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  • Alyse Gray

Interviewing Ryan Matthew Cohn and climbing Pike's Peak


Yesterday I had a very lovely phone interview with Ryan Matthew Cohn. He is the star of the show Oddities, which follows his daily life as a purchaser of unusual artifacts for Obscura Antiques in New York City. Obscura https://shopobscuraantiques.com/ is a fun little nook filled with wonderful medical antiques. I recommend stopping by if you're ever in Manhattan. He also creates Beauchene(or exploded) skulls and deals in antique anatomical parts, which is why he was interviewed. Since the show ended, Ryan's career has taken off, and he now buys entire museum collections, using the items as elements of design. He's recently designed a bar called the House of Wax, with items from a wax museum, and is currently working on another project that will display pieces from the former Dutch Wonderland amusement park in Pennsylvania. An all around cool dude.

I was a little intimidated by his coolness...that is until I set my mind on another task that essentially obliterated my anxiety. I set an intimidating(but do-able) physical goal.

In August, I'll be traveling to Colorado to interview the woman who invented the discipline of forensic nursing. She lives close to Pike's Peak, and I simply cannot go somewhere with a mountain and not want to climb it. Pike's Peak has an elevation of 14,114 feet. Mountains above 14,000 feet are serious mountains, known as 14-ers. Humans can develop altitude sickness when above 8,000 feet. Even for those who don't become ill, normal activities like walking become strenuous due to the thin air(AKA decreased barometric pressure to be more exact). Uphill rock scrambling at 14,000 feet is no easy feat.

This will be the first 14-er I've ever climbed. This is not a casual hike and one must be in excellent physical condition to make it to the summit. Training for this involves cardio intensive workouts that are performed 5 days a week. I am following the advice and sample plan on REI's page: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/14er-mountain-climb-goal-training.html. Typically hikers coming from areas of lower elevation are supposed to spend several days at around 8,000 feet to get their bodies used to the atmosphere(producing extra red cells for more efficient oxygen use).

I don't have enough time off work to acclimate for more than one day, and I started training for it last week. Will I have enough time on the ground and training to make it to the summit? My mind says this is barely enough. There is a minuscule chance I may not make it off or up that mountain.

So figuring out how to survive and summit has consumed most of my focus. It sounds a little morbid, but it's been the BEST THING EVER. I'm no longer intimidated interviewing people because I'm worried about dying on the mountain. If I survive, I'm going to keep setting intimidating physical goals to prevent me from worrying about the intimidating mental goals. I've spent too much time stressing over stupid things. I made myself literally sick to my stomach prior to speaking with Dr. Cyril Wecht. Sure the people I interview are talented, smart, and amazing, but really, they are just people and an interview is just a conversation. It's not easy to convince my brain of that though.

Perhaps you, like me, have a difficult time shifting your mindset away from negativity, but if you also have a mountain to climb(literal or figurative), it puts everything into perspective.

Pike's Peak-from Colorado.com


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