That Bitter Taste of Humble Pie

So I know you have all been wondering about how the ski trip this last weekend.  Well, there were ups and downs (well, lots of downs since skiing requires going downhill) but overall it was not a complete failure.

I feel like this is a great post to end my 2014 on, because it is a great metaphor for what I went through this year and how it has made me stronger.

So let’s start with the where: the four of us traveled to Riezlern, Austria which sits just on the other side of the German border in the Alps:

Riezlern Austria

Nicola’s family has an apartment there so it was only natural that we stayed there.  The location was perfect because it was walking distance from the town’s center as well as some ski slopes (or at least to the bus stops to take you to other ski slopes) as well as a great shop to rent equipment.

We got there late Friday evening so the slopes had to wait until the next day.  Instead we decided to hit up the local casino:

T and I managed to double what we put in so I figured it was a win.  Thorsten wanted to take the chance and put all our winnings in to try and double it.   I think this is also showed us how we take to things like skiing: he likes to take risks while I am more conservative (unless there’s a guarantee). What do I mean? I’ll get to that.

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The next morning we got up early and had a hearty breakfast to prepare us for our adventure.  We went to the nearby shop to rent skis.  Nicola had her own set because she doesn’t mess around 🙂 T was usually a snowboarder and had brought it with him but then decided because I was going to give Skiing a try then he would, too.  How sweet 🙂

We got our equipment and headed to our first hill:

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It seems quite harmless from this angle and even though I was nervous, I was ready to go! Nicola and I went up on the ski lift (which was quite fun, by the way) and we got up to the top and waited for the menfolk.

It didn’t take long for me to lose my balance and fall…..even though I wasn’t moving yet.  It was pretty hilarious.

Once T and Marcel were with us, it was time.  Time to go down that hill.  Suddenly that hill seemed oh so steep. And I had no fucking clue what I was doing.  All I was armed with was about three YouTube videos and Nicola’s brief instruction on how to stop if I was going too fast (besides just falling on my ass): point your skis inward.

Ok.

Oh yes! And to never forget: don’t be afraid.  All three of them said that to me.  It was almost like they were quoting Paul Atreides to me:

Fear is the Mind Killer

So I tried.  I mostly slid sideways in the beginning and then trying little by little to ski forward….only to quickly lose control and fall on my ass.  Turns out that stopping is an unnatural feeling.  As a dancer, my feet are normally turned out…not pigeon-toed.  Skiing backwards was a piece of cake (because stopping in the opposite direction required my feet to be turned out).

I lost track of time of how long it took me to get down that hill.  I know Nicola and Marcel made two rounds on the hill in that time.  All the while T was by my side coaching me and encouraging me.  At times, also making me frustrated because I knew what I was supposed to do….I just couldn’t get my body to it, it all felt so unnatural.

I made it down the hill where there was hot chocolate with rum waiting for me.  Twas delicious.

T and I once I made it down the Hill of Death :-P
T and I once I made it down the Hill of Death 😛

Of course the question on everyone’s lips was this: do I still want to ski?

Yes.  But I needed work and the idea of tackling that hill again was not appealing.  Thankfully T recommended that we go to the next hill over where there was a ski school.  The hill was much flatter there.  Ah, I thought, so there are bunny hills here.

I know some of you may be wondering, why did I not go on a bunny hill earlier?  Well, let’s look at the group I was with.  T has been snow boarding for the last ten years and he learned this same way.  A baptism by fire, you might say.  He just went down the hill and made the best of it.  Marcel learned just last year doing the same thing.  Nicola was born with a pair of skis (she started when she was two).  So if they could learn this way, perhaps I could, too.

And I also love a challenge.

My entire life, I have prided myself on being a quick learner.  When I was told it would take me six months to learn the basics of Marinera (National Dance of Peru), I learned it in a week.  I learned the aspects of my job in record time.  My nickname is Fast and Furious for a reason.  So I thought I could take on Skiing with the same ease.

But looking back, I realized that I could quickly pick up things that I already knew the basics in.  I have no basics in Skiing.  This also explained why T was able to pick up skiing quickly – his background in snowboarding.

But it took me going down that first hill to learn this.

So on to the second hill – which was a genuine bunny hill.  I actually did really well.  I started to get the hang of the positions at a speed I could easily control.  We did a few runs down and by the end, I felt infinitely better.  I only fell once! And it was going up the lift – hilarious, I know.

Then we had lunch.

Once my muscles had an opportunity to relax, it was as if my body had hit the reset button.  I didn’t know this yet, because I thought I was ready to tackle another hill.

After the second fall, I could feel that my muscles had turned to jelly.  I started to panic.  I could not longer trust my legs to do what I wanted.  I actually froze for several minutes trying to will myself to try again.  Thorsten stood there patiently trying to give me words of encouragement but I couldn’t move.  When I finally did, I lost control and fell face first into the snow, my legs bent in an awkward position and one my skis landed somewhere near my head.  Normally I know how to fall (thanks to years of dance and theater) so all the other times before didn’t bother me.  But this one was different.

I was done.

I was exhausted and I felt like a failure.  I took off my skis and walked the rest of the way down the hill – the ultimate walk of shame.

I cried. It’s embarrassing to admit. But I have never made so much progress before only to have it all come crashing down on me as if I had never put on skis before.

But it was all due to exhaustion.  Oh and PMS.

T and I talked and he regaled me with tales of how he learned snowboarding.  How it was not much different than what I was going through.  But he just kept getting up and tried again.

Unfortunately with skiing, getting up is a pain.  Literally.  Based on the YouTube video I watched on how to get up, it’s not easy.  In fact, it’s actually painful for me.  I have bad knees and the whole “use your sticks to pull yourself up” requires to put my weight on my knees in the worst angle.  So while falling down was not a problem, getting up was a chore in it of itself.

This is one of the many things I need to work on besides how the hell to stop before tackling any more hills.

So we went back to the apartment where a shower and a nap did me a world of good.  Just in time for a fun skiing tradtion: Après-ski. This literally consists of drinking after skiing.

This plus a glorious steak dinner was just what the doctor ordered.  Good friends, good food, good drinks = happy Mari.

The next morning I woke up feeling hopeful.  I knew what I needed to work on and was ready to tackle the day – all except that I was still exhausted (mostly because I woke up a few times in the middle of the night because I was thirsty and yet to lazy to walk up to the third floor for water) and my body felt like it was thrown through a cement mixer. I.  Hurt.  Everywhere.

As the morning wore on, I felt my resolve wane.  I felt dread in the pit of my stomach and apparently everyone else noticed.  I was asked if I wanted to go skiing and I didn’t know what to say.

The view from Nicola's apartment :-D
The view from Nicola’s apartment 😀

Part of me didn’t.  After the day before, I knew that I couldn’t just go down a hill and wing it.  I needed a class, I needed to just start over.  But at the same time, I could hear the voices of my parents and my siblings and my twin whenever I felt a need to stop.

“Don’t,” they would say.  “Don’t stop.  Stop being a bitch and just do it.”

Ok, not all of them would say stop being a bitch…..but you get the point.

But T could tell that I was really anxious and told me it was ok if skiing was not my thing. I had tried.  If I wanted to keep skiing, it had to be for me – not for him, not so I can fit in – but for me.

Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had really tried – there were still options.  I just couldn’t face the slopes. Not that day.

So the plan was this: we hit another mountain and I go and take my camera and take photos.  I had wanted to do this, cause when skies were clear it was stunning.

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We took the ski lift up, but the snow was so heavy that we could barely see.  So I went to the nearby restaurant where I waited for them to ski without me.  I wasn’t completely alone – I always carry multiple books (this time it was Sabriel).

But it still sucked.  I felt left out and I only had myself to blame.

But there is something to learn from all of this.  I had let my fear keep from trying…..but I still believe that without proper training I may have had another misadventure like the previous day.  The way to fix both is to just keep trying.  To take classes, to keep falling down, to do what it takes to make it down that damned hill by hook or by crook.

I know T had said that I shouldn’t do something because I don’t want to be left out.  But if I followed that mentality I would never have learned German over a decade ago, I would have never learned to drive a stick-shift, I would never have done a lot of things.  It is a form of peer pressure yes, but only pressuring me to do something potentially fun.

I will give this skiing thing time.  Or we may even try out snowboarding.  Apparently Abner can do it:

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Ok not quite – he jumped off a second after this photo was taken.  Anyway, it’s not over yet!

My current New Year’s Resolution is to learn one of these skills to get me down that stupid hill! As I say it so it shall be done!

I wish everyone a great end of the year and a joyous New Year!

I will end this post with photos of my cute pug running through the snow! Until Next Year!!!!!

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