Southern Escapades

As promised, photos from my wonderful trip to visit my friend Schuyler in her hometown of New Orleans before we both head back to school in a week. All photos taken by the lovely Schuyler.

First thing’s first. Get this girl a po-boy.

We went out to dinner and were over come with our excitement at being together!

There was an awful lot of legacy at that dinner. From left to right, Margaret ’10, Rob players president 09-10, Schuyler ’11, Rob players president 10-11, Taimur ’07, Rob players president 06-07… and me. PRESSSURREEE.

We ate delicious gelato. Schuyler’s was tiramisu!

Mine was sweet cream, I’m a sucker for that flavor.

Schuyler’s parents took us out for an amazing fancy Louisiana dinner at Herbsaint. Because I was visiting New Orleans, I had to try gumbo and WOW what a place I picked to take the plunge. The gumbo of the day had rabbit and sweet sausage in it and was SO GOOD. I will be the first to admit that I am not the most adventurous when it comes to new foods, but I figured I had too. MMMMmmm. The taste was incredible and spicy and delicious. I followed that up with gnocci with pancetta and cherry tomatoes… and for dessert I had a banana butter tart with caramel sauce. I could barely move I was so full at the end. BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT!

We spent my last day split between traversing the French quarter and running through the aquarium. Here we are sitting in front of the St. Louis Cathedral.

The aquarium was SO COOL. I love aquariums. They are severely under-enjoyed by my age demographic. More people in their twenties should appreciate marine life, they’d live happier lives. This is the amazon rainforest room!

This is a slightly embarrassing photo, that I only post to emphasize how going to the aquarium=having more fun in life. I was trying to synchronize swim with the penguins.

Schuyler made a new friend and his name was MR TERRIFYING. This white alligator was asleep with eyes shut when she sat down, but upon examining the photo his creepy eyes are open! Scary!

Then, we hugged penguins in the gift shop.

And we ended our day eating beignets, the most delicious thing in the entire world. Beignets are only sold at this one cafe in the French Quarter, Cafe Du Monde, who, of course, are famous for the “French doughnut” that is absolutely DOUSED in powdered sugar. As a result, it is impossible to effectively eat a beignet without covering yourself in the white sugary mess and therefore all photos taken are entirely top secret.

Instead, I will post a scene from the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog” about beignets. This is actually the first place I was introduced to the New Orleans specialty confection, when we watched it during a rainy day at camp earlier in the summer. Though animated, throughout the movie they appear just as delectable as they are in real life, and I was terribly excited when Schuyler took me to the home of the pastry.

Whew. So there you have it. A few days in New Orleans running around, giggling, using funny accents and pretending that I was a Southern Belle. It was just what the doctor ordered post-work, pre-school. Countdown to Bates: ONE WEEK!

Leaving by Airplanes on Trips Long and Short

T-minus two weeks until school. My house is an interesting place at the moment, strewn with belongings and suitcases, none of them mine. On Tuesday, both my newly graduated brother and myself will be taking trips. I, of course, am heading to New Orleans for 4 days for a quick visit before school. Kevin, however, is taking a giant, post-grad LEAP and moving to Italy for 14 months. Wait, what?? I know. You’re like, am I supposed to be sorry or something? THAT SOUNDS AMAZING!

So I’m just packing a duffel bag with clothes I hope will withstand the late August New Orleans heat, and this isn’t really about me. Sure, I’m getting a ride to the airport that day, too, but you have got to wonder what my parents are going to be feeling at the end of that day. Empty? Sad? Relieved? Hopefully they will be feeling at least a little bit satisfied, because tomorrow, the day before the day when everyone leaves, my mother is closing on the lake house of her dreams, and we all will be able to be there for the big moment when she signs the paper and all of her dreams come true (or at least the ones that exist in this realm of possibility).

Anyways: in my continuing and growing interest (obsessive fear?) regarding “the real world” and having a future after graduation, I will discuss the miraculous adventure my older brother will be setting off on come Tuesday. Kevin graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May. He spent most of his time there studying theater (acting, directing, sound designing) and it is truly his passion. (Here you may see a family trend of theatrical interest, however, mine stays strictly in the extracurricular field while his became his main focus). His junior year, he went abroad to Arezzo, Italy to study Comedia Dell Arte. I would link to the program, because it’s really spectacular, but their website has recently been hacked. Instead, I will provide a silly photo of my brother while at said program. update: the site is back up. Check it out HERE.

Perhaps it had something to do with character work??

Fast forward to this spring, leading up to graduation, Kevin, like so many others in the class of 2010, didn’t have a clear idea of what his life would be after graduation, other than working (with ME!) for the summer at Creative Arts summer camp. So then, like, by some networking MIRACLE, in a WHIRLWIND, all of the sudden he got a job offer to return as an administrative assistant/director/general dude to help out AND HE GETS PAID, AND HE GETS TO LIVE IN ITALY. Needless to say, my parents are totally thrilled and Kevin, also, seems pleased. These days it seems like you’re incredibly lucky to find a paying gig, to find a job in a field relevant to your experience and your goals, or a job with a definite time period. To find all three of these for your first year out seems kind of like a dream.

So I’m not really sure of what all his responsibilities will be, (in fact I don’t know if he really knows) but this job is an example of using networking skills. Here is how the web of people was completed and the job was found. Try to follow. Graduation day, Sarah Lawrence College, a Saturday in May (and yes, I was there. I missed the last weekend of short term to fly to New York because I love my brother so much). The guy that runs the program in Arezzo has a son in the graduating class (this is convenient and AWESOME coincidence #1). This son happened to be in a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest that Kevin directed earlier that spring (#2!)  Upon running into his father, my parents were talking about (of course) what’s next for the newly graduated “adults” and my mom made a joke about giving him a job out in Italy. While she laughed, the program director didn’t, and said that Kevin should email him. (coincidence #3/ MIRACLE #1!!) So he did. And talks were had, and they were good!!

I guess what I’m trying to say is a) I’m very proud of my brother for getting a job in an environment that seems very difficult for post grads (especially those in theater) b) I’m thinking to my graduation day two years down the line, and wondering… Will I not have any plans when I walk at graduation? Somehow I think I’m too proactive (read: neurotic) to not have 78 billion back up plans, but it’s a very possible situation. Well if that is the case, then c) I hope I can take it as casually as Kevin did, because it was his ease and positive attitude that led to solving his no-plans situation in a timely and totally awesome way.

Check back next week for photos of me being a faux southern belle!

A Sigh of Relief, kind of

So I’m done. With work. For the summer. And I feel like it went by far too quickly, and that it’s still the middle of the summer. But it isn’t. There are only three short weeks left until I pack up my car and go back to school! I definitely need these three weeks to chill out after working so intensely for 6 weeks. Working all day with children is both exhilarating and exhausting, but always rewarding. I love this job, I love everything about it. I love the kids, I love the staff, I love the program, I love the lessons we teach and the fact that every Friday we have themed dress-up days, and after two years, when I walk into Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning they are no longer phased by whatever ridiculousness I might be sporting that day. (Be it a full body spandex super hero costume, a mustache and mens clothes, full out goth attire, pajamas, or a tiara).

But for a lot of the summer there’s been a slight dark cloud hanging over my mind. It’s the real world. I can’t escape it. It’s the fact that I know this should be my last summer, that next summer I really should get a resume relevant internship. And it isn’t as though I don’t want to try the office game. Rather, I think it would be pretty fun, you know, dressing up all business casual, commuting, being a serious adult…

On the last day of camp yesterday, it was so incredibly painful to stand and pretty much lie to 9 year olds, some who I’ve come to know and care for deeply. “You’re coming back next summer, right Nora? I want to be in your group forever!” There is no way to answer a crying 9 year old truthfully without breaking all hearts involved. Even the “we’ll see”s and the “I hope so!”s weren’t cutting it. And even though I began the summer with a firm plan in my mind that this would be my last summer where  I ran around all day playing with nerf guns and kickballs and making projects with construction paper, the last day of camp made me feel a slight urge to reconsider.

For many people, being a camp counselor was something to do in high school. But my camp only hired college students, and I spent my high school summers doing various enrichment programs. So for me, while definitely understanding and being behind the reasoning for not allowing high school counselors, I feel kind of ripped off. Here I am, still wishing to have more time to go to camp, and I’m so close to entering the real world that I can’t really afford it. Maybe this is me holding myself to high standards; I’m the second youngest staff member out of 35 or so, with many people returning year after year, including after graduation. But for me, it’s not relevant. I love LOVE kids, and I enjoy theater, but I just don’t see myself pursuing it in the future. So I have to move on, and it’s okay. At least now I can face my attentions towards my exciting trip to New Orleans and then SCHOOL!!!