Archive for June, 2010

The Real MiddKids
June 30, 2010

I am willing to admit that I am not the biggest fan of kids. My philosophy about kids goes something like this: Children are like bears. They’re cute from afar, but I definitely don’t want one.

But children are all around Middlebury and I’m starting to think I can handle these real Middkids. They can be pretty cute; running around in their Patagonia and Crocs, with organic fruit snacks.

My adventures in the childhood world of Middlebury have really come in three forms:

1. Swimming. When people find out there’s a varsity swimmer staying on campus over the summer they’re all over asking you for lessons. This has been interesting to say the least, considering the fact that I’ve never really given swimming lessons before; I’m not even a certified lifeguard. But for $10 per half hour lesson, they don’t need to know that. I also helped coach Middlebury’s summer swim team in the beginning of the month (I have done this before). My main observation from both experiences:

  • Middlebury children have very little fear. We worked on diving one day with the swim team. I was working with the beginner group, so I had very little expectations for what they would accomplish in the 30 minutes we spent on the skill. I would have been happy if they had all just jumped in. But by the end of the practice, I had two kids going off the blocks, a pretty big feat, considering the height of a swimming block can be intimidating to someone who is only 2 1/2 ft. tall. But in all honesty, a willingness to try anything is the greatest asset one can have when learning to swim.

2. Language School Children

I’ve probably watched this video over 15 times. If children are cute bears, then children speaking foreign languages are like adorable little cub bears. And with the recent commencement of the rest of the language schools has come the invasion of these cute cubs. Professors from the French and Spanish school have brought their children with them to campus and in short, they’re adorable. They run around Proctor Terrace, drawing with sidewalk chalk and riding their bikes, being cute and multilingual. Our favorite is a little French-speaking Asian boy.

3. Ilsely Library Children’s Section

Even though I may not always like kids, I would like to consider myself a child at heart. How else could I justify the amount of time I’ve spent in the children’s section of the Ilsley Public Library? I’m currently reading The Westing Game, which I tell people is for the J-term class on Children’s Literature I’m planning with Abigail Borah, but I really just think it’s a good mystery. And as far as children’s sections go, Ilsley Library is pretty badass (can I say that in a post about children?) They are always having special events, such as making sand art or tie dying t-shirts.

Over all, it’s pretty safe to claim that I’m starting to get over my aversion to kids.

I still don’t want them till I’m 50 though.



BP: Take Notice
June 27, 2010

Sorry about the delay in blog posting as of late. I’ve been occupying my time attending protests, helping lost spanish-school students, and eating a lot of cheese.

No big deal.

But, in all seriousness, things at Middlebury have certainly gotten more exciting. Just a couple of weeks ago, the most exciting thing to do was eat a sandwich (read: closed dining halls) but now, with language school kids here and constant outdoor adventures, it finally feels like summer.

One of the coolest things that I’ve done thus far while at Midd has been attending the “Hands across the Sand” protest in Burlington on Saturday with the Race to Replace army. As mentioned earlier, the movement was started in order to protest offshore drilling by joining hands and creating a human barricade against evil people who want oil (that’s right all you moms and your mini vans).

The coolest thing about the actual event happening in Burlington was that it was being sponsored by this really groovy group of middle-aged men and women who all have this incredible, undying passion for the earth, a passion that you just don’t find many places anymore.

I’m an aggressively social and inquisitive person, thanks to years of watching my Grandmother and Aunt become best friends with complete strangers in the weirdest places (like waiting in line to buy oranges or when attempting to navigate around Walgreens), so I, naturally, struck up a conversation with the lady I was holding hands with (shout out to Betsy) who told me about this environmental group that a friend and her started a few years ago that now has chapters in 32 states.

Mind blown.

The entire protest only lasted 15 minutes, but, in spite of the pouring rain, 15 minutes didn’t seem like enough time. There was something incredibly calm and moving about standing in almost complete silence, hands locked, staring out into the infinite sea, reflecting on the beauty of nature’s pureness.

All in all, an amazing experience, which was capped off by the infectiously energetic Ben Wessel rallying the entire crowd. Video provide, per usual:

Until the next wet protest,


Hands Across the Sand
June 23, 2010

Your instructions for this Saturday:

  1. Go to the beach at 11 AM in your time zone for one hour, rain or shine.
  2. Join hands for 15 minutes at 12:00 forming lines in the sand against oil drilling in our coastal waters.
  3. Leave only your footprints.

These are the steps to participate in the Hands Across the Sand event occurring across the globe, this Saturday, June 26, 2010. Sponsored by, Hands Across the Sand is “a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry.  Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of oil drilling.”

The event will be powerful with a simple message: Say NO to offshore oil drilling, and YES to clean energy.

Middlebury’s own Race to Replace team will be participating in the Burlington event. Come out and join us for a day of sun, sand, surf, and clean energy!

Want more info? Of course there’s a facebook event page: Hands Across the Sand Event

Watch this great video for footage of the very first Hands Across the Sand, which took place in Florida on February 13, 2010.

Hope to see you there!


15 minutes
June 21, 2010

This video pretty much sums up my journey back to Middlebury.

Not really, but this fella makes me laugh harder than Minnie Driver in ‘Good Will Hunting

In all seriousness, though, I returned to Middlebury (with a vengeance) early this morning at 12:30 Ante Meridien accompanied by Olivia Noble & Audrey Tolbert. My epic odyssey back to Middlebury, however, was not an easy one. While mine might not have included sirens, a cyclops, or an unfinished garment woven by my betrothed wife, it was most definitely an adventure in horror beginning in the late afternoon at DFW airport…

Upon arriving at DFW (with my mom, brother, and dad) I attempted to do the self check-in at the United front desk. I’m usually a pro at this, typing in my 6-digit confirmation number like it’s nobody’s business, quickly snatching my printed boarding passes from the slot. However, this time it told me that I was unable to print my passes, prompting me to pick up the phone connected to the machine, which would then connect me to the United Airlines help desk.

Oh no.

On the other end, a daft woman told me that my Chicago flight was delayed for some ‘mysterious’ reason, which meant that I wouldn’t have enough time to make my connection to Burlington. She then told me that I would have to leave for Burlington the next day.

Say whattttt?

My dad was not having any of this, telling me to give him the phone so that he could take care of the situation. The woman on the other end (some poor soul who I knew wasn’t causing the plane’s delay, though my dad might say otherwise) told him that her only advice was to delay my travel by a whole day, an answer my dad was not happy with. Hanging up the phone, he marched over to  the United ticket counter and began to discuss other options with a man named Manuel.


After 15 minutes (and a lot of exchanged worried glances between my mom, dad, and myself. Note the absence of my brother here) Manuel said that I could take the delayed flight to Chicago and hope for the best. If things didn’t work out, the airline would put me up for a night in a hotel in Chicago. My dad asked to make sure the hotel wasn’t situated in an area where crack was sold and distributed. Hey, somebody’s gotta ask.

Onward to Chicago O’Hare.

I got on the plane to Chicago and everything went along smoothly. Perhaps too smoothly. But not in a dramatically foreshadowy type way, but in a bright, hopeful, maybe-you’ll-make-it-to-burlington-by-the-night’s-end-cody sort of way. The air pilot announced at the very beginning of the flight that he would be boosting up the speed (at which point I thought, oh great, this is how all airplane crash stories begin) to make up for lost time and that the weather conditions were good, which would shave off another 20 minutes. Alright, maybe this is gonna happen, I thought to myself.

The Chicago flight was scheduled to land at 7:55.

The Burlington flight was leaving at 8:10.

That’s 15 minutes to get off a plane, find the gate leaving for Burlington, and gamble my way onto another plane.

Tension builds.

I slept most of the way to Chicago, and as we began our descent, the flight attendant announced that we would be landing into gate C6.’ Alright, c’s a good letter and, hey, 6 is an even composite number which must be lucky..right?’ I thought to myself nervously. Gripping my arm handles, I asked the person next to me if I could cut ahead of them because of my tight connection time. She said sure, respecting my anxious energy. We landed and I hurriedly called Olivia to find out which gate the Burlington plane was leaving from. She then uttered the sweetest words I have ever heard on a mobile phone:

“The Burlington plane is leaving from gate C7”

My heart thudded, joy and exuberance pumping through my veins. “I JUST MIGHT MAKE IT!!!!” my inner dialogue bellowed. As soon as the plane landed, I pushed my way to the front, waited nervously for my gate-check bag, and, upon its arrival, grabbed it aggressively, sprinting (you think I kid) out of gate C6 and onward to gate C7 (which was not actually located either to the left or to the right of C6, but rather in an odd kitty-corner to gate C6). I ran to the attendant, thrusting my ticket at her, and galloped onto my Burlington flight.

I have never felt giddier buckling a seat belt.

The plane took off without a hitch and I landed at BTV (pretty much) on schedule. I didn’t bother to unpack my suitcase, deciding to collapse on my bed and prepare for my return to work at the Admissions Office.

All in all, this has been the most exciting traveling experience I have ever encountered flying solo, and I’d like to think I handled myself pretty effectively (albeit thanks to a great deal of luck, speedy pilots, and my dad’s persistence), thus concluding a successful 11 day vacation in the lone star state!

Until the next air travel debacle occurs,


妵澳李’s Adventures in Chinese
June 18, 2010

I have a new name: 妵澳李. Can’t read that? Neither can I.

But that is my new Chinese name, given to me by my friend Nial Rele, who is attending the Chinese School here this summer. He assures me that the individual characters mean: (respectively) beautiful, bay, plum; and is pronounced (in pinyin) tǒu ào Li. However, Google translate (which I have grown to love) tells me that the name means “Spiffing O Lee”. I kind of like that better than “Beautiful Bay Plum” anyways. It seems that this week has been very Chinese-heavy, whether it be at work in the Helpdesk or just around campus. Some interesting anecdotes:

  • Language pledged for 9-weeks, Nial enjoys texting / facebook chatting in Chinese. But not in Chinese characters; in pinyin. In case you don’t frequently use google translate in Chinese, there is no option for Pinyin to English, or vice-versa. Therefore, when he texts me, I get to play the fun game of guessing what he says. A useful tool has been, which allows you to search for the English meaning of pinyin words, but only one at a time. My attempts at deciphering his texts usual end with me saying “Wǒ bù zhīdào nǐ zài shuō shénme.” Meaning “I don’t know what you’re saying.” It has been interesting to say the least.
  • One day I helped a woman at the Helpdesk who was in Chinese Level 1, or Beginning Chinese. Starting off the study of a language at Middlebury Language Schools is a pretty ambitious endeavor, so I asked her why she decided to study Chinese. She said that she was a French teacher from North Carolina, and that her district was cutting the French program, replacing it with Chinese, and they needed her to learn how to teach it. Reactions: Anger (I’m a probable French major looking to eventually teach French), shock (that they didn’t just let her go), and fright (at not being able to find a job as a French teacher in 3+ years). I guess I should start memorizing characters…
  • Today I helped a Chinese professor with the wireless on her laptop. Or well I tried to help her. But I’m learning it’s really hard to troubleshoot a problem when the computer is not in English. Or at least a romance language..

So, needless to say with all this Chinese language school interaction, I’ll pretty much be fluent by the end of the summer.


妵澳李 (Audrey)

Lake Dunmore is cold.
June 15, 2010

Like, really cold. But gorgeous.

This morning I joined a group of the Middlebury Muffintops for their daily lake swim. For those of you who don’t know, the Muffintops are Midd’s badass masters swim team and they are made up of faculty and staff members from the college as well as community members. And in my opinion, they are being represented by the wrong mascot. None of them are muffintops (have muffintops?), and I can only pray that my body looks that good in twenty-plus years. They were extremely welcoming and a great group to swim with. This is the kind of community interaction I was hoping for this summer at Midd, and I hope to form a great relationship with them over the rest of the summer. But more on the actual lake:

  • Lake Dunmore is surprisingly clean. There were a lot of places in shallow areas where I could clearly see the bottom of the lake, and although I took a very long (and warm) shower upon my return to Battell, I didn’t feel as grimy or sandy as I thought I would. In other words, this is a great place to go for a non-chlorinated dip in the summer and I’d like to add “day trip to Lake Dunmore” to our summer bucket list.
  • Lake Dunmore is not a good place to go fishing. Maybe they were just all asleep since it was SO early, but I saw no fish as I swam. This is probably a good thing, as that would have freaked me out. There is also no monster in the lake, although I did worry about that for a second while I was swimming (I think the cold water was seeping into my brain).
  • Swimming in a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains as the sun comes up is hands-down the best way to start your day. There aren’t many things I’ll get up at 5 in the morning for, but this is one.

It even looks cold.

Warmly (oh the irony),


Day-time television and 12 hours of sleep
June 13, 2010

As I sit here watching “True Life: I want to give my baby up for adoption,” I feel as though I’m finally experiencing some sort of semblance of what my summer usually resembles: hours spent reading books, watching movies and trashy TV shows (Maury and Wife Swap are personal favorites of mine), sleeping, and playing board games with friends at night. It has always been pretty relaxing and enjoyable but, after having spent a lot of my summer thus far at Middlebury, it seems like I’ve forgotten what a summer at home feels like.

Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the differences between spending a summer at Middlebury and spending a summer elsewhere (albeit Dallas or Kalamazoo):

  1. It’s easy to forget how green Midd is: At Middlebury, we are constantly reminded of how important it is to be environmentally friendly, how it is our duty as students and people to initiate green changes in our lives. We live in this perfect bubble where being green isn’t something that you think about, you just do it. But, after spending a few days in the ‘real’ world of large SUVs, fast food restaurants, and gas stations, it’s easy to appreciate how environmentally aware Middlebury is.
  2. Forget about parties!: During the school year, parties happen all the time, and I’m not just talking about parties that involve alcohol and other nefarious substances, but parties where people come together just to hang out. Every weekend, there is something to do, and the best part? Everything is within walking distance! This could not be more untrue elsewhere. At home, your friends may live all over your town or city, making it nearly impossible to find times (or even locations) for groups to get together. During the summer at Midd, all the English speaking students live in the same building which, whether you like it or not, makes it incredibly easy to find people to do almost anything with (and I mean almost anything).
  3. Water falls, hiking trails, mountains, oh my!: I don’t know about where you live, but where I live there are no water falls. Or hiking trails. Or mountains. The most exciting outdoor activities in my city involve either swimming in 84 degree pool water or complaining about the heat. But in Vermont? Well that’s a whole other story. With more evergreen trees than people and mountains every where you look, there is always something outdoorsy to do, plus the temperature hovers between the upper 70’s and low 80’s, which means that you actually want to be outside! What a concept, spending a summer outdoors.
  4. Dining staff and janitors: In college, unless the higher powers that be decide to take them away for oh, I don’t know, 2 weeks unexpectedly, janitors and a fully staffed army of dining workers manage your life: you don’t have to worry about garbage, fretting over toilet paper types, or where you’re going to get your next meal, ever. It’s like a fantastic commune where you can frolic about in the outdoors and then eat A-quality food after taking a shower in a daily-cleaned restroom. Back home? Not so much. In fact, you might have to be the one to clean the restroom or do the grocery shopping for your family.
  5. Interacting with people who aren’t your age: Aside from the few professors and other older workers on campus during the summer, at Middlebury (like during the school year) you are going to be surrounded by people whose ages fall into the 18-22 (or 23 for those who just can’t tear themselves away from college, no judgement) age range, which obviously promotes a sense of unity, because people from the same generation share experiences and cultural jargon that make communication easier (imagine trying to explain urbandictionary to your grandmother). At home, however, you’re surrounded by all sorts of age groups, young neighbors, immature/over-eager high school students, goofy parents (shout out to my mom for finally learning how to make a mixed CD), and older citizens who make ordering food at restaurants particularly hilarious. Gotta love the age diversity, but spending a summer completely surrounded by people your own age makes for a pretty unique experience.

So, do I miss Middlebury? Sure, but I am glad that I am getting to spend time at home. My summer wouldn’t be complete without southern accents and Tex-Mex food (not necessarily together).

Until inspiration (or another nap) strikes again,


PS. It would be embarrassing for me to tell you all how many times I have watched this. To say the number bordered on 15 would be no exaggeration:

欢迎, 歓迎, Приветствовать
June 11, 2010

They’ve arrived!

After weeks of feeling like a ghost-town, the Middlebury campus is now abuzz with future Chinese, Japanese, and Russian Language School students.

Working in Axinn all day, at the “Computing” station of the Welcoming Center, gave me the chance to interact with a lot of the new students. I was surprised at how diverse the people were; apparently Language Schools appeals to everyone from current college students to 80 year-old grandparents.

I was also very surprised at the amount of people coming for these three languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Russian). Out of the three registering today, I assumed Chinese would be the most popular. However, I would say I saw an almost even amount of Japanese and Russian students as well. It was a lot of fun helping them out, be it technologically (I speak fluent BannerWeb now, let me tell you) to simply giving directions to Gifford (“I’d tell you it’s the big stone building at the top of the hill, but that doesn’t really help you”, was my advice to one kid).

Language Schools Welcome Center

Great thanks to LIS for my free lunch at the Grille. I’m also very excited for the volleyball nets put up on the quad next to McCullough.

But most importantly:


Dreaming of the wonderful breakfast panini I will make in the morning,


A Library Talent Show?
June 9, 2010

It seems that this summer at Midd has been full of unexpected events.

Including, the LIS Staff Arts and Crafts Reception that was held today in the Library. Here I am, at the Helpdesk, fiddling away with network registrations, when I hear the beautiful notes of an oboe coming from the lobby. Yes, that’s right folks, those staff members behind the circ desk know more than just the Dewey Decimal System (and maybe not even that, since we use the Library of Congress Classification System…).

Here’s a video clip of Kyle Drevline (on alto sax) and Emma Stafford (on flute):

There is also some wonderful artwork on display, as you can see in the background of the video. From jewelry to paintings to pottery, LIS is a talented bunch. Not back on campus yet? Don’t worry, the exhibit will be there until June 28th.

The reception also included chocolate-covered strawberries and blueberries. Always a plus.

The Real Artwork

Until the next unexpected summer event,


June 9, 2010

For the first time in almost 3 months I will be leaving Middlebury.

I will be returning to the motherland (Texas) for 11 days, and let me tell you, it’s very strange.

Audrey and I were both here when everyone was leaving during Finals week, so the ‘end’ of our freshman year was very different from that of our friends. While all of our friends were saying goodbye to Middlebury for 3 1/2 months, Audrey and I were stuck in this very weird place where final goodbyes didn’t feel quite as emotional as they probably should have. We weren’t leaving, and the only form of traveling-related-exodus we experienced was moving across campus to Battell which, scarring in its own right, was definitely not as depressing as going back to Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, or Singapore (as our friends did). My freshman year hadn’t felt  like it had truly ended but, now that I’m going home, I feel like my first year at college is finally done.

I love Middlebury and am very thankful that I’m going to be here for the entire summer, but I am so excited to go back to Texas for a while. With high school graduations and returning college friends right around the corner, this is the perfect time to reconnect with my homeland. And of course who doesn’t love the 100+ degree weather in good ol’ Texas?

You think I’m exaggerating.

So, for the next 11 days or so, I will not be blogging very much, because, unfortunately, Dallas is not located in Vermont, and the thousands of miles that will be separating me from Middlebury will make it pretty difficult to blog about life on campus. But, before I sign off, I wanted to leave you all with a list of things that I discovered last night in my attempts to prepare for my flight in T-minus 4 hours and 23 minutes…

  • Carrying laundry to Forest from Battell is extremely difficult. With sharp corners and more oddly shaped doors than in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s almost impossible to get from one location to the other by yourself.
  • There is a small room in B2N that houses an impressive ceramic pig collection. Who it belongs to and why it is there are still mysteries to me.
  • Techno music is, apparently, appropriate at any time. Thanks neighbor.

Anticipating his departure from BTV to DFW,