Tag Archives: Camping

Look At The Sky

The other day I realized just how much I stare at my phone. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I realized that for the longest time, I had not looked at the sky. After realizing this, I realized just how much I don’t pay attention to as an adult that really seemed to matter when I was a kid. As a kid I would just sit and stare at the sky and think about a million things and nothing. It seemed like there was so much more in the world. I didn’t notice when I stopped doing that. I didn’t notice as the world became smaller and faster.

I’ve been trying to make a point to look at the sky now. I still don’t always remember. I think it’s important. I used to see pictures in the clouds. I don’t see pictures anymore, but I still think the sky is beautiful. I think it’s important to appreciate the things God made. If it wasn’t important, he wouldn’t have made things beautiful. The world could have been black and white. As an artist, I don’t always know why I make things or write things. I just can’t help it, and even though I don’t have an explicable reason for them, I love the things I make. I imagine God feels the same way, particularly about people who can love him back.

It’s funny that a lot of things in the world can keep you alive in one case, and can kill you in another. I like fire. At one point in time, fire was integral to the survival of the human race. In fact, for several years we’ve heated our house with a wood stove through the winter because it’s been cheaper. Fire is something I can still stare at for hours and think about nothing and everything. I like to play with fire. I like to watch stuff burn (yes I know that sounds weird) because it’s interesting and beautiful.

I’ve said this before, but I have over one hundred cousins of various removes, etc, so I just call them all cousins. Anyway, at camp this summer my mom had to explain to one of my cousins who has some form of developmental problem that he couldn’t touch fire. He understood that it would hurt him, but he thought he could run to the lake and put it out before it got too hot. Like me, he thought fire was beautiful and interesting and just wanted to understand it better.

Two years ago, when we had a record-breaking winter, my dad went hiking and made a video. It was snowing and sub-zero on the mountain, but my dad had the time of his life. He loves cold and snow. When I was a kid I liked it. Listening to the weather forecast and hearing seventies and eighties instead of eighties and nineties makes me a little sad these days. At the same time, a part of me is hoping for another record-breaking winter. If it has to come, I’d rather it come in full force. When we got Seamus, we tried to give him some snow to play with. He was afraid of it. He’s a really stupid bird.

I wonder if it’s easier to appreciate things when you think about how you relate to those things, or when you project yourself into a story or an idea or a situation. In my last post I talked about Mythic Island. There was a specific way in which to get there. You had to build a fairy house. Fairies would show up and live there, and in return for building them a house, they would do things for you. In particular, they would create a magical portal that would allow you to get to Mythic Island. A fairy house is a tepee made of sticks and leaves and things. The better the fairy house, the more fairies it would attract. The more fairies you had, the more they could do for you. When we hung out in the woods as kids we would think about these things, and we would build fairy houses just to be nice. We had more of a reason for being there.

I think it’s harder to relate to the world when our worlds are our computers. On Facebook and WordPress and wherever else we “exist” we create the versions of ourselves that we want that particular world to see, and we see the manufactured versions of everyone else. We can look at pictures of clouds and fire, but they’re no substitute for the real thing. When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, it was like going back to Mythic Island. At the time, though, things from Mythic Island would come into the “real world” and we had to help dragons get back home. I guess maybe that made the world seem a little bigger, too.

What I didn’t realize as a kid was that the world is really big. It’s just my little piece of it that’s small. In Mythic Island we could ride our dragons hundreds of miles in a day, we were powerful, and time didn’t make sense. It was our world, and that’s why it seemed so much bigger than the “real world.” I guess I just kind of miss being amazed by the sky. The world really hasn’t changed. I’m just more easily distracted, and ironically, I think I’m less patient in some ways. For the longest time I didn’t want a cell phone. Everyone my age (eleven or so) had one, but I didn’t care. Then when smart phones became a thing my mom practically had to force me to get one. And a few days ago I realized that I forget to be amazed by the sky.

Don’t forget to be amazed. Even if you’ve looked at something a million times, look at it again. Listen to that song you love again. Smell those flowers. Climb that mountain. Eat that cookie. Go back to Mythic Island.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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That Time Of Year

Yup, it’s that time of year again… Time for the pre-camping post. There isn’t a whole lot to say, I suppose. I tend to try and write about how the summer has gone in general and what I hope to accomplish and such, but this summer has been pretty boring. I’mostly okay with that. I think I deserve a little free relaxation time.

I had hoped to get a lot done on my book this summer, and I had hoped to read more. Honestly, the reason I haven’t is simply because I’ve been hanging out. We’ve had a lot of company this summer, and I’ve had my fair share of late night D&D sessions with my friends. I don’t regret it. Come September everyone will be back in school full time, and I’ll get back to work. It’s hard to have a routine when everyone is on different schedules and you’re trying to fit in quality time with everyone before they’re either super busy or just gone until December.

Not to mention, my cousin Nicholas (Dinks) stays with us while my aunt is at work, and I would feel bad if I didn’t entertain him. He’s 13 and can fend for himself, but I don’t want him to be bored if I can help it.

In other news, I’ve been enlisted to play some music at my cousin Jackie’s wedding next summer. I’ve already been working on my set list, and I think I know what I’m going to play. My godmother (Jackie’s mom) wants me to write an original song for her and Jeff (her fiancé). I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a daunting task. I’m definitely going to work on it while we’re at camp. I have a feeling this is going to be a hard song to write because I don’t have much personal experience to go off of. My dad suggested starting with a poem or a sonnet and taking the idea, then riffing off of that. It might not be a bad place to start.

I have to find something to wear to this, too, which I know is going to be tedious. I hate shopping. The thing is, my mom will be coming because A) I will need a ride, and B) my dad will do it “wrong.” My mom and I have very different approaches to shopping. I’ll leave it at that.

It seems like every year the number of campers in our group dwindles a little. It used to be a big ridiculous production. We don’t have very many people going at all this year, which kind of stinks. I’ll bring my Bible and the other book I’m reading (Paralandra by C.S. Lewis). I’ll bring my DS, at least for the ride up, but I kind of feel like it’s cheating to play video games at camp.

I’ll also be bringing my guitar. I’ve been hosting a talent show for the past several years and will be doing it again this year. I usually goof around and play a couple songs before the show starts, and then give the stage over to whoever wants to do something. We actually had a few pretty good people last year. It seems to get better as we keep doing it. My cousin Amber usually co-hosts. Last year was the first time we actually used a sign up sheet so we could introduce the people ourselves, and that worked better than expected.

We’ll also be bringing Seamus to camp with us. The thing about conures is that they get very attached to their humans, and if they’re alone for a long time they get lonely and depressed. We were going to bring him to our godparents’ house, because they live close to the campground, but we decided it would be easiest just to bring him with us. Pets aren’t allowed at the campground, but he’s tiny and pretty inconspicuous, and if we get caught we can still bring him to our godparents’. I’m glad he’s coming for 2 reasons: 1) I like breaking little rules when it won’t hurt anyone, and 2) I won’t have to miss him. It’s absurd how much I love my Boo.

I guess that’s it for now.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The True Meaning Of Mobile Home

I just read a blog post by a friend of mine from school. In the past year he took a semester abroad, specifically in Oxford England. In the spring we’ll both be graduating and he’ll be headed to grad school. I mention all of this because his post was about disorientation. He was talking about how he has lived in so many different places in a short period of time, and now his subconscious is losing its idea of where Home is. At the end of his post, my friend posed a question which I have expanded on: what exactly is home? can you take it with you? is it a physical place? What does it take to consider a place or a thing home?

I have a small bag with several compartments hanging off my wheelchair so I can reach it easily. During the school year, it’s generally filled with pencils, pens, folded up handouts that I have yet to file away, etc. However, right now it’s filled with a lot of other things. Right now it’s filled with a small, stuffed frog that I’ve had since I was five, several guitar picks, my notebook that is slowly being filled with new and old song lyrics, my special leopard pen, and an empty assault rifle shell that was used to decimate a pineapple yesterday. All of these things have either good use or happy memories attached to them, and I wonder if in a way, that makes them home.

My family and I got home around 11:30 last night after spending a week and a day camping in Maine. It’s usually very nice to come home from camping, but for some reason, it seemed like the week went by so fast that we weren’t quite as desperate to return as we usually are. Perhaps this is because camping has become the only time of the year we see some of our relatives. My cousin Amber, who is attending Mcgill University, has spent the past three summers there as well, and has decided to permanently plant herself in Montreal. My cousin Chris is now an EMT in Vermont, though he used to live in Maine. My Mom’s cousin Eddie comes down from Bangor Maine. The list goes on.

Sometimes things are very much the same from year to year, and some years we have a whole lot to catch up on at Camp. I have been doing this since I was a year old, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. I hope that one of these years I’ll have a wedding to talk about, or maybe an apartment or house of my own. Maybe I’ll have a job, or maybe my music career will have taken off.

My brother doesn’t really love camping, but I hope he will continue to come once our parents have no more say in it. I hope he brings his wife and kids years down the road (if he has them, of course). He intends to become a brain surgeon, so that will make things interesting, but everyone has to take a vacation, right? One week during the summer seems reasonable.

All this is to say that I think I wasn’t completely thrilled to come home last night because in a way, Camp is home. I just read a blog post by a friend of mine discussing that particular issue: i.e. what is Home? His post came about as the result of a dream he had. In the dream, he was wandering around a familiar library in a completely unfamiliar place. The city in his dream was a strange combination of Boston, Oxford, and New York, where he has or will be living over the past several years and in the near future. He posed the question of whether or not the concept of Home is dependent on place. He talked about how so many people have no transition period between high school and the “real world,” and this results in a serious reality change that can cause real emotional damage in some cases.

One of my cousins went to a counselor a year or two ago, and he told my Mom that he learned something very helpful: there are essentially two types of people in the world: there are what the counselor called “sails” and “anchors.” An “anchor” he said, was someone who is very stable and will always be there for people. For me, this would be my parents, my brother, and a few of my friends. I know they love me, and I know I can depend on them for anything. I think it could be said that these people are Home.

I have a little pouch with several compartments hanging off the armrest of my wheelchair. This pouch is currently filled with a menagerie of things. It’s filled with my cell phone, my wallet, several guitar picks, a notebook that is slowly being filled with song lyrics, a small, awkwardly heavy leopard pen, a tiny stuffed frog toy, and an empty assault rifle shell from yesterday that was used to decimate a pineapple. My pouch is filled with different things at different times, but so is my life. For me, my pouch is Home. I always know that whatever I need at a given time is in there, even if it takes me a while to find it.

My friend asked the question in his post: can you take Home with you? It depends on what Home is for you. My house, among other things is Home for me, so in that sense no, but in other ways, absolutely. I love my bedroom, with its somewhat tacky color scheme, it’s purple and orange lava lamp, it’s multicolored pillows, its miscellaneous bookshelves, and its assortment of collected things, both worthless and expensive. Songs have been written in here, homework has been done in here, things have been celebrated in here, and tears have been cried in here. I pray in here and sometimes I eat in here. If there was a mini-fridge and a toilet I could live in here. My bedroom is absolutely Home.

I will probably always consider the house on Haverhill Street Home, even though I really don’t like living in Suburbia. I will always want to come back here for Christmas and Thanksgiving, even if, and when I have my own family, my own career, and my own house/apartment. I guess my response to my friend is: yes, Home is dependent on place, but for your own sanity, make sure you can take it with you, too.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Northbound

It’s raining. Sometimes I think rain is a sign of good luck. It always rains when I do an open mic. I usually pick a few dates per month to perform, and it invariably rains on those days. We’re leaving for a week to go camping in Maine tomorrow. Camping in the rain is awful, but the forecast looks good for tomorrow and the rest of the week. We have a few super fun plans for this trip. The first thing on my list is to go to my uncle’s house and learn to shoot a gun. It just seems like it could be fun. I would probably never own one, and I’m not exactly a fan of hunting, but just shooting at targets or something seems like it could be enjoyable. It’s just something I want to try.

My brother and cousin and I are planning to organize a Capture the Flag tournament. Whichever team wins 2 out of 3 games will win. We’ll have one game at night and one during the day and we’ll have a tiebreaker if we need to. Most of my mom’s extended family comes, so we’ll have plenty of people to play.

We also do a mile swim every year. I’ve only made it all the way a handful of times, including last year. Of course I’m going to shoot for it again this year. I’m usually the last one to finish, but I think the trick is to take it slow. It’s not really a race; we just like to see who can make it the whole way.

I’m also organizing a talent night with another cousin. We did it last year for the first time, and it actually turned out okay. It probably would have been better if the weather had been nicer. Last year was specifically a jam night; meant for musicians only, but this year we’re doing a talent night to hopefully get more people. There are plenty of odd people with odd talents at camp, so I figured we’d get everyone we could. I think our other mistake was that we were trying to get people to sign up ahead of time, but this year I think we’ll just do it free-for-all style. Last year the rangers let us use the amphitheater where they show movies on Saturdays and Thursdays. They show a lot of Disney movies, which is fun. I made my cousins watch “Chicken Run,” and I think they’re still scarred.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Camping Part 2

We made it home today, and thank God! it rained almost all week. We spent a lot of time sitting under tarps and trying to keep dry. I brought my Nintendo DS (portable video game playing device, if you don’t know), but I didn’t really play it at all. We played cards and drank hot chocolate and it was fine; it was just boring.

There were a few nice days, and one day we went fishing with my crazy Uncle Gary. He’s my mother’s best friend, but he’s also my brother’s and my godfather, so we call him uncle. Ironically, he can tend to confuse me at times when it comes to matters of faith and morality and things like that. He’s a wonderful person, we just tend to disagree on some things. I won’t get into detail, though. The point is, I didn’t actually do any fishing. I brought a notebook and a pencil and finished writing a song that I had started the night before. Of course a day later I decided I didn’t like the song.

The weekend was fantastic, though. It was hot and sunny and we all had a lot of fun. We did have a little show on Friday. I hosted the open mic. My cousins and a couple of their friends got up and sang a song about cats, which was funny. I think it kind of weirded the audience out, but I approved. A little boy who was maybe around 10 got up and sang some of Bohemian Rhapsody. He was a little off in some places, but it was impressive, nonetheless. Another very little boy got up and got the whole audience to sing Row Row Row Your Boat. I played a bunch of originals and a few covers and then the sky threatened to dump multitudes of rain upon our heads, so we all went back to our tents.

Last night we did our swim to 3rd beach and back, which I think is a mile round-trip. Needless to say I was tired when we got back to camp. The lake was wavy and it pushed us on the way there, but we had to fight it on the way back to camp. I prayed a lot just to get back. It was actually the first time in years I’ve been able to finish the whole sim, and I can’t imagine i”m in better shape.

Today we couldn’t have finished packing fast enough. We all desperately wanted to get home to our own rooms, our computers, our toys, etc. It was another beautiful day though, and the lake gave me the inspiration for a new song. It’s called “Home,” and it’s sort of about being home but not realizing it until you get lost and then wanting to get back. It’s also sort of a metaphor for where I feel like I am with my faith right now.

Lately I’ve sort of felt like I’m just going through the motions and I’m expecting things of God just because I’m a Christian and I haven’t been trying to improve myself or my current situation (which is stable but sort of going nowhere fast). Over the past couple days, I have been trying to be nicer to my little cousins. To put it bluntly, I don’t like children, but I tried to be a lot more patient with them and I did alright. I was definitely nicer than usual to them, and I gave them rides on my wheelchair, which is usually a big NO if they ask for it.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to really try and get some momentum going in my life. I need to work a lot harder to get my business up and running and to get my album finished. I thought of something yesterday, perhaps. I have never been in a relationship. I’ve never even been on a date. I could think of a million reasons why, but I think the most likely one is the one I thought of last night. It’s probably true that God is making me wait for the right time and the right person. I also think that I will have to wait until I am able to support a relationship. I think this is the only way I could possibly be happy in a relationship. The fact of the matter is, I rely on people for help a lot because of my disability. I also want to be able to help people in any way I can. I think I would be happy in a relationship where I can financially support myself, but I would be happiest in a relationship where I can support the other person sort of as reciprocation for helping me with my needs. Maybe that’s weird, but I really just want to be helpful.

Well, I’m tired and I have things to do, so I will have to write more later.

Goodnight world!

Camping!

We’re going camping on Friday. I’m so excited! I’m especially excited this year because I’m just itching to get away from home. Lately all of my friends have been busy, so for the past couple days I’ve had to entertain myself (the horror). It wouldn’t be so bad except my friend had a family tragedy last night and I was sad because he and his family were sad. I just worry about him sometimes, so I’ve just been hoping he’s doing ok. He’s usually crazy busy, so he probably has things to take his mind off it, but I still worry. Meanwhile, I don’t really have anything to take my mind off of it today. I played guitar for a particularly long time this afternoon, but after that I sort of got bored so I took a walk and of course my mind started racing a million miles a minute (yay alliteration).

I’ve also sort of got writer’s block, which always manages to put me in a foul mood. I did figure out a cool way to play Ode To Joy on the guitar, which was sort of ironic and entertaining considering the circumstances. I still need to figure out what I’m going to bring to camp for entertainment. I’ll probably bring a book (I’ll probably only have time to read one) and a guitar. I might bring my electric guitar with a little battery powered amp. It’s really small and actually sounds decent. I just need to figure out what book I want to read. My dad suggested “The Age of Reason,” so I’ll probably end up reading that.

I’m hoping to set up a Jam Night sort of thing at the campground. There’s usually a handful of people who bring a guitar or a ukulele or what have you. I guess We’d have to do it all acoustic. I don’t feel like dragging a microphone and an amp and what not. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to set something like this up, but I figured I could make a few fliers and see if the rangers would let me put them up near the bathrooms.

There are two halves of the campground, and both of them are pretty big. I think there’s three different bathroom/shower houses on the side my family camps on. I’m at least going to see if I can get a few up on our side. Even if the ranger doesn’t let me put up flyers, I suppose I could just go scope out some music people and ask them in person.

They always have a movie night twice a week at an outdoor amphitheater that you can walk to. It’s part of the campground and there’s a stage there, so I figured we could probably use that. Whoever is playing will just have to sing/play loud so everyone can hear. If it goes well I might bring a microphone and stuff next year or see if anyone else would be willing to bring something.

We’re going to be packing and stuff tomorrow mostly. We borrowed a trailer from my mom’s cousin, so between that and my dad’s pickup truck we should have enough room that we can just throw everything in and head north. After that the only thing to do is pray that it doesn’t rain while we’re setting up.