Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cops and Rockers

My last post was super short so this will be extra long to make up for it. That is why. It's not that I had trouble editing this story down or anything. 

In some odd happenstance, someone who isn't my Facebook friend found and read at least a decent portion of my blog. Weird, right? Well, somehow this person also happened write for and they decided my blog was qualified to be one of the Top 10 Best Cynical Dating Blogs. I don't know if there are really that many cynical dating blogs out there or not, so I don't know how much of an honor this is... I'm guessing it is HUGE.

 I'm just still reveling in the fact that a stranger managed to keep reading past the part about butt holes.

I feel kind of bad about this, because I have a confession to make. In the past month or so I've actually been dating someone... and it has been going surprisingly well. At least I think so. Not having a relationship in 3 years makes it difficult for me to tell (Mature relationships? What are those?) We keep making plans to see each other, so I am pretty sure that means it is going well. Yea?

It happened by accident. I didn't mean to go on a date I'd enjoy! I am sorry. It has been frustrating, too, because I can't write about it here, as there are all these cutesy moments that keep happening which have no place on this blog, such as waking up in the morning and smiling at each other or going on dates that involve swing dancing. It makes my stomach churn in a weird mixture of warm fuzzies and embarrassment. I didn't think I was capable of stuff like this anymore. What am I, a normal girl or something?!!?

Damn you, warm fuzzies

That doesn't mean it couldn't all potentially blow up in my face still. Like if he turns out to be a psycho serial killer or is secretly hiding a very large, uncomfortably sexual My Little Pony figurine collection in his closet. I'm just gonna ride this out, I suppose, and hope I don't get murdered. He does live on Colfax, after all.

So far though, he just seems to be really into rock climbing, biking, whiskey, and pizza. All of which I am pretty on board with, save weird hex-key-butt-stuff (don't ask). The other week he invited me on a weekend rock climbing trip. I liked the idea of being outdoors and not working and also s'mores, so I agreed to go. I was pretty psyched all week because I was like "Yea campfires! Yea not working! Yea pooping in the woods!" Old Crow* was all "Yea rock climbing!" because that is one of his things. He kept trying to tell me he thought I'd be good at it and I kept trying not to laugh in his face too much.

*That's his chosen name. I said he could pick a poet name and he picked a weird one and I told him to pick whatever he wanted and that's what he came up with...although he might have been drunk when he chose it. On Old Crow whiskey. That's how it goes.

I've tried climbing before. When I was a kid, my girl scout troop would occasionally give it a go and I would consistently climb six feet up and then freak out and refuse to go any further. In 7th grade I tried to join the school rock climbing club only to find myself paralyzed in fear several feet off the ground still. It just was never my thing. Being afraid of heights has never been a useful skill, honestly. What a disappointment. Now in a weird twist of fate I have turned out to become an amateur aerialist and pole dancer, which ironically involves a lot of heights. Great.

At the beginning of last summer I wrote a great post about how to effectively waste your summer (mission accomplished, by the way) and a friendly friend read it and took pity on me. They suggested I try rock climbing at a gym nearby as a good use of my time. Yes, because the best thing for me in my borderline-anorexic-like overtraining that summer was more exercise. Bless his soul! I tried it anyway, because I knew I was afraid of it and I wanted to conquer my fears. It was better than trying to face the reality that art school made me unhappy. Yea!

I meant to blog about it at the time, but I got lazy. It mostly involved me being really tired, afraid of heights again, and guys trying to flirt/give me advice. I used a skinny asian boy to belay me on a lead rope wall. It was all good fun, but ultimately something I was just too tired and over-trained to pursue. Also, I was awful at it. So meh.

But Old Crow had all these expectations of me and I wanted to be cool so I was like "yeaaaaa I'll dooo this thiiing." pretending to be chill and like I wasn't freaking out in the inside.

Right from the beginning, the trip was off to a troubling start. We met with a few other people at 8pm in Denver. This is the best time to leave to go camping because it guarantees there won't be a shred of light or warmth by the time you arrive at the campsite.

Not only did I leave a party full of first graders and an ER-trip-involved injury (I missed it, dammit!), but it took me 20 minutes to find a parking spot in downtown Denver on a Friday night and I had to walk three quarters of a mile to his apartment. I'm a white girl born and raised in the mean 'burbs of the Colorado front range, so I get pretty cautious of cities as it is, especially in the dark. A few blocks in, I crossed the street and saw people hanging around on the block ahead of me. I immediately became worried that they were going to shoot me, kidnap me, rape me, etc. You know, just in the middle of the street like that. Because that would totally make sense. Then I saw they had a 3 year old child with them and figured I'd probably be ok. I came upon them and one of the men said to his kid who was playing in the sidewalk, "Now make room for this lady to pass, ok?" You know, like a normal parent. Then as soon as I walked by, he said, "Wow! That lady has a nice ass! Damn girl!" And continued to cat call me down the block. I've never been cat called in the city before, so I was only totally freaked out and booked it the next three blocks to Old Crow's place. Sexual harassment is so cool.

 Except that it really, really isn't.

I managed to make it to his apartment alive and un-raped, only to turn right back around and hit the road-- It's ok, I walked down the other side of the street this time. I ended up driving by myself because I had to get to work by a very particular time on Sunday, so I had to follow another car to an unknown location in the dark. I was doing a pretty good job keeping up on the way out of Denver when I felt my car do a weird fish-tail thing. I thought maybe it was just the wind or the curve I was driving around, but half an hour later I felt it do it again. I could not see the trees outside blowing at all, so no on the wind idea. I decided to monitor my car's behavior closely for the rest of the drive. An hour or so from our destination, in between Colorado Springs and Canon City, I was cruising down a hill when a loud noise interrupted my horribly off-key Hazards of Love sing-along time (possibly for the better). I knew immediately it was a flat tire.

I pulled over and inspected the damage. It was pretty bad. I'd had a flat before, once a few years ago on the way home from Water World. I pulled over into a neighborhood somewhere in Westminster, half wet and still in my bathing suit, and let some random Hispanic men who were working on their cars down the street do all the work for me. Gee, I wonder why they were so friendly? Well, my feminine wiles worked once again as I texted Old Crow about my problem and he and his friend came and did all the work for me. Yay being a woman. (I'm such a hypocrite).


We got that all fixed up and I was only *mildly* anxious about how far I'd be driving on my doughnut tire, so we hit the road once more. I was still following, and when we passed the turn off for the road I thought we were supposed to go down, I figured that Old Crow knew what he was doing. Then we missed the next turn off. And the next. Then we took a U-turn. And another. And another. That is when I began to wonder if Old Crow had any idea where we were going. After about the sixth U-turn-- the third in this one particular intersection we kept driving across-- I started to bang my hands impatiently on my wheel and wonder very out-loudly where the fuck we were going. We sat at a red light next to an Abbey and a Burger King. It was midnight. The town was dead. The light was not changing. There was a frustrating frontage road next to the highway. Old Crow decided to run the light to take the same turn we'd already made four or five times because maybe we'll understand where we are going this time? I launched myself into mini-intersection along with him through the red, determined not to get left behind in this very confusing cluster-fuck.

Out of nowhere, a cop appeared, his lights flashing. I was halfway in the road and the turn lane of the horribly designed intersection, so I pulled over into the Burger King and let the cop talk to me. I've also only been pulled over once before-- also in Denver-- and was told to simply change the tags on my license plate. But I'd been caught red handed this time, and on top of that I still had my California drivers license, which you are apparently supposed to change within 10 days of moving. I shakily handed the cop my papers and sat in anxiety. I hadn't even gotten on any rocks and I was already stressed out. And was it me or did that cop look like a hick-version of Hitler? Amidst the nerves, my memories were hazy.

This is how my memory serves me. I'm sorry for being so racist.  (Saying schnitzel makes people German, right?)
It might have been me visibly freaking out, or the fact that Old Crow told him I'd just had a flat, or the fact that I told him we were lost, or Old Crow's adorably lovable dog Lola who licked the cop's hand, but he decided to give us a just a warning, saving me $240 and 4 point off my license. (It was probably the dog). We met up with the rest of our caravan at Wal-Mart, thanks to the clear directions given to us by the now friendly super awesome best not Hitler cop ever.

We rolled in to the campsite at about 2 am, only after a couple more U-turns and a very rough dirt road that I probably should not have been driving on with my 2-door sedan and extra small tire. The promised 2.5 hour trip had taken 5 hours. All the developed campsites were taken, so we got nothing more than a mere ring of rocks for a fire pit and nature's grandeur. It looked like I was going to get to poop in the woods as I had dreamed of. Unfortunately I was a bit rusty on this skill and found it took some time adjusting to it. Gaze upon the list of things I peed on below.

We made veggie burgers in the freezing cold dark and hit the hay at 4 am. Nevertheless, we got up bright and early the next day to go climbing. This is when I discovered some of our camping mates were really, er, difficult, namely the two kids and one young, untrained dog. One of the kids had already broken my lantern the evening before, but I shrugged it off as childish clumsiness. Turns out he just has that sort of way about him. You know. That way... The one where the kid messes up everything he touches? And the dog really liked to jump on you a lot and eat all the food on the ground, which was all of our food. (Remember: no tables in primitive camping. Wee!)

No big deal though. Thanks to Daisy the crazy puppy and two years of camp counselor experience, I have learned to deal with outlandish dogs and irritating children... Until we got to climbing. The younger little whippersnapper started crying just like the kid in a Christmas Story, usually every time he was told he was doing something dangerous or harmful to the environment. Which was constantly. It was cold, extra cold for California-Meri, and the dog was still misbehaving like crazy, so thank god his mom was merciful and took him away down the mountain into town for some good ol' fashioned distract-the-8-year-old fun. Unfortunately they got into a small car accident in town and decided to just pack up and head home for the night. Oh darn. I celebrated by helping deliver the older child and drinking a PBR hidden in my sleeve in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

No regrets.

The Canon City Wal-Mart saw a lot of class that weekend.

The younger kid cried because he didn't want to leave.

Now the actual climbing part. Let me talk about that, because that is what this blog was supposed to be about.

Old Crow set us up on a 5.9a++ wall. Which I'm told is moderate in difficulty, even though it sounds like a badass robot with a really impressive report card. Old Crow sped up the wall in about 5 seconds flat without a lead rope, something which I just don't even. Can't. What? He set up the ropes for us and sent us up there with the promise he wouldn't let us come back down until we finished the climb. Considering I could not even see the top of the wall from the ground, I knew this was going to be a really fun adventure.

Robot Report Card Route. Not hard at all, right? WRONG. HALF OF IT IS HIDDEN. 
When it came my turn, I did my best to put on my game-face, also known as my I'm-not-gonna-panic-face. No. No freaking out for me. I was a big girl. An adult. Certified badass. I can climb a pole. I can climb fabric. I can climb a rope. Why shouldn't I be able to climb a wall?

Because walls are fucking hard to climb, that's why,

Things were going alright until about 10 feet up. I had to pause every two feet or so to rest, figure out where to go next, and try to remind myself that I wanted to do this at one point. It reminded me very much of running. When I am out of shape and try to go running, it only takes me a few minutes to wonder "WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS IT IS AWFUL." Yea. A lot like that. The wind was biting into my hands, which were pretty numb and had the stabby pains, I was quite a ways off the ground, and I was trying really hard to still seem cool. Somehow.  I got a few more feet before I reached an overhang and declared there was no more left in me. Old Crow asked me if I would be happy if I came down at this point. I said yes. He let me down. And guess what?

I was happy to have come down.

No shame.

Hey, I did better than when I was nine years old. And I was damn proud of that.

Baby steps.

We moved over to another wall. This one was a 5.10 which sounded a little less like a robot so I was kind of relieved, even though it was evidently more difficult. I wouldn't know. They're all rocks to me. They're all hard. (GET IT?) This one was very different, though. It was shorter, full of large handholds, and required big movements to get from one spot to the next. Old Crow said it wasn't really his type of climb, but he still climbed it twice at mind-blowing speeds without a lead rope. I tried to tell him he was a beast and he shrugged it off. I can hold myself ten feet in the air by nothing but my armpit, and I still sucked at it. Beast. Plain and simple.
Howdoeshedothat Idonotknow. 

(If only I could rock climb with my armpits...) 

I gave this wall another go and found myself actually making progress. Somehow. Slowly but surely. I am certain it was cheating because I let myself sit back and be held up by my belayer at least 75% of the time. I swung around a lot and almost hit a tree and another climber. I didn't really know what I was doing and probably only got up there because I have slightly decent strength in pulling myself up things. Go me.

But I did it.

And I earned pizza for it. See?


Old Crow really didn't want me to take pictures of these pizzas because they weren't up to his standards, but let me tell you, they were fucking delicious. I'm pretty sure if Old Crow does try to murder me one day, I'll be ok with it as long as he promises to make me home made pizza first. 

So yea. No biggie. I just actually climbed a full route for the first time in my life. Suck it, middle-school-afraid-of-heights-Meri.

Yea... I climbed this sucker. It's way taller looking in real life, by the way. 

The second climbing experience was exponentially better. It was yet again like running, but in the good way this time. Sure, halfway through I sat there thinking "What the fuck are you doing Meri, you are not athletic. You hate this. Go home and watch Netflix and eat pasta like you were born to do." But then I kept pushing myself and I got there and I was like "Oh. It's over now. Huh." And let the endorphins of burning out my forearms wash over me and then I'm like "THIS IS WHY I LIKE THIS." There was a strange, masochistic joy in trying to figure out what the fuck you were doing and why you were doing it.


I love fitness.

Anyway, the rest of the trip got a lot better from there. After conquering my never-ending fears, we came down, got SATISFRIES for free from Burger King (not very satisfrying, but they were free so I can't complain), delivered aforementioned teenager to Wal-Mart (see: secretly drinking beer in parking lot), came back to the campsite, drank a lot of whiskey, and ate a lot of potato chips. Minus annoying dog and children.  I also was the coolest cat in town and made s'mores. Like a true life Tajar, yo.That is pretty much the good life, right there.

They were so satisfrying I went back for a second round. (Not really. I just like saying satisfying) 

On top of that, I achieved my dreams of pooping in the woods at last. And didn't get it on my clothing.

The next morning we took it slow, as we didn't have enough harnesses to actually go climbing. Oh darn. We ate a big breakfast, packed up, had a last-minute beer, and hit the road. Always have a last minute beer before hitting the road. It'll help you stave off the hangover from the night before and make you a much better, more alert driver. Every time.

Despite driving at a steady 55 mph for 150 miles, I arrived back safely on my doughnut tire just in time for work, where I officially put in my two weeks for my burger-schlepping job. Then this week I got scheduled for less hours at my salad bullshit job, nailed my starfish, had time to do homework, slept like a normal person, and life has been pretty decent.

Someone shut me up before I barf all over myself with all this contentment.




  1. Love it! Glad you are having fun and awesome starfish!

  2. Thanks for the shout out! It sounds like the party was very worth leaving for. I mean, tranquil weekends camping that go off without a hitch are so totally unbloggable.

  3. Ugh. Camping with kids? That aren't your own? Why???? And why do people bring dogs climbing? You kind of have to focus when you climb/belay. A lot. No asshole dog antics. And how did Old Crowe make a homemade pizza when you were camping? That looked like a kitchen to me. This whole thing stinks!

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