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Saturday, July 11, 2009

A little bit about camp, a lotta bit about Jaclyn Moriarty

Long time no see, eh? I dunno. I don't really want to talk about it. It's not like I was in the hospital or blood was oozing from my fingertips or I was eloping in Vegas (who do you think I am, walllofweird?); it's just that when I got home from camp I tried to blog but was too tired... then I was a walking emotional wreck for about a week... and I'm only just now getting to the point where I can look at youtube without gagging. I haven't read a single blog, blog comment, or message for two weeks. Not because I've grown out of it, not because I suddenly hate the internet, not because I'm too busy. It's just that Royal Family Kids' Camp is a sort of alternate universe, and it takes a lot of time to become yourself again. Until now, I hadn't felt up to the challenge of stuffing my personality back into the keyboard.

But here I am. I'm over it. Hopefully you're over it. Breathe, and let's move on to the pinata.
...There is no pinata. But BOY, ARE THERE STORIES. I'll get into the hilarious and heartwarming sometime in the near future. For now, though, a basic overview.

Basically, it's you and a "buddy counselor" (mine was a lovely, twenty-one-year-old petite brunette named Erin, with whom I've been friends through church for a few years), and the two of you spend a week leading your cabin of four girls around to various stages of chaos. Ours were senior campers, so we spent most of our time with the other eleven-year-old girl cabins, which were led by my sisters and the other Hip Young Counselors. We participated in a lot of relay races involving pool noodles, ironed a lot of fuze bead crafts, sang a lot of high-pitched songs about Jesus, and averted a lot of eleven-year-old crises. Camp-wise, things ran smoothly all week. Aside from the spiders in the showers and Sam's Club "cheese" curls served as a nutritious side dish with most meals. But yeah, most of the problems were much more emotional than physical.

I bonded intensely with one of my girls, which was a bad plan from the start, because the nature of the camp makes it so we can't exchange personal information or photographs, and there's a good chance I'll never see this kid again. So I spent a week being her MOTHER, like, helping her get showered, taking her to the doctor's station when she got an ear infection, going swimming with her alone in the rain, inventing a secret handshake to make her smile, being the first person she saw in the morning and the last before bed, and then I returned home to... emptiness and vacancy. I did all those things for the other three girls, but at the distance of a camp counselor. To this one special girl, though, I was a mom for a week. And then, of course, I had to send her back to the crack projects where her biological mother doesn't have two dimes to rub together but has more than enough kids to not support, and...

Yeah, this is why I didn't blog before. I'm starting to sound wretched. Nearly all abusers were abused. I know. I can't adopt someone seven years younger than I am. I know. But it doesn't make it any easier to deal with firsthand.

Anyway, the experience, while exhausting and maddening and sometimes miserable, was fun, beautiful, and life-changing all the same. I'd suspected for some time that I'd like to be an adoptive or foster parent, but camp this year confirmed for me how serious I am. You can't look into the eyes of those sweet little kids and not want to love and care for them until the end of time. I'll get married, adopt two kids over the age of eight (that's when it gets really, really hard for them to find homes), give birth to two kids, publish a few novels, and stay home with my flock. Throw a little Chipotle in there, and I really can't imagine a better life.

In completely unrelated, chipper news (before I tear up, frankly), I realized the other day that one of my top ten favorite authors, Jaclyn Moriarty, has a blog. I instantly ate that thing up. (So I sort of lied when I said I haven't read a single blog since I got home. I haven't read a single blog written by a human, and Jaclyn Moriarty is like a goddess and unicorn's love child.) Anyway, it took about two sentences of her carefree, understated voice for my legs to start shaking with glee, and lo and behold: I've now reread The Year of Secret Assignments and Feeling Sorry for Celia, and have restarted The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. HOW IS THE WOMAN SO AMAZING?

Remember the time I promoted Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts like crazycakes after the release of Perfect Fifths, and a whole group of you skeptical commentors gave it a try, and now you're all totally obsessed? Well, you're going to have to trust me a second time, and those of you who didn't listen to the first suggestion are going to have to trust me through the example of your peers. I said it in a video once before, but here's the thing about Jaclyn's books, especially Assignments: they're such a rare, unique, acquired-taste treasure that America has no idea what to do with them. They fly up from Australia, and some old bald guy in a New York office glances at them and is like, "Uhhh. This humor is too unusual and fascinating for our young adults. I guess... I guess we'll just make it look like middle school chick lit and hide them somewhere?" And then he slams down some kind of official rubber stamp, and the business is done. So whatever you do, make sure you don't read--or look at-- the covers. Just locate the books, squeeze your eyes shut, and run. Because these novels are beautiful art, and the covers remind me of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Because Lor and Sebastian provided enough of a push for it in their Special Guest blogs during my absence, I've decided to resurrect un/sexy. Partly because The Real Popstar Justin Timberlake wrote a page in this month's Glamour about what is and isn't attractive, and that was just too coincidental to not be an act of God... but mostly because it's a crowd-pleaser and I miss it. *Cough* SO:

Sexy: Being a witty conversationalist, speaking with the cadence of one who recognizes his own gifts as a witty conversationalist, but not being too cocky about his conversational wit. Also, funnel cakes.
Unsexy: The kind of boyfriend who would not bring you a funnel cake late at night after he went to a concert on the riverfront, where they sell funnel cakes. Lucky for me (and I suppose for you, you romance-thriving whores) that is not the kind of boyfriend I have. Oh, shut up. :)

Chipotle burritos this year: 23
S'mores this summer: 3
Subscribers: 18,060

Bye, guys. Freal, hopefully I'll see you tomorrow. <3

P.S. Commentor A.J. asked about Jess's Haiti trip. I'm going to let this picture speak for that experience, because words can't describe what a gorgeous human being my best friend is. She's so much better than the rest of us. And look how cute! 

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hayley i've missed ur fab daily blogs! so glad ur back =]
<33

Sarah said...

Nice to hear from you! That camp sounds amazing and difficult and life-changing; no wonder it stays with you ...

I have to say (again) that I love Jaclyn Moriarty! I am super excited you do too, because I don't know anyone in real life who has read her books. I had to fill out a special order form to request that my library purchase her books. Have you read The Spell Book of Listen Taylor?

Anonymous said...

Great to see you back, Hayley!
I am very sorry for you abotu how you felt after camp. I know it must be hard for you. I looked up the cover for that book and you are right; it does remind me of something 12-year-old-like.

Glad to have you back, Hayley, again. ^^^

A.J. James Brooks said...

BOY FRIEND????? say what???? so if you look at your twitter @ replies I requested you blog again..
I remember how rough those camps can be I am gla you are back, missed you terribly... Hope you have a wonderful weekend...

A.J. James Brooks said...

I forgot to ask how was Jess' Haiti trip???

Emily said...

Yay! Hayley's back! Your camp sounds amazing and emotionally draining, so I think we can all understand your need for a bit of a break. Really glad you're back, though! :D

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I wish there was a way I could communicate with you in some form of chat or something where feedback happens in one way or another.
I am the eighth child of ten. I was raised by loving and caring parents, but I was abused by my neighbor. My parents have no idea about this. Even now.
My younger two brothers are adopted from Ukraine. The older one was 8 and the younger was 3, but he had Cerebral Palsy, and was in a special needs orphanage that prohibited adoption after they turned four. He was adopted nine days before his 4th birthday.
They both come from abusive backgrounds, and they both still remember what happened to them in Ukraine, but they now are living in better places.
I think that you are not the brutal person that you think you are for acting the way you did to that girl. You proved to her that it is possible for her to be loved. You proved to her that the world has good people in it. You may never see her again, but I doubt she will forget you anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're blogging again!

I've always wanted to become a foster parent. I used to have this wacky dream fantasy where I'd own a house, just like the one at the end of 101 Dalmatians, but instead of dogs it'd be overrun with children. I'm weird, I know.

Will check those books out.

Ravenclaw2313 said...

Oh god like I need more books to read! Still I trust your literary judgment implicitly so I will read the books.

Sounds like camp, although draining, was a fantastic experience. I've always wanted to adopt, because there are already so many children in this world who need love. I think that although you may never see your "daughter" again, she will not soon forget you.

Jess looks like she's having fun, and obviously doing lots of good. Also, you're right, she's cute. So glad to have you back and blogging.

PS Went to Chipotle (for only the second time ever) and thought of you.

goldensnitch said...

I'm glad you enjoyed camp and your friend enjoyed Haiti. I'm sorry that you had to say goodbye to the girl you became such good friends with, that must have been hard. I would love to work at a camp but I can't swim so that sort of distracts the fun out of things for me.

Olivia said...

Glad your back!

And that camp was so amazing. I think adopting older kids is a wonderful thing to do. Risky, but wonderful.

AND that Jess's Hati trip was also amazing.

Thanks for the book recommendations!

Sam said...

I was about to buy The Year of Secret Assignments at the book store the other day, but at the last second I was like, nah. The cover looked so unoriginal. I guess it's true what they say: never judge a book by its cover. Who knew? I think I'm gonna go check it out now, thanks for the recommendation.

joy isobel said...

I can't even imagine how awful it must be to let go of a kid you bonded with so well. Especially when you know they're going back to a place so scary. It's heartbreaking :( I'm glad that you had such a wonderful experience there, though. I'm sure you made a huge impact on that little girl's life. Even if it felt as if you were helpless, you probably did more than you will ever understand.

OH. BOYFRIEND?! HAYLEY G. HOOVER, EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

Mikey B said...

Welcome back,

I used to be a counselor while in high school at a camp for mentally and physically disabled kids. I always left feeling very emotionally exhausted and with convictions to not forget the needs of those kids.

I'm sure that there are ways to continue working with and supporting the kids that you just spent time with even now that you're not at camp. I don't know any specific organizations since I was working with a different set of kids than you were, but I'm sure there are places out there that would welcome your enthusiasm.

labyrinthalaska said...

Welcome back Hayley.

Good to hear about the ups of the camp, but also tough to read about the downs, such as leaving it behind after the experiences.

As for the book reccommendations... I may look into them (no promises) and even if they wind up being more focused towards girls (i'm just assuming, haven't researched at all), I have read books of that nature before and come to like them. So, when I finish the current book I'm reading, I'll look into them.

Caroline C said...

HAYLEY, I LOVE YOU...like a lot.. You got me into writing (even though my grammar lacks a teensy bit). I obsess over this blog and I want to be just like you when I grow up. I forgive you for not writing for about two weeks... If it was up to me, I would imperius you to write every day ever. Forgive me for being such a fangirl. I can't help it. Lots of love.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god! I love The Year of the Secret Assignments and Bindy Mckenzie! I read those two and loved them!

Sebastian said...

Unsexy: The funnel cake stand closing before you have a chance to buy a funnel cake, and then coming home to see funnel cake anticipation here and on twitter. Fail.

lindsey said...

That picture is GREAT!

I think you put 'Assignments' on a top ten list of books a while ago on 5AG. I bought it, because you are obviously a great salesperson. I just didn't read it because I am obviously lazy. Alas, it is in the 'unread' shelf of my bookshelf. Now, since you're pimpin' it again, I guess I have to read it.

Glad to hear you're back from camp unscathed. Not so glad that you seemed to have gone through an emotional shitstorm. You're a good person.

xoxoadorkable said...

It's nice to hear from you again Hayley, although I'm sorry/happy about your camp experience. I never know how to feel about those kinda of places. I mean at one end it's just depressing knowing that there are people out there who abuse children. And then at the other end it's just completely and utterly wonderful to see how happy they can be with the right people. *Hugs* Breathe Hayley <3

Zombie said...

I know this is going to sound creepy but....can I be one of your adopted children? I know..I'm not up for adoption..and I'm..fifteen..but YOU FRIGGEN' MAKE MY DAY EVERYTIME YOU POST!!

seurat2 said...

Welcome back Hayley! When you didn't bog this week I figured you were decompressing from the camp experience. I'm sorry to hear you can't have any contact with your favorite camper, but it is almost certainly a wise policy. But maybe years from now, when you're a successful author you'll be doing a signing or a reading and some girl in her late teens will walk up to you and shyly ask if you remember her. And you will. Think about about how awesome that would be, and let's all believe it will happen.

Cat said...

Hayley, I know EXACTLY how you feel about the camp kids, and loving them, and being unable to prevent or change the things they've faced.
Last year, I lived in South Africa for six months, and worked in a school for disabled children. All the kids lived in poverty, many were abused, some had families and some didn't. It was hard to deal with.
People often tell me I did an amazing thing by going, but all I can think about is what a shitty horrible thing I did by leaving them. So yeah...

89ravenclaw said...

Part of me believes that you tried to stick a child or two in a duffel bag and/or the trunk of a car, but were caught just in the nick of time.

Also, book suggestions are nice, and I would love to take them, because it's always nice when someone you know starts sharing an obsession with you (you can pretend you suddenly know and talk to that other person a lot, even though all both people do is read each others blogs, creating the allusion that they talk a lot), but yeah I'm poor, so no paper-bonding.

PS When I type really long, and probably grammatically incorrect sentences, like that, I always feel compelled to write an entire essay in one sentence (Boy Meets World style).

Kaitlyn w/ a K said...

I've always wanted to adopt a kid, possibly from an impoverished nation. I always pictured this kid as a baby, but you just made me rethink that. Adopting older children is a really good idea.

chroniclesofinsanity said...

AHHHHm finally!
I felt so empty without your daily blog, compulsively clicking to check if you had updated every five minutes. : D (haha, I have no life, leave me alone)

I've always thought I'd want to be a foster parent as well,.. but it's something too beautiful to describe to someone who hasn't worked with those children.

Thank you Hayley, for being incredibly entertaining, witty, funny and sensible and insightful at the same time. I'm pretty sure that in 10 years, some 18-year old will be recommending YOUR books to all her readers. You are that good.
I don't know how you do it, but each blog entry is a piece of art.

Anonymous said...

Thank god you're back! I've missed you!

You're inspirational Hayley, you really are.

ellen said...

It took me a while to remember where I knew the name 'Jaclyn Moriarty' from, but I LOVE her books. I remember reading 'Feeling Sorry for Celia' and 'Finding Cassie Crazy' when I was about 11.. they seriously are amazing books. I just went over to the bookshelf, you've made me want to read them again. :)

Maddy said...

Welcome back, Hayley :) The camp sounds like it was very emotionally, mentally, and physically draining, so your absence is completely understandable.

I loved Sloppy Firsts and I completely trust your literary judgement, so I'll be sure to check out Jaclyn Moriarty's books, too.

It's great to have you back :)

safi said...

I miss my best friend. Look after yours :(
And yes! I adore Jaclyn Moriarty! No one ever seems to have heard of her.

VicMorrowsGhost said...

So many talk the talk, it's always refreshing to find someone who walks the walk.

Anonymous said...

it's awesome that you gave that girl someone to be close to. i agree with the anonymous person who said you showed her it's possible to be loved.

completely unrelated question: how's your hair fading/not fading? have you dyed it again? just curious. :)

Abby said...

I'm so glad you're back. I've been checking your blog about five times a day.
P.S. I'll be praying for that girl.

Nicholas said...

I read some blogs, but only yours and the one from the glorious Ms. Porridge will glue me to my seat till I finished reading it.

Glad you're back online :)

Brad said...

Sounds like camp was an incredibly worthwhile experience. I think it's easy to take what you have for granted if you've never worked to help those who go without. The emotional drainage kills but it's worth it.

TOL and Sebastian were great subs for ya. Boyfriend again? Please tell me he doesn't speak Klingon. :P

Rachel said...

Hayley! You're back! I really missed your witty and hilarious blog posts. The camp sounds so eye-opening and difficult and fun.

I remember a 5AG video from the very beginning of 2008 when you listed your favorite books. That's why I read The Year of Secret Assignments. And you were absolutely right. It was hilarious and interesting and some weird old guy in New York would most definitely want to make the cover look like a Mary Kate and Ashley novel just to hide it from teens everywhere.

Jess looks like such a sweet and caring person. It must take a lot to go to a poverty-stricken country and keep your sanity and such. It would be such an inspiring thing.

Glad to have you back Hayley. [=

toastburntbread said...

HAYLEY JACLYN MORIARTY is my ALL Time favorite author. I have re-read ALL her books COUNTLESS times. Literally, I tried counting one day and there were just too many occasions. I can quote any of her books like the back of my hand. I'm glad that someone in the world agrees with me about how amazing she is.

The Vagabond said...

I'm really glad that you're back. I've missed this blog a lot. I guess I will have to check those books out now. Thanks for giving me yet another book for my very long list of books to read.

Kirsty said...

I'm glad you're back!
Think you'll be forgiven for the absence seeing as you pretty much formulated a plan about your whole life whilst away :]
The camp sounds heart-breaking, but incredible.
Hope you get back into the blogging-habit...your blogging makes us happy :]

allison said...

I actually remember your vid a while back on 5awesomegirls about your top 10 fave books, and I got the idea to read 'The Year of Secret Assignments'.

I found it to be kickass. [You also recommended The Bell Jar, too, and that's amazing so far as well.]
Yay! Your blog is back! That camp sounds life-changing; maybe one day I'll be a counselor at one somewhat nearby.

Marlena said...

Yessssss, Jaclyn Moriarty. There need to be more people like you and me in the world. I approve.
Also, though I've never been a part of anything like RFKC, I've been planning to adopt kids--not babies-- for a few years, and I definitely still want to, especially after reading this. And though it must be really hard to have to let them go, hold on to the fact that you changed their lives. Maybe just by giving them a happy memory, maybe in a biggger way, maybe both, but you aren't gone from them just because you can't see them.

Callidora said...

I'm glad that you are doing okay and had a great time at camp. I have a list of books that people have recommended and have added Jaclyn Moriarty to the list to read soon, I promise.
:o)

Nokorola said...

Well, I'm glad to see you back on the blog Hayley, the internet has been lonely. I'm glad you had a good -if heartbreaking- time at camp. Who knows, maybe that girl will become a big shot in the world and look you up in 20 years (and then they could make a movie about it). You'd make an awesome mom Miss. Hoover, and any kid would be lucky to be stuck with you(also a reference to a song that's been stuck in my head). Also Hayley, what happened to the s'more count, was the camp a no s'moreing zone?
Keep it real Hayley.

Anonymous said...

is there any way to become involved in this camp not through your church? or..if youre not from ohio?

megan-la said...

I got my copy of The Year of Secret Assignments at The Book Warehouse on sale and I love it :D.

TheBlaireWitch said...

Rereading your blogs is what I am doing.
And I thought I'd say that The Year Of Secret Assignments is AMAZING. I borrowed it from a friend recently and the really cool thing is that she got it from a garage sale, and it was signed!

Thea said...

I hope it's not weird to comment on this some two years later, but I've been back reading your posts. I was just really excited to see that you love Jaclyn Moriarty because I don't know anyone else who reads her books. I can't stop laughing whenever I read The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie... Bindy's just so clueless, and there's so much irony once you know the ending. Have you read any Melina Marchetta? She's another Australian YA author who's an amazing writer.