Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Lately all of my thoughts have fallen into prose or lyric form. I'm dreaming my poetry and filling waking hours by filling notebooks. Everything I see or feel is instantly transcribed across my brain into wordswordswords for sharing here, or elsewhere. I've been told by a sudden chorus of unusual suspects (plus a few more predictable sources) that I should be writing, writing more, writing bigger. And yet I haven't touched this space in almost a year. It's obvious, I suppose. A defense. Writing has always been a dabble or sometimes a drip, but right now it's all I want to be doing. The only thing that makes much sense, or seems to help. I've never put my most personal material here (for everyone's benefit) but I've become increasingly wary of sharing anything at all. So, naturally, I'm now determined to shift gears entirely, and start using this space to break out of the comfort zone of coffee-stained moleskin journals. I've set up a series of drafts to work on and post, with the intention of getting past the blog-fright while capturing the truly bizarre year this has been. Here goes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finals Week

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It's full of charts and facts and figures
and instructions for dancing

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know

"Book of Love" Peter Gabriel

- - - - - -

Finals are exhausting. That song is wonderful. It's 4am and I would love some coffee.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sitting in a sandpit, Life is a short trip

Just a picture perfect day
That last a whole lifetime
And it never ends
Cause all we have to do is hit rewind
So let's just stay in the moment
Smoke some weed drink some wine
Reminisce, talk some shit,
Forever young is in your mind

("Young Forever" - Jay Z)

- - - - - - -

Tonight I saw my friend Jenna Raffio for the first time since I left Tanzania 54 weeks ago. It was both wonderful and surreal to see her, and it's insane to think that the adventure that brought us together actually happened.

As I sat on the T on my way home I was struck and shaken by an obvious realization: "I'm going back to Burlington tomorrow. I have a life in Vermont. I have classes, and finals, and oh shit..." Between being in A2 for a long weekend, spending a weekend in Boston with Pip and Adam, living in Hingham for the last week, and seeing a Tanzania friend tonight, I almost forgot where my reality is based. Mind boggling.

Too mind-boggling, in fact.

Yesterday when my brother and I were running errands I broke a long silence by saying "Man, I just want to be at camp right now. It seems bizarre that I'm expected to be anywhere else" to which he replied "I know, right? I would rather fix every toilet in South Camp than work on this law paper." And we laughed, because of course we have plenty to keep us going with our real lives... but that doesn't mean I'm not counting down until Winter Camp (27 days) and in about five minutes we're going to kick back and watch the staff video. Cause sometimes you got to.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Entering: Stepford

If you know where I'm from this is going to sound impossibly obvious, but I grew up in Stepford. Yeah, I know that I knew that on some level, and we all complained about how "Hingham is a bubble" and "everyone's the same" blah blah blah.

But seriously... Stepford.

I may have known that downtown effectively closes at 6pm, but I never noticed that the streets are empty by 9. It was always clear that the houses are big, but the lawns are manicured, the paint is fresh, and the cars are shiny. I knew that people dressed alike, but failed to note that they are so damn put together most of the time. I walked to the bagel shop for coffee yesterday in my standard jeans and sweater, and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The 5th graders were more stylish and their hair was done. It was bizarre. After that, I spent more time getting ready to run errands around town than I usually do to get ready to go out for the night.

A big part of the "Stepford effect" is wrapped up in the fact that everyone knows everyone. I go *anywhere* and I am totally aware that my Mom knows (or at least knows of) everybody in town and so odds are good that someone in that store knows me. The mom in line behind me for coffee was a Hockey Mom, a Drama Mama, a Church goer, one of my brother's friend's moms, on a committee with my Mom- SOMETHING. The Mom network is intense and they know all of us. This isn't a popularity thing, or a self-centered kick. This is Hingham, and it's scarier than Sparta sometimes.

The Stepford I grew up in was a very aesthetically pleasing and safe place to live with good schools, a decent sense of community, and a great location. It is still home to my very favorite parents and the house they let me crash in from time to time. Still, Stepford is scary, and I have never been more aware of that than I am now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I went back to Ann Arbor this weekend. I say “back” because I was just there three weeks ago and never got around to writing about it while wrestling my way through the flames of midterm hell. Lemme give you the short version: it was hands down one of the best weekends I have ever had. And this past weekend? It was the sequel. Everyone knows that things come in threes… so I conveniently already have my plane ticket for my next trip to Michigan. One week at Winter Camp, and one week following that down in Ann Arbor. I love my life.

My roommate from sophomore year (who I love dearly) loves giving me a hard time about “camp people” and how apparently all the camp people she has known are hooked on one statement that is for her impossibly vague, slightly pretentious, and just all around annoying: “it was a really great experience.” So for years now, every time something great happens she’ll smack on her biggest grin and ask, “Was it a really great experience?” and I usually just laugh or sometimes I even say it before she can. Point is: Yes. It was an experience… to say the very, very least.

So now on to this past weekend…

I flew out Thursday afternoon and landed just as the night took on full darkness. I saw the lights below and realized that the way I feel when I land in Detroit must be the way other people feel when their plane lands in Miami, Vegas, or NYC. Namely: consumed with blind trust that an epic time is about to be had, and there is no way in hell I can possibly predict what that means.

When I was in town a few weeks back I had a whirlwind of a time seeing so many people but without really getting much quality one-on-one time with people. So when I realized I was coming back to A2, I decided I really wanted to do a better job of balancing quality time with a few people and raging time with a lot of people. It would take me three weeks to get quality time with all of the people I love in the Ann Arbor area, but I did a pretty decent job. We gather strength from reconnecting with friends in the same way we are energized by nature and music. I was ready for an emotional boost and got it in a big way. It was wonderful to see you.

At one point this weekend I was talking to a friend about the nature of friendship, and specifically about camp friendships. We got talking about how some manage to stay strong outside of camp, some get stronger, some last a lifetime. Hell, some people get married. Then he said something interesting. I said something about everyone having their good friends from camp, and he said, “Yeah, but your friends are different. People have friends, sure… but your friends are a family. Equal parts functional and dysfunctional. You put up with each other’s crap, have your issues with one another now and then, whatever. You’re a family.”

It was so on point I almost fell over. I keep thinking about that over an over, and I’m reeling from the reality because he was so right. We all need family, and I love mine.

I wish I had the patience to sit here and write more, but the thing about spending four days visiting Ann Arbor is I am now about 800 hours behind on sleep.

And when I leave? It’s like banquet all over again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Home is Whenever I'm With You

We laugh until we think we'll die
Barefoot on a summer night
Nothin' new is sweeter than with you
Ahhh home
Let me come home
Home is whenever I'm with you.

"Home" Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
- - - - - -

Today is October 6th. I've been in Burlington for a month. I can no longer say that banquet was just the other day, my camp laundry has finally been done and put away, and there's really no excuse to blame any mess in my room on "the moving in process." I'm here, and have been, and will be.

And it's kind of great.

Don't get me wrong... I'm still exhausted, homework obsessed, and slightly frazzled, but I'm finding more room for peace every day. I'm getting better at living in the "now" even about little things. I'm not making endless plans or getting sucked into vacuums of daydreams, and I'm not skipping or falling asleep in class.

In thinking about how I'm spending time these days and how I used to allocate time in my Freshman and Sophomore years I've been struck by one question over and over again since getting back, and it is the following:

"How, with all my extra curriculars and all my wasted time and all my excessive napping... HOW THE HELL did I pass all my classes?"

And the fact is, I have no idea.

My main commitment these days is trying to be in one place at one time, but also looking for ways to make my moments richer. I'm slowing down. I'm taking my time to cook, and eat, stretch, and excercise.

I've also become a podcast fiend. I tried an audiobook for the first time a few weeks ago and listened to it whenever I was walking around campus or downtown. I LOVED it. It kept my mind off endless reminiscing or useless planning, and I got something enjoyable out of that time instead. So I've started listening to BBC, NPR, NYT, and other podcasts as I walk around. It can be hard to keep track of names when you're listening instead of reading, but I'm getting more comfortable with it and I finally feel like I'm getting tuned in.

Perhaps most importantly of all the things I could report is a major breakthrough I had yesterday: I can do handstands. Okay, not the awesome two-legs-straight-in-the-air-handstand that we could all do when we were in second grade but no longer have the nerve to try... not one of those yet. BUT: I can finally do the modified handstands with the funky turns and seated starts we have been doing in my modern dance class! Not something that will be winning me any awards, but they are really fun. I'm so much more free to enjoy the class now that I'm not dreading the sequences with handstands in them! I realize that this is ridiculous, and that of course we all enjoy things more when we are good at them... but it's been a real lesson in humility to struggle with aspects of this dance class because in the past dance has come so easily to me. I've had to really take a deep breath in order to take advice from classmates and ask for help on some things. So given all that, it's nice to have a breakthrough... however trivial it may seem.

On another note... in case people actually read this... a comment from a friend made me reread the last two posts, and they make me sound like a crazy person. Let me just say that I've been trying to use this blog as a tool for processing my experiences, much like I did while I was in Tanzania. So if things sound messy in an entry, it's because things are messy in my head and I'm trying to get them out of my head and into another place. No need for alarm. Make sense?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Wind

As the buildings who hide you knew nothing bout time
But an arrow just brushin' your chin
You said, "Damn be this wind is still movin' on in
To the bones and the bed of my soul."

"This Wind" - The Tallest Man on Earth

- - - - - - - - - -

It's crazy windy tonight. The darkness is warm and wet without humidity, a careful calm stirring after days of on and off rain.

I haven't been waking well. I sleep when I have time, and that seems to go okay. But waking? Ugh. Terrible. There's too much in my head, so much I'm learning during the day and then I'm working overdrive to process things when I sleep,. Every time I wake up it's like I can feel my whole body screeching and wailing to a halt. Like, "EXCUSE ME, I'm busy being asleep and trying to compensate for all this crap, do you mind?" And I do mind. I mind a lot. The physical reaction I have had lately to waking up is extreme and extraordinarily unnerving.

When I woke up to the sound of earth-rattling planes flying overhead on Sunday I had the distinct thought of "Well, that's it then. It's over. We're dead. A bomb is about to rip through my window and fire us all into nuclear holocaust." And I shook with dread until I willed myself back into sleep, if for no other motivation than I would rather die without noticing. It was bizarre. I've never had a thought like that before, but when another plane flew over a half hour later I thought "Oh THIS is the one that'll do it. Dammit, I thought we got away with surviving the last one." It's crazy, and I know I was just caught in the middle of a sleep cycle or something nuts that altered my sense of reality, but holy hell that was awful.

Tonight I took a quick nap before the DREAM (mentoring program) meeting. I've been trying to steer clear of napping, but I'm so sleep deprived and homework obsessed that I just couldn't avoid it. I surrendered to sleep, but woke up to the feeling of my whole body shaking. At first I thought I was still dreaming, but I put my hand to my heart and felt it clamoring against my chest, felt the surges pump through my body and literally shake me on my bed. "Shit," I thought, "Where's this coming from?" I hit the snooze button on my alarm but when I woke a few minutes later I was claimed by a vicious and bitter feeling that snarled "What is the point of getting up? The earth is overpopulated, biodiversity rates are plummeting, the earth has become a giant toilet, what exactly will it matter if you get out of bed right now and slosh through the rain up to campus?" Again: Holy Shit. As soon as I got up and got moving I shook it all off, but daaaayyyum that was pretty nasty! I'll admit that I worry about that stuff and that my current classes have contributed to a confusing mindset of simultaneaous dread/fatalism and newfound activism... but thinking that I shouldn't get out of bed because it's all over with? I'm not writing about this to be dramatic... it's more in awe of how absurdly dramatic I can be when I'm trying to come up with reasons to keep my overly exhausted ass in bed, and I'm just newly shocked and slightly afraid of the power of the brain when it's pissed off and overworked.

Walking back home from campus tonight after the meeting I was newly struck by all the reasons to get out of bed. The wind was strong but oh so warm and made me wish nightsailing was even a remotely possible option for the evening. the grass was so thick and wet I wanted to roll in it, and I truly wanted to drink the air. I've been touching leaves and trees lately (especially the Black Ash on my street) and when I got to a big Oak that stands outside the house next door to mine I pulled the branch down gently so that all the drops would rain on me. I'm learning that even though I could always say "Ilovermont" with confidence, I'm in love Burlington like never before.

Damn I love this wind, keep moving on in- to the bones and the bed of my soul.