Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Get a real job!"

You probably know by now that I am a ski instructor.  And you probably still think that being a ski instructor is not a real job.  Most people will say how awesome it is and how jealous they are, then they turn their backs and mumble about how much of a bum I am, or that I'm a deadbeat, or that I need to grow up.  And I couldn't care less.  Here's why...

Because every day of my life is just like this:
Ski School Trailer (1991) - Video Detective

Hehe, just kidding.  For real now... Think of how much time you will have spent working at a job throughout your whole life.  My guess is that for most people the only activity done in life that compares, in respect to time, is sleeping.  On an average day, work and sleep takes up 2/3 of the time.  If you have to get ready for work and drive there, it's even more.  That leaves 1/3 of your day to do everything else.  Now, if you could somehow figure out a way to turn one of your favorite things to do in your personal time, into something you do at work, wouldn't you do anything possible to make that happen?!  I know some of you have succeeded at this.  Teachers who love to teach, writers who love to write, doctors who love to heal.  And that's awesome.  For me, I love being in the mountains, I love helping others, and I love to ski.  So, doesn't that mean that I have succeeded? Doesn't that mean that I have done something right?  If you measure success by dollars or prestige I can see how you would think I'm a failure.  But I measure success differently so can't we just agree to disagree?    I have managed to get paid to do what I love to do.  This is what I am passionate about.  This is what has driven me to live in dumps, eat unmeasurable amounts of ramen, and live in my car for months at a time.  Sure I have had to go through some tough times to make it happen, but I've made it happen.  Almost everything that is awesome in my life over the past 7 years, is because I am a ski instructor.  But the most awesome part about it is that I love to do it, and I am excited to go to work everyday!

And now the actual point of why I am writing this post.  Over the past couple of seasons I have moved up into a managerial/supervisor role.  Honestly this isn't something I thought I'd ever be doing when I started in the ski industry but I took on additional hours and less pay to get into a more "grown up" type job.  Which brings me to my first point.  Salary.  Way overrated.  Being on salary just means an employer can get free work from you.  They can pay you the same amount and you can be working way more.  Pretty lame.  I understand that in theory salary may also go the other direction.  I've yet to experience that though so I'm still not impressed.

The other point I wanted to make is that I have been completely reaffirmed in my determination to not ever have an office job.  It isn't cool.  Until the resort opens my job has basically been an office gig.  I have a desk, and a computer, and there are lots of people crammed into a tiny little space in that building.  Bickering female co-workers, annoying IT issues, stinky microwaved lunches, and no chance of escaping for alone time(except for toilet/angry birds breaks!) are all a part of my day in the office.  All the stories I've heard people tell about the crazy stuff that happens in offices, I kinda get it now.  Thankfully, the snow is here and we open up soon, and I'll be back on a beautiful mountain with gorgeous views breathing pristine air shredding the gnar!

Say what you will, but my job is awesome.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting to Know Me. Am I an Introvert?

I've always thought of myself as a rather mild mannered fella.  I'm not really prone to extreme emotions or significant mood swings.  But that's about as much as I can honestly say about myself.  I used to think I was outgoing, then I thought I was shy, recently I thought maybe I was just an emotionless void.  Recently though, having statistically reached the age of adulthood I think I have finally begun to understand a little about myself and who exactly I am.  For the most part, I am quite pleased with the kind of person that I am.

There is one major thing though that has manifested itself over the last 4-5 years.  I call these the post college years.  Because when I was in college, I craved the company of people.  I purposefully found the biggest house possible and filled it with 6 of my best friends. (some of the best times EVER!)  I was never home alone for 4.5 years.  And we were always on the prowl for opportunities to add to the group size.  I very rarely felt uncomfortable in any social situation.  In fact it was usually just the opposite.  Reed used to say that I had no social conscious, or something like that.  I thrived off of the attention of others and couldn't care less what anyone thought.  I literally could not become embarrassed.  I wanted to be the center of attention.  Everyone needed to know that I was there!  I even became a lead singer in a band just so I could get lots of attention.  I hate singing.  And I am really, really bad at it.  (now it's embarrassing)  But it provided opportunities to meet new people, and to be freaking awesome!

Then, slowly, something changed.  The roots of the change are probably centered around the process of my friends getting abducted and forced into servitude, I mean married, and drifting off on their own lives, no longer needing the energy of our group to fulfill their social needs.  When my only major attempt at moving my life in that direction ended worse than this, I was not only left without a social pipeline, I had incurred a severe mistrust of deep emotional attachment.  So I started doing something new for me, I started doing things by myself.  This was a very significant change for me.  I couldn't even drive to Shopko for socks by myself before!  I did things like move to Alaska, alone.  Moved to Maui, alone (well, not at first).  Moved to Australia, alone.  I started doing the things I love to do, by myself.  No longer were these social activities, but personal hobbies that became more and more intrinsically valuable.  I learned to be alone and be ok, and found out that skiing by yourself is freaking awesome!  No waiting, no sharing, no "where do you wanna go?"  Bliss.

The direction my life went at that point has turned out to be ridiculously awesome, but came with a side effect.  I started working in the tourism industry.  In Park City, Maui, and Australia my jobs have been to interact with a large volumes of people in a very friendly and positive manner.  As a ski instructor only a portion of my job is to teach skiing, mostly I attempt to provide a memorable experience.  I have ridden a lot of chairlifts with people I just met that morning.  Chatting them into adoring me every time.  And in Maui twice a day we'd get a boat full of new tourists and it was my job to get to know them all and make sure they had a good time(And didn't die).  I've had a whole lot of getting to know you conversations!  I'm a professional get to know you-er.  I've gotten really good at pretending to be your friend for a day.  My livelihood kind of depends on it as half my income comes from tips from all these people.  And business has been good.

But over the years (I've been doing this since 2008) and somewhat unconsciously, all these happy faces, funny jokes, and enlightening conversations I've been spewing forth have worn me down.  So much so that today, when I am not working hard to earn your tip, and if I don't think you are going to play any significant role in my life, I don't really want anything to do with you.  And I definitely don't care where you are from, what you studied in school, where you work, or what you think about last nights TV line up.  Just the other day I was in a gymnasium chuck full of young, attractive, interesting people...and I hid in a corner with my two safety net friends, avoided eye contact with strangers out of fear they'd try to engage me in conversation, and left early to avoid the nervous breakdown the extremely overwhelming situation was sure to cause.  I have become much more introverted than I ever have been.  I can't really say if this has happened because meeting new people and being interested in them feels like I am at work, or if it is just a more true and grown up version of me manifesting itself now that I no longer need the attention and approval of others to measure my self worth.

Whatever the cause, the effect has had a side effect.  Even reading this now you probably think I just sound like a jerk.  Sitting alone in the corner because I'm stuck up.  Not caring about your pet dog's haircut makes me rude.  Not engaging you in friendly "getting to know" conversation makes me inconsiderate.  The people that I have decided are worth getting to know, have all said as much about me before they actually got to know me.  "Scary", "Kinda rude", "Mean" are all adjectives some of my current best friends have used to describe their opinions of me before I measured their worth and let them in.  i.e.  before we got to know each other.  So this is me now.  I'm not bitter, I'm not shy (well, unless you're a pretty girl), and I'm not trying to be rude.  I am just exhausted from being so friendly and awesome for the people paying me, that when I meet you, I am just going to need some time to decide if you are worth my valuable energy, and then build that energy to a level high enough to share my story.  And then...we'll probably be really good friends. Especially if you have bacon and cookies!

Now, I don't really know if I qualify as an introvert or not.  I reckon the people that know me well would say no, but that's because they already know me.  So they are already on my list of acceptables.  But this graphic seems to describe me rather well(but not perfectly)...So, if you are interested in being my friend, follow these simple guidelines:

 And if you are a pretty girl interested in getting to know me...two things.  First, I am well over my mistrust issues.  And Second, please follow these guidelines!  Thanks!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Blundering Buffoonery of a Naive Young Heartbreaker.

Back when the Dewey Decimal system was the ruler of all search engines, and I was in High School, I was pretty naive about a lot of things.  None the least, the opposite gender...  Now, I liked girls in high school.  It was fun to have them around.  They provided me and my friends with lots of good laughs and hilarious moments of showing off and doing stupid things we thought would make us look cool.  Some of my best friends in high school were girls.  There were almost always some around in our group and meeting new ones at sporting events or cruising the 'vard' in Ogden was always a good time.  I often had crushes on girls and even did what could be called dating a few times.  But when it comes down to things that really mattered to me back then, females were pretty low on the list.  My male friends, all of whom are still my best friends today, took priority number one.  It was always bros before hos for me.  Some of these bros still don't know just how devoted I was to this (you're welcome fellas).  But things like soccer and swim practice, skiing, mtn. biking, winning N64 Goldeneye tournaments, and general teenage tomfoolery all came in as more important to me than girls.  So on the rare occasion that I was interested in a girl, it would all come to a unceremonious halt if interactions with her interfered with the aforementioned activities. And completely unbeknownst to me at the time, this caused a lot of young, teenage, feminine heartache.  Most of which I was utterly and completely oblivious to, until...

Many years later, and several years ago, I was cleaning out the belongings I had left at my parents house and came across that big Tupperware box full of old yearbooks, artwork, trophies, and other useless stuff I will never throw away.  In this box was a shoe box.  In that box was an inexplicable amount of...notes from girls.  The shear amount of them was the first jog to my memory, since I have zero recollection of receiving notes of this kind, let alone keeping them all.  But the bigger shock was the content of these notes.  As I sat down and began to unfold the pieces of paper that could only have been folded by ancient Japanese Origami masters, I was completely dumbfounded by the content.  I remember almost every girl that had so ornately drawn their names at the end of each note, complete with heart dotted i's and lipgloss lip marks, but I have absolutely no recollection of having ever read the contents therein.  It was as if I was reading them each for the very first time, which I can't deny might actually be the case (what else would explain how they were still folded up?!).  In fact, most of the memories I had of my relationships with these young ladies were apparently very far off the true mark.  Girls I thought were just my friends, wanted way more than that, and then wanted nothing to do with me.  Girls that I thought despised me, were in fact smitten by my charm and developing virility.  And in the most extreme cases, girls that I barely knew, were expressing their undying devotion and eternal love for me.  I mean, the passion and strongly worded obviousness of some of these notes should have left some sort of mark in my memory.  I can't comprehend how I could have been so oblivious to the things these girls were saying to me, girls that often, I was hanging out with on a regular basis.  My point is, that I got all these notes from girls in junior high and high school and it seems that I could not have cared any less.  I either didn't care enough to remember any of this drama, or I didn't care enough to even open and read them.  I did care enough however to put them all in a dusty shoe box, so there is that ladies!  I take peace in knowing that all of those girls, have managed to somehow overcome the grief and sorrow I caused them, and moved on with their lives.  They've gotten married and started families, I am still friends with several of them (well, facebook friends anyway).  The irony here, is that I doubt they actually remember any of that, and here I am, reminiscing on what could have been, if only I wasn't a block-headed teenager. (and also texting isn't nearly as cool as getting a note)

I haven't even mentioned the saddest part of this story yet though.  And this is why I am writing about it now.  Just a few weeks ago, I came across a slightly less dusty box, again at my parents house, which held very similar items.  Most of the contents in this box was postage.  Old birthday cards from passed on Grandparents, Christmas cards, wedding announcements, letters from family and friends from my times living away from home and from people who were away from me.  Most of this was pretty standard, and I actually had memories of.  But every so often I would pull from the box a letter from a girl.  Most of this stuff was from while I was serving my LDS mission in Bulgaria and the years afterwards when I was in college.  And again, just like the cheesy notes from high school, it was like I was reading these things for the first time.  The hints being dropped, and the fishing questions being asked were so obvious to me now, that I am flabbergasted as to why I was too thick to pick up on them then.  It's no secret that even as an 'adult' in college, I was still pretty dang naive about the ways of the woman.  I even had a part time flirting coach who, on multiple occasions, had to point out to me what was actually going on with my interactions with the confounding females.  Thanks Christie.  I should have had you read these letters with me, you know, to help translate.  But it seems that once again, I had missed several opportunities to begin, or continue relationships that obviously weren't very high on my priority list at the time.  Even in that pre-menacing time when my LDS culture deemed me ripe for the marital bandwagon.

Something many of you in my LDS culture probably don't understand, is that being my age, LDS, and single does not mean that I am sad, lonely, lazy, or apostate.  In fact I am completely happy and stoked on my life.  In retrospect, of all these lost opportunities I have just learned about, there is only one that I truly regret.  (and she'll probably read this).  But these two boxes have lead me to amusingly and contentedly ponder, what if...

What if I wasn't such a blundering, oblivious, moron when it comes to dealing with the X chromosomes...?

(and personal kudos to me for using both tomfoolery and flabbergasted in the same post!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Adorable Nightmare

At Perisher there is a program where local kids come to ski school every Sunday and ski with the same group and the same instructor all season.  Ages 3+ are welcome and kids are grouped based on age and ability.  Its a pretty awesome program.  Since I didn't originally get one of the older kid groups that just want to rip all day, I was avoiding the program to hopefully have Sunday as my day off.  At the beginning of the season then, when I was asked to take a group of 3-4 year olds, I had no idea what I had just let myself be talked into.
On the first day I had 5 boys and 2 girls.  The math here is simple, but any ski instructor around the world will know that 7 3-4 year old children on a ski hill is equivalent to trying to teach dog tricks to 7 kittens high on catnip in a warehouse of balls, yarn, and laser pointer dots.  Though the kitttens would probably all get along, use a litter box by themselves, feed themselves, and wouldn't have to be dressed and undressed in 12 layers four times a day.  So, maybe the kittens would be easier.  Thinking I was getting a good deal, after that first day I traded the two girls for a boy bringing my total to six.  Not too bad...so I thought.  The program for my age group is called Mini Mites. So first, lets meet my boys.

This is Luka.
Luka is incredibly friendly and thinks I'm his best friend.  He is so excited for everything and usually has an awesome attitude.  Luca though, doesn't play well with others.  If I take my eyes off him, he is pushing someone down, stealing someones toy, or going WWF crazy on an unsuspecting child.  His ears are slightly blocked making it hard to hear anything I say.



This is Lincoln.
Lincoln is the mastermind of evil.  His most charming trait is that he really couldn't care less.  He does whatever he wants, no matter what.  He is a true leader.  He ALWAYS has to be in front, I spent 4 weeks working on taking turns with this kid, only to eventually give it up.  He somehow managed to rally 5 other little boys into a plot to take over the world.  No threat of discipline or consequence has any effect on this one.  Bribes however...


This is Christian.
 He was the youngest in my group.  He was the cutest.  And he only had one single moment all season long of acting his age.  I wanted to take him home with me!  He didn't really talk that much, just smiles and giggles.  He also happens to be the best skier in the group.  And his pants were always falling off, Cutest kid ever. 


 This is Will.
Will was the most efficient producer of snot.  He chewed holes into 5 different pairs of gloves.  He almost never cried or whined but fell down a LOT.  And when Will falls down he is overtaken by a magical spell that makes him inexplicably mesmerized by the snow.  He can't stop playing with it, and thus...will never stand up by himself after falling down.  Not even once.  Every other kid in the Mini Mites program loves Will.  Which is weird, cuz he's pretty shy, and gets snot on everything.


 This is Charly
Charly is frieking adorable.  He would fight with Luca a lot about being my best friend.  He is also excited about almost everything.  Charly won't stand for anyone behaving badly, and he will make sure to tell me if anyone does, over and over again until I acknowledge the infraction.  He has a fun habit of stopping when something upsets him.  And not moving no matter what.  No words will get him to move.  I hiked uphill to retrieve this guy more than any ski instructor has ever hiked uphill for any kid(except maybe for Will). 


 This is Charlie
Charlie is Lincoln's sidekick.  The two were either best friends or worst enemies.  It changes every five minutes or so.  Charlie really likes to have everything his very own way.  And he will let you know if he disapproves.  His hearing is very poor and has no concept of staying with the group.  He is probably the most manipulative 4 old on earth.  Just when you are about to go all Homer Simpson strangling on him, he will hug your leg and tell you he loves you.  I've never had such mixed emotions about a person.  He has a bright future in politics, or playboying...


So for one day every week all season long I got to hang out with these boys.  It was awesome and horrible at the same time.  All of these boys have some sort of relation to employees at Perisher, so they've been around the mountain before.  It only took me a few days with these guys to realize that I had a group with a reputation.  And the reputation wasn't really a good one.  Most reactions from people who were in the know were empathetic and sorrowful.  Everywhere we went on the mountain though we'd get the "Aaaahhhhh"s and "So cute!" exclamations from everyone that didn't know.  When people from the general public saw me ignoring a screaming Charlie or yelling my lungs out at Lincoln who is running away, I got disapproving glances.  A resort employee who knew better though would often step in and help.  These boys were definitely a handful.  My skills as an instructor, and a kitten wrangler were surely put to the test.
To give you an idea how bad they could get, I'll tell the story about week two.  That morning I put a gash in my head when I hit it on a locker getting my uniform on and I had to go to the medical center before I could go to work.  So this made me about an hour late for work.  They gave my group to my friend Georgia for the day since they weren't sure if I'd get cleared by the doc to work.  I showed up to take my group after Georgia had been with them for the hour.  When I met up with them they were just getting ready to start putting skis on, and Georgia was having a straight up anxiety attack.  She was so overwhelmed with the tasks of getting them all to go to the toilet, putting all their winter clothes on, herding them outside and up the snow, and trying to get their skis on, that she was literally about to loose her sanity.  The look on her face when she saw me was akin to the look a man stranded on an island with a wild pack of howler monkeys would have when he spots a rescue ship.  I've never know a woman to be so happy to see me.
There were times when I would straight up just loose a kid.  But only because he would run off.  I hiked uphill more with those boys than all the rest of my time teaching skiing combined.  This was the first time in my life I've used candy to bribe children, there was literally no other way.  Lunch time was absolute chaos.  It was pure and simple, non stop work taking care of those buys for 6.5 hours each day.  I came really close to going crazy myself a few times, and on several occasions I had to take a moment to myself to dial down impending explosion.  This was the most difficult task I've ever had as an instructor.

And I hope I get to teach them again next year, because it was downright awesome!

On our last day.  It's a great picture isn't it?!  If you could only see what it took to get them all sitting still at the same time!

The last day was race day, this was the awards ceremony.


Lincoln (look at that tuck! I taught him that...)

Christian (the fastest 3 yr old on the mountain!)

Waiting for lunch.  NOT easy to get them all sitting down at once.

At the awards ceremony

Someone in charge decide that a huge platter full of sweets and chips was a good idea for a room with 80 3-5 year old kids.  FAIL.

Every time it was time to go from inside to outside I would let the boys that were dressed and ready go outside and play while I helped the others get ready.  On this day they were now all outside and I had been trying for about five minutes to get them all to follow me to the hill to start skiing again.  Eventually I gave up and just started filming them instead, and this is that video!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Gili Islands

Once I realized I wasn't going to be able to surf every day that I was in Indonesia as originally planned, and spending several days touristing around the inland, I decided it was time to get back to the beach to participate in my second favorite thing to do in the ocean.  Scuba Diving!  So I took a bus, to a boat, to the island of Gili Air just off the coast of Lombok.  There are three Gili islands.  They are all pretty small, (I walked all the way around Air in 80 minutes) but that just means there is lots of reef surrounding them.  So it was an obvious place to go for some scuba. 

The Gili Islands.  Gili Air is on the right.
Where it points to Gili Trawangan is where I was.

There are no motorized vehicles on the island.  Just sandy paths and small horse drawn carts work as taxis in case you need to take your luggage to one of the villas far away from the spot on the beach where boats dropp off/pick up.  There is no proper pier, boats just tie up to driftwood or palm trees.  And it was awesome!  After the intensity of Bali the quiet pace here was really nice. 


My accommodation was about 20 yards back from the beach so it was very affordable, and it was right next door to the dive center Oceans 5 where I wanted to book all my dives.  

My cottage
Where I stayed.


The diving was really good.  It wasn't quite like the Barrier Reef, but still really good.  I saw some things I've never seen before.  Like sea horses, nudibranches, shrimp and eels.  Of course there were all the normal creatures and turtles and sharks.  Plus the ocean floor terrain was different than anything I've seen before, and I did a muck dive for the first time.  That was way more interesting than I expected.  In three days I only did five dives total, but I did swim around most the island too. 


weird method for getting back on the boat


Don't touch!  Lionfish.




Tiny yellow box fish!

Another Sea Horse




In total I was in Gili for five days and four nights.  I will admit that on my first day there I was unsure.  I didn't know what I was going to do for five days on that tiny speck of land.  But not doing much of anything ended up being awesome.  The food at the restaurants was surprisingly good.  All the people were very nice.  It was a great way to end my time in Indonesia!