“Shake the dust.”

Last week ASUPS Cultural Events had a brilliant spoken word poet, Anis Mojgani, come to visit our campus and perform some poetry. This guy is a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, so just being able to have him here was really an incredible experience–but not only that, my poetry class got the opportunity to speak with him for awhile while he visited our class on Thursday.

We got to hear all about his life and career and have some really interesting discussions with him about poetry writing. He had some really great advice about writing and publishing as well–and a lot of it was really poignant and relevant to what I’ve been struggling with lately. I just wanted to share a little bit of his writing wisdom; I was jotting down some notes while he was talking, and I didn’t get his exact wording, but here’s the gist of what he said when asked about how to deal with writer’s block:

“I really recommend getting into a routine, finding what works best for you and your writing, and stick to that routine. Know when to push yourself. Make writing a present part of your existence. Make it like a friend you spend a good amount of time with every day. Don’t make it like a friend you bump into once every couple of months, or someone you wave to when you see them around, because then when you sit down with them you don’t really know what to talk about. Make writing a present part of your life and of who you are.”

-Anis Mojgani

Daniel Wolfert Snapshot #8: Another Day of Living the Dream

In which Daniel realizes that counting is hard, and explains a day in the life of a Logger.

I have often made the joke, whilst among peers commenting on the difficulty of my music major, that it can’t be so hard considering the fact that I am not forced to count past four.  Unbeknownst to me, however, seven was in fact my limit, as has been demonstrated by the way that I skipped over eight while numbering these posts.  And so I thought to myself, whatever shall I do to fill in this little gap in my number posts?  It then occurred to me that, at this time, plenty of anxious students have just accepted their offers to attend this school, and they alongside their parents may in fact be the ones reading this post.  So, to assure that you’ve made the right decision and that the school will not, in fact kill you, I will now present an average day in the life of a Logger – specifically, me.  There is, of course, no typical day with respect to the fact that every day of the week is different, but a general overview would be something of this nature:

1) Grab Snacks, Skip Breakfast – As irked as I am to say this, I have too fallen victim to the terrible college habit of going straight to class without eating breakfast.  Some days – particularly my Wednesdays, wherein I have class straight from 10 AM to 5 PM – I will have no real meal until dinner, and thus will fill my backpack with all manner of goodies.  Protein and carbohydrates are usually my priorities, so one can often find a combination of oats, strawberries, bread and cookies in my backpack, and a cup of green tea in my hand.  New students, I highly encourage you to make time to eat your breakfast somewhere in your morning – you deserve it.

2) All the Music – The morning and early afternoon are a sort of blurred rollercoaster of music classes, ranging from Music 231 (Historical Survey of the Classical Period to Late Romanticism) to Music 291 (Advanced Choral Conducting Rehearsal Techniques).  The interesting thing about taking so many classes deeply involved in a single department is that one begins to see how interconnected they are.  In particular, my choral conducting class connects on many levels to my other classes with respect to how those classes are taught.  Analysis of form and harmonic structure are used both before conducting a new piece and when studying theoretical developments in Music 204 (Music Theory IV) ; rules of teaching sight-singing are applied in coachings by the conducting professor and by the professor teaching ear training in Music 202 (Aural Skills).  I have Adelphians Concert Choir every day of the week, but depending on the day of the week, I may have a voice lesson with Dr. Michael Delos, or otherwise have a studio class wherein students practice the performances of personal repertoire in front of one another and give critique (as I did just yesterday in Vocal Performance Class, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZNeDPXSUnU&feature=youtu.be)

3) Nibblies – Hopefully, a break in my schedule will allow me to sit down for a real meal in one of the school’s three eating facilities: the SUB (Student Union Building), which is the school’s cafeteria, Diversions, which is the student-run café next door, or Oppenheimer, which is a student run café in the middle of the science building courtyard.  It is also made entirely of glass.  It is very cool.  My favorite meal that the cafeteria serves is definitely the breaded salmon with veggies and mac-n’-cheese, closely followed by any of their scones, which are weirdly amazing.  The white-chocolate-raspberry changed my life a little.  My café drink of choice would definitely have to be the Duke of Celtic Breakfast (a Celtic Breakfast teabag submerged in a vanilla steamer), closely followed by the Mango-Peach Italian soda.  Yum.

4) LoggerRezLyfe – What more adventure can I ask for than being the Director of Sustainability for the Residential Student Association?  Whether it be debating the pros and cons of budget requests from the campus community during ResLife’s General Council Meetings to planning Casino Night with the rest of the executive board, the party never ends (until a new executive board is elected in April).

5) Fundatory Utimes – This refers to “fun-mandatory- Underground Sound” times, or “time in which the members of the a cappella ground Underground Sound are forced to have fun together”.  This entails our evening rehearsal on Sundays and Wednesdays, not to mention the endless hours of blood, sweat and tears from planning rehearsals with my co-director, Lisa Hawkins.  The group convenes in a classroom of the music building and, after some general chatter, cat jokes and warm-ups, the fun begins.  In many ways, I use Usound as my personal conducting lab, testing out all the tips and tricks that my conducting professor has taught the class over the year.  This is not only invaluable for my probable future career as a choral director, but is also extremely enjoyable, probably because I can go on a power trip.  It’s fine; I just need to control everything.  What?

6) Nose to the Grindstone – There comes a point somewhere in the late evening when one realizes the ridiculous amount of homework there is left to be done.  This is when the fact that Diversions is open until midnight becomes of crucial importance to my academic success, as I am strangely incapable of doing homework in my room, but I absolutely MUST be near a source of food to work continuously.  I will sit in the piano lounge just outside the café and will write/compose/weep profusely while slowly but steadily drinking my weight in any combination of delicious beverages.  Sometimes, to spice things up while writing my homework for Counterpoint, I eat a cookie.

7) Hit the Hay – At last, I arrive home to my beloved Rat Skin Thong (please consult my very first blog post if you are confused by this statement).  I shower, I stare absentmindedly out the window, I eat my weight in cereal (preferably Special K with Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Cheerios), and postpone sleep by talking endlessly with my wonderful housemates.  And what conversations we have!  Food, boys, general panic about the future… well, I’m sure that there are more things than that, although nothing comes to mind.  I assemble my bag for the next day, lie in bed, and fall asleep thinking of my dog’s large, fluffy head on my tummy.  Then it starts all over…

But let me emphasize this over everything: although I am exhausted, stressed, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, more than anything I am happy and I am learning – which is exactly what I’m here to do.  My major is, admittedly, harder than one might imagine, but I continually learn more fascinating and useful things about music, communication, leadership and all sorts of other buzzwords that I’m sure you’ve read in pamphlets.

But really, life here is good.  If you’re thinking of applying, do it, and if you are indeed coming, GET STOKED.  Jump into everything you can reasonably handle with both feet, and commit to what you’re passionate about.  And learn to count from one to eight without mishap ensuing.

South and further South

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I wrote a bit about the fire in my last post.  It ended up being huge, supposedly the largest in the city’s history, with fifteen people dead and between 2000 and 3000 homes destroyed.

When the fire happened, I already had bus tickets to go to the island of Chiloé with a couple of friends for Holy Week.  I left for a long weekend trip and after nearly two weeks, many changes of plans, and a beautiful adventure later I have made it home.

Chiloé was a quiet little place in its low season with some rain, some knock-your-socks-off cuisine, and a beautiful coastline dotted with little towns famous for their churches.  It was perfect soup weather, and so we slurped up broths with mussels, clams, eel, salmon, beef, chicken, and indiscernible other meats and seafood, garnished usually with lemon, cilantro, and a spicy pepper.  We also had the famed curanto, a preparation of seafood, meat, and potatoes that is cooked in the ground, and chupe de mariscos, a kind of cheesy seafood casserole that would have alone made the journey worth it.  Later, on one of the many bus rides I would take, I met some other travelers who had also eaten this dish, and we had the same speechless reaction, relating to one another through gestures the powerful experience that is this food.

After a few nights of town-hopping and one night camping in the National Park, we took the bus/ferry combination back to Puerto Montt, the big city of the area.  My friends had missed their bus and I had decided I didn’t want to go home yet, so we spent the night there in a funny little hostel where the owner gave us a discounted price saying it only included a bed, a towel, and a shower.  When we brought back some potato tortillas from a mini market nearby and asked to heat up some water for tea, she gave us a stern look and said “A bed, a towel, and a shower.  No cooking!”  Then softened a little, telling us we could microwave it if we liked.

We spent the day in Puerto Varas, a very touristy town close by on the gorgeous Lake Llanquihue, and then got back in time to part at the bus terminal.  We had spent so much money on lunch that I elected to eat carrots for dinner, which ended up making my gums bleed after a bit, but I was so absorbed in a book of mythology I’d found that the discomfort didn’t bother me.

The next morning I flew south to Puerto Natales, and met up with a different set of friends a day later.  We bought food, rented the gear we needed, made dinner, and spent the night in our hostel before waking up bright and early for the 7:30 bus to the Torres del Paine National Park.

This place was astonishing.


We only had two nights, not long enough to do the full W Circuit, but we cut off one of the legs of the W and had a grand old time, enjoying surprising amount of sunshine, more food than we could get through, some amazing fall foliage and glacier sightings, all capped off by waking up the second morning before dawn in a light snowfall to hike and see the Torres.IMG_5042We actually got off the path by accident due to the snow and early morning light, ending up on top of that ridge to the left rather than down by the lake, but no one was injured and we had quite the view of the sunrise, with a big old Andean Condor swooping around us no less.

Honestly I feel like things went almost too well that trip, and aside from some encounters with mice in our food and Australians in our campsite, all was free of those misfortunes that make up a story and instead we had a journey full of the most incredible beauty.

Oh, and I’m kidding about the Australians; Brad and Elise were lovely campground buddies.  My days were constantly brightened by people I met along the way, from the travelers I shared hostels with, to locals helping me out with the bus schedule, to the traveling businessman who came up to me as I was toweling off from a dip in the Strait of Magellan to tell me how impressed he was and with whom I ended up spending the rest of the day with, as he happened to be on my flight and like me wanted to see a bit more of Punta Arenas before leaving.  I spent the last 15 hours of my journey alone, entering Viña in a daze at around 11 am and hefting my backpack that last little ways up the hill to my house before showering, eating, and going to class.  It’s back to business as usual, with a bit of a sleep deficit and a few more fond memories to populate the grab bag of my mind.






The Community Conversation

While we were unsure if spring would actually come with all the rain and summer suddenly pooped up on us, one is for sure, excitement and conversation is in the air at Puget Sound. I love how welcoming and varied our campus us in activities, individuals, groups all with the same passion for learning, helping others and being a part of the bigger world outside the Puget Sound bubble.

I’m not exactly sure how it started but opinion pieces and guest blogs in Puget Sound publications, such as the Trail and Wetlands began to gain a lot of buzz. And these weren’t frilly op-eds about the political scene but about student opinions about the diversity and culture of Puget Sound. While some people have heard or read some of these articles and felt disgust or brushed them off, I however was pleasantly surprised and intrigued. Surprised that this topics were occurring on campus that I have not personally been affected nor subject towards but pleasantly so that Puget Sound does foster a strong welcoming environment that students can feel safe and make a difference sharing their views.

It’s especially hard to share your thoughts, as unpopular as they may be because the discussion may not be welcome and the path towards resolving the problem is often rough. However, I applaud the courage for these individuals to challenge the students, our community and university to step up and address these concerns; to ensure the safe and compassionate nature of the small liberal arts education Puget Sound provides makes every individual feel welcome. Being at Puget Sound has opened up my eyes to the multiplicity of awareness and support of everything that makes people unique, and I am willing to continue to follow along and participate in these conversations.

Here are links to the two websites of Wetlands & the Trail that contain the guest blog and articles about diversity, culture appropriations and the inclusiveness of our community. http://wetlandsmagazine.com/; http://trail.pugetsound.edu/