by Caldwell and Honnold.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tick Lists

The Uintas, Sunrise

Another year has slipped into the night and the future is all horizon.  Of course I have big expectations for the things to come, but my tick list has grown inconceivably long.  It is now an unwieldy beast that will likely lead to disappointment due to the sheer magnitude of it, and it continues to grow.  As a point of interest, I use the phrase "tick list" from  my climbing days instead of "bucket list" because it connotes something completely different.  A bucket list sounds desperate to me, like I let life pass me by.  At first I thought it was merely a semantic distinction but, upon closer look, I realize there is a significant difference.  A "tick list" originates from the imagination and a world of possibilities.  It grows with you and is very forward looking.  In contrast, a "bucket list" is full of  should've-dones and the envy of others.  Mark Twain got it right when he said, "you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things you did."  Sure you can start at the end and work backwards...but why?  Why chisel away at a looming list of regrets when you can continually add to a growing one of proud pursuits?

So here I am, literally in the middle of it.  There is as much life behind me as there is in front of me.  I believe that I have made good on Mr. Twain's words, at least with the first half of my life. It explains why the list continues to grow - after all adventure begets more adventure.  The problem for me now is: how do I continue to meet the mounting expectations of the future?  The past was reckless to put it nicely.  Now new problems emerge.  My body doesn't work quite like it used to.  Time and money and a host of other trifling annoyances are more present than ever.  Do I need a better perspective?  Preparation perhaps?  Luck?  Who knows.  

Hopefully the new year bodes well for everyone with whatever it is you choose to do.