Welcome to Happy Valley

I wrote the original version of this upon visiting State College, PA for the PSU MacAdmins conference in 2018. After the 2019 conference, my husband performed a dramatic reading of it actually at the Berkey Creamery, and I’ve started to expand it.

The Creamery is indeed excellent, but having grown up in Pennsylvania, I’m already aware of it, thank you.

You mention that you’re visiting State College, PA this week. You hear a sound, a low-pitched vibration just at the edge of your perception. “You must go to the Creamery,” your acquaintance says with a smile, looking steadily at the center of your forehead.

“O…K. What’s the best thing to get at the Creamery?”

“You must go,” they say, their smile unchanging, “to the Creamery.”

You turn to leave, but to your immediate left is a stranger, wearing a Penn State sweatshirt, smiling as they stare at your forehead. The buzzing is louder now. “Yes, you must go to the Creamery.”


You get into your car at the end of your day in State College. You turn the car on and start to back up. Then you turn the car off and look out the window. You remember nothing since turning the car on, but now you are at the Creamery. 

You start the car again, and as you drive down the street, you ask Siri for directions home. She guides you swiftly around the block until you return. “Siri, I need directions to HOME.” “You must go to the Creamery,” Siri replies. 


All the doors of the Creamery have signs admonishing you to use the correct door for what you are ordering. There is no correct door. They are all the wrong door.


You sit at a table among the gleaming white tiles of the Creamery, eating your chocolate ice cream cone. A drop of melted ice cream falls from your cone to the table. You reach for a napkin to clean up after yourself, but the drop is gone. You feel a shift in the air, a barely-perceptible rousing. Another drop falls. It is absorbed into the table, and you hear the faintest of whispers:

More.


There are rumors that, after the scandal, the agricultural department stopped production of Peachy Paterno and staff pulled all the stock off the shelves.

The next morning, the Peachy Paterno shelf was once again full.

No Peachy Paterno is being manufactured.

The shelf at the Creamery is always full.


Sated at last, you return to your car, shoulders drooping under the weight of insulated bags laden with gallons upon gallons of ice cream. You are bringing this ice cream home to share with your friends and loved ones.

You will take the pints and gallons from the bags as though unveiling a rare and precious jewel. “Try this ice cream,” you will say, staring at their foreheads. “It is from the Creamery.”

You are compelled to share the Creamery with others. You must share…the Creamery.


Hidden spaces, public oasis

We returned today from a trip to Australia, where we spent 6 days in Sydney and a weekend in Melbourne.

Something that struck me again and again during the course of the trip is how intentionally these cities make use of hard-to-use space. We visited a literal alley into which a street food market had been built, and an alley dedicated to urban street art, but it was an afternoon spent finding and wandering around in Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden that really got me thinking.

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