Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso – Ask Jenny Bruso is a new column for the quarterly magazine, Sisu. The actual magazine is in print, but I’m posting some of the questions that don’t make it. Submit your questions!
Outside: Winter Layering for the Plus-Size Hiker – I’m writing a regular column for Outside Magazine! My first article, explains what layering is along with a how-to and product review. I’m proud of this article and the information, which will benefit people of all sizes, but I am not proud of the fact that these clothes only go up to a 3X. (Addendum to the article will be posted this week!)
My First Backpacking Trip Was a Disaster and I Can’t Wait to Do it Again – “An honest mistake, yes. Hell, I didn’t even make the mistake, but it didn’t matter. It felt like failure and my ego could not handle it. I was so sad, so angry, so fearful of how this would look. I am constantly fighting shame in my day-to-day life and I recognize that pattern isn’t my fault. It’s dominant culture, it’s my upbringing. So much guilt and shame about things that aren’t my fault and the things that have been my fault have nearly destroyed me. And when your brain thinks like this, it’s really easy to make almost anything your fault.”
I wrote something for Outside Magazine about what it’s like to be a fat hiker out on the trail! – “Many comments from other hikers—even something seemingly innocuous like “You’re doing a great job!”—are meant to be supportive and encouraging, but they don’t always come off that way. These comments are, sometimes indirectly, about our bodies. An othering is happening. There is surprise about our abilities, concern about what may be interpreted as lack of ability, and sometimes straight-up rudeness. Many people I talked to expressed having moments where they were treated as if they were in the way of another hiker. These interactions don’t allow us to simply be hikers on a trail.”
My Body Took Me Here: Angels Rest – On March 3, 2018, I participated in the storytelling event, Back Fence PDX, where I told this story about my first “hard” hike from memory with no notes! This is what I wrote up for practice, the delivered piece was a bit different. It takes place in early spring of 2013. All of the photos are from that day.
Does this Mountain I Just Climbed Make Me Look Fat? – When we talk about obesity, we are rarely expressing actual concern for fat people. If we truly cared, the conversation would be about what may be contributing to the “problem” instead of the usual offhanded talk about “rising obesity rates,” etc. However, there’s a catch. The things causing obesity, don’t always make people fat. If you mean to say that depression, poverty, lack of access to affordable, healthy food and adequate healthcare or feelings of not being safe to exercise in public for fear of judgement from others are the things maligning Americans, then say that.
REI Co-Op Blog: Building Community Through Group Hiking – I am obsessed with figuring out how to lead the most successful group hike possible, which is totally impossible because life is full of variables, BUT! I aim to do my best. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Travel Journal: June 8 – 10, 2017: Southern & Central Oregon (Williams, Crater Lake, waterfalls)
Day One: Portland to Williams, Oregon
Day Two: Williams and Wolf Creek
Day Three: Williams > Jacksonville > Crater Lake > Portland?
May 1, 2017 – Fat Woman Falling – “I want to be that overly confident bad ass who’s never embarrassed or cries when she’s hurt or does something stupid. Being a fat outdoorsperson putting myself out there, really out there, for the purpose of disrupting the common narrative, I often get caught up in feeling like I have to be an example. As if I’m supposed to portray myself as a superhero one-hundred percent of the time to prove to my team that if I can do it, they can, too. I admit this is total lizard brain thinking rooted in Show No Weakness brand sexism.”
March 21, 2017 – Chicken, My Anchor – “His shelter name was Tommy, but that didn’t work because my at-the-time boyfriend’s dead dad was named Tommy and it just felt weird. I tried to call him, ugh, Morrissey. Yeah, it was 2001, the year after I did not graduate from high school. I had just moved into my first apartment, a roach and flea infested dump on the furthest edge of town. It was dreadful, but the promise of adulthood and freedom were gloriously at my back. I was an adult! I lived on my own! I have forgotten so many things about my young adulthood I wish I could remember, but I will never forget the day I got him. I was at the San Diego County Animal Shelter and this gray giant, far bigger than any other cat I’d ever seen, was standing up in his cage on his hind legs, front claws drawn all the way out and attached to the metal door, screaming at me for attention. He was terrifying.”
December 15, 2016 – Cape Horn (+ writing) – “I look around and try to notice everything I possibly can, something I do when I need to get out of my head. Drenched neon mosses and licorice ferns growing off every alder trunk. The remaining leaves, a yellow deserving of new definition. The fog swirls thicker. Gratitude for green. All year, the seasons haven’t known whether to shit or get off the pot, but it is distinctly becoming winter, which isn’t so stark in Northwest Oregon, but actually kind of luscious, lively, magical. I’ve been going through my days like I’ve lost my magic and I hope to get some back today. I listen to the trees, the hollow roar of the Columbia River Gorge and the distant noises of highway fourteen. The sounds fill me up and I imagine them pushing out my pain.”
September 21, 2016 – Ape Canyon (+ writing) – “My body’s been a mess and my head even worse, but when my alarm goes off I’m up. The only thing that can get me out of bed after working late and only getting five-and-a-half hours of sleep is an all day hiking adventure. I wake up feeling different. Not as full of apprehension as I often am lately. Maybe, it’s just that I’m about to hang out with my very favorite mountain, Mount St. Helens.”
July 5, 2016 – The Journey is Good, Too – Reflecting on one of the first hikes I did, what I wish I knew then, good body days and bad body days, many helpful tips for the beginning hiker and Unlikely Hiker. – “I didn’t like to walk back then, ever. Not even a couple of blocks to the corner store for more soda water for my whiskey. I was probably wearing awful shoes, like Converse. I found out what a switchback is and I did not favor it, but I did favor a few things. The beauty and magic of the woods was not lost on me.”
July 5, 2016 – Trekking Poles – Spreading the gospel on this hiking essential ! Especially, for those with bigger bodies and/or body pains. – “Bear with me, people, I would only do this if I had something truly legit I felt would actually improve your situation. Trekking poles are everything. I had no idea and I confess for a long time I actually found that constant click-clacking over the sounds of beautiful nature annoying. That is, until I got my own. Now when I see photos of people hiking and not using them, I want to gently suggest to them in a shaking-them-by-the-shoulders and yelling-through-clenched-teeth sort of way: Get Trekking Poles.”
March 7, 2016 – Community, Intersectionality and Every Feeling I’ve Ever Felt – Exposing the shit outta the perceived “outdoorsperson” and talking about community and Unlikely Hikers. – As I started to try to make connections with other hiking blogs and hiking Instagram accounts, I found myself feeling even more unseen. Most nature blogs seem to keep it light, polite, apolitical, family friendly. There’s nothing wrong with that, generally, but there’s so much of it and so little else. Why this stifling sense of propriety? Why is everyone quoting Gandhi and doing yoga poses on rocks? Why all the microbrews and Patagonia clothing? I know I’m being shady and I one-hundred-percent want everyone to do what feels good to them and seriously, Fuck My Opinion, but where is the goddamn dirt of life? Why are so few cussing and talking about sex or about how they hike to keep from going crazy or using drugs? Life is not a fucking L.L. Bean catalogue.
January 13, 2016 – 2016: Intentions > Resolutions | Mindfulness & Social Media – “We need to be more mindful of our words and intentions. We are living in a bizarro time, where many of us are young and learning how to be adults on social media. Some of us are literally growing up on it. We don’t all have the same triggers or growing up experiences. A lot of us struggle with delayed adulthood because of bad childhoods, and/or the lack of ability to be who we truly are when we’re young. This deserves a lot of compassion and reaching past what we’ve learned to be true of ourselves and the world to better understand others.”
December 1, 2015 – I Take the Long Way (essay) – I wrote this in Fall of 2014 for a zine by some friends of mine called, 101. This is the piece that started this whole blog thing. I made some tiny edits, but otherwise… – “The last switchback of the trail, painful to the point of near numbness, was in sight. I had come so far from where I was when I woke that morning. All of my lizard-brained petty thoughts growing tiny, tinier, until I no longer heard their ring. They no longer existed. They had become something else and I did, too. I repeated the same mantras I always vault into in these moments, ‘I can do this. I have done it before and I have done it well. One more step, and then another and then…’”
October 26, 2015 – Story of a Body – “When it comes to exercise, “ability” and “skill level” are emotionally and politically fraught. So is “exercise.” Our bodies are not safe in this culture, some are less safe than others. We are constantly criticized and bombarded with messages that aren’t even in our best interests about what we need to do with ourselves. Personally, I believe what we do with our bodies is nobodies business, but our own.”
October 21, 2015 – An Introduction – “Maybe it was a meltdown, maybe a breakthrough, but recently as I was driving westbound on WA-14 after an amazing hiking experience, something started bubbling up inside of me like panic. I pulled my car over and ran toward the river. As I stood at the ebbing slate edge of the water, I threw my voice into the careless wind of the Columbia River Gorge, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?!” The first things that came to mind: I love to hike and I love to write. Instead of the blank feelings that usually follow when I try to put these pieces together I thought, there has to be something in that, right? I used to not think much about the future. Getting through each day was my work, but some time in the last couple of years the days stopped being so hard. I figured some stuff out. I learned how to be a fucking adult. Sort of. I sort of learned how to be happier and healthier and not so full of shit. I’ve got so much gratitude for these things, but then this annoying thing started happening where I started to want to “do something” with my life. It is terribly inconvenient.”