How The Hunger Games Disappointed, Excited, and Scared Me All at Once

For the past two months or so, I’ve been living and breathing The Hunger Games in my 10th grade English class. I’ve read it multiple times, discussed it, dissected it, decorated the walls with it, analyzed it, etc. I’ve read so many essays on Haymitch, the similarities and differences of Gale and Peeta, and the effect of the star-crossed lovers scenario on Katniss and the outcome of the Games.

So did I go to the midnight release of the movie adaptation? No.

I’d planned on it, even tried to buy tickets on numerous occasions. Each time, however, the stupid Internet kept failing and not processing the request. Then I realized I had a soccer game that night, and by the time I got home and showered (games make me feel nasty), there’s no way I’d make it or even be awake enough to enjoy it.

We went Saturday instead. SPOILERS BELOW

It was okay. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad, either. There were parts that I really enjoyed:
* The Tracker Jackers
* Seneca Crane’s beard
* The casting decisions (Jennifer Lawrence did a great job)
* The not-too-bloody,not-too-boring deaths (as much as I’d love an R rating with gory killings, PG-13 works for the story and the audience)
* The District 11 Riot
* Cato and Clove
* Getting to see Peeta’s interview
* Caesar Flickerman and his commentary
* Effie Trinket
* The music
* Seneca’s implied berry-suicide death

…and things I didn’t like:
* The Cornucopia – it looked like an ugly plane crashed in the middle of the field… where’s my Thanksgiving symbol of harvest and gratitude?
* The missing Thunderstorm/3 Days in a Cave
* Peeta didn’t seem too worse for the wear when Katniss found him in the stream… I thought he was supposed to be walking Death’s balance beam?
* The downplay of the romance – I get that they don’t want to make it Twilight where people actually die, but come on, I need more than one Katniss/Peeta kiss, especially when that kiss is interrupted by a morose Gale watching it on TV.
* The wolves.
* The Games seemed rushed. Katniss even made a comment about how the Gamemakers were trying to hurry up and end the Games, which is how I felt about the filmmakers.
* Did I miss the field where Thresh dwells? I didn’t see it in the Arena
* Peeta didn’t lose a leg
* Katniss and Peeta didn’t actually “eat” the berries. There’s no way the Capitol would have stopped them that soon.
* As much as I liked the cutaways to Seneca/President Snow/Haymitch, they took away from Katniss’s story and her survival, and made it more about the Reality TV aspect. While I get this also shows the negativity of the Capitol and their all-controlling totalitarianism, it gives away much of the conflict of the following books.
* The “Girl on Fire” parade outfits – the fire seemed really fake
* Rue and Marvel’s deaths – I imagined that net to be hanging from the air, not on the ground… and Katniss is a better shot than hitting him in the chest – she got him in the neck in the book.
* Katniss wasn’t on camera for Peeta’s confession, and the filmmakers made the whole thing seem a lot more contrived than in the book.
* Some of the deaths were skipped over or changed… Thresh doesn’t die by the wolves!
* Haymitch didn’t fall off the stage!

So yea, I may be a bit of a nitpicker… many of these are minor changes that were done to either enhance the story, tell it faster, or because they work better in a film medium, and I totally get it. The whole thing seemed really low budget, which is surprising considering the popularity of the series, but at the same time, Hollywood’s recent performance means playing it safe, budget-wise is sometimes the better option. Not every book-to-movie or tv show-to-movie adaptation does well, after all (Golden Compass and The Last Airbender, anyone?). Maybe this one will succeed well enough to up the budget for the next two movies, though.

I did enjoy the movie, don’t get me wrong. I almost cried during Rue’s farewell, and I jumped a bit when the wolf leaped out from behind the trees. I will buy the special edition bluray version when it comes out, and show it to all my students at the culmination of the Unit each year.

The boy also enjoyed it, or so he claims. I heard him curse when Rue died, he thought the Tracker Jackers were cool, and he argued with me over why Gale is better than Peeta. Apparently, Gale has a more “sculpted” look, whereas Peeta is just “cute,” therefore, Gale is more attractive. When I told him that he is a good mixture of the two, he almost got offended. Looks-wise, he’s more like Gale: tall, strong, “sculpted,” dark hair… but he also has the Peeta curls and the strong arms (he disagreed and said Peeta’s arms weren’t strong). Maybe I should have said he looks like Gale, but has the emotions of Peeta…

I finally had to stop his arguing and tell him “I’m trying to tell you that I’d rather have you than either of them, so just shut up and stop arguing.”

It worked. And the scary part is that it’s true. Scary because I’ve never felt that way about a boy before… happier with the person sitting next to me, fingers intertwined, than the eye candy gracing and romancing the fickle/love-struck/naïve/idiotic/etc girls on screen. I caught myself glancing at him during the movie and realizing that he’s more attractive than Peeta and Gale, and sitting next to me. On purpose.

May the odds be ever in my favor.

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Little Debbie Cakes Save the World (or the classroom, at least)

My 10th graders and I had a discussion on symbolism the other day, specifically symbolism in The Hunger Games. When asked what symbol they would use to represent different characters in the novel, I was met with answers such as this:

“Katniss is a tiger, because, uh, she’s fierce.”

“Peeta is a snake because he’s fast.”

“Haymitch is alcohol because he drinks a lot.”

Not quite the profound thinking I was looking for, though I should have been prepared for it when they used the same examples to represent themselves.

My favorite:
A: “I’m a bear because I’m big, dumb, and slow.”
Me: “Bears are actually pretty bright, A. And they can be extremely fast when they need to be.”
A: “Oh. Then I’m a sleeping bear.”

I chose a cat because I’m lazy and like to sleep, but will lash out with my claws if you make me mad. I’m also hard to love and win the love of.

The best response to the character symbolism, however, was from one of my female students:

“Peeta is a Zebra Cake because he is delicious.”

Awesome that I am, I turned this into a legitimate symbol for Peeta, discussing how a zebra cake is a bakery item, and Peeta is the son of a baker. His skill at painting the cakes (therefore camoflage) is represented in the decorative icing. The black and white stripes represent the mystery the reader has regarding Peeta’s feelings and allegiances (is it black or is it white!?). Finally, both zebra cakes and Peeta are “delicious.”

Vegetarians Are People Too, We Just Aren’t Cavemen

I’ve been a vegetarian for two years now, which means it’s been two years since I’ve eaten chicken, fish, pork, turkey, steak, or any other form of meat. It also means I’ve been putting up with criticisms, complaints, grievances, and “I don’t understand”‘s for two years. My grandmother actually asked me a few weeks ago if I could please start eating meat again because she was tired of having to think about what to fix me.

It’s not that hard. Just make your regular meal, but cook the meat separately. Then, give me the grains and veggies and add the animal to yours. Simple.

Restaurants aren’t any better, though. I’m lucky if I find a restaurant with more than 3 vegetarian options, and ecstatic if that’s not including a salad. But still I find places without an option for me, so I have to order a salad without the meat, substituting beans for protein.

On my first group date with the boy, we went to such a place for dinner and drinks. I found a salad that sounded interesting (I actually really like salads and often order them because I want them, not because I have to), but made sure to both ask the waitress and reinforce to her that I didn’t want any meat on it, just in case I read the menu wrong. When the plate came out, however, there was pepperoni randomly placed throughout the lettuce. Part of this is my fault, since I read “pepperoni” as “pepperoncini”… but I did ask the waitress specifically, “This is meatless, right?” so she should have registered that when she put in the order, or at the very least, carried it to the table while staring at the pepperoni’s on top. I asked for another salad, so when the waitress returned with a supposedly pepperoni-free salad, I began eating, thinking I was safe. I ate a few pieces of lettuce and an assortment of vegetables before picking up one piece of lettuce and uncovering hidden pieces of pepperoni. Bitches just took off the offending pieces off the top and gave me the same salad! Needless to say, I called the manager, who offered to handmake me a new one, but by then I’d lost my appetite, so my meal of booze was paid for instead. Not the impression I wanted to make on my first “date”.

I’ve also had to get used to living off bags of chips and sodas at teacher workshops since they always order food and forget about those who don’t eat meat, assuming we’d be happy to just “pick the meat off”. No, I’m sorry, I don’t just pick it off and eat the same food. I don’t like my food touching the meat. Sure, it’s not the same as eating it, and it’s probably stupid, but oh well. I also don’t eat soups that are made with beef or chicken stock. CRAZY. How hard is it to order a veggie sub or pizza? Not everything has to have meat on it to make it good. My Mom, who often organizes these events, admits to not thinking about vegetarians before I became one. I just don’t get how people can ignore an entire subgroup of dietary restrictions.

These events have made me used to bringing and creating my own meals. If I’m told a meal will be “provided,” I often pack my own just in case. I’ve been stuck eating a single apple for dinner before, or a bag of doritos, so I’m cautious. So when my diet was ignored for the second time (out of 2) before last night’s game (parents provide meals for the team and coaches since we can’t leave before Away games), I hit up Subway (again) on my way to the game (I drive separately since I’m only the Assistant and live far away from the school) and while I was irked, I didn’t let it bother me. My diet can be difficult to cater to when you’re getting bulk meals from places like Arby’s, so I understand. Like I said, I’m used to it. Especially now that I’ve cut out dairy and eggs (for the most part – I’ll still eat them if they’re used to make the product, like pasta, but I won’t eat them outright). A head’s up would have been nice, though. Don’t tell me that you’re going to get me dinner and then not deliver. But I’m used to it. The boy, however, is not.

It’s actually kind of nice, having him get annoyed about it for me, saying I should be reimbursed and that he’ll bring me food if I’m ever starving at a game. I’m not sure how he’ll manage that since he works late and goes to the gym on game days, but the sentiment is sweet.

My other annoyance is the amount of people who think that because I don’t eat meat (or dairy or eggs), I must not be “right” or must be missing out on a great part of life. I like food, yes, but not enough to define my life. So what if I gave up cheese and ice cream, both of which I absolutely love, because I’m cutting back on unnecessary products and want to live a healthier life? No, I don’t like dressing on my salads, and I enjoy putting vegan chicken nuggets in it to get that bit of protein. I won’t try to convert you to my ways, and I won’t shove it in your face, but please be respectful of my choices. I know that I have to supplement my diet with vitamins and drink protein shakes and eat foods high in these missing elements.

Yes, I have weird diet. No, I don’t miss steak or hamburgers or bacon, and watching you eat them doesn’t make me envious. No, I don’t care if you eat them in front of me. Please don’t force me to eat it, because then I’ll get sick. No, I won’t start eating meat again. So if you’re having a dinner party and invite me, either make a salad stocked with vegetables (sans dressing, eggs, and cheese), or ask me to bring my own dinner if you’re not creative enough to make a vegetarian-friendly version. But don’t disclude me or treat me weirdly; I’m not an alien, and I don’t carry any diseases. I’m a vegetarian, not a leper.

I understand that people have been eating meat since monkeys evolved into cavemen/they were created (choose your own belief system), so it’s not the eating meat that I have a problem with. It’s the overconsumption, the processing, the chemicals, and the unnatural methods used to mass produce it. Not to mention, I really just don’t like it. I’m not an animal nut, I’m not a strict vegan. But a vegetarian diet is healthier, prevents fast-food gorging since I can’t eat 95% of anything found in one, and has helped me lose and maintain weight.

In short, I’m a veggie kid who enjoys eating salads and the taste of vegetables and falafal and couscous and certain tofu’s, and I’m tired of the stigma attached to this label. Just look at it as a diet and get over it.

May the Odds be EVER in My Favor

Some days I feel like a better teacher than others. When the school year started, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I leaned on my collab teachers pretty heavily. The fact that I had two different collab partners helped me to see what a good partnership looks like vs a poor one, and a poor teacher at that. I noticed that the teaching style and situation in the second class reflected back on the students and affected them, so I started clawing to get more control and say in the class.

It was slow going. It didn’t help that I’d never taught high schoolers before, and was completing my student teaching within my own classroom, so I wasn’t sure of all the strategies and practices that actually occur in a classroom. The year and a half of grad school classes, however, taught me that his style of teaching is more suited for college-level students than tenth graders in a collaborative class.

Eventually, my persistancy and gung-ho attitude started changing the classroom situation. Or maybe it was my niceness and attractiveness (my collab teacher, Dwight, is one involved in my fan club). I started leading lessons rather than standing in the back, afraid to interject. The students started telling me “Thank God you’re in here,” and coming to me with all their questions. I even inspired Dwight to co-teach the way collab partner A and I do, which is a tag-team style… something he’d never done before.

Then came the ultimate change in the classroom. I casually mentioned one day to Dwight that I would love to teach The Hunger Games, hopefully next year. Rather than force me to teach The Bean Trees with him like he was planning for his other 4 classes, he took the steps to order a class set of the dystopian teen novel, just for our class.

I took it and ran. I planned the entire unit, tossing aside the Teachers Guide he’d ordered (and intended to teach entirely out of), and compiling resources from teacher friends, the Internet, and my own brain. I came up with a “Student Survival Pack” full of charts, questions, activities, and resources that would guide the students through the unit. What did Dwight do? Nothing. He failed to even finish the book until we were already well into the unit, and answered the guided questions along with the class rather than preparing ahead of time. I planned each day, made all the decisions, decorated the classroom, taught every lesson, and therefore take all responsibility for the successes and failures of the students and the unit itself (I plan to let him do this with Julius Caesar, which is his favorite, and I have no problems with this since I rather dislike it anyway).

So why do I feel like a good teacher today? We finished reading the novel on Friday, and watched the trailer for the movie yesterday, which I made the students write a response to. Almost every single one said they couldn’t wait for the movie. A handful have already bought the second (and third) books and have started reading, or are waiting for a copy to become available at the library. For a class of students who don’t like reading, this is pretty big. One has even become obsessed: He writes “District 14” on all his papers (there is no District 14, and the district where he lives is actually numbered 14), maps out the Districts in HALO, and talks about it whenever he can.

My goal when I became an English teacher was to inspire kids to read and learn to love it. While this is still a lofty goal and I have a long way to go on the second, at least I’m making headway on the first. That’s more than Julius Caesar ever did for anyone… all that accomplished was 23 knives in the back.

Makeout Alley is Closed, Please Find Another Place to Park

What is it about being a teenager that makes everything such a life-altering event? Your best friend and you are having a fight, so you come to my class in hysterics, and the mere sight of the other girl on a bathroom trip reverts you to sullenness and red eyes? Or you don’t feel good, so you must be dying and need to go to the hospital. If you’re having a bad day, rather than tough it out through my online class that requires absolutely no effort other than clicking on a computer and occasionally having to read something, but a class you can basically do what you want as long as you’re working, you request to be sent to the office. Granted, these situations are all in my self-contained computer class for students who need additional support, therefore appealing to students typically diagnosed with emotional disabilities, but the immediacy and intensity of a teenager is pretty standard fare.

One major example is the hordes of couples lining the hallways in between classes. There’s one corner dubbed “Makeout Alley” that is particularly popular. One of my colleagues had the idea this morning of blocking it off with a giant sign stating it was Closed. These couples park their sides against the walls, shortening the width of the already small hallway to one lane for all other traffic. They stand there, holding one another, staring into each other’s eyes or the girls rest their heads on the chests of their still short boyfriends.

They do this in between every class.

At our school, we use block scheduling, which means classes are 90 minutes long and you only have them every other day. While 90 minutes may seem like a lifetime to a hormonal teenager, it’s only two episodes of “Jersey Shore” without commercials. And these couples act like he’s going off to war.

Honey, you’re going to see him in an hour and a half. There is no need to grab his face like you never want to let go, playing with the stubble that he’s been growing for 2 months and matches up to what my boy looks like at the end of the day (which is still not much at all). Give it a rest, young lovers. I don’t want to see your tongues mashing together like that.

Drama, with a Capital D

It’s true what they say about high school teachers – many of them are no better than the students they teach. There’s something about the halls filled with teenagers, the Prom/Homecoming/Sports posters adorning the walls, and the young lovers perched in corners that just incites drama. It probably doesn’t help that a majority of the faculty at a school is female (though not as bad as elementary, but those teachers are sorority-letter-clad and full of an energy that astouds me). One of my classes (one of the smaller ones with a population of 4 high need students), is a drama epicenter. The three girls sit together in a huddle and just dish all the dirt on everyone they know, and all the reasons they’re angry (there are many). The one brave male in the room is no better, as his girlfriend and he are together only because they can hurt one another without feeling bad about it. So he sits there and talks about how he’s getting married (until he cheated), when the girl he really likes (but doesn’t want to hurt) sits next to him. Like I said, Drama.

The teachers are no better, though. In the few months I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed backstabbing, hypocrisy, deceit, and love triangles (and may have unwillingly been involved in some of these). One teacher has a nasty habit of talking about my friend and coworker and how she dresses “inappropriately”. The thing is, she doesn’t talk to my friend face-to-face, with a “Hey, I’m kind of concerned about your outfit today, you might want to rethink that next time,” or something similar, but instead talks about it to other teachers and administrators, causing an awkward situation all around. The first time this happened, my friend got really upset and her mentor had to sit down with her. Then, a few months later, I heard wind of a similar comment from the same original teacher. My friend doesn’t even dress inappropriately! I don’t know what the problem here is besides nosy b’s who gotta create problems.

There’s also a bit of a love triangle going on (or there used to be). At one time, I had a Sped teacher and an English teacher both interested in me. When I was set up with the boy, the Sped teacher stopped talking to me, even when we would walk side-by-side down the hallway. He spoke to me today for the first time in over a month, only because he had concerns about one of my students. The other teacher, however, the English teacher, he’s the problem.

This teacher (let’s call him Dwight) is quite a bit older than I am (and we all know I tend to date younger anyway), angry, overweight, a divorcee, and a jerk. Yet he tends to go after any young female that comes in contact with him (I’m not the first), and doesn’t seem to get a hint. At Christmas, he bought me a $30 candle and fantasized about making eggnog while I baked snickerdoodles with Christmas movies playing in the background (Excuse me while I go throw up). For a while, it got really awkward and inappropriate, and I actually had to fake a boyfriend after Christmas break to get him to lay off. When the real boy came along, we dismissed the imaginary boyfriend as “oh, he’s just a friend, and the long distance was hard” (he lived in Cali), and I try to mention the boy when in mixed company just as a constant reminder. Even then, he still makes comments to co-workers about how the boy is too young (2 years younger) and why am I dating him when I could have the great catch that is Dwight? Even today, when the three female teachers I get along with most and I were discussing our evening plans and our current relationship (they’re all just waiting for the boy and I to get out of the new phase and into the bitter one to make their own relationships feel better), Dwight complained of a toothache due to all the sweetness (a dig at my relationship) and left.

While he’s laid off for the most part, he’s still irritating. I’m on a new diet, which is slightly vegan and consists of smaller portions and generally healthier foods, which has caused me to lose 10-15 pounds. Dwight, who is also on a diet but eats a lunch consisting of a Healthy Choice, bag of popcorn or Doritos, a Diet soda, and a cookie/muffin/pudding, told me that the reason I’m tired is because I don’t eat enough calories, therefore I don’t have enough energy. No, Dwight. I’m tired because I’m a first year Sped teacher who runs our collaborative classroom at the moment, assistant coaching the varsity boys soccer team, and making sure my new boy is a priority whenever I can. All of this on top of being a 20-something living alone in the city. When I want to be overweight and sad, I’ll ask you for diet advice.

All of this, and I still kind of feel sorry for him.

And the Oscar Goes To… Not Harry Potter

This year, I boycotted the Oscars.

In the beginning, I didn’t mean to shun the most celebrated day in the film community; usually, I prepare for weeks ahead of time and make predictions on the winners. I even have a 101/1001 goal relating to the event, where I’m supposed to watch all the nominees for Best Picture each year before the ceremony (I have yet to accomplish this, however). This year, of the 9 films nominated, I saw two: The Descendents and The Help. While both films were decent, I didn’t think either was worthy of Best Picture, a distinguishment previously awarded to classics including Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and On the Waterfront. The past few years haven’t been particularly strong in the quality of filmmaking, true (films just aren’t what they used to be) but I just wasn’t interested in this year’s crop.

I found the weeks slowly ticking by until Oscar night, and despite my claims that I would watch as many as I could before the show, I made no improvement on the list. It didn’t help that because of my lack of television, I wouldn’t be able to watch them from the comfort of my own home, no one was having an Oscar party like my LA friends, and I was in Snowshow falling on my ass during the ceremony.

What really tipped the ballot against the Oscars this year, though? The lack of respect for Harry Potter. While I admit that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is not the greatest film of all time, and probably not the greatest film this year, the complete shunning it received this year is ridiculous. Two years ago, the number of nominees given out for the Best Picture award increased from 5 to up-to-10. With only 9 nominees this year, that left one open spot that could have been given to DH2, even as just a throwaway nomination. It’s not like Hugo or The Help was ever going to win, but they got nominated. Harry Potter has been a huge part of not only popular culture, but the film community for over 10 years, and on the last one, it’s given only three nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, and Best Make Up. No Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing, Score, or Sound Editing. Definitely no Best Picture, Directing, or Acting, when at the very least Alan Rickman should’ve received a montage of his performance from the past ten years. And maybe an award for Best Character Development Over The Longest Period of Time. Did HP win any of the three awards it was graciously nominated for? No. Hugo took Visual Effects and Art Direction, and The Iron Lady took Makeup.

I get it, turning Ralph Fiennes into Voldemort wasn’t just Makeup, but Visual Effects as well, and aging (and de-aging) Meryl Streep is actually showing skills in the powder department. Does it still piss me off? Yes.

In addition to the lack of respect toward the Boy Wizard and it’s record-holding performance in Opening Weekend Box Office, the Oscars have just gone away from respecting and recognizing the Best Films (which are hard to find anyway, since filmmaking these days is at best mediocre and borrowed). Did The Artist deserve to win? Absolutely. It’s the only film this year that took risks and challenged the General Public. A silent film in an age where people can’t sit still for 15 minutes without fast edits, thanks to the Digital Age and ADD? It’s a miracle it was even made. To make it black and white on top of that? Unheard of. I’m impressed, and disappointed in myself that I haven’t yet seen it. It’s a throwback to the classic age of cinema, where Hollywood had Stars and respect. It’s a celebration of filmmaking, and I have no qualms about its winning of Best Picture.

But look back over the past few years… The King’s SpeechThe Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionare, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, Crash, Million Dollar Baby… While some of these are enjoyable, even good, films, do they stand up to West Side Story or even American Beauty? No. While I admit I’m stuck in an I-Hate-Modern-Films-In-Comparison-to-the-Classics filmic void, I can appreciate good modern films too. Brokeback Mountain, anyone? Which leads me to the 2005 Oscars, when Crash stole the title from the gay lovers. Crash, on a whole, was a pretty good movie. It made me think, it got me involved, and it did a great job weaving together all the different stories as a commentary on Racism. Did it deserve to win over Brokeback? No. Simply because Brokeback took chances; excelled in its acting, directing, and cinematography; and was a great, simple, yet heartfelt story. It’s like the Academy was afraid to award a film about gay lovers the coveted title, so it gave it to the lesser of the two controversial films. Should The Departed have beaten out The Queen or Letters from Iwo Jima? Probably not, but the Academy decided it needed to award Scorcese a Best Picture, and it was slowly losing its chance. Thank God they didn’t give it to Avatar though (however, this is another slight on the HP front – Pocahontas Fern Gully with blue people gets a nomination, but a story about good triumphing over evil despite the easiness of temptation gets ignored… humph).

I just hope 2012 sees some improvement with its films, because although this time of year is slumpy for films, I haven’t been intrigued by any of those in Bright Lights. On a pop culture front, I am excited for The Hunger Games (I’ve been living it at work this past month, so that’s expected), John Carter and Battleship (Or, as I like to call them, Taylor Kitsch Shirtless and Taylor Kitsch With a Haircut), The Avengers, and The Lucky One (Zefron in a Nicholas Sparks movie). On an Excitement of Filmmaking and New Ideas level, The Sound of Noise takes the cake. And of course, there’s also The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Brave, which both look super awesome.

“Hollywood is still the mecca for good or bad, but it isn’t the beginning or end for filmmaking.” – Robert DuVall

In Which I Realized I am Not, in Fact, Johnny Tsunami

Ouch. Oof. Urgh.

That’s what was heard coming out of my mouth every 10 feet or so Sunday, as I tumbled down the “Easy” slopes at Snowshoe.

The adventure started on Saturday, when we went to the show of a fellow snowboarder that was pushed back from a 9:30 slot to one closer to midnight, which meant we didn’t get on the road until 12:30 or so. The two hour drive toHarrisonburgwent fairly quickly, but falling asleep once there was a different story. The neighbors above were having an epic party (still going strong at 3am, when we rolled up), consisting of stomping, yelling, and the playing of music so loudly that I could sing along to all the words. When the cops were called, it only got worse, with music turned up even higher and consistent stomping over our heads. At one point they even sounded like gun shots…

Needless to say, waking up at 7am on only 2 hours of sleep was not enjoyable. Driving another couple hours in the car around twisty turns that made my stomach queasy didn’t help.

When we got up the mountain, we went to buy lift tickets, and I borrowed the student ID of the other girl with us to get the discounted rate. When the guy asked what the school was, my stuttered answer of JMU received a balk, instigating a conversation of how the cashier doesn’t like any school but his own, UNCW. The other girl immediately looked at me, as UNCW was my school as well, forcing me to cover the situation by saying I used to go there but transferred. We were thisclose to getting caught in a lie.

Then came the snowboarding. We started at the Top of the World, where there’s a Black Diamond and aGreen Circleto choose from. Naturally, I went green, as it was my first time. Holy crap, that was the longest “Bunny Slope” ever. What should have maybe taken 5-10 minutes took me almost 2 hours to finish. The boy tried to teach me and was super nice about sticking with me and my continuous falling rather than speeding off ahead and actually enjoying the slopes. I just couldn’t get it. I understood the concepts – carving around, leaning on your toes, leaning on your heels, using your back foot as a sort of guide but not like skateboarding.; but everytime I tried, I started going too fast, freaked, and fell in an attempt to slow down. That, or I went too close to the dropoff and didn’t want a repeat of the last time I went skiing… I had little kids zooming past me on ski’s, asking if I was okay as I went down for the fourth time in 20 feet, blocking the slope and struggling to swing my board around and away from the dropoff, then lug myself back up on the board.

By the time we got to the top of the ski lift (which I fell from when sliding down the little hill), I couldn’t move. My entire upper body was screaming at me, I felt nauseated, and my knees and butt were starting to bruise (currently, my entire right kneecap and part of my left are turning dark red, I have bruises on my butt and arm, and the back of my right thigh is purple and greenish), so I sent the boy off on a solo run while I found a nice place to sit to rest my weary body.

When he returned, we set off to find the rest of our party back at the Top of the World, but couldn’t figure out which way to go. Which meant we got sort of lost meandering about the trails, lugging snowboards uphill toward the peak, fighting fatigue, exhaustion, chapped lips, and nausea. When we finally reached the top, we found our party hanging out in the lodge, and the six of us made our way to another part of the mountain (Silver Creek, maybe?) where the more skilled (everyone but me) could practice their tricks. I rode another green slope, with the other girl teaching me this time, and I was actually able to make it down some of the hills without falling! Eventually, I got stuck on flatland and walked the rest of the slope, giving up for the day and letting my tired body rest from the incessant falling. As the other girl put it, I got more of a workout than the rest of the group, since I had to keep pulling myself up and recover from wiping out. Snowboarding is rough, but I definitely had fun and would go again. Next year. After some upper-body work and squats.

By the time we left Snowshoe, WV, it was well past 7, and we had a 4 hour drive back toRichmond.  With all the winding curves taken at a slow pace and stops for gas and food, we hitHarrisonburgaround 10, andRichmondat midnight. When I stumbled in my apartment at 12:30, it took everything I had to turn on the heat, strip off my winter gear, and crawl into bed, where I could finally relax my aching limbs. Once I heard back from the tired boy, who drove the last leg of the trip, it took no time to give into the consuming exhaustion.

I’ve spent the week since recovering, unable to move my limbs. I couldn’t raise my arms above my head without agonizing pain until late yesterday, so blow-drying my hair Monday night was quite the workout and much more difficult than it should ever be. As I told the boy, it was my version of a workout (in comparison to his lifting his record-high in bench pressing that same night… ugh. Not fair. He doesn’t even have a bruise. The only snowboarding ailment he’s suffering from is peeling from sunburn, which at least I was able to avoid). Tuesday was absolute misery. I’m finally at the point now where there’s a little stiffness, but I’m close to normal again, as far as functioning of my muscles. The bruises will be around for a while, though…