Ups and Downs

This week I’m in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for a consular conference. It amazes me that less than 24 hours’ worth of planes, trains, and automobiles can get me from trash fires and scrap metal shacks to crisp mountain air and charming ski chalets frosted with a pristine and picturesque blanket of snow. I figured it would be a tragedy to waste a free ticket to Winter Wonderland on work, so I chipped in some vacation days on both ends to make the most of it.

I also decided I would use this as an opportunity to put into practice my sort of-New Year’s semi-resolution to try more new things. In Iceland I tried horseback riding and dry-suit snorkeling and hurling myself off a cliff into ice-cold water, and those things all turned out to be pretty good fun. In Garmisch I tried learning to snowboard, and it was an absolute disaster.

Turns out in snowboarding your non-dominant foot goes in front and takes most of the weight. After a couple of dislocation incidents in high school and college my non-dominant knee is not really okay with this plan, so I tried snowboarding lefty, essentially. This may not have been a good idea. Or it may have made no difference – my natural lack of balance, coordination, and athletic ability may have been enough to sink this ship all by itself.

I never quite got the hang of having a large heavy plank of wood or fiberglass or whatever strapped to my foot. By the time I had huffed and puffed my way uphill I had missed the instructions and everyone else was going down. I got going, slowly, and then fell. I picked myself up, got going again, fell again. And then I’d pick myself up again and huff and puff my way back up the hill to go through the process again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sometimes, just for variety, I’d fall going uphill too. Hell, sometimes I’d fall just standing still. It was like being trapped in a Yakety Sax blooper reel, but in slo-mo. I signed up for a four-hour lesson, but after an hour and a half of faceplants I decided to call it quits and do something FUN with my vacation. I do not regret this choice.

So, new things: not always awesome. On the other hand, aside from some wasted cash and mild humiliation nothing really bad happened either. And I got a decent blog post out of it, so there’s that. Look for more tales of embarrassment as 2013 goes forward. It’s gonna be an interesting year.