Over New Years, I spent a week in Moon, VA with 25 other folks at a winter retreat. We worked on projects, played music, played games, read books, shot bows and arrows, made a potato gun, played ping pong, did yoga, and chilled the fuck out. It was pretty nice. Here are a lot of photos of that, with limited commentary.
For the holidays, I got Mikey an old lap steel guitar. He’s wanted one for a while. Selfishly, I’m excited to hear what he’ll do with it once he learns how to play it.
First night at Moon. There were a core of 20 folks who stayed the whole week, with a handful of people staying just a few days toward the beginning or end.
Each year they’ve moved one of the dining room tables into the living room near the other table so that everyone can sit together for dinner.
So that was one of the first things to get done.
As well as some grocery shopping.
The week was vegan and sober, which felt nice. It kept everyone on the same page for meals and stuff.
I had a goal to finish 18 pages of drawing while I was there, all the drawing pages I had left to finish for my new book. I only got 15 done.
The music room where people would go to work on songs by themselves, or to record with Carni. The room in the background is where Mikey and I slept. More than once we were laying in there and got to preview someone’s song because they came in and played music without knowing we were there.
Each night, Welch lead yoga, which I had only done twice before. It was really relaxing but also a great way to get my body going again. I haven’t worked out in so long and it felt great to feel my muscles a bit.
Creative solutions for preparing a meal for 25 people
People took shifts in the kitchen so that each night a big meal was prepared, but a majority of the meals were just cooked by Brandon and Lee. They were great cooks.
Another general rule is no cell phones/internet. People used them when necessary for reference or would check at night before bed, but it was a huge difference from being in a room where most people were just looking down at their phones during conversations. It felt much more relaxing without them.
We were talking about how long someone can hold their breath for some reason, and several people competed. Mikey won.
We also played mafia every night. I had mostly written this game off as a folk punk game, but after watching several rounds I decided to play. It was really fun and stressful. It made you distrust everyone.
The biggest thing I liked about being there was, aside from a few people, everyone was down for whatever. Most people would participate in everything or at least be willing to entertain different ideas. Usually everyone is busy trying to act aloof and “over it” and it felt nice to not have that around for a little while.
Coming up with band names via bananagrams. Not a recommended method.
Nice light in our room.
The only organized meal each day was dinner. For breakfast and lunch, everyone would stand around in the kitchen and make/eat food themselves. Usually one person would go in and start making food and it would snowball into everyone being in the kitchen.
Out for a walk on a very windy morning.
a homemade boutineer
Mikey made the observation that the music room is like a bathroom. Everyone sort of filters in one at a time, does what they’re going to do and then leaves. Then the next person comes in. We noticed this flow a lot since we had the little bedroom that was attached.
I felt like I was in an interesting position there because this is the 3rd year that the Moon retreat has happened, and traditionally it’s been just for a pretty insular friend group to spend some solid time together once a year. As far as I’m aware, this year they branched out a lot with who they invited. I really liked that a lot of people there didn’t know one another because it made me feel more comfortable. I had expected to get there and feel like I was on the outside of a lot of inside jokes and stories and only feel half included. I think the new crowd eased most of that for me, but I know it changed the experience for a lot of folks who had been there the previous two years. Tricky balance I guess.
It was really nice to spend a concentrated week with this guy. Mikey and I don’t spend much stress-free time together, especially since he moved to Philly. I’ve been working on this book the whole time, and working a fulltime job. So mostly I would come home from work and have to work on the book, and then be exhausted any time we hung out. Not the best. One of my new years resolutions is to not take on any big projects in 2013 so I can have the time to focus on my relationships and other things that are just as important as my “work.” It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re always working on projects and thinking about what you’ll work on next.
Jake brought his bows and arrows and taught everyone to shoot.
It’s harder than it looks.
Jack making homemade tortillas and a funny face
The pre-dinner napping hour. Moon time was weird. Most people would wake up around 10. Eat lunch around 2 or 3. Start cooking dinner around 6. Eat dinner at 10pm. Stay up until 4. Anytime someone would ask what time it was, it would be a few hours later than anyone expected.
Jen reading off potential band names.
A heated game of Mafia, with Flynn, narrating with a banjo.
While there, Carni orchestrated a project where everyone at Moon would play a part on one big song. Everyone could contribute whatever they liked and anyone who couldn’t play an instrument sang in a big vocal choir on a few parts. It was ambitious, but came together surprisingly well considering it wasn’t actually composed by any one person. Here’s Mikey and Carni discussing a gameplan for how to go about it.
Here’s the actual song.
Meg, Jen, Mikey and I cooked dinner on New Years Eve.
We pulled out the ping pong table on the third day or so and things got heated.
The learning curve seems pretty steep.
Jack was the reigning champion, but Carni was a very close second.
A dramatic loss for Mikey.
Consulting with Brandon about dinner prep. He was the authority on all things cooking.
Welch was hard at work writing a first draft of a zine. I’m excited for him to finish it.
Jack reading something philosophical.
The ten minute plank challenge.
Singing Spice Girls in the kitchen, while waiting on dinner.
We made black eyed peas, garlic kale, and cornbread with maple butter and jalapeño butter.
During dinner, an old friend of a lot of people skyped in from the Sea Shepherd. I had never met her.
After dinner, Jen, Meg, Mikey and I designed some Moon postcards and got to work making them.
A speed round of mafia before New Years festivities.
On New Years Day, folks tried to jump in the water but ran out to find that the water level was really really low. It stayed low all day so it never happened.
A few people left and Shira arrived for the last two days at Moon.
Jake tried to shoot a bow without fletching. It was a bad idea. It curved 90 degrees around the side of the house.
It was really funny though.
Sam inquiring about where the bow went.
Some people spent a day or two working on building a potato gun. When it was done, everyone trekked out to watch it fire.
shoving some celery in the launcher
Launching pears straight into the air
hiding from falling produce
Welch taught us some cool stuff by the end. I was good at flexibility stuff but bad at balance stuff. Mikey was the opposite.
Who knew Welch was so good at yoga?
Getting ready to record group vocals on the Moon collaborative song
Mikey teaching everyone the choir parts that he figured out.
Late night dessert was always provided by Brandon. All the food we ate there was incredible. One of the last nights, Brandon and Lee made 100 vegan donuts.
After everyone had all they could eat
there were still this many left… But they were gone after breakfast the next morning.
Jen, Shira and Meg with their matching tattoos
The last game of mafia was a total shit show and was really stressful.
Here was Welch theatrically trying to convince people he was the Nurse before getting voted out. Chris was trying to claim he was the Nurse and that Welch was false revealing. We voted Welch out, only to find that Chris was lying.
The gallery of the dead
Last day in Moon
Trying to shoot Welch with the potato gun
It didn’t even come close.
Mikey recording a song on the last night, with the help of Carni.
Listening to the final product of the Moon collaborative song that Carni put together.
Packing up after a long, relaxing week.