don’t smell the barn

It finally rained out here, and now we’re teetering right on the brim of winter and spring. Some days are bright and airy, others stay dark and still as the winter holds on. This makes for an anticipatory energy to the Bay Area, everyones ready for citrusy beers and sundresses, but we’re not quite there yet.

It seems like everyone I talk to is craving a change, but can’t find the energy, resources, or gumption to make it happen.

I’ve been writing a lot recently–one of the reasons I haven’t updated this blog. Some of the writing is really enjoyable, especially when it’s about rock climbing or yoga, but quite frankly, I am tired of writing for free. I get it–I write some article for your company, you publish it and instead of money I get my name out there, viewers, a platform. That seemed so appealing when I was 20 years old and not thinking about things like car insurance and moving out of my mom’s house–afterall, money just complicates things–but now I’m 25 and poor, so the whole idea has become a lot less romantic and way more real. Content means everything these days, and writers should be getting paid.

I actually got fired, yes, fired from a volunteer job where I would be writing, editing, wordpress-ing, and social media-ing, all for free, because the company thought I was too busy. How does that even happen? Does a volunteer at a soup kitchen get told they can’t donate their time because they need to leave ten minutes early? Well, I do understand to some extent, and I know this is all just dumb ego stuff I’m experiencing, but damn, writing a bunch of words I don’t really care about and not getting a nickel for it makes me feel like I’m whoring myself out. Well actually, I guess I’m not even at whore status because at least whores get paid.

So I’m done doing work for companies that I don’t care about just for the sake of promoting myself. All I get from doing that is more companies I don’t care about telling me that they’d love for me to write for them, because they just love my voice and my dialogue, but that this won’t be a paid position at the moment and that they’re sure I understand.

Ego, ego, ego.

Bank account, bank account, bank account.

Writing is such a labor of love. All that I know about loving without expectations, without the promise of love in return, and loving for love’s sake, I have learned from being a writer. The main reason writers write is because they love it. There’s hardly anything tangible we get in return–no money really–it’s just you, your coffee, and your guts.

It has been blatantly obvious recently that pretty much everything I do in my life is like that. Sometimes I wish so badly that I was passionate about something that made money, something lucrative, glamorous, and respectable by society, but instead I’m giving little girls piggy back rides around the climbing gym, I’m barefoot and teaching people how to breathe, I’m climbing to the top of boulders, and I’m sleeping in my boyfriend’s car.

Okay okay, you caught me–I don’t wish for a second that my life was any different, but I wouldn’t argue if someone offered me lots of money to keep doing all of these useless things that I am so in love with. Maybe that’s bratty of me to say. Or maybe money just isn’t supposed to be involved with things like writing, maybe it would spoil the whole thing, turn it all sour, drain the divinity right out of it.

I’ve also been down to Bishop a few times this month, and as usual that place makes me feel more like myself than anywhere else. I watched Ethan and Steven Roth climb Too Big To Flail, one of the world’s tallest and hardest boulder problems, if you want to read more about that click here.

I spent Valentine’s Day weekend scampering around the Buttermilks with Ethan and my friends, which is pretty much my idea of The Best Valentine’s Day Ever. I kept on catching myself feeling really thankful that I have friends who are inspiring, hilarious, and totally willing to tell me when I’m kind of fucking up.

I’ve spent the past six months living in the Bay and complaining about living in the Bay. The weekend trips to Bishop and Yosemite and Joshua Tree keep me going, but any more than a week here drains the blood from my face.

It just doesn’t seem like you, she says, to spend six months in a place you don’t like. 

Her voice is gentle and seems close, like she’s in the room, even though I have my iPhone to my ear.

Yeah, guess so, I reply. But you know me, I can’t get anything done in the winter. 

Having a really adorable boyfriend these past months also hasn’t helped the whole “make some changes and make some money” thing, mostly because I find it taxing to spend my days doing anything other than hugging the everliving daylight out of the boy.

Spring of 2007. You’re smelling the barn, he yells to me. I am trotting along the game trail after three days of rainy backpacking in the Southern Appalachians. Only two miles left. What does that mean? I ask, looking back at him, my heavy pack bouncing on my hips. Smelling the barn is when you’re close to the end of a big hike or climb and you start to hurry and get all frantic. But it’s not good to do that. That’s when you’ll make mistakes. Take her slow.

I feel like we’re all smelling the barn, we can see evidence of winter ending and the impending spring–white, puffy clouds, breezy afternoons, poppies blooming, a floral fragrance to the air, the grasses turning. But it’s still cold at night, it still gets dark at 6, many trees are still bare-branched and stiff. And this makes us all a little crazy, we take on a million projects and try so hard to get things going but it just doesn’t work, it feels forced, we need to keep being patient. Don’t rush now. Keep on keeping on. It’s almost time. Don’t smell the barn.