The Overnight

I spent the majority of the weekend volunteering for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual fundraising walk, The Overnight. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a walk of such magnitude. There were somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 walkers. The course was between 17 and 18 miles.

My first shift was at the information desk/baggage check. So I interacted with quite a few walkers. Most of them were excited, a bit nervous, and raring to go. They came from around the country to honor their loved ones and raise awareness.

The walk started around 8 pm. I left around then, and came home to nap for two hours. I returned at midnight to help put the luminaria out by the finish line. Walkers had decorated white paper bags with photos and messages. Everything from a simple “I miss you” to paragraphs of writing. Volunteers had put a bit of sand at the bottom of the bags for stabilization, and we turned on the battery-operated tea light candles, and started placing the bags. After we placed them all, my job was to stay at the luminaria tent to assist any walkers who needed to prepare bags after the walk. Some walkers choose to bring their decorated bags with them on the walk.

After the walkers returned, the mood was different. A mixture of melancholy, relief, and thoughtfulness. Many were exhausted, walking slowly or limping. Some looked almost forlorn as they walked away from the luminaria tent, holding on to their illuminated bags. There were some upbeat and energetic walkers, however, who seemed happy and content to have done something so meaningful. A hot breakfast was served, and people ate together and talked. Most people waited to attend the closing cermony at 5 am.

That was the only time I cried, at the ceremony. I don’t think I cried because of any specific sentiment…I just felt sorrow. And hope. Hope that the stigma of depression and mood disorders will someday disappear.

What struck me most was to witness the wide range of people affected by suicide. A group of three girls walking for their dad. Parents walking for their son. Friends walking for friends. A woman walking for her husband. A college-aged man walking for his mother. I was stunned to see that some walkers were walking for more than one person! This tragedy has hit some people more than once.

I leave with you some statistics, courtesy of the AFSP website:

Every 16 minutes, a person dies by suicide in the United States.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults in the United States. It is the second cause of death among college-aged young adults.

The Hills Were Alive

Have returned from the land of freedom and unity. My brother Justin and I spent a few days in the Killington and Stowe areas. The short version of the trip is:

Hiked for seven hours straight one day. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the woods alive.

Toasted marshmallows over an open fire in front of our cabin. Heaven.

Went to the Long Trail, Magic Hat, and Von Trapp breweries/brew pubs. Yes, Von Trapp as in Sound of Music. Which I have never seen. Is now on the Netflix queue.

Daisy met us for lunch and a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. We tried Boston Cream Pie ice cream, and also Peanut Brittle ice cream. Unbelievable. Also went to a Cabot store, a cider mill, and the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters visitor center.

Zipped around Smugglers’ Notch as well as Skyline Drive to the top of Mt. Equinox.

Stayed at Ye Olde England Inne in Stowe. The owners are English and were SO kind. The hotel’s restaurant carries 150 beers. The room had cable and I watched a special about Michael Jackson’s relationship with his chimp, Bubbles. (Michael died a year ago tomorrow…I feel like I watched the televised funeral yesterday.)

I still have to unpack…I had a wonderful time with my lil bro. I’m glad that my weirdness still hasn’t phased him a bit.

Pico Peak
Sis and Bro at Mt. Equinox summit

I Am Living in the Wrong Country.

I read this article about maximizing vacations in the Globe today. It reminded me of the fact that Americans get shafted on vacation time. Did you know there is no law requiring employers to offer vacation time to employees in the United States? Well, now you know.

Look at this list of “statutory minimum employment leave” by country. The United States is the only country with zip zero none.

It’s time to start a revolution.

Anavel Caparros

I am indebted to Anavel Caparros. I am going to Maine for a wedding this weekend, but when I return I will be writing her a personal fan letter. I may name my next cat after her. Why, you ask?

Well, her shoe company carries nice, classy dress shoes IN SIZE 5.

This woman HAS CHANGED THE REST OF MY LIFE. I don’t know much, Anavel Caparros, but I know I love you. And that may be all I need to know.