Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ring out the old, ring in the new!

.... Ring happy bells, across the snow...
That's Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and we used to sing a version of it in choir.
Happy New Year, everyone!
I've just now gotten back from a ski-break with my family, and spent a lovely night hanging out with my friends.  I'll post later (maybe tomorrow) about this past year, but today I'm just looking forward to the new year.  I've got college ahead of me, and new books and friends and music and experiences!
See you in 2012

Monday, December 26, 2011

Away for a bit

Hello, blog readers!
I'm going to be away on holiday with my family for a couple days - see you back come New Year's!
I'm looking forward to reading the books I got for Christmas, catching up on some schoolwork, and playing the piano - as well as (hopefully!) beating my brother at Cribbage once or twice.
See you in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Christmas

It doesn't feel like Christmastime to me yet.  It isn't snowing, and we just have too much to do before Sunday for it to be the day before Christmas Eve.  But it is, and I'm happy.
I'm so happy to be back home with my family.  I love Reed, I love being with my friends and having my own life way out in the Pacific Northwest, but I love it here more.  More than my books and my dorm room and the sheepskin in the armchair, more than I love sitting and listening to Bartók with my friends, more than long conversations in Commons about Thucydides and Proposition 8 and Switzerland.   I love sitting here at our old kitchen table and playing the piano in our living room and falling asleep listening to the rain on my skylight.  Most of all, though, I love spending time with my beloved family.  
So I guess it is Christmastime.  I am here with my family, whom I love, and that's really what matters.
Happy Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gift Guide, Part VIII: Your amazing mother

What my mother wants for Christmas is a newel post lamp for the hallway, but I can't get one of those for her (I am a college student, after all).  But she likes other things - books and the like, so these are ideas for my incredible mother... Mummy, don't look!

Swamplandia, a book you've heard great things about, $10.17....

An Ethiopian Cross, because you remember her talking about having one that got stolen when she was a little girl, $12....

Or a cool chalkboard globe, $49.00

Gift Guide, Part VII: Your awesome father

These are ideas for my father, who brings me tea every morning and plays the piano and knows most of what there is to know about music and history and all sorts of cool things.  Daddy, please don't look!

A huge history book about America's Great Migration for him to read while you're on holiday in Maine because he finds these things interesting, $11.53....

A scarf, 'cause scarves are cool, $42.50...

And the "music I'm currently listening to," but the Jazz Album 'cause my father's an accomplished jazz pianist, $12.73

Gift Guide, Part VI: Your gorgeous little sister

These are for Ursula, our firecracker full of conviction and life and beautiful things.  Ursie, I am not kidding, don't look!

A Moroccan-style candle holder to remind her of the trip you took last spring, $12.95...

An orange scarf because she's one of those rare people who looks absolutely incredible in orange and she already talks and acts like a French girl, $19.99...

Or pretty stationery, so that she'll write to you while you're away at school, $11.99

Gift Guide, Part V: Your incredible brother

These are for Caleb, who plays the piano and wears super-French scarves and has girls clinging to him left and right (it's true).  Caleb, I'm not kidding, DO NOT LOOK

A plaid shirt that you could "borrow" (and it would make him look cool), $73.50...

Cashmere-lined leather gloves, because he would have them forever and his hands get cold, $68...

Or a flask, that right now he could use for, like, tea or something but one day could carry whiskey, $25.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift Guide, Part IV: Your College Friends

For the boy in your dorm who has been worried he's got mono since like the third day of school,

For the girl who doesn't really mean to correct your grammar but she can't actually entirely help it because she's that cool, 

A book on that very subject, $9.99

For the super-fashionable girl who's just a joy to hang out with, 

For the girl who specifically asked for dinosaurs, 

And for the boy who sits with you for hours and listens to music that only the two of you love, 

A book on one of your favourite composers and his magnificent string quartets, $18.48

Gift Guide, Part III: Your MIT confidant and voice of reason

These are for another old friend, who goes on long runs and listens to a lot of the same music you do, who talks to you about the universe and whatever else is going on in your life.  Mike, don't look!

A Tesla poster, because, come on, it's Tesla, what more do you need?  $48...

A book about remembering everything, because he does, $15.28....

An Apollo light-switch cover, because he's Greek and also because it's Apollo and light and he'd probably get the reference, $6

Gift Guide, Part II: Your incredibly talented oldest friend, the girl who draws and writes and is a million times cooler than you could ever be

These are for my childhood best friend, who always knows what to say and how to say it, who is one of the coolest and smartest and most talented people I know.  Kuzu, don't look, please!

Latte bowls, because they are absolutely the most useful, $30 for six....

An owl pillow, because owls are cool, $29.95...

Or a print, to remind her that things could be worse and to make her smile, $15...

Gift Guide, Part I: Your lovely twinfriend who ran around Europe with you and always calls every single Tuesday

These are for the ever-lovely Alexandra, my travelling companion and all-around awesome friend, who skis and reads books and listens to music...
Don't look, darling!
One of those best friend necklaces, because you always thought they were kind of cool, $17.99...

A water-bottle thing with flowers so that she can have tea in class, $24.99....

A pretty mug with her initial on it for all those late nights studying maths, on sale for $4...

What do you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The End of First Semester

Tomorrow, very early in the morning, I'm going back to Cambridge.  I'm flying for five-and-some straight hours and getting off a plane with a bag full of winter clothes and school skirts, running straight into the arms of my family.  I am leaving three months of Thucydides and lymphocytes and the subjunctive tense behind in Portland, trading it for a month of mornings in front of the kitchen woodstove and picking my sister up from school.  I am trading glorious grey Portland days that fade ever-so-softly into the dark for that brilliant winter twilight blue I love so much.  I am trading the noise of dorm life for my brother's cello playing.  I will miss Portland, and my friends, and even my classes, but I am so glad to go home.  I am so glad to see my incredible family again, to play the piano in my living room (though I will miss the little upright Steinway in Prexy), to be around the people I love from half the world away most of the time.
I have learned so much in this first semester at Reed.  I have learned that you come away from Humanities lectures with the best feeling in the world, like your whole consciousness has been opened.  I have learned to take very good notes in biology and to practise my French as much as I can, listening to the news or just talking to friends.  I have learned that it is absolutely crucial to do all the readings, that playing the piano keeps me sane, that sometimes you meet people who change your life.  I have learned so much about friendship and people, about finding a niche but not being afraid to venture beyond it.  This semester was incredible, and I'm sure the rest will be as well.
Family, Cambridge friends, New England, I will see you tomorrow.

(Unrelated, but the photo is of Wenceslas Square in Praha, taken by the incredible Alexandra.  One of my favourite cities in the world)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Other Side

I am officially done with finals!  This, for me, marks the proper beginning of Christmas-y things and job and whatnot.  So tomorrow, I'll start my gift guide (I did one last year, too, if you recall...) and then be on my way home, and I promise that regular posting will start up again!  Four hour finals and crazy musical lunches and a small campus that's entirely burning up with stress make it a bit difficult, I'm sorry...
Have a lovely Wednesday!

Monday, December 12, 2011

One exam down, one to go!

I'll be back on Wednesday, everyone - until then, pardon the interruption!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Do you read Garance?  Have you read this article?
I don't live in New York, but it sounds true to me....

Well then

Hello, hello, day 2 of reading week!  "Well, then" is something one of my high-school English teachers used to say all the time, if he felt that we weren't on the right track for some reason or if other things were going on...
This morning I opened my shades and the grass was glistening scratchily with hoarfrost and the sky was bluer-than-blue and all the deciduous trees (there aren't that many around here) were just stark branches reaching up to the sky around Bragdon.  From my window at night there are these three old-fashioned lampposts that are glowingly lit up so at night it almost feels that I'm in Victorian England or Narnia with its single lamppost or something.  In the daytime, in the bright morning, I am transported back with the help of the hoarfrost on the grass and the bright sun coming green through the pine trees and shining into my face.
Good morning, blog readers!

photo from Apartment Therapy

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bon Iver

Hello, readers!  We are now a full day into reading week.
Do you know the artist Bon Iver?   I don't have any of his albums (something I should fix at some point - I really like "For Emma, Forever Ago"), but his songs on Pandora are lovely and remind me of New England winters, the long and early twilights darkening across snowy forests.  It reminds me of bleak Maine evenings curled up in large leather armchairs and watching the shadows of the branches on the snow outside, of lapsang souchong.
I don't know why, but they evoke stark Scottish Christmases and electrically blue winter light, icy seas and old boats and the laciness of French ironwork against the sky.
Anyways, I like his stuff.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Week In Which I Make An Effort

Hi guys, sorry I haven't been around!
Today is the microbiology midterm (have I mentioned how unfair it is to have a midterm and then an exam?  Because that's how my schedule is set up) and tomorrow is the French final!  After that I only have six short days until the biology and humanities final exams (three and four hours long, respectively) and going home and the like.
Anyways, since today is a three-day week, I am going to make an effort.  My friend Willamae jokes (or at least, I hope she's joking) that I dress like an old person, and I'm pretty sure that this is a result of brutally cold East Coast winters - trust me, layering is your friend!  So I'm trying to wear nice things this week.
My mother told me before I left for Reed not to lose the fashion sense I'd picked up in Paris, and I'm trying not to.  So today I am doing what many Parisian ladies do and wearing my "special occasion" clothes on a normal day.  These are the dresses that back here, I'd wear for fancy parties or dates, but I would just wear to class or grocery shopping in the 14th and the 3rd.
Making An Effort also applies to schoolwork.  I'm working hard for my upcoming exams and the ends of classes, and I'm almost there!
To everyone else in the midst of exams and college applications and December madness, good luck!  Hang in there!
(lovely fireplace from Apartment Therapy)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Advent

Guys!  It's December - almost Christmas!
Last night I didn't have my family around for Advent for the first time ever, so I dragged my boyfriend back to my room after a cappella and made him open my advent calendar with me and sing Christmas carols.  I enjoyed myself, at least.
Did I mention that his mother made me a pencil case and some hairbands that she sent in a care package?  It was super sweet, especially given that I've never met her.  Thank you, Dave's mum!
Today is Spring/Fall at Reed, a miniature Renn Fayre and thesis parade for the Spring/Fall seniors (those who took a semester off or didn't finish their PE credits in time) and while it sounds really cool, I'm not sure I'll go.  I have a humanities paper due at five tomorrow, you see.  And while that is enough time for me to finish it tomorrow, and while I have something that looks like a thesis, I really like to be prepared for humanities.  Every paper I write for this class, my professor takes about an hour out of her day to talk to me about it - what I was thinking, how I wrote it, what was good and what could be done better.  That kind of attention is rare for freshmen at other universities, and I want to show the respect that I feel for this class and my professor.  I love humanities - I love the Agamemnon and Cassandra - I love that I go to a school where this is what I spend my time doing.
The other reason I might not go to Spring/Fall is kind of superficial.  It is a mini Renn Fayre - the real thing is a whole weekend and I'm excited for that, but hanging outside for a long time for a parade and glitter (I really don't like glitter getting in my hair/clothes/things, as it never EVER comes out) in the chilly Portland evening doesn't sound like my kind of thing.  So I might go for a little while, but not the whole thing.  Thesis parade starts in an hour - perhaps I'll be there for the beginning and then come back to write on the allegory of Cassandra's sacrifice.
Happy Advent, everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Week Ahead

This is going to be what I refer to as a hell week.
This Wednesday to the next is the last week of classes.  I have a hum paper, a bio midterm, a Microbes In The News project, a French final, reading, and then studying for the humanities and bio finals.
I won't be around much, and I'm sorry...

A Typical Tuesday Night

Reed evenings are occasionally hard to come to terms with.  After a while, it's hard to really believe that this is how I spend my Tuesday evenings.  Coming out of bio lab at around four-thirty with the lovely Tamara, browsing through my books (which apparently someone in high school underlined), and then going to dinner were fairly usual for me - but still.  I loved coming back to my room and sitting down with Earl Grey (yes, I'm a tea drinker, yes, I know, in the Pacific Northwest that's practically sacrilege) and the Oresteia to write a paper on Cassandra.
The paper didn't happen (or didn't get finished, anyways), but singing Abba with my friends did.  Talking to the lovely Alexandra did.  Starting a tumblr did.  Sitting in my room and talking about Thucydides, folding laundry, remembering the difference between conjugation and declension (conjugation is for verbs, declension is for nouns), trying to explain to my boyfriend how going to South Africa when I was thirteen made me feel - all those things happened.  And as for my French and my microbes project - I've got time tomorrow.  That's what waking up early is for.
I'm off to bed, lovely readers, but I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Me In the Future...

Remember evenings like this one.  Remember long nights of writing essays about Cassandra, long bio labs in which you make root beer and talk about antibiotic resistance, long cups of tea and walks in the cold across the blue bridge to Commons and back.  Remember the forty minutes in between bio lecture and French conversation talking to your friends about the Silmarillion and Supernatural and Canadian tar sands in the Vollum corridor.  Remember lunchtime crosswords and Shostakovich and mild but exhilarating exhaustion.  Remember those, because this is why you came to this school.  To think, and be challenged, and have your mind work in new and interesting ways.
God, I love this school.
(photo from here)

Writers And Their Books

Everyone should go read this article and marvel at their books.
In other news, I would really like Claire Messud's house and piano.
In further news, I had no idea how many famous (or semi-known) authors lived in Cambridge!

Monday, November 28, 2011

School Again

Wow, that four-day weekend flew by!  In between cooking for my friends and Thucydides and buying yarn and knitting, I barely got anything done.
Being away from home for Thanksgiving was hard, harder than I expected.  I called home that day, and talked to everyone getting ready, and just missed home.  I imagined everyone in the kitchen with the woodstove lit, moving around each other and just being together.  That's generally the hardest part of college for me, being away from my family.
In other news, the Christmas season is coming up, so come December first, I'll post a gift guide and Christmas-ey things.  Be warned, however - exams come first, so the beginning of December might be a little light on posting.
Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I am ever so thankful...

... but for little things this year.  I am thankful for the rain on my roof, and the potted plants in my bedroom.  I am thankful for Sunday crossword Skype dates with my family, and lunches with Dave, and Tuesday afternoons with Willamae.  I am thankful for breakfast every morning with Emily, and the upright Steinway in the music building where I can sit for hours and play Chopin.
Mostly, though, I am thankful for my family and my friends.
You guys are incredible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday

Are you excited for Thanksgiving?  I am, a little.  It's the first year that I'm not spending it with my family.  I'll miss the dinner at Anna's house, the butternut squash kibbe that Caleb makes and playing "Winter in America" with my father.  I love my home Thanksgiving, but in no way is it feasible for me to go home to Cambridge from the other side of the country when my vacation starts on Thanksgiving Day.
I thought about going to my uncle's in Seattle, but then my friends started talking about going camping or up to the ski cabin.  It would be nice, I thought to spend Thanksgiving with the people I live with, to give thanks for each other and our lives and think about how very lucky we are to be here, at Reed, learning and living and being happy.  At least, I'm happy.
Given the current weather (rain, more rain) perhaps camping isn't the best idea, but the ski cabin is still definitely a possibility and even if we can't get there, Thanksgiving in the Nog or Chittick would be lovely.
I'm glad to spend Thanksgiving with my friends - I just am worried about missing my family.  Family, I love you, and it will be so empty having the holiday without you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rain on the Roof

Today, at almost seven in the morning in Portland, it is raining.  This isn't new - we've talked about the rain before, and I knew coming here that it was going to rain almost all the time after fall break.  But my ceiling is quite thin (I think it's literally just the bottom of the roof) so there is lovely rain all the time.  When there isn't, the rainy mood website will substitute.
I love the sound of rain.  I love the way it almost sounds like music, crescendoing and then falling back into a diminuendo depending on how much there is.  I love the bruise-coloured sky outside my window (not quite that electric gorgeous wintertime blue of Boston, but greyer somehow, darker).  The cold and wet... I don't quite love it, I must admit, but I do appreciate it, if that makes sense.
I prefer to wake up early and do my work rather than to do it at night and sleep in, so this has been a lovely morning so far, cocooned in my lovely light-filled room, wrapped up in the soft and furry robe I stole from my brother ages ago, transparent curtains guarding against the outside world.
Have a lovely Monday, everyone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Invest In An Umbrella

Today in Portland it is grey, and cold.  The big oak trees outside Bragdon are rust-coloured and losing all their leaves, and it has been drizzling on and off all day today.
I am okay with this.  It is bleak and gorgeous here - staying inside weather, yes, but I can sit in my lovely room (how I love my room!) with tea and Antigone and find myself staring out at the rusty leaves and the grey afternoon sky.  Sometimes I don't want to leave my dorm to go to capoeira or dinner or to visit my boyfriend (all of about 100 yards away) but stat feeling of standing in the wet grass with the drizzle and the hints of wind... it's beautiful.
Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Cappella and Other Concerns

Yesterday in practice we had a lot of trouble.  It's always very frustrating when rehearsal doesn't turn out as well as you'd like it to - when you're trying but just doing it wrong, when no one is blending properly, when the song just doesn't sound right.
On the other hand, I love the feeling when that frustration and that hard work and that exhaustion comes together, when suddenly the sound meshes and you sound beautiful.  I love that feeling in music, and in essays, and in maths problems when you've been working for ages and then you just understand.
So the frustration is worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Armistice

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Great War ended.  Almost everyone I know knows that story - how the fighting stopped.  What's focused on next at my school, at least, is Woodrow Wilson and his Fourteen Points, but I had a teacher in seventh grade who insisted that Veterans Day was in fact Armistice Day for the rest of the world.  She explained to me that Armistice Day, the eleventh of November, wasn't a day to have off school but rather a day to remember the war dead.
This is by far a bigger thing in Britain and Europe.  This is a day when one remembers that an awful lot of people were lost in those trenches, people with families and lives, and people are still lost in war.
Happy Armistice Day, everyone.
Poppy from here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Hi guys -
It is one of those weeks for me!  French test, two biology labs, a paper for humanities...
Luckily, I have fun things going on, too.  Tonight my darling boy and I are going to a concert in downtown Portland to hear Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants.  I don't know either of them that well, so I'm super-excited - and it's also nice to just get off campus and do things sometimes, no?
Have a lovely Thursday!
(I just think this is really pretty.  From here)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting Sick

Hi guys,
Sorry I wasn't around yesterday.  An attack of something and a grueling biology lab set me back a little, I have to admit.  I'm not entirely better yet, so I'm wondering: what do you do when you're sick?  Do you sleep it off?  Do you persevere?  Do you crawl into bed and watch silly movies?  Let me know!

Monday, November 7, 2011

All honour and glory

The Doyle Owl is an integral part of Reed culture (you can read about it here).  Before Saturday night it had last been seen two years ago, but it appeared once again on the fifth of November, and an Owl Fight ensued.  A campus of approximately 1200 people all going after an owl, trying at first to just touch it, then trying to steal it (timé, or honour, goes to the group who possesses the owl) is hectic and scary and represents the best and worst of Reed.
My dorm, Chittick, now possesses the owl.  Others will tell you that it belongs to an alliance of off-campus houses and the frisbee team, but I will see it as a Chittick victory.  Every so often I think about it - we are a small dorm, and we have the owl - and I smile, ridiculous stupid smiles plastered all over my face.
On the other hand, people got hurt.  Seriously hurt.  I wasn't involved in the acquisition of the owl, but I have friends with cuts and bruises and concussions.  People get hurt in this situation, but they shouldn't have, to the extent they did.
So, while we have the owl (and timé), real timé is when you don't hurt your friends.  Real timé is reserved for the people who pulled me out of the massive throng when I fell down and screamed, the people who kept me from being trampled, and the people who sat off to the side with band-aids and water.  
I am glad that I have seen and experienced the owl.  I'm just not sure that I'm ready to again anytime soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beautiful Thursdays

I should really be writing my final paper on "L'Étranger" for French, but that is interrupted because of the mist rising off of Reed Lake in the canyon.
I was told (or thought) that fall here would be miserable.  I like the rain - I love the rain - but the thought of no beautiful New England autumn full of bright blue skies and trees so red that you want to cry seemed awful.  I was picturing basically no colour change, no blue sky days, just the drop from perfect late summer to a brown and grey semi-winter (semi because there is no snow) in between biology tests and walking to class and lunch in Commons with my boyfriend.
That isn't true.
In the North Parking Lot sapling trees are redder than anything and in the canyon there are perfect maple branches leaning out over the water, and in the morning, when Emily and I walk to breakfast together, the mist curls off the lake and makes everything just a bit more otherworldly, just a bit more incredible.  And yes, it rains and mists and there are few bluer-than-blue days but almost every day we get a little sun and the clouds part and it's ever so beautiful.
It's beautiful in the rain, too, and sitting in my bedroom I can see the grey descending into the campus and hear the drops above my desk and try to concentrate a little more on my French.
The sun just came out, and now I can see across the canyon and the light shining green-golden through the trees.
Have an incredible day, everyone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fault In Our Stars

I am a card-carrying nerdfighter (that's not true - I don't have a card) after an ex introduced me to their videos and I was hooked.  Dave is also a nerdfighter, which is nice, but I'm not going to talk about relationships or videos.
One of the brothers behind the videos is John Green, the author.  And he posted a video a little while ago of himself, reading the first chapter of his next book, "The Fault In Our Stars."  Go listen to it.  It's beautiful.
Also, happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Something That Makes Me Smile

My twin-friend's letters on the wall.
I miss you, Alexandra!
(Also included are a Nantucket Nectars bottle cap, a fortune-cookie fortune, and a Paris Métro ticket)

Happy November and Mumford & Sons

Happy November, everyone!
This is one of my favourite months (up there with October) as it's properly fall now (except on the poor East Coast, where it's now winter) and all other sorts of things.  Like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Are you participating?  In thirty days, you write a 50000 word novel - I'm trying it for the first time this year - and my "winning" or completing my novel is entirely contingent on how much work I have.  Speaking of, I have a bio midterm in less than three hours...
In other news!   Do you know the group Mumford & Sons?  My darling cousin Bryan, who also likes the Punch Brothers (whom we've discussed here and here) recommended their music to me - as I recall, "like the Punch Brothers but English and without the mandolin."  Perhaps not exactly like that, but still super good - I highly recommend checking them out!

(frosty leaves, for those of you in snowy climes.  From here)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad-dad!

Today is my grandfather's ninetieth birthday, so I'm up in Seattle with my family to celebrate.
Happy birthday, Dad-dad!  Thank you for teaching me about science and medicine and telling me all the family stories from New Zealand.  We love you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello, Seattle

(Recommended soundtrack for this post is Hello Seattle, for obvious reasons)
Tomorrow is Harvest Ball (yay, and more on that come tomorrow) - but it's also the day that my mother and my sister come to Portland to pick me up to go to Seattle!
It will be my grandfather's birthday on Sunday, and we are headed up for a birthday party at my uncle's house.  We leave early in the morning (okay, nine) on Saturday and will go up to see my darling baby cousin (whom I've not yet met) and my lovely family.  I can't wait - I've never been, and I want to see all of the Seattle things: Puget Sound and the hills and beautiful misty city things.  Honestly, my vision of Seattle comes from "Grey's Anatomy" and "Sleepless in Seattle," and I can't wait to create a map of the real city, the city where my family is and where (in my overactive, all-too-romantic imagination) mist rises from the sea and exposes a forest of sailboat masts, where New England-ey lighthouses mark peninsulas of old growth West Coast forests.  I'm super-excited!
Family, I can't wait to see you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One of those days

Guys, I'm so sorry I don't have much to say - it's one of those exhausted days (my excuse is that I'm still getting over my jet-lag...)
In other news, I have my second capoeira class tonight.  It's super-fun!  Have you ever taken capoeira or something similar?
I promise I'll post more tomorrow, but I'm going to go drink some tea and do more biology...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tea and Castle

Yesterday W and I, as per usual, watched Castle in the afternoon.  We sit on the floor with our backs up against the wardrobe, with the pillows from my bed and blankets tucked around us, her computer on the bed.  We generally have snacks for this ritual - generally my "emergency chocolate" - but yesterday we had tea.
In the past couple days since I've been back, I've had a bunch of people come in and ask for tea, and it's something I love to give.  Making a pot of oolong with a friend, waiting for the electric kettle to boil and then sitting at my desk, talking, is one of the things I love about Reed.  I love that my friends can come to me with problems or gossip or daily life, can come and sit in my armchair and cradle the teacup in their hands.
It's one of the things I miss about home, actually.  Over the break I remembered how much tea I actually drink - how my father brings me tea in the morning, how Caleb makes a pot or two or three when he comes home from school, how someone will inevitably put the kettle on after dinner.  People don't do that here - on the whole, the West Coast is a coffee kind of place - and it's nice to revert to the way things are at home, to make that home part of the home that is now Reed.
Thank you, W and N and A, for coming to have tea with me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back at Reed

Yesterday I woke up early and got on a plane to LA, and from there up to Portland, and I was shocked to realize how happy I was to be back at Reed again.  Don't get me wrong: I love my family.  I have loved this last week of hanging out with them, of going to marches and going apple picking and walking to school, of family dinners that devolve into laughter.
But it's nice to be back here.  It was so lovely to get back and realize that Dave had made up my bed for me so that I could sleep in new sheets after a long flight, so lovely to be picked up by three of my girlfriends (and then hit up Burgerville for pumpkin milkshakes), so lovely to sit in my common room doing humanities reading with all of my friends.
And to top it all off, it's actually autumn here.  A New England kind of autumn today, blue skies and changing leaves and cold, crisp air.
Thank you for a perfect day so far, Portland!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Walking Ursula To School...

... is one of those things that doesn't seem like it will be fun (walking so many blocks up Magazine and through Central, all the way up Prospect and turning finally past the park and by the crossing lady) and then turns out to be one of those lovely moments with my sister.
It is early in the morning; we leave at seven-fifty or so (vas-y, she says), walking by the other people on their ways to work and the like.  We talk about everything - today it was books and physician-assisted suicide - and all too soon we are at school and I'm kissing her goodbye.  I love these little moments of mundane life with my family - I love mornings when everyone is rushing out the door ("sweetheart, can you feed the cats?") and the background guitar lick from NPR's Morning Edition.  I love dinnertime and the evenings of homework spread out across the kitchen table.
Now that it's almost my second-to-last day home, the Boston weather is finally gorgeous New England autumn and I have found my place in family routine and I have to leave all over again.  But in the meantime, I can do things like walk my sister to school and feed the cats and listen to the radio.  And that should be enough.

(the picture is a Julianna Swaney print from Oh My Cavalier - I bought a different one from her and I love it!)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things I Forgot

Aside from the big things (like forgetting how to play the piano or that the Green Line is super-slow), I forgot littler things about Boston.
Namely, allergies.  I'm not really allergic to the dust in Portland - mainly because there is no dust.  My mother has said before that I am suited to the Great Britain/Pacific Northwest cold and grey and wet climate, and it is true that I thrive on damp moor walks and runs in the canyon on drizzly mornings and that my window in Portland is constantly open, regardless of how often W and N come in, wrinkle their noses and say something like "it's kind of chilly in here, no?"  I like the fresh air and the mild damp.  Someone on my backpacking orientation trip told me that he (a junior) partially came to Portland for the weather because he'd had this idea of breathing cold, wet air and it being refreshing and good.  And I know what he means - I thought the same thing.  It's true.
But Boston isn't exactly like that.  Boston is older, it feels, or at least has been lived in longer.  It doesn't have that raw primordial feel of the West Coast or even the feeling of determination and strength and stubbornness that Scotland elicits.  It's old, and venerable, and dusty.  And our house is the same way.
My childhood home was built sometime in the 1800s, I think, and it is just an old house.  There is horsehair plaster and crumbling Victorian wallpaper in the living room where I practice the piano and sit on the sofa writing this; there are dusty woolens and vintage dresses in the second-floor-hallway closet.  We collect books here (I remember describing them as pen-and-paper souls in my chapel) and soft old rugs, and there are two kitties (possibly three at some soon point), so everything is a little dusty.
A dust that I didn't remember collecting in my throat or making me sneeze, so this will be interesting!
But really, I love being here and having the old-house smell - of books and plaster and soft sofas - swirl around me, as it feels exactly like what it is: home.
(That is not my room.  But: high ceilings and windows and old rugs!  From here.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sibling Dates

Today Caleb and I are having lunch together in the Back Bay.  It counts as a date, I think.  We do this every so often - we went out to dinner together and to Ladurée when we were living in Paris, but as far as I know, we haven't done it here at home.  
I miss my brother, especially as he's so busy he can't really skype or talk when I'm gone, so it'll be great to have lunch with him.
See you at 12:20, darling, Caleb!
Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things That Happen When Mike Comes Over

My darling Mike came over for dinner yesterday, and had this conversation with my sister:
"Es el español mejor que el francés?"
"I - I think I lost..."
(Excuse the Spanish - I don't know any!  But from what I understand, he asked Ursula if she thought that Spanish was better than French and she answered him in French)
It was great to see you, Mike!

My Mornings

I am always confused about what to do with my days when everyone else is in school and work.  The whole family rushed out the door about half an hour ago, and now I am sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and the vestiges of breakfast (lemon juice, half a cup of coffee, Caleb's physics textbook) spread out in front of me.  What do I do with slow mornings like this?  So far I think it's mostly blogging and playing the piano, but I should probably run my errands - I have dry cleaning to drop off, and I need to find someone to mend a jacket of mine.  I need to buy things like socks and stockings and probably a pair of shoes, and I need to feed the cats, and I've not yet touched the second, more complicated half of the Chopin prelude.  And long baths I want to take, and books to read, and packing to do... it seems full, but I find myself sitting alone, mildly lonely while everyone else heads to school and work and can't hang out with me during the day.
Oh, well.  I'm sure I'll figure something out.  
(I really like owls.  From here, I think)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Break

I am back home in New England, having had a wonderful weekend with my family!
We went apple-picking yesterday - one of my favourite fall activities ever - and I am looking forward to a week of Autumn (I forgot how cold and windy it is here!) and family and playing the piano.
Oh, Chopin prelude, if only you came naturally... but I'm getting there, I'm sure.
How was your weekend, blog readers?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wanderlust: Boston Edition

Guys, I am going home tomorrow, and cannot tell you how happy I am.  I get to see my friends; I get to go apple picking; I get to sit in front of the woodstove with my family all around me.  It should be great.
I want to walk down Marlborough Street in the Back Bay...

And climb the tower in the cemetery for this lovely view...

And take the T to Harvard Square...

And run alongside the Charles!

When you get home, what do you want to do?
Also, visit my city, it's beautiful.
Have a lovely weekend!

(photos from here, here, here, here, respectively)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Brainiest Colleges

The Huffington Post posted a list of the brainiest colleges out there, and Reed is on it.
Um, yes, everything they say is true.  God, I love my school
(the picture is in front of the Naito/Sullivan dorms, by the way)
(from the same place)

Lovely Thursdays

In less than forty-eight hours, I am headed home!  I am so excited to see my family again, to go to tealuxe (pumpkin-spice chai, here I come!) and to go apple picking, but I'll miss my school friends and my college more than I first thought I would.
My darling friend Emily also painted my fingernails yesterday!  It's the first time that I've really had nails long enough to paint, and now they are slightly golden and shiny and I get a little distracted by them when I'm typing (it's exciting!).
Anyways, I hope you have a lovely Thursday!
(More Paris, by me)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Lovely Alexandra

Sends beautiful things my way some mornings.  I miss her.
But anyways, I open up my mail this morning (the morning of the French midterm and all that good stuff) and find this
Thank you, Alexandra!  And I hope your Wednesday is lovely, everyone.

(Café des Musées on Rue de Turenne in the Marais.  Because I have a French midterm... Also, if you find yourself there, get the Entrecote because they literally have the best béarnaise sauce I have ever tasted)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rainy Tuesdays

It is damp and cold in Portland today (what a surprise!)
So here is a photo of a small child dressing up as Doctor Who (the fourth) for you...

Hallowe'en, anyone?  From here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Middle-Earth for your Monday

The summer before my gap year we spent the summer in Switzerland, and most weekends (two weekends?  Three?), when my mother wasn't working at EPFL, we would rent a car and drive off into the countryside to go hiking.

We went to Lauterbrunen one weekend.  Tolkein used to visit Lauterbrunen - actually based Rivendell off of it - and it is the most Middle-Earth place I'd ever been.

I didn't like living in Switzerland, but I loved hiking in Lauterbrunen.  Foggy mountain mornings with waterfalls off the cliff, real alpine meadows with edelweiss and bees, the crashing waterfall I won't ever be able to forget, hiking down through twiggy forests and white bark.

Hopefully these photos make your Monday seem a bit more peaceful...

Fall Break and Midterms

(Yet another photo of Paris, because I miss it.  By me.)

We are coming up on Fall Break at Reed, now.  I am so excited.  I love my friends here dearly, and I will miss the family I have created at Chittick, where A bakes bread constantly and M rants about philosophy. I love humanities conference, and sitting with my friends at lecture, and walking with W from conference to French every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I love French conversation -  I may even love bio lab. I love a cappella for sure, though, and runs in the canyon (though it's getting quite chilly) and weekday breakfasts with E.
But I miss my family.  I miss my darling sister coming home from school, I miss setting five places at our kitchen table, I miss drawing my knees up in front of the woodstove.  I have made a list of the things that I want so badly to do at home - to go for a bike ride down Memorial Drive, to go apple picking out in Harvard, to stand on the rocks at Halibut Point with the wind whipping through my hair.  I want to picnic at Great Meadows and drink pumpkin-spice chai at tealuxe with the lovely Alexandra and have lunch over at MIT with Mike and see all my friends again.  So I love the people here at Reed dearly, but I do so want to go home.
On another note, because it is the week before fall break, everyone has assigned midterms.  I, thankfully, only have one - for French - but my boyfriend has something like four, as do most of my friends.  So, good luck, Reedies with midterms!  You'll do excellently!
And happy Monday, everyone.