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Are we on the right river?

Last spring, my dad bought a tandem ocean kayak. I was an on-and-off rower throughout high school, and while I really liked the sport, I am just not a very competitive person. I’m judgmental, relatively ambitious, and I enjoy success, but I’m too okay with the thought of losing a race to be as dedicated to rowing as a team member should be. Kayaking is like the chill man’s rowing. It is obviously quite a different motion, but the general concept of a small personal craft in which you’re really close to the water is similar, and that’s what I liked most about rowing. I remember getting on the river in the pitch black, unable to see more than a few feet ahead of me, and rowing in the darkness with the rainbow lights of the MidHudson Bridge ahead. We would keep rowing and rowing, and eventually we’d see the sunrise, and it was so beautiful. I think I’m too much of a romantic to be a rower.
Anyway, kayaking is all of that cool stuff, but less intense physical pain and more exploring the river, which I am all about. Last year I paddled around with a few friends, and my friend Sarah and I talked about making a trip down the entire southern Hudson River from Albany. However, because we barely made it to Bannerman’s and back without collapsing from upper-body exhaustion, we decided we’d need some time to prepare for that. This past January we started talking about it again, and we decided to do it this summer. We originally wanted to paddle directly to NYC, but because of our independent schedules we had to break it up a bit. After a few months of each trying to get more physically prepared for this, we decided to have a little practice paddle from Beacon to Poughkeepsie and back.
It was bad. So, so bad. Mostly because I miscalculated the distance (what I believed to be 14.5 was actually 29, (oops)), but also because it rained like a bitch. The paddle up from Beacon to Poughkeepsie wasn’t so bad, but as it started raining really hard, Sarah and I decided to stop at Shadows to dock and use the bathroom. We then realized that we needed to get things out of our dry bags and we couldn’t from the dock, so we paddled closer to the bridge and beached ourselves on this little sandy patch, and hung out with an adorable duck. It was really cold and rainy, neither of us had sufficient rain gear, and in those few hours we were the definition of miserable. We were pretty beat, soaked to the skin, our toes were blue, and we had to paddle all the way back to Beacon, mostly against the current.
We sat in the rain on that beach for two hours or so, and then decided to brave the conditions and get back before dark. That paddle home was one of the most physically difficult things I have ever done. I was paddling in the cold, in the rain, without gloves on, so gripping the paddle was ridiculously difficult. It wasn’t like we could quit and call someone to pick us up, because we had no choice but to get back to Beacon. After a while, we started coming up with some other plans to get our asses out of the river, and we became kind of delirious. At one point, I didn’t think anything around us looked familiar, and I honestly asked, “Are we on the right river?” The sun was setting, and we knew we had to make it back before dark. When we finally did get back to Beacon, the wind had picked up so we were dealing with some pretty nasty waves and literally paddling against both wind and current, and it was already dark so we had a hard time seeing the dock. We eventually found the launch, and as we both got out of the kayak we probably looked like a pair of stumbling idiots as we couldn’t walk because we were so exhausted. We knew there was no way we were pitching a tent in the pouring rain, so we stumbled our way to Sarah’s car, changed into dry clothes, and spent the night watching the kayak.
The next morning, we got some coffee and walked around Beacon for a while, ending up in this bookstore which is basically an awesome place with books about all things Hudson Valley, Hudson River, and some about the larger New York State area and its wildlife. There is also some nice Hudson River artwork hanging in the gallery in the back, as well as a huge map of the river. We walked around sipping on our iced coffees, looking all sunburnt and dirty like a couple of scrubs, and I was looking at the map hanging on the wall. I then saw the key in the corner, and put my fingers up to it to measure exactly how far we went. At this point we thought we paddled maybe 12 miles roundtrip, but I held up the ten mile marker to the map and it didn’t even cover the distance from Beacon to Poughkeepsie. I then began to suspect the err of my ways, and I called Sarah over to check it out. She was a bit surprised as well, but we were both a little too stoked for her to be mad at me for making her paddle almost 30 miles in the rain. We then returned to the kayak and the sun was shining brightly with a gentle breeze coming off the river, so we decided to paddle to Bannerman’s and see how we would feel on day two.
This was a completely different experience: we were both dry, the sun was shining, the current was with us, and we had no threat of getting lost in the dark. Even though our arms were in serious need of a massage and some TLC, this paddle was cake compared to the previous day’s conditions. Thus, we learned two things: We will go to extreme measures to avoid paddling in the rain, and we are two hard core mother fuckers for paddling 30 miles in the rain, against wind and current.
I also made an unusual realization during that terrible paddle. Even in my coldest, most exhausted, most miserable moments, I was still really happy. Actually, I don’t know if I should call it happy. I guess I just felt really good. I felt good because I was on the Hudson River, and something about it just makes me feel so good. I have so many great memories attached to the river, but it’s a lot more than that. I feel safe when I am there, like I am very much in control, even if I’m not. I really can’t describe it, but when I am on the Hudson I feel like it’s all mine, and no one can take it away from me.
I think that’s also why I feel like I need to protect it. After seeing the fourth condom float by, it was pretty disheartening to realize that so many people don’t think about taking care of the river. Some see it as this massive, menacing body of water that can take care of itself, and it scares them. More people need to realize how delicate the Hudson actually is, and how carefully we need to consider how we treat it.
This is part one of my kayaking adventures for the summer. Until next time…

18 Things of May

May is always a super eventful month for me. I always have final exams which bring on intense amounts of inner conflict between “I have to do this shit now” and “I don’t want to do this shit now,” I usually have intense spring fever, and I get really excited for summer and begin wearing flip flops when it’s still cold enough to see my breath outside. May 2013 looked a little bit like this…
1 I saw the Great Gatsby and subsequently fell in love with the soundtrack. Several of the songs from that movie are still on my Spotify circulation.
2 I had finals, and that’s usually a problem for me because I am very easily distracted and amused by small things when I need to get work done. Thankfully, not all of us are this way.
“Oh what was that? I can’t hear you because I have earbuds in because I’m studying, as you should be.”
3 I SOLVED THE GILYAK PROBLEM. With three other people…but still. The feelings of accomplishment were like … ahhh.
So now I totes think we should call my dog the Gilyak word for Harpoon.
4 I was introduced to the BBC series Sherlock, starring Bilbo Baggins as Watson.
Only a true friend texts you at 3:30am on a Saturday to tell you about his BBC revelation.
5 I packed every single thing I own into boxes and two suitcases. The boxes are sitting in the home of my lovely friend, and the suitcases have exploded all over my room.
Our last picture as roommates. Now we’re just friends.
6 I talked myself out of a jaywalking ticket.
7 I was on a 6 hour flight home. As in I got on the plane, and 6 hours later I was allowed off. That kind of sucked.
8 I had the most satisfying Thai food experience which reminded me that my spidey senses are really good at detecting awesome friends. 
9 I went to Chipotle five times in six days. This is not an achievement, it is me admitting that I have a problem.
10 I made a legitimate 5x5x4 fort with two of my favorite people ever.
11 I saw Fast 6, and it is officially the worst movie I have ever seen in theater. It was that bad.
12 I kayaked 29 miles, in 11 hours, in the rain, in the cold, after 10 months of not paddling, and I thought my arms were going to either fall off or be permanently bent into kayak form. I think that day confirmed to me that the Hudson River really is a place uniquely close to my heart…and I know that many people have felt this way, and there are entire organizations dedicated to protecting it, but I feel like for some reason, it’s my place. It’s my one place that I have used in lots of different ways, and it makes me feel home in the best sense of the word.
13 I saw this.
14 Online summer classes. Bad decision.
15 I realized exactly how poorly calibrated is my internal compass.
16 I bought way too many dresses.
17 I realized that my dog is actually a cat.
18 Someone suggested a great tattoo idea, which has evolved in my mind into something totally cool and worthy of a permanent home on my body. But only after my 21stbirthday. So I have like what, just over 2 years? That’s not so bad.


“The best way out is always through.”
-Robert Frost, “A Servant to Servants”

That is the quote from which I chose the name for my blog. I also have the word through tattooed on my body. Forever. It is there forever, and I will never be able to get rid of it. It actually says “through.” Period included. Because to me, the period denotes the finality of the quote. It indicates the presence of something before the word throughAfter all, the word through alone is not a sentence, and sentences end in periods, so there must be something before it that is unseen in the tattoo. Thus the period.

Through in the sense that I interpret it is an adverb. An adverb describes the manner in which one does something. To me, through is how to live. Live through. It carries a connotation of transience – of motion and activity, which are all good things that I like to associate with myself, and to associate with living. Through reminds me to keep living by doing, acting, and throwing myself at opportunities. To take advantage of time and manipulate my life around a clock. To make it difficult for the days to turn because I force so much life into them. Not in the sense that I have a jammed schedule and tons of friends and so many places to be, but in that I make good things happen and I embrace all of it. I drink up every chance I have to create myself – to create my life through. That’s what through means to me.

However, the connotation of continuance that I associate with through has a different significance for me. I am fortunate enough to have had almost nineteen years of truly blissful happiness, and I know just how lucky I am. But, you know, the going gets rough sometimes for everyone. There were times when I was genuinely concerned about my own mental health, there were times when people betrayed me, there were times when I couldn’t face myself for betraying others, and there were times that were just unnecessarily shitty for no other reason than that life is not fair sometimes. During those times, I need to close my eyes, hold my breath, and just blindly push forward – push through. Those times always end. There is always a time after those when things look up. I can’t spend every minute trying to fill my life with awesome things, so during the times when it becomes difficult to focus on getting through something, I have to remember that it’s exactly that – getting through the place I am now, because there are so many better things to look forward to after the not so happy times are over. I’m never stuck, but I’m also never helpless. For me, it’s never a matter of “letting it pass,” it’s a matter of taking an active role in pushing the bad times behind me so I can fully enjoy the good times.

So that is my through. It reminds me to actively push the bad behind me, and actively embrace the good. I try to live my life through.

Old Hipsters

Hipsters often adopt the “grandpa” look in an attempt to look hipster while trying to look like they’re not trying to look hipster. They’ll tell you how stoked they were to find that sweater for $.90 at the thrift store, when they actually bought it from Urban Outfitters for $75. This is all fine; I love me a dude in an expensive, stretched out cardigan. The problem, however, lies in what has become the OLD HIPSTER. WHAT?! I KNOW. CRAY.

Let’s rewind. We all know those 37+ guys who still shop at Abercrombie (or worse, American Eagle? Hollister? Ouch.) and maybe dye their hair and tan and can’t face the fact that they’re getting wrinkly now that they’re approaching 40 and will soon be considered “creepy old guys” when they go to a bar and try to hit on the freshly legal. A new species of this kind has evolved, and let me tell you folks, it’s not pretty.

It’s the old hipster.

I unfortunately spotted this specimen while I was at a concert the other night. It was literally the highest concentration of hipsters I have ever seen outside of an Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, or Hard Times. The problem was that the concert was not at some ironic coffee shop or a dive bar which is thriving because its patrons only drink shitty overpriced PBR, but it was at First Ave. (Which, for the non-Minnesotans, is a pretty awesome place.) Therefore, it attracted this obscure subset of near-midlife-crisis individuals who figured they should express whatever remnants of a youthful spark they have dwindling inside by dressing like all of the youngins that would be at the concert – the hipsters.

The reason this can absolutely never ever work for those poor late-30s and upward individuals is simple. They’re too close to the cusp of being considered “old” to dress like someone who is trying to dress like an old person to be ironic. When that 22-year-old guy with the James Franco face and perfect beard and the “I tried to look like I just rolled out of bed” hair and the neck tattoos and super tight skinny jeans that are too short but it’s okay because they show off his perfect ass that he spends hours at the rec perfecting wears an old man cardigan, glasses, and suspenders, it can totally work for him, because he’s still hot in a very youthful way. He’s still a “kid.” He can dress like an old guy and it is obviously all for the sake of the hipster image, because it looks like he’s playing dress up in his granddaddy’s clothes.

But when that older guy with the somewhat sagging features that blur his bone structure and the beard that is starting to grey by now and evidence of the too many PBRs he downs in an attempt to hang with the younger crowd wears grandpa sweaters, tucks in a button down which is buttoned a little too high, and wears old man glasses, he just makes himself look like an old dude. If you’re reading this, and you’re like, “shit, that is so me,” then I suggest you stop looking to RPats and JGL for fashion advice and consider more age-appropriate options. You can still be sexy, and instead of being that creepy old guy trying to hang with the young crowd, you can try to rock the hot, successful older guy thing (even if you’re not actually successful).

This is not finished but it’s been sitting around not getting finished for a week now, so I am just going to call it done.

Check out this website for the cool hipster charts.

Let’s Reminisce

One year and three days ago I was visiting the U for the first time with my dad. I was ill-prepared for the weather, I had an ugly cold, and I was not completely impressed with the U.
Now, I am here – living here. Being Minnesotan. Or at least trying…
I often forget to just take some time to look back, to think about where I was one year ago, two years ago, three years ago. The great thing about having this blog is that I can do that really easily. I just have to click around, and I have the perfect time capsule of my life. My life preserved in words.
When I think of my senior year of high school, the picture in my head is vastly different than that of every single one of my friends. I think of limbo…completely done with high school, but not yet in college, and trying to throw them at one another and find some way to stitch the seam together. I think of driving in the BMW, smelling the Bath & Body Works pod, listening to Tegan & Sara, Rufus Wainwright, Florence & The Machine, and Jack Johnson. I think of studying in the library and spending half of my teeny paycheck on over-priced coffee. I remember changing a lot.
I remember being a little scared of the fact that I could feel myself changing…and I remember trying to use everything within me to not let anyone see how scared I was. Of college in particular…I had no idea what I was going to do. I was terrified by my lack of ability to make a decision.
Anyway, it’s cool to think about how much has happened in this year, and how many things have not gone according to plan. One year from now, I hope things are going swimmingly. I like that word so much. Ugh.