Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Itch

So I’m beginning to have the snowboard itch… it always happens around this time of year. The temperature gets a little crisp, a little clean, and a little cool and you know that the summer is long gone. I usually start with another disappointing year following the Mets season (I know I know, most of you share my grief, and for all the Yankee fan’s reading this, you can’t really judge right about now can you?). Kids start to go back to school, and the fields start to fill with cleats, children playing soccer.

Years ago, I’d have the soccer bug right about now, or better yet, I’d be in full uniform running suicides, heading balls, and playing scrimmages. Those were definitely the good years. I was at the peak of my physical stamina, muscle tone, and all that other fancy gym talk. Now I’m older, my bones are sore, my muscles are slowly becoming fat, and my fat like to laugh at me by jiggling. I haven’t let that stop me from lacing up my boots, strapping on my board and enjoying my winter.

After last years Colorado experience (3 days in Steamboat, 1 day at Copper, and 2 days at Vail {due to avalanche}), I realized that the west coast is the place to be. I will cherish that trip as being my 1st time on REAL snow… almost like I lost my virginity to that mountain. Well for Winter 2009, I am finally going to get my wish, I begged, I pleaded, and I researched and I planned, and now we are all set, deposit paid for, ready to go to WhistlerBlackcomb, British Columbia. I cannot wait! I opted for the same timing as last year, being that it works out best for work and the conditions should be good.

I’ve frequented snowboard equipment websites much to often this summer, not allowing myself to think of the sun, warm breeze, beach, or any other thing you’d think comes with summer. Instead I missed the winter, and wait for its return. I’ve managed to purchase a new Lib Tech TRS MTX for Paul for his birthday, he was definitely excited! And in doing the research I’ve decided that by end of the season, I’m going to save up and grab myself the Gnu B-Pro BTX, cannot wait! I also convinced myself I needed 2 more sets of thermals and extra boots. At this point my luggage won’t even get on the plane!

My cousin, Jomel, 19 in November, has become quite the snowboarding enthusiast. He has been riding for only 1-2 years, hardly often and is basically a beginner, but he has a will, a determination, and a perseverance to strap on no matter how tired, battered and bruised he is. I respect that and cannot wait to hit the trails with him again. Though green trails, I get a thrill just watching him improve. I told him that this year, his maturity is exceptional, and with it comes the invitation to ride with me any weekend that I go. Now that he is a big boy and I don’t have to worry about him too much, I can definitely bring him along during my weekend trips without a second thought.

Anyway back to Whistler – you have to check out this trail MAP!!!

Do you know what’s even more exciting about this trip, it will be 100% drama free, slowness free, and bullshit free! No romantical escapades, no waiting in line to use the bathroom, no waiting to get to the slopes, and no picky eaters! I’m going to be the only girl on the trip, and being that I’m probably quicker than most boys to get ready, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about. My only fear is Jerry holding me down and farting in my face repeatedly, all the while choking me with a snowboard leash (true story). Even better, with Jerry there, I have a friend (outside of Paul of course) to ride with and who likes to see me excel, always giving me pointers and challenging me with harder runs! And the very best part is that he knows how and loves to cook, which means it won’t always be on me! That’s always a blessing. Not that people didn’t cook last season, but of course, being the only female it’s a small fear.

So I can’t wait… a 8 day trip consisting of 2 travel days on the sea to sky highway (supposed to be magnificent) and 6 days of snowboarding! Did I mention the condo? It’s a ski in/out in Whistler Creekside which is a lot quieter and low key… which also means, EMPTY! Just the way I like my mountain! So basically we are staying in a 2 bedroom condo, fully equipped with kitchen, washer/dryer, I believe 2 bathrooms, and balcony (requested to overlook the mountain/chairlifts). Additionally the condo houses a game room, adult game room, movie center, 2 hot tubs, and heated outdoor pool. Can’t get much better than that! I honestly cannot wait! I’ve read such GREAT reviews of this place and even spoke to some locals, ALL of which said that the place is AMAZING!

Anyway, maybe writing about it will alleviate the itch… goodness knows, I got it GOOD! I constantly check out the website as if maybe I’ll read something new and exciting to tell the guys!

Can’t get much better than a good board, good snow, good hotel, and good company!
A picture of the condo & the slopes from a guest last winter!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I miss you!

So I started this blog, maybe last week and have yet to write a single word or phrase. I’ve truly been in a rut since the summer started, having my grandfather fall ill and eventually pass away makes 2008 the worst year of my life. 2008 was filled with random adventures from living in NYC, skiing the Colorado Mountains, the changing and ultimate improvement of my lifestyle, the pending divorce of my mom, yet with this list of great things, I cannot help but constantly think of my Grandpa, my Dad, and most importantly, my Papa.

Today at 11:07AM marks the one month anniversary of his death. Its been an emotional weekend leading up until today. I must admit, I am not one to show emotion, I tend rather to isolate myself, keep myself excessively busy, or worse, get superiorly cranky with no explanation. I would say this weekend was a mixture of all of the above. Today however has just been depression, a down day. I wish I could have left work today, just to go home and put on some comfortable cloths and walk aimlessly for hours. I like to walk aimlessly, it allows me to think. I can’t say that I’ve done it in a while.

While Papa was in the rehabilitation center at Long Island Jewish, my favorite part of the day tended to be the long walk from the car to the center and back. Though, I usually had anxiety coming in and anxiety coming out for fear of seeing him still sick and leaving him alone at night, I also felt free, like I could finally breathe. While at his funeral, I kept the funeral director informed of my comfort level when concerning temperature, which usually meant the room was frigid. It helped me get through the day, as funeral homes can feel suffocating, between the emotion, the people, and the place you can’t bring yourself to look at, the coffin.

Now, I’ve been dealing with his loss for one month, exactly 31 days and 4 hours and 35 minutes, but I think it’s safe to say that we lost him on June 16th, the day of his heart surgery. He never recovered and was never again the same. His health began to fail noticeably in January of 2008, we thought it was a bad cold, maybe old age, but it was much worse. In the end, he couldn’t fight anymore, he was too tired, and he wanted to rest… he wanted that peace that was not attainable on this earth, he wanted everlasting rest with God.

I was never such a religious person. I was an alter girl once upon a time, but I must admit, I think I liked the idea of being one to see my friends and being one of the first girls in my diocese, and one of the first of my parish. While Papa was sick, my Grandma and I went to Our Lady of Lourdes for Sunday mass. When I went to visit him at LIJ, I told him that I went today, and he scolded me telling me that going on Sunday shouldn’t be a big deal, that I should have been doing this all along. That going to church is my obligation to God, and that I should never forget to pray. Since his death, I’ve never missed a Sunday. For the first time, I can’t imagine skipping mass for fear that he would know that I didn’t have a change to pray for him and to pray for his soul still in purgatory. I ask Jesus, God, and the Virgin Mary to pray for his soul all the time, I ask him to forgive him of his sins and to open the gates of heaven for him.

Before he died, we were told he had anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days. We were in the emergency room and they let my whole family, immediate and extended in the room despite how in the way we might have been. Its when you knew it was the end, they normally are pretty tight with that kind of thing. It was me who forgot my cell phone, who couldn’t get myself and my grandma back into the room in time to say good bye. It was me who forced my Grandma to leave the hospital so she could take her medicine. I don’t completely regret these things, I don’t know if it would have been better with my Grandmother in the room as he closed his eyes for the last time and took his final breaths, but what I do know is that I wish I could have been there, I wish I could have been holding his right hand, as my sister held the left… we were his little girls after all.

Because his pending recover turned into his swift decline, no priest was called to give him his last rights or the anointing of the sick, however, they did bless him after his passing. For a religious man, I know my Grandfather was still a sinner, as we all are. I also know that he made peace with his daemons, he made peace with God, and he was prepared for what was in store for him in the afterlife, which would be nothing short of love and forgiveness.

I miss him so much these days. I look at my grandmother and can’t help but think of them as a pair. I think of my brother, only 4, and how close they were… his little grandson… or as the nurses at LIJ knew, his youngest son! At four, Kyle will hardly remember the shape of his face, let alone the size of his heart as an adult. Even Amanda at nine will begin to forget. I know that I can’t let that happen, that forever, the stories that bring him life again will be told around tables, living rooms, parks and cars until people are so sick of hearing the stories, they begin to share their own.

Many people aren’t given a second chance, I had two chances at having a father. Having a poor relationship with my own since childhood, my grandfather took me as his own… never introducing him or knowing him as anything but Papa. He is a huge reason of why I am today, and I know that he is proud of who that someone is. I owe it to him, without him, I’d be nothing.

I will end it with this quote, the one I placed under his portrait at the wake and the one that helps be look at the brighter side of his death.

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” - Rabindranath Tagore

Actually let me end it with what is on the back of his prayer card, I carry it always, and read it daily.

“God saw you were getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So He put His arms around you and whispered, “Come to Me.”
With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away.
Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.