Melanie Mignucci is a writer, student, pizza enthusiast, and eczema haver. She tweets @melmignucci.
715 am, my bed
Awoken from dream where I am a very excellent but slept on pastry chef and I am being interviewed for Vogue about bread. Fall back asleep thinking about croissants.
Awoken by slightly louder alarm from dream where I am assembling a salad at a very rustic salad bar. Stretch for a little bit, then turn around to see the sky is fucking BLUE! My landlord turned off my heat because it’s supposed to be May, but it snowed yesterday and the day before (what is this, Canada?) so I’m prayer hands emoji’ing that it might get back above 60 today.
Get dressed, realize I have to go a minute ago. Take a minute to write this down. Am wearing black jeans, my witch shoes, and a beige cardigan.
There’s a layer of frost on my windshield, which seems like some hideously unfunny prank by God’s annoying stepbrother. Drive the two blocks to the bakery for breakfast before heading to Poughkeepsie. It smells sooooo good in here. They’re playing Gogol Bordello in the kitchen, which is open to the storefront, so you can see the new baker kneading the dough in the back. I notice a sign that says, “local, organic, artisanal,” and then a little below, “hearth fired by assholes.”
816 am, my car
Plug in the address for Vassar into my GPS, a fresh scone sitting in my lap. Plug in my phone, a song from the Too Cute To Puke playlist comes on.
My car shut off while I was plugging in and getting settled etc, which I didn’t even know it could do. I am already learning so much on this day of Enormous Eye!
913 am, Poughkeepsie
Extremely late to the Spanish Spelling Bee via taking the bridge by accident, comically screaming noooooooo the entire way across the Hudson. Saving grace is that the view of the Catskills across the water was beautiful both ways across the bridge, and that when I actually got to Vassar, nobody was there, even though we had all agreed to show up at 830.
The Spelling Bee is the culmination of an entire semester’s worth of work, organizing practice sessions, putting up flyers, getting kids together from all corners of the Hudson Valley to spend a few hours practicing Spanish orthography together. The event means a lot to me not only as a bilingual person, proud of her latinidad, etc., but also because I’ve been teaching a group of five kids how to use tildes for three months now and I want them to crush the competition.
Spelling bee begins an hour late. I’m sitting in the back, taking notes. My job, semi-officially, is to keep track of the mistakes the kids make so that we can practice them next year. The food has already arrived and I could die happy with the way this room smells.
High energy. High emotion. One kid spells a word without specifying b larga or v chica (b and v are pronounced the same in Spanish). Extreme tension in the air as the judges communicate. I’m making faces at her brother, who’s probably 3 or 4, a few rows in front of me, oblivious to the high drama going on around us. The judges decide to give her a second chance and she goes with v chica! ¡Incorrecto!
When there’s only three kids left – two from my group! – we take an intermission. I talk to Sophia, who’s been taking photos for me, and Camila O., who’s one of my kids and the first to get out. She spelled acusar (accuse) as ‘aqusar’. Poor babe. I hit my shin HARD on a chair frame while talking to Juan and whisper-yell FUCK across this auditorium filled with schoolchildren.
Third kids get out. The finalists are my kids, Camila G. and Brittany. I feel lightheaded from the pain in my shin and wonder if I maybe fractured it. Can’t go to the bathroom and check the bruise so I cross my legs and yawn a lot to distract myself.
CAMILA WINS!!! We begin the second round, for the seventh and eighth graders. There are only four students this time, and one of them gets out in the first round. The last few go back and forth for a while, and then it’s just Elgin and José left. When Elgin makes a mistake, the word goes to José, who’s one of my guys. Elgin whispers to him “buena suerte” – good luck – as he goes up to correct the word and move on to the final round. José crushes it, easily, and wins the Bee. The crowd goes wild. We give him and Camila G. their prizes, take some photos and then break for lunch – arroz con pollo, quesadillas caseras, frijoles, pico de gallo, that good good.
~~It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m drinking horchata~~
Everybody’s gone by now, so I go with Sophia to watch a rugby game that her friend is playing in. She gives me a little tour of Vassar and we talk about the different cultures at our schools. I pet a huge dog at the rugby game and take a Snapchat video, which I send to a bunch of people.
Say goodbye to Sophia and her friends and head back to school. Text Jessica about figuring out rides for the next part of the day, THE DRONE.
305 pm, home
Grace and Carly are outside on the porch (it’s finally nice out! my prayer hands emoji was heard). I tell them about the Spelling Bee and Vassar and we talk about how grateful we are to go to our school. They go inside to watch Paris Hilton’s “My New BFF.” I take off my shirt and sunbathe. Maybe I’ll take a nap out here? I text Emily to come sit outside with me. Snapchat from Peter: “why u watchin rugby?” I snapchat back: “bc summer!!!!”
400 pm, front porch
Emily comes outside, and we start planning logistics for the Drone. The Drone is actually the 24 Hour Drone Festival at Basilica Hudson, a warehouse-cum-experimental music venue in Hudson, NY. We’re planning to stay overnight, so we pack bags full of “endurance snacks” (their suggestion), spare clothes, Advil, tequila, blue lipstick, yoga mats. Still haven’t checked my leg, but my head is pulsing a dull throb and I make a note to myself to bring my big water bottle.
440 pm, my room
Kick the unbeloved cat, Dot Com, out of my bed, where she’s been napping, bc it’s drone time. Head in the loaded-up car with Emily to pick Kevin up from campus. “Blurred Lines” comes on the radio and Emily and I talk about how it’s our most problematic fave and also such a banger of a song. We drive without speaking too much because of my headache.
530 pm, Hudson
Arrive at Basilica. Check in with a woman who gives us an insane amount of wristbands. Find Jess and Emma and some people we don’t know and take a seat on their blanket. I don’t know what I was expecting but the Drone is incredibly chill. For the uninitiated, drone music is single notes sustained for long periods of time. The blanket is directly underneath the last sunbeam of the afternoon, and I’m basking and listening and listening and basking. About 50 people are scattered on different kinds of mats around the performers. I’m impressed by the distribution of people in the scene, equal amounts Hudson hipsters, aging hippies. I wonder how many people in this room use the Somebody app.
I’d been writing about this day in the notes app on my phone, but now I feel strange being on my phone, as though I’m mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and everybody knows it. Mental note to ask Emily to bring me a notebook when she goes back home.
The guy sitting next to me turns around and asks if I went to GFA, my middle school. I say yes, tentatively, and he asks, “are you Mel mig… Mel mign…” getting lost on my last name. I say yes, again, and it turns out that he’s the son of my math teacher from 7th grade, who goes to my school now. Who’s in charge of making these things happen?? We chat for a little bit and then I go out to meet Sarah and start my volunteer shift.
I’m in the parking lot with Sarah and Dawn and two other people, who go off to their separate volunteer posts. Dawn’s from Schenectady and a huge drone fan. We take over for Vita and Patrick, both young, attractive Hudson hipster types. I talk with Patrick about a Spanish detective novel his friend wrote – “a little mystery, a little noir” – that he can’t read. I offer to translate it for him – he owns a small press nearby – and he gives me his contact info. When he and Vita leave, Dawn and I talk for a while until we fall into tapping on our phones as the sun sets. I instagram a photo of Kevin and Emily in front of a yellow school bus turned food truck against the blue sky.
Grace and Max show up in Grace’s old as shit Volvo. I tell them that they have to drive straight into the Hudson and park there.
Kevin, Grace, Jess and Max come by to where Dawn and I are sitting. Grace and Jess go out over the train tracks to take photos, and Kevin stays talking with me for a little while. We talk about last weekend, when he was blackout and a half, still trying to piece together what exactly happened. I remind him that I punched him in the stomach hard trying to get him to throw up and he shrug emoji’s. My head still hurts and it’s getting really cold out. Wish I had brought more layers.
Facebook message from Peter about towels with pizza on them. I play baseball with the nightstick, golf, with an hour and a half left to go on my shift.
On this day in 1865, the Lincoln funeral train passed through Hudson, NY, while a band of women in white sang a dirge, a scene which “was one of the most weird ever witnessed,” a scene which is being reenacted behind the Drone, which I am privileged enough to watch and hear from afar as I guide people towards the designated parking. I am overwhelmed by the strangeness of human ritual as 20 women in white hymn their way over to what looks like a bounce house with what’s supposed to be Lincoln’s coffin inside. It’s weird as heck, but also super spiritual.
I learn that Dawn has 16 cats, 14 male and 2 female, is Wiccan. We keep chatting until our shift is up at 10, when we both go inside. Grace gives me a beer and we go to watch experimental movies that seem to sync up with the Drone. There are polka dots, naked bodies, a river, rope, paint, a nylon stocking hanging off of an anonymous penis. My headache intensifies despite the Advil I took an hour ago. I think about napping.
The bathrooms in here are soooooooo clean.
Blankets blankets blankets blankets beanbag sleeping bag duvet duvet pillows. Everyone around me is lying down, zoning with the Drone. People come and go on our little island of bedclothes. Soon Emily comes back and she and Kevin get up to walk around and watch people in various states of being awake, meditating, holding hands, closing their eyes, swaying.
Lying down across from a live feed of a black and white clock. It is staring at me like … like ….. an enormous eye………..
The whole of the droning is starting to become extremely physical. I feel as though my entire body is being ear candled. Maybe it’s the headache, or the dehydration, or the physical weight of the noise, but I can’t place myself inside of the warehouse; I am part of the floor, reverbing as one with the Drone.
Have fallen asleep and woken up to Emily petting my head. Fall back asleep.
1230 am, Sunday
Woken up again by a huge crash and a sinister growling. I think the singer is saying Jesus, Jacob, Satan, Hate, very, very aggressively. It seems at odds with the extremely chill, meditative quality of the Drone earlier. I motion to Emily that we should pool our blankets together for warmth.
Between now and the next timestamp, I’m woken up by the feeling of like, a small animal squirming underneath my ass on the beanbag chair that I’m curled up on. I jolt awake to see a guy I don’t recognize who’s set his mat up weirdly close to ours, like too, too close, and I realize that he was touching me in my sleep (????????). I stare at him, wondering what to do, shocked, annoyed, sleepy, but he just stares at the performer and, tired, I fall back down on the beanbag, blanket firmly over my entire body.
I was originally not going to include this moment in EE because of its inherent unpleasantness, but then thought, haha, joke’s on this piece of human garbage who felt entitled to my sleeping body, because that was fucked up as fuck and I caught you and I have to tell the internet because I’m on assignment.
Wake up again (last time, I swear) and decide that the drone fest is more sleep than over. Signing out on EE ~