a tale of two ski trips

winters can be suspiciously long if you don’t partake in some sort of winter sport (especially when you live in NE or colorado or utah or anywhere else a lot of snow can be found), so thank goodness for new friends who ski and old friends with newfound abilities.

after snowboarding lessons (in 2000) ruined my skiing techniques (from childhood), i focused almost exclusively on shredding. in fact, i own my gear and i’ve gone snowboarding once a year every year (since 2000).

i’m no expert, but i’m no novice either.

two weekends ago, i happily strapped in to tear up the mountain with the old friends with newfound abilities. this time however, the mountain won. let’s just say my helmet paid for itself because otherwise i’d have knocked myself unconscious. twice.

playing the pansy card, i left the others on the mountain and spent some time warming up in the lodge and pondering why fear was so pervasive that day. as i’ve gotten older, i’ve grown less and less fond of speed because the faster i go, the less control i have / i’m hyper aware of what i have to lose should i sustain an injury BUT snowboarding isn’t something new to me. i have many mountains notched on my proverbial snowboarding belt.

why was i so scared?

it’s most likely because my attention was focused on keeping up and popping up after a fall and maintaining momentum and not being left behind and guilt i was slowing the group down.

i resolved to try again after lunch because i knew i could do better. i pushed myself, but ended the day after only a few more runs and a bout of whiplash and a decision there was no way i could snowboard the very next weekend (which i had previously committed to). i dragged my bruised body inside and wondered what to do next. i’d hoped this trip would be a warm up for the next weekend when a new friend and i traveled to vermont, but instead, all i managed to do was freak myself out.

despite the massive bruising and strained muscles, i couldn’t back out and so instead of falling down the mountain on the next trip, i fell back on old habits and rented skis. i partnered up with people who were at my skill level and took the easy way down. the skis felt familiar. my muscles burned with recognition. my smile bloomed. i was in control, until i wasn’t, but with years of practice behind me, i could contain both my speed and the voice in my head screeching “i’m going too fast too fast too fast i can’t stop i’m going too fast!!!” and enjoy the ride.

oh, how quickly i forgot the fear from the snowboarding weekend. in fact, i was so jazzed i even convinced my new friend to join us for a trip to the top of the mountain even though it was her first time on skis. trust me, when it’s your first time on skis, any slope looks steep.

talk about bravery (on her part) and peer pressure (on my part).

that trip up consisted of four of us: two newbies, two “teachers”. it took us around an hour to reach the bottom (vs. 15 minutes when i went solo), and it was my favorite run of the day.

since i was with people with less experience than me, it was my job to coach and encourage and lead by example. my focus wasn’t on my abilities, but theirs. i wasn’t racing to keep up. we skied it one turn at a time and took frequent breaks and discussed the patterns we carved in the snow and the best route down and icy patches and helped each other up.

it’s a whole different experience when you’re the one not smeared on the ground.

after they decided they’d had enough, i decided i hadn’t. i hopped on the lift and went for four more runs. me, the girl who can’t go anywhere without getting lost and who (realizes now) skis/snowboards for the social (not speed) aspect, went alone. my confidence was up even if my technical abilities were not, and okay, fine, i went down the same run three of four times. i didn’t trust myself not to end up on the other side of the mountain which was covered in black diamond (expert) trails.

sure i could have survived those trails, but for me, the fun part isn’t about the challenge. it’s about the camaraderie and being in control and being in the fresh air and working my muscles and being active and hanging with friends.

what was that about me being a slow learner?

have you ever tried something new and wished you hadn’t? have you ever thought you were better at something than you actually were? do you ski? snowboard? surf? ride horses? play basketball? what color shirt are you wearing? (just seeing if you were paying attention).

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convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #52

i am talking to strangers?! what? why?

as my drink was set in front of me, my phone whistled the arrival of a text which explained why my friend was running so late, well, later than usual — traffic.

waitress: oh, i thought that was my phone. i have the same tone.

me: a lot of people do. my little sister has it and she is constantly confused when our phones are in the same room.

waitress: have you ever seen the big bang theory?

me: no, but you’re about the fourth person this week to ask me that. should i be watching it?

waitress: oh, well, it’s great. i changed my ringtone to the guy’s voice so my phone would stand out.

me: that sounds like a smart idea. *wonders how that ringtone is the same as mine*

waitress: i’ll come back when your table fills out.

me: thanks.

as i sat there sipping my guinness and waiting for traffic to clear so my friend could join me, i pondered the possibility of individuality and the way we try to stand out whether it’s in what we wear, what our hobbies consist of or how our phones sound.

despite my ringtone imitating so many others, i was an individual that night. you see, the date was 2/14 and with my friend running late, my solo presence stood out.

i guess i’ll add “unintentional” to the list of ways one can be individualistic.

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indian lessons

it seems fitting i begin the new year by reflecting on the old one and in the late months of last year, i went on a trip. a BIG one. one that’s taken until now to completely process because (a) the jet lag was so intense and (b) it was unlike anything i’d ever experienced before.

where’d i go? india. (delhi, agra, noida, and faridabad to be precise.)

why’d i go? work.

what’d i learn? all the things.

a beeping horn can mean many things, but mostly, it’s not meant as an angry sound. the drivers have one hand on the gear shift and one on the horn.

there’s always room for one more car, one more lane.

their main driving philosophy is “save yourself. everyone else is an idiot.” and you know what? it works.

(except for the time that 6’1″ guy cut us off and clipped the front of our car. i was looking in the other direction at the cow crossing the street and didn’t see what happened. to me, it felt like we drove over some loose gravel, but then our 5’7″ very mild mannered driver threw the car in park and got out to inspect the damage. words were exchanged and our driver slapped the other guy who then grabbed our driver by the lapels of his uniform jacket, lifting him off the ground. his name tag and the top button of his jacket were ripped off. (fortunately, that was the extent of the drama and nothing other than more angry words were exchanged. oh, and we got a picture of the other guy’s license plate. we are good passengers.))

on the way back to the hotel, you’ll realize a beeping moped + a pointing finger signals something is wrong with the car. something like a flat tire. which needs to be changed in the middle of rush hour. in india.

if you put three slightly socially awkward people together, give them vague directions and no dinner and tell them to properly represent your company…it’s not going to end that well. it’s not going to end horribly either because we came away from that party with two things, (1) i found out i like tofu and (2) an architect told us the best way to see the taj mahal. see it FIRST. you’re there to see it, so see it, then see everything else in the town. it’s the best possible way to avoid the rampant overcrowding.

the taj mahal is pronounced taj ma-hell, or if you’re speaking quickly, tajmel.

it does not disappoint.

a tour guide is essential though, even if he thinks of himself as an amateur photographer and you become his current favorite subject to photograph.

dahl (from the restaurant bukahra) is the single best dish in india.

when you go from walking everywhere at home to riding in a car everywhere in india, you will get car sick from all the stop and go traffic and you might even develop a minor pavolovian response to the beeping horns: nausea.

the trees in lodi gardens are not only gorgeous scenery, but they provide just the right amount of support for amorous teens to lean against while making out.

when traveling in a group, at least one of the three of you will understand what’s being said to you and can translate for those that don’t.

learn your driver’s name and the number of the car because all cars in india look similar.

if you take a nap without setting an alarm, the knock on the hotel door will result in you flying out of bed, hair askew, to answer the door to find your boss staring at you. your brain will not function as the adrenaline and sleep crash into each other as you stand there trying to remember something, anything about where you are and what you need to do. fortunately, your boss’s hair is crazier than yours, and he lets you have 15 minutes to get ready.

if you attempt to switch drivers, the one you’re trying to avoid will be the first person you run into the next morning.

the hospitality of india will render you breathless (not to mention slightly guilty).

the conversion of rupees to dollars is best done on the app on your boss’s phone, not in your brain.

despite the name IPA (india pale ale), you won’t find any in india. (or at least we couldn’t find it anywhere we looked.) indian wine however is everywhere and is delicious (especially the sula brand).

delhi belly does exist. it is painful.

so are the side effects of the malaria prevention medicine.

and when you experience both at the same time? you become not the most fun travel partner.

you can plug your technological equipment into the wall with no adapter! it will feel like you’re about to do something really dangerous, like plug a camera battery charger into the wall the night before you go to the taj and pray your battery doesn’t fry rendering your camera useless before one of the biggest days of its life.

the “winter weather” in india is the nicest east coast spring weather you’ve ever felt.

a layover in paris is a really good idea.

the third time you attempt to get into l’orangerie to see monet’s water lily display will be the charm. the other two times just heightened the anticipation (silly construction keeping the museum closed in 2002 and 2004!). it is absolutely worth the wait and is now probably your favorite museum in paris.

your high school french will return and you’ll understand a surprising amount.

jet lag is a beast.

traveling half a world away truly changes your perspective on your surroundings, on your environment, on yourself and what you’re capable of (or not).

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book club

BOOK HUNGRY: all these lives

who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbachand myself. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email/phone. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

(editor’s note: we’ve gotten a bit off track lately and so just discussed this book last week. this book was so unusual and so awesome (per my opinion), i figured i’d still post my review, even though the others aren’t. if you have read this or will read this, let me know what you think!)

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is: 

ALL THESE LIVES by sarah wylie

what it’s about from amazon: 

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky.  She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal.  And Jena is wasting away.  To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives.  Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one.  Someone like Jena.  But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization.  Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all.  Maybe she really only ever had one.

my opinion: hmm. we asked karla to pick a light read and this is what she comes up with?!? this is NOT LIGHT.

this is also not a favorite of mine. in fact, it’s not even one i liked that much. sorry, book! the writing and the whole nine lives bit were fine, but dani? she was selfish and mean and ugh, i have to keep reading this?

i did keep reading it. all the way to the end. it never got better (for me). i understood the motivation behind dani’s actions (she wanted to give her “extra lives” to her sick sister) but in reality, any stable 16 year old should know she’s wasting her life instead of making good use of the life she’s been given. some people (aka HER SISTER) don’t have long, so for her to throw it all away? grrrrr.

basically, throughout the book, dani continued to push everyone (parents, friends, sister) away. i get that it was a means of self-preservation, but she also pushed me, the reader, away. all of us book hungry gals felt this way, BUT, don’t take our word for it — go on and read it yourself.

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at work

because we’re all so busy bringing home the bacon, we don’t often get a chance to see/experience/understand what our acquaintances, coworkers, friends, or family  members do from 9-5 (or however long it takes to get the job done).

ranging from author readings to rock concerts to educational seminars, i’ve had many opportunities recently to see professionals at work, to peek around the curtain, to learn what goes on behind the scenes or more importantly, within their minds.

the biggest cases i’ve seen recently have been (1) a coworker who spoke on a panel i happened to be in charge of where he put his fast thinking and worldly brain on display and (2) an acquaintance who, in person, is a humble, funny, generous, and kind person but at work is a total rock star.


to have the opportunity to see those at the top of their game in their element live and unfiltered but to know of the hard work, tenacity, and discipline it took to get there was a lesson i didn’t see coming. i mean, i was outside of a classroom! there wasn’t just one teacher and there wasn’t just one demonstration to illustrate the point. the two events weren’t even related or in the same week! holy learning curve!

fortunately, my mind made the connection (hard work, patience, practice, research, enthusiasm, and curiosity will lead you to the top whether you’re in the office or on stage or on the field or online) and i had a new wrinkle for my brain.

now if only i could answer the question of “what does your dad do [at work]?”

for the record, i usually say “something with numbers.”

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