Snowboarding on the Cheap

(This post is a repost of a deleted post, rescheduled as close to the original date as possible.)

To be honest, so many of my good memories are centred around having shit stuff. I’m honestly worried about staying poor the rest of my life because I like being poor. I hate buying something that magically solves all of my problems. I like having to figure out how to fix something. It also means if I want to actually buy a house one day, I’ll have to stop the poor mentality and save up. And lots of simple good things cost $$ too: eating well, new experiences, paid social settings, useful things.

Among my favourite things, although it irked me at the time, was having to rent a board. It was always incredibly magical; the pinnacle of the moment. Only the crowning moment was successively followed by more and more crowning moments; the whole ordeal were a string of unforgettable tactile experience and emotional memories. I was jealous of the kids who already had their own board, intensely jealous, but at the same time, once I was ‘reunited’ with a board-each time different, yet carved out of the same essence-nothing mattered. Only when I had to part with it was I was most sad.

The other thing was realizing that I never had the proper size anything. And it didn’t matter. It’s a total load of hooey nowadays: I shop to find the perfect fit. But it isn’t so important as they make it. I know now a men’s small is gigantic, but that was the size jacket i wore.Before that my piano teacher, whom I realize now was much kinder than I could ever understand, would lend me HER jacket. I believe it wasn’t even hers, as it was large even on her. Actually, she wasn’t such a tall or built lady: she was just big when I was twelve. Anyhow. Wearing a jacket 2X too big, and pants handed down to me that miraculously fit (but, snowboard wise, ALL pants fit: I’m starting to wonder why baggy is the standard, and if it has anything to do with hand me downs) and using a rented board, I was infinitely happier than wearing my chosen right-size (almost) jacket, pants, and board. After watching two TED talks ( http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice) and (http://www.ted.com/playlists/164/how_we_make_choices? I can’t quite remember )  I can’t deny the science. Too much choice is making me unhappy. And I’m used to no choice.

pinnacle of awesomeness

It was better when I just got one photo, taken by someone else because I had no phone, instead of the choice of having a million selfies. Agreed?

And I’m subsequently also used to crappier conditions. My memories are largely focussed on the conditions more than the actual experience themselves. Sort of sucks, but I’m more likely to recall experiences related to being cold (ie leaving early) than wanting to stay forever because I feel physically awesome. Even though I’ve subconsciously been trained to turn a blind eye to wet everything, I’m still leaving earlier, leaving with less experiences, etc etc. That part i regret. Sure, everyone regrets not doing more, but if there were a little bit more money to go around, I might be able to buy that hot lunch etc and stay a little longer for lunch and have more conversation with others who are also eating hot, longer lunches.

Then again, it used to be so special just to have the coins to access the goods inside a vending machine. These days, I’m sinning in a lack of self control if i use a vending machine. Back then, it was the epitome of shopping experience. I never got a hot lunch, so I used $2.75 towards a bag of Ruffles All Dressed instead. I would bring it back to my brother to share, and although we oohhed and ahhed over $2.75 for a bag of chips ($2.75 was incredible compared to the $0 we usually had) we mostly oohed over the simple act of buying a bag of chips (whereas parents would normally buy it for us, if we so deemed they were on sale enough)

This weighs on my life heavily as I progress into being an adult. I love, loved my childhood: I would be in an ignorant angry mood when I say that I hated being frugal. Yes, I was angry a lot as a teenager for being denied experiences that I worked monetarily for, but I cannot stress the happiness of having less choices. When you’re denied something you fixate on that one thing, but when you have no choice to make, you fixate on no particular thing. So you move on. It’s almost bad that I became a consumer, and like all things in life: social media, consumer culture, popularity: I knew they would corrupt me the moment I realized they existed, but I also knew that hate as I did the more complicated nature of society as compared to my simplified microcosm, there is no reversing the brain.

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I absolutely love how I look in this one photo: how I feel inside, like an unassuming kid. Also, my friend looks awesome in this photo too, but I cropped her out for privacy reasons.

The harder part is remembering that money can equal progress. Less financial burden means more ability to focus on and learn from the experience, not how cold you are. It’s a good excuse, truth told: stay poor forever and never have to accomplish great things. Like, even if you get rich, deny the money and live your simple life. As I just illustrated, money will allow you to focus on boarding and not just being in awe that you’re the mountains and making your way down slowly to avoid the biting chill on your uselessly-gloved hands; or focus on hitting that feature, rather than spending more time in the lodge because you’re soaked, your jacket is like a rag, and you’re simply too cold to go back out again. Gear matters. Money matters.

But how many people throw themselves at work AND FORGET that they are working to get that better experience? And instead waste that money on smaller comforts, like showy possessions? Me-I unashamedly raise my hand. Don’t lie to me that I intrinsically love slaving at a minimum wage job just so I can impress strangers or friends with my new wardrobe or that I don’t do it. I DO IT OK. AND I KNOW it’s because using money to make a bigger change in life-which requires that I work even more, to sustain it-isn’t something to do without job security. That is, I can only ever look short sighted, on possessions I can have now, that are used the most, and not the waterproof jacket that I use only when I’m on the mountain (Thanks to my parents, I now have a fully waterproof rain jacket-although I’m eager to report how long this waterproof $140 jacket STAYS waterproof.)

I’m horribly frightened, is all. $100 doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary. A season’s pass, several hundred dollars, is a one time payment. Every other day of the year I’m squeaking by, because that’s what I’m used to. I can’t imagine paying even $20 for a piece of clothing, I can’t imagine buying my own shoes one day, which are all over $50, it’s like in my life everything has to be under $20. And with the smallest budgets all my life, it has had to be that way. I don’t think I know how to think big; and moreover, I’m terribly frightened of doing the unthinkable, and that’s totally breaking budgets and being fearfully, end-of-the-road broke. (although I have been there many, many times)

The structure of life presents me with 10000000 different choices, even just on toothpaste. But I wasn’t raised to have choice, and even if I were, I’d hope I’d have the good head to believe that only 2 choices are ever needed. One and a half years later with free reign with more money than I’d ever admit without shame, I’ve hopelessly spent it because I can’t deal with CHOICE. And generally, I have pissed away a fortune over $15 or under things. The choice of $15 things was so overwhelming I ended up buying them all, creature comforts that amounted to nothing.

I am 100% sure even if I was miserable with crappy wind bitten equipment and a shoddy amount of true social outings due to a low budget, I am less happy with unbelievable choice. TED was right, and I knew I was right. I just hoped that I knew how to handle it. And after all, or MOST OF ALL, the world makes CHOICE seem like the 1# favourite activity of the world. Is it yours? It’s my nightmare.

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My friends paying $100+ to join me in the crappiest snow conditions. Was it worth the steep price? I think so.

Although I had months of regret, at this moment I 10000% do not regret spending extra to get the other season’s pass, which cost A LOT extra. All told, excruciating days of deliberation & $300 later, I will now have 2 mountains access to friends,which can only be extremely good. Ya see? I don’t see it now, but $300 and great memories with friends look very different in hindsight. But CHOICE will always look like it intervened and blind sided you into believing you were making the better choice. It’s the same thing, but very different. The end product may be the same, but in the process, one mindset has you thinking you will buy 2 passes because dammit, your cheaper friends will only go there, but 2, you feel totally roped into a marketing gimmick because that’s what you were, it was never in your plans. Two very different mental processes, but same result. In the simplified life-has-only=one=choice life, you leave feeling happy. In the 2nd you leave feeling as if you had made the wrong choice, and spent more money, even though it was all really the same. Fascinating? I think so. My goal is to try to reach that pre-corrupt stage of no-choice-is-good-choice but with the second implication I detailed (CAREFULLY used $=more, LIFE SHAPING experiences, rather than paralysis and discontent) this is complicated. You must think as if there is only one choice, but god help you, it had better be the most beneficial one.

The scariest thing about turning 20 is perhaps losing that “popularity” notion of teendom. I never knew quite how radically it changed our lives. A lot of life’s discontent was about not fitting in or looking weird or looking hot or being heard. Indeed, with such a homogenized small space it made sense. Turning 20 however, makes you look back and realize your world has grown quite considerably; that everyone works their ass off, sometimes at min wage, to look like a glamorous rock star; and you can say, who is it for? Well, it is for an imaginary audience or group of judgemental friends; that is to say, nobody. Past the extent that you dress or like things for your own pleasure, there was a time when I truly believed “If you’re not hot, your life is going to suck”: the mirage was that complete.

Now it’s blasted. What is praised depends on what group of specialization, casual happenstance or friends, you’re with. I used to want having a nice board to show off so badly in high school or have neon flashy gear but now, even if I had that, it’s not going to make a big impact on my life. I’m not in a small fish bowl anymore; if any thing, neon is a reflection of my tacky taste; and no one in my imaginary audience will think I’m cool. So basically, I’ll be that person who looks like they’re stuck in the past, which I suppose looks actually less try-hard than being up to the minute and cringingly still high-school mentality, but really, appearances aren’t meant to be judged, but expressed. All in all, there’s only one audience: you, the people you love, and your fingers’ and toes’ tolerance of soggy gear.

*

This year-the short 1.5 months remaining-I’ll probably relive my friend’s hand-me-down rental board dream before her less-inclusive pass expires. I can’t resist the impulse to provide as completely as I can, but at the same time, that slap-dash experience was where it’s at. That’s what made me me. I can’t be too mad at all the trouble I went through to snowboard. That would be saying I hate what made me me. And I like me. In the very end, whatever life throws at you, you still like you. It’s one more way of getting to build yourself-no, know yourself-better. You have a lifetime to spend with yourself and getting to know yourself should be a #1 goal.

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