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Archive for November, 2007

Into the Wild

The new movie about Jon Krakauer’s book. Inspired by the story about Chris McCandless or Alexander Supertramp. I haven’t yet read the book but the movie was glorious. Chris drops everything moves out of his apartment changes his name to Alexander and just starts traveling across the United States. He just lives it and rocks it. Hiking across mountain. Hitchhiking. Jumping on trains. He just does it. He escapes society, he escapes the networking, the people pleasing, the technology he throws it all behind and lives in an abandoned bus in Alaska for several months.

It’s actually what I dreamed of when I was leaving college. I thought that leaving to South Dakota would be the change that I needed. I thought that escaping to the west, to the wilderness, to the wild would be the change that I needed. I clearly wasn’t as extreme as Supertramp. I had a job lined up and structure to my future life. Where he went out into the wild I just moved to a different city. It was supposed to be my Walden. It was supposed to be my escape from society, my rediscovery of self. For many different reasons I left UVa with a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. I needed a chance to recharge, a chance to come to terms with the world before reinserting myself into the fast track life.

While that’s what I thought would happen, I haven’t found that. While watching the movie I just wanted to escape. I wanted to throw everything to the side, buy a backpack some food and just go. I need that freedom, but it’s like I’m too scared. I have to have the structure. I need the Macbook, I need the blog, I need the CD, the music, the technology, the Netflix. Dammit! I need to make some changes.
What I really need is a book, some fresh air, some forests and a candle. I have that thought, but in the movie Supertramp comes to the conclusion that “Happiness has to be shared” I want to go it alone and escape and ‘discover myself’. I don’t know anymore.

There is so much confusion in my mind about it. Should I plan it out. Set out the path, set out the books I want to read, set out my food, my steps. Or would that defeat the purpose of it. Shouldn’t it be spontaneous. Should I throw the macbook in a closet and forget about it until I come back. Or should I keep a log of what I do. Paper or word. How do I do it when do I go? I want to finish teaching, because I feel obligated to fulfill that commitment. I shouldn’t have to worry about the future. But I don’t know what I want to do. And so that’s where I stand. Wanting to go into the wild, but not knowing when, not knowing how, not knowing where, not knowing anything.

D.

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I hadn’t seen anyone from UVa since my drive out to South Dakota. Besides Holly who came to visit and Ian who is living a couple hours away on Pine Ridge. I was starved for familiarity. I have been (self-imposed) plopped into a new world with a completely new everything.

New house, new friends, new job, new life, new everything. It sounds exciting, you get the chance to start fresh and shed the past. It’s sounds great by some accounts. Even Robert Penn Warren talks about it in the greatest american novel of all time All the King’s Men. Jack Burden can’t handle the pressures of his past and has to escape west. He drives and drives until he forgets and then he can finally return. (I’m cutting out a lot of details, but that is kind of how it goes).

Think of it with the sun. Rising in the east the sun represents the tradition and history of what has been. Where as the setting in the west speaks of the future, of possibility, of what is to come. After UVa I needed to escape the east…quite literally…I was attracted to this idea that I could travel west and shed the traditions and things that I was frustrated with. Now that I have come out here, I have realized that it is just like any other place in the world and now I long for those simple day to day lunches, or scrabble games or gym workouts. Even just seeing someone I know walk across a brick pathway.

It is only fitting that I had to return east to find this. During Thanksgiving break I got to enjoy seeing some friends. I hung out with Holly, Bernard, Michelle, Carrie and Eric. It’s indescribable how comforting familiar faces can be. There is no need for introduction. It has been done and established. You can just go to enjoying yourself and your time. I miss that. I know that as time passes the same will happen in South Dakota, but not to the extent that it did in college.

For those of you in college, treasure those moments, because they quickly fade as you move into the real world. For those of you who have already been rudely awakened. Send me your address. I’ll write and we can keep in touch.

D.

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Atlanta airport is a joke. I was supposed to leave at 9:45pm. LaGuardia wasn’t letting planes land so we got delayed until 10:15pm. Then smoke started filling the cabin (we weren’t in the plane…they announced it at our gate) so they announced that we needed to get a new plane. This is the part that confuses me. They said they were getting a new plane and that they would be announcing the gate soon. It took an hour for them to find the plane and announce the gate. It wasn’t until 12:15am that we finally pulled out of the terminal. Ridiculous. 2 and 1/2 hour delay because they were unable to bring another plane in to fly us out.

Yay for spending the first 3 hours of my Thanksgiving in a plane. Other than that Thanksgiving went splendidly. Holly and I went to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which was one of the gappiest things in the world. I’ll describe the gap and its components at some later point (not in this blog). After Radio City we went home and cooked an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I suppose it is prudent that I mention the things that I am thankful for. When I left UVa I was a pretty bitter person. I was frustrated with the politics of the University and left with a pretty sour taste in my mouth. Now that I am in South Dakota and thousands of miles away from any of my friends it makes me realize just how much I miss my friends and the little things of Charlottesville.

D.

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Denver

Today was one of the more intense days in the classroom. It’s strange. When I was in school Friday’s were glorious, it meant we got to take two days off from school and go home. For my kids I think the opposite is true. The weekend is dreadful, because they don’t have the structure, support and safety of school. In turn they get nervous and act up, because they struggle in finding ways to appropriately express their feelings.

The classroom was completely out of control today. I had students running across the room, out the door, climbing on desks and lockers. Throwing books. It was unbelievable, I didn’t know how to react or gain control over the classroom again. The best way to deal with it was just to get out of dodge.

Immediately following school, I drove to He-Dog to meet up with Kimberly then we drove to Martin near Pine Ridge to meet up with Kate before our drive down to Denver for thanksgiving break. Denver and civilization is glorious. I’m still much more excited about NYC and it’s prospects, I suppose I’ll have to enjoy that tomorrow.

D.

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6:00pm Really?

Okay. So let me first preface this entry with one simple fact. I am losing my mind. Not like, ‘ooh no where did it go?’ more like ‘AHHH!! I’M GOING CRAZY!”

Before you start reading you need to go to Youtube and watch “Really!?! with Seth and Amy.” Here is one example. http://youtube.com/watch?v=b4obbLVZJEo

I was trying to do something very simple. Go to the grocery store. It was 6:15pm. Not an unreasonable time and not an unreasonable idea on a Sunday afternoon. I just finished putting some clothes in the laundry and headed down the street to pick up some things from the grocery. Very simple right?

Shopping list.

Lunch foods: String Cheese, Kudo’s Granola Bars, Fruit Snacks and maybe a couple pieces of fruit
Snack foods: Bag of pepperoni (dakota style).

Ingredients for cranberry bread to make for my students: Bread flour and cranberries.

Favor for friends: Bag of bit sized candy bars for a classroom exercise.

That’s it. That’s all I needed. 8 items. That means I could even use the express check out. Wait. There isn’t an express checkout. Really!?! No big deal, it’s a small town I won’t have to wait that long anyways. I drive up to the store. Lights look suspiciously off. Dammit! It closes at 6:00pm on Sundays…REALLY!?! Hold on there is still a chance, there are two grocery stores. One will surely be trying to compete with the other by staying open later on Sunday. (Gets in car. Crosses fingers hoping that capitalism and competition will inspire store owners to stay open. Drives to other grocery store. Pulls up.) Double Dammit! REALLY!?! They are both closed. What are my options now? The next nearest grocery store is 35 minutes away…in a different state (Nebraska). REALLY!?! I have to go to a different state to buy candy bars and string cheese. Are you serious?!

Wait a second. Is the Nebraska one going to be open?! Opens computer. Google searches and calls on phone. Open until 9:00pm. Shit. That means I now have to drive for 70 minutes for some slices of pepperoni. And that’s how this entry ends. With me driving off into the darkness for little slices of meat and childish fruit snacks. really?!

D.

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Bad(ass)lands.

Wildlife Count:

Deer: 18

Antelope: 12

Simply named as the Badlands National Park. After today I shall now call them the Badass Lands.

Today, my roommate Zach and another friend Kimberly went hiking about 5 miles outside of Scenic at a place called Sheep Table mountain. Let me first start by saying that Scenic is about the most unScenic place in the world. There were beer bottles on the side of the road for 3 to 4 miles after we went through down.

Our hike started like one of those ridiculous new car commercials. We drove on this grassy plateau until we found where we wanted to hike down and explore. We parked the car close to the edge so that we could be able to see it when we wanted to hike back. Even more glorious is the fact that we were driving a Ford Escape. Get it. Escape.

After parking we just started sliding/walking down between the rock formations. I don’t really know how to explain what the Badlands look like. The nearest thing I can think of is the way of the dead from Lord of the Rings. You can see the scene in Return of the King when Aragorn goes to get support from those green ghost things in the final battle. We finally got to the bottom to arrive in a different world. It looks like a lunar landscape. We started hiking up hills finding numerous bones and fossils along the way. We found teeth and tons of other stuff. I also learned that the US government used to fire ammunition into the badlands for testing so we found tons of bullets and casings as well. Kind of sad considering that we didn’t see another person the entire day.

One of the more unfortunate things about the trip was that I tore a huge hole in the back of my pants. We quickly learned that it is a lot harder to hike up the formations than you initially think. Even so, the worst part is attempting to come back down. I say attempting, because you never actually walk back down. I spent half of the time on my butt and the other half attempting to use one foot as a ski. My hands grated against the rock like cheddar cheese. No blood, but definitely raw.

We returned shortly before dark. On the drive back to (un)Scenic we stopped at a scenic overlook to enjoy the sun as it set. I stood on a rock and let the wind blow me as I pulled a Titanicesque ‘I’m on top of the world’ pose. It was wonderful.

D.

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Pizza Hut

Wildlife Count:

Deer: 6

Deer almost hit: 1

Yeah that’s right. Pizza Hut. Being that we have no students on Friday we, as teachers, decided to grab a meal together at pizza hut. Usually one would assume that we are eating at such an establishment, because we are teachers and unable to afford anything more ritzy.

Not here in South Dakota…scratch that, there isn’t a Pizza Hut near me in South Dakota. I had to drive to Nebraska. Not only did I have to drive to Nebraska, but it took me 30 minutes of going 65 miles per hour just to order my chicken supreme stuffed crust pizza. I feel like I am living under a rock. Pizza Hut could very easily be considered one of the upscale restaurants around me. It’s competition consists of McDonald’s, Subway, and 3 bars that serve food. Scary huh? What was even more surprising is that it was so good.

What has happened to my life? An outing to Pizza Hut on a weeknight seems risky and exciting. Really?! Just the idea of not having to cook my own dinner is exciting. I do well most nights until I am just tired and snack on pepperoni and hummus for dinner. My world has gotten much smaller. I hadn’t been to Valentine for nearly a month. I’ve only eaten there once this school year. Outside of the weekend, I spend no time outside of my classroom and my living room. I need some stimuli.

In other news. My netflix came today. Glorious. Being that I don’t leave the living room that often it is best that I have something to do. Gangs of New York and Blood Diamond. I tried to set up a facebook group to trade netflix videos with other people living in Mission with me. So far it has flopped completely. We have to get everyone to post what they have and what is in their queue, but only 2 people did it. That defeats the purpose of the group…gah…collective action why are you a problem and how can I prevent you from rearing your ugly head. Damn. I suppose if anyone had a major fix to collective action problems we wouldn’t have as many issues in the world as we did. Something to look into I guess.

-D.

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