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Powdah

8 Jan

powdah

There are some families that are downhill skiing families. You know the types. They all have their own equipment and they all – yes, all – wear those helmets that have fake fur popping out of them, so they look like they have giant manes sticking out of their helmets, when really – BIG SURPRISE, HERE – they are just wearing: HELMET COVERS WITH TUFTS STICKING OUT OF THEM.

ski-tuft

(A photo, for reference.)

They pack sandwiches with delicious red peppers and copious amounts of deli meats in them, and they all sit around in the lodge and eat chips and drink beer and then somehow manage to get back onto the slopes.

They can be overheard saying things like, “Amazing powdah today,” or, “Billy was shredding up Death Rock but said there was gnarly ice on the West side,” or “It was a fat dirt patch but I 375ed my way around it and landed in a righteous patch of moguls.” (They were all talking stocks and comparing their Forbes covers.)

They know the lift operators and the store vendors. Actually, they know everyone on the mountain. For them, walking into the lodge food court is like walking into your own wedding – you know about 75% of the people there, and to everyone you don’t really know or recognize, you give a knowing nod or wink or high-five and say something like, “It’s a great day out there!” or, “She really is a beaut, isn’t she?” (At your wedding, you’d be referring to your bride, but on the slopes, you’re referring – from what I gather – to the mountain.)

If I sound petty or jealous, it’s because I am both petty and jealous. There is nothing I hate more (except for a ton of other things that I hate, like videos of tiny animals doing shit) than not being “in the know” about something. Ironically, I am usually the last to pick up on things, so I essentially live my life in a prolonged state of frustrated anxiety about not knowing the things that I want to know. (Tiny violin for the slow processing, “fringe” girl.)

My family is a cross-country skiing/hiking/snowshoeing/ reading by the fireplace family. My family has never been a real “downhill skiing family,” and it is one of my biggest, darkest insecurities – one that rears its head for one day every winter.

We go downhill skiing once a year. I don’t mean like one week per year – I mean one day (actually, more like one half-day) per year. We don’t own any equipment, and we always spend the days leading up to our trip up north hobbling together mismatched, old snow pants and winter coats. I usually roll up to the mountain looking half like a six-year-old boy and half like a 1980s college kid who decided to “hit the slopes” with her “guy friends” over a long weekend.

We went up north during the days between Christmas and New Year’s, and we dedicated one day to downhill skiing.

Downhill ski families are usually dressed and in the chairlift line by 9am. At 9am on “downhill ski day,” I was undressed and wondering where I’d put my toothpaste and whether or not I had time to clean my retainer. This may not have created a huge delay for us, if we all owned our own equipment…which, if you remember, we do not.

10am rolls around and all five of us – plus my cousin, Julia – have wandered into the ski rental place. But not the main ski rental place at the base of the mountain…no, no, we decided to rent our skis from “the other guys.” As if there weren’t enough ways for us to not fit in, now we were renting less mainstream equipment?? This is like asking your parents for a Bratz doll for Christmas and instead getting a Carlos Santana CD (because Bratz are “trashy,” but Latin American rock fusion music is the gift that keeps on giving).

I don’t care if you rent your skis from Lindsey Vonn herself – renting equipment is chaos. CHAOS.

Mom needs another size because she has “problematic arches”; Lydia has a phobia of skiing and so is trying on hats, to numb her fears with retail therapy; Dad is missing his wallet (spoiler alert: it’s in his snow pants pocket); Cecelia is too short for average sized poles and so now the hipster snow bunny men need to find her child poles; cousin Julia has forgotten her goggles and is wearing a smelly neck warmer that probably has snot on it from 1996; Sophie has an abnormally large head and is trying on a helmet that is squishing her Jimmy Neutron squash harder than a mom of four squeezing a stress ball. (Never mind the fact that the day before, she’d been hit in the head by a giant log that disconnected from a tree during a lovely winter wonderland walk, and so was painfully struggling to maneuver her lumpy, disfigured squash into said helmet.)

The entire rental scene was enough to make anyone throw in the towel and head to the bar (and by “anyone,” I mean me). But press on we did.

Equipment rented, it was time to drive up to the mountain! We approached the mountain entrance, only to be yelled at by a balding man in a neon vest who claimed they were not allowing any more cars to drive up to the base, and that we’d have to park in the overflow parking.

The “overflow parking” was actually a petit field, stuffed to the brim with confusedly wandering kids and huge Escalades (not too dissimilar from a celebrity kid party, I’d imagine).

My dad kept referring to people as “wide loads” and my mom was waving her arms while still inside the vehicle, apparently expecting people – whose backs were turned away from her – to get the memo and make a path for our car. Shockingly, no one cleared a path.

We finally found a parking spot, before realizing that the ever so convenient “overflow parking” was nearly a mile –downhill– from the base.

Holding all of our gear, we trudged our way up an incredibly icy and snow-covered path. I made a few too many highly insensitive comparison jokes about the Trail of Tears, and then – rightly so – nearly got hit by a rogue, slip sliding Escalade that decided it was above all of us and would just casually drive its way up the trail.

We arrived at the base hours later, totally depleted of protein and completely sweat-covered.

In that moment, we were nothing but renters who’d been forced to walk to the mountain because they hadn’t kicked their asses into high enough gear to get to the mountain on time, and everyone knew it. They could smell it on us, like a parent sniffing weed on a nine-year-old. (Invest into some body spray, you nine-year-old newb!)

And I found myself, once again, with so many unanswered questions about downhill skiing, such as:

  • How can you wear those fucking boots without feeling like you’re stuffing your pudgy feet into cement blocks and attempting to run a marathon?
  • Don’t you mind not being able to pee for long periods of time?? What, do you all have the bladders of camels?
  • Aren’t you fucking freezing? What, are your gloves lined with animal flesh? That is sick.
  • Why are your snow pants so skinny legged and streamlined?? Why are mine so fucking puffy and in the way?
  • Why are you forcing your screaming kid to ski? You heard the girl – she doesn’t want to ski! Leave her alone in the lodge with one of the 700 people you happen to know at this mountain, instead of telling her it’ll be “bed without suppah” if she doesn’t get outside right this instant.
  • Back to the peeing question: how do you not emerge from the stall all sweaty and red faced from peeling off layers of tightly fitting athletic apparel? Honestly, my “stall time” is the most exercise I get all day during a ski trip.
  • Why are you letting your kid poke me with his pole? Did you raise him in a barn? Tell him to get the poker out of my back!
  • Why do the French fries cost $10? Are they magic? Will I, too, be a “shreddah” if I shovel them into my gourd?
  • Why are you sitting alone and knitting at a table for six, when there are about ten million people waiting for a seat in this godforsaken food court?! Unless you’re knitting me a fucking neck warmer that won’t ricochet snot back into my face, I suggest you MOOOVE.
  • Why am I here? How did I let them talk me off of the Nordic trails and onto the Alpine mountains of Hell?

***

This particular half-day of skiing cemented my status as a downhill skiing outsider. But, it also ended with me telling my parents I wanted to do a second downhill day. This may have been due to the fact that one of the hipster snow bunny men grazed my hand while I was returning my skis, and I felt a shot of sexualized adrenaline toward him. It could also have been due to the fact that I’d managed to survive the day, without obtaining any more head injuries. Or, it could have been that my original head injury caused me to confuse downhill skiing with things that I actually do love, like my mom’s meatballs and when I wake up and realize that my hair is clean.

Regardless, I was on a skiing high (which is more than I can say for that poor weed newb of a nine-year-old).

The next day, when 9am rolled around, I forced open one eyelid and checked my phone, which told me that it was 9am and 17 degrees outside.

The cross-country trails were beautiful, that day, thanks for asking.

 

 

 

Are You There, Tom? It’s Me, Sophie.

3 Jun

Okay, so since this is my first foray into the blogosphere, I want to establish a couple of disclaimers about my blog.

Disclaimer #1: this is NOT and can NEVER be mistaken for a journal.

When I sat down to write this post, I was reminded of the two times I attempted to keep a journal. The first occurred circa 2002 when I was sent to the “Louisa May Alcott Writing Camp.” Having grown up in Concord, MA, I was obsessed with Little Women. Sure, Barbies were still cool razor scooters were a good time, but what could be more of a raging party than discovering the power of the written word alongside my idol? Or, at least the woman who was paid to dress up as my idol and to babysit a group of kids for half a day. Real or not, I distinctly remember envisioning myself frolicking barefoot in a brook alongside “Louisa” as she taught me the secrets of her craft. (For some reason, I’ve always thought “barefoot brook frolicking” was just what people did in the olden days. As if no one had anything more important to be worried about than getting their toes muddy in the good old fashioned brooks that were apparently found on every street corner.) If I haven’t already made this abundantly clear, I was the kind of nine-year-old who thinks about writing and brooks…Anyway, I went to this camp for just one week, but oh what a week it was. We filled our journals with stories and plays and poems until our hands grew weary and our eyes grew bleary (I credit Louisa Camp with giving me the tools to craft a lyrical rhyme such as that one). When I stumbled upon my camp journal several years later, I took a moment to read my fine work. Here is a sample of said craftsmanship: “the sky was blue…the brook was, too.” Okay, now this obsession with brooks has just gone too far! That passage pretty much characterizes my entire first “writing journal”: short, irrelevant, and desperate for a good old-fashioned rhyme. Thanks, Louisa.

My second attempt at journal keeping happened roughly three years later, during the end of a period of time I like to refer to as “The Dark Ages” (more on those later). Seventh grade was a tough year for a multitude of reasons. I was stuck at the confusing intersection of stretch pants and blue jeans; the fork between undershirts and bras; the Spork between the bob cut and long, flowing locks of maturity. What’s a girl to do? Obviously, a girl is to beg her mom to buy her a pink, fuzzy journal, and to get to work scribbling on about the pain of her tormented soul. The following are ACTUAL quotes from the diary of a confused seventh grader:

“Emma started using Sun-In over the summer. I feel like she’s changing so much. Can we ever be friends again?”

“I forgot to do my math homework, and Will started laughing at me in class. I think he’s crushing.”

And, my personal favorite:

“Mom finally agreed to buy me a bra with PADDING. I feel like a new woman!”

A word of caution: if your seventh grader ever asks you to buy him/her a journal, suggest a less-scarring pastime, such as knitting or brook frolicking. Finding his/her seventh grade journal tucked away in a closet years later will only leave him/her feeling humiliated, violated, and allergic to the written word. It was after re-reading my seventh grade journal that I decided to never touch a journal ever, ever again.

Given my past experiences with journaling, you can probably see how keeping a blog would unleash a whole bunch of mixed emotions and convoluted images of the 1800s, bleached hair, and padded bras. I know what you’re thinking: who doesn’t have an embarrassing journal from their youth? While I would argue that I might have been the only child on earth with a journal entry about brooks, I would also agree with you, readers (hopefully I will get some readers soon so it doesn’t seem like I’m just talking to myself…even thought I have been known to do that,) that embarrassing journals are a right of passage for any child. So, that is why I’ve decided to slowly re-enter the world of journal-like writing. But, in order for me to do this, we need to establish disclaimer #1: this is NOT a journal. Therefore, if my tone ever resembles that of an intellectual nine-year-old trying to establish her “voice,” OR that of a seventh grader just hoping to grow boobs, please, PLEASE just tell me to dive headfirst into a brook.

Disclaimer #2: this blog is meant to be FUNNY. You WILL laugh.

Okay, I mostly just wanted to be really bold with that second disclaimer. If you don’t find me funny then that’s fine, I guess. I’m plenty capable of playing the laughing track from “Friends” in the background while I write and read my own writing. Even if you don’t want to laugh along, please do not come to this blog looking for information on current events, great Saturday night dinner party ideas, or instructions on how to mend a hole in that sweater your grandmother bought you for Christmas. A.) I only get the New York Times emails, I don’t actually read them. So, please don’t be fooled into thinking that just because I’m an International Relations major I have any insight into current affairs. B.) I just learned how to open a can last week (and I mean with an actual can opener, not via my previous method, which involved a homemade rocket and some string,) so I really should not be offering cooking or hosting advice to people who don’t want to end up with a giant hole in their roofs. And C.) Why and where were you wearing that awful sweater long enough for it to develop a hole??

Given all the givens, I beg of you: LAUGH, goddammit!

My third disclaimer: Tom is not a real person.

The other day, I used the expression “Tom Foolery” several times over the span of a few hours. I used it once to describe my hair after a night of humid sleep and a failed attempt at brushing it; a second time to describe the hectic process that is my family’s way of deciding where to go for dinner; and a third time to describe the disaster that is my skin after a weekend at the beach. To these uses, my little sister responded, “who is Tom and do you have a crush on him or something??” Who knew that casually using such an outdated expression could remind me of the fact that I currently know zero men on which to “crush”? After explaining to Lydia that “Tom Foolery” does not reference an actual man but rather a kind of action or event or (in my case) lifestyle, she responded, “So why don’t you just say ‘Sophie Foolery?'” The kid had a point. Why should I be blaming poor Tom for all of the ridiculous things that happen in my life? That’s like blaming the mailman every time your neighbor’s chickens poop in your garage; or blaming President Obama every time you get food poisoning after a trip to the sketchy 99 Restaurant on the corner. These things just happen. Chickens poop, and so do we. That is why I decided to stop blaming Tom for foolish life events, and to start chronicling them in a blog.

And so we arrive at my final disclaimer: “foolery” is a term of endearment.

I mostly wrote this final disclaimer so my friends and family won’t think I’m a total bitch when I write about them in my blog and when I attempt to analyze my life through a “comedic lens.” I do not actually think I am “foolish,” nor do I consider those around me to be a bunch of “fools.” Rather, I think that my life just lends itself to odd events that, if compiled into a blog such as this, will seem funny, quirky, and cute. Basically, I hope for this to be the Zooey Deschanel of blogs. So while my forehead is way too tiny for any kind of frontal bangs, I think my stories and anecdotes can achieve the quirk factor all on their own.

So those are the disclaimers! If you’re still reading this incredibly long post, thank you. I have no idea how much rambling is socially acceptable per post, so I hope I haven’t given you some kind of weird brain disease by forcing you to look at a computer screen for this long. I’m excited to start writing! Now, I can’t promise that this blog will be updated on a regular basis – I tend to get up a head of steam when it comes to projects like these, only to release it when my ADD kicks in and I decide to watch Dawson’s Creek re-runs while painting my toenails Fire Engine Red and baking the world’s largest cookie (warning: don’t do that last one. You WILL end up with a weird, bread-like blob with some chocolate chips scattered throughout. But, if you’re like me, you’ll eat it anyway.) So unless I start doing all these things, you’re in store for a few quirky blog posts and probably more information than you would ever want to know about my life.

Cheers!

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