In 2012, I worked for 6 1/2 months aboard a ship called Wanderbird. We travelled up the Maine coast, Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, and then back again. It completely changed my life. Now that I'm back to reality, it's time to figure out what my next chapter will be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm Back...and a 10-year Goal

Ok...I told myself that as soon as I finished all of my transfer applications, I would start blogging again. I finished them about a week ago...and then I had midterms at school (did I mention that I'm taking classes at the local university so my brain doesn't turn into mush?), so that delayed my restart.  Anyway, I just printed my last two research essays and I'm sitting in the library waiting for my next class to start and listening to Hairspray on my awesome new headphones.

There's been too much going on to explain, and I don't even know if I want to talk about all of it on here, but what I'm going to talk about now is a new goal that I've recently decided to undertake.  I feel like it's a pretty big deal, so I'm really trying hard to not have it be one of those little fanciful notions that I often have.  I don't think I've ever felt this much ambition or drive to do something-- maybe that's because right now, there aren't a ton of things in my life that I'm super happy about and I want to cultivate and fully immerse myself in the things that I am happy about, namely piano.

Ok- enough preamble.  I told Stanford about this goal in one of its supplemental essays: "Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, discusses what he calls the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which says that to become an expert in anything, one must spend 10,000 hours doing it."

(I didn't say it like that to Stanford)

I'm dead serious.  10,000 friggin' hours.  I've decided that since I've played piano since I was 7 years old or something, it's fair to start myself with 1,000 hours.  So I'm going for 9,000 hours of piano-playing over the next 10 to 15 years.  I say 10 to 15 because if I play 2 hours every day for the next 12 years, I still won't quite have it....and since I made this decision, I haven't played 2 hours every day.  BUT there will be days that I play more and days I'll play less (I do play at least half an hour a day), so this is how it's going to be.

Here's the coolest thing: my new determination has actually made me like scale and hand exercises!  How cool is that?  I can literally spend an hour doing that stuff and all it does is make me tired, not irritated, like it used to.  To me, that's a sign.  I was meant to do this.

That's the thing-- I'm not super into destiny or anything, but I feel like I was meant to do something big.  I'm not really sure what that means or what it's going to be, but I'm starting to feel like my mind can do anything, even given it's tough history (I might talk about that sometime), and I want to get out there into the world of knownness, not because I want to be famous, but because it's grand and challenging.  I don't for a second want this to sound like I'm just doing it for fame, because I don't really care.  I just want to make people feel the way I feel when I hear music.

The tipping point with this whole piano thing was probably the Phantom of the Opera (thanks Andrew Lloyd Webber).  We (my parents and I) were introducing a Pakinstani exchange student who's living with us this year (I'll call her Q) to musicals and we listened to the whole recording of the show.  Later, we found a video recording of the stage version on Netflix instant and watched it.  OH MY WORD.  It made me feel so much!  I don't really know how to describe it, but I was very moved by it (I'd never actually seen it- only listened), and it made me want to cry, partly because of the story and partly because of the music itself.

It was so grand and bright and- just- AH!  I just thought, "I want to be there."  Not there. on the stage singing and acting-- there in the pit.  Somehow, that thought felt good to me.  I guess it was really what I did in high school with music, and I was pretty good at it....

So, while this blog is going to be largely about my life in general, I'm probably going to talk a lot about this piano thing and I'll probably document it as I be patient with me.

I'm sort of struggling with ending this post- I have so much to say about this new resolution, but I'm not sure I really have it in me to write it all right now and also a whole group of guys just sat down at my table in the library and I think their friend wants to sit where I am, even though I was here first.  Well, I need to get lunch anyhow.  Here you go, stranger, have my chair.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oh no!

Has this become one of those blogs that only gets a few sporadic entries and then fades into oblivion, only to be found by the random Google search?  Is it that link you follow because the info blurb on your search list seems like it might somehow be a good source to cite in your research paper, but it turns out that it's just somebody's sad attempt at a blog that doesn't even have that much content?  If so, it will then continue to pop up in search results as you look for real sources by people who actually write at least once a week and have something more to say.  It will start to annoy you because it will probably fake you out a couple more times before you realize that it's the same link you've followed 4 times already, and it still isn't acceptable.


I can't let that happen to this blog.  I DO have things to say...I have so much to say!!  I miss writing so much and I'm going to do more of it.  The thing is, I have college essays to write.  I'm transferring to a different college and I need to work on my applications.  I'm afraid that if I write a lot in here, it will feel like I'm just writing a less polished, less formal version of my application questions, and I would rather not have that be the case.  So I've been going about this with the mindset that if I don't have a comparison to make, I won't have to worry about it.  Of course, so far that's just led to my angst about losing track of this blog.

It's not going to happen.

I will be back.  In a couple months, I will be back.  Once I've sorted out my other ventures.  I promise.

And when I DO come back, this blog will be the greatest thing this little town has ever seen!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Passion: music...for starters.

Ok, so there have been a number of things keeping me from blogging for more than ten days, namely the fact that my computer recently flaked out on me and had to be sent in to Apple for a new logic board (thank you, AppleCare).  Also, Thanksgiving!  Also, Thanksgiving means family!  All of them!  So, it's been a bit crazy here lately (albeit wonderful).

Anyhow, I'm back, hopefully in a somewhat more consistent capacity.

I've been feeling super music-y lately.  Whenever I listen to good music or make good music or just do anything music-related, I get this feeling in my chest like I'm going to cry.  But it's not a bad thing.  I actually feel really good about it, because it means that something about music lights a flame inside of me. It further justifies the passion I became more acutely aware of during my season on the Wanderbird.  Ironically, it was not having music that made that awareness grow.  When I first started realizing it, I started singing to myself a lot more.  While I was on bow watch (where I had to stand up on the front of the ship and look out for small icebergs that the captain couldn't see), I would make my shift go by faster by singing through entire albums of music that I had enjoyed back in the real world.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy that same music while I was on the boat; it's just that I didn't really have any outlet with which to enjoy it.  I wasn't supposed to listen to my iPod during the day, and by the end of each day, I was so tired that all I could do was crawl into my bunk and sleep.  So I felt a little deprived.  I started listening to a little bit of classical piano and guitar before bed at night, so I could just have a little bit of a music "fix."  Of course, that made me want to listen to other things, so I eventually started listening to more genres, even if they were less sleep-inducing than my classical music.

I'm starting to tiptoe away from my original point.  In the process of figuring out what comes next for me, I've been trying to find something that will bring as much joy as my season of maritime life did.  I don't think I've felt such an utter lightness in my heart as I did when I was on the Wanderbird since I was a carefree 8-year-old.  What I want to find is something that will feed me just as much as this 7-month experience did, but that doesn't involve so much adjustment.

Being on the Wanderbird was magnificent, but I had a really hard time with a lot of it (i.e. homesickness- I actually realized that I felt the lightest when I was still working on Wanderbird, but back in Maine, so I could see my family more easily- they are all incredibly important to me).

I'm not saying that I don't want anything I do to be hard.  In fact, I relish being challenged.  No, what I'm saying is that I want to find something that I know I'm already passionate about.

See where I'm going with this?


Obviously, there are so many other things that I love doing and am very passionate about, but more on that in another post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I just did

A lot of what I'm having trouble with right now is figuring out what I'm going to do next with my life, so to begin, I'll write about what I've just finished doing.  It's a little hard because it was such a colossal experience and I haven't processed it yet.  But that's ok because it might take years.

Anyway, the other day, I finished up my 7 month season with Wanderbird.  Wanderbird was a Dutch fishing trawler built in 1963 and about ten years ago my captains, R and K (husband and wife) bought her and refitted her as an expedition cruise ship.  So, we took passengers for one to three weeks at a time on different legs of our trip up North.  I saw incredible things that I may never see again and I went places that I may never go again, but I'll never forget any of it.

As the deckhand, I had to make sure that everything was ship shape (yup, we say things like that) and I had to take care of the guests.  Much of the time, I was basically doing extreme customer service.  I say extreme because, when you're never farther than 90 feet away from your customers all day every day, it can get pretty intense.  I have to say, after this season, I feel a little bit customer serviced out.  It'll be nice to have a break.  This griping is not to say that we didn't have some awesome guests.  Actually, most of them were awesome and I'm even still in contact with some.  The types of trips that Wanderbird does tend to attract a certain kind of person, with a few exceptions.  We called them "turkeys" in order to avoid calling them anything worse (some of them were pretty horrid).

That's enough about the guests.  Although they were a big part of my time on Wanderbird, the most meaningful parts were the things that went on in my own mind.  Throwing yourself headfirst into something completely new (oh yeah- did I mention that as of last April I had had exactly zero experience working on boats?) can fuel some major change and self-discovery.  The hard part is articulating what that self-discovery involved.  I've definitely become more mature, and I've developed a greater sense of excitement for life and for others' lives as well.  There are a lot of other little things about myself that have changed, but I can't quite put a finger on exactly what they are.  I just know that I feel different.  I see the world differently and I see people differently.  I think I just might be one step closer to really 'getting it.'  You know, understanding a bit more about how things are supposed to work.

All this change is stressful, albeit exciting.  One big realization that I had about halfway through my time on Wanderbird was that I didn't want to study film anymore.  I had studied screenwriting at Emerson College in Boston for a year and a half before taking a leave of absence to have my adventure, and I loved it.  I'm still interested in it, but I've realized that it's not how I want to spend the rest of my life.  Over the course of the season, I felt myself being more and more drawn towards music and languages. I've played piano for 12 years or so, and I always knew that it (and music in general) would always be an important part of my life.  I didn't realize exactly how important piano was until I didn't have it for 7 months.  That was tough.  Along the same lines, I love speaking Spanish.  I took it for four years in high school, but unfortunately, Emerson didn't have any advanced classes in Spanish or music.  During my travels, I started picking up words in Inuktitut (an Inuit language I heard in Labrador), Greenlandic, Danish and French (we spent a lot of time on a French island off the coast of Newfoundland called St. Pierre).  I realized how much fun it was to communicate (or at least try to) with people in other languages, even though I didn't really speak those languages at all.  I started to really become aware of the different languages and forms of communication in the world and it all fascinated me.  Still does.
Land of the Midnight Sun

So now the next step is to figure out where I can feed these new passions, where I can be happy.  It's an exciting prospect not to know what's coming next (7 months ago I never would have said that), but I'm also really excited to figure that out.  Right now, I'm looking for schools that not only have programs that I'm looking for, but also will enrich my life in more ways than just academically.  But on the other hand, who knows?  Maybe I'll find some other wonderful opportunity and the world will call me elsewhere in my next chapter.
So here we go...