My weekend sessions are endurance-heavy right now because my weekend partner is on a climbing break and in belay-only mode. I still rest in between routes, but not as much as I would if he was climbing, too. Today, I went in with the intention of leading all my routes and climbing to failure (no taking to rest, I only get to rest on the rope if I fall).

I wound up finishing eight routes total ranging from 10a to 10d, sending seven of them clean and falling once on my last route in a two hour span. I managed to push through three overhung cruxes where I might have normally called for a take by finding spots to shake out. Not bad, brain and arms. It’s definitely time for some stretchies.


My cat when she doesn’t have any sense of time.

This morning, 0330
Me: Okay, fine fine, just get the hell out of here before you wake up the whole house.

This morning, 0530
Me: Oh, hell no, I’m ignoring you.
Me: Okayokayokay just get in here, but shut up!
Me: Oh, hell no, you are not. I’ll distract you with kibble.
Me: Just. shut. up.

My cat when she doesn’t have a sense of reasonable space.

She likes to come cuddle under the sheets as the temperatures start dropping and it’s one of my favorite things about her. She’ll hop onto the bed and walk up to the top edge of the sheets and stare at me until I lift the covers and invite her in. I know her feet are gross and I probably have toxoplasmosis but I really don’t care because I’m a crazy cat lady and I love that my rat-hunting badass wants a snuggle. (And she’s so soft and warm!) But sometimes, she crawls up my chest until her paws are on my shoulders and gets a little too close to my face so that her whiskers are tickling my face and it’s unbearable and I have to push her away. Why can’t you just settle on my belly?? 

An empty bowl that used to hold pomegranate seeds.

Because they were so juicy and succulent and tangy, but they are so damned difficult. I’m not about to go de-seed another pomegranate in one night. That second pomegranate sitting on my kitchen counter taunts me and I get mad at myself because I could be eating more delicious pomegranate seeds in 15 minutes if I weren’t so lazy.

I spent a long weekend hanging out with this happy drunk. In the meantime, Hayden got a cut on one of his toe pads, so he is currently on a dog-park hiatus and gauzed up and wearing my sock. I don’t know if there’s something in my water with Miu gashing her front right leg and now Hayden gashing his front right paw, but the next foot injury had better not be me.

The desert is beautiful, but damn if it isn’t trying to kill me. Humidity in the teens packs a punch and there’s no lotion that can protect my skin enough. Our two days of climbing coincided with a heat wave, so we were definitely maneuvering around sun exposure.

I accidentally left the Ohm in my gym bag at home, so I ended up leading the entire time. We climbed 15 routes over two days at four different walls, ranging from 5.9 to 10b, so I’m pleased as punch about my endurance and mental game.

Civilization Crag: Shade, plentiful shade on the east side, sun for climbers on the west side after mid-morning. Good assortment of doable routes for us.
The Hamlet:
     Lower Hamlet: Sun for everyone! My only bail-out of the weekend was at the J Wall on a thin 10b, where I couldn’t figure out the last move to the hold by the anchor. I joked to T, “The beta is a dyno to the last hand!” while I was working it out (when you’re 5’1″, that’s the beta you get often), but when I looked up the route online after the fact, it turned out to be not so much of an exaggeration.
     Upper Hamlet: Shaded gully for belayers, full sun for climbers past mid-morning. Generous routes with stemmy starts, nice for a tired afternoon.
The Gallery: Early morning shade, full sun by mid-morning on the easier stuff. Long, scrambly approach was a workout before the workout, mostly because we missed the cairns. Even the “easy” routes on this wall felt pretty crimpy, but maybe because the high-gravity nature of day 2 kicked in and I was having some abdominal cramps.
Wake Up Wall: Advil kicked in by the time we got here and I was happy to on-sight a couple of delicate 10a’s to wrap up our trip. Much-appreciated shade for everyone.

Final recap after our arrival back home:
     T: We did a pretty good planning and executing this trip.
     m: And we —
     Together: — didn’t kill each other.
[exchange pointed looks]

I’m watching a push to legislate how to be a good person. “Make it illegal for everyone to say _____,” the rationale usually being some form of “because it hurts my feelings.” This feels to me like a top-down approach to police our cultural attitudes, which cannot work. It’s too much at odds with an inherent dislike in humans in being told, “You cannot do _____.” We cannot legislate that people simply be decent to each other. The solution has to start from the ground up. If feelings are hurt because of a lack of humanity and compassion, the only solution is to heal it between individuals. There is no other way to create connectedness.

I experienced disconnect as an immigrant child to an introverted mother and a workaholic father — our family did not know the neighbors unless the neighbors made an effort to meet us (quite rare). I did not grow up with a sense of community to where I lived. I did not have extended family close by, nor did we ever have babysitters. I think we were the outliers then, but now, this situation is normal for many people. Most of my peers say that their neighborhood is lacking in community. Do you know your next-door neighbors’ names? Do you know your neighbors five houses down? Do you know your neighbors three streets away?

As for me, when I moved into my current neighborhood, I baked cookies for my neighbors and walked over to introduce myself. We got Hayden soon after and I made sure we exchanged numbers in case he turned out to be a nuisance. Since I opened those doors, we’ve exchanged food, shared lawn-keeping chores, lent and borrowed tools, had my garbage bins pulled in for me, checked in when I’ve seen a wrecked car to make sure everyone’s okay, stopped by to let people know the dome light was left on. This is the first neighborhood which I’ve made the effort to make into a home and it’s paid off.

Furthermore, for all of the difficulties I’ve had with Hayden, I love him and am so glad he exists in my life because he has helped me grow roots in the neighborhood. From our multiple daily walks, I know my neighbor one street over who does wood-carving in his garage. My neighbor two streets down who makes model airplanes. The guy walking the two shy whippets and a tiny mutt. The woman with the crazy Shepherd mix and the black and white pup (solidarity from a distance, sister!). The military guy who works on his WWII era 50cc scooter. The three houses with the kids who all play together.

Between the last paragaph and this one, I took a break and started reading “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown and she speaks to this exact issue: “As the larger world engages in what feels like a complete collapse of moral judgment and productive communication, the women and men I interviewed who had the strongest sense of belonging stayed zoomed in. They didn’t ignore what was happening in the world, nor did they stop advocating for their beliefs. They did, however, commit to assessing their lives and forming their opinions of people based on their actual, in-person experiences.”

If we don’t like the developing divisiveness in our culture (“no politics at the dinner table,” “my neighbor with Trump bumper sticker must be an asshole because Trump”), then it is up to us to heal those divides. It’s up to me to say hi to that neighbor and recognize him as a human being who loves nurturing his flowers, and I can do that without compromising my ethical opinions on politics.

This is how practice works and how it connects us to other human beings. It creates an environment of mindfulness and encourages practitioners to focus on what is real. Make an effort to be in your community. Be in your face-to-face interactions. Be in your friendships. When a disaster strikes, what is real can save you and bring you food and hug you. And if you are willing to smile when it may not be returned, if you are willing to extend the hand, if you find the vulnerability to show love, what is real will love you back.