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.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Formal Fridays

Hello, lovely blog readers, happy weekend!
Here at Reed, we have something called "Formal Fridays."  Not everyone does it, but without fail, on my way to Humanities lecture (today we talked about Sappho) someone will be wearing elbow-length gloves or a blazer or an evening gown.  Today my friend Lisa dressed up with a ruffly Victorian shirt and top hat, and Ted wears a sports coat every week.
At my high school, a friend of mine started something called "Ironic Fridays," when he would give a theme out Thursday nights and people would dress up accordingly.  Once it was "Miami Vice," I think.
I at least love dressing up on Fridays.  Finding a pretty dress, celebrating the end of the week before basically a full weekend of studying, acting like a lady through my French classes... it's pretty incredible.
Do you have formal Fridays at your school or work?
(photo of a formal dress from here)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs...

... is probably one of the most famous Reedies, even though he wasn't here for that long.
When I was in high school, and embarking on the Long And Scary College Process, they made us read this.
Read it.  It most definitely made me think.

Chilly Portland

Tonight is RKSK initiation at Reed College.  I've heard from my friend A that I will regret it for the rest of my life if I miss it, but it's going on at the same time as a cappella (hey RKSK gods, can I get there half an hour late?) and from what I've heard, it's a lot of running around naked.  Today on the phone my sister described me as "delicate," which is to say that I have a constitution that lends itself to things like strep throat and fevers and influenza.  Running around the campus at ten at night, cold and wet, isn't exactly good for me, especially with the Reed Plague going around (tons of people are sick).
But I might regret it for the rest of my life if I don't go, and I don't have to take off all my clothes.  Perhaps I'll just show up and watch/semi-participate.
I love this school.  I love that people go out of their way to make events like RKSK initiation incredible for freshmen, so that people like A can remember it forever as something that if he hadn't done it, he would regret it for the rest of his life.  This is an incredible place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

Today is my friend M's birthday.  She's lovely and sweet and in a cappella with me, and today she is twenty!  So Claire (who made brownies with me for this incredible artist) and I decided to make birthday cupcakes for her.
I am not a serious baker, and especially not of cakes.  I can make bread pudding, and scones, and cookies, and that's about it.  But my friend Willamae of Flour Child Baking offered this incredible recipe - that she calls "Everyone's New Favorite" but will always be "M's Birthday Cupcakes" to me.  I highly suggest trying it.
Happy birthday, M!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesdays are the best days...

... because of French conversation.  They used to be the worst day of the week.  Honestly - I had bio lecture at nine, and then bio lab from one until five - a little too much bio for me to handle.  It doesn't help that bio is the only class I have in the afternoon (on purpose - I like mornings) and I'm kind of taking biology to get my science requirement out of the way.  Reed has really strict distribution requirements - more on that later.
But now I have French conversation with the lovely French Scholars, in which we talk about slang and babble at each other and watch the news.  Coming out of the bio building (where we have French conversation - don't ask) at noon makes me want to skip through the drizzly Portland day, speaking French all through lunch and biology.  That class makes me miss Paris so much it's not even funny.
On the other hand, maybe Tuesday isn't the best day, as I have humanities on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It's hard to choose when you like all your classes (yes, even bio).

(the photo is of the autumn-ey Jardin du Luxembourg in the rain.  Oooh, Paris, I miss you... from here)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy October! And other things

Hello, blog readers, how was your weekend?
Dave and I went on a very Portland date on Saturday, and on Sunday my girlfriends and I had "Ladies Brunch" at Toast, which may now be my very favourite place in Portland (not counting Powells, of course).
It was also the first weekend of October!  I love October; I love Halloween (more on that later, promise) and I love bright blue New England autumn and even chilly drizzly Pacific Northwest autumn thus far.  And I love, love, love the fact that I go home in two weeks to see my darling family for fall break.  "I'll see you in October," my sister told me last week.  "Don't pine."  I love it here - I love my work and my friends and my life - but I also miss my family like crazy.
So, family and home friends, I will see you in two weeks!
Enjoy your Monday, everyone...
(photo from here)