Daniel Wolfert Snapshot #5: A Between-Sort-Of-Time

In which Daniel rambles, and looks to the glorious horizon.

            How fitting it is that, as I write this, my last blog post of this semester, I once again sit in a Starbucks, the sky overcast above me and my mug filled with green tea latte.  Yet this time, I am not in Tacoma, Washington, but Raleigh, North Carolina, where my family now lives, and it is to my family’s house, not Rat Skin Thong, that I return tonight.  And how things have changed!  I’ve wildly fumbled my way through what I’ve been told is the first half of the hardest year of college for music majors, my family is moving from one house to another in the North Carolina Triangle Area, Katy Perry came out with a new album, and I realized that I will always, if given the opportunity, lay on the floor.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing with my life.  Why, for example, am I writing this blog?  Purely for the fiscal compensation?  For the chance to assertively force my viewpoints on others over the internet?  To give myself a reason to sit in Starbucks for hours on end?   I have no desperate necessity for the money, no viewpoints I feel legitimately deserve to be forced upon others through blogging, and I’m willing to sit in Starbucks for hours for absolutely no reason, so none of these answers are correct.  I suppose I write this blog partially for the fiscal compensation, and mostly for the opportunity to have my writing published, and partially because I simply love writing, and looking at myself objectively, I believe that these are all good reasons.  But I’ll admit that with this, and all sorts of other things that I do often without second thought – going to college, finding any form of employment, making myself vaguely presentable – I will sometimes stop and suddenly be struck by the slight absurdity of what I’m doing.

I’m not trying to say that any of the things I listed above are absurd, per se, so much as that I will do them without thinking of why I’m doing them, so that when I do question them, I will be momentarily and forcibly faced with some sort of glimpse of what I suppose adulthood, or maybe life, is.  I will never be able to reclaim my childhood in Palo Alto, never be able to have another walk down the street to the park with my dog as a puppy; never be able to peruse the Mitchell Park Library in search of the poetry of Rumi; never be able to have another tickling-wrestle match with my friends on the trampoline in my backyard.  And I don’t necessarily want to reclaim it, for there are far too many things to which I look forward for me to spend so much time looking back, but the small revelations informing me that I am stumbling ever closer to being some form of an adult are just a little saddening, as well as a very exciting.

There is no moral to the story here.  I am caught in this strange between-sort-of time in a between-sort of place, between semesters of college and houses and phases of personhood.  It’s as if I am finishing the prologue in the book of my life and will soon turn the page to begin the first chapter, although I also cannot say when that will begin. But even as things change so much, they remain the same and I am still continually wondering what I am doing and why I am doing it, as I have been wondering for so long and as I will continue to wonder.  So, dear reader, assuming you have stayed with me thus far, I hope you have, to some extent, enjoyed my past semester of ramblings, and I look forward to one more semester of adventures that I may share with you.

Onward, dear reader, for the horizon is ours!

Exams and food

It’s not the easiest to explain to my non-math major friends. “What am I doing this Saturday? Well, I’m getting up at 8 a.m. so I can take a six hour long exam, one on which there is a good chance I will get an abysmally low score, for fun. Hey, at least we get to go to the lunch buffet at Gateway to India in between the two halves!”

There you have the Putnam Mathematical Competition. I came, I sat, I conquered, and by conquered I mean that I had way more fun than I thought I would. What’s not fun about having six hours to sit down, look at twelve puzzles, choose a few of them to attempt, and mess around with those until you figure out the trick that makes it possible to solve? For instance, taking an icosahedron (you can look it up if you’re interested), numbering the sides with nonnegative integers that add up to 39, and showing that it is impossible to have such a numbering without causing two sides with the same vertex to have the same number. This was the first problem in the first set, so we got to talk about it over lunch. Rob Beezer is the professor who leads the Putnam Seminar, a weekly gathering to discuss problems from Putnams past, and so he was proctoring the exam for us and doing the problems right along with us. As we compared what we had done (and how long it took each of us to realize that the icosahedron appears in the logo for the Mathematical Association of America, and thus was conveniently pictured at the top of the page), Beezer told us how he’d used graph theory, taking the dual of the graph of the icosahedron. To be honest, I think my solution was a lot more straightforward! We’ll see if it was correct or not when we get our scores back.

Then reading period and finals week happened. My most difficult exam (abstract algebra) was on Monday morning at 8, so at least I got that over with right away! My professor brought us chocolate, and luckily for me he also likes the super dark stuff so that is what was provided us. 85%! My favorite. Almost as good as the time that my IPE professor brought in what I think were pork skewers and a dipping sauce to our final. The sauce turned out to contain a LOT of horseradish, and I had a coughing fit and runny nose in the middle of the test, but I’m willing to pay that price for delicious treats.

Daniel Snapshot #4: Aca-mmunity

In which Underground Sound unites one final time after a semester of delightful struggle.

            When the movie Pitch Perfect was introduced to me, well after it had left theaters, my initial reaction was that of confusion, dismay and irritation.  The cinematic adventures of an all-female a capella group in the face of comical sexism was not, as I had thought I’d learned from my one semester of being in an a capella group, accurate.  Underground Sound, the school’s only mixed a capella group, was not capable for a riff-off, did no choreographed dancing, and had almost never been attacked with projectiles of Mexican fast food.

            Yet going through this fall semester with the group has been an adventure that made me reconsider my previous judgment.  There was, after all, chaos, competition, stress, poorly executed dancing, friendship, and, at the end of the day, Mexican Food (which was not thrown, thankfully, by anyone), and I had to admit that, although the movie was a remarkably poor depiction of the technicalities of operating a musical ensemble and vocal pedagogy, it was very correct in showing hardship and triumph bringing a group together.  Two of my favorite memories from this semester have been due to Underground Sound, the first being when we sang for the Board of Trustees and the second being when we had lunch together after a rather ineffective flash mob.

What’s that you ask?  The Board of Trustees?  Why yes, we did sing for them – at their fancy-shmancy retreat, I may add.  One early autumn afternoon, after a confusing car ride through the suburbs and overgrown himalayan blackberries of Western Washington, we arrived at the winery at which the Board of Trustees was having dinner during their annual retreat and sang for them WHAT?!?!?  We were given a tour of the winery, a very free and very delicious dinner, and a gracious hug from our school’s president Ron Thomas.

And then when I sang my solo of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”, I kind of got a standing ovation.  From our Board of Trustees.  It’s no big deal.  STOP BRINGING IT UP!

In contrast, Underground Sound’s final performance was a flashmob in the piano lounge of the Student Union Building, which, due to how soon it occurred after we had all woken up and how very tired we were from schoolwork, was rather on the tired and lazy side.  But did we care?  NO!  We had fun!  I cuddled with the handsome Eric Sculac during one of the songs!  And afterwards, we all bought lunch from the cafeteria and spent a good hour singing our songs as we ate, but changing the lyrics to “cats n’ poop”.

Classy?  You know it.

Our final adventure came almost as a shock to me, caught so unawares was I that the fall semester was truly ending.  After driving to, and subsequently leaving, an overfilled Red Robin, we ate at a Mexican restaurant (as I mentioned earlier) and shakily ventured onto an ice rink, where we collectively fell only once – a victory, I do believe.  But there was a delightfully self-indulgent, Kodak-camera moment when we all were skating at different speeds and, as if in clumsy coordination, held hands to form a chain of Usound – a momentary collection that would never again be together in exactly the same way with the same people.  It was only for a moment, of course, for then one of the basses slipped and the chain was broken.  Stupid basses.  But still, it was a beautiful moment.

So who are these wonderful people I’ve struggled so valiantly with, you ask?  Here is the briefest description of each:

Lisa Hawkins:

-Current Co-director

-Nickname: Silent Killer

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Mulan

Sarah Brauner:

-Current Co-director, stepping down for next semester

-Nickname: E. Nigma

-Voice Part: Soprano

-Spirit Disney Character: Belle

Kyle Erickson:

-Nickname: Lief

-Voice Part: Tenor

-Spirit Disney Character: Lumiere

Bryan Soto:

-Nickname: Prince Abubu

-Voice Part: Bass

-Spirit Disney Character: Doug from Up

Chynna Spencer:

-Nickname: Japan

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Copper from The Fox and The Hound

Kaylene Barber:

-Nickname: Curly Temple

-Voice Part: Soprano

-Spirit Disney Character: Rapunzel from Tangled

Daniel Wolfert:

-Co-director beginning next semester, Nickname: 34DD

-Voice Part: Tenor

-Spirit Disney Character: Mulan

Eric Sculac:

-Nickname: White Cheddar

-Voice Part: Bass

-Spirit Disney Character: Wall-E

Sophia El-Wakil:

-Nickname: BP440

-Voice Part: Alto

-Spirit Disney Character: Peter Pan

Austin Michael-Harrison:

-Nickname: Philosoraptor

-Voice Part: Beatboxer

-Spirit Disney Character: I don’t know, but something weird.

At the end of the day, despite the lengthy and often exhausting rehearsals, the frustration of editing arrangements and the confusion of scheduling performances, Pitch Perfect was right in saying that getting involved in something like this can make you inclined to stay when so many other things make you inclined to leave.  Some days I just want to burn my homework and curl up into a ball beneath my sheets, but at least I’ll always have the joy of singing Taylor Swift with Chynna Spencer and the rest of the group, as you can listen to in the attached mp3: Lisa Hawkin’s Arrangement of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

So you’re looking for a great musical performance?  Looking for a fun and rewarding experience?  Looking for the sexiest group on campus?  And, most importantly of all, IF YOU ARE A MALE SINGER HOPING TO JOIN AN A CAPELLA GROUP THIS COMING SPRING SEMESTER, come hit us up!  That, after all, is what aca-mmunity is all about.

Well, that’s what the movie told me anyway.


Exam week was always something I looked forward to in high school. Many of my finals actually took place before the actually week and were more spread out so I was not extremely stressed all at once. In math we presented our portfolio of benchmarks, orchestra was sight-reading new music, English was timed writing, Japanese was a kanji exam and that left only a science & social studies exam to take. Those exam weeks were immensely easier than my first college exams this week. There is an infinite more amount of pressure just because I’m taking college exams now instead of high school exams. But while those easier days are gone, I’m glad that I’m continually learning more and pushing myself to become a stronger learner.

Since last weekend my friends and I have spent A LOT of time studying together. In high school the exams seemed just as scary but I could get away with less studying and above passing grades and so I made do. Now, studying more seems an integral part of the college experience. During classes, as soon as late afternoon hit we convened to study together before getting dinner and heading off. During reading period my friends and I would meet up for meals and then head straight back to studying.

I’m not saying we were extremely studious 24/7 for the last week in particular, but it nearly felt like that. We did stop at Diversions or Oppenheimer to grab drinks and some snacks before settling in, sometimes taking walks around or checking our email and social networking sites. I’ve perfected our Pandora & Spotify playlists to have different music for my moods of studying; when I need a major boost: my Girls Generation & Big Bang (kpop) station, feeling sad about studying: 98 Degrees & Oldies station, and getting into the spirit and feeling confident station: Contemporary Christmas Station. We’ve switched up our locations, 3rd floor Harned Hall to watch the sky, 4th floor library alcove to stay comfy and watch the rain fall, and in the Sub alternating.

harned sunset photo photo

And magically enough the time has passed by quickly enough my first exam is tomorrow morning bright and early. It’s about finding your own comfort level in studying, with whom, listening to what, where you are and telling yourself “You Can Do It!!” And the weather and atmosphere of Puget Sound left so many options me to find places to get studying done; hopefully it really pays off during exams and grades! Happy Exam Week everyone!

#tbt #first semester

Since it’s Throwback Thursday and since I’ve spent all afternoon reviewing what I’ve learned this semester in preparation for finals, I’ve decided share a photo and section of a blog post from the beginning of the semester.

Scharrington residents taking a plunge in the Sound at the end of freshman orientation:


Blog post from the day before classes began:

Right now I am feeling inspired, a little dazed, and excited all at the same time which is typical of how I’ve been feeling all week. Lately I’ve had many strong feelings at once, making it hard to figure out how I really am. If I were to talk to you on the phone I’d probably tell you that life here is amazing and wonderful and that I am very happy, which would all be 100% true. But I am also a little sad, a little lonely, a little unclear, and a little homesick. I am the most quiet, vulnerable, and well-intentioned Kira I’ve ever been!

This week I left home, parted with my family, met my Puget Sound family, hiked through the Olympics, worked at a transitional house, and practiced 4 hours in a row. Tomorrow at 9am I’ll take a seat in my first college class, a seminar called Utopia/Dystopia. I already feel nostalgic for this summer, but I am ready to be worked, challenged, and exposed to different ways of being.

So what now? How has my way of being changed over the past three months? To be honest, I’m not sure. Whenever I try to summarize the time I’ve spent here at UPS, identify patterns within myself, and describe revelations, I risk extracting a little too much meaning from life. But I will say that I feel a certain responsibility for myself and my learning now that I didn’t three months ago. I haven’t become completely self-reliant– I absolutely need my family, friends, teachers, students, and caretakers– but I feel I’ve become my own independent person.

Bit by Bit Putting it Together

For the first time in a long time, Thanksgiving break offered an uninterrupted half week of free time. I used a lot of it to revisit some musicals I hadn’t worked on in a while. I submitted my first musical, a couple years old now, to a festival and will hear back about it during winter break. But I also made progress on a short musical now almost three years in the making.

For a bit of background, I composed a ninety-minute musical in high school with my brother, which I was lucky enough to see performed as a staged reading. We started collaborating on another musical after that which was going to be full length but we trimmed it to a short, basically sung-through musical in keeping with my brother’s one-act play on which it is based.

I wrote many of the songs my freshman year of college and continued to add and tweak them basically until now. To perform it, the show would have to be scored or recorded somehow, and I didn’t have time to assemble another full piano vocal score like I did for the first one (while certainly an experience, it is extremely time consuming). So this time, I decided to look into some digital recording, which would not only handle a lot of the scoring for me but would also allow me to quickly orchestrate the piece for more than just piano.

I’d forgotten how entertaining digital recording is. In fact, I got so wrapped up in marveling at what my computer instruments could do that I quickly went  too far and produced some very complicated orchestrations. They say less is more with most orchestrations, but each song was a tad fast and a tad too dramatic, especially compared to most other arrangements I’ve heard. Of course, the anecdotal feedback I’ve received on my music is that my songs are already very energetic pieces and I need some mellower ones. What can I say – I’m a sucker for drama.

In any case, they made for some rather entertaining demo tracks, and since they’re just song demos, I’ll have plenty of time to polish them. At least I have started recording my second show. And even though I hadn’t composed anything new in a while, I was quickly getting accustomed to the formerly mysterious world of computer orchestration.

Then, just as I thought I had no more song ideas, a flurry came to me out of nowhere. That’s not entirely true – I’d been working on a ten-minute musical but hadn’t figured out how to put it together, and finally I came up with an outline for several different songs and an opening number. I guess hearing some new instruments and sounds was enough to get back into the swing of composing again.

Working at the Cellar (not the dungeon kind)

Whenever most of my friends back home ask where I work I tell them an ice cream & pizza parlor, which is way easier than saying I work at the Cellar. And I think it makes sense to label my workplace so; that’s what we’re known for. And although we also offer jalapeno poppers, quesadillas, wings, smoothies, milkshakes and a mini grocery store it’s our pizza and ice cream many people come for. Surprising I’ve never thought of our Cellar in the traditional sense. Normally cellars are dreary, cold, stifling, dark and musty but my workplace is far from that. The pizza oven fills the room with heat as the many students that trickle through to eat or just hang out would attest to. I have some of the greatest co-workers in the world, granted this is my first job, but I love working with them. We don’t quite have a set order on shifts, everyone takes time restocking, cashier, pizza making, and ice cream scooping and lounging around. The warmth and ambiance really makes me look forward to work as the time flies by quickly.

There are quite a few regulars that come a visiting to the Cellar, often ordering the same thing and they know the routine already. Many of these regulars are male athletes, ordering large pizzas to build up on carbs during season; the bakers and chefs who select from the C-Store to purchase milk, flour, and baking mixes; they have fun groups that always get salsa, hummus and chips, and late night workers grabbing red bull and 5 hour energy drinks. We even have regular phone orders, like that Vince guy that always orders a gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza. It’s funny how people can and ASK if we serve pizza, what do you think? But the best phone orders are the people who know what they want, state their name (to identify who’s picking the order up) and know it’ll take 25 minutes or so to bake. And generally everyone who comes in are really great people, and that’s part of the reason it’s such to joy to work on campus surrounded by such amazing people.

Now that the semester is winding to a close, students are frantically trying to use up all their dining dollars (since you can only carry over $25) and coming into the C-Store to do so. Some students have a couple hundred in their accounts and choose to buy cases of drinks to store in their room over break and eat lots of pizza now. With so many people coming in to buy stuff, even taking whole boxes of granola bars, gum, chocolate, assorted candy and pints of ice cream that our shelves are nearly bare, with nothing else to stock with it. With so many items to ring up, pizzas to make, and items to restock, our team has been working hard this past week and will continue to do so during finals. Luckily enough our boss informed us there is another large shipment of items to restock all our shelves for all the students to continue to spend their money.

Music is a VITAL aspect of the Cellar. We have our Ke$h@ playlist, Christmas, Fall Out Boy, 90s Classics, Rock, Disney and so many more. Many times we’ve had arguments over which playlist to play, and what songs to skip. So many times if you’ve looked in the back you will see pizza making and karaoke happening in the back, even some smooth dancing. I always love singing in general and being with other crazy people singing karaoke while working is the best! There was even one time Zach wanted to punish Lev so for the rest of the shift (3 hours) we had Africa by Toto playing, all night. By the third time it was tiring but still oh so fun to listen too.

The Cellar is a student-run store, pizza and ice cream parlor known for our large ice cream scoops, funny drawings on pizza boxes, good music, loud karaoke, funny movies of sporting events playing on the TV and good company in the warmth. Sometimes it sucks when there are a million orders, pizzas to make, ice cream to scoop, pizzas to send out, and people to ring up but by far I’ve had some amazing memories down there.

Daniel Wolfert Snapshot #3: Holding Out for a Hero

In Which the Man From Elsewhere ascends at last.

At the end of the spring semester of my frehman year, I was selected to become the Residential Student Association’s Director of Sustainability, a leadership position that wanted desperately but did not feel I deserved.  Little did I know when selected what adventures that would entail.  Along with four other sophomores – our down-to-earth, Frisbee-loving president Lucas Henken, the cunning and slightly conniving vice president/programmer Kaitlyn Vallance, the sassy Secretary Kaitlin White and lovable treasurer Scott Greenfield – and beneath the advisement of our glorious matriarch Assistant Director of Residential Life Jenni Chadick, we began the arduous task of assembling the Residential Hall Associations for each of the school’s residential halls.

There were barbeques is which I spilled hot dog remnants all over myself!  There were endless numbers of meetings to plan for other meetings!  There was the glory/suffering of Casino Night, for which I was entertainment chair, meaning that I contacted and arranged the night’s musical festivities, which included a school jazz combo, the student band Young Ones, and the school’s three a capella groups What She Said, Garden Level and Underground Sound.  There was laughter!  There were tears!  But most of all, there was PACURH.

What is PACURH, you ask?

The Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls is a ResLife conference held in the Pacific Northwest every fall, to bring together ResLife members from across the Northwest so as to share ideas, present programs and get NO SLEEP EVER.  It is a division of the National Association of Residence Halls (NACURH), which holds a national ResLife conference every year in the summer, and this year, it was superhero themed.  After weeks of preparation, wild essay writing, personality tests and the selection of our superhero names (mine being “The Man From Elsewhere”), I, the other members of RSA Exec Board, Jenni, and three other ResLife members drove through the dreary landscape of Eastern Washington, where on the beautiful and autumnally chilled campus of Gonzaga University, the rambunctious and sleep-deprived conference awaited.

I learned a great many things at that conference.  At a wonderful program entitled “Forming the Avengers”, I learned that the superhero that I am most like is Spiderman, due to my sensitivity and emotional intelligence, very closely followed by Iron Man because of my assertiveness and optimism. I learned that leadership should be defined by actions that actively better the lives of others, rather than by unattainable ideals of order and hierarchy, from a beautiful TedxTalk that can be found here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVCBrkrFrBE).  I learned that I know an insufficient number of Puget Sound cheers, and that dancing in a group of people that all look as stupid as you can be one of the most liberating feelings of your life.  I learned that Pacific Lutheran University’s sustainability programs are fantastic and excellently organized.  I learned the conference clap, and the PACURH stomp, and how to haggle for another school’s swag.  But what I cherish most of the things that I learned was, while sitting for the fourth hour in the van with all the delegates on the way home, how to harmonize with fellow delegate and all around beautiful individual Timothy Pogar on Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”.  I truly can think of few better moments in my life than when, as the last line of the song came to a close, Tim and I turned to one another and sang in mournful and beautiful harmony, “You wre-e-eck meeeeeee…”, to the delight of Kaitlyn Vallance and the chagrin of Lucas Henken.

I had never before truly had to go on an adventure with a small group like this.  I had never before had my notions of what being a “leader” – something I had never felt I was before – challenged.  Yet returning from this trip, I felt for the first time in my life that I was now qualified, if only in the vaguest, most idealistic sense, to be called a leader.  Strange how a few talks on heroism, three days spent in the frustrating and glorious company of my fellow Puget Sound delegates, and the act of calling myself “The Man From Elsewhere” could make me feel so powerful.

Also, if you see any of the people mentioned in this blog, don’t tell them about any of these descriptions of them.

You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home

If you asked me what I missed about home I would be able to give you a really long list (see bottom of post), and if I talked about home for a long time I think I may cry. It’s been nearly four months I’ve been away and with only two weeks left to go, it’s rough. I’ve reached the point where most people are pretty comfortable around each other, and I can see who’s a true friend and who isn’t, some characteristics that may have been hidden in the “make nice, make friends” stage of first semester. I’m happy to say I’ve made some really great friends and will definitely miss them over the winter break but also have met people with different interests than me. But no one can quite compare to the friends I’ve performed many concerts with, attended muddy service projects at ungodly hours in the morning, overnighters of fun planning for our next conference or performance. Yet I miss home now that I’m away and I’m sure I will miss my friends here when I go home.

I wish I could just combine both of my worlds, my home and family in Hawaii with my home and friends here at Puget Sound. But that could not be, besides the point these locations are 2,657 miles away from each other. And when I’m in one place I’ll be thinking of the other, I’m so glad Puget Sound has become like home, comfortable, fun and full of so many memories from this first semester and I can’t wait for the spring to jump right into crew season of early mornings and regattas, new classes, Luau preparation and many more wonderful things! But right now, exactly two weeks away from feeling the warm Hawaiian sun and cool trade winds on my skin in a shirt & shorts, I am desperately dreaming and waiting to be home again.

Here’s a list of 5 Things I Miss About Hawaii, people and places that I can’t wait to see, spend as much time with and wish I could do.

1. I miss hanging out at school with my friends, doing nothing but silly crafts and games in the SA Room, playing music or cards in the Band Room, competitions of Jenga, Connect 4, Chess and some homework in Mrs. Nak’s Room with cheeseballs and pretzels. The lazy afternoons of fun before rehearsal, a meeting or just because. I miss my music geeks, SA girls and OBH sillies with their jokes, dancing, puns and inside jokes.

2. Going to the library and renting enough books that I need a reusable bag to carry and the help of my sister, to sit in the air conditioning and browse the numerous books I’ve already read, but to read them again just because. And when I check out have the librarians recognize me as they always did.

3. Doing nothing in my house, absolutely nothing in my room, watch my brother hog the TV for SportsCenter, prove I’m reading my books than my sister and mom, and tell my dad to be quiet because he’s snoring to loud.

4. THE ASIAN & LOCAL FOOD, to get jasmine tea and dim sum early in the morning at Empress, eat a full plate Rainbow’s after a long day in the water at Waikiki, eat honey toast at Shokudo, eat spicy ahi don at Kuru-Kuru, get a plate at Panda Express, eat lots of meat jun from Young’s Kal-Bee, veal provenciale from Palazzo, a whole enchilada from El Charro and so much more food places

5. I miss going to my brother’s numerous baseball games, at CORP, Han’s, MoHS, Aiea Rec, Pride Field, on the Windward side or anywhere. To be tanning (which I will be doing a lot of in Hawaii) and reading a book, and maybe paying some attention to the game. To be eating the delicious potluck but most of all being goofy and catching up with all the coaches, aunties, uncles, grandmas and the entire baseball family.

In two weeks I’ll be able to do everything on my list.

“You can learn to fly and you can chase your dreams
You can laugh and cry but everybody knows
You’ll always find your way back home”

Fun fact: winter nighttime temperatures in the TCI rarely fall below 65 degrees.

No, the School for Field Studies did not get a Thanksgiving break.  But we go home on Thursday, December 5, so I guess that’s understandable.  And we did get a Thanksgiving dinner, despite the fact that (1) as a study abroad program, we’re kind of by definition not in the United States, and (2) half of the staff members are British and are therefore horrified by the thought of sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows.  It involved a bit of logistics, because if you want to make something, you have to order the ingredients far enough ahead of time for them to arrive via the infamous food ship, and then juggle the baking of various things with the restraints of having a single functional oven to cook for 50+ people.

I suppose the "big blue" beyond the wall of the reef is rather aptly named.

I suppose the “big blue” beyond the wall of the reef is rather aptly named.

In the spirit of recognizing that the semester is almost over, our last two dives were yesterday (diving in December without wetsuits!), so our gear will be ready to be packed up once it’s dry.  Those dives, incidentally, are worthy of a blog post in and of themselves – the divemaster said we were going to drop in “over the big blue,” and none of us realized what that was until we backrolled off the boat into the water, let the air out of our BCDs, started descending, and realized that, despite the perfect tropical visibility, there was nothing around us.  We descended without a single point of reference, freefalling into a sort of vast emptiness, before levelling off when we hit a hundred feet and swimming up to the wall of the reef, watching it slowly appear through the blue haze.  I don’t know why we haven’t been doing that all semester, but at least none of us will ever forget those final dives here.

Final exams are over, data collection has finished, directed research papers are turned in, and research presentations, cleaning, packing, and an afternoon visit to the tiny and uninhabited Long Cay are all that’s left.  When we first got to South Caicos, it took a while for me to really accept that this was going to be my home for three months.  And now that it’s just about time to leave, it’s hard to accept that I am, most likely, never going to see this place again.  I won’t miss the mosquitoes.  But I will miss Cerano’s Jamaican jerk chicken.

It’s also just about impossible to picture the transition from 90-degree weather here to 30-degree weather at home in Northern Virginia.  I don’t think I’ve felt a temperature below 75 degrees since May in Washington.  You know the scene from Cool Runnings where the Jamaican bobsled team flies to Canada – how they feel the icy grip of below-zero temperatures through an open door in the airport and gape in horror?  I’m unspeakably glad to not be flying from the Caribbean to Minnesota, like one of my roommates.  Call me Sanka, but I somehow suspect that my cold tolerance will be a bit lacking for a while.