It was my husband’s birthday present. That’s probably the only reason I would find myself trying to absorb everything our guide was telling me about how to use an all terrain vehicle. It was August. I had just gotten my driving license in March and had barely driven a car except during my driving lessons. Maybe if we had just gone for one hour I would have been okay.
I think I was already sweating during our practice runs on the smooth pavement. I was embarking on this adventure with three Mexicans: Two very male males and one female who can drive standard like a guy.
I opted to be the last in line as we headed into the mountainous terrain. Things started fine. There was a lot of uphill, which didn’t bother me much. Even going over the huge rocks and praying they didn’t scratch the bottom of my machine I could handle. It was the downhill sections that sent my heart racing and horrible scenes of flipping over and being crushed flashing behind my eyes. I gripped the handles so tight, my arms were weak noodles by the end and very sore the next day. I trudged along behind everyone else. The guide occasionally stopped to wait and see if I was still alive let me catch up.
We took a breather by a little lake. At the beginning we had reserved for only an hour but once arrived, my husband asked if we could go for two. The break must have been around the hour mark. Completely drenched in sweat, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming when the guide asked whether we wanted the easy or the hard route for the rest of the trip and everyone opted for the more difficult.
After that little episode, our guide had me and my machine first in line behind him so he could keep a closer eye on me. At least twice he didn’t even ask me if I wanted to go it alone and had me get off the machine and take it down a hill while I clambered after. In my defence I was able to do the manoeuvre where you had to practically hang off one side of the atv so as to balance it over a tricky spot. Soon after I got stuck on a fallen tree trunk branch with a horrible crunch.
On another break, I managed to enjoy the view, but other than that, I don’t think I looked at the forest once while driving the stupid loud thing. I am glad I did it. Although my “fearless tomboy” reputation (if such a one ever existed) took quite the hit. So much for being able and willing to do anything the boys can do.
When my husband later in the year suggested snowmobiling, I politely declined and stoically endured the reminders of my atving breakdown.
Over the Christmas holidays I read the Hunger Games trilogy on my new Kobo. I have since re-read them. Yes, I’m aware that I just turned 25 and should be reading hard core investigative journalism, instead of young adult novels, as befits my age and profession…oh well!
Anyway, of course I fell in love with the main character, Katniss, who has been hunting illegally with a bow and arrow since she was little. And of course now I want to be an amazing archer just like her. So when my friend passed along an email from the McGill Outdoors Club (MOC) listserv about an INTRO TO ARCHERY class, I was in.
Off I went to the amazing Claude-Robillard complex to meet a bunch of cool MOC people and see if I could achieve my sudden dream of being like Katniss Everdeen. It was almost an even split between females and males participating, which was kind of nice, and we had a 2009 World Champion contender as our teacher.
After figuring out which was our strong eye, we basically just grabbed our 16 lb bows and starting shooting at the targets 10 yards away. I did so well on my first round, I was rather pleased with myself. After Mr. World Champion came around and quietly showed me how to shoot properly, however, my skills drastically decreased. With time and a few adjustments to the little orange sight thingy, I started shooting better. At first I had a target all to myself and could shoot 6 arrows a round. Eventually I had to share with this rather tall guy and only got 3 shots. Poor guy was so tall, he’d pull back his arrows so far they’d fall off the little hook thing.
After a few rounds we had a demonstration from our teacher with his tricked out bow and three beautiful arrows in three separate slots in his quiver hanging at his hip (what happened to pulling arrows out of the quiver behind your head? So much cooler, no?). His bow was several pounds heavier than ours and I think he said it cost about $1,000 (not including the arrows). It wasn’t as heavy as the 60 lb bow the MOC guy who organized the class brought. His arrows buried so deep into the target, it took a while to get them out.
Finally, we learned how to count the points for each ring of the target and had a team competition (still from 10 yards away). I paired up with a my new Swedish friend with an English accent and our final score was 196. Once we disqualified the score of the organizer guy’s team, as he had several years of experience on the rest of us, we found out our all-girl team won! Of course we had to take a picture of our victory! Too bad we had already taken the arrows out of the target!
Seeing him on TV reminded me of the time when I was playing with the team and while learning about their careers, jobs and families, I discovered that Chuck was a TV chef. A little later, his show called Chuck’s Day Off on the Food Network, decided they should do an episode with the hockey team, so they brought us in to film Chuck cooking for us before our game. Quite the experience.
You can find the video here. Of course, I was playing defense against the star of the show and only shots of my failures were used, not to mention me starting to chew and then laughing…thankfully I didn’t spew food everywhere!
When we arrived, we went to the back to get our make-up done. The jokes started flying about fixing ugly faces etc. I was sitting in the chair getting my make-up when someone from the TV show said quietly to the make-up artist, maybe you could do her later, thinking I was someone’s girlfriend along for the ride. When I said I was one of the team, suddenly it was OK to get my ugly face all dolled up. After that, I started worrying that I would just look like someone’s girlfriend and not part of the team on the show…but they worked a mention of me into Chuck’s dialogue. Apparently he kept saying “the guys” and they had to keep cutting so he could say “the team” instead (I vaguely recall). I wouldn’t have minded being one of the guys.
If it weren’t for the cameras and lights in our faces, it would have simply been a meal with friends and plenty of beer. Playing later that night was a bit difficult with all of us being so stuffed, but we managed to play a good game. Chuck definitely put on a show for the cameras!
We were called back another time to be in the episode, Block Party, too! It’s nice to have a chef friend.
I miss the guys and playing hockey, it’s all soccer for me now. At least the ski/snowboarding season is fast approaching and I have my season-pass already. Hopefully I’ll brave the frozen-toes and go play some outdoor hockey this winter.
Here’s another of my work-blog posts that I thought was also Beer League Girl-esque. Well, only because at the end of the post we’re watching hockey. Here is the link if you want to see it on my Our Canada work-blog called Johanna’s Daily Dance.
Growing up in Montreal with two languages was the most normal thing in the world for me. Only after travelling a little did I realize it was something special and different from many other places in Canada and the world. The idea of growing up in one language was a surprising and foreign idea I had trouble wrapping my head around.
Not only did I grow up negotiating two languages, but two cultures: Anglophone and Francophone. This everyday negotiation still teaches me new things about how distinct these two cultures really are, not to mention the differences with other English and French parts of Canada.
Then, within my own household, I had my very English-Quebecker/Canadian father and my American mother who grew up part of her life in Europe. So, with the Canadian-Québécois-U.S.-European influences running through me, I decided when I got to C.E.G.E.P. that it was time to learn a new language. I chose Italian over Spanish because I thought it sounded nicer. I could also practice with my Mom who can speak it after having lived in Italy.
Though I loved learning Italian, I regretted having chosen it over Spanish when yet another cultural and linguistic influence entered my life: my Mexican husband Adrian!
For the past few years I have been living in English, French and Spanish and things are beginning to get a little confused in my head. My French helped my Italian and my Italian has helped (and hindered!) my Spanish. Thankfully, Spanish is slowly taking over.
There are still moments, however, when all these worlds collide:
Adrian and I were watching the Habs play the Bruins (it was the game with the brutal Chara-Pacioretty hit) in French – the second language for the both of us! At one point in the game I turned to see Adrian smile for no apparent reason.
“I find the word aussitôt funny,” he said in answer to my questioning look.
“How do you say bear in Spanish?” he asked.
“Orso?” I guessed (Orso is Italian…sigh).
“Oso,” he corrected me and continued: “How do you say little bear?”
“Osito!” I finally clued in; though I’m not sure that’s how you spell it!
P.S. I swear my next post will be an original Beer League Girl post!
That is the name of the indoor soccer league I play in… I don’t really know what that means but it’s a good league to keep up the soccer skills in the winter!
I recently wrote a blog post about it on my new work-blog at Our Canada magazine (published by Reader’s Digest). It’s kind of beer league girl-esque so I thought I’d let you know about it here!
Here’s an excerpt:
There are several divisions that separate the different levels of play. Still being on the younger side, my friends and I are in the top division, which is competitive enough that we have to sweat for our victories.
We do play against some older women – sometimes they’re the feistiest ones on the field! I take it as a sign that I’ve entered a new phase in my “athletic career” when I play against moms! Read more…
Look what my friend gave me for my birthday! haha (my scanner is out of service so I took a picture instead!)
After that summer day on the ice, I signed up for the winter season as a regular player with that group of guys. The only reason I was able to play was because my mom paid for the season… not cheap! And I was still a student and only working part time, while most of the guys were established career-men.
I didn’t (still don’t) have a car so I had to get a lift to every game. The first lift was with my friend, Mike, from the Tennis Club who had first introduced me to the group. It was a bit of a strange experience. For the last few years I had been car pooling with friends my age who I’d known forever. Before that it was either my dad or another parent from the team who drove me to games or practices. So here I found myself with a “dad” figure and me, no longer a pre-teen, still a student but working… I don’t know, it was a funny mix.
During the drive there I don’t think we talked much, though the issue of the dressing room came up. There was the ref room that I could get changed in I was told. This group of guys had had one girl play on their team before – a roommate of one of the guys – and she had changed in the ref room. After sitting all by my lonesome in that huge dressing room in the summer I didn’t really want a repeat. I asked if it was ok if I got changed with everyone else and my friend didn’t seem to mind. He said something about a female infiltrating the sacred space of the men’s hockey dressing room must be a sign of the times and a real “win” for women, or something like that.
I wasn’t really nervous. I was planning out a routine in my head to avoid any awkward situations, however. Keep your head down for the first while, until you can see socks over shin pads, at least, then it will probably be safe to look up. That seemed to work pretty well, except for a few accidental butt cheek sightings and the fact that I get dressed extremely fast and had to keep pretending to look for something in my bag or text someone until the men caught up with me.
Game one went great. I had a new friend in our glasses-wearing, slightly slow-moving goalie who appreciated my defensive skills. After the game I decided to use my usual speed to get out of the room before the towels, or lack thereof, appeared and wait for my lift in the entrance or in the bar.
Other than a few surprised looks in the dressing room and perhaps some conversations I wasn’t privy to, I was accepted without too much todo, though one guy did lament feeling the need to edit his comments with female ears present.