Somerville Skillshare

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Intro to Salsa at Somerville Skillshare 2014

It’s not everyday that one gets the privilege of attending the first of something. Especially an explosively popular and successful first.

Dancing salsa at skillshare

After six or more years participating in and teaching (on occasion) at the punky, funky, and deliciously grass-roots Boston Skillshare, I pretty much became an acolyte of this unique form of community-based learning. If you’ve met me in person, chances are you’ve heard me proselytize about skillshare’s virtues. Chances are even better that I actually dragged you to one.

I’ll just go ahead and state it: skillshare changed my life.

Don't just make art sign

Sketching out my skills

Putting marker to banner

When I caught wind of Somerville’s inaugural attempt at bringing community-based instruction to the DIY-hungry masses, you know I signed up right away. And by “right away,” I mean if a tornado had touched down at that moment, flinging me and my laptop to the sky, I’d have been no less likely to jab the “register” button.

I sure do love me some:

  • Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something!
  • Investing and Stock Market Principles
  • Intro to Digital DJ’ing

I mean, how can anyone resist:

  • Brew Like a Barista (missed it! too full)
  • Felted Orbs (missed it! too full)
  • Intro to Parkour
  • Link Stitch Bookbinding (missed it! at parkour)

See what I’m saying?

make something folk

thanks to everyone tweet

You’re going to come next year, right?

Skillshare door prize

Door prizes rock

(Also, I kind of “won the skillshare.” Thank you, Skillshare organizers!)

Holi Color Festival, Boston

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Ask me a week ago, and I wouldn’t be certain exactly what a holi color festival was. The word is less familiar to me than the idea of a celebration where whirls of color are tossed at participants.

Holi colors from the rear

Something to do with India, I’d have guessed . . . a week ago. Something related to celebration. Maybe spring. Maybe love.

Phoebe painted with holi colors

At the unlikely location of a bar across from the famous Fenway Park baseball stadium, I discovered a few more of the (American-edition) specifics: Top 40 pop hits, teenagers representing many different racial and ethnic backgrounds, vendors selling spicy samosa, revelers splattered with vibrant orange, yellow, green, blue, red, purple.

David with colors

David with colors 2

The actual activity of “color application” was another mystery, until it was our turn to go through a door into the bright unknown, which turned out to be a dark garage pumping with club beats, littered with empty bags and a dilapidated golf cart. Backdrop to perhaps 100 people, young and not-so-young, vying for bags of sand (“paid” for with raffle tickets that came with the entrance fee, though some people curiously had more than one ticket), chasing and smearing complete strangers with color.

holi dance party

Action shot of grimy, color-filled garage

So what have I learned about the holi festival? Well, it makes for fantastic photos. Also, there’s something to be said for not doing the research, for just diving in and trying something new without the shield of protective knowledge. Sometimes. :^)

Holi color eyelashes close-up

Holi color eyelashes close-up

Opportunity and Community

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Cape Cod beach in winter

I didn’t go to college to bank on the residuals.

The plan (as set by culture/expectations/my own desire to live a “good life”): gain admission to a competitive (but not too competitive!) college, graduate with new skills and insights, find employment that matches those skills (hey, what happened to the insight?), enjoy surprising success and satisfaction . . .  as a writer (easy, right?), give back.

Caro walks

Friends walk through the snowy dunes

The story beneath the story, the unsuspect-able truth? My most valued takeaway from that “competitive college” isn’t skills, or even insight, it’s community. For me, opportunity isn’t about inching closer to a big pool of cash. And it’s not just my craft (writing) that feeds me, I crave and thrive in employment that pays the heart.

My path is a curious one. It wanders.

Christian washes kale

Blue, wooden bowls

Opportunity is that train of connection that leads to adventure. It’s one day inviting an interesting stranger to coffee, followed by a shocking connection with that endures. Five years pass and here I’m lounging in a warm Cape Cod kitchen, laughing with friends made at stops along the way.

A jog through the snowy woods

Ice sliding

Playing together on the frozen pond

Friends tumble on the frozen pond

I often view “choice” as leading directly to “result.” Thank goodness life can be so much less linear than one predicts.

Bunny hat and a basket

Brunch with Friends

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hot potatoes with wooden spoon

I don’t cook.

Okay, so that’s not entirely true. More accurately, I don’t enjoy cooking anywhere near as much as I enjoyed being cooked for. It’s an interesting reverse of how I give gifts: I find much satisfaction in considering, hunting down, wrapping, and finally presenting a gift to friend or family.

knife with parsnips

adam makes coffee

With food though, I’ve been know to put out a call to the greater Facebook Universe practically pleading for someone to invite me over!

Brunch with friends? Yes, please.

three pans cooking

cat paw

black cat on green cushion

mango juice

ladyfriends

Quiet Holiday

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Following a brief, surprise illness and non-shocking snowstorm of tiny, icy flakes, we finally trekked down to Jersey to visit my partner’s family and mine to celebrate the winter holidays.

plant against the blinds

ornament

Some years the holidays are boisterous and busy. There doesn’t seem enough time to fit everyone in.

view into the kitchen

walking in from the kitchen

Other years, quiet. Dinner is skillfully and thoughtfully prepared. A life-long holiday with many traditions is distilled to the heart of its elements. People are missed. Presents cheerfully opened. Tea served.

tea cups on the table

Neighborhood Lights, Winter

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When I was a kid, my mother used to take my brother and me driving to see Christmas light displays around Coastal New Jersey. We especially enjoyed those surprise cul-de-sacs where it was obvious the neighbors engaged in friendly competition.

Bostonside (not surprisingly, I suppose), I don’t see much evidence of this love for the bright and twinkly, for those gaudy challenges to stake as many leaping plastic deer on the lawn as possible. Bostonside, subtley reigns.

lights along the porch

lights on the fence post

lights along the latticework

a string of color lights

holiday light bush

porch lit under the stormy sky

string lights close-up

I guess some might consider these simple strands stodgy, but I rather consider the situation: different folks, different strokes of light.

moon over the jamaicaway

Over the River, Through the Woods

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I’m the kind of person, a city bus pauses in front of me and snaps opens the door, I want to get on. Even if my course for the day is set, and especially if the bus is one I’ve never taken. Where’s that bus headed?

Shipyard Way sign

Around a corner, over the bend, I’m curious to follow the trails other animals (humans included) set. Marked and annotated, paved, tread-bare. Unfortunately, a fall season stuffed with work, personal, and social responsibilities and engagements offered few opportunities to engage in little explorations.

Trees by the Mystic River

This December, I fell sick enough to put a temporary halt to my ordinary dashing about. Days of sleeping and alternating between watching old TV favorites on Youtube and feeling monumentally bored finally gave way to something new.

Mystic River Route sign

We followed the paved Mystic River Route trail along a fast roadway in Medford, discovering, at dusk, an ornate green, metal bridge leading to an old New England-style shopping district, docks on the river, and a delicate amphitheater dedicated to human rights activist and writer Lydia Maria Child.

Over the green bridge

Mystic River at dusk

Over the river poem by Lydia Maria Child

I’d completely misremembered this poem. Thought it was “through the woods” and “grandmother’s house”!

Lane Change

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A criticism I’ve heard applied to sea-change efforts/programs, like Teach for America or the Peace Corps, is that the true aim is not to directly impact the people and places served, but to change the person doing the serving. To drive that individual to action beyond the current actions.

Snacks and tunes

In this sequence, it appears that the people and places that should be benefiting are instead being sacrificed for a mere idea of Greater Good; that far-off star we may never touch.

All those young people out there, sweating towards the unreachable.

And the struggle continues

I don’t share that bleak view. Important people in my life, some whom I haven’t yet met (I’m sure), are out there doing that work, systematically affecting change, though what change they may not know. And while they strive, I continue working at the micro-level: one Feminist Culture Club, one pie sorting, one bike ride at a time.

Lane Change is a new Boston-area group uniting cyclists of color. With a few rides under our belt in the warmer months of 2013, we’re looking forward to what 2014 brings. Perhaps not a sea-change, but ripples of fun, joy, and positivity.

Suiting up to ride

Lane Change group 2013

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