Friday, August 31, 2012

Dayshots: Indoor Bouldering in Orange County

Louie Anderson has developed sport climbing all over Southern California, including Malibu Creek State Park and Riverside Quarry (these plus New Jack City are where I've done most of my climbing), has published guidebooks for the area, and as of earlier this year, opened a new climbing gym in Orange County called The Factory:

After doing a little Google-ing, it appears that Louie Anderson has been involved with developing the Hangar 18 climbing gyms and actually painted the boulder formations at then-Beach City Rocks, now Hangar 18 South Bay in Hawthorne. I found this post showing familiar walls when they were freshly painted and with no routes. Since I started learning more about climbing and the climbing community, I've come to really appreciate how intimately connected it is, from gyms to outdoor crags, and how much history there is.

On July 16th, I decided to take advantage of The Factory's Ladies Night promotion for a $7 day pass-- in the morning. (I went to see my family afterward to make the most of the drive to Orange County.)

I was the first person there, and waited for a bit as Valarie (co-owner/manager of The Factory, and the climber on the cover of the newest Riverside Quarry guidebook) got the computer up and running.
Valarie behind the counter and the succulent garden.
I get a good feeling about places that have succulents. A customer brought in this little garden for them.
I gave the chips in their snack selection a bit of the side-eye.
It was lovely having the entire gym all to myself for the first half-hour or so. So quiet and peaceful. I got to choose the artist for the Pandora station (I chose Ratatat). People slowly trickled in as the day got later.
The cave. Oh, caves.
Lounging area.
After having climbed on so many routes developed by Louie Anderson outdoors, it was fun climbing on the routes he set in the gym and feeling some echoes. Maybe it was just all the mantling, which climbing at Riverside Quarry involves much of.
Slab zone.
From the top of the slab.
The colors on the walls makes such a big difference in the climbing experience.
Community board. Desserts!!
The Factory's next Ladies' Night is on Monday, September 17th. If I somehow find myself in Orange County again that day, I'm definitely going to make another visit. In the morning, of course.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where I Am // Driving, Stopping, Wondering

I'm sitting in a friend's studio apartment in East Oakland while she's out of town for the next few days. I feel incredibly lucky to be here. I arrived in the Bay Area last week, via a long drive up from Santa Barbara along CA-1. 

The drive from Santa Barbara can take as little as four hours, depending on the driver. I took about ten. I pulled over often, but not nearly as often as I wanted. I passed through rolling hills that reminded me of Antelope Valley, farming towns I didn't know existed along the 1, and would slowly around the turns through Los Padres National Forest and Big Sur. Ocean to my left, verdant forest hills to my right, I had to force myself not to be distracted from the winding road. I maneuvered anxiously at first. Had to turn off my music so I could be present with the sharp turns while being distracted by the beautiful scenery around me. I kept stopping every thirty or forty minutes even after telling myself to drive for at least two hours before stopping again; it was hard to resist taking time to take things in. And I had to stop for California poppies:

I've decided I have to look up climbing and camping in San Luis Obispo, visit Pie Ranch for a workday, and figure out what this place is:
There were pretty white & brown cows grazing on the other side where I stopped. I want to visit.

There is so much to see. And this was just in a 300-ish mile stretch of coast. The world is so vast, with so much to experience. I spend a lot of my time trying to strategize ways to see as much of it as possible. 

I'm entering my time in the Bay Area torn between wanting to build a life here intentionally, without the internal struggle that I felt in Los Angeles, and considering this a rest stop on the way to somewhere else. I'm seeking a middle ground between thinking in terms of permanence versus transience. There can be an in-between. A good friend told me I ought to stay here at least a year. And I can imagine that, and more; I like it here in the East Bay. There is sun, cool wind, trees, the air is clear and the tap water is tasty. Today I took a walk and ate a blackberry off a vine (which is apparently an invasive species 'round these parts and northward). There are so many wonderful people to connect with, old friends and new, and new-old and old-new. People I haven't shared a city with in years. And there are still projects in Los Angles to work on.

Then there's the part of me that is hungry for more exploration. For unfamiliar earth that is more unfamiliar, that is farther away. There is the very hungry part of me that wants to seek and be open to and create(!) opportunities to go abroad. 

It's an interesting place to be-- this state of trying to remain open to everything, and at the same time understand that my intention is not simply to be a drifter. Intentionality has been brought up a lot over the last year, and as I try to articulate my own intentions for my time on this planet, I find that the truth is not a statement that fits very well on a resume or in a cover letter-- to be a human being. 

So I have to think about what I want to do as a human being. How do I want to affect the world around me? How do I want to contribute to it? Is it through writing and publishing? Is it through community organizing? Through tending a fantastic garden? Becoming a certified guide and taking youth of color rock climbing and camping? There's so much to consider-- I was told that I need to make decisions so that I can spend less time deciding and more time accomplishing things. Now, I'm not exactly all about just accomplishing things, but maybe I need to take some of that (and this) advice to heart. 

Maybe I'm supposed to do everything I have vaguely considered doing? Imagine that. Life is long, right? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dayshots: Mother of Humanity

The last month has been a whirlwind. July 12th was my last day as a case manager at SRO Housing and Friday, July 13th was the graduation ceremony for Public Allies Los Angeles Class of 2012. It was held at Watts Community Labor Action Committee, "a non-profit, community-based, human social services organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for South Central Los Angeles residents."

After getting off the bus and finding the WCLAC, I found this sign:
I was on the right track, but I wasn't sure where exactly the ceremony was, as there are a few different buildings in the complex. I gravitated toward this statue:
The woman is in a simultaneously powerful and welcoming stance. The plaque seems to have gone missing. I found a link explaining that the statue is called Mother of Humanity. I like that she's holding what looks like a quill pen. I have an affection for those.

It's been less than a month since PA ended, but much has happened. I've been transitioning, journeying, exploring. I managed to finally release a new chapbook. I read at Tuesday Night Cafe. I went to the NQAPIA Conference and visited Sulu DC. I spent a beautiful six days in San Diego.

In the face of all the joy I've experienced are the tragedies of the last month. Thinking of those who've been lost, and all those we need to work to protect.