Friday, February 29, 2008

The Case of the Spoiled Snowboarder

We hit the slopes yesterday on our yearly ski/snowboard trip. Off we went to My Hood; I braided my hear, put on my baggy gray cargo snowboarding pants, my new green ski-jacket that has a GPS chip in the sleeve, and outdated ski-goggles.

The weather was beautiful; the azure sky contrasting against the white snow with the brown peaks of the mountain poking through was breathtaking. To top it all off, there was virtually no one else enjoying the lovely day! I didn't have to share. Thus, we became quite spoiled. Especially me. One has to be careful of those with Spoiled Snowboarder/Skier Syndrome, also known as SSS.

SSS is caused by individuals who
1. Are practically alone on the mountain snowboarding.
2. Enjoy great company whilst snowboarding.
3. Get really close parking and don’t have to take a shuttle to the lodge.
4. Have new green coats with a GPS chips in them.
5. Eat seriously over-priced food in the lodge ($9 for a burger?!)
6. Drink expensive hot cocoa with lots of whipped cream.

So now you know what the causation is. But can you spot one? Here are some pointers

How to spot someone with SSS
1. They have matted blond braids, a red face, and a runny nose.
2. They become irate for waiting in line for a lift for more than 20 seconds.
3. They yell, “Get off my mountain, You putz!”
4. They wear baggy pants and look like punks.
5. They shout things like “Kowabunga!” and “Geranamo!”

After spending a lovely day on the mountain, I must admit, I did show some symptoms of SSS. However, I did suffer for my SSS behavior. It was my last run. I had done great the whole day with no falls to report. Against my will, I was told I needed to be back in the lodge by six. It was about 5:55. I got to the top of the run, I told myself I had four minutes to zoom down the mountain. Off I went. I expertly carved by board into the icing snow and weaved around the slower folks. I shouted “get off my mountain!” (Okay I didn’t, but I thought it). I was going fast; I was out of control. Then my board caught on something and before I knew it, I was going down the hill, only not on my board. I landed on my tushie, then my side, my coat hiked up and my bare skin scraped the barnacle-like snow. Ouch. I did horizontal somersaults, my board moving in circles, like a ceiling-fan. Finally, I stopped. I felt pain in my knees and my side. I thought to myself “Am I hurt?” I lied on the snow for a few minutes assessing the damage. Nothing was broken, but pain was visiting me. I sheepishly got up, my knees pounding with pain and slowly descended down the mountain, this time at a safe speed.

When I got back into the lodge, I lifted up my shirt only to discover a massive bruise adorning my side; it was the size of a tennis ball. Very cool! Now I can act like I’m this extreme person with all these cool battle wounds. When really, I’m just an individual with SSS.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Consequence of Casualness

There are certain things that I truly love about the United States. For example, we have awesome supermarkets. They sell delicious freshly made Indian cuisine that exudes this lovely aroma which carries shoppers to the far corners of the hindu kush. They even have a sommelier. And, you would never ever find green meat on their shelves (I found green meat on a shelf in a German grocer’s). I suppose I could go on and on about America’s fine grocery stores such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods, and even Fred Meyer. But, this week I have come to appreciate the casualness of this country. Perhaps, it is just the west coast, but we just kick back, wear jeans, use slang, and relax.

Last week my professor was complaining about age. Apparently, when people get old, they get respect. Sometimes his students call him “Professor Schmitz.” (Not his real name). His response to that was “come on, it’s Jo, I mean what is this? Get real.” Enough with these titles and last names, isn’t that a bit pretentious? Even professors are on a first-name basis. I can’t think of a single person who I would call by their last name. But I do find it odd when my elderly professors start using slang such as “sick,” “sweet,” or “righteous.”

And dressing up? What for? Who would go to the opera in anything aside from jeans and pumas?

Although we don’t embrace formalities, we don’t embrace utter casualness. For example, it would be inappropriate to call my professors “Dude” or “Man,” “Hey man, I don’t understand the lecture last week on the philosophy of modern drumming.” Yeah, that wouldn’t “fly.”

It’s great that we Northwesters don’t buy into that Gucci and Prada business. Rather, we head on down to the second-hand store, only to be taken to the cleaners for a pair of used jeans. But then we can say to our friends, “Yeah, I got these as a thrift store.” When in reality, it was a “new to you” store, with overpriced merchandise. We pay that price of fashion, and to enact our trendiness, and just to prove we’re casual. And, that is all I have to say on the issue of casualness.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It’s that time a year again when nothing is happening. And no, I don’t have the Post Valentines Day Blues, it’s just that it’s February. I’m not looking forward to Christmas and I’m not looking forward to summer: summer is too distant. It is that time of year when nothing is accomplished so I hole myself up with intentions to hibernate and sleep away these dreary months. (Lately, my location for napping has been the second floor lobby of the library on campus, ya know, by the big windows).

I only want to shut myself shut off from all forms of civilization, in my cave-like roomdrinking an Echinacea and Airborne concoction- wishing I had taken heed to my mother’s advice of downing copious amount of vitamins. Typically in the winter, I have a constantly running red nose and a tissue in every pocket of every winter coat I own. It is this time of year when I research new places to live; I imagine myself on a faraway beach looking at the sparkling aqua sky and hearing the gentle sound of the surf. I envision myself closing my eyes as I exhale- opening my mouth so servants can feed me grapes. In this daydream, I am in a place where blonde sun-soaked surfer boys saunter by hoping for a big kahuna. But today, although it is that time of year, I’m finding myself deleriously content with the Northwest. Usually it’s rainy and gray, with each moment being worse than the next. It is February when all aspects of life are devoid of any shimmer of hope. The month of February has historically been the darkest, joyless and most miserable days of the year. I find myself thinking, “It can’t get any worse than this.” And then it does: I catch another cold. So, what makes this winter day so different? The sun emerged and showed her positively brimming face, which ricocheted off my small corner of the world.

I drove with the windows down, with upbeat summer music playing, sipping an iced mocha. Some might say I was out of control, validating my hipness with my overpriced beverage. I even donned my trusty three-dollar running trousers that I got at a thrift store five years ago (ya think I got my moneys worth?). I ran around the neighborhood listening for the sound of distant lawnmowers, basketballs bouncing, and giddy children. I was feeling (more than usually) pleased with myself.

Instead of dreaming of a new place to live I’ve begun picturing myself as a bonified-full-fledged-Northwest-naturalist reaping the benefits of summer. Yeah, this place isn’t so bad: February is tolerable. To jumpstart this early spring, I’ll start eating steamed kale, tofu sandwiches and green-healthy-looking-juices. Then I’ll go into the gorge- hike up to the top of the lookout point- ¬¬watch windsurfers and enjoy God’s creation. After that, I’ll go to the beach and dip my toe into the frigid salty waters of the Pacific Ocean. Ooh, and then sit outside and have a barbeque! Aah, I’m thrilled to see the signs of spring sprouting up early this year; there is evidence of daffodils poking their way through the soil. Perhaps I ought not get carried away; after all, there still waits a few more months of winter. But, it is days like today that put a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. The Pacific Northwest is great, no matter what those other people say (mainly Californians). Who needs a far-away beach anyways?