Productive Nostalgia

I am at home in Orlando right now, to be with family and relax during the Thanksgiving holidays. Another stated goal of this time is to avoid using the computer as much as possible so I can begin healing from my RSI’s. As you can tell from the mere fact of my blogging, such is more difficult for me than it sounds. In fact, I’ve begun to see computer avoidance as a discipline I should practice for spiritual as well as physical reasons.

At any rate, it is good to be home. One of the tasks my mother has set me for my time here is to go through all my old boxes of saved school projects, mementos, love letters, etc., and to vaguely scrapbook them. (For me, “scrapbooking” involves putting things into a binder).

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Random Event Update, Mid-May 2006

While I have for a while been promising certain academic ponderings and/or Whitney summaries, these are not immediately forthcoming. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share (in a mood particularly inspired by the new caramel Bailey’s and friends) my satisfaction with certain recent Events. Said Events are three. (Actually, there are more, but there has to be some kind of limit)

Event 1: On Thursday, I went to an Over the Rhine and Hem show in San Francisco. I have loved and followed Over the Rhine for years. Karin’s (the singer’s) voice is like magical, sensual, chocolate and wine-filled lovemaking. I think. I have never had magical, sensual, chocolate and wine-filled lovemaking, but it is at least how I would imagine it going. The show was at the Great American Music Hall–my favorite SF venue, where I have seen most if not all of my favorite artists over the past 6-7 years. After Hem’s flawless opening set, Over the Rhine kicked things off with “Latter Days”, possibly my favorite song of theirs. From then until the end of their hour-plus set, I was in a world of enchantment which I can’t coherently relate. Many things rose up in me and got stuck in my throat that I wish I knew how to remember. Times of such beauty are rare.

Event 2: Last night (Saturday), my housemate Trent’s fiancee and friends were all out for some “bachelorette party” or something. Not to be outdone, many of us non-women had an “anti-bachelorette fiesta” of sorts. While the real anti-bachelorette celebration will take place in Mexico in a little while, we settled for much pizza, beer, the viewing of a movie, and some “drunken frisbee golf”, as we like to call it, on Stanford’s campus. This is one of my favorite events. Indeed, it does consist of a certain amount of frisbee golf, but the “drunken” adjective is not as accurate as might be feared. There is, it is not to be doubted, a good amount of alcohol which is consumed beerly. However, the primary attraction to “DFG” is not any actual state of drunkenness (which, as good Christians, we studiously avoided), but rather a state I like to call “playing frisbee golf with a cigarette and pulling a cooler of cheap beer behind us every once in a while drinking some”. For some reason the image is just plain titillating. Beer or no, I had one of my better rounds on the Stanford course, finishing like 10 over par or something.

Event 3: Tonight (Sunday), I went to church. Gasp! It has been a while. But I had ulterior motives. Not, surprisingly, to ogle at hot church-going women (though that may or may not have been a previous ulterior motive). In fact, his greatness himself, the fabulous NT Wright, deigned to speak at MPPC’s “Postmodern” evening service. Candles and big TV screens in full effect, NT gave one of the better talks I’ve heard inside the walls of a church in a long time. I’m not at the moment in a position to sum up the talk, but suffice it to say it scratched my itchings. I haven’t read much of Wright’s considerable bibliography, but am now planning on it. I also find myself wishing the man hadn’t decided to get involved in the church. If he had opted to stay in academics, for instance, I would have been easily persuaded to travel to Oxford and study under him (such was his facility with history, philosophy, and theology).

Apart from these events, there were also two amazing birthday parties (at Tiburon and Half Moon Bay, respectively), and three amazing games of Ultimate Frisbee. Today at our third game session, I felt a magically-increased ability to read the disc, to run to wherever it was, and to just generally be happy with my performance (a relative first for me in the realm of sports). I suppose I have always underestimated the power of practice to actually make better the thing practiced. Maybe it is because I’ve always quit things when the practicing got slightly difficult–but Ultimate has kept my attention quite well, and I am happy to call it my favorite team sport. (And no I am not a hippie). Also, not to be forgotten, I held a CD release party for Splendour Hyaline’s latest offering. A good number of my friends showed up and we rocked out to my music. Apart from the ego-stroking, it was a very meaningful time and I was glad to celebrate the completion of a new art project with many of those I love.

In other news…I am planning on reading The Da Vinci Code. God help me and my literary (in)sensibilities.

Adventures in Driving to Tahoe

After looking at Friday’s forecast for new snow in Lake Tahoe, my friends Kyle and Dan convinced me to leave at 5am on Friday to get in a good day of skiing/snowboarding at Kirkwood before driving back that evening. It was a good plan, and we were confident that it would lead to a full day of great snowboarding conditions with relatively few people on the slopes. Unfortunately, Nature had several other ideas for how we were to spend our time.

We left reasonably close to the 5am goal and made record time to the central valley, but after making our way up into the hills, things got interesting: a regular blizzard was in session, and the roads were soon quite treacherous after the snow was compacted by tires in the sub-freezing temperatures. At one point we were stopped on a slight incline behind traffic, and when it was time to go, the Civic refused to move forward–traction had disappeared. Luckily, the car behind us happened to be a police officer and so he held traffic while I mustered all my clutch ability and eased into first gear and then to the side of the road where we put chains on the tires for the rest of the climb.

It soon became apparent, as the snow kept piling up, that we were going to have serious problems, and it was indeed so: the pass to Kirkwood was closed for avalanche control, and so we were out of luck. Determined to get on some mountain, we went all the way back down and took another road, intending to find Bear Valley, a lesser resort. The pass was not quite as high on that road, so there was a good chance it wouldn’t be closed, and it wasn’t!

Of course, though open, the road was still dangerous and the going was slow. Even with chains, the car would slide and fishtail with anything but minor changes in velocity or minor turns of the wheel, making it exhausting to drive many miles at such a slow pace. Eventually, though, we made it through the whiteout (parts of which were so white that it was impossible to make out where the road was and where the snowbanks to the sides of it were) and to Bear Valley, where we were able to get 2 hours of snowboarding in before the slopes closed.

I was exhausted from 7+ hours of driving, and I hadn’t been on a board since 2004, so I had quite a few amazing spills–none of which were very dangerous, given the multiple feet of fresh powder there to break my fall! So we had a crazy fun time careening down the mountain and trying to make the most of our short time. Here you can see the snow that accumulated on my car after just that short time (and this was just the residual, post-storm effect):

Another 5 hours of driving (not including the horrendous chain installation/removal events which definitely tried our collective patience), and we were back–a very long, very intense, not-too-snowboarding-filled day! But you have to love these little adventures.