Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

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Recent Events

First of all, I just wanted to say that I have a new goal in life: Become pacman.

I was invited out to a local pub with a few of my friends on Friday night. Since I was still feeling under the weather, I figured that a quiet night sharing a drink or two with close friends would be healthier than hitting up one of the Friday night parties here in Lund. I was obviously slightly misinformed, though, since the “pub” was actually a “traditional Swedish music and dancing night at the people’s university”.  I actually had a lot of fun.  I got to see a part of Swedish culture that I can only presume is usually hidden from the common tourist eye. Swedish dancing is crazy; they slap their shoes, slap the floor, and kick their feet out like Russians. After we’d seen our fill of Swedish culture, I lead my friends to an actual pub. Much to my surprise, my Austrian friends instantly identified it as an Austrian pub.  I might not have picked up on this the last few times I had patronized the place because they didn’t serve Austrian beer, and they also thought that the Austrian flags hanging in the middle of the pub were German. It was still a decent place, though.  There’s just something warm and comforting about drinking in what could’ve been an underground bombshelter in some alternative existence.

We ended the night reasonably early in order to be fresh for Saturday’s rock climbing expedition.  We headed to Soffabacken, which is an outdoor climbing area about an hour and a half north of Lund.  There was one other girl there who was reasonably new, but I wouldn’t feel ashamed in saying her abilities, like everyone else’s, were beyond mine.  For those of you who haven’t been rock climbing with me before, don’t feel left out.  I’ve actually climbed an actual indoor rock climbing wall about 5 times in my entire life. My outdoor climbing experience includes trees, low walls, ladders, and probably my dog when I was small enough to imagine he was a horsie. I had a ton of fun, and my climbing got a lot better as the day progressed. I didn’t finish a few walls, but I topped them all except for one by the time people were talking about packing up.  I decided to give the wall I had only partially climbed another chance.

I was off to a fresh start.  I used the techniques I learned from the other walls and other climbers to my advantage.  Lift with your legs, not your arms.  The chalk marks are the way to go. Trust your shoes.  Wearing pants reduces bleeding by up to 100%. Even though I was in fine novice form, I got stuck at the same place as before.  I saw two paths, and they both bested me time after time.  After each of my 5 or 6 falls, Emma (my belayer) would yell out her encouragement to me and convince me to give it one more shot.  Even when I asked her nicely to let me down, she urged me to try again. Even when I calmly explained to here that I had eaten batches of jello that were more firm than my arms were, she wouldn’t let me down. When I told her that I was done for the day, I’d accepted my defeat, and I didn’t have to climb every wall on my first day out, she told me she wasn’t letting me down until I tried just one last time.  The feeling of wanting to punch someone so very badly but having no energy left to do so is a very ironic one. I tried to focus myself for one last push. Trust the shoe. Trust the shoe. Picture Jenn at the top of the rope.  Trust the shoe.  Swear at the wall.  Trust the shoe.  Never stop swearing.  Trust the shoe.

Before my body had time to complain, I threw myself back onto the wall.  I pulled, I reached, I strained myself back to the the spot that I thought of as the peak of my accomplishments. And then, I was passed it.  I had kept hold of the next rock!  The next was suddenly in my hand, and the next came just as fast.  My weakening muscles were preemted by two things far more powerful – adrenaline and determination. I wish I had climbed with a camera, because the view from the top of that rope was spectacular. On the way back down, I was shocked  – I thought that I had nothing left.  I was sure of it.

I was looking for a quote from Gattaca that fit what I felt, but I found a much better one instead: It’s funny, you work so hard, you do everything you can to get away from a place, and when you finally get your chance to leave, you find a reason to stay.

As usual, there will be pictures when there are pictures.