Friday, January 17, 2014

Costume Quibbling Has Moved!

If you're here to check out Costume Quibbles, I've got a brand-new blog just for that! It's here. I hope you enjoy it!

Of course, if you're here to catch up on my life, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you. I'll try to post more regularly soon.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crafty Every Day: January 1

So this is a little late, and I'll probably have to skip all the Christmas cards I made until next Christmas (at least in early January, I could have claimed it was still Christmas if I got them in before Twelfth Night), but I hope you'll be interested in my handworks anyway. Here we go!

I have an embarrassing amount of scrapbooking, papercraft and other art supplies.  It usually stays all neat and packed up, out of sight...and therefore out of mind.

This is a problem.

Yes, mostly because it doesn't get used.  But also because I forget what I have, and any time I step into a Michael's or a Paper Source or any of the excellent specialty stores (like the Peddler's Pack here in Oregon, and the sadly defunct Colorful Creations in Falmouth), I pick up something else.  Cute stickers, irresistible Japanese paper, a paper punch on sale, whatever.  Then I toss it into the box with the rest of the stuff, and out of mind it goes again.  Until I finally got around to unpacking it all on my aunt's huge craft table, and the sheer volume of it blows my mind.

I should point out that the brown roller bag isn't unpacked at all.

So much I couldn't get it all in one shot.  So here's the rest.
Yikes, right?  So I unpacked it all, got set up...and sat staring at it for a while trying to think of something to do with it all.  Finally I decided that I'd warm up by making some greeting cards with the premade cards and envelopes I'd bought years ago, and the stickers I bought in December with the express intention of making Christmas cards for this past Christmas (luckily we already had photo cards from our wedding ordered and ready to go, or else NO ONE would have gotten anything this year!)

So without further ado, here is the first product of the first day of new year:

$3.50, free shipping, let me know in the comments if you'd like to buy it!

Simple, clean, and seasonal.  I quite like it.  I hope you do too!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Updates! Part 1: 2006

Well, so much for my grand plans to have everything wrapped up and up-to-date ASAP, not to mention all the fun and mostly daily posts I had in mind! Thanks for your patience. It turns out re-creating your life over several years takes time AND energy! I confess I've been working on the other posts, the costume and craft posts, and also my blogging got interrupted by a trip to Baltimore to take care of my mom, who had foot surgery and needed help getting around and cheering up. But I'm back now, so here we go!

 We're going to shotgun our way through this, kids, so we can get to the good stuff (aka 2012, the year I can mostly remember without reading old e-mails or slogging through Facebook), and I'll slow down a little, maybe do a whole post for this past year.  A lot happened in it, after all.  But for now, we've got five years of my scintillating life to catch you up on!

February 2006: Went to New York to give a paper at an East Asian Studies conference at Columbia.  I felt very grown-up, very professional, even though it was just my undergrad thesis, brushed up and re-tooled a little.  I got bad billing: the second-to-last time-slot of the last day, so at least half of my audience consisted of my family.  Which was nice in some ways (especially since the paper dealt a little with filial piety and the importance of family in pre-modern Japan) and a little embarrassing in others.  But we had a marvelous time at brunch the day after, so I'm glad they were there after all.  And the snow!  The biggest storm New York had ever had, at least since they began keeping records.  Thigh-high drifts everywhere, beautiful, but deadly inconvenient, at least once I had to leave.  My flight sat on the tarmac for 5 hours before finally taking off and arriving at 5AM in Oakland.  A dear ballroom friend picked me up at this ungodly hour, and I caught a little sleep before getting right back up and heading to class.  A scholar's work is never done!
Me, in the snow, in Brooklyn.

March 2006: My birthday!  Right over spring break. I took myself to San Francisco for the day, lunched in North Beach with my cousin who works at Patagonia, and bought myself a pretty top with his employee discount. Upon returning home, I found out my ballroom teammates had whipped up a cake and a little party for me, so I went over to the ballroom house and had a very nice time. I do so love having friends. My grandmother's birthday is a few days before, and my cousin's a few days after, so my aunt had a little party for us in her backyard.
Spring birthdays are the best!
April 2006: It rained for 6 straight weeks here in Berkeley.  I wore my rain boots every day, the creek under Sather Gate was roaring like rapids, and you couldn't walk on any grass for fear of sinking ankle-deep in mud.  Everyone says it's very unusual.  The sun finally came out, and the Campanile played "I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone".  Tee hee.  UCBD went to Stanford for their Cardinal Classic competition, and I did very well with my new partner.  It's amazing how much warmer and sunnier Palo Alto is, even though it's only something like 30 miles away.

May 2006: All my friends from my Japanese language class are graduating, so I went to the department ceremony (the big one in the stadium is too scary for me, plus I think you need tickets).  I also went to a graduation party a few nights later, even though I was tired and not interested much in going, and met a very intriguing young man...!  [FUTURE ME: Naturally, we're not speaking anymore, but we'll have to feign ignorance of the inevitable end--indeed, the inevitable ends of ALL the relationships but one, as I rehash this very old news].  For his privacy, let's call him...Ishmael.  Hee.

June 2006: After closing up my apartment for the summer (I'll be back for about five minutes in July, and I don't want it sublet because I don't have anywhere to stash all my stuff), I headed home for 3 weeks and to Woods Hole for one.  Woods Hole all by myself.  It was interesting.  I had no car, and it was pretty early in the season, so there weren't very many people and it was chilly--even rained a few times, and the wind off the Sound was so strong on my way home from the supermarket (and, I admit, from Christmas Tree Shops...), it nearly blew me off my bicycle. I got a lot of work done on my photo album from Japan, saw a few friends, and probably ate my weight in pastry from Pie in the Sky (there you go, Erik, a little free publicity!).  It was calm and quiet and I enjoyed it very much.  I think I would like to live there when I am old and possibly alone.

July 2006: I went to three parties in Berkeley while I was back there, for about 30 hours in between my return flight from the East Coast and my departure to Japan.  Ishmael went to Berkeley and lives in Oakland, so he still has a lot of friends in the area, as well as coworkers.  He's a big happy puppy of a guy, so I'm looking forward to joining his social circle as well as bringing him into mine.  He's also retooled his vacation so that he can visit me in Japan after his trip to Thailand!  I am a happy girl, made even happier by the random upgrade to business class on my JAL flight to Tokyo, which I think is probably like first class on most other airlines.  I can't imagine what first class is like.  I think it must be like Paradise.  For a more detailed description of my flight and my first day in Japan, please read From Tokyo with Love, Part 1.

August 2006:  From Tokyo with Love, Part 2 was my sop to my audience, since I got so caught up in the days of classes, homework, excursions, hanging out with my friends and my host family, and the heavy Tokyo humidity that I didn't really post anything about the rest of the trip except an album of Facebook photos (so if you're friends with me, check it out) and a picture of me holding a souvenir katana on this blog.  I had some great ideas for posts, too: one about the field trip we took to the local temple in town, which was to be entitled "Zen and the Art of Staying Awake"; another about the field trip we took to a sumo stable, which was to be entitled "Sumo and the Art of Staying Awake" (are we noticing a theme here?  I was EXHAUSTED most of the time, which was my own stupid fault; if I had just gone to bed at 10PM like an adult most nights, I would've been fine.  But Internet!  And chatting! And homework! Add to that the fact that my bladder never adjusted to the time difference and I was getting up and stumbling down a very steep flight of steps to the bathroom at 5AM, and I was lucky I managed to stay awake in class, never mind these extra events that required us to get up early or stay out late); and another about the INCREDIBLE food my host family keeps stuffing into me, despite my protests (oh, who are we kidding?  I'd sit up on my hind legs and beg if that would get them to feed me more).  See, my host father just quit his job right before I got to Japan [FUTURE ME: and got a new one a few weeks after I left!  Go Tatsuya-san!], and my host mother didn't work, so once they figured out that I would eat pretty much anything they put in front of me (I had already told them I didn't like squid, raisins, natto, and puru-puru-mono, which translates roughly to "wobbly things", like Jell-O), they spent a lot of time and energy (and probably money) to make all sorts of amazing deliciousness. And they took me to awesome tasty places too: the kushi-age place where my host father hung out in college, peach and grape picking in the mountains, and a restaurant that served only mushroom dishes, also in the mountains.  And then Ishmael came to visit, and it was super-fun and very romantic.  And then it was time to go home, and my host mother cried, and I cried a little too, but I was pretty happy to be back in the US when I got there (in my economy-class seat; no upgrades this time!).  And that's how I spent my summer vacation.

September 2006: I spent the first semester of my first year getting comfortable in my new home, learning the ropes in the department, and making friends, but I needed money by the end of it (a brief project of Not Buying Anything during the fall of 2005 worked okay, but I should have paid myself a small salary every month and stuck with it instead of just dipping into the principal every time I needed something), so I got a winter-break job working the phones at the Call Calling Center soliciting for donations, and, as described in my January 2006 post, I started as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) the second semester.  I got another position as GSI, this one in the East Asian Language and Cultures department, teaching Buddhism 101.  It's pretty fun and the other GSI for the class actually likes me and we get along, as opposed to the terrible bitch who, by the end of the last course I taught, wouldn't make eye contact, speak to me directly, or take something from my hand.  I like my students and the discussions are interesting--well, I'm interested, anyway.  Ballroom has picked up and I have a new partner!

October 2006: So much dancing and teaching, as usual. I don't remember much about this part of the year. I was pretty happy, although I remember feeling kind of crummy on Halloween, so I went shopping at the Ross at Shattuck and Allston, and getting some cute things. A lot of my friends from my program graduated last year, so my social circle has shifted to Ishmael's and ballroom pretty exclusively. Wish I had more than that; even this new-fangled "Facebook" thing isn't yielding a lot of memories.

November 2006: Ishmael and I went to Rock Haven for Thanksgiving, and he met my mom. We had a nice time. I had to do a lot of homework and thesis prep, but Ish took one of the smaller guests out for an epic Nerf battle, which did wonders for everyone's mood. I'll take this month's space to mention the sewing/hangout/nerd circle that I started going to in the spring, at first just to have my ballroom gown altered, but now I'm friends with them all, and it's really, really nice, and I love them very much [still do!].

December 2006: I spent part of Christmas break with Ishmael's family, and went home on Christmas Day. I'd never been to his part of the country before, and it was a lot of fun. When I got to BWI, my mom had my stocking in the car for me to open while we drove home, which was great! Then I spent the break how I usually do, sleeping late, eating a lot of things, reading my new books, seeing my friends and going to movies. Then it was 2007.  I'm going to graduate this year!  Eeek!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


(EDIT: I know it's not Epiphany anymore.  I'm a few days late.  Sue me.)

So, um, hi there.  It's been quite a while, hasn't it?  Like around, oh, seven years?  Yeah.  That's about right.


Well, let's catch up, shall we?

I graduated from Berkeley.  I moved.  A lot.  I danced.  A lot, also.  I dated people.  Several people.  I even married one of them!  I ate and drank and made merry.  I tried to visit my family when I could.  I went to weddings, a funeral, and countless parties.  I worked.  Did I mention I got married?  It was a big deal.  Then it all becomes "we".  We traveled.  We hung out.  We moved again.  More on that later. More on all of it later, actually -- I'll try to give mini-recaps of every month (and by mini, I mean a few lines at a time.  It occurred to me to do haiku, but that's a little precious, even for me!).  But I also have two other series to debut:  Crafty Every Day and Costume Quibbling!

Crafty Every Day is a brand-new resolution of mine for 2013, mostly to keep me sane.  I felt a little blue before the holidays because I wasn't getting much done in the crafty part of my life: no scrapbooking, no painting or drawing, only some desultory knitting while I watched TV.  However, at the moment I find myself with an totally obscene amount of free time as well as a huge and lovely craft table and some primo tools at my disposal (check the updates for the reasons why).  It would be criminal not to take advantage of them!  So I'll post my efforts, one a day (with a big wave to start with, to cover the first few days of this year) for your viewing pleasure.  Even better, some of the things I post, like note cards, knittings, and the like, will be FOR SALE TO YOU!  That's right, for an unlimited time, you can own a piece of my creativity, the product of my idle hands, for a low, low price (I'll quote it in the post) and my eternal gratitude!

Costume Quibbling will be a series on film and TV costuming with an eye towards character and plot analysis through the wardrobe choices.  Having dabbled in costuming myself many moons ago, I know that the best practitioners (I do not include myself!) express not just time and place, but personality, mood, and any number of other subtle cues through their costumes, whether they design and build them from scratch or pull them together from ready-made stock.  Watch enough of a TV series, or a movie several times over, and you'll see themes emerge in the dresses and suits.  Sometimes if a costumer is really superb at his or her job (Janie Bryant of Mad Men, I'm looking at you!), the costumes will tell you things about the characters that you'd never know otherwise from the dialog or exposition.  There won't be "quibbling", per se, as I don't think I'll have anyone to quibble with, and I'm certainly not going to take issue with how the pros do their jobs, but I liked the alliteration as well as the sense of "fussing over tiny details" that the word "quibble" evokes.

I'll be alternating update posts, craft posts, and costume posts (maybe not in that order) as often as I can until I'm all caught up, then I'll try to post one of each series a week.  We'll see how long that continues.

The title of the post might be misleading, not least because it's well past Twelfth Night as of post time, but also because I'm not sure I've had an epiphany of any kind, other than the impulse to revive my languishing electronic presence.  I am, however, bringing you three gifts: my updates, my craft series and my costume series.  I'll let you decide if they're better than gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Stay tuned, loyal readers!  And tell your friends to follow the Electrograph too!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

January 2006

Anyone who says winter doesn't exist in California is wrong, wrong, wrong. It might not be exactly what we're all used to in “Christmas in Connecticut”, with snowy fenceposts and bright biting days, but it's definitely cold and nasty here. Dreary, too. Lots of rain. Lots of fog. Some watery pale sunlight now and then. Occasionally a fleeting moment of warmth on the bricks at 3 PM. Mostly just cold.
But I have plenty to keep me occupied now that the semester's underway again. The first few weeks of the month dragged a little (lots of waking up late and mucking about without purpose, which can be surprisingly tiring and uninspiring). Then the semester started again, so there are classes and practices and parties, oh my.
But first, a spot of bad news: I have no dance partner. We went to dinner and he said he didn't want to be my partner anymore. Whether this is because of the screaming matches we started to have during practice, or the height/build disparity, or just lack of that ineffable thing called chemistry, the result is the same. This spelled disaster for the upcoming Winter Frolic until I put out feelers for a new partner and found someone whose partner can't compete that day. So we trained up for a few weeks together, and he's very sweet and fun to hang out with, so that softened the annoyance of not doing very well down in Palo Alto. I have given up on slicking my hair back, because it makes me look bullet-headed, and have instead opted for a slightly larger, more shellacked version of what my hair normally looks like. I wore my green gown this time instead of that awful skirt and top combo, now that we're dancing Silver, and horror of horrors, Novice (which went as well as you'd expect). I also have a much better regulation Latin costume, consisting of a poufy frilly black skirt and the ugliest top that Old Navy ever put out, but it's still better than the tube dress, which, now that I've seen the videos, makes my ass look like a TV screen. At least I have lovely new shoes (Christmas gift from Mom and Dad; along with cowboy boots, this was a shoe-y holiday!) so I don't look quite so frumpy in those big black boats like last semester.
Typical, I suppose, to start the post with all about Ballroom. I do have a scholarly life, too: my classes mostly hold intrigue: the second semester of Japanese at (thankfully) an hour later than last semester, the second Japanese linguistics class, and a wonderful seminar on Basho and other haiku poets. I love the professor; he's soft-spoken and seemingly easy-going but not really. He expects work from us and he's going to get it. I'm really beginning to love classical Japanese. Also, basically all of my Japanese-major friends are in it, including some grads, so it's party time every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon! The other two things I'm taking are stupid and boring: proseminar, AGAIN, and an Edo history class that is a complete waste and I can't bring myself to get excited about. The prof is about a million years old and a crashing bore, just narrates the readings. And I don't like the reader. [Editor's note: I'm not naming names, like I promised, 5but I'm glad for once for the two-year gap in time, because it means I can say things like this.]
And then, there's teaching. Yikes. I've been totally drained after each class. I hope it gets easier. We had a few meetings with Dr. Z to go over basics, and I had to do an all-day seminar on teaching and being a GSI, and I'm taking a seminar in pedagogical methods, which is required for getting the paycheck, but I still don't feel prepared for marching in and seeing those shining little faces every Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tuesday class is the harder one. Those kids are SMART. A good few of them are smarter than I am. And one or two are my age, which is also nerve-wracking. I scared them all but good the frist day thundering on about plagiarism, which I probably overdid. I just didn't know what to say, and I got a little carried away. Whoops. The Wednesday class seems nicer (read: a little more docile and a lot less likely to catch me with a question I can't answer), but also sleepier. I probably prefer that one because I already have my material down from the day before. So far, so good. We're starting with India, and beginning to wade into “The Home and the World”, which contains an embarrassing amount of allegory, so it's easy to work it over pretty thoroughly.
Next month: Travels in New York!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

December 2005

I'm glad the competitions are over for the moment, because all my work is catching up to me. Thhe nostalgia of papers and exams and study sessions is flooding back to me in an sleep-deprived, ink-stained wave. The fixed-scheduled exam system, though, now, THAT'S a kick in the teeth. You mean I can't just waltz in and pick up the exam when *I* feel like it? I have to take it with everyone else? Barbaric. But they seem to have gone okay, and now I'm on blissful respite from all things academic, here in the gloom of a Berkeley winter. It's rainy and cold and bleak, and I spend a lot of time in front of my tiny gas heater, reading the books I've been assigned for my class next semester. For yes, friends, Romans, countrymen, next semester I shall join the hallowed ranks of the pedagogues, those noble bastions of higher learning: I am to become a GSI. Where heaven is high and the professor is far away, graduate student instructors are on the ground, in the academic trenches, with their raw, plucky foot soldier-scholars, and I can't wait to get in there. The call came while I was Christmas shopping (read: overspending) on Fourth Street, a few blocks of high-end little shops and tree-lined sidewalks that I wish the rest of the world looked like (and smelled like: the Italian restaurant halfway down has its own wood-burning oven that pumps out glorious, James-Fenimore-Cooper-worthy gouts of smoky delicious woodsmoke), from Professor Darren Zook in the PEIS department. He's teaching Asian Studies 10B (Modern Asia) next semester, and I interviewed a few days before, obviously favorably! I am excited to test my didactic mettle, to be earning some serious cash (go, union!) and to be learning more about the countries I know very little about. To that end I'm reading Ranbindranath Tagore's The Home and the World, and the other two books are Mo Yan's Big Breasts, Wide Hips (looking forward to that one) and Oe Kenzaburo's A Personal Matter. I know both the other GSIs, so I'm looking forward to it all!
Christmas is upon us! Mom sent an Advent calendar, I put up my wee tree and spent a few bucks on awful decorations at the dollar store. My room is now festooned along the molding with silver bead ropes and hung with plastic balls, toy drums and two truly tacky reindeer. I love it. I'm still a little homesick, though, and it still doesn't feel like Christmas proper.
But the closer it got, the more I bucked up. We went down to Grandma Polly's in Fresno, for the first time since I was a wee babe, although Mom and Dad did it a few years ago on their way to Japan. Mom came over to California first, and spent the night at my apartment. John was very sweet and picked us up from the airport, although I got my very long scarf caught momentarily in his trunk and scared Mom half to death (let the record show that the car wasn't even moving, and he noticed right away and I pulled it out without having to even open the trunk, so relax, for heaven's sake). I was delighted to show her the gallery exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum, which was Taisho-era transitional paintings, furniture, kimono and tableware. Then we had dinner with Sam at Le Bateau Ivre on Telegraph, and it was perfect: hot, cheesy, savory food and fire and stoneware pitchers all soothing and warming on a wet blustery night. It's not so cold here, but it certainly manages to feel what I imagine England is like in the winter, and it's not hospitable.
Next day we went to Kingpin Donuts for breakfast (I think Mom only pretended to exclaim over the best donuts ever—her loss), and then we headed for the train station. I love going to Fresno by train. The ride is lovely almost all the way down, with a long river view for the first hour, and then fields of every description—best in the spring when the almond trees are blooming, but surprisinly green in winter, which is when they actually get rain here.
Grandma's was calm and sociable for the first few days: we saw Memoirs of a Geisha at a huge sprawl-mall (verdict on the movie: gorgeous production values, crappy rendering of the story, watch it for the sets and props and costumes), ate at Dai Bai Dang, which is surprisingly good for franchised and large, and I saw Vince and we drove down to his little hovel in Merced, and I received an excellent gift from him, a wicked little blade concealed in a pen. A bride's knife! I fervently hope it is never required for defending my honor (I'm certainly not going to use it on myself, like you're supposed to), but it rides in my leather jacket pocket now, and I grin surreptitiously whenever I sign checks with it...
Christmas Day, however, was something else entirely. Being an only child with no living relatives within two hours after pubescence, Christmases are spent, are supposed to be spent, in tranquility, a leisurely plow through stockings and under the tree with pauses for coffee, hot chocolate, bacon, stollen (ick), and clementines. Presents are opened one by one, to make it last and to ensure proper attention is given to every gift and giver and receiver. Bathrobes are to be worn until at least 2 PM. Usually whatever movie was given to individual or family unit is put on in the afternoon, and we all read our books all day. Lately, we've been bestirring ourselves to haul over to the neighbors' across the street for Christmas Dinner, and then home to lie heavy in our beds and savor the week ahead.
But at Grandma's, you're up at 8 or earlier, to chop mushrooms and fold napkins and look lively or else. Fifty people show up in waves, most of whom have known Dad since he was in short pants, and the last time they saw me I was just a baby. Mom, in a moment of sympathy, allowed as how she'd rather be in her bathrobe drinking coffee too...but that wasn't how it was going to be this time, so suck it up. Moment over. Fold some more napkins. The highlights were my multitudinous second cousins, all identically dressed, swinging decorously at the pinata (which Dad cruelly hauled out of range EVERY single time!), and encouraging old Cal alumni to come see the next ballroom competition the next time they were in Berkeley.
If I had a less-than-ideal Christmas, however, New Year's Eve more than made up for it. One of the vintage waltz societies held a ball—a real ball!—at International House, so I gleefully donned my old prom dress and made my way up the hill. I felt like I was in a Dickens novel—or at least the set for a movie version of one. There were many repurposed gowns like mine, but quite a few authentic costumes—even a distinguished gentleman in hunting pinks! I learned the Congress of Vienna Waltz, the galop, and just how much fun a polka can be, weaving and dodging and spinning around like mad things. There was sparkling cider at midnight and I kissed one of the girls on the team (no, not like that) and went home delighted. 2006 holds promise, especially after being rung in with such earnest cheer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

November 2005

Oh. My. Goodness. Three competitions in three weeks. I'll be lucky if I have any feet left by the time I graduate, instead of just a pair of stumps. After the Berkeley Beginner's competition we went to San Jose State and did very well again, placing third a lot, and the next week back to San Jose (different part of it, though), to compete in the state championships. The floor was huge and cold and there were hundreds of seats all the way around. It wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it would be, actually. I was amazed to think that all of them would be filled, but only the first few rows in the lower level were even close to being full. The United States Ballroom Dance Association has stricter rules on costumes than most of the college comps, so we couldn't wear anything with sparkly things on it. Boring! R and I danced very, very well, placing first (!) in the Newcomer level for Standard (waltz-quickstep). Okay, Newcomer isn't very exciting, but it's the first time I think I've been first in anything, and if I'm not mistaken, doesn't that make us state champions? I think it does. I think I'm going to continue to think that (and brag about it, where appropriate :-).
This was the first time I'd seen children competing, bar the one tiny couple at the Berkeley Beginner's comp. They're very, very good, but actually kind of disturbing. I can't imagine how much time they spend practicing, and between that and the skimpy costumes and the overly adult routines they perform, I think it might not be very good for them. This might be just sour grapes, though. They're better than I'll ever be simply by virtue of having starting earlier, and I've taken to muttering “therapy. YEARS of therapy. That's what awaits them” whenever I get fed up and envious...
In other news, I've joined a classical Japanese class in addition to my translation, linguistics and language courses. Most of my friends are in this one too, and the professor is just wonderful. He's taking us through Hojoki, or Account of my Ten-Foot Hut, and he manages to be funny and wise and informative and helpful, often all at once and always during every class. After some bureaucratic running around I've managed to get credit for it as a graduate course, if I write a paper on the translation, and also for the linguistics course. My fears about not being able to hack it in graduate school are abating, and I think I might actually do okay!
I just love the library here. It took me a little while to find the main stacks, but they are just awe-inspiring. Floor after floor after floor of books in all languages, and big beautiful study tables and carrels. The stacks themselves are underground but the upper floors are all marble and the great reading room soars over your head like a ship upside down, with coffered ceilings and huge windows. The study tables have beautiful bronze lanps on them. After Haverford's cozy but small library (and those awful chairs on the Boat), this feels like Alexandria. Best of all is the art installation in the atrium. There's a spiral staircase that winds all the way down to the lowest stack level, and an artist has taken books and strung them through wires, and then suspended the wires across and over and down the middle of the spiral. The effect is of books cascading down through the air, some open and fluttering, some closed and tumbling towards the floor. It feels like the scene in Big Fish where time stops and Ewan MacGregor is pushing through the hardened figures to his girl. I love studying there, or at the smaller, Victorian-style Asian Studies library. More marble, more bronze and hardwood, but in an infinitesmally smaller space that looks like a Belle Epoque drawing room.
Thanksgiving was spent in the mountains, at Rock Haven. Baby Kathleen is 4 months old now, big but still sort of compact. She screams when anyone other than Deirdre or Liz holds her for the most part, but there she has her cheerful moments, and she and I spent a quarter-hour gargling at each other by the fire. Mom was there, and patiently sat through my ballroom DVDs and asked me about my friends and dates while washing dishes. I saw Vince the night after Thanksgiving. We ate ribs, went up to Kaiser Pass while listening to Stephen Lynch, and saw a very bizarre cloud formation up there at 8000 feet. Aliens, methinks. It was blistering, bittering cold, so iwas very glad for the fire that was still alive when I got back. I even built it up a little before going to bed.
Now, with exams looming, I'm glad that the competitions are over until after break. I need study time!