Little Sauna

The temperature edged towards triple digits the past few days in the greater Seattle Area. High eighties for "cooler" Seattle, same for the normally cold Sammamish, and even warmer in North Bend, near Mount Si. In eastern Washington, Leavenworth, the mercury boiled up to 96 degrees. The weather's been hot. Now, they say that it's okay to workout in the heat. It loosens the muscles, they say. Your flexibility is higher, they say. You lose more weight they say. Well "they" don't know shit about rock climbing. For the past two days, Little Si transformed into a little sauna. The trees grabbed the moisture and hugged it close to the steep gray rhyolite wall. My forearms sweated grabbing the slick, greasy rock. I could barely keep enough chalk on my hands. The humidity and the heat made conditions suck. Or so I imagine. Patrick O'Donnell, a former Californian, informed me that the temps were abnormal. Still, Patrick was able to climb, and well at that. Despite the sauna conditions, Patrick redpointed Extended Illness (5.13c), an extension to the classic Chronic. The route follows the sustained Chronic to just below the anchors before jogging right up through a difficult v7 boulder problem. The red haired Irish man's smooth ascent inspired me. I want to climb hard too. So I tried. And I floundered. And I tried more. And I floundered more. After four tries I managed to squeak out an easy climb to a dumb boulder problem. Then I performed some multi-pitch bouldering on Technoridge, which features a v5 boulder problem to easier climbing. The heat definitely made climbing difficult. I felt sluggish and only climbed 6 pitches yesterday and 5 today. Sad. While I did manage to flash Rainy Day Woman (a good flash for me) and send Busta Move, I felt like my climbing blew.

Today, I hiked to the crag and caught a belay from the bantam weight Ben Gillkinson and his buddy Ryan. The boys were busy establishing a new route when I came to the crag. Actually, Ryan was laboring on the route, smashing off loose holds, and cleaning the rig while Ben twirled around on the rope, belaying from below. After removing all the choss, Ben booted up and tried the rig. Looks hard. The line is an extension of an extension of a route. Weird. It climbs Rainy Day Woman (12a) through Hydrophobia (12d) and into a large obvious roof with a hard boulder problem involving some serious campusing. Think v8 on small holds. Eventually Patrick rolled up to the crag and we climbed together for awhile. Fun stuff.

At the end of the evening I tried Technoridge. It was hot. I was sweating. The holds were greasy. I moved up through the 11b begininning, into the v5 boulder problem, where I was quickly bouted. I tried the move again. And again. And again with marginal success. I moved to the top of the route. Lightning flashed across the sky as I headed to the anchor. I grabbed a sidepull and planked my body, cantilevering off a smooth fin of rock. I hit a small hold and threw for a large sidepull. Then I fell. I whipped twenty feet before the rope finally caught me. That's when I heard the lightning. Patrick and I walked down, following Ben. It was nearly dark. As I drove back to Sammamish, it started to drizzel, then rain. And I started to think, then obsess. I'll have to go back to Little Si soon.


Have you ever stopped to think about all the sounds you hear in a day? We take for granted this very special sense. Your alarm wakes you up, then you hear the water in the shower, brushing your teeth, shutting the door, hearing the cat meow, starting the car, the music on the car radio, the birds outside, the siren on an ambulance, even the air conditioning. My only annoyance with the window air conditioner in ours and Lucas' room, is that I can no longer hear him breathing over the monitor. I used to be able to wake up and listen, but now I have to get up and check on him. He doesn't know my voice, nor his Daddy's voice, and he can't hear his cousin scream at the the top of her lungs. Today that was a good thing, because he was sleeping. But how excited I would have been, had he woken up startled and crying.

I try to picture a complete absence of sound, and it's so hard to do. The other night, I forgot to turn the sound on our tv back from the DVD player, so I had to watch the tv in silence (I couldn't get up at the time). It was so annoying! I was watching "So You Think You Can Dance." I tried to read lips, and I did a little bit, but it was just not the same watching them dance without the music. That's Lucas' reality. We watch the Baby Einstein DVDs, and he can't hear the music. At least it's visually stimulating though, and the puppets and caterpillar make him laugh out loud.

Lucas really hears nothing. Even after turning up his hearing aids, and wearing an FM system, he will not react to anything. Maybe it's a function of age, but he's had the hearing aids for 3 months now, and nothing. I try to elicit a reaction. I find loud things in the house and stand so that he can't see me. Nothing. I work on the ling sounds (ah, ee, oo, m, sh, s) that he needs to access language. I thought last week sometime that I was getting a reaction to "ah", but not any more. I just can't easily reproduce 90 db at home. And even if I could, it might sound like a whisper to him.

I seriously ask myself on a daily basis why God would have done this to Lucas. I really wish I knew, but I know that I will never, ever know. I hope that the pain will some day go away, but right now it's still very, very real. I haven't quite made it to Holland where I can at least understand some of the language, since there are many similarities to German. I'm currently stuck in French-speaking Belgium. I guess there's at least amazing chocolate and awesome beer there though. I'm still on my way. We will make it to Italy someday, I'm certain of it (or at least Italian-speaking Switzerland, where I think I like it better anyway).

Adventures in Washington

So You Think You Can Dance!? features a half dozen pairs of dancers vying for the votes of the millions of weekly Fox viewers. Their dances are choreographed and they (one cute girl and one gay man) perform the routine in a business suit for him and half a dress for her. I settled into the couch in Sammamish to watch the show this evening. My eldest brother, Chris, flanked me while my sister-in-law, Kat, sat curled beside him. I imagine this is a weekly affair. The whole Tivo/recordable tv show business made the event bearable. The tv in the Peshastin house only plays DVDs and tapes and I haven't watched network television since the last time I was in Chinese Camp. My brother is an avid fan. He's the director of strategy over at Microsoft; he's in charge of revamping the political organizations of small countries in Africa and Southeast Asia with newer, improved, more Windows friendly types of democracies. I suppose his job is hard. Lots of office politics. "Turf wars," Kat said. Whatever. It's been a few years since I've seen either him or Kat. It's hard to meet up when he's busy directing strategy and Kat's busy taking care of my four year old niece Graylin. While it's nice to see them both, I'm afraid my oldest brother's gotten a little round around the stomach. When I say "a little round" I mean very round. And when I say "very round" I mean, think Goodyear Blimp. The climbing lifestyle doesn't afford too much fat. Sure, I occasionally roll around with a bit of a muffin top, but it usually doesn't spill more than an inch or four over the top of my jeans. Maybe I'm just not used to seeing round Americans. It's really unhealthy. He's diabetic. It's not a good lifestyle. Everything's better when you're fitter. From you're ability to think and perform daily routines to nocturnal wrestling. I'm tempted to say something to him but don't know how. "Dude, you're fat" seems rather callous, especially since he's hooking it up with a sick place to stay for when I go to Little Si tomorrow. Maybe, I'll try to get him to go on a hike with me and Graylin. It can be a bonding thing...aka a two hour power slog up a strenous hill. Hopefully he's not in danger of cardiac arrest.

The past few days, actually the entire time I've been in Washington, I've been lost. Completely disorientated. My Boy's Scout Orienteering badge is on the edge of being revoked. I drove past Index today by 8 miles. I had to turn around when I hit Goldbar. The night before I drove ten miles past the Forestland, which is the only bouldering spot I've been to more than once. Damn. I almost gave up on going. I was pretty frustrated. I couldn't find the tiny turn off the wooded road, the boys in Peshastin all stayed home drinking beer, and my ankle hurt from a big fall I'd taken off a boulder two days before. I managed to find the boulders though and I dragged three crashpads out. It was a really good solo session. I rarely boulder alone but I managed to get psyched and do a couple problems I wanted to try. I even stuck a dyno, which is rad considering I don't know how to jump at all. I didn't mind having been lost for so long when I stuck that boulder problem or when I finally found Index.

I was all psyched on bouldering last night, trying to send the gnar, but today I stopped by Index to hang out with Cole Allen and Mikey Schaefer. They were toproping at the Lower Town Wall. Suddenly, I got severiously amped on route climbing again. I could learn a lot from Index. My technique is pretty appallingly and the smooth granite of the Town Wall could sharpen my skills quite a bit. A couple days at Little Si, sport climbing and hanging with the fat brother, and then maybe I'll go hang in Index for a little bit.

Still, I need to find a job. If I don't get one soon, I may end up working some crummy gig like Max did 2 years ago, grinding away at a chocolate factory in a uniform in downtown Leavenworth- he packed fudge in liederhosen in little Bavaria.

CHOP visit 6/25

Nate's home from Costa Rica! He had a great time, with quite a few interesting stories to tell. Although I wish I could have been there, I'm glad I made the decision to stay home with Lucas. I'm DEFINITELY not ready to leave him overnight yet, let alone for 9 days.

We returned from CHOP this evening. It was a relatively uneventful day. It wasn't particulary bad, and it wasn't particulary good. I just feel like we're kind of at a stand still. We only had one appointment today (compared to our usual 2 or 3) and it was with our audiologist, Erin, who we like very much, by the way. The main purpose today was to get fitted with new hearing aid molds, as we need to do that every few weeks because he outgrows the old ones so quickly. She also turned the volume up to around 100 db on the hearing aids, since we're seeing no benefit yet. We put him in a sound-proof booth to see what he would do (he sat on my lap during the test). We think that we got reactions from him at 105 db, the highest the test goes (I was wrong, before I said the test went to 120 db). That doesn't necessarily mean that he can only hear at 105, but we at least got some kind of reaction there. So I guess we can say that his hearing is between 90 and 105 (in both ears), which makes him quite profoundly deaf.

I did schedule 5 more appointments for August though - our CI info meeting, another hearing aid check (and ear mold fitting), an evaluation with speech and language pathology, an appointment to see the ENT and another with genetics. I'm trying to get as much in as possible before I return to school on August 21 - it will be much easier that way.

Our next excitement is a sedated MRI on July 3, 1 week from tomorrow. That will be lots of fun. (Some days I'm more cynical than others... today just happens to be one of those days.) I'm really just not looking forward to having him sedated. That test will probably determine his CI candidacy though, so it's quite important and also stressful at the same time, to say the least.


The Toyota Tercel coughed west on the 2, out of Sammimish, through Monroe, and towards Leavenworth. The muffler hacked, straining it's coat hanger support, and threatening to drag over Steven's Pass. Thousands of conifers cover the rocky hillsides, with small outcrops of granite poking through the forests. The strong Sykomish, the Wenatchee, and Icicle Creek rush along the roadside with their white capped flow and irreverent roar. It reminds me of the Catskills where I grew up. Less farmland. More trees. Beautiful land in the Northwest.
The people are another matter. As I followed my dirtbag climbing partner, local hardman Jens Holsten, the culture emerged. In Goldbar, a crew of firefighters plied a sedan that had backed five feet into the local ramshackle bar, destroying the flourescent Budweiser sign and knocking over a few bar stools. In Index, a trainwreck of trailers lined the river below the popular Town Wall crag. The inhabitants slunk out at one point. The sight of one woman horrified me. Her blood shot eyes stared vacantly in two different directions, her WalMart sweat pants hung off her, and her grill was horrendous. She could have eaten corn on the cob through a chain link fence.
My first couple days here, I haven't done much. Bouldered a little, climbed at Index, and the Drip Wall. On summer's solistice, I worked on securing a vicious hang over, one which I couldn't recover from all day on Sunday. The climbing here is pretty rad. The bouldering's really good. The routes leave something to be desired though Jens insists that the mountain routes (aka the brush covered 8 hour slogs) are what make the Cascades so awesome. There's a ton of monkeys hanging around the Pasamish house where I'm staying. There's a hippie dude on the couch, Max and Ryan have their own rooms, Jens lives in his car (and vias for space on the couch), Jessica lives up the street, Joe lives down the road, and Cole and Johnny G come out to Leavenworth on the reg. Charlie's also out here crushing. Yesterday he put up a sick V10 highball, which jogs right off the Ruminator in the Forestland. Neither Cole nor Johnny were able to repeat it (there assholes puckered too tightly when they had to pull hard moves 20 feet off the deck.)
My current agenda includes looking for work. I penciled in to find a job some time before I run out of money. There's a ton of Baviarian inspired restaurants in Leavenworth and as long as I don't have to wear liderhosen, I'll be pysched. Besides the restaurant scene, a thousand orchards and vineyards line Leavenworth. I could pick cherries, pears, or apples with the other migrant workers.
It sort of sucks that I don't have the internet right now. No lurking on Facebook and I can't regularily keep up with the cool things going on the world. I feel Whatever. Also, I'd like to note that most of my time has been spent in Little Wayne style, "Getting higher than gas prices."

dizzy dizzy

these weeks have been a busy rush of all sorts of things. organize this - put together that. a big giant scramble with barely a moment to even catch my breath. my house is a hazard zone. my car... even worse. my brains.... mush. but my lukey-boy... he's sweeter than ever. i'm about to leave him with a*love for the rest of the week. the first time ever. i'm homesick for him already. a nervous wreck.
next week though, i will be safely snuggled up in the wyoming mountains with both of them. enjoying quiet moments fishing with my boys and laughing with my sisters. hearing stories from the great aunties and soaking in the love. i. can't.wait. i've just got to make it through this week first.

Welcome to Holland

The following story was given to give me by a friend, and really reflects exactly what Nate and I have been through the past 6 months. Nate and I are strong, but we've definitely had our ups and downs, and felt a whole array of emotions, from devastation to anger to sadness to guilt. It started when Lucas arrived 4 1/2 weeks early with no warning. What did I do wrong, I thought constantly for months. Is he deaf because he came early? Prematurity is certainly a risk factor for hearing loss, he just misses all the criteria though. So that's probably not the cause, but it hasn't been completely ruled out. February was a tough month. It got to the point where Nate would do ANYTHING to make me smile. Nate took it hard too, he just dealt with it differently.

Please don't misunderstand me, I would not trade Lucas in for the whole, wide world! He means everything to us! We would love him just the same, hearing or not. His hearing loss has just thrown us for a loop. We had always dreamed of raising bilingual, or maybe even trilingual children, always wondering why people who had the ability to do so never took advantage of it. Lucas may still some day learn Spanish and/or German, but it's no longer a priority. We even gave him an international name so that we could travel to German and Spanish speaking countries and have them pronounce it with ease! That's how much we thought about it. That's how important it was to us.

We truly rejoice in his life! He is such a joyful little boy and we can't imagine life without him! God obviously has a special plan for us, and a special plan for him, even if I have a lot of trouble remembering that on a daily basis. He will be okay, and he will live a fulfilling life. The next few years will be trying though. We're doing the very best that we can possibly do for him, and nothing less.

Next time you meet someone with a special needs child, no matter what the circumstance is, don't tell them that it could always be worse. It's just not your place to make that determination, even if it is true. You stand there with your perfect child, who has reached all of his or her milestones on time, has never spent a day at the doctor other than for a well-baby visit, nor a minute in the hospital other than at birth, and you don't even know what a specialist is. You try to make that person feel better by telling them their situation is not that bad, but you really have NO clue what it's like. Welcome to Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Colosseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Cochlear Implant Journey, part 1

It's official. I've sent in all the paperwork to CHOP to get us started on the CI (Cochlear Implant) candidacy process. It's taken a few weeks, because I just wasn't ready. I also had to gather lots of information to send. They want copies of all reports: audiology, IFSP, physical reports pertaining to his hearing loss, etc. Now we just wait for them to call and schedule an initial information session.

It's funny, when we first heard the buzz word "cochlear implant" when he was diagnosed with the hearing loss in February, we knew so little about it. Even when we met the audiologist at CHOP at the end of March, we reacted to her like "why wouldn't everyone want a cochlear implant for their child?" She looked at us astoundedly. That's when we learned about the deaf and the Deaf community. We realized that we had a lot to learn (and still do, of course!). It's still a very positive thing in our eyes though. The fact of the matter is that Lucas lives in a hearing world and we want to provide him with every chance we can to live as an integral part of it. It will, however, never change the fact that he is deaf. I must keep reminding myself of that.

As of now, it appears as if Lucas is not getting a lot of benefit from his hearing aids. We have yet to see him react to us or to sound. That's pretty frustrating, let me tell you. I'm not losing hope that it will happen one of these days. We still wear them every day though. At the very least, he will get used to having something on his ear, because if he does get a cochlear implant, something similar will be there.

Ok, so the next big step in the candidacy process is the MRI, which is scheduled for July 3. Thank goodness he can have that done here in Lancaster. He has to be sedated for this though, because he can't move at all, so we're waiting until he is 6 months old to reduce any risk associated with sedation. The purpose of the MRI is to see the structure of the ear. If he is missing the cochlea or the auditory nerve, he will not be a candidate. The fact that they found some hearing in his right ear at 90 db at a middle frequency indicates to me that those things are at least present in the right ear, so that's good news. This link provides a list of other factors for candidacy. As far as I'm concerned, he meets all the other basic requirements. We're just waiting to hear about the MRI now, and to see if we meet CHOP's requirements.

If you're interested, Nate and I just watched a documentary on the history of the deaf community called Through Deaf Eyes (PBS, 2007). It was very informative!

Be There or Be Slandered

Picture something red: a tomatoe, a stop sign, a lobster. Now picture the scorching summer sun. That's why for the past few hours, I've been rubbing aloe over my nose. I'm sunburnt.

For the past week, I've been lurking in Tuoulumne, hanging with some monkeys. I drove to Yosemite, picked up Jens, and met Lucho, Max, John Schmid, and Robby in the meadows. We spent most of the day slandering each other. "Be there or be slandered." became our motto.

I spent the first few days drinking an offensive amount of water and pissing a lot, which happens when I drink a lot of water. I needed to avoid another round of high-altitude puliminary edema (HAPE). So pretty much I'm light duty and last year I kept getting dizzy from the altitude. I know, I know. It's not Gasherbaum 4. There's no reason why I should be getting sick. Whatever. I get dizzy at high altitude.
I can't remember which days we did what. We went to South Whizz a couple times, out to Private Property once, bouldering a little and out to the back of Pywiak. I top roped Electric Africa a couple times then went back and toproped it more. The route's really crimpy, technical, and no where near my style. I managed to pinkpoint the route yesterday. There's three bolts on the pitch and a two stoppers. It'd be hard to place one of the draws. My first lead attempt, I almost decked clipping the bolt by the crux. I damn near broke my legs. Glad I didn't.
Now, I'm hanging out in Red Bluff California with my brother for the night. Tomorrow, Jens and I are going to Portland, then Seattle Friday morning. Hopefully, I'll be able to climb Friday at Little Si.
I need to find a job soon. I'm broke. Well, almost broke. If a girl is reading this, I'm actually kinda loaded. I just play the pauper because it's hip these days. Regardless, I need to make some money so that I can climb this fall in Yosemite.
Also, I free-soloed Cathedral Peak earlier today. It's beautiful. I love soloing. It's really fun. 99% of the time, I've had really good experiences. Once I fell. Not so fun. Ruined the experience for me.

Father's Day

Well, Nate's first Father's Day came and went without him. I guess it was kind of bad timing, taking 40 kids to Costa Rica on Father's Day, but what are you gonna do? There will be many more to come. I just want to make it public what a wonderful father Nate is. I feel so blessed that he is the father of my son. He's so good with him and from the day he was born, Nate has played a very active role in his life, changing diapers, feeding him, bathing him, playing with him, and attending all of his doctor's appointments that he possibly can. I appreciate his support beyond measure. He didn't sign up for this "special baby" thing, but he surely has embraced it. Nate can get Lucas to laugh like no one else can. Lucas adores his daddy, and so do I. I miss him to pieces right now, and I don't know what I'd do without him.

Communication Methods

Oh, the decision on which communication method is best for Lucas!

Before we even learned that there are various theories on communication methods in the deaf community, such as cued speech, sign language, auditory-verbal, auditory-oral, total communication, etc., Nate and I naturally gravitated toward total communication. We chose Total Communication as our communication option for Lucas because it uses multiple and reinforcing methods of communication to support both receptive and expressive language development (sign, voice, speech reading, gestures, cued speech, facial expression, …).

It seems to make the most sense to us to provide him with lots of options! As language teachers ourselves, it seemed like a natural fit to teach him ASL. What's another language when you already speak 3? Don't get me wrong, we want Lucas to hear and speak in the worst way, but we also want him to have options. I almost feel as if we would be doing him a disservice if we didn't teach him sign language. When he's older, he can then choose for himself.

Here are definitions for the various communication methods in the deaf community.

Pulling Out Like I'm Catholic

There are two large grey plastic bins, a clear bin, a milk crate full of food, a haulbag, a backpack, my Chrome messenger bag, a sleeping bag, a pillow, a thermarest, and an assortment of pens, sunglasses, and maps stuffed into the back of my Saturn. On top of it all, I shoved my bike into the mix. I finished my last final this morning at 10:30. I broke down my tent, my home for 3 1/2 of my 4 years at college, and shoveled all my gear into my car. I pulled into berkeley around 1, scored a free lunch from Jupiter's, where my doppelganger bartends and am bound for Yosemite. Unfortunately, I'll only be in the park for six days and I'll probably be in Toulumne for most of that time. I'm bummed that I didn't send anything this spring season. No El Cap. No Half Dome. No nothing. I squandered my time. It was a lowsy season.
"At least you had a season," Mandi told me. She's right. I should be pysched I got to climb so much this spring. But who's satisified with what they've got? Certainly not me. Tommy Caldwell recently freed Magic Mushroom on El Cap and went back to try it in a day. He came up short. He tried again and managed to stick it in 20:02. Caldwell wasn't satisified with just freeing El Cap. That shit's old hat for him. He stepped it up. I'd like to be doing the same sort of thing. Maybe not on the Tommy Caldwell level. More on the lines of the crippled James Lucas level.
Jens and I are driving to Washington on the 18th or 19 of this month. Max and Ryan have a place and Jens recently moved from the couch to the backyard so there's free room in the house! I'm really excited to go live with these guys as they're some of the original monkeys. Hopefully, I'll be climbing a lot. I'm starting to get a little pudgy. I managed to shed a decent amount of weight this spring but the past week or so I haven't been climbing much. I haven't pulled on my climbing shoes in 4 days! That's the longest I've gone without climbing in maybe 2 years. Yikes!
Anyway, I'm done with school. I guess I graduated although I have to find out if I passed my classes. I didn't have much of a spring season but at least I sent school, which was a major life goal for me. Now that I have a college degree and a bunch more debt, I can focus on getting my life together. I'll start with climbing in Toulumne.

Fiebre de Negro

Una pagina por la mitad de la historieta Fiebre de Negro por la Noche.
Titulo en ingles Saturday Night Nigger.

Introduction and Welcome!

Greetings family and friends!

Welcome to Lucas' blog. We hope that we can more easily keep you updated on his progress through the use of this blog. Lucas is now 5 1/2 months old and growing like a pretty weed! He's all smiles and giggles, and he's working on learning how to sit. He loves to stand too. He's a strong little bug! He's also very vocal, which is good, as he could easily lose that because he hears nothing. His hearing loss is categorized as severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss. There is still no known cause.

Lucas was born on December 23, 2007, 4 1/2 weeks ahead of schedule. He was 5 lb. 7 oz. and 18.5 inches. He spent 8 days in the NICU: a few days on a CPAP, and a few days under the bilirubin lights. He did not pass his newborn hearing screening in the hospital. I found out later that the screening only tests up to 35 decibels. We were refered to an audiologist at the end of January for further testing. At the first ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) test (January 22, 2008), we were told that the results were inconclusive because his ears were still so small (his adjusted age at the time was 0). Looking back on that, what occurred is that they got no response up to 90 decibels, and were hoping to blame it on his age.

We returned on February 12, 2008 for another ABR, and on that day, we received the news that Lucas' hearing loss was severe-profound, and that they had, in fact, gotten no response at the highest end of the test (90 decibels). We were referred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for further testing. On March 19, 2008 we headed down to Philadelphia to meet with a pediatric ENT and a pediatric audiologist. The results were the same, but the ENT found amber fluid on his ears, which could have been affecting the level of his hearing loss. He was fitted with hearing aids, and we returned on March 28 to pick them up. I had no idea what we were in for with the hearing aids! They're very sensitive and give off feedback like a microphone if they're not in perfectly. Thank goodness they fit better now! He also doesn't mind them that much yet.

Most recently, we went back down for a hearing aid check and his 4th ABR. At that time, the ENT said that his ears were clear of fluid, so we would be able to get an accurate ABR reading. That's when they found hearing in his right at 90 decibels at a middle frequency. The test only tests up to 90 decibels, so we don't yet know where his other ear fits on the audiogram. It's not exactly hearing as we know it, but it's not a total absence of hearing either, so that's good news. Check out this speech banana to understand better what 90 decibels sounds like.

Our next visit to CHOP is June 25. At that time, we will test Lucas' hearing in a sound-proof booth. That test goes up to 120 decibels, so hopefully we'll have a better idea. He will still be young though, so we may not know that information for a while. They will chart his hearing based on his reactions, but he may not react a lot because of his age. We've been told not to get our hopes up.

For now, Lucas has hearing aids. We don't know the exact benefit of the hearing aids, because we can't exactly ask him if he hears us. Based on his audiogram, he should be able to hear some very loud sounds. However, he cannot understand spoken language because of the severity of his hearing loss, even with the hearing aids. We still wear them as much as possible though, because we just don't know.

Your prayers are always appreciated.

Spinning Holds

I can not help it. Every time I go Pacific Edge or Planet Granite or Ironworks, I inevitably spin a hold. I'm thrown off the wall and splatter onto the pads below the bouldering or the rope cinches on my waist and I smash into the wall. I blame the plastic. Slopers are slimy, crimps too small, and the over sized handle bars have nothing to hold onto. In the rare instance that I can grapple one of these Metolious branded pieces of shit, the rig cartwheels on me and BAM! I'm off.
It was with some trepidation that I met Drew at Ironworks this morning. I wanted to bail. My forearms burned from climbing the day before. My ropes needed to be cut, haulbags cleaned, my clothes desperately needed a bath. But I went.
Drew "The Iceman" rolled up to the gym on his Ducati, flipped off the low growl of the motor, and busted out his brand new rock boots. He only climbs at the gym "Once a week." Right. After flailing on some of the "easy" problems, I walked over to the wave, the steep convex portion of the bouldering wall, where the Iceman was hiking. Drew dispensed with a couple "casual" problems and poured himself a cup of coffee from his super heated thermos. His girlfriend had just crushed her medical boards the day before and Drew entertained a life as a stay at home man, raising their 2.1 children in their baller home in Berkeley.
"I could just stay home. Man I'd get sick at climbing." I nodded and continue to flail on his "warmup". My lady friend is down too. How cool is that?"
A jealous smile creased my lips. "Did you back step here? Is this v5 hard?"
"No, dude, it's like V3. "
And then with a bunch of beta from the Iceman, I fired a v5. Then I fired another v5. Then I flashed a v4. My greatest gym climbing session ever! I was ready to retire. No spun holds, no dealing with douche bags (other than myself and the Iceman) and serious cranking.
Yeah, so this post seems asinine but I'll end it with an important piece of information just for you:
I'm kind of a Big Deal.

Clipping the Chains

"Don't fall clipping the chains. Study Hard." Rob's text reached me just as I drifted from reading about Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard and started staring at pictures of the West Face of Leaning Tower. For the past four years, I've had a strong push and pull in my life. I struggle with school and my goals as a human and climbing and my desires as a monkey. My balance is always off and I teeter towards the latter side, doing far less than what I am capabale of. Sad. Sad. Sad. Another mind wasted in futile attempts to conquer the useless. But it's important to me. Fufilling my worthless goals.
This morning, Lucho called me. I knew why right away but pretended I didn't.
"So, I've got some shit for you at my brother's house in Berkeley. When are you coming back to town?"
"Oh, I've got to work on Tuesday so I'm gonna wrap stuff up here, hang for a little bit, then bounce back to the city."
I paused for a moment. Should I ask? He hadn't offered. He wouldn't have called if he didn't want to spray though.
"So, were are you?"
"Chili and I are on the Block on top of the FreeRider. We're gonna rap."
"You mean you're bailing?" Fuck I hoped not. Lucho's been wanting to free climb El Cap for awhile. I wanted him to accomplish his worthless goal.
"No. We're cleaning up our stuff on the way down."
"So," I was anxious. What the fuck? Lucho's false modesty was aggravating. "Did you send?"
"I fell once on the 5.12 traverse. But then fired."
Fucking Lucho. What a hard man. He spent the past three weeks trying to free El Cap, plus a trip up earlier last year, another trip with me a few weeks before, and who knows how many hours punching the clown, staring at the topo of the FreeRider. I suppose it's useless that he sent the Freerider. He won't get a better job. Or be a better person. He'll just be Lucho. Still I'm jealous. Suddenly I want to study less. Climb more. Get stronger. The pull to climb all the time is overwhelming and I'm struggling to study at all. What'd Rob say? It had to do with climbing...yeah climbing...

Ape Index

Three Years ago, Robert Filpi, a M.D. with Valley Radiologists Medical Group Inc. wrote me a letter as a follow-up to my lumbar spine fracture and fixation. After taking five views of my lower back he found "Lumbar are in normal alignment. There is a slight loss of height in the L4 vertebral body. A pedicle screw fixqtion has been performed from the level of L3 to the level of L5. There is slight anterior loss of height of the T12 vertebral body as well. Some loss of height of the the T11-12 interspace. An inferior vena cava filter is noted in place." While most of that sounds like doctoral gibberish a few sections are notable. In three different spots I have experienced a "loss of height."

I verified my shortening earlier today at the Berkeley Iron Works gym. On the wall by the bathroom is a place where you can measure your height, ape index, and then record the data. I did so. Before I cratered I was 5'9" and now I am 5'8". I am an inch closer to my grave.

My arm span was 71 inches, which means I have a plus three ape index. I found this rather reassuring. After I cratered three pins were placed in my left arm and then removed six months later. My arm does not straighten completely, yet I still have a positive reach. Very nice!

On another note entirely, I am momentarily lost. On Thursday, Lord willing, I will finish school at UCSC and be free to lurk wherever I want. Unfortunately, I'll also be broke. I can probably float for a couple weeks but will have to get a job pretty quickly. I'm not sure where to move. Lately, I've been thinking about Leavenworth Washington. A couple buddies of mine have a house there and I can leach off of them, smoking their resin, and eating their peanut butter & jelly for a solid month or so. I'll be close to Squamish and I even know a couple girls up there...all very tempting reasons to head north. The doppelganger wants me to live with him in Berkeley though. I like living with my brother, espescially since he's making a lot of money and doesn't mind buying me dinner at Tuk Tuk Thai or taking me to the movies and sponsoring me. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I'm having a hard time figuring out what to do. I need to put lipstick on my head just to make-up my mind.

B is for Beautiful and Belly and Baby and Boy...

i'm homesick. i was this close... this close to packing up our new wheels and my sleepy boy and driving through the night over the mountains. a*love had to talk me out of my irrational wild thoughts.
right now in my mama's house are bouquets of daisies, bright green balloons, beautifully wrapped baby goodies and one sleepy mama-to-be. in the morning will be trays of tasty sandwiches, a gigantic cake, and swarms of lovely ladies waiting to celebrate this upcoming mamahood of hers.
my heart aches to miss out on such an occasion. my baby sister. great with child.
i wish to go on an evening walk with her tonight and talk of birth and baby boys and bravery. i wish to give her a warm foot bath and pretty pink pedicure. i wish to wash her hair and braid it into two little girl braids. i wish to go through her piles of wee clothes and imagine what he'll look/smell/sound like. study baby name books and try and trick her into revealing her secret names. feel her belly and wait for boy to kick-kick-kick. i wish to give her a million lindsay & jade gifts of love. whatever she needs them to be.
does anyone know if she will still be my baby sister after this chapter of her adventure is over?
since the festivities are way over there and i am here my job was to put together a baby-shower-in-a-box. i had so much fun thinking up and planning these treasures.

{the invitations}
{the envelope seal}
{the see-d party favors}
{the "b is for baby" garland}

a celebration will be had in the morning and i am here but my heart is so there.

love, lin

Castle Rock and Important Things

The review for my Business Markets class ended at 1:40. Twenty minutes later, Phil threw his crashpads into the back of the Saturn and we bolted over the 17 to Castle Rock for a late afternoon session with Robby. The rock felt cold and crisp and the cool air was a welcome respite from the heat of Santa Cruz. We dinked around on Parking Lot rock, where I fell from the very last move of the tree problem 5 times, before heading up the hill. Then there was a quick stop at Duct Tape. Rob Miller was once a rad big wall free climber but these days he's become a welterweight boulder problem repeater, hiking multiple laps on Duct Tape. I was jealous. Phil, with his albatross arms (he's 5'11 with a 6'3" wing span), crushed the problem too. We stopped at Bates arete, which Rob managed to do using only the arete, and then took off. Phil and I stopped at Pinos and got burritos, then rallied to Pacific Edge, where I met Elaine and climbed some routes. Gym climbing's so hard.

Now is a good time for you to sit down. If you are already seated, grab the sides of your seat. In a few moments a discussion of the utmost importance will be transmitted to you. So, move your right hand away from your mouse, take your forearms off your disk, and grip your chair tightly. Okay...lately, I've been thinking. I try not to do this too often as it hurts the space between my head but lately I've been doing it. Thinking. Pondering. Festering. After much deliberation I've come to the conclusion that sour cream is entirely disgusting and not meant to be eaten. Oh! You think this is some sort of joke do you? Like "Oh gawd, James is so melodramatic." Well , I'm not laughing. Whenever I order a burrito, I always say, "No sour cream!" And then the cashier rings me up and I ask again, "I said no sour cream right?" The man behind the counter always nods and says "No Creme." I smile and look forward to a solid burrito without the disgusting substance. Yet, 20% of the time, what do I find in my burrito? Fucking sour cream! That shit is total man sauce. It has the consistence and appearance of sperm. Who's to say it's not? While we're on the subject, I recommend staying away from mayonnaise and any type of "special sauce" slathered on your burger or buns. Who knows where this shit comes from? I heard McDonald's breed rats for two uses: Quarter Pounders, and mayonnaise. Two months ago there was a job listing on Craig's list by McDonald's. They were looking for someone to manually masturbate their rats. Gross! Anyway, stay away from sour creme, mayonnaise, and all that other fatty liquid garbage slathered onto your burrito, burger, or buns, there's probably rat semen in it. Besides, it'll just go straight to your ass anyway.

The Campfire Endurance Test

We walked out outside of the Red Room, buzzing slightly from the alcohol. Her blonde curls fell onto my chest as she pressed her body into mine. I pulled her closer as she whispered into my ear.
"I'd go home with you right now, James," her finger traced a line from around the square of my jaw, across my chest, and down the bumps of my abdomen before stopping to trace a circle above my belt line. "If you had a home to go to." She kissed me on the cheek and left.
I shrugged. She wasn't my type. I'm not into hot chicks. Or one's with baller jobs in good accounting firms. Or ones that love sex. Nope. That kind of girl isn't for me. I'd rather go climbing. So I did. Yosemite. Jailhouse. Vegas.
The next time wasn't as painful. We'd hooked up a few times over the years. I wanted sex. She wanted a relationship. Neither of us got what we wanted. "It's hard to have an emotional connection when you're not around all the time." I shrugged in response. She had a point. Emotional connections cut into my time on the rock. We stopped talking and I went climbing. Indian Creek. Zion. More Yosemite.
It doesn't matter where I go, the scenario's always the same. In Hueco, in Smith Rocks, in Toulumne. There's five dudes standing around the camp fire and only one girl. Everyone's boasting. Everyone's slandering. Everyone's waiting for the other guys to go to bed so he can spit serious game to the girl. It's the campfire endurance test. Finally, she gets tired, and leaves. Probably to find her boyfriend.
But sometimes she leaves with you, which only leads to more trouble. I walked away with a girl in Toulumne back to my campsite. I grabbed her, pulled her into my, and stared at her. She pursed her lips and moved to kiss me, then shook her head and stopped. My eyebrows raised quizzically. "Umm actually, I'm dating your friend right now." Yikes. I pushed her away and gave her a cordial good night. She kissed me on the cheek and kicked stones back to her campsite.
"You don't get a girlfriend, you get your turn." Or so the saying goes. You're either the guy who's girlfriend is about to leave you for your friend or you're the friend who's about to steal your "buddy's" girlfriend. It's fucked up. Who wants a "turn"? But...who wants to be alone?