Monday, October 14, 2013

Post-college.

This fall I am not a full-time student for the first time in my life. And it's a little bit traumatic. A few weeks ago, after traveling to different corners of the world for over a month, I was home for about ten days before packing up my car and moving halfway across the country to Minnesota. I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to move across the country until after I'd done it. And to be honest, if I had realized how emotionally exhausting it would be I probably wouldn't have. But after making a fairly abrupt decision and naively thinking I could do anything I wanted and succeed, I applied for a job out here and made my first solid plans for my post-college life.

Minnesota is beautiful, but it isn't Maine. I miss home, familiar places, the general comfort of small town life. I've learned that the suburbs are not the same as towns. Not at all. As much as I don't really like cities, I actually kind of hate the suburbs. Praise the Lord Maine doesn't have them.

And it might get better. I know that it probably will get better. In fact, it has already gotten better than it was during the first week. But I still just feel so out of place here. Every once in a while I realize that I'm not in college, that right now is my "real life" and I'm spending it coasting along, staying in my friend's parents' basement and working at a job that in no way counts as a grown-up job. The fact that this is my real life terrifies me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer. The June and July parts.

This summer was pretty nice. I didn't spend much time in Sorrento, as I left at the end of July for my month abroad, but it was beautiful and peaceful, as always. Here are a few tidbits from the America-bound parts of my summer.

 

My Zac brother graduation from high school. I am undeniably the shortest person in my entire family.

I picked and ate some fresh strawberries. So delicious! 

Got ice cream with these beautiful gals. 

Practiced my film photography.

 
 Walked around beaches with the Minnows.


Skipped rocks with Leverett.

Observed some glorious Sea Level sunsets.


Took a scenic route; saw a beautiful sunset over the bridge that I'm usually taking.

Hung out with my favorite five year old.

Made pasta from scratch.

Went for boat rides with a bunch of punks.

Made some blueberry muffins.

Spent several rainy days by a fire working on puzzles.
Dealt with the deaths of several of my neighbors.
Picked berries from my yard.
Finally got my own glow-in-the-dark stars Liberty Graphics tee shirt.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Minneapolis in May.



In May, I got to spend two weeks visiting my favorite people in Minnesota. It was really lovely, other than having a lot of homework to do.

 
 

              We tried Doritos Locos Tacos. 
We were pretty excited.
They were great.    








I made cauliflower soup.






We went thrifting and Kendra tried on this child dance/dress up costume.





Liam was Rosie the Riveter.








I enjoyed many mornings
in Kendra's beautiful sunroom.








One day Kendra and I went on an adventure to find this cool water tower and took a several mile walk around a lake. It was lovely. And because Minnesota is so flat, it didn't totally kill us (though we did get some huge blisters).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spring Semester in Pictures.



The semester always seems to fly by with little or no time for posting. Here are some of the things I did during the five months of my last semester of college:


I sent some pretty great mail.

Visited a few of my favorite people in Minneapolis.




 Watched my favorite place in the woods blossom. 




Spent a Sunday morning strolling around a town on the seaside and knitting.

Visited another favorite person and saw some really cool sights in Philadelphia.




Found a new delicious restaurant to love and had lunch with this beautiful gal.

Planted some herbs at a booth during my school's Earth Day festivities. Later abandoned them with my mother for the summer. (Hopefully they make it.)

And just generally tried to have a good last semester and not take life too seriously. Only mildly successful on those fronts, but as you've seen in these pictures there were good moments all the same.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Finals.


I am fast approaching my last ever finals week. Honestly, the next few days (which technically aren't a part of "finals week") are even more daunting for me. I have several papers due and am not looking forward to the lack of sleep it will take to finish them.

The good news is that in ten days this semester will be over. And though I still have some classes to take, this will be my last full semester of college ever. Praise the Lord.

This picture is a few years old, but it pretty accurately describes how I'm feeling right now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Appeasing the Gods.

As I mentioned, I wrote a story in my literary memoir class this semester about my experience at the Kali Temple in Kolkata. I want to share it with you because I'm pretty proud of it but also because it accurately describes that temple and sacrifice experience. That being said, I'm not sure if it as vividly describes the horror as my friend Simon did in his post, so if you're feeling particularly bloodthirsty, go check out what he had to say about Eid al-Adha here.

Now, I present my micro-memoir (a piece of creative nonfiction in 500 words or less), "Appeasing the Gods".



Warm sunlight drips down on me like melted butter, tinting everything yellow-gold, making my skin sticky and glistening, yet the air is cool playing with a gentle breeze. The morning is still fresh at the Kali Temple in Kolkata, the Indian air not quite as oppressive in December as it will become August. Though early, the temple is far from peaceful. In fact, this temple is the least peaceful of any I’ve been in over the past four months. Yelling men peddle flower garlands for offerings, bells clang from towers, and prayers I can’t comprehend are shouted in Bengali. All around me, the cacophony of lost souls pierces my morning.
I stand with a cluster of other foreigners waiting for our companions to make their way through the temple’s halls. Tiny, feral puppies roam the cobbled stones searching for food scraps and affection that I can’t provide. I hate animals, but they are so precious it hurts not to tangle my fingers in their mangy fur.
We’ve been warned that each day a live kid is sacrificed here. We were told on entry that the time had already passed, but suddenly the clanging gets louder, the shouting more fervent, and we are informed that the slaughter has just now taken place. Some of my companions hurry off to witness this strange ritual. I am rooted, unwilling to observe the brutality. I wait. The courtyard settles back to its previous level of chaos.
Someone abruptly warns us not to look and my eyes are instantly drawn over her shoulder, where I don’t see the man as much as I see what his hands are holding: the left, a pair of hooves by the ankle; the right, a scruff of hair from which dangles a head complete to just under the jaw. He walks in lurching, laden steps, the rump of the kid dragging, smearing the blood that drips from its neck, its hind legs standing straight up until another man steps in behind him and lifts them so the rump doesn’t drag, leaving a spotted trail behind them as they round the next corner.
After this parade has finished its procession, the puppies tumble in to lick up the bright jewels left behind just as the birds ate the crumbs Hansel and Gretel dropped. Kali is satiated now, appeased by the blood of an innocent animal, licked clean by the tongues of simple creatures. As we leave the temple, someone tells me its cries sounded human, sounded like his own young sons crying, as they brought it to the altar. I am left thinking about the cries of God. The cries of Jesus as he walked himself to the altar. My tongue licking up the drips of blood he left behind that day, finding nourishment and love in this world where nobody else makes contact.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Twenty-six Hours to Kolkata.



The next leg of our journey involved a twenty-six hour train ride to Kolkata. Yep. It was a doozy. The good news is that the views were really lovely for much of the ride and we had pretty decent neighbors in our compartment. As in, they didn't stare at us the entire ride. We actually had some shared a compartment with several young men about our age and at one point during the ride had a sing along time where they would sing Hindi songs for us and then we would sing (mostly Christmas songs) for them. It was December, after all! Then they demanded that we sing them "My Heart Will Go On" because everyone in the world is obsessed with Titanic. Truly. The leader of their group, who was kind of an Indian version of a guido, even had it as his ringtone. And then, to enhance the awkwardness, that guy demanded that I start the song because apparently I look like Celine Dion. It was super uncomfortable. But luckily our director Kirk knows all of the words to it from a previous experience abroad when he would sing it to the children in his host family. Like I said, the entire world.

Pretty blankets for sale on the street.
Kolkata was a big city. Surprising, I know. I didn't stray much from the few streets that we were staying on because it was completely overwhelming. But the few streets around where we were staying were pretty manageable and interesting. So it all worked out just fine. We stayed in the YMCA which was really cool. One thing that I loved about it was that it came from the British occupation period and the architecture style was so comforting western! That's probably terrible, but it was a nice change in accommodations for me. And there were really thick wool blankets on the beds because at night Kolkata is cold (relatively speaking for India)!





One thing we got here was Kati rolls, which are kinda like a fajita but the Indian version and (in my opinion) way better. The wrap is a paratha or other flat bread and there is spiced meat inside with fried onions and a squeeze of lime juice. It's hard to explain, but it is basically heaven. You can read the wikipedia explanation here. But I'll just say I ate like three or four during my two day stay in Kolkata.



Kolkata is also famous for their chai. Really, all of India kind of is. But in Kolkata you buy it from people with stands on the street (instead of just jugs of tea on the back of their motorcycles, which is what they had in Coimbatore) and it comes in little clay pot cups (instead of disposable paper ones)! It's great. The idea is for the clay cups to be disposable, too; that you smash them on the ground and they dissolve. Biodegradable! Eco-friendly! I was kind of excited to do that, but when we bought ours the vendor had a bucket where you could put your cup to be reused. No smashing...bummer. But the chai was super tasty all the same!




I tried lassi for the first time here. Lassi is a drink make of whisked yogurt. It's almost like a danimals or something, except it's not necessarily cold because they kinda heat it up to make it. You can get sweet or salted lassi. I liked lassis made with fruit (particularly mango, which blends up really well with the lassi and is the national fruit of India), but the one I'm drinking here is just plain yogurt without sweet or salt added...I think. But I didn't drink that whole thing myself! Two or three of us shared it because it was huge!



From the pictures, you might think all I did there is eat. But that is not the case! We did lots of things, like visit a place called Sari Bari. Sari Bari (sari as in the clothing and bari meaning "home" in Bengali, the language used in Kolkata) is a business where women who leave the sex industry can work so that they don't have to work in that industry any more. I think it's a pretty unique approach to this issue in that they encourage the women to keep their beds in the red light district. That is, Sari Bari is a place of work, but the women keep living in the brothel they call home. This is because a brothel is a business, too. If they have empty beds, they will work to fill them. So if women are leaving the brothel, they will be replaced. If women are leaving the sex industry but staying in the brothel, the woman doesn't get freedom at the expense of her replacement. Sari Bari was probably my favorite NGO that we visited (even though I don't think it counts as an NGO because it's a business, not an organization...) partly because the woman who talked to us while we were there was a twentysomething American Christian college graduate. Basically, she could have been me. And she was out in Kolkata, doing this. It was really inspiring. If you want to learn more about Sari Bari, you can check out the website here.


We also saw some of the "sights" in the city. One was St. Paul's Cathedral. The outside was lovely, though the interior fell flat a bit. It wasn't really very impressive. Honestly, I like the one in Minnesota more. People in India seem to often favor functionality over beauty when it comes to interior design. That's fine, but the twenty suspended ceiling fans weren't really doing much for the aesthetics, in my opinion.










Just down the street was the Victoria Memorial, this gorgeous structure that was built during the British occupation (duh). Honestly, we weren't sure why the Indians have kept it so long even after their independence considering the fact that it was built essentially with slave labor of their own people and with money collected from their country, in order to glorify their oppressors. But....whatever. It was beautiful.
  
Sidewalk chalk art outside the Victoria Memorial. Photograph © Randy Cronk.
We also visited the Kali Temple. Kali is the goddess of destruction in the Hindu faith, and this temple in Kolkata is her temple, the main one for worshiping her, I think. It was the least peaceful temple I've been in, basically mass chaos. I think that's partly because it's such a huge tourist destination; that kind of takes some of the silent reverence out of it. While we were there, some of the people in my group witnessed a goat sacrifice. Yikes! I didn't see the killing, but I saw the headless goat being dragged by afterwards. It was intense. And it reminded me of reading this post that my friend Simon wrote about experiencing Eid al-Adha in Palestine. It really makes you appreciate the whole "Jesus died" thing we have in Christianity. I wrote a story about my experience there that I'll post soon.

So there's Kolkata in a nutshell.