May 30, 2006

The Gasping Girl and the Mountain

Let me just say that while climbing that mountain this weekend, I vehemently committed myself to never doing the downhill skiing leg of Ski to Sea again. But somehow between then and now, I've practically already signed up again, and have spent a good part of this morning marveling at that.

But before I go there, let me describe the experience:

I had prepared myself to for it to be hard, but honestly, even in my worst nightmares I had no concept of just how grisly it would get up there. It was like I stepped into my own private version of The Old Man And the Sea. I was Hemmingway. The mountain was the fish.

We were at war.
And it was kicking my ass.

Clearly, in the end, I prevailed, but let me just say this: the downhill ski leg of the race has got to be the hardest. First, it's the only leg where you get timed while you carry your equipment to the starting point. Second, it's the only leg outside of the cross-country ski leg that isn't entirely downhill or flat. And third, because it's named alarmingly poorly, which leads the novice to think they've got it handled. To wit: though I knew there was going to be a climb, I basically just kept telling myself "Yeah, but it's the Downhill Ski leg! How hard can it be? You've been skiing for DECADES!"

Right. Most (like, 90 percent) of the time spent on that mountain is you, heavy-ass ski boots on, heavy, awkward skis and poles resting across shoulders, climbing as fast as you can up a snowy, wet mountain face that is so steep that if you look down behind you, you get vertigo and almost pass out. Downhill ski my ass.

Were I to name this leg of the event, I might choose something a bit more descriptive and/or accurate. For example, some fitting names include but aren't limited to:

1. Climb to the Summit of Mt. Baker in Ski Shit Ill-Adapted To the Purpose
2. The Only Way It Gets Worse is if You're Trapped in an Avalanche With A Live, Hungry Bear
3. Wanna Vomit, Cry And/Or Wish You Were Dead?

But I made it! Take that, Mount Baker! And my team finished squarely in the middle of the pack - decent showing for a first-time mixed rec team. I did slightly better than average for my leg -- they estimate it will take 25 minutes for the first place finisher, and between 30 and 50 minutes for the rest. I came up near 35 minutes. (If I hadn't stopped once to curse my own existance and watch two of my competitors stop to puke, I might have done slightly better, but what can you do?)

Interestingly, my legs aren't sore at all -- they're in pretty good shape from the volleyball I play a couple times a week. My right shoulder is on fire from carrying my skis up the damn mountain, but the worst part was just the cardiovascular endurance. I was working so hard that it was pretty much anaerobic - and my lungs are in moderate shape, at best. So I'm recommitted to running a couple times a week. I'm convinced by the time I get suckered into doing this again next year, (which is inevitable) I'll be able to significantly improve my time, if I train right.

It's amazing how soon after such a horrible, painful event you can be willing to put yourself right back there. Something like childbirth, I guess. Honestly, in the middle of the climb, it occurred to me that I actually paid to be there, and I was so incredulous that I would have laughed out loud, if I hadn't been suffocating and struggling to remain conscious. It was, as I've said to anyone who will listen over the past 48 hours, probably the hardest thing I've ever done.

And yet here I am, two days later, glowing with accomplishment, ready to do it all again -- but better next time.

May 26, 2006

Wish me luck.

I'm doing this this weekend.
This is my leg.

I am quite entirely serious when I say that this may very well kill me. If the getting up at 5 a.m. part doesn't take care of it first, the 1,000 foot clim up the face of a snow-covered mountain in unwieldy ski boots most certainly will end my existence on this planet. But, always the optimist, I've compiled a list of pros and cons.

Upside 1. If I just have a minor stroke but still make it to the top of the mountain, the odds are good that a hunky ski patrol guy will have to ski me down to the bottom on one of those stretchers, giving me plenty time to look at his ass

The downside: Stroke=drool. Drool does not=sex appeal times one million. Also, stroke=paralysis. Paralysis does not=responsive to advances, even if I do manage to not drool.

Upside 2. If I drink enough the night before, I may well be able to do the whole race while still blacked out (though it's been probably 4 years since I've gotten that intoxicated, so the odds are probably better that I win the race or the lottery, but...), thus erasing all the horrific pain from my memory

The downside: nausea. No one likes a crying puker calling for her mommy on a snowy mountain at an athletic event. Major morale-buster.

Upside 3. I will possibly be the best looking woman there for two reasons: first, this thing is mostly done by men. Second, this thing is mostly done by hippies. Hell-lloo, self-esteem booster!!

Me, panting and entering cardiac arrest but still attempting to muster a come-hither for the tall drink of water passing me: "Heee--gasp--eeey!"

Tall drink of water, head down, fixated on conquering the mountain like a real competitor: "Mmmph".

Me: "I shave!"

TDOW, perking up a bit, still focused on winning the God-forsaken race: "Mmm?"

Me, in one breath: "I don't even know what patchouli IS!! And I've never taken a feminism class! And I don't think strip clubs are offensive!!"

TDOW, giving up on the race and lurching at me: "Bushes!! NOW!"

Downside: I'm pretty sure most of the men there will be hippies. Which means a few bad things, including but not limited to extreme sensitivity, a fatal attraction to their guitars and the sound of their own voices singing bad Dave Matthews cover songs (OR, worse, sappy fucking songs they WROTE... oh my God, if that isn't a dealbreaker...), smelliness, an irritating fixation on politics, cutting plastic six-pack rings, and washing and re-using ziploc baggies, and terrible superiority complexes. None of these are good things.

I'll let you know how it goes.

May 18, 2006


So I'm now officially 25 and two days. And, although I'm now fighting obsession with the tiny laugh lines around my mouth and am pretty sure I spotted a spider vein in the shower this morning, I'm still, for all intents and purposes, perky in all the right places and have muscle tone in my upper arms, which is nice.

Also, I hear I'm still climbing to my "sexual peak", whatever that is, and won't start the hideous descent down the other side of this mysterious mountain until sometime after 30, so I guess I have that to look forward to.


Last night, the girls took me out to dinner (Mexican and Mojitos) in my new city of residence, which is Kirkland (more on this later -- please don't send a lynch mob out for me before I have a chance to explain).

The meal was nice. The Mojitos were incredible, and all of the girls present were at least one year younger than me, which sounds demoralizing, but turned out not to be. I mean, yes, they totally kept insisting they'd heard from reputable sources that 25 was the "best year" of a young, single woman's life, which is the most obnoxious thing I've ever heard out of the mouth of a 23 year old with legs like a baby girraffe. But, after one Mojito they were shrill and shrieky and the center of everyone at the restaraunt's attention (in a bad way). We were THOSE girls. You know, the noisy, obnoxious ones who occasionally let the F word slip out just loud enough for the buttoned-up family across the restaraunt to hear. The herd of girls who are so engrossed with themselves and each other that they have utter disregard for everyone around them.

We were the irreverent representation of all that is fun about being young, kissed by summer and vodka, and every old person in that place actively hated us for it. Except the waiter, who spent most of his time fluttering around our table, clumsily filling up our water glasses, stuttering and blushing (when he wasn't trying to peer down the fronts of our shirts).

It was a good evening.
There was cake and a mishap with a lighter.
There were a handfull of cellphone photos taken, and even one accidental video (my phone is actually smarter than I am, which is terrifying).
There were a number of off-color jokes, old memories re-told, and something about the difference between a bolo and a bolero.

We were silly and free and ignored the few annoyed patrons around us. And when we stumbled out into the warm night, I was full of the abandon of youth. But after the air kisses and well-wishes and on my short walk home (gifts in tow and mint still on my breath), something changed:

I found myself looking forward to my quiet home, a glass of wine on my deck, and a chapter of my current book. I considered my job, which I love, and was thankful that I've found something that turns me on from 8 to 6 on weekdays, and I thought about re-potting my wilting Jasmine plant. And changing my oil. And what I wanted to do with the rest of the year.

And I realized that this transformation from child to something distincly more sophisticated isn't as abrupt or unnatural as I feared. It's gentle, and empowering. And I like it.

So, though I may be a year older, I've decided I've got at least two things going for me:

1. very immature friends who encourage me to just let go, and
2. the recognition that while youth is certainly a ball, there's nothing wrong with being happy to be right where I am; in the present, evolving.

May 04, 2006

May Mixtape and geeky linkage

We're only four days into May, but in those four days, I've essentially lived on eight songs by a grand total of six artists:

1. "Breathe Me" -- Sia: I don't know. Just like it's breathy neediness. I'm having a real girly month, I guess. I can't explain it.

2. "Here I Am" and "Nobody Knows Me (Like My Baby)" -- Lyle Lovett: Dude, I just really love this guy. He's the asymmetrical equivalent of my crush on pretty much every nerd. He's smart, and a little sensitive, and dry, and funny, plus funny looking. All that, I'm pretty sure, equals gangbusters in bed. Also, sometimes he sings imagery that I carry in my head: Reading newspapers over people's shoulders, warm yellow mornings, lonely breakfasts, riding horses on boats on oceans, cream in my coffee, etc. I don't expect you to understand it, of course.

3. "Sleeps With Butterflies" and "A Sorta Fairytale" -- Tori Amos: I was recently told that Tori Amos was entirely unlikeable by men. This I cannot understand. Men like/lust Fiona Apple (and so do I), and I consider Tori Amos to be Fiona's predecessor -- a little offbeat, darkish with a twist of hopefulness and humor; a generally incredible musician exploring obvious but semi-twisted themes, etc. Though these two songs in particular are sweeter than she was in her early years, I still think they're lovable by both sexes. Unless you're incredibly insecure, that is. I mean, she uses words like "butterfly" and "fairytale", so...

4. "I Could Hold You In My Arms" -- Ray Lamontagne: I've pimped R. L. before, but that is because he is just awesome. This song, in particular, has been high on my playlist this month. A note: the very best part of the song starts at 3:35. It's the best verse, and he sings the last chorus in a way that makes me replay it about 13 times before I finally let it end and go on to the next song on the playlist. I'm serious. Listen to the way he sings "I could hold you..." at the beginning of the last verse. It almost brings me to either tears or orgasm. I can't decide.

5. "Come Pick Me Up" -- Ryan Adams: Um, because I wish you would, and there's a little bit of wonderfullness in that kind of willing abandon, if that's not too much of an oxymoron to even exist. Obviously.

6. "Long Ride Home" -- Patti Griffin: Reminds me of my mother. And, by extension, also of me. For different, but probably related, reasons.


Check this out. Any site that compares me to Kirstin Dunst, Keri Russell, and Audrey Hepburn is just fine by me, thanks! (Let it be said, though, that when I ran a photo of a friend of mine who will remain nameless, Robert Downey Jr. came up. My friend is female. So perhaps ego boosts don't come standard...)

Find other cool Flickr mashups in this list of wonderfulness. God, I'm a geek. I totally used the word "mashup". I guess I should maybe consider retiring the pocket protecter, huh?

I've had this real-time Abe Vigoda alive/dead status icon on my desktop for months and it just occurred to me to share it with you perverse souls. So there you go. I think I might actually care now if Mr. Vigoda really DID die. He's my little (tiny) (virtual) buddy now, sitting there at the bottom right corner of my toolbar, staring morosely off into the distance, with his too-dark eyebrows and convincing mobster persona radiating all over his corner of my computer screen every morning, afternoon and night...

And, finally, LOST -- streaming! So you don't need to have a Tivo or cancel your plans every Wednesday night simply so you don't miss the single most addictive television show ever created (outside P. Diddy's "Making the Band" and VH1: Behind the Music, of course)!!