Oh shit, and other Mountain-life lessons

The mountain helps you realize that no one really cares about what you are doing.  Even when you are being watched and laughed at from the chair lift above.

“You’re turns are looking really nice,” I tell my friend ‘S’.  We are standing in the snow half way up Silver Mountain.  Well, we are really standing in ski boots, which are bound to fiberglass popsicle sticks with a sliding slick underbelly designed to induce near death visions.

“Oh yah? I kinda don’t feel like I’m doing that well,” she tells me. We’ve stopped to let the internal muscular burn of lactic acid production fade a bit before skiing the rest of the way down to the designated ski lift.

“Ya, when I went skiing with my dad he told me I was looking pretty good on the moguls and I was like, ‘really?  I feel like I’m in control, maybe, half the time.’”

“Ya, that’s how I feel too!” ‘S’ laughs and produces one of her elfin smiles, the kind you have to smile back at no matter what.

We go quiet so we can just breathe.  It isn’t the first ski of the season for either of us, but we can’t make it quite often enough to stay in shape for our near death experiences that for the same and different reasons, we both love.  We didn’t think the rain was going to turn into snow but kept the faith and about half way up the Gandola ride, much to our relief, snow.  We’ve skied for four or five hours now and I don’t know about ‘S’ for certain, but my burning quadriceps are starting to accrue a strange sort of squishy feel.

“Well,” I say after a few moments thought, “I guess that’s the secret, everybody’s just pretending, faking it.  They really aren’t in control half the time either.  “ ‘Hey dude’ “ I change my voice and act out,” ‘that was so awesome!’ ‘Yeah man, it’s cool, no big deal but uh, I got to go to the bathroom now cause I shit my pants.’ “

We laugh about this for a while before skiing the rest of the way down the mountain.  It’s the call back joke for the rest of the day, because I guess poop is just funny.  Thinking of the oh-so-cool trick snowboarders shitting there pants, is just a satisfying, goofy thought.

But I’ve discovered that this assessment of my fellow sliding-down-snow-lovers applies very well to the big picture, life, being an adult.  All adults and grown ups, (and this includes me now, much to my shock and awe) are faking it.  They’re pretending.  They’re scared shitless.  Which is the only reason why they don’t actually shit themselves until the effects of the bran muffin that is Time kicks in after retirement.

So I laugh at my dorky crashes and awkward pole versus skis moments and don’t care what people think because I love skiing, period.  Why can’t I do the same with life?  Mmh. Well, shit.

Wandering Frisbee

There is a little eclectic shop in downtown Pullman where they sell clothes, oriental themed trinkets and beads.  A couple of years ago I talked to the owner he said that fair trade is a bunch crap and that the people over don’t want it because it’s hurting business.  He speaks on the authority of having an Asian wife, as well as spending some time, ‘over there’.

I think.  Like I said it was a couple of years ago.  I remember at the time thinking he actually had some legit points, even if he conveniently left out some points like pay wages in factories and such.  Anyway, I don’t really have enough information to be trash talking him, and that is not my intention at all.  In my hunt for a second job this summer I wandered in there again. I was delighted to see they had used frisbee golf discs for sale.

Frisbees are awesome.  You can totally suck at frisbee but still feel like you are accomplishing something because it still gets some distance.  Ultimate Frisbee holds a love-hate relationship for me, fun yet impact-dangerous, a good workout yet my least favorite kind; it’s basically sprint drills.    So when I recently discovered Frisbee Golf over spring break, or ‘frolf’ as George Castanza calls it on Seinfield, I found the bliss of Frisbee.

It’s low key, it’s social, and still challenging as I proved by taking sometimes almost ten throws to get the frisbee in the chain basket that is maybe 200-400 meters away.  I’m going to invest in some frisbee-golf-specific discs because they have putter disc for when I am on my seventh or eighth throw and only ten feet away from the basket.

As is often the case, this is one of those times that links me back to, or with Liverpool.  It also reminds me of one of the good American friends I made while I was there last summer.  Her name of anonymity when I refer to her in my Liverpool writings is, in fact, Frisbee.

Frisbee was my hotel roommate in the Newark, New Jersey airport Hilton.  I didn’t get in until 1 am, I think I told that melodramtic detail before, and felt a little creepy coming into a complete stranger’s room.  But Frisbee, like me, is a sound sleeper and didn’t even hear me.  She got up before me, and told me later she knew I was awesome because of the items left in view digging out my bathroom accesories bag; a very dinged-up Sigg bottle and a blue sparkly Frisbee.

I hung out with Frisbee the most out of everybody in the group.  After wandering a few different times on my own, Frisbee and I talked about the beauty of wandering and not having a set plan, but also of our common love of thrift stores.  I believe it was after our Slavery History tour of downtown Liverpool that we set off to wandering.

We got food and went to several different small local shops.  Today I own a used book and two different awesome tops from our excursions.  I got one of my friends back in Pullman some really cool yoga/hippie looking pants and jewelry for a handful of my girlfriends/girl relatives.

While you do not grow as a person unless you try new things, there is something to be said for finding those people you can relate to.  In Liverpool I rediscovered or reremembered how to experience everyday life as exciting.  Most of the time when I ride the bus I think of Liverpool, for example.  Frisbee and I had a good time learning Liverpool via what we knew, as well as with what we didn’t know.  And I treasure the souls I meet that I can truly connect with, they have always seemed hard for me to find.

But that is another thing I learned with wandering Frisbee and the entire group, as well as from Scousers; people are not as different as you think and the differences are often times the best part!  When I gave a presentation for SSS staff at WSU on the University of Liverpool Leadership Training Program, what we did, now their students apply, etc., I told them that even before we got to Liverpool it was like we’d already traveled.  Many of us had lived and seen different places, we were from all over the US as well as from Mexico.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Frisbee while I’m in the same state visiting for InLove’s wedding this summer.  Because we only actually got around to using my frisbee once.  It was low-key tossing back and forth on Crosby Beach, our last day in the UK.

911 2009

Eight years ago??  Really??  It doesn’t seem possible.

It seems impossible because, at sixteen, nothing like that had ever happened to me.  Even the Gulf War was something that happened in history classes, albeit contemporary history  (Mmmhhh, oxymoron anyone?).  It was so surreal because, things like that, Pearl Harbor, terrorists attacks, just didn’t happen.

My boss from the days of having a newspaper route, who incidentally I didn’t like, was in the Twin Towers and died.  Someone from little Logan, Utah was gone from 9/11, how weird is that?  What are the chances?

My Uncle, now retired, worked for the army at the Pentagon for years.  He was months into a deployment in Saudi Arabia when 9/11 happened.  He probably wouldn’t have been to his office yet even if he was stateside, but nonetheless it was destroyed and nonetheless he was safe because he was in Saudi Arabia.  What are the chances?

I guess when incredible things happen, there are incredible ripple effects.

And why is it that, even if you’re just being honest, saying anything derogatory about the deceased is a big no-no?  I suppose you just keep the good memories, no point in preserving the others.  I suppose also it’s not really fair to critique when the person has no way of being able to defend themselves or be a part of the discussion.  But it’s odd, and maybe even disrespectful, when a person who never said a nice thing about the person while they were alive, suddenly sound like they must’ve been their good friend now that they are gone.

People from high school do that too, get all excited, “it’s so good to see you!!  How have you been?” and you think, “Maybe you should start with how was I, cause we both know you don’t know.”  Then again, maybe I’m looking at it wrong.  After all, that was 6-8 years ago and isn’t who you are in the present what really matters?

Eight years ago??  Really?  It doesn’t seem possible.

It doesn’t seem possible because it was so huge then.  A year had more value then, it was 1/16 of your life.  I first heard from my cross country coach at morning practice before school.  He and some of my teammates had heard it on the radio.  It sounded made up to me, like War of the Worlds or something.  We all seemed to feel that way at least a little.  We went for our 4 miler run.

My AP History class that I hadn’t dropped out of yet was next, and that’s when it really hit.  We watched the news all class.  All the teachers did, all day long.  I went home for lunch and called my Mom about my Uncle to find out he was in Saudi Arabia, and subsequently, very much in one piece.  I called a friend whose son was in the Army Reserves and that I was madly in love with, with all my 16-year-old heart.  He looked really good in uniform.  I don’t know why I thought he would all the sudden be deployed.  Of course later, he was.

1/16 of my life later, which then had morphed into 1/17 of my life, I ran my cross country race carrying a tiny US flag the entire 3.1 miles.  And to think, I almost forgot today was the anniversary…but then it was eight years ago.

When, if ever, does it stop being a big deal?  How long to we mourn?  Does keeping it alive only cultivate the fear and give terrorists their power?  Does it makes us more in touch with humanity to remember for a day what others remember everyday because someone they love is gone?   How much does someone bereaved think about it?  How do they mourn?

To the readers…

To the friends, family, random readers that have somehow stumbled onto this little newborn baby site, THANK YOU!!!  And, I predict approximately another two weeks before I’ve settled into a good groove with school that allows me to write and post and update this site as much as I want.  To any who want a shout out for when I do/have, let me know.  In general I’m saying thanks and keep the faith; more is coming!  I suppose in truth, this is more for me, because in my ideal world I would have already documented and posted all my Liverpool adventures.

In the Great Northwest (USA) Fall’s breath sends goosebumps down our necks and a pair of gold-colored glasses to see the world through; I love fall, second favorite season of the year!  Enjoy!

Dancing Queens

Queen and I were roaming together come day two in Liverpool. I did not know yet that she was a dancing queen, but she is. The entire study abroad group had done a little more touring of the city that morning and bought calling cards and similar day to day maintenance things needed while living here. I had to be reprimanded because though I told someone I was going to the toilet, they neglected to tell the others and momentarily thought they’d lost me. Due to my wandering spirit it would not be the last time, but it would be doing more adventurous and fun things then visiting the toilet. (If you ask for the restroom they look at you like you’re crazy.) Now the afternoon was ours.

The dormitory we are staying at is close to a colossal and Eden-like park called Sefton Park. It is the host of the fourth annual African Goya festival. The day was bright and simultaneously overcast, a skill that this British Isle has perfected. This particular afternoon it only taunted rain, having drizzled a bit in the morning, and didn’t actually come down on us. Queen and I drifted in and out of the circle of tents and booths. All kinds of food, Jamaican/Caribbean, Arabic, Somalian and more, were available. Breathtaking colours of linens composed the clothing being sold alongside a vast array of jewellery and crafts and different medians of art. I couldn’t resist and added to my collection of hats and bought a top of royal blue shaded to a wine red and intricately embroidered.

The art of West African dance was being tutored at one of the booths. With a very little coaxing I got Queen to agree to take the next class with me. In the meantime we gravitated to the stage where Daby Toure, a phenomenal guitarist and singer was performing with his band. After about twenty minutes we were sold, and wandered to the music booth where they were selling CD’s. We weren’t the only fans, because they were sold out. I wrote down their information to track them down later and we made to doubly enjoy the rest of their performance. We ran into Chip, and Chip being Chip, he took it upon himself as a personal quest to get their CD for us. When they finished performing he went backstage and got to speak with all of them, got an autograph and pictures but—they didn’t have any extra CD’s unfortunately.

Whilst he worked at that task, Queen and I headed over to the dance booth for our class. Now, not to be disparaging to my roots, but quite frankly, we do NOT emphasize or learn dance. Queen and I come from a similar background, albeit from different sides of the lower forty-eight. The dance is spectacular and its core is being able to do body isolations; rolling the shoulders, now shifting the feet, now both at the same time then circling the ribs, the walking/knee lifting, then both followed by some hip circles. Suffice to say, Queen and I were in WAY over our heads. Lots of giggling ensued. Our instructor made it look easy and was so connected to her own body. That combined with a fantastic smile made her mesmerizing. It was fantastic to witness, how couldn’t it be? She obviously is passionate and loves what she does. I don’t know how they do it really; I can’t concentrate on that many things at once. I got the hip circling down pat, but then I had to roll my shoulders and do a 360 all at the same time. I’d forget to roll my shoulders, or somehow only roll one and end up sort of jerking one hip to get turned around. Luckily I only ran into a couple of the others learning with us. I couldn’t say how Queen did because I couldn’t spare any attention for anything else, but in comparing notes afterwards, it sounds like we have the same awkward groove. We celebrated exerting ourselves for the entire hour and our mad skills in… something other than dance. The hair jutting out of my new hat clung and dripped on my neck and my body tingled in its layer of glisten. I was a bit sore the next day too. And the best horrifying part about it is somewhere in the middle I looked over to see Chip with his camera out recording. I haven’t been able to convince him to destroy the evidence yet.

The lesson having mercifully finished, the three of us got some water and Arabic food. Chip and I engaged in our first (of many, MANY, more to come) debate on gender roles. He ordered for me, which I thought was weird, which he thought was weird. “Why don’t you just pay for me while you’re at it?” I asked. “I was going to!” he replied. “Why?” I asked, “Wow, you are so old fashioned.” I didn’t yet realize how serious he was, as I don’t believe he realized how serious I was, but we had a good time teasing and bantering for and with the man that waited on us, he thought we were hilarious. I’m sure we were.

The day couldn’t have been complete without me getting us lost on the way home. Luckily, Chip isn’t ashamed to ask for directions. And now I know the area quite well for going on runs and such.

Number 7

Saturday morning, the 20th, we landed in Manchester to awkwardly pile into vans hired to drive us to Liverpool.  All the cars driving on the opposite side and our driver on the opposite side of the car is a head trip.  It feels like my brain has been flipped inside out  or like when I do a left-handed cartwheel (being right-handed).

The lot of us, as they say here, are a very dynamic and gregarious group.  The few quiet ones of the bunch talk plenty when badgered, then there are the perpetual vociferous few—I fear I may be one of them, though those of you who know me well would be quite shocked at how reserved (all things relative) I’ve been here.   Sheik and Curly are more on quiet side out of the women and were in the same van with me.  Curly also plays the guitar so it was fun chatting and strumming The Lovechild on the forty minute drive.  I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember who else was in the car with us because Chip, sitting next to me, is one of the vociferous bunch and usurped most of my attention haven declared me interesting the previous day at orientation.  God only knows why specifically, I am many things good and bad, though I suppose boring isn’t one of them.

I strummed and sang back up to Chip’s brilliant improvised lyrics.  The reoccurring theme: number 7. This refers to the concept of group imposed rules concocted during orientation, and a proposed method of efficient communication if someone was breaking a rule, a numbering system.  Instead of 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. I’ve declared number 7 to stand for all of them because I think it is so funny.  Someone complaining?  Number 7!  someone use your stuff without asking?  Number 7!  And so on and so forth.

Respect the Bubble

Perhaps Professional

A sheepish grin from the author after correcting three or four misspells and, ironically, mistakes in the posts written so far.  I do take my writing seriously but know myself a little too well and know to expect many more in the future.  Hopefully I will avoid it by following Mr. Carter’s advice of drafting it in Word beforehand, thus idiot-proofing myself somewhat.  But the organized clutter is here to stay, the flighty forgetful, the improvisation the soul to the writing.  My only concern, as I say when tutoring others with their writing, is that the meaning is gleaned.  Clarity is key.  So if I am professionally flawed to the point of confusion, by all means, let me know.

Once again I’ve set myself up for another post for another day; that being my take and views on the fluidity of language and subsequent levels of arbitrary when it comes to what is ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’.  Unfortunately, even with this discussion, I cannot escape spelling.