Becoming A Plastic Prince

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James

climber
My twin brother's laundry room
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 23, 2009 - 12:38am PT
Snow blew in through the open window, sweat wet my cotton shirt, and my palms dripped my anxiety onto the steering wheel. Picture a nuclear melt down inside a red Saturn station wagon. I drove thirteen hours before deciding I was going in the wrong direction. I was headed to Boulder Colorado, to a writing internship with Climbing Magazine, and a future with no money, no place to live, and an intense feeling that I had been living this lifestyle for too long.

I stopped on the side of the road, called my twin brother, told him I was coming back to California then I emailed the editor telling him that I could not make it. I needed to kill the Bohemian inside of me. For eight years, I lived the climbing dream: traveling, climbing, and crushing. But after nearly a decade of hopping between crags, living in a tent, and scrapping by on peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches, I wanted something more. I wanted a steady income, a sense of home, and some companionship; I wanted to be a regular member of society.

Moving to Berkeley, back to California, meant that while I searched for a career I would have to stay in the city and away from the crags. Adjusting from the dirtbag lifestyle to a normal one involved trading real rock for plastic. I approached the climbing gym with confidence. I was a seasoned veteran with ascents of El Cap in day, onsight free solos of 5.11, sends of scary trad climbs and pumpy sport routes. How hard could gym climbing really be?

Read the rest of the story at my blog
[url="http://www.jamesclucas.blogspot.com"]Life of A Walking Monkey
[/url]
Redwreck

Social climber
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:03am PT
That's some excellent writing there, James.
climbrunride

Trad climber
Durango, CO
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:03am PT
Haha. Sounds like a friend of mine who moved to Boulder for a morning. He was coming down into town, towing his moving trailer, during morning rush hour and saw what a rat-race he was getting into. He had breakfast with a friend, checked his voicemail and found that someone wanted him to do a job back in California. With a very bad feeling about what he was seeing in front of him, he made a U-turn by lunch time and headed right back to the Sierra Nevada.




EDIT to add: James, you are a gifted writer. Whenever I see something from you, I look, even if the title does not seem too interesting. If I was one of the decision makers at Climbing, I'd still find a way to get you writing for me.
Anastasia

climber
Not here
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:13am PT
I really love the story, it makes me want more!
-------------------

I think gut feelings are always right. It also never hurts to stick around just to find out how right it can be. You only need to be proven once so you won't second guess yourself again.

Only bummer is that the magazine lost a very good writer.
AF
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:13am PT
James, I get the feeling you like to drive your station wagon.

;)
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
the base of the Shawangunk Ridge
Mar 23, 2009 - 01:32am PT
I actually work at a climbing gym at the foot of the gunks but we are VERY low key and few people even know about us. Sometimes groups of the insanely strong highschoolers and middleschoolers who make me look like the not so jolly green giant, go to other gyms closer to NYC and I have seen that vibe of which you write.

It is both sad and humorous; a paradox which you very eloquently explore. My favorite line, far and away: "The plastic princes had been only partially right. The gym, I decided, was 1/4 meat market and 3/4 butcher shop. "

Really wonderful stuff.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:40am PT
realize well-being, without debt.

you will kiss yourself in the end.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:41am PT
Thanks James. You’re a riot. Keep doing it. Liked the Barn video also. Say hi to Rob.
Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:02am PT
James,

I only got throught he first part and plan to finish reading this afternoon. Your writing is always enjoyable, but I gotta tell you as one who left the lifestyle in 1995. THE "REAL WORLD" SUCKS. If you must persist, then listen to Norwegian, stay the hell out of debt. This will at least leave your options open. But really pb and j in a tent is better than steak in a house that'll cost you 2500 a month any day of the week. Turn back, don't go toward the light, it's a f*#king trick, you had it right.

Prod.
Dick_Lugar

Trad climber
Indiana (the other Mideast)
Mar 23, 2009 - 12:35pm PT
Great, well written, funny story. Loved the tread-mill pick-up line, the rejection, and butcher shop comment.

I made a comeback to climbing last summer, briefly, lasted 3 trips to the climbing gym. On one occassion I kept falling off a very slippery, plastic knob right off the deck on a 5.9 rated climb. After several flails, I gave up in disgust and was immediately consoled by a co-ed half my 42yrs.

"Are you a beginner?"
"Ah, well, I guess you could say that.." (considering I hadn't climbed in over 3 years after a 10yr. illustrous run, just had a baby, 15 lbs. over my ideal send weight, and plastic suks!)
"Oh, I thought so. Well, I was just like you when I started. Just hang with it, you'll love it. I climb all the time now.."
"Ah, yeah, thanks for the words of encouragement."

Thx. James! Good luck with your writing career or whatever you choose to do.



Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Mar 23, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
Just finished the read and loved it.

Good story Dick Luger.

A few years ago I saw Roberto Benini perform the first canto of Dante’s Inferno. In his opening monolog he explained why all great works lose something in translation. Because of this he read it first in English then in Italian, actually he recited the Italian by heart. He explained this difference with coffee, when he first started coming to America he hated our coffee, so in a later trip he brought his own, but it still was not the same. He determined that it must be the water and on a subsequent trip he brought his coffee from home as well as his well water, but it was still not quite right, so he relented and gave American coffee another chance and really started to enjoy it, so much so that he brought it home to Italy, where he found it to be lacking something.

He said it much better, and was an excellent speaker. That concept is not unlike the differences between pulling on plastic and rock. I climbed with a guy who had only ever climbed plastic and was pretty good at it, pulling down on hard 5.11 and mid .12’s. One weekend I told him I’d take him out to climb on real rock, I fired up some random 5.9 ish line, set an anchor lowered down cleaning my gear and watched him flail for 20 minutes. It was quite odd, but I felt much better being superior out doors. The 2 sometimes just don’t translate.

Cheers,

Prod.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Mar 23, 2009 - 05:40pm PT
dude, it's berkeley. EVERYBODY has Aspergers.


and if something really messed up happens to me, like i suffer severe brain trauma from rockfall, and i actually walk into ironworks to climb, please just kill me on the spot.
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Mar 23, 2009 - 05:40pm PT
Hey! If you can't have the fast food woman of your dreams...

Well, I guess you just have to write about it!

Nice!
bobmarley

Trad climber
WAS Auburn CA, NOW Seattle WA
Mar 23, 2009 - 05:57pm PT
james you've got a knack for writing. keep it up man! perhaps you could figure out how to make a steady income from writing?
klk

Trad climber
cali
Mar 23, 2009 - 06:16pm PT
"perhaps you could figure out how to make a steady income from writing?"

if he could, he could sell it as a book, and immediately retire on the interest from his royalty earnings.


this is why talented writers are writing, unpaid, and posting on blogs:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/19/newspaper.decline.layoff/index.html
Bullwinkle

Boulder climber
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:07pm PT
no debt? that dirtbag owes tens of thousands for his life, he can't afford to. . .die. we're putting one of his stories into the stonemaster's book. . .df
Dick_Lugar

Trad climber
Indiana (the other Mideast)
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:17pm PT
"The 2 sometimes just don’t translate."

Great story as well Prod, I feel much better now about my plastic shortcomings. Thank you!
Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Mar 24, 2009 - 08:54am PT
3rd page? WTF.

Bump.

Prod.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 24, 2009 - 10:38am PT
Thx. James! Good luck with your writing career or whatever you choose to do.

I'll second Dick Lugar's comments, that was well written and worth reading.

Apart from a few stars whose success we might chase like donkey-carrots, I think most writers
find that they also need day jobs. That's not discouraging, it just takes some figuring out.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 24, 2009 - 11:20am PT
those long drives and false horizons arm you with a creativity that allows you to withdraw a story buried in stone.

without the confusion which moves you about, a complacency will settle in and extinguish your strides toward a decorated life.

and thus you wave a white flag in the war on error.
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Mar 24, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
Sometimes norwegian I have no clue what yer typin' about. But this time yer makin' really fine sense - esp directed at James. Lovely writing James and I also love the story 'bout bailin' from Boulder. I "rescued" someone from BoCo 6 yrs ago; he's now my husband.

James don't ferget that the great Kennedy is now in Daddy's Chair of Alpinist mag & if ever there was an approachable guy about climbing and writing, he's yer man.

And even if yer never interested in publishing yer stuff , always continue to write. The consequenses of bottling that stuff up inside of you are tantamount to puttin' a cork in yer carkle. Eventually things will baaaaaaaaack up and you'll exxxppploooode.

Not pretty.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Mar 24, 2009 - 08:58pm PT
INTERN.
What a bunch of disingenuous bull-speak.

Now we are devaluing people so much as to have them work for free; heck, it's not enough that our actual wages have amounted to a bit less than nothing?

You did the right thing to turn around and if you keep doing the right thing, you'll continue to write, whatever your employment scenario.

"I'll take the pink for $200 Alex"
James

climber
My twin brother's laundry room
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 25, 2009 - 03:11am PT
Thanks for the kind words, except for Dean whose words were too true to be kind.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Mar 25, 2009 - 08:10am PT
really tami? it surprises me to learn that my utterings fall upon befuddled ears.

i mean, occasionally, admittedly i slip thru the cracks in reality and explore the coastline of reason.

where i dangle my toes over the abyss that cradles the mystery, hurling insults at god and awaiting an echo.

god's responses i then attempt to pocket in the solution voids in my mind, and bring them back to the supertopo blanket.

these reportings are most likely the ones ya kant understand.

as godspeak is like speaking-in-forked-tonges.
Dick_Lugar

Trad climber
Indiana (the other Mideast)
Mar 25, 2009 - 10:08am PT
Godspeak?

I thought you were quoting "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy".
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