Sunday, January 26, 2014

Where I Don't Live

I don't live in London. As dumb as this is, I couldn't bear to change it from my Facebook timeline. "Lives in London, United Kington" is no longer true. I just changed the privacy setting from "public" to "only me" so only I can see my previous living status whenever I want. I just can't change it to somewhere, nowhere in Massachusetts... Man.

It's 1:44pm and the places I've been today are my bed and the bathroom. It's almost too cold to leave and it's flat out disappointing and sucks the happiness right out of me.

I should have known that I wasn't going to be exempt from abroad withdrawals but I thought I was an outlier.

I remember thinking fondly of Stonehill back in London-that I couldn't wait to be back. It never works out the way we want though. I've realized that many of my friends are not truly friends at all. They're just weekend friends. Same crowd, again. And again. I end up wanting to stay in my bed and bond with Netflix most nights because I'm usually disappointed with the interactions that occur.

So why go out? I so desperately want things to be different. I want to be around funny people. People who don't give a shit about what everybody else thinks of them. I want to be WEIRD. And sometimes I want to go out in my Bob Marley t-shirt but somehow it turns out that I'm the girl who's not trying to attract anybody. That I'm not trying hard enough. Since when was trying super hard ever the cool thing?

When I see the weekend crowd I think "Tonight is gonna be a good night." I am myself, I'll never not be. It sucks holding back; I learned that lesson a few years ago. Other people will agree that weird is the best; weird is funny; weird isn't boring, and nobody wants boring. But you know if you cross that line though-- that weird line, where the weird gets too weird-- you're crazy to everybody else.

So I'm gonna make something happen. Something needs to change. It's about people in our circles. Learning experiences happen all the time and I think I learn something new everyday. So for me and for all the diamonds in the rough: Fight for yourself. Care about yourself. Laugh to yourself. Laugh at yourself. Take SO much pride in weirding everyone out, because it's probably hilarious. And let's make something happen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

CAPA Blog Post as an Alum

I originally drafted this post on December 5th but I wanted CAPA to officially publish it before sharing it myself.

Click here to see my CAPA blog post on my internship experience published on their website.

London, Day 2: I hear the sound of crunching fabric− Oh, what am I doing here? I tug the left sleeve of my jacket free from the relentless Underground doors and let out half a sigh of relief, half a laugh. I am so lost. Yes, at this moment I know where I’m going– I’m on my way to the ol' CAPA center for day one of orientation, but I am mentally lost.

While I still find myself looking up and suddenly realizing that I have no idea of my whereabouts, I have learned to ride the wave. And even better, I have found refuge at my internship site: Castlehaven Community Association.

The people at Castlehaven have enhanced my internship experience enormously. Every week I see my mom in Amy and Lillian, my aunts in Phillippa, Rosa, and Jennifer; if I had brothers I’m sure I’d see them in Julian, Clinton, and Darren; I see my goofy cousin in the other Darran with an 'a', and my grandmother in Anita, except that Anita jams to reggae and just way too cool for me or my grandma. And I’ll give myself children for the sake of completing my Castlehaven family- the Youth Project kids.

My supervisor is Amy. I cannot put my admiration for her into words. Amy and I are connected, we just are; we buy the same lunch unknowingly and that has to mean something. On my birthday, just days after the finale of Breaking Bad, I walked into the Kids Klothes shop that she has transformed this fall, and we discuss our eternal gratitude for the writers’ decision preserve Jesse’s life, Walt’s successful escape from prison via death and how he killed everybody, but we still like him a little maybe... Then she slyly disappears and returns with this chocolate cake and a card with notes from the staff, and says ‘I hope you like chocolate.’ Do I ever.

Amy is not the only exceptional mentor I have had at Castlehaven. Phillippa is the Youth Services Manager and as I wrote in my personal blog during the early weeks of my time here, “Phillippa, supervisor of all things ages 12-19 at Castlehaven, makes the world go round and life go on.” She is so wonderful and I don't how I would’ve progressed here without the influence of her unconditional energy and passion for humor and life.

Phillippa recently took me to ZenithOptimedia, one of Castlehaven’s partners. Earlier in the year some kids of the Youth Project performed and raised £17,200 to go right back into music, and amazing trips to amusement parks and theatres among other venues. It was clear how much the kids admire her when they spoke and thanked her in front of Zenith’s staff.

Click here for a video showing Castlehaven and ZenithOptimedia's amazing partnership. 

Asher, an amazing musician and member of the Youth Project

But Phillippa, like many others I have met here, does speak incredibly fast. I thought London would be fairly easy; but props to Londoners, because living here is hard. There is the English language, thank goodness. But before we all get too comfortable the speed is different, and then the context is different, not to mention this whole new wave called culture.

The evidence: In the middle of October I sat in the Haven Cafe kitchen waiting for Amy to arrive. Rosa, a project assistant manager, walks in and just like The Parent Trap- ‘Oh! You gave me a fright!’ The part when Hal/Annie’s true identity is discovered by saying this peculiar arrangement of words, anyone?! ‘I gave you a fright...?’ replied Chessie. ‘You scared me; I didn’t you were like, like in here.’ Despite the addition of the word ‘like,’ your life as a Californian is busted, Anne; no turning back now. That was a delightful surprise to hear Rosa innocently express those words. Peppermint and pipe tobacco? A childhood classic. 

Early in the term I sat in on a few recording session at the Youth Project with Darren, the music studio technician. There, I learned some slang. I'd say to Darren "That's good!"/"I like that!" and he just said "Cheers." I sat puzzled, awkward for a moment not knowing how to respond to a “cheers,” that I thought was must have been out of context. But I soon figured out that he meant “thanks,” by “cheers” and didn't bother discussing the cultural differences. 

Darren and Khalil #1

Darren and Khalil #2

Late in October I started meeting with the other Darran, the Social Enterprise Business Development, aka the coolest Irish guy I know-and this isn't on purpose that I say this right after, but I do think he might be the only Irish person I know. Nevertheless, he tries to reject the fact the he is cool, though with one exception: A while back, he caught a glimpse of me eating a banana and gave me an "uh gross..." type reaction as he explained that he can't eat bananas and that they make him vomit. That is not cool. I resisted revealing to him that I've eaten seven bananas in one day, weary that on that uncomfortably warm day one's stomach might be particularly weaker, and I feared that he would vomit in front of me at the thought of that experience. He also tries to scare me at least once a week and is usually successful.

And then there’s Julian, another Youth Worker at the Youth Project. He gave me his autograph last week, just because. When I think of Julian, I will always remember drawing and pens; the man likes pens. A few days had passed when I first arrived in London and I was almost prepared for my classes, only I didn’t buy any pens or pencils; I had enough to get me through a few months. School supply shopping man, it gets ya, and in London I couldn’t afford to be got. So now, with three weeks left, and an initial supply of three to six pens and pencils I know I have given Julian three of them, only because of the yearning look on his face when he writes with one. Who knows maybe I’ll leave him the rest as a parting gift.

Drawing, see? That's Julian

Jordan, a Youth Project member, "cooking"
With a week left in the term, here I find myself, once again disrupted from my rhythm. Castlehaven, a place that is a comfort, a place that has become home− time has ripped it from my fingertips.

As I prepare to depart this journey of a city, I want to ask the tube: “Do you want to keep some of my jacket? I get to stay a bit longer if you do!!! Please say yes.”

Thanks London, and thanks Castlehaven, for letting me get lost within you.

Well some of us look happy. 

Beware of an upcoming post abroad depression post! In the meantime check out my wise friend Angela's take on withdrawal here, which is extremely well written and expresses similar feelings to my own.