5 min read

Baltimore Climbing Techniques

Rowhouses along harbor front, reflected in rippling water, figures in small boats or standing or climbing ladders, abstract.
Generated with Midjourney, 'climbers climbing buildings at Baltimore inner harbor, wet paint, --ar 2:1 --v 5.2'

Welcome to the April 2024 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To

(Scroll to the bottom if you find my long-winded emails boring and tedious BUT enjoy new cover reveals for ten-year-old books.)

On The Next Big Life Event

"Oh-yeah, and I think I'll go to [Baltimore], they think I was [retired]
I think I need a [bay] town to leave this [swamp] behind
I think I need a [crabcake], I'm tired of [fried gator tail]
I hear it's nicer in the summer, some snow would be nice, oh-yeah"
Boston, by Augustana ...with a few terrible tweaks by me

So... we're moving to Baltimore!

Just when everything was going perfectly, we decided to blow it all up and start again.

Wendy applied for a job and we found out she got it right before I sent last month's update.

We had been talking about another big move for the past year. I was thinking west coast, baby. Baltimore, Maryland was NOT on my radar.

All the other jobs she applied for we spent at least a week going back and forth about pros and cons and this and that.

Then, if we decided yes, she would finally apply after the long discussions, then we would wait and wait and wait. Then we'd hear back and invariably it would be a no.

Then I'd think maybe we'll just stay here, I really like this place, everything's good here, we've got life figured out, why mess it all up?

I had even committed myself to making new friends and starting a local chapter of Creative Mornings, that's how set I had become on staying in Gainesville for a while.

This time she was like, there's this job up in Maryland, lots of potential, could be great. And I was like, I don't even care anymore, sounds good, just go for it. Seriously, it was a five minute conversation.

And here we are. Isn't it funny the way things work out?

On Baltimore

My grandparents lived in Baltimore. My dad spent the first ten years of his life there. It has long felt like the black hole of the east coast and the black hole of my family's history, like the city that everyone forgot and left behind and didn't really care to bring up, except to talk about how terrible it is.

I just found out one of our neighbors, Rick, is from Baltimore. He's 84 or 85. He said, 'I don't think I'd move there with a family.'

That seems to be how a lot of people who don't live in Baltimore feel about Baltimore, even or maybe especially if they are from Baltimore.

We now know 3 people who currently live in the greater Baltimore area. They all love it there. One of them is a pastor I met at an event in Pennsylvania last summer. His wife who co-pastors with him at their church is the second—we met them for dinner and asked lots of questions about the area. The third is our realtor who was recommended to us by the first two. Wendy and I spent three very long days of house hunting with him.

(We also met our realtor's dog, Carter, who I think may suffer from sleep apnea.)

We found a house, put in an offer, and are going through the very stressful process of trying to buy a home while also trying to get a home ready to sell.

Well, me and the kids are getting our house ready to sell.

Wendy is already up in a suburb north of Baltimore at her new job, living in a hotel, working on a jigsaw puzzle every night to keep her sanity.

(Writing this is what I'm doing to keep my sanity. And watching a little bit of Shogun whenever I can fit it in—99% on Rotten Tomatoes! That's almost unheard of.)

On Climbing

I haven't been able to climb much lately, but I was doing more before all this moving stuff started.

What you quickly realize about climbing when you do it consistently and especially with people who are better than you, is this—becoming a great climber is not about strength and muscles.

Certainly people who climb all the time develop strength and muscles in their fingers, hands, and forearms, and probably other places too, the rest of us mere mortals do not possess.

But, what really sets great climbers apart is technique, body awareness, understanding balance and counter-balance and leverage, and knowing how to solve the puzzles different routes and problems present to them using the best techniques.

On Technique (Versus Hard Work And Talent)

I've recently realized this whole technique thing in climbing is actually relevant to the rest of life as well.

Some people make certain parts of life look easy. Like, parenting little kids, or raising money for fundraisers, or recruiting volunteers, or climbing the corporate ladder, or making money, or making friends, or fixing things that are broken, or building things that look way better than the things everyone else builds, or running marathons, or writing lots of books, or completing video games, or climbing rocks.

Why do they make it look so much easier than the rest of us?

Is it because they are inherently better at those things, or because they work so much harder than everyone else? Or is it because they've learned techniques that make it way easier to succeed with much less effort?

My friend Terrence is a really good climber who couldn't climb for a year because of health problems. He came back to climbing without his former climbing muscles, but with all the technique and muscle memory still in place.

I told him he makes everything look easy, but when I try to do the same thing it is not easy. He says he only climbs if it will look easy, because that's what he has the strength for right now. Technique is what makes it look easy.

The reason it's still so hard for me to do the same stuff he's doing is because watching the right technique is not the same as knowing the right technique, like, deep down in the muscle memory.

I have to think about what I'm doing, how I'm moving, how I'm hanging, which parts of my body are doing which things in each moment. It's slow and clumsy and exhausting—not fluid, not second nature, not thoughtless—because the technique is not yet ingrained.

I'm still learning by practicing. I'm ever-so-slowly leveling up.

Aren't we all?

Let me know if you have any thoughts on this stuff or anything else!

I'm working hard to wrap up the Skytrails saga for once and for all (I should see how many times in past newsletters I've said something to this effect—half dozen at least), then it's on to exciting new adventures in faraway lands full of new dangers, new delights, new characters, and new quests.

Thanks for reading! Back to packing and cleaning and fixing...

P.s. I've been learning about and experimenting with Facebook ads for Greysuits. I generated some new images with Midjourney for the ads, which resulted in a soon-to-be-tried-out, brand new, tenth-anniversary cover...