Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's the idea of her

Every time I bring up a past girlfriend, someone inevitably says, “It’s not her you miss; it’s the idea of her!” And the best part, I’ve heard this so much that I’m starting to believe it. But then I look and realize, what the hell does that even mean?

It’s one of those old sayings like “time heals all” and “pants first, then shoes” that we all know and we all know it’s true, but is it really something you don’t fully understand and aren’t even sure if it’s true all the time. (Note: I definitely have put on shorts after my shoes are already on…)

But what’s the difference between the idea of someone and someone themselves? I can see if I say I miss being in a relationship that it doesn’t matter, but if I say, “I miss ,” specifically, then it’s her I miss, not the idea of her. If I can’t replace that name with someone else and still mean it, then I miss her.

Sure I miss the idea of her, but how do you separate the idea from the person?

If you miss the idea of someone, don’t you miss that person? I miss the idea of having someone in my arms. I miss the idea of being in love. But I still have those ideas. It’s the specifics I miss. If I missed the ideas, they’d be gone and I wouldn’t have the ideas to compare to reality and I wouldn’t miss her at all.

This may or may not be a true thing in my life right now, but it is a phrase that I constantly grapple with and really hate. So those are my thoughts for now. A short entry, yes, but I hope this one opens up a lot of comments…

So – comment away!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Revolving Doors

I have a friend who once described revolving doors as ‘the communist ideal.’ No matter how much work one person does and another person doesn’t, everyone gets the same thing and the output is even. For me, revolving doors are something else.

They scare me. I’m always afraid someone is going to put something in it that makes it stop turning and I get stuck in this purgatory – this no-man’s land – in between the inside world and the outside world. And the worst part, since they’re usually glass, you can see both worlds.

I haven’t updated the blog in a few weeks because I’ve been in a metaphorical revolving door, but an enjoyable one because it has kept moving without a sign of slowing. I’ve been going from one world to the other seamlessly with very little transition. I’ve seen both worlds from all angles, and now I’ve fully immersed in my new world yet again, and I look back and realize how much I loved this past door.

So what’s kept me from writing? I meant to write something about the Pan-Mass Challenge, a 196-mile bike ride to benefit cancer research, but I couldn’t find the words to do the cause justice and as a result, it slipped through my fingers. Then came the end of camp. A week of grueling physical labor of putting stuff away, carrying stuff around camp and into storage, late nights, and lots of paperwork. I meant to write about endings, but it would have been too similar to my entry on beginnings because they are, after all, the same. (Much like entries and exits – and in a revolving door, there is no ‘push/pull’ distinction, it’s all a walk forward…) (ooh…the metaphor continues!)

After camp was over, I packed my stuff up and moved. I’m back in NYC now in a new neighborhood. I’m no longer in student housing. I am no longer an RA. I am no longer a live-in babysitter for freshman. I no longer need to be responsible for others; I can finally just live my life. (And it doesn’t hurt that I can keep a bottle of wine or scotch on hand.) I’m finally in a world that is my world, and not someone else’s world that I play in.

And now that I’m in my world, I’m taking care of myself. I joined a gym – and for what I’m paying, damn straight I’m going 3-4 times a week! I’m working. I’m keeping a regular schedule. I’m getting to sleep before 2…on most nights. (Not tonight.) But most of all, I’m not letting myself get scared of revolving doors.

After all – all I need to do is keep walking forward and I end up in another world. The last couple revolving doors have brought me places I like, so I guess I’ll just keep going with it.

Oh – how it’s good to be back.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Winging it

“Don’t Panic; Adjust.” These are the words of wisdom Otis, the camp director, gives us all during orientation. These are the words I live by as camp goes on and the unexpected and un-plan-able happens.

While it took until my first orientation – when I was in my last year of the JC program at age 17 – to hear these exact words, it’s advice I’ve heard in many permutations and tried to live by. The fun part about camp, though, is that my ability to ‘wing it’ doesn’t just effect me. Whereas in the “real” world, I can adjust to a situation, and if I mess up, only I’m effected, at camp, it’s 20 kids and 3 counselors (on average) who are also affected.

Today, I had to close down a large archery range because of wind and fit 26 campers and 3 counselors in a place made for half that many people with enough equipment for just over half that many. Rather than shooting 5 or 6 rounds, each person got to shoot two. Yet they had fun. This was my second super-successful ‘wing’ of the summer. And I’m not going to lie; I’m proud of it. But it’s all in the selling. With a little help and a lot of energy and enthusiasm, anything can be fun. (Well, anything short of a dentist visit, that is.)

My first big-wing of the summer was when the kids didn’t want to play a game we’d planned on playing and I looked at my JCs and said, “give me two playground balls, two Frisbees, two hula-hoop, an, um, six cones.” (In my experience, everything at camp can be done with a combination of no more than the sum of those items. Well, that and pennies.) Again – the mere enthusiasm of me and the other counselors was enough to fuel the enjoyment of the campers. (That, and the fact that I managed to illiterate every sentence to the extent that it was even annoying me that I couldn’t stop…but it was one of those adventures that makes for a unique camp experience.)

But back to the point…

No matter how hard you train for something and plan, something else will always happen. A wrinkle, if you will. But when I was a kid, I didn’t take wrinkles in my blanket as an excuse to make my bed – quite the contrary. I took a made bed as an excuse to pick up my blanket and wrinkle it up. I used to wrinkles as roadways and hills for my toy cars and had a lot of fun.

I guess I’ve always liked wrinkles. And I still do. I’ve been doing the same thing (at camp) for three years, and it’s nice when I have a day where I get to change it up, whether planned or not. Every day is a new challenge. And a day without one challenge, is, well, boring! I’m like a shark; if I stop moving forward, I die.

Wrinkles keep me alive. (Now if only the rest of society saw that, I could throw out my iron.)

Monday, August 6, 2007

March Nor'Easter

I’ve hit another one of those writers’ block moments, so I’m going through my computer looking at old writings, hoping to find some sort of inspiration.

Instead, I found a writing about snow from March of 2001.

I actually edited it a bit and set it to music (or really set music to it) in the spring semester of 2005. The recording is of 4 vocals and percussion. I’m sure I’d write it differently now, but not much. You can check out the recording at the recording section of my website. ( It’s called “March Nor’Easter.”

Here’s the original un-edited writing. It was written while looking out my front door at 2 in the morning during a snow storm.


A foot of pure white snow on the ground for the storm days earlier. A white coating on all tree branches. More pure white snow drifting slowly down. Streets deserted, lit only by the street lamps and the dim lights outside the doors of the houses. In between each light’s domain, pure blackness. The sky is lit dimly, but the light is reflected off the snow in such a way to make the whole sky glow a tint of off-white.

Left, right, up, down, and any other way you can think. Snow is everywhere that darkness isn’t. Silence. Peacefulness. Cleanliness. Purity. A slice of heaven come to earth in real life, in real time, in real vision, for all to share.

Any problems once had, suddenly melting away, little by little, with each solitary snowflake as it hits the windowpane and slowly dissolves into nothingness. Each snowflake becomes a memory. Never to be forgotten as true beauty in its purest. Untainted. Untouched. Inconceivable. No being on earth like it. This one snowflake, the source of all life. This snowflake to become water, to become part of runoff, to become part of a river, to become part of a fish’s home, part of a bear’s drink, part of a tree’s fertilizer. One snowflake. One ounce of purity paired with other flakes. One raindrop. Other future snowflakes. Other future raindrops. Future clouds. Future water bottles. But for now, it’s just a memory. A memory of the ounce of heaven that every person can experience. That ounce of silence, purity, love, and life.


Hmm – reading that over, I’m very happy with the edits I made 4 years later. Go listen to the piece. Let me know what you think.

And in the meantime, as much as I love snow, I’m happy it’s summer and I don’t need to deal with boots or jackets or gloves or hats or snow-pants. (Although the last time I wore snow-pants was fantastic. It was the middle of high school. It was a blizzard. My then girlfriend came over, and we dressed up and went outside as if we were six again…a common theme with me. We wrestled in the snow and had a snowball fight and ended it with hot chocolate. I guess I’ll have to find summer innocence, instead, for now.)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Being someone else

Don’t get me wrong; I love to be me. I always enjoy what I do to the extent that I’ve had many bosses actually say to me, “You have too much fun with just about everything,” and if you ask me, that’s just enough fun.

But every now and then, it’s fun to put on a different hat. I’m not one to be anything but me, usually. I wasn’t one who tried on different personalities in high school as many do, and I’ve always been driven enough and had a strong enough sense-of-self and self-awareness that I’ve always been, well, me. But in being me, I like to take on extra responsibilities.

That’s why this week at camp has been my favorite in my four years of being a counselor. I’ve gotten to be others, in addition to me.

I spent the past two days with moments of being Keith (and I’m not done with that), the director of programming, making the schedule for next week. (He said it was an “internship.” From the year before I was a counselor, at age 17, Keith joked that I was going to be his replacement. And it seems that the wheels for me to actually take on a more administrative role next year are in place.)

Tomorrow, I’m Caitlin, the head of the 11 year-olds. As the assistant head, when she leaves, I take a step to my left and become her. Tomorrow, she’s on a field-trip so I am her. (This is the least special of my me-being-not-me week, since this happens for about an hour a day and two full days a summer.)

Friday, I’m Andy, the registrar. He’s riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge this weekend, and every summer since the one before I was a counselor, when he leaves on Friday afternoons, I’m him. I did it already once this summer when work brought him elsewhere, but this is a fun job. It’s two hours of hecticness, trying to keep track of nearly 350 kids making sure everyone goes home where they’re supposed to with whom they’re supposed to, which is a very hard job on Fridays because parents who normally send their kids on the bus pick up their kids.

The funny thing about these jobs, is even though I’m not being me, they are all things that play very much to who I am. When I become someone else, I just pump up an aspect of me that’s already there, be it my love of solving puzzles (making a schedule for 70 counselors and 35 ACs), my inability to take a passive role and therefore my over-active desire to have an active leading role (being in charge of 40 11-year-olds and the staff to go with them), or my anal-retentive attention to details and ability to deal with forty-three questions and ideas at once (just about everything there is to be about being Andy), it is all still me.

(Of course, to physically become Andy, all I need to do is gain half-an-inch, lose a bit of hair, and stay eccentric and Jewish.)

I guess it’s just that, at camp, especially, since I’m so good at being me, I feel like the only time I get a change in scenery is when I’m someone else. It is nice to have a little extra responsibility. And it is quite nice to be trusted enough to be someone else when needed.