Tuesday, July 28

I was feeling like it was the end for me. So he said, tighten the fuck up, do a second course. We kept drinking.

Aaaaaand we're back. Course ended 3 days early, because the entire group had caught scabies/MRSA/Staph. We (the people doing the course) will never know exactly what caused the outbreak, but we suspect it came from some mud that the kids were flinging at one another on day 11. So, although I've been doing nothing but talking about the last eighteen days of my life with everyone down here, I figured I owe at least a cursory explanation here.

Basically there were supposed to be 11 kids, 9 showed up for the course, and one was removed for continually running away and being generally unsafe. The course lasted 17 days. We did on average about 5 miles of canoeing a day (a very small amount, by most standards here). The lead instructor was named Wade, the assistant instructor was named Tony, and the third instructor was yours truly (that guy with the beard on the left). Ultimately, I felt like I really enjoyed watching the kids change and struggle through the experience, but felt very disempowered by how little I knew about what was going on. Wade ended up driving (leading the group) for most of the beginning, which was good and necessary, but I guess I'm just disappointed that I wasn't more capable considering how long I've already been teaching. I also didn't get my promotion to assist, which means I'll have to do another course if I want to get a contract or if I want to get paid more than 125 a week. Which is fine. I can live on that. Just means a more scrappy lifestyle, and a slower route to owning a car/motorcycle. As far as the kids...mostly there were issues of integrity and passive communication that we had to deal with. There were no instances where people became physically aggressive. It was mostly pretty calm, and we saw the kids holding each other accountable for their communication/integrity issues at the end of course. We'll still be doing followup (10 days of massive paperwork/visiting each kid's house 4 times and meeting with the families), but other than that, not much to say.

To be honest, I felt completely run over by the whole experience, and the last few days I've been considering not working here any more...I wonder if this is the kind of feeling that people recover from. Unfortunately, due to legal craziness, I'm never allowed to post pictures of the chillins on the internets. But if we ever hang out, just ask me and I'll show you all the videos and stuff. Yes? Now, it's my first day off in a long while. I've made an alcohol stove from an aluminum pepsi can. I went and looked at some outdoor gear, but left the store knowing I was too smart to buy most of the things I could just make myself. I don't have much money I feel more impressive and perhaps more unimpressive than I ever have.

Finally...Rufus Wainwright, anyone? I'd never heard this song. Kind of like the video, though.

Saturday, July 11

Not much to say.

Except that I know now what it means to be happily busy, happily caught up in things I can't even begin to understand about the future. It's coming at me, and I'm ready to get swallowed. Maybe this doesn't sound like a positive thing, really, but in a way I feel pure and at peace about it. I've been struggling with getting caught up in myself professionally and emotionally for the last two years...and now the moment has come for me to just be. So that's what I'm going to do. Who knows who I will be in thirty days? Not me. It's gonna be awesome to have it all in my head, though.

--KLF 168 Instructor Simon "Thunderstein (new nickname)" Braunstein

PS: Checking my phone in 12 days. At Crescent lake campground, after paddling the Oklawaha River for ten days...

Wednesday, July 8

Loch and Key

Back in Key Largo, getting ready for my course, which goes out in a day or two!

Sunday, July 5

You say grenade, I say grenada.

New art by Katherine Ramos! Check out www.katherineisthebest.com for the lot of it. This one is called "Ladies Don't Speak of Such Things".

Family, man. Can't live with 'em, can't start a mafia without 'em.



I see a metal puzzle
carrying people from comfort to confusion
I see a facilitation of commerce,
a realization of ancient science
a means for modern drama
in a time of tiny international social scenes.

The more you look,
the more you see.
A reason to study one book for fifty years.
The more you see,
the more you look.

In a time of tiny international social scenes,
a means for modern drama,
a realization of ancient science.
I see a facilitation of commerce.
Carrying people from comfort to confusion,
I see a metal puzzle.

I see a plane.

Thursday, July 2


So! It's been a while since a factual update. Basically, I've been up to my eyelids in work here at Outward Bound. Haven't taken too many days off this month (about four), and now am on my way to a week off hanging out with the parents and family. My grandfather just had an operation as well, and I'm going up to hang out with him for a day or so, to be sure.

To summarize, I spent a few days down at the Key Largo base shadowing a course, three weeks (with a lot of driving) up at a base in a town called Scottsmoor, near Cape Canaveral, and another few days back down here in Key Largo, shadowing another course. It's been a pretty quiet existence, and I'm kind of glad to be actually going on course on the 8th (out of Key Largo). Of course, this is an extremely recent development--I just found out yesterday that all that is happening, which is a pretty big deal to me, because it seems to me that the 35 days on course (with one day off in the middle) are going to be some of the most challenging days I've yet experienced. But things have already been pretty different for me down here in the Florida. Here's a list of the strange things I've done in the last month:

--Went to a firing range and practiced firing a Glock...man, that's difficult.
--Made plans to get a motorcycle license, and looked at a few bikes.
--Actually PRACTICED playing my banjo, a little (eek!).
--Went to see the Transformers movie.
--Asked a Park Ranger out on a date. Might have been turned down, not sure.
--Saw a NASA rocket launch (an Atlas IV)
--Learned to make apple pie from scratch, which people tell me I'm pretty good at.
--Learned to drive a trailer and a 15-passenger van.
--Gone for two weeks without a shower.
--Started using protein powder.
--Been involved in a car chase involving children running after a minivan (poem soon to follow).
--Slept in a van with a teenager who was afraid of being beaten to death by the other members of his group, who didn't really hate him--just wanted to use beating him up as a means to get out of completing their course.

And now, a poem:


Civilization is: teenagers kissing
in line for movies at the mall
while Daddy stands right behind,
bills flapping in the breeze.
I know I don't want that.
And from my canoe
I can see all of you
clutching your personal items,
the ones you have named
after imaginary soulmates,
men and women who never were.

Take It Home Today, the signs say
But I'm not going anywhere.
I'm sticking it out here,
on a slog through muddy marshland
mixed with barely fixed symbols
of Americana, broken in screen doors
ferris wheels and tractors
with one more ride left,
cars that are barely colors
any more. Honestly
I love those hard, faded blues,
those warm, dried up reds.
But who can stand the mosquitoes?