week seventeen: I really, really suck at snowboarding

High up on the list of things I would have once thought impossible: Giving yourself a black eye with a snowboard.

Now wait – I don’t mean RIDING a snowboard. Of course that’s possible. Wipe out trying a gnarly jump or cut an edge too close to a tree, totally possible. Nor am I talking about some sort of Three Stooges-esque accident where you roll up on a snowboard chilling on the floor without noticing it there, step on it and launch the other side up at your face in a hilarious vaudeville salute.

No, I mean giving yourself a black eye WITH the board while said snowboard is bolted to your feet. Exactly. Just how the fuck does that happen, anyways?

In my early twenties, while being a superhip San Francisco city girl (ha), my then-boyfriend now ex-boyfriend and I decided to take up snowboarding. All the techy Bay Area types were jumping on the boarding bandwagon in the early 2000s, and, being a surprisingly OK athlete for a petite blond girl who owned a Hello Kitty toaster, I thought it sounded like great fun.

A tiny bit of backstory: I grew up in SoCal, about five miles from Mexico and eight miles from the beach. I saw snow for the first time when I was 19. I think I may have slid on a trash can lid down a hill sprinkled with hail once. But again, I can throw a baseball without embarrassing myself. Golf in mixed company without eliciting impatient eyerolls from boys. (I fucking hate it when they do that, by the way. Assholes.) Shit, I even have an aight backhand.

So I wasn’t worried. I’d fall down a bit, pick it up and be swooshing down the mountain shortly, looking all cute and snowboardy and getting hit on left and right.


Instead of that, I discovered I was the worst snowboarder ever. Awful. Spent the whole day falling on my ass. Mean teenagers laughed at me. I ate shit for about five hours and took my last ride up the lift to the doofus beginner area for a final attempt. I think ex-boyfriend told me I couldn’t go have a cocktail until I gave it one more try. Damn ex-boyfriend!

I hadn’t really mastered the lift. And this time, instead of gracefully tumbling off and dragging myself on my elbows (the fucking indignity!) out of the flow of traffic as I had been doing, I tripped and fell face first into the hard-packed snow. It sort of took me by surprise and I just laid there for a little bit, until the mean teenagers began shouting and I noticed I was smack in the middle of the steady stream of jerkoffs coming off the lift.

In my haste to scramble out of the way, I – to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I did this – managed to flip the free side of the board (when you ride the lift, you only secure one boot to the board, the other is free so you can kinda walk) 180 degrees and spin it around  so it smacked the shit out of my face.

What a fucking pathetic sight. First I skid on my face trying to get off the lift, then start waving my arms all crazy, hurrying out of the way of oncoming traffic, probably making some wimpy scared girl noise, and then I just about knock myself out with the board. I think I ended up in a heap just to the side of the lift, while five-year-olds jumped off and poked me with sticks.

Next thing I knew, some cute medic guy was wiping a cut just beneath my eye while the snowboard police or whoever were asking me what happened. No one could understand how I hit myself with the board. They kept asking me how I did it over and over again.

Later on, when the shiner started to appear over dinner in town, I got approving looks from snowboardy types and I realized everyone thought that I earned that black eye in a super cool way, like trying some badass trick in the pipe or something. Haha! Joke’s on them! I’m just some loser who couldn’t get off the lift.

After my first snowboarding adventure, I tried really hard to be a big girl and keep at it. I think I went about four or five more times, even buying a board and boots. I refused to believe I could suck at it so hard. But every trip I came back with a bruised tailbone and ego. I just couldn’t get it together. I think my last trip I kept screaming “FUCK YOU!!!” really loud into the snow while pounding it. Then I realized I had to give up the cute snowboarder girl dream. Ah well.

Anyways, that was the long version of why my best friend can have the snowboard that’s been sitting in my garage for eight or so years.


week eleven: memory lane

Sentimental stuff: before

Sentimental stuff: after

My mom held onto a lot of stuff from my childhood. A lot of stuff. Doodles I made on hotel notepads. My little league uniform. Pretty much every greeting card I received from age zero to nine. Every single report card.

I know why this is. She grew up in and out of foster care. She and her nine brothers and sisters were scattered into different short-term homes, many of which could have provided great fodder for depressing Lifetime made-for-TV movies. Her father finally rounded most of the kids back up when she was a teenager, only to succumb within a few short years to Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Due to the tumultuous state of her childhood, my mom has no baby pictures of herself. No yearbooks. No greeting cards from her fifth birthday. Nothing. I have seen one photo of my mom before she met my dad. She was about fourteen, at Disneyland with a few of her brothers. The picture is somewhat blurry, but I can see it’s her, with her bell bottoms and long brown hippie hair.

So I get it. Throwing out my Outstanding Student award from the first grade would be near impossible, probably make her feel as though she was stealing something from me, from us. As though we would forget without the proof of the pictures, cards and awards.

Over time, however, as I grew up and out of my parents’ home, she gradually let things go. Many things were tossed (she always asked before throwing anything out, just in case I wanted that old bowling trophy), and many boxes came into my possession.

It seems I inherited a bit of the sentimental packrat tendencies from my mom. I held onto the boxes of my memories that they had saved, thinking that I of course wanted them, needed them. I mingled them with my own bins of nostalgia collected from my adult years.

And they all sat in my garage, collecting dust.

So this week, I took a break from my closet and decided to rummage through my “memory” boxes to see what could go. Not surprisingly, I threw away a lot of crap.

I started with five good-sized boxes. Inside was an old tutu, some cute canvas Snoopy shoes, toys and lots and lots and lots of paper. Stories I wrote in third grade, mimeographed reading awards, the certificate from my first Communion.

I remember thinking when I packed away the tutu before going off to college, “Oh, maybe my daughter will wear this some day, how cute will that be?” But really, how fucking annoying is that? I don’t have a daughter yet, but if I did, she gets her own tutu. Not the one that’s been sitting in an old box for 30 years made with some itchy-ass tulle and deteriorating sequins. And the Snoopy sneakers? Yeah, they’re totally cute, but time has hardened the canvas to a woodlike finish, rendering them less useful as footwear and more useful as a weapon. Gone, gone, gone. Down to just two tidy bins.

I kept some stuff. Some of the report cards are cute and they don’t take up very much space. Baby might think they’re funny to read in a few years. My old Barbie clothes were a must-save as well. I loved vintage Barbie fashions when I was little, so maybe my kids will, too. A sampling of the high school newspapers from my senior-year stint as editor-in-chief. And of course, the letter I wrote to my best friend when we were seven years old during a particularly acrimonious fight, where I concluded by letting her know that “I hope you get squished by a Super Shuttle bus.”

It might be difficult to overcome the sentiment when my little one starts bringing home his own macaroni art, the requisite turkey-from-my-hand Thanksgiving project and the other miscellaneous little kid trappings. But we can keep them for a while.

And then we’ll scan that shit and drop it onto a memory stick. It’s the fucking 21st century!