day 31: bro

Writing in the blog every day of this month was way harder than I expected. Some days the sentences came easy, but more often than not I didn’t want to write at all. I would sit down and force the words, it felt like trying to dig through clay-dense soil. On the days I didn’t write, I was either climbing or the thought of writing just seemed too energy draining and emotional. If you haven’t noticed, writing for me is less of creating sentences and ideas but more of opening my chest and spilling its contents on the page. I don’t hold back and try not to be sorry. So, today I decided to write something a little less emotional and a little more fun. It was really easy for me to write and I could have kept going on and on 🙂 This was inspired by an article from the Onion and of course, all of the bros in my life.

This one goes out to bros everywhere: brogis who come to my broga classes and ask if we can do some handstand pushies, bros who hang out in Brosemite and climb cracks in their Testabrosas, bouldering bros down in Bishop who run shirtless laps on Ironman Traverse and bump Macklemore while they work the Hulk in groups of 17 (megaproj),

Bro, I know your secret. I know what lies beyond your flat brimmed hats and Quicksilver hoodies–it’s sensitivity, bro. Don’t deny it, don’t try to cover it up with those bro-ass sunglasses and cut off tees that show your self-tanner tinted biceps. Let’s be honest. You fucking love kittens. I know that Die Hard isn’t actually your favorite movie–you wanna watch Midnight in Paris, again. So go ahead. Order the seared ahi salad. There’s no way you want another chicken burrito with extra guac. I know that when you smother everything in Ranch dressing you’re actually just trying to cover up the innate emotionalism and tenderness that you’re made of. You don’t have to act so strong all the time ya know. I know you hurt, bro. Enough with the brotein powder, your lats might not be as big as you’d like but bro, I see that swole heart of yours. It’s looking pretty buff these days. Let’s talk about the Joni Mitchell CD I found in your car. Let’s talk about that time you asked me for scissors so you could cut the sleeves off of your Element tee and how I know you were actually asking for permission to cut the fear out of your worried mind so you could tell me about how you really miss your Mom. It’s okay bro. Stop saying “dope”. I know you want to call that sunset “beautiful”. You can. I know you cherish your brodom and want to stay true to the brolosophy you’ve come to live by, but be honest with yourself, bro. Don’t order a Michelob Ultra. You love a good Zinfandel. When you tell your brobrahs about this hot chick from the gym who you’re going to the pool with later and how it’s just whatever but you’ll probably hit that, I know you actually smile really big when you think about running your fingers through her hair and writing little love letters and being able to call her baby. I know you wanna cook pasta for her. I know all about how you got sad and stayed in on Friday because you saw a picture of her with another guy on Facebook. I know how relieved you were when she told you that the dude is just her cousin.

Bro, let’s talk about how sweet it is when you give me your Hurley jacket and let me beat you at beer pong. Let’s talk about how you love football season mostly because you get to kick it with your best bros every Sunday. Let’s talk about how nice it is when it’s just you and me driving late at night and you get teary eyed telling me about That Thing you went through a few years ago.

Quit pretending. I know your secret, bro.

 

Happy Halloween to all of  the bros and brosephinas in my life, I love you all!

 

day 29

The redwoods sway outside of the window, loud as the wind weaves through their branches. Like a braid, whistling and tangled. The air is so fed up with stillness. The house clutches the last moments of summer’s stagnation to its breast, the wood creaks and rattles, but it has no choice. October is almost over and it’s not leaving without taking what it came for.

It’s late, the bedroom light is dimmed and I still have chalk on my cheek. The skin on my nose is dried from autumn in the Sierra. My eyes cried earlier, a reaction to wind and sun, and now their veins are prominent and full of visible blood. The day was one of exposure. I climb higher. The wind is not pleased up here. My hair whips my face and my jacket puffs and flutters like a sail. Approaching me is a whirlpool of leaves, golden reds and caramels. I close my eyes and cling to the rock as the outskirts of the tornado touches me. Then it starts to consume. I am in the eye of a gust: of dirt, dead and without purpose, wind that sounds like a ghost, lifeless leaves and needles that the pine gave away. It is strong and begs me to let go. This time I give in. I release my grip on the rock, fanning my fingers open and the tornado of things that no longer serve carries me up, higher and without stopping, I look at the bluest sky. I spin and somersault. As I reach the top of the cliff I am set down, let go of, I stand at the peak. My hair looks electrocuted, eyes are half open and water fills the lower lids. The whirl leaves, cycloning off into the horizon.

Last night, a dim dinner: sore and hungry, directionless and hardly employed I say these words: there is nowhere I would rather be right now. Oh how I mean it, oh how the words feel leaving my mouth, oh how we smile, how we nod.

Nowhere else.

day 26: this love of mine

This Love of Mine

This love of mine has played God for years now. It governs all–my choices, major life decisions, the people I fall in love with.

It’s not climbing. Climbing is just my excuse. Climbing is simply the way in which I choose to interact with this love of mine.

This love of mine has molded me into the lover that I am. When I love, it is hopeless and deep, I surrender completely. You can have all of me. Every last drop. You can occupy all of my thoughts and I will move through this world with priorities such as making your days feel easier. Loving someone means that I pull out of me my most tender parts, hold them in my hands like first grade show and tell, this is where I hurt, this is where I have lost, this is where I’m happy and this right here is my heart, it loves you. I love you. Once I love you I will always love you, no matter what happened or how things change. I am yours. I have loved you since our first date. All I want is to sit next to you. We don’t have to talk. Let’s just walk through this together.

Sometimes this causes problems. I scare people, I scare myself, the whole thing stings and throbs. But I know of no other way to go about loving a person. I know of no other way to go through this life.

However, my devotion is not senseless. I no longer put up with people who treat my heart with recklessness, because when I am reckless, this love of mine does not put up with me. If I do not give and act in accordance with the inherent goodness and tenderness of which I am made, this love of mine will flee in the instant. I try to do the same.

The places this love of mine has showed to me. Frosted mountain peaks, salty ocean waves, so many rivers, floors of canyons, bluffs and crags, Mayan caves, Tuscan hillsides, volcanoes, forests thick with vines, frozen lakes, high deserts, wildflower groves, meadows, sandy coves, high above the tree line.

The people this love of mine has introduced me to. Lovers, best friends, little girls who don’t own shoes, lead singers of death metal bands, old men without teeth, old women without left eyes, convicts, Jehovah’s witnesses, a guy who grew up on a hare krishna compound, alcoholics, mothers, crazy cat ladies, unemployed photographers, soldiers, men who swear they saw God, traveling nurses, people who know twelve languages, babies that were born three days ago.

This love of mine, it has grown my roots so deep into this ground that I touch the molten core, I am tangled in the planet. This love of mine, it has launched me into the sky, I soar with the wind and touch the face of things that are ethereal. I am in a constant state of being pulled, my feet press against the dirt and my scalp flirts with the clouds, I am stretched and infinite. This love of mine planted my body like a potato and then dared me to act like something divine.

I am so small, I am so expansive. Rooted in the soil, flying like voices from the choir.

This love of mine, how my heart beats for it, it is my cathedral and my playground, keeper of secrets. How it rules all and how it pulls me. My eternal trump card.

day 25: how are you

I remember the way he asked, “how are you?” He said the words slowly and his eyes were steady. Never before had I been asked how I was doing with such a genuine curiosity. He actually wanted to know. He cared so much about how I was. Not like those How Are Yous that get spat out by that guy you kind of know in the grocery store, you don’t completely face each other and you’re both clutching your cell phones and thinking about how you hope this doesn’t take too long cause you’ve gotta be somewhere in ten minutes.

I’m good. How are you? I’m good. That’s great. Good to see you. Let’s hang out soon.

I do that so often. It makes me feel like a robot, a robot that has the capacity to feel sad and empty and fake.

But this How Are You was different. It was like he cleared a space on that canyon floor whose earth we sat upon, he cleared the space and then held it in his extended palms, offering it to me, few things have ever felt so mine. I could truly say how I was. I didn’t have to just say good, or fine, or alright, or that I was glad it was Friday, I could say: I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, I’m guilt-ridden, I’m scared to tell you how I’m actually doing because it feels like this is the first time anyone has ever asked me that question.

Instead of being thrown at me in passing, like pocket change to a beggar, his question created a confessional. My spine got nervous. I had never experienced this kind of permission before. Not even in my own journal. Not even when I am alone, not when I check in with myself before I start my yoga, not when I’m in the shower and singing Neil Young, not when the hood on my sleeping bag is synched tight around my face and my tears roll across its nylon, attempted estuaries that spiderweb and glisten under the winter’s sky.

Honest to God curiosity. True of heart friendship. Permission in its entirety.

His question gave me freedom and power, like when you were sixteen and Dad gave you the keys to the truck for the night.

how

are

you?

The time came for me to respond. He could hear me swallow. I said I was good. I said I was fine. I said I was happy it was Friday. I got scared. I wasn’t honest. He knew it. But he wasn’t disappointed and he didn’t push for more. It was my space, I could do with it whatever I pleased.

I wish I would have used it differently.

The space and permission that he gave me is so rare and so precious, and sometimes it’s a chore to create for yourself, it just feels scary or self-indulgent.

I wish I would have been brave. I wish I would have filled that space with my demons and my lies, I wish I could have thrown up my sadness, but I was too afraid of making a mess.

day 24

So yesterday was fun.

My day was filled with: awkward social encounters, spilling jars of salsa, getting my pants pulled down at my place of work by a six year old girl, traffic so unruly that I went about five miles in thirty minutes, and I got into a small car wreck on good ol’ HWY 24, just to top everything off.

Some days are just like that.

The car I slammed into the back of couldn’t have been owned by a better person. The girl was my age, she has really curly hair, steps out of her car and immediately hugs me, I start to cry and apologize but she interrupts me, holds my hand as she turns towards the traffic and she screams, DON’T APOLOGIZE, OF COURSE THIS WAS GONNA HAPPEN, LOOK AT THIS SHIT SHOW OF A HIGHWAY, WHAT DO WE EXPECT! THERE’S LIKE 800 WRECKS OUT HERE TONIGHT, EVERYONE’S HONKING AND BEING ASSHOLES TO EACH OTHER! FUCK YOU OAKLAND!

The thought crosses my mind that maybe this girl is crazy, or drunk. But I think the Bay has gotten to her too. Her hazard lights are on, they illuminate her face and then switch off, I can see her and then I can’t, bright and then dark. She keeps telling me it’s okay. She tells me that she “doesn’t give a shit” about the two scratches on her car but that her Dad might care, so she takes my information, tells me to get home safely, and then she drives off.

And that was that. Everyone was okay and little damage was done. Thankfully.

Wake up calls always happen like this: they come in the form of tragedy. Sometimes they’re unspeakably tragic and cementing, other times you just curse Oakland and drive off with a new contact in your iPhone: Danielle FenderBender.

Even though the little wreck occurred on the east side of the Caldecott tunnel, it still took me almost an hour to get to Moraga after it happened. So I had some time to think.

I want to teach. I want to teach writing and I want to teach more yoga. I want to write. More. Like, I want to write a book. I want to travel. I want to go rock climbing. I want to hear more stories, taste more foods, I want to meet everyone, I want to learn: languages, about the stars, how to surf, how to grow something, how to love without borders, I want to create something that will somehow make this place a little less sad. I feel like I have more to offer the world than spending my days giving piggy back rides to six year olds who think they’re cats. Don’t get me wrong–I love every one of the kids I coach, and even when I have four of them hanging off of my various limbs and one of them accidentally shows my ass to some old men lifting weights, I’m still aware that they’re teaching me more about joy than anyone else has. And I’m also aware that I sound very much like a cliche modern day 20-something from My Generation that the Baby Boomers like to poke fun at, especially when I say that I think I’m better than a job and have oh so much to give to this world. But whatever. Maybe I am acting privileged and know nothing of hard work. Maybe I’m overly idealistic and need to take off these rose colored glasses and stop thinking such romantic thoughts.

Hmmm…on second thought. Nah. I’m having too much fun.

It’s easy to just fall into a schedule and be okay with it, going through your days overly caffeinated and kind of hungover, accepting your job or health or relationship because they’re all just alright, and you’re getting by, nothing’s too wrong and you feel guilty and spoiled complaining about your comparatively luxurious life. Don’t let this happen. This is when the wake up calls happen, and we’ll never know what kind of package they’re coming in–but we know they will be tragic. Where on the tragedy spectrum will it fall? God only knows. Don’t test it. Keep dreaming, keep changing and asking yourself what you want, evolve, strive, make that money, spend it on things that are either: honest or make you feel young, like car insurance and plane tickets, and above all, don’t wait. Don’t wait for tragedy. Do it now!

Happy birthday to my Dad, who taught me a lot about all of the stuff I’ve blabbed about today. I love you Dad!

 

day 22:

I place my stacked hands on the space right under my navel. My belly presses into my palms as I inhale and expand. Lungs filled to the brim. My belly feels infinite. I exhale like a dragon. Under my hands resides a jewel, the color of a California poppy and it’s spinning like a dreidel. This place is made of earth, earth that is rich and fertile. Take a seed between your fingers, press it into your belly with a rigid thumb and wait. Take great care. Countless sit ups, a loathing-spiked sigh when the dress won’t zip, and avoidance of pizza with mozzarella that can stretch for miles will only serve as a stifling agent. Feed yourself. What are you hungry for? Go surfing. Twist. Bend backwards. Kiss someone’s earlobe. Don’t let the leaves fall without you at least once noticing how they light on fire in their death. The pomegranates are coming. Enough with the cellulite creams. Let’s talk about the poison–about how every time we see the glossy cover of Self magazine and make a wish, a wish for anything other than what our mamas gave us–how that’s the real poison in our world, it’s not so much the chemicals in our chicken or the hormones in our milk, it’s the pinching of fat from our bellies, the no thank you when offered tiramisu, the photoshopping, the snipping, the enlarging, smaller here but bigger here, relentless. Where does it end? These are our bodies, they are our homes and someday they will be a skeleton. But for now, they work, they can throw baseballs and grow babies, they get thirsty and sleepy, they can dream. But our bellies, they scream the loudest. We have many products to mask their cries, but be brave. Listen.  A belly is more sensitive than a spine and wiser than a heart. This is the part of us that is the creator, the mother, the temptress. Those archetypes do not come from push up bras and false eyelashes. They are grown in our cores, intuitive and tender. Take great care.

 

Day 21: stream of consciousness

This is going to be a really me-centered, blahblahblah kind of post, feel free to skip over it. I just need to get it out, for myself.

 

I slept outside, under the full moon, it was so bright that I didn’t need a headlamp to find my toothbrush and I walked through the campground at midnight, vision unobstructed. Stars speckled the horizons but the usual display of night sky in the Eastern Sierras was overpowered by moonlight. It was never dark this weekend. Not once.

I have been eyeing a certain climb in the Buttermilks for the past two seasons. I would stand along side the boulder, look up at her face, see the moves, crave the moves, prepare to climb. And then, someone, whether it was a friend or a stranger, would say something. You sure you wanna climb that? It’s in the sun you should just wait until it goes in the shade. Be very careful, it’s not straightforward. The holds aren’t as good as they look. Why don’t you just go find something else to climb? Wait until next season. Don’t do that climb. Please don’t do that climb. 

And then, the butterflies start, the adrenaline throbs in my head and I feel light, my fingers pulse, self doubt comes in waves that just get stronger and heavier, maybe they’re right, maybe I’m not strong enough, maybe I should just go find something else, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m being cocky, maybe I’m just trying to show off, maybe I’ll freak out up there, maybe I need to wait, maybe I should stick to the climbs I know really well, maybe I should just stop with this rock climbing nonsense all together…

But the truth is, before I heard any of these external warnings, I was not afraid. I was confident and calm. I knew I could do the  route, easily. I knew it the deepest part of my core that I was strong enough. I was also aware that this was well within my physical and mental limits, and that I wasn’t being careless or somehow disrespectful to myself or the rock by doing the climb. But for two years I didn’t do this route that I wanted so badly, and I definitely can’t blame the people who tried to talk me out of it–I’m the one that let their words take away my power. I could have told them, thanks for your concern but I’ve got this. 

It is still so bright when I close my eyes, moonlight is filtered through my eyelids and I’m wishing they were more opaque. I pull my wool hat down to the bridge of my nose, finally some amount of darkness. I sleep. Immediately I dream. I dream of the route, of her movement. My mind is quiet but bright and I’m breathing. I wake the next morning and know, I have to do the route.

I climbed the route the next day. I wish I could write you all a sentence that’s more epic than “I climbed the route”, I wish I could tell you that it was something nerve-wracking and scary and that I had to be brave, but the truth is that it was fairly uneventful–I wasn’t scared and it felt very easy. I breathed well, took it slow, and had fun. I didn’t think, I kept moving, I felt quiet, I felt bright, my lungs filled and emptied with ease, I fell back in love with rock climbing. I was reminded again of why I climb, as cheesy as that sounds. I love things that are high and within my limit, airy and perplexing, I like thoughtful routes, committing moves, movement that makes you breathe, that makes you curious, I like climbing outside. I have felt so weak recently, pushing myself in the gym with…let’s face it, a finger injury, and on routes that, let’s face it, I’m not at all excited by. I had been feeling weak and uninspired, and I wondered why?

Thank God for Bishop, for always getting me repsyched and recentered, for getting me organized and realigned with the kind of climbing that I want to be doing, the kind of living I want to be doing.

I wake up early on our last morning, the sun rises and the moon sets, they are opposite each other. The sun over the Whites and the moon over Mt Tom. The light dilates my pupils, I keep looking at the moon, then to the sun, back to the moon again. How I’ve missed this place. How I’ve missed the mountains. How I’ve missed climbing and the feeling it gives me, quiet but so bright. All things get illuminated, even the shitty stuff, in the open and accepted as part of it. There is no hiding here, everything is open and breathing and part of you, there is no closing your eyes. It doesn’t help. This is what’s working, this is what’s not, this is where you’re messing up, how you’re holding yourself back, it is all you, no one else, be responsible, you haven’t climbed a route in two years because you’re holding yourself back, here’s where you’re strong and this is where you suck, but even the darkest part of you–it’s totally okay and it’s still beautiful and you’re okay.

I’m finally okay with letting go of the past summer and all of the changes that it brought. And I’m a little late, but I’m ready for the fall, for the winter. For once when I say that it feels true, when I wrote that it felt right, it feels calming and I’m breathing, it doesn’t scare me, it feels easy to reread, like I want it to feel, like it should feel, like I deserve to feel, yeah, I’m ready. Finally.

 

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