10/08/2012 § Leave a Comment
I fell asleep in the quiet and dark valley. It was late, or very early, depending on which way you look at it. There was humidity in the air and it was much warmer than the coast, almost t-shirt weather. We drove all night and now, it was Saturday morning and I was cozied up in my sleeping bag, stretched out on the ground with 6 other people in front and some 50 behind, waiting for camp 4 to open for business. Earlier that night, some 6 hours back west, while packing up for this mad dash, last minute trip, I was told by a friend that waking up to the valley for the first time will make your jaw drop. Sure enough, the silver, glowing rock walls towering over me were slowly turning pink, the sky above: shades of purple rippling across it, somehow foreboding a hot and sunny day ahead. There was a deer munching on leaves from a nearby tree. I guess you can say she was right.
I had come here because I once read about it in a book. It was winter and across an ocean and I had just gotten a brand new chalk bag for Christmas and so my dad suggested I read this book he had. So I spent days, endless afternoons and slow passing lazy minutes devouring it. In that little attic bedroom with three sets of stairs to climb to get to it. My dad had put a rope up on the side of the wall because of how steep of a climb it was. All very fitting, seeing as the book was a climbing novel. About this writer fresh out of college, on a mission to find his best friend whom he had a major falling out over a story he had put in his book, but which wasn’t his to tell. There’s some more background to it, but suffice to say they end up on a cathartic assent on El Cap, neither one of them is really prepared for. I later read more of that author novels, all about lighting out and wandering and being lost, climbing, surfing and vagabonding. And with the Yosemite valley somehow always looming in the background. Later I also read some climbing stories by Jon Krakauer, another favorite of mine.
Long story short, I‘ve always wanted to get myself there. And now I was there. Here. Next to the bear proof box, I was expecting some transcending and life changing experience. Not far off a couple had pitched their tent and the girl was off for the day, on a solo hike, while the guy, I could only assume, was going climbing. Later, much later in the day, they were back together again, cooking dinner and drinking red wine. I didn’t go climbing that day, but instead nearly killed myself with a ten mile hike, proceeded with too little sleep and followed by not enough water. Two waterfalls and some stunning views of the rear end of Half Dome later, it was dinner time we sat at the footsteps of El Cap, watching the sunset over the tops of the pine trees, eating bagels with peanut butter and jelly. Next bench over, two barefoot and bearded climbers talked and ate canned spaghetti, their climbing gear splayed out on the table. I watched them as I ate my bagel and chased it with warm beer. This was my transcending moment of enlightenment. This was what I was going to do next time.
Leaving very early the next morning, I looked up at El Cap one more time. A silver and skinny new moon illuminated the night sky and gave me shivers.
20/04/2012 § Leave a Comment
In an attempt to clean this place up a little,
I read through all of the previous ramblings.
Om my fucking god,
is it just me,
or has anybody else noticed
that I’ve spent the majority of my 20s in some depressive slumber?
Here’s the pattern:
A dark, endless winter
followed by an endless slushy spring,
followed by a manic burst of summer.
I’ve decided to leave all that up.
18/03/2012 § Leave a Comment
Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote something (a bit of a whiny post, come to think of it) about things I wanted to achieve, but for one reason or another just couldn’t get round to doing. I knew it was there, the writing, to remind me of the things I had been wanting to complete, but I would always push it aside, in fear that the words would remind me not of what I had wanted to achieve but of all that what I failed in. Then, almost exactly two years on, I’ve reread it. Turns out, I can cross out most of my to-do list. Awesome feeling, right?
For my 2012 list, which I realize is coming a little late, I wish to add ‘apply for a PHD’ and ‘travel the world’. Hell, maybe even ‘write more’. And you know what, I think I’m going to manage just fine. Spring has a funny way of waking people up. Wait. Waking ME up. And though I may start out slow and with little (to none) energy, soon I’m out there: doing, thinking, making, creating, riding bikes, having picnics; slowly coming out to shed the winter coat.
13/03/2011 § 1 Comment
With everything going on (by which I mean the giant earthquake and the nuke plant meltdown) I went browsing through some photos of the last time I went to Japan.
It was September, and the first few weeks were hot and humid from the intense summer…
and then the last few weeks were wet from the chilling typhoon season.
The summer before that was when I had became obsessed with earthquakes and it had continued throughout that fall as well. One morning I woke up early and this is what I wrote:
Awake at 6:30 am, shaken out of uneasy sleep by the now constant fear of an impending earthquake, I contemplated the dream I had the other night. A somewhat bizarre dream in which I was a magical creature of mysterious power, feeding magical coconut curry to an equally magical and mysterious lizard man, only to later speed away via a sewer pipeline in an underwater convertible, together with some other of my magical kin. Or was it magical coconut milk powder, not curry? The details are becoming fuzzy now.
I did manage to fall asleep again for another two hours, but it was just more of the same, a restless, unsatisfying half-sleep. But the swaying I feel all the time now is not imaginary – the building rocks and shakes due to the wind, the nearby roadworks and some heavy traffic from the neighboring highway, all of which make it virtually impossible for me to stay sane. The night before I actually sat up in bed with a laud gasp, thinking this was it, it was the big earthquake coming. Needles to say, it wasn’t it.
As I break out another container of matcha green tea ice cream, I wonder, what would it be like to live here permanently? The people I ask tell me that they don’t ever stop to think about the earthquakes, that it is just a fact of life. Could I ever get used to it? I’m not sure.
Now, all I can think of is that I am so happy I’m not there anymore, but at the same time, I am so sad for all of my friends who are.
22/09/2010 § Leave a Comment
So it’s now been five months of perfectly deliberate and conscious implementation of a little thing called avoidance (although I also like ‘non-participation’) and I personally think it’s about time to finally post. And it’s only right to start off where I left off, in early April, with my wonderfully sunny and bright birthday trip to the Cinque Terre. Of course, what you can’t see is that it was in fact incredibly chilly and the evenings were not long and spent strolling on the beach but short, dark and wrapped around in a thick scarf or two, but still, I have to say, it was pretty fabulous.
I had oysters for the first time in my life, an experience that was surprisingly inoffensive, but one I am yet to repeat. Also had some amazing seafood gnocchi that night, and plenty of wine, followed by gelato to die for – no surprises there, you can count on the gelato being amazing pretty much any place you go in Italy. I ate and drank and hiked and had a really good time.
On our last morning I had fresh croissants, and I mean out-of-the-oven fresh, and a yet another great cup of coffee, right there on the patio of the train station bar. It had a sea view and overlooked cliffs scattered with colorful little town houses and the sun was rising over the horizon. And I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live there, waking up every morning to those freshly baked croissants and that coffee and that view. Would I be more relaxed and more importantly, would I be able to let go of my Woody Allen’ish neuroticism and the almost constant worrying over petty nonsense?
As it turned out, that was the week of the Icelandic volcano eruption and instead of the short and sweet 1.5 hour flight back to Amsterdam it took us almost 40 hours to get home. I remember feeling like all of the inner peace was undone. Also, on the layover in Basel I managed to walk into a lamp post and give myself a lovely black eye and a ruined afternoon. But looking back and seeing those photos now, all I can remember is the sun and the food, the water, the flowers and that blissful half an hour I spent sitting in the harbor reading my book, with my shoes off, just soaking it all up and being happy.
11/04/2010 § 4 Comments
Spring has been so reluctant to show up and it’s been absolutely freezing the last three days. Decided to go to some warm weather instead. Here’s a little hint.
I’ll be thinking of you while sipping a belini at my birthday dinner tomorrow night. Looking forward to all the good food, drinks, coffee, hiking, sun and sea!
23/03/2010 § 3 Comments
As March comes to an end (slowly), my balcony is coming alive. I moved the table from its sad little corner to the middle of the balcony and it’s now ready for breakfasts, afternoon coffees and late evening candlelit dinners. There’s spring flowers and butterflies and Japanese lanterns and even the bay leaf tree seems a little happier.
drawback: there’s only ONE chair!