Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Little Badass That Could

Lately, I feel like I have been losing grip on my badass touch. I mean, granted things have been up and down, as you have had the rare fortune of observing so on this here blog itself. But mostly things have been down, especially since I have returned back to California and re-realized just how few friends I actually have here, which in case you are curious, is approximately 3 and 1/2 ...22 million people live in Southern California, 3 million alone just in the OC, I have been here a year and I have made 3 friends. Maybe 4. Go me.

I know it's ridiculous. Who wouldn't want to be friends with a bitch-faced fake ginger who only knows how to express herself through a laptop keyboard? People are crazy!! ...Ok, admittedly it is probably my fault for not being better at allowing people the chance to actually get to know how awesome I truly am (which is a lot, by the way, in case you were on the fence about being my friend) by never ever talking or smiling or making eye contact with anyone like my life depends on it. But there are moments of realization that one occasionally has where they land in a situation that shows them how sad their lives truly are. I had one last night!

Saturday night on a holiday weekend, first week back in California, and where did I find myself? Michaels at 7:30pm picking up art supplies so I could get all my work for my Thursday class out of the way that very night.  I had found the supplies I needed, and my next stop was Fedex print center to pick up some things I needed to be printed out. (Side note: it is cheaper for me to get someone else to print color pictures on regular paper at Fedex than it is for me to do at home with store bought ink...that is how pathetic printer technology is these days. Doesn't that make you depressed? It makes me depressed) However the prints weren't due to be ready by 8pm and I found myself with a little time to kill. So I ended up staring at all the different colors of glitter and variety of sequin shapes, and then trying on child sized foam hats shaped like dogs, cows, and sharks. I really liked the shark one, but it didn't fit very well. Also it didn't match very many things in my wardrobe.

I didn't actually find this too pathetic at the time. I thought it was kind of funny actually, me being a fully grown adult weirdo in a craft store, so I posted a Facebook status update about it. It wasn't until someone replied to it with a very serious comment about how things would get better and I should keep my chin up that I started to think about how it really was kind of sad. Maybe I am reading too far into things, maybe my sense of humor was just overlooked, but also I happened to pass someone that I do not have much respect for on the way out of the store. And when you realize that you are living the same life as someone you really don't like much, that is when you start to feel a little uncomfortable. I pondered all this once I got home and started/finished my project five days in advance, as usual.


You know, I climbed a massive mountain about a week and a half ago. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to climb a fourteener with her and I said yes. In case you aren't lucky enough to have ever lived in the best state ever, Colorado is famous for it's enormous peaks, many which surpass 14,000 feet and quite a chunk of which are some of the highest in the entire country. Neither of us had ever done it, and feeling as if I was missing out of one of the great sacred Colorado pastimes, I was pretty excited to finally be a part of the secret mountain climbing club with all their special mountain climbing rituals. Little did I know these rituals were not happy, fun after school club rituals, but secret brotherhood cult rituals of pain and suffering.

At this point in my badass fit lady journey, I consider myself in fairly good shape. I exercise six or seven days a week, often poling for two hours at a time. I have taken several strength building classes on a weekly basis. I have spent the past three months running around mountains with children for eight hours a day. Heck, I even haven't lost my running skills! I can still easily run three to five miles, and I am proud to say I found out yesterday that I can still run all the way up the death hill by my apartment, which is pretty darn steep and long. All of this I could not and did not do when I started this blog, but now I am stronger and better and can. But I was still not prepared enough for this hike.

You know, I don't think I can even use the word hike. This was not a hike. A hike is a nice, pleasant experience where you see pretty trees and bushes and little woodland creatures running about gathering nuts or whatever. I like hikes. I go on hikes all the time. It's my only excuse to get out of my apartment in California besides school. But this was not a hike. It was a mother-fucking climb.

It didn't start out so bad. The first mile was almost completely flat. There were little bridges built over the muddy parts. We had a very pleasant river crossing. The 6am morning air kept us nice and cool. That first mile blew by. Then suddenly things started going up. Ok, no problem, I thought. You can't expect to climb a fourteen thousand foot peak and not expect to go up a little bit. Our guide-- an old high school acquaintance of mine and friend of my friend who recruited him in order to prevent us from killing ourselves-- was going a bit fast, but hey, I was in good shape, right? Not a problem. Shed a few layers and keep on going. There was another group not far behind us. My inner-competitive asshole wanted to beat them to the top no matter what. They passed us within the first 20 minutes, with the news that we had just missed a moose down by the parking lot. Dammit! I missed a moose sighting again. (Fun fact: I have never seen a moose in the wild. Hooray irony). It only made me resent them more. But I didn't have time to fixate on it much longer because...

That is when the trail started to go really up. By no coincidence, that is when I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. But I reassured myself that this hike was expected to have a certain level of difficulty. I mean, it was supposed to be one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado, but that is for a fourteener. These mountains wouldn't be famous if they were easy to climb. However, those thoughts did not make it any easier, though I still refused to be the one who asked for a water break. I stubbornly kept my mouth shut and my body burning in wait of someone else to need a break. I wonder what I would have done if everyone else had that ridiculously stupid mindset? Kept on hiking til I passed out? The world may never know. I never want to find out.

So the hike kept on going up. The up never ended after that first bit, actually. That is the funny thing about mountains. They kind of just keep on going upwards until you reach the top. That is what makes them mountains. But I think by that point the altitude was starting to get to my brain and I kept on wondering stupidly why it just kept going up. It was also starting to get colder, another factor that my addled brain just couldn't seem to handle. The sun was rising, why would it get colder? Maybe because we were ascending a fourteen thousand foot peak and we started above treeline? What? What is treeline? What are trees? I hadn't seen a tree in so long... I also discovered that there is this thing called wind, and it can make you very cold, especially when you are standing on a rocky mountain face at 7am and it is kind of cloudy to begin with. I was starting to regret earlier that morning when I arrived to pick up my friend at 4am and she asked me if I needed gloves and I just gave her this funny look and said "why would I need gloves?" It was August, after all. Oh what a fool I'd been. For I had enough jackets and a warm hat and my toes were doing alright, but it was my fingers that were suffering the most from this wind thing.

I think we all were starting to feel it about halfway in. Ok, well, not our guide since he was doing this for the third time. And that was just this mountain particular. But me and my friend, we were not doing so well. I still refused to ask for breaks. Instead I just powered through and kept ahead of everyone so that I could hike for a minute, and then wait a minute for people to catch up, and then hike, and then wait, and, well, you get it. It was kind of a stupid strategy. You think pacing myself would have been a better plan, but it helped me avoid admitting weakness and that is the important part. The trail was relentless. Why so much up?? I still didn't understand the basic physical properties of mountainsides. The wind got worse. My fingers were frozen, even though I kept them stuffed up in my jacket sleeves and blew on them in a feeble attempt to get them warm every few minutes. There was nothing to see on the trail but rocks and moss at this point. I had not seen a single living creature the entire way except for all the happy, experienced hikers who were coming back down. They had already reached the summit an hour ago. Those bastards. One of them had nothing but a sword. What the hell? Was I imagining that; is there really that little oxygen in my brain? It's my job coming back to haunt me. I really haven't gotten past this have I? No, I think my co-hikers saw it too. It's always good to know I am not going completely crazy.

After about two and a half hours of never ending up (seriously what was with all the up??) we reached the now legendary "flat part," that our friend/guide had told us about earlier in the hike. We had been long awaited this 200 yard stretch of flatness, as it signified the last leg of our journey, since it was quite close to the top. We had been whispering it in our minds the entire past hour, motivating ourselves forward. Ok, more like screaming it. "Flat part! Flat part! Gotta get to the FLAT part!" That and "Bagels. Avocados. Bagels and avocados. When we get to the top. Bagels. Avocados..." over and over again. The thought of tasty food motivated me more than anything, really. There is nothing like the motivator of good food, especially when it is food I don't usually allow myself to eat (Oh bagels, precious bagels, one day we will be together again, in a bright, beautiful place where nothing I eat actually counts... and that place is called pregnancy <3) The promise of a guilt-free bagel was all I could ever dream of.

One foot in front of the other, a task I always found pretty simple, had suddenly become the most grievous task I had ever had to complete. My feet were like lead. How could anyone expect me to keep lifting them? But somehow I did. I had no need to stop and find a place to pee like my co-hikers. My body had turned off all other sensors for any unnecessary actions at this point. It was just one foot in front of the other. This included my fingers, which no longer were functioning. I struggled to perform simple motor skills like zip up my backpack or button my jacket. It was like first grade all over again. The horror. Thank god I didn't need to go to the bathroom, on second thought. Asking someone to zip up my pants for me would have been too much deja-vu for my liking.

And somehow, after resting at that infamous flat bit, huddled behind a rock to escape the wind and find some warmth, we managed to get back up, I managed to zip up my backpack somehow and we ascended the final stretch of the mountain, where there was no trail, but just rocks upon rocks upon rocks. Like real mountain climbers. And then we were there. And I wanted to die. Instead I ate a bagel with avocado and it was the best thing in the entire world. We had won. I got my guilt-free bagel as a prize. It was true triumph. And in case you don't believe me, here is a bunch of proof:

And if photos aren't good enough proof for you, here is a video which is even better proof, because while, thanks to art school, I may be good enough to photoshop a picture of myself standing on a mountain, I am definitely not good enough to fake a video of it (prior to popular belief, art school and film school are two very different things) so you can have no doubts that I really climbed one of the easiest fourteeners in Colorado. Hey, it was hard, ok??

This video should affirm everything I have recounted here. Also, note my runny nose. That was how cold I was. I had a RUNNY NOSE. Oh dear god. 

Coming down the mountain wasn't even an issue. It was just like slowly regaining my brain, as if I had left little pieces of it behind on various parts of the trail because it was too heavy to take with me. It got warmer too, and my fingers also slowly regained control. For awhile I was little afraid I might actually suffer nerve damage because they still hurt a lot, they did at last return to their completely normal state... Oh who am I kidding? These fingers are far beyond normal--they are magic! I have magic fingers! I type magical blogs with them! Yea!

So maybe I still left part of my brain on that mountain. Who knows.

The point is we didn't die or suffer any major injury. Mostly thanks to our guide, but you know, we did a little of the work ourselves too. I kept putting one foot in front of the other even though it felt like the most impossible task I could ever do. It's funny, because ever since I started this blog to keep me motivated through my quest for physical strength, I have gotten so much better at it. Physical tasks have become fun instead of work. I enjoy them and seek them out. I have found myself getting kind of good at them. And this, in turn, makes me feel stronger, and as the blog is themed, more badass. But it's the emotional strength I truly struggle with. I always thought my weakest point was my physical body, but as I have shown, I can push that to the limits and discover a whole new strength inside of me. But when pushed to emotional limits, what happens? I end up hiding in my apartment, literally cutting and pasting pictures onto presentation boards on a night when almost any normal young adult would be out, catching up and reuniting with their college friends. (I just want to redeem myself by saying that my all pictures were of half naked ladies though, so I can sound more mature and stuff)

I just don't know how to stand strong inside my own self to seek out and fight for what I want. It's a strange thing, too, because I have found so much of my physical limits are really set by my mind, not my body. The other day I ran up a hill that took me months to literally get over the first time, even though I hadn't done it in three and a half months. I realized that the only reason it took me so long before was because I didn't think I could. The same probably goes for my social life and my own mental game. I haven't made friends because I don't think I can; I don't talk out loud in public settings because I don't think I am any good at it. That may or may not be true, but I feel the question opens a whole new chapter in my badass journey. Now that I have found at least the beginning of my physical badass path, how am I going to be more adept at being a social badass and not just some awkward white girl who can't talk to anyone and goes to the beach by herself to read Lord of the Rings? ...Actually I really enjoyed doing that and totally plan on doing it again, but you know what I mean. How am I going to walk the walk and actually make people see me for what I feel I am? My track record is not the best for social interactions, so this is a whole new challenge for me to tackle. So, new goal? Publicly come out of the badass closet. Like, in the real world. Not just on the internet. I don't know how I am going to do it, but I feel like I will tear all my hair out and start running around the beach, all bald and crazy and probably sunburnt, begging for people to be my friends and singing Steve the Egg.

I guess we will have to see how it all turns out.

Now, to end things off on an extra badass note, here is a picture of me doing something really cool:

Whoops, wrong photo.

Ok, here we go.

(This whole blog was really just an excuse to show this one picture, because it is one of my favorite moves and I have been working up to it literally all summer and I am super proud and want you to be impressed and stuff)

(Also please excuse my awkward sunburn for being awkward)


(Oh my god I am going to die of skin cancer now, aren't I?)

1 comment:

  1. WOW! what an amazing accomplishment...well accomplishments! I can't say I have ever climbed a mountain that big. Great job! The extended butterfly is beautiful, I hope you are proud of all of your accomplishments this summer.