journal

brave and bold week
  • Brave and Bold Week *part five

    (originally published on November 16, 2012)

    Brave and Bold Week comes to an end with one more story of bravery ...

    I love whales. I love whales so much that I went on a three day sleep at sea trip on a no frills fishing vessel to do nothing other than watch whales! Offered through the Coastal and Research and Education Society of Long Island, the trip left from Montauk but also picked up passengers on Martha's Vineyard. At midnight. Which I thought was a perfectly fine idea when I booked the trip.

    To make the connection I took the boat from Boston to Ptown the night before and stayed at my mom's. My sister and brother-in-law happened to be leaving the next day so they dropped me off in Hyannis in the morning so I could take the ferry to the Vineyard. I ended up booking a room for the night just so I had a home base and a place to take a shower (and sleep if there ended up being an issue.) 

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    Around midnight, I found myself standing in the dark on the dock with two other people waiting for the boat to pick us up. It was one of those moments when I really asked myself what the hell I was doing. And then, like a, um ... Viking Starship, the boat arrived, lights blazing in the darkness.

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    There were only three bunks left for us and I got the last one, right next to the beer. Even though it was stormy and I ended up airborne a few times throughout the night, I slept well. Until a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that we had arrived in the Great South Channel and that a pod of dolphins was off our starboard bow. 

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    I immediately jumped off my bunk, put on some appropriate attire, and ran up to the deck. I missed the dolphins but I did get to see this sunrise!

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    To give you a sense of just how utilitarian the boat was, let me share some photos. This is the top deck where we all spent a good portion of our time. It was pretty chilly (although it was August) so I found myself needing to move down to the main deck a lot.

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    Most of the hardcore photographers hung out on the bow. Every time a whale would surface, those cameras went into highspeed mode. Click, click, click, click, click!

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    When you needed a break or had to charge your camera battery, there were seats inside. Some people even SLEPT in their seats the whole trip. And at night, the whiskey and cards came out. There's not much else to do when you are bobbing around in the dark on a boat like this.

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    The food was pretty amazing! I have no idea how the chef was able to create what he did using the minimal equipment on board. We had to eat in shifts and one night I shared a meal with the provost of a university on Long Island. Here's the eating area.

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    My breakfast sandwich one morning.

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    The man in the hat with his back to us is Carl Safina. He is one of my heroes! I had no idea he would be on this trip and he wasn't there as an expert. He was there as a passenger just like me. He spent a lot of time writing on his laptop, clearly working on his next manuscript.

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    Oh, yes, there were whales! Even when it was too dark or foggy to see them you could hear them exhaling all around the boat. It was so amazing. And we did get to see breaching!

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    And a million, gazillion birds.

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    One of the other things to do at night, after we set anchor, was to do some fishing. The crew pulled up some big ones!

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    One of the things I liked so much was the changing sky. Isn't this gorgeous? 

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    And the water is different out there. The swells are big and further apart. I found myself mesmerized watching it rise and fall.

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    This is my favorite photo of the whole trip! It captures what it felt like most of the time. Surreal and beautiful. Calm and stunning.

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    So, everyone, that's it for Brave and Bold Week. I'm in California until Sunday so I'm not sure when the next post will be. You can always follow my adventures on Instagram here, I'm more likely to be posting there for now. 

  • Brave and Bold Week *part four

    (originally published on November 15, 2012)

    As you read this I will be on my way to California, my first solo flight since I took this trip ... in 2000! My bag is filled with distractions to keep me calm and I am focused on the promised boozy snowcones that my hotel in Palm Springs offers poolside. As we take off, I will be chanting "boozy snowcones, boozy snowcones, boozy snowcones." 

    4. Travelling to Italy by myself

    Remember that freak out moment sometime before you turned 30 when you questioned what the hell you were doing with your life? No? Was that just me? My crisis involved dropping out of grad school (yes, I am a proud library school drop out) knowing in my bones that I was not made of the same tenacious fiber that my fellow library students were. Instead, I used all the money I had saved for school and went to the Amalfi Coast. By myself!

    Here I am on the island of Capri. Just after visiting the Blue Grotto and before taking the scary, Italians-surely-do-not-care-about-safety lift to the top of Anicapri.

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    I met up with my group in Naples -- actually I latched on to a few fun ladies who seemed to know what they were doing while we were on our layover in Belgium. They took me under their wing and I spent the rest of the trip hanging out with them.

    Our homebase was in Sorrento but we travelled up and down the Amalfi Coast and took trips to Naples, Pompeii, and Rome. The views are stunning!

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    This is one of my favorite places in the entire world, the beach at Positano.

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    I've had a few perfect days in my life and the day we took the boat out from the town of Amalfi was one of them. I cried every time we turned a corner. It was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. And I was also so glad I decided to throw caution to the wind and travel here.

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    It was one of the best trips of my life! And I never regretted my decision to drop out of grad school. It was the perfect way to kick off my 30s. Tomorrow, I'll share one more brave thing that I still can't believe I did!

  • Brave and Bold Week *part three

    (originally published on November 14, 2012)

    Brave and Bold Week continues with what I consider my bravest action:

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    3. Moving to Boston

    After college, I was a nanny for two years, living just outside Philadelphia and then moving to McLean, VA, just outside DC. Having spent a lot of time in Boston over the years, I decided that it was the place for me and I headed to Ptown to live with my mom for the summer, working and saving money, so I could move to the city in the fall.

    That summer, I worked long hours and traveled back and forth (before the fast ferry existed) to go on interviews. My car died a few times, including one particularly inconvenient time halfway on the route to Boston. By September, I had a number of second interviews under my belt but no job, a roommate I had just met, and an apartment in Watertown. I decided just to go for it.

    On Labor Day, I packed up the car and drove to my new apartment and my new life. Two weeks later, I had a job at BU. And on October 20, I went on my first date with the Mr. And my life as I know it, began.

    Best decision I ever made!

  • Brave and Bold Week *part two

    (originally published on November 13, 2012)

    This week I'm sharing some of the brave-ish moments in my life as I get ready to travel to Camp Mighty this week. Next up:

    2. Traveled through Europe for three weeks with American Music Abroad when I was 16. 

    It was my first trip to Europe and I went without my parents. At 16. Now I know the brain  -- and, in particular, the part that assesses risk -- is not fully formed at that age. I do not remember being fearful at all and only remember the excitement of the whole thing!

    We traveled through seven countries, playing concerts along the way. I saw some amazing things, including some of the works of art I had studied at CTY the previous summer, and I learned a couple valuable life lessons.

    Life Lesson #1: Always pack a change of clothes, extra underwear, a toothbrush, and deodorant in your carry-on. We had an especially horrific delay in our departure and were cabbed (all gazillion of us) back into NYC for the night. I wore the same clothes for over 72 hours. Never again.

    I have the exact same expression on my face in this photo as I have in my current driver's license picture! Seriously. And I'm still sporting those glasses. My sister and my mom are dropping me off at my dorm at F&M for our pre-departure rehearsals and orientation. Dad took the photo, of course.

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    Here are the steps in my homestay in the Netherlands that I FELL DOWN. Yes, they really are that steep and that narrow. Insane.

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    I especially loved Rheims Cathedral.

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    This is the chateau we stayed in in Austria. Which we snuck out of.

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    And THIS, my friends, is one of the worst days of my life. At that chateau in the previous photo, we imbibed a perfectly legal, yet totally strong local beverage, Stroh Inlander rum -- 160 proof, or 80% alcohol. Which they specifically warned us about.

    Life Lesson #2: When specifically warned about staying away from certain beverages, do not run out to the nearest store and buy some.

    We went straight to the store and bought some. Fast forward to the next day and a trip to visit this Olympic ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria. Despite my wicked-never-to-be-replicated-in-my-life-hangover, I was determined to climb the stairs. (Those little dots are PEOPLE and I was one of them.) I somehow made it to the top!

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    The view from the Austrian Alps.

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    Having just arrived in Switzerland, we are all looking at our view from our hotel. 

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    One of my favorite stops, Ghent, Belgium.

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    There were several buses filled with teens on this trip. This is a photo of mine taken in France on our last day. I am in the front row in the teal polo shirt.

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    There are two people in this photo that I am Facebook friends with, as well as two others who were not on our bus. Isn't that great?

  • Brave and Bold Week *part one

    (originally published on November 12, 2012)

    Last week, I shared my fears about attending Camp Mighty. As a result of that post, I've connected with a bunch of people who are going and who are feeling the exact same thing. It's always great to know you are not alone AND it's great to have a list of people to look forward to meeting when I'm there! Plus I learned I have an awesome support system in all of you. Thank you for your words of encouragement! 

    And here's the other thing. Every so often I get the itch to do something that pushes the envelope. To honor that piece of me that gets me into these things when the rest of me would rather be snuggled under the comforter safely at home, I'm making this week Brave and Bold Week on Juniper Disco. I'll be sharing five of the things I've done in the past that took some courage to do. And as a bonus, I've dug out some old photos you may enjoy. Brace yourself.

    1. Going to CTY when I was 15. (It was then called the Center for the Advancement of Academically Talented Youth, now called the Center for Talented Youth, and is run by Johns Hopkins.)

    Yep, I'm a CTYer! Skidmore College, 1986 to be exact. Geek in the making. I took the SATs in 7th grade to get into the program. Scored high enough to make it in. Go figure.

    I first took a local Saturday morning CTY class on the Psychology of Creativity at Franklin and Marshall College. When the brochure arrived for the summer programs, I told my parents I wanted to go. And they made it happen. It was really scary but I wanted to go more than anything! I spent three weeks with other nerds studying art history. I learned so much that summer. And art history became my college major. 

    Here's the proof! That's me in the front row in the striped rugby shirt and big glasses (not unlike the ones I'm wearing right now!)

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    Since I was one of the older kids (16 was the maximum age), I got my own room. And here I am in the middle with two of my dormmates. You can get a better look at those glasses AND my retainer.

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    I loved that window seat so much! I did all my homework sitting there looking out at Saratoga Springs. I also loved those pale yellow Tretorns I'm wearing!

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    This experience taught me one thing that has been part of my life mantra ever since: You don't get what you don't ask for! Had I not asked, I would not have gone. Simple.

    (And there's a pretty active alumni group developing and I would LOVE to know what became of all my fellow CTYers!)