Seven Memories Abroad

In which Daniel circumnavigates Europe.

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To my dear reader,

There’s a certain irony to the fact that, in spite of the grand scale of the adventure, the summer of 215 spent studying music and literature in Milan, Italy, is something that seems so unreal in retrospect. This isn’t to say that it was earth-shatteringly good, yet thinking back on it makes it seem like I might have read about it in a book, or seen a movie, not went there myself. A few memories do float to the top, however, and these are those memories.

  1. The Tree of Life

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I’m standing at the World Expo, an enormous fair wherein countries create exhibits addressing a specific global issue – this year, food sustainability. It is fitting given my sophomore year spent as the Director of Sustainability in Puget Sound’s Residential Life. The crowd I’ve joined has circled an enormous statue of a tree which, amid the Verdi opera aria blaring from the speakers, has begun to bloom huge cloth flowers.

  1. Many Boats

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At the largest art museum in Milan, there is a small room with one glass window for a wall and mirrors for the remaining surfaces. Blue cloth is piled on the floor with small, antique boats on top, and although there are only three boats in the tiny room, the mirrors multiply the number, and multiply again, until the room seems like an endless fleet of tiny boats.

  1. Verdi’s Café

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The proudest moment I have during this time abroad is in Verdi’s Café, a small restaurant near the IES Abroad Center that I frequent. With only two days of the program left, I have become quite proficient in Italian, and as I look around the café, I’m shocked to realize that I can understand the words on every poster in the room.

  1. In the Black Forest

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After the program ends, I spend two weeks wandering Europe, and in this time, I end up visiting Shoshana Strom, a fellow Puget Sound student studying in Freiburg, Germany. On one adventure, we arrive at a café in the Black Forest, and it is there that I have the best meal I can remember eating. It is a Potato-Leek Soup, with Black Forest Cake and a Café Macchiato. I have since tried and horribly failed at recreating this meal.

  1. Cobblestones

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Salzburg is the Europe that I had dreamt of before coming to Europe, but never received. I unexpectedly befriend two Korean girls that are staying in the same hostel as me, and we stumble upon a tiny tavern together amid the rain in the tiny, cobblestone streets.

  1. Delicate Shades

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Vienna is the first city on my free adventures in Europe that makes me realize how homesick I am. The city is so much more crowded than the others I visited, and I’ve become nervous and anxious in the crowds. While wandering the city with two Korean boys I’ve befriended, I find a quiet chapel. The windows seem peaceful.

  1. One Night Town

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The last city I visit before I return to Milan for my flight home is Bled, Slovenia, and although it is small, t bustles with life. On my last night there, I befriend a large group of students from around the U.K. and, after buying some pizza, we unexpectedly decide to go on a bar crawl. When we return to the hostel in the wee hours of the morning, we find that someone has stolen my pizza, but left the box. Although I’m not too irked, the group seems irked on my behalf, and I find myself feeling a strange affection for these strangers that bemoan my lost pizza for me.

Does it all mean something? I wouldn’t know.

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With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

Everything Else Is Secondary

In which Daniel struggles with one of his least favorite words.

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To my dear reader,

Of all the words in the English language, one of my least favorites has always been “leader.” It’s a word I associate with arrogance, with overbearing men, with bureaucracy and rigidity. It’s also a word that holds a great deal of power over the world’s collective imagination. We are all, so it seems, supposed to be striving to be leaders in our fields and communities, because leaders get to live high on their pedestals while the plebeians muck around in the filth. I’ve never felt very empowered, so equating myself with a leader always seemed ludicrous.

It is for this reason, alongside my dislike for teams, that I did not consider myself one until well into college. This isn’t to say that, while in college, I’ve felt that I am better than others – if anything, my eyes have been opened to my insignificance in all fields – but rather that I’ve begun to embrace the idea of setting an example for others.

A big reason for this is, to my surprise, a personality test – the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. The test measures four dichotomies of a personality – introversion vs. extroversion, intuition vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and judgement vs. perception.  It’s been around for more than half a century and is incredibly popular amongst all sorts of fields, as well as controversial. Chances are that, should you bring this test up with a group of people, someone will start flapping their arms and squawking that the test is invalid and unscientific.

I know very little about the test’s origins, current uses or validity. It seems probable that the test measures things that might be too unquantifiable to be precise, and a common argument is that it’s too much of a cage; people can’t be reduced down to four measurements.

My own opinion is that such a test only means as much as you put store in it, and is descriptive, not prescriptive. The results of such a test might only reflect how you feel at the moment you took the test. But that could be said about any assessment of a personality, so in that case, you might as well throw in the towel all together.

Whatever others may feel, looking at my test results on 16personalities.com felt like aspects of myself had been articulated as I’d never been able to. Even if others disagree, I looked at the quote of a fellow ENTJ (extroverted-intuitive-thinking-judging) and thought, I could have written this:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

-Steve Jobs

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

Remember to Smile

In which it is, in fact, worth it.

PK_MikeTo my dear reader,

I am not a fan of vlogs. I don’t think that they’re intrinsically bad, but most vloggers fail to entertain me with their mundane lives. The only real exception I’ve ever found is the channel of Team Pike – a gay couple of PK Creedon and Mike – and I realized this because of a very cheesy music video they made to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You.”

In part, I like the aesthetic value of the focus in each of their videos. Few to none of the channels’ videos show the couple rambling about their everyday lives. Instead, each one focuses on a specific aspect of their lives, such as a family vacation, a video challenge, or a component of their relationship. This provides a purpose which captures my (otherwise very scattered) attention.

I also won’t deny that both are very cute. What can I say? I like ‘em white and suburban.

Not really joking about that one.

What really captured my attention, however, was the fact that both Mike and PK are a little older than most gay male vloggers, and much more mature. Their silliness and humor are constantly balanced with meaningful messages, and they consistently demonstrate a very real, healthy and three-dimensional relationship. Both are extremely different, but in spite of this find common ground.

I have never had any sort of gay male role model, and I’ll admit that I very much wish I had. But seeing these two – especially in this ridiculous music video – made me feel like they were filling that space in a way, and gave me hope that I might one day have a relationship that good.

But if I’ve learned nothing else from them, it is to (as they say at the end of each video) remember to smile… because it’s worth it.


OKAY?!?

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

All That Glitters Is Not Gay

In which Daniel takes inventory of some of his most attractive attributes.

11012854_10206110294570399_7965185417526830877_nTo my dear reader,

The most distinct memories I have of my time visiting Freiburg, Germany was that of a friend taking me to my first gay nightclub. It was a great time for all involved, except for the sober people forced to watch drunk folk gyrating to bad pop remixes, and the straight men still uncomfortable with watching men grind on one another, but I’m not counting those people since I wasn’t among them. The only qualm I had with the whole evening was how I felt looking at the gay men around me.

They were gorgeous. They towered over me with their flawlessly casual hair, enormous biceps and definitive jawlines. They were Olympians and I was a little stick figure with twig arms, saying “Don’t look at me!” Any notion of dancing with a boy was eradicated, and although I still had a great time, I couldn’t help but feel like I was having the door to their glittering life shut in my face.

It’s a common stereotype that gay men are obsessed with appearance, going to the gym/spa/salon religiously. For most gay men that I know, this is about as true as myths that the government is comprised of villainous lizard people (READ: only true in a small number of instances).

Yet whenever I’ve seen large gatherings of gay men, it seems that those within this stereotype outnumber those outside. In spite of how much being a gay man has shaped me, I struggle identifying with the larger gay male community because of my physical “deficiencies” – including but not limited to…

-Small stature, standing up at 5’5” and pocket-sized for your convenience

-A rotund tummy which, for a nickel, you can rub for good luck

-A child sized jaw which makes my face look like the moon

-Enormous, lopsided teeth, which I’ve been told are so large that they should belong in the skull of someone that is 6 feet tall

-Wide, flat hobbit feet, which leave behind footprints that are literally just triangles

-Continuous acne that lends me the eternally youthful appearance of an 11-year-old just beginning puberty

-An unconscious resting bitch face that suggests I am any combination of angry, bored, confused and constipated

I would never claim that the self-image challenges men face are worse than those that women and non-binary folk face. After all, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a magazine cover with a man covered in oil gently caressing his own nipples with a facial expression that either says “Come hither” or “I’m having a gassy fit.”

Yet every time that I listen to Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” or Mary Lambert’s “Body Love,” I can’t help but be a little jealous. Of course, women’s self-image struggles are exacerbated by media and consumerism, but women are speaking – and singing – out against it. Not so with men – I’ll eat my own hobbit feet when I hear a male singer reminding young boys that they are beautiful too.

So keep your height, Glittering Gays of Freiburg. Keep your flawlessly casual hair, enormous biceps and definitive jawlines.  You can have it all, because I have something you’ll never have: definitive knowledge that I am average looking.  While you’re going to the gym/spa/salon religiously, I’ll be over here with my twig arms, in an ugly tank top and flip flops. After all, who’s going to care?

Not me.

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With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

Top Things I get told coming home for break

In honor of winter break and the end of 2015, here are the top things I get asked or told the most often while I’m home, usually from my family & friends. Some of which may only be related to others who attend schools in colder climates (with less sun) than their warm, sunny hometowns.

1. “Wow, you’re so pale! Don’t you get any sun in Washington?” And yes we do, but it is cloudy and overcast most of the time especially heading into winter, I can’t help that there’s no Vitamin D for my skin to soak up!

2. “So how’s the rain in Washington?” In my opinion we didn’t recieve that much rain in the fall and I’m not sure why or what (global warming?) but it was a pretty pleassant overcast semester; it doesn’t ALWAYS rain in Washington! While California is\was facing an epic drought, Washington was as well that the normal abundance of rain has receded heavily.

3. “Oh you’re a bio major? Are you planning to be a doctor and cure cancer?” Uh no, there are multiple venues for being a biology major and while being a doctor is stereotyped as I’m asian and its what the general public thinks, that’s not what I want to nor plan to do; there are so many other exciting fields that biology could lead to for example: teaching, research, medical technology, bioethics, ecology, conservation, genetic counseling, hospital work, etc.

4. “What are your plans after college?” I don’t know! Granted I only have a year and a half left of undergrad but as I’m not following some pre-set track (aka doctor so medical school), my options are boundless and I’m looking into what I would enjoy doing but I don’t have the answer to life yet, don’t stress me out more about it!

5. “How was your semester?” Everyone gets this and to me its one of those questions where they kinda don’t care what your answer is they’re just making conversation. My semester was rough lol and very busy but I never want to go into that especially if it’s with a distant family member or friend and all I want to do is put the successes and lows of the semester behind me and look to the future.

6. (after being on break for awhile and just lounging at home) “You should get outside more!” I honestly take it for granted that I live in Hawaii while for many the can only visit and want to take in everything our beautiful islands have to offer. And while I love all the activities I can do in Hawaii,  I also just love having time to do nothing and be in my house.

7. “What was your first stop when you came home?” This for me is always a difficult choice, what do I want to eat (especially after a six hour flight) most?!? I never know and usually end up going home to a home-cooked meal because that’s few and in between at school and relaxing with my family because that’s one of the best parts of break always.

Mount Douglas, British Columbia

Over Thanksgiving Break, I spent two days and one night in Victoria, British Columbia roaming the streets with a loaded pack and a camera; the embodiment of the American tourist (minus the visor and fanny pack). I had a great time, and talked a lot about my time there in my last post. However, in that post I did not discuss the time I spent in the out-of-doors, just outside of Victoria proper, in a space that the locals (most notably: the Irish man behind the counter at the hostel) call ‘Mount Doug’.

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The alternative route up Mount Doug

On my second day in Canada, I knew I needed to do something, ANYTHING, in the outdoors. I loved the city itself, but I could see the mountains in the distance, the Strait, the trees… I had to get out.

So I did.

I took a couple city buses out to Mount Douglas Park in the hopes that I could breathe some fresh air and climb a few hundred feet before I had to get back for my ferry. From the parking lot, I started off on a steeper, more direct path up the mountainside (which was more like a hillside considering Mount Doug is under 1,000 feet in elevation). I was up in no time, and was greeted by sweeping views of residential areas, the Strait, some islands out to the east, and a rather abrasive wind coming up the south side of the peak.

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In case you wondered what my feet look like

I spent around half an hour on the peak snapping pictures and taking in the view. It’s clearly a very popular spot considering that I saw something like 30 people there from the time I got up top to the time I left. It makes sense seeing as how the park is so close to downtown, and the hike up is incredibly simple. There’s even a road that travels up Mount Doug from the parking lot to the peak so cars can make the journey.

I eventually descended down to my bus stop via the road and made my way back to downtown from there. Overall, Mount Doug was a great way for me to get away from all the people in downtown Victoria for a few hours, and to get a few cool pictures. After checking it out, I can see why it’s a favorite of the locals. I would relate Mount Doug to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma based on its size, distance from downtown, and what it offers to visitors.

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The western view from the peak

In short, if you go to British Columbia for the outdoors, don’t go to Mount Doug. It is by no means a challenge, or all that exciting. But, if you go to Victoria to check out the city, go to Mount Doug to get a tiny taste of that fresh air that lives above building level. It’s always nice to regain perspective after a solid day of sidewalking.

Happy trails,

Colton Born

Driftwood

The beach was filled with people walking on the sand. In the hands of each person was a small wooden boat with a paper cube. Children ran in and out of the water, splashing each other, while their parents warned them not to break anybody’s lantern.

“It’s crowded,” she said, as we walked down the beach, looking for a place to lay our towel. We carried our shoes.

“See anyone you know?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in my life.”

“It nice when they all let their lanterns go.”

I looked at the footprints in the sand and watched the ocean erase the ones within reach.

“There’s a spot.”

I spread the towel. The water reflected the sun.

We sat on the sand as row after row of people waded into the water in their swim trunks, placing their lanterns and wooden boats down and with a gentle push, sending them to sea. Like a fleet of light, the lanterns sailed toward the disappearing sun. The boats cut their way through the water, leaving ripples in their wake. And the lanterns drifted.

“This is nice.”

Her hair blew in front of my face. It smelled like the sea. Another row of well-wishers cast away their lanterns.

A man came up to us with a lantern and a boat in his hands and asked us if we wanted to launch it.

I turned to her. She smiled. “Sure, we’ll do that.”

The man handed us the boat and lantern and told us to go in with the next row.

We got in line. A woman came down the row with a match, lighting each lantern. When she got to us, she said, “That’s a beautiful lantern.”

When everyone’s lantern had been lit, we stepped into the water. The water was cold and seeped through my rolled up jeans, but that didn’t matter. We waded in until we were waist deep, our feet sunken in the sand below. The people around us lowered their lanterns. A woman reached into a plastic bag and began to strew purple and white hibiscus petals. Each petal fell pendulum-like until it touched the water and floated among the bobbing lights.

Together we placed our lantern in the water.

Her hair floated on the wind like a piece of driftwood in the sea.

myPugetSound > Printing > Tech Services

Today I received an email from PrintGreen saying I had $9.90 credit on my account and to head to a link to add more credit. I was like, what?!?! But what that actually means is that I had approximately 90 sheets I could print before I would be asked to pay. Print Green is the system that our university uses with each individual’s myPugetSound account to track how much documents and sheets of paper are being printed as everyone has a limit so as to conserve paper and track student usage to keep printers runnign smoothly and in stock all semester-long. Our technology services as got a pretty sweet set-up with printers in every dorm and computer labs with printers in Thompson, Wyatt, and the Piano Lounge in Wheelock Student Center. All these printers are hooked onto our myPugetSound account that from our own computer if we logged onto vDesk we could access all Microsoft Office, other programs and printing to campus printers from the comfort of our computer in a Thompson conference room, cubbie on the third floor of the library or our dorm room!

Post-Finals Playlist!

Victorious — Panic! at the Disco

tonight we are victorious, champagne pouring over us// all our friends were glorious, tonight we are victorious 

Anna Sun — Walk the Moon

we got no money but we got heart// we’re gonna rattle this ghost town 

Nine in the Afternoon — Panic! at the Dicso

back to the place where we used to say//man it feels good to feel this way 

Thnks Fr Th Mmrs — Fall Out Boy

thanks for the memories// even though they weren’t so great 

 

Miss Missing You — Fall Out Boy

baby, you were our biggest fans//I miss missing you now and then

Such Great Heights — The Postal Service

they will see us from such great heights//”come down now”, they’ll say

Bonus Track (because Rachel insisted*)

We Are the Champions — Queen

we are the champions- my friends//and we’ll keep on figthing//till the end 

 

* She also said to please note that she called me very emo. I am noting this because it is true and I am unashamed.