Monthly Archives: June 2011
It all started in 9th grade when I played basketball. I though that was my thing until one of my coaches pointed out that I was way better at chasing my opponent on a breakaway than I was shooting any foul shot.
I was fast.
So I joined spring track. At first it was torture. I, like most freshman girls, want to be a sprinter. I liked races that were over in less than thirty-seconds and required quick workouts. Instead, I was forced to go on “long” runs and train for middle-distance. I remember not being able to run more than twenty-minutes at a time; my legs would be burning, I could barely breathe, and did not understand how even growing up as an athlete, I could barely run two miles.
But the human body is incredible, as is the human mind. If you think you just can’t run, you’re wrong! So….long story short, I excelled. I fell in love with both track and cross-country. Can’t you tell??
Our 4×800 relay even made it to NY States my junior year. Big deal stuff.
Anyways, I graduated highschool and decided that the competitive streak in me was over. I was looking forward to a life that didn’t include daily practices: runs, workouts, lifting, stretching, pain. I stopped running for a while, but soon realized that I missed something. It wasn’t the track meets, the metals, or the nerves. I had enjoyed all of that but had moved on from it. I simply missed the act of running.
Since I stopped running on a track team, I have learned to love running more than I ever had. I have found a way to run (almost/kinda) every single day for the past five years on my own accord, and it never has seemed like something I have had to do. It’s simply a part of me.
I’ve run every loop possible in Northport, through the trails on Long Island’s State Parks, on resort grounds in Puerto Rico, through my campus at the University of Ghana, and on the busy streets of Manhattan. I’ve run through the Adirondack woods, the awfully-humid air near my grandmother in Florida, and on countless treadmills in gyms at Skidmore and in Washington D.C.
I run because it makes me feel wonderful. Yes, you can reach a point where you can run for an hour and not be in pain; it actually feels great. While I run I think about EVERYTHING, and my thoughts are usually full of motivation and optimism. And after? Pure adrenaline and endorphins up the wazoo.
And sweat. Lots of sweat.
They say running is not a sport–it’s a lifestyle. Whoever “they” is…..well, they’re right.
The honeymoon has just started for marriage equality; last week, gay marriage was finally legalized in New York State. The debate honestly infuriates me; there is absolutely no reason why gay couples should not be allowed the same legal rights as straight couples.
I get it. Marriage is historically a bibical matter. It’s the union between a man and wife, under God. However, marriage has radically transformed into largely a legal status, and even the most heathen of them all can get married–as long as they’re straight.
And what about the gays? Even the most religious of them have been denied marriage. They could be insanely in love, completely devoted to one another. It doesn’t matter. And let’s not even discuss the divorce rate these days between heterosexuals; even the most instable couples are granted marriage rights, even if they are getting married for the wrong reasons.
But gays can get a civil union! So what? Civil Unions are state-based and do not grant partners the same protections, such as such as taxation, pension protections, provision of insurance for families, and programs like Medicaid. Whereas with marraige, you are granted social security, judicial protections and immunity, immigration and residency for partners from other countries, medicare, child support, estate and gift tax benefits, and welfare. (these aren’t even half of them!)
The way I see it, even the most unloving pagan couple can get married in Vegas and be granted all of these rights, and a devoted gay couple cannot. How is this fair? Marriage is no longer simply a religious tradition, so the conservatives in our nation need to get the sticks out of their asses and realize how incredibly wrong it is to try and deny marriage rights to gays. I seriously do not think Jesus would mind.
I applaud New York State (and Massachusettes, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire) for this victory.
I wonder when the other 44 states will do the same.
So, I have a bucket list. Don’t we all? Even if it’s not written down, I think many of us can easily create a list of things we want to accomplish before we die. I started writing some of mine down a few years ago, and have recently realized that even though they are now recorded, I’m not really doing much to try and cross them off the list.
I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be proactive. At the end of the day, if you want something accomplished, you have to just…do it. Whether Fate or a Godly Plan actually exists is hardly relative, for if you sit on your butt all day and wait around for life to run its course, it’ll run on without you.
So then I thought, it is time to take something off my bucket list.
Become published? Doesn’t happen in day. Travel to all seven continents? I’m a little broke. Skydive? I need some prescription anxiety medication first. Travel to Africa? I want to, but how? Get a tattoo? Okay.
I’m not flying to Africa tomorrow. But my goal– to travel back, to live minimally and full of content, and to breathe in the sights and smells and rhythms–is no longer just on a word document. It’s tattooed, in my own handwriting, on my arm.
The moment I stepped off the plane, returning home after a four-month stint in Ghana, the phrase “yEbEhyia bio” resonated in my mind. It’s literal meaning in Twi is “we will meet again,” yet it is how Akan-Ghanaians say goodbye to one another. How nice.
But its meaning goes beyond me wanting to go back. It’s not just about the physical return; it’s about remembering every emotion as well. It’s a reminder that how I felt in Ghana can be experienced wherever I am, no matter what situation I’m in. The person I was in Africa will–and has–been met again.
yEbEhyia bio. Tattooed on my arm. We can cross that one off the list.
We’re all routine oriented in some way. You may not even realize it, but we often always do one thing before another in a sequence of events, even if reversing the order would not realllly affect the action’s outcome. Does that make sense?
Today I woke up and thought about this. And then I wrote this list:
-Put on the peanut butter before the jelly. (Do you know that like…97% of people put peanut butter on bread before the jelly? Yeah. If they were called “jelly and peanut butter sandwiches,” maybe it’d be different. Now, I’m retraining myself to be a jelly-first kind of person. To be in that 3%. Of course).
-Soap up the body, then wash the hair. (Shampoo never comes first).
-Socks on before pants. (It’s funny looking at yourself in the mirror in underwear and socks. Try it).
-Milk and sugar goes in the mug before the coffee. (Apparently pouring hot coffee into milk makes the milk stay warm. I don’t remember who told me this. But whenever I “hear” these things, I assume they’re true).
-Find music to listen to on my ipod before turning on the car. (Can’t waste gas!)
-Drink coffee before brushing teeth. (Who wants mint-flavored coffee?)
Try on clothes before looking at the price tag. (This is dangerous).
Jump in the ocean before feeling the temperature. (This is vital).
Withdraw money from the ATM before checking my balance. (Seriously, who does it the other way around? Why do ATM’s even make this an option? To depress people more than they already are? Sheesh).
In other news, read this comic from The Oatmeal. (It is super lol).
There is a hidden gem about ten miles outside of Montpelier, Vermont. Once you leave the state’s capital, you simply drive north on Rt.12; ten simple miles and you are no longer surrounded by coffee shops, bookstores, and bars. Instead, you are greeted with rolling hills and green fields in the forefront, and mountains softly standing in the distance.
The beauty of this state, I believe, is the hundreds of hidden treasures that are tucked away in the woods. It’s a convenient comfort that one can have access to the amenities that cites like Burlington and Montpelier offer, and within minutes escape to the serenity of solitude and seclusion.
This place is called Hancock Brook Falls, but has been nicknamed “The Pots” by the locals here in Worcester. The Pots is a swimming hole that is created by the brook that cascades through a valley of the Winooski River; the water rushes downward and spills over slick, black rocks that have been worn down into small-sized holes. What you now have is a natural swimming pool with chilly, fast-flowing water—a beautifully refreshing spot to escape to. We have just driven eight hours from New York City, and are relieved to find ourselves back in the woods. We’ve been living in New York for a while now, and the city has tired us, worn us down. Back in the woods we feel rejuvenated, the natural life around us resonating in our veins.
The sun was shining high above us when we were in Montpelier. It warmed our skin, forming beads of sweat on our backs, and we thought a trip to The Pots would be a perfect way to cool off. However, as we left the city, the sun started to slowly disappear behind the clouds. The temperature dropped, but we were still destined to enjoy the invigorating feeling of jumping into the chilly water. By the time we found ourselves deep in the woods, the tall trees were disguising the now ominous sky. We stripped down to our bathing suits, shrugged that we didn’t have any towels or an extra change of clothes, and started climbing down the slick rocks into the pools of icy water.
I was timid at first, only getting ankle deep in the shallow pools. Once my body became numb to the shocking temperature, I crouched down into the water and let the current flow over my thighs, ripples zigzagging around my wrists. I started climbing down the brook; the water was splashing up at my waist now, and I was ready to make a plunge into a deeper pool, immersing myself completely into the water.
Just then—crack. Moments later, a roll of thunder that shook the trees surrounding the river. I immediately looked up at the sky just as it opened up its dark belly to me. Hail.
Have you ever been hit by hail before? I hadn’t, and found this experience especially unique, considering I was in the middle of a flowing brook, waist deep in icy water, and in a bathing suit. It’s not particularly…comfortable.
And yet, I couldn’t help but beam. Hail was getting caught in my hair as I tried to scramble up the rocks; water, both river and rain, splashed in my face, blinding my vision. And at this moment my body was no longer cold; I had let the ice and the freezing waters and the slippery rocks and the wet moss consume me, and I simply became a part of the brook. I was giving myself into nature in its truest form. I was completely vulnerable, completely at peace.
I managed to find some shelter under a tree on the opposite side of the riverbank, but soon enough the leaves could no longer hold in all the liquid. I sacrificed myself back in the brook, and scrambled up the rocks as the hail jabbed at my exposed, rosy skin. Within minutes I was climbing up out of the river and onto the road where our van was parked. I got in the van and laid down on the front bench, letting my shaking body slowly calm down, easing my breaths into a controlled rhythm. The hail tapped on the roof and slid down the windows, reminding me that deep in the woods, nature is in charge.
afternoon naps > sleeping in
mountains > oceans
cats = dogs
winter > summer
brown rice > white rice
phone calls > texting
running > swimming
autumn > spring
hand-written letters > email
vanilla > chocolate
greater than lists > using the greater than symbol for advanced calculus
Happy Summer Solstice!
Here is a really simple, user friendly diagram that shows the relationship between the earth and sun:
Anways, the word solstice derives from a combination of Latin words: ”sol” (sun) & “stice” (to stand still). I guess these clever Latinites believed that the sun rose so high on June 21st that it seemed to stand still in the sky. In reality, the sun eventually goes away; the summer solstice is simply the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
Anyways….why is the Summer Solstice–the longest day of the year–so great? Don’t we always complain about our days being too long? “UGH, I’ve had the longest day.” “This day is never going to end.” Moreover, don’t we wish our nights out could be extended?: “I wish this night would last forever!” “Sleep is for when you’re dead!”
So even though it seems that most people would rather have shorter days and longer nights, everyone gets alllll excited for the Summer Solstice. Perhaps we’re more excited about its second meaning–the first day of summer.
But again, conflict.
Yes, it wasn’t summer until….today. So when you swam in the ocean and got all tan and ate lobster rolls and went to that outdoor music festival and passed all your final exams and sweat in the 90 degree heat and barbequed almost every night, that was…the spring. And once September 1st rolls around and you go back to school and you pull out all your sweaters and peaches are no longer sweet and you can’t go out galivanting in the city without said sweater awkwardly stuffed in your bag, it’s…still summer.
But please, by all means..enjoy this longest of days. And Happy Summer!
This mini-road trip has included playing Katy Perry covers, dancing to DJ Questlove, getting caught in a hail storm while swimming in freezing waterfalls, sleeping in an adirondack lean-to, and filling a room of Bedford Ave wandering hipsters out at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival. We also enjoyed delicious egg sandwiches at the “best place for brunch in Burlington,” and found ..ourselves!…in a popular VT newspaper:
An overabundance of pringles, sour patch kids, tequila shots, and sitting in the van, along with a lack of sleep and water has made me feel…”a little out of shape,” to say the least.
It’s a rough life, you know?
Driving up to Boston for a show at the Middle East tonight, then back to New York tomorrow. Until then!
Has anyone ever told you that when certain uncertainties come at you in life, you will “just know” what to do? My favorite is the whole love/marriage thing: you’ll come to a point when you “just know” that he is the one, and that it’s time to put a ring on it–saying a forever farewell to your single status. Moreover, I remember being oddly stressed as a seven year old about how a mother knew when she was ready to get to the hospital and give birth; my mom told me “you just know.” (I totally did not trust my “just knowing” abilities and now wish she could’ve tried to explain the whole water-breaking thing).
Maybe I’m not really great at the “just knowing.” I thought I “just knew” where I wanted to go to college, and I transferred. I “just knew” that I wanted to go into the Peace Corps in Sub-Saharan Africa, and I recently turned down the offer. I also “just knew” I wanted my bedroom to be painted a heinous bright blue in the seventh grade.
I’m still paying for that one.
There are, however, two things that I truly believe I “just know.”
Sometime in my life, I will live in the mountains. Seattle. The Rockies. The Adirondacks. East coast west coast, I don’t really care that much. I can’t explain it, but I “just know” that I belong there–somewhere–amidst the woods, lakes, dirt, moss, fires, log cabins: the whole nine yards.
Secondly, and perhaps even sooner than my mountain lodge, I need to go back to Africa. I have this odd connection to the whole continent. Call it an extreme over-simplification, but for how incredibly diverse and complex Africa is, I feel a wholeness. I will go back soon and do something worthwhile. “I just know.”
What do you “just know”? (If you “just know” who I’m going to marry, where I’m going to end up living, what sort of career path I’ll take, so on and so forth…feel free to give me a heads up).