Sunday, February 10, 2008

GORP Continued

Did I not mention before that our retreat was called GORP? It stands for Greenpeace Orientation Retreat in Pennsylvania, because the DC (original) group goes to PA for their retreat. We still called it GORP, although that acronym makes zero sense.

Anyway, today I stole tons of pictures from Kate and Alek and others, because I really didn't take many pictures while we were on the retreat. I was too busy feeling disgusting after not showering for three days. I didn't even wash my face. I know. (Linnea, you're probably so proud of me!) As always, you can also check out my flickr account soon for more pictures from my adventures. Today we went to Fisherman's Wharf and the beach, and I took over 100 pictures. Whew!To get back on track, I wanted to talk a little about GORP and my experience with it. Overall it was nice: We talked about our reading, and we did team building exercises that did not include trust falls (boo on those!). We learned a lot about Greenpeace too. Like I didn't know that when Greenpeace supports legislation they refuse to compromise! Turns out Greenpeace, besides being completely independent and international, is also a collective hard ass! We also learned a lot about each other, mainly through an activity Friday night where we had to draw "life maps" that described what led us to the GOT.

The life map exercise was pretty stressful on me, and it was even harder after watching other people present theirs and say things like, "I recycle, so I came here! (smile, giggle)" Mine was a little more serious. I didn't really feel comfortable sharing my whole life story, but I did feel like I needed to say some stuff that would be relevant to understanding who I am, especially to people I'm going to spend the next three months with. So I talked about LA and about being assaulted, and just kind of said, "Here it is, and I don't feel comfortable saying anymore." And you know? It was okay. I didn't cry or anything, and I was able to just state some facts and sit down. I was really proud of that, and I still am.

The only thing was that afterwards there was a time for questions, and a girl raised her hand and said, "So why did you leave LA?" and without skipping a beat (or thinking) I deadpanned, "Because I was sexually assaulted." I'm still a little miffed about her (idiotic) comment. See, the whole point was that we all sat and listened to everyone bare their souls. It was supposed to be a safe place with understanding people, and apparently I wasn't even important enough to listen to? Or I didn't satisfy her curiosity? Or she just wanted me to say it as clearly as possible? I don't know, but it was one of those moments where I was so emotional and shocked that whatever tact I have flew out the window and I responded with my exact emotion, which was clearly disgust.

Later in the car ride home, a friend in the program commented on how ballsy he thought my response was, and said that he too was shocked at her question. It was nice to have a few people come up to me without provocation and support me, but honestly didn't really need it. A year ago something like that would have crushed me. Now, I'm comfortable with the amount I shared, and I'm also comfortable with my reaction to the question asked afterward. I'm at a point now where I'm comfortable talking about my past without major anxiety or sloppy tears, and it feels really, really liberating.So I guess the best thing I got out of the Greenpeace retreat wasn't really about Greenpeace at all, but about me. Still, I'm so happy to be here and experiencing this, and as corny as it sounds, I can tell I'm growing and learning every day.

First Break in 40 Years

Edit: This was written Saturday, but posted today because I only recently stole pics from Kate.

We just got back last night from a retreat into the mountains of Northern California. I was expecting it to be a kind of sketchy, with trust falls in the middle of the woods, but it was actually very nice. The only reason I really wanted to come home was that I hadn't showered in three days, and it was becoming more and move obvious to the outside world.

When were looking over the ocean, which was about five miles away, and it was so beautiful with the clouds and the air ... you know, it was just so magical there, I can't even describe it in words. I started out the trip taking a lot of pictures, but I just got so frustrated that I couldn't fully capture it that I just gave up and hoped my eyes would do it for me.I really want to describe this place, but I'm having such a hard time! It was about 300something acres in Occidental, directly east of Bodega Bay, but at a higher altitude. And there were different barns and structures that we used for different types of meetings. We ate in "The Green Barn" and we slept in what we called "The Sleeping Barn." We had our lessons in a cupola called "The Sanctuary" that has huge windows on each wall that looked out over the valleys and trees, all the way to the ocean. There are residents there too, who all have their own little houses and lives, but also have a responsibility to take care of the property. There was also a pet llama on the property named Pele, with whom Kate was particularly enamored. At the last minute of our trip we got to feed Pele and brush him, which was pretty awesome.As for the training, I'm probably going to post about it later. Some parts were good, others not so good. As a whole though, I'm glad we all went and I do feel a lot closer to some people in the group that I didn't feel that close to before.