Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spin Cycle: Fear, Then & Now

Sometime last week Jen from Stinky Bee asked me if I was going to do the Spin Cycle. I told her that I'd like to, but I wasn't sure if it was ok being that I pee standing up and that didn't seem to be a talent I shared with the other contributors. I sent a message to the Keeper of Sprite and she said they'd be happy to have me. Wait. That's not right. Ok, TWO weeks ago Jen asked me and then I had that conversation with Sprite's Keeper and then I blew off the first one with some feeble excuse that I can't even remember now. Ya, that was it. Oh, and just an aside to an aside, but isn't Jen like your friend from high school who talked you into all the dumb things you got caught for?

Ok, rein it back in... So yesterday Jen emails me talking a lot of smack and asks if I'm doing this weeks Spin Cycle. I quickly replied yes while giving myself an "I wish I had a V-8" style smack to the forehead because I had forgotten. Two smacks in a row? Did you know a group of jellyfish is called a smack? Yah huh, go check it yourself. Sorry, the reining in bit doesn't seem to be working. Did I tell you I got a filing cabinet yesterday?

Then I go read goodfather, who I'd encouraged to do the Spin Cycle because I was going to, and he'd gone and done it. Bastard! So now here I am. Ok, goodfather's not really a bastard. Well, as far as the technical use of the word goes I have no idea and don't really care, I'm just saying he's actually a nice guy. And his post is funny. He's a bastard because now I have to write one myself. I hadn't really thought of anything to write for today anyway so it all works out really, I'm just enjoying calling him a bastard. Bastard.

Alright. Enough screwing around. So this post is supposed to be about fear. I bounced around a few ideas today, actually a lot of ideas because there's a lot of places you can go with this word, but the one I kept coming back to, the first one I thought of when I saw this, was the first time I really thought I was going to die.

Let's set the scene. It's 1989 and young Captain Dumbass has found work with his then girlfriend in Banff National Park. Young Captain Dumbass is physically fit back then. He mountain bikes, he hikes and he climbs. He loves these activities and now he is in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. He is... good god, he's skinny! What did I weigh back then? Sorry. CDA and girlfriend were lucky enough to share a house with someone who loved these things even more than CDA did. And CDA hated outdoor guy a little too because he was really good looking and had that silly shy thing going. He scored a lot.

Ok, might get a little disjointed here since I'm watching Grey's Anatomy now and running down between commercials. Deal.

So I got to go hiking and climbing a lot. Then one day my climbing buddy (and my girlfriend) were working while I had the day off. It was a beautiful day and I really wanted to get out there and enjoy it. There's a small mountain in the middle of the town of Banff, it's called Tunnel Mountain. It's a funny little mountain in the middle of a valley ringed by mountains twice it's size. And while the mountains surrounding it are tall and jagged, Tunnel Mountain is rounded. Except for the backside where it's ass fell off a few million years ago. I left the house around 9 or 10am and started to hike around the base.

Awhile later after a nice walk through the forest I came to the base of the cliffs and decided to do a little climbing. Alone. Without any equipment. Without having told anyone where I'd gone. I was 19, what can I say? So up I went. Up and up and up. No thinking, just doing and enjoying myself. I'd never learned to use equipment, I just loved climbing things, but I did know what climbing equipment looked like. So when I got up a hundred feet or so and started seeing bolts in the rock left by other climbers you'd think I would have taken the message and headed back down. Did I mention I was 19?

Ya. So a little after this, when my route started getting really difficult and I'd almost decided to come down on my own I found myself looking at this bolt with a... hook thingy (ask ciii, he'd know) hanging off it. It had a number stamped into it. 806. It's the clearest memory I have of that day. I saw that and suddenly the alarm bells finally cut through the fog that was my head and I could finally hear my brain screaming, "What the fuck are you doing?!" I froze. I looked down and couldn't remember how I'd gotten to where I was. I couldn't remember where I'd last placed my feet. I slid a leg down and scraped around but I couldn't find anything to step on. I don't know that I was really scared at this point, probably more shocked than anything.

And then I started appraising my situation. Nobody knew where I was. My room mates and girlfriend wouldn't be home until at least 5pm. When would they actually start wondering where I was? And what did it matter because nobody would think to look here? Above me was at least another 500 feet of cliff I could not climb and I could not figure out how to move in any direction. I had a back pack with a PB&J and a sweat shirt in it. It was mid to late September in the Rockies. It gets very cold at night.

I don't know how long I stared at that 806, but it was a good long time. Obviously there had to have been hand or foot holds below me because I'd gotten there to begin with, but no matter how hard I tried I could not find them or if I did find them, I didn't trust them. I was not brought up in a religious family and I'm not a religious person now, but I did talk to god that day. I talked to the mountain, I talked to 806 and I talked to myself. Funny enough, I also spoke to god concerning a matter with that girlfriend, but that's another story. I joke, because it's what I do, but I knew the situation I was in. There was no one else climbing that day, it was the middle of the week. There was no help to wait for and I don't know whether I could have held on in the cold through the night. It was 1989, cell phones hadn't been invented yet.

I let go. What happened next is between me and the mountain. Sorry for bringing you this far and holding out, but that part isn't for you. It's not for anybody. It wasn't pretty, but as you're reading this, you know I eventually got home. And when I got home? Nobody had wondered where I was.

So that was then. Nowadays the fear is a little different. Now it's the fear of having to find a new job next year. The fear of the economy getting worse. The fear of fucking up with those little angels upstairs asleep in their beds. Of not being the father I need to be, the one they deserve. I know I'm not doing too bad there, I'm not looking for reassurance, but it's still my demon. He's the fear that keeps me up at night. And some days I think I'd rather face the cliff.



  1. Wow. Great first Spin! I'd like to say something super profound, but I got nothing. Really glad you made it down the mountain. You're an awesome dad and we all know it.

  2. Eek! (Total female scream!) I love it! Love it! (Did I mention..)
    Okay, several one-liners came to mind while reading this...
    1. Regarding Young CDA, the voiceover guy from the Justice League cartoons, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch.."
    2. Yeah, quiet, goodlucking, shy roommate would have totally scored.
    3. Regarding the mountain, I wish my ass would fall off too.
    Okay, about the fear, awesome telling. I was hooked, and not like 806 hooked, I was hooked on your words, hoping for the best, and knowing somehow you would come out of it. If it were me, I'd probably still be there right now.
    You're linked and welcome to the Spin Cycle, Cap'n!

  3. Wow, great first spin and from a dude! Glad you didn't die that day, that would have sucked to have no dumassery to read. I did crazy daredevily stuff when I was young too, it's a wonder I made it out alive.

  4. Dude, Jen is SO THAT FRIEND. It is the reason I ♥ her.

  5. Aye-yah-yie. Have you read Aron Ralston's "Between A Rock And A Hard Place"?


  6. This was AWESOME!! Real danger! A real cliff! A real man! Who knew men could write? And write well? Keep contributing to the Spin Cycle...pretty please?

  7. Isn't it Interesting, the Clarity you receive when good 'Ol Ma Nature kicks you in the Balls.

    She runs Hot and Cold, fo' sho'.

    Great story Cap'n. But, I am going to need some Closure. As in. "I let Go. Then, wings sprouted from my Anus and I glided to Safety while waving my t-shirt "lasso style" and munching on PB&J."

  8. WOW!! You have left me speechless (which is VERY hard to do)

    Just for reasurance even though you are not asking for it - you are a gret daddy and you are doin your best, that is all you can do, heck, it's a miracle I survived childhood and being a mom!! and now going on to #6? What the heck was I thinking really?

    Oh yeah, speechless, right! Great Spin!

  9. Yup. Adopted = bastard. You so called it. :D

    My 'parents' took me and my 'brother' and 'sister' to Banff when we were kids to visit the hot springs. Very beautiful.

    Great post! Falling off a mountain is scary. 'The fear of fucking up with those little angels upstairs asleep in their beds. Of not being the father I need to be, the one they deserve' made me stop breathing.

  10. CaptainDumbass this is me being a mom at this moment. What the hell were you thinking? You could have totally fallen to your untimely death!

    Me being me- Dude that is a kickass story.

  11. Er...ah... awkward... goodfather, I hope you took my good natured ribbing the right way. I didn't know you were adopted. I still would have called you a bastard for making me write, but I might have worded it differently.

  12. Did wings sprout from your anus? That's a great question. And this was an awesome post. Going deep, my friend, and I like it.

    All joking aside, that's really scary. I'm so glad you got down off of that mountain.

    Because I really need some contraband Canadian Mars bars. (See the joking's back, just like that).

    Great spin!

  13. Holy crap balls! I think I held my breath through that entire post. It's so bizzare that you faced death and if you hadn't breathed a word of this to anyone, no one but you, that mountian and God would be the wiser. Holy crap. My hands are shaking just thinking about this. I don't think I've ever left a serious comment over here, but today might be that day. Hell, I have a rush of adrenaline just thinking about that 806. I am truly so glad you're okay. This post really freaked me out!

    (But, you, know, just to save face and try to leave you with a little funny...when I originally typed the sentence "I have a rush of adrenaline right now..." I accidentally typed "I have a tush of adrenaline right now..." That would have changed the whole tone of my comment.


  14. deemarie-thanks, me too.

    SK-oh, the Justice League comment, you are now friends with Supreme Leader.

    casey-I'm sure we all have lots of dumbassery from that period of our lives.

    tracy-same here

    ellie-no, but I'll look it up

    ginger-will do

    ciii-YOU KNOW ABOUT THE ANUS WINGS??? Well you know how it ends then.

    krystal-thanks, you're sweet.

    goodfather-I hear ya, brother. And feel free to slag me in a future post.

    kat-I'm going home to visit the family this weekend, I'm sure I'll be hearing this speech.

    tuesday-thank you. Hope you have a stress free weekend.

    bliss-I will send you some mars bars if you'd really like some. For realsie.

    jbg-'tush of adrenaline' would explain your dancing face. Bada bing!

  15. Yeah, I stick to bouldering when I'm off belay. I don't mind heights but I hate the contusion thing.

    Glad you made it back!

  16. Oooo a great post! Like most you left me wondering what happened after the fall? Did a large winged bird catch you and put you in it's oversized nest where you made a rope from bits and bobs in the nest while fending off the attacks of baby birds? I watch entirely way to much television.
    Welcome to Spin Cycle good to have a mans spin on things. Btw, I'll take one of those Mars Bars. YUM!

  17. Two things:

    1. Hooooolyyyyyyyyyy shiiiiiiiit.

    2. Jenbo tells me you've met Chris Cornell. Well, I've met Tom Morello. This means we practically KNOW each other.

  18. you're welcome!! (and yeah, I'm stalking today, nothing much going on around here so I thought I'd stalk you for a while, I hope you don't mind. I'll be over there by that bush so if you make some decaf coffe, you know where to send some)

  19. I absolutely adore you... you are all kinds of awesomeness. Great Spin, hope to see ya' next week!

  20. As always very entertaining ~

    I am glad you didn't die on that mountain that day.

  21. Dude......freaky!!!
    Glad you and the mountain came to terms at the end.

  22. I got nothin'. Except there have been few times when I wanted to read/not read so much.

  23. Hey Dude. Just lurking. 'Cause I miss ya.

  24. mmmm...where are you? I need my fix of nonsense!!! I'm bored!!! where are you? The kids are sleeping the Hubby is away - i need entertainment!!! AGHGHGHG

  25. I feel like you're ignoring me. You're not responding to any of my tweets. I will take no excuses. Vacation-smation. If you give me the whole, "I can only be a broadcaster because my phone filled up." then I'm gonna have to sign you up on facebook and poke you. But first, I need to learn how to create a facebook account and learn what poking is. :)

  26. Love this spin! And while I'm dying to know how you got down, I love that you don't tell... okay, that's a lie. I actually feel a little gyped. But at least God knows. It'll be the first thing I ask when I get to heaven.

  27. It's funny how your fear changes when those wee ones arrive, isn't it?


Come on, sailor. I love you long time.