Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Update / Dinner Party

Since April, when last I wrote about what I've been reading, I've finished both Sense and Sensibility and Shades of Milk and Honey.  I've also completed the sixth and final book in the Rebecca series, Changes for Rebecca.  It definitely elevated my opinion of the whole series.  Additionally, I've read two of the books that I brought home in my library haul: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.  Plus, I've listened to two shorter stories: Clockwork by Philip Pullman and Porch Lies by Patricia McKissack.  I've also gotten started on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (audiobook) and I'm still working on Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin (print book).  Also, I finished another season of the BBC Radio series Cabin Pressure.  Also also, I forgot to mention that long, long ago (in February) I listened to Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. And, I finished the first four episodes/interviews in Michael Ian Black's podcast, "How To Be Amazing."  As predicted, Lin-Manuel Miranda's interview was my favorite of the four.  I admire Miranda's work so much and I really hope to see Hamilton when it hits Broadway. 

In other news, I forgot to mention that last Wednesday, I held a dinner party!  It was so much fun to actually take the time to cook and to have the food appreciated by my friends.  I made an herb tart and a chicken-plum pie, a loaf of cheddar-thyme bread, a lemon-basil pasta salad, a caprese salad, stewed cherries, buttered crab with tortilla chips, Thug Kitchen cauliflower, and syllabub.  In addition my friends from graduate school, a couple of friends from college dropped by!  I was so excited to see Mel, since she lives in L.A., but we didn't get to talk a lot (we will have coffee when next I am in L.A. to really catch up).  We all gathered round the kitchen island and ate and drank and watched a Bollywood film on Netflix and at the end of the night there were no leftovers, which I say is the sign of a dinner party well done.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Leaving the Hilltop

The commencement ceremony for the class of 2015 happened on Friday morning.  For the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, it was an early morning.  We met at our line-up locations at 7:30 AM, and finally processed out onto Healy Lawn at 9:00.  Luckily, the morning was bright and clear, low humidity, and almost a little cold.  For May in D.C., we couldn't have asked for more.  

The ceremony was much as any graduation ceremony, I suppose.  We donned our caps and gowns, and had our degrees conferred upon us, and put on our Masters Hoods.  We walked across the stage when our name was called, and had a photo taken with the dean.  After the ceremony, friends rushed to congratulate each other, and we parted to have lunch with our families.  My family, Zan, and I went to Good Stuff Eatery on M Street.  Burgers, fries, and milkshakes!  Perfect!  We ran into several of my co-workers from Special Collections also eating lunch there, which was an added bonus.  

After lunch, Zan and I returned to campus to await the English Department Reception.  We visited the library to pick up a DVD I had requested (St. Elmo's Fire, of course), browsed through the DVD section for awhile, then crashed in the grad lounge for a bit.  After that early morning wake up call, I felt exhausted.  Emmett came in to work on a thank you note for his adviser, and then we descended upon Dahlgren Quad for a nice little party.  We spent the afternoon outdoors in the perfect weather
catching up with people who hadn't come to the ceremony, and meeting parents and friends.  After I got home, my parents took me out to a nice dinner and then gave me a lovely Hot Air Balloon Clock for my graduation present-- it's beautiful, and will go nicely with the many other Hot Air Balloon objects I have acquired over the course of this year of thesis-writing.

Still, it doesn't feel quite over yet.  Tonight my cohort is holding our fancy dress party-- the last of the last hurrahs-- and maybe then it will hit me.  Everyone keeps asking, "What's next?", as they will.  I don't know.  Last time 'round I had plans, but the ground kept shifting under my feet.  Maybe it's best to just go with the flow this time, to see where I land, and to trust it will be right where I belong.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Endings and Beginnings

On Thursday, as I usually do, I took my lunch to the graduate lounge to eat before going into work.  Most Thursdays the lounge is teeming with people getting ready for their afternoon class, or-- more recently-- finishing up final papers.  When I opened the door yesterday, the room was empty and still.  A few minutes later a first-year showed up-- finishing a final paper-- and we chatted for a bit as I ate.  Then, as I packed up my bags to walk over to the library, I realized that I had just eaten what would probably be my last lunch in the graduate lounge.  No more will I grab a quick bite before work, or before class.  I have no need to spend hours in the English Department, and no need to stock my shelf in the graduate lounge with tea and popcorn and granola bars.  In fact, my shelf looks rather bare these days, devoid even of my theory reader which has occupied the space for the past two years.

Yesterday marked another momentous 'last.'  My last day of work in Special Collections, at least for the foreseeable future.  For the last time as a graduate student assistant, I pulled open the glass doors into the center and helped researchers at the reception desk.  I cleaned up my space in the workroom and bid adieu to the processing room and the stacks.  One of my co-workers made me brownies from scratch, and we watched the WWII planes fly over DC from the library window.

After work, summer really began.  I met Cara and Amanda by the John Carroll statue and we stretched out in the sun on Healy lawn.  After awhile, we walked to Amanda's to pick up a bottle of Pimms, then headed across the river to sit outside on the balcony at my place.  We met up with Zan, Amanda made Pimms Cup, and we soaked up the warmth of the afternoon.  Around seven, we met up with Harry and Charlotte for a sushi dinner and split bottles of sake, then afterwards we all returned to the balcony to sit out in the warm night talking about the past and the future.  It seems magnificent that the weather is warm enough to sit outside at night.  Not long ago the idea of summer seemed impossible.  Yet, in less than a week we will all have graduated, onto new adventures.  A summer stretches before us, full of possibilities.      
Even though I finished all of my requirements for my M.A. a few weeks ago, and received word that my thesis was officially accepted by the graduate school a little over a week ago, the routine of work kept me coming to campus and feeling like this graduate student life would never actually end.  But somehow, it has.  My thesis was difficult, and this year was trying in many ways, but I absolutely could not have asked for a better M.A. cohort than the class of 2015. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On Breakfast

I'm truly getting better about eating breakfast.  I resolved to eat it in January, and though I've missed my fair share of breakfasts in the ensuing five months, I've eaten more than not.  Another huge help to my breakfasting quest has been the vegan cookbook Thug Kitchen.*  In one of their "Dropping Knowledge" sections the authors reiterate how important breakfast is-- and the fact that those who don't eat it are at a higher risk of heart disease.  As they say, anything goes for breakfast (except they say it in much more colorful language)!  Breakfast doesn't have to take long or be fancy.  Cold leftovers work.  So, while some mornings I make myself a cheddar-cheese-scrambled egg with bacon, and I've gotten really into whipping up Thug Kitchen's vegan French toast with coconut-oil fried bananas, some days it's all I can do to heat up a leftover tuna croquette or finish off a large snickerdoodle cookie I purchased the day before.  Do cookies count for breakfast? I think the answer is yes.

*not a sponsored post in any way, though I do love Thug Kitchen and highly recommend it. It's great, even for non-vegans like me.