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About Jules Older
My life in a tweet...
Jules Older PhD: psychologist > medical educator > writer > editor > app creator > videographer > ePublisher. Big awards, adventures, fun.
My life in an atlas...
Baltimore > Vermont > New York > New Zealand > Vermont again > San Francisco
My life in a CV...
sub-assistant sign screener > ditch diver > child-care worker > clinical psychologist > medical educator > broadcaster > TV villain > writer > author > teacher of writing > editor > videographer > app creator > e-publisher > blogger
My life in a family...
one wife > twin daughters > three grandsons
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Here's how it started... On October 19, an email arrived from a ski writer/ski buddy who had managed to get himself remanded into a seriously uncomfortable night in the drunk tank in lovely Whistler, British Columbia.
His emailed confession was the embodiment of humiliation. It was also the embodiment of my favorite kind of ski writing — personal, quirky, compelling. I thought, I would kill to publish this thing.
That’s when the light bulb lit. I can publish this thing, and a lot of other things I love to read. I’ll create an eBook. A ski eBook.
That day, I contacted North America’s best ski writers. Here's what I told them:
"I'm finding the central, unifying theme hard to describe, but it’s a lot like Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart’s description of pornography: 'I know it when I see it.' Stories have to be personal. Have to be revealing. Can be embarrassing. And must be brilliantly written. The key word is intense: intensely funny, tragic, exciting — intense".
The writers exceeded my fondest dreams. Get ready for a wild, uproarious, heart-wrenching, consciousness-expanding, utterly brilliant ride.
Loser in Leukerbad
Some people travel so easily. They walk lightly on the earth. They exude peace and harmony. They hold onto their belongings.
I envy these people. I'm the traveler who loses his wallet, loses his guide, loses his way. I'm a loser.
Take my trip to Switzerland. As I board the United flight in San Francisco Airport, I suddenly realize I’ve left my shirt in Security. The flight attendant warns: “Not sure you can make it. Security’s a long way, and we depart in 15 minutes… with or without you.”
“I'm a runner,” I lie. And off I run. Fourteen minutes, 30 seconds later I'm back, gasping for breath but shirt in hand.
Then, in Chicago, as I board the airport train, I drop the backpack containing cell phone, camera and camcorder on the platform. A Black women’s quartet spots the disaster-in-the-making, directs me to the pack and holds up the train while I dive for my invaluables. Then, they serenade me with a sweet rendition of Just a Closer Walk with Thee.
I have always relied on the kindness of angels.
When I reach Switzerland, I make my way south on the country’s famously punctual trains. Two trains and a bus later — all on time to the minute — I’m in snowy Leukerbad munching on apple strudel and enjoying it so much that I leave my parka on the back of the chair.
The next day, after I've recovered the fanny pack I left at breakfast, I go snowshoeing.
The snowshoe experience is lovely and silent…except, what's that roar? A plane? A turbine? No — an avalanche!
It’s one of the most chilling sounds I've ever heard. Loud enough to rattle windows, long enough to make me consider my mortality.
And there's an intrusive thought: This town has been wiped out by avalanche before. No, wait — the last time was January 17, 1719. Guess I'm reasonably safe, after all.
After the hike, my fellow snowshoers and I head for Leukerbad’s modern ice rink for a quick hot chocolate and a long, competitive game of a sport I've made fun of my entire adult life.
Now, I'd like to apologize. Curling is not the incredibly lame, totally unathletic, funny-hat-on-the-head faux-sport involving brooms I took it for. There's considerable skill involved. Even that crazy brooming is kinda fun. Think bowling on ice. Picture croquet with a forty-pound rock.
But that night, I join a Leukerbad activity that makes curling look normal. It’s called “Kino im Pool.” I have no clue what that means.
I do as I'm told: Don a swimsuit and head down to the big indoor/outdoor pool at the Alpentherme. As we relax in the warm waters, the lights dim, and a large screen fills with... James Bond. Yes, it’s Quantum of Solace. I've been to drive-in movies; this is my first swim-in movie...
So what do we have here? A perfect Swiss mountain village that lives on water. Some is in the form of snow; some as ice, and the rest in healing pools. How sweet it is.
And here's an inside tip. At the many-pooled Burgerbad, a.k.a. City Bath, swimsuits are required. At the tasteful Walliser Saunadorf, a.k.a. Sauna Village, swimsuits are verboten. Not discouraged — verboten. Unless you enjoy a stern lecture in Swiss-German in front of a lot of naked people, don’t bring your swimsuit.
Wasn't a problem for me — I'd lost my mine two days before.