Tag Archives: Goddard

Dancing With Unicorns

The triple-whammy of all of my classmates starting school today without me, talking to that lady about her health program yesterday and being over-tired enough to have reached that point where ideas sometimes seem more brilliant than they are has my wheels spinning.

When I start my senior year at Goddard in October, I’m going to need a senior study project. I fully intend on taking advantage of the six months I’m taking off to make sure I go to Vermont with a solid plan. Because dear senior study project, you are scary.

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Filed under mind, spirit


I finally had time to work on the pictures from my trip, and I thought I’d share a few.

Central Park was both way less scary (not scary even a little) and far more beautiful than I expected it to be.

The Met’s beautiful architecture.

The intersection near my hostile.

The New York Times at dusk.

My fabulous roomie, Moona.

Goddard’s gorgeous design building.

The Learning Village, where most of the dorms are.

Okay. I figured out how to use Flikr, so if you’re interested you can check out the rest of the pictures here.

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What I Learned in Vermont (and NYC)

You know those experiences that divide your life into before and after? Yeah. That’s what the last two weeks were like for me. It was so strange to come back feeling so changed only to find that the Earth turned at it’s slow pace and no one else in my life changed with me while I was gone.

I feel like my eyes have been peeled open, my heart has been set free, my soul has been lit like the sun.

Sound dramatic?

Yeah, maybe. But I can’t help it. Here are some things I learned while I was gone:

1. There are ideas floating around, and caught up by amazingly bright and wonderful people, that I have never even conceived of.  Being surrounded by conversations I was a part of or even just overheard that were so stunningly smart and stimulating was one of the best experiences of my life.

2. Everything I saw in Vermont was almost creepily cute. (No offense Vermonters, I loved your state!) Each little house was a sweet little Victorian with gingerbread. I expected Little Red Riding Hood or maybe some fairies to come skipping out of the woods at any moment. Every coffee shop, every book store, the food co-op, even the hardware store beckoned with it’s adorableness.

3. I have heard my whole life that the West has big skies. I never knew what it meant until now. In Vermont, and in NYC for that matter, you can only see the sky just over your head. There is no horizon, thanks to huge pine trees and huger skyscrapers. When I got home, I looked up and breathed deep of dry desert air, and decided I really like seeing the sky.

4. I am capable of so much more than I realized a couple of weeks ago. During my residency I designed a six month semester for my self, studying character development in my own writing, character in literature, and how women respond to stress by bonding (especially how modern women have used writing, i.e. blogs, to bond during this economic crisis.) My adviser said I’d designed a graduate-level study plan. I’ll carry that with me for a long time. (Maybe forever.)

5. I am also capable of figuring out how to take the New York Subway system from Pen Station to the Metropolitan Museum (the C train to the Museum of Natural History and walk across Central Park) and from the Met to Brooklyn. That one took some doing, because I had to figure out two transfers. (The 4 Train, then the F train, then the G train.) I was scared. I spent the last three or four months expecting to take cabs all over, because the subway scared me so much. But I did it. I did it.

6. I am ALSO capable of spending two nights in a hostel bunkbed, sharing a room with five very young European and Asian men. Yeah. I did that, too. (I even climbed up to the top bunk my first night, with my ass inches from a window on my way up, with 8th avenue three stories below.)

7. In Vermont, when you order a Diet Pepsi in a restaurant, they bring you a tiny glassful (about a third of a 12 ounce can.) When you ask for a little more, they fill that little class 1/2 way. In New York, they bring you a slightly larger glass, charge you $2.50, and then $2.50 more when they refill it. In Nevada (and in Florida when I was there, too, for what it’s worth) when you order a Diet Pepsi, they bring you a decent sized glass for $1.50 and then refill it without being asked and without charge until you leave your table.

8. I had the best dorm room and the best roommate at the Spring 2010 Goddard residency. My room was out a door and across a beautiful courtyard from the main hall that held the computer lab, the dining room, and most of the workshops. The room was tucked under the stairs and was dubbed Harry Potter’s Dorm Room on the first day.  My roommate was a lovely, lovely woman named Moona who brought her own kimchi (kimchee? Some super stinky sauerkraut stuff) and organic raw whole milk plain yogurt to every meal and became my instant and I just know life-long bosom buddy (yes, just like Anne of Green Gables.) The best part is we were able to request a repeat next semester. That means I’m not lugging my 12-pound laptop across the country by plane, train, and taxi cab in October.

9. I had absolutely no idea that there was anyone alive who wanted other people to ask them their ‘preferred pronoun.’ Or that there is a gender-neutral pronoun (ze) that many prefer. I had no idea that I would be brave enough to ask such a question. But I was. And I did. And I learned.

10. I no longer have any doubts about dropping the whole social-worker-or-teacher debate. I may choose to do either. Hell. I’m a social worker now, and I’ve been a teacher, all without a degree in either. I am a writer. I have proven to myself that I’m capable to doing interesting and important work without spending years and thousands of dollars on a degree that I don’t want. I don’t need a Plan B anymore, but it wasn’t easy to let go of it. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I feel free.

11. When I was there, in Vermont at school and in New York on a mini-vacation, my weight was the furthest thing on my mind. My mind was upmost on my mind. My words. My thoughts. The amazing thoughts of other people. Other people’s words. Joining a debate on how to encourage the school to mark which food is gluten-free after a small group of us made ourselves sick on some vegetable stew. Getting to know a student who was the first person ever to give me concrete proof that the way I see my son and his future aren’t wishful thinking. Discussing the merits of popular fiction with a horror writer.  Dancing with my friends at the Goddard prom. Walking the wooded path to the library. Listening to student and faculty readings. All of those things mattered. The size of my ass? Not even a tiny bit. Honestly, not even for a fraction of a second. (I’ll write more about this later. But it honestly feels like an inner revolution.)

12. I love to travel and learn and grow and change. But I love to come home. There is nothing in this whole world like my own bed and pillows and shower. And my own Ruby to snuggle with before we sleep, my own husband to crawl into bed with me in the morning when he gets home from work, and those big skies overhead when I go out into my world every day.

I’m home now. And jumped straight into work. But I’m done for the week tomorrow at lunch time, and then I’m off to the races with studying for my first ‘packet’ (more later) due on May 11. It involves reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s and an essay on the Tend and Befriend strategy of stress management. Fun, huh? I can’t wait!


Filed under body, mind, spirit

Where do I start?

With the beginning I suppose.

The travel.

The flight was uneventful. I shared a three-seat row with a man from New York who lives in Las Vegas now. We both mostly slept, or watched reruns of Law and Order (me) or Southpark (him) on our little behind-the-seat mini-televisions.

I arrived in New York just when the sun was rising, even if my body did insist it was three thirty in the morning and my mind was outraged not to be lost in dreams.

This  was the view I saw out of the window just inside the airport as I came off the gate.

How do you argue with beauty like that, jet lag or not?

I had expected to take a cab to Penn Station. But then I learned it would cost $45 plus tip and toll–and a bus ticket was $15. So I bussed it. I felt like this was the beginning of my adventure. I didn’t really know what I was doing, or where I was going. The bus driver was a maniac that people were running out of crosswalks to avoid being murdered by. It was amazing. I met a couple from somewhere in Eastern Europe and a girl from Spain.

I was dropped off at Grand Central Station, where another maniac picked me up and took me to Penn Station.

Next was a three hour wait at the station for my train. I was so tired by this time that I would randomly fall asleep sitting up. But I got on the train and everything was fine. I upgraded to business class, and it was both so worth it, and so not. It was worth it because the seats were comfortable enough that I got a great sleep in one. Wide, almost too much leg room, and cushy.

Not so worth it because there was none of the comradery that I’ve found in coach class. No one talked to each other. Everyone was plugged into their own world. Plus, this train was far bouncier then any I’ve been on before. I wasn’t able to use my computer, which was the whole reason for going business class in the first place. (There are outlets at every seat.)

I ended up sitting right next to a woman from Wyoming who was also going to Goddard. So we talked some, but not a whole lot. I was getting nervous. We ended up sharing a cab to the campus, which was nice.

I met my roommate a couple of hours later, and was so happy. She’s amazing. Smart, sassy, and just all around a fabulous girl to know.

Here’s my dorm bed:

And the view from the window next to my desk:

Here’s the cafeteria at breakfast this morning:

I wish I could find words to really bring you here with me. It’s so hard. I’ve had two crazy days of travel and one incredibly full and amazing day at school. Our room is a little cubby under the stairs–like Harry Potter’s dorm room. The people here are incredibly smart and diverse and just completely fascinating.

The campus is so beautiful. I’ve never been anywhere like this, ever. It’s green and misty and mossy. It’s old, some of the buildings over 250 years old. It smells fresh and clean.

Here are some of the dorm buildings:

There’s a labrynth of boxwood:

The library is a 15 minute hike through woods:

There is beauty everywhere I look:

But the real beauty, the true magic, is the people. And the feeling that everytime I turn around another layer of assumptions I had about myself and the world around me changing. I know that probably seems like a big dramatic statement. I’ve been here one day.

But the idea that I can learn this way. That I can dig deep and dive wide, and find out things and interpret them in a way that maybe no one else has done before. That’s beyond amazing to me. It’s life changing.


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The Hard Stuff

I came across this picture today.

This girl is walking into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. She was one of nine chosen to desegregate that school. The president, Eisenhower, had to intervene so that the principal would let her in the doors.

An act that even with presidential intervention required military in the background, and that inspired at least one photographer in the foreground. As I was looking at this picture I wondered about the girls in the background. At the hatred in their faces, at the frozen words spewing from their open mouths. What brought that anger? Was it just fear of change?

It has to be more, right? I has to be more than fear of change.

Where are those white girls now? What do they feel when they see this picture? Is that level of animosity self-perpetuating–does it have to be held on to in order to avoid shame and guilt?

I was raised in the West by a leftist liberal father, and by a mother who made me swear I wouldn’t sit directly on the toilet seat at school after my class had an influx of Vietnamese refugee students. Did fear of change, or maybe fear of difference, make my mother racist? Because she was a beautiful, lovely woman otherwise. Was she taught to be the way she was?

If she lived in Arkansas in 1950 something, instead of Southern California, would that fear be aimed at black girls just trying to get to Algebra class instead of Vietnamese kids learning English at my school?

I don’t remember being angry when I went to school one day in the third grade and my class had ten new Vietnamese students. I don’t remember any real anger from any students at my school. That was  twenty-ish years after the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High School. (Think about this. Twenty years ago was 1990. The twenty years between 1957 and 1977 weren’t any longer.) Did these teenagers and their ploy to get into school change the world enough that the Vietnamese kids at my school didn’t have to fight as hard?

I’m leaving for Vermont on Tuesday. I’ve been scared. The kind of anxious scared that makes you stare at the ceiling all night. But I looked at this girl today and realized that I don’t have to be. If she was brave enough to walk through that gauntlet day after day, then I shouldn’t be scared.

No that isn’t right.

I realized that it’s okay to be scared. But it’s not okay to give in to fear.

I tell my kids, and my clients, nearly everyday to choose the hard stuff.  I try to teach them that they don’t have to always pick what’s easiest. That they are capable of the hard stuff. It’s why I didn’t let Adrienne drop her calculus class at mid-year, even though the C is bringing down her grade-point average. It’s why I don’t let Nick use autism as an excuse.

And it’s why I’m putting myself on a plane, a train, and a taxi on Tuesday. This is my hard stuff. It was easy to study my plan B. It was easy to prepare to be a social worker, in case writing doesn’t pan out. It’s incredibly hard to study something without a safety net.

I know I’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. Trying to get my head around things I guess. Trying to get things done. But I’m taking you with me to school. I’m bringing you along with me as I do my hard things.

I’m not comparing my situation to that if the little girl in that picture. I have a daughter her age, or close to it, and I’m not sure I could have been brave enough to send her into that war zone. No, I’m not comparing. I’m drawing strength. Because that girl, and eight other children, did their own very hard thing–the rest of us know it’s possible.


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My Adventure

Okay. Now that I’ve stopped freaking out about messing up and leaving myself 3000 miles from home for two extra days, I have a plan.

I’m a big one for plans, aren’t I?

The first part of my trip hasn’t changed. I’m flying out of Las Vegas on April 6 (red eye) to New York City on Jet Blue, (I’ll get there early on the 7th) then taking an Amtrak train to Montpelier, Vermont, (I’ll get there night time on the 7th) and then a taxi to the school. Twenty-four hours of travel later.

Then I’ll stay on campus at school until the 16th when they kick me out.

I’m going to stay in Montpelier for that night. I called today about changing my train ticket to the 16th, instead of the 17th, but got panicky about not having my ticket in hand until I get to New York if I change things. So Vermont it is.

My big plan is to stay at this hostel in Vermont, and to rent a car for 24 hours from the afternoon of the 16th until the next day when hopefully I can drop it off somewhere near the train station. I’m going to work on this leg of the trip tomorrow. It’s the only one that is still semi up in the air.

And then…and then this is the best part! I got an email from Expedia this morning. I bought my plane ticket through them and they sent me a coupon for $50 off a two night stay at any hotel booked through them. I’d been looking at the Chelsea Star Hotel which is also a hostel. I had actually talked myself into staying in one of their tiny single rooms rather than the hostel dorms (which is bunk beds). The difference in price is $79 for the single room vs. $30 for the hostel dorm.

But when I looked on Expedia and saw I could book the hostel room through them, and that I’d get to spend two nights in New York City for a total of $25–who could resist that? I mean, that’s a great price, right?

So I am being incredibly adventurous. I’m spending two nights in a bunk bed with seven other travelers and one bathroom down the hall.

Here is what I would really like to do with my time in New York:

1. I want to go to the Met. Really want to. So I am, on Sunday.

2. I want to see a show. My train is supposed to get in at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, which should be plenty of time to catch a late show. But I’m thinking after 12 hours on a train I might not actually feel like doing that. So Sunday, too.

3. I want to see the sites.

How do I manage all of that?

My thought is to buy a ticket on a tour bus, which is about $50 for a 48 hours of hop-on, hop-off. So I can first just ride it around, see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Then get off and go to the museum. Maybe go back to my hotel (hostel!) and change. Then hop back on and ride the tour bus to somewhere near my show. Et voila.

It always sounds easy when you’re making it up from home, doesn’t it?

I will be happy if I get to spend the day at the Met and spend some time with my neck craned checking out the sky scrapers.


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Big Mistake

So, in my worry about getting my rather complicated travel arrangements for next month arranged, I made a big whopper of a mistake.

I booked my flight home on the wrong day.

Somehow I misread my paperwork about the day that I had to leave the school campus. I thought it was Saturday, April 17. Instead it’s Friday, April 16.

And then…and then…I booked my flight home Monday instead of Sunday. I don’t know why, or how. I knew that I wasn’t going to fly home on Saturday because the ticket was nearly twice as much as flying home on Sunday. But Monday? I think what happened was when I put my return information in, it gave me the choice of taking a flight that would get me home on Monday morning. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

The end result is, I have to leave the school on April 16, but my train ticket is for April 17, and my plane ticket is for April 19.

What a flipping mess.

I called Expedia today, to see about changing my plane ticket. They want to charge me $100 extra dollars, on top of whatever difference there will be for flying out on the weekend (and not as far in advance as I purchased my tickets initially.)

So. Yeah. I get three extra days in the beautiful northeastern United States.

I’m a silver lining kind of gal, so I’m trying not to be upset. There isn’t anything I can do, except be far more careful in October when I get to do this all over again.

I’ll be spending Friday night in Montpelier, Vermont. And then taking a train to Penn Station in New York, where I’ll spend Saturday and Sunday nights and then flying home early-ish on Monday morning.

I have three weeks to earn some money. The easiest and surest way for me to do that is to write for Demand Studios, who will pay me $15 for each article I write. I can write four articles in no more than an hour and a half. If I do that everyday for the next three weeks, it’s actually a nice chunk of money ($1200.)

If I’m going to be in New York City for Saturday evening and all of Sunday, I plan to make the best of it. I want to go to a museum on Sunday. Or a show? Something New York-ish. I’d thought about spending the one night I thought I was spending near JFK, but now I’m thinking I might as well stay in the city if I can find a room I can afford.

I also did some checking and I can rent a  car in Montpelier for less than $30 for the day. I think driving around that part of the country would be really amazing. Just me and my camera. (And maybe some thrift stores? I’m thinking of shipping my own clothing back home, so that I can have my suitcase empty just in case.)

So here is my question.

If you found yourself with one mistaken Sunday in New York City, what would you do with it?


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