Tag Archives: skiing

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 in 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.

 

 

 

Bad Girls Eat PB&J

19 Sep

Today’s blog post begins a new segment of my blogging career that I hereby dub “Responding to Dem Haters.”

There comes a time in every young blogger’s life when negative reviews are hurled like post-milk chugging contest chunks.

This week, I got the chunks.

Yes, I received a message from a disgruntled blogger about a post I’d written.

When I first saw this person’s message, my immediate thought was CHUNKS! DUCK! GRAB A PONCHO!

Unfortunately, my rain poncho has a hole in it after being slashed by some woman’s aggressive bangles. So, I got chunked.

Lucky for me, this is not my first time dealing with chunks! I dealt with even chunks before I was a blogger. I basically have my PHD in “Chunk Studies.” (Labs were interesting for that degree, let me tell you.)

Shall we reflect on the past for a bit?

Ski camp, 2002: It was my first time on skis and I was in the “Beginning Bunnies” class at Okemo Mountain. I was nine, and the other skiers ranged from womb to six. Because of some unfortunately incorrect advice from my rental equipment salesman, I’d opted to try my luck at skiing without poles.

Do you know what’s hard about skiing without poles? EVERYTHING.

Every time I fell – which was more often than I stood – I would slide into my fellow pupils and knock them over like a bunch of snot-nosed dominos.

After the tenth incident, one of the snot-nosed, womb-aged dominos had had ENOUGH.

“Maybe if you had POLES you would be able to SKI like the rest of us!” she declared.

She was right. That was exactly how it would have been had I’d had poles.

Was I supposed to congratulate her on her astute powers of perception? Was I supposed to ask to borrow one of her poles in exchange for half of my PB&J sandwich? Was I supposed to have brought a PB&J sandwich with which to barter?

WHY DIDN’T ANYONE PREPARE ME FOR THESE THINGS??!

It took me a while to realize that Ms. Pole Up Her Ass had been hurling chunks. But once I did, I spontaneously insulted her mother. And that’s how “Yo Mama” jokes came to be.

You’re welcome.

Spring Dance, 2005: I was twelve and somebody who shall remain nameless (“nameless” because by “somebody” I meant “too many people to specify”) told me I needed to get my eyebrows waxed and/or plucked.

I did need to get my eyebrows waxed and/or plucked. It was only a matter of time before some environmentalists accused me of harboring an invasive species on my forehead. Come on, though, that’s something I would have figured out on my own! I didn’t need the added pressure of dodging chunks!

But dodge those chunks I did. I dodged them all the way to the salon, and now my mom says I have the “best brows on our street!”

Creating the change you wish to see in the world. That’s what I’m all about.

Driving Lesson, 2010: I was in the middle of a driving lesson with my instructor, Barry, when he asked me what classes I had after our lesson. When I told him my afternoon consisted of “lunch, chorus, and then French,” he told me that I “reminded him of his autistic son.”

At first, I thought he was just saying “artistic” with a Boston accent, so I tried to create follow-up conversation by asking him about his son’s views on acrylic versus watercolor.

“Huh? You don’t listen good, do you? I said ‘au-tis-tic.’”

Once it had been established that I was both on the autism spectrum and a poor listener, I decided it was time to “accidentally” slam on the breaks.

I call that fleeting instance of rebellion my “Bad Girls Club” phase.

***

So that brings us up to the present!

Taco Night, 2014: My friend Selby had kindly invited me to a weekly Taco Night extravaganza. I was in the midst of forking ground beef into my oral cavity (because my taco had exploded onto the ground and I’d been too hungry to repackage it) when I received said disgruntled comment.

Hmmm, I thought. Disgruntled indeed.

I dove into my toolkit of life lessons to try to find a wrench with which to smooth things over. I then Googled “how to use a wrench” and found out why my toolbox is such an unhelpful resource.

Foiled again by wrench-related confusion!

You should know that all of the stories I just got done telling you are very true. Their outcomes, however, I did bedazzle in my own *special* way.

Okemo circa 2004? Yeah I’m pretty sure I double fisted hot cocoa and listened to Judy Blume books on tape for like, eight days to get over the sting of that experience.

Brow Deforestation of 2007? I told my mom I was being “bullied” and begged for a trip to Old Navy. I can’t remember if we went or not, but judging by the seventy-five “ribbed tanks” I own, I’d wager that it was a successful tactic. One tank for every eyebrow waxing *suggestion.*

Driving confusion in 2010? That bit about slamming on the brakes was true. But also entirely accidental and a product of me not knowing which pedal was the gas and which was for the brakes…

So, without my imagined Bad Girls Club instincts, how was I supposed to deal with these blogging-related chunks?

Dear Blogger,

Let’s be friends, shall we? I’d offer you a taco, but I just ate them all. Can I instead offer you a phat ass PB&J?

Love,

Sophie

Because the best defense is a good PB&J.

Bad Girls Club 4 LYFE.

Photo: http://quietlunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Big-PBJ-Milk-by-Mary-Ellen-Johnson.jpg 

Journey to Cheese Mountain

10 Apr

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be stuffed with cheese, poisoned by metal, and then offered an abundance of “magic tea” while engaging in a séance?

Of course you haven’t. And neither had I, before last weekend.

But, for the sake of this blog post, just pretend you have, so that I can feel like I’m making a valuable contribution to society by educating my readers.

Last weekend was one of mountainous activity! On Saturday, our entire program went snowshoeing up a mountain.

Some of us really excelled and are quitting our day jobs.

Others of us are still very much dependent on our day jobs:

Image

Who knew snowshoeing was a “standing upright” kind of sport? Dylan and I clearly didn’t get the memo.

What we lacked in grace we made up for in…lacking more grace.

After the hike, our program directors treated us to a HUGE feast.

Maybe it was the clean mountain air, or the foreign endorphins pulsing through our bodies…but this meal was CRAZY.

When the first plate of meat emerged, we acted like we’d just discovered we had hands and working mouths.

We. POUNCED.

I’ve never seen an assortment of meats leave a plate faster.

Same with the cheese plate.

Same with the cheesy potato dish.

Same with the bread.

At one point – after Selby, Dylan and I decided to finish three desserts via “spoon racing” – our program director said under her breath, “This is why we don’t serve wine at these events…”

I think she was referring to this whole scene:

Image

Actually, wine probably would have placated the situation.

Anyway, after the hike and the aggressive eating and the “spoon sports,” Selby, Max, Mike and I went to Zermatt to spend the night and ski the next day!

As much as I wanted to see Zermatt and the Matterhorn, I was slightly anxious about this plan.

Mostly because my calves get really squished in ski boots and I have a low tolerance for pain.

Also because I once (twice) fell off a chairlift. Apparently the act of sitting on a chair is harder for me than the actual act of skiing.

And also because I hate having to take my snow gear off to use the bathroom, which I always have to do every hour while skiing. I think the pressure of the boots on my calves angers my bladder, and it retaliates by releasing the entire Caspian Sea.

I should Google that. There’s got to be some science behind it.

Anyway, part of me (a Giant Whopper-sized part) was hoping my three friends – who are all fabulous skiers/snowboarders and can do complicated maneuvers, like “moguls” – would decide they’d rather do a pub-crawl and eat Toblerone bars while looking at the Matterhorn all day than go skiing…

And part of me was hoping the three of them would decide that skiing in Zermatt was so “predictable” and “touristy,” and that they would rather have a more unique, on-the-ground experience there…AKA do a pub-crawl and eat Toblerone bars while looking at the Matterhorn all day.

Neither of these scenarios really panned out.

So, I sucked it up, packed my heinous yet amazing yellow snow pants into a bag, and put on my “team player” hat (which, in this case, was a sporty yet eye-catching headband I found in the bottom of my backpack – which explains why there was some gum stuck to it.)

I knew this trip was going to be a good one when we got to the train station and I wasn’t DRIPPING in sweat and we had a full TWENTY MINUTES to spare before our train.

This is very different from the “Amazing Race” scenarios I’m used to, which involve missing busses, running through streets yelling, “move it, you fondue fatties, we need to make this train!” and experiencing stress-induced sweat in copious quantities.

The second indication that this would be a good trip occurred when Max asked a bartender to please open the bottle of wine he’d brought for the train, and the bartender – who had TWO wine openers chilling in his breast pocket – lead us into a corner, swaddled the bottle in my (Selby’s) coat, and proceeded to bang it against a wall, like so:

Image

The entire situation was very unclear.

I had visions of glass shattering and all of Max’s precious2 franc wine spilling to the ground.

But we got the wine opened!

To complement the 2 franc wine, we were prepared with several 50 cent beers…all of which tasted exactly like the currency they cost…plus a hint of metal headgear.

Naturally, we assumed the beers were poisoned and immediately threw them into the garbage drank them like it was our last day on Earth.

(When I later Googled “lead poisoning,” Web MD told me my symptoms – which included obscene sweating, fatigue, a sore butt, a sleeping foot, greasy hair, bad breath, and boredom – were most likely caused by an excessive amount of assorted meats and cheeses, an excess of physical activity, and a three-hour train ride…not lead poisoning. I was pretty disappointed by this diagnosis because being able to say “Hey, I got lead poisoning on a Swiss train!” seems like a good happy hour story. I guess I’ll just have to settle for small talk about family and pets. How basic.)

When we got off the train, we proceeded to the apartment where we would be couch-surfing for the evening.

‘Twere I not a curious spirit (AKA slightly tipsy and low on oxygen from the train) I probably would have been more concerned by the scene upon which we stumbled.

Our host – whose name I thought was Hans for the duration of our trip, but whose name is actually Thomas – was an odd-looking Polish man with fangs.

When he opened the door to reveal an apartment the size of my left thumb – NOT including the nail – I mentally recalled all of the worst experiences of my life.

(This was my last ditch effort to strengthen my resilience in preparation for what was to come.)

It turns out that Thomas Hans had decided he could host SIX PEOPLE in his jewelry box of an apartment. There were four random, 30-something women gathered in the living room…well, the room.

When we asked them how they knew Thomas Hans, they all shook their heads and said “a little bit of everything.”

Which made little to no grammatical or logical sense.

Because Max had stayed with Thomas Hans once before, he was not at all surprised when he proceeded to offer us and the cast of Sex and the City: Zermatt Edition his special “magic tea,” and refused to tell us what the red, steaming concoction really was.

I, however, was surprised.

“No thanks, I’m all set,” I responded.

“But it’s my magic tea!” T.H. insisted.

“Yeah but what’s in it?” I inquired.

“Magic!” T.H. responded.

An inconclusive exchange, at best.

Mike and I looked at each other and telepathically conferenced about the pros and cons of drinking opium tea.

I can’t remember what the pros were…but they won.

(Luckily, we would soon find out the drink was not, in fact, opium team, but was herbal tea with a type of German liqueur. We’ve since deducted one point each from our personal “bad ass” rankings.)

T.H. then insisted that we all sit in a circle on his floor while we drank our tea.

I thought that maybe holding a séance was supposed to complement the effects of the magic tea, but it just proved to be awkward. There are only so many times you can smile at a stranger and ask, “So, what do you do for work?” from across a séance circle.

When T.H. overheard us whimpering from hunger, he kindly offered to feed us fondue.

OH GOOD, BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T SEEN CHEESE FOR AT LEAST THREE HOURS.

It was physically, mentally, emotionally, metaphorically, and literally painful to even put cheese near our mouths, let alone consume it:

fondue

Needless to say, I swore I had ingested the entire cast of “Seventh Heaven” after finishing this meal.

When we’d all had our fill of magic tea and fondue, T.H. set up an intricate bed of blankets for us on the ground…in the corner…under an open window.

Max slept with a coat as a blanket.

I shattered my delicate, dainty hipbones every time I rolled over.

“Now I know what Taylor Swift meant by ‘lying on the cold, hard ground,’” Mike exclaimed.

In the morning, we were awoken by the sweet sounds of T.H.’s colorful, upbeat alarm song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc8xRci5l3c

Did we really expect him to wake up to bells or whistles or a gentle piano tune?

No. No we did not.

We spent Sunday skiing, drinking beer, and registering for classes. It was a perfect day.

mountain

When we returned back to the apartment to retrieve our things, T.H. was drinking a beer and Googling “The Mason Dixon Line.”

You’re never too old for knowledge.

After hugs and pleasantries it was time to say goodbye.

In a moment of glee betwixt nostalgia, the great T.H. exclaimed, “Yo. Check it out,” before backing into his apartment and setting us free.

I couldn’t have said it better if I’d tried.

And with that, we were on our way home.

It was a great visit.

The only thing that would have made it the BEST trip EVER would have been if I’d sat on some festering prosciutto on the train ride home…

Oh.

It really was the best trip ever.

%d bloggers like this: