Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Hustle

I slam into my day, rushing to get the dishes put away, breakfast made, materials gathered to hustle out the door. I clock the drive to school, eat breakfast while inputting essay grades, answering kids' questions, hugging our Russian student, high-fiving our needy over-sized Gentle Ben boy, overseeing the construction of a retirement card for a colleague... The day is off to the races before the bell rings.

I am not present for any of it.

It is a day of hurry-scurry, helter-skelter, task-to-task. I progress from one item on the list to the next. The quality is not there. I love my students, I love my colleagues, but I'm not giving them my best. Always at the back of my mind when we're conversing is all the students with whom I haven't yet conferenced, the stacks of papers I need to grade, the emails I need to send, the retirement party I need to schedule, the dates I need to coordinate.

I am not present.

Then I scurry home, running errands along the way. I squeeze in a workout to be followed by a hurried dinner and more hurry to... what? To what end am I hurrying? The adage is true: The hurrier I go, the behinder I get. It is driving me crazy that I don't have their tests ready to return to my students tomorrow, but... I have not taken time to breathe today. I want to breathe. I want desperately to live. Fully. To be present. To take the time to scrub my dishes and enjoy cleaning them. I want to do yoga tonight. I want to enjoy the lesson prepping I have yet to do. I even... even... want to read the students' tests and enjoy their creativity in the last section where they write a story.

Where is the time for this quality?

I think I have to give it to myself. I am the boss of me. I make the decisions on this ranch. And they are worth it. My students. They are worth the time that it will take to give them quality feedback and appreciation. I am worth it.

So... the watchword of this week is... breathe. S-p-a-c-e.

Scurry no more!

And more flowers for me. Bow to the Queen's Crown, taken near Capitol Peak in July.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unchained Melody of Procrastination

In order to put off recaulking my shower, I started my taxes. In order to put off the final tough decisions with filing, I got out the ladder and cleaned my heat vents. While I was doing that, I saw how dirty the windows were and cleaned those. By this time, I'd worked up a good enough head of steam to scrape off the old caulk and mildew-proof the tile. I danced circles around my correcting pile (156 seventh grade essays... really??) and suddenly grew interested in digging deeper into the documentation for my taxes. Looking at all those numbers gave me the irresistible urge to caulk the tub. (It is beautiful and clean and white!) The five stacks of essays lay in the middle of the table, but my taxes, my taxes...! Before I knew it, I'd clicked "Submit." Within minutes, I recieved an email: my federal form had been accepted. Then it hit me...

Internal Revenue Service - 1
Triteacher - 0

Dang, those guys are good. Think they'd help me grade essays?

Sunday, February 26, 2012


He's struggling because so much of him became me and what I wanted in the year plus that we were seeing each other. And it did. He followed my lead. And that became our undoing. I want an equal so badly. I want someone who's as strong and willful and inquisitive as me. Yet...

So much of me came to rely on him to bolster me. So much of me loved the way he loved me. Who would not want to hear, "Girl, in the mornings you glow. You are more beautiful than at any other time"? I bought so many new clothes to wear for him, pretty clothes, sexy clothes, clothes to please him. They worked, but at the end of the day, his favorite was my old, gray, two-sizes-too-big sweatshirt.

Last night, my first night out dancing since our split, I refused to wear the low-cut stuff. My heart wasn't in it. Instead, I wore what he would have liked. My hip-riser pants and a shirt that clung to me but covered enough to enter a convent. A pretty PrAna shirt, my smile, and my energy. I wanted to be me. Because he likes me. And any man worth his salt is gonna have to like me with my no-makeup, brown-graying curly hair self.

So. He's trying. He's thinking. He's reflecting. He's missing.. and he's breaking my no-contact rule to show me all this. But he's getting it. He's hitting the nail on the head as to why we didn't work. He's getting me.

I? I have been writing in this blog, chasing down my friends, and traveling far and wide to replace his spot in my life. Comes right down to... I miss him too. But. Would it work? Is he The One? I want the One. I am ready for the One. I won't settle for anything but the One. I'm at a point where I don't need to settle. I always have been. I am torn. What is my identity? What is his? Are we a we -- or not?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Inspiration Needed

Did the stench reach your nostrils on Thursday night? My climbing stunk that bad! I feel all of my limitations crashing in on me. I'm too driven, not enough gifted. I push too hard and end up being sore for two days. I'm also having a hard time maintaining my drive to cut weight. I'd rather just eat what I want. (Read: chocolate/drink wine!) I'm two weeks into this focus on climbing so I'm not surprised at this wall, but I do not like it.

  • It feels good to make healthy choices.
  • I know I want this in the long run. Today's choices affect tomorrow's climb.
  • And finally, I'm giving myself flowers. These beauties are Fairy Trumpets, snapped near Conundrum Hotsprings (ahh... could use those now!) in June.
Smile and breathe, TT. This too shall pass.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Climb?

I am a social climber. Every Thursday my girl group meets up at the gym for a sweat session. Afterwards we rehydrate with wine and refuel with a meal prepared by one of us. We are amazing women. Each one of us adds our distinctive flavor to the group...

Our brassy blonde bombshell, we call Spice Rack. Our group is not above adopting Men's Locker Room talk and bending it to our own devices. (Truth be told, we kinda revel in it.) Spice Rack took up climbing when, early in my climbing career, I begged her to come and learn to belay me. She came and stayed to climb. However, it took her MONTHS to cease getting her nails manicured. She wears tight, low-cut workout clothes and does not hesitate to bend over to retie a shoe in front of a cute climber, thereby showcasing her trademark "rack." She gets attention. She is hilarious, lewd, and cannot sleep unless assisted by a cocktail of anti-depressants and Ambien.

Her polar opposite is Pakalolo, who earned her nickname by being as laidback as Hawaiian pot. She is my "featherweight friend" from an earlier post. Her build would enable her to climb 12s if she trained at all. But, being Pakalolo, she'd rather show up and climb however the mood strikes. She sets no goals, but does feed off the energy of those around her who are more driven. Then she effortlessly climbs strong. She is passionate about her teaching and her friendships.

Sweet Sister is the Saffron in our group. She has exotic, expensive tastes. When she cooks dinner, we know that we are getting the top-shelf of deliciousness. She often leaves the gym early on her nights so she can finish prepping. When we arrive, we may still wait a good hour before the appetizer is ready. She is multi-faceted. She has an eye for design, and her discriminating taste translates well into the web design she does for a living. She's creative, perfectionistic, and reliable. Yet she is chronically late. She'd give you the shirt off her back but she might not have it quite ready 'til hypothermia claimed you. I love her to death.

Cayenne is our flower of Hawaiian-Japanese descent who out-climbs us all. She's a genius of fluid, flexible movement. She has long, lustrous black hair that gently, swayingly follows her up whatever crimpy and/or overhung 11 she is working. She is Cayenne because she is full of piss and vinegar. She is fierce and driven. When she falls, she seizes the rope and reclimbs it with vicious tugs, really the only time I see her that she doesn't look utterly graceful. I've pretty much settled on being her when I grow up.

We five have a lot going for us and a lot going on in our lives. But when we come together, it is us Spice Girls and no one else. We are sickeningly in love with ourselves. Like parents of a firstborn, we gush over our cleverness, our hilarity, our fun, the bond we share. We are obnoxious and overwhelm the gym on Thursday nights. Take us separately and you might find an ounce of reserve. Take us together and we are a force.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Like to Write

I just do. I remember using paper towels in the barn and scratching down the thoughts I could no longer contain. They were burning up and beautiful inside my head and I needed to commit them to posterity. Inspired by my teenage girl angst, they were poems. (And one wild attempt at an allegory with me as a white cat and the boy who'd broken my heart as a black dog. Subtle imagery, no?) I secreted these scribbled scraps into my jacket pocket. I remember patting the pocket, comforted and satisfied to have those words collected and contained.

I like it now too. Inspired by my middle-aged divorcee angst (how far I've come), writing still has the power to comfort me. It makes me do well on my fitness goals. It helps me to do good, to distill my thoughts to make me a seamless person, one who adheres to her inner core. I want Truth. I want to paint. I want my words to give.

I like to write.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Happy Fat Tuesday! I'm down 5, yes F-I-V-E pounds! I have been making healthy choices, oh yeah!

Heel Hook Illustrated

So here it is:
I hooked again with Sweet Sis there to egg me on. From this position, you stand up on the right foot while throwing the right hand up for a grip that is yet a nice distance up the wall. I finished the problem twice yesterday and then went back today to solidify the learning - and for the photo op, of course!

Tonight was tough for me. I wasn't on. One: I was pumped from yesterday. Two: I changed out shoes because my good pair needs to be resoled. So I started tonight in the clodhoppers pictured left. Then I switched out to some Mythos that aren't quite as grippy as I remembered. My goal quickly degenerated from conquering the world to figuring out my damn shoes. But every cloud has a silver lining, every shoe a rubber soul: I figured out the first move on an 11 that had eluded me like mad last Thursday. Now of course I wanna clean the whole thing when next I climb. Back to plan A: World domination!

  • World Domination Scheme: Get my macro climbing plan worked out. I need to break it down into weeks and then days within the weeks. Due date = ?? Perhaps this weekend I will get a chance to delve into it.
  • Making War on Poverty: I surfed Denver food pantries and placed one phone call today. I am a tad disheartened. Many of these places don't have Saturday hours. I just have to keep phoning and looking for the right fit. I've also asked for input from colleagues and Sweet Sis.

Changing the world sure takes some fancy footwork.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stem Box

Straddle the void. Hold yourself in place, evaluate and then... GO! It took big, pumpy moves to inch up this stem box on the Lighthouse Tower in Moab last fall. It was a beautiful feeling.

I know where I'm going.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Went to Movement gym in Boulder today and did some good stuff.

I'm too pooped to write much more but will anyways because I believe that in writing this some miracle will happen with my climbing. I feel like the more I pour into this sport, into understanding it, eating it, breathing it, the more quickly I will improve. Pouring now...

I have turned a corner with fear. I don't fear falling anymore. I just don't. I thought about it, wrote it down, and now -- *poof* -- it's relegated to the junk heap of ALL THINGS HOLDING ME BACK. (I keep said pile in a corner of my condo and every once and again blow the dust off of it jeest to see from whence I've come. Whew baby, the stuff in that pile.)

I lead almost everything in our four-hour workout session. I did inverted and even steeled myself up for a dynamic move for an unknown hold over a lip. I made it! And it felt good. I'm really happy with my improvement.

And per usual, happiness leads me not to contentment, but for.... drumroll.... the desire for more! I want more climbing and more success there, of course. But this focus on it has made me want to drill in on some other aspects of my life that need improvement.

I need a project outside of myself. I heard a story on poverty on NPR on my way to school Thursday morning. It is haunting me. I need to do something about poverty. I teach and live in affluence. And it's all well and good, but I want to be bigger than this. I give to a local food pantry, help pay tuition for a child in Guatemala, and do other sundry charitable type good-person things. But I want to make it bigger. Some of my ideas include:

1. Become a Big Sister
2. Run a club at school where the students and I volunteer at food pantries; this one appeals because my students are affluent. Some have a sense of entitlement, others a sense of discontent. This week we read Langston Hughes's "Mother to Son" and made lists of our "tacks, splinters, and boards torn up." I was shocked at how many of them had personal experience with suicide. None of them see their lives as a "crystal staircase." It is my theory that suburbia breeds discontent, a lack of purpose. If I pursued this option, my students might benefit as much as the food pantries. I would benefit.

I would have to give up some things to make either of these happen. TIME. I would have to give up some of my precious alone, restore-me time. That is a rub. Some days I have endless energy and could handle it well, other days not so much.

I would have to drive. I know, pretty weak. But I loathe driving.

So here is my commitment. I will check into both of these options and report back within a week. The knowledge will not kill me, I trust.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Heel Hook

After teaching 12 hours yesterday, I went to the gym and learned.

I learned to heel hook. In this particular case, I had to do a high step with my right leg, placing my right toe on the hold and then rolling onto my heel as I transferred my weight to that right foot, pulling myself up on the right and launching for a hold with my left hand. It took me numerous tries and some coaching and encouragement from my fellow climbers. I got it.

Now... to get back and finish the rest of the problem. It was near the end of my session when I "hooked" that move. I was too pumped (and it was too late at night!) for me to stick around for more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Voice

"It's OK, baby. Shhh.... It's OK. I got my girl." I nestle deeper into his arms, engulfed in shoulders, sniffing the warm sweetness of him. The sobs I didn't know I contained wrack against his chest, the wellspring of tears soaks the collar of his T-shirt. "It's OK baby. I'm so proud of my girl. It's OK. I gotchya now."

It's his voice I hear. The one he used after I finished Grandma's Marathon and was walked over to him by his mom and sister. I broke only when I saw him, sitting there on the bench. It's his voice I hear. The one he used after I collapsed into him, letting my tears pour, letting my body quiver. He held me dearly. He held me well.

When I'm climbing and need to get it together, it's his voice I hear. That rocksolid warmth and love. For the millionth time, thank you, E.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red 10 - Two Takes!!!

Yahoo!!! My footwork was infinitely better, my clipping smooth, my brain in my head. I feel great. :-) I will keep working it and hopefully redpoint it soon. I didn't pant nor did I fumble with the clips. This saved an incredible amount of energy. I'm falling more than a little in love with Eric Horst (henceforth, EH). If my climbing continues to improve like this, I may have to look the man up!

I also LOVED a new 11. I top-roped it and fell twice. It was so fun to figure out. It was chockful of thought-provoking, balance moves. Another EH thought came to me and helped me move through. Keep your center of gravity as directly as you can over your feet. Since this was a nearly straight up vertical route, I felt like I was sucking into the wall. It's fun to move that way; I feel like a cat, luxuriating, chest into the ground, lazily, deliberately stretching a paw for the next hold. They are experts at eking out the extra inches, their bones seeming to melt. A TT spin: Channel your cat.

A recapture of what works well:
1) Home "crag" practice clipping. I did not fumble with a single clip tonight.
2) Visualizing success on the red route and previewing it before hopping on. I do need more practice with route-reading as it does not come naturally.
3) Positive self talk. I found a soothing voice inside of my head that says, "You got it. You got it, baby." My breathing responds to this voice.
4) I took two intentional falls tonight. And I lived to tell about them! I will continue to chip away at this fear.

Speaking of fear, I get all het up when I work these overhung lead climbs. My hands bust out new sweat glands and drench me even as I'm flaking the rope. Shoot, if I start visualizing while I'm on the other side of the gym, I become slimy. It's funny how the body reacts to perceived risk. I respond by putting on more chalk and getting my climb on.

Good night! Goodnight.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Clipping Sucked Too

On Sunday, my clipping was atrocious, so I rigged up this crag on which to practice...

Materials required: webbing, quick draws, rope, and chin-up bar. Now I can do clipping sets back and forth to get the automaticity I want.

Told ya I had it bad.


I am afraid of falling. Some of these falling fears are warranted, but some of them are just intimidation factors whose bluff I need to call. Per Eric J. Horst, I am taking a look at them.

1. Featherweight Friend:
My current, quite realistic fear is a featherweight-friend issue. One of my belayers is forty pounds lighter than me. She's a solid climber and competent belayer, but that weight difference matters on lead. I could fall and pull her up to the point that we collide in mid-air -- or worse -- I'd hit the ground if it were an early clip. She can anchor in, but then I worry about the damage that a big fall could do to her body as opposing forces crank on her. She is willing to take this risk, but it changes how I climb with her. I am less likely to go for a grab because that fear for her is in the back of my mind. I have other belayers, but she's been my solid partner for these three years of climbing. We learned to lead together, we've cut our climbing teeth together, and, quite frankly, sometimes she and I are the only ones who show up. If I want to improve, I need to find a way to manage the risk and/or my worry. Do I just not climb hard stuff with her or do I continue what I am currently doing: downclimb to a solid hold and have her take? Is there another alternative? Would it help to practice falls again? Hm. Don't have a great solution to this one.

2. I am scared of pain. I don't want to hurt myself when I fall, e.g. pull a muscle, tear a tendon, or rip open my hand. Strangely, I'm most afraid of hurting my hands. I envision myself SOL for climbing while they heal. This is not a good reason to avoid falling the way I do. (Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, balk at falling!) My hands are not likely to get hurt that badly. Be rational and fall, Chickie (as opposed to Chicken.)

3. I don't want to be embarrassed. I often don't push routes at the gym because I'm waaaay too aware of all the eyes watching and assessing how I climb. (There are a lot of eyes attached to quite nice bods there, but I digress, or do I? Who wants a hot, potential date to see her flailing at a route??)

That's an easy one. Get over yourself! And if he's that put out by how you climb, he wasn't worth dating anyways. Nyah!

4. Fear of the sensation of falling and clanking the wall and that stomach-catching-up jolt at the catch of the fall... It's just not natural and yet, when I was doing it a lot (read: when Featherweight and I were forcing each other to fall in our early days of leading), I found it exhilarating. I need to get back that feeling of excitement and... release. A good fall is fun.

There, I think I've called myself out on everything I fear. Now to just unfear them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Got it Bad

I've got it bad for climbing. But I'm carrying 15 extra pounds that I haven't found a way around hauling up the route with me. So. That being said, I'm gonna focus on losing those fifteen. Why, oh why, did I inherit a sweet tooth and a tendency to indulge myself when stress rolls in? Plus I've developed a penchant for red wine. I've also developed a better-than-average tolerance. The pleasure is temporary. The pain lasts and lasts.

Case in point, I have been working an overhung (my weakness!) 5.10 in the gym. It is a route in the lead cave. I've just busted into that cool-kid zone and have been sashaying around in the big girl pants as I've done some of the climbs respectably. Not so with my red 5.10 today. First time I did it, I took four times, but I stayed in control of my breathing, my fears and my feet. Today I took five times and huffed & puffed like a veteran smoker. I lost my feet and batted at clips. Grr. I am not happy with myself.

But I also have the solution. I am gonna lose that extra weight. Period. I have a stressful week coming up, but I am going to make this happen, starting today. I have a meal and workout plan to prove it.

I will wage this war on many fronts, of course. I am reading Training for Climbing by Eric J. Horst and took the self-assessment. My strength is my Mental game. (Thank you, triathlon and stubborn genes.) The Physical domain and Tactics & Technique came in equally -- lower than Mental. I want it so bad! I want to climb those lead cave 10s by May, I want to lead 11s by the end of the summer and be able to onsight them by 2014. I haven't mentioned that grade that still seems magical to me, but you better believe 12s are on my mind.

This blog? Will be used to track my progress, share my frustrations, celebrate my successes. I am ready to begin!

This week's workout focus:
Tuesday - Sets of 3: EZ climb up & down, lead 9s or EZ 10s, Lead overhung 10 -- Repeat. The rubber match is the lead 10 of the trio. My goal is to keep my head and my feet, clip smoothly, and minimize takes. I had flashes today where it clicked, but it lasted only the length of two clips.

Friday - Boulder my brains out. Especially focus on overhung stuff. Work on grasping the holds well too, not overgripping, but rather placing my hands on them deliberately, surely, trusting them and myself. I will warm up with a traverse around the gym, then do all the recs, then try 2-3 intermediates. Cool down is the gym traverse.

In between my climbing affair, I will eat right, sleep right, and get in a healthy dose of cardio.