Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aurora Borealis

I've travelled a lot in my nineteen years, but I haven't seen one thing I'd really really like to see.
I want to see the Northern Lights.
I've wanted to see them since I read Philip Pullman's incredible novel "The Golden Compass" as a child (and its subsequent sequels, "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass") - I've wanted to ever since I read out loud to my little sister from Jan Brett's picture book "Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve?"
"High above the arctic circle in the land of ice and snow, the northern lights shimmer in the night like a curtain of color hanging from the sky," it reads.  
I have not been to Norway, or to Iceland, or to Sweden.  I have been to Denmark, but only in high summer when the bright Northern sky was bluer than anything I've ever seen; I have been to Montréal in the winter but the aurora never appeared.  
In the newest issue of the National Geographic, there is an article about solar storms - and one of the side effects of these huge solar storms is the aurora borealis coming as far south as Hawaii and Panama (well, once).  And it is the most selfish, but I would so love to see the northern lights - perhaps not enough to wish the kind of mass electrical outages on the world that come with such storms, but enough to at least think about it.
Have you ever seen the aurora?  Do you want to?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Exam Week

It has been gorgeous in Portland for the last three days.  Chilly mornings give way to beautiful bright afternoons at about eighty degrees (F), the sun dappling through the leaves.  This makes it very hard to study, but I've been doing my best.  Biology is tomorrow afternoon, and then I'm done!
Exam week is always kind of strange for me, a liminal space between classes and leaving.  You still see your friends, though not as much - the girl you eat breakfast with every morning suddenly isn't up when you are - you sleep in or have an exam at eight; she does the same on different days.  Midnight Breakfast screws up your dining schedule so that you're not in Commons at noon with your friends.  People pack up and leave.  It's a period that feels transient, strange, lonely but also full of community, and on top of it, you have exams.
For those of you also in exams, good luck!
For those of you who aren't, have a lovely day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The College Student's Guide to Surviving Reading Week

Hi guys -
It's been a while, but it's also the middle of Reading Week at Reed College, that lovely week when the library is open 24 hours a day, when you can't get "Eye of the Tiger" out of your head, and your dormies play really really loud music all night to help them stay up and study.  You can do what I did and get the hell out of Dodge and go stay with family for a bit, or you can brave the review sessions, Stim Table, and the inherent stress.
So, here are my tips.
1) DO NOT put liquid caffeine in your coffee (I'm talking to you, random girl on Wednesday).  Seriously.  The liquid caffeine that they offer up at Stim Table in the library lobby is super strong (like, a teaspoon equals a cup of coffee) and you don't need to mix it with coffee.
2) Sleep. Seriously.  Sleep is good; sleep makes your life a little bit easier, sleep means that you won't be tearing your hair out at four in the morning because you don't remember what mesoderm is.
3) While I am totally not condoning this for your only sustenance for the next week, chocolate-covered espresso beans are delicious, and dark chocolate has all sorts of antioxidants, okay?
4) If you're like me, and classical music helps you study, I highly recommend the Bach cello suites for the soothing, going-through-all-the-bio-notes studying.  And Beethoven's 5th and 9th symphonies for pump-up, going-to-get-everything-done studying.
5) Your friends are there for you.  You are there for them.  They're pretty excellent, I promise.
6) And if you're in Portland, the poutine food cart on Hawthorne is open really late.
Good luck!