Here in Thirty

In May, I felt so far removed from the actual mountains that I began doing what I swear I wouldn’t do: read about other people’s snowboarding adventures. Moreover, I didn’t want to care what pros did: my snow life was my snow life, and what mine looked like had little to do with what I perceived to be a mass produced culture made to appeal to everybody and their grandma. Yeah, no-pros are awesome, and I’ve got nothing on them, other than spirit-wise, so anything other than spirit reading was going to irrelevant reading that would be better spent actually doing something. But what do you know? The English major side of me got the better of me and the wallpaper browsing and I went on for a ride.

Good thing writers have poetic license.

________________

Evening slid into dusk. Breaking ice chittered and catcalled through the forest. A cold chill seemed to have taken ahold of his core and the regret of not choosing to shoot in the streets put his nerves on end. He readily admitted that it wasn’t just the forest that was jittery-it was him.

“Here. In thirty.” A strobe light blinded him. The ever deepening fatigue in his legs protested, but he knew he had not a second to waste. Each second lost stole from the precious few he had to steel himself atop the shaky mount. For the thirtieth time, closed his eyes, then reopened them with a blank stare. “Drop!”

He did. The wind rushed past him, feeling raw, feeling new, as if it were his first time. No matter how many times he did this, the kinks in the branch always seemed to come up before his knowing. Before he knew what had happened he had once again shifted off course and keeled into the snow. A bitter laugh stopped in his throat. The camera man, not the fall, had shoved snow down his neck. He had slid right next to him. He felt his eyes on him as he unstrapped and shakily planted his boots into the only flat areas of snow in the trenches that he could find.

“Was any of it good?” he asked in a threadbare voice. He hadn’t had anything to drink throughout the entire session. It was starting to pull some of the life from him.

“I don’t know.” The photographer’s voice was gruff. “I’ll need to work on it in photoshop to see.”
I don’t know. That was how he felt. An uncertain version of himself, one that was was cheap, an imitation, a scruff. Perhaps he shouldn’t have come in with the confidence that he did. There was more to what he didn’t know than he could ever guess. And he thought he could have boosted his confidence. Well, his brain was delusional. It figured.

At the end of this, he thought as he helped the photographer with his gear, he might have a few shots that were worth nothing, as they were shooting stills. Or he might squeak by as he always had in life and win the winning five hundred dollar cover photo contest prize money. There was only one thing for certain. He was out of cash. There was nothing warming itself in the bank and certainly nothing warming itself on the cold coil of his father’s heart. Snowboarding was the only thing that he had paid for, and was still free for him to access.

Rich man’s sport, he reflected, almost gingerly. All he liftees he knew were poor. All the riders he rode with regularly were poor. Did snowboarding make them poor? Or had they just been poor with richer dreams than the next guy? Did it matter?

He assessed the lens he now held in his hand. A couple hundred dollars? A month’s worth of the cheapest rent?

No, he stopped himself, forcing a inward smile. I might be in one of the winning photos with which this was used.

That decided it-the $500. A split between the photographer and rider. 50/50, just like the trick, because a balance of rider and photographer talent was key. One good shot was all they needed.

His photographer had insisted, whiningly, that he could only take good shots in the trees. It was not the best because he himself was accustomed to the street, the way most poor kids learned to ride. In their backyards. But his photographer didn’t know how to compose electric photos in tired looking landscapes that were every landscaper’s nightmare. He’s a one trick pony, he realized bitterly. Just like me.

“Hey.” The photographer had turned his eyes on him. For the first time he could properly assess him. The whirlwind that had led them to this last minute setup still left him feeling dazed in his mind. “Be careful with that. You almost ran the lens with the razor edge of your snowboard.”
He almost let aloud his laugh. Razor edge? He’d detuned his to be his trick pony. What’s more, he highly doubted the photography nut, who had money for hundreds of dollars for equipment, would miss a few. “You betcha, I’ll be more careful.” He was careful not to raise his laughing, judgeful eyes. Caught on camera-that would just be great. With each malicious thought he felt his hunger and fatigue fading.

“Hey, look, it’s late,” he started experimentally.

The photographer looked up, his thin strawy hair ablaze in the strobe light.

“It’s almost night. I booked out of class to come here for you. How does treating me to dinner sound?”

The photographer opened his mouth, eyes wavering, was it fear that he saw? Immediately his indignant outlook hardened, sensing he was about to worm out of it.

“I..I can’t,” the photographer said, sounding remorseful but with eyes that didn’t match-eyes full of fear. “I have plans. Deadline-dependent plans.”

“Oh yeah?” He stood up, brushing the snow off his pants and knowing he would tower over him, spread his body so as to loom over him. “I broke mine to come to you. I said I’d rather do the shoot in the streets. I’d say it were a fair trade off.”

“No…no…I  can’t!” In the process of damning his excusing demeanor he had backed away, all his equipment in hand. Like a reversed turtle with his shell upon his front he curled around his equipment, seeming larger with the bulk, but ever more small. “Bye! I have to go now! I’ll keep in touch!”
He was never sure what happened next. The anger that he had just barely managed to tamper down exploded like an avalanche. The next thing he knew he had the photographer by his shoulders and the equipment had jumped out of his hands and onto the ground. “Look, is it so much to ask for?” I will make you know how I feel. “I’m always the one making sacrifices to come to you. We’re supposed to be a team! If we have a dinner then at least maybe we could have a chance at collaborating! And for a poor snowboarder that’s all we dream!”

The poor photographer’s shoulders started to shake. His body went limp in his arms. Surprised, awaiting a lash out, he felt a slight pang of fear of his own rage and let go. The last thing he needed was jail time for violence he didn’t intend to fully commit, nor the confirmation that his wild spirit and violent nature were one and the same.

“I’m s-so-sorry!” the photographer cried over and over again. “I-I’d g-go if I c-could! S-stop!”

The snowboarder side of him wanted to just leave him, come back tomorrow morning, and ride the bump that his body formed in the snow. But there were his photos on the line, and besides, it made him uncomfortable, he was uncomfortable with the way he had treated him.

“Don’t say sorry,” he offered noncommittally. “And stop crying.” That, if any, was ever a helpful comment in awkward situations. Lay your hands off him and he’ll stop!

But he didn’t. The photographer refused to stop crying, amped it up even, until he was blubbering like a baby. He started to feel a bit of the old anger again, simmering, not yet reaching a boiling point but ready at any moment too, felt the good old hunger pains incoming again. “I need you to drive me to the main road,” he said, apparently to the dead cold air. “There’s got to be a bus, I know there is.”

As if by chance the photographer picked himself up. Strangely enough he found himself staring at an extended hand. As if the proffered hand were a snake, he looked at it from both ways before committing to touching it. Had he just had a handshake with him? Who did handshakes nowadays?
“Edward,” Edward said, his voice warbling like a bird’s. “Ned for short.”

After a few awkward pumps, he surveyed the carnage of photo equipment on the ground and speedily let go of his hand to help Ned scoop it up. Ned nodded gratefully. “Tyler.” He didn’t meet Ned in the eyes. If he saw his face, he would probably see that he was burning. “Ty.” He hadn’t once thought of getting his name, unless it was on his business card. He was just ‘the photographer’. He never referred to him as anything else to his friends.

“Tyler.” Ned had cleared his throat and spoke a little stronger. “I would like to offer you an apology. The truth is, I can’t come because I have a promise to make good. But it’s not my fault that I have to make that promise.” He wet his lips. Something glistened in his eyes but he wiped it away. “My dad is a compulsive gambler and we’re out of money. He’s going to jail tonight. Unless I bail him.”

The night air was now complete with darkness except for Ned’s strobe and the main run lights. But the stillness was undisturbed, save for their breath. For what had been a long day, the last dregs of it seemed to last forever, refusing to end. Eventually he was aware of their breathing that was like a metronome in the night. Pulsing. Waiting.

“I..am…sorry,” he responded, as if the words were being punched out of awkward card. Each word felt like an unripe potato that refused to dislodge from its root. The snowboard, his gear, felt awkward on his body and in his hands, as if suddenly he wasn’t protected by it from it all, but encumbered by it, stupid.

After all, his father hadn’t really meant it. He still felt the grind of his newly healed ribs with each movement. With the slight movement the fear that had flashed through him-the fervour he’d felt for the chance to live-reignited. Three months later and Tyler had still not been able to forgive. The fit of anger that his father had had that resulted in him pushing him off the balcony did not budge or respond to treatment. He was lucky he had fallen onto the railing below and broken a rib instead. He could have died.

But it was an accident. Now he knew. Were Ned on a balcony a few minutes ago Tyler had no doubt his arms would have pushed until they fatigued-with strength he did not know he had-and stopped at nothing. Angry enough his father could have thrown himself over the balcony, not realizing he’d die, and continued to pummel him down below.

Once again the uneasiness arose within him but he felt able, ready to tamp it down. We are the same. It was time to stop running away, time to return to his family. I am not broke, or broken, Tyler thought. I do not have to run away from home when some people-Ned-have no other way. (to be continued…not)

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Some thoughts about Online Stalking

When you put thoughts onto the internet, you’re inviting people to stalk. But hey. It’s not really stalking. You do it all the time when you read a book. Except it’s called reading, and not stalking.

I stalk people. But I don’t do it in any different a way than I did without Facebook.

For some reason it doesn’t interest me to stalk my friends. I dunno. Respect I suppose-I only like to know about people what they tell me personally. We all know some people make a facebook for some theoretical audience and I think myself better in a deeper circle than to be included in their professionally tailored audience. I know better. Pertaining to that, I also probably already know a good chunk of them, and the chunk of them that is important to me. No, it’s way more interesting to stalk strangers.

While visiting the lodge each time at cypress to have my lunch I became familiar with the faces of the workers. And also on the bus. Some of the workers would go on the bus that I went on, too. A lot of them were really friendly as well but they were chatty with their coworkers and so loud it sort of excluded all of the quiet lonely skiiers and boarders that generally turned up music or slept so I never got to know them personally. Being workers though they had name tags and though I only ever got one’s name, stalking her online presence surprised me.

Well, her pages were full of glamour. Designer. It was endearing how much she liked fashion but I was also wondering where all the money came from-I don’t know how much fancy watches cost but I’m willing to bet a lot more than a fancy purse. And yet she was here, working a galley builder at my local mountain. Whatever would prompt someone to do that? Unless the pay was really that good…But she’s got education and moreover, however she is paid, she’s still just, well, doing seasonal work cleaning tables. Why? Sounds dreamy to me but I would want interaction and it was so quiet every time I went on the weekdays there was definitely no interaction or atmosphere, only tired people, and I have to say it, it’s “dirty” work-surely you can find better paying jobs that aren’t dirty. No mentioned of skiing or snowboarding anywhere. And I believe she takes the bus as well, which is an extra 2 hours tacked on to whatever transit came before (Problem with ski resort job: Min 2 hour transit per way or 4 hour transit per day, even if it sounds awesome as well, as awesome as I feel at subway making people happy with sandwiches and jokes before I get tired. Then I’d rather be out there, so maybe that’d be an annoying aspect of the job, not to mention all those hours on job during winter=not being out there.) Also interesting is that she runs a blog and she’s said recently she’s been trying to find meaning in fashion again and then after that there’s a post about how she loves to wear black. Hmm. Lifestyle change? It was posted END of ski season haha. Anyways where do you get money for stuff like that? You’d need to work a really nice job and work a lot and not have to worry about paying for school/living etc it seems to afford all of that. I dunno. Even my friend who’s been working since gr 10 at min wage and appears to buy expensive things does not have anything like that. Actually even my rich friend who doesn’t work but parents technically could afford her something nice never wears anything flashy. I don’t know this girl but I wish I did. Maybe I should have tried? But that’s so awkward. You don’t just make friends with workers. It happened to me and although it seems FAIRLY alright to make entire judgements of people’s characters based on their mannerisms in combination with what they wear in our hyper-aware constantly advertised and informed age group, it’s still weird as fuck. And mine didn’t turn out well so I don’t wish to repeat that upon someone else.

I thought it was stupid for my friend to try to maintain an air of mystery and all when she was trying to get a boyfriend. But now maybe I understand. Mystery is what draws us to people. Why are these people interesting? Do you think maybe they share a similar life story to you? Maybe they have answers to things you were wondering about life? Maybe you want there life? (Yeah, who doesn’t want to work at a mountain? Well let’s face it: playing and working in paradise are two different things.) That missing link is what made me interested in her backstory. I mean before that I just noticed her around every time and hoped she didn’t recognize ME and have any bad thoughts about ME like maybe leaving a microscopic mess every time I came to eat, etc, or if I was really tired would she wonder what the heck was I doing inside the lodge AGAIN. Blah blah blah. I wish there was a bit more social lubricant between worker and customer. Even though I’d love workers to admit they are tired or would love me to cheer them up when I order food at places, I myself find myself inextricably offering an “I’m great!” in response to customers. If I wasn’t so tired, to be honest, I kind of like my job. Until I get tired, I feel like I get to be the miracle worker making tired people perk up, and so on and so forth. So yeah. I still can’t really reconcile the two.

Just a little food for thought.

How Much Do you Invest in your Art?

Think about this; is it really true? How has this impacted your life? A not just art, but anything creative that you can do. For example snowboarding and creating a new line each time you do a run is something you might consider a part of your creative spirit. Will knowing this make a difference, or will it just alert you to the stakes you never realized were there, or as a reminder to step back from an undivided investment in creating a popular work of art?

 

‘When we fear that we do not matter or that our efforts do not matter, we get depressed.

“Similarly, the places where we make large investments of meaning, for instance in our performances, paintings, or books, are places of great anxiety, because there is more than our ego on the line, there is our very sense of the meaningfulness of our life.

“If the world is not interested in our paintings, for instance, we will be hard-pressed to maintain meaning there; so, when we come to the blank canvas, we can already be a little (or a lot) frightened that a negative reaction to this as-yet-unborn painting will precipitate a meaning crisis.”

Continued in interview: Investing meaning in our art.

He also comments: “Only a small percentage of creative people work as often or as deeply as, by all rights, they might be expected to work. What stops them? Anxiety or some face of anxiety like doubt, worry, or fear… anxiety is the great silencer of the creative person.’”

-Eric Maiser

 

 

Letter from a Hater

(rescheduled post from 2015; done so to fit with the teenage tarnish that is the highlight of this month’s posts!)

A funny letter by an angry reader inspired by the words “I think that’s pretty rare, especially in a [snowboarding] culture where people love to hate.” -Susie Floros

???

Dear Liker,

I read a line in a snowboarding publication the other day, and its brazen statement rang true: “It was odd for a sport based on haters.”

Yes, snowboarding culture is a sport run on hate, and yes, I’ve been a hater for most of my life. The list of things I’ve hated on: it’s endless. I love hating. Hating is so much fun that, when you have nothing else to be happy about, hating makes the bleakest days fun. In a way, the opposite happens when you channel negativity into the worst situations: interesting action abounds. Let me welcome you to my abode of hate.

My friends think I smile too much. I don’t think I hate enough. It’s infectious; it spreads like wildfire. Hating becomes so widespread that it reverses day and night, so that hating becomes lovin’. Just like the day is always for playin’ and the night is for sleepin’.

The most annoying thing to a hater is when no one hates back. It’s like lighting a match and finding out it’s wet: the fire you were expecting sizzles out like a slow-burning hiss of dread, so lethally quiet it deflates you. Hate inflates, despite what endlessly optimistic people would say, and when the fire dissipates, something matchless takes its stead: love. And boy, what a scary replacement that is.

Case in point, when I hated on the snow this season, I was met with a bunch of Likers. People who were upping their game; people who were sticking to the lean slopes even though they were learning for the first time. People attacked the slush and dirt like a pack of blind mole rats. Even the haters that I armed myself with refused to light the fuse with as much abandon as I did (and other things, too.)

The likers and lesser haters tried hard again and again to convince me that I was missing out. That by hating I was actually limiting the amount of fun experiences I’d have-after all, if I only showed up to hate, where would I go when the snow finally come down? I’d have to slither back to my burrow and hibernate until I found another dismal condition to hate, and by then I’d have revealed that the half-alive season had gotten to me. I’d have to admit that a semi-conscious season had taken its toll on me as a hater, and that likers and others were actually having a better time of it, dare I say-enjoying it.

But I rest my case. I have my place in the world. I anger the people who wouldn’t have come out otherwise but do so in order to prove me wrong, and I make seriously bad conditions so much more entertaining. Let’s face it: I entertain you. And you, me. Bad conditions or no, we’re in this together, and because we’re not a sport that discriminates, we’ll be on those lifts together. For better or for worse.

But I’m hoping for worse.

Signed,

hater

A Hater.

Closet Skiier

Hey guys!
I know I’m risking my balls here but…

I’m a closet skiier.

Snowboarding is just way too mainstream nowaways, yo.

Everyone and their grandma’s got in on the riding on the mountain.

It’s not as ballsy anymore as it is to slide up an icy jump sideways than it is straight up facing front.

All my friends ski and I’m the only one wearing clothing three sizes too big.

At the end of the day I feel like I’m dragging around ten tons of rags from all the snow that’s launched itself up my gear.

Too mainstream now, you know? Too many young kids who have no idea what they’re doing on the mountain, having a fling, messing up the snow, and leaving “for something more realistic” before they can do anything for the sport.

It’s not cool to be mainstream, so I gotta start talking clean and dressing clean on the mountains if I want to stand out.

Stupid punks! Where are they? We need them to make snowboarding other than hipster again.

-A Closet Skiier

Snowboarding is my general mode of snow transport. I also only have a snowboard and not enough time to pick up skiing, too. But I’ve thought about skiing a million times but only at first because skiing seemed easier and all my friends ski. Only recently after my friend, who hasn’t been insofar interested in sports but is in snowboarding because it’s cool, borrowed my skateboard for an hour and is planning to buy one because “It’s cool” did I realize we’re not alone on this punk boat anymore. I can run away the mountains but skiing’s history’s got something to offer too. Skiing has sanctioned stuff, it’s done by rich people usually while snowboarding is usually done by poor people. It can be said that longtime skiier are more patient, while snowboarders are more likely to leave you behind…their time is being burned on the mountain and time is what little money they have.

Instead of saying “skiing is g**” it should be “not liking skiing is g**.” The more people who get into snow sports, the better, right? If it was a powder day and I only had skis I’ll fall down the mountain rather than not go.

All I want to do is befriend everyone on the mountain. I don’t want to look like a douchey snowboarder because I want to make friends with skiiers and snowboarders alike. Why is it in general that skiiers who can ski don’t say “I’m a skiier” and the snowboarders who can’t ride and say “I am a snowboarder”? Snowboarding is a way of life and only just a past time…but so is skiing, and snowboarding in my age and generation at least has been so overblown I really find myself looking at its roots and wanting to see it as it really is (and not what it is hyped up to be.) I’m fascinated that snow sports can be invented just like that, and wonder at the possibilities of al the million other ways you could slide down the mountain. Imagine the adrenaline rush of a new form way of moving. Then again, the art of sliding on flat surfaces has already been perfected!

Ride Safe, Not Hard

Snowboarding as an commercial hard goods industry tries too hard. Yeah, I’m looking at you, skulls and dripping curse words. That’s the best of it. Those dam nice graphics in the store translate to try hards on the slope, where skulls and sexual innuendoes are a dime a dozen, and good riders are on a ratio of 1000:1. Snowboard graphics have pushed the envelop so hard since its inception the message has been lost to outer space. Instead I propose a graphics industry where snowboards don’t break the envelop but aim to stay sealed inside. Here are a few of my safely message-tucked-inside designs:

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.36.24 AM

The Be Safe from Protection Rides Co. $599. Start up company by a gang of “equal guys and girls” looking to keep people safe, and not make a lot of money with “tampon packaging inspired graphics”.  Each limited edition board comes with a holographic sticker guaranteed to save you from spills. Their motto is “Keeping you safe, just like your favourite ******”

Not sure why they went with an asterix rather than spell *. Maybe it B* stands for something?

 (to be continued…not)

Wired or Weird

One day I was browsing my friend’s TwoFacedbook account. There were lots of pictures of her looking great and happy partying with her friends. A second later, before I could even click on one of the pictures, my friend caught me on chat and wailed to me: HII HOW ARE YOU? 

You must be great, I thought. I am fine, I typed. Quickly I was replied: ARGH! Life sucks right now. Help?

Me, I said: Are you sure? You look great right now. Someone jack your account?

Said my friend: What are you talking about?? HELLO? ARE YOU THERE?

ARE YOU THERE????

Someone hacked your account, sorry I don’t converse with hackers…
U THERE!!! CMON!!!! IM NOT A HACKER!! IM REALLY MEEE!!

I had already logged off.

The same thing happened on Twiddler. And then Instagross. What a commotion! Everywhere I went seemed to heave its facade on me. I for one felt exhausted after an hour of social media and resolved to power off and leave them be. 

I laid down on my bed and got comfortable. Just as I was drifting off, I felt a hard object vibrate near me. Then something that sounded like an alarm went off.

I had forgotten to turn off my phone.

I had gotten a message on my I-Moan. Uh-oh, I thought. My phone was my last resort. I couldn’t cut off from that.

GET BACK ON TWOFACEDBOOK, my friend texted.

I threw my I-Moan at the wall and it left a fist size hole in the wall whereupon an eye peeked through. It was my mom.

“What are you children smoking these days?” she inquired incredulously. “No need to throw an expensive piece of technology away. Think of how useful it’s been and what if you didn’t have one like everybody else does!”

“Nah, mom! I’m not on anything! I’m really just thinking about what if I really didn’t have one like everyone else does!”

 

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Why I can’t Run an Instagram

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This is the only picture I have of a bluebird day at Cypress.

Thinking I could get back to them any time, I did not feel the need and even felt wasteful taking pictures….when I could be enjoying it on the fly.

I mean I value good photography and my on the fly shots are usually crap.

That’s not to say I didn’t take more than one picture. The first day there was a real bluebird was probably sometime in January or February. I took a bunch of pics but after posting them on facebook I soon took them down. I hated seeing other people posting their vacation pics, and I didn’t want the facebook public seeing some distorted version of my life. In particular, I didn’t want one friend to see it instead of hearing it from me. For me, that’s just a personal rule. No one should have to know something about it from facebook first instead of from my mouth. I was pretty jealous last year when I heard all about her skiing adventures, so to be a good friend I didn’t post mine. Good friends don’t piss where they eat.

The bluebird batch. Destroyed.

That’s not the only batch. I also took a couple the trip before. Sunset on the mountain. I remember taking close ups of the snow, just holding it on my hand as if I could take it home and set it on my mantle. I didn’t feel any indication that it could melt. It was so beautiful I had to stop in the middle of the run and soak it in. I tried to capture the streaking of the on the glistening patches of ice on the snow but it didn’t really turn out, so those went as well.

The sunset batch. Gone.

The least impressive batch I deleted was probably the one I didn’t even intend for myself. I started filming a bit of a run with intentions of making good with my mom and showing her when I got home. It had just snowed so everything was pillowy white and soft (comparatively). And a lot of pictures too. Instead I deleted them before I even got on the bus, afraid the moment would never come. The move was just too tenuous, joy too easily mangled by misunderstanding so I put dumped in the bin while they were hot.

The snowy run batch. Deleted.

That’s a lot of pictures that never got to see the light.

I was feeling extraverted then and didn’t think to keep copies myself, so when I took them down, they were gone forever. They were long erased from my phone’s memory, since it was severely limited and I needed more space for new photos.

One more picture. I took a close up of a snowflake with all its six points visible. It was beautiful. I never knew snowflakes were really that big; I assumed their six pointed display was microscopic. Then I felt kind of silly. I was probably the only one who hadn’t realized that and it wasn’t important. Not in on the instagram hype, down it went.

What’s left then? Pictures of food, long line ups, transit, interesting signs, the beginning of a few runs mostly; and lots of the pictures filled with fingers. Of actually snowboarding, none. When I’m showing my friends what I did this season, that’s all they get to see.

Instagram? More like Yams’n’ham.

I regret not being the instagram type. I mean, what a wonderful collection of photos I’d have, assuming enough of the ones I deleted didn’t have fingers in them. And fancying myself a photographer! Then I’d really have a story to tell. But I guess it isn’t to be. I’ll save instagramming for those who do it best.

In the meantime I’ll got lots of food pictures to go over. Waiting for next season makes you hungry you know.