Getting Back to “Extreme”

Jenna In the Salt Flats
This ocean’s all dried up, looks like i need to go find myself a new one.

As you get older, you sometimes find yourself further away from anything you might call, “extreme;” in a complacent place you never quite remember arriving at. That’s a vague statement, I know. What i mean to say is- one day, I’m guiding rafts down rivers and kayaking class IV rapids; I’m camping out in tents and chopping wood and making weird whiskey drinks with instant lemonade– and then the next? The most adventurous thing I’ve done lately is bike to work. I haven’t done shit. I haven’t pushed myself (even when I was snowboarding in Japan last year I was taking it easy). I’ve been injured and now broke and all together a little too passive. And passive gets you no-where good, as this motivational meme will attest to.

I stumbled across this quote today. It really struck a cord with me.
Dead fish are smelly and can’t swim. I don’t want to be a dead fish.

I watched a documentary tonight that really hit this point home for me again. It’s called Desert Runners and is about several people attempting to run FOUR ULTRA MARATHONS in just ONE YEAR. I’ve never thought it possible to run A marathon, and they went ahead and packed almost 20 of them into a single year. Oh, and did I mention they were all through DESERTS?

This documentary resonated with me the same way that the book, Born to Run did. I relate with this extremism; pushing yourself along with others to the bitterest point of your endurance. These people pushed themselves to their physical limit, and as they were reaching their breaking point, a fellow racer came to them and offered support, encouragement and fresh water. I need that in my life again; not just yoga classes, or fitness boot camp. I need to overcome real danger, a real and life-threatening challenge. I remember gaining a special bond with the people I kayaked and rafted with. What we were doing was of course fun, but it also had undertones of true danger if things went awry. We had fun, played hard- and then buckled down and did everything in our power to help our co-workers when something was going wrong. We were a team and it didn’t matter who you were- if you were struggling in a real way, we weren’t going to let you go it alone. You learn a lot about yourself in those moments as well, you realize you can overcome far more than you initially thought.

My goal is regain strength in my left side and begin climbing again. I want to enter climbing competitions and do a big-wall climb. I want to sleep on the side of a cliff. As I type this I feel nervous. I’m oddly afraid of heights, and have had my fare share of “freezes” on a rock wall. But I trusted myself, my equipment and my partner, and pushed through. I know I can do it again. I’m going to master these multi pitches and come out the other side feeling on top of the world.


A Little Help From My Friends

Nothing says friendship like holding hands and standing under bridges.
Nothing says, “friendship,” quite like holding hands and standing under bridges.

I just finished reading the book, Lathe of Heaven– which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, semi-realistic science fiction. The culmination of this book referenced the Beatles’ song, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” eventually allowing the character to succeed by doing just that- getting some help from their friends (I don’t think I’ve given too much away here. It’s a great book, you’ll love reading it).

The mantra of getting by with help from your friends has rung so true for me lately, specifically with car situations. Elisabeth, my roomate Lauren and I went out today to St. John’s Catherdral park for an afternoon of casual and inquisitive photography. Eventually we had to leave and hopped back into Elisabeth’s car, and just as we were crossing the St. John’s bridge, something happened. We still don’t know what, but it was something really not good.

We suddenly found ourselves unable to accelerate past 20mph, chugging along the 405-N freeway. We flicked on her flashers and plugged doggedly onward until we finally (7 miles later) landed at Jean’s house, and retrieved my car. This is where friendship jumps in to play a winning role- Jean told Elisabeth to park her car in her driveway as long as she needed (keeping it out of danger from being towed or ticketed) and my car was waiting there, so I was able to give Elisabeth a ride back home and not leave her stranded in Portland indefinitely0 but not before buying her a drink at Rontoms and sharing the crazy story of our afternoon with a friendly bartender (thanks Bret!).

It got me thinking about how important having friends you can rely on is. Friends that care how your day is going, friends that want to cheer you up when smething bad happens. Acquaintences and casual friends are interested in keeping company with you, but they’re not the ones who will stick their necks out for you, or go out of their way to help you when you’re struggling. Those are the kinds of friendships that you nuture and cherish, because if they aren’t looking out for you, who will? I have the tendency to want to be best friends with everyone, but that just isn’t realistic (or possible, really). What I’ve learned is that you need to find those friends you resonate with, those friends that enjoy your company and person as much as you enjoy theirs, and stick with it. Be friends with as many people as you want, but be sure to invest the majority of your energy enjoying those select few people. Those are the ones that will drive across the river to help you find your car when you can’t remember where you parked it. Those are the friends that will lend you a few hundred dollars to get your car repaired when you’re between paychecks. Those are the friends that will drive you the half-hour outside of town so you can get home OK and those are the kinds of friends that care if you don’t like how your latest crush treated you or that you’re really excited about your new haircut. You need those people and they need you.


Lifelong Fitness- A Path That’s Hard to Stay On

Being an athlete means a lot of things.

Surprisingly, when you are an athlete, you sometimes take these things for granted. I know I did (and still do). Persistence, determination, and the pig-headed stubbornness that keeps you going back for more after you beat your body to it’s limit.

This is a good and bad trait to have. It keeps you working at things that most other people woul give up on, but it also means you can accidentally push yourself past the point you should– potentially injuring yourself because you couldn’t deal with giving up.

That’s where I’m at.

I’ve had several injuries that I’ve denied acknowledgement for YEARS now, and they stubbornly haven’t gone away. Finally, I turned to a sports physical therapist(the regular PT’s are not so great- I’ll probably end up writing another post about that later this month) and have begun accepting and dealing with this injury. I was really excited to get exercises and stretches that would improve the strength and mobility of my arm! Things were looking up, I wouldn’t be a cripple at 45. But then I asked about climbing. My sports PT fixed me a look that said, “are you fucking kidding me?” and told me I DEFINITELY should not get back into climbing right now. “You can’t stabilize your arm while raised, you should NOT go climbing.” Well. That’s rather straight-forward.

The funny thing about this was I still want to go climbing. I hear what she’s saying, I understand it and I get why it would be dumb and counter-productive for me to get back into climbing. But that’s what I want  to do, and when I want to do something like that (and the only thing stopping me is someone saying I shouldn’t) it’s hard for me to keep from doing it. I won’t this time though. I’m going to stay the course and heal myself before I get into the next thing.

30 Day Challenge, Day 2: Accepting Chaos

“I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.”- Bob Dylan


I do not get things right the first time. This is probably because once I decide to do something, I leap wholly into the first opportunity I am given to do it. This leads to many false-starts, bad choices and bruised tailbones (in this regard I’m specifically speaking to all the times I’ve eaten shit blindly trying a trick for the first time on my snowboard). I try to think things through, or proofread, or do more research, but when I decide on action I apparently have no choice but to take action- and take as much action as possible.

I’m a caster of a wide net. Because I have this personality trait that is hardly ever at ease with, ‘doing nothing’ (as I sometimes feel when I sit contemplating something for too long), I counteract the lack of solidity in my, ‘half-baked plans’ with the sheer volume of half-baked plans I create. If you throw enough wet pasta at a wall, some of it will stick, right? I up the quality after I get through the quantities- the act of trying all the ideas as they arise is my way of filtering through the ‘good ideas’ and the ‘never do this again’ ideas. You end up getting some bumps and bruises along the way, but let me tell you this- you are sure to never make the same mistake twice. When you break your foot or get called out for misspelling an athletes name (whose misspelling happens to be another famous competing athlete), you make sure to never EVER do it again. The pasta sticks.

I need to remember that some day I will be old, and look back at my anxieties as silly petty things and wonder how they ever kept me from doing anything at all. I am young, I have youth, vigor and a thirst for adventure. Someday I won’t have all of those things, so I need to live now- live now and don’t hold back, because hesitation only breeds anguish and unrest. Anguish and unrest are no fun at all. So chaos- I welcome you with open arms, let’s do something cool.

(Full disclosure: I didn’t land that flip.. Next time!- Brighton Resort backcountry in Brighton, Utah)

Rupert: The Traveling Succulent

He was a succulent ready to log some miles.

Rupert is a traveling connoisseur.
First picked up by Jenna Kuklinski at Fred Meyer in Sandy, OR, Rupert has lived a life of excitement. As soon as Rupert was placed in the front cup-holder of Jenna’s car (and he fit!) it was confirmed- he was succulent ready to log some miles. Rupert moved into his first house with relative ease, standing watch simotaneously over the living-room inside and the road outside the mountain home. He quickly made friends with the hundreds of Santas that occupied the rental home and would regularly be caught sharing a fresh-cracked walnut or two with formidable-jawed nordic nut-cracker santa (who lived across the room).

Rupert the succulent enjoys a morning drink at his favorite place on the window sill.
Rupert the succulent enjoys a morning drink at his favorite place on the window sill.

This small blue-potted succulent was adjusting quite well to a life in the snowy summer mountains. So well, in fact, that when Jenna moved out he opted to stay a while longer in the quaint abode. Jenna was not so pleased with this surprise decision and worked her very hardest to retrieve him from Klaus-land, finally getting him back after a week or two.

With Rupert once again securely coddled in the front cup-holder, the pair was off on another grand adventure. By this point, Rupert had gained other human friends (all through Jenna of course, the language barrier seems to be his biggest hurdle to still overcome) and Jenna was regularly updating them on all of his milestones. “First new set of buds! Second road trip ever! First haircut in our new home!” Everyone loved getting these fascinating photographs, and Jenna was adamant about keeping everyone informed and updated on her incredible bundle of joy (just like a real Facebook parent would be).

In his second home, Rupert made his first canine acquaintance. This dog was a rowdy husky pup, and Rupert was glad for his lofty window-side shelf that kept him high above the energetic dog. There were no strong-jawed Santas at this second home, but the room he occupied was larger and brighter, so Rupert adjusted well to the new environment.

Jenna’s roommates were different from the last people he’d lived with in that they seemed to pay Rupert no attention whatsoever.  So, he decided this would be a fine time to focus all his energy on growth. Which he did, gaining a stagger two inches in height over just a few months! Rupert says the sun-rays were slightly more filling in this new location, which may or may not have had anything to do with his growth spurt.

The most recent move Rupert has made was up north into a large, large home. Jenna didn’t realize prior to her move, but she and Rupert were about to live in an indoor vegetative sanctuary! Plants on the shelves, plants at the windows, plants at the sink– plants hanging from the ceiling and plants settled on top of speakers. They were everywhere! Rupert shivered with excitement at the possibility of making friends with all these new flora and was thrilled to be placed among fellow succulents above the kitchen sink. The sun in this spot was the shiniest and conversation with his new sill-mates was riveting. They could talk about anything!

Rupert shared his stories of far-off travels with his well-rooted fellows. They gazed at him with wide eyes and dreamy looks, wondering if one day they would be up for such an adventure as his.

While Rupert revels in relating his stories, he feels content with his new home. For the first time in a long while, he feels no immediate urge to rush off into the next adventure. He feels that perhaps rooting down for a while might be nice.

Jenna agrees.

Rupert with his new friends discussing the merits of pure versus filtered sunshine.
Rupert with his new friends discussing the merits of pure versus filtered sunshine.

April Goal: Write Once A Day

I looked at my blog today and realized that it’s been a full month since my last post. Oops! It’s time for me to ramp up my writing game again. I did recently get a new job that involves creative content generation on the daily, so I’m chalking up my lack of posting to that.

But that is all about to change.

Right now.

Well, maybe not RIGHT now.

I’m going to challenge myself to write (and post what I write) once a day for thirty days, starting tomorrow. I also decided that I should have a writing theme that I can fall back on. There will still be the general musings that usually occupy this blog, but I’m going to pepper in some fictional caricatures

Watching the morning fog dissipate over an unknown valley near the Oregon Coast
Watching the morning fog dissipate over an unknown valley near the Oregon Coast

of the myriad of houseplants that occupy my new household. I personify basically everything I own, and I think it’s time that Rupert (my first succulent), Ramona (the second succulent) and all other herbaceous members of my home have a due amount of time to shine. One of my roommates got a new plant today that is now known as Lady Phil. I think Lady Phil will have a good story.

I’m excited to get going on this month-long challenge. It doesn’t have to be outstanding, but at least I’ll be doing it. That’s how most great things start, right?