Thursday, March 30, 2006

the bobsled run--march 22, 2006

During the PLANET Student Career Days event last week, one of the planned activities was a service project at the Utah Olympic Park. The conference participants (all 800 of them) spent the day doing snow removal and other odd jobs at the park. In return, the park gave us two rides down the bobsled track as prizes to raffle off to the participants. It was someone's bright idea that 800 people would just fight over two spots, so we would just not use the rides. Not use the rides? Are you kidding me? Those rides cost $200 PER PERSON!

Luckily, someone has the ingenious idea that Michelle and I should go up to the park at the end of the day, participate in the bobsled ride, and then never tell a soul. I figure enough time has passed that I can go ahead and tell all the souls I want.

Just in case you were wondering what it feels like to speed down a track that measures just under a mile and drops an equivalent of a 40-story building in less than a minute, traveling at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, and experiencing 5 G's of force, let me describe it to you (trust me that this is better with the facial expressions.) For the first 10 seconds you think, “Oh. My. Gosh. I’m on a real bobsled, and HERE WE GO, and this is SO cool, and all my friends will be jealous.” About 25 seconds into it you start thinking, “Um, we’re kind of picking up speed here, and my arms are aching from the constant jiggling, and the feet of the guy behind me are actually forming bruises on my butt, but this is still fun, and all my friends will be jealous.” At 40 seconds you start thinking, “I might die. I literally might die if this crazy ride doesn’t stop. When will it stop? Is that another turn? I’m going to cry. My arms ache and my butt aches, and, yes, yes it IS another turn. Wahhhh!” At 50 seconds you are thinking, “Please, Lord, kill me now. I really can’t take another second. This is seriously the least fun, and one of the most painful things I’ve experienced.” And then, at 53.95 seconds, you arrive at the end and think, “Oh! My! Gosh! I just went down the bobsled run! That was so cool! That was the most fun thing I’ve done this year! All my friends will be jealous!”

Me trying on the safety helmet. My cheeks, apparently, barely fit.

My sled, just as the ride begins.

Michelle and I at the bottom of the track.

The fake sled that people can take pictures in. That's right. You, too, can go to the Olympic Park and take a picture in this bobsled and pretend that you had the same experience that I did.

Monday, March 27, 2006

when i know what i want

Ordering food at a restaurant is only slightly less painful for me than losing a toenail (which, it turns out, isn’t as painful as it sounds, but that is beside the point.) I hate the pressure. I hate how everyone else always knows what they want before I know what I want. Really the debate is between going with something I’ve had roughly 387 times and know I like, or choosing something new that shows promise, but with no guarantee that I’ll leave satisfied. I mean, if I’m going to pay upwards of $4.50 for my meal, it had better be dang good. I loathe the realization that I don’t like the expensive food on my plate, and it’s too late to make any changes. So every time I go to a restaurant, I just sit there. I wait for everyone else at the table to list what they are getting as if their choices will somehow inspire my choice. I wait, and I wait, and then when the server comes back to the table for the seventh time I finally cave in: “What would you recommend?” Restaurants have to be one of the dumbest places I ask for advice. What are the chances that the server has the same taste palette that I do, and could actually recommend something that I would enjoy? What I really want is validation that whatever it is that I’ve already kind of sort of decided on is a restaurant favorite. And then I generally end up going with the old standby anyway, because, apparently, I crave stability and fear the unknown.

But what if the unknown is what would really be best for me? What if, and I’ve moved out of the restaurant and am speaking of life in general now, the things that I have chosen for years, and that I find comfortable, are not the things that could make me the happiest? I mean, I’ve been choosing good things all along, I think, but maybe if I try something unexpected, just every once in a while, I will discover new things that will open up and change my life. Who knew I would like blue cheese on steak? Or anything with the word “chipotle” in it? Or lip gloss, for that matter? But, I do. I tried all three and discovered that I loved them. Recently, of course, I made one of the bigger leaps of my life and started dating someone who is not the same race as me. Granted, it was something I’d never given much thought, one way or the other, but it’s different in that there are things that come up as cultural differences between us that I’ve never encountered before. And, to be honest, given the choice on a menu, I would probably have gone with the familiar meat loaf and baked potato over the stir-fry and curry, just because I play it safe and, as established earlier, fear the unknown. I have no idea why this time I chose different, but how lucky am I that for some reason I did? And now I would be okay if he was the only thing on the menu. For the rest of my life. Now that I’ve made the choice, and am having the experience, all I can say is, “Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for bringing in a million things that I would never have encountered in my own sheltered, Midwest culture.” So, there you go, Somebody. That’s how I feel about the interracial relationship. Bring on the tiny octopus and the funky cabbage. You are spicing up my life.