Archive for March, 2011

zero to sixty

picture by Claire

Enjoying my cake

Luckily the cake didn’t make Alex or I more sick. Unluckily, Mirra succumbed. The uneaten portion of her cake is sitting untended in the mudroom and I’m contemplating it.

Suddenly, busy-ness came upon us. The macrobiotic course started- and it’s awesome- but it’s like we went from not zero, since we were already a little slammed with everything we have to do for this project, but maybe twenty to sixty. The course is all day, everyday, with evenings free, but no other time to do household chores, etc. So the dishes are piling up and the compost bucket is full and I’m trying to work myself up to doing one or both of them.

We’re thinking about taking a hiatus on walkabout stuff until we meet again in Falmouth- Mirra is leaving the day after the course ends and then I’m going to the conference and then Alex is leaving. And meantime we all have to pack and Alex and I have to clean the house that *sob* we’re leaving. I love the peace of the house, the quiet evenings we spend here, the impromptu dinner parties. The large bed in the living room (for hanging out on) the map on the coffee table reminding us of our adventure.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t made cake with Cirrus one day; I invited Saori to my corner to have some, and then Alex came with her and I gave him a piece and we were talking and he mentioned he was thinking of moving into a cabin and I said I was too and we decided to move in together. And then, suddenly, Alex is one of my best friends and we’re talking and this idea falls out and changes the way I think about my life. And now we’re talking about spending well over a year- maybe two years- together, first working for the trip and then the trip and then writing the book afterwards (with Mirra too, of course) and I’m thinking ‘how did this happen? We were hardly even friends three months ago. Alex (and Pavel) picked me up from the airport when I arrived at Ionia. I remember him, so long and thin, carrying my luggage up the stairs in the hotel. It’s strange how in your memories of people before they are really your friends and in those you form after it’s almost as if you’re thinking about two different people. Ten months ago Alex and I didn’t really get along- ten months ago Mirra and I didn’t really like each other. And now we’re planning this trip. Now, when I’m upset I go looking for one or both of them. It’s crazy. It’s amazing.

I don’t know if it’s all communities, but at Ionia there is a undercurrent of love that sweeps under all of us. I love almost everyone at Ionia- certainly everyone I know well. Sometimes we cuddle on one of the couches, a big pile of us, teenagers and adults and children reaffirming that we’re there for each other. Or when we clean up and everyone’s singing along with the music, moving with so much energy through the kitchen, or when we’re just talking around the tempcast and I think: how could I leave this? I’m not really a social person. My social I.Q. is at around seventy. But I’ve figured out, over the course of my life, that I’m never going to make it alone. So I don’t know what I would do without Alex and Mirra- and I don’t know what I would have done if we’d never come up with this. Because it tears me up to leave- Connor and Sammy and Claire and Saori and Katie and the baby and Juliet and Eliza and Rosie and Ellen and everyone, a little hole for each of them- it tears me up when people leave and when I leave and if I wasn’t bringing some of Ionia with me- if Mirra and Alex weren’t bringing Ionia to me- then I don’t know what I would do.

-Gwendolyn

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Dreams and Cake!

Mine and Gwendolyns Cake

So I’ve been sick for five days now, and from day one I was dreaming about Carob Almond Cake! Finally I got my wish! I broke down last night and decided I would not be sick today, (if only it worked like that, right?) I hope the cake doesn’t keep me sick for another five days.

Yesterday, I got a huge wave of panic/depression because I’m leaving my home in a little bit, always a scary and sad prospect. It started when me, my sister Katie and my Mom were talking about what was going to happen with the house that I live in, the same one that my siblings and I grew up in.  I realized I was going to say goodbye to it and I don’t know when I will see it again, and then I realized the same was true for my family and community. So sad. I needed to get out of this sad train of thought, so I started looking at intentional communities with Gwendolyn and Mirra. As we were reading about them I tried to imagine each one and what it would be like. How do they deal with money? What do they do for food? How do they handle children and schooling? Etc, etc, etc. Then I started to get really excited! I get to see all these REALLY different ways in which communities handle these things! I get to see this huge and beautiful country! Meet tons of new people! It is truly a dream come true!

-Alex

Me and Mathis

 So here I am with Alex’s amazingly adorable nephew Mathis. I was lucky enough to be part of Mathis’ birth (which was incredibly amazing), and I’ve gotten to be part of Mathis’ life since then. I think one of the most rewarding parts of living in communities with children is being in communities with children.

I grew up surrounded by my mom’s daycare kids and whenever I lived or worked away from children I always felt like there was something missing. The way children are separated from adults in the normal society seems so unnatural. They’re such an amazing part of life, and people shouldn’t have to have their own or have to work in the vastly underpaid childcare industry in order to have a close connection with a child.

At Ionia, the children, the youngest ones especially, are really valued. People actually fight over who gets to hold Mathis. One of the reasons I want to live in an intentional community is to be around children and so, when I have my own children, there will be other adults who will want to help me take care of them.

-Gwendolyn

p.s. I cut my hair. This is kind of a bad shot of it- I think it looks kind of like a mushroom but everyone else thinks it’s cute. (Mushroom cute?)

Sickness, soup and stuff.

It’s been a rough few days. First Alex got sick- some sort of congestion-cough-laryngitis-lung thing- and then I did, of course, because we live together and spend so much time together. So we’ve spent the last few days hanging out and not doing much (well, I have; Alex did firewood for the house, which was a bad idea because it made him sicker but a good idea because we’re warmer, at least). Alex has also been cooking for us, because he thinks that the Longhouse meals are bad for his condition (too much oil, not enough soft rice). The upside? I had no idea he was such a good cook. He makes these amazing soups and even his soft rice (not my favorite food) is appealing. I keep half-heartedly volunteering to cook for us and am always happy when he says he wants to. (I do have my upsides; I’m a pretty good baker.)

In other news we’ve heard back from two communities, both positive, and we’re slogging through the lists of intentional communities on ic.org (1882 in the US). We’ve decided to focus mainly on village-type communities, though there have been others that have caught our eye. Only nine or so days until Mirra leaves- she’s really sad about leaving Ionia and all her (or most of her) friends behind. And those nine days are going to be packed- there are still things we have to do together, plus Ionia is hosting an intensive, five day macrobiotic course in a few days, plus all the treats we’ve been wanting to make but haven’t been able to because of being sick. (Pancakes and cake, mainly.) And packing.

And I just bought my plane-ticket. I’m leaving for Boston on the twenty-fourth; I’m going to arrive about a week earlier than the others so I can rearrange the room we’re going to be staying in (I left a lot of junk there) and so I can spend some quality time with my mom. And, of course, start looking for jobs. I’m going to be sad about leaving too, I think, once it really hits. Right now I’m really carried away in this project and so many other people are leaving Ionia before me. But it’s not just the people; it’s the place and the ethics, and the way it surrounds you. And the little house Alex and I have been living in for almost three months, and the fact that you can look outside and watch a moose wandering past, and two amazingly good meals cooked everyday, and folkdancing, and full moon, and the little children, and the homemade clothes and everything. I’m definitely going to be a little bit heartbroken about leaving.

But I always am. I’ve started to think that when you leave little bits of your heart behind you then it actually gets bigger.

-Gwendolyn

New Communities

i can’t believe how many communities there are! i had no idea until we started looking at ic.org. there are a thousand or so intentional communities in the states alone. i guess a lot of them are just getting started or not even formed yet, but still, we are finding out that we have to be very picky about the ones we choose to visit. every day in our searching we find at least one gem of a community. today we were searching Georgia and found Koinonia which is not only 70 years old but also founded Habitat For Humanity. it seems like it’s been through some very real things in its lifetime.  and we thought it was cool that its name was so similar to Ionia, the community we live in now.

we sent letters to six communities today asking about visiting which feels like an accomplishment, although, considering the vast amount of communities we are and will be wanting to contact, it is only a little ding in the work we will be doing. we also started a map of communities and resources. it’s going to be quite a challenge to make some kind of plan of travel what with all the timing between when the communities can have us, which ones we want to be at for harvest, and where we are in the country at any given time.  maps and calenders… lists of communities, lists of  things to do… Gwendolyn and Alex. these are the things that surround me in my life now.

mirra

Me and my anxiety

It’s a day laden with anxiety for me. I have a bit of an anxiety disorder to start off with; it doesn’t help that I decided to go on an adventure that requires me to contact people and ask them for help. We contacted our first community today and my intestines are all in a tangle. I’m certain they’re going to write back and say ‘hah! not in your life! we only take people who have money’ (which is a completely reasonable thing). So there’s that.

Plus I cut my hair today; at least a foot of it hacked off (and sent in to one of those charities that makes wigs for hairless children) and the rest styled. Everyone says it’s wicked cute, but it was quite an ordeal, sitting there listening to the snip, snip, snip with my heart in my mouth. At least I had Mirra do it- I have a bit of a paranoia about hairdressers.

And now, in a few minutes, I have to join a conference call about how I’m going to do a stand up comedy act at the consortium conference in April. Me, do a stand up comedy act. I’m not sure how I got into this, but I’m scared and kind of excited at the same time. Mostly scared. Hopefully this thing isn’t what I’m pretty sure it is.

Things are going full speed ahead; we only really have a week left with Mirra before she leaves on her trip because the week after is going to be incredibly busy. Then a few days for Alex and I to do whatever last minute things we have to do before I go to the conference and he leaves, and then I have to figure out what I’m going to do. I figure I’ll stick around here for a week or so, hanging out with Claire, and then leave to spend a few weeks with my mom before everyone else gets there. It’s so huge, thinking our lives are going to change so dramatically in such a sort time. And leaving Ionia; I didn’t even consider leaving Ionia a few weeks ago until this idea dropped into my lap, and now I’m getting ready to leave it for a whole year and a half. It’s a lot to fit in my head.

-Gwendolyn

Research

Reasearch research research….

Typically mind numbing, and quite often annoying right? For me it is, well, most of the time, but for this it seems gripping and exciting, no matter what I am researching whether it be backpacks or Communities. I don’t know what it is about this journey, but it has me more excited and clear than I’ve been in a long time! I feel like it has given my life some direction!

Alex