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!