5.30.2008

It's like the Grand Ole Opry, but with fewer rhinestones and yellow ribbon car decals...

Many years ago, my family and I drove to Memphis to visit my mom's siblings and their families. Of the many memories of that trip, including forgetting my cousin, Reynolds, at some old family friend's house and splashing through the Mud Island Riverwalk when the water was so hot it burned our feet, the one that most stands out is that of my mild-mannered and always-agreeable brother going batshit crazy at the sight of one too many "Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty LIVE at the Grand Ole Opry" billboards. I still don't know what it was that so offended him. Was it the hallucination-inducing costumes? The attempt to pass their noise off as music? The bastardization of the Appalachian sound? Or just the fact that in 100 miles, we'd seen 120 Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty billboards? Either way, it left an impression, and to this day, I associate the Grand Ole Opry (henceforth to be known as GOOP) with the one and only fit I ever saw my brother pitch. Not a good association.

The other night, while looking for the guitar chords for Dougie MacLean's Caledonia, I stumbled across a number of covers of the song. It's very popular; Dougie himself even admits that it's become "a wee bit of an anthem." That said, imagine my surprise when I found a cover of that lovely ballad by the Celtic equivalent of GOOP.

See for yourself.

Who are these curiously coiffed men who dress like my mom and whose choreography involves such difficult moves as standing still and walking from one side of the stage to the other?

And why are they so strangely compelling?

I never listened to the New Kids on the Block or to the Backstreet Boys or to the Hansons (though, if the Hanson brothers from the movie Slapshot had a band, I'd probably listen to it). No, I've never liked the boybands, but I can't help being charmed by these Celts. A little. Don't get me wrong; plenty about them is absurd. I mean, one of them is, like, nine. And the guy who winks? Come on, winking? And what about the big scary bald guy? What the hell is he doing there? It's like they're playing a real life game of "one of these things is not like the other..."

But again, why do I care so much?

I'm holding you accountable: if ever you hear me singing something by 98 degrees, take away my iTunes privileges.

Last weekend, this weekend, then off we go....

Last weekend we biked the White Rim trail - something different for us, as we'd normally just drive the White Rim to get to climbing areas, not pedal along with no climbing gear in sight. Here are some images from that journey:


It was fun, but now I'm ready to go climbing. Not this weekend, though, as I made the mistake of signing up for a marathon a couple months ago, and on Sunday I'll have to test my mettle on the roads around Steamboat Springs. I know I'll be excited once I'm there, but right now I'm not all that psyched; I'm nervous and I'd rather be heading to Maple Canyon or Donner Summit or Yosemite. Live and (sometimes) learn, I guess.

But after this weekend, it's climbing season. Well, actually, it's just time to hit the road and travel. I took this new job because it allows me to work from anywhere, to be in Bishop or Tuoloumne and still do my work and be as connected as I am at my kitchen table in Utah; it's time to take advantage of that benefit.

Before that happens, though, I need to remember that, in climbing and in life, when one thing goes wrong, it's not cause to throw in the towel and quit. It just means I have to put my head down and try harder. Things go wrong, and, in the moment, it sucks. But expanding my scope and looking at the situation with a bigger perspective usually helps, usually makes that moment seem smaller, less important, just one among many.

This weekend, on the White Rim, I my quads burned as I pedaled along on a trail that Brad said was, "all downhill." Fighting to stay upright through deep sand, pedaling so hard my heartrate was probably in the two-hundreds, I begged to differ; it did not feel "all downhill."

But that was just one small section of the whole trail. That specific place in time involved a climb, but stepping back a bit and looking at a broader stretch of trail revealed that, truly, the route did lose elevation. A slightly bigger perspective yielded a descent. Had I considered only that one moment in time, only that section that saw me sweating and breathing hard, I would have disagreed with Brad. But I took a step back, looked at the tail as a whole, and the thing didn't seem so bad. Lesson learned (for now).

5.28.2008

You Say Mossimo, I Say Missoni

I've always loved Missoni. Part of that has to do with its being an Italian company; I feel a kinship with my pisons. It's the same reason I love drinking espresso from my Bialetti and climbing in Scarpas. I imagine that my climbing shoes were hand-crafted by a little white-haired man named Gianni, though, in fact they were probably slapped together by a starving nine year old named Soo Lin.

Anyway, I love Missoni, with its colorful fabrics and signature halter dresses; it is at once trendy and timeless, classy and bohemian. Some people have a totem animal (hippies), I have a totem designer. And it's Mossimo.

So imagine my surprise when during a routine visit to SuperTarget, I stumbled upon this little number:


With its metallic, chevron-striped, knit fabric, it was damn near a dead ringer for a Missoni bikini (which retails for, roughly, $400). But it was in Target. And it was CHEAP. For a minute I held onto it and looked greedily around, not wanting anyone else to see this treasure, to capitalize on my good luck, to wear this same suit and look better in it than I.

I scurried into the dressing room to try it on, momentarily forgetting about the Method hand soap, dish soap and stove cleaner that I needed in favor of yet another swimsuit that I didn't.

(Incidentally, I picked up Method's Eucalyptus Mint "Lil' Bowl Blue," aka toilet bowl cleaner, today as well, and I can't say enough good things about it. It smells nice, it work well and it's non-toxic....important for those of us who own dogs who may or may not drink from the commode.)

I might go to the pool today. What? It's a work day? Ok, I'll take my computer and work from there. What? That's obnoxious? Too bad.

5.23.2008

Dactylic Hexameter

My favorite form.


Following Arnie on
Trails lined with Cottonwoods,
Mornings are welcome now
Waking feels effortless.
Arnie bolts after an
Animal. Maybe he’ll
Catch it; it could be that
This is his glory day.

5.19.2008

Sad Weekend

This was not a good weekend. Brad and I were both indecisive and restless. I slept less than three hours both nights, and because the dogs follow me everywhere, they were up, too. (That’s probably why Arnie was so very sleepy all day…) We were both angry and edgy, and here’s why:

Our neighbor, Beau, died in a bizarre accident – he was in Ferguson Canyon (just above our house) and fell from a rope swing into a shallow section of the creek. He was 23.

Beau was remarkably kind. He was a young tough, a UFC-aficionado and a scrapper, but none of that fire came out when I talked to him. To me, he was nothing but respectful and helpful and look-me-in-the-eye honest. More than once he saw me raking leaves or shoveling snow and came over to help, unasked. The one time I did ask for his assistance, during the great hot-tub move of 2008, he walked over without hesitation, even calling one of his friends to help, too.

I’m tremendously sad for him, for his mother, Kathy – with whom he was very close – and his strong network of friends. They spent most of the weekend at his house, sorting through his snowboard stuff and camping gear and cds and video games. Occasional laughter floated over the fence that divides our properties, laughs punctuated by long periods of silences; I can’t imagine the pain those moments held and will continue to hold. I can't imagine how, following the funeral today, Kathy walked into their home alone.

In January, I was shoveling the driveway after an afternoon squall, and I called hello to Kathy, who was doing the same. She'd just come back from one of her two jobs (I could tell because she was still in uniform), but she was smiling. "Beau's interlodged in Snowbird," she said. "I'm so happy he got up there before the snow came."

A couple weeks ago, Beau bought a new 4-wheeler, and as he proudly showed it to Brad and talked about horsepower and engines and wrenching, I watched his face; it was all open-hearted excitement. No arrogance, just happiness. I remember thinking, “I hope he’s safe on that thing; I hope he wears a helmet….”

It doesn’t matter now, which reminds me that it’s never what you think it’s going to be, that it comes in a flash, that it’s imperative to breathe deeply and be present as much as you can.

We’ve gotten over our anger and edginess. We’re quiet, though; we’re a little wounded, a little sore from grief. We’re thinking not of our own mortality, but of losing each other, losing the people we love – our families, our friends.

RIP Beau.

Summer Swap Survey

Alex's Summer Swap is coming up soon, and I'm delighted to have been paired with Kerry. To prepare for the swap and get to know our partners better, Alex put together this survey (very thoughtful, Ms. Alex!):

About moi:
1. Favorite preppy designers?
J. Crew, Lilly

2. Favorite preppy accessories?
Scarves, pearls, oxfords

3. Any hobbies?
Climbing, running, wine, cooking, yoga, pilates, imagining moves to other countries

4. Enjoy crafting, if so anything in particular?
Knitting....very lumpy and uneven scarves

5. Favorite books/magazines?
The New Yorker, Poets & Writers, Yoga Journal, Chick Lit

6. Any other favorite things?
My doggies, my honey, my family, my friends

7. Collect anything?
Apparently dog hair, but not officially.

8. Any kids/pets?
Arnie and Red. Technically pets, but treated like children...

9. Any allergies?
Video games, rednecks, Nascar...

10. Favorite thing to do in the Summer?
Wear dresses, run in the early morning when it's still cool, drink cocktails on the patio.

11. What most makes you think of Summer?
Gin & tonics (or would it be gins & tonic?)

12. Favorite treat/drink?
Oh, well, G&Ts, margs, limeade & vodka....oh dear...

13. Anything else your partner should know about you?
Nope!

Do Not Bother Arnie.


Arnie Sleepy. Arnie Even a Little Bit Grumpy. Do Not Bother He.

5.16.2008

Summer of many dresses...

I've been snatching up all the cute (and affordable) shifts and maxi dresses I can get my hands on lately. I'm not sure if i's actually true, but in my mind, the most flattering look for me is one step away from a mumu. (Not to be confused with Miumiu, which is always beautiful but too expensive.)


Here's a rundown of recent purchases:
Patagonia's Kamala Skirt/Dress:

This long, tiered sundress from the Gap:

And finally, this awesome vintage Lilly, which I picked up for just $19.99 on eBay. SO psyched to wear this to an upcoming summer wedding, with pearl studs and simple gold sandals.

5.14.2008

Sometimes I Get Bored

On the way home from the desert last week, Brad had to stop to visit a shop that buys his wares. Because there was no wireless for me to pirate, I made a video.

I think it's hilarious, but then, I would.

video

5.13.2008

I might sue this person for libel....

Except I can't, because it's all true. See for yourselves: Stuff White People Like

Seriously. New Balance shoes? Check. Grammar? Check. Scarves? Barak? Coffee? Check, check, check.

I'm like an open book. Sigh. Who knew I was such a stereotype?

Nevertheless, it's hilarious. HILARIOUS.

Also very, very funny: Stuff God Hates. My favorite from that list? Being crucified.

Back to it.

Well, I got my psyche back and had a good run on Sunday. I climbed with Bill and Brad and Ari, too, which also felt great. I was ready for a long flat run this morning and looked forward seeing how the changing seasons had affected my favorite section of the Pipeline trail.

Arnie, Red and I drove up Mill Creek Canyon early and pulled into the trailhead. There was a man in the only other car in the parking lot, and with his tinted aviators, black ball cap pulled low and hooded sweatshirt, he looked like a living police composite sketch.

What the hell? He didn't appear to be an outdoor enthusiast (yeah, I'm profiling, sue me). There have been reports of break-ins in Mill Creek lately....Really, though, if you were planning to break into someone's car, wouldn't you take measures to look less creepy? I mean, this guy looked like the unabomber if the unabomber ever left his house and got into his Pinto and lurked at trailheads.

Sigh. I drove to the next trailhead - my second favorite access point for the Pipeline Trail - and found an eerily similar looking man there. Onto the third favorite access point, and there was another one! This one was leaning against his car in a Members Only jacket (I thought only Steve Hong wore those anymore...). Good god, if these guys were planning to take Mill Creek by storm and were smart enough to station themselves at all the trailheads, you'd think they'd also be smart enough to know that no one would leave their cars unattended in the face of such weirdos.....

Maybe I was being too sensitive. I've been known to overreact in such times, trusting no one and limiting my own fun in the name of staying safe. But still, it was really odd.

So I came home and will run later, at a more crowded time of day. The whole experience reminded me of a conversation I had with Marit and Lizzie at dinner the other night. We were talking about how we believe that in our lifetimes, the world will change drastically from what we know. We talked about how it has to change, because it cannot continue on this trajectory. We are simply consuming too much. We aren't being mindful.

That got me thinking of how my fears have evolved to encompass bigger things, things outside myself. When I was little, I feared being kidnapped, something bad happening to my family or my pets. But now I fear the loss of human comforts. It seems possible to me that our nation will be attacked again, that we will run out of oil, that our economy won't recover.....It's really scary to me. It keeps me up at night.

With each tragedy, the pain hits closer to home. This morning, 12,000 are feared dead in China, and it no longer seems impossible that an earthquake could wipe out Utah. Before Before Columbine, I could watch a movie without fearing that men in trench coats would bust into the theater and start unloading automatic weapons. Before Amy Bechtel disappeared, I could run alone in the mountains without fearing….the unknown, I guess. Before 9/11, I thought a foreign attack on American soil would never happen. Before Ted Kaczynski, I thought all mountain men were nice. Well, he probably was nice, is a little opinionated and brash.

So because of all this, I don't feel guilty for profiling. I don't feel bad for not leaving the van (loaded with valuable and sentimental stuff, like climbing gear ) and trusting that the sketcher in the car next to mine had good intentions.

5.10.2008

Ouroboros

When I'm stressed, I focus on the image of Ouroboros - the snake eating its own tail.

It helps remember that everything is cyclical, everything comes back around, everything in its own time. Whether I'm worried about not running enough, not getting enough work done, not being "good enough," I try to remember that for every action an equal and opposite reaction, for every worry, every stress, a moment of confidence, of salvation.

I woke up this morning intending to run for three hours. It was hard to get out the door. After my obligatory cup of coffee, I made myself another and fought off hunger pains (I hate to eat before a run) while I got dressed. I sort of set myself up for failure there, because I pulled on my least favorite running shorts. They're old and faded and they've never fit well. I knew, in the back of my mind, that I didn't want to wear them for three hours.

I eventually dragged myself down the driveway and onto the street. As soon as I picked up my feet and kicked it into gear, my legs felt tired, my shoulders sore, my head achy from my too-tight ponytail. Blahblahblah...

It became too much. I stopped running less than a mile from my house. I turned around and ran home, exchanged my running clothes for sweats, and have been reading and writing ever since. On a beautiful Saturday. It feels wrong but it shouldn't. This exhaustion is a direct of the excitement and energy I've been feeling lately, and giving in to the tired, lazy day is not failure, but part of the cycle. Just like Ouroboros.


5.08.2008

Last Weekend was Spectacular.

Let’s look back at an awesome weekend. It was wonderful, and the reason I’m not reporting about it till now is that we kept right on enjoying it through last night.

Well, actually, we worked remotely Monday-Wednesday, but still, living out of the van, camping in Kane Creek, playing at the bmx track (true, yes, true), reading, hiking, running, climbing, eating at Moab’s new Thai restaurant (also true, and it’s not bad)….it was awesome.

On Friday morning I ran 9 hilly miles with the dogs. It was hotter than I’d expected, so I was glad the dogs got water breaks (stream crossings) at miles 4 and 7. I went home and worked all day and then Brad and I hopped in the van (with two dogs, one motorcycle, one bmx bike, one autobiography of Warren Buffett on cd, six sets of camalots, four ropes, two bottles of Pinot Noir and three bags of baked organic jalepeno cheese curls) and headed south.

We climbed at Indian Creek on Saturday and Sunday, and despite passing dozens of Subaru Outbacks with Petzl and La Sportiva (“I’m a climber! I’m a climber!”) stickers on them, we were among the only people at the crag. Ari and Lizzie were with us, and Ed and Matt came out, too.

Despite waking up with a really sore shoulder on Friday (goddamn purple route in the gym with its big throws to slopers…why am I still working on it?), I felt good on Saturday. I didn’t get on anything hard, but I climbed a bunch of mellow routes with no pain. Brad and Ari climbed 30 pitches – a huge accomplishment at Indian Creek, because almost all of the routes are long and require huge outlay of effort.

The boys decided to end their day at Supercrack Buttress. Just before sunset, we hiked up the approach, watching party after party descend and head to their campsites for cold beers and burritos and climbing-talk. We kept heading up, though, and as the sun set behind the Bridger Jacks, the boys climbed and climbed. When they clicked on headlamps and climbed into blackness, I belayed and cheered them on. It felt good to help them, to support them, to make sure they were fed and watered. Brad is always so supportive of my goals (even when they’re over my head and completely absurd, e.g. “I’m gonna run a 50k!”), so it felt nice to help him accomplish one of his.

Being there at Supercrack Buttress, which is stacked with classics, I thought about my first experiences at Indian Creek. In the early days, I went to Supercrack all the time, partially because I didn’t know about the endless buttresses down the road, but also because the routes are pretty doable. I thought about the day, with Cindy Trotter, that it all clicked for me, the day Incredible Handcrack went down without a fight. I felt like I'd arrived; it was pivotal.

In many ways I’ve evolved as a climber – honed my skills, learned my strengths – but mostly I’m still that girl who doesn’t know how to make tape gloves and hates to place gear blindly. And even though Incredible Handcrack is a warm up for me now, I still get a little nervous when I look up at it, because in some ways it will always be the coolest, hardest route imaginable.

After a steak dinner at camp (endless thanks to Ed for taking such good care of us), we all went to bed dreaming of another day of crack climbing. Brad fell asleep in his tape gloves; I wish I’d gotten a photo.

Sunday was beautiful. I got on Coyne Crack, which didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Before I started, I looked up at the route, took a deep breath and focused. Then proceeded to do everything wrong and inefficiently and backwards and as though I had never touched rock in my life.

I tried to jam the beginning even though I knew that it was smarter to lay it back. I tried to shove in #2s even though I could see that the crack was an inch and a half. Where I could have placed a #2, I wasted time fiddling with #1s.

Sigh.

It was ugly. My feet were slappy and sloppy. I placed gear above my head (stupid because then the rope is in the way). I didn’t rest in the smart spots, opting to say, “take” instead.

Sigh. Next time will be better.

It was a nice day, though. Brad was exhausted enough that he didn’t put up a fight when I suggested going to the only crowded buttress in the Creek (uh, yeah, that’s right: Supercrack again). There were puppies and people and ropes and flailers everywhere, and he didn’t growl once, prompting Lizzie to comment, “I think Brad should climb 30 pitches everytime he climbs! This is great! He’s so mellow!”

I had pictures but somewhere en route from my camera to my computer, they disappeared. Instead, I’ll leave you with a photo that Matt took. Matt is a professional photographer; his work is breathtaking. Check it out now.

5.07.2008

For Old Time’s Sake


Baby Arnie with younger me. Back when Arnie was spelled Arne with an umlaut over the "e." Of course, that's all changed since I've come to recognize the pup as an all-American. Plus, the dogtag companies don't do umlauts. Neither does blogger for that matter. This photo was taken by Megan Davis in Backbone’s old offices. Arnie came to work with me from day 1. In those days, desks at backbone were old doors propped on filing cabinets, and Arnie happily napped under my door all day.

This was when Penn and Megan sat across from me, Jess sat behind us, and everyday at 3 pm something happened that caused me to behave as though I dosing painkillers. “The Punchy Hour” we called it, when everything was funny, every comment snarky and I fell off my exercise ball at least once an hour. We laughed out loud, we ribbed each other and it probably came out in our work, which could be why we became such good friends with our clients.

Last February, I left the outdoor industry for about a year, and the whole time I was away (even at my recent fancy job that had me flying to LA and Phoenix for casting calls and post-production work), I missed it. I missed the Punchy Hour, the camaraderie, the ability to say any thing at any time to any one in the company, whether he’s the CEO or the secretary (who am I kidding? No one in the outdoor industry has secretaries).

In the real world, people thought it weird when I reported that my plan for the weekend was to drive 6 hours to a climbing area where I’d sleep in my vehicle, willingly wake up early, walk an hour or more with a very heavy pack to suffer on a route that's probably too hard for me. (What’s weird about that?)

They, in turn, thought me hopeless because I didn’t want to see the Transformers movie, didn’t plan my evenings around television shows, didn’t believe in God (though, as an agnostic, I do believe in that Great Golden Retriever in the sky – sorry for the blasphemy, religious readers), didn’t want to have kids because I’m afraid of our overpopulated world…..I mean, yeah, it’s bizarre for sure, but there are at least a few people like me in the outdoor industry, so it just feels good to be back there.

I’m glad I left, though. I needed to get different experience. I needed to be humbled and learn new skills and “diversify” (groan). But I never skinned through fresh powder before dawn with my boss at Fancy Job, like I did with Penn and Bill and Len and Rich one morning in Steamboat. And I never stayed at his house and got to know his family like I did Bill’s. And I just didn’t care the same way. I didn’t want to know that my clients and colleagues were well and healthy and happy because I genuinely cared for them, I asked because I thought I should. I didn't attach myself in the same way; I didn't make my work a part of myself.

But now, sitting at this campsite above Moab, Brad riding his motorcycle and the dogs snoozy at my feet, I know where I belong.

5.02.2008

And this is what I do now....

My new job.

Cool, huh?

Photos taken on the iPhone....

Totally suck.

Seriously, it's embarrassing. You'd think for 5 bills Apple could improve the camera feature.

It's May.


I love May in the Wasatch. The trails are clear of snow but not too dusty. The snakes are usually still asleep. (I say "usually" because I'd have to jinx myself and stumble across a big rattler on my afternoon run....) Days are warm enough to climb outside and feel the sun on my shoulders; nights are cool enough to keep the quilt on the bed.

Not quite cool enough for a fire, though you can be sure Brad keeps offering to build one.

We've been climbing and bouldering in Little Cottonwood. I've been running in the foothills and canyons. Last Saturday I tried to run with a group of my favorite Women of the Wasatch (seriously, if there were a calendar, they'd be January - April), but was reminded that "nice easy pace" is relative. After suffering for 15 minutes, unable to breathe and knowing that I couldn't keep the pace for another 12 feet let alone 12 miles, I bailed.

Note: I hate bailing. Especially on running or climbing. I knew I had to, though, because going on would have been worse. My slowness might have compromised the quality of the others' run, I'd have risked injury (my hamstring has been super cranky lately) and I was worried about Red Dog, who was already showing signs of thirst.

So I said goodbye and turned around. I drove home assuring myself that this didn't mean anything, that I could still run the day's miles and that if anything, I'd have more fun running at my own pace.

But I still kind of felt like I'd failed. I guess it's inevitable.

I did get my miles in, and afterwards, I gardened. I planted full sun perennials ans veggies, because our yard is completely south-facing and I'm under the false impression that perennials require no work.

Not entirely true, but whatever; I have a year to forget that.

I planted:
Lavender because it's calming.
Shasta daisies because they remind me of Mount Shasta, California.
Sweet red peppers because they're Brad's favorite.
Jalapenos because why not?
Chicks and hens because I saw them at Nicole and Paul's house and thought they were pretty.
Another kind of daisy that looks like a Gerber, but isn't.

I hauled rocks around the yard to make borders for my gardens. I dug into the hard soil, turning it in favor of the fresh stuff below. I threw fistfulls of wildflower seeds around the yard. I watered everything and gave it a final once-over before going inside to take a shower.

The satisfaction I felt at the end of the day trumped my earlier sadness. I felt accomplished and proud. It didn't matter, anymore, that I wasn't able to keep up with the girls on the run. It mattered that I'd exceeded my goals for the day - even though it took me longer than expected.

Tonight we're heading to the desert for a few days. Climbing tomorrow and Sunday and working from Moab for a few days next week. I'm looking forward to running the slickrock trails, bouldering and climbing in the evenings, visiting old friends and being tired at the end of every day.

We both have big climbing projects this weekend; Brad wants to climb 35 pitches in a day (and in Indian Creek, that's HUGE. The pitches are long and tiring. As Ari says, "the climbing's all Olivia Newton John - PHYSICAL."). I have 2 projects in mind - hardish routes, one I've never been on and would like to try to onsight, and one that I've toproped but never led. My plan is to breathe through the tough sections and everytime I want to say "take," force myself to make two more moves. That way, I'll likely have moved the tough section, I'll be in a position to place gear and I'll be more motivated to keep going, with the chains being all that much closer. (Incidentally, I notice that both these routes are rated 11d o rockclimbing.com. Hmmph. I thought they were 12a. Those sandbagging bastards.)

So that's the plan.

I've been scattered lately because I just started a new job. I've returned to the climbing industry and am handling marketing and PR for a small, young company. I'm working from home, which is the best perk ever.

And here's my office for the next week:
And here's a shot of Arnie and Red cuddling, because it's been a while since you've seen that:

And here's my new lamp, which I love:


I feel kind of like Chevy Chase in Fletch, when he's showing off his photographic evidence, and he says, "and here's the dog that tried to bite me, and here's my rental car..."