equinox

i see you.
you are half
and half exactly
not even saying that
abstractly
you,
you equinox babe,
you are moon and you are sun
you are bullet and you are gun
you are old and you are young
and you,
i see you.
always have.
always do.
you’ve been walking around town
like the winter wasn’t shit
spitting rhymes
like cherry pits
oh damn, oh lord, oh my
i see you.
you equinox babe,
you are yin and you are yang
you are night and you are day
you are growth and you are decay
hundreds
of thousands
of wildflowers are what
make up your vertebrae.
you equinox babe,
got rainwater flowin through your lymph nodes
tree sap for blood
just one word of yours causes a flood
because you say things like
hey chickpea.
you equinox babe.
you are black and you are white
you are left and you are right
you are dark and you are bright
god
dang
give me some more, please,
i want your folklore
how’d you get these rains to pour
you equinox babe?
tell me about balance
level
equal
about how if your head won’t move
then those feet will
how if you don’t know
then you’ll bleed until
ain’t nothing left
but bone.
look
at what a mess
you made
you earth dream,
you equinox babe.

 

https://gumroad.com/a/479999091

a call to action to the members of the climbing community

“You’re never gonna make it in this industry,” he tells me. “Your standards are way too high.”

I roll my eyes and scan the brewery for anyone else I can go sit with.

“I mean, what do you expect…that you’re gonna open up Climbing magazine and read something that’s just so fucking good that it’ll change your life? Come on. This is rock climbing,” he says, laughing and shaking his head.

I look back at him. “See, that’s what I don’t get. On one hand, this community is obsessed with climbing. We think it’s the best thing in the world. Most of us claim we would die without it.”

“I sure would,” he says, raising his glass.

“And then on the other hand, everyone’s like, oh whatever, it’s just climbing, who cares? That’s the attitude that leads to all of this horrible shit getting published.”

He raises his eyebrows and leans in close to me. “Georgie. You’re in the wrong industry. You’re expecting way too much.”

“I don’t think I am.” I tilt the last of my beer back and set the empty bottle on the table. “I think I should be able to expect well written and interesting articles in every issue of every major magazine.”

He laughs once, letting out one single “ha”.

“And to expect the climbing industry to uphold the incredibly basic value of respect for the members of this community is not too much to ask for.”

That makes him laugh harder. “Respect? Come on. To them, that’s just some word that millenials came up with to use when they feel left out or bullied. Seriously Georgie, you’re not just going up against big companies and big people. You’re up against attitudes, egos, and history. And that shit runs deep.”

***

Almost two months ago, I wrote an open letter to Andrew Bisharat that created quite a stir in the climbing community. As I wrote and published the letter, I had no idea how big of a deal it was going to be. After a few weeks of not really wanting to think about the situation anymore, I now feel like I have enough energy and distance from it to reflect in a real way.

To make a very long story short, Andrew Bisharat is a prominent writer in the climbing world. He has  written a few things that have offended members of the climbing community, and when called on this, he degrades the people who confront him. My letter was an attempt to help the community realize that we don’t have to be quiet when we see something that offends us, and that we don’t deserve to be ridiculed if we choose to speak up.

The public response to my letter was overwhelmingly positive. I have received over 500 personal messages of appreciation and support and I’m still receiving messages today.

From the beginning of this whole process, I knew that this was much bigger than me and Andrew. That is why I made the letter public. But I had no idea how big this actually was.

Let me take you back to a few years ago.

When I was just getting into this freelance writing thing, I had no idea what I was doing (still don’t). I did, however, know that I needed two things: 1. a mentor—someone to look up to, learn from, and tell me that my work is shitty, and 2. a publishing goal—a magazine or blog that produced high-quality content that I would have to work my ass off to get published in. In search of these two things, I started reading. A lot. I read all of the major climbing magazines, and to my surprise, none of them were producing content on a regular basis that I was blown away by. And while I did find writers that I liked, most of them were not professional writers–they were random climbers with blogs, and none of them were publishing in the mainstream media outlets. I was confused and wondered if I was just being snobby or not looking in the right place. So I asked my climbing friends and a few people involved in the industry to give me a list of writers I should be reading. Graciously, they sent me their suggestions, and I noticed that there was one writer that every one of them had included on their list:

Andrew Bisharat.

Looking back on that now, it’s kind of funny, but this is also a serious problem. When one of the most widely read voices in the climbing industry writes things such as, “Women can be relied on to do at least three things well: make brownies, turn an older man’s love into dollar bills, and complain that their size makes climbing harder because everything is ‘reachier’, it’s not just the problem of some girl from California trying to find her way as a freelance writer. It is a problem of an entire industry.

That quote was published in Rock and Ice, one of the industry’s leading magazines. When they were called on this, they edited the sentence out of the original piece without an editor’s note. And when Rock and Ice’s Editor at Large, Andrew Bisharat, was involved in a major debate about sexism in climbing media, Rock and Ice distanced themselves as much as possible from him and told the climbing community that they are a publication that supports women because they have a “Chick’s Corner” section of their magazine.

This the magazine that many people have told me I ought to submit to.

We have a problem.

Even if I were to set the misogynistic writing aside, I still haven’t found a publication that, in my opinion, consistently puts out excellent content. And I still don’t feel like I have many writers to look up to.

Who am I supposed to be obsessed with? Who am I supposed to send fan mail to? Who am I supposed to want to plagiarize?

I’m not saying all of this because I think I’m a better writer than anyone else. In fact, I usually suck at writing. I need someone to tell me that I suck and how to suck less. I also need a publication to submit to that I believe in, that has incredibly high standards, and that will reject me over and over again until I write something worthy.

A fellow climbing writer recently wrote in his blog that when he pitched an article (to a magazine he left unnamed) about climbing in the Dominican Republic, they told him to be sure to get a lot of pictures of chicks in bikinis.

This is not the problem of one writer and one magazine. Again, this is a much bigger issue. We, as an industry, have a problem.

A few weeks back, La Sportiva, arguably the most popular climbing shoe company in the world, posted an Instagram photo of Paige Claassen that described her as “young” and a “pretty face”. This is a woman who is one of the strongest sport climbers in the entire world and someone who I look up to immensely. However, I don’t look up to her because she’s pretty or young. I look up to her because she is a really nice person and absolutely crushes on the rocks. A few people commented on the post, expressing that they were disappointed to see that Paige’s appearance was put before her accomplishments. It was then suggested by La Sportiva and by other commenters that the people who confronted them were being too sensitive.

We have a problem.

When women who write articles or make comments about their experiences with oppression in the climbing industry are called bitches, whiners, attention-seekers, wanna-be-feminists, and man-haters, we have a problem.

When a climber writes to a magazine to tell them that they wish to cancel their subscription because they found some of their content to be offensive, and gets told by the magazine to calm down because “it’s tongue and cheek writing”, we have a problem.

When Reel Rock features men almost exclusively, we have a problem.

When a person collects stories from women about their experiences in rock climbing and is then told that they must have been raped as a child to want to write an article of that nature, we have a problem.

When multiple women come to me and say, I want to say something about this too but I’m scared because of how poorly other people who speak about this have been treated, we have a problem.

When an article that pokes about fun the way a well known female climber dresses and acts on social media becomes widely popular, we have a problem.

When the writer I’m told to look up to writes articles that are degrading to women, and when called out on this, he attacks me publicly, lies to and manipulates the entire climbing community in an attempt to discredit me, and accuses me of getting sponsorship because of who I’ve dated, we have a problem.

When even one person comes to his defense, we have a problem.

When the magazine I’m widely told to submit to publishes sentences such as, “…I sat hypnotized by the sight of a tight little package, all hot with hair full of body and bounce, pumping an elliptical machine,” we have a problem.

When I could keep going on and on and on, we have a problem.

And when almost every person working in the climbing industry denies the seriousness, existence, and validity of all of these issues, we have a really big problem.

***

It has been made clear by multiple members of the climbing industry that my voice is not welcome here. The amount of shaming that I have received from the industry for simply speaking is shocking. And I’m not the only one–it seems that whenever someone speaks in a voice that sounds even slightly different from what we’re all used to, they are ripped apart. But it’s not the climbing community that has a problem with different voices–it’s the industry. Like I said, I got over 500 messages of support in response to my open letter. These messages were from climbers, not the people who work in the climbing industry. That’s important, and I listened.

I’m not going to write for this industry, I’m going to write for this community. Because when I write for the community, for climbers, the bro-club that is the climbing industry gets quieter, weaker, and less prominent.

It’s taken me a while, but I now understand what my job is here–to fuck with everything. Thankfully I have a lot of experience in that field. I have in fact found a few platforms that welcomes my writing, including Moja Gear and The Climbing Zine. But my purpose is not to write for the mainstream magazines, it never was, and I never even wanted to in the first place.

I also have faith that I will find a writer to emulate. I know that you’re out there somewhere, but perhaps your voice has been shamed or unpublished. I need you to write, and to write loudly. This community needs you. We also need more publications that welcomes media from all members of this community, not just the dudes who can hold on to small crimps.

I also know that I’m not the first woman to write about rock climbing. I know that many women have come before me, and that they have paved the way for me and made it possible for my voice to be heard.

I can feel the shifts happening in this industry, slowly, but we need everyone to get louder, to keep pushing, and to not stop anytime soon.

The good news? There’s no wrong way to go about this.

And yeah, there will be maybe like three dudes that will call you a bitch, and it will suck, but not as much as those dudes suck. This community needs your voice SO badly.

Get louder.

A few months ago I told one of my friends that I was done–done with this industry, done trying to write, done with the ridicule. But I said that out of frustration and exhaustion–I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to get louder.

***

“Do you want my advice?” he asks.

I shrug my shoulders. “Sure.”

“You’re gonna get ripped apart trying to do what you’re doing. Believe me. Don’t write about all this political stuff. I know you care about it but just write that shit in your journal or something. You’re a smart girl and a good writer and people like you. Well, they like you right now at least. But this industry, I’m telling you, they will rip someone like you apart. They like to pretend they’re all progressive or whatever but you’re dealing with old school shit. So just let it go. You could write for anyone you want to if you just play by the rules.” He smiles and looks at me as if this is good news.

I get up from the table.

“Why are you leaving?” he asks.

“Because you don’t get it.” I zip my down jacket and turn towards the door.

“Oh and also,” I say, looking back at him. “Fuck you.”

 

 

 

To make a donation to Georgie’s writing, click here.

 

 

poem

eastbound and midmorning,
i’m running through the hills, in a sense,
but a better verb for what I do out there is
dance.
my body, three sixty spinning as I do the electric slide,
and my hips, they dip, into the land and
I bob my head, Martha Graham,
and kiss the back of my hand. I blow it west.
The trees are doused in glitter and
I John Travolta all over their branches,
pause for a moment, hold different stances
like the robot,
don’t you remember how it used to be?
the ground is muddy
these days
and on the downhills,
I call it moonwalking but really I’m just losing traction,
give me some Michael Jackson,
my feet slide, cut through the earth
as it gives birth
to the most true scent,
wet eucalyptus,
and here comes Prince,
my hand finds my heart
my hips find my spine
as I shakira shakira through the moss.
I square dance with the fog.
I am a compass,
I spin with blurred vision
but always know where I am cause
east, west, north, south,
here, right here is where i land
cause baby i’m earth-bound,
mouth like James Brown,
moving among the wild things
that each season brings
and you don’t see them feeling sorry for themselves.
remember? there is bass in the woods.
and unlike human song, it’s always dropping
synapsing your movement and popping
your arms like you got electrocuted
when was the last time?
you gave in?
you’ve already got your bearings
just trust the spin.

buttermilk country

Do you know about Buttermilk Country?

Do you know about her sunrises, the color of a tangerine, about her clouds that milk the sky? Do you know about her star-dense nights that drag on for weeks, and about how she will breathe for you?

I stood barefoot in my driveway and watched him drive off. I thought that surely, any second, he would slam on the brakes, turn around and come back for me. But his car just got smaller and smaller. I wasn’t sure if I was starting to die, or if I had been dying all along and was just then coming back to life.

Do you know about missing someone? Do you know about missing yourself?

The city had me caring about things like bikini waxes and cold brew coffee. I was becoming so normal that it scared me. And my misery only added to my normalcy, it helped me fit in. I came to understand the people flipping each other off on the freeway. Before, I just had to wonder about them.

Do you know about those people?

Cities breed misery, they capitalize on it. Even the smallest annoyance gets pumped full of air. Our suffering gets tangled in the rush hour traffic and bounces off the billboards, it’s held by the smog and given a backbone by glossy magazine covers. It’s so loud and buzzing that our sadness never gets to speak in a voice that’s actually true. It comes out as cars relentlessly honking at each other, bar fights, and worse.

Do you know about that sadness that we all feel and do you forget sometimes that everyone feels it?

I had to leave. I packed up my Subaru and left the Bay Area on a sunny Thursday afternoon. I knew exactly where I had to go.

So there I was, being all sad, climbing up boulders, and lugging my heart around on my hip like an unruly toddler. I tried to smile at folks. But that kind of energy can’t survive for too long out here. Unlike the city, misery can’t breed in the mountains. There’s nothing to reinforce it or make it real. All of that acting like I was dying BS didn’t have anything to root into, and it just got blown away with the wind.

Do you know about the goodness in the mountains?

Soon I came back to myself in this big, good way with the Buttermilks as my home and breathing for me. I still can’t thank them enough. I also can’t thank my friends and family enough. Thank you.

We’re all in the descent now, there is a darkness to these days that feels deep. I’m being pulled downwards, and my feet have grown roots so thick that I can stand anywhere now, on my own. I am tangled in the planet. My belly has softened and my lungs can turn the frosty winter air into something warm and steaming. Even my eyes look different.

Do you know about coming back to yourself, about how I hope you’ll never abandon yourself again?

I opened my eyes this morning just as the first beams of sun touched the Eastern Sierra. The night had felt so long, like a lifetime, full of colorful and strange dreams. I woke often. I checked the clock again and again.  Surely, I thought, the sun would never rise and it will be dark forever. He’s not coming back this time.

Do you know about how the sun will rise, day after goddamn day, about how his steadiness will even start to get annoying? Really, you’ll ask, arms folded, laughing a little. Are you serious? Again? Aren’t you tired? His light, blinding you, will give you your answer. Do you know about how you can trust this, how you can trust yourself, how it wasn’t never him who you wanted to slam on the brakes and come back for you, how it was you, how it was always you?

Do you know about Buttermilk Country?

 

 

 

 

how it will happen

you will fall in love with him in the woods.

it will threaten to rain and smell like october

after a drought year.

your tender blood

mixed with

the waning of the light

will pull you inwards,

you will feel like you’re dying as you

collapse into your own lungs.

but you know this, you trust this,

and you will explain to him

that you won’t be ready until the spring.

he will tell you that he understands, but

he will ask if he can go with you.

if that would be okay.

he just wants to bear witness.

you will look over your shoulder to make sure he isn’t talking about

some girl standing behind you.

you will point at your chest and ask, me?

he will nod, and he will laugh, because of course

he

means

you.

you will act like you’re thinking about it

for three weeks,

and then you will say, okay.

come with me.

he will thank you. he will kiss you.

he will say: i’ve seen you before,

i know i’ve seen you before,

you’ve got planets in your eyes.

and you will wonder–

has anyone ever been so unafraid to look at you?

he will press his lips against your forehead and tell you that

you’re

such

a good

girl.

how can you argue with that?

you will tell him, baby,

we’re gonna hurt each other at some point,

you’ve made a name for yourself

off of being real after all,

but he will close his eyes and shake his head.

no.

i’m not going into this like that, he will say.

you will nod.

you will say okay.

not sure what this is

I have been wondering if I should publish this or not. But it’s one of the more honest pieces I’ve ever written. I wrote this from a very vulnerable place. I don’t even really know what it is–a poem? Not quite. I also don’t know why I didn’t capitalize anything. I’m sharing this because I think it could help someone feel less alone. I hope it does, or that you at least enjoy it. This isn’t about any one person in particular. This is a lot of things. I don’t even know how true this is. Okay I’m gonna shut up now. Much love to you all!

i always could taste the melancholy on your skin and smell the sadness on your breath. i didn’t mind. i did not see you as my joy factory. i was in it for this and this alone: to see you. i thought that this was the whole point.

within hours, i peeled back the skin of my chest, opened up my ribs like sliding glass doors and said, look, here it is.

but sometimes you would look off in the distance. sometimes you asked if i could put it away.

i understood. too fast. too much. too broken. too dark.

i kept trying. sometimes daily. but even things close to my surface scared you.

so i learned to be patient.

in this manner, years went by.

i birthed five million words of how worthy you are. poems, letters, lists, and birthday cards that told stories of your goodness. i told you over countless glasses of wine that you are made of magic. while cooking dinner i would remind you of your divinity. i made lists of the people who are in love with you and ran out of paper. my pen went dry. my voice grew hoarse. but i still shouted all of it from my car with the windows down. as we made love i whispered that you are never alone. i held you, i saw you, and i put you back where you belonged–among the redwoods, among the wild mountains. but you never could sleep. we walked through the neighborhood at 3am. you did not want to hold hands but you wanted me to be beside you. we ended up in the park, you laid face down in the grass. that’s how you always were. with your eyes fixated on the dark earth, you did not know that the moon was at your back. she was illuminating the skin of your elbows and glowing your hair. i told you all of this. this is what i sang to you. it became all that i did.

all the while i was so curious about your closed doors. i thought if i showed you mine, you would show me yours. i wanted to so badly to see the places where you did not want to be touched. i wouldn’t touch them, i just wanted to know them. i wanted all of you. i begged for your darkness and craved your bermuda triangles.

but you did not know how to not be alone.

the way that i wanted you angered the place in your spine that told you stories of unworthiness. because of this, you never really liked me. i was too honest. i was a mirror. i was that tiny voice in your belly that you hadn’t heard since you were a child. i was the part of you that still loved yourself.

i wish i could say that i was never afraid to fly away, but i was. i was an addict for this. i wanted to save you because i saw gold in your eyes, and because i wanted to be the hero. i needed someone to be and you gave me a hat to wear that felt important.

eventually we just got too tired. our hands withered. our ankles got creaky. our throats like a hangover. i pulled my heavy body into my bed and slept for not nearly long enough. but i can laugh. i can speak your name. i am feeding myself.

and i trust my life.

you are the mystery I never solved. you are the question I never answered.

meditations from the summer

I haven’t written anything other than poetry in this blog for a while now, so I thought I would give you all a little update with what’s been happening in my life. Things have been really beautiful and confusing and full of love and sad and adventurous and scary and hilarious. You know, the usual.

But wow. That was one hell of a summer.

Late last night, Bay Area bound after a few weeks on the road, I drove through the winding roads of the Northern Sierra. The full moon doused the granite and the pines in her silver hue. The light looked dense and heavy. It was so bright that I wasn’t sure what good my headlights were doing. I gulped down as much of it as I could.

I thought about how much this summer changed me. It came in like a wildfire, hot and crackling, and burned everything that wasn’t real. To be honest it was scary and painful and I questioned it a thousand times. I was aware of what was happening, and I knew what I was being asked to do, but I clung to it all for the longest time. I was afraid of what I would be left with, or more likely, what I would not be left with.

But at some point, and I’m not sure when, the summer’s flames were so hot and breathing with such a power that I had no choice. It engulfed me entirely and I had to let go, I had to surrender, I had to give up control. So I did, and things are a whole lot better now. But wow. That was some crazy shit.

As always, thank you all so much for reading. I really appreciate it. Here is what I learned:

To hell with anything that doesn’t bring me joy. To hell with people who are reckless with my heart. To hell with anything that isn’t honest. To hell with the haters. To hell with being afraid of speaking my mind. To hell with staying small, trying to fit in, feeling shame about anything at all, not being weird, and talking shit to myself. To hell with not eating cinnamon rolls. To hell with not drinking gin and tonics. To hell with caring about what that random dude from high school wrote on my Facebook page. To hell with being all like, oh I really wanna do that but I shouldn’t because that’s not what “good” climbers/yoga teachers/women/writers do. To hell with turning down my music at a stoplight. To hell with not standing in my power.

To hell with forgetting that I like who I am.

And all of that sounds like, well yeah duh G, of course you should do to hell with all of that, but acting on and implementing that attitude has been pretty hard. It’s scary. We’re all just so conditioned. We are puppets to our judgements and habits. And that shit runs deep, deeper than bones. Breaking and burning these things is very hard work, but it’s important work, and it’s good work.

And then, as one does, I turned 27. If you would have asked me at 21 what I thought I would be doing at 27, my answer would be something like: probably married, putting a down payment on a house, thinking about kids, going to brunch on Sundays. Jesus. I don’t know why I set such low expectations for myself. And don’t get me wrong, I think that a lot of people can do all of that at my age and it’s good and life-affirming and healthy for them, but that ain’t me. And it never has been. Sometimes I am jealous of those people because their lives appear less complicated, more steady. But that probably isn’t true at all. We’re all just winging it and life is crazy no matter what.

I’m 27 and I live mostly out of my Subaru and my mom’s house, I run up 14ers, I climb all over the country, I write poems, I teach yoga, I really like pizza, I’m a sucker for anyone who doesn’t give a damn about what other people think and Justin Bieber, and my heart is so open (most of the time) that I fall in love with pretty much everyone I meet, cry over frickin sunsets, feel bad if I kill an ant, and when someone tells me about this girl they used to be in love with, I want to maul them like a mama bear because I just can’t get enough of their openness, of their humanness. I’m constantly moving, always upwards, always reaching, always higher, always towards the sky. This is how I want to spend my time here.

And it’s awesome because the way I want to be spending my time here is how I am actually spending my time here. What a gift to give oneself.

For the summer’s entirety, I felt like one of those flowers on the Discovery channel, blooming in high speed. It was wild in every sense of the word. And now that fall is here, I can feel things starting to slow down. I’m thankful for that because I’m pretty tired–really filled up to the brim with truth and goodness–but tired. The darkening of the days is really comforting.

The moon stayed by my side for the entire drive back to the Bay Area. Her full face was beaming with nothing short of holiness. One last night of setting everything on fire before she starts to grow dark again. There was a magic to this summer that felt so real and tangible that I couldn’t help but know that everything that happened was okay. That I was going to be okay. This is a wild life. This is a good life. I’ve been broken a thousand times and walked with darkness up to my eyes but I still know that love never fails. I mean, come on. Of course it doesn’t. There is a lot of fun to be had here. To hell with anything not rooted in truth. Give me all of it. I’m not afraid anymore.

I feel so different.

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