february, 2007

Fri, 2 Feb 2007 20:36:44 -0800

There's something hypnotic about blasting music, loud. I never do it, I realize -- at the Radiohead concert last June was the last example I can think of -- but, in cars, stretches of freeway between you and your destination, be it home (Matt from my old team driving up 101, evenings), down to work (Shane cranking up as he drove me back to work that one week in June), or, as right now, to Tahoe: four random Googlers in borrowed car of a fifth; TV On The Radio's new album loud; driving up to a weekend of, if not snow, at least hot tubs, preceding the company ski trip. Several hundred miles remain; we have full iPods; I'm blogging from a heated passenger seat; the moon rises out my window. The night is young.

Thu, 8 Feb 2007 22:48:48 -0800

Of course, it would start snowing just as Dylan, Ara, Steve & I were pulling out of the lane that led to the Resort at Squaw Creek, that ridiculously plush place where the company puts us up every year for a weekend (well, "day" technically, but who am I to stand on a technicality?) of, as an email said, "team building." And it certainly does build camaraderie within the XXXX-odd (I couldn't say even if I did know, actually) employees up and down the west coast, who were flown both up and down for this, and bussed up from the Bay Area, to fall down a lot on semi-hard snow, drink beer and eat Clif bars to fortify themselves at lunch, eat brownies and sit in the hot tubs (there are, like, four of them), and then scavenge for drink tickets to be used on one of the many themed bars (ever the stoic, Griff wandered around for a while holding in his bare hand a goblet carved out of ice, which the professional -- what?! -- ice sculptors had chainsawed out earlier in the evening, which, thanks to the melting properties of his hand, no longer held liquid, as I found out when I poured some of my Long Island iced tea into it), followed by figuring out which after-parties in whose room were the best (and how to use the new predictive text on my new RAZR to text people to help me figure it out!), and, once there, what glasses -- or, hell, vessels (I used a Pyrex measuring cup for a single malt towards the end of Monday evening) -- were clean enough to drink out of. And then we struggle up of our high-thread-count sheets in time for check-out at 10 AM, and decide whether or not to attempt going back to work that day. And thus it was that, by mid-morning when the four of us piled back into Dave's Audi for the drive back Wednesday morning, I discovered that my compatriots (patriots of the land of snow, such as it was, that is) had no intention of returning to Mountain View until the next day. And then it started to snow.

The snow hadn't, actually, been as sparse as I'd feared -- last weekend, Heavenly had been the worse for long traverses and ice; this, either I was better remembering how to keep an edge, or the snow was more forgiving (I'll lay money on Squaw over Heavenly any day), but the falls I did take didn't hurt as much. Mostly. The bruises on my knees compounded, but, as the weather warmed and we shed layers (Ara was just in her t-shirt at one point, complaining of heat; every time I unzipped the vents in my jacket or snowpants, I ate snow), the surface got just slushy enough to be pleasant. After driving up Friday after work and boarding for two days solid, though, we took it easy on my actual wave, Monday -- easy on the knees, which were starting to hurt from hobbling along when I got stuck on a catwalk and had to strap out, and from the board dangling off the left foot on lifts -- and did a very abbreviated half day.

Ara (newly cut bangs) and Steve (out of his monochromatic character, in white snowpants) are better than I am on a board, but not so much that, like Ojan and Julie did on last year's weekend warrior ventures, they want to do black diamonds. They like to do Tahoe the way I do: Waking up around nine; bagel and hummus for breakfast from some little hippie café along the drive; blue squares for the day; beer for lunch; not pushing yourself on the last run of the afternoon. Monday, over just-out-of-the-fryer fries at the bottom of the mountain, sitting on a patio as the sun slid rapidly behind the slopes, with a blonde bock, we discussed the fact that children are ridiculously cute on skis, until they start talking. The need to not have them yet, in order to sow wild oats -- which is definitely what you'd call the champagne consumed Sunday night, in between bouts of cookery at Dave's cabin; the hwops (that's "H-wops") + other ridiculous boys after-party at the Resort on Tuesday night, for which I stayed through a second official wave (which enabled me to talk to many more people than at the clusterfuck that had been this year's holiday party); the days of carving it up on the mountain, at which I'm decidedly better than last year. Good snowboard buddies, them.

All this company bonding / wild-oats sowing has sapped my reserves, a bit (though I do appear to have gotten a few get-out-of-jail-free cards from my body!). Since we weren't going to the south bay anyhow, I requested, and received, a detour through Berkeley for bagels; since I wasn't stuck on a shuttle on 101 up from work, I braved the first (!) San Francisco rains for a humid 6-PM yoga class at a different studio than usual. My arms, sore from pushing myself up off the snow all weekend, protested through chaturanga-pushups, but I needed that detox. I washed my hair with Resort-branded sage shampoo (smelled so good it was almost edible; I had to buy extra!) and recollected my weekend, remembering which parts of my body were sore from what, which bruises had come from what activity.

Tonight, it's raining even more. As I walk over on Steiner and Waller under linden trees and jasmine to pick up my CSA veggies, hooded in my orange ski-and-rain jacket, I'm jealous of Cooper, who, cognizant of the impending snow (and, apparently, blessed with more time off than I feel I can take just now), is still up at Squaw. But my joints -- to say nothing of the rest of me -- couldn't do it again just now. Maybe the weekend after next.

Mon, 12 Feb 2007 20:32:01 -0800

Last week, I began to feel very athletic. As the bruises sustained at Heavenly began to fade from my knees, my forearms began to notice that I'd been pushing myself up off the snow, and tightened. My post-ski-trip detox on my unintentional day off last week culminated with an intense class of yoga; this Saturday morning, even after being out dancing and tying boys' ties at a house party in the Mission until 2 AM with Jaime, I returned to Les's "hatha flow" class at Yoga Tree Castro, feeling none the worse for the wear of the previous night.

And that afternoon, I bought a snowboard! I've been wanting to do this since the end of last season, since it became apparent that I did, in fact, like this sport; that the snowpants for which I'd shelled out on a last-minute REI trip were in fact going to get more than two days' usage. But, advised to buy on my last day up in Tahoe for the season, and not knowing it would be my last when the time came, the opportunity slipped me by. This year, I could have waited again, but the premium (I reasoned) I'd spend on a new board at this point in the season would even out what I'd otherwise spend on rentals. And plus, the idea of my own gear is tantalizing: legitimatizing (street cred!); promising (better quality; familiarity to be gained from using the same equipment day to day). I took a deep breath (to gird my mental loins against the real hipsters populating Haight Street; to recite the mantra that my annual bonus will be paid out soon) and entered SFO.

Perhaps I paid a bit more for the entire package -- boots, board, and bindings -- than I intended. But I also intend to grow into this board, and, like the purchase of my first road bike a year and a half ago, I wanted to err on the side of quality. No point in spending the money for something substandard that I would only outgrow in a year, or even by the end of this season.

So I got a pretty one. My mental image of the Platonic ideal of my snowboard-to-be, of course, was orange; limiting along factors such as size, brand, and year, the choices are greatly diminished. And I couldn't get the swirly-striped Burton that Julie had just gotten. My new Option, a Kendra Starr design, is a colorful dia-de-los-muertos imprint of a rooster, a mouse, and skulls on a white background, white bindings, and brown boots (which, for the record, fit me better than any rentals ever have). The salesguy called it "sick" -- "Isn't this the setup you would want to have, if you were a chick?" he prodded his fellow snowboarders for corroboration. (It was.) So pretty.

Look at all this dwelling! I have begun, apparently, in addition to feeling athletic, to feel acquisitive. To wit: replacement awesome jeans; a haircut Sunday afternoon, right before picking up my freshly-waxed snowboard from the shop on what turned out to be a very sunny Sunday afternoon. Three boys in their mid-20's sitting on a high stoop whistled out their approval for my new board as I bore it back up Cole to the MUNI stop, so I paused, and set it on end so they could see its cool tattoo of a design. The short layers of my newly-cut hair flapped around my face in the breeze as they reäffirmed their compliments ("sweet!" "nice!" "sick!"); I always feel an extra degree of validation when boys check out my gear, and not [just] me.

I love this lifestyle. Call it profligate; call it yuppie; call it hedonistic -- it's all three -- but damn, it makes me happy. Now, I just need to find a ride to Tahoe for next weekend, and to get that annual bonus ...

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 20:46:14 -0800

My foot hurts again. This would be maddening -- after being slowly injured in May of last year, hobbling around on it for months (first in an orthopedic boot, club-footing it up Duboce to Buena Vista East; then in my negatively-heeled Earth shoes), months of physical therapy, and a confused podiatrist -- but, at this point, it's kind of just sad.

Maybe it's been the increased yoga, the recent snowboarding (there was powder, sweet powder, with my new board this past President's Day weekend!), the rain that's forcing me to wear my heeled clogs (so as, the reasoning goes, to not walk off the hem of my new jeans, which I haven't had time to get taken up yet, and to protect my feet from the damp pavement). It's a fucking mystery. But for some reason, the nerve is back, asserting itself in utkatasana (the chair), tadasana (the mountain), as I worked tonight in yoga class to keep my knees aligned with the hips.

Tomorrow, I switch back to my Earth shoes. Hems of jeans be damned.

This is in keeping with what seems to be my own personal February Malaise (not to be confused with the more biologically-based January Plague). I was ready to dismiss it as a day of PMS last week -- much as I hate to admit it, it's useful to realize that, for one day a month, I become an irrational, emotional, depressive maniac, albeit in very subtle ways, such that, unless I check my calendar, it's insidious, invidious, and downright sneaky. At the symphony with Lara, I was unable to concentrate on the Dvorák 7th (why did I know only the third movement, and that so well?), to lose myself in the strings. Diagnosis? Easy! PMS. When it extended into the following day, though, and then the day after that, the straightforward hormonal write-off gave way to that of the February Malaise.

(February is the shortest month, breeding
frustration out of old pedal pain, mixing
rain and late shuttles.)

I still can't focus. Holding wrapped-and-bound postures that would usually have taken all my attention in yoga tonight (an early 8pm class), my mind wandered back to the syntax of the config files for which I've been modifying the compiler at work, to the orange zest Jonny flourished into my cocktail Saturday evening, to the vegan mac-n-cheese I made last night. The stuff of the everyday. They're not tropes, per se; they're not even motifs -- they're just the framework with which I surround myself. A girl singing thirds against Les's chanting at the beginning and end of class annoyed me unreasonably. But it was only she who drew my attention back to the melody of the now-familiar phrase.

Not that it's chronic. This too shall pass. But I suppose it's healthy to be something other than totally sanguine all the time.

all this Šnori heikkinen, February 2007

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