Wintertime Fun

Since temperatures are in the FREAKING 50s and 60s over here, I’ll just have to reminisce about the time I got my ass handed to me by a baby snow hill. Happy Flashback Friday to all you people having a real winter. I hope you stay safe and warm, though, because as much as I’d like anything that resembles winter up in here, I think I’ll pass on the -20 degree weather!

While driving home after lunch with a couple work friends, I saw some kids attempting to make a tiny mound a sledding hill. They appeared to be having loads of fun. It’s funny how, when you’re a kid, anything that makes even the tiniest bit of a slope, instantly becomes fun. Like, regular, level ground is dumb, but if you can roll in a downward direction, even for just a second, it’s the.best.thing.ever.

Hell, even just yourself and a substantial hill makes for a good time. You know what I mean, and if you don’t, I’m sorry, your childhood must have sucked.

Image courtesy of someecards.com

This quick, drive-by snapshot reminded me of a time I thought sledding was a good time. It also recalled a time I must have had shit for brains because there was zero thought involved in any decision made that night.

Let me share with you why, today, I won’t go sledding. I won’t go, even for a cupcake. I won’t. Just no.

One winter, years ago, when I lived in little ol’ Elko, Nevada, it snowed absolute buckets. I have a post planned about my city girl adjustment to a little cow town, where it snowed for longer than 5 minutes, and it was so cold your snot froze in your nose the second you stepped outside. This little city slicker wasn’t prepared for country living, that’s for sure. But, that’s for another time.

Well, there was this hill. It was the renowned sledding hill. It also wasn’t for amateurs, pregnant women, or children under 5. This hill meant bizzness.

Now, before I go on, I have to explain that I’m the biggest, most unadventurous wimp you ever did meet. Roller coasters make me nauseous. I almost crapped my pants (like seriously) the first (and last) time I rode on the back of a dirt bike. I cling to my oversized flotation device, praying I don’t die in speed boats. I white knuckle it when I have to cross major intersections on my bike. I’m a dweeb when it comes to adventure sports, in that 10 times out of 10, I’ll wholeheartedly pass.

My time in Elko must have been spent certifiably insanely bored, because not only did I go sledding, it was my brilliant idea.

My boyfriend at the time, a friend, and I decided to go at night, so that the hill wouldn’t be crammed with snot-nosed middle-schoolers. We also decided at night no one would see the overweight idiots on too-small sleds.

Because everything I do must be a production, I had to wear my cutest knock-off Uggs, furiest ironically-ugly-hat, most stylish gloves, and my skull leggings. I was still too young and stupid to realize that snow was cold, and that fashion doesn’t matter when it’s -2 degrees.

Image courtesy of qtpiekelso via Polyvore

While, this is a very cute outfit (and likely almost the exact one I wore), it is not what you wear sledding in Arctic conditions.

I had precisely one good trip down the hill, the first attempt. It was stupid fun. After that, it all went downhill, literally. 

Because I chose to wear my “cute Uggs”, and not the sensible boots my boyfriend’s mom offered me, I had zero traction getting up the hill. If you don’t know, Uggs and many others like them, have very little tread, as in none. So, I looked like a hefty hamster in a wheel. I was definitely moving, but going absolutely nowhere.

It was pissing me off. My boyfriend and friend had gone up and down the hill numerous times, laughing like fools at all their fun, and there I was clinging to an exposed branch, halfway up the hill, praying I wouldn’t face plant again.

I had had it. 

The next time my friend came by me, trailing her sled behind her, I made her privvy to my plan to get myself up the hill. She was hesitant at first, but agreed after feeling a sudden pity for the girl who was still not back up the hill 20 minutes later. Besides, if it all went crashing and burning, it wouldn’t be her hurting.

So, I steadied one foot, then knee into her sled, while praying the other foot wouldn’t go rogue.

See, my plan was to have my poor, weak, 5-foot-tall, diabetic friend pull.me.up.the.hill. Herself.

My boyfriend must have been off fucking some sagebrush, because why he wasn’t my first choice, I’ll never know.

Obviously, the second I got my other leg into the sled, and allowed all of my weight to settle firmly into the plastic vehicle of death, she let go. How in fucks sake I ever thought she could hold my obese self in a sled with a measly rope, makes me question my intelligence.

So, there I went.

Careening, hurtling, literally flying down the hill. Backwards. 

Now, what I haven’t mentioned yet, because I haven’t even gotten to the part where I got to even fucking sled, is that the snow was so packed down due the traffic on the hill that it was hard as a rock. Due to the frigid temps, it was also pure ice. For future reference, there’s a very real, credible reason most people don’t sled at night.

Back to my terrifying trip to my eventual death.

I was screaming down an ice hill. BACKWARDS. 

As if that wasn’t enough, I was heading straight for the jump. Yes, a jump. On my best, most adventurous, wearing-all-the-padding-and-protective-equipment-in-broad daylight-day, I would not have even let going off that jump ever, ever cross my mind. And there I was, going probably 200 MPH, backwards, speedily advancing on that death trap.

I think, in my near shock-induced stupor, I faintly recall hearing my boyfriend and friend yelling, “Fall off! Fall off, ya dummy!”

Well, there was no time to do that, as I caught impressive air when I hit that sweet spot. It was all ass-in-the-air-red-butt-crack-flapping-in-the-wind-snot-flying-fuzzy-hat-peace-ing-out ridiculousness.

Obviously, I survived my harrowing trip over the jump. Barely. On the other end? Soft snow? A soft, dying patch of grass? A gymnast’s pad left by a concerned parent? No. Shit no. Dirt. Frozen ground. I hit like an obese blow up doll filled with marbles.

Friend and boyfriend came running, concern mixed with laughing. Assholes.

Why didn’t you roll off? 

I had exactly 2 seconds to realize what was happening, excuse me if I’m not Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

Aside from scrapes, a few bruised ribs, and an even more damaged ego, I emerged fairly uharmed.

I’m actually pretty impressed with the air I caught. Tony Hawk would be jealous. I guess there are some positives to being fat-greater momentum!

Weeeeeeeeeee

About right

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A Christmas (Ghost) Story

Normally, Christmas isn’t a time for swapping ghost stories (unless you’re a stingy, cantankerous Scrooge who needs a visit from Christmas past), but this time of year always makes me think of my old Elko apartment.

If you know me personally, you likely know that I’m the highest form of wimp possible. If something has a slight bit of danger (I find leaving my cellphone charger plugged in without my cellphone one of the biggest dangers of the modern world) associated with it, I’ll opt out in a nanosecond.

Back when my parents first started leaving me home alone (I believe I was eleven), I would lock myself in the bathroom with our dog if I heard the heat kick on.

At the ripe old age of 34, I cannot sleep if my bedroom door isn’t locked at night. And, when the boyfriend comes in, I ask if he locked the door. Every.night. I ask this every night. He’s almost certainly is planning my murder.

So, obviously, I’m the best person to live in a house that’s haunted.

Can you see where this is going? Yeah, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The apartment an ex boyfriend, we shall call him Carl, and I shared was on the “tree streets” in the heart of Elko. They’re called the “tree streets”, because they’re named after trees-oak, maple, etc. Our street was called Court. I’m no expert on trees, but I’m fairly certain that’s not a type of tree. Either way, I’m still 99% sure we lived in the coveted “tree streets” area.

It was a delightful part of town-full of gorgeous old homes, mature trees (obviously there were trees), and a serenely idyllic feel.

We had been on the apartment hunt for quite some time, as we were way past wearing out our welcome at his mother’s house (not to mention, we had graduated college, which was one of the conditions of living rent-free).

After a particularly exasperating day of turning up nothing that would suit us, home-wise, we happened upon a quaint white stone and green-trimmed row of apartment buildings. The way they were built, each duo were separated by a door that led into a shared storage and laundry room.

They were old. Like, built-in-the-20s-or-30s-old. But, they well cared for. They were also expertly updated to maintain the vintage charm and uniqueness they possessed.

This was after I’d added some of my own charm to the home.

When I peeked into the kitchen, through a window, and saw the awesome vintage metal cabinets, I had to live there. Later, I’d find the apartment held all sorts of vintage charm, like skeleton key locks and tiny, useless closets.

(It’s kind of ridiculous that I love vintage charm, but I’m terrified of vintage, lingering houseguests.)

When my ex found out he knew the landlord personally, we were a shoe-in and were new apartment dwellers by the end of the day.

The day we started moving in was a dark and gray November day. The living room walls were made up entirely of wood paneling, and the only reason I didn’t detest them intensely was because they were made of real wood and not the fake trailer home paneling one thinks of when they hear those feared words.

Wood paneling. The fucking horror.

Because the living room looked like it was straight out of an episode of Poirot, and the dark, low-lying clouds made for a very dark atmosphere, it was necessary to have lights on during the day.

This is where the story actually gets somewhat interesting (sorry for that incredibly long-winded preamble).

After many a box and armful of clothes, still on hangers (I’m a boss at packing for a move) were moved in, the ex and I decided to go take care of the power and cable.

I distinctly remember saying something like, “Let’s actually turn all of the lights off when we’re not in a room. We are paying the power bill now.” (We were total assholes.)

So, I know we turned all of the lights off. I know we did.

Yet, upon returning, the lights were mysteriously all on.

Because my paranoia was no secret, when I said, “Uh. Didn’t we turn all of the lights off before we left?”, the boyfriend responded by saying we’d discussed doing that, but we didn’t actually get around to turning them all off.

He was dead wrong.

But, even I knew that if he admitted to the fact we did turn the lights off, my ass would have had my cheap World Market Chinese paper lanterns hung back up at his mom’s house quicker than you can say, “Oh, hell no!”

This event, on the very day we moved in, set the tone for the rest of my time there. I think someone wasn’t thrilled with us moving in.

I was never comfortable in this apartment. The vibe was all wrong.

What made things even worse was Carl worked from 6:30 at night until 2:30 in the morning. Five nights a week I was alone.

After we had moved everything in and made it our own, I took pictures of our decor to share on Facebook. Every single picture had myriad orbs. I know orbs are vastly contested, but coupled with the feeling I had there, I know those sonsabitches were orbs.

One of the things that made me feel the most uncomfortable was doing the dishes. The living spaces were not open plan at all. In fact, the doorway from the front room into the living room had a door (as in one that you can close, not just a doorway-I thought I needed to clarify). At the sink, my back was to the rest of the house. I hated the fact that I had no view of the other rooms as I was doing the dishes. I constantly felt the need to glance behind me.

Other than an overall eerie feeling, not a whole lot happened to me.

I never saw anything, but I felt something. It was unmistakable.

The only other major occurrence that happened to me was on an evening before a holiday, so I was gladly staying up until Carl came home. I was watching TV (it was some TLC special on medical oddities and quite fascinating. I have no idea how I even remember this). Out of nowhere, I heard a terrific crash. It was horribly loud and made me jump right out of my skin. It sounded like it came from the laundry room.

Our laundry room was accessible by a door from the living room that led into the entryway and stairs for the upstairs apartment, so naturally I had every kind of lock installed on the door, because laundry monsters are very real.

Logically, I knew that with the door guarded like Fort Knox with its 18 different locks, whatever was in the laundry room was likely not getting in, yet I was frozen in fear.

I called Carl, and since you can get anywhere in Elko in five minutes, it was no time before he was bravely, albeit annoyingly searching the premises.

I forgot to mention that the landlord had a workshop that he used quite frequently that was accessible through the laundry room. There was no back entrance, so the only way in was the main door for the upstairs apartment. However, that door was always locked as our neighbor preferred to use his back entrance.

Carl searched all over the workshop and laundry room. Not a thing was broken, toppled over, or misplaced. When our neighbor, who was out of town during this strange occurrence, got home, we asked him if anything was amiss in his apartment.

Nothing.

I think the very notion that nothing appeared to make the terrible crash freaks me out even more. It’s also entirely possible that something did make the noise, but Carl hid it from me, because he knew how I’d react.

The creepiest thing to ever happen I didn’t find out about until I was long moved out of that apartment and back in Reno.

The winter we lived on Court street was a very cold and snowy one.

The pogonip was in full force. Our view from the apartment was pretty satisfying.

My wreath made it look not haunted at all.

I took the train to Reno to celebrate Christmas with my family. My mom, so I didn’t have to ride the train back with all of my gifts and in order to see the apartment, drove me home.

We had a fabulous girl night full of chick flicks, the best Blind Onion pizza on earth, and so much laughing. My mom insisted on sleeping in the living room on her deluxe, raised air mattress. That was one of the only nights I truly rested easy, knowing my mom was in the next room.

Well, at least one of us rested easy.

Early, in the dead of morning, my mom was awakened by the sensation of someone sitting on the end of her bed, as the motion when that happens on an air mattress is unmistakable. She figured it was Carl coming home and not realizing he was sitting on her air mattress and not the couch.

She got up to investigate and saw that Carl was in bed, snoring and farting away. He’d been home for some time, as it was hours past the time he normally arrived home.

It was then that my mom was dead certain someone or something visited her that early morning.

This post is in dedication to my astute mother who had the foresight to know her fragile daughter would not have had the mental fortitude to handle the news of a mystery guest (resident) sitting on beds in the creepiest part of the early morning. She also knew, if she shared her experience, she’d again have a daughter as a permanent area rug on her bedroom floor for the rest of her nights.

I made it six months in the apartment on Court Street. The reason I moved out is a scary story, indeed, but not one involving ghosts. I’ll have to save that story for another time.

Even as I write this now, I have the chills. I keep rolling over in bed, making sure I’m the only one in the room.

Feeling in the Christmas spirit now? Maybe after some spirits, of the liquid variety (not the paranormal) it’ll feel a little more like Christmas!

One of the last photos taken in the apartment. All of the orb pictures are gone from Facebook and have been banished to an external hard drive. Sorry to disappoint.