Monday, March 10, 2008

I got something that'll sho nuff set yo' stuff on fire

We were on vacation last week. KB had taken a week off because we thought there was going to be an opportunity to see Alan and Kathleen, but that didn't work out. So instead, we stayed close to home and just did a couple little day trips.

We went to the aquarium in Camden on Tuesday afternoon, which turned out to be the perfect time to go - it was practically deserted, so Nolan had lots of running around room, plus the animals seemed very active; when Nolan and my mom and I went last summer, the hippos in the African River exhibit just sat there (not that I blame them, considering the weight they have to heft around) doing nothing, but this time they got out of the water, walked around, splashed back in, swam past the glass, etc. It was great! Alas, we forgot our actual camera, so instead we have several grainy cameraphone pictures.

We got to touch sharks (Spotted Bamboo sharks), jelly fish, sting rays (little baby ones, with the stingers removed), lobsters and shrimp. I refrained from touching the jellyfish, lobsters, and shrimp. Tempting, but no. Nolan was waaaaay into the touch tanks. Literally. We tried to roll his sleeves up, but that doesn't do much good when he's got his arm in the water up to his shoulder. KB swears Nolan had his face in the shrimp tank. (Of course, we took off his wet shirt and stuck it in a plastic bag in the diaper bag, where I forgot it until Sunday when we did laundry. Mmmmmm, stinky fermented shrimp water shirt.) The other good thing about the place being deserted was that when Nolan had his standard No Nap Today Late Afternoon Freakout, there weren't that many witnesses around. We like to have some privacy when we beat the boy.

Then I got to have some Me Time! I took the car, all by myself, and went up to Windham Mountain to snowboard for a day! Huzzah!

The Windham Mountain experience was a wee bit on the lame side, I have to say. I mean, the jones to snowboard was satisfied, so just on that alone I would say it was a good trip, but the place itself was kind of "eh." I drove up Wednesday afternoon (I got to fulfill my desire to play Vampire Weekend on a road trip! Woo-hoo!) and got to the mountain around 5, only to be told there was no night skiing on Wednesdays (something not mentioned on the web site). Waaahh! I wanted to maximize my ski-time to drive-time ratio! So I drove to my hotel thinking I would check in, get dinner, read my book and chill out. I checked in and was told that the hotel restaurant was closed on Wednesdays (also not mentioned on the website, or by the person who took my reservation over the phone). Argh. So I drove up and down the "main street" of the town of Windham looking for a restaurant that was open, and ended up in a (read "the only") diner. Which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, it was just...not what I was imagining. Then I went back to the hotel, took a bath and watched two episodes of "Ghost Hunters." (I love that show.)

I woke up at 6:30, thinking the mountain opened at 8, went down to the lobby to get my free Continental breakfast and check the conditions, only to be informed by the sign that the mountain didn't open until 9. 9 a.m.! What kind of mountain doesn't open until 9?!?! Sigh. But eventually, I got there, and then things were better.

[I don't have any pictures of myself from that day, because while I am a competent snowboarder, I am not skilled enough to take a self-portrait whilst riding, especially with my crappy cell phone camera (see above photos) or our chunky little Kodak EasyShare, which I did not bring since it would have gotten crushed the first time I fell. So instead please take this random screengrab of a dude (or possibly dudette) catching some air, and pretend it's me even though I have never gone that big in my life. Thanks.]

The conditions weren't great - mostly crunchy corduroy with occasional icy patches in the morning followed by tracked-out slush in the afternoon as the day got warmer - but I didn't really care. I was riding agin! Yay! There was hardly anybody there, so there were no lift lines to speak of. I rode the whole morning (about 9 - 12:30) with wrist guards (for falls) and without my iPod (to hear other people), just to be on the safe side. Had lunch (seven dollars for a tuna salad sandwich, eep) and mused over the lift operator (identified by his name tag as Javier from Santiago, Chile - why anyone from Chile would be working a tiny, crappy Eastern US mountain is beyond me) who asked me out of the blue, "Are you Alec's mum?" To which I said, "" He said, "Oh, sorry sorry." And I was like, "No problem." but internally I was going, "Damn. I guess I still look like someone's mom (or mum), even while shredding."

After lunch I got my iPod out of the locker, and prepared to mellow out. One of the main reasons I love snowboarding is that it really forces you to focus on your body and what it's doing. You look down the mountain, you see the hills and the curves of the terrain and you have to simultaneously plan ahead - where to turn, what to avoid, how fast to go - but also to react quickly as things change and don't go exactly according to your plan. It's a very "in the moment" activity, and if I can hit my stride, really start carving and flying and I've got some good music's beautiful. That nagging voice in my head that's constantly got some yammering commentary finally shuts up for a while. There's no time for it, really, you're just focussing on your legs, your feet, the board, the's so peaceful. Or it can be.

But then, speaking of plans going awry, my iPod betrayed me. Big time. I hit "Shuffle Songs," which is pretty much my SOP - just give me something random, because everything that's on the iPod I put on there, so it should be good, right? Right. I forget sometimes that the iPod takes EVERYTHING that's on my iTunes when I sync it, no matter if I actually want to listen to the song or it was some random thing I downloaded (like...oh...say...giraffe sounds. Lots of them. Each one or two seconds long. To show Nolan that giraffes actually DO make noises*) eight months ago for some obscure reason. And damn if Binkley (that's my iPod) didn't keep throwing out the WORST possible songs at the worst possible times.

For instance: I'm getting on the lift when the lift operator decides he wants to talk to me about something concerning my lift ticket. I have to take off my headphones to converse with him. What does Binkley serve up? Amy Grant's "Baby Baby." Oh yes. Because, see, I was in charge of games at my stepsister's baby shower, and I made up a game that was basically just "Name That Song" that had 'baby' in the title. So I had to download a bunch of 'baby' songs to burn the CD for the shower. That's the only reason that was on there! I swear! I never once thought nostalgically about my high school boyfriend and his prediliction for singing that to me! Never! But there's no way to explain that to random lift operator boy. Nor would I want to - I'd come off like I have Tourette's, I'm sure.

And then, of course, as soon as I'm on the lift and swinging up over the trees and into my 7-minute ride up the mountain, what comes on? Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," which is still cool despite being used for Carnival Cruise Line commercials**. I want to point the headphones back at the lift operator and crank the volume.

Next ride down the mountain, Binkley goes on a Muppet Show jag, and I get three Muppet-related tracks in a row, the final one being Kermit's nephew Robin singing "I'm Five." Now, I love the Muppet Show, but that's just not one of the better songs - what about "Mahna Mahna," Binkley?

Now, I hear you saying, "What the fuck, Athena? Just change the stupid song if you don't like it!" and I agree with you...except. Except there are bad songs that are just lame and can't even be enjoyed in an ironic this-is-so-horrible-it's-kind-of-good way, and then there are songs that are sort of mediocre and can be tolerated for a brief while. And you have to decide - Is this really that terrible a song that I need to 1) take my glove off, making sure not to drop it off the lift 2) unzip my jacket 3) open my interior pocket and 4) fumble with cold-benumbed fingers to press the scrollwheel and change the song? And then re-fasten all those unfastened items? Or do I just suffer though it and hope that something better comes up next? And I, being a "let's just stick with the status quo unless things get drastic" kind of girl, usually just suffer.

But it was like Binkley was onto me, and kept fucking with me on purpose. Going up by myself on the lift, where I can't actually ride or move or do anything? "Grey Cell Green," by Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Woo-hoo! Righteous! Righteouuuuuus!

Going down the last part of the run to the lift where other people may hear what's leaking out of the headphones? "Bananaphone," by Raffi. Sigh.

But, in the end, Binkley redeemed himself. The lifts closed at 4 (4pm! What kind of a mountain, etc.) and as I got on the lift at 3:50, I knew this would be my last run. So as I skated off at the top and made sure my step-in binding clicked, I asked Binkley to be kind and give me something good for my last run. I start carving, and what comes on? Chaka Khan. "Tell Me Something Good." Sweet. Peace at last.

Oof. I've got more Nolan pictures and more events to relate, but it is 11pm and I started this post at 9:30 this morning. I'm spent.

Thanks for reading.

*It's kind of a snorty/hiccupy kind of noise, in case you're wondering

**Which makes it #2 on my list of "Best (Presumably) Unintentional Heroin References" in commercial product marketing, #1 being UPS's "What can 'Brown' do for you?" campaign.


Zach said...

Are you allergic to even touching shellfish? Or was it more of the ew factor?

Hooray! Snowboarding! I often fondly remember meeting you in Mammoth after a hellish late-night white-out drive (and taking riding lessons from Paulo the blue-eyed Argentine). Next season, we're riding together somewhere! Commence the planning!

Also, I nearly fell off the couch with the giraffe sounds.

Erica said...

Yay! I love that you named your iPod Binkley! Mine used to be called Clive, but then I reset it to Jemaine once I got my mac. Who knows what it'll be called next.

thptpth said...

It was definitely the Ewww! factor. And yes, let's plan to meet up somewhere good (like Tahoe or Mammoth or Jackson Hole) next season. For sure this time. No really.

And yay, Jemaine! That's a good iPod name, too. I just finished watching the first season of FOTC, and I can't decide if it's merely a cutely funny show or the most brilliant comedy- music duo since Tenacious D.