Category Archives: Poverty

How to be a ski bum

Step # 1: Choosing a location

The biggest factor that you should think about when choosing a mountain is the terrain. If you’re a park rat, then you should choose a place that is built for exactly that. There are mountains (Park City for example) where 90% of the mountain is one big park, but if you’re into steep cliffs, powder, easy rollers, or back country, then be assured that there is a mountain that has been built especially for you.

Another thing that divides the interests of the people is how corporate vs how laid back the mountain is. At the big wig places, such as Vail, you get the perks of having a huge community full of more people than you will ever have the time to meet. At these corporate places the lifts are almost always top notch fast tracks with covers the protect your balls from the wind as you traverse these sprawling mountain domains. On the other hand, corporations treat employees like dirt and even more so since you are a dispensable ski bum. Corporate owned places also don’t give out free beer, free rentals, free kitchen slop, or really free anything like the smaller family owned places will. At the smaller resorts you have a chance to meet and remeet people all the time. This is why I am a fan of the “fuck corporations” ideology and would highly recommend choosing something that is more off the beaten track.

Step # 2: Finding a place to live

Make sure you have a place to crash for when you get there. If you are truly rugged, then you can just bring a warm bag to sleep in and clear out a spot in the forest to sleep. I knew a guy that lived in an igloo for the winter and he turned out the be mostly sane after I got to know him. To do this you would need some tough winter gear and a bit of igloo construction skills which can all be found online. I would recommend finding a place to crash before you get there. You could go on couchsurfing.com or craigslist and finding a place to crash for just a bit while you get set up in the new city. Once you have had time to meet people on the mountain and you have made some solid friendships then you can start couch surfing through the social network. Trust me, this works. I wound up couch surfing at different people’s houses for almost two months before I found my own place to live. Depending on others for a place to sleep wasn’t always the most reliable thing and I did find myself without a place to sleep once or twice throughout the two months, but it was more fun than what you might expect.  It gave me access to a deeper part of the lives of the people that work on the mountain where by I was able to make great friends with kind and giving people. When there is a mountain party it is assumed that there will be at least 5 people crashing and you had better be sure that you are one of the 5. When I eventually did get my own place I was sure to have a party where I could give back to all my friends that had helped me throughout my time as a bum.

You will need to find a place to live and if you have been going without a home for a good amount of time then you should know the workings of the mountain and be able to pick for yourself the best of the best. I ended up getting a basement just below the entrance of the mountain and would hitch hike to work reliably every day. Keep an eye out for houses that are home to only people that live on the mountain. These houses are a focal point for social activity and often are some of the cheapest and most fun places to live. If your not forced into living anywhere you can generally find a good spot for cheap so long as your not living in a corporate owned town like the one in Vail.

Step # 3: Go Pro

Now that you have the first two steps down there isn’t much more to do than to enjoy the mountain. Be sure to explore every inch of the terrain including places you have to hike to. You are going to want to be the master of your domain and while there will always be that guy that has been riding the slopes since before you were born, you can still become worthy of the title of expert. Honestly, if you’re not worthy of the title of expert by the time you’re done with the season then your next journey should be to a cave in the woods where you can sit and rethink your life. Your time on the slopes will be one of the greatest time of your life. Be sure to get out to all the parties, make sure to talk to everyone, and be willing to stretch your comfort zones. Riding pow is an exhilarating experience that can push the most basic of instincts right to the limit. Get out there and get hurt. If you wind up without a scratch by the end of the season then you had better get to that cave and start thinking because getting hurt is part of the game.

Stumblin Up

Nothin to do but stand strong I cant give em my life

Maybe they’ll shoot me down before I get to make things right

Until then its strait grindin one more day at a time

This life might just be a bitch and we will never be fine

So ima sit on down till my vertebri gets stacked

Drift into the ether. Meditative calm I bring back

 

Sometimes I think that I can do this alone

But when that cold wind ablows I get chilled to the bone

True friends are hard to find in the valley of death

It’s a dangerous road but we stand chest abreast

Sun sinking slowing behind the snow-covered peaks

I hear danger strolling towards my way. He stops and he speak

 

I have cleared out whole villages just because they got in my way

And you sit here before me not running way

You must be a fool to even think about tryin

No one that gets here can do it without cryin

But I see the tears in your eyes are for something greater than yourself

For you there is no escape and for that I will help

 

And just like that I changed danger into a friend

Now I walk the same path. I walk knowing no end

On and on goes the struggle, my mind is infested

But I sowllowed that pill now I just have to digest it

I keep on going in circles. I must be insane

But the crack of lighting comes quickly. The crack that is change

 

Honestly I’m calm. I don’t worry too much

My glass is half full and we keep filling it up

Like a tree in the breeze dropping sweet tasting fruit

We got bannanas and apples with some cimimon to boot

Down going forever as deep as my desire

One love, one life. Now it’s time to get higher

A skibum in the purest sense of the word

Mover to the mountain 4 weeks ago, and have been able to get on the generosity of mountain people high and low. First it was finding the first couch to sleep on, then it was finding gear, now it’s about all the simple things that each person has to offer. You see, most people have gifts inside spring wrapped just waiting for someone to come along and unwrap them. Is it not the giver who owes thanks because the receiver revived? Today most people are too caught up in their own ways to understand people around them and figure out what kind of gifts can be shared. Most people find it to be a release to finally find a person who is will to accept their sincerity as a person. Really, it’s all about talking to other people to find out what their stories are and where they come from and maintaining that focus on that person even after your basic needs have been filled. It’s about the art of seduction.

Mountain rules are different from anywhere else. We have an entire team of pothead lifties and enough snow to make pot stations all over the mountain. It’s not as if we don’t care about the rules, its more that the rules don’t apply to us. Just the other day, during our start of the day meeting, it reeked of weed. The guy that’s in charge of the lifties made a special appearance and gave a speech where he did not tell us not to smoke, rather he told us not to get caught. One of the greatest speeches I have heard in my life.

The mountain is in Utah and with that comes many people who live a life by the book. No drugs, no sex, and no fun. Just kidding on that last part. On the contrary they can be lots of fun as well as easy to deal with. I have already gotten myself into many a religious conversation in which we try and persuade each other of something neither of us is going to believe in (this has been one of my favorite pastimes for a while now).

I have started to embrace my inner roguishness and have begun the seduction of someone who is already in a relationship. I figure that most people already expect me to pull something amoral like that and now that I am actively engaged in it makes everything seem smoother and fit nicer. Could cause a firestorm with me taking on all the old time lifties that have each other backs on the mountain. This would be a fight that I could not win, although I might be able to make off with the treasure before anyone is aware. I should say that I find it nice to have a challenge for a seduction. It’s exciting this way.

Friday night currently and I thought that I had a party lined up, but now I can’t find the address and I saved the contact under the wrong number and will have to wait until I see him on the mountain in order to get his info for a second time. I almost gave up on the night and resigned myself to studying something that could prove to be super valuable in terms of learning but not what I am looking for out of a Friday night. We will still see where the night will bring.

Every night for me is a challenge to find a place to sleep. Over the past week, I have been able to bounce from house to house. What has been really awesome has been learning everyone’s inner lives. They take me into their home and share with me their lifestyle. If I had a house to go to every night I would leave before things even got interesting. I would gladly pay for my currently lifestyle if only there were some way to make things dependable. Instead, when I have nowhere to go I wander the city, moving from coffee shop to coffee shop hoping that something might work itself out. I really do love my lifestyle and hope to be persuasive to anyone reading that has got the skill and the balls to pack up and move in somewhat of the same direction. I have told you it’s rough, in the future I will focus on the reward.

 

Towering above mountain, cast in shadow, eyes red

The demon named weakness calls you out of your bed

He says choose quickly, the fate of many rests in your small hands

To fight now and to forever or to lay down under my command

 

So soft and so sweet do his words lay into your mind

As if there is truth in relaxation. To sleep is divine

So tempting and sweet does deep darkness seem to be

Here we are shackled, in sleep we are free

 

Once we were stardust and to that we are bound

Any purpose beyond the wave is something I have not yet found

So easy it would be, to let go of the fight

Surrender to the pleasantness and become one with the light

 

But something inside you that will not let go

You try to control it but still it says no

This force it controls you and it says no time for rest

Bigger and better and you bang on your chest

 

Screaming at the demon we know only through fear

Screaming I will fight on and on hind legs you rear

You charge strain ahead ignoring the pain

You charge straight ahead with eyes set aflame

 

Now troubled our demon who cannot understand

He thinks that what drives you can be under his command

But you and I know better how this story will be told

The demon is you and the lesson: be bold

 

Shelter

It’s amazing living our here in Utah. I am shocked that I have been given the opportunity to ride the mountain all winter long. Still, I am baffled that humans find it enjoyable to ride down snow as fast as they can. When I think about it, snowboarding doesn’t make any sense. When I do it, snowboarding doesn’t need to make sense. A fairy tale without strife or challenge has no appeal to a man like myself and in this dystopian world that I traverse there are many obstacles. On one hand, I live with a privileged class of people who have enough money to put most of their time to snowboarding. On the other hand, I am out of money and don’t have a regular place to sleep and have been couch surfing for over two weeks now. This story is about sleeping in a shelter.

I started my night with dinner and a girl that I met online. In my mind I felt a desire to sleep at her house but I would not betray my real intentions. I was a gentleman and we had a good time. I didn’t need to ask to be able to tell that she was not the type to let someone sleep over after a first date and so I left graciously with a kiss. Making it back to my city of Ogden I wandered, looked up hotel prices, and eventually called the shelter. The pastor in charge of the shelter told me to stop by for some space in the dormitory. When I arrived, most people were already asleep. They gave me a sleeping bag and made some space for myself in the center of the room with the rest of the homeless. It was difficult getting to sleep because there was a younger man who would moan loudly. When I got a glimpse of him it looked like he was drooling on the floor. Eventually someone asked if he was sick and took him to a different room. Only then did I fall asleep.

I was awake before anyone else and eventually the pastor came in to get everyone up. Like a disturbed rooster, he called out loudly “wake up time” and then left. It was easy for me to pack up all my stuff and be out of the dormitory quickly. I was about to leave when the pastor asked if anyone would volunteer to shovel the sidewalks, and so I shoveled. By the time I was done they were serving breakfast and so I sat and ate with all of the people I had slept with the night before; there were about 40 of us. We were served a bowl of watery oatmeal and donuts but by the time I got to the donut part of the line they were all gone. I sat inconspicuously and ate my oatmeal trying not to draw attention to myself. Eventually people filled in to the seats besides me to eat their breakfast. Conversation revolved mostly around the poor quality of the food and how the place was mismanaged. After I was done with my meal I thanked the pastor for the food and the warm place to sleep. I tried to make eye contact with him but he seemed unfazed and simply nodded his approval. It was as if everyone in that building had been infected with a disease that made them numb to the world around them. As I was left I was scoffed at by a member of the church for not staying for service, but I had had enough and I was out the door.

At breakfast, I remember thinking of Nietzsche’s slave morality and resentment. The people in that room were filled with a victim mentality, cynicism, and sheer laziness more so that I have ever seen before. They hated the food that they had just been given for free. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around what these people must have gone through to get to such point in life. Most of them were over the age of 40 and I had no idea how they would be able to continue in spite of so much misery. Even the pastor, through his mission for god, had been infected with the disease. The economy of emotions had not been generous to these people and I did not feel that I could do much good by sticking around.

There are always sparks of light in any place. The old man I shoved with did a warm up jig that we all thought was pretty funny and there was a younger boy who helped serve the food who seemed more innocent than his age. I do not know where I will sleep tonight and I may head back to the shelter if I do not find something by a decent time. It would be a time to raise a shield to the negative energy as I traverse through dim and dingy places on my way to something higher. As for today I will put it out of my mind with ease as head to the mountain to hang out with my more privileged friends. The mountain is something I am thankful for as it makes all my time spent in these places worth it. All for that next run down the slopes.