I Am Mountain Tops

I have strong moments
And I have weak moments.
Strong like building shelves
And weak like fractured twine.
My spine holds me erect
But my head sometimes hold my gaze down.
I have strong moments
Like when laughter pours from my lips.
Or when I make left-overs into a four course meal.
I have weak moments
Like when my eyes are too sad to cry.
Or when I can’t find a lighter.
So yeah, I can be strong.
But I’m still weak enough to know what growing feels like.
My heart has shin splints.
My body has aches in every place my bones meet.
My feet are charcoaled ash.
My hands are forgotten love letters.
My hope is forever looking forward.
My past is always pulling me back.
I have strong moments
And I have weak moments.
Sometimes the moments meet one another.
The strong greets the week with a scrunched brow and solid hand shake.
The weak me curls like a fist trying to be a rock.
I am mountain tops;
Strong, but I have weak spots.

Catventures.

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That’s a semi-blurry picture of my cat, Phoenix, and my best frand’s cat, Kitty, in the background. It was taken immediately after Phoenix returned from an outdoor adventure that lasted a day or two. The adventure was not planned, but she made it home safe (dirty) and sound. This is her not more than five minutes after her return to the indoors:

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I think it’s safe to say she had some fun.

Tick-Tocking

My parents have a lot of clocks.
The tic-tocking is evidence that time is moving even though I’m laying still.
I’ve been belly down on the carpet for a while now,
Staring my dog in the face.
She’s sleeping.
Snoring.
In the middle of the front entry way.
She can’t be bothered by me.
I’m bothered by her not wanting to cuddle.
Sometimes, all I want is to cuddle.
To the left of me a clock from the living room ticks.
Behind me, one from the kitchen.
They aren’t in synchrony, so I don’t know which one to believe.
Kind of like when there’s one story told from two points of view.
One of them has to be embellishing something.
Like one of those clocks has to be racing.
I wonder what would make time speed.
Is she afraid of red lights?
Does she hold the calves of olympic runners in her palms?
When does she eat dinner?
There’s a clock in front of me, although it’s not tocking like the rest.
This clock glows blue.
It’s resting under the TV that rarely gets turned on by me.
I haven’t quite figured out how to skip all the commercials in my life.
These clocks won’t let me forget that the show is not stopping.
There’s so much tick-tocking here.
More than I’ve ever heard before.
Unless I’ve been in a clock museum and I’ve forgotten…
But I don’t think anyone could forget that much tick-tocking.
Not even me.
Although, I’m not that great with details.
And people often think I’m a better listener than I really am.
I used to listen to the clock in my bedroom as it sang tunes like birds on the hour.
My favorite was the soft coo-ing of the mourning dove that rang at 7 o’clock.
The clocks my parents have now aren’t as soothing as that.
The tocks and the ticks make me anxious.
Like I’m supposed to have somewhere to be.
Or I’m supposed to have people around me.
But I don’t have either.
I’ve told the clocks to stop pressuring me but they continue to tick.
They must listen like I do.

Anti-camp-mactic

The vision of RMV camp gates welcoming me has been present in my mind for a while now. All year I looked forward to feeling that magic again, longing to be surrounded by new people, old friends, and campers. In the middle of the Rocky Mountains, one can certainly get lost. And that is exactly what I had to do.

My friend, Hannah, joined me as we drove west. Colorado was our final destination, but we had many stops planned in between. Since I’ve taken the (un)pleasant drive through Iowa and Nebraska before, we decided to take route that’s a little farther north. After driving through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, we hit Minnesota, where we made a comfortable bed out of my mom’s minivan I was borrowing for the trip. It was more spacious than we both had anticipated and we slept well. Back on the road in the morning, we headed to South Dakota. The Badlands were calling our name. I had been there the year prior, driving through with my family, but this time it was different. We camped at a remote campsite, 12 miles down a dirt road in Badlands National Park. The bison were visible and the coyote’s howls made us aware they were near. An early morning the next day and we were on the road again. We stopped at Wall Drug, and also stopped by Mount Rushmore.

It was friday afternoon and I was eager to reach camp. We made it to Colorado just in time for rush hour, and as soon as we made it through Denver it was smooth flying up the mountain. Hannah and I were greeted by our friend Bianca, and some of the year-round staff at camp. The camp director made a fabulous dinner on the grill and we enjoyed a quiet night in the mountains. The next morning we ate breakfast at The Happy Cooker, and what happened next was not anything that anyone had planned.

Thursday night, in the Badlands, Hannah and I were sitting on the ground, listening to some park rangers speak about how people used to hunt bison back in the day. Reaching up, I plucked a bug out of my hair. Now, having dreadlocs, I expect things to get caught in them, for bugs to mistake them for a home, so I flicked the bug aside and didn’t think anything of it. After all, we were sitting in the grass at a camp site in the middle of a park. Saturday morning, during breaking, reaching up and scratching my head, I plucked out yet another bug. Oddly enough, it was the same kind of bug I found two nights before!

Grossly enough, my friends got on the ‘ole google machine and found that, indeed, I had head lice. We were sitting in the car during the discovery. I had to get out. My stomach curled, my mouth started to water, and all of a sudden I could feel creepy crawly bugs making a home out of my head.

Now, a normal reaction would probably be to think, “Hmm, I need to get rid of these bugs.” My reaction? “I MIGHT HAVE TO SHAVE MY DREADS OFF.”

Seriously, that was my main concern. Multiple friends of mine had lice in the past, and they cleaned theirs up with no problem. After another google search about killing lice in a dread head, we ran to the corner store and bought two containers of rubbing alcohol. We went back to camp and drenched my head in the alcohol, leaving it sit for at least a half hour. Even though it was hard to not think about the bugs crawling around my scalp, we went about our day as planned. We drove down to Denver and met up with some friends, hung out in their courtyard, and celebrated in the Denver Pride festivities.

Sunday morning came around and I knew camp wasn’t going to allow me to be around campers. Head lice, after all, are very contagious through physical contact. It wasn’t until that night that I was told my fate. For ten days I had to stay off of camp. Apparently that is the incubation period for the baby lice eggs, and they needed to make sure I was not only free of bugs, but free of the nits as well. Feeling lost at that moment was an understatement. As everyone at camp got ready for bed, I drove aimlessly up the mountain. It was already getting dark, and the camp sites I passed looked hard to navigate without light. Turning around, I decided on turning the van into a bed once more.

I had a couple nights of figuring out where to sleep. Thankfully, I knew some people down in Denver who were semi-okay with my lice head keeping them company. Continually, I did treatments on my head. The nurses at camp soaked my head in canola oil to suffocate any bugs that were left. I lathered my head with vinegar as well. My dreads had never felt more…weird. With little hope of ever getting rid of them, I cried at the thought of being bald. Chopping off the last year of my life with one swift cut just to rid myself of these disgusting creatures living on my head, feeding off my blood. Needless to say, I was thoroughly grossed out.

After a few days of being a nomad, the camp director called me. He mentioned shaving my head, to which I kindly declined. Then he gave me an option I had already considered many times during my solo adventures up and down the mountain; drive home.

With a head full of bugs, eyes full of tears, and a stomach tied in knots, I called my mom to tell her the news. Camp offered to give me 200 dollars and send me on my way. They couldn’t risk an infestation, and I couldn’t afford to just hang around Colorado until these lice were gone. Without hesitation, my mom told me she would fly out to Denver and drive back home with me. That night was the only night I rented a hotel room. That night left me feeling stale.

It was now wednesday and officially my last day in those mountains. Managing to sneak my way into the back entrance of camp, I said goodbye to a few friends, closed the van doors, and went on my way.

All the suspense that led up to it, all of the excitement about camp slowly disappeared. My stay there was, to say the least, anticampmactic. After such an incredible experience last year at RMV camp, I genuinely looked forward to another summer spent there. My hopes for the summer were very high, and they still are, they’re just a tad different now. Instead of receiving a camper sunday morning, participating in all-camps throughout the week, and eating dinner in a dining hall, I sleep in sunday mornings as late as I want, I participate in whatever activities happen to come my way, and I eat dinner whenever my stomach starts to grumble.

Although I am so sad to not be at camp, I am thankful for the time that is now available for me to find a place to live next year, collect all of my shit, and hang out with people I was weary of leaving behind for a whole summer. So my summer didn’t turn out as planned. Now my summer can be filled with small adventures, close friends, and getting my life together (or at least attempting to…).

Taken on my last day in Colorado

Taken on my last day in Colorado

Roaring rivers

All the river does is roar

It makes me wonder if the Earth ever stops flowing

I stopped knowing ground years ago when only concrete was beneath my feet

I forgot how grass grows passed that prickly point, poking through your toes

It can brush your knees

This river can squeeze through the cracks on this mountain’s back

Her bones are stacked and packed on top of each other

Only making room for the roar

All this river does is scream

It makes me wonder if the Earth ever stops getting shin splints

 

Last Night in the City

I sit, perched on a window sill, curtain drawn. Chet Faker sings so sweetly to me from my computer screen and I’m typing. Just like Paige is typing outside my navy blue curtained-wall. She’s writing reflections for class. I finished mine not too long ago and am a couple beers deep. It’s the last night it Denmark and it is so incredibly bittersweet.

As I think of boarding a plane tomorrow I can’t help but feel as if my time here is not over. Something about this place feels unexplored. We spent the majority of our time here in Copenhagen, a fairly big city in Denmark terms. The other nights were spent in a smaller city called Aarus. To get to one from the other we had to take a bus onto a ferry and make our way across the water. During this bus ride we drove through green hills, trees, farm lands, animals, and wind turbines. It was a green country like land that I have yet to know. I would love to stay longer and get out of this city. Although it’s not as smog covered as other cities I’ve been too (thank you, bikers) it’s still a city. It has that busy feel.

I don’t really care to be a busy person. Casual is me. Cities tend to move too quickly.

It’s nearly 11pm here and the sun is barely passed the horizon. The sky still glows blue and the clouds only cover the orange-pink sunset glow enough to turn plum. There are few cars driving by below me. Tonight we got lucky enough to be placed on the twelfth floor. It’s nice to be high up, above things, looking down on that busy city without having to be in it. I can appreciate it more when the noise is muffled by distance.

Tivoli is glowing, the amusement park we went to at the beginning of our trip. We wrong on swings that went 800 meters in the air, high enough to see all of Copenhagen. As I look out my window now I can’t help but think we should have spent that 13 dollars for the ride on the ride that mimics the Power Tower and Cedar Point. I can see the people rise and sit for a moment, hanging there above the city long enough to get a good look before the drop back down to solid ground. It’s one my favorite rides at Cedar Point so I could only imagine it would be just as fun in a city like this. I’m not too upset with our choice of swings because we did get to meet Steven Tyler, but nevertheless, the off brand Power Tower would be neat.

Tomorrow I hope on the train and head to the airport. Paige and I have another long flight back to Canada, and then another flight back to Detroit. It’s a long day of travel, but I’ve heard the jet lag doesn’t hit you as hard going to the US from here as it does coming this way. We’ll see, but either way, tonight, I say goodbye to Copenhagen and see you later to Denmark.

This is an opportunity I am truly thankful for.

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Sunset from the twelfth floor of Danhostel, Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

Denmark Mind Dump

I’ve realized that the amounts of posts are slim if I compare my Denmark trip to my trip to Africa. I think it’s because this place doesn’t make me feel all that far from home. I’ve carried so much of my surroundings with me. I’m with peers that I’ve done group projects with, had classes with, and people who were already close friends. My professors from CMU are here and I’m studying the same thing here as I do back there. It’s adding a little bit more of that Mt. Pleasant Feel to this trip.

When I went to Kenya, Hannah and I were all alone.

Here, people who look relatively similar to me surround me, signs are commonly written in English, and I can almost guarantee the person I’m going to engage with can speak English pretty well. In fact, I’ve had some locals come up to me and speak in Danish. It makes me think; although I feel like my group of fellow travelers scream “tourists!” we can still blend into the culture.

Through this trip, I’ve learned many things about the people here as a whole. They’re very general, but the first one being they are not afraid of “bad” words. During several lectures, the presenters have had to stop due to the language barrier. They say the word in Danish and stop for a second, fumbling for the word to pop out of their mouth in English. Naturally, this causes them frustration and they are not slow to let out a nice, “Shit!” or “Fuck!” Back home this could be considered unprofessional, but I think it’s absolutely hilarious.

Another thing is they actually follow the pedestrian traffic signs. If that thing ain’t blinking green, those people are not crossing. No matter how clear the street is…they wait. They also rarely cross anywhere but an actual designated cross walk. I find this very inconvenient.

THEY LOVE MAYONNAISE. I don’t know if I can make that any clearer for you. It is what it is. They put it on everything. Fish. Pasta. Sandwiches. French fries. Eggs. Every. Thing. Now, I don’t hate mayonnaise, but there are times where it can be just too much. Here, it is too much.

They speak so softly. Everywhere we go we are the loudest. No matter how loud the surroundings are they continue to speak softly.

We traveled from Copenhagen to Aarhus yesterday. It took us a walk, train ride, bus ride, ferry ride, bus ride, and a walk to get there, but we made it nice and safely. The hostel we stayed in during our time in Copenhagen was grand to say the least. It was definitely a five star hostel. Paige and I had a room with five beds and no other roommates. We had enough room to spread out all of our belongings and still see the floor. The bathroom was spacious and the lights were motion censored.

The hostel in Aarhus is not that luxurious. The bathroom is a toilet, shower, and sink all in one. I could be peeing on the toilet and washing my hair all at once, which is nice…but weird. There are two small beds about two feet away from one another and barely enough room for our suitcases on the floor, however, the space we lost in our rooms we gained in a courtyard. I quickly found myself wrapped in a hammock, slowly swaying back at forth while gazing at some beautiful graffiti, surrounded by hostel walls and other buildings. Within moments of seeing that courtyard, I knew where I would want to spend the majority of my time while staying here. Last night we had a few beers and sat out there, rocking our night away in the hammocks. We were soon scolded for being too loud and we had to disperse into the night.

My roommate and I have caught some sort of head cold, and although it’s mild, it had been making us crave naps. The beginning of this trip had a heavy schedule. We had a lot of travel time, walking and waiting for trains and buses. We bounced from one place in the city to another, visiting the ministry of education, after school clubs, and other lectures. Today we visited a museum after a nice lunch by the water, but then after that our day was free. It was perfect for me because I found my handy dandy hammock and took a nice snooze before dinner.

It’s almost 9:30pm here and it’s still bright outside. I would compare the sun to a 6 o’clock sun back home. It stays light here until almost 11 and the sun starts coming back up around 4am, creating long days and late nights.

This experience has showed me how another society cares for people with special needs. It has showed me another country, another lifestyle: a lifestyle that loves to include bikes and mayonnaise. It’s brought me closer to a group of students I wish I met a whole lot sooner. I’m truly grateful that I am part of the first year Denmark Special Education study abroad program. It feels great to witness everything new and learn right alongside my own professors. It saddens me that I didn’t have this experience before my last year at CMU, but I will forever remember my study abroad travel buddies.

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