January 9, 2004

We are Peter Gibbons

And such was the first week at my new job. The State of Business required that I hit the ground running, and before Friday evening rolled around I had launched two client sites and prepped another. This was in addition to performing other essential Tasks for a New Office Job, such as getting trained in on our software, eating so much licorice I felt nauseous, figuring out how to run our electronic task list, producing beautiful art on dry erase boards, learning an intricate phone system, hanging up on customers, taking long lunches to get spicy Korean chicken, rapidly churning out HTML tables by hand, and getting drunk on the company dollar at the Deschutes Brewery with all my fellow co-workers.

Let me tell ya, there’s nothing like tossing down pints of scotch ale with customer support, sales, the vice-prez and the CEO of your company, and then stumbling down the icy sidewalks of downtown Bend to your comfy bed in Lava House. Nothing like it except, of course, all those other things in life that are just like it. Like having Swingline staplers exclusively at the office, hearing things like “Hmm, yeah, did you get the memo?” and “Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays!” and “PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean?” from everyone in the company, and having Friday be Hawaiian Shirt Day, so uhh, yeah, wear your Hawaiian shirt.

Hmm… Yeah…

January 7, 2004

adolescence malevolence

Hoodoo Lodge - December 31, 2003

It is a common misconception that people only go through adolescence once, and those that never manage to grow out of it end up listening to emo and moping about and playing in tattoo bands and piercing their unmentionables and using a combination of mint dental floss and safety pins to sew patches to their jackets for the rest of their lives.

You remember your adolescence. You remember wearing Nine Inch Nails shirts and steel-toed boots, and asking for pewter skeletons for Christmas. You remember buying gargoyles at the Renaissance Festival and leaving them under the name "Vladimir" to be picked up before sunset. You grew your hair out long and rebellious, and a year later cut it short and rebellious. You bounced around from clique to clique, bought a North Face jacket and Lowe Alpine backpack to fit in with the preps, printed your own GWAR shirts to fit in with the punks, built computers to fit in with the uber-geeks, read The Onion to fit in with the trenchcoats, and listened to jazz to fit in with the band nerds. Your life was one big clumsy awkward party, where everyone was invited and no one came.

And before long it was all over, and you and your parents sighed a chorus of relief that you would never need to go through that again. But you were mistaken, in that your adolescence didn’t really end so much as it went into hibernation. It sat dormant, waiting for another stage of extreme awkwardness before it could resurface.

It is often assumed that this is whence from a fellow’s mid-life crisis stems. In his fifties a man is supposed to look back on his life, realize that he has not been living the life of his dreams and fall forth into a self-destructive reconciliation to recapture that fantasy. The ideal product would be a synthesis of childhood dreams with modern reality, but such grace does not always result.

But nay, adolescence will crack a dusty eye whenever one feels torn between two worlds. Whether transitioning from child to adult or whatever to whatever, all it takes is that tension, that simultaneous lack and sense of belonging, to drive one to erect anew all those immature personal safeguards against reality.

This has been the hardest thing in making the post-graduation transition. I’m not in college anymore, and I’ve grown a bit old for the hanging out, drinking, partying, barhopping thing. At the same time, I’m bored with people who have careers, families, houses, 2.4 pets/children, etc. I’m still too young and wild and viviparous to justify any claim of feeling "old", but it’s tough to convince myself I’m still 18 when I’ve got to find my own health insurance, pay monthly bills, manage a career and feed an IRA. I’ve taken up hobbies like politics and cooking, but I find myself wanting to set aside more time for video games. I try to pick up the fantasy books I once voraciously digested as a young lad, but find myself growing bored and impatient with writing that resonates like the basement of an outhouse.

I am somewhat troubled by the whole thing, but not too much so. As with most things this too is seasonal, and may simply be a sign that winter is finally here again.

Now about those gargoyles…

January 4, 2004


"There’s something about stuff and things."

With the kiddies all filing back to their filthy classrooms tomorrow, the holiday season at the Mountain is officially over. I must say it was quite a run of work, revelry and temporary insanity. Nothin’ says lovin’ like spending nearly an hour shovelling snow out from under a conveyor belt built for incompetent young skiiers. Nothin’ is quite so fine as sayin’ how’d ya do? to a treewell on a killer waist-deep powder day. Nothin’ says knucks, blowed up! like making your friend nut up in the terrain park by hitting the C-rails, the A-frames and the flat-down-flat.

More and more is Bend taking shape, coalescing out of a flesh-eating fog into a neighborhood of flesh-eating zombies. I’m starting to really dig on this town and tomorrow everything stands to get flipped asunder. Tomorrow I start my new (salaried!) job (with benefits!) at a web design company, working as a tech writer and web support specialist among an elite crew of hardcore mountaineers, Cessna pilots, Grateful Dead mandolinists and ex-IBM employees. Five days a week I will forge beautiful things in the embers of the Internet, and two days a week I will brave towering volcanoes and brutal winds and 125-inch snowpack to teach snowboarding to snot-nosed kids.

All in all, it amounts to a seven-day workweek until April rolls around. I’m going to be living a life of vibrant intensity unknown since leaving college, but ever since surviving three months of summer camp I can survive anything. Watch as my burly fists crush a handful of squirrels back into walnuts.

Fear my nuts of steel.

January 2, 2004

New (year) Over Machine Groomed


It’s one of those nights where you feel hardwired into existence. You begin to sense things, like an evening sky the color of peaches, or your tongue clicking against your front teeth while mouthing words to a song you know. This kind of hyper-reality is inevitable after a long day at work, a late New Year’s Eve party at the Hoodoo ski resort, four hours of sleep, a groggy day at work, a self-inflicted 8:00 bedtime, and another day at work.

Simon, Neal and I spent New Year’s Eve at the slopes of Hoodoo, which is forty miles from Bend past the town of Sisters, on the other side of Santiam Pass. It’s a rockin’ little mom & pop hill that threw a New Year’s party complete with night-riding and booze and a vaguely Celtic/Bluegrass band. The night was a surreal atmosphere bathed in bright amber lights. They pumped the music from the live band out of huge speakers on the chairlift, an ethereal voice echoing through the valley. The runs were an island of amber light surrounded by a sea of darkness, broken only by the headlights of snowcats grooming the upper reaches of the mountain. There was also guy dressed in a cow costume.

Midnight struck while we were on the chairlift, and after dismounting we took the first run of 2004 through the terrain park. When we got down to the lodge we had time to take one more run, so we headed back up, veered into the trees and caught some fresh knee-deep powder through a steep grove.

The drive back to Bend required snow chains, one pee break and 1 1/2 hours. We got pulled over by a cop for failing to turn off our brights for oncoming traffic (which was previously a subject of intense conversation for Neal and Simon, and later me and Simon… as I was stuck with Lucy the dog in the back of Simon’s conversion van and couldn’t hear a thing over the roar of chains on packed snow). Simon explained that this was because he had one headlight out and couldn’t see very well at night. The officer suggested that someone else drive and bade us a good new year. At 2 AM we stopped at the 7-11 down the street from Lava House, and let me tell ya, there are some crazy people who hang out at the 7-11 at 2 AM on January 1st. Creepy people who drink Yoohoo out of paper bags and shout into pay phones.

After four hours of sleep I got up for another day of snowboard instruction at the Mountain. The weather was cold enough to crack your marrow, and the 50-60 mph gusts at the top of Skyliner lift made it a day of teaching survival snowboarding to 9-year-olds. Miraculously I made it through the entire day without falling asleep in a snowdrift or dying from frostbite or vomiting from exhaustion, and when we got back in Bend we were greeted by a foot of new snow in town.

Having only 6-8 inches of clearance I couldn’t get the Green Dragon in my driveway, so I stashed my car in the parking lot of the Catholic church down the street and hiked home. I grabbed my shovel, the last remaining shovel at Wal-Mart, a telescoping piece of junk that would have been better for shoveling the reveries off the sidewalks of Bourbon Street than the heaviest snowfall in Bend since the Blizzard of ’77, and went to work clearing enough of my driveway so I could park my car. Cranky and swearing from exhaustion, I channeled my anger into the snow and at the neighbor’s dog, who was darting back and forth in the street barking his fool head off at me. “Why don’t you get hit by a car or something?” I grumbled but he never listened and just kept darting and barking.

I went to bed at 8:00 and had a restless night of sleep. I kept dreaming that I was teaching snowboarding lessons, which was really frustrating because I just wanted to relax and sleep and not teach snowboarding lessons, for once. I found myself getting angry and yelling at my students. “I DON’T CARE IF YOU CAN’T SNOWBOARD! I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE NOT LEARNING! I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN! YOU’RE ALL A DREAM! YOU DON’T EVEN EXIST! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

I tried the same tactic on my classes today but it didn’t go over nearly as well.