Sunday, May 31

Smoke On The Water

So, I'm back home now, before I go off on a trip with my sister in the Appalachians for a little less than a week. But let's review. It's been 15 days since I've done any kind of describing of my life here, So let's have a sentence for each day, shall we?

1. Went to the Catskills with my friend Courtney, hiked 8 miles or so and reached camp at dark.
2. Hiked 6 miles or so and then hitchhiked the rest of the way out with New Jersey Boy Scouts to get to Courtney's car.
3. Drove out of the catskills after waking up with about an inch of water in our tent, and then drove back to Brooklyn. Sent things home with Courtney and proceeded to spend a wonderful last night in New York with Jess, eating french food, playing Wii, and having a good time.
4. Got on a plane to Jacksonville, and arrived scared and kind of alone at the Yulee Outward Bound base, where I slept in tents with seven other people being trained.
5. Got up, ran, got trained in using some behavioral modification tools, learned to canoe, canoed .3 miles, camped.
6. See 5, but more intense, less sleep.
7. See 6, but more intense, less sleep.
8. Worked with two other trainees to act as instructors for a twelve-hour block, which was a ridiculously long time for the amount of things we had to organize people to do, then had a one- hour debrief, then at 6:00 PM another group started their twelve hour block as we canoed six miles at night on the river, had a one hour debrief, and we went to sleep at about 6:00 AM the next morning.
9. Got up at 11 AM this same morning and did another 8-hour instructor block, and camped as adults (we each acted like crazed 13-year-olds when the other people in our group were acting as instructors for practice).
10. Got up at 6 AM or so and did another 8-hour instructor block with an hour debriefing after a peaceful morning, and were caught in a lightning storm for two hours (which meant we had to be in lightning drill mode, which involves a lot of sitting).
11. Got up at 7 AM and did another 8-hour instructor block, canoed 5 miles, and then did my team's second instructor block, which went much better and lasted only around 7 hours, mostly because people were too tired to make it worse for us, I think. We were in lightning drill for an hour or so.
12. Got up at 7 AM, ran, got in the canoes, debriefed a lot of things we had done/seen from the night before, and then canoed 18 miles, getting to a place called Paradise Island at 8 PM.
13. Got up at 1 AM after a short nap under a tarp to find the instructors had vanished in order to let us finish the course on our own, canoed twelve miles until approximately 5 AM, took a nap in an estuary, found base, and hauled all four of our canoes up through swamp and mud in order to get back so we could clean all our gear, learn more about Outward Bound, and camp for the night after visiting a gas station (ooh, privilege!)
14. Got up at 6:30 AM to study a 15-passenger van operator's manual and take a driving test, while cleaning out more of our gear and learning more about how to fill out Outward Bound paperwork, of which there is a great deal to learn about, before getting pizza on the way home and feeling accomplished for having completed training (basically)
15. Got up at 7 AM, ran 5.6 mile "marathon" that the kids in the program had to run on their last day (my time was 35 minutes, woo!), went back to base and almost finished cleaning things until I had to go to the airport to get home, at which point I was told my assignment for the next three months (Yay! I'm in!) and then hurriedly got on a plane to get back to Providence.
16. Yesterday, when I was relaxing at home and began this entry.
17. Today, when I'm going with my sister to camp in the Appalachians.

Yarg. Some of those sentences turned into run-ons, in much the same way the days seemed to. I can't imagine how much more there is to tell, and I'll probably be thinking about what happened to me in the last two weeks for a long time.

Basically, my plan for the next two months is that I'm going to the Key Largo base to shadow an instructor on a course for a month as an "intern", after which point I will be travelling back to Jacksonville, where I got my training, and acting as a third instructor on a course, which is really a test to see if you're ready to advance from being an intern to being an assistant instructor. Should OB decide if they want me to be an assistant instructor and that I'm ready for it, they'll probably ask me to sign either a year-long or 18-month-long contract. The difference is big as far as pay. As an intern for the next 2 months or so, I'll be making $125 a week, and as an assistant instructor I would make around $80 a day.

SO! Now that we have all that debriefing out of the way, I have two things for you:

1. Photo evidence that most of the things above actually happened.
2. A poem:


Kurt Hahn says:
it's all going down, man
the trains, the tyewriters, the radio, the goddamn ball point pen,
this is it, man, give me your men
your MEN only.
I will givie you teenage mutant ninja merchant marines,
with lode stones for hearts
and fins for flesh.

So we give him our children,
we say, Kurt Hahn, show 'em
what to do,
then give 'em a barbeque
raise your leet crew
to do in lieu of the way
few others do.

And our kids
they look at internet porn, plastic army men
women the way men want women to be women,
they're seeing all this, meanwhile
Hahn goes on and on,
the steam engine,
the steam engine,
the steam engine,
the ball point pen and the radio being used
on the god damn trains
and it rains
all over everyone,
all over the advertisements and logos.
It rains like a spastic machine gun on a drum kit.

Kurt Hahn,
we know he means well,
and he can still put people through hell,
MAN. But he fails to calculate
that it rarely rains
in space. So I say, Kurt Hahn, you died before
you could go on, and I forgive you for that.
But don't gargoyle, aight?

Pa pa pa pa pa pa pa PEACE.

Monday, May 18

Gone Fishin'. Sort of.

Hey, Kids. Just got to the Yulee Base at Outward Bound. Very intimidating! I haven't had any time to upload pictures yet, but to be sure, there will be a massive update in about 12 days, when I get back from training. We'll see what happens until then! If you're a New York person, I had a great time living in the same city as you--but now I'm gone, and I'll miss you!

Later, everybody.

Friday, May 8

It's your thang, do whachu wanna do.

Here's a video of my great grandfather, Avram Harzfeld, a Russian/Israeli Jew who was at one point banished to Siberia for keeping subversive (revolutionary) literature in his apartment! I'd been reading about him recently, so it's funny that my family should just find this now. If only I could speak Hebrew...

In any case, I'm getting rid of most of my posessions before I go to Florida, including this computer. I'm hoping it's going to be marvellously freeing to do so. I guess I'll have to keep all you kids updated, so you know whether it's a viable option for you as well.

Friday, May 1

Drawing near.

Hey, kids. I'm a-leavin for Florida soon. Thought I'd post an updated version of an old poem that's been seeing some action lately (it's rare, of course, for my poems to see any action outside of being on my computer). This one's for the family I've never met, I guess.


I hear all these stories
about our grandparents
about Catherine and Nikoli,
about Vladimir and Bunny,
forced to marry in Siberia by economics and

she's the owner of the snowed-in general store
and he's the only one who knows how to use a shovel

she’s an overanxious surgeon
and he's a drug dealer from three shtetls over

she's a subsistence farmer
and he a roving checker champion, who has always dreamed of settling down.

So many obscene combinations of history.

He's a stock broker with a golf tattoo
and she's a freegan fisherwoman

he a pedophile who cares only for the sax
and she's his deaf grandmother,

she's a tribal chieftess
and he is a Norwegian Conquistador, blinding and glorious in his metallic sealskin

she is a human frisbee
and she is a human pinball machine, based on an action movie.

he is a prodigal ping-pong genius, whose hand was flash frozen to his favorite paddle, while playing outside in February, and she, amazingly, the same, except for a gigantic fro that blots out the warmth of the sun.

she could be a hippie who's into anthropomorphism
and he's just an an asshole soldier who can growl convincingly.

She may simply be a palm tree, he a mysterious fog
and their child, their baby child, is an islander with a bamboo spear.

Regardless, they always end up
in some tentative embrace
under the icy hot sun
in The Old Country, feet not quite puncturing
the layer of ice resting on the earth,
almost as though
they were hovering.