27 September 2016


Over Labor Day, J. and I drove down to that One Big State that takes up most of the west coast. We met some friends of his, who drove up from the south to meet us at a great location for climbing.

So, about climbing. I like climbing. If you give me a rock wall with reasonably large variations in it, I will scramble right up it.

Real rock climbing, though, involves walls that do not appear to have anything to hold onto.

I failed. Twice. I kinda choked, because the wall was harder than anything I've ever tried.

It was frustrating for someone who is mostly fearless about heights except for a tiny itty bitty little (small) fear of falling. Also a twinge of perfectionism. 

So I signed myself up for women's climbing clinic out on a big rock formation in the middle of State of Happiness on one of the weekends that J. was in Spain. 

I drove myself out there in my new car, the back full of tent and bedding (the comfy version of camping: foam pad and real sheets). I found a campsite in campground with a creepy name in a national wild land with another creepy name. Turns out the camp manager was also one of those older guys who calls every woman sweetie or honey or darling. So, maybe creepy? It's hard to tell with old men. I reserved judgment.

I went into Central Ski Town for dinner, which was more like 4 pm because I hadn't managed to eat lunch and was dizzy with hunger, and then bought a bunch of (somewhat necessary) stuff at Re!, and then settled into my tent by about 9 pm. 

I laid there in the dark, realizing that I'd never gone camping alone before, not real camping, not with only a tent between nature (cougars! rattlesnakes!) and me. Always before there have been other people around. People I knew, not just the strangers in campsites 50 feet away. I wasn't sure if I would sleep, but I did.

In the morning, we gathered at the climbing supply store, a group of women between 23 and 50. We'd all climbed before, some only inside, and we all wanted to learn.

We did. We learned to build an anchor up at the top of a pitch and to clean the anchor to rappel back down after everyone is done climbing. We climbed.

And then we hit a pitch that I couldn't climb. My confidence was up, because I'd been climbing, but this one didn't seem to have handholds. At all. 

The usual thing that people do when this happens, when they are standing below you, is to yell things like, "Try to the right of your left knee. Can you get a foothold there?" 

These women, though, they knew. They knew that it wasn't just about telling me where to reach. It was about giving me the knowledge that I didn't have to find a perfect handhold to try another step. "You won't find handholds here," one of them said. "Your hands are just for balance. Your feet move you up."

And so I put my hands flat against the wall and did exactly as the climbers say: I trusted my feet. I stood up on the tiniest little bit of incline, on my rubber shoes, and it worked. I climbed the wall like a spider, and at the top I got to undo the entire anchor and re-loop the rope through and do my favorite thing about climbing: I rappelled down the side of the rock, reminding myself to look around at this beautiful place and enjoy every moment.

17 September 2016


I bought a new car a couple of weeks ago. An actual new car. It had 31 miles on the odometer when I drove it off the lot. 

I didn't actually set out to buy a new car. I believe in buying used cars, and I've been driving an almost 20 year old car. But I priced a bunch of used cars and started to realize that I would be saving about $2k and losing quite a few miles if I bought a several year old car, and an actually old car is not something I dare to buy without the presence of my dad or someone else who knows a lot about cars. Also I drive about 25K miles a year right now, so an actually old car wouldn't last all that long. 

And truly, I'd started to feel unsafe in such a small car on such a fast highway. My airbags didn't even work on that old car. 

I sent my dad some options (new Camry, used Altima), and he didn't get excited about anything until I mentioned the small crossover SUV. He doesn't like the low cars for safety, and the gas mileage is about the same on the small SUV as the bigger sedans.

After quite a few bad experiences (it turns out that car dealerships are a nightmare to work with), I found the only manual transmission version of the car I wanted. It was a 4.5 hour drive away. And they wanted it off the lot by the end of August.

We managed it, somehow. J. was the hero of the hour, considering that he was still jet lagged coming back from Spain and we both had to work the morning we made the drive.

We got back to Gone West at midnight.

Other than the car payment (I hates them), I am delighted with my new car. It's bigger, it has a manual transmission (my primary criterion for a car), and it averages almost 32 miles per gallon. 

A few things take getting used to, though: it has blind spots, it doesn't accelerate quite as fast as the tiny car (also I'm trying to be nicer to the clutch and transmission), and it doesn't have a key.

I was in the habit, with my old car, of using the key to lock the doors when I got out. That way, you never risk locking the keys in the car like you would if you did the lock-and-hold-the-handle-up trick on older cars. 

Now I can't remember to lock my car. There is no key! (Okay, there is a key. It's buried inside the clicker, and it's really only intended to be used if the battery goes out on the clicker.) I'm often at the door of my office before I remember that I didn't lock the car. Fortunately, the clicker works from afar.

Today I went to a new tea place because there was a gluten-free donut popup shop there, and I've been meaning to try these donut holes (which are only offered at popup locations). I got a particularly excellent chai and more donut holes than I could eat (the others are in the freezer; let me just say a word about the chocolate ones: YUM). I sat around people watching and internet surfing and writing in my journal.

When I got up to go, I couldn't find my keys. Not in my pocket, not in my purse...

I realized that I had left them sitting openly in the console in the car. The unlocked car. Which was parallel parked on a public street, still so new that it doesn't have permanent plates on it.*

Good news!! No one stole my car.

Bad news: I'm an idiot who deserves to have my car stolen. All those times I made fun of people who left their cars unlocked with the keys in the console (admittedly overnight) because what do you expect? Of course your car is going to be stolen if you ASK for it to be stolen. Well, I regret my choices now. 

* I have the permanent plates. They arrived in the mail on Thursday. I just haven't found a wrench, daylight, and time to put them on the car. I have no defense if I get pulled over; they are sitting on the floor of the passenger side. My defense will be, "But it was raining."

13 September 2016


Text conversation with J. this morning: 

Me: Hypothetical question: you are driving in the middle of three lanes on the highway just south of the city, on that curve before the rest area. The left and middle lanes are full of cars. The right lane is empty. There is a cop behind you, and he lights you up. Do you: a. Come to a halt in the middle lane, b. Cut across the crowded left lane to pull over on the curve without much of a shoulder, so you are still partly in the lane of travel, c. Pull across the empty right lane to the wide shoulder, or d. Both a. and b.?

J: definitely d
because that just shows how cops pulling people over is dangerous

Me: Ding ding ding!!!
That's exactly what the guy did this morning.

J: sigh. awesome. 


I was in the left lane. All of the following happened: we all slammed to a halt. We all had to get over to get around the police car, which was still in the lane of travel (because there was a concrete barrier on the other side). And then everyone behind me had to slam to a halt again because the cop waved to the guy that he needed to get over to the right side of the road, which he did by cutting across moving traffic.

I do not understand the instinct that would cause a driver to pull to the left, into traffic/a concrete barrier, instead of to the right, into an empty lane/the wide shoulder, when being pulled over by a police officer.