MEMOIR:

FALL 2004:

A Satisfying Newbury Lunch
When It Felt Like Home

SPRING 2003:

The Big Boys
The Fine Art of Urination and Defecation Al Fresco
The Golden City
Inside Looking Out
Roxbury
The Soup Game

FALL 2002:

All the Hearts
Footsteps

SUMMER 2002:

Being Family

SPRING 2002:

An Alternative to the Common Use of Forks
Memoir Lead
Two Weeks in New Mexico
Untitled
Zeroes

FALL 2001:

The Anti-Valentine's Girls
Play

SPRING 2001:

Amour de Soi
The Day Music Let Me Go
The Force
Lucky Me, I'm Gifted
My Green Canyon
A Painful Passion
Point of Departure
Sail the Sea
Smile and Nod

FILM REVIEWS:

FALL 2004:

Lola Takes Us For the Sprint of Our Lives

FALL 2002:

Arlington Road: A Thriller with Thought
A Big Fat Fairytale Wedding
Border Patrol: The War Against Drugs Continues
Not the Stereotypical Shoot 'em Up Gangster Flick
Punch Drunk Love

SPRING 2002:

The Complexity of Artificial Intelligence
Monster's Ball
Monster's Redemption
Royalty Runs in the Family

FALL 2001:

A Hard Day's Night: A Rock 'n' Roll Joyride That Never Runs Out of Steam
Too Many Potholes in Riding in Cars with Boys

SPRING 2001:

Requiem's Melody Lingers
New-and-Improved Horror

FEATURES & PROFILES:

FALL 2002:

In The End, Everything is Crystal Clear
A Match for Success
They Will Follow Him
A Very Bostonian Hotel
What's an A?

READINGS:

The CO201 program hosts special Coffee House Readings periodically throughout each semester. These stories have each been selected by 201 professors for reading.

SPRING 2002:

Death and Board Games
Luxembourg
Resurrection of a Ghost
The Tool Man

FALL 2001:

Bits of Daylight
Leona's House
This is Spinal Tap: No Need for Painkillers
The Toad and the Giant

SPRING 2001:

The Movies
Solving the Equation: The Trials and Triumphs of International Adoption
Yaglafant

ESSAYS:

FALL 2002:

Her Face is Red
Smoking a Cigarette
Stories and Lies
Sumit Ganguly: He, She & It

PROPOSALS:

Proposals are group projects in which 201 students propose and create an ad for a non-profit organization or cause.

SPRING 2002:

Christian Solidarity International

CONTEST WINNERS:

SPRING: 2007

Riches to Rags... to Riches
Man of the House
A 'Special Education' Defined

SPRING: 2006

#71952
For Never Was There a Story of More Woe, than This of Mr. Thomas A. Marcello
Pei-yeh Tsai finds harmony in opposites at the keyboard

SPRING 2005:

Colorado Peaks and Iraqi Deserts: A Paramedic's Story
The Consequences of Drunk Driving
America, Open Your Eyes

SPRING 2004:

A Fine Balance: The Life of an Islamic Teenager
A Genetic Link to Identity: Dr. Bruce Jackson and The Roots Project
Rebel With a Cause

COFFEE HOUSE READINGS:

FALL 2004:

The Amah’s Revenge
Circle in the Sand
It’s How I Walk
School Bus

SPRING 2002:

Death and Board Games
Luxembourg
Resurrection of a Ghost
The Tool Man

FALL 2001:

Bits of Daylight
Leona's House
Nonfiction Story
This is Spinal Tap: No Need for Painkillers
The Toad and the Giant

SPRING 2001:

The Movies
Solving the Equation: The Trials and Triumphs of International Adoption
Yaglafant

ESSAYS:

FALL 2002:

Her Face is Red
Smoking a Cigarette
Stories and Lies
Sumit Ganguly: He, She & It

THE FINE ART OF URINATION AND DEFECATION AL FRESCO

BY KRISTIN FISHER

Huddling inside the roasting goose down, I curse my small bladder and the raging blizzard outside my tent. I have to pee. This painful predicament occurs nightly while living on a glacier deep in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska. Sometimes I win; other times my bladder. This is one of those other times.

I always initiate the process of a nocturnal piss by groping for my fleece hat and pulling it over my greasy, scalp-peeling head. After forty-five days sans shower, I could proudly proclaim it was impossible to distinguish between wet or dry hair – just two braids of congealing oil and sweat. Now, the primary task is to put on every layer of clothing before emerging from my sleeping bag into the icy night. I actually feel semi-clean until I don my grey thermal underwear, worn and unwashed for over a month. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen my naked legs. Nor can I remember what clean clothes reeking of Bounce’s “outdoor” scented fabric softener smell like. I sniff the armpit. . . . no, can’t remember. I assumed my body odor would reach a terminal stench, the point where it could no longer smell any worse. I was wrong.

All this motion allows glacial wafts to invade the gaping cavity and infect my flesh with goose bumps, erect hairs, and hard nipples. My bladder is throbbing. Scouring the base of my bag for a fleece jacket, Gore-Tex pants, and salty-stiff socks, I brace for the blast of arctic air that will invade my cozy cocoon and consume the heat my body had worked so hard to produce. One swift surge and I’m out, the stench of my open bag trailing.

I crawl to the door, unzip my final defense, and receive a face full of snow flurries drifting under the front vestibule. This is going to be fun. Taking care not to sit on a tent-mates’ appendage or the frozen tent floor, I shove my swollen, blistered feet into their own hell of rigid plastic and wet walls. These black, stubborn Scarpa boots, two sizes too big, have been my only means of transportation for forty-five days and have carried me over one hundred miles of ice, snow, rock, and mud. I regard them as I would a visit to the gynecologist – necessary but nasty. The thought of tennis shoes is orgasmic.

At long last, I lurch into the arctic night, scamper a few feet from our tent, curse every man for having a penis, drop my pants, and piss. Ah. The blizzard is rampant and I’m squatting inside the murky, white walls of a ping-pong ball while the wind whips my exposed ass. I bury my head and attempt to disregard thoughts of being blown off the mountain or carried into the whiteout by a starving Yeti. I grab a handful of snow, wipe myself, and dart back inside the tent musing, “All this for a piss?”

* * *

Two months ago, I sat in a circle on the grassy lawn of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Palmer, Alaska with sixteen other strangers strewn together from across the country. We were about to embark on an expedition of epic proportions – seventy five days of backpacking, mountaineering, and sea kayaking in the Alaskan wilderness – and we didn’t even know each other’s names. So, we took

turns introducing ourselves, awkwardly fidgeting for familiarity, and stating our goals for this trip. Tiffany aspired to become both a valued and valuable member of the expedition, of which she became neither. Sean sought to learn technical, survival skills necessary to live comfortably in our natural world– and to take a break from girls. I told him he came to the right place. On the flight over, an over-accommodating stewardess informed me that for a girl in Alaska, “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Big Willy came for the challenge. Rob wanted to clear his head. Me, I came for the experience – both the intensity and longevity. I wanted to assume an entirely nomadic existence, living like an Indian migrating day by day in hunt of game, utterly remote from society and the burdens it imposes. I wanted to be free from everyone and everything – from people, money, and all the little luxuries of civilization that we find so terribly necessary in our routine lives. Maybe it was the scene that I watched over and over in Sleeping Beauty where she soaks her feet in a mossy lagoon and sings to the animals, maybe it was the plush family car-camping trips we took when I was little, or maybe restlessness is simply in my blood; but the minute I heard about this adventure, I signed up. This act seemed rational at the time. Yet, I began to have some serious doubts as I felt the weight of the seventy-pound pack I would be carrying. Living outside on a glacier for two and a half months? No showers, no changes of clothes, no perishable food, no contact with any family or friends. . . Why am I here? The answer to that question became my goal.

* * *

That question rears its ugly head one beautiful morning when I am assigned to the duty of “sanitation engineer”, or shit patrol in the vernacular. Every NOLS expedition practices “Leave No Trace” procedures, meaning everything we pack in we have to also pack out, including our crap. Thus, when nature calls, one must delicately aim and defecate into a white, heavy-duty trash bag for transport. Our crap would all pile up, one load on top of another, so that the precise color, consistency, and quantity of the camper’s crap preceding yours was plainly visible. This knowledge inevitably resulted in crap commentaries like, “Hey Will, don’t you think you should ease up on your fluid intake? You’re looking a bit wet over here.” Or, “Damn girl, those are some nice looking golden nuggets you have going on.” My duty as sanitation engineer is to carry these nuggets to the nearest crevasse and drop them into the crack. That is where the question comes into play: Why am I voluntarily carrying sixteen peoples’ crap in a white, semi-transparent trash bag and how did I ever get here?

After melting snow for water and cooking a mean breakfast of dehydrated hash browns à la Tabasco and garlic sauce, I tie onto the rope team, fling my hefty pack onto my back, and lug the precious parcel, dangling at my knees. My crampon-armed feet dance on the honeycombed ice as I bound over one crevasse to the next, revealing the pale blue, neon-iridescence gleaming in the crags. I soon forget the crap in hand and lose myself in the Alaskan morning. Black mountains make a jagged silhouette against pale pink and orange, Care-Bear clouds blanketing the glowing sky. I smile and

scamper about on my glacier. It is awesome and I am alive and living on a river of ice – a world where the sky is larger, the sun brighter, the land vaster, and the people smaller. Everything is empty and stagnant, no running streams or rustling leaves, only thick ice and big mountains that dwarf our world into a humbling perspective and render me so small and insignificant in comparison. Maybe that’s why I am here. Maybe I like the reality it feeds, forcing me to accept my meager place in the cosmos. . . . My epiphany is interrupted by crap nuggets caressing my shin.

By now, we have been hiking for two hours and have yet to intercept an exposed crevasse before we begin descending a steep pass. My triceps are pounding. Lunging from side to side, attempting to balance the weight of my poo-parcel and pack, I trip over those heavy, awkward Scarpa boots and send our waste cascading down the mountainside. “Oh, Shit!” I cry. “Literally!” shouts another member on my rope team. Wild cheering erupts as all sixteen of us stop and stare at our shit glissading down the glacier. Each one of us has made a contribution and we scream like pre-pubescent girls at a Backstreet Boys concert. Gaining momentum, it looks like a white Hershey kiss charging towards a giant gaper. If it lands in a crevasse I’ll be a god. “Go, go, go!” we all squeal as fists pump the air, hands cover heads, and eyes widen with a childish glee. I hold my breath. It misses by maybe twenty feet, snags a chunk of protruding ice, and explodes. Its contents ooze out, smearing the sparkling ice with lumps of human feces. We die. Big, burly-bearded mountain men giggle and we collapse on the snow heaving and shaking our heads in delight. So much for Leave No Trace.

* * *

I sat on the toilet at the Day’s Inn and cried. Instead of my mountain and clouds backdrop, I stare at sterile, plastic walls and crap in a cage of fluorescence. This process is convenient and hygienic, but far less rewarding. That’s when I realized why I was there – I finally attained my goal. I was there to feel the raw throb of existence, free to wallow in unfiltered experiences. I learned to live simply and see the world with virgin eyes, pure and untainted by civilization. Everything had mattered, and it mattered in a place so deserving of my time and attention. A place that is as inhospitable to life as it is encouraging and fully forgiving. We can rape, take, and consume, but the mountains are always there, eternally glowing and giving.

It’s strange how my epiphanies arise from fecal procedures. I wipe, only mildly excited by toilet paper, and flush. That’s it. I have disposed of my waste, no transportation required, no cheering. I sink into an orgy of self-pity. Never again will I be so entertained by something as simple and satisfying as my own shit.