Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

So we’re nearing the end of another magnificent ski season.  The last few have been particularly good, just because I know a lot better what to actually do, how to have consistently good days and how to enjoy myself on the mountain more.

I realized something early though when I started going skiing.  The amount of focus it involves is immense but in another way the sport helped me was to make me really focused.  When I first started going skiing, I would fall when I thought of something that upset me.  It taught me to focus more on the positive things or at least be able to push the negative thoughts away when I went skiing, in the hopes that this would have a reflection on my outside life.

Last weekend, I skied this slope at Killington called Panic Button.  It’s a black diamond but an groomed slope that has a bit of a feature at the beginning and then a normal ride down.  My favorite.  How I came to find this trail is a bit of an interesting story.  As I said in the last entry, my two earlier trips to Killington this season were, um, interesting.  One with 11 million of my closest friends and the other when the mountain was covered in insane, dense fog.  It was in this insane dense fog that I decided to first ski Panic Button.  Why I decided to do this still mystifies me.  Anyway, last weekend I decided to ski Panic Button again, but actually be able to see this time.  That’s where the focus came in.  I’d never been on this thing when I could actually see all of it so I was laser focused on every feature.    Small bump here, straight down there, make a turn there.  When I ski, I try to memorize as many of the features of the trails so I can ski it again, in good weather and bad weather or crazy overwhelming fog.  Anyway, it was very pleasant.  As long as you keep your eyes on the prize while skiing.

Oh and there are pictures.  OF COURSE:

The Slope Life

Well, ski season has started and as anyone who has even been on this blog once knows, that is my favorite time of the year.

Over the past few seasons, I have really changed how I ski.  First I was learning.  Then it was mastery of different levels of trail.  Now I set goals for myself at the beginning of each season.  How many runs, how many times and how well I hope to do all of this.  I tend to stick to one side of the resort, so there are fewer pictures taken, but by this point, I’ve been to all of these places a multitude of times.

This ski season has been really interesting.  Well, some new people have entered my life as a result.  I found myself a guy to drive me at 5am for my ski bus, this incredibly crusty guy from Bawstan, I mean Boston who has the thickest Boston accent I have ever heard.  But he’s good guy who is always early to get me and delivers me on time and with no drama.  I’ve also started to ask friends to drop me off at the place we take the bus from.  A new friend named Liz was tasked with this last weekend and it all worked out with the ride.  She came to get me, we chatted and off I went.  Last year I asked two friends to drop me off and it went off fine.  Did these people get to a new friendship level with me??  Possibly.  Nah, I love them.  Ten years in a place, right?

Well and then there’s the actual skiing.  My first big skiing trip this season was to Sunday River, which was a good day but really tiring.  But the best kind of tired is skiing tired.  Then two hilarious trips to Killington.  The first one was on the biggest ski day of the year with approximately and I can’t get too exact, 11 million of my closest friends.  I have never seen that many people on a mountain anywhere, ever.  The lift line at the bottom of the Killington base was super crowded and it took a half an hour to get anywhere.  The mountain was FULL of people.  I hate to sound like a snob but one day a year ski people, not us crazy people who sleep with our skis by our beds and joyously run outside at 4am to go skiing.  Just vacation skiers or as a local in Killington calls them — Jerrys.  A Jerry is ski parlance for an individual who cannot ski well.

But it was still a fun day.  Because any day on the mountain is a good day.  The conversations on the lifts are the absolute best, especially since this man appeared on my ski helmet:


If you don’t know, this is Nick Offerman playing a wonderful character named Ron Swanson, on the exceptional Parks and Recreation.  Ron is a very conventional man who likes wood working, breakfast food and dark haired women.  This above though, is when Ron lost his mind and re-married his second ex-wife, Tammy 2.  Within 24 hours of remarrying, he’s got the corn rows and the kimono.  It is one of the funniest transformations ever to be put on screen.  At one point during the hours of crazy, Corn Rows Ron watches a videotape of regular Ron, where regular Ron warns him about the dangers of getting involved with Tammy 2.

I’m a member of multiple Parks and Recreation groups on Facebook and one day I saw that some website was selling stickers of him in this great moment.  I got three.  One for my fridge, one for my mirror and of course, one for the ski helmet.  Ron is there to remind me to be a little bit evil everyday.

So three young men on the lift were passing a flask of bourbon between them and joking about stuff.  At one point, they asked if I wanted a swig from their flask.  God, I love skiing!!!!!  Well, since the only was down was a black diamond with a rope over it that said — experts only, I didn’t partake.  But we did get into a conversation about the Ron sticker and by the time we were at the top, a lot of laughter had passed between us about Parks and Recreation and the sticker.  Give me all of your bacon and eggs!!!!!!

The next weekend I decided to return to Killington.  This time it was 11 million of my closest friends and fog.  A lot of fog.  A LOT OF FOG.  How much fog?  Well, at one point I took my goggles off and all I saw was white.  I could not see the horizon or the person in front of me.  It was as close as I ever come to actually being blind in my life.  So I decided that day to go down an icy trail called Panic Button.  It should be renamed “Get Your Head Examined.”  I got on it.  I can’t really see well.  All I thought was — let the people in front of you go and keep your eyes on the horizon.  And we were fine obviously, but when I starting going down, I thought — honey, you in danger now.  Skiing — you got yourself into this mess and you have to get yourself out of it now.

And of course there was fun lift conversation.  On the same ski lift where I encountered the boys with the flask of bourbon the week before, this time I was riding the lift up with a guy whose been skiing for farty years.  I don’t know how to write it but that’s what it sounds like to me.  Farty years this guy has been skiing.  Then another guy on the lift started talking about how Baywatch had been digitally remastered and it was hilarious to watch.  I said that they use phones that are the sizes of paperbacks and the TV screens are huge.  The Farty guy goes — I had a phone in my caaaaaah and a beepaaaaah.  And now his ex-wife has the numbaaaaaah from his caaaaaah phone.  I think I was laughing about this conversation for at least an hour afterwards.

The skiing was, um, interesting that day.  It was ice skiing and some moguls.  Moguls in fog.  None of this bodes particularly well, but it was all right.  Gotta be ready for everything.  Get the practice in with those turns for days like that.

Last Sunday’s ski trip was the calmest and most beautiful not just of this season, but of all my seasons chasing the dragon, I mean skiing.  Every year since I started going skiing, I sign up to go to Bretton Woods and every year the Patriots are in the Super Bowl, so the trip gets cancelled.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love the team but you can go skiing and then watch the Super Bowl.  But the trip always got cancelled.  Well, this year this team didn’t make it.  Look, we have to give other people the chance to win.  BURN.  Nah, well, better luck next year.  Anyway, so the ski club finally did go to Bretton Woods and the views, were, kind of unbelievable.

Bretton Woods is the home of a very famous hotel were an agreement about the post war monetary system was signed and where two nights costs the same amount as my rent for my old apartment in Allston, Chez Kelton.  Next to the hotel is a ski area also called Bretton Woods.  As I always update Facebook to let my parents know that I have arrived at my ski destination, my aunt saw my post and wondered what I was doing wandering in some kind of a forrest.  I was wandering that forrest with my skis, thank you very much.

What a glorious day it was.  Weather was perfect.  The runs were magnificent and the views, well, those below.  Words just won’t do them justice.

Now to the photography.  You’ve been patient.  There will be photographs in a second:

These Streets

I always wondered what it would feel like to get older.  When I was 10 years old, I used to sit in bed and wonder — what will my life be like when I’m 30???  Or, gasp, 40????

Well, now I know and it’s nothing at all like I expected.  I always say the future is, um, weird.  No flying cars or talking refrigerators.  But there’s something deeper to it.

I’ve walked the streets of New York since I was a little kid.  My favorite building in New York is the Chrysler Building.  My one fantasy in life has been to go inside the spire of the building.  It is a structure that has long fascinated me.

In 2007, when I started this blog, I was working in the Graybar building, right next to the Chrysler Building.  One day, the air conditioning went out in the building and they opened all the windows.  I looked out of the windows at all the buildings and there was an incredible view of the Chrysler Building.  It was almost like I could reach out and touch it.

What happens when thirteen years go by after that???  You walk by that same building but now you are walking around with a student you taught when he was 16 and you are telling him about this, still walking these street.  And the Chrysler Building is still so beautiful:

new york city chrysler building spire 2new york city chrysler building spire

Color World

This is an exhibit at the Peabody Essex museum of the works of a painter named Hans Hoffman I went to over the holiday.  These pictures were taken with a little Olympus tough camera, not my big camera.

Yeah, it’s abstract art, and not everyone likes that, but those brush strokes though.  Those brush strokes:

Crazy Weird Futuristic Beehive

So I journeyed to New York some days ago, no matter how many days exactly.  I went to see a tornado of a human being named Arturo, who is 33% my child and his lovely girlfriend Juliana.  They had come to visit from Florida, so Juliana could feel what life in the North Pole is really like.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

Arturo and Juliana had seen a lot of New York, so we went to a place none of us had been yet and well, didn’t exist until really recently — Hudson Yards.  Well, it did exist a space but wasn’t exactly a desirable location.

Recently though, this thing has been built over there called The Vessel.  It looks like a futuristic beehive.  And I need to photograph any futuristic beehive.

The beehive has a mall next to it, filled with tons of the most expensivest shit.  We went in to go to Shake Shack and for Arturo to horrify the New Yorkers with his boisterousness.  Love it.

Anyway, here’s the Beehive with a few with the High Line, the replacement for  overgrown railroad tracks.  Ah New York.  There’s no other constant but change there:

I Love Hiatus Week

I was going to write about how much I love Boston, but I guess that’s obvious to anyone who has been reading this blog for the past decade or so.

No, today I’m going to talk about my love of hiatus week.  I work at a university in this city of Boston, a university of Boston, if you will.  This was a particularly intense semester, with a ton of work to do.  The second week of December, it suddenly ends.  The semester ends and we prepare ourselves for Christmas and such.

For me, it’s a week to catch up on sleep, laundry, cooking, visiting the people that I have abandoned because of work and general relaxation.  I’m not on vacation yet.  Just hiatus.  And it’s great.  I might get in a ski trip or two, or three…  in there as well.

As a part of hiatus week, I had to do some Christmas shopping.  It was rain/snowing/whatever that day and I had grabbed my camera, in case anything interesting crossed the camera’s path.  And it did.  I walked around Copley square, near the Prudential to the John Hancock building or I guess its 200 Clarendon or whatever they call it now.  To me it will always be the Hancock building.

Got some photos as well.  Funny how interesting life is when you are running around LIKE MAD.  Pictures:

Release the Santas!!!!!!!

It’s late December, yet again, and that means just one thing — the Santa speedo run is upon us!!!!!

I’ve been going to this event since 2012 because, because it super hilarious and weird and combines everything I love about Boston into one event — strange costumes, questionable weather and sports.  Every year I’ve gone, something funny or weird has happened.  The first year I went, there was a guy with quite a hairy chest, wearing a very small bathing suit and he had written on his chest, in magic marker — this sweater available in a medium.  Another year a guy in a tiny red bathing suit came running up to me and hugged me.  I thought — what’s your name???  Besides, where was he going to put a phone into his Speedo???  I guess that’s a question we don’t have to answer today.

The event always follows the same pattern.  The runners gather in a bar in Back Bay, get liquored up, exit the bar for paparazzi photos and general hyping up.  Then some kind of start signal is given.  Then they promenade up Boylston to Newbury and then of course, back to the bar.  The whole thing is over in 20 minutes, 20 minutes in which I have taken about 300 pictures.

Boston, I love you.  Keep the Santas running forever!!!!!!!

Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God.

There’a video on YouTube that I particularly love featuring two very aged Boston Brahmins sitting in the Boston Athenæum, discussing whatever it is that Brahmins discuss, I don’t know maybe the Harvard-Yale game of 1896 or something like that.  I love the video because they speak in this pseudo-British prep school mid Atlantic accent.  They are both wearing conservative tweed suits and I’m not surprised that they filmed this video at the Athenæum.  I mean I’m sure this is where these two Brahmins actually live.  I don’t mean Beacon Hill.  I mean in the Athenæum.

I love this video too because as I reflect back on ten years of living here, I remember how I actually thought people talked in Boston, but to be honest, I’ve never actually met anyone here who speaks with this accent.  I’ve never actually met a Brahmin either.

Before I moved here, I thought that people like that comprised all of Boston.  Well, taking that out further, I thought this was a city of memberships, clubs, secret handshakes and exclusivity.  If you didn’t have your Brahmin accent and your Harvard diploma, away with you.  But what I found here is the opposite.  Everything is pretty much open to everyone.  When I started going skiing, I wanted to find ski trips to go on, so I typed “Boston” and “ski” into the internet and found my ski club.  I thought there was some kind of membership interview, aka would another bunch of people find you cool enough, but no.  It was just open membership.  You pay the fee, you go on the trip.

I’ve found a lot of things like that in Boston.  But this place still surprises me.  A couple of days ago, I went to Beacon Hill with a friend.  I don’t spend a lot of time up there.  I have no business up there.  All of my stuff is in Downtown Crossing or Brookline.  A friend said there are decorations to see up there, but what I found was again what I love about Boston.

The houses on Beacon Hill were really elaborately decorated and people were hanging out in front of their houses, giving out candy.  People were talking to everybody.  People were hanging out with their dogs and generally having a good time.  The atmosphere was really nice.

Maybe I did finally meet a real life Beacon Hill Brahmin because there was a guy wearing twill pants with little skeletons embroidered on them.  That’s an old money rich people thing.  New money is flashy and paints everything in gold.  Old money wears pants embroidered with foxes or lobsters or something.  The guy with the skeletons on his pants, that money came from rum, whaling or cotton plantations.  That’s not hedge fund money, that’s for sure.  But he was out on the street, hanging out candy with decorations on his house, just like everyone else.

Everyone was cool enough to join the Beacon Hill Halloween celebration.  No interview needed.  Just come on down and join.


Why We Walk

A couple of weeks ago, the alarm went off at 7am on a Sunday.  I woke up with a shot.  It was the third Sunday in September and that meant it was time to walk my 13.1 miles.

I walk the 13.1 miles for the Jimmy Fund, a wonderful organization in Massachusetts that raises money to fund research for cures to childhood cancers.  The original Jimmy, not actually named Jimmy, but Einar Gustafson was a childhood cancer sufferer who had gotten cancer in the 1940s, when those types of cancer were considered unsurvivable.  Dr. Sidney Farber, founder of the cancer research institute, decided that he was going to do something to change that.

This was my eighth walk.  Two more years and we’ll be at ten.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, I started walking because of my dear friend Allan Martinsen, who succumbed to cancer in May of last year.  Last year as well, I was having a very bad foot problem and I couldn’t do the full 13.1 miles.  I choose to just do three miles, from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline.

That turned out to be really special.  When you started from over there, it’s an official start, rather than a rolling start, like it is from the other locations.  They played the anthem before we all started walking and they told us to wave to the patients at Dana Farber.  That’s when I started crying.  That’s when I really lost it.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always hoped that Allan would one day be able to come and watch me do this walk that I started because of him.  It was then I really realized he was gone.

From sadness though, comes hope.  Allan’s sickness connected me with this wonderful organization.  It seemed so unbelievable that a guy who I met half a world away, half a life time ago had led me to the spot I was standing in at that moment.  A friendship born of mutual heartache led to me to places I never thought I would go.

Then, there’s the walk itself.  I walk the 13.1 because afterwards, I feel like I did something.  It’s also because of the happiness on the route.  There are all kinds of people out on the route.  This year there was a guy with his two black labradors, both wearing signs that said “free hugs.”  There was a family holding up signs that said things like “you look hot” and “high five.”  There was a Japanese drum group, drumming us up one of the hills.  People stand out in the hot sun for hours handing out candy and cheering people on.

The thing that I find the most amazing is the stop where there is just a bunch of volunteers cheering people on.  I can never believe how these people stand outside for hours on end, cheering on complete strangers and doing it with such enthusiasm.

Thirteen miles is four to five hour walk and I’m actually really happy with doing it alone.  There’s something soothing about the walk in a way.  I have a lot of time alone in my head just to contemplate things and think about how things have changed in the past year since I did my last walk.  In years past, I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes I was replaying old arguments in my head but this year for the first time, I wasn’t.  I was singing songs in my head and letting my mind wander.  I also might have prayed a little bit.

This is the second walk I’ve done since Allan died and it hit me when I looked at everything in perspective that the guy had a major impact on my life.  From a hallway in a dormitory 3,000 miles away to a small corner of Massachusetts, Allan had an impact on my life.  I will always be grateful for his sympathetic ear in a time of trouble in my life and for connecting me with the Jimmy Fund.

A few walk day memories because this is a picture blog after all: