Thursday, September 27, 2007
anyway, school has been very good and busy. even though tgvl, spsi, and other groups can be tiring and frustrating, i feel really good about what we're doing. and knowing that everyone who isn't at school are doing great things as well makes me feel good. (i'm taking english classes and will hopefully eliminate "good" from my vocabulary by the time i graduate.)
we had a potluck at my house for the community garden and ken cooper came. we had an excellent conversation, and he lives up to the hype. his cooking is also delicious.
on saturday, me and some other SPSI'ers will be going to a huge march/rally in syracuse. people are calling for it to be the biggest one in upstate new york since Vietnam. unfortunately it's the same day as a parade in geneseo which GVCP will be marching in. i'd love to be here for that but i also really want to be in syracuse. i know fiona, molly, colin, colleen and other kids will be here to help them though so i think we'll be ok. we'll definitely bring an SPSI banner to syracuse!
feliks kind of showed me a backroad to conesus lake, which goes up and down some beautiful farmland. i rode on it after class, listened to the weakerthans and it was amazing. i also picked up some great tasting tomatoes at a road-side stand.
i hope everybody is doing well and i get to see you all very soon.
Been a while since I've heard from most of you, but now that I've hooked up a router to my neighbor's computer I am once again a semi-active social member of the World Wide Web. I hope you all had a good summer. I've been living in Burlington with my younger brother. He just graduated high school and is rocking out for a year before college, working at an outdoor gear store. I'm getting my hands dirty in the fly fashion of our agrarian brother Matt, working at a local vineyard. It's a fourth generation farm, so sometimes I have random jobs like painting barns and driving cattle, but mostly I work out in the vines and make booze in the winery. It's pretty awesome. I have about a 45 minute commute to and from work, which is not very economical when you work on a farm. It's also not efficient enough for most farmers, but for those of us whose love for farming is matched by an equal love for partying, compromises must be made. That's actually false. I've been a total bum this summer, maxing and relaxing, and doing a very minimal amount of partying. Aside from work, I climb an occasional mountain and I fight gutter-punks (there are a lot in Burlington), but that's less for pleasure than it is training. See you all for the revolution, or come visit Burlington, or maybe I'll make it to Geneseo for those of you who are still there. Peace and hope.
Monday, September 24, 2007
well let me first apologize for my slack on updating. i share a computer with three other people so i never want to hog the computer for very long. (and as you all know, a true statement takes time.)
so the long and short of it is that ici en france they play feist and of montreal on the radio, american accents are sex-ee, eating with your hands is a okay, the shops in montpellier are too damn expensive, the bread and the cheese and the wine are... well you know, the montpellier bikes for rent have neon orange bikeshare stripes, its hot as balls all afternoon, the public transport is clean and efficient and its a good thing above all because the driving is homicidal, people have GREAT HAIR, there are a trillion other etrangers (many dutch), everything is just the slightest bit different than back home, there's always someone sitting outside a cafe, nobody smiles to themselves, everyone makes eye contact when making a toast, etc etc etc.
my parents were here this weekend and i went with them to avignon (dig deep into your memory of 10th grade european history) and to other towns in provence. we saw one town called fontaine du vaucluse wherein the sorgue river derives itself from seemingly nowhere underneath this canyon of sorts. it was beautiful and it reminded my parents and i of letchworth state park. then last night my "host mom"/"host friend" florence (who is as charming, loquacious, and welcoming as a foreign students dream host) made us all dinner here in montpellier, and as we ate she told us about how her son's father left when the baby was ten days old, how he survived leukemia at age four, how she loves students and never wants to go to sleep once she starts reading a book, and hearing alll this made me feel so incredibly in awe of her and just the drama of everyday life. then of all feelings it was homesickness that crept up a little.
i miss the comfort of all of you, my favorite people, but more than any one person i just miss the comfort of knowing the language, of understanding every (or almost every) joke i hear and thinking about the subtext of everything instead of just focusing on the words themselves. i play this game alot where i listen to a pair of native speakers speaking french, guess what it is they're saying, and then ask someone to tell me in english. most of the time i end up projecting my feelings onto the words i don't catch (i.e. i thought two girls were talking about how scary it can be to walk alone at night and which routes they take; turns out they were talking about one of their masters theses.) but everyday is a new little adventure, and i'm lucky because i'm learning so, so, so much.
anyway, i have a stack of postcards for errbody but i need to buy some stamps! i need to learn the word for stamps! ugh, forget it, i'm coming home, this is too much.
alright so you can all call me on my french cell: 033 06 30 56 50 52. remember i'm six hours in the future. let me know how things are in the new world.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
flowers that gaby bought!
tim at the TGVL table... with the sign that chip made him put up that reads "Presented by NOW"
wes & bob on main st.
coll at the art walk!
last night was perfect.
FARI/BSU's event was great.
cortez finished off the night with one of his great speeches.
it was really nice.
the peace vigil was lovely as well.
so many people came out!
arnie counted over ninety!
president dahl stopped by.
it was great.
i've been talking with all of you quite a bit, which is really nice.
i wish i could talk with emily! i miss her [you, if you're reading!] so!
i hope everyone's well.
colleen & i just got back from isaac's yom kippur service at his house.
it was nice.
tim's having a meeting at his house tonight to discuss the community garden.
i'd like to just sit for a bit tonight. i'm pretty tired.
miss everyone soso!
all my love. <3
So I am still playing in Hudson Valley soil and chasing cows. Actually, I have been getting chased by cows more than chasing them. The other day I went to the pasture to check on them and make sure they were happy and this one calf started to charge at me and then stop a few feet away. It was actually pretty cute and not all that threatening but I definitely gave that calf a stare down to back it off. Bovines can't handle Matt Lapennas' glare for long. On thursday Cecile and I made a ton of pesto because we have all of this basil and a frost is coming soon and the basil will die at that point. So we made like 25 pints of the stuff and it was fun. It will be pretty cool to have all of that pesto stored up once the winter hits.
So next weekend I am going to visist Geneseo and it sounds like I am walking into a maelstrom of acticity and stressed out folks, but I guess that is what happens when they are working like crazy people for TGVL, SPSI, InfoShare, and FARI. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone still in Geneseo and having a little break from work and the farm life. I guess that I am really realizing that no matter how much I enjoy the work I am doing, I definitely need a break from it every so often. I hope that everyone is doing well in their respective places. You are all in my thoughts daily as I pick tomatoes and feed the chickens. peace.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
since shes the queen of the telephone, Im sure a bunch of you are updated about TGVL and SPSI and what-not (julie term fits perfectly here)
This year, we've decided to REALLY push GET OUT THE VOTE. as much as we are trying hard to get as many students to register as possible, we are going to try hard as ever to actually get kids out to vote.
Im so thankful for all of you who taught me about TGVL, chalking, writing on boards...everything. I was always sort of involved with these things back home, but now i actually feel like I know what's going on and i feel more passionate about it then ever. How many times can i say actually in one post? (is actually one of those words that don't mean that much? that's 4 now)
I have about 7 class raps on monday (since i only have one class) and im very excited/nervous.
other than that, classes are going alright.
im in oil painting and photography.
poetry, brit lit, and hum.
falling in love with the cold weather
and coffee on my porch
( i carried a chair on my head all the way from brodie to my house)
and listening to the silver jews.
i saw meg yesterday.
and living in a nice apartment in rochester.
the trees in her front yard believe it to be fall already though,
so they are shedding leaves and no one has told them yet that they are a little too early.
I can't wait for visits (MATT!)
I sometimes think about the little turkeys biting your ankles and laugh out loud.
miss you all.
and think about you in different places.
it's nice to imagine-
i have created idealized images of all of you, doing whatever you may be doing.
they may not be true, but they are what i have.
p.s. international day of peace is on thursday- we are having a peace vigil!
it's a beautiful day in geneseo, new york!
the sun woke me up around 7:30 this morning, so i've been up and about gettin' stuff done, which is good.
my mom [eileen] just called. she's workin' hard for the primary election in saratoga. it was super nice to talk to her.
i really would like to go rent a movie today. i think i will. Quest to wegmans!
things are going well since i last posted. super busy. we started class raps this week. tabled. got attacked by chip. tried to get in touch with those running the "campus-wide voter registration drive" on monday, but they have not been getting back to me. yesterday colin, colleen, tim, lamron sean and i went to a democratic fundraiser. it was fun. talked it up with judith, connie, the usuals. collen & i also got to talk to this geneseo alum. who graduated in '68, and moved back here. he was tellin' us all these great stories of things he and his buddies used to do-- huge parade floats down main st., ice sculptures in the winter, giant bonfires with songs! he was lovin' it (and so was i!)
at infoSHARE on sunday, we'll be talking a bunch about ideas for the community garden. colin got to schmooze it up with a bunch of old ladies at the fundraiser. they knew a lot about gardening, so that's good news!
sept. 21st is the international day of peace-- remember, i always wanted everyone to watch 'peace one day' with me? well, there's going to be a vigil that night, and FARI's also having a big event right before, which should be really exciting! it's going to have a forum, discussion and singing! yay!
so, i'm taking this class on congress, and we have to register for the program called 'legsim'- it's basically a virtual congress- ooo! we all have to pick a district to represent, and then write up a bill and be on committees, etc. etc. but yesterday in class, we had to select a speaker of the house. i obviously had no desire to do such a thing, but once we were about to think of a way of electing one, i look up at the board and see that five males have written their names. i turn to the guy sitting next to me dan (tall, actor, funny) and say "ugh! there's no woman running!" and he says "well, you have to do it." so i walk up, put my name on the board and give an awkward speech on how i do not know anyone in the class, because i am not chummy at all with the polisci kids, and how i do not like talking about myself at all. surprisingly i made it to the top three & won the plurality and it ended up coming down to my old high school nemesis and myself. he won, which is totally fine, because i know very little about congressional appointments etc., but the whole thing was still super funny!
last night, colleen & i went to the brodie computer lab and took a bunch of pictures on apple's photo booth-- it was fun! except for those creepy fish-eye pictures!
examples can be seen above.
she makes me so happy. <3
so, alisa & i went to main moon the other day. see, she was supposed to give a club rap to the geneseo chinese culture club, but she was thirty minutes late and also forgot voter registration forms! funny thing though, she ended up staying and is now a card carrying member! for real though-- she has a card that gets her 10% off at main moon! =)
i'm super happy! everyone's been so wonderful! yeah, things are busy, but i've been trying really hard to take advantage of those few hours every day when i should be reading/writing and instead go and visit people or dance around in my kitchen to the song that reminds me of emily. gaby HATES the song, but i love gaby! today's her first rugby game, she was so nervous!
everything's good though. life is good. i'm good!
p.s.-- onto my own post!
i just rode my bike over to coll's, and it was so weird, because it felt like judith hunter campaign season outside! the wind/coldness/fallness. it was nice.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
So, in case some of you haven't heard the news, nys has committed another bureaucratic blunder to sully its already tarnished name, namely, giving Matthew McKay Lapennas a driver's license. Yes, at the tender age of 22 I got it. So, I still try to bike most places but it is kind of nice to have because i have been a bit isolated because I didn't have a license or the energy to bike 20 miles after working to go visit other interns.
The work on the farm has calmed down a bit and that is good because I was getting pretty burned out. I actually am still a little burned out because I always get these crazy ideas after work of stuff that I should do in my kitchen. Making pesto and canning tomatoes are some recent projects that kept me up pretty late. Especially the canning because you have to boil a shit ton of water off before canning them. But it is going to be pretty cool to have those tomatoes come January and I won't have to be pissed about getting them from California. Unfortunately, now our tomato plants are started to suffer because we had a really dry summer and then the last few days have just been rain rain rain and that is bad for tomatoes because the tomatoes swell with all the suddenly available water and then crack. Oh well, I can still eat them, but we can't sell them anymore which sucks.
My brother came to visit me this weekend and we had a really good time. He got in Friday night and then Saturday he wanted to work a bit on the farm to see what I do all day (who really knows?). Then we went to see this Hudson River landscape artists' house. His name was Frederick church and he actually seemed like kind of a tool from looking at his mansion. He was alive at the turn of the century, but he just seemed really into himself. Then Jeff and I went to the Mexican Radio for dinner and it stunk. I paid way to much for some stuff and they totally skimped on the rice and beans. I mean, rice and beans are cheap so at least they could hook me up with a big portion. No such luck. Afterwards we were so disappointed that we went to a local pub and got some fries while we sipped gin and tonics and watched baseball. That was really fun. When we got home we watched 'Little Children'. Emily told me she loved it, and I thought it was pretty good as a critique of suburban insanity and the power of emotional repression. Then on Sunday, Jeff and I hung out with Cecile and Richard for a little bit so they could get to know each other. Then we went on this really amazing hike to a waterfall. It felt really nice in the woods and the waterfall was pretty impressive. It was probably about half again bigger that fallbrook in geneseo. Then I got Jeff some garden goodness and sent him on his way. Overall it was just nice to see a familiar face and have someone to hang out with. Jeff and I are pretty close and I have definitely missed him while he has been in California. I have also been missing close friends and family in general. I am certainly envious of all of you geneseo people who are surrounded by other awesome people constantly. To make my social situation worse, the three other interns that I was closest with suddenly left, two for medical reasons, and one for a job in the city. So that is too bad. But I met some seemingly interesting folks down at the pub the other night. They are this group of twenty somethings who started a commune/community farm about 20 miles from my farm. They are all really friendly and they invited me to come check them out at some point. So I definitely plan on getting over there sometime soon. However, I also think that I need a vacation. I have been pushing myself pretty hard work wise for 3 1/2 months now and working 60-75 hour weeks consistently. I still have to talk with Richard and Cecile, but I feel pretty confident that I can get 5 or 6 days away sometime soon. I would really like to come to Geneseo during that time. So I hope that everyone's floor/couch is comfortable. Basically, I really miss all of you guys and the wonderful relationships we all developed last year. However, I am holding on and still really enjoying my work and am still a pretty happy guy, so don't worry. After all I do love to farm!! Also, I think that Richard actually paid me a compliment on my management of the garden the other night!! It is nice to know that he actually does realize how hard I have worked at it and appreciates it. I hope you all are doing well. I miss you. peace.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Life in connecticut has gotten steadily better. It started out kinda isolated (the most frequent visitors to my back door are not people, but deer and turkey. I am not lying.) The a cappella thing here didn't work out quite as well as I hoped, but this resulted in the decision to join the kayaking club. They teach you how to properly roll your kayak and everything! And paddle cause I don't know how to do that either! I don't even have a kayak! This should be an interesting experience to say the least...but tomorrow is the first meeting and there's free pizza, so things are looking up already.
For anyone who hasn't heard already, my roommate was pretty much sent to me through divine intervention of sorts. He may even be Jesus himself in disguise, but it's too early to tell. He's friendly, kind, funny, sweet, considerate, and relentlessly pleasant, but not annoyingly so. I say things like "man, we should really put up those smoke alarms" or "my desk chair is still in the box but there are too many pieces and I don't feel like putting it together" and SUDDENLY the smoke alarms are up, and my hot pink desk chair (no I do not lie, it is fabulous) is fully functional and sitting in my room. Today I wrestled with not one, but two routers for an hour and a half, trying to get internet to work in both of our computers. I left to go to class, and came back with a note on the message board that says "wireless should work now". I left him a note back that said "wait, why are you superman?"
Phil and I managed to scavenge these stools out of our apartment's dumpster area the other day that are totally sweet; the covers are christmas themed, one of them being many bears dressed up as santa and playing a myriad of instruments. We originally thought to re-cover them with something more aesthetically pleasing, but they might be just too priceless as is.
In other news, Harrison and I are both looking for a personal back masseuse. I finally have the internet in my apartment. Matt Lapennas loves to pick cabbages. Fiones will not stop making cooks. How about everybody else?
Sunday, September 9, 2007
after what seemed like a never ending heatwave (ninety+ every day), the rain is finally coming down! it's actually pretty calming. walking up court st. last night i was getting soaked, but it was nice.
things are going going in geneseo, ny. as always, i cannot believe how fast the time is going. it's already the end of the second week! whoa! the weeks have been busier than ever, and the weekends filled with walks around the village and down court st. colleen & i walked through campus last night (after trying to register people to vote at late knight- no one was there), and it was a crazy flashback of last year. emily wasn't in her dorm though, and we weren't walking to matt's. the boys (julian, noah, isaac... and their five other housemates, yep five!) recently taught me how to play this game called 'spoons'. it's super fun, but seeing as i'm pretty bad at competitive games, you can imagine my face [my smile], when i realized that for the first two rounds i had been playing completely wrong. it's still fun though!
this friday was quite eventful. a bunch of us tabled for the anti-war group (spsi), and then a few of us (colin, tim a., tim m., colleen and me) met with ken cooper to talk about the idea of starting a community garden on campus- it was super great, and we're all really excited! at five, about seven of us biked to wegmans. colin gave me a bike (it's a free spirit!) that he had found on the side of the road. i love it, but the gears are definitely not the greatest (kinda sounds like the pedals/gears are going to fall off), so trying to get up north st. was quite the work out. tim m. came to the rescue though! advising me as to which gears i should try, it was great. ("thanks tim! thanks tim!") i wasn't able to make it to the spsi meeting on thursday, because i had to go rochester with phil, bob and co. to get some tips on polling and gotv, but apparently a bunch of new faces stopped by! when i came to the table on friday, i saw that someone was named winston and got super excited! when i met him later on in the day (he came with us on critical mass) the following encounter ensued:
"hi, i'm winston."
"when i saw your name on the sign-up sheet, i got all excited and said 'oo! his name is winston! i want to meet him!' it's such a cool name! my name is fiona."
"that's a cool name too."
"yep. we're both unique."
as you can imagine, winston and i stayed close together whilst biking so that i could say his name over & over- i really like him a lot! he's a creative writing and black studies major.
later that night, after attending a potluck at colin's (the food was DELICIOUS!), colleen & i walked back, and after trying to unlock my door i realized i had taken the wrong key! gaby was in rochester for the weekend visiting her boyfriend matt, so i ended up spending the night at coll's. we went to bed pretty early, after i made her watch snippets of 'gothika' and 'the twilight zone movie'. the latter of which i have seen on many an occasion. it's so strange. i'm so thankful for colleen. we have been feeding off each other quite a bit, and it's been really nice. we were going over voter reg. forms last night, profanity and insane laughter followed- especially when colleen saw the result of last year's primaries:
"ONLY SEVEN PEOPLE VOTED??!!
i love her so.
the next morning i called julian to see if he could try to pick my lock, because i wanted to wait to call dominic till i absolutely had to. julian and his roommate igor (super cool kid), tried for almost forty-five minutes (all while sweating bullets!) to open my door, but sadly, were unsuccessful. and of course, being the sweethearts that they are, left with numerous "sorry fiones!"'s, even though they had nothing to apologize for. eventually i worked up the courage to call dominic whose response was "you need to bring your keys around with you. you'd be out of lock if i wasn't around this weekend."
taryn's coming to visit today! i'm happy! we were going to go for a hike in letchworth, but now that it's so rainy we'll have to figure something else out. we're all going to make dinner (taryn will make something delicious!)- it'll be great! FARI's having their first meeting tonight! i decided to move the infoSHARE time a little earlier, so that we could all attend FARI, since they really want us to come. i hope everything goes well for them!
well, this was a super long entry. i guess they usually are. 'she drives me crazy' just came up on shuffle on iTunes! =) i made cooks yesterday! they got a little burned, but other than that, pretty good!
tgvl is going well. the women's groups are chuggin' along. community garden/clothingSHARE take 2. democratic fundraiser this friday, 175th anniversary parade the following week. things are good! gaby and i are great together, as well. i'm thankful for her.
in other news, emily's in france! woo!
i hope everyone is well. i miss you all so.
all my love. <3
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Cleveland is the epitome of the rust belt; desperately poor, incredibly loyal to the sports teams, burgeoning arts scene, great music scene and so on. all the money is in the suburbs, all the the jobs are in mexico and overseas but the people are still here. they are definitely still here and for the remainder of the campaign. parts of them are me, parts of me are them. it's funny to acclimate yourself to a city. to know it gradually through its twisting arterial streets, beating neighborhoods, Ohio City, Tremont, and the industrial guts of the East Side. it's a strange but pleasing slow knowledge which comes from making wrong turns, long trips on the bus and walks around downtown.
going out and about in Cleveland, like josef and i did on saturday, is probably the starkest reminder of why i'm here working for dennis. saturday night, we went to coventry village, and hung out in a wine bar, drank a glass of white wine with some friends we met last weekend, and then attempted to head home. as we stood at the RTA (Cleveland metro) station around 1:30am, proud holders of tickets 'good until 3am' the realization dawned on us, that while the tickets may have been good until 3, that didn't preclude the trains from stopping at midnight. so, after ruling out hitching, we decided to walk at least part of the 12 miles which separated us from home. we walked for a long, long time, down Carnegie ave, aware the further we walked, the more abandoned warehouses and boarded up homes there were. as both of us we used to cities, we traveled on, figuring we'd walk until fortune favored us with a bus. well, no bus came and the tired faces of old apartment buildings and shut-down businesses began to crumble even further.
i was reluctant to admit i was nervous. i grew up in a city, i'm a big guy who can handle himself okay, i should be able to walk a ways in the dark. in the dark. eventually, josef and i decided to flag down a cab. the driver stopped for us after about fifteen feet of hesitation and let us get in. when we told him how far we were planning to walk, and where through, he let us know we were probably in the worst possible neighborhood to be unfamiliar with at night. 'drug dealer prostitution central,' he called it. part of me always rails against such proclamations, 'whaddaya mean WORST neighborhood? you sure you don't just mean most-BLACK neighborhood or most POOR?' because in my experience, that's what most people usually mean. but, the part of me that was glad for a ride home in the earliest hours of the morning quelled my initial response. i don't think the driver really meant anything, his concern was more for two people who were clearly in a fish-out-of-water situation.
after we got home, i thought about it some more. it's no secret poor folks live in the worst areas of major cities. let me be absolutely clear though; these places are not terrible because poor folks live in them. it has little to do with the quality or character of the people there but it has everything to do with the services provided, the businesses who stay or leave, the landlords who either keep up places or don't, and the jobs which are there and especially the jobs which AREN'T there. i've seen it all my life in Albany, and i'm seeing it again in Cleveland Cleveland. and i'm sure as much as i'm tired of observing these situations, the people who have to live them every single day of their lives are furious and exhausted by them.
i think a Kucinich Administration could do a lot to change the status quo here. i'm hoping,with him in office, we can take steps to having inner-city neighborhoods where the services are equal, the opportunities real, and the fear and reality of street crime is reduced to the meanest ghost. yeah, yeah, i know; pipe dreams. but you better be sure that i wouldn't be here, that all of us interns wouldn't be here unless we thought Dennis could make a difference, alleviate some of the suffering of our nation and maybe even the world. i don't really have faith in him per se as much as i doggedly accept his possibility he offers the country. we still need all the help we can though. so, please, check us out.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
i'm somewhat overdue, like the little critter book circa 1993 i have from the P.S. 19 Public Library
i've detailed the place i live here, it's the first entry.
dennis '08 is disorganized. this is true. what it means though, is there is tremendous opportunity for anyone with initiative. if you want hands on experience managing large projects, then this is the place to be.
i'm definitely missing geneseo right now. not so much the homework and the..... homework. but the people and the community. it generally takes me a while to feel comfortable wherever i am and i still haven't been able to fit in quite how i'd like here in cleveland. don't get me wrong, the other interns are great and i feel pretty comfortable with them, it's just i don't know how much i'm loving the campaign environment. more than the long hours it's the backbiting, rumor mill plague which seems to descend on any large group of people when there's not constant communication.
i also haven't been exercising besides doing push-ups and sit-ups in the morning. that's gotta stop.
i have found fun things to do here, i just don't know if i harbor the love of office politics, moreover the desire to be involved him which really is necessary i think, for a career in this sort of thing. if you think you get anywhere in politics without self-promotion, cozying up to those in charge etc. etc., you're dead wrong.
BUT! i am also enjoying myself. i'm working for issues i believe in, there are people who really care about them here. it's good. it's just different and i'm just a little homesick.