Friday, January 30, 2009

WIHP: Airborne Edition

A cracking example of Why I Hate People on the flight from Boston to Heathrow today.

I was settling in to a relatively empty flight, and just starting to enjoy having a row of 4 to myself. Then, like mold that grows slowly behind the walls and creeps up on you, making you realize after it's too late that you have a life-threatening infestation, I started to hear her. More accurately, her grating tone started to work it's way into my ears.

She was kneeling on her seat, leaning over the seatback talking to the person behind her. They were four and three rows in front of me, respectively, and on the opposite side of the plane. I was desperately trying to focus on my book. After I'd read the same sentence 3 times without absorbing it, I realized that what I had retained was information about her that I didn't care to hear. There were words like 'human rights lawyer' (a noble profession, to be sure. Not sure it's what she does, though), 'Oxford', 'Cambridge', and 'fellowship'. Since she was flying from Boston, I'm surprised I didn't hear 'Harvard' somewhere in the mix. I got the impression that she wanted everyone else to hear her drop the names of places of significance.

The captain came over the p.a. to deliver his greeting, which is the only part of the pre-flight dronings that I care to hear. Her loudspeak made it impossible to hear what the captain was saying, which only heightened my annoyance. The only thing that would have made it worse was if she'd been talking on a phone about running into Derek Jeter.

When the time came for us to take our seats-an announcement that I miraculously WAS able to hear-I thought this would mark the end of my audio agony. Oh how wrong I was! She continued talking over the top of the seat, and once we reached the magic, tone-signaled altitude, she was out of her seat like a shot and back at it.

To add insult to injury, the two seats next to her, AND next to the man she was talking at, were empty. She could have spared us all and sat down next to him and had a nice, quiet conversation. Instead, everyone in rows 44 and back can now recite to you her comings and goings, and those of her children, including 'the little one', to whom she referred more times than I can count.

I had followed a woman down the jetway who was wearing black pants with crusty white lines around her pant legs that resembled an EKG of someone with an irregular heartbeat. I saw this same woman again in baggage claim, because the capillary action of salt mixed with melted snow on city sidewalks is pretty unmistakable, particularly after a heavy snow fall. I realized that the woman with the salty pants was the same woman who was the source of my ire.

The only solace I can take from this is that she was returning home, and the odds of me having the same experience on the way back are slim to nil. I hope.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Being An Intermediate

The thing I thought about on the chairlift was the concept of 'intermediate'. It occurred to me, while I was looking at the blue run pass by underneath, that the term 'intermediate' applies to me across pretty much every recreational endeavor I do. I've described myself as 'intermediate with expert tendencies' in the past, and I thought that this sort of summed up the whole idea of what being an intermediate is. You have moved past being a beginner, and you are working your way towards being an expert.

You are in the middle. Middlin'. Average. Straddling the fence. Equidistant. Mezzo. Moyen. There are moments of absolute fluidity, when you and the bike/board feel as one, and you move into that trance-like state in which things just happen on their own with no intervention from you. Then, on the very next section of trail, or run on the piste, you feel out of balance and have no flow or finesse. You get to the bottom and wonder what the hell just happened, and ask yourself why you can't repeat the previous feeling constantly. Why is there no consistency? Oh that's right, it's because you are an intermediate.

Being in the middle has varying degrees, though. You can be closer to the beginning of the middle, or more towards the end. I think I display less beginner and more expert, so I'll call myself someone who is departing the middle and moving towards the more advanced.

The problem is, I've been stuck exiting the middle for a Very. Long. Time. So long, in fact, that I should have progressed to being a full-on expert a while ago, and at this point I should be a bit embarrassed that I'm not any better than I am. This applies to riding and snowboarding, but if I thought about it for a while, I'm sure I can come up with some other metaphor that this analogy also applies to.

I have a huge fear factor. This is what holds me back from the necessary push that I need to get better. The thought of getting hurt, and thus being unable to ride again for 6-8 weeks, is more agonizing than being conservative and sticking to what I know. I suppose I've learned how to really enjoy the lack of extremeness that I've achieved. I see other people doing things I wish I could do, and I think how amazing it would be, yet I can't bring myself to try. I still have fun, but that fun is almost always laced with the hidden desire to be better, and perhaps have what my subconscious feels would be 'betterer, more funerer fun'.

Oh well. The world needs it's intermediates to keep the balance between the staggeringly graceful, and the agonizingly clumsy. I can accept that, and I'll keep looking for those moments when I feel more like an expert, and I'll keep asking myself how I can make that happen more often than not. In the meantime, I'll have a fantastic time doing whatever it is that is better than riding the couch.

At least I'm an expert at that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All Are Equal

I had a whole different post in mind to write today. I was sitting on the chairlift when the idea came to me. I was excited about the notion of typing the post up, not because it was some profound observation, but because I felt like I sort of learned a little bit more about myself.

Then, I got home and saw the inauguration of President Obama. I left the TV on for Frazier while I was out boarding. It had been on ABC this morning, since I knew they were planning on having a lot of coverage, which meant there would be a lot of talking going on. I think having the TV on soothes my dog a bit while I'm away. Maybe not.

Anyhoo...I got back just in time for the swearing in. Anyone who knows me probably understands that I don't consider myself to be all that patriotic. It's been a tough 8 years for this country, and although we are taught that we are to respect the office of the President, even if we don't respect the man in it, I have to say that the actions of the most recent occupant have made me lose faith in our government as a whole.

Like most people who are happy about the election outcome, I was looking forward to today. Out with the old, in with the new. As I watched, I started to get that same feeling of hope that others have had about our new leader. So, as I continued to watch, I found myself sort of compelled to write a post about this instead.

So, for the first time in nearly a decade, I feel a little bit patriotic. Maybe it will be cool to be an American again in the near future. I'm hopeful.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This whole concept of making New Year resolutions has, over the years, become irksome. Making decisions that benefit yourself and others is something that should be done on a regular basis, not just once a year. How many people live up to their resolutions anyway? And when they don't, how often do they feel down on themselves? So, I've given up on the idea of a resolution at the beginning of the year, and instead, decided to carry on making good choices all the time, and conducting myself in such a way that I at least give the appearance of being a nice person.