Thursday, January 04, 2007

Oh, the things I'll do (before 50)

A ride on the magic carpet

Some things you’d best try to learn when you have youth on your side. Skiing, I’m now convinced, is one of them.

Against my better judgment, I had my first ski experience this weekend. My husband, a veteran skier, was delighted I’d finally given in to his pleas to try it. We rented the necessary equipment and the girls and I signed up for a “level one” (beginner’s) lesson. We were in a group of about eight people. Seven of us were “promoted” at the end of the lesson to “level three.” One of us didn’t make it. Can you guess who that was?

Common sense would have dictated retiring my rented skis, poles and boots after that first session, especially after the instructor broke the news to me that I wouldn’t be joining my kids in “level three” the following day. But no-o-o-o. I’m nothing if not determined. I’d take my “level two” lesson the next morning and, I hoped, reach “level three” in the afternoon.

Little did I know that my humiliation had only just begun.

The “level two” class entailed a ride on “the magic carpet,” a conveyor belt that takes you up a long, gently sloped hillside that serves as a learning trail.

I was scared witless.

Relax,” the instructor, a saint of a guy named Mike, assured me. “This is a piece of cake. You inch your skis onto the conveyor belt,” he explained. “And then it just takes you.”

I did as instructed, inching my skis onto the belt. And then it took me, all right. I fell backwards in a heap of tangled skis and poles. They had to stop the conveyor belt and haul me up, all before an audience of some 20-odd snickering people, mostly kids. They actually applauded when I was finally righted and set upon the magic carpet once more (this time Mike holding me up so I wouldn’t lose my balance).

Not a quitter, I made several more trips up the “slope” on the magic carpet ride, guided down by Saint Mike, who skied backwards in front of me each time, to prevent me from falling or crashing. I still managed to crash and fall a couple of times anyway.

The whole experience got me thinking. There are so many things I haven’t done yet. And time is running out. I mean, I’ll be 50 this year. My window of opportunity for trying new things is closing — especially if they involve the potential for breaking bones.

The expectations of my youth had me climbing mountains in Tibet, hang-gliding, piloting a plane, writing a book and running for office. OK, I did that last one. But what of the rest of it? Any day now, my AARP welcome kit will arrive in my mailbox, the thought of which sends shivers of panic up and down my spine.

If I’m going to have a mid-life crisis, I may as well do it publicly. And I’d like some help. So here’s a challenge for you, Gentle Reader: What should I do before I turn 50? Send me your suggestions. I’ll try anything within reason. That is, it can’t be illegal, involve marital infidelity or be too expensive; in other words, forget Tibet. Then I’ll write about it. Hopefully not from a hospital bed.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm baaaack

Hey, it's been a while and I apologize. We at Times/Review had our annual Christmas holiday week, and I actually forced myself to relax.

Back from our break, things are, of course, nuts here at the newspaper, especially since we came back to a Tuesday, which is crunch day in any week — never mind the week after a week off!

But miracles do happen (they happen every week in fact) and we managed to get the papers done and out to the printer on time.

I don't have any big news to report this week on the Calverton Industries matter. I have had some interesting conversations with people — both in "officialdom" and otherwise — which were, unfortunately, off the record. I expect some things will be happening soon and that this story will certainly be continued. I also expect it to take some pretty interesting turns as the weeks go by.

This week's papers contain our annual "People of the Year" awards. I am always blown away by the amazing people who live and work in our community. It's an honor to be able to recognize them in this way, to show our appreciation for all that they do. It's also always fun to surprise some of these folks like this.

Tomorrow you can read all about exploits on the ski slopes of Vermont. Let's just say for now that I'm not competing in the next Winter Olympics.