After all, I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.

July 4-8, 2007
Columbus, Ohio

You would think I would have learned after last time. Over 80+ noders came to our house and apparently that hasn't stopped me from wanting to do this thing again, just not at my house this time. The root of the problem as I see it is that we still miss our friends! So, bring it on!

4th of July Weekend baby

More info?
Since messaging can get complicated for a large group of people trying to discuss something, a mailing list has been set up for this gathering. We'll be using this to send out info and foster discussions about activities, meals and anything else. To sign up visit:

A calendar for the event has also been set up. We'll be using this to monitor airport pickups, meals and activities. You can view it and subscribe at:

Beautiful Ohio! Well, more accurately about an hour south of Columbus.

What you really need to know is that it will be in Hocking Hills, Ohio, at a vacation rental lodge in the woods. There will be many beds more than my home offers, but not enough for everyone. So there will also be camping.

Ok, I hate to have to say this because if I were made of money it wouldn't be an issue, but I'm not, so it is. The lodge we are renting is a $3,000+ place, so you will be expected to help defray the cost. If 65 people show up, that would mean around $50 per person. Please plan accordingly. This is still cheaper than any hotel room around, including hostels.

The lodge does have indoor plumbing. Unfortunately, we will need to have water restrictions in effect. The lodge is served by a single well which will have trouble supporting full usage by 50+ noders. We're talking Navy showers, drinking water will come from bottles, and toilets will be flushed only when necessary. (Remember, there are a billion trees outside.) If the well goes dry, bad things happen.

If you want to make other lodging arrangements there are many cabin type rentals around as well as a Holiday Inn Express and an Amerihost in Logan.

You, yes you. All ? of you. But like Chad said last time, "we can make new friends too, so don't be discouraged from attending even if you are a complete stranger!" Those who will almost certainly be there:

Your hosts:
karma debt and ccunning
LaggedyAnne and sessor

gwenllian +3
mordel - offering rides from Royal Oak, MI
Nora +1
Orange Julius
RoguePoet - Is willing to smuggle noders across state lines from southeast MI and will have room for at least 3
Transitional Man
Two Sheds
Wiccanpiper + BriarCub
your name here

Timeshredder + the Lady 'Shredder

What will we do?
This is going to be held at a location with a good amount of activities near by. There will be food, canoeing, hiking, fire and such as well as lots of hanging out and getting to know each other. Other things to do:

  • random amateur guitar breaks (bring your instruments)
  • consumption of mass quantities of alcohol, including some of Chad's awesome homebrew on tap
  • games of some sort
  • outings
  • nap time

The following are potential outings. The big plan is to mostly hang out, we don't intend to plan too much, or try to fill every moment with activities. But, there will be excursions and outings for those interested. To include:

  • Hiking Old Man's Cave
  • Doo Dah Parade - if you come to Columbus on July 4th we'll go to the parade and then caravan out to the cabin
  • Canoeing/Kayaking the Hocking River
  • Starliner Diner - no Columbus gathering is complete without a mass noder trip on Sunday

What will we eat?

There will not be many restaurants near where we'll be staying so if you want to eat, you need to either volunteer to buy and cook food or you can pass some cash over to those that are cooking. I will not be cooking much this time. I will volunteer for a meal, but it is up to all of you to volunteer to cook a meal (or a side). I can personally vouch for the fact that it quickly gets expensive when you are feeding a crowd. So /msg LaggedyAnne about when and what you want to volunteer for.

Laggy says: if you'd like to be a sous-chef, let me know that as well. OOH! And if you want to cook but don't have any ideas or know what to buy, talk to me. I've got enough ideas to fill a book!

RoguePoet, now powered by Michigan vegetables!
Two Sheds

Meal schedule

Dinner: Burgers and hot dogs- Jen and Chad

Breakfast:Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Home Fries
Lunch:Black Bean Confetti salad and grilled cheese
Dinner: shish kebabs(Borgo)

Breakfast: Strata with potatoes, rosemary, and fontina
Lunch: homemade roast beef (or cheese) sammiches. Really, really Big ones.
Dinner: Spaghetti & meatballs with vegan and omnivore sauces

Breakfast:the famous e2 waffles & pancakes
Lunch:chicken enchiladas with red sauce
Dinner: Pulled pork, grilled portabellas, stuffed baked potato salad, and maybe chocolate stout cake

Sunday Brunch at the Starliner Diner!!

Extras: Italian Easter Pie

What should we bring?
The following items you might want depending on what your plans are:

  • tent
  • air mattress/sleeping bag, unless you like to sleep on the hard ground
  • chairs - Folding lawn chairs would probably be a good idea if you like to sit
  • a towel - never forget your towel
  • money - for your lodging/gathering location contribution, eating out, procuring beverages and food
  • a cooler
  • beverages for yourself and to share
  • bottled water
  • food items for the meal you've generously volunteered to cook
  • ice, you never have enough ice when you're camping do you?

What should I leave at home?

  • Firewood from out of state. Its illegal to bring firewood from out of state due to the possible spread of the Emerald Ash Borer
  • Fireworks. Sorry guys, but the owner lives nearby and its a big no no.
  • insert item here
Go ahead do it, you know you want to.

Photos can be found here:

Disclaimer: Ego, drama, whatever you want to call it, don't bring it. In order for all of this to work out and make sure that that this gathering doesn't result in a massive outlay of money, cleaning time, or drama, we ask that you please be mindful of others and realize that in this environment your actions effect the group as a whole. Noders can be very giving and understanding people, but like everybody else, we don't like being taken advantage of.

This is a recollection of something true.

i've been watching you for hours
it's been years since we were born
we were perfect when we started
i've been wondering where we've gone
{"a murder of one" - counting crows}

Hey look, a piece of the world!

We had just finished hiking the Hocking falls, beautiful rocks and trees. At the entrance there's a sculpture that looks vaguely like a part of a map projection made out of bronze. One of the children said "Hey look, a piece of the world!" I was struck by this poignant observation. Half-joking, half-dead-serious, i pointed at RoguePoet and said "Hey look, a piece of the world!

We are all connected in this life. Noders are more connected, drawn to a site that is built upon associations that are explict, implicit, and subtle. Our conversations kept rolling all night because "that reminds me of..." Just like when you go read Wikipedia to research the Tacoma Narrows Bridge only to end up 3 hours later reading about Lesbianism in Erotica and William Howard Taft, it's easy to get lost in each other's personal softlinks.

This one goes to eleven

Looking into a noder's eyes is always an intense experience. We're all so full of life and living that it just spills out. The project we lead at work. Coaching kids in baseball. How we found martial arts. A smile from mother to child. Knitting. Cooking. Firebuilding.

Mitzi and i marveled several times at how everyone seems to be getting to a very nice place in their lives. Going on trips, getting the good job, getting married and letting go of the past. It's an energy we share, and each higher plateau we reach the more it gives the rest of us the strength to continue climbing.

Row, row, row your boat

On the canoe trip, we started singing a round of "Row Row Row Your Boat". I've always felt deeply about this song, though it's just a kid's ditty (right?). The final line life is but a dream is as haunting to me as ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Life is but a dream, and we only have today, this hour and this moment. Being around all of you reminds me how important it is to fill our lives with the very best stuff we can find. Just like we should fill our bodies with the most nourishing food and clean water, we just feel better when we know we're around good people, doing good things.

{silence in the forest}

I spent several times this weekend alone. Most notably, one of the nights i left the party with a glass of bourbon and sat next to Outside Buddha (as opposed to Veranda Buddha). I soaked in the quiet and the darkness and the feeling of seperation from the group. I've been lonely for quite some time this year, and it has felt so good to feel that connection again. But such connection always feels like they're those solar-powered lamps along the path to the campground: set far apart, feeble in the massive dark, and too soon to go out.

Breaking me from my reverie, i overheard someone say "but you don't know me, the things i've said and done." And i thought, you're right. We don't know each other, and that is such a gift that we have. While we can tell each other the heartbreaking stories, reveal ways in which we were evil or stupid or wrong, each of us is mostly sheltered from where we were and what we've done. Just as important to spending time with good people, this weekend was our opportunity to be perfect, for a little while. Simple, Platonic ideal, horse-as-sphere. So often in life we feel forced by stress or people to be vicious, rude, and selfish. What a great gift to be allowed to be our best.

Y'all often told me how awesome i am, how much fun and how loving. Of course i wasn't always this way. I model my behavior after how radlab0 acted the first nodermeet i met her at, flitting to and fro, giving head massages and distributing smiles. I feel so terriably inadequte for such a task, but it is impossibly neccessary. One of my affirmations is "i am a light in the world", and i must thank all of you for allowing me to have that be true for a few days. Thank you so much.

Scenes from a Family Gathering:

  • The Deluge: as soon as we started thinking about driving to the cabin, the sky opened and the clouds shuddered.
  • Rain for hours before the wedding, then the sun shone and everyone came out to watch a beautiful thing.
  • First night mysteries, solved with a baseball bat.
  • Apples To Oranges: totally ignoring the rules while playing Apples To Apples
  • Throwing dylan into the river
  • Asian statues watching you poop
  • Italian Meat Pie - a slice was being eaten every single hour of the meet, and it was delicious.
  • Bourbon Cherries
  • Bourbon Fireballs
  • On the Radio: Walter and QXZ are in a band, and RoguePoet included a track on his mixtape, which was played one night. Walter went to turn off the music to play Guitar Hero, and realized it was one of his songs and froze.
  • Favorite Stephen King movies
  • Favorite Labyrinth scenes
  • Favorite Movie as an absurd liberal myth
  • GentlemanJim saying hello to everyone there within 2 minutes of his arrival
  • "Just a minute, let me take a hit of new-baby smell off your kid"
  • the secret sin
  • the scarlet month
  • the complete indefensibility of the cabin versus a zombie attack
  • ccunning's dad talking to the cabin's owner, at great length
  • lacto-ovo-baco vegitarians
  • "Hey Mitzi, can you hatch me a beer?"
  • Baconator? I hardly even knew 'er!
  • Seeing the sunrise at the end of each night.
  • BUM
  • 50 noders without wifi, cell reception, TV, or adequate water for 4 full days.
  • "No such thing as 'enough bourbon'. But there is such a thing as 'too much bourbon'."
  • OCD cleaning
  • "What other problems of the world can we solve tonight?"

Saturday night, after everyone had left the campfire and i was settling into my hammock to sleep, it sounded like someone bumped up against the temple bell on the front porch. In Buddhist practice, the bell is used to bring the mind back to present reality, to return from whatever you were preoccupied with and remember to be happy.

The sound rang soft and clear through the waning darkness, and i smiled.

All dreams, and they are made out of real things
Like a shoebox of photographs with sepia-toned lovin'

Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my head
Like why we're here and where are we going and how come it's so hard
It's not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving
I'll tell you one thing, it's always better when we're together.

{"better together" - jack johnson}
{Track 18 on RoguePoet's mixcd, "Farther from Home"}

Robbie and I were blowing through Indiana. I had found myself a highway hero (in a Lexus no less) and managed to go at a nice clip of about 85 MPH. As usual, I had meticulously planned the music that I would listen to on the trip. Since we were starting at 5:00 am., I figured that I would start out with the “Night” mix that I had made for Cindy, as I had found it to be excellent for driving in the dark. Then move onto the “Day” album, some Old 97s, then Decemberists, maybe a couple Bill Cosby CD's and on and on...

For some reason the best part of the drive is when I can see the 3 identical buildings of The Art Institute of Indianapolis. I noticed them the first time I drove to Columbus, as they formed such an odd tableau, 3 right triangles rising out of the north Indianapolis suburbs. Now I always have to make sure that I look at them when I drive past. When I see them, the stress that has built up during the drive through Chicago and Gary, and slowly begins dissipating during the drive through the corn and soybean fields is instantly replaced by a feeling of happiness and excitement that washes over me. It's like a little part of my brain doesn't realize what I'm doing until it sees those buildings and then everything comes rushing back. “Oh holy shit, I get to be with everyone again!”

So Robbie and I are talking. And I am utterly shocked that he has never watched The Wire and I am ranting about how it's the greatest TV show ever made, all while craning my neck to look out his window to see if the buildings are coming up. By this point I just have my iPod going on shuffle and suddenly a song I was totally unfamiliar with came on. I glance down at the display and saw “In the Aeroplane Ove...” scrolling across. It was something one of my friends at work had given me but I never listened to. I never give the song a second thought as I quickly turn my eyes to the south and see the buildings and a feeling of joy rushes into me.

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

I didn't listen.

To: Paul
In Memphis.  Woo!  Gonna wear a cute 
dress and go to Graceland with my ladies.  
Also, a haircut.  Exciting times!

To: Jennifer
About 6 hours sleep a night, so much 
drinking, wii, guitar hero, so much 
talking talking with my friends,
meeting new people freaky wonderful.

We're sitting up at the campfire and passing around a couple bottles of bourbon. It's Jen and Steve and Jeff and Rosie and Jack and Bart and Keith and...

These are my favorite moments of any nodermeet. A smaller group gathered together, just isolated enough from everyone else that it feels like we're the only people alive at that second. Just boozy enough to keep the conversation properly lubricated. The feeling of the fire burns my knees and the Wild Turkey burns my throat as I lean back and peek through the trees to look at the sky full of stars that feels like a special gift anytime I get a chance to see it. Jen asks me about my new girlfriend and I tell her how we're in goofy love with each other and she smiles big and I smile back. She asks me why I didn't bring her along. I say that I didn't want to feel responsible for another person's good time right now. I didn't want to have to share what this was yet. Jen laughs and tells me that she understands, but she wants to meet her anyway. Maybe sometime soon...

Jeff and Rosie have hooked up their iPods to a thrift store stereo and are making the playlists. Jeff begins to tell the story about the time in his life he was haunted by the number 37. For over a year wherever, he went and whatever he did, it seemed like any random number that appeared in his life turned out to be the number 37. It just followed him. We laugh and the conversation turns to Clerks and friends that we secretly had crushes on when we were younger and I poke at the fire and reach for the bottle and Rosie's Detroit techno slowly fades out and becomes...

What a curious life we have found here tonight
There is music that sounds from the street
There are lights in the clouds
Anne's ghost all around
Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees

And it is lost in the night.

I love people, but I hate gatherings. Isn't it ironic? Every time there is a big gathering I just need to find a way to escape it at a certain point. I need to get away from the overload. My spot this time was on the other side of the house, at the far end of the wraparound porch. Almost every day I would take my book and go hide back there for an half hour or so just to get some alone time in the quiet. Only on Friday my spot was occupied. I turned the corner to find Ashley on my couch with her face buried in a book. She looks up and gives me one of the most welcoming smiles I have ever seen. I say “Hey there, antisocial buddy.” She invites me to stay and sit.

We are back there for what feels like hours.

The meet is over. Robbie is asleep in the passenger seat next to me. This is the worst part of any trip, all the good stuff is over and all that I have left is the long drive back home. I slapped together the music for the drive back while the final cleanup was going on at the cabin and I just randomly grabbed a couple gigs of files off of my laptop and threw them onto an SD card that I could pop into my car stereo.

While I drive, I allow my mind to wander over the last several days, both to recapture the feelings of warm welcoming magic and to solidify the memories. I am thinking about the wedding and the darkness and the moths and Jared's tequila and laughing on the porch and my baseball bat and Jenchiladas and finally meeting Ashley and how Beth has grown and Dali's mustache and notes from Satan and the writings of TW Shannon and it is all whirling faster and faster like the standoff at the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which oh my god I talked about with Jeff because I had never seen Labyrinth and seven heads snapping around looking at me and we were drinking and I was squished in the booth next to Jen and everyone is giggling and hugging and I am passing under the blue arch which means I am leaving Ohio and the music changes and finally I hear it

But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me

I hear it! I hear it! It has followed me this whole time and I finally listen to it.

That night at the fire I had mentioned how I always like to take something home from the gatherings, like a melted Heineken bottle or Noe the Foam Pig or countless other little items that are worth nothing but mean everything. But this time I had forgotten my yarmulke from the wedding and I think I lost my bottle of Hot Damn and I didn't have the heart to steal anything from the house.

But what I have found is something even better.

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe
how strange it is to be anything at all

I can't explain the state that I'm in
The state of my heart, he was my best friend
Into the car, from the back seat
Oh admiration in falling asleep
All of my powers, day after day
I can tell you, we swaggered and swayed
Deep in the tower, the prairies below

-The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades-
{Sufjan Stevens}
Farther from Home, Track 20

It was almost always at 3 am on the dot that they called the dead. Some nights sequestered away in my sleeping bag in the corner of a darkened room, I only caught tenuous glimpses of a stray wraith passing through the bedroom door, shaking off the last of the hallway lights from its form. It hung there, fadingly luminous, above me as the darkened room leeched the last of its form until I was again alone.

Other nights, I'd wander into the circle as they called the names to be summoned. The specters swung powerfully into the crisp forest air, the most awesome often waiting only for that darkest bit of night that occurs before daylight breaks its opaque shell. They soaked in the same fresh breeze, purified by earlier rains, that swept across our faces and our city worn skin. These too faded into the darkness that lurked outside of our petty lights. They were beautiful and along with the glamours summoned by their side created snapshots of a world I had been too late to catch, but not quite late enough to completely miss.

*      *      *

I'm almost two years old. In a lot of places online, two years is ancient. Not so here. I'm still the new kid on the block at these gatherings and I dance tenuously out of reach of a history that is both web and warm hug. It rained hard as we first hit the road for the cabin and, despite the rain's roar, it came out as exciting rather than ominous. I ran from the garage and damply settled into BrooksMarlin's car. Something in my bones cried adventure as we drove near-blind through the falling sky. I jumped at the shadows jumping from the rain as he muttered quietly about the torrents.

Here were people new and old -- familiar faces that I know by heart now and names that hung on the tip of mind -- things well-read but only half remembered. I walked into intimacies that I didn't quite understand and histories that I only knew of third hand and whispered, all in a house that looked like a half breed of every world's culture and none, poised at any minute to leap to be alive and chaotic as those that huddled within it.

Oddly, this newly birthed conglomerate creature of man and house, of rekindled belief and eclectic chotskies, welcomed me with open arms, sat me on it's lap, and taught me stories of yore and told me tales of the future. I took in the warm timbre of his voice like a mother's heartbeat.

*      *      *

Violent laughter shooting out of my nose at high speeds as Rosa Parks sat lazily on the table and Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima battle it out on the floor. The old man touches my shoulder and I bite back with catty teeth and odd visions.

HA! I'M JEWISH! IN YOUR FACE POPE! I'm so faklempt at the wedding -- I always sniffle at weddings -- but we down drinks in celebration and it's all laughter again and I laugh again and again and never have I ever again again again. (Rowan quit surprising me, it makes me feel old when you make me drink.) Have you written a node before 2005? Drink. Drink deep. And laugh. Cake and pie and non-pie flow free and only once did my face get stepped on at 2 am one night.

Feet full of "Sorry, sorry..."

Misplaced "It's me... It's me" that trickles off the back porch.

A grotto full of "It's ok."

It's been so long since I've seen the real stars, rather then the washed out dots that the city brings. and they twinkle within reach, landing in my hand between swigs of vodka tonic that I have to remember not to drink until the statements apply to me. Have I ever thought about 10 people at once like that? Have I? Drink to be safe. Above, the big luna moth makes its nightly visit, landing on everyone once before settling comfortably on the wall behind the circle to watch us.

*      *      *

In the quiet, on a mountain far from home and cut off from our usual connections, those around me made their own accidental magics, recreating the faith of a child and resurrecting the bones of ages past. In their midst, I, the quiet, funny thief, stole some of the sparkle for my own and have swallowed it whole. It now sits in my throat, halfway between my stomach and heart, wanting neither digestion nor flow. It simply waits to root into my marrow and flower in my mind, leaving seeds in my memory.

Maybe it wasn't so odd to think of when you realized the familial feel of it all - not just the literal parents and children, not just the pretend roles we took for the owner (which did I end up as . . . . ?) but maybe something else that I can't really finger or say. It all happened in one near infinite instant and I'm left wondering what to make of it all still... It wasn't perfect, but that more satisfying imperfection of limited water, awkward moments, too late nights, and rooms that stared back at you. Sometimes we rubbed each other the wrong way. Sometimes I would end up with a baby in arms, wondering, horrified, what to do with it should it start crying. But mostly, people remembered, people cared, people hugged, people celebrated. People happened. And whatever occurred over those few days, I don't think I'd have had it any other way.


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