Goodbye, 2010

What a year. Already over. I’ve decided to look back on 2010 and note some of my favorite memories. We’ll see how this goes.

-Started off 2010 in San Diego with my family. It was… colder than expected
-Once back at Bates, kicked off Winter Carnival by jumping in the Puddle.
-Held an open house for ART COMMONS (with the help of Matt and Charlotte, of course) where students came to paint on the walls and discuss student art at Bates.
-Took an English class with Eden Osucha that led to an engagement with literature, a declaration, and several opportunities to see fiction and poetry readings.
-Began looking at the stars for my Lunar and Planetary science class, and actually understanding it.
-Was elected as the publicity director of WRBC and helped to put on awesome concerts including Hey Mama, Toro Y Moi & Washed Out & Small Black, Seabear (photos!) and Phantogram by the end of sophomore year.
-Helped out with WRBC’s trivia night 2010— and stayed up all night
-Produced One Acts for the Robinson Players
-Got dressy and dazzled at the All College Gala
-Finished the semester like a pro and headed down to Puerto Rico
-Rocked out at spring concerts including Passion Pit at Bowdoin, Sleigh Bells & Rusko & Major Lazer in Cambridge, Sleigh Bells & Yeasayer in Boston, and  Ronjstock back at Bates.
-Took a class about the politics of theater– still don’t really get Brecht though, don’t hold it against me.
-Brought 900 local school children together to see free theater put on my the Robinson Players
-Watched my older brother graduate from college, freak outs about the future and growing up ensued
-Packed up and came home, finished sophomore year successfully. Realized I was one half done with college. Freak outs ensued.
-Ran off on a romantic trip to Montreal with my best friend where we ate gelato (among other things)
-Worked at summer camp and dressed up like a superhero
-Went down South to visit Schuyler in New Orleans
-Started Junior year! Took three English classes and a science class which was a pretty tough course load.
-Kicked off this year’s WRBC concerts with Dr Dog and later closed out the semester with The Hood Internet & The Knocks.
-Performed in Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire as Claire. Was the star. Got to be a diva for a hot second. And loved it.
-Took a weekly trip to fine dining establishments in the area for the Friday Lunch series
-Helped out with WRBC’s Trivia Night 2010.5– and didn’t stay up all night
-Kicked my finals’ butts and packed up my life while my head reeled about not coming back for so long.

There ya have it. A year in (condensed) review. With hyperlinks. Happy almost 2011!


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!!!

The Noble Pursuit of UBC

UBC stands for “Ulysses Book Club,” as coined by one of my favorite high school English teachers. And this summer, the two of us, along with my mother, are desperately attempting to conquer the behemoth that is James Joyce’s Ulysses. Why would I spend my summer months plugging away at such a substantial piece of literature that is by no means light, poolside reading? Because in the fall, I am taking one of my two junior/senior seminar classes on the book, and I decided that I desperately needed to do some preparation before school began.

The class, “Ulysses and Its Others” will be taught by professor Carole Taylor . It’s a 395 level course, which is terrifyingly high to me. So I’m doing my homework. Early.

The course description:

From its initial banning to the international celebration of Bloomsday, James Joyce’s modernist novel has become a key text for almost every strain of critical and cultural theory and for many subsequent transformations of anti-heroic epic journeys. Students consider the work’s experiments in language, structure, and form in relation to its rich sources, Homer’s Odyssey primary among them. They also examine its legacy of literary provocation for “othered” literary traditions, represented here by Derek Walcott’s Omeros, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and Gerald Vizenor’s Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57.

I’m really excited, but also beginning to worry. Since the arrival of a box from Borders this past week with two copies of the book,  I’ve read a total of two pages. Sure, it was a busy week with work. Sure, it was hot and I didn’t have a lot of down time. But I’m on page 4, and there are two title pages. That’s weak.

I’m hoping that my interest in classics will help me get more out of the novel, which mirrors Homer’s Odyssey. My thought is that if I go into the class with at least a basic understanding of the book, I’ll be able to get more our of it, and maybe focus on the critical aspects of the class as well as the other works we will be reading.

You will probably not be surprised to know that this very minute I’m procrastinating reading. I just need a little push to get me into it, and then I’m really crossing my fingers there will be sparks or something that stay with me until the end. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I also cannot fall short of my promise to read and discuss the book with my mom and my old teacher, especially considering that I am the reason both of them are reading it in the first place…

Stages for All Ages

This week, from Wednesday until Friday, the Robinson Players put on a production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Here’s the best part: the production, geared towards children, was free to area schools and over three performances, we were able to offer a fun, theatrical experience to almost 900 elementary school children!

It’s really cool to be able to give something like that to young kids. I’m a person who has always grown up around theater—I was very lucky to have parents who took me to shows and sent me to camps and even sewed squirrel costumes for a crazy production of Sleeping Beauty in 1999 (thanks again Mom). But, at a recent Rob players board meeting, while reflecting upon how excited everyone was for the kids, we realized that for many, this could be their first time seeing a play in a theater. When you’re young, there’s something so incredible about seeing the magic of a play put on—especially when there’s lights, sounds, and other production surprises.

I have many memories of being in elementary school and going to Creative Arts camp every summer. We had dance, drama, music and art classes, but to be honest, we mostly cared more about going to the pool. However, the bigger kids, the 6th-9th graders existed above us. Surrounded by an air of indelible coolness, they put on three shows over the course of the summer that we, the younger kids, got to see every Tuesday. During talkbacks, every little kid would have a question to ask. “So in that part where she disappears, like, HOW does that work???” or “How did the Princess change her dress SO quickly??” And hearing these cool, older, talented kids telling us all their secrets, letting us in on their artistic process and the way they made the sound effects and light cues… it was the coolest thing. Ever.

For the record, now I spend my summers working at said performing arts camp. And every Tuesday when I see the shows, my heart swells when an 8 year old girl tugs at my sleeve eagerly to point out just how magical the theater is.

But, back to the chocolate factory. This production is an annual project the Rob players does during short term. Last year we did “Honk,” the year before was “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing,” etc. The shows are always geared towards a 1st-4th ish age group, but the schools can send whichever grades they please.

So I wasn’t in the show, although I’d had wild plans of trying out and being in my first musical since 9th grade. Unfortunately, my brother’s college graduation happened to run at exactly the same time as the last performance (which explains why I’m writing this blog from New York. Congrats Sarah Lawrence class of 2010!). However, despite my inability to be a cast member, I had an equally important task: I had to fill the seats.

Remember how I said 900 kids? Yeah, I did that. I spent hours on email and the phone with principals and secretaries of all the elementary schools within an hour of Bates. Offering a free field trip was so fun, and many schools were eager to send their students. A lot of students. While overwhelming and a bit difficult to logistically place everyone, in the end, it was pretty incredible to be able to say, “yeah, so I organized 900 kids to come see free theater.” But that is what my job requires. This will have been my final task as the Outreach Coordinator on the board for the Rob players 09-10. Someone else will be responsible for this next year. My only regret is not being able to see any of the kids squealing with laughter and their faces in awe by the magic of theater come the end of the show.

Summer’s Decline

So work ended last week, and what a great time I had. It was such a great community, with great kids, great staff and awesome facilities. I’m really pleased with the fact that I was able to work with my brother, as well as the relationships formed with specific children. It just further proves that I definitely want to do Bates Buddies again this semester, the program where once a week, Bates students volunteer to play during recess with third graders at Longley Elementary school in Lewiston. I had a few moments this summer where I realized that some kids really needed me, or at least someone, to be there for them. I have a feeling that going back to Longley with this new, better understanding will make it a better experience for all involved.

So now, without my 8h30-4h30 job each day, I barely have any downtime. My family is going to Chicago for the weekend on vacation, and even then, there are only a few weeks until school starts. Three of my high school friends are already leaving for school in the coming week, off to lead orientation programs. I can’t believe how quickly this summer past by. It’s been great so far, like, amazing, actually. I hope that it continues at this pace until school starts again!

Tropic Fun’der

The first session of camp ends tomorrow! I can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly. As it is a performing arts camp, we have one big performance at the end of the session where all three age groups perform a play with songs and dances laced around a single theme. This theme: the Jungle. My brother, the drama teacher, was responsible for the terribly cheezy pun that titled the show. My kids did so well! Their elaborate storyline involved Zoo animals escaping from a zoo to vacation in the jungle, only to discover a jungle full of discontented wild beasts looking to be more like domestics. They sang “I wanna be like you” from the jungle book, and performed a dance to “welcome to the jungle”. (The version of the song, however, was original; after realizing that song was totally inappropriate for 8 year olds to dance around to, the staff recorded a new version with new lyrics. So much fun to act like Axl Rose!)

It was the day that I didn’t have to do much– I shuffled them on stage, reminded them to smile, and sprayed “HAZE IN A CAN” right before their big dance number, but their parents had come to see them perform all the things they had been working so hard on all of camp. It was a great thing to see.

I’m totally crushed that most of my campers won’t be back next session– the outgoing boy-twins, the completely silent blonde girl who skips everywhere, the sassy tall dancer who looks way older than she is… I’m sure next session will hold equal campers, but they will always be my first. My favorites.