On Sundays I reflect.
I didn’t drink alcohol this week. I spoke to someone recently about abstaining from alcohol for the last few years. This decision has improved my life in many ways. Every dollar I would have spent on drinking has gone into my studio and my business, which is growing steadily. I hired people to help at the studio, and we have begun expanding into the unit next door where we built a kitchen in the unit we now share with Weston Backcountry Snowboards.
The girls, Taylor and Marta helped me clean and rearrange both units this week including the tops of my hoods which have not been cleaned since they were installed almost four years ago. For the first time in a long time my studio is not an obstacle course and I am beyond grateful for their help. I have a bit of a problem with throwing things away in my life in an attempt to not waste anything. We completed the most recent resin casting of glass trash last week which is the culmination of my attempt to reduce my contribution of waste to the world. All that being said, I have been storing hundreds of boxes in my loft with the hope that they would get used for packing cups to ship. Taylor and Marta helped me get rid of more than a truck full of cardboard that needed to go to the recycling plant after sitting on the loft for between one and three years. Don’t worry, we still have lots of boxes to ship cups with!
After a dry season we finally got some snow this week. On Thursday we woke up to over a foot and I was at Vail for first chair with my electrician, my accountant, and my friend Jensen. We rode hard all morning and I bumped into more than a dozen other friends across the hill. Around 1pm Sean, Nate, Jonah and I met up to tackle the Minturn Mile, a side country route leaving from the top of Vail and leading to the front of the town where my studio is; Minturn. We skated down a cat walk from Game Creek to Lost Boy and exited the resort through a gate into the most beautiful open bowl I have ever ridden. I have only taken the route once last year with friends, and I have never had a better run in my life than this past Thursday. All four of us were hooting and hollering all the way down the bowl and when we met at the bottom everyone knew it had been one of the best runs of all of our lives. Then we had to navigate a single track route along a creek from the bottom of the bowl to get down to town. Skiers don’t have as much of a problem down there as we do on boards, but fortunately Nate was on skis to blaze a trail for us. All in all it took us about an hour to make our way out, but the top turns were well worth the workout.
I have been blowing glass this week too, working on cups for the show coming up on February 20. I have decided to put the next resin casting project on hold until after the show, so that I can focus on blowing glass. I have a bunch of collaborations waiting to be made, and I have some of the prep ready but a lot more to go! I am also hoping to have some of my own solo cups available for the show. Everyone on the lineup is working on their cups which should ship to me this week, and I went to Leadville to pickup cups from Matty B and Bard. Rob has also been cranking out cups in the studio to get ready for the event after spending the last few months on pipes for shops around the country that he supplies.
My car didn’t have any problems this week. I still had to drive to Glenwood Springs but it felt surprisingly good to visit the DMV rather than the Land Rover dealership. Words I never thought I would say! I had severe anxiety about trying to get my driver’s license to reflect my correct current address after only having my actual address for one of the last ten years. Being a vagabond has its perks but proving legal residence for formal documents is very difficult without a permanent physical address. Fortunately it was a breeze at the DMV and I was out in less than 30 minutes. My county does not deliver mail to homes, but instead everyone is forced to use a PO Box. This makes proving a residence near impossible because the government requires you to bring mail addressed to prove where you live. Anyways, now that my license is legit I get to tackle renewing my passport and other fun stuff!
It has been an exhausting year really. Aside from snowboarding I have been working non stop. Someone reminded me the other day that they have been following my journey since I “used Tinder in NYC to find places to sleep” back in 2014. I was broke and ended up in New York where my friends let me sleep on their couches and fed me. I was commuting roughly four hours a day from Manhattan to Long Island to blow glass, and another hour round trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn many nights for band practice. At the time I typically chose to run anywhere I needed to get so I could save $2.50 subway fare. I have never been more exhausted in my life. At the time I felt completely defeated every day. It was the best year of my life, and the worst. I texted one friend who had an extra key made to his apartment for me so I wouldn’t sleep outside. I remember using the quarters from his change jar most mornings to buy bananas on the street. Back then I knew what I was working towards, but I don’t think I envisioned getting where I am so fast. That’s not to say seven years is not a long time. Every day I wake up grateful to have my studio and my equipment and tools. I go there almost every day, and it feels like a dream. I look out my window from my lathe and see the cliffs that are the backside of Vail. I am surrounded by art and artists and creativity is fostered there.
Speaking of equipment and tools, if you know me at all you know I am not exactly “handy”. Over the last few weeks I used a drill a few dozen times and a saw a half dozen times. I am feeling very accomplished in this area of my life which I now refer to as Ben the Builder. He is a very handy guy! (Do not hire him to build anything!)
I got news this week that some of my oldest childhood friends are coming to visit me this month. One of them I have not seen in five years or more. The other I have not seen since last March when I went home to Chicago before lockdown began. They are driving out to see me in a time when I could really benefit from time with friends. I chose to live in a remote area for many reasons, and with every choice comes the downside. I have made friends out here in the valley over the last five years, but I often find myself missing my closest friends who are not living close by. When the guys get here after my show I will be taking at least one full day off with them. I will turn off my phone and I won’t go to the studio. It has been a hard year not being able to visit my friends and family. While my traveling had slowed down prior to Covid, I think I only left the mountains twice last year for very quick in and out business trips. That has been a drastic change for me.
While I want to keep writing because my last few weeks reflections have been written in a rush, I am now feeling the pressure to get to the studio and blow glass. Thanks for following my journey and wishing you a wonderful Sunday!
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