Sunday, April 6, 2008

Paralyzed by ...

The strangest thing happened to me Saturday: I was suddenly scared to ski. It was very bizarre indeed and it took me awhile to figure out what was going on.

Steve and I were at Snoqualmie on the second to last weekend of the season and this was my third time after 15 years on skis. The first two times I had blown even myself away with how naturally I seemed to pick it up again. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely a beginner. But I had made it mostly past the snow plow phase and had moved on to awkward parallel turns.

Anyway, we go straight for a blue, which was possibly the problem. Even though I had been flying (well, perhaps "making it" is a better description) down blues the last couple trips, I had always started with a couple of runs on the green slopes first. We get off the lift and suddenly I felt like I was 13 again, with my dad in Big Bear California at the top of a black diamond that he had "accidentally" taken us on for our very first run, ever.

Even though I was facing an easy traverse before the real slope, my skis seemed absolutely foreign to me and I somehow couldn't get my balance. It was like I had never skied before in my life. The traverse shoots you out into a wide, steep (well, steep for me) slope where snowboarders and skiers of all levels are suddenly flying at you from behind. This makes me mildly nervous on a good day but now I was terrified of being hit by a rogue ski-schooler.

I made it down the run, heart beating all the time, and Steve kindly escorted me to the green slope, where I proceeded to get my right ski caught on a wall just as the lift picked up speed to move upward. Yes, I was that person. They had to stop the lift and everything. I would have been really embarrassed if I hadn't been so relieved to not have fallen off the lift all together.

So by this time, what little confidence I ever had on skis was pretty much shot. I spent the next couple of surprisingly shaky green runs puzzling over this until Steve pointed out the obvious: I was having an off-day, a very common phenomenon in any sport or physical activity. The difference was, I'm used to feeling exhausted while running or slow on a hike - I'm just not used to the fear factor. It's been awhile since fear really got in the way of my doing something, although I guess that's why I'm not a big climber. I forget sometimes how psychological outdoor activity can be, even if it doesn't involve something extreme.

Anyway, I ended up pushing through a few hours of skiing, but felt off the entire time. Maybe it was that gallon-sized cup of Peet's coffee I chugged on the drive up. That's it. I'll blame the coffee. Or Steve. He's the one that made me get it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Christmas morning in March

Among the very random things that Steve and I did in California this weekend while visiting his mom for her 60th birthday (and in no particular order):

1. Joined the older-than-50 set at a punk rock show in downtown Davis at a bar that had clearly never seen anyone over 25 and even that was probably the high-end age group. Need proof? Check out the skanky Miller Lite girls hocking free "bar bucks" at a corner table.

2. In a tribute to our Colorado friends, ordered a round of dirty girl scout shots at the said college bar. The bartender made too much, so we had eight glasses overflowing with thick green liquid. Again - all this for a crowd of friends that typically drinks high-end wine.

3. Searched for sculptured cats dressed in different costumes and sitting on various buildings in a small town near Davis.

4. Ran into one of Steve's long-lost childhood friends on the Golden Gate bridge, nearly halfway across. Jubilant reunion followed with the rest of us watching on in awe.

5. Played loud Mamba music while shaking those shaky Mexican music instruments that you always make in kindergarten (can never remember what they're called) while dancing wildly around Pat's (Steve's mom) art studio.

6. Opened stockings and Christmas gifts as if it were Christmas morning, even though it was 75 degrees outside and even though Christmas was technically three months ago. Technically.

There was more randomness, I'm sure. But these were the highlights.

P.S. Have you ever noticed how creepy hotel pools are when you're the only one in them?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bellingham or bust

So Steve and I, craving exercise, decided we were sick of the following things: snowshoeing, Snoqualmie Pass, snow, skiing, Stevens Pass, socks, silly string and stairs. (Okay, we're not really sick of the last three things, but I thought it was funny that everything I was listing started with an S. Easily amused, I know.)

Anyway, the point is, we were tired of our usual winter activities and we're now in that rough shoulder season when the rain is, well, raining on our parade. So we did what anyone else would have done in this situation: we went to Bellingham. Of course, we forgot our camera. So unfortunately I have no exciting pictures to post here. Instead, I'll just describe what they would have been. Probably better anyway, since the best photos on this blog were taken by Anne and Ira.

Picture 1: Steve biting into a gas station breakfast burrito while filling up somewhere in Mount Vernon. Strangely, we knew that this gas station had really good breakfast burritos (?!)

Picture 2: Me trying to change from jeans into soft shell pants at the Pine and Cedar Lakes trailhead in Bellingham, without exposing too much. I am WAY more graceful when it comes to towel changes after getting out of the ocean. That's a special skill only those of us from San Diego have mastered.

Picture 3: What my dad would call a DVS - Dense Vegetation Shot. All the pretty, mossy trees bent in every direction that look really great in person, just not on film.

Picture 4: Steve and I standing by the first lake, smiling like we're really excited when really we're completely de-sensitized to beautiful mountain lakes. I mean, it really has to be spectacular to blow us away. This one is unfortunately a bit shallow and buggy. But the smiles aren't fake - the hike is a great one, around 6 miles roundtrip with a kick-ass first mile that has you hike most of the elevation gain (or about 1,000 feet) all at once.

Picture 5: Steve standing on the sidewalk in downtown Bellingham, which unfortunately reminded us of downtown Pueblo, Colorado, which unfortunately is the armpit of that state. So, what's this about how cute and how quaint Bellingham is? Maybe we were in the wrong neighborhood? Because everything we saw looked like a vestige of the 70s and just plain sad. Except for the surrounding trees and water. That was beautiful.

Picture 6: An accidental shot of the side of my face, which is basically a close up of the deep, dark bags under my eyes from actually having to show up at work every single day for 9 to 10 hours.

And on a completely random side note, I got back from hot yoga this evening to Steve holding up his newest purchase for Denali: A pair of long, thick, socks with a built-in electric heater. What will this guy come up with next?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flat butt

So you know that thing that happens when you sit in an office chair for like 10 hours a day, five days a week without moving anything except your right index finger to operate a mouse? Yeah, it's called flat butt. Well, I am determined not to get it, even though I can't dash off on a walk through the park at a moment's notice anymore.

The problem is, daylight savings time is screwing with me. Also, the fact that I actually get to work around 8 a.m. (after a half-hour bus ride and walk), which is astronomically early. I'm used to rolling in around 9 or 9:30 usually. Anyway, the point is I'm a morning exerciser. Always have been. I'm very good at getting up at the crack of dawn and going for a run or going swimming or going to the gym if I absolutely have to because the weather is horrible. In college, when I should have been nursing a hangover, I regularly got up early on weekend mornings to go running. Yes, that's how ridiculous I am.

But now that it's not light until 7, and I'm scared of all the people getting it on in the bushes of Volunteer Park where I usually run (not to mention the crazy people that just stab people randomly on Capitol Hill), I've had to rearrange my schedule. So I've been running in the evening after work whenever I have the time. Which I just don't like as much at all. There are a couple reasons. First of all, after work I'm exhausted. So unless I have some Starbucks around 4, I basically just want to go stare at a wall.

Second, I'm usually really hungry by the time I get home and I hate being hungry so that means I eat six or seven graham crackers like I did tonight and then go running, which is a recipe for disaster (or really bad cramps at least.)

And lastly, who the heck has energy after working all day? Seriously. There is a lot to be said for couch potatoes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Walking (or kayaking or rapelling) the line

So Steve, Anne, Nate and I went skiing yesterday at Snoqualmie. It was super fun (yay, I'm getting the hang of it! Next step, executing those perfect "swish, swish" turns) but more interesting - to blog about at least - was the conversation we had on the way back. Or maybe the way there, I was pretty tired. This whole having to work a full day everyday is really hard to get used to. Yes, all you working people, you should definitely feel sorry for me.

Anyway, the conversation was about the fine line that exists between being hardcore and being just plain dumb. It's a very, very fine line as you can well imagine. This came up because we were talking about someone we know who kite skies (also known as snow kiting). Nope, I hadn't heard of it either. But basically it involves letting a giant kite pull you across snow on skis. Sort of like water skiing or kite surfing.

This person decided while he was kite skiing that he was going to jump a road, letting the kite carry him across to the other side. Unfortunately for him, he hit the snowbank at the other end of the road before he made it across and tore his ACL. Bummer. (By the way, this is all like fifth hand information. So it's entirely possible that this is really an urban legend.)

It lead us to the age-old question: exactly Where is that line dividing adventure and lack of brain cells? And does it only exist if you mess up? To bring up this guy again, would we be having this conversation if he hadn't taken a bad fall? Are you hardcore only if you don't get hurt?

It's quite a dilemma. In my opinion, part of being hardcore is inevitably being stupid, no matter what you do or whether or not you take a bad fall. Here's why: being hardcore means that you're taking a lot of huge risks. So, you know that as you skydive or climb that big wall or even climb Denali (sorry, Steve) you're basically putting your life in the hands of a lot of factors beyond your control, even more so than usual. That's somewhat stupid, really. Unless you have a death wish.

The thing is, I think you actually have to be a little stupid to be hardcore. You need to have a good balance, though. To illustrate the point, I've drawn this handy Venn Diagram (which we also sort of discussed while skiing):

I'll leave you with that to ponder over for awhile. Brings back memories of fourth grade doesn't it? (The Venn Diagram, not the kite skiing).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Steve will never be able to cheat on me

Not because I think he's incapable of it (although, actually, I kind of do) but mostly because he CANNOT TELL A LIE. Literally. The man is incapable of lying to me. He's worse than Clinton. (As in Bill.)

Case in point: tonight.

Me: OMG! My blog stalker has found out where I work! How is that possible??? (All the while secretly pleased that I have a blog stalker who isn't one of my friends or family.)

Steve: ..... (His face has transformed into this silly sort of half-grin that automatically screams: I KNOW! I HAVE A SECRET AND I CAN'T KEEP IT!!!)

Me: Wait, you know about this guy Kermit? This guy who's been blog-stalking me???

Steve: ..... (Smirky smile)

Me: Steve, come on tell me.

Steve: I don't know anything!

Me: Come on tell me! (Repeat five or six or eight times).

Steve: (As if it wasn't completely obvious) Okay, I know who it is!

So, now I'm going to have to find another blog stalker. How sad. I thought I had a fan. Thanks a lot Nate!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Reasons why I have died and gone to new job heaven

Okay, so I know the focus of this blog was supposed to be about the outdoors and I swear it still will be, really. But what with my hives and my new job and my obsession about the weather, I just can't help myself sometimes. Plus, I figure it's completely your choice to read this or not - it's not like I'm forcing it on you already!

So, today was my first day of full-fledged day of work after six months of working from home. You can imagine the transition. Here are the realizations I came to along the way - in chronological order.

1. Wow! The Today show actually has a news segment??? Like where they talk about real, live events? It's been so long since I caught the first hour of the show (usually I switch it on around maybe 9 a.m.) that I thought its purpose was just to tell you how to best do your laundry or make a killer quiche from scratch.

2. Sorry, this one should have come first: Wow! The sun actually rises this early???

3. I have been seriously office deprived: I was giddy over things like my door pass code, my insurance forms and the fact that my cube mate can lean over the "wall" and talk to me.

4. It's only 11:15??? Do I really have to be in this one place for roughly six more hours????

5. PCS are so much better than Macs. Seriously, no competition. Accept that Macs do that cool twirly thing when you minimize something.

6. I'm addicted to g-chatting. My fingers were antsy with not being able to chat up all my regular friends at their jobs - I briefly logged into my personal email and it nearly killed me not to be able to strike up a conversation.

7. You can go a WHOLE DAY without ever really being outside. Haven't done that in awhile.

8. It's still only 3? Haven't two days gone by already?

9. So, once you work, there is really no time for anything else. Except for eating and sleeping. No wonder so many of my friends are so exhausted.

10. Having a real job is the best thing, ever. Period.