Daniel vs. the Slope, and Life

I was sitting at the airport in denial, hoping that airplanes can fly straight through blizzards.

They cannot. Our flight was canceled, and the next one was two days later, which would cut deeply into the trip. After several hours, those of us stuck at the airport miraculously caught flights leaving later that day. Some lucked out on standby, while me and another person were able to take the seats of people who canceled their trips. We were on our way to Denver.

My friend and I were twelve hours behind schedule and the last ones to arrive at the cabin in Breckenridge, but we made it. There was fresh snow covering everything, a rare sight for a Texan, but there was no time to play. Our cozy beds were calling. We needed our energy in the days to come.

Two days later, we’re taking lifts up the beautiful snow-covered mountain, snowboards strapped to our left feet. Countless YouTube videos had prepared me for this moment. People say that everybody falls when they get off the lift for the first time, but I would be different. I would float off that mobile bench and blissfully slide atop the fresh powder. The moment for me to jump off comes and… I actually don’t remember what happened, but for the sake of the story and probability, I’ll say that I fell.

Minor setback. I got up and strapped my other foot onto the board. I stood up the way that the YouTube videos showed me, and I was ready. I gazed upon the slope before me, ready to conquer this mountain that had been calling me for the past two days. I slowly made my descent.

The next several hours were series of hard falls, some done intentionally to prevent a collision with a tree or person. I sat in the snow, cursing and punching it for doing this to me. The YouTube video made it look so easy. I considered signing up for lessons, but my friend who is a seasoned snowboarder gave me some pointers. Once again I stood up, determined not to let this mountain defeat me.

By the end of that day, I could leaf down the slope heel side without falling. The next day I tested my ability on the steepest of green (easiest) slopes. I flew down that mountain, still only on my heel side, but I was feeling confident. My goal was to move up to the blue slopes the next day, but I still had to get my toe side down, which I decided I would practice for the remainder of the day.

For those who don’t know, when you are on your toe side, your back is facing the bottom of the slope, so you are basically going down the mountain backwards, meaning that if you fall, you flip over and land on your back. This happened to me many times. I had to take my helmet off a few times in order to clear the holes of the snow that was packed in them from having fallen on my back and hitting my head so many times. I fought off my frustration, knowing that I would get it down. Little did I know that my zeal would be my downfall.

Once again, I found myself getting off the lift at the top of the slope, this time with ease. I felt that my boots could be a little bit tighter, but I wanted to waste no time getting back on the slope. It would have taken a few seconds to turn the knobs on my boots that tightened the straps, but instead, I specifically remember thinking these words right before what would be my last slope of the trip:

“My boots are tight enough.”

I started down the slope with exceptional speed. I was going quite fast, which was starting to scare me, but I thought it was time to put my toe side brake to the test. I turn, but I am not slowing down enough. I leaned even harder into the mountain to the point where my face was only a few feet from the snow. I could feel the snow being violently scraped by my board, yet it seemed to do nothing to slow me down until my board finally caught some snow that it could not move. My board stopped in its tracks, but I kept going. I flipped all the way over and landed onto my back harder than I ever had before.

I laid there for a few seconds before sitting up. My left ankle hurt, but not enough for me to stop. I stood up, and then it hurt enough for me to stop. I decided that my snowboarding endeavors would have to continue the next day, so I started walking down the slope. With each step, the pain grew more severe. I probably walked about ten or twenty feet before I had to sit down. I knew it was bad, but it couldn’t have been that bad. Snowboarding boots are incredibly rigid. They prevent any movement of the ankle. It’s pretty much impossible to break your ankle while wearing them.

Unless the boots aren’t tight enough.

Somebody passing by saw me hopelessly sitting there and went to get help. People on the lifts above me started to shout at me and ask if everything was okay. It was not too long before a worker came on skis, pulling a medical sled behind her. I laid on the bed of the sled, and the worker wrapped me in a yellow tarp. My face was still exposed, so I could see the hundreds of people who stared at me as we passed. It probably looked like she was relocating a corpse.

I arrive at the medical center. I was too banged up for them to do anything, so they were sending me down to the clinic in town. I was given the option of either walking to the bus or getting put in a gurney in the back of a van. My denial and pride led me to choose the walk to the bus, which lasted me about two steps.

After the van ride down the mountain, I found myself lying on one of the many beds at the busy Breckenridge medical clinic, awaiting a doctor to show me the results of my x-ray. My ankle was broken. They didn’t have any cast boots in my size, so they had to make a splint that I would not be able to take off until I got back home. But before that could happen, they obviously had to remove the boot I was still wearing. They had to pull my broken, swollen foot out of the very narrow, stiff hole of the snowboard boot. The pain was so excruciating that I made them cut me out of my sock.

Needless to say, the rest of the trip was not that great. I appreciate my friends’ efforts to try to pump some life back into me, but being on crutches at 10,000 feet makes you too exhausted to enjoy much. We left after a few days, and the next few weeks were Vicodin.

That whole experience played into a lot of fears I still have. Snowboarding was something I really wanted to do. At first I was really bad at it, but I worked past that, which is something I seldom do during the initial difficulties of any new challenge. I guess I could say that that is a victory in itself, but once I found out I was more capable, I set a higher goal which I was determined to reach. I fought so hard for it, but in the end I failed. I did. I was defeated, and it hurt both emotionally and physically.

I’ve been asked if I regret going on that trip or it I’m scarred for life. The answer to both is no. Would I do it again if I knew the outcome would be the same? Definitely not. But I can never know that, and assuming that I’ll fail at everything is keeping me from doing anything. This trip was two years ago, and my ankle is fully healed. It’s actually my good ankle now, and I’d definitely be willing to test it out on the slopes once again. I’d be putting myself in danger of more falls and risking more broken bones, but that’s the truth with anything we want to do. I will not be so easily discouraged, and I believe it will be worth it. It took me too long to realize that. God, help me.

broken ankle


Forth, and fear no darkness.
Arise, arise, riders of Theoden!
Spears shall be shaken. Shields shall be splintered.
A sword day, a red day, ere there sun rises.

 

Two Journal Entries from January 1, 2001

Exactly 15 years ago today, an 8-year-old me wrote this.

First entry:

1/1/01

Im am still awake five minutes after midnight1 just to write this. It the years 2001 and I am reading2 the fourth book of Harry Potter which is called Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I am on chapter 25 (Veritaserum) I am 3 chapters away from finishing the book. Can you guess how much chapters there are. Don’t forget to ask Jesus into your heart because having Jesus in your heart is the greatest gift of all3.

See ya later

Second entry:

1/1/01

Sorry I got ya in one day4. I forgot to tell you about two other toys wegot. For all of us we got a Furby5 its like a toy that is a robot its really cute and you can feed it by pushing down on its toughng6. We also got a vegietales Larry Boy Mobile Larry Boy can fly out of it and the wheeles pop out and then wings pop out. I finished the Harry Potter book. Dont forget to pray to God every day7.

see ya

1This year, I slept 60 minutes before midnight since I volunteered to work the next day. Adult life.
2At 8-years-old, “reading” meant looking at the words in order and not taking in any information. I still “read” sometimes.
3Such wisdom. Not sure why I was writing this to my journal though.
4What? What does that mean? Got who? Got what? This doesn’t make any sense!
5Haters gonna hate, but our Furby was awesome.
6“Tongue” is a very hard word to spell.
7Thanks for the reminder, little guy. I will try to remember.

A Journal Entry from December 30, 2000

If you’re reading for the first time, I occasionally post entries from my boyhood journal. I wanted to wait to post this one until the time was right. I have copied the entry with the exact spelling and punctuation it had when it was originally written. The annotations are my present day commentaries. Enjoy.

12/30/00

I got a Razor scooter and a lego soccer set1. My big brother got a Cyber k’nex that can move by its self and attack people with its missiles2. My little brother got a XR, Zurg, and Jessie doll. He wanted a Bullseye but mom couldnt find one (I don’t believe in Santa, sorry if I make you sad3). Our Aunt got for all of us 10 Pok’eRoMs4. Tomorrow is New Years Eve and that means I get to stay up til midnight. Don’t forget the best gift of all is Jesus5.

Jesus6

1I currently use that scooter to ride around the office at work. That soccer set was awesome, and I have not thought about it in probably 15 years. I’m going to look for it next time I go home. If it is gone, then sadness.
2I don’t really remember what this was, but it sounds like he got the best gift by far.
3not.
4In place of the second “o” in Pok’eRoMs, I drew a tiny CD. Pok’eRoMs were small disks you put in your computer, and they did nothing but show you a map of the Pokemon world. It was pretty lame because the ad made them sound awesome.
5Amen
6In place of the “J” in “Jesus,” I drew an upside down candy cane.

Blue/Red Redemption: The Rise and Fall of Spider-Man

If you know me, you know that Spider-Man is my all time favorite superhero. When I was in fourth grade, I remember walking into the theater to watch the original Spider-Man, and I walked out amazed. Little did I know that two years later Spider-Man 2 would come out and top its predecessor, and to this day I believe it to be one of the top superhero movies ever. Now, I could argue that Spider-Man 3 is not as bad as everybody thinks it is because it has some very good parts that possibly outweigh its really dumb parts. However, I don’t think that you can argue that the third installment was not the beginning of Spidey’s downfall because the two movies that came after did not stand up to the three came before them.

I do not hate The Amazing Spider-Man. As a matter of fact, I bought it on blu-ray, but that was mostly due to my loyalty to the name. However, my loyalty was broken. It was shattered after the latest installment. I’ve never seen such mediocrity. It was so heartbreaking to see how far my hero had fallen since the original trilogy. If you don’t think so, you’re not just disagreeing with just me, you’re disagreeing with America. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the lowest grossing Spider-Man film of all time. That means that its predecessor was not good enough bring people back into seats. On the other hand, Spider-Man 3 is one of the top 40 highest grossing movies of all time, with the 10th highest opening weekend gross ever. This is obviously because Spider-Man 1 and 2 were straight masterpieces.

I’ll break down Spider-Man’s fall. The main issue that The Amazing franchise brought was was Peter Parker, both his character and the person who played him. People complain about Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the nerdy antagonist, but at least it was believable. I have nothing against Andrew Garfield as a person, but he was a poor choice for the role. He stood up to his bully in front of everything, rode his skateboard in the hallways, and was ridiculously smart and good looking. I didn’t believe for a second that he had no friends, which defeats the point of Peter Parker. He is supposed to represent that lonely and outcast part of all of us. That’s what makes it so groundbreaking when he receives his powers. A dorky kid from Queens gets great power, but after he takes the suit off, he returns to the struggles that he had before. Tobey nailed it.

Peter in the new Spider-Man films fell short. In the original film, there was a profound effect on Peter after Uncle Ben died. His act of omission directly caused it. This was not the case in The Amazing Spider-Man. The thief did not even run past Peter. That moment is everything to Spider-Man’s origins. The biggest flaw comes after Uncle Ben dies. The Amazing Peter does not change one bit by the death of his beloved uncle. It could even be argued that he doesn’t change at all throughout either movies. He just goes from being single to dating and back a few times before his girlfriend dies in a way she was kind of asking for. But whether he was single or dating, Amazing Peter was boring. I’m convinced that the people who defend these movies like them just because of the attractive male lead, similar to the reason people like Suits. The main theme of The Amazing Spider-Man movies was how to date and be a superhero at the same time.

Original Peter also has the girl issues, but the overall themes are much deeper. These movies actually have heart. They tackle themes of identity, morality, sacrifice, friendship. There is no depth in any of these areas in The Amazing franchise. Side note: Crying does not equal depth of character. Somebody should inform the Amazing creators because everybody is mopey all the time, heroes and the villains. Side side note, craziness does not equal interesting. Have a better motive for villains than mental imbalance please. Okay, back to the main point. The struggle was real in the original Spider-Man movies. I felt the difficult decision Peter was forced to make in Spider-Man 2. A worldly life is so tempting in the face of adversity. Without the suit, Peter has a successful future ahead of him, but he was called to a greater purpose. The whole movie is about him making the choice to put off his old self and put on the suit, no matter the cost.

An even newer Spider-Man is set to return to theaters next year, but my expectations are low. Hopefully the studios can return to the heart of the character that was displayed so well back in the 00’s, and I pray that it is not too late for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to win back the heart of America.

spider-man in the rain