I don’t want my partner to share everything that I do. Even the hobbies I do share, I still need time to work on alone. Things like bouldering or learning to play the uke or guitar — I need to be alone to figure out my body positioning without getting shitty beta [and let’s face it, I stand well below average at 5’1″, so most of the beta out there is shitty (to me)] and to swear at my hand as it still refuses to make a barre chord. (Look, I know I’ve only been playing for three weeks, but conscious incompetence is painful and it feels endless.) There are things that can only be done with persistence and nobody needs to watch me bang my head on the wall as I work through the minutiae.

But riding (dirt, in particular)… Riding is like sport-climbing to me. It’s something I want (and perhaps, need) to do with someone. I want someone there to laugh at me when I get thrown off my bike and to ask if I’m okay before helping me pick Herbie up. I want someone to share in the fixing of flats, to share in the well-earned view at the top. I want someone to have my back out there and I want that someone to give me snuggles after I’ve unintentionally done leg day because I’ll be dropping Big Herbie a lot and this Herbs is kick-start only. (Godspeed, legs.)

It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things — it’s a blessing enough to have a partner who wholly trusts my capability and decision to ride at all — but damn, sometimes, I really miss having a partner who rides.

m: look, look, i finally fixed it!
m: oops

I snagged these drills with the tool chest I picked up almost a month ago, but I didn’t have it in me to go scavenging for the proper-sized screws. I finally got sick of looking at my broken towel rack (it’s right in front of the toilet and reminded me of my laziness every day for over a year, I KNOW) so I grabbed the drills and bits and located some screws and fixed it up in about ten minutes.

I went out to the garage to put the drills back, and I was so preoccupied by my self-satisfied smugness that I knocked a hand saw onto my foot. This is pretty much me in a nutshell: I’m totally capable. Except when I’m totally not. And I take both facets of my personality very seriously. (I’m aiming for a 90/10 split.)

I had the opportunity to borrow a guitar indefinitely, so here I am with an acoustic guitar in my possession. I’ve made attempts before, but the learning curve for my then-weak, tiny hands always felt a little too steep. This time around, even though I still have the same tiny hands, I’ve logged quite a few hours on the ukulele in the past couple years and I have calluses and finger strength for days from climbing which are greatly helping to smooth out the start. I can’t get over how big and resonant it is and how incredible the steel strings sound in my empty, tiled living room. I’m all heart-eyes over here.¬†Cheers to new challenges!

T: This weekend [for the baby shower], we are to bring a dog toy and a baby book.
m: a book for a baby or one of those books that document baby growth?
T: I guess it could be either. I was just going to bring Atlas Shrugged.
m: i would have gone with something a little less optimistic
T: Yes, but Nietzsche doesn’t do child books.
m: https://www.amazon.com/Nietzsche-Babies-Philosophy-Dr-Wilson/dp/0615201172
T: Wow.
m: and arguably, is the baby not a dog toy? i think we’re all set.

And now, nihilistic baby products are dominating my Amazon search results.

I bought the OGIO All Elements backpack in May 2016. It’s a simple bag — a waterproof and spacious single compartment with a laptop sheath and a few zippered pockets — and it works great. Until it doesn’t.

In November, the waterproof seal started coming undone, so I had them send me a new bag under the one-year warranty. The customer service was speedy and I had my new bag the next day. Then, in April, the seal on the new bag started coming undone, so I got on the phone again. Even though I love the All Elements bag for its roll-top (=expandable capacity for lots of groceries), I was pretty fed up with needing a new bag every six months. I used it as a commuter bag, so it was carrying my lunch and maybe a binder and an extra pair of yoga pants five days a week with an occasional grocery-store trip. Yes, I used it frequently, but not enough to warrant external damage from the inside.

I asked if they would be willing to send a different bag since the seal was clearly not a one-time issue. They are and they approved a different bag even though it’s at a higher price point. Stay tuned for my adventures with the Mach5!

Summary: It’s great bag until it’s not. Order at your own risk. On the bright side, to make up for a crappily-constructed bag, they have amazing customer service.

Edit 5/16: The Mach5 is too big for me. It’s probably too big for anyone under 5’5″-ish or has a short torso. OGIO continues to have the best customer service, so I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again should the right item appear. The perfect backpack hunt continues!

I’m worked. I have a decent amount of mental energy and upper body strength left, but my lower body hasn’t been this exhausted in a very, very long time. Admittedly, I tend to have a weak lower body, but a five hour hike (75% of it with a 20+lbs pack with lots of uphill stair-casey single track and scrambling) and lead-climbing for almost nine hours of non-stop movement really tested my physical limits.

The shitty thing about climbing is always the approach and the descent. Unfortunately, whether you’re a large-framed 6′ tall male or a small-framed 5′ short female, the minimum amount of gear required to climb safely is the same. And carrying gear is a part of climbing. I was lucky today to have a partner who was willing to swap packs after I’d finished testing my physical limits, so I got to max my body out in my fun(??) experiment in seeing how fatigue, hunger, exposure to the sun and wind, and a demoralizing one-hour off-trail detour affected my head game once on the crag.

After years of needing to coddle my body, I’m extremely happy with how well I coped physically. I successfully led and multipitched for the first time with my also-learning partner with minimal verbal guidance from below. I never felt unsafe until the surprise rattlesnake encounter by our hike leader on the hike out. I’m writing this after getting home and going to a social event, while not having a headache. It still feels borderline miraculous to have a body functioning this well.

Trip summary: We should have been much more prepared for the strenuous hike, navigating, and having enough sustenance. But I’d consider it a personal success and I think a group success in how we overcame obstacles and worked as a team.

Motorcycling is like any other thing that is perceived to be cool: There are times when it is desperately uncool.

I wear gear year round because I’m terrified of road rash, so there’s a lot of sweating happening under the cool leather facade once the summer temperatures kick in. My gear is a size too big and quite functional (read: padded) so I waddle a bit in my full suit. Trust me when I say that these are not the skin-tight sexy pants you see on models — I am not going to turn anyone on bending over in these leather pants and bulky motorcycle boots. 

Today, a guy stopped me in the parking lot and asked for a hand in push-starting his bike. As a helper, that means sprinting while literally pushing the guy’s bike from behind, trying to get him up to speed, 10-15mph, so that he can kick it into first gear. We got it after the third attempt (turns out, not only is his starter on the fritz, so is his battery), but after three awkward 50 meter dashes in my gear over my normal clothes, my sweat glands were fully engaged and I could feel it: crotch sweat.

Alas, crotch sweat is a part of motorcycling life, as is freezing your ass off some days and having an aching back and neck after a long freeway ride. It’s one of the minor annoyances that weeds out the casual riders because ugh, motorcycling is such a hassle. It’s what makes that breeze on your face feel borderline euphoric once you get up to speed because it’s your quiet little secret: There was crotch sweat, and it is worth this.