Friday, September 25, 2009

28 Days Later: a recap

I am not enjoying my time here as much as I'd hoped. The jobs on Long Island are dismal. It is necessary to drive everywhere. Living with my parents is difficult, as I am used to my own personal space, and so are they.

This is not to say I don't love spending time with my parents. That's basically the best part about being home. I love seeing them and my grandparents regularly. Its the personal regression I feel when I return home. I return to my foggy minded state that I maintained in high school. I don't want that.

I spend most of my time with my lovely dog, Humphrey. He's grown reliant on me, and expects me to take him everywhere with me. I love him, but he can't be my ONLY companion.

My house is beautiful, comfortable, and my parents have been more than generous allowing me to move back home.

I've gone to the beach, hung out in Smithtown, went out to breakfast with my Grandma. I've cooked and cleaned for my parents. For the most part, I spend my days applying for jobs on craigslist and reading.

What I haven't done is wrote, knitted, crafted, drawn, done anything creative. I haven't thought of anything to do besides escape, so I think that is exactly what I'll be doing.

I spent last weekend in Boston, and I miss it dearly. I have a wide variety of friends and support systems that I can easily take advantage of. I know the city fairly well, know how to get around without a car, where to go for delicious, cheap foods. It snows in the winter, it is sunny in the summer. Its filled with geeks. There are at least 4 independent comic book stores. Plenty of used book stores. Coffee shops. Libraries. Parks. Long avenues.

That city is a symbol of comfort and independence for me. So, in conclusion, I'm planning on moving back. My good friend Courtney Osit is planning on relocating with me, as she is also in need of a fresh start. We're looking in Brookline, Brighton and Allston, and POSSIBLY parts of Cambridge. I'm hesitant about Cambridge as it can be fairly difficult to get to, but I feel I'm willing to compromise for a great part of the Boston area.

So, what exactly did I learn from this trip? Plenty of amazing, amazing things.
-I love gardening.

-I LOVE camping.

-Cooking is cathartic.

-I learned an amazing sense of independence and was able to see myself as capable.
I have always felt a sense of overwhelming shyness and incapacity when interacting with strangers or those who I don't know that well. Traveling, being thrown into situations that are naturally uncomfortable and unstable taught me to think on my feet while simultaneously being pleasant and alert. I learned to enjoy these interactions, instead of fear them.
In addition, I know now that I am able to go off on my own. I know now that its most important for me to do what is best for myself, and I have to take initiative to get those things. My friend Sara once told me that I constantly have a "group mentality," which she credited to growing up in a big family and being in group situations frequently throughout my childhood. I think she may be right, I'm most often cautious about how my actions will affect those in my close circle, than what is necessary for me to grow and achieve my personal goals. This trip was a lesson in breaking away from that.

-I can't stay still. Another friend of mine, Conor, reprimanded me recently on being completely unable to stay in one place. This is true. I've spent the past four years living in two places, and this entire summer was spent traveling. I tried to live at home, but it is simply too still here. My move to Boston will hopefully be a test to see how well I can stay in one place. I want all of me- my heart, my head, my body- to be in one place.

-I learned to unabashedly sing in front of strangers, even though I sing like a child. (AKA Its better to be silly and have fun than to worry what people think of you).

-Don't be dogmatic. None of us are important enough to go around judging others. Live your life how you would like to, and don't impose on others.

My next steps?
-LSATs on December 5th.
-Move to Boston at some point in October.
-Get a job in Boston. ANYWHERE.
-Just keep smiling.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Going home.

I'm in Las Vegas on a two hour layover. Everyone is telling me to gamble all my money away, and I'm not the least bit interested. Gambling to me is like being a little kid and all the big kids are playing tricks on you and your gullibility. Except this time when you lose your wallet hurts as much as your pride.

This weekend Andy showed me around Hermosa Beach, where a number of his friends live. We spent Saturday on the beach, walking the boardwalk and checking out the Hermosa Fiesta, which is a giant craft fair.

Sunday we went up to Santa Barbara to see Joanne and Nancy McNally, my mother's childhood friends and our close family friends. It was so nice to see them and their children. I haven't seen any of the kids since they were very young- its so interesting to see their faces and figure out their personalities now that they're teenagers.

We had dinner at Robert's restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. I had frog legs. The food and wine were delicious. Afterwards we went to Jessica's place which is a set of trailers and campers on a ranch overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Andy, Joanne and Alex shared a Vanagon, and I slept in a sleeping bag outside under the stars. It felt so natural. I remember waking up in the middle of the night looking directly at the moon and thinking "wow, where am I? This is amazing." and quickly remembering. I felt so safe, and now that seems so strange.

The next day we walked to the top of a tall hill on the ranch, and climbed trees. We also stopped at an oranic farm right outside of Santa Barbara that has apprenticeships from April to October which is run by her friend. I'm considering applying for it. We hung out the rest of the day at Nancy and Robert's condo hanging out by the pool with everyone.

Yesterday I walked around Fullerton, CA. Its a college town with yoga studios, vintage shops and an array of bars and restaurants. Its a nice town, and Andy lives in the center of it so its within walking distance to almost everything.

The entire time I was in CA I had this strange feeling of living directly under a fluorescent light bulb. Or maybe in one. Sun is everywhere- there's no escape. Its practically blinding, and the lightly-painted architecture doesn't help. The trees are sparse and the landscape is an awful dried out sand color. I felt just like the grass, like I was slowly being zapped into an empty, flammable shell of cells.

It was really nice seeing Andy. The two of us fight the same as we did when we were kids, but it is nice to know that no matter what it isn't awkward.

I'm on my way home now. 9 hours total. 2 down, 7 more to go. Feels like 7 years.

I can't wait to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food and make my own coffee and snuggle with my dog and read my books. I can't wait to drive my car and be on my own schedule and apply to jobs that will become MY job. This trip has taught me to love adventures and how to be social even when it feels difficult- but I'm ready for some wonderfully antisocial alone time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Seattle and LA

Seattle was great. I took a 4 hour Amtrak train up, and Mary picked me up and we instantly started sight seeing. The architecture in Seattle is really interesting, because it appears to be very sturdy and older than it is. Mary was saying a lot of people say its like Manhattan, but I felt it was like Boston, just smaller.
Mary lives in a cute apartment in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. There's a great local vibe there, she's close to the library, shops and good restaurants, and the bus system. We went to Pike Place and the first Starbucks, then to Pike Brewery. From there we went to a great bar in Belltown called shorty's and played pinball.

The following day we went on the space needle and then her friend Chase took me on a bike ride throughout the city with a huge group of fellow riders. It was a really great night seeing what the vibe of Seattle is like. People are really friendly there and its just busy enough to not be another boring quiet city.

I'm in Fullerton, CA with Andy. Its nice, the weather is pretty hot and my allergies are terrible, but its lively here. We're going to go to the beach once some football game is over and maybe play some volleyball. We're going to hang out with some of his friends in Hermosa beach, walk the boardwalk and hang out at Hermosa Fiesta.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Moving on

We've been in Portland for a few weeks now. Its a really lovely city, but I am not interested in settling down here. Like I mentioned before, I'm grateful that I'm here with my friends and am able to see the many reasons why people want to relocate here- I just simply can feel I'm not in the right place.

In addition, things have become strained here. I don't want to be a guest in others houses for much longer. Its a very tricky situation- how long should one stay? How should one contribute? And when personal space is desperately lacking, where do I go when I need alone time? The job market would prevent me from getting a well paying job easily, and I would therefore have to live off my friend's hospitality for longer than I'm comfortable doing. I would love to live with these boys forever, but in a space that was part mine.

For now, its off to Seattle tomorrow, then LA to see my brother on Friday. I'll be home in New York by the 9th of September. I hate to leave the road, but it seems this is one of my few options.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Portland is amazing. We walk down the streets and pick fruit to eat along the way. My friends are fabulous, we make food, create music, dance and ride bikes. They remind me what kind of people I need to stick with. People aren't worth your time if they make you feel like shit or don't have your back.

We play charades and have poetry nights. They encourage the ridiculous songs I make up. They let me draw them their future girlfriends late at night and pick me up off the bathroom floor when I've fallen asleep on it. They offer respect, not cruelty. Its what everyone needs in friendships.

We listen to our myriad collections of records, from Louis Armstrong to The Pixies to Crime in Stereo to John Prine. We're all individuals yet all connected. I love it here.

Osit left on Wednesday so now its just Mel and me visiting. A friend of theirs is staying where Osit was so I've created a little nest for myself in the breakfast nook. I sleep on a smooshed air mattress and write haikus. I'm reading a comic called The Walking Dead about Zombies. Its amazing.

Later on this week we'll be camping up in Olympia national park. Its supposed to be absolutely beautiful and I can't wait. I got very used to never using my wallet, and its getting thinner the longer I'm here in Portland.

I've begun looking into organic farming apprenticeships in New York and New England. I can feel that I'm on the wrong coast here. It doesn't feel quite right. Every day I feel like I'm carrying the distance in my torso. I know my family is far away, I'm in a completely different time zone and I don't understand a damn thing about the local geography. Tornadoes happen here. The Pacific is far away, and you can't just jump right into it. Its too cold. Salmon is fresh here, but Lobster isn't even heard of. It just feels strange.

These guys are all into the idea of me starting my own farm. Building our own buildings and sustaining ourselves. Creating a community for the local area to come and experience and work with. That's another thing I miss being here- lack of farming. I miss working with my body, with the ground. Having a set schedule which my body loves and thrives in. I miss waking up with the sun and setting along side it. I'll be able to do that soon enough.

If you want to hear a new song I wrote, go to the tinysheep myspace:

If you want to see a few photos of the boys and their house, you can read Mel's blog:

Friday, August 14, 2009


We've had quite an exciting few days. We left Carol's on Wednesday after harvesting all day, and headed west towards Yellowstone. We ended up hating it there and leaving early. We knew full well that it is a super volcano and reeks of methane from the hot springs, so we didn't like the constant scent of our imminent death. We couldn't find anywhere around the park to camp, since the grizzly bear population is so large you can't camp without a hard-sided tent (aka an RV), so we had to head into Montana and spent the night there.

The next morning we left early in the AM and ended up deciding to just head towards Seattle, but since we couldn't get in touch with Mary, we headed to Portland! In all, we drove for 14 hours on Thursday. We drove through 4 mountain ranges in 36 hours, a desert, and along the Columbia river.

The pictures are backwards of our trip. Mike and Mel on the porch in Portland. My dear, dear Montana. Panda hugging a rock East of Yellowstone. Me in the Big Horn Mountains. Me driving away from Wyoming.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Leaving Clear Creek Tomorrow

And I don't want to go, not one bit. Carol and Bob have been so amazingly kind to us, as people and as mentors. We've learned a ton about gardening, have had wonderful opportunities to experience what life would be like if we became gardeners or farmers. This experience has been amazing. We've been weeding, preparing beds, planting, harvesting, cooking. All aspects of the food cycle. We've learned about predators and companion plants, sacrifice crops. I'm just so incredibly grateful for this experience.

Tonight Carol and Bob had us over there house with our roommate, Lauren, and they had their friend Bernie over who cooked us an absolutely amazing meal. My stomach is protruding a good 3 inches past its normal mark. Bernie is half Indian and she cooked us a number of curry dishes, a cucumber yogurt salad, and a delicious pistachio bar.

Tomorrow we'll work in the morning to help harvest for the CSA, and then we'll come back to the trailer and pack our things. We'll be heading to Yellowstone, then Seattle, and then finally Portland! I'm excited about moving on, but its bittersweet because we've loved this place so much.

One of the best parts about this experience is it has made me realize I am interested in continuing learning about agriculture and farming. I'd like to go on and do an apprenticeship at an organic farm, and I hope that I'll be able to start my own farm within the next 2 or 3 years. I've already started planning start-up expenses, CSA plans and looking up farmers markets.

If anyone is interested in learning about farming and young farmers today, look at, there will be a movie coming out about young farmers in the Hudson Valley of NY. It has ton of info on starting a farm as well as the current movement of the young farmers in the US.