Friday, April 17, 2015

Someone is on your side

The weather has finally turned genuinely spring-like.  The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the past couple of mornings I've only needed to don a light jacket before heading out to work, and the other day I spent a lovely afternoon on our balcony eating cherries, almonds, and goat cheese with honey while listening to a new podcast that had Elizabeth Gilbert as the special guest for the week.  Looking forward to the next one, with Lin Manuel Miranda as the guest!  Very inspiring.  My thesis is, for all intents and purposes, complete.  I have finished my rewrites, my adviser has signed off on everything, and all that remains to do is to upload the document to the graduate school via electronic submission.  Since I'm only auditing one course, I have no final papers or anything.  The freedom is intoxicating.  And overwhelming.  The world is such a wide, varied place, and I don't know how to soak it in to its utmost, nor how to contribute in the most productive way.  Sometimes it's paralyzing.

Yet, even as I wrestle with this, I am reminded of the fragility of life, and strive to be grateful for each day, each breath, each moment that I spend simply being.  The past week has served to remind me what an amazing group of people I have in my life.  My undergraduate improv troupe lost of one of our members.  The news knocked the wind out of me.  I.T. is like a family.  When I was in college, they were the people with whom I spent at least three nights a week.  We had Date Parties, Secret Santa, Improvathon, Fall Tour...  and that feeling of family extends to the alumni.  We still welcome the newbies with e-mails, even years out of college.  We return for homecoming shows and alumni hours.  If the people in I.T. with me were my siblings, those in I.T. now are like my cousins.  The outburst of support and love that has issued this week from members who graduated as long ago as fifteen years, five years, and those still in undergrad has been incredible.  Since Monday morning, the song "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods has been going round and round in my head.  This is for anyone struggling with depression.


Ayegazoomba, Paul.  Ayegazoomba, I.T.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book List Update

Although I no longer keep a sidebar list, I still think it's nice to periodically stop to remember what I've read this year.  Since my last update, I've read mostly American Girl books.  Yes, I'm too old for them.  No, that doesn't stop me from enjoying them or learning from them.  Each book takes about 35 or 45 minutes to read, so I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something in a short period of time.

As rewards for finishing various stages of my thesis, I've read two Kit mysteries: Midnight in Lonesome Hollow and Intruders at Rivermead Manor.  I really loved these, and Midnight in Lonesome Hollow re-sparked an interest in Appalachian culture, anthropology and folklife, and also (tangentially) the history of Shenandoah National Park.  Once upon a time Zan and I were thinking of writing a film about the Great Depression and the National Parks.  I hope to spend some time doing more in-depth research on this stuff once I've officially submitted my thesis. Then, over Spring Break, I wrote around 20 pages of my thesis-- in order to wind down at night (or, actually 2:30 AM or later), I read most of the Rebecca series over the course of the week (Meet Rebecca, Rebecca and Ana, Candlelight for Rebecca, Rebecca and the Movies, Rebecca to the Rescue). 

In addition to American Girl books, I've nearly finished Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (as an audiobook) and I'm about halfway through reading Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (as a print book).  Also--not a book, but-- I listened to the first season of a BBC Radio One show called Cabin Pressure which is hilarious.  It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Roger Allam, John Finnemore, and Stephanie Cole.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lighthearted sitcom to enjoy whilst cooking dinner or during the morning commute.

So, certainly not the book list I would like to see if I were keeping a sidebar.  A series of books aimed at nine-year-olds?  A radio show (that's not even a book!!!)?  And so little reading, in general!*  But, that's why I got rid of my widget.  These are media that I've highly enjoyed, fluff and all.  And it's what I've needed in the past two months.  Since mid-February I've felt that my world has mostly gone sour, and these little stories have really stood out as bright spots in the dreary landscape.

*Of course, I have written about 80 pages of my thesis since my last update, and have read quite a bit for that-- although, not full books, so that doesn't "count."  I've also managed to Rosetta Stone a little nearly every day, which is about the only thing keeping me sane.

Friday, April 3, 2015

large matters and small

The past two months have been rough.  The last two weeks have been worse.  My grandmother passed away.  We found out that our cat, Rhett, has irreversible kidney failure and (separately) we had to take him for an enema, which is never pretty.  A thing I really hoped would happen for Zan didn't happen.  All that, plus a few other small disappointments here and there in the last fourteen or so days, have left me feeling all-over-tired and just generally a little sad.  I need something genuinely good to occur: a job offer perhaps, or just one full day that feels like I am truly 'off,' without needing to complete minor rewrites, or read for the class I'm auditing.  I'd like just a day in which to sit outside in the newly spring-like weather and read for fun, or cross-stitch a new pattern, or color in a coloring book, or even just nap.

I did pass my thesis defense on Wednesday, though!  So things could always be worse.

Monday, March 23, 2015

in some brighter clime

My grandmother died.  I am so, so, so glad that I got to visit her just a few weeks ago in February.  I'm so glad I didn't try to wait until a more 'convenient' time, like Spring Break, or after graduation.  What is a 'convenient' time?  Life is always happening, until it's not.  You carve out days and moments because you love someone and so you visit them, even though they can't hear you that well, and even though it's too hard for them to play Old Maid and they probably wouldn't remember the rules to Aggravation anymore.  You go just to feel her squeeze your hand in hers. 

(Me and my grandma in May, 2014)

Last night I considered trying to make a pot roast, because my grandma made the best pot roast, but that's a skill I've never mastered.  I tried to run some errands, and I thought about when I was little how Grandma and Dzadek would wave from the front porch whenever our visits were over.  I looked around Target for a mini-grow kit, because I thought maybe I could grow a flower for my grandma, because she always loved gardening.  Target only had a basil kit.  Not quite the same.  I might try to go to a real nursery to get a real plant.  Something pretty and springtime-y.  And maybe purple, since purple was my grandma's favorite color.

This post doesn't do her justice, but it's all I have right now.

Lines of poetry go flitting through my mind, mostly poetry by Anna Letitia Barbauld.  I've spent the better part of the last six months with Barbauld's works, so I guess it makes sense, even though the poems I'm thinking of have nothing to do with my thesis.  Instead, the title of this post comes from her poem "Life" (though, my thoughts tend more towards her poems "Dirge" and "A Thought on Death").  In "Life" Barbauld writes,

"Life! We've been long together
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
      Choose thine own time;
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
      Bid me Good morning."