Started off the day heading to the doctors. The doctor validated the pain in my body by explaining it was real, but also explaining that it was a flight or fight response- an excess of adrenaline coursing throughout my body. The more I got freaked out by the electrical shocks throughout my body, the stronger they got. A terrifying experience for an anxious person.
She was a beautiful person, and told me that she didn’t want to put me on drugs. She said I just needed to continue learning to regulate my anxiety- and practice deep breathing and meditation techniques daily. So I am starting a morning and nightly meditation practice that I should probably continue for the rest of my life. Doctor’s orders.
When we got back to our camp, our teams were in the middle of a meeting with our sponsor. He’s a pretty inspiring park ranger, very people oriented. We did an informational interview with him about his job, and I asked him what motivates him about his job- why he’s doing what he’s doing. And he said, more or less, the people. “When you focus on the people, not the job you expect them to do, you can never lose. Focus on the people.”
We went to lunch after this and I wrote that angsty blog post from yesterday and ate my leftover lentils.
Then the day took a nice change. Shawniece, Sheba and I drove back to housing to pick up the other van. We had some interesting conversations about legalization as we listened to npr. They are working on developing a mouth swab test for driving checks.
“Because in this heartache/I’m finding what it is to be a man.” -Eyelit
Sheba dropped us off, and then we headed off an adventure to Salem, which is about an hour away from us.
The drive was really nice, and I got to talk to Shawniece one on one for the first time since we’ve been living together. She is on the other team, and most nights ten people is enough for me. But I realized yesterday that I should get to know these people on the other team. Especially because we only have two weeks left together.
My base of people I center around are Jess, Dre and Clint. I talk to other people, but they are the ones that I spend hours of the dark evenings whispering with. I’ve realized that I was boxing myself in a bit, but I also realize that these people are moving at more or less the same pace as me. It makes it easier to devote hours to someone when you don’t have to explain yourself, when it’s alreaday pretty much understood.
But yesterday with Shawniece I realized that she was one of the same as well. And I’d been completely overlooking her and the rest of her team. And so I invited her to tea by the fire with me for tomorrow night, along with Al from her team.
She was telling me, as we drove and jammed out to Sam Sparks, that a few years ago this kind of assignment would have caused her so much anxiety. I talked about how I used to be so shy, and she said she was the same. We talked about how we now fill all the spaces in conversations, because we were trained in school to be ashamed of our silence.
I said the people who talk all the time sholuld be trained to learn how to listen more.
I said I was probably the quietest person on my team, and she was like, what about Dre? And I was like, yeah, you’re right. Dre is a sweetheart. Have you talked to him much? And she said no.
It’s so easy to focus on what’s right in front of you, and also not to see what’s right in front of you.
Those quiet ones, though. I make the same mistake I never want other people to make of me, when I don’t notice them, or don’t have the desire to get to know them.
Now that I think about it, ¾ of the other team are quiet guys. And I know nothing about any of them.
We have a long weekend this weekend, it’s our last weekend here. Start doing some meeting of people again. We are off Saturday to Tuesday, because we will be working the Christmas festival next wekend, and then we are headed back to Sacramento the week after that.
It will be a long week, though. Working eight days in a row.
I’ve gotten really off track. That’s okay, I haven’t written much lately. Feel free to filter through my words, though.
So Shawniece and I got to Salem, took a wrong turn, and calmly found our way back around. Then took another wrong turn, and found a quicker route there.
She’s from Florida, and we majored in biological anthropology in college. She’s super smart. And I realized that I can be funny. I made her laugh the whole drive there. Who knew.
Actaully, I have been realizing that a lot recently. I think my humor is changing, or else I’m just getting more of a chance to explore it with all of this social interaction. And everyone has such different senses of humor. I made like three jokes the other morning while making breakfast. Not just circumstancial jokes like I usually lean on, but legitimate intelligent jokes that address larger issues. When I joke like this, I’m not even sure where it’s coming from. And I’m really surprised at myself, and feel like I’m faking it. Or it’s not really coming from me. But people laugh. It’s a good feeling.
We drove through some beautiful fog on our way there, all the miniature Chirstmas tree farms around us like an fairy elf land.
Driving off into the world with just one other person. It was the best experience I’ve had here in awhile. I didn’t even have to pay for the gas. I was just free to drive.
We checked out Chemeketa community college first. Walking into the advising center, we came across a counselor who recognized our uniforms and told us how much she was a fan of the program. How her daughter was a member, and then joined again as a team leader.
She led us to the student life office, where we filled out the required paperwork for a tabling event for next week. I was getting high off the college vibes, and super exicted by all the activity and education happening around me. Started getting nostalgic for college, and also excited about returning to college again in the future. I could definitely see myself working as an advisor at a college like the woman that we met. I realized that my position on the team this year as career advisor can be like a practice run, internship, and I can learn some skills along with learning outlets for work for college aged kids.
Shawniece had to pull me out of that community college. I would have spent all day there. It was super diverse, and had cool native totem poles in the common rooms. We headed out, talked to a college cop in the parking lot, and figured out directions for our next stop on the way there.
We found ourselves at the Oregon High School for the Deaf a little later, and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had recently. Probably up there on the eye opening experiences of my life, world expanding experiences.
We pulled in, and realized that it wasn’t just a highschool. It was a community. There were girls and boys dorms, and gyms, art studios, libraries, classrooms, football fields, tracks and more. We walked into the health clinic, and waved at a girl and a woman passing though. “Have a good day!” They signed back, fingers to chin and down: “Thank you.” Nobody was at reception, so we walked back out. And when we did, the two women were outside looking at us. They signed and spoke to us, “Do you know where you’re going?” with a smile. And we responded in voice, “No, we’re looking for the admin center.” And the older woman spoke and signed to us detailed instructions with wonderful smiles from both. And then we said thank you with our palms to our chins, and said goodbye. And my life was changed a little bit. And I realized that this deaf community is not just a school, it’s a culture. Just legitimate and full of life as a hearing one.
We found the administrative building, and got the email for the coordinator of events. We asked for her number, and the secretary told us email would probably be better because she was deaf. It was something that I had never thought about, though it seems like common sense right now. The fact that you can’t just call a deaf person up on the phone.
After the deaf school, we looked up colleges nearby and found Willamette University. The Willamette river is a huge deal in Oregon by the way, we worked right on it at Champoeg park the past few weeks.
We drove around looking for the parking lot. We are not allowed to back up by ourselves in the vans, and the person in the passenger seat has to put on a orange jacket and back you out. The van we drove yesterday does not have a rear view mirror, only side mirrors, so you really need someone outside to help you see your blind spots.
Shawniece got out to back me out, and the van makes this loud beeping sound as it goes in reverse. All the students around cracked up. We were glad to give them that moment.
Back on the road, we find the visitor’s parking lot. And when we go to pull in, there is a guy pulling out on the wrong side of the road. We give him the evil eye, and stare at him as he waves us on. Then we see the arrows, and realize that the entrance to this school is with British road rules. We enter on the left side of the road, and crack up at this wannabe British school in the middle of Oregon. The buildings are all made of brick, and covered in English ivy. There is a babbling brook and all. Walking past the law school I started drooling at the mouth.
We found the events office, and the receptionist hooked us up with this academic pirate. He’s about 30, and sits us down at his table. He’s really tall and gangly, he’s got a gold hoop earring on one ear, and the biggest and fullest mustache I’ve ever seen apart from Nietzsche. Shirt tucked in and flannel coming on strong, we sit with him as he looks into our eyes and talks to us about our tabling event. We realize within the first few sentences of our meeting that he is not the one to help us, but this guy gets his pad of paper out, and is determined ot be a part of our life. He is so helpful, and pens down the name and number of the guy we need to contact across campus. He tells us that he would love to help out in part, and asks for our contact information to help get the ball rolling. We give it to him, and shake his hand again five minutes later and part. He looks deeply into our souls again, and says goodbye with his academic swagger.
We didn’t find the man that we actually needed to talk to, but left a really unofficial note and went on our way. Stopping at the cafe downstairs to charge our phones, we sit and soak up the university vibes. I realize what a gift it was to be a part of all of this for four years of my life. I realize how much I miss it, and if I got the chance to go back, how much more I would appreciate and love it. How inspired I was, sitting at the bar and looking around at all the carefree and stressed out hipsters with noserings and coffee mugs talking about “the man” and getting visibly upset during debates.
Love it, miss it, can’t stand it all at the same time.
There was this anarchist dude sitting at the table in front of me getting upset in a conversation with another guy. They were talking about the sexual assault rates at universities in America. The fraternity dude was joking lightly, saying that their school wasn’t as bad as the other University in Oregon. The anarchist guy shook his head and almost started crying. He said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore and it was really upsetting to him and not something that we should joke about. Something that we should take seriously.
We left and walked out the door. I felt like I left a part of my soul in Salem yesterday. Along with all the strange and wonderful characters of the world we had had the pleasure of interacting with and listening to that day.
“Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying?”
Driving home, it started raining. We stopped and got gas, and and then turned up the pop radio station and caught up on popular culture, singing and jamming freely. It was really nice, it was like being alone in car again. Alone together.
Halfway to Silver Falls, the fog got so bad that I couldn’t see anything but eight feet of road directly in front of me. I couldn’t even see the trees on the sides of the road. I couldn’t see the cars coming toward me on the one lane country roads until their headlights appeared out of the fog about 20 feet in front of me.
I slowed to about 20 miles per hour, and we pretty much swam home. It was eerie and wonderful.
Back at home I came inside, and the team was doing our tri-weekly exercise. I put on my tennis shoes and came over, and Sheba said I could be exempt from it tonight. Make it up later.
I went and laid down on my bed. And tossed a tennis ball around with the other team while laying in our beds.
The other team left for the night, and it was just the 11 of us for the rest of the evening around the fire. It was actually really cute, we were all on our respective pallets, tucked into our sleeping bags and listening to soft music while reading.
Dinner was ready a little later, and we ate vegetable dumpling soup using our volga german family recipe.
After dinner we had a meeting where we talked about food planning, and vegetarian protein sources. Then we unexpectedly learned the location of our next project after break.
We will be living on a farm outside of Willits, California. The gateway to the redwoods. We will potentially have a house, our own rooms, and wifi and phone reception. We will be working with two different organizations building things for the farm. The farm works as a school for young people wanting to get involved in agriculture. We’ll be living on an apple orchard, as well as an animal farm. We will get a chance to learn more about food justice, and get actively involved in the community there. The average age in the area we will be living is 55, and that is why they have the farming program for young adults there. It’s a grange farm, whatever that means.
Nearby, or on the same property is a horse sanctuary that hosts kids with disabilities on the weekends. We will be volunteering there. That is what I’m really excited about. Some people interaction.
After the meeting a few of the teammates made brownies, tea and popcorn and we all watched “Gremlins” together around the fire as a team bonding event that counted for volunteer hours. I would never have sat through a whole movie unless I had to, you know this. I sat wrapped up in my world blanket and tried to ignore the agnozing repeitiveness being produced on the laptop screen.
After the movie, we all went to bed. The other team got back and Clint and I talked for awhile, and then passed out when the lights went out at 11 pm.
“I think I can say with complete certaintly that that was the absolute worst cup of coffee I have ever drank in my life.” -Clint in response to my leftover coffee
“Your 20s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.” -Monica x
I’m not sure I’ll ever get a real job in writing, I’m not sure I ever want a real job in writing. But I am deciding here and now that it will always be my permanent second job. For the rest of my life. Had a conversation with Carinne the other day, and she gave me the most beautiful compliment. She said I was becoming one of her favorite people- that I am not always the most outgoing person, but when I do speak it generally holds meaning. And that my writing, my art, if I never publish a word, I publish it daily with my being. That art shines out of me and is felt by my presence. And writing for myself is not a selfish thing, but sometimes is the best gift you can give the world.
“Everyone needs a fantasy” -Andy Warhol
“Do you want to live in a house with individual rooms and three bathrooms? Or HALF a house- one big room with beds and half of the people have to sleep in wall tents outside?”
“Can we vote right now on the house?” -Alyssa and I
“Well, I don’t know. Let’s assess our options first. We might want half a house over a whole house.” -unexplainably the rest of my team.
“Welcome to Silver Falls.
Silver Falls offers more than 9,000 acres of spectacular scenery. The park’s most famous feature, The Trail of Ten Falls, thrills hikers and photograhers. The eight mile hiking trail passes by and under some of the stunning waterfalls of the north and south forks of Silver Creek.
Take a stroll on the paved four mile bike path, or ride your horse, hike or mountain bike on more than 25 miles of multi-use trails. Park trails wind through Douglas fir and western hemlock flanked by Oregon grape, salal and swordfern. Pacific blacktail deer thrive in the lush, temperate rainforetst. Black bear, coyote and cougards live in remote park areas.
The spacious lawns and picnic shelters at the South Falls day use area are perfect for relaxing. Or, enjoy a swin in Silver Creek along a developed (but unspervised) swimming area.
The falls tumble over thick, basalt lava flows resting on softer, older rock.
The softer layers beneath the basalt eroded over tiem and created natural pathways behind some of the falls. Look up and see if you can spot the many tree “chimneys” or casts while you walk behind North Falls. These formed when lava engulfed living trees, causing the wood to disintrigrate.”
Just sitting by the fire listening to quiet music and slightly closing my eyes as my toes warm up and my head sinks back into the chair. Woke up at 9 this morning, after two rounds of alarms. My team got up at 7 to go to volunteer, and then the other team got up at 8 to volunteer. And I stayed in bed.
The alarm situation here is crazy. We have alarms going off every five minutes or so from 5 am to 9 am. And I still don’t wake up until it’s all over. I’m in and out of sleep, listening to people talking and getting dressed around me. And probably hitting the snooze button on my own alarm a few times.
We’re all going to be professional sleepers after this. I don’t think I needed much practice, though. I’ve been prepping for this my entire life, torturing others with my constant alarms and sleeping like a baby.
It’s already 11:10 in the morning, and I’ve just been chilling. Leesah and I made the fire this morning, it was pretty empowering. I’ve never made a fireplace fire all by myself before. Neither of us knew how to do it- but now a fire is crackling in front of me and warming my legs and body.
I’ve started drinking real coffee again. And it’s been a blast.
I had a beautiful, beautiful day yesterday. Which I will recount for you now.
“This world/aint so small I guess/I’m living for the sun to shine/heart beating/ for the second time/I’ll follow this trail to the sky”
It’s not how heavy the glass of water is. It’s how long you hold it up for.
“What time are we leaving?”
“I want to finish making this.”
“Can we get an estimate?”
“Finish making this meal.”
“Aim for 3:30?”
“Finish making this.”
“There are 11 of us. Just so we have something to aim for. 3:30.”
“Sure. But. You know.”
Never getting out of this cabin.
Learn to breath.
Had a nice morning being stranded here, though.
Definitely wrote a lot more than I would have had I been in town all day.
Maybe this is a lesson.
Find a cabin. Sell your car. And get shit done. Write it out.
Let the people problems pass over you and feel the words.
Sheba just found a handful of white beans and chocolate chips in her sleeping bag. Like 20 beans and 20 chocolate chips. Think of how long it would take for the little mouse to carry forty big pieces of food across the room from the kitchen to a sleeping bag!