Wednesday, March 13, 2013

all things go

Dear people who still have this site on their RSS feeds/Tim,

As you may have gathered from four months of radio silence, I've gotten bored with this blog and am putting it out to pasture. While I am desperately embarrassed by both the style and the content of at least the first few years' worth of material, I'm sticking to principle and deleting nothing. Awkward!

It turns out that writing for a living (!) sort of saps at my interest in writing for fun. However, I'm still stalking my fellow commuters at and will occasionally post other stuff (the usual bikes and books, I imagine) on my new, more disgustingly self-promotional site here: Hey, gotta eat.

Anyway, to commemorate five-plus years of babbling at this address, here are the all-time top-ten search terms by which strangers have arrived here (so, excluding "passthatatlas," my name, etc.) along with the offending posts. 
  1. rene magritte
  2. fruit of the fucking loom
  3. baron samedi
  4. feet hiking curtis cramblett
  5. follow my leader
  6. costco brownie bites
  7. costco brownies
  8. tamara lieveling
  9. brownies at costco
  10. brownies de costco
Figures, right? My life and heart and soul in hundreds of thousands of words and people just came for the snacks.

Whatever. Hope to see you at the new place

Lots of love,


Monday, October 15, 2012

ask ludwig

CONTENT WARNING: Lopsided shop-talk, Cramblett true-believer-ism

Yesterday I got my ass beat. This was deeply demoralizing, given that the occasion was a Sunday bike ride supposedly centered on cinnamon rolls. Alas, pastry-pace for a pack of ripped, racing-shape roadies is for me apparently a cardiac event. I'm pretty sure Tomales and surrounds were some kind of bronzed bucolic beautiful, but when I roll tape there's nothing but my own blood roaring, the alien scream of wheels of pavement, and incidental eye contact with nonplussed cows.

But here's the thing. It's been more than a year since I've done a ride that long or that tough1. I'm not fit for it; it was in places wretched. And you know what hurts most this morning?


I always get punished for optimism. I am loathe, loathe to declare even the smallest victory: I'll crash next weekend, I'll slip in the shower, I'll get lupus, something, I know it.

But on the off chance it makes it a difference to someone else out in the ether, I'll say it anyway: this rebuild's going up. Believe there's a difference between slowly and never; believe it and put in the work.
1. Tough for me, I mean, not the natural-born killers.
2. CliffsNotes version for anyone not current with all my whining: I'm trying to rewire myself to be less crooked and injury-prone. A tired core instead of a tired hip is a first, fantastic.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

if the shoe fits

I'm following the suited and sauntering boys barefoot to the bar, heels in hand. The Columbus sidewalk is wide and warm; the sky is bright and low.

Under the mirrored ceiling a wide-mouthed tumbler gets the best of me and I spill whiskey down my neck. "Oh God," says Jack, "not this again." He has already spent a half-hour helping me salvage the dress after an earlier mishap with a leaky iron. Daan obtains a stack of napkins and a glass of seltzer water from the smokey-eyed barkeep, who is not impressed. I blot vigorously. We depart.

I switch to $14 flats in the church pew during an opportune swiveling of the audience for the entrance of the bridesmaids. Their hair appears somehow buttressed, which is architecturally interesting but not sufficient distraction to prevent me from crying, per usual, the second I catch sight of the bride. She's both dazzling and dazzled; I'm so charmed by this I'm practically asthmatic. Despite knowing perfectly well this would happen I have not thought to bring tissues and resort instead to dabbing my eyes with balled-up napkins from the bar.

There's enough whiskey on them still it vaguely stings.

* * * * *
"You can have this," the somber flower-girl announces. She's unpinned a white rose from her frock (it's a frock, when you're young, isn't it?) and put it in my hand.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

born this way

Before I Babbled on the Internet
Excerpts from my summer journal, 1996 (age 9)

The persistence of cuteness 
"I saw the saddest thing. A dying fawn. It was still breathing, but its face was covered in blood and ants. I almost cried. When it was alive it must of [sic] been adorable. It still is. Even though its [sic] dead."

Early attraction to Type 2 fun
"I've been stepped on1, totally embarased [sic] myself, made unreasonable mistakes, and been the biggest chicken. Still, it was really great."

Olympic spirit
"On [Keri Strug's] first vault she fell, and hurt her ankle. Limping, she vaulted again. This time, the pain was showing in her face, as she stuck the landing on the vault that gave U.S.A. the gold! Though Keri was in tears, she was still happy. In conclusion she is pretty cool, but she sounds like she's been sucking in helium."

Future Locks of Love donor, yes.

Developing empathy
"The duck I liked best always caught the bread before it hit the water. I can't imagine eating soggy bread either personally."

On managing expectations

Eat your heart out, Richard Louv
"It was beautiful. You could look up and see about a zillion stars all shining in a clear sky, across the lake and see the dark shapes of the hills reflecting in the shimmering water, or sideways into the majestic woods. I know I sound like a complete jerk, but that's really how it was2."
1. This is meant literally (horses).
2. An acknowledgement that probably belongs in the footnotes of everything I've written since.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

high and dry

Something between us and the ocean is on fire. Here on the ridge there is no urgency to it, just the smell and an expansive haze where the horizon ought to be. I imagine small flames meandering low to the ground.

The wind is rising; when it reaches the oak-matted hillside it breathes a slow roar that sets the canopy swirling and my hair on end. The high cloud has gathered itself into a steel-bottomed bank; sun slips through in streaks and spangles. I'm more wishing than waiting for a storm to break. There won't be one, of course. We are where we are.

At sunset, though, hours later, small tears in the sky burn with a fierce white light.

Friday, August 3, 2012

what's, what's my name

"Hey, do you know the word for—"

(I like this game!)

"—the surface of the water, but from below? Say, if you were a fish in a lake, looking up? The underside of the surface?"

My eyes are wide and my workday is shot. Is there a word for that? I'm consumed by the idea that a term exists, if not in Japanese or Norse then in hydrology or ichthyology or fluid dynamics or scuba. Excruciating! There are all these words I might never know!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Part two and the point is: a hand off the rock is a hand on the lion.

I have a babysitter above who's done the hard part for me; relative to the risk he takes—or even in absolute terms—mine is very small. Consequently, Real Climbers are dismissive of my play-acting in their most basic terminology: there are leaders (bold) and there are followers (ba-a-a-aaa); a bolted climb is just sport, just a game; and there is supposedly nothing you can't do on toprope.

Alas, fear isn't contingent on being entitled to it. Which is why, from my perfect vantage point over a spectacular panorama of California love, I have narrowed the world to a four-by-four-foot square of granite immediately in front of my face. "Don't forget to check out the view," says Alean. He tends especially wry over radio. I am inching gingerly along the traverse. Yeah, no.

I swear I'm not scared, exactly, it's just that I'm working comically hard to keep it that way. Details I might find charming on the ground—the curious shiver of a pale shrub protruding from the crack, the moan of the wind, the emerald glint of an incongruous hummingbird suspended in the void like some apparition from the tropics—are here just woozy reminders that I'm 400-something feet up. Reptile-brain hates that shit. I sing to myself.