?

Log in

A fallen feather

Over the last year I have learned much about magic, interconnectedness, the power of intention, and the Divine. I have to say, it's not easy to believe in any of these things. It's very easy to conform to society's view of what is real and possible, even when other realities and possibilities hit you right in the face. It reminds me of the Robert Pirsig quote on the front page of my diary: "The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away. Puzzling." It's very difficult to truly believe in the power of faith as small as a mustard seed, and that what I ask for sincerely shall be given. However, when I do ask, and it is given, and it happens again, and then ceases to be a proper coincidence, I begin to understand the truth of it. Someone has been incredibly patient with me, putting the truth right in my face so many times, yet I keep doubting and needing further proof! Why is magic so hard to believe in even when it's all around me?

I started talking to angels and spiritual Beings, especially my good friend Archangel Michael, whose loving protective presence I feel has helped me many times. I began asking for miracles and tried to have faith that they would come. I learned to have faith and at least try to believe that I'm worthy, that miracles are abundant and would come my way. Christopher Penczac wrote:

Certain people pray in a give-and-take fasion: "God, if you give me this, I will give up that." That isn't really magick, and doesn't often work. Others will ask for things, but focus so hard on their lack of what they want, or feel so unworthy to receive anything, that they don't have any energy behind their intent. Then there are those people who pray in a confident manner, feel connected to their source through unconditional love, knowing that the divine is abundant, and believe that if it is for the highest good, their prayer will be answered. And it is. They are doing magick.

As soon as I began asking for miracles, and for proof that my prayers had been heard, they started to come, one after the other. My good friend Missi agreed to come all the way from England to go to the week long amazingness that is the Burning Man Festival with me this summer. That was a miracle in itself. I thanked the Divine, and asked that the miracles keep coming. I began to have a very real feeling that the universe was trying to tell me something, that God was intervening in my life more intimately and often than before, as though destiny were a bowling ball that had been rolling down the lane for the longest time and was finally knocking down all the pins.

Perhaps this feeling came from all the little things that happened all the time that felt they were 'set up' for me. For example. When I started to feel unwanted and unloved, because few of my friends would call or email me unless I called or emailed them first, I thought about one person in particular who seemed not to mind talking to me, and whose Live Journal I frequently read, yet she hadn't even taken the time to add me to her friends list. The next day, for the first time in quite a while, I decided to check my Live Journal, and the first thing I saw was that this person had actually added me to her list. At this point I began telling people that I had the strangest feeling the universe was trying to tell me something. That made me happy for a little while, but then I started feeling horrible again. I was having the worst day in quite a while.

The next time I checked my email, though, I found a message from someone who had read my profile on gk2gk.com, a geek personals website: "You're awesome. I just thought you should know that." It cheered me right up. I always crave messages like that, but I never get them. I looked at her profile and considered her equally awesome. I knew right away I had made a new friend. I never expected to find anyone who really interested me on that website, because they all seemed like computer or science geeks, and I really couldn't find much in common with most of them. But I decided to put up a profile anyway, simply because, well, you never know. And I was right. I asked her to send me an email, as short or as long as she wanted, and I was so happy when it was one of the longest emails I'd ever received from anybody! I love long emails. We've sent many long emails back and forth.

I heard that if you want to find a wonderful relationship you should write down the qualities you are looking for in your partner as well as the faults you can and cannot tolerate. I never really believed that putting such things in writing could have the effect of magically bringing you closer to that person. If intention is really that powerful, though, and writing it down expresses your intention, why wouldn't it be powerful? Lack of faith, I guess. I made my list, even though I didn't think writing it down would help any, and even though I didn't really think it was possible. Just whim. I just wondered if she existed. That's why I didn't actually write down any of the faults. On my list were things to which others were tempted to say, "She doesn't exist." But she does. My list:


  • Is sweet, caring, generous, optimistic, perhaps idealistic, and great at comforting her friends (and she's always there for them). Elizabeth is all of these things. Unfortunately she's probably too nice to some of her friends, because they take her for granted, and don't deserve her.

  • is passionate about the things she loves and cares about. I can hear the glow in her voice when she talks about the things she loves.

  • Feels deeply but is emotionally stable and rarely lets her emotions get out of control. This describes her, too, not to say there aren't emotional issues (with both of us) we will need to deal with, but they are things I feel very capable of handling.

  • preferably has a career (or is working towards a career) that allows her to express her individuality: writing, singing, theatre, arts, crafts, teaching of some sort, etc.. She is applying to graduate school and wants to become a professor of folklore, and all of those careers I mentioned are things she wants to do! She is a writer (now studying classics and creative writing), an actress (performed in 19 plays); and also a singer and an artist.

  • Is open and honest about herself and the things that bother her. That was really important to me. I need someone I can be honest with and who will not get jealous or disappointed or melodramatic at the slightest truth, however harmless or benignly meant, that she doesn't want to hear. Yet Elizabeth is the most open and honest person I know. She has terrible trouble not being honest about things. It is so refreshing to be able to talk to someone so openly and honestly about anything.

  • Has many interests, perhaps more than she knows what to do with, is fairly spontaneous, and always open to trying new things. She says she has so many interests that, like me, sometimes she forgets she was interested in something, and rediscovers it.

  • Loves books and movies. </i>And languages! But I thought that was too much to ask for. I can't wait to show her all the wonderful bookstores in Boston, including the foreign language bookstore, Schoenhof's!</i>

  • Is a hopeless (or hopeful) romantic and believes in true love

  • Appreciates chivalry, and makes me feel special in return

  • Enjoys nature hikes, canoe rides, whitewater rafting trips, and world travel. Now here I was just being silly expecting her to like all these things, but voila! She loves hiking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting, and when I talked to her about traveling the world, although she hasn't had much money for travel, her voice got giddy like I'd never heard it before.

  • Places little importance on money in the scheme of things. She's with me on that, too.

  • loves animals, teddy bears, and cute kids cartoons</i>

  • Is an extrovert in some situations (e.g. can encourage me to dance), but also has many introverted qualities (often dreams/fantasises, immerses herself in many a book, enjoys thinking and contemplating, being intimate...). Now here I was thinking chemistry, because someone too introverted would keep me hiding in a shell, and someone too extroverted would probably just bore me. She is an ENFP with a lot of introvert qualities. :)

  • Likes to have intimate discussions about philosophy, life, feelings, and ideas

  • Enjoys renaissance faires. Oh, she does, she does! She has a beautiful cape and scrumptious purple leather bodice and I'm going to buy her a skirt to match!

  • Is fairly flexible. At least right now, as far as her time is concerned, this is maybe the only thing on the list that is only partly true. Hmmm, maybe reading my list is why she keeps apologising for being so unflexible. But she's finishing up a tough senior year and applying to grad school. Unfortunately there are no folklore grad programs in Massachusetts that I know of...

  • Fantasises about living in pre-mundane times</i>

  • Enjoys dressing up in all sorts of costume; and acting out (non/sexual) fantasies in character ;). I think this is covered in 'Enjoys renaissance faires'. It just means she does more than just enjoy them. :)

  • Shares a similar belief system (Earth is sacred, life and the universe are awesome and miraculous). Yes! She considers herself Christo-pagan, and it's really hard to find people who are comfortable with both Christianity and paganism! A lot of pagans tend to resent or ignore Christianity and vice versa...

  • Hopefully believes in faeries, unicorns, and dragons! Last I heard, most of her believes in fairies, and the wary tired part wants to.

  • Believes in the magic of learning; loves kids, hopefully wants one or two, and would want to homeschool them, attachment parenting, encourage them to find the beauty in all they do and learn. She wants to homeschool, too, and not in a strict way!

  • Thinks an intimate fireside chat in a great blizzard or long thunderstorm is incredibly romantic

  • Would do little things every day that make me feel special, and appreciate in return what I do for her

  • Is weird, and proud of it!

  • Laughs hysterically at Monty-Pythonesque humour (and would laugh right now if she heard me say "Ni!"). She loves Monty Python. She says she loves British humour but hates American humour because it tends to be all about putting people down and making fun of them. She loves Canada, which has to say something about her sense of humour. She's silly and fun.

  • Would be totally faithful to the right person for the rest of her life



So, not really expecting all of my expectations to be met, I made my list, and contrary to those who may have thought I was asking too much, I saw each and every one of those qualities fulfilled! It turns out that she made a list, too. As she explained in an email to me:




I must admit that I believe I am smitten with you, that is if you don't mind.

When my parents got together, they did so half because of my Dad's prayer. When he was younger he wrote out a prayer to God asking him to send him a woman who possessed these qualities that he desired and when he met my Mom he just knew that she was the woman from his list, down to her long fingernails for scratching his back.

My brother got married this Christmas in Arizona, where he and his wife Laura live (I love her to death :) ) and in the whole mindset of love, having watched my father preform the ceremony (both of my parents are ordained ministers in my church which does not pay people to work for it so we have different people preaching every sunday, and they all ahve other full time jobs, my Dad is a technical writer and my mother is a middle school guidance counselor) but I decided to make my list, and boy did I make it, I made this sucker two or three pages long. I think you might be my list.





I hope this is good enough reason for those of you looking for true love to take a few minutes out of your day to just make a list. It doesn't have to be realistic. Mine wasn't. But make sure it's what you really want!

Although she sent me that message through gk2gk, she said she has never contacted anyone like that before, and never found a profile that didn't have at least something off-putting. She said mine had nothing like that at all. She said she wasn't going to contact me, thinking "why would he want to talk to me?", but apparently she liked my profile so much, she later returned, unable to resist responding to my profile. She thought, "Well, at least I could give this person a little ego-boost." And if it weren't for her friend Harrison, she may not have had the courage to contact me at all.

Also, had she even known my name, she most definitely would never have thought about contacting me. A few years ago, sadly, she was raped by someone who, like me, is a Sagittarius named Jason. The rape really destroyed her sense of self-worth and healing has been painful. When she learned my name and that I was a Sagittarius, she became afraid, but decided she wanted to get over her fear and not let it overcome her. I told her she could call me by my middle name, Michael, and then she decided to call me Aiden, which she has been calling me ever since. It is a Gaelic name that means "fiery." Her mother, apparently, doesn't call anyone Jason either, so to her I am Professor Bhear, from Little Women.

She had hoped that the rapist had forgotten about her, but a few days ago, he sent her a message through the Internet. It was some matchmaking site where he let her know he was interested in 'meeting' her. I don't know why he did this, but I have no words, and I really don't know what I can do to help her feel safe. Why would he do this? She could hardly breathe...

Anyway... when I was asking for miracles, and looking for signs that I had been heard, I thought that perhaps the sign might be a feather or something. So, when I asked for a sign, I usually looked for a feather. We were both talking about the events leading up to our meeting, and when I told her this, she said, "Did you say feather? You were looking for a feather?" She thought this was very amusing because she had always used the word 'feather' in her online usernames. It seems a really great irony that the 'sign' I was looking for was the real thing!

When I first told her that I felt we had been "brought together" by some spiritual force, it made her nervous, because she felt she had often been used by spirit to serve the needs of others. I proposed to her that, perhaps this time, we were brought together for her sake as well as mine. I recently asked her again whether it still made her nervous. She told me it didn't. I asked her why. She said that before she sent her 'confession' (that she was smitten with me) she talked to God. She often talks to God and receives answers. She says she cannot go to church or a spiritual service without receiving some sort of insight from God. She asked, "Why did you wait so long to bring him to me?!!" She received a clear response: "We had to wait until it was the right time for him, too, you know. He needed to be shown that we're here and looking out for him."

She didn't know that I had been looking for a sign, that I desperately wanted to know that God and the angels were listening to me, that I had been looking for a fallen feather! This seemed to me the grand finale, one more confirmation that they really are looking out for me. Now if they could help me find a way to tell my good friend, who seems to have a huge crush on me, and who I love dearly, and don't want to hurt....

From rednaiad's journal




I took the Myers-Briggs personality test again and I am an INFP. Then I came across this really cool test in mica_mirrors's journal! I think I used to be INTP, but studying philosophy, I think, has taught me the limits of reason and to be more aware of my feeling side. And yes, I *am* attracted to ENFP's. NFP's rock. ;)

Jung Explorer Test
Actualized type: INFP
(who you are)
INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.
Preferred type: ENFP
(who you prefer to be)
ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.
Attraction type: ENFP
(who you are attracted to)
ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.

Take Jung Explorer Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Darren in Satin -- Fundie to Fluffy.

No offense meant to anybody.

So, as occasionally happens, we had someone proselytising at Mystic Wicks. The post was quite humourous:

-------------------
What's up, David? Don't you just pity those who are trying to live their lives without Jesus? Not only are they going through hell on earth now, but they will end up in an even worse hell after they die. Why won't they just accept Jesus. I mean accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior was the best thing I ever did.

Here are some links to those websites with the free online Christian videos I was telling you about.

http://media.christiananswers.net
http://tbn.org/index.php/8/1.html
http://myfaith.com/Listen-watch.htm

You can get The Passion of Christ here.

Keepin tha Faith,
Darren

----------------------

That thread got moved to the Just Silly section of the site which was the greatest thing that could have happened. See, we started wondering about this mysterious David character, and my friend trippingdaisy and I had lots of fun with that.

Talk turned to Satan and Santa and satin and velvet and such things, and me being the mischievous imp I love to be, I created a new screen name, darren_in_satin, and posted this:

-------------------------
O where are you David?

I'm turning into a bad, bad man.... these people... actually make some sense!

God save me.

X

-------------------------

Immediately after this darren_in_satin entered the scene, two posters stated, "This is the best thread ever." Oh, I think I might agree.

I decided to continue my role playing fun. Darren began struggling with his faith and couldn't decide between Jesus and satin. In his latest post, he came out as a fluffy bunny Wiccan!

------------------------------
Merry Meet, David. I just found out you can be wicca and Christian at the same time. If you're reading this, and I'm not sure you are anymore, I found a website with lots of cool spells and wicca stuff:

http://www.magick-wiccan.com/wicca-...cca-spells.html

I got me a broomstick and I can't wait to use it!

Blessed Be and NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!

------------------------------

I love MW.

Oh, and if I were really clever, I might not have come here and blurted out that it was me, but such is life, and I can't keep excitement to myself! I hope nobody gives me away... not yet, anyway...

Miracles and Faery Cords

I haven't posted here in a while because I have gotten quite... (going to thesaurus to find euphemism for 'addicted')... quite absorbed with, attached to, and fond of the online pagan community Mystic Wicks. I've made some great friends and I honestly don't think you'll find so many kind and tolerant people gathered anywhere else online. Occult Forums -- what's that? I used to go there occasionally, and still do for informational purposes, but I never found a real sense of community there. Mystic Wicks is a 24-hour support system, thousands of friends I just love to help and support and interact with, and who also go out of their way to support me. I now understand why we say 'welcome home' to new members. It really feels like a big family and I'm grateful for them all. It's fulfilled my needs in online interaction, thus my negligence of this journal.

Now I'm trying to figure out whether to go to the faery workshop with R.J. Stewart in New York City next month. I think I probably will, if there's any space left when I decide to sign up, because how often do you get a chance to take a workshop with perhaps *the* leading authority on connecting to faeries?!! I recently purchased his books and am getting ready to dive into them. Raven Grimassi on MW told me his workshops are amazing and that there isn't another teacher like him. Alright, I'm convincing myself, once again. If there's any space left, I'm going! (He's also a Celtic/folk musician and recorded original music for The Dark Crystal).

The workshop is on faery cords. Yes, something else to make me look ridiculous to the uninitiated in geekhood (and paganism). Faery cords. I'm supposed to bring a cord about my height, which after an initiation ritual, will be my cord for connecting with the faery realm. It sounds fascinating. I've never heard of a faery cord before.

Maybe I'll ask Amanda if she can make it to Manhattan and meet her there too. Oh, Amanda. She told me about this really awesome place called Catskill Game Farm, where all kinds of animals are out in the open, right there for your cuddling pleasure. That's a place I *must* visit!

Many small miracles have occurred recently, and thanks to whoever is watching over me, it seems the universe is conspiring in my favour. I love when that happens. Two of my friends have recently thanked me for simply existing. You can't get any better than that. *smile* I never thought I could say this, but there's something that could make even a faery workshop sound less exciting...

!!!!!Missi And I Are Going To Burning Man This Summer!!!!!

So great thanks to Erica and Ron, who put it into my head enough times, and to ~Aries~ on MW who asked about it and resparked my interest. Missi was telling me she wants to feel more comfortable with her body and mind, and wants to find people with whom she can revel in life, and I couldn't think of a better way. We were both bouncing off walls and frolicking about when we decided to go; can you imagine how much more excited we'll be when the time comes?

After browsing the website of last year's Burning Man, and sharing that with her, we both decided that regardless of what it takes we're going to find a way to do it. I told her to bring her faery wings, and she said, "Which pair?"

We just need to figure out transportation. We could fly into California or Oregon since there's a bus company that goes to Burning Man and bicycles are allowed. Or, we could fly into Reno and get into a carpool. How we're going to get all our supplies, not only to Burning Man, but to our campsite, is beyond me. I'm sure we'll figure it out. I just hope the stress of getting there doesn't put a damper on the fun. Getting to Burning Man without a car. That part makes me nervous.

L'Chaim!

(Yeah, I want to learn Hebrew. And don't mind Nicole Kidman... just trying to get a wider readership ;)).

Questions from coloratura_diva




1. Best Thing You've Done For YOURSELF Recently?

Where to start! I went to New York (as well as Canada and Bermuda) and had an amazing time helping developmentally disabled people have great vacations. At the NY Renaissance Faire, I splurged on a great kilt in dark green with beautiful pleats in the back, with a penandular brooch. Frequent compliments are good for self-esteem! At the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, I bought myself a beautiful silver Scottish dragon brooch with double spirals to hang from the skirt of my kilt. They've definitely been worth it, and I plan to buy myself more nice things in the future! I had some energy healings and a chakra cleansing recently, which have helped me feel so much better, more peaceful and more energised at the same time. The online community Mystic Wicks has been an obsession of late, and I'd say signing up was one of the best things I've done for myself lately. Spending time with friends isn't something I do merely for myself... but I'm going to be studying Emerson with Tara, and I'm sure that will also be very worthwhile for me. I can't really name at this point the *best* thing I've done for myself, but I'm very glad I've done all these things.


2. If You Could Live Anywhere, Where Would You Choose To Be?

If I could live anywhere, I think I'd usually choose the Shire, Rivendell, or Bree, depending on my mood at the time. In other words, Middle Earth. If I could live anywhere on Earth it would be near a magical garden or forest, near the sea, Ireland in an older time. Perhaps also pre-Columbian America in what is now New England or Eastern Canada.


3. If You Were Magickally Switched To The Opposite Gender For One Day, How Would You Spend That Day?

I think I would explore sexuality from the female perspective and dress in clothes that I (as a male) don't typically find the opportunity to wear! If the day were long enough, I'd find somewhere to role-play, and be a princess warrior. And... well... I guess I'd also want to find out if it's really so easy to get an average guy to say yes to sex.


4. Which Animated Character Do You Most Identify With?

I think I relate best to Peter Pan, although I'm probably a little more grounded, and I wouldn't want to give up the amazingness that is love!

5. Would You Want To Spend The Night In A Haunted Castle?

Fear is not something I handle well alone, since I have a tendency to freak myself out, but I would certainly spend a night in a haunted castle if there were someone there to be scared *with!* I actually did walk through a dark castle around midnight and the experience was thrilling and invigorating. I love old castles and spirits and vampires and mysteries and such things gothic!

A great kilt culture

This morning I woke up early to go to the New York Renaissance Faire with Anna, a girl from New Zealand, who I met at the hostel. We took the subway to the Port Authority, and from there, we took a bus to Sterling Forest, site of the New York Renaissance Faire. I guess it's about 45 miles Northwest of Manhattan, but not realising that a good part of New Jersey is actually *north* of Manhattan, I feared the bus was taking us south and to the wrong place. There were other people on the bus going to the faire, though, so I wasn't too worried, just a little confused.

We passed through some interesting places along the way: a Chinese-style house sitting on the edge of a rocky hill, a Dutch town called Sloatsburg, where everything looks quite medieval (and even the Bank of New York looks like a small castle). There are quite a few antique shops, but the town still keeps its composure, and doesn't look too touristy.

The permanent faire site was quite nice, although even at the end of the day, I was still having trouble finding my way around the grounds! When we arrived, we just wanted to look around a bit, but one enthusiastic decision-loving wench, catching me peruse my calendar, wanted to help us plan our day. The earlier part of the day was spent seeing various shows, including knife-throwing father and son pair Stewart and Arnold, the Weird Wench Sisters (singing Health to the Company and many other traditional songs), and the Crimson Pirates (who, as might be expected, sang mostly on maritime themes).

There was a man at the faire who was dressed as a pirate, dressed as Jack Sparrow in particular, and I swear, if I had my picture taken with him, you might have thought it was Johnny Depp himself! Even his facial expressions made him look like Johnny Depp. I must put together a pirate costume! A pirate's life could be so fun.

We saw the village idiots, who were quite funny, covering themselves in paint, walking blindfolded on a stage full of mousetraps, and playing a game I'll call The Thimble, The Cup, and the Flagon, which I suppose, is the Village Idiots' version of Jeopardy. The wagers are a thimble, a cup, or a flagon of water, which will then be dumped on you if you lose. They had Anna get up there as a contestant, and she did pretty well, until the end, when we all decided she should be soaked with the entire bucket.

When we walked by a Scottish shop, Highland Secrets, Anna said, "You look like a man who could use a kilt," and insisted that I try one on. I decided to try one of the great kilts in a dark green tartan. With everyone telling me how good I looked in the kilt, and how very Scottish I looked (NOT German), I'm sure I succumbed to a moment of insanity. What but insanity could cause me to spend $300 on a hunk of fabric that takes a page of written instructions just to wear it properly? I've heard that even people who have worn the great kilt for years still take a half an hour to get dressed. I had them dress me twice at the shop, and I still don't have it figured out. I bought the whole nine yards, consoling myself that I made enough money leading Sprout trips to pay for it. Here's a picture:

Wearing the kilt was a little strange at first. I often found myself feeling around the skirt to make sure nothing was exposed. Feeling the wind in places you don't usually feel it is an unusual experience. I think a kilt is a good investment, and immediately you learn that it has many uses. The kilt is very versatile, and can be worn in many ways. The apron can even be worn as a cape in cold weather. I'm interested, though, in the still more interesting uses. The first of these uses, I soon found, is to purge yourself from those naked school dreams -- when you're in a kilt, you feel naked to everybody, and nobody looks disturbed or shocked in any way. I just hope I don't *really* walk out naked one day, and then suddenly catch myself: "Ahhhh! Crap, I'm naked! I thought I was wearing my kilt!"

Another great thing about the kilt: low supply, high demand. I hardly saw another at the renaissance faire, yet they seem so highly respected, and to make people so happy, that it's a wonder more blokes don't wear them. I'm not much of an attention-seeker, but I do enjoy the attention I get when I wear my kilt.

We talked about how there has to be a sort of 'kilt culture.' For example, there is a sort of humour that only someone who has worn a kilt could understand. This isn't a joke, but just a story I read recently that I found amusing: a man was wearing his kilt in a store, when another man, a Scotsman, said to him: "It's nice to see blokes wearing kilts in public. I wish more of us did that." The kilted man then asked the Scotsman, "Where's your kilt?" The Scotsman looked a little embarrassed, and then said, "It's being dry-cleaned."

It becomes even more fun when you leave the renaissance faire and re-enter the 'real world'. Walking kilted through the subways was quite fun. It's great to watch people's reactions out of the corner of your eye. I would stare at someone a moment after I saw them look at me, almost certain that they would look again, and when they did look -- right into my eyes -- it must have been very embarrassing! I found myself standing right next to a Buddhist monk in the Port Authority, so I sort of fit in, although to everyone else we were probably either attending some international gala or else were with the United Nations.

It was September 11th, the third anniversary of the tragedy, and driving back to Manhattan, the WTC lights were shining. I went outside again, after I arrived at the hostel, and saw the WTC lights once more, except this time, I noticed something interesting. The only cloud in the entire sky was a small one hovering just over the tower lights. It reminded me of the star that led the three wise men.

Canadian Cruise

9/5/2004

I arrived at the Sprout office at 1:00 pm for the cruise with Michelle and UnJoo. We took the subway to Penn Station, where we met our first participant, Michael Jewitt. They told us he'd be good-looking with a shirt that said 'Brave.' He certainly is good-looking, and his shirt did say brave, but it was so small, one would hardly notice it. I liked Michael very much from the start. We took a taxi together to the Bayone cruise terminal in New Jersey, where we'd meet the other participants. The taxi ride was over an hour -- certainly the longest time I've ever spent in a taxi.

Michael forgot to bring any form of ID, but the workers at the terminal were really good, and they managed to get a faxed copy of his passport. They let us inside, and gave us hot dogs, sandwiches, potato chips, and lemonade before even entering the ship. I was starving. It was unfortunate, however, because one of our participants, Kevin, who is not supposed to eat solid foods, was offered a hot dog, and he ate it. It got stuck in his esophagus, and for days he couldn't eat anything so thick as yogurt without coughing it back up. He complained about the pain for the first couple days of the trip. I took him to the hospital in New Brunswick to have it removed.

Our cruise ship was Royal Carribean's Voyager of the Seas. Unlike most people, I'm sure, upon entering the ship I had an irresistable urge to watch the movie Titanic. On this ship I really feel that I am a passenger on the Titanic, and I wish we were going transatlantic. Dinner was in a very nice dining room with chandaliers, much as I would expect to find on the Titanic. I had some rolls, cold watermelon soup with celery and cucumber (which was excellent), a rib eye steak (which wasn't the best steak I've ever had), and I finished off with a key lime pie.

After dinner, we went to bed early, and I helped Alex and Mark get ready for bed. They need a lot of help. Alex is basically non-verbal, but seems to understand when you speak to him, and he requires frequent prompts to get him ready. Mark is a little more independent. He seems to love pleasing women with his cologne, and he says he brushes his teeth three times a day. Certainly he takes care of his hair. He is a very sweet, sociable man, who I had a great time getting to know. He is legally blind, and needs help walking. I was usually the one who held his hand, to make sure he didn't trip, so I got to know him quite well. He has a prosthetic eye, and it was a new experience for me to see him pop that out of his head.

Another interesting participant is Iris, an older woman who constantly asks for coffee and cigarettes. She used to smoke, but by her own admission, she can't smoke according to doctors orders. I guess we're not going to get her any cigarettes. She can drink coffee though. We have to put a limit on that, or there's no telling how much she'll drink. She's very impatient with hot coffee, and will pour cold water into the cup until it is overfull, in order to cool it down.

9/6/2004

Iris apparently didn't like sleeping on the high bed last night. She complained that it was broken and that she would break her neck up there. Somehow, although it took a lot to get her up there, she came down pretty easily. She left her room, and spent the night wandering the halls, knocking on doors, and asking people for coffee and cigarettes. The security on the ship felt that she was such a threat to safety that they gave us another (balcony) room, so that one of the leaders could sleep with Iris, and make sure she doesn't wander. Michelle slept in Iris's room, so UnJoo and I got the balcony, a room with a view of the ocean!

We were both incredibly pleased with this new room, and we spent a long time standing on the balcony, talking, watching the moonlight shine on the water, and noticing the green tint of the water nearest the ship. Looking down to the deck below us, I can just imagine Jack and Rose getting to know each other, and I remind myself that I must spit off the deck before journey's end. I love how the ship gently sways. How luxurious travel can be!

Can you believe we had three buffets today? I don't know how I've done it. I haven't gotten sick yet. The corned beef hash and breakfast potatoes in the morning were especially good. After breakfast, we watched a movie (Cheaper by the Dozen), and then, although it seemed too soon, it was time for another meal, elevenses or lunch, I can't keep track.

We have a rather immobile group, and this is considered a slow-paced trip, so we spent the afternoon relaxing. I spent some time writing. After dinner, which again came too soon, I brought Ann and Mark to the casino.

Mark loves gambling. I always tell him that his gold chain makes him look like a high roller, and he responds with a great smile and a laugh, very pleased. He's a very charming man. Both Mark and Ann lost at the casino. Ann lost at slots, and Mark and I played mostly roulette. I was fortunate enough to win about $20 on 2:1 (first 12, second 12, third 12 bets). I won $5 the night before in a quick game of roulette, so I'd say I did pretty well.

I helped Alex and Mark get ready for bed, and then UnJoo, Michelle and I watched the second half of Love Actually on television. What a great movie -- I liked it so much better the second time! I especially love the story of the English man and Portuguese woman who fall in love. The Prime Minister's story is really good, too, especially when he goes house to house singing carols and looking for that intern. Oh, and Colin and his typical American girls! Milwauke. Heh. I laughed so much. I can't wait to see it again in full when I return home.

At noon we were 60 miles southeast of Cape Cod. We'll arrive in New Brunswick in the morning.

9/7/2004

We arrived in Canada. Michelle asked me to take Kevin to the hospital in St. John today. The city wasn't much, and to be honest, I don't know why the cruise ship docks there. Last year's group with Michelle went to the mall, and if you follow Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, you'll know that New Brunswick doesn't have a good one!

Taking care of everything at the hospital was easy. Filling out the paperwork was no problem, and we were in and out of the hospital in two or three hours. I was afraid we were going to have to catch a bus to Halifax and meet the cruise ship there, but we got through the hospital in no time, and made it to the ship with time to spare. There really was a huge chunk of hot dog stuck in Kevin's esophogous. They gave him some valium, and then split the hot dog and pushed it down into his stomach. Because of the valium, he was a bit uneasy, and needed a wheelchair on the way out of the hospital.

Canadians are lovely people. We took a taxi back to the cruise ship. The driver, a friendly and talkative fellow with a great Celto-Canadian accent, and like a typical Canadian, found a way to turn the conversation to ice hockey. I told him I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He said he was in Worcester a long time ago and has some family there. Then he brought up Worcester's ice hockey team, the Icecats. St. John, I now remember, used to have a hockey team in the AHL, in the same division as the Worcester Icecats, but our taxi driver informed us that the team is gone. He started talking about the World Cup of hockey, and showed us St. John's hockey rink as though it were the most important landmark in the city.

We did a bit of shopping when we got back from the hospital. Alex bought a stuffed frog and a snow globe. Mark bought a nice pin, which initially looked a bit girly to me, but it looked great on him. (You should see his pink suit, so classy!) Mark is like a grandfather in a lot of ways, and I don't think you could help but like him.

9/8/2004

We arrived today in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our group isn't very mobile, and they don't give you much time in these ports as it is, so we didn't get to do much. Some of the group got tired just walking down to the boardwalk. UnJoo and I took the rest of the group -- Michelle, Kevin, Ann, and Irish -- shopping further down the boardwalk.

We ate some ice cream, and I decided to run under a fountain for the fun of it. On the way back, Kevin wanted to get wet, too, so I ran under with him. After that, for the rest of the week, he constantly joked about getting Michelle wet. Kevin was much happier after the removal of the hot dog.

It was a beautiful day in Halifax, but too late to take a tour. We could have taken a taxiboat to Peggy's Cove or something for about $100, but I didn't realise that until we got back to the ship.

9/9/2004

I've managed some good luck at the casino these past few days, almost always seeming to put down $5 on the roulette table, and collect $10. Mark, however -- I feel so bad for him -- lost almost all his $200 over the course of the trip. He did have occasional good luck on slots, but he kept gambling, and lost it all. The first couple times he lost, he blamed me: 'You made me lose. You didn't help me.' When I made it clear that I would not bring him back to the casino, he said he wasn't blaming anyone, and that the casino ripped him off. He told me he he had better luck at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun (and Las Vegas, I believe). In the end, he told me he works two jobs, and has plenty of money, so he wasn't really upset about losing. Mark is a great guy, very sociable and fun to talk to, but he does take the casino very seriously. He doesn't always understand the games, and it's hard for me to figure out how much I should help him.

He looks great in a sports coat, especially with his new, flashy pin! It was our last night on the cruise, so we dressed up formally/semi-formally for a group photograph. Alex, who is generally a very good-natured man, started to freak out because (and we didn't know why at the time) he hadn't gotten his smoking pipe all week. At first, he got really loud, and I wasn't sure exactly where the noise was coming from. Then, he started running around, still shouting, and he attacked Michelle, leaving three vicious vampire bites in her arm. When I realised how strong he was, I jumped in to protect Michelle, and then Alex started attacking me as well. I tried to defend myself without hurting him; luckily a security guard came within a few seconds to restrain him. We had a small audience, and people were telling me I did the right thing, but I was so frazzled at the time, I didn't quite know what happened.

As though that were not enough for the evening, my wallet, containing about $200, simply disappeared out of thin air. What's more, I think I've gotten a reputation for losing things -- a reputation which I really don't deserve. I spent the night worrying about it, and looking for it, but to no avail.

9/10/2004

In the morning, I had a large helping of the breakfast fries and corned beef hash, and then we took off. After pick-ups at the cruise terminal, the four of us (Michelle, UnJoo, Michael and I) took a stretch limo back to Penn Station. Back at the Sprout office, Santiago told me that one of the participants had my wallet, and I was so relieved. I knew right away that it was Alex. You might suspect him after his violent episode, but he is a good-natured guy (albeit violent when he doesn't get his pipe), and he surely wouldn't have stolen my wallet, but I can certainly see him taking it, assuming that it was his. I was just very happy to have it back.

Club Sprout

8/30/2004

This morning I met with Sarah for training. I was a bit nervous, but she loosened me up a bit, and an hour later I was headed to Club Sprout, an annual Sprout event in the northwest corner of Connecticut. It's basically a big summer camp. It wasn't your typical first Sprout trip, and it was really hectic for me, going to this place with over a hundred people (most trips are just 8-10 participants and 3 leaders).

Within just a few hours, I got to know the participants really well. Their names: Chuckie, Robert, Terrance, Rodney, Taj, Chris, Sarah, Felicia, Equality, Laura. At the end of the trip, there's always a couple participants you're really going to miss, and on this trip, for me, it was Chuckie, Robert, and Equality.

We had lunch immediately after we arrived. They really know how to feed you here! Every day they have pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, macaroni and potato salad, grilled cheese chinese food, and desserts, among other things I must be forgetting!

After lunch, Anisha took some of the participants to do arts and crafts. Lauren took some to the waterfront for a boat ride. I took others on a 'nature walk.' I don't remember who came with me, although I know Rodney was there, if only because it's not easy to forget his constant slang and singing in song lyrics! I didn't have a map, and I didn't know the grounds very well, so we just took a little walk around the camp, and the participants seemed pretty happy with that.

It was another hot, mucky day. I don't do well on hot, mucky days, but it was alright. It was amusing to see Robert constantly changing his shirt. He must have changed five times today. I think he assumed it was dirty because he was sweating. Who knows if he has any left for the rest of the week?

We had chicken and pasta for dinner. It was very good, although I get the feeling that meals are too close together, somehow. (There's no telling how much weight I've gained on these trips!)

There was a dance in the evening. I didn't feel like dancing. That's not to say that I know how to dance. I'll move a bit when the music feels right and the mood strikes me, but when I do, I wouldn't exactly call it dancing! Someday I hope to take some sort of dance lessons, though. I'd hate to go my whole life unable to dance!


8/31/2004

We had potatoes, eggs, and waffles for breakfast. Thankfully, the weather was much cooler, albeit slightly rainiy in the morning. They played E.T. in the cinema room. Since I was still recovering from a mostly sleepless night, the night before traveling to New York, I slept through part of the movie. Santiago told me that when E.T. screams 'Eliot! Eliot! #@%!%! @%@%! Eliot! Be good!" it reminds him of one of his participants. I understand this, because some of them are really repetitive, and when it's finally quiet at night and you want to get some sleep, you still hear them in your head! Anyway, everyone seemed *so* happy that E.T. got to return to his home planet. That's one fo the things I love about these people. They show you how to have fun, and find pleasure in absolutely everything, even if it's a movie you've already seen twenty times.

The weather cleared in the afternoon, and we went for a swim. Equality never swam before, and she was really excited! It was great to spend some time in the water. I'd been craving it. I let Rodney baptise me in the lake. Have you ever been baptised? It's quite fun, so I suggest you get your head wet.

At lunch we started singing songs around the table. When I arrived in NYC, there was a man singing My Girl a capella in the subway, and it sounded really good. Since Rodney loves to sing, I asked him to sing My Girl, and little did I know, it was to become our camp theme song: we decided to perform a choreographed version of My Girl at the talent show the last night of camp. Chuckie and Rodney would be the stars (and who better, in all the camp, to be our stars, than Chuckie and Rodney!) We were so proud to have these talented performers in our group. The downside of this is that My Girl was hardly to escape my mental audio track all week.

Sunshine on a cloudy day aside, there were plenty of other audio tracks to occupy my mind over the course of the week. Rodney comes from a Baptist family, and I heard 'Lord Almighty' and 'Praise the Lord' more times than I can count. He said those phrases very rhythmically. It became addictive, so when you hear them enough times, you find yourself shouting out 'Lord Almighty' and not of your own accord, you'll swear! Rodney is also fond of saying 'Out of sight and din-o-mite.' He loves girls, and spent a lot of our first day at camp trying to get a girl into his room (and, fail that, a third boy?) I didn't understand how a third boy could be so exciting myself.

I should say something about the participants. Felicia is rather accusatory. She's not accusatory in a mean-spirited way, but I don't think you can be accusatory in a friendly way, either. She often calls people 'cheaters' and says 'I caught you red-handed.' She talks a lot about her mother, who is very sick now, having acquired diabetes through a virus. She also has a peculiar gift for remembering absolutely everyone's birthday. Give her a day, and she'll probably have some friend, family member, or acquaintance who was born on that day.

Now for my good friends. I love Robert, although at first, I couldn't understand a thing he was saying. He speaks in short and often repetitive sentences, but he never stops talking! Our conversations often go like this. He'll point and ask, 'What's that?' 'A boat,' I'll respond. 'Where?' he'll ask. Not knowing how to respond, I'll say 'Over there,' pointing again at the boat. Robert also mumbles in sounds that are, as far as I can tell, non-verbal. There's something really lovable about him, though. He laughs a lot and is fascinated by every little thing. The world is full of wonder for him. Sometimes I, or one of the leaders, would imitate his mumbling, and he would laugh so hard, it was as though we were telling jokes in his own language. Sometimes, speaking in his mumbling language would cause him to speak better English. At one point, he responded something like this in between our mumbles: "Going shopping tomorrow, huh? ... Where we going? .... let's have some drinks.... let's get drunk." It was as though we were setting off triggers in his brain for all these random thoughts.

Then there's Chuckie, who talks slowly, and sometimes stutters, but if you're patient with him, be prepared to enjoy some really great discussions with a really sweet, sensitive guy. He said a lot of things that make me consider how simple life really is. He told me that he often thanks God that he's here. He thanks God that he can get up to take a shower in the morning and go to bed at night. His roommate, Chris, had lost his deodorant, and he suggested that Chris pray to God to help him find it. I talked to Chuckie about a lot of things. I really value his opinion. We had a great conversation about Star Wars, scary movies, and nightmares on the last night of camp. He didn't understand why look would want to kill his father, so I explained it to him. We found it interesting that Jason and Chuckie are both famous characters from horror movies!

Equality is a really sweet, helpful girl who lives in a group home with Robert. She often hushes Robert's constant mumbling, and they don't seem to like each other very much. She says he sometimes hits her at home, which is surprising, since we rarely saw anything but the sweet side of Robert at camp. There was one time when we were talking about him, with Equality, I think, and he said, "Leave me alone." We started to laugh, and he said, "I'm not sorry!" in a rather harsh tone. It was so funny, though, coming from Robert. I told Equality, as a joke, that Robert said she's his best friend, and asked her if Robert was likewise her best friend. She replied, "No, you're my best friend." Then she said, "I'm gonna miss you," and gave me a hug. That was so sweet! Sarah also told me she'd miss me, and I hugged her as well.

There was another dance in the evening. I met girl named Rebecca, who works with mentally retarded kids back home in South Dakota, and just started as a Sprout leader. I also talked to a girl from Paris. I had a good time just hanging out and talking to people. Why dance?

I was lying in bed, and the strangest thing happened to me. I could hear the faint but audible repetitive baseline of music playing in the distance. It felt as though I were in a trance of some sort. In the quiet of the cabin, the baseline sounded quite loud, and I focused my attention on it. Soon I started hearing things. Songs I'd never heard before, followed by random voices saying things I didn't understand, more sounds, instruments, music. All of this was imagined, I'm sure, although it was so vivid that I heard it as though through my own ears. Sometimes I heard voices I recognised (mostly camp participants). Often it was a whole cacophony of voices speaking at the same time. I found that I could bring the sounds back at will, by somehow focusing and encouraging them, as long as I didn't dictate which sounds I would hear. The sounds came from some place deeper than my consciousness, and they only came when I was open to whatever might come. Again and again that night, fully awake, I was able to recreate these audio hallucinations, even after they'd stopped. I have never listened to shamanic drumming tapes, but considering the effect that baseline had on me that night, I think I might buy myself one.


9/1/2004

We had a short rehearsal for the talent show, and then went to the lake for boat rides! The rides were very relaxing, especially the first ride, on which Robert stayed behind. Robert is a great guy, and I enjoy spending time with him, but it's nice to enjoy some silence every once in a while, too. I talked to Anisha a bit during the ride. She's going to college next week, planning to study theatre, and she's really scared about starting school. The next boat ride, I took Robert along. He kept saying "Where are we going," and even when you tell him exactly where we're going, he won't stop asking. When you're talking to Robert, you have to get used to being repetitive. You can't go anywhere without Robert without him asking, "Where you going?" and he always wants to come along. I don't mind it, though; I like being with Robert.

The DJ, Joe Love, played some great music at lunch -- lots of classics I like, such as Margaritaville and Brown-Eyed Girl (and tell me, why does every DJ play Margaritaville right next to Brown-Eyed Girl in the playlist?) -- which put me in the mood to dance. When I dance, I have to remember to keep it simple, because when I get too bold and try something more complicated, it all falls apart, and everyone begins to anticipate a geek anthem. Yes, I must definitely look into taking some sort of dance course for total beginners!

We did Karaoke in the afternoon. Rodney and Chuckie were the stars, of course, singing and dancing in ways I only wish I could move. Felicia sang the Whitney Houston song 'The Children Are Our Future', and Anisha and I laughed for a half an hour afterwards. She sang: "I believe the children are our future / teach them well and help them go away." We asked her afterwards to sing it again, and she sang it the same way. What a great way to mess up a line!

Later, at bingo, I won a game, and got to take home a Sprout CD (it has various songs on it... 'All You Need Is Love,' 'New York New York,' etc.) I was hoping the CD was sung by Sprout participants -- that would have been awesome -- it wasn't, but it was nice to win the CD, nonetheless! Most of the participants knew how to play. Robert, though, would simply mark the numbers at his own whim, and when it looked like a bingo, he'd look at me expectantly. I often played his card for him, hoping he would win, but sadly, he never did. He would have been so excited.

When we got back to the cabins, and I called my mom, Equality, Robert, Rodney, and Chris all wanted to talk to her. Equality was so cute on the phone with her, saying "Your son is *so* nice... I'm really going to miss him," etc.

I found out that not only am I going on a Canadian Cruise, I have a day off after that, and then I have another cruise to Bermuda. I really am having the time of my life here. $25 a day to have the time of my life? I am incredibly lucky. With more experience, that stipend increases to $35 and eventually to $50 a day.

There was a dance and reggea concert in the evening, which was quite fun, and I met a lot of people. We had a bonfire afterwards, where we roasted marshmallows, and although the ground was wet and my eyes watered from the smoke, it was fun.

9/2/2004

Robert had been talking all week about going shopping to buy new pants. Finally, it was time to go to Wal-Mart, where with his $15, he would try to find a nice pair of pants. I took three participants with me: Robert, Terrance, and Felicia. I would have felt really bad if he couldn't buy some pants, but we found some that were cheap enough, and I had him try on a pair that seemed to fit. We bought him the pants. I helped Felicia find a new CD player and a watch, and Terrance also bought a watch. We took a walk over to the grocery store where they actually offered free coffee and snacks, so it was convenient for us. Robert accidentally stole a football magazine from Wal-Mart, which he probably didn't even want. Go Robert!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. We played bingo again in the afternoon, and once again, there was Robert whimsically marking his card, asking "Is that Bingo?" The talent show was after dinner, although I was completely exhausted, and happy when it was over. Our group did a wonderful job, though, and Rodney and Chuckie really were great in their rock star costumes. Sarah was my dance partner, and she had a little trouble moving in the rehearsals, but I think we did alright.

9/3/2004

It was our last breakfast together. Equality sat next to me, and I knew I was really going to miss her. We took a nature walk, and Lauren was able to spot everything interesting on the trail. She found a baby frog and even a red salamander. She sees everything.

After the nature walk, we went to karaoke, and I finally made up my mind to sing something, the stipulation being that someone else had to sing with me. Michelle and I agreed to sing 'All You Need Is Love,' but it was over before they called our names. It was really emotional, especially with the karaoke music, and I started to cry about how much I'd miss this everyone. The karaoke music helped me cry. There was Robert, drinking coffee after coffee, as usual, and I couldn't believe this was our last day together. I gave him a big hug. "You're gonna miss me, huh?" he asked. "Yeah," I said. I really was.

After lunch we took the buses back to Manhattan. They had not reserved a room for me at the hostel, and it was completely booked, so I had to reserve a room at the Central Park Hostel, about a quarter mile east. After check-in, I took a short stroll through Central Park -- the part of the park modelled after the cascades, which with its rocks and waterfalls, was breathtaking. "I don't much like the idea of living in the city," I told myself, "but for Central Park, I wouldn't mind living in Manhattan."

I went to the leaders party at the YHI hostel. The Italian food was delicious and it was nice to have a few beers (we can't have alcohol on trips). When the sprinkler's turned on, we knew it was time go to, and I walked back to my hostel.

I didn't have such a great night. I don't know why I wasted so much time talking to a racist Texan swindler named David, but at least I wasn't the only one who was cheated, and for me it was only $5. I like to trust people, as much as possible, and if someone who seems genuinely nice asks me for $5, I'll give it to them, and I won't regret it. If, however, that person turns out to be scum, I will find myself regretting it. (I saw a great sign in Times Square: "Why lie? We need beers." I wish I had given those guys a dollar, because they deserved it).

I didn't think twice about giving David the money, even though I didn't know why he wanted $5, because he'd convinced me he was a nice guy. While we were talking, we heard gun shots (and I saw them, as well) in the projects we had just walked through just a few minutes before. Please believe me when I say that I feel totally safe in Manhattan. Even walking down the street at night, I've never felt threatened. New York City is one of the safest big cities in the country, and I really felt that. Things just happen sometimes, though, and I just happened to be close when it did. Strangely, I didn't hear police afterwards. It was probably a shot in the air that came to nothing, but still, I expected to hear sirens.

After hearing the shots, David and I started talking about bad things that do happen occasionally in Manhattan, and told me things about September 11th, 2001 that were just bone-chilling. I ceased to trust David after discovering his true nature, and I wondered if I could trust his stories, but something about the way he talked about it that lead me to believe him. He said he had some business to do at the WTC, but somehow, because of Monday Night Football the night before, he was late. His friend did die in the tragedy. It was a big cloud of smoke, he said, and the windows of the Burger King in which he sat shattered. Women were running down the streets, losing their wigs, and couples were jumping together from the towers. He should have had therapy, he said, because he still can't get over it. Maybe that's why he's so paranoid.

He took one look at a black man who was sitting on the same stairway. He asked me if I'd mind walking down to the street with him. I couldn't believe someone could be so racist, even though that's exactly what it looked like, but my suspicions were confirmed. He told me he worked with computers, and I told him I didn't know much about them. He gave me a bunch of old Windows 3.x startup disks, and other things that I couldn't care less about, and told me I might learn a lot from them. I didn't let on that I knew more about computers than that. I just got really annoyed and wished I hadn't give him the money. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until it was completely ridiculous to do so. He tried to sell me some Java and C++ CD's that he had back home, stuff that he claims are just gathering dust. Then he said, "Look, you're a white guy, I'm a white guy. You can trust me. The way I was brought up in the south..." I'd had enough. I this guy was a racist, and he's pretty dumb, too, if he thinks racism is going to help me trust him. So, he walked away to get something for me, and I walked into the hostel, with a bunch of old disks and two computer mice. That's the last I would see of David.

I'm glad I had the discussion with him, though, because I think people deserve a chance. He could have been a nice guy. He wasn't, but he could have been. It's always enlightening to see just how racist some people can be. It's a mystery to me that racism exists at all. Why are people like that?


9/4/2004

I slept late today and spent the early afternoon doing laundry. I then set off for Central Park, planning to walk all the way down to the south end of the park (and determinedly, into Chinatown). Somehow, I found myself at the very northern edge of the park, by the pool and Harlem Meer, but I found my way south eventually. I did have a compass in my backpack, and it didn't work too well, but it sufficed to keep me going in the right direction. I saw and walked up the Belvedere Castle, which is extremely beautiful, and watched some street performers south of the Boathouse. There is so much to see in Central Park, and it simply cannot be seen in a day. I am convinced that you can spend a month in New York, Manhattan even, and still fail to see half of what you set out to see.

Well, I walked, and walked, and walked until my feet hurt. I walked through the entire park and down Madison Ave to about 32nd Street, where I decided to take a subway down to Battery Park on the tip of Manhattan, in order to see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry. I'd never seen the Statue of Liberty before, but there she was.

After taking the ferry back to Manhattan, I walked to Chinatown, and spent some time in Little Italy. I went to the Malaysian restaurant Nyonya, which I'd heard good things about, and had a very good order of curry spare ribs, white rice, and some excellent tea. It was over $10, one of the more expensive items on the menu, and for some reason, probably one of the less filling.

After dinner, I went to Times Square to check my email, and then I took a train back to the hostel. I can't get the hang of using the NYC subway system at night. It took me a long time to figure out which train actually stopped at 103rd Street, since many of them seemed to be express trains to the Bronx, or else just never came. I finally figured it out, and made it back to the hostel.