30 January 2013


I've worked at the coffee shop for a month now and have erased the wretched imprisonment of HR from my memory. I love the coffee shop. More than I expected, even. I had reservations, since we operate under the umbrella of not one but two evil empires. However, the influence of the coffee corporation is barely present, besides the monthly introduction of new cloyingly sweet drinks; Vail's sway is more obvious, between the Byzantine labor laws of California* and relentless rah-rah of the resort. All the employees have past experience in independent coffee shops so we all operate under the pretense that we still work in one, mocking people who order caramel "macchiatos" and ask for grande-sized beverages, and doling out freebies to anyone we like, corporate protocol be damned. I was expecting to serve only tourists, and while the staggering majority of our customers are out-of-towners, there is a solid and loyal contingent of locals, regulars, and year-rounders. Everyone that works in the Village takes excellent care of each other; the us-versus-them mentality is really strong here.

The tourists that pour in are the most cosmopolitan crowd I've ever seen. At least fifty percent of them are wealthy foreigners, skiers and boarders from Perth and Bern and Santiago and Lima and Seoul, decked out in the most expensive snowgear and eyewear imaginable, showing no reaction at being charged upward of four dollars for a single beverage. Everyone is stoked on the sunshine, the scenery, and the snow. Most people that come in are very friendly and not nearly as high maintenance as I had expected, although the entitled Bay brats wielding their parents' plastic can be pretty abrasive. Overall the vibe is great, the tips are generous, and I'm excited to go to work each day. What more could I ask?

*To clarify: California has very pro-employee labor laws, to the point that it's absurd. We the peons benefit, but on the other side of the desk in HR I saw how obnoxious the rules are for employers. 

11 January 2013

On Skiing, Part II

Now that I can get off the chairlift without thinking about it, now that I know how to carry my sticks and how to ratchet my boots as tight as they'll go and how to easily navigate the entire mountain and name every lift on sight, it's on to the real stuff. According to EpicMix (the Strava of the Vail people) I've gotten in 25 days already, which means enough substantial hours on the slopes to have this thing sort of figured out.

What I'm convinced of already is that a: I'm spoiled rotten, and b: groomers suck. We had a snowless, warm week and I had to drag myself up the hill, convinced the snow would be just terrible. Tracked out and bumped out and scraped down to a mean layer of cement. Never mind that there were still feet upon feet of the good stuff, and still caches of untouched powder hiding in the trees. The last couple of days brought wicked cold temps and a nice dusting up top and everything was better again. So yes, a couple months of Tahoe snow has ruint me. And taught me unequivocally that groomers suck. Groomed runs are to road biking what tree skiing is to mountain biking; groomers are very fast and covered in people who are making unpredictable and potentially dangerous moves. The trees are hushed and underpopulated and challenging, and I love to explore every possible option and turn, making my untrammeled way between boulders and treewells. It's nice to go out alone and listen to music and chase new lines and to be distracted only by the litany that plays in my head: torso downslope, poles forward, flex into your boots, feet together.  

Every pause is worth a gasp
Pic courtesy of Will Snaith 

I think I could get better at this than mountain biking, because I don't feel limited by the same fears that plague me on two wheels. This new obsession is alarming in the context of larger life though, because the last thing I need is another criterion limiting my choice of locations and jobs. I got a resort job thinking ski-bum living was a whimsy to mark off the list, but this might be something I need every winter, and that makes me nervous. And strangely exhilarated.  

03 January 2013

Best Year Yet

on the facespace everyone is chit-chatting about what his or her 2012 entailed, stuff like learning, loss, personal growth, and travel, or crazy shit like marriage and babies. all this reflection triggered in me a weird euphoric revelation: 2012 was by far the best year I've had, to date. permit me to quote myself, circa december 31 2011:

Whether or not I do something drastic in the coming year, whether or not I race bikes or change jobs or meet life-altering people or move somewhere or buy a house or just cheerfully maintain status quo, I do sincerely hope it is a happy 2012 for us all.

well, lo and behold. most of those things happened. i shook up my life pretty drastically and was a very happy person for it. in 2012 i accomplished almost nothing athletically speaking, but some years are just like that. instead, i ventured very far south of the mason-dixon line for a variety of shenanigans, picked up and moved across this grand country, found a job in a place that takes my breath away, established myself quite contentedly in a new town, pursued a new sport with a pigheaded determination to not suck at it, and fell head over heels in love, despite my previous conviction that i was too cool for such nonsense.

no complaints here.

and a most excellent 2013 to everyone, as well.