I’ve always wanted to write a book. I remember having a teal-covered five-star notebook where I wrote my first fiction story about a kid on a boat with a computer. It made no sense, I was very young when I started, and the book didn’t have a plan. Still, I pretended it was going to be such a good book.
The dream has grown over the years. I still write some crappy poetry from time to time (see some previous posts on this blog for pest poetry), but I haven’t really started anything super seriously. I want to change that. I want to write a book. The question is, what do I write about?
They say write about what you know, but I’m actually a little excited about learning as I write. I’m hoping the experience of crafting a piece helps me grow as well. This means my topic is still open for discussion. Some of my ideas include:
Acroyoga Field Guide – a guide to the practice of Acroyoga.
Moving to and from California – a software person who went to the west coast to learn his craft and survived to make it back.
Field Notes – a story from a fan of the wonderful product made in the USA by a designer and small firm that has blown up to a major product.
What I learned from 20 years in cheerleading – a memoir of my hears in the cheerleading world and what I learned. How the sport is different now and thoughts for the future.
What I do know is general size. I want to write books in a size and format that I enjoy. I don’t want to do big books unless they are picture books. I want my books to be smaller. I’m thinking of A Drive into the Gap Size or Wildsam Field Guides. Something pocket size. I’m unsure why this is so important, but it is.
My ask here is that if there is something you think I should write, please reach out and let me know as I begin to figure out what this project will look like.
It’s been a year since most of us started quarantining, and while there are many things we can’t do, we can still drink and celebrate the holiday. Teryn and I are hosting a St. Patty’s Day Zoom on Wednesday, March 17, at 7:30 PM Eastern until about 10 PM. Zoom link below. Depending on the number of people who show up, we will do some fun breakout rooms and a couple of other little games for the participants.
This is one of the last photos I have of Crazy Nick.
This photo was taken on August 28th while we were zooming around the east coast in his airplane. Several days later Nick died flying the plane in the background in Shenandoah National Park. (https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/news/plane-crash.htm). I’ve been afraid to talk about it, because I’m afraid of my mom finding out. If she did, she would go crazy that I was in a plane several days before it crashed. I’m scared. I’m wondering if I did something super irresponsible, but I’m very grateful I took the day off to fly with him and spend one last day with him.
You see, we were working on this big project at work. It was consuming most of my hours and even though Nick arrived on Wednesday and we had planned on going out Thursday, he needed a new alternator in the plane, so we had to put our plans on hold for a day. When the project leader found out I would be out one day he was okay with it. When it got shifted from Thursday to Friday and a deadline was looming, there was some pressure to not take the day. I stood my ground and had a wonderful day with Nick. We made it Bar Harbor, ME. We stopped in New Hampshire, and an interesting time trying to find fuel on our way back in VT, and stopped by in Worcester, which is where this picture was taken. We made it home at like 11 pm. It was an awesome crazy amount of flying, and a great adventure.
That was Nick. Mr. Adventure. I met him at Philly Phlight several years before. It’s an intermediate Acro festival and he and his partner were in my house. We connected and had a grand old time together. I even went down and visited his place in San Luis Obispo (SLO) and was part of putting together an Acro festival with him before covid made us cancel our plans. Nick had a go grab the life by the horns and try the crazy thing mentality, and I ate it up.
He passed flying his plane, and it is sad that I won’t get to play with him again (term we use for doing Acro with others), or fly with him, or just talk about the challenges of life. He will be in my memory and he will inspire me to try to see the joy in the adventure and look for new ones.
I’ve always got a bunch of projects going on. Some of them are big and overarching and some of them are small and simple. Some of them are related to work and some of them personal. What if at the beginning of the month I talked about the projects I was currently working on and which ones I finished last month, would I get more done? Would I have a more concrete record of my goals, achievements and failures? I have a LOT of failures.
To that end here is a list of my current projects and some notes about them.
Unpack + Settle In
I’ve relocated due to covid to the east coast. I have a bunch of stuff to unpack. Currently all the stuff is just thrown around the house. I need to find the permanent home for the stuff. I also need to update billing addresses and various other pieces of work here.
Clean out Claire and get her ready for the winter season and future adventures.
I’m very behind on getting my taxes for 2019 done. I have an extension, but I need to put together a full working document on them and figure out where I can deduct.
I have come to the conclusion that I’m ready for a dog. Now the challenge is to find one to rescue and bring them into my home. This may be done through fostering first.
The Newport Book
Working on putting together a photo book for Newport, RI. Still figuring out what this means, but is something I really want to get done. I love this town, want others to appreciate how special it is.
I’ve been very distant from my friends during the covid times. I’m looking to make a little gift card to send out to friends to let them know I’m thinking of them.
Journal Most Days
This is something I enjoy. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and read the stuff I write, but I love having the notes and thoughts from younger me to refer to if I find stuff I need to think about.
Super Secret Work Project
Can’t really talk about what this is right now, but I have grand plans and hopefully will be able to share with you before the end of the month.
The goal here is to recap these at the beginning of month and update you as to progress throughout the month. Feel free to ask questions about these projects (if you know me and know how to connect).
I’ve been meaning to find a way to share these for quite a while. There was a point in the not too distant past when I thoroughly enjoyed leaving comment cards at the Planet Granite. I would attempt to leave a couple a week. here is a collection of some of the comment cards I’ve left. Please beware, some of them have foul language.
Also, please note that throughout the entire time I was leaving these cards I had a relationship with the management at Planet Granite and it was very clear that I was leaving most of these comments with nothing but humor in mind. The people who read them are working really hard and have to deal with very tough customers day in and day out and this was an attempt to leave some humor for them throughout the week.
I lost a friend last week. She was amazing and I want everyone to know about Linda.
I met Linda six years ago in the Planet Granite Masters Class. She always climbed levels above me, but was never too busy to encourage me as I worked on my projects. She was a magnificent climber.
Linda shaped my life with our friendship. One such example was the following exchange (to the best of my memory):
Zack: “I really want to get better at climbing so I can climb with you” Linda: “You are a coach, how would you coach yourself to get better” Zack: “I would hire a coach, it’s really hard to coach oneself.” Zack goes out and gets a climbing coach and gets better at climbing and life.
There were adventure trips with her to Yosemite (multiple) and Bowman Lake up in Tahoe. I remember a boulder adventure to Castle Rock. There were an appearances at my birthday parties and just general tons of fun and laughs.
The collection of stories that runs between our lives is complex and this is just a taste. What I’m failing to convey is the caring emotion she brought with her. The kindness and compassion that moved me and inspired me. The connections between me and others that are stronger because of her compassion and involvement in my life.
I’m going to miss her terribly. To all of those who had the pleasure of knowing Linda like I did, I’m sorry for your loss. To those of you who didn’t know Linda, I’m sorry that you didn’t get to meet her.
I reserve the right to update this post as more pertinent details about this amazing human come to me.
My life has been shaped by this microscopic little virus called Novel Coronoavirus. It’s a small little virus that is changing our world. It is changing the way we see each other and treat each other. It is effecting our relationships in so many different ways, and it is also negatively effecting our economy.
I am worried on so many levels. I’m worried about what this means to our human relationships. I’m worried about what this means to my career as an acroyoga instructor. I’m worried about how this is affecting my roommate dynamics.
In years we may forget what happened, so here is my interpretation of what happened. This is from my perspective, and not to supersede any truly researched document. This is from the middle of the pandemic, it is not over yet.
In late 2019 a virus emerged in China. This virus was in the same family as the common cold and flu. As we moved into 2020 it was suggested that this virus might be something more deadly than the flu, and it might be spreading, but it was still happening in China and not in the US. The news was reporting on it, but all the reports were on the spread and not very many were on the effects of the virus. I remember trying to google what the symptoms and duration of the virus were. There was no information on that. It was all about the spread. It made me feel like the news was playing into the hysterical nature of the spread and missing the actual effects of the virus. I’ll admit I did not take it seriously, my perspective was that it was a new version of the flu, and that death rate was not as severe.
Then the virus jumped from China to the US.
I went from not understanding the virus to being ordered to keep distance from people. All the Acro groups that I was involved in were looking at suspending classes and events. My work was issuing statements about working from home if we experienced any symptoms.
At this point I remember believing that this virus was only really deadly to a small subset of people: the elderly and people with conditions that already weakened their immune systems. To everyone else it was just a regular flu. It wouldn’t be bad if it I got the virus. I would get over it in a couple of days, maybe a week, and then have the antibodies in my system.
My company officially started working entirely remotely (closed down the office) on Friday March 13th (last day in the office), and there were only five of us in the office on that date. The official Shelter In Place order went out the next week. That first week I remember checking the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara Country Department of public health for information the number of cases and deaths in both areas. None of the numbers seemed to make sense for how much we were isolating ourselves. The stock market began to feel the effects of the economy being shut down. One of my roommates kept talking about how unprecedented this was. Things became more and more surreal.
I leave my house for the necessities like grocery shopping and exercise. I don’t have close interpersonal contact with anyone other than those living in my house. Connection and communication is done through phone calls, Google Hangouts, FaceTimes, and Zoom meetings. Fitness has been small in house workouts or bikes or runs. Everyone has had to find ways to cope with the situation. Personally I have invented a bunch of projects and tackled them vigorously. Everything from cleaning my room to scanning old photos. The only way I can stay sane is by finding something to do around the house.
Generally, for the most part I have felt hopeless. The Shelter In Place is now extended through the month of April. More and more people are being laid off from work. This creates an interesting space where there are some really great people out there looking for work, but there are less and less jobs out there for them.
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the Shelter In Place is the right thing for us as a society to be doing. I’m disappointed that it took me so long to agree with the order. I still have concerns about our future, but I’m surviving in this plan. I have found what I need to do in order to keep myself together. Wish I had gotten here quicker than I did, but at least I’m here now.
As an adult life gets in the way. You need to clean (we actually hire someone to clean our space), you need to take care of your stuff, you need to process the events that occur. Life is full of change but if you spend all your time processing the change, you won’t change yourself.
Changing oneself isn’t an easy thing.
It takes time and effort.
What is stopping you from change?
I’m not even talking about a dramatic change. This post is inspired by finishing a book about self improvement and committing to try and make space for the changes in everyday life I want to make. Here are a couple:
• Learn to cook
• I’ve been baking for the drop zone (yes, I’ve started sky diving, more on that later). In the process of learning to bake, I’m learning about the appliances and equipment we have in our kitchen. My cooking is limited, but I’m enjoying it.
• Clean my room
• I’ll admit, I have too much stuff. Some of it is great to have, some of it just takes up space, both in terms of what is going on in my brain and what I need to manage. Cleaning my room means figuring out what stuff I really love and what stuff I don’t and trying to cull my crazy collection of stuff.
• Get in Shape
• Part of this is diet, and learning to cook will help, but I’ve put on a bunch of weight as I’ve gotten older. Some of it is really helpful for ballast while balancing people on top of me, but my belly gets in the way when trying to do some L-Basing Acro, and it would be nice to be lighter to climb harder things.
• Figure out me
• I do a lot of things. People are often surprised at the amount of stuff I do. What people don’t know is that I often do things just to do them. I need to spend some serious time investigating what I enjoy. What I would like to do for me.
The point is that while completing a change might be complex and intricate, requiring countless hours of toil, starting to change is just about deciding and doing. It doesn’t need to be giant. In my head, starting to change is about intention. Even before the action, you need to derive your intention. Using this intention is the only way I can think to motivate myself. Why do you want to make the change? Write down your answer and check every day if that is really where you are. If it’s not, either you have a new reason, or that change wasn’t for you. You don’t need to share the reason with anyone. I’m not sharing all my reasons here.
Anyway, I, personally, live in a space of over contemplation and want to shift it to a little more action. Maybe this will inspire you to figure out what you want, maybe not.
Last weekend was the annual Battle for Bolts at the Planet Granite Belmont location. It’s a 12 hour overnight climbing competition. I was unable to attend the Belmont one last year, but I did do the Portland one. This was my first Belmont B4B, and I entered it with great anticipation.
12 hours of climbing
You get bonuses for climbing at least 1 climb every hour
Climbs are rated by level.
You must climb the whole route form bottom to top without breaks for the points.
You may only do a roped route 10 times throughout the night.
You can do bouldering problems 20 times.
You can only do each climb at most 2 times in a row to allow for more people to get the wall.
About my experience this year
This year I was part of team D-AR-E To Be Great! with Linda. Our set goal at the beginning was still to be there at the end. Basically, not get Evan to kick us out of the space. For those of you who don’t know, Evan is the gym manager at Belmont and my cohost on my podcast South Beta Podcast and as manager of the gym there was some serious concern if we would survive the full night together.
Last year I had spent the day before the event driving up to Portland. This year, I spent the night before at a corporate party, and the day before watching a roommate compete in a ballroom dance competition. The point is, I don’t have a good track record of starting these events well rested.
I was not rested for this event and it showed. I was able to climb the first couple of hours, but did much of the time talking to try and pace myself and annoy Evan and his staff. I have taken some real time off from climbing in the past couple of months to focus on family, rest, recovery and travel. This meant that my hands were not ready for 12 hours of climbing and within about 2 hours of climbing I was really feeling it. By the morning, I was down to doing about 1 climb an hour to try and preserve my hands and make it through the night.
Last year, there were 14 people in Portland at B4B. This year there were nearly 60 people at the Belmont gym. This was awesome, but because of the bigger crowd I didn’t feel as connected to the group. Last year, at Portland, the entertainment throughout the night was less involved in actual climbing. We had a milk crate stacking event, a dance off, and a donut eating without hands competition. This year we had a table climbing competition an obstacle course traverse. Both of these were very tied to the climbing and thus for those of us who are not high level climbers it was harder to be competitive in the events.
Other than that, I only have one other gripe. There was supposed to be headlamp climbing, but because people forgot to bring their headlamps it was cancelled. As someone who went out the day before to buy a headlamp so I would be prepared, this was a little frustrating.
At the end of the competition, while they are finishing up scores, they do a bunch of raffles. Many prizes are given away. This year I won a carabiner, which was a consolation prize, but I was stoked. This is a prize I will actually use and thing that I actually wanted.
Conclusion and Lessons
This year was a ton of fun! I’m very glad I spent the majority of my weekend on this event. Yes, the day after is spent sleeping and recovering so it really is most of the weekend. The Belmont staff was great, and put up with my shenanigans and didn’t kick me out, and I’m grateful for this.
For next year I want to focus on the following:
Make sure I get as much sleep as humanly possible the night before.
Relax and meditate before getting to the event, it is hard do it there, there is a lot of noise and not much quiet.
Condition my hands before the event. Trying to climb 12 hours without really attempting to climb for more than a couple of hours in the weeks leading up to it is a bad idea.
Pro tip: (learned from Linda) bring a clipboard for your score sheets. Bring healthier snacks. They provide some really good snacks, but not as much healthy options.
Pro tip: (learned from Linda) Bring a Jumar for belaying. It helps take stress off the hands.
Bring warm socks to wear between climbs. It really helps to keep your feet healthy.
Our team finished with 2930 points, in the Advanced division. Linda did the lion share of the point scoring, scoring more than 3 times as much as I did. Still, she only did about 20 more climbs than me. Still, very proud of our work and can’t wait until next year and this super special competition.
Several years ago I was on a photography expedition with my best friend Aaron and his photography partner, Willie, shooting waterfalls up in the Columbia River Gorge area when I realized that I was wearing head to toe Patagonia. My interest in Patagonia up to that point was mostly about the quality of the product and guarantee.
When we got talking about my Aaron said “You really are a Patagonia Fan Boy. You should buy the domain”. We brainstormed about what the domain would have and somehow we landed on the idea of visiting all the Patagonia stores. We started small, aiming for all the stores in the US.
Fast forward to now. I’ve visited 28 stores, there are 32 total. Each time I stop in and collect a sticker and talk to the staff and see what is different about each store. Patagonia is unique in the fact that they really try to work with existing buildings and work within the space instead of completely redefining the space to their brand. This means that each Patagonia store is unique and different. Visiting them all actually has some value.
I have four more. Two of them on are on Oahu and the last two are in Ventura. The plan has been to visit the stores in Ventura last. One of the stores in Ventura is the original first store of the company.
The whole problem came when I realized that I was going to be in Southern California for about 2.5 weeks in September but didn’t really have time get to Hawaii. At one point I was planning to fly out for a weekend for a super short trip to visit the two stores in Hawaii. I started talking to friends about this aggressive plan and many of them met me with skepticism. Everyone felt it was a really quick and somewhat pointless to go to Hawaii for such a short period of time. The thing was, when I stopped to think about it, I agreed with them.
The other stores I was able to visit by either traveling with friends or stopping by as I drove across the country. They were, essentially, not too far out of the way.
The other part is that visiting Oahu is on my list. I want to visit the Island, I want to surf or sail there. I want to experience that culture and while I could travel there just to see the stores.
This lead me to me to re-evalute the goal. Did I want to postpone my visit to the Ventura stores until after I made it to Hawaii? That didn’t feel right. Did I want to post-pone my visit to Hawaii and just finish the contiguous 48 stores? This really felt right for several reasons. Aside from the fact that is is a more attainable, this is still store 29 and 30. I’m going to make the Tin Shed my 30th store. There is enough significance there for me.
The point of this is not just to talk about my goal. Yes, I’m proud of this, but it is for me. It is something interesting to talk about, but that isn’t why I’m doing it. The goal is mine, and I have the ability to change it whenever I want.
More than all of this, sometimes we get it stuck in our head to complete audacious goals. I hope I learn something here: it’s okay to redefine your goals.
When I take my photo in front of the Tin Shed, I’ll be proud.