Thursday, September 15, 2016

Climbing Your Mountains

I recently finished Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a firsthand account of the tragedy that befell several expeditions to reach the summit of Mount Everest in the spring of 1996.  Krakauer paints a harrowing picture of the catastrophic hell that he and the other climbers endured.  By no means does he romanticize the deaths of eight climbers on that fateful day in May of 1996, yet there is an inherent attraction to the bravado that one must possess to drag yourself to the top of the world.

It got me wondering, could I do that myself?  I was mildly phobic of heights as a child and a teenager until one day on a half-built roof in Mexico I realized that I wasn't afraid of heights, I was afraid of falling.  And in that same moment I had another realization: falling is fun!  It's hitting the ground at a high velocity that I was afraid of.  As strange as that sounds, that subtle change in thought helped ease my fear of heights.  I'm still cautious but it's not as debilitating as it once was.

That being said, at a few points in the book I had mild vertigo from Krakauer's verbal pictures.  Safe to say, Everest isn't even on my wish list for a number of reasons.  But there are more reasonable alternatives.  The first that I've set my sights on is an ascent of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.  Thankfully, it happens to reside here in California.  If all goes according to plan, next summer I'll be making my way up its rocky slopes.  That's going to take a lot of work for me, but i'm willing to do everything I can.

So, a day after making the decision to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney, I decided I needed to get serious about weight loss and conditioning.  I ventured out to Pena Adobe in Vacaville and instead of taking one of the easy, flat routes I typically choose, I started off on a path with much more vertical hiking.

And after a grueling ascent less than 100 vertical feet that left me gasping for air and wondering if my heart was going to explode from my chest, I realized just how out of shape I really am.

It's going to be an uphill battle (pun intended), but I think I can do it one step at a time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Who Am I?

I've been having a bit of an existential crisis.  Maybe crisis isn't the right word since it's been going on for two years.  Dilemma maybe?  I don't know.  Regardless of the wording, I've been trying to re-figure out who the hell I am.  It's been caused by my own divorce and that of my parents, and to have them both happen at essentially the same time.  By the time you're in your mid-twenties (I'm 27 now, is that late 20's?  I shudder at the thought), aren't you supposed to have your life figured out?  I thought I was supposed to.  I still think I'm supposed to, though I obviously don't.

The deeper and harder hitting question is this: Will I ever be the person I once was?  I write this while listening to Metallica, so I know that portions of my fractured identity have survived.  But what about the rest of me?  Will I ever be the guy I used to be?  Can I?  Do I even want to?  I don't know, and only time will tell.

I hoped that writing this out would be cathartic, and last night as I penned the above paragraphs my psyche felt as though it was on the cusp of something good, be it a helpful introspective realization, an acceptance of all that's happened, or even a peace that would allow me to get a good night's sleep.  But now as I reread them, I feel as though nothing has happened.

Maybe I should have kept writing last night.  Maybe I'm too embedded in the turmoil to be able to notice the forest through all of the trees that block it from my view.  Heck if I know.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

So It Goes

Well, fecal matter.  It's done.  It's over.  My marriage is finished and the divorce is finalized.  I feel numb as I type these words.  I can't even bring myself to look at the keyboard.  I feel...nothing.  Just emptiness.  A part of my life--a large, defining part--is gone now.  Gone for good.  It's been two years since things fell apart and it still seems to surreal, like this is all one terrible nightmare that I'm going to wake up from a cold sweat before turning over to see my wife sleeping soundly beside me.  Maybe (hopefully) one day that will be the case with someone else.  But for now I am left to cope with the current status of my life.

So it goes. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

I'm Doing It!

So this month is Novel November because Apparently Alliteration is Always Absolutely Awesome And Auspicious, Amigos!

But seriously.

I'm doing it.  Well, more of a novella (it's a little shorter than a novel).  I'll be writing or editing every day and by the end of the month I'm hoping to be done.  Or maybe I'll finish in December.  With a rough draft.  But hey, it's something.

If any of you out there would like to help me along by reading and (ever so gently) giving me your thoughts and critiques, I'd appreciate it.  Just let me know and I'll send you a copy of the first draft once it's done.

*Disclaimer: it's not quite PG, so don't ask to read it if you're easily offended.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What A Year

I had such grand plans for this year.  So many things I wanted to do, so many dreams I wanted to accomplish.  Ha.  I have not been very fortunate or successful.

I wanted to read a book a month.  I got off to a good start but I haven't had to concentration to read as of late.  I've tried, but the most I've been able to do is reread some old comic books and start muddling around in A Song of Ice and Fire.

I had a strong start to writing everyday, but that's something else that's fallen by the wayside in the last few months.  My daily writing was supposed to help me write the first draft of a novel as well as starting to research my next writing project.  The year is coming to a close and I will not come anywhere close to wrapping up the first draft of my novel.

My exercise routine is non-existent so I doubt I will be able to reach my goal weight and hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim is a no-go.

My life has fallen apart this year which makes it hard to work on accomplishing anything of substance.  But I'm surviving.  I know one day I'll even thrive again.  That day is still a ways off, but I know it's there, somewhere over the horizon.

This has been rather glum and depressing, so here is something to cheer you (and me) up

Friday, March 20, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, decision.  I've been throwing a lot of ideas around in my head recently, especially in regards to what to do with my life.  I've made some decisions and I'm still wrestling with others.  One thing, however, that I have decided upon is to start planning for a thru hike on the John Muir Trail.

The John Muir Trail is a beautiful 221 mile trail that winds through Yosemite, the John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park.  It starts at Yosemite and ends at Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48.  The trail crosses alpine lakes, mountain rivers, and mountain peaks.  I'm looking forward to it.

I don't have any firm dates planned yet.  Don't know if it'll be the summer of 2016 or the summer of 2017.  But I'm doing it.  I'm doing it as soon as I can.  I'm in the early stages of planning--slowly buying equipment, planning how long I'll take, getting in shape, etc.

One thing that I'm looking for is a partner.  Someone (or someones) to go with me.  If no one does, no biggie.  Solitude certainly has its benefits.  But if there's anyone who is interested in accompanying, if only for a portion, let me know.  If you have any experience you'd like to impart to me, I welcome it all.  If you have spare gear, I'd love it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My New Year's Goals

I've never been good at New Year's Resolutions.  They're too easy to break.  The failure of these resolutions is a collective cultural joke.  Last year I decided to give myself a goal.  It worked out well.  It came down to the last minute, but I was able to complete my reading goal.  Twenty books sounds small, but considering some of my time constraints, it feels good to have accomplished it.

This year, I'm being more ambitious.  It means that I'll have less time to waste on T.V., aimlessly spending time online, and less time lazing in bed.  But that's okay.  For 2015 I will:

Read a book a month
Write every day
Complete the first draft of my novel
Start researching and writing my next book
Get down to 200 pounds or less
Hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim

I have other goals that I'm constantly trying to work on--be a better husband, be a better father, etc, but those are more difficult to quantify.  What's your New Year's Goal?