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I live in a world of nightmares and long for a world of dreams…

So often, I think, we humans do what the title of this post suggests. We live in the world we’ve got, where we perceive things as nightmares and droll, dull, and bad, and yet still yearn to live in a place where dreams come true, life is good, and the boring things disappear in excitement and happiness.

Growing up sucks. I’m sorry, but it does. When you’re a kid, your imagination is the center of how you view things. Monsters exist, but so do heroes. If something bad happens, more often than not, there is someone there to direct you to something more positive and shelter you from all the “bad.” As an adult, that filter you most likely had as a kid is gone. Instead, every pain is felt deep, people really do go and not come back, people you love don’t love you back, and the world is a bit duller, the days move faster, and instead of holding onto hope it’ll be different, you start living in this doubt you’ve learned exists.

I wrote a poem recently. First poem I’ve written in 10 years. Nope. Not an exaggeration. It started off as most of my poems do. A simple line that triggers an image. Living in a nightmare…hoping for a dream. Then, as most writers can tell you, the words and ideas took charge and I ended up in a different place than I started. Thematically, it worked. The poem’s far from my best. But, rereading it tonight, it kinda did what a poem should do for me. It encapsulated exactly what I’m feeling and exactly what I’m filled with fear about.

I’ve always told people I tend to write when certain emotions take me over. I’ve been very reluctant to go there this year, as my last post would hint as to why. Growing up just sucks, and the difference between being the writer I used to be and the grown-up writer I am now is not just a measure of skill or technicality. I don’t want to jump and serve the feelings. I don’t want everything I write, everyone I communicate with, and everything I do serve what’s going on inside like I used to. My writing was prolific in quantity then, but I really don’t like it. It’s confusing. It’s angry. It’s alienating, and quite frankly, only shows one side of who I am. I’m mercurial. There’s always more than one side, and it’s about damn time people got to see it.

People get the angry, cranky, sheltered person I am. They don’t see the girl that feels everything everyone around her feels. If you’re hurt, I’m hurt. If you’re sad, I get sad. They don’t see the person who is willing to throw down and put everything on the line for someone who barely glances at her. The person that smiles when she wants to cry. The person that jumps cliffs just to prove herself to the one person that’s never watching. I’m the girl that sits against the walls at parties, watching everyone mingle and instead of being jealous, just enjoys the atmosphere of the room. I’m the girl whose voice muddles with everyone else’s. I’d rather feel than not, and I remember what it’s like when I shut myself down. I could read a book in a room surrounded by people talking among themselves, and feel a part of the book’s world and the people’s world I’m in at the same time.

I’m the girl that stares at stars and wonders who also looked. I like playing in mud and dirt, and I’ve been known to dance in the rain. I hate the cold, but I won’t hesitate to play in the snow. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want help. I want to be more than I am thought to be. I like to travel, even if I can’t go where I want. I love knowing where I came from. I want to see the land my ancestors walked. I want to know every bit of what made me me.

I miss the people that are gone. The same way anyone reading this misses the people they’ve lost. I miss the full heart I used to have when I could walk through a day and just know that this person existed. I miss being aggravated with them. I miss the normal of it.

Nothing’s gonna change with that. They’re gone. I’ve accepted it. I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it. That’s what I am good at. I’m adaptable. I’m Gemini. I’m a Monkey (Chinese astrology y’all…look it up. haha). I can change. I can grow. I get it. But, I don’t like it. And, I think there’s just some things that won’t change.

My love for my family won’t change. I forgive everything, but I don’t forget everything. I’ll continue to put my heart and my soul out there for others, even all those people that logical part of my brain says not to. I’ll continue to stare out the window at night and gaze at the stars, listen to a song 12 times in a row to memorize lyrics that I won’t care about in two years, write crappy poems about crappy subjects that I’ll feel stupid about for years to come. I’ll continue to wake up, go to work, and put on that happy face, and I’ll continue to fall in love as I always do. I’ll still find the beauty in a sunset, or dance in a summer rain. I’ll still listen to the sound of peepers in summer, and shudder when the woodpecker sounds (it’s the Predator, don’t you know?). I’ll love the smell of manure, as bad as it is, and the smell of fresh mowed grass and the cold, brisk wind during a snowfall. I’ll still lift the snow’s weight on a shovel, and I’ll still enjoy the taste of hot cocoa (PEPPERMINT MOCHA FOR THE WIN!).

I left that world of dreams behind me more than a decade ago. That world was one where I willingly left responsibility to the side to foster being “taken care of.” I call it my world of dreams, not because I have given up getting them, but more that they were real then. Truth is, I felt I mattered in that world of dreams, not because of who I was, but because of who I wanted to be. It was easy to pretend, to fill a role, to let that become my focus and my life. I live in the world of nightmares now. It’s not that it’s scary. It’s just…not dreamy. It can hurt. It can bruise. But, it’s real. It’s who I am.

And yet, even so, the dreamer in me hasn’t let go. Maybe she never will. Maybe I’ll never let her.

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Posted by on 11/24/2014 in Uncategorized


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This has been a while in coming…

I have debated writing this blog, but often I’ve shied from saying things I want to say in favor of keeping the status quo and making everyone happy. I’ve really spent much of my life trying to please others so much that I often lose sight of what I really want.

What I really want to do is talk about my sister. It’s been over a month since my sister passed away. That scares me that time has still passed and she isn’t here.

I don’t even know what I want to really say about this event. I don’t know if I want to post about the medical specifics that led to my family’s decision to let her pass as naturally as possible given her condition at the time, or about the feelings left behind when she did finally leave this world. I don’t even know if I can adequately say what I’m feeling, or have felt, since my world completely changed starting September 23rd. I guess what I will say is what I know in my heart, and if it’s coming out in complete disorder, I beg the forgiveness of those reading.

I don’t even remember how old I was when I learned Jaime was different. I was 14 months younger, and practically developed alongside her. I don’t remember a time where I just thought, “Wow, she’s different.” I suppose that is the awesome thing about growing up with Jaime. My older brothers were of an age to notice differences; I knew nothing different. I vaguely remember things of my early childhood. Some of it, I’m sure, I’ve just lost to the ravages of time. Others, I think, got muddled into parts I’d rather not remember. A lot of it, however, was probably the mundane parts of life you hardly remember, and in honesty, that was probably where a lot of my early childhood memories with Jaime lived.

For those that don’t know, my sister was mentally and physically handicapped. She struggled through most of her life with health troubles, enduring many major surgeries that my parents had to be absent in my childhood to be with her for. I rarely remember this absence, lest people think I’m complaining. It was an assumption of normality, I think, with my memory. It was just how life was. But, damn, was she a spitfire. She was fun, and loved to laugh, play, and just enjoy things. She wanted to be in the middle of it all, even if she didn’t fully comprehend the game we were all playing. She wanted to be a part of life, and that was enough.

I suppose the first time I learned Jaime was different was when I noticed strangers’ reactions to her. Jaime could be loud, did often drool, and sometimes knew no personal boundaries. I admit I sometimes noticed this more than I wished I could have ignored it. If not for others’ reactions, I’d probably never had a moment of saying, “something’s weird.” I think I was 12 or so when I first noticed this, and my hyper-awareness of such things led to my own discomfort with myself. I began to anticipate, even if it was an unfair assumption, what others thought.

But, as I grew, I realized that some people just never have encountered someone that could challenge their status quo, and it was more an ignorance than a willful way of being rude that controlled their actions. I struggled to teach people a new way to think, a new way to regard the word, “retarded” and to realize how their casual misapplication of the term could hurt. The best part of growing up was being able to take everything I ever felt as a kid and through reflection, begin to dissect and understand it. Even better, to accept it.

There were so many things I learned in the days between September 23rd and October 4th. I learned that, despite what limitations she had been born and grown with, my sister had a full life, with many friends and people who adored her. I learned that the infectious sense of humor she always showed my family blossomed with those that worked and lived with her. I learned of her unfailing ability to wake every morning with an optimism I envy, and went to bed every night wanting to be surrounded by love and companionship. I learned of resilience. I always knew my sister was strong. No, Jaime was beyond strong. But, I learned of the strength inside of myself. I learned the strength of love and forgiveness. How much hope can hold you up, how far you can fall when it’s taken away, the strength to fight when it’s futile and the ability to understand loss in the most profound and oddly beautiful of ways.

I thought I had been strong when she finally passed. I learned after the fact that I hadn’t been. The awareness of how you remember things, and the knowledge that truth is not just your viewpoint but the shared recollection of an event strikes me as so profound, and I took from that a sincere wish to be even stronger than I could before. This is not from embarrassment or shame. I just want to know the truth. The truth of how it was, and live life in deference to that fact.

At the services, I feel like my brother delivered an amazing eulogy that summarized what Jaime was to so many, but as in all human things, it lacked too. Not out of lack of effort, feeling, or want, but because some things, and some people are just undefinable. Sometimes, you just cannot really say it all. Sometimes, words just fail.

This year was a hard one. I lost many people I had grown close with, grown up with, and loved far more than I could ever express. I realize that as an adult, this is a consequence of life that I will have to accept as more normal the older I get. But, with the loss of Jaime, I don’t feel like an adult or that I’m getting older. I just feel like that 3-4 year old that played along side her on merry-go-rounds, and wrestled with her with my grandfather. Despite all the things that have changed in our lives since that point, that is where I want my heart and love to reside. I want it to sit in the time where Jaime’s differences were not a defining characteristic and the only thing that matter was that she was my sister.

She was my sister. And, that is gone now.

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Posted by on 11/12/2014 in Uncategorized



Posting commencing shortly…minor hiccup in the works.

A few writing thoughts have infiltrated my brain lately, but as I’ve been dealing with a lot of family and work issues (the family issues of which I’ve attempted to write a post about 12 times. No, I’m not exaggerating. 12 is the times I’ve opened the document I started last month), I’ve been reluctant to write in a state of stress and unhappiness.

So, I’ve spent the past couple of months trying to comprehend why things work out the way they do, why I’m obsessive the way I am, and why I wrote poetry as much as I used to. I can’t say I’ve found the answers to those things, but maybe that’s the point. I am a questioning sort; what fun is it if the questions get answered?

I spent last night going through my writing files and digesting some of my poetry. This is a good and bad thing. Good because it inspires me and gives me hope that I’m not a total hack when it comes to writing. Bad in that I regret that I’ve somehow lost that momentum and inspiration I had to just write whenever the mood came upon me. Some of the last few posts here have concerned themselves with writing of the past, and I’ve longed to come up with something new, but failed.

In a couple days, I’m going to work up the courage to write about my sister. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, the last 12 times I’ve attempted to write a post before this one, I’ve ended up in tears and abandoning the document. While I think a facebook post detailing, briefly, the sentiment I feel when thinking of my sister helped say what I wanted to then, as the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, those thoughts won’t suffice. I think I will need to say what’s been swimming in my head, and here is my outlet.

The bonus in all of this comes from the fact that I had the courage to open some dusty files and have those seductive writing thoughts I pushed away. Perhaps this time I won’t lose it so quickly.

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Posted by on 11/10/2014 in Uncategorized


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My favorite, ever…or what happens when Lauren thinks about things late at night.

So, I wrote poetry. Yeah, I used to write a poem a week, sometimes a poem a night. I used to write crappy stuff, and I had an occasional poem come out a success. This is one of those successes. And yes, it’s all me, written by me, you can’t have it, I copyright it, so nyahh to you.

It’s called Peaceful Turmoil. While it was written, my life really was in turmoil. To the outside observer, maybe not so much was going on, but I was still trying to find myself. I frequently point to this poem when I tell people I write poetry. I would argue it’s probably one of my best, and I’m not sure if that’s something to brag about or not.

What I can tell you, though, is that it wasn’t written in anger, depression, or anxiety, despite how it feels. One night, the first two lines came to me, and the rest poured out. It was one of the stronger free writing moments I’ve ever had, and I’m still not sure what my mindset was during it. I just know when I was done, I felt a bit more free than I had before it, and all the thoughts, visions, and scenes in my head stopped. It was done. I wouldn’t see anymore. This is always the one I reread:



Peaceful Turmoil

© 2002, by Lauren L. Canfield, All Rights Reserved.

April 16, 2002

I: Past

The light in the distance is moving closer;
My hand grips the soft, velvety grass I’m laying on.
It’s bigger and bigger, falling faster and faster.
I close my eyes and sleep.
So many dreams and visions inhabit me;
The pain of years long past visit me and depart,
Never to return again, though I cling to them,
Trying to capture a moment’s understanding
Of a heart so defined by hurt.

The visions fade, all turns black,
Mountains of bodies appear, fall, crumble,
With limbs flying here and there like pebbles
Cascading down a hillside.
Dropping into a river of red, they are washed away,
Only to find their destination in the ocean,
The sea.
The souls of the dearly departed beckon
From the sea of tears cast down upon their death
And spiritless, their souls leech onto the newcomer’s
Strong, nubile body so unused to the currents and undertows.
The body swims amongst the decaying bodies,
Gruesome, defiling itself, yet reveling in it,
If only for the cleansing must happen.
Years of watching loved ones die from actions
Caused by my hand have sullied me,
Caked me in muddy ugliness,
And, forced her to swim amongst the ruin,
Damned for all eternity in the pain I have caused.

Particulars resurrected,
Given more chances than some
To make good their past misdeeds
Shrivel underneath the hot, blistering sun
While the waters that fed the ones they hurt,
Draw away in repulsive anger.
Yet, still the souls seek to quench inside,
The ignoble tyranny that binds them to kill,
Destroy, maim, and corrupt the hills of righteousness they dared to climb.

Martyrs fallen,
Dying with the heat of passion
For some higher purpose,
Known only to a god or a king,
And never explained to the happy participants
Surrendering their rights
To be told the truth of what they are.
Evil permeating every thread of being,
Wrapping each body and spirit in some desire
For all that is defined by men writing rules
On things that can all but be destroyed.
Morals, absolutes, fall to the wayside
As another sword is brought up in the hand
Of an opponent so riddled with curses and lies,
His very nature is suspect within his own kin.
Yet, still, his quench is unsatisfied, and the martyr falls,
Willing victim, honored forevermore.

The light in the distance is moving closer;
My hand grips the soft, velvety grass I’m laying on.
It’s bigger and bigger, falling faster and faster.
I close my eyes and sleep.

II. Present

Strong currents pull me along a thread
Woven so deeply in a fabric, and I cast myself a spell,
Reckoning I might make it to leap out of this tapestry
One so horrendously mistook me for being part of.
I stare down at where I come from and see happy little flowers
Woven to look like wind dancing angels,
While my fellow strong spirits pass their time in
Winsome meanderings.
Hard is the lump in my throat, moving down
As it settles in my stomach, I erupt
In a spasm of anger and irrational fear
As I do not wish to be woven in so tight to never break free
From the paradise someone’s mind cast me to be in.
All along the river of time, I cast my net and wonder
Just how many fish this time will appear in my net
And how many more will swim free, unafraid of the ominous spirit
Sitting beside and casting his own, much larger net a ways down the stream.
Feeling quite proud that they lived past my net,
When they are tangled in his, they flop,
Stupidly waiting for him to draw them up
And swallow them whole.
Silly fishes they seem, so free to the spirit who takes them,
Yet, they’re trapped, prisoners in a cell,
They never divined, yet always loved.

And finally, I come to the final painting, hanging on the wall,
Casting odd shapes here and there in some
Panic-stricken landscape that only the artist can see and know.
Some educated art collector will one day stand before it,
Ironically proclaiming the truth of what it is,
While the artist lies dead, consumed by time’s wear,
In a tomb with only his spirit to stand in the room,
Listening to the ironic drivel of the man in front,
Who hopes to make it rich off of someone else’s means.

III. Future

Angelic beauties flutter around their idyllic meadows,
Picking flowers and giving the scene such pretty images
Of happiness, love, faith and devotion,
All mixed with the symbols of hope:
If you do good, little children, life’s gifts will be revealed to you
Upon the death you so fear. So live good, dear children,
And may we shine our smiles and blessings upon you once more.

And yet, still I stare up,
Lying on my back on grass freshly mowed,
And still, I stare up,
Supposedly being blessed by angels above,
Dropping a fairy dust of sort on my silly head,
Which gathers such gruesome images for them to scold me for.
And yet, while I stare up, I see no mysterious truth revealed,
And the light is pulling away, as I realize I’ve been taken from my
Solitary lesson in life’s confusing ways,
And I am forever lost to that which I saw.
I stare up, not on grass, but on sheets,
And I see not a sky, but a white ceiling,
And the light is not a star, a comet, or a sun,
But only the final light pushed over,
As the doctor searches my body,
For signs of struggle,
And removes the grass still stuck under fingernails,
And sighs as such a young one was consumed
By so cruel a fate.

I stand over him and smile, walk on my way,
And whistle.
The visions plague me no more.

I am free.




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Posted by on 08/08/2014 in Uncategorized


Not so random random thoughts on Christmas.

So, yesterday was Christmas. Everyone seems to get a little batty in the weeks leading up to this holiday. Scrounging up all the money you can to purchase gifts so you can give them to people, worries over hosting Christmas family banquets and negotiating schedules seem to drive even the most mild mannered person into a frenzy. People frequently exclaim how fast the holiday is coming, though it’s truly not any faster than any other year. The inevitable sigh and new frenzy to make New Year’s plans begin. 

I like Christmas. Of most memories I have, Christmas and Fourth of Julys probably reign supreme as the “best.” Many more positives, fewer negatives. I like Christmas because even though I’ve grown to adulthood, I’ve still managed to hold a bit of the childhood wonder over the idea of Santa and the other magical gifts Christmas could bring. I have a few required items to make Christmas Christmas. Some of my Christmas random thoughts/memories for you:

1. I Need my smelly-thing. I know, sounds like a horrible thing. I assure you, it’s pleasant. My mother bought wax potpourri figurines for each child and gave them to us as adults. Mine happens to be two children kissing under a wire held mistletoe over a stack of presents. After all these years, the fragrance is still pretty potent. It goes on my stand in the living room every year. It’s not Christmas until I smell that figurine as I walk into a room. I actually exclaim, “It smells like Christmas!” because, well, it does!

2. I have to watch a minimum of four movies before Christmas is over. They are: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, White Christmas and Scrooge (the musical version with Albert Finney). For one, I watched these with my family growing up (and A Christmas Story was watched by us well before it became a day long marathon on TV), and thus share memories of us all narrating and repeating the lines. It’s also just not Christmas without them.

3. I remember Christmas eve parties with my family. We’d usually host, and my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins would come and we’d all eat way too many chips, dips, cookies, snacks, and top it all off with way too much punch. We kids would be louder than loud, invariably my grandfather would flip someone off (usually whomever held a camera or camcorder), and I would actually get to stay up late. When everyone left, and my parents would want us to settle down, I frequently remember White Christmas playing on the TV. If we were good and it wasn’t too late, we’d get to stay up and watch the end of it before rushing off to bed for the magic of “presents appearing” to begin.

4. My sister, who demanded “Tree” whenever we’d have it set up, sometimes was the first up and out. One Christmas, she managed to be the last one out. This was unheard of as there were two college aged guys in the house at the time. She was hilarious to watch open presents: usually she forced one of my older brothers to start playing with every single gift she got unless they were clothes. Then, she’d look at them, grab them out of the boxes, and throw them over her shoulder. 

As I’ve gotten older, Christmas has really changed for me. For the last near decade, I’ve been one of the many who work the holiday. Only one year in my current employment have I not worked it, and that was last year. There is a different perspective to gain when you look as one who literally “Schedules” Christmas versus as a kid, Christmas kinda  just comes to you.  Probably the closest I got to Christmas of memory was actually observed on Sunday, and I happened to be missing a brother and his family at that time. I still enjoy it, but a little part of me misses being all together. 

I worked yesterday, so I spent my morning there. It’s not as bad as one thinks. Sure, I’m working, but usually everyone is in such a good mood because it is a holiday.  This year, I also found out how appreciated we are. I had a customer buy my coworkers and I flowers for working the holiday. Often, I was thanked for being there. I heard several say, “It sucks you have to the work the holiday.” Our only response was, “If we didn’t, you couldn’t come and get what you’re here for.” Often, I think, that’s forgotten.

One of the big hullabaloos this year was that retailers were making associates work Thanksgiving to boost sales. Yes, it does kinda suck that when in retail and service industries, you usually end up working holidays. But, to be honest those who bemoan this corporate greed: If you didn’t shop, they would take advantage of it and extend hours, thus making those employees you feel bad for work. It all ends up to the statement in the above paragraph. If someone wasn’t working, there wouldn’t be someone to be there for what you need. While retail is an unessential service (unlike medical, law enforcement or public safety positions), the only reason stores started having hours at these times was because the overall public necessitated it.


But think people: For every outcry you make on behalf of retail associates, remember they aren’t the only ones working. No: Cops, doctors, paramedics, nurses, fireman, and dispatchers also report to work, and their job is far more important to the public good. They do not ask people to bemoan their predicament. They accept it. It’s part of the profession, and truly, they are the ones we should salute for working holidays. Not the people like me who, if the businesses wanted, wouldn’t need to be open the holidays. We need the emergency providers. 

I really don’t know where I’ve gone or where I’m going with this post. I guess a lot of it was wallowing in my brain as I worked yesterday. I guess where everything stems from is that some of the magic of  Christmas I recalled above is very diminished now because everything has to be so scheduled and determined. Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas this year. Here’s to hoping 2014 changes all that.

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Posted by on 12/26/2013 in Uncategorized


Just an opinion…

(Note: This was written over several nights, mostly due to the fact that I work a changeable schedule and got too darn tired to write it in one go. While I don’t think it’s perfect or expresses ALL of what I wish I could say, I do think it’s a good consensus. For further background outside of what I already gave: I work at a local business sometimes influenced by the college, I know some law-enforcement officials, and I also spent an evening listening to the actual scanner this night. So, what I report isn’t what was rumored, but what I know to have been.)


Disrupting the scheduled programming for writing discussion with a little opinion drop on something that’s hit local, state, and even national news over this past weekend.

I’m writing a little removed from it because I did want to decide exactly how I felt about things I continue to read about after the fact. A lot of what I realized is that the nature of media and culture is a lot different than 12 years ago. To be fair, I’ve had to consider that a little when composing this because I think the massive amount of social media technology we have does lend itself a bit to the exposure every moment of this last weekend got.

I went to a SUNY (State University of NY) school in what’s now kinda my hometown, Cortland. Cortland’s kinda known as a school for teachers, and it’s actually a pretty good school if you apply yourself. It also has a reputation as a bit of a party school, and it’s not undeserved.

Back when I was in school, drinking Wednesday nights through Saturday nights was the norm. Monday and Tuesday were about the only day you’d see students consistently in class. There were two big parties, Cortaca and Block Party, and Block Party was actually the more “known” of the two. In fact, I don’t recall too much talk by classmates about this infamous rivalry game that turns into party central. Maybe that’s because I never was the party girl (I hate crowds, loud/dumb people), and I actually didn’t truly drink until I was 21 (The Untruly might be for another entry…haha). I know, atypical college girl.

For those uninitiated, Cortaca is a longstanding rivalry between Cortland’s Red Dragons football team and the Ithaca College Bombers. Cort (Cortland) aca (Ithaca). Get it? Okay, it’s longstanding (like 50+) years, and somewhere along the way, a Cortland captain bought this ceramic jug to serve as a trophy for the winners. Up until the 80s, game scores and winners were written on the jug bought, and when it became too full, another was purchased for the next bunch of games. For the last four years (including 2013), Cortland has held the jug; it is the first time since the 50s that they’ve held it that many years in a row.

Block Party was a massive drinkfest held in the Spring right before finals. People poured into a local street, close to downtown and the college, and basically drank, acted dumb, drank some more, and oh, yeah, imbibed alcohol. Every year, the party grew bigger, with people coming in from neighboring schools and the actions of the individuals getting drunk (cause, we all know what some drunk people can be like) escalated to the point where local Cortland residents, who, ya know, live there year round and have families, jobs, and property complained and did something about it. Rules were made, block party was shut down.

By the time Cortaca really hit my awareness, I was well out of school. I think the absence of the Block Party made it all more essential to the SUNY Cortland culture to emphasize the Cortaca to the point it became this weekend.

Look, I’m not a prude. I may have been a goody-two shoes in college, but I understood the let-loose philosophy of my fellow students. I didn’t appreciate it in that I lived it, and frankly, screaming women at 2 am was never an amazing soundtrack to sleep, but it was an expected thing. Back then, stories were on hard copy. Pictures taken on actual cameras with actual film, maybe a camcorder, and legendary stories were word of mouth. Every successive year could be “better” than the last without even being different because drunken memory works about as well as a 2 month old sleeps.

So, get to the point Lauren. The point is…Cortaca 2013 was this last weekend. And, oh boy, was it a riot.

No, really, it was.

Look, Cortland has a big drinking culture outside of the school. The college is not solely to blame for the plethora of bars, liquor stores, and very well stocked grocery and convenience stores. The locals, to be honest, well support the drinking nature of the town. Trust me, the bars don’t close in the summer or on breaks. Enough locals drink with regularity that depending on the college isn’t a “need” thing. It’s a perk, a surplus, and quite frankly, a bonus.

But Christmas type surprises come in strange packages, and red-hued packages are offered up as Cortaca (red being Red Dragons’ color).

Bars, liquor stores, grocery, convenience, and other local shops start planning for Cortaca weeks in advance. They know people will drink. They order to meet demand. Some downtown businesses rewrite schedules to close because they really don’t want to deal with drunken students, but they don’t want to subject paying customers to it as well. Most locals brace themselves. Be prepared for a lot of yelling, a lot of drinking, and probably a lot of trash on the lawn. It’s actually a treat to read the local paper after a Cortaca weekend. Police beat doesn’t even list names, just the quantity of offenses because they really don’t have the room to identify everyone in the paper.

Then, you just hope for the best. You coast it, you survive it, and when it’s done, breathe a sigh of relief that the next one is a year off.

So, all of that is a little background. It’s needed because, frankly, unless you’ve lived through several of these, understanding what exploded this weekend would be hard. Going through it, over and over, reading people’s comments, looking at videos and pictures, twitter feeds and Facebook posts, I started thinking about a whole bunch of crap I really shouldn’t think about.

This weekend, before the game was even over, Cortland State students, alumni, out of town guests and townies (as they’re called) poured out of houses, dorms, and neighborhoods and into the street near downtown that used to host the Block Parties. This street is lined with many landlord owned student housing, but also has a lot of local residential houses. It leads up a hill that connects with some of the streets running through the college proper. It, by default, became a bit of party central, as up to 6000 people just settled in an area maybe two blocks long. Things started getting heated, people were crawling onto their roofs, throwing grills, tvs, pieces of furniture at people below. Some were throwing themselves off.

Most Cortland alumni will now chuckle. That’s pretty normal. People do stupid stuff when drunk. Then, it escalated.

I’m sorry, partying alumni who chuckle at their own youthful indiscretions, terrifying young children, yanking pizza delivery men (who are just feeding party goers who order, no less) out of their cars, trying to tip said cars, and then shoving cars down a hillside into other cars, things are a little beyond a “good time.” They’ve come into the category of, “WHAT THE F- IS GOING ON?” territory. How about all your neighbors, who are tax paying citizens and invest in their city feeling trapped in their homes because your butts needed to be so insanely drunk and raucous the police gave up on policing and just crossed their fingers? How about those porches cars ran into? How about the houses destroyed that landlords now need to invest insane amounts of money in, but you somehow treat as if you own it? Maybe those fences your drunk ass ripped down in neighborhoods because they prevented you from walking where you want? What about those 16 year olds arrested for public intoxication because someone, somewhere, thought it was, hey cool? Or the countless assaults and rapes not reported, but most likely happened? What about those?

The argument that, of the 100 or so that city police managed to arrest were only a handful of students mean nothing. City police admit they gave up. Dispersing an ever increasing crowd became more important than the amount of collars. Does that mean the college is absolved?

I guess my opinion is such: Sure, college means parties. It means drinking, stupid actions, and things one might not always remember the next day. Sometimes, you do stupid crap. Part of it, though, needs to be a recognition that if you expect to be treated as adults who can purchase and consume alcohol, that you also are willing to accept and pay the repercussions of your actions when you choose to do all those things. College should also be teaching you something, too. It’s not just about the ease of alcohol or pot.

Today, we live in an age where every action can be filmed by the tiny camera in a cell phone, whether video or photo. It can instantaneously be uploaded to the internet for everyone to see. This includes our parents, our grandparents, teachers, or even prospective employer. Every bare butt exposed in some drunken revelry can now haunt us forever, and not just because someone was really fortunate to get it on hard copy. Thousands upon thousands of people outside of this small city of Cortland have now seen your ass. Some might even be people you one day want to pay you to do a job.

Now, commissions are being raised to decide what to do about this game this year. My thoughts? It’s college oriented, even if the students have decided to make it party central. So, no offense to my alma mater, but maybe you need to foot the bill on the location, the security, and all that surrounds this weekend to keep it going. Maybe you need to stop shrugging your shoulders that the party culture of Cortland has finally escaped your excuses and admit to be what it is. Drunk people don’t conform to what they’re expected to be without some outside influence. Be proactive. Show this town that you seem to act as if it revolves around you, that you care. Don’t just say it. DO IT.



Posted by on 11/22/2013 in Uncategorized


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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part I: The Idea.

If there’s one thing to learn from being around creative types, it’s that there is no one way to achieve an end. There is no real “right” process to making something happen. It just is what it is. Sometimes, it works for you. Sometimes, you have to play with it as you change and grow. Sometimes, it’s an utter crapshoot and you hate every moment of it, even if the end result is beauty. But, there is never just one way to do it.

One of my friends posted about his process in a blog entry, and I read it, understanding every step of it, and responded in the comments with a brief description of my own. But, even though I thought I was reflecting on my own attempts to create something from a blank page, I realized I barely scraped the surface of how I work.

As a person who has always been driven by her imagination, I end up with a lot of ideas. I’m never short of them. I always tell people that my brain never shuts up. It has an opinion: right, wrong, even hardly thought out. It has a vivid show to give: I’m pretty sure I think in color all the time. It’s just always on. I often lack sleep, especially if I have decided that, five minutes before hitting the pillow, this awesome movie needs to play, all inside a head that really, really needs some shut-eye.

I used to call these ideas visions, mostly because I felt they were coming from some external source. I even wrote a poem about how these ideas hit, and they may not make sense. I might be out at a bar with friends, and this amazing scene just plays inside, and I have to fight the urge to just expound upon it while attempting to be social. I might be sitting by a lake or ocean, watching waves lap the shore, and see a female detective sitting in an office, interrupted by her male assistant who informs her some new client is outside, waiting to hire her for the next big case.

Some writers like to carry a little notebook around to jot down these ideas so they can work through them after the first insight to story greatness shows up. I was blessed with a pretty good memory, and I tend to hold on to my ideas as if they were my greatest treasure. I don’t carry a notebook. I just carry the idea with me until I can play with it.

So, let’s get to that play. Some writers like to outline and plan everything. Some free write, planning to edit and smooth out the story later. Me? I like to do both, and not always in some sense of order.

Let’s take that fantasy novel I sometimes mention. The idea for it actually came from another piece of writing I did. I think it was the first time I inspired a story from another story. During college, I had to write a senior thesis, and I wrote a presentation that was poetry and prose combined. Don’t worry; It wasn’t as confusing as it sounds. I was even complemented by one of my professors on my proficiency to mix the two without being awkward. When I decided to dip deep into a fantasy work, I decided to pick out the female protagonist from this thesis and rewrite her story.

At this time, I wrote every bit of prose in third person. I wasn’t confident I could drive an entire plot from the viewpoint of one character, but with the encouragement and urging of a dear writing friend, I picked this idea, already popping those movies into my head at the most awkward of times, to explore it.

So, I had a protagonist, I had a basic plot, and plenty of visions dancing in my head. I knew the tone I wanted to write in. I wrote.

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Posted by on 11/15/2013 in Uncategorized


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