Colorado Renaissance Festival

The Indy Renaissance Festival Festival Part 2: I Have Also Renaissanced

Header image courtesy Colorado Renaissance Festival.

I hope you have all appreciated the great lengths my fellow journalist, Kathleen, has made to brave Maryland’s Renaissance Festival and bring you an authentic understanding of this timeless, flower-garlanded, mead-soaked event. I want to offer my own travel journal, a completely true, and only slightly marred by the passage of time, account of my own Renaissance Festival experience.

It was the summer of 2008. I had not yet escaped Connecticut, and I was about to go on the single greatest date of my young life.

I’m not going to tell you his name. Not because I want to protect his anonymity, because he has nothing to be ashamed of (and frankly I don’t think I could find him if I wanted to – hormonal, teenage me was not overly concerned with last names). But because my parents staunchly refused to call my date by his God-given name, and instead christened him Jesus (pronounced in the Spanish manner), because those were the years of boys refusing to cut their hair, which apparently gave my young love the appearance of a certain son of the Lord.

And so we ventured (read: were driven by our respective parents, because middle school) to the boonies of Connecticut, where a Renaissance Festival had blossomed out of the hilly landscape.

We were brought to this hallowed ground by a mutual friend who was working at the event, and was therefore exceptionally attired. I was out-of-place in my shorts, and desperately wished for petticoats or a flail. But I had new love on my side, and that could overcome any deficits in my attire.

I giggled every time someone referred to me as milady and was amazed by the men riding by on horseback. Naturally, I decided to follow one of these men on horseback, dragging Jesus behind me, and arrived at the promised land. A jousting match straight out of Camelot. I cheered. I booed. I clapped. My date graciously offered to lift me on his shoulders for a better view (and subsequently failed, because again, middle school). But the sentiment was nice; maybe the ancient chivalry was wearing off on him.

Somehow we ended up barefoot and wandering through the festival grounds, an appropriate 10 steps behind the rest of our group, to give us intimate privacy among the throngs of drunken adults. It was a lovely moment, we bonded, we talked, we took in the sights and smells of the Middle Ages. Highlight of that conversation:

Me (stopping to put to put my shoes back on): Don’t you want to put your shoes on? We’re about to walk over some gravel.

Jesus: No. I’m good. I’m a man, so I can handle a little pain.

Does it get any more charming than that? The answer you’re looking for is, “Hell no.”

Our wandering soon brought us to the great, and definitely authentic, Middle Ages’ hypnotist. Unfortunately, Jesus and I soon learned that we were unable to be hypnotized. So, while our friends were preparing to be mentally manipulating into thinking they were searching for Holy Grail, we found the also completely authentic, Middle Ages’ marshmallow gun.

What is a marshmallow gun, you ask? Exactly what you think. A small weapon that dispels delicious, fluffy white candies at unsuspecting people passing by, just trying to enjoy their mead and revelry in peace. Jesus and I shared many soulful, emotional looks under a hail storm of scrumptious marshmallows.

And that is where the day ends. Our friends were released from their hypnotic trances, hopefully as “normal” as they woke up that morning. Jesus and I got in our separate cars, sharing one last wistful glance as the sun faded over the rolling hills.

And I never saw him again.

Though we did reminisce about the Renaissance Festival on AIM later that night.

 

The Indy Renaissance Festival Festival Part 1: PREPARE THYSELF FOR MERRIMENT

As a journalist, I see it as my duty to put myself on the line for you, dear reader, no matter the consequences for my mind, body, soul, social standing, or ability to sleep at night. A few weeks ago, my resolve on these fronts and more were put to the test. With our trusty Marylander housemate acting as our guide, several of my housemates and I ventured deep into the Old Bay state to explore the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The following events are true, or at least, as true as anything can be when you’re surrounded by people are acting like it’s the middle ages as far as the eye can see. Remember, reader: I did it for you.

Join this 100% trustworthy Henry VIII lookalike on a magical journey through time and Maryland.

Join this 100% trustworthy Henry VIII lookalike on a magical journey through time and Maryland.

The first thing that shocked me was the sheer scale of the event. People in Maryland are really into the Renaissance. Like, really into it, to judge by the swarming mass of people in knight and peasant costumes into which we dove. One minute everything was fine and we were driving past field upon field of cows, and the next, bam: caught in bumper to bumper traffic behind a dude with a wizard hat. Dressed in my usual ironic wolf tank top and hotpants, I was immediately overwhelmed, but fascinated.

Whereth the fuck did we park?

Whereth the fuck did we park?

One thing no one tells you about the Renaissance: it’s mad expensive. For all the pretending to be a precapitalist society of whimsy and magic that was going on, I gave a lot of people with fake English accents a shitton of money in exchange for goods and services. There were a lot of actors and street performers doing bizarre “renaissance things,” from Shakespeare to sword–swallowing. There were a lot of esoteric, but gorgeous, exquisitely-crafted items made by artisans. And there was also a lot of weird-ass crap. All of it is exorbitantly priced. I spent 90% of the cash I brought with me on a flower crown and meat on a stick within 10 minutes of entering the festival. (Remember, reader: All for you.) I actually had to have a $50 handcrafted Finnish wheat mandala symbolizing friendship pried out of my hands. Fortunately, after a trip to Ye Olde ATM, I found the alcohol.

PREPARE-YOURSELF-FOR-MERRIMENT

Needless to say, I was insufficiently prepared for merriment compared to the man in the bear skin.

Cognizant of the immense weirdness that pretending to live before electricity and the abolition of serfdom can cause, the Maryland renaissance festival provides a lot of beer, wine, and most importantly, mead. Which is strong wine plus honey. The second crucial fact I learned at the festival is that mead sneaks up on you. By 11:00 am, I was wasted on said mead and purchasing “Merlin’s healing stones and crystals.” Such is life; such is the renaissance festival. You win some, you lose some, you spend actual money on rocks that some dude in a cape definitely bought at a craft store. Then you drunkenly stumble off to eat an italian ice and watch the state sport of Maryland — jousting.

Actual fake jousting actually about to happen

Actual fake jousting actually about to happen

A third thing no one tells you about the Renaissance: there are a lot of bees. Like, a surprising number of bees swarming the amphitheatre where a (probably tragically underpaid) theatre company valiantly attempted an abridged comedy version of Henry V for a crowd that was 50% children in face paint, 30% adults in chain mail, and 20% drunks in camouflage. Around four hours into the renaissance experience, not one, but two bees drowned themselves in my ironically named “bee sting” (3 parts hard cider, 1 part mead). Taking it as an ill omen, probably of the plague, we decided it was time to return to the land of modern technology, where no one would address me as “m’lady” or refer to me as a wench. I emerged from the renaissance festival broke, tipsy, and wearing a flower crown, but ultimately wiser for the experience. Would I go again? Give me some mead and I’ll get back to you.

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Spoilers Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Well, folks, I’ve been spoiler-ing for about a month or so now, and I have some preliminary observations and thoughts to share with y’all. Having now avoided avoiding spoilers for the entire body of time since the last post, I can confidently say that my life has not fallen apart (at least not due to spoilers), I have experienced no existential or emotional crises (again with the spoilers), and I haven’t stopped loving all the stuff I did before! So, not a big deal, basically. I do, however, have some points that have come up recently that I want to mull over.

Here’s A Thought: I still really really don’t want to be spoiled on anything that I’m heavily invested in. If, for example, when The Winds of Winter comes out, someone gives a plot point away, I will turn into a whirlwind of fury and despair. This seems to be the case for a lot of people: that small drama – you know, the one with the people in the city with the thing that happens? – spoil away. But God help me if you tell me what happened on this week’s The Walking Dead before I watch it.

Source: The Daily Dot

Source: The Daily Dot

Another A Thought: what about old movies? There seems to be a tacit understanding that spoilers have an expiration date of some kind, that after a nebulous and contested period of time, people “deserve” to be spoiled or, at least, it is totally fine to spoil people who somehow haven’t gotten around to it. This, I am not quite settled on. The Empire Strikes Back’s massive reveal is in our culture now, and we can’t really get that sensation of surprise back. Tons of classic films’ most iconic scenes, like that one from Scarface with all the cocaine and guns, are oft-quoted and frequently referenced, cut out from their original context. In a lot of ways, it would be difficult to spoil something aged and/or classic.

That said, if someone has managed to go all this time without knowing who/what Rosebud actually is – I will do everything in my power to make sure they can watch Citizen Kane with their innocent eyes. People who walk carefully around spoilers are doing it for a reason, and even if I have, largely speaking, jumped the spoiler-free train, we should be respecting their wishes.

Sean will return with more spoilery spoilers.

 

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed: Heroes? Villains? Brooding Assholes?

I make no secret of the fact I am a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. It is just such a damn cool idea! Sure, the games are often plagued by bugs (if you want a good laugh, here is a video of glitches in the next-gen release Assassin’s Creed: Unity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jWpggPNF9I ) and suffer from offering too many inconsequential gameplay mechanics that detract from the inherent fun of stalking bad guys and surprise stabbing them from an innocuous looking bale of hay. But one element that I have noticed comes under fire a lot from fans is the protagonists of each game in the series. Complaints range from characters being boring and poorly defined, to the characters being “SUCH A USELESS IDIOT OMG LULZ I H8 HIM SO MUCH HE SUCH A BITCH,” to paraphrase many YouTube comments.

The general idea of Assassin’s Creed is this: in the future, there is a machine called the Animus that allows one to relive the “genetic memory” of their ancestors’. These memories reveal that there is a millennium-long struggle between Templars and Assassins over whether humanity should be subtly guided and controlled or whether it should be given complete freedom to do as it pleases. These struggles usually revolve around the use of technology of an advanced species that thrived on Earth before humanity. The conflict between the Templars and the Assassins continues into the modern day, albeit in more subtle forms; each game features the exploration of the memories by a character of his or her ancestor in order to discover information that would be relevant for the present-day conflict.

The present-day story, while silly, offers a way from the series to jump from cool time period to cool time period. The characters and stories in the main series are as follows:

  •       Assassin’s Creed (2007) – set in 1191 during the Third Crusade, the game follows Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad and the struggle between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Knights Templar
  •       Assassin’s Creed II (2009) – set in 15th century Florence, the game follows Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s attempts to avenge his father’s and brothers’ deaths at the hands of a Templar conspiracy. Ezio’s adventures are continued in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010) and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011).
  •       Assassin’s Creed III (2012) – set during the American Revolution, the game follows a British Templar named Haytham Kenway and his half-Mohawk, half-British estranged son Ratonhnhaké:ton, later called Connor. The first half follows Haytham’s attempts to build up the Templar order in America, while the second half follows Connor hunting down and assassinating each member of Haytham’s group.
  •       Assassin’s Creed IV (2013) – set from 1715-1722, this game follows the adventures of pirate-turned-assassin Edward Kenway, the future father of Haytham Kenway, as he becomes embroiled in a Templar plot in the Caribbean.
  •       Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (2014) – released for current-gen consoles only, Rogue is set during the Seven Years’ War from 1754 to 1763. It follows assassin-turned-templar Shay Cormac as  he hunts down and eliminates his former Assassin allies.
  •       Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014) – released only for next-gen consoles, Unity is set during the French Revolution and stars Arno Dorian and focuses on his investigation into the death of his adopted father.

The series’ scope is clearly expansive and all of these stories sound relatively interesting, as they explore time periods that are ripe with conflict and adventure. However, many of these protagonists have experienced a negative reception. Altaïr is criticized for being a very static character (as well as for having an American accent). Connor is often labelled as “boring,” “brooding,” and “whiny.” Arno is considered charming, yet his story is considered one of the most underwhelming in the series. Shay is loved by some fans for the complexity he brings to the story, while hated by others for “being an asshole.”

The most well-received characters, Ezio, Edward, and Haytham, all have a certain charm and likeability to them. They can talk their way out of situations, have a cool confidence with the ladies, and are not afraid of making an occasional joke. These characters are presented as individuals that would be fun to be around. However, many seem to think that characters who are unlikeable are bad characters, which is simply not true. Just because Shay is dark, emotionally complex, and provides a critical view to gamers that challenges the traditional paradigm of good and evil that has dominated nearly the entire series; he is interesting, even if he is not exactly the most charming character nor does he seem like the most fun person to be around. Similarly, Connor is generally stoic and may seem dull at first glance; nevertheless, re-examining his character shows someone who is fundamentally flawed, someone who slavishly fights for the Assassins even though there is a stockpile of evidence to suggest that they are not the pure heroes the series initially presented them to be. The point is this: just because a character is not LIKEABLE does not mean the character is not INTERESTING, and I would take an unlikeable interesting character over a likeable, inoffensive cardboard cutout any day.

tayswizzle-blank-space

Confession: I Like Taylor Swift

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I would like to admit something to you. It’s a sensitive topic and I’m worried you won’t look at me the same way after you learn this closely-guarded secret. And then it will be here on the Internet, a part of this [widely read] blog.

And even more so, if I put it in writing. I can’t escape it anymore. I can no longer be firmly ensconced in denial and avoidance. It’s about to get real.

But we’re friends, right? You won’t judge me, will you? Maybe you’ll even come out with me? OK. I feel supported. I’m ready.

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I am hopelessly addicted to Taylor Swift’s new song.

I listened to it at least three times last night. I can’t even pretend to not know the title, and I’m well on my way to being able to lip sync the entire song. And I’m not even sorry.

I won’t pretend that I’m not emotionally affected every time I watch Swift sing while standing on a horse. Guys. Guys. She stood on a white stallion for us. What more do you need?

“But there’s no depth or soul to a song like this!” you proclaim from underneath your red beanie and glasses with no lenses. Really? Because that stabbing of a painting of her lover and then subsequent torture of a lover seems like an allusion to the Picture of Dorian Grey to me. And of course, there is subtle poetry to the line, “I can make all the tables turn.” It is both literal and figurative. She is turning the metaphorical table on their relationship as it devolves from idyllic to ruinous. And then she may literally “turn a table,” as she begins to attack her lover, his car and anything in her general path. Now, that is powerful imagery.

Please stand with me. I know it’s hard to come out in support of a figure so firmly entrenched in pop culture, and your credit as a paragon of alternative music is at stake, but if you stand with me and reject this paradigm, we could be dancing badly and laughing together.

98012e80-44d3-11e4-9a43-039ba4a55c83_Taylor-Swift

no its becky: Self-Aware Celebrities

It is a common trope in the genre of science fiction: what happens when we have developed our computer technology so far that the machines become self-aware? Hopefully it will be a good number of years before we come to this point, however an equally disturbing occasion has come to pass: self-aware celebrities.

Okay, so not counting outliers like Tom Cruise, celebrities have always had a certain degree of awareness of public perception of them. However, they’ve had the decency to keep it quiet. But it was only a matter of time before they learned how to use the internet, and now they have the audacity to demonstrate this skill in real life by recognizing and poking fun at popular celebrity memes.

At first this development seems harmless, and even quite funny. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently gave an interview with NPR in which she admitted that she is not only aware of the popular Notorious RBG Tumblr meme, but that she even jokes about it with her grandchildren and keeps a large stock of Notorious t-shirts at home that she gives out as gifts to visitors.

Freaking adorable, right? This little old lady and her internet memes.

Well here’s where it starts to fuck your mind: there’s the popular Tumblr post in which someone warns of the dangers of snorting marijuana with a photo of their deceased friend, Becky. When someone pointed out Becky’s resemblance to country/pop/not-really-country star Taylor Swift, the original poster responded with a brusque, succinct, “no its becky.” Well just a few weeks ago, Taylor Swift stepped out of the house in a plain yellow t-shirt that proclaims on the front, “no its becky.” Which leads to the haunting question: who is Becky, really?

Is she really dead due to her valiant attempt to innovate new and exciting methods for intaking marijuana? Did she ever really exist? Or maybe Becky and Taylor Swift are one and the same! Is this a Vertigo/Hannah Montana situation? I don’t know the truth, but I do know that I am confused and scared and feel like Taylor Swift is taunting us with a deep dark secret to which only she holds the key.

It makes me long for the day when the internet could run rampant making jokes and memes about celebrities without the celebrities dragging them out of the interwebs and making me confront it in reality. I go to the interwebs to escape that shit.

Here is where I must advise all but the most courageous to stop reading this article, for the final tale is too grim for those of a weak constitution. Heartthrob and “Hey Girl” feminist Ryan Gosling recently went out into public in noteworthy t-shirt as well. It featured a Life magazine cover from back in the nineties of adorable child actor Macauley Culkin.

Well even though the only internet provider that can reach my house on S Street is the incompetent and endlessly frustrating Comcast, apparently Verizon or somebody is laying down XFinity cables in whatever cave deep in the heartland of Mordor that Culkin crawled into after his the star of his childhood fame imploded.

Image: Yahoo! Celebrity

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Perfume Genius at the Hamilton Live

In the September issue, the Indy suggested Perfume Genius’ third album, Too Bright. I raved about it, to be honest: I said Mike Hadreas’ has a “hauntingly sparse yet sexy atmospheric sound” and speculated about the possibility of literally living inside the metaphorical space of the album. Having seen Hadreas and his tour band at The Hamilton earlier this month, I can wholeheartedly confirm my past comments, and add one more observation: Mike Hadreas’ jumpsuit game is significantly stronger than your jumpsuit game. Seriously, you can all stop trying to make jumpsuits happen [ed. note: please never stop], because that night, Hadreas rocked the shit out of a black satin ‘80s-business-woman-tuxedo-thing that would have looked like frumpy pajamas on anyone else.

Sorry. I promise I’ll actually talk about the music. I just really liked his jumpsuit, and I wanted you to know how much I liked it.

IMG_1104bThe Hamilton is quite an intimate venue for live music. Yes, there is a stage (with some killer lights, I must say), but almost all of the seats are at tables, with table service for dinner. You can have a beer (or several) and an avocado roll (or several) all during the show. It’s not appropriate for every musician, but Perfume Genius managed to pull off cozy and seated without losing the energy of a crowd on its feet. It did, however, mean that I couldn’t take photos without looking like a massive asshole. Your loss, reader.

Watching the set was like being in a trance. A few numbers went by before Hadreas warmed up to speaking to us — he was funny, charming, and profoundly nervous when he did — and we the audience spent much of the night in rapt concentration. Sometimes, I held my breath between songs. He played a lot of Too Bright, including massive hits Queen and Grid, but the set also included more than a few heartbreaking piano tracks off of his earlier albums, like 17 and All Waters. Hadreas even played Sister Song, which will never not make me cry.

There is a sense of voyeurism in watching Perfume Genius perform. Part of that comes from the intensely personal nature of his songs, but it’s very much affirmed in his stage presence. He’s not an artist who looks at you when he sings. In fact, he looks very intently at something that is definitely not you, even if his gaze happens to fall in your general direction. Hadreas’ band includes his boyfriend Alan Wyffels, who played the keyboards and a synth during the show. (He also ran the merch table afterwards and was a shining star of positivity in the approximately 30 seconds I interacted with him.) Watching Hadreas and Wyffels watch each other on stage was very strange. They have a really intense connection — for a moment I felt like I’d wandered into their living room by mistake. The feeling of a Perfume Genius performance is one of something very private (and tortured and, yes, beautiful) going on in the middle of a crowded room. I think that’s why we were such a quiet house — no one wanted to break the spell.

I wish his set had gone on longer. Hell, I wish I was still sitting there now, still totally enraptured, several weeks later. Unfortunately, I was eventually asked to leave by the staff. Fortunately, Hadreas released another song, Thing, on Spotify, so I have that as a consolation prize.

Magic 8-Ball: Adam Burke / Flickr

Seeing the Future with College Divination

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible about living in the moment. You can ruminate on the past, or worry about the future and spend all your time focusing on things that can’t be changed. Factor in the stress and lack of sleep from midterms, that are somehow blending seamlessly with finals, and the looming pressure of being a senior; it’s becoming pretty damn impossible to focus on the present.

And to all those who share my deficiency, I am here to tell you that you don’t have to worry. Now is when we can let destiny take charge. You don’t need to plan your future. Regardless of who or what you believe has it planned out for you  – God, the universe, your parents – it’s important to recognize that your future is not actually in your hands. Accordingly, I’ve compiled a few places to turn for a glimpse into your future. And they have all been adapted to the needs and resources of the average college student.

  1.     Get crafting: it’s time to make some walnut boats. It’s fairly straightforward. Step one: Open up the walnuts. Step two: remove the meat and melt wax into the hollowed out shell. Float them in a large tub of water, and light them. This is a group destiny determining activity. Among other possibilities, the one whose candle goes out first will be alone…forever.
  2.     Perfect for those living in Henle, or any campus establishment frequented by unnaturally large rats is, myomancy, or divination by the movements of mice. And I’m sure rats are just as effective of seers.
  3.     Now, I’m a bit hesitant to share this next form about such a form of fortune telling as you must sacrifice quality cheese, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. For tyromancy, girls in the Middle Ages would write the names of prospective suitors on the cheese and wherever the mold grew first, was the ideal love match. I could only imagine that you could write other things on the cheese and then wait for the mold to tell you your destiny, and possibly create a new type of cheese in the process.
  4.     While I’m on the manner of wasting perfectly good food and drink, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention divination by spilled wine. I beg of you, did not spill perfectly good wine for this! But if you happen to end up with wine on the floor, please clean it off with a cloth and then use said wine stains to determine your future. The Romans believed oinomancy was best carried out by a priestess of Bacchus, the god of wine. So, be sure to have one at hand at all of your parties. I’ve heard she prefers Chillable Red Franzia.
  5.     For those days of midterms when you can’t afford the to lose those two hours for meals that could be spent studying, put your growling stomach to good use. Gastromancy is a way of foretelling through stomach noises. Two growls mean yes; one means no.
  6.     Not for the amateur diviner. Aromancy is divination by the shoulders of beasts. Or possibly on the shoulders of beasts. Since beasts are not easily accessible, the drunken bro can substituted.


Don’t pick up that crystal ball. You can do better.  Though a few rounds with the magic 8 ball never hurt anybody.

Young the Giant, Live in 2011

Music, Midterms, and Intergalactic Adventures

(Ed. Note: This post was written during the thick of midterm season, but given that it never really ends, we thought it fitting for any occasion!)

I am borderline delusional as I am studying for my double-dose of “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” and “Fall of Rome to the Millenium” midterms when Young the Giant’s self-titled debut album begins playing on Spotify. Within moments, I am whisked away from the world of partible maternity and Diocletian’s reforms to the sprawling grasslands of the planet Voss. Allow me to clarify: I discovered Young the Giant my senior year of high school, when a friend in English class leaned over to me and handed a blank CD, which he told me had something I might dig. That CD was Young the Giant’s 2011 debut album.

On late summer nights after returning home from whatever pre-college adventures I had undertaken, I would unwind by listening to that album while playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Now these two things are permanently linked in my mind; as tracks such as “I Got,” or “My Body,” begin crooning out of my laptop speakers, my mind wanders the plains of Voss trying to find my character’s target (I played as a bounty hunter because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Boba Fett). While listening to this album, I am able to connect with my past self’s emotional state and mental well-being, which provides me with some necessary sanity in the flurry of midterms that are now upon us all.

Associations with moments from the past is not limited to Young the Giant – everyone has a specific band or song that is able to recall specific moments from their pasts. Whether it was that Adele song you heard on the radio following your first major-breakup, that Panic! at the Disco track your friend played every time she was allowed to determine music for group hangouts, or that Kavinsky track from Drive you listened to while pretending to be Ryan Gosling the first time you drove home at 1AM when you were told to be back around midnight, so many songs have particularly intimate memories associated with them, memories that resurge with full force whenever the song begins to play.

This may seem trivial, but think about it for a second: you can regulate your mood and assist your study patterns during the upcoming week by using these songs. If you are stressed out or find yourself unable to focus, you can use music that summons specific emotional states and memories in order to “trick” your brain into a state that is more conducive to academic enhancement. As for this humble Indy writer, I will be listening to Young the Giant, remember my intergalactic adventures, and preparing myself for my midterms. As the band sings, “It won’t be long before I rise in song.”

 

In Case of Crisis

You may have noticed that Hoyas are experiencing a particularly intense mid-semester grind, or scholar vortex, this year: hordes of our classmates have gone dead behind the eyes from lack of sleep, countless Burleith and north campus residents are currently lost in the construction labyrinth, and the entire pre-med department is one broken keurig away from utter devastation. Perhaps by now you’re starting to rethink the whole concept of higher education, or maybe of modern society all together. The good news is there are alternatives if you feel you’ve made a huge mistake. Here are just a few options:

 

  1. Be a lighthouse keeper. If you’re looking to flee the stress of college life, why not do it in the most poetic way possible? The United States Lighthouse Society has options for you all over the United States, including Alaska if the tundra is your thing and Key West if it’s not. Just imagine: peace and quiet by the ocean, taking care of the light that protects all of the sailors. You can be the benevolent master of the sea! With some occasional gift shop duties.
  2. Be a fire lookout in a national park. Are you intrigued by the thought of stewarding the forests, and totally over interacting with other humans? Then perhaps you should consider spending a summer as a fire lookout. Appointments range from a few weeks to a few months of blissful mountaintop solitude, perfect for becoming one with nature or, if you’re Jack Kerouac, attaining enlightenment and writing an awesome book about it. The Forest Fire Lookout Association can help you find the remote hut that’s right for you.
  3. Join a commune. Consumerism got you down? Can you not even with all of this private property? Then live in tune with the land and your fellow humans in an Intentional Community. There’s one in Virginia only a few hours from campus called Twin Oaks Community. Contribute to this utopic society’s income by weaving hammocks or laboring in the tofu hut (I am completely serious). You’ll have plenty of time and opportunities to pursue your passions, especially if those include peace, the environment, anti-racism, and feminism.
  4. Stay at the sloth sanctuary. I shouldn’t even have to explain the appeal of this one. There are sloths. You get to hang out with them. Especially one named Buttercup, who appears to be running the sanctuary. Tragically, they closed their volunteer program last year to focus on more rigorous scientific research, but you can stay at the bed and breakfast on the sanctuary grounds. You and a friend can sleep in the Johnny Depp room (again, not joking) for $100. And you can get a tour of the grounds with (led by?) Buttercup.

 

See? No need to feel suffocated by the man — trade in your textbooks for a baby sloth (or possibly a manual on lighthouse operation) and free yourself!

 

twin-oaks

Why are you still sitting there? This could be you. [Image courtesy of Twin Oaks Community]