Let It Be

August 4, 2010 - Leave a Response

Guess I wasn’t pretty enough to make it into the shot…



Summer Bucket List Update

August 3, 2010 - 2 Responses

Things have been pretty busy up here in Vermont as you can tell by Cody’s post on our whirlwind week of music. But don’t think that some hipster musicians made us stray from our quest to complete our Summer Bucket List.

In fact in the past two weeks, we have managed to knock out two of our summer goals: cliff jumping at Bristol Falls and singing at the Middlebury Farmer’s Market.

Cliff Jumping

Bristol Falls, VT

Two Saturdays ago, to beat the sweltering heat, Ryan, Syd, Olivia and I made our way out to Bristol Falls, to enjoy some natural refreshment. Bristol Falls is one of the best swimming holes in Vermont, as evidenced by the crowd of people there last weekend. Not only is it gorgeous, but there is more to do there than just sit in the water. There is cliff jumping (which only I participated in – pansies…), a shallow wading area, and you are also able to go behind the waterfall. This was especially fun, and comical, as we battled our way upstream and over slippery rocks in order to enjoy the peacefulness behind the raging water.

But Bristol Falls is not the only place to go cliff jumping in Vermont. Earlier this summer on one of the summer worker “Dunmore Days”, a group of us made the hike up to Falls of Lana. Falls of Lana is a beautiful three-tiered waterfall located just up the road from Lake Dunmore. The cliff jumping here is a bit more treacherous. I was pretty proud of myself for mustering up enough courage to make the plunge. But with encouragement like: “This’ll make a sweet profile picture!” – Dan Khan; how could I not jump?

I was actually terrified.

Audrey and the Uke

This past Saturday, Cody and I had our debut performance as Audrey and the Uke at the Farmer’s Market. So it was probably our first and last performance, but we certainly had a blast singing for everyone who came out (even if we were upstaged by a little blond boy selling hugs for 25 cents). Missed it? No worries, check out the video of us singing Wagon Wheel, the Midd Kid anthem before there was a Midd Kid anthem (cause we’ve all driven 18-wheelers down the East Coast?)

As we enter August, expect us to be cramming in more Bucket List updates in the near future (as soon as Cody gets his wisdom teeth out…),


A Week of Music

August 1, 2010 - One Response

There is nothing I love more than music.

I’ve been singing ever since I first discovered the movie Sister Act as an impressionable 5 year old and have since dabbled at playing the piano, the french horn, and the ukulele (now if that doesn’t sound like the makings for a fantastic band, I’m not sure what does), so whenever there is a chance to experience live music, I’m always game, so you can imagine my joy when this past week, in both expected and unexpected ways, I found myself surrounded by musicians in all of their zany and talented glory.

These experiences included getting to see performances by Low Anthem, Swell Season, and The Jubilee Family Band and getting to perform myself (with Audrey, of course) at the Farmer’s Market.

The Low Anthem & Swell Season Concert

This past Wednesday, Olivia, Syd, Ryan, Audrey and I went to the Flynn theater in Burlington to see Swell Season (a band which is made up of the groovy stars of the movie Once and assorted other people). And let me tell you..

It was amazing.

Not just in the, “oh..that was worth $35! What a pleasant experience” but in a “oh my GOD WHAT WAS THAT DON’T STOP DON’T STOP DON’T STOP” sort of way that makes you remember why you love music- especially live music. There is something raw and unpretentious about both groups, which makes the experience all the more genuine. Having entered the theater not knowing who The Low Anthem was and having only watched the movie Once once (pretty proud of that word play), I left a devoted fan, nay, a devout follower of both groups.

As my friend Olivia put it, “They [Swell Season] are just so… AHHHH”

The Jubilee Family Band

This pretty much sums up what The Jubilee Family Band is all about. A group of students from Bennington College singing and traveling together throughout the New England area, The Jubilee Family Band, with each performance, attempted to bring together a collective of shared experiences, art, performances, stories, etc. in an effort to make all of their shows a collaboration between the audience and themselves.

And I will be the first to admit that I was more than a bit skeptical about what their show would be like. Bennington has the reputation for being just a tad hippy/crunchy, so I had no idea what to expect.

But it turned out to be really awesome.

There is something really refreshing about a group of kids performing not just because they enjoy performing, but because they really want to share their music and have it impact others. The intimate setting (an apartment in Middlebury) made it all the more fun, and by the end I wanted to join the family! Not to mention that two of the group members stumbled upon two famous German hip hop artists that the German School flew here for a concert on the streets of Middlebury and proceeded to invite them to perform with the Jubilee Family Band.

Also, you can go to this link to hear some of the music performed by members of the Jubilee Family Band.

Audrey & The Uke

This past Saturday Audrey and I performed at the Farmer’s Market in town. More to come on this later, including videos and photos!

All in all, it was a week full of joy, saw-playing band members, crazy hippies, and sweet melodious music.

Until the next concert,


Whistle While You Research

July 26, 2010 - One Response

Every College Guide book will tell you that at any small liberal arts college in New England (read Middlebury), research opportunities abound. The Middlebury College website itself says that, “Middlebury offers a huge array of research opportunities for undergraduates in all disciplines,” but as a prospective student (interested in Psychology, nonetheless) I always doubted whether or not there were real opportunities for research at any of the colleges I was visiting.

Tour guides and admissions counselors alike would talk about how ‘easy’ it was to do research and I even find myself telling tour group attendees that all they need to do in order to secure some form of research is to  show interest, but how true is all of this? Is it really that easy to work alongside professors and even maybe someday be published in a research periodical before you can legally drink (which would be especially impressive if you lived in Fiji apparently)?

The short answer is: yes. During the Summer here at Midd, for example, over 200 students are doing research work in every science department offered here at Middlebury. To give you an idea of what some of that work includes I did some researching (oh hardy har har) on the Middlebury website and found a section devoted to students who have done summer research at Middlebury. One of the students, Tyler Prince, discusses what his research entailed:

What was your summer research internship?
I spent the summer with another Middlebury Jr. in Professor Mark Spritzer’s lab. Mark’s research entails the effects of hormones, mostly androgens, on spatial memory and neurogenesis. So, throughout the course of 10 weeks, we, as undergraduates, were able to excercise skills such as hours of spatial memory testing and other medical procedures. It was unbelievable getting to exercise skills I may not use again until I’m in medical school. Professor Spritzer’s research is targeted towards the treatment of depression and Alzheimer’s. Through the stimulation of certain neural pathways, clinicians may eventually be able to radically alter the pathophysiology of a host of neurogenerative diseases.

Scientific jargon aside, I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful opportunities offered to Midd Kids in all sorts of academic areas. This summer, in fact, my friend Whitney and I are doing research with our FYS (First Year Seminar) adviser Professor Kimble in the Psychology department, exploring the causes and effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It’s been a great experience thus far and has, at times, made me forget that I’m really just a rising sophomore in college, because I’m working alongside a professor who has been doing really great research work for years.

Sounds like an excerpt from a Princeton Review book, eh?

Until the next rat gets injected with hormones,



Because, honestly, who doesn’t love Ke$ha? :

From Midd to the Mid-Atlantic: Things I Missed

July 21, 2010 - 2 Responses


That’s how the jokes goes. Freshman name their first college facebook albums after it. And it’s probably the biggest worry of prospective students: how do I stay connected to the world in rural Vermont?

To tell the truth, I’ve never felt isolated at all here in Middlebury. Sure you have to drive a little ways to get to a major city (if you even consider Burlington a major city). But that’s all part of the appeal right?

It certainly has been for me. There’s nothing better than one of the “effortlessly Vermont” weekends Cody and I talk about. And with a computer and an active RSS feed featuring the New York Times, I never thought I had a problem staying connected to the “outside world”.

Wrong. What I felt upon my first return home since March was nothing short of genuine culture shock. I’m sure Cody would agree after his report on the wonders of day-time television and 12 hours of sleep when he returned home to Texas. But to me, differences in recycling, partying, and scenery weren’t the most surprising thing about my return to the Mid-Atlantic. It was how out of date I was with pop culture.

At home, I might as well have been an 80 year-old grandmother who thinks Twitter is something done by someone with a nervous system disorder. Two examples:

1. Movies

Apparently this is the BEST movie ever. At least that’s what I’ve been told. But until I got home, I hadn’t even heard of it. Therefore, a conversation with a friend would go like this:

Friend: O my god! Have you seen Inception? It’s such a mind fuck!

Audrey: Um…is that a movie?

Friend: Seriously? Yes it’s a movie! Where have you been?

Audrey: Ugh…Middlebury, Vermont.

True story. And while it’s rather common for me to not buy into big movie obsessions (I’ve never seen Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, all the Harry Potters, Avatar, or the Twilights), I’ve usually at least heard of them.

2. Silly Bandz


Really? This is the latest fad? Evidently, yes. At first, I just dismissed it as a stupid middle school trend, although I would dare to say that wearing awareness bracelets (Livestrong, wuddup) at least benefited good causes. But no. I’m pretty sure all of my friends from home (college students might I add) were wearing at least one when I visited them.

I don’t get it. They’re deformed rubber bands people.

Needless to say, I think I’m much better off back here in Vermont; where I can relax, read a book, and look at some mountains. Perfectly suited for my 80 year-old tastes.

Until the next pop culture crisis,



July 21, 2010 - Leave a Response

We only wish we would have written this:

How to Vacation in Vermont

July 19, 2010 - 5 Responses

Last Wednesday, my family made a trek similar to the one shown on the map above, traveling over 1,000 miles from Dallas to visit me in good ol’ Middlebury. They left this morning, heading onward to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, after which they’ll head to Boston and then fly home.

While my family was here, I tried to take them to all the quintessentially Vermont destinations I could think of, sparing no expense in making sure they got to experience at least a small slice of what a summer in Vermont is all about. After their visit, I decided it would  be a good idea to write a post about how best to vacation in VT, family included.

Stay in a Road Side Motel

My family decided that they would stay in a road side motel called ‘Greystone’  for their visit. This was a good call made by my Aunt  because (at least I think) the best way to experience any semblance of authentic living in Vermont is to stay in a road side motel.

They are all locally owned (the Greystone by an old married couple, for example) so the vacationers get to experience the ‘locals’ of whatever small town they’re staying in, which is what all the tour guidebooks always tell us is so important anyway, right? Save the Hiltons and Holiday Inns for when you visit a big city, but in Vermont, as the saying goes, “Go Local!”

Go to a festival/fair in small town America

Nobody does small town fun like Vermont, and, I would caution to say, that Middlebury does an exceptionally good job at promoting the Main St. mentality. By attending a local festival or fair, you can really come to appreciate the culture of Vermont because, at the end of the day, the people and how they choose to party and get funky is what makes Vermont so unique.

Luckily for my family, the Festival On the Green was going on this past week in Middlebury. It was, essentially, a huge music festival full of local and not-so-local bands. My family and I ate it up, reveling in how the festival was able to bring together so many of the town residents (it would be shocking if our home town could pull off something half as authentic).

Get outdoors!

Seems simple enough. When you go to Chicago you eat Deep Dish pizza. When you go to New York, you see the Statue of Liberty. When you’re in Vermont you have to go outdoors. In a state that seems to be covered by huge mountains, rivers, water falls, swimming holes, and hiking trails, it would be a complete and TOTAL shame if you didn’t spend at least some time outdoors while visiting.

To remedy this problem for my family, my brother (who has never been on top of a mountain before-the largest mountain in our hometown of Carrollton, TX is the city dump) and I decided to hike up Snake Mountain. It’s a relatively easy hike located really close to Middlebury and the views are amazing. Overlooking the Champlain Valley with glimpses of the Adirondack Mountains in the background, this mountain had my brother screaming, “The world is ours to explore!”


Go to a Farm

In no other state would I tell you to go see a farm. It would probably be impossible and not very pleasant for you or your family. Plus it would probably be located on a flat plain with amber waves of grain (shout out Katharine Lee Bates).

Not so in Vermont.

The farms in Vermont are beautiful, located amidst rolling hills and lush green fields. Plus, a lot of the farms in Vermont double as educational centers where the farmers/owners use their knowledge of farming and the environment to educate people on how they should interact with their planet.

My family and I decided to visit Shelburne Farms, a beautiful, expansive farm/nonprofit environmental education center located just outside Burlington, VT. The farm has a lot of animals and a lot of events going on (everything from cheese making to goat milking). My family and I had so much fun holding chickens, picnicking on the grounds, and, of course, milking/posing with Feta, the goat in the above picture.

Yes, her milk is used to make Feta cheese.

Clever Shelburne Farms, clever.

If you had asked me a year ago today what my family of Suburbanites could possibly do in rural Vermont during an almost week long vacation, I would have told you that there was no way that we would (or could) spend 5 days in Vermont. But, after a year of living here and having just recently shared my knowledge of the state with my family, I can honestly say that it was one of the most interestingly authentic vacations we have ever experienced together.

And to top it all off, as we were driving to visit Fort Ticonderoga, we ran into this. As my aunt would say, “you can’t say anything about Texas. Only in Vermont would you see a cow crossing!”

Until the next cow crosses the road,



July 17, 2010 - Leave a Response

Sorry for the lack in blogging for the past couple of days! Both of us (me and Audrey) are somewhat distracted at the moment by catching up with family (with Audrey at home in Maryland and with my family visiting in Vermont from Dallas). After all, what’s more important, typing blog posts about the summer or actually experiencing it with those you love?

Don’t answer that.

Expect a slew of blogging to come forth shortly with updates about our separate family experiences, reporting on the Festival on the Green, and other crazy anecdotes about summer life at Middlebury!


Illegal English

July 12, 2010 - 3 Responses

“In signing this Language Pledge, I agree to use ______________ as my only language of communication while attending the Middlebury Language Schools. I understand that failure to comply with this Pledge may result in my expulsion from the School without credit or refund.”

This is the language pledge that all students at the Middlebury Language Schools take upon their arrival at Midd. It’s supposed to be a very strict pledge; it is, after all, where the Language school catch phrase “No English Spoken Here” comes from. Not adhering to the pledge is actually a very serious offense and, as the pledge suggests, you can get kicked out of the program without getting your $7,000 back.


With all the gravity that is placed on the pledge, you’d think that language school kids would be very good about only speaking their chosen language, both fearing potentially-wasted money and getting on the bad sign of the infamous ‘language-school police.’

But you’d think wrong.

Language school kids break the pledge. A lot. And it’s understandable- Imagine if you were a level 1 (beginner) Chinese student, forced to adhere to the pledge. For a week and a half you wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone, awkwardly and, more importantly, silently bearing both the weight of social isolation and a ton of homework. Sounds pleasurable, eh? What I, and a lot of the summer workers have found, is that language-pledge-violators can be grouped into 3 categories based on both severity and frequency of breaking the pledge.

1. The broken down violator: These students are serious about the pledge. They paid $7,000 to come learn Portuguese or Japanese and they ain’t playin’. These are the kids you see pouring over their materials in adirondack chairs, scorning English speakers with their judgmental eyes, reveling in their language’s culture.

And then they crack.

They miss speaking English because they’ve realized that you can only last on phrases like, “Hello, my name is Cody and I’m from Dallas! I like to eat. I like to sing. I like to write. What do you like to do?” for so long. Further, they miss their family, people who probably don’t understand Arabic or Hebrew or whatever language the student is speaking. So what do they do? They run to the English safe spaces on campus (Admissions, Help Desk, Public Safety, etc.) with ‘problems’ that they need to talk about to the employees (for example, going to the help desk and asking the workers to help you set up an email account or open a word document).

Or they cower under their beds, in cars, anywhere that is confined and far away from other language school students, desperately calling family members, friends, or listening to English music. After they get out of their English funk, they hurry back to their language school pals, pretending like nothing ever happened. If you’ve got to break the pledge, this is the way to go.

2. The cautiously-constant violator: This person, like the one above, breaks the language pledge because he or she is feeling burnt out, broken down, what have you. They’re typically a level 2 or level 2.5 student, someone who has a pretty good grasp of the language they’re studying and doesn’t haven’t to try quite as hard as beginners to make sense of what they, or others, are trying to say.

They break the pledge because they want to speak English, yes, but their motives extend far past being able to communicate for a few minutes without intense concentration: they want to hang out, party, and get to know each other (and the summer workers) in a tangible way (seriously, how well can you get to know someone when, all of a sudden, you’re all speaking a foreign language that takes away your humor and personality).

Often times, they know English speakers on campus and decide to, whether begrudgingly or not, meet with their English speaking friends once or twice a week at a designated location for some ‘English-only’ time. In this way, they can get a consistent break from their language and a chance to catch up with their friends. They respect the pledge, for the most part, and are wary of getting caught or being found out by friends that they are speaking English.

3. The ‘I’m in language school?’ violator:Before spending a summer at Middlebury, I never thought that these kind of students existed. I assumed that, sure, people broke the language pledge, but that, most of the time, people pretty much stuck to the language of their choice.

I was wrong.

This classification of rule violator, as you can probably gather from the name, breaks language pledge all the time. And not necessarily for important reasons. It could be that they just want to have a conversation with a fellow language school student without stressing about grammar rules or they want to talk to an English speaking worker, but the frequency with which they break the pledge is astounding.

These are the kind of kids you see every weekend breaking the pledge in an unapologetically abrasive manner, shouting English across streets, daring the language police to discover them. For me, at least, it becomes a question of why they even decided to come to language schools at all; sure they’re learning a lot and are probably being very studious but, at the same time, if you don’t spend your time fully immersed in the language, how can you ever achieve fluency?

Thankfully, all of the friends I have in the language schools here at Middlebury are pretty good about keeping the pledge, breaking it only to spend time with their favorite English speaking bloggers.

Until the next language pledge violation,


Peace out, Girl Scout.

July 9, 2010 - One Response

It is now my turn to venture home and leave this blog in the faithful hands of my pal Cody. I’ll be in Maryland starting tomorrow till the 20th, so my posts will be on the lighter side. Maybe you’ll get an entry on the cultural relativism of the Mid-Atlantic, but I’m not sure it can compare to the antics of those Dallas folk Cody reports about.

For those of you in Middlebury, enjoy the continuing heat and humidity. It’ll be even worse where I am; seriously. But, try not to have too much fun without me.

Much love from the 21903,