The One With Goodbyes

So, yesterday was Closing Ceremony. I have officially graduated the Mountain School and am back in my native Charlotte. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the closing ceremony, mostly because I know I’ll definitely get sad again. But, I thought it would be fun and kind of nice to create a list of advice for the next semester. So, here it goes (in no particular order):

  1. Don’t expect your time at Mountain School to always be great. There were definitely some hard parts that require a lot of motivation to get through.
  2. That being said, you should have great expectations for TMS, because you really will make lifelong friends. That’s not just a cliche they advertise on the brochure. It’s true.
  3. Try to take a walk with someone you don’t know very well once a week. A friend from my semester, Ben G., gave me this advice and it definitely helped me make some new friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have made.
  4. The schoolwork is hard, and there’s a reason for it. You will learn SO much from being at TMS. Do your schoolwork and do it well. You’ll earn the respect of your teachers and that’s really important in such a small community.
  5. If you want alone time, you have to seek it out. This was the hardest part of TMS for me. I really struggled with trying to balance my need for time for myself with my desire to hang out with my friends. You have to find a balance that’s good for you.
  6. Make an effort to become close to your dormmates. Chances are, they are the people you will wind up being closest to at the end of the semester. Make efforts to love them and get to know them.
  7. It’s totally okay to be overwhelmed by TMS. For a lot of the kids here, this was the first time in our lives when we were given full autonomy over our daily actions. There is a lot of physical and mental work, and it’s okay to let your body recognize that.
  8. Help Justin out with brunch at least once. You won’t regret it and it will be delicious.
  9. Find some way to record the memories of your time there. For me it was filming, for my dormmate Losel it was taking polaroids, and for others it might be journaling. Find your way to remember TMS.
  10. Actually try to get to know the faculty. They are some of the best people you will ever meet in your entire life. Go on a hike with Alden, help Liana plant tomatoes in the greenhouse, or help Gwynne find the always escaping rams.
  11. Try your best to not get summitted. It’s not a big deal if you do, but it’s just kind of a hassle. We had some incidents this semester where Summits caused some tension within the school, and it’s not really fun.
  12. Talk to people when you have a problem with them. This was one of the hardest parts of TMS. Usually, if I have a problem with someone, it’s very easy for me to just not talk to them anymore or ignore them. When you’re in a community of 45 kids, it’s not really possible. You have to talk through your issues if you want to get past them.
  13. Jump in Derby Pond at least once. It’ll be gross at first but it’s super fun.
  14. Don’t be scared of Solo. It’s probably one of the only times in your life when you’ll be able to go on a completely uninterrupted vacation for three whole days. You won’t run out of food and if you set up your shelter right, you’ll be good to go. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll read, though. I would suggest bringing 3-5 reasonably sized books with you.
  15. Don’t feel too guilty about ordering snacks and stuff from Amazon. No, it’s not good for the environment, but it’s also important that you’re comfortable. And don’t feel bad about getting packages from family and stuff. My sister sent me Moon Pies (a southern delicacy) and it turned out to be a great comfort food for me.
  16. Prioritize your sleep. You will need it here. You spend roughly eight hours on schoolwork (in class and homework) and about three hours doing hard physical labor. It is incredibly rewarding and so much fun, but very tiring. Take advantage of naps and sleeping when you get the chance.
  17. Try saying “yes” to things. During Final Reflections, this is something a lot of people said they wish they had done more. If someone asks you to go on a walk, say yes. If someone asks you for help splitting wood, say yes. You never know what kind of opportunities this will bring.
  18. Don’t wait to do your Science Site obligations until the last minute. Also, you will probably hate your science site by the end of the semester, and that’s completely okay.
  19. Take advantage of the fact that there’s no wifi in the dorms and read the books from the library, or journal, or talk to your dormmates.
  20. Take advantage of the 350+ acres of woods you have at your disposal. Go on adventures through the forest (but don’t forget to sign out first).
  21. Write letters to important people in your lives. I didn’t get to do as much of this as I wanted to, but I really wanted to be able to send letters to my favorite people.
  22. Remember to be appreciative and grateful that you get to be there. You are one of forty five who were selected among hundreds of intelligent, deserving students to be there. Remember to be thankful for that.
  23. Be appreciative of your classmates. If your semester is anything like mine, they will be some of the best people you will ever know. Love them and be grateful for them.
  24. In the words of Pat Barnes, get to know the place. This place will remain special to you throughout your entire life. It’s so special that alums come back and hold their weddings there. Cherish it for what it is.

Well, that’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure I’ll add to this list throughout the next couple of months. But that’s it for now. Thank you for taking the time to keep up with my adventures at TMS. I don’t plan to stop posting on this blog any time soon; the posts just might be a little less TMS-centric. And to the next semester, I wish you all the luck in the world and hope you discover the infinite adventures that this place can provide for you.



The One With The Moms

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody! Make sure you call your mom today and tell them how important they are. And if you don’t have a mom, just call any woman or man you know that’s been an inspiration. I love days like today because I just get to remind myself how amazing my Mom is. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I love you to the moon and back!


The One With Solo

Hey everybody!

Sorry I’m so late writing about my experience in the wilderness, but things have been pretty hectic since I got back. I thought I’d take some time during my free period today to update y’all on the goings-on of TMS. First off, Solo was absolutely incredible. I honestly can’t reiterate that enough. We packed up all of our gear and headed to Mt. Moosilauke very early on Sunday morning and I got to my site at around noon. I was one of the kids closest to base camp (where the two faculty members stay) because I had a head injury last week that we were concerned could’ve developed into a concussion (it didn’t and I’m 100% fine!). Our sites were spread out about a mile along a beautiful creek, and the landscape was absolutely marvelous.

I was never really nervous about being alone in the woods. The alone part I can handle expertly. I quite enjoy being alone. I love my friends and I’m grateful for them, but sometimes after I’m with a lot of people for an extended period of time, I grow very tired and I need to recharge, which is exactly the opportunity in Solo that I was hoping for. I was also not really afraid of the environment, which was lucky. I grew up being pretty comfortable in the woods, so I was never really scared about anything attacking me or climbing into my shelter during the night, which I’m incredibly grateful for. Also, I love falling asleep to the sound of the woods, so I lucked out in that department, too.

Alden, our headmaster of sorts, told us the day before Solo that we shouldn’t expect too much out of it. He said that we needed to be prepared to go on Solo by not expecting ourselves to have great epiphanies or write the next great American novel (to my disappointment). However, I did actually take his advice, and I’m so glad I did. I wrote a lot in my journal for class, and also for me, but all of it was just stuff I had been thinking lately. None of it was too deep or philosophical. I read a bunch of books and let my mind drift away. I sat and stared at trees. I saw an owl’s nest and watched it fly over my tarp on Monday night. I made messages out of rocks by the creek. I wrote letters to family members and to the student who will have my room next. I carved a lightsaber out of a pretty big tree branch. It was beautiful and wonderful and I can’t express how glad I am to have participated in it.

I didn’t take any pictures on Solo, which was just a personal decision. I kind of wanted the memories of Solo to remain mine. I have my journal and my memory to preserve those moments. After talking about how amazing Solo was, though, I do need to stress how awesome it was to head back to Mountain School after three days, too. That shower was the best shower I’ve had since I got here, and I finally got to eat something other than ramen noodles and bagels, which was nice. While the ten of us were crammed into a van and reeking of body odor and three days of no showers, my friend Losel pulled out her guitar and played and we all laughed and sang along. Those are the kinds of moments I look forward to here. You can’t trade those for anything.

Anyway, I had an amazing time. I’m hoping to write more soon, especially as the semester closes (I only have four weeks left and I already can’t believe it). However, AP Tests are coming up, so I’ll probably be fairly busy studying for those. Videos are scheduled to continue going up as planned, though, so keep an eye out. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my long, laborious posts on here. By the way, my friend Izzy says hi. Okay, I have to go participate in English now. Live long and prosper, my friends.


The TMS Week 8 Video

New videohhhhh!! Now, unfortunately, I won’t be posting a video this Sunday because Solo got moved due to unprecedented amounts of rain and potential flooding. I will now be gone from April 26-29. But never fear, there will be another one on next Sunday!


The One Where I Preemptively Apologize

Hey, y’all!

I’m apologizing in advance because, alas, there will be no video going up today. It will go up on Tuesday, hopefully. My goal is to postpone it as long as possible since I will be away from Wednesday to Saturday for Solo. Solo is a time when we go off into the woods (in a designated spot) and interact with ourselves and with nature for three days and three nights. Don’t worry, there are about a billion precautions in place to make sure that we’re safe and okay, and we have to check in with the faculty twice a day. The likelihood of my being eaten by a bear is virtually non-existent. However, I am holding out for the hope that I may be able to see a moose!

If the forecast serves to be true, it will likely rain the entire time we’re on Solo, but I’m still pretty excited. We had an “Overnight” a few weeks ago when we were divided into small groups and we camped together on different parts of campus, mostly to prepare us for Solo. I really like sleeping in the woods. I don’t usually get nervous or anything, which I’m grateful for. But, honestly, maybe it’s the “earthy crunchy granola nerd” (thank you, Mom, for the nickname haha) in me, but I’m honestly so psyched about this trip. I mean, how many times in your life do you get to be alone in the woods for three days with no technology and just you and your thoughts? It’s a rare opportunity that I’m incredibly excited about taking advantage of. Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally be able to get an idea for that novel that will cause me to become a national bestseller or something.

Speaking of writing, I met with a college counselor this week. A bunch of them came up to TMS to help us all figure out what we want to do with our lives. Mine was an incredibly lovely woman who reassured me that yes, even though I’d like to do something with writing, I probably won’t wind up having to live on my mother’s couch until I’m forty years old, which is a good sign. I’m painstakingly aware of the difficulties of being a writer, and I also understand that the occupation almost entirely goes against my rational, practical moral code. But I do love it, and I don’t know if I can picture myself doing anything else. Oh, and as a message to the family members whom I know will ask–no, I do not know where I’m applying to yet. And yes, I will be sure that I apply for every scholarship I’m eligible for. But I promise to let y’all know when I figure things out.

So, with Solo coming and everything, this is probably the last time you’ll ever hear from me (JUST KIDDING MOM IT WAS A BAD JOKE AND I REGRET IT). Anyways, thanks for reading this, and I’ll hopefully upload the video on Tuesday!


The One With the New Puppy!

So, while I’ve been away at school, my Mom finally decided to do the thing I’ve been begging her to do for three years now. So, we got a dog! He’s a one year old mutt of sorts, and I can’t wait to meet the little guy when I come home in May! He’s adorable. So, without further ado, please welcome Scout to the family! Also, keep your eyes out for a video up later today. It features a lot of adorable baby lambs.


Photo by Chris Jones.

The Return

Hey, everybody!

Yes, I left the beautiful, 72 degree weather of my hometown for the “slightly” less temperate weather of Vermont. However, I came back to find that THE SNOW IS MELTING. I CAN SEE THE GROUND. So much has happened since the last time I posted, and I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as much as I regularly do, but life here is incredibly busy all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible type of busy. I’m also really working on just allowing myself to live in the moment and go outside and stare at trees and hike and hang out with friends. This is an experience that not many people get, and it only lasts for four months. I think being home definitely made me remember that.

Being home was amazing. I definitely needed time for a break (even though my break wasn’t all that relaxing). It was so good to see my family, my cat, and my friends. It was good to drink sweet tea again. The only thing I didn’t like was how often people used their phones. At the risk of sounding incredibly pretentious, I think Mountain School has definitely changed my attitude, and my need for, phones. I don’t like the fact that people at home can’t live without them. There’s a definite difference in the quality of conversation with people. You actually look into another person’s eyes to communicate, and you have to be all that more aware of what they’re saying. Conversation is an art form and skill that I always admired my mother for. Her fluency in conversational etiquette was a skill I could never quite master. However, being at TMS has forced me to become better at it, and that’s something I don’t want to take for granted.

I got to see my best friends over the break, which I was elated about. My classmates here are absolutely awesome, but my friends at home know me better than anyone and have endless ways to make me laugh. Their company is something I never quite get tired of. Being with them kind of reminded me of how much I miss them, which sort of made it harder to leave. I know they’ll be waiting for me when I come home, though (hopefully with a bag of Salsarita’s).

While I was home, my mother told me that she has noticed a change in me since I left. I thought about that a lot over break. I’m a pretty self aware person, and I couldn’t understand how I could change without myself noticing, especially in the course of six weeks. I’m still not sure which parts of my personality she thinks have changed, but I hope to maybe figure it out in the next few weeks.

The most emotional parts of break probably revolved around my siblings. With my brother, it’s hard knowing that I can’t be there for him when he’s going through hard times, or there to congratulate him when he does amazing things. He’s my twin and we share a bond that’s almost unbreakable, no matter how different we may be. I think he’s doing okay, though, and that makes me happy. I also saw my sister for what might be the last time until Christmas, which is scary to think about. I’ll miss her college graduation in May, which isn’t ideal, but she knows that I am so, so, so incredibly proud of her. She truly is the best sister a girl could hope for. Leaving my siblings to live our own separate lives was hard, but it’s an eventual necessity, anyway. It doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun when we are together.

Being back is amazing and it’s reminding me of all the fleeting moments that are passing me by in these short four months. I’m going to definitely try and take advantage of each day that I have at this weird, awesome, hectic place. By the way, my video camera was a little lost over Spring Break, but I finally got it back yesterday! Unfortunately, this means there won’t be a video up until next Sunday. It could potentially be Wednesday, but that’s only if I can get myself together. Anyway, thank you for reading this long, rambling diatribe. I shall post again soon.