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  • Kimberly Hula 10:20 pm on February 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Boston weather, snow tubing, winter sports   

    Never Let Me Go 

    I’ve had a good run with winter sports. The past few years have found me skiing (mostly lodging), snowboarding (mostly falling), ice skating (OWNED IT!), snow shoeing (good center of gravity), and now, snow tubing.

    Snow tubing is one of those activities I wasn’t privy to in the midwest. For whatever reason I equate it with New Hampshire hills off highways. While I wasn’t immediately familiar with the concept it was explained to me as follows: you go down a big hill in a tube.

    snow_tubeThis seemed exciting. Tubes haven’t much height but offer cushioned support. I thought that because of a tube’s material there would be no way to exact speeds as fast as say, a toboggan, because the tube would rip. In all, it seems the perfect ‘sport’ for me. A leisurely ride down a gently sloped hill in a slow moving inner tube – on par with a day in a lazy river, just colder. So I enthusiastically agreed to go.

    The day was unseasonably warm. Boston had it’s first hit of 50+ F and residents let it be known by going on runs in the tiniest of shorts, or wearing tees and tanks (sans jacket) and soaking up the sun as if all roads led to the beach. It was silly, and as much as I wanted to frolic through the streets I had a winter sport to attend to, so I donned my snow suit, packed a change of clothes and made way for New Hampshire.

    Well, Amesbury. New Hampshire was a step over, but the weather took refuge there, too! Our snow park was reduced to a parking lot slush pool and a gaggle of children in light fleece tops and colorful snow pants. Because I went in thinking tubing was for wusses I didn’t worry much. It wasn’t until we pulled into the sports complex to find a towering hill with steep runs – each carved out of snow with ice tipped bumpers. There was a ‘magic carpet’ – or a flat bed escalator to take you and your tube to the top. There were children in helmets – some in hockey masks (WHY?)- pacing back and forth as we waited for the park to open – one upping each other in dares, each one sure to dive head first or double sure to make their tube fly. I don’t know why anyone would go down, much less draft a death wish by going head first, but the kids seemed resolute. With no one yet on the slope I watched the sport park employees trudge up the hill and stand guard at the dismount. They looked like frigid life guards with no cause for concern. Realizing how afraid I was I looked to the line to find someone, anyone, as nervous as I. This was a fools errand as I, and my cohort of three adult women, were the only unaccompanied adults. Meaning we didn’t have children. Suggesting that we were the only people in greater New England who thought it fun to throw themselves down a hill in a tube on a slick surface for the sheer want of it. Not because a kid in a hockey mask begged it of us. And of our small group only I seemed destined for panic.

    I don’t know why I worry, only that I do. And that I have strange ways of attending to my phobias. For one I put myself out there, but I also make a spectacle. I took too long to choose an inter tube, and when I did my selection was curious. As we were some of the first people in line we had our pick of the litter! With so many tubes so late in the season it might be rare to find one in pristine condition but Moira and Angela found the brightest of blue tubes. Karleen, likewise, found one in a ruby shade of red, and I… without being able to explain myself chose the oldest, most faded, saddest looking tube in the lot. It operated and seemed as air filled as the rest, but this tube would never photograph well. This tube was probably the tube everyone left behind – statically growing into it’s shade of grey by way of hiding. It was a tube that spoke to my feelings and I dragged it along like I’d trained it in my own image. (More …)

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    • Jen 6:21 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink

      Way to go, Kimberly!!!! And I’m with you on mostly lodging it when I ski 🙂

  • Kimberly Hula 11:59 am on February 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , figure skating, , optimism, pessimism   

    On occasion we all need to opt out of optimism 

    I don’t agree with the subject heading.  They are my words, even the fixed sub-text in the banner of my writing blog, but I can’t keep them close.  You see, for as cry-eye and morose as I can be; for all the time devoted to sad movies and sadder novels and saddest music; for all the depression in the world, I am really an eternal optimist.

    In the thick of a thunderstorm I might recall some source of shelter.  Or when I think up something I might summon the strength to work it out – make it happen.  It’s a blessing to be born this way.  I allow myself to believe that things are possible.  That I can really get up and be it.  And while destiny may laugh at my naivety I can’t shake this optimism, which is what found me here, on an endless adventure trail chasing the tail of opportunities that I’ve long avoided.

    It can all come at a cost.  One can over visualize, hyper expect.  You can think your way out of a bad way only to find yourself in heavier boots.  Nothing is more damning than letting your optimism down, but I’ve no recourse.  I choose to believe in trying – to make better our circumstances if only in mind.  And although I haven’t a solid track record – while you might find me bemoaning something at some point – I’m going to stay with the program and keep up the optimism.  Because with it we find second chances, and with chance we find adventure.

    That’s how I found myself back here.  It starts off so easily, as it does every four years.  I watch the Olympics.  Really, I love the Olympics.  I love the fervor and excitement and attention to celebration.  I love that anything seems possible and that hard work is rewarded.  And I love how throngs of tiny ice flower girls become inspired to be their next best version of Michelle Kwan or Lindsay Vohn or Bodie Miller.  And because our tvs are bigger and the picture crisper, I love how I feel at one with the action.  That I’m really gliding across the ice like a bladed centaur.  When I see this  – the pure athletic prowess, but even more, the crowd swell of support – the snuck smile whenever some athlete completes something special – well, I want for that.  I believe that anything is possible.  I feel the power of Horatio Alger and the American Dream and want to try, try, try.  I wish the trying translated to writing more, or setting up a sustainable system or pattern in my life, but instead it takes wild turns.

    On dock today, figure skating – or my impression of!

    I watched all the figure skating and declared that TODAY WAS THE DAY to take to ice.  I haven’t much memory of time spent skating, although I must have done so once or twice as a girl.  Still, it seemed appropriate to make an effort and Hiro and I headed off to the Kendall ice rink in Cambridge to make our public debut.

    Everyone for miles had the same idea.  The rink was teeming with little girls and boys and men and women inspired by the latest quad sequence for Yuzuru Hanyo.  The rink was filled with optimists gliding past one another in seamless streams.  The collective energy, replete with artful falls and botched stop sequences, was endearing and I couldn’t help but think these are my people.

    It’s not easy here in the cold northeast.  The people can be mean.  Everyone has an agenda and a privately guarded inner world.  It was a hard transition coming to Boston with my midwest wide eyes and belief in beauty.  I felt, and still feel, bruised by people’s hurried nature.  Everyone has got something better to do, a place to be.  I feel here, moreso than anywhere, people would sooner opt out of optimism.  Dreaming derails progress.  Get on the pragmatic program and stop holding up the line.  The negativity sticks to you like mid-summer sweat and I’ve had a hell of a time finding a towel to dry off.

    But here, if only for a moment, the ice was magnetic.  It melded our skate blades to the ground and asked that we abandon inhibition.  That we believe in a dream, even if not our own.  That we allow ourselves a moment of reckless belief.  And it’s obvious, from the throngs of skaters trying desperately to turn as beautifully as Mao Asada did.  It’s so evident from the ecstatic smiles on their faces as they fall that THEY ARE TRYING.  THEY ARE DOING.  THAT THEY ARE BELIEVING the best thing anyone can: that anything is possible.

    And it occurs to me that what is crucial is to believe
    in effort, to believe some good will come of simply trying,
    a good completely untainted by the corrupt initiating impulse
    to persuade or seduce – Louise Gluck
     
  • Kimberly Hula 8:38 pm on February 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2nd amendment, ice dancing, liberal fantasy land, , shooting range   

    Live Free or Ice Dance 

    Hiro and I did two things with our Sunday.  We watched the last Olympic leg of the Team Ice Dancing competition and we drove to New Hampshire and shot some guns.  We didn’t do one to play off the other for effect.  Nor did we do either with any planning as Hiro isn’t much of an ‘ice-dance man’ and I sit squarely in the liberal fantasy land that is Boston fully in favor of a full repeal of the 2nd amendment.  Instead, we found our way into these activities and because they are of note, I thought I’d share them with you.

    The Olympics themselves are the first hurdle.  I love the games and the sad sappy commercials that oft accompany them.  I love seeing athletes recognized for their abilities no matter how niche or otherwise uncelebrated.  I also love the emotion that comes of winning AND losing.  There is no moment like the one moment you have opportunity to prove your worth.  As sad as it is to see someone fall, tumble, foil their way through their event it’s ever more uplifting to see them comforted.  To see human spirit in its purest form come to the aid of one another blindly and with good faith.  These games are a tall(er) order, what with the human rights violations and seeming disregard for said companioned vigor by the host country.  I was all set to boycott the games!  No games!  Not in my house!  But, besides my fervent need to feel kinship with all that hope, I felt it a great disservice to those athletes that are there based on their merit.  They did not chose for Sochi to host.  They only chose to be good/great/best in their field and can still use all the support we, as their adoring fans, can muster.  At any rate that’s how I justified that.  And that’s how we found ourselves ice-dance aficionados.

    We don’t know anything about ice-dancing, and if I hear the phrase “side-by-side twizzle sequence” once more I’m afraid I may never hear anything else.  But we were into it.  It was graceful and athletic and synchonized.  Before I knew it Hiro had fully seated himself at my side and we TALKED A BIG GAME at the Jonny Weir about what it takes to truly execute a side-by-side twizzle sequence, thank you very much.

    In all honesty I could have devoted my whole day to that, but ice-dance knows how to make an exit and Hiro and I were left with two choices.  Make a further dent in the sofa and become intimate with insane ski jumping or do something else with our day.  Because I’d sooner defer to adventure I chose the latter.

    flower gun

    “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt”

    Let me build off my earlier disclaimer.  I don’t like guns.  I hate them, really.  I want only to live in a place without them and can’t imagine having one anywhere near me without a lock, and a box, and another lock and a safe.  I have, however, shot one before.  Two, actually.  It was years back at the ranch of a then boyfriend in none other than Texas.  Then BF and I were already fading fast and my trip to meet his parents did little more than solidify the fact that this whole trip was going the way of my journal and a memory store I’d work extra hard to purge.  That may be why, when offered, I agreed to shoot those guns.  Even when my judgment told me to go back in the ranch house and read a book and let the boys and the ranch hand point big shot guns at clay pigeons with the right hands, while holding firmly onto bottles of Shiner Bock(s) in the other.  It seemed unsafe and reckless and my anxiety was mounting.  I was sad to be stuck in a place I didn’t belong and mad to have made that choice.  I felt alien and prudish and frustrated so I took that shot gun and did as they said.

    I did not shoot the clay pigeon.  I shot off into some vast air target never to see my bullet meet matter.  I did, however, feel some crazy backfire in my shoulder from the butt of the gun and quickly gave up.

    That was six years ago and I’ve long since forgotten the feeling, but somewhere in the back stores of my mind I must have equated the release of a trigger with that of frustration.  I may have mixed memories and convinced myself that all the trouble I had with the former BF was made palatable, or at least unleashed some irritation by way of firearm.  I don’t know if that’s the leap I made then, but I think that’s what I convinced myself today, as I found myself asking Hiro if we could go to a gun range. (More …)

     
  • Kimberly Hula 10:25 am on February 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: customs, depression, travel,   

    If you dissect a bird / to diagram the tongue, / you’ll cut the chord / articulating song 

    “…people with nothing to declare carry the most.”
    ― Jonathan Safran FoerExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close

     

    Here's looking at you

    Here’s looking at you

    I enjoy going through customs.  I like the confirmation.  A declaration of adventure.  Too often travel ends in a whisper.  I spend hours and days planning a trip.  Dreaming up scenarios: a blue bird London sky; a pop-up Parisian dinner party; the glory of a Tanzanian mountain descent.  I dream these up more than I take them on, but the fantasy satiates.  I  visualize a passport thick as a Thanksgiving belly and friends and new family on every corner of the globe.

    So I always welcome the customs line.  I waltz through there like the queen of all things because I am, if only for a minute, the world’s best traveler.  I am an ambassador of my own memory and I relish in the opportunity to confirm that I put into practice at least one fantasy.

    But it is never as expected.  My travel is calculated.  I buy Fodder’s and Let’s Go’s in the hopes of staying safe.  I go off the beaten path in as much as my mass-produced guide has instructed me to go rogue.  I stay in clean hotels, and fare well with my own language.  This is the stuff my family lives for.  A Disney sanctuary of pre-fab comfort and top-grade assurance.  It has effect.  It gets me to go, go, go when I live to keep moving.  This is good/great/ best less the end result; a mere crawl to the finish line – a hoarse whisper of thanks to whatever locale welcomed me that trip.

    I don’t want to whisper.  I want to yell from that Tanzanian mountain top.  I want to crawl into a yurt without shower and dance in the moonlight and fight for my right to speak at a dinner party.  I suppose it’s the experience I’m after.  The fall without net sensation of really living that keeps me on Expedia and believing, imploring, unabashedly reaching for a customs line that will stamp my passport ‘life well lived’.

    What are we without dreams?  But even more, who are we to scrutinize our best efforts to reach them?  Day in and day out I’m hard on myself.  I’m a lame traveler.  A failed adventurer.  I’m not working the job I want; not making the money I thought.  I’m not reading nor writing nor living.  Not, no, nor.  I allow these as refrains in my daily shower song.  But I don’t want a negative to sing to me.  I just want to dream without consequence.

    That’s what I carry to customs.  The realization of dreams deferred.  The overweight parcels of expectation and regret.  But, if anything, I’m in line, which has to say something.

     
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