Apr. 16th, 2004

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In some ways I'm sad that this has been such a great year; I'm sad that I finally feel so comfortable here, like I truly belong, that I am moved with the rhythm of Northland.

I was thinking of writing home to my high school English teacher, Mr. Hager, though I don't know if he'd remember me. It's been five years since I graduated there, and he's seen a lot of kids passing through his rooms in that time... lots of names and faces.

I was thinking of the idiosyncrasies of this college and the quirks I've developed by being here, and how I would try to explain them to someone who's never been here.

There's a baby grand piano in the corner of the cafeteria, and every so often someone wanders over and attempts to play. (The Chinese girl played tonight; she was very good-- she played "Que Sera, Sera." Seems appropriate to me.)

People bike in the snow-- that's most of the year-- and play ultimate frisbee and soccer and lacrosse on the Mall when there isn't snow. It's ok to sunbathe topless, but if someone does complain, you can get away with simply sticking band-aids over your nipples and calling yourself "dressed". There are drumming circles at the firering and political debates in classrooms. The psychology department demonstrates it's theories by having the students have snowball fights and playing with dogs. After a few weeks of -40 degrees, 0 feels like a heat wave, and everyone wanders around smiling and commenting on the warm weather.

I address the president of the college by her first name, and she inquires about the health of my rats... said rats that I keep in my closet of my no-pets-allowed dorm room. My professors regularly speak at the Unitarian Universalist meetings that are held on campus, and not a small number of them showed up at the drag show that was held a week ago. We have a Madagascarian French woman who teaches English and Spanish (but not French)-- figure that one out. It's not unusual to go down to the Deepwater Grille and Bar and end up drinking with your chemistry, religion, philosophy, english, or art professor. Hell, a few profs regularly attend Queeb and smoke up with students.

I came here from degrees in Biology and Chemistry and am leaving with one in Writing. In the last five years, I have learned how to do loom beading and applique; I have learned to shoot a bow an arrow, develop my own black and white film and make prints, and how to successfully and healthily breed rats; I've perfected my fish-tickling skills; I have tried to teach myself Latin, Kiswahili, and Japanese; I have fallen in love with anime, sociology, history, and Stuart Davis; I have become Unitarian; I am aware of socio-enviro-political problems and various debates; I have swum in Lake Superior.

("The water is awake / The water is alive / Dive...")

I have cut my hair, and dyed it all sorts of strange colors. I got a prison tattoo, and got my nipples, eyebrow, and labet pierced. Five years later, I still wearing the jade fish necklace that my first roommate gave me the first day she met me. I am occasionally seen in jeans that have more patches than denim, my "punk" light army jacket (with "Master of Evil" written in kanji down the front and a patch on the back with a biohazard symbol, among other things), or in a little sundress that barely covers all that it should in order to be decent. I have a giant catfish pillow named "Freud" and a friend who's a werewolf. I have another friend that, when we meet, we can (and sometimes actually do) converse in snippets of no less than five languages.

I've played frisbee at one o'clock in the morning and lain out on the icesheet covering Lake Superior watching meteors showers; I've played with real, live wolves and foxes; I've seen the Northern Lights burn the sky with ethereal fire for hours, the music of the spheres singing in my head. I've listened to Arun Ghandi and Greta Gaard and Winona LaDuke; I remember an African dancing group that invited the Red Cliff natives to dance with them in regalia during the last performance of the night-- the dark skin and grass skirts of the dance group preforming an African corn dance contrasting against the buckskin and fringed shawls of the Red Cliff dancers stomping to a simple drumbeat, heart of the earth. I've been in sweat lodge and Grandmother Moon ceremonies; feasts and storytelling circles.

Life doesn't really get much weirder than this and stay coherent. I've loved every minute of it.

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lykomancer

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