On top of Old Snowy

To become a member of the Mazamas, you have to summit a glaciated peak. I really wanted to become a member so I could get a discount on the tuition for the trad climbing class I took with them, but I’m no mountaineer. I’ve never even worn crampons. I’m a straight-up rock-jock, or I would be if I were any good at it. Anyway, I needed to haul my corpus up to the top of some mountain someplace, so I asked my friend and fellow crag rat Matt for advice.

He suggested I summit Old Snowy, likely the easiest glaciated peak in the area. No technical expertise required, it’s a simple hike to the summit. We had been trying to get together a plan for a backpacking trip with Dan and Amy, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone by hiking into the meadows below the summit over the Fourth of July weekend. We’d establish a camp there and hang out for a few days, zipping up to the summit and some other nearby lakes and so on. A relaxing summer weekend in the great outdoors!

We piled into Dan and Amy’s car with all our gear early Saturday morning and got headed up towards the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington. On the way we decided to swing by Voodoo Donuts and grab something delicious, since we were basically going to be eating gerbil food all weekend. Matt was blown away by the fact that he could buy two (2) five-gallon buckets of day old donuts for $5, so naturally we did that. We completed the rest of the four hour drive with easily a hundred donuts in the back of the car, and Matt did his level best to make a dent in that number. I think he ate nine or so before we even hit the trailhead.

Matt had made this trek a few years prior in April with his wife Joanne, and they’d had to deal with a little snow on the trail in a few places, but nothing major. Collectively, we were completely sure that in July, two months later, we would be greeted by meadows filled with alpine flowers and frolicking mountain goats.

So naturally we didn’t call the forest service to ask about conditions and wound up post-holing through two to three foot deep snow all the way up to our proposed campsite. Despite the snow it was a very warm and pleasant day, with water coursing through channels in the snow all around us, so we kept going, optimistic that we could find some clear ground to camp on. Continue reading

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Masculinity and Sunday tidbits

Clarisse Thorn, one of my favorite feminist writers, has written a number of posts examining how gender roles and traditional views of masculinity affect men. This sort of analysis isn’t anything new, but it’s always fraught with peril since it is often used as a smoke screen for Men’s Rights Advocates to claim that feminism has made society “forget about men” or some other silly nonsense. Thorn does an excellent job of describing the impacts as she sees them, while still calling bullshit on male privilege when it’s needed.

There’s no doubt in my mind that gender essentialism and discrimination hurt women more than men, but it’s useful to point out the ways in which society’s narrowly defined set of acceptable behaviors hurt both men and women–doing so makes arguing against those gender-boxes that much easier.

The piece I want to draw attention to today is on the subject of male sexuality and the toxic double standards that go along with it.

An excerpt:

The pressure put on men to be initiators, yet avoid seeming creepy or aggressive, leads to an unpleasant double bind. After all, the same gross cultural pressures that make women into objects force men into instigators; how many women do you know who proposed to their husbands?

So how can a man express his sexual needs without being tarred as a creep? After all, the point of promoting sex-positive attitudes is for everyone to be able to be open about their needs and desires, right?

This is something I struggle with a lot, personally. It’s tough trying to walk the line between appropriately self-confident and excessively aggressive when male sexuality is generally seen as predatory. Politeness means that it’s fairly rare for anyone, woman or man, to flat-out reject the advances of a stranger. Hell, doing so can be outright dangerous for women in certain situations, so it’s a small wonder.

It seems that the only way to walk that line is to be very, very good at reading subtle clues and body language, but frankly, that’s kind of easy to fuck up. I’m sure I do it pretty often. I know I’ve barreled right over the line into creeper territory by accident more than once, and it’s totally not my intention.

Anyway, all I’m getting at is dating kind of sucks, nobody can communicate with anybody else (including me), and gender roles make everything bad for everybody, all the time.

*****

Speaking of creeping people out: I had to go into downtown today to pick up my bike, so I was waiting at the bus stop decked out in my spandex tights and other cycling kit. I was sharing the bus shelter with a woman who looked to be about 65 or 70. Bored, I started doing some stretches, including some calf stretches. I wasn’t facing her, but apparently I must have really grossed out this lady, because she abruptly stood up while making a sort of “yuck” sound and walked out of the bus shelter rather than watch me stretch in my tights. Oops.

*****

On a more positive note, I did my grocery shopping on my bike today, so I just rode straight from downtown to my grocer down in Lake O. When I arrived I had my facemask on and a little girl asked me if I was a ninja. I told her I was a bike ninja and totally struck a pose, it was awesome and she made my day.

The Circuit’s recent comp and aftermath

The Circuit (local bouldering gym) had a comp here last Saturday. I got there late but managed to get a walk in registration. It was a blast being there rooting for my friends—my friends Juan and Todd took 10th and 16th, respectively, in the Men’s Advanced category, while Marie nailed 3rd in the Women’s Advanced. Good job, guys!

Registration got you a meal ticket for some teriyaki chicken—mediocre in both quality and size, especially after a bunch of climbing and riding my bike around all day. After watching the finals (definitely felt like the women’s finals were more interesting than the men’s!) I was pretty hungry, but I wanted to hang around for the afterparty so wound up attempting to solve that problem with beer. I realized later that some awesome burrito truck had pulled up right in front of the gym, but sadly, buzzed Toby was not together enough to wonder where everybody was getting those burritos. Continue reading

Setting the stage: my first date in Portland

I didn’t date for about a year after moving to Portland, due in equal parts to some recent heartbreak and not knowing anybody. It definitely took me a while to get my bearings here and both feel ready to start dating and actually have the opportunity to do so.

I met this girl at a crossfit gym I’d been attending for a while. She had just moved in from out of town, and I knew she was single, so I asked if I could take her out to dinner sometime. Most of you know I love restaurants, and I’d heard about a restaurant near her place with a unique menu whose owner was just back from a stint on Iron Chef. Sounded good, so we set a date. Psyched!

I show up at her place the night of to pick her up. I’m dressed slightly better than I normally am–I might have even ironed a sleeve or two on my shirt. She looked great, and during dinner we had some great conversation and I felt a pretty good vibe. Couldn’t believe my luck–first date in PDX and it actually seemed to be going ok. I paid for dinner and she said she wanted to pay for dessert, which was of course fine by me. I’m a dessert hound.

We ended up driving downtown to Papa Haydn’s, where we split a bottle of wine and an impressive array of sweets. I drink rarely enough that I’m a total lightweight, so I was pretty buzzed and just generally feeling great. I’d forgotten how much fun dating and flirting can be. Wasn’t sure if this would go anywhere, didn’t really have any expectations in that regard, but I knew I was having a blast regardless.

After we polished off our desserts, she mentioned that a few of her friends were at a jazz show a scant dozen blocks away. We headed over there to meet up with them and take in some music.

Immediately upon our arrival this guy, even taller and lankier than I am, gave me the worst scowl I’ve seen in a long time. He hugged her, put his arm around her, and walked on ahead, leaving me with his two guy friends I didn’t know. Flabbergasted, I wound up following them to a loud, cramped bar and sitting down at a table with the group for a beer. This dude is all over her, running his hands down her back and legs while shooting me looks every so often.

At this point, I figure I must have just read things horribly wrong, this guy is clearly her boyfriend, and it’s not as if she mentioned being poly or something to me beforehand. Whatever. I’m more bummed than angry, and I get up to leave.

“Hey, can you give me a ride home?”

Shit. I’d driven her here to begin with, and I was housesitting for friends within a few blocks of her house, so I had no way out. Had to give her a ride home. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but then the guy says,

“Oh, can I get a ride too?”

“Uh… where do you live, man? I’m pretty tired.”

“I’m just going to her place.”

“…”

So I wound up giving them both a ride back to her house where they probably fucked like drunken weasels.