Tag Archives: Recreation

A Construction Zone Tragedy

Jana: They say that tragedy + time = comedy. In the case of the story I’m about to tell you, I’m hopeful that the saying holds up. This story is a tragedy. This is the story of a tragedy that occurred in my life last spring at around midnight on a Wednesday.

It was April. At the time, I had a boyfriend who had been living in LA for about three months, and was returning to Boston to graduate from college and hang out with me for a month or two, and he was arriving on this very night. In what we thought was just an annoying thing but turned out to be a fatefully awful thing, his plane was getting in at midnight. Would I pick him up at the airport? Of course I would pick him up at the airport. I was his girlfriend, and I was very excited to see him, and I even bought him a flower and drank coffee at 10 PM.

Picture it: I had coffee. I put on makeup. At 11:30 or so, I walked to my car and felt the spring air alive around me. I turned on the radio and drove through Allston, energized by the city lights. Things were going well.

I kept driving. I got on the highway. I entered the tunnel.

Before I continue, I should say that I am really, really bad at directions. I don’t mean that I am ok at directions; I mean that my sense of direction is about as sharp as my sense of smell, which is essentially non-functioning. I’m an idiot. So, even though I’ve driven to Logan approximately 15 times MINIMUM, I was using the GPS on my phone. And when I use the GPS, I like to really stick to it, because when I don’t I generally end up alone and crying and lost in Revere without money to get past the tolls to make it home (I’ve had some bad experiences with fast pass so I don’t use it anymore, and I always forget to keep quarters in my car – it’s a frightful combination of failures). With memories like that, I really try to go by the GPS and do whatever it tells me, always.

So, I’m in the car. I enter the tunnel. My GPS tells me that I’m two exits away from the exit I should take. Cool, cool, I think, as I sing along to the radio and feel good about my life. But wait, why am I taking this exit? Somehow, it seemed like I’d been manipulated to get off the highway too early? What? This is wrong, but I’m gonna fix it before it gets worse! I thought proudly as I swerved back onto the highway.

And then I heard the sirens.

You see, I’d swerved through cones. THROUGH CONES, my friends. Listen to me: under no circumstances should you swerve through cones. You should never do that. Cones indicate a construction zone, and you are NOT SUPPOSED TO DRIVE IN THOSE.

The cops who pulled me over were NOT KIND. They assumed I had to be wasted, because WHY ELSE WOULD ANYONE DO WHAT I’D DONE, and they treated me like I’d just murdered all of their children. I was sobbing, and apologizing, and they were like, this is gonna cost you a thousand dollars, you could have killed someone, etc etc. Then they left me alone to shake with fear and gasp out tears while they conferred about what to do with me.

When they came back to my window, they handed me a $600 ticket. And then they told me I was lucky they weren’t towing my car, and that I should back up out of the tunnel.

Which I did, somehow. I BACKED UP OUT OF THE TUNNEL. I don’t even know how I did it. I thought I had maybe already died. It was fucking horrific.

So, then I went to the airport to get my boyfriend! It was a really joyous reunion in that I couldn’t even look at him because I was so freaked out and he was like, cool, it’s great to see you, and I was like, you have to drive home I have PTSD and will never drive again.

This is me and my car around the time of the incident. It's not the same day, which you can tell because I'm not sobbing.

This is me and my car around the time of the incident. It’s not the same day, which you can tell because I’m not sobbing.

The icing on the top of this tragedy cake is that, a few months later, I received a citation alerting me that I’d need to take a full-day, $150 class to re-learn about driving or my license would be revoked. And you guys – I went to the class. OH I WENT. It was awesome and I’m thinking about writing a “A Chorus Line”-esque musical based on the experience, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Catherine: If I had my old phone, I would have to go in there and retrieve the string of texts I woke up to from Jana that chronicled the incident. I was nervous by the time I texted her back, because I thought that there was real good possibility that she had killed herself. Luckily for BOTH OF US, that was not the case.

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Trekking Through Hell

Jana: School started this week. And this morning, for the first time in a long time, I cut myself shaving.

This experience, and all of the experiences that come with this time of year – cooler weather, moving, change-related anxiety – reminded me of a time, in the year 2004, when I made a weird, bad choice that made me sad and uncomfortable. In that way, it wasn’t unusual, but it still warrants a blog post.

To start this story, I have to tell you that I only got into one college. Despite being a nearly straight-A student in high school, having totally decent SAT scores, and writing an essay containing a whimsical story about my deep-seated feminism, I was wait-listed by my two top choice schools. This threw me into, first, a long session of sobbing, and next, an overly-ambitious period of attempted positivity. I remember just crying and crying, while choking out the words “I’ll just go to UVM, it’ll be fine, UVM will be fine, I’ll be fine…”

Anyway, I did go to UVM. And in an attempt to embrace the experience that was being forced upon me, I decided to take the bull by the horns and sign up for the pre-orientation week-long wilderness trip option, called TREK. Clearly, I did not think this through. In my mind, it was the only way: I had to do this, to make the most of college, to make friends and LOVE COLLEGE AND IT’S FINE I DIDN’T GET INTO SKIDMORE. The rational thoughts, like, hey Jana, you don’t LIKE camping or the outdoors or building trails – those weren’t ones that I had. Not even for a second. I just bought a wilderness backpack and arrived in the UVM gym, ready to go.

This is the picture on the TREK website. Like. Did I think I belonged in this group?

I’ll also note here that I was still dating my high school boyfriend, and we had decided to stay together even though he was still in high school and I was traveling away to Vermont. So I arrived at the UVM gym, wearing wilderness pants and a wilderness backpack and a baseball hat, desperately sad to be without my boyfriend.

The week was like this: I was sad. My group’s job was to BUILD A TRAIL, and to accomplish this we had to hike really far up a mountain, set up camp, and then spend every day doing hard manual labor like moving giant rocks and carrying large pieces of wood. I was the worst at this. Because OF COURSE I WOULD BE THE WORST AT THIS. I didn’t actually speak most of the time, but inwardly, I felt intensely sorry for myself.

I also want to mention a specific element that made the week especially painful. Ok, Listen. I FORGOT TO BRING CHAPSTICK. For those of you who know me, you’ll understand that I keep chapstick on me at all, ALL, times, and apply it approximately every fifteen minutes. When I don’t have it for a day, my lips become weird and gross, with little skin flakes on them that then fall onto my shirts – you know? You know. So, picture those lips multiplied by one whole week. The thing was, I probably could have asked to borrow some chapstick on the first day, but by the time the situation had gotten bad enough that I really considered doing it (I like, eyed people while mentally rehearsing the question), my lips were so disgusting that I knew no one would ever share with me. Or love me. It was awful.

Some days, in the afternoons, we were given “free time” and allowed to go on recreational group hikes instead of working on the trail. During those times, I always, always claimed to feel sick so that I could lie in my tent alone and cry about missing my boyfriend. Those were the most enjoyable moments of the week. I cherished them.

So yeah, it was hell. When the week mercifully ended, we all piled into the van to drive back to campus, and stopped for lunch at a fast food place. In the bathroom of the restaurant, I think that I actually laughed when I saw my face and how disgusting it was. Like a monster had taken over my mouth. New friends? Anyone?

As an addendum, know that when we finally made it back to campus and I got to take a shower, I was overly-enthusiastic about shaving my legs and cut myself so deeply that I had to run to my RA’s room to A) introduce myself while crying and B) beg her for band-aids (she gave me three, which was not enough). As a result of this wound, all of my jeans from that first month of college have a little blood stain on the spot where they touched the cut. It’s a fitting memorial.

Here’s an email I sent to my dad shortly afterwards:

I’m sure mom told you about my gigantic shaving wound. It is crazy, i dont even want to think about how i did that it makes me cringe. I dont think i will shave for a while – at least its almost fall. Oh well. it is healing so no worries, and i put neosporin on it today so it shouldnt get infected or anything.

Happy Back To School!

Catherine: I too have a debilitating chapstick addiction, so being without it for a week is obviously the thing that terrifies me most about this prospect. Not like I wanna quote Leann Rimes, but “HOW DO I LIVE WITHOUT YOU.” That whole song, lyric for lyric, encapsulates precisely how I feel about chapstick.

Can I also direct everyone to the TREK photo for a moment – look at the man in baseball cap, second from the right. Is this really THE BEST picture they could find? Homeboy looks MIS.ER.ABLE. and photoshopped in all at the same time.

And one more thing – for the past like, ten times I’ve shaved my legs, I have cut myself shaving. Including cuts on BOTH FEET from dropping my razor on them. I’m getting worse with age, guys.

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Miniature Revenge

Jana: I had dinner with my parents on Sunday and my dad told me this short story:

I have an older sister – about a year and a half older, but when we were kids it felt like much, much more. There was a hierarchy that existed in all of our activities (one “game” I recall involved her giving me ten seconds to run downstairs and sharpen a pencil. She’d stand at the top of the stairs and be like: “You have TEN SECONDS. GO!” and I’d be like “AHHH” and run as fast as I could, fearing whatever it was that might happen if I didn’t complete the task in time), and this hierarchy was made even more evident when our playing involved other kids her age. Naturally, the girl who lived next door was also an older kid – a year older than my sister, thus making them a team of older kids – and the three of us hung out a lot.

I mostly remember really, really wanting to play with them, and often getting told to leave them alone. But, sometimes they needed me. I think they needed me for situations like the following:

– To retrieve balls that had been thrown deep into bushes

– To play the lower-status person in pretend games

– To be the monkey in monkey-in-the-middle (THIS IS HELL)

– To generally have someone to boss around

Still, I craved their attention, and gladly took on these roles again and again. But my dad recalls that one day, we had all been playing outside until, for some reason, I’d been banished back to our house. So, I was hanging out alone in the “play room,” probably re-reading “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” and blowing my nose. Suddenly, my sister and the neighbor burst into the house. “Jana! Come play with us!” they said. And – now this was a real moment for me – I think I finally knew what was up. They didn’t really want to PLAY with me, they just NEEDED me for some shit job. So I was like, “ok guys, be out in a minute!”, and waited until they’d gone back outside. Then I turned to my dad and said in a whispered tone: “…. I’m not going.”

Catherine: Jana, little Jana, speaking a secret in a whispered tone. This to me must be what heaven is like. I never had experiences like this growing up with my older brothers, I think maybe I was so awesome that they really did want to play with me? Or maybe no. Maybe this is what they were doing the whole time, all along, and this post is helping me to see the light… I choose to live in blissful ignorance.

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Adventures in Summer Misery

Jana: How’s everyone’s summer going? Good, yeah? Does everyone love summer?

That’s so great. Unfortunately, I really hate summer. Summer has always scared me because A) I’m anxious all the time, so the anxiety doubles when there’s no structure in my life and B) I’m not an adventurous, fun person, which becomes much more obvious to those around me during the summer. Any other time of year, it’s fine to suggest activities like going to the movies, reading next to each other at coffee shops, or staying inside to eat. But in the summer, people want to be outside! Every person in the facebook universe has spent the weekend at the beach! Everyone is tan and happy, while I am pale, scared, and sad. It’s a nightmare.

This is true now, but it was also true in my childhood. As a child, summer signified the coming of thunderstorms (definitely a sign from god that something terrible is about to happen, and yes I know most people find them cool and exciting), the end of sitting in class and feeling useful and interesting, and, of course, CAMPS. Ohhhh day camps. Ohhh you miserable organizations reeking of suntan lotion, spilled juice, and tears. Ohh god meeting new people. No no no no no. Please don’t make me go.

But, I did have to go. And sometimes I went to theater camps, which was ok. But one summer, for some reason that I CANNOT FATHOM, my parents signed me up for something called “Adventure Camp,” hosted by our town’s rec department. Why I agreed to this in the first place I really and truly cannot say. Why I did not start screaming at the mention of “adventure” makes absolutely no sense to me now. But, somehow, I was enrolled, and I attended. And it was hell.

I went with my best friend at the time, a similarly non-adventurous and awkward kid. Obviously, we were outcasts from the start. My main memory of this is arriving late, having almost forgotten my lunch or something, and desperately running across hot pavement in order to stand in line while attendance was called, all the while terrified that I’d forget my name or forget how to say “here” or that I’d just drop dead from all the pressure. Once I survived that, it was on to trust falls, in order to build up the group dynamic. This was, obviously, terrible. Nothing is worse than trust falls with a bunch of kids who definitely think you are very weird.

The two-week ordeal consisted of more trust falls, various physical drills, and then a full-on ropes course, including a zip line. I hated and feared every minute of it. But there was one redeeming factor: a sweet, cute, male counselor who took pity on me and joked around with me, making me feel like less of a total loser. One day, during lunch, this awesome counselor was getting everyone all riled up over some mind-game riddle thing he’d told us. It was one of those things where he was like, “I’m going on a trip, and I’m gonna bring a tree but not a forest,” and everyone had to be like, “well can you bring a monkey?” and he’d be like, “not a monkey but I will bring a carp,” and everyone was  like “WHATTTT!” and he was like, figure it out. So, I could not figure it out, but I was having fun participating, which was rare. I got really into badgering him to tell me the secret answer, and he finally did on the condition that I promised not to tell anyone else. WE WERE BUDDIES. It was great.

After lunch, I told my one and only friend the secret riddle solution. And then, she must have told someone else! I don’t know what happened! All I know is that my buddy friend counselor cornered me later and was like, jokingly, “I thought I could trust you, kid!” And I thought: Oh My God, my life is over. I was mortified, and tried desperately to explain that I had really, really, really meant to keep the secret. In my desperation I believe that I almost cried, or potentially that I did actually cry.

Looking back, I can see that this counselor obviously did not give a fuck about this situation. But at the time, it felt very monumentally disappointing and upsetting and embarrassing.

Somehow, the weeks continued. I zip-lined and ropes-coursed and hated it, went to sleep in fear, and then woke up and did it again, until the damn camp was over. I don’t remember how I left things with counselor friend buddy, but I can assume that our relationship was very compromised by my severe overreaction to the weird game thing.

So there you have it. I do not like summer, or adventure, and I cry at inappropriate times. If anyone wants to do something fun, it would be best not to call.

Catherine: Poor, poor Jana. Jana, who hates the beach, but who cannot deny that she actually has fun while she is there as long as she is huddled beneath an umbrella with a beer and a book, and an equally pale me by her side.

SEE HOW HAPPY YOU WERE??!

SEE HOW HAPPY YOU WERE??!

Summer has been hard for you for awhile, it seems? Tragic. I can see that this particular camp played perfectly to your weaknesses and probably caused damage that we continue to see the effects of. I wish I could go back in time to your scared Janaself and tell you to CHILL OUT, but I imagine your Janaself  would just blink in confusion and try to give me a bobby pin.

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Black Thursday, or, How I Learned That Vodka and Beer are Different Kinds of Things

Jana: As school is now out for the summer, I will tell you a summer tale.

It was 2002, the summer before my junior year of high school, and rebellion was in the air. In my early high school years, I was adamantly opposed to drinking. My opposition stemmed from my fear of change, as well as believing myself to be way above that stuff, not needing it to have fun, never wanting to grow up, etc. In my mind, the future consisted almost entirely of me reading on the green of the really good college I was going to get into, and I’d never had any desire to get drunk, even when my friends had casually brought it up as something they maybe wanted to try. “Seriously, I just don’t have any interest!” I’d been known to say when asked.

But on the 4th of July, 2002, the stars aligned. I was on an elimination diet started by my homeopathic doctor in order to figure out what I was allergic to, so I hadn’t had gluten in weeks and I weighed about one pound. My hair had been french braided, which somehow filled me with great confidence despite the extra frizz it created around the edges of my face. And we were at a pool party. People started drinking and I thought, naw. But then, my CRUSH started drinking. He’d always agreed with me about the not needing alcohol to have fun thing, but on this night, as we all sat around the host’s bedroom, he asked for a drink! I didn’t hesitate; I grabbed a beer.

All I know is that I had that one beer and the room got twirly and it was AWESOME. And I was like ok, this is fun, I’ve maybe never had so much fun. EVERYONE had SO MUCH FUN. The night ended, but the summer was just starting, and we all agreed that we wanted to do that again As Soon As Possible. We settled on the following Thursday. My crush himself offered to have everyone come drink in his basement – his parents would never come downstairs!, he assured us. We all agreed that it was a foolproof plan.

Someone got us alcohol, I’m not sure who (later we had regular suppliers, but at this point it must have been a lucky break). But various things were purchased, and we all headed over. It’s important to note that I was wearing cloth track pants on this night, and I was wearing them because I had so severely sunburned my ass the week before, while reading “The Joy Luck Club” at Walden Pond, that I was unable to pull jeans over it. Neither here nor there. We arrived, wearing cute summer clothes (everyone else) and cloth track pants (me), and started to drink. Now, listen to this:

WE DID NOT KNOW ABOUT ALCOHOL. No one had ever told us, in all of our 16 years, that there is a difference in alcohol content between beer and vodka. It just didn’t occur to us! So, while I was randomly lucky in my selection of beer, the majority of my friends were not so lucky. They held gatorade bottles full of vodka. JUST vodka. And they were drinking them. Rapidly.

About 2 beers into my night, and at least half of the gatorade bottles in for everyone else, the inevitable happened: the kid’s mom came downstairs. OBVIOUSLY. Here is what happened next: one of my friends threw up gum onto the pool table. Everyone else, also, needed to puke around this time. We poured out of the little basement door, most of us puking on the lawn and street. I’d only had two beers, or the equivalent of six beers, so I was the most sober, and I tried to collect people into a group. Where would we go? But then, a miracle! A guy who’d graduated two years ago was driving by, right at that moment. He stopped and piled us all into his car! I felt safe and happy, especially because there was another guy with him who I didn’t know and who I thought was PRETTY cute.

The older guys drove us to the playground of one of the local elementary schools. Before we arrived, my friends puked all over the backseat of the car, but the guys were really nice about it. When we got to the playground, we fell and pushed our way out of the car, and by now mostly everyone was crying. Deep-seated angers, dormant before the alcohol, came out big time. People were yelling, and accusing other people of things. I was sort of making a show of helping out (ie, “are you ok? you guys, come back here! you can’t just wander into the playground, I love you!”), but mostly I was flirting with the cute guy, who turned out to be a little bit foreign. He lent me his sweatshirt (to wear with my cloth sweatpants), so I was pretty happy.

In the end, knowing that there was nowhere else to turn, I called my parents. Being kind-hearted, they picked us all up, nursed us, and literally helped to pick puke out of people’s hair. The night was LONG. People slept all over the floors of my parent’s house in various stages of emotional and physical disarray. The next day, everyone was  still sick. Sitting on a bench on Mass Ave, I remember just wondering if we were all going to die.

Here I am later in my drinking life, in a self-taken, disposable camera shot. Beautiful, you say? Oh you stop it.

That summer included other adventures, like a night in which we all told our parents we were having sleepovers and then slept in a field (we thought this would be the best time EVER; in reality it rained and everyone fought and it was like, why did we think that would be fun? Plus my parents found out and grounded me). But in August, as we reflected on our summer of rebellion, the drinking day, a Thursday, was the most memorable. We decided to call the day “Black Thursday”, and the following year it was memorialized in everyone’s yearbook blurb (ie, “Love my GIRLS! BlackThursday, Other memories, etc.”). Black Thursday went down in high school history.

PS. The foreign, sweatshirt guy did call me and ask me on a date to the beach the next weekend. This filled me with such CRIPPLING anxiety that I spent the morning of our scheduled date pacing my house, circling the sandbox in our backyard, unable to eat. When he stood me up (he never even called), I was so, so relieved and happy. I remain relieved to this day. I’m certain that, at that stage in my life, a beach date with a cute foreigner would have actually killed me.

Catherine: What. A. Mess. I only WISH I couldn’t relate to this.

Pipe dreams.

We all have them.

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A Friendship Without Benefit

Jana: As a kid, I did have some good friends – other kids who’d known me forever and didn’t even notice my dirty tapered jeans. But as a kid in new social situations, like musical theater-based summer camps, I didn’t make friends so easily. I WANTED to, of course, but I was terrified. What I’d usually do is find a girl I knew I wanted to be friends with, develop a crush-like obsession with her, and then be unable to speak in her presence. Sometimes, by the second-to-last day of camp, I’d have forged a mini friendship with her, which was incredibly elating! But then camp was over, and with it, the future I’d imagined for us.

There was one such situation, though, that stood out from the others because it LASTED past the usually depressing final day of camp. This was a friendship that, against all odds, went on for at least a couple of post-camp months. It was like this: I met Arianna at musical theater camp (ok fine, it was OPERA camp. I’ll get into it later). We discovered that we had the same birthday, which I was glad that she also recognized as being AMAZING and OH MY GOD! and a sign that we were destined for friendship. We started to hang out at camp, and then the day of the performance I remember being really nervous and excited because she had her mom talk to my mom and set up a play date! This was really going somewhere.

This is what I looked like on the day of the performance. Which offers no answers as to why I had any friends, anywhere. 

But then, we actually had to HAVE the play dates. My memory of these “dates” is that they were just really frightening. I lost all sense of what I might say when I was with her. When I did start to talk, I was so nervous that my throat would close up and I’d start coughing instead. I remember being in her room, awkwardly standing while she sat at her desk, deafening silence surrounding us as I racked my brain for something to say. I never thought of anything.

This friendship was also where I developed my deep fear of repeating a story I’d already told. One time, we were walking through the town center and passed a toy store. I had a thing to say! I told her, haltingly, that I really wanted a personal mini bubble gum machine (WHY did I want this? I DO NOT KNOW). But about halfway through this “story”, I realized that I had ALREADY told her about it! It was one of the things I’d coughed out in her room earlier! It was terrible. She smiled, but I knew I’d made a big mistake.

STILL, she wanted to keep hanging out. Again, WHY she wanted this, when I clearly could offer NOTHING of any value and was obsessed with useless objects, was always a mystery to me. But I kept dreading it and then going to hang out with her. I even went to her birthday party, where all of her friends danced to the Spice Girls and I stood in the corner, not dancing or talking to anyone, wearing a sweatshirt which was decorated with the words “I’m Not Listening” and a picture of a guy sticking his fingers in his ears (one of my staple outfits).

Eventually, the friendship must have faded, which was a huge relief. Recently, my mom and I re-hashed it over dinner. “I remember, I know, that was so weird,” she said. “Dad and I also couldn’t figure out why she kept wanting to hang out with you! But then when you were in high school – oh my god, yes! Now I remember. I read something about her in the paper – that she was advocating for the gay-straight alliance or something as an out lesbian at her school. It made so much sense to me when I read that – THAT was it, that’s definitely why she kept wanting you around. She thought you were gay too, because you looked like such a little lesbian!”

Ah. Mystery solved.

Catherine: I want us to come out with a book only so I can use the title I didn’t realize would be a best-seller till just now – Jana: The Little Lesbian. Bestseller. Stores won’t be able to keep it in stock. Little lesbians everywhere will be crushed when in chapter 13 you finally reveal you like boys, even though it is a complete mystery why they like you. I will play the winning sidekick, coaxing you away from that (actually really awesome) sweatshirt, taming those weird hairs of yours that always stick up. In the climatic final scene (set at the prom), a teacher will ask you to leave, assuming you are from the middle school. I will stick up for you and it will go alright at best, while someone  probably laughs at us and calls us fat before throwing a cake onto our pastel satin gowns. I don’t know. I’m still working out the ending.

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Gimme Sixty Kittens.

Catherine: Not like I think you need any more proof that I am going to be/perhaps already am a crazy cat lady, but here is some fuel for the fire.

This morning, whilst driving to work, an adorable kittencat crossed the road and all was good! But then I noticed that the kittencat had been viciously attacked and was missing most of his/her kittencat tail and the tail bone (literally) was sticking out exposed.

I teared up. Immediately.

My first instinct was to try to save said kittencat, and bring the kittencat to a vet, but Will pointed out that it was a feral cat, and that is just what life is for these cats?

THIS MAKES ME WANT TO DIE.

I am adding a picture of Jones and Maggie, resident cats, in an attempt to not go jump off a bridge in light of the fact that I cannot help or save every kittencat in the world.

KITTENCATS! Calming down..Calm, returning.

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If You Can’t Swim, Don’t Take A Swim Test

Catherine: As a youngster, I went to a Catholic Lithuanian Heritage camp in Vermont. It was awesome. I get that you don’t think it’s awesome, but that’s only because you are judging. Stop it. It was awesome. Except maybe for my brothers the short week they came, when their sleeping bags were set on fire. They didn’t think it was too great.

At camp, every day had a pretty similar outline, with swim time coming after lunchtime. After getting either a soda or an ice cream (it was also a health camp), we lined up with our cabins and walked down to the pond, which had a leech problem. Like, if you went in, you were gonna wanna make sure you didn’t just get ‘leeched.’ The most prominent leech spot was the shallow end, which was also not the cool hang out spot.

The cool hang out spot was the dock. You could only hang out on the dock if you passed a swim test, which meant that you could swim, oh say, 30 feet and back, or some really stupidly short distance, without drowning. And then you had to tread water for two minutes or until the lifeguard got sick of watching your head bop unenthusiastically up and down. I REALLY wanted to hang out on the dock, and for this I convinced myself that I COULD swim, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary (largely, that I had never been able to do so.)

I went at the same time as my friend, Alex, which calmed my nerves (which were REALLY JUST WAY TOO LOW FOR SOMEONE WHO COULDN’T SWIM). We got to the little floating rope thing, me doggy paddling just marvelously, and then I starting sinking (since I couldn’t swim). So I thought Alex would get my back and let me lean on her a little. Well, that backfired when she yelled out (and I can still hear this ringing in my ears) “She needs help!” Oh, good god. For someone taking a swim test so she could hang out with the cool kids, I really needed to have thought about the implications of making the too-cool-to-jump-in-the-water counselor rescue me.  It didn’t make me any cooler, you guys. It made me  LESS cool.

The counselor inquired, why did you take the swim test?? And I probably mumbled, “I thought I could swim… but I guess not…”

Sulking back to the leech infested half of the pond, everyone was staring at me, and asking if I was ok – I wasn’t dead, so just drop it guys. Don’t wanna talk about it. If I were to guess,  I was fighting back tears as I headed back to read my Baby-sitters club book on my towel.

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. So, guys, if you can’t swim – don’t take a swim test. You can’t swim. You will fail.

You can’t tell from the picture, but that dragon is covered in white glitter. This was taken the summer of the incident – 1998.

Jana: Oh, Cathy. Poor Cathy. This reminds me of endless horrible camp experiences (my parents sent me to “Adventure Camp”; Adventures TERRIFY me), a similarly embarrassing swim test experience, and a bad leech experience. So yes, we’ve all been there (or possibly just me and Cath). I forget if Cathy can swim now, but I feel like she can’t, and this story brings a lot of things together for me.

Also, just so everyone knows, Cathy once told me about a “Genocide re-enactment” day that took place at this Lithuanian Camp. Apparently, they put the children into vans and blindfolded them and some other stuff that she’ll probably share at some point. She told me this story while we drove from Vermont to Boston, and I thought she was kidding most of the time. Then I realized that she was NOT kidding, and felt like I should take some kind of legal action on behalf of the Lithuanian children. I have to, I thought! But then I thought, ah well – someone else will take care of it.

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