Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Since Last I Wrote

Things have been a little quiet over here on my blog.  Since last I wrote, Zan and I spent three long, full, tiring, beautiful days at Awesome Con.  We attended a lot of panels, seminars, and workshops with local artists, and-- of course-- got to see a couple large panels with media guests from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Since last I wrote, I visited New York City with a group of my best friends.  We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge together, got wonderful-cheap dumplings from a hole-in-the-wall shop, drank cocktails at a 1920s style jazz club, and spent an afternoon stretched out under the trees in Central Park. 

Since last I wrote, I've had a job interview and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Since last I wrote, I've started using a meditation app called Headspace.  I'm not sure if I'm doing it right or not, but regardless, it's nice to sit still for ten minutes a day and not feel like it's time wasted.  I've also started listening to a couple of new podcasts, after running into a friend who recommended to me Mystery Show, with Starlee Kine.  I also started listening to You Must Remember This, by Karina Longworth, and I'm trying out a few more episodes of Welcome to Night Vale.  Speaking of listening to things, I finished the last season of Cabin Pressure, and now only have the episode "Zurich" and the Christmas special left.  I wish I had hours more left.

Since I last wrote, I finished Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on audiobook, and started on Jurassic Park.  I also read a few books: Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon Flake, Douglas Fredericks and the House of They by Joe Kelly (illustrated by Ben Roman), The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter, and The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.  More on these books in a future post, I think.  Suffice to say, I've found a new favorite author in Angela Carter, and it's been ages since I've been hooked on a book like I was while reading The Name of the Star.

Since last I wrote, I've seen two films in the theater: Tomorrowland and Jurassic World.  This is pretty big for me; I don't go out to movie theaters often.  It's fun, though-- maybe I'll start.  I've been making my way through my Netflix queue, too: I watched the mini-series Death Comes to Pemberley.  I really enjoyed it-- I wasn't sure how a 21st-century Austen 'sequel' would go, but I really felt like it kept the themes of duty, honor, and financial considerations at the heart of the plot.  And love, of course.  Also provided food for thought on the question, What constitutes fan-fiction and what constitutes original work?  Is it simply a matter of publication and/or professional production?

Since last I wrote, I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Wind-Waker HD.  I'm having fun exploring this new world, and really taking in the design elements.  One of my friends did her capstone project on open-world gaming, and it's made me look at the Zelda series in a new, more critical light.  I'm thinking about the music, the animation, and the plot a lot more deeply.

Since last I wrote, I've drunk lots of tea, seen lots of friends, eaten lots of good food, taken lots of walks, and napped in the sunshine with two beautiful cats.  Since last I wrote, life has been pretty good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Last of the Last Hurrahs

I thought that graduation would give me a sense of finality about this program.  When that didn't happen, I thought for sure that after our fancy-dress party I would suddenly realize how everything had ended.  Surprisingly, that didn't happen either.  In fact, I think it first hit me last Wednesday.  I drove down to Williamsburg mid-week last week for a day-long embroidery class with the Royal School of Needlework.  As I sat there, working on my embroidered teacup with my British tutor, I realized that Amanda was flying home.  She was gone.  I had said my final goodbye to her on Monday night, and now she had left.  And something about that made it feel very, very real.

But then I came home and a round of parties started up again, and that sort of negated my impression of everything ending.  On Saturday, Zan and I attended a Nats baseball game with a few of his high school friends, and we stayed out late talking in Crystal City, despite a wide-spread power outage in the area.  The next morning, we had brunch near Dupont Circle with a few people from Zan's cohort, then went to the zoo with Zan's high school friends to see the panda bears.  Later that night we attended a dinner party with the people from my cohort who have not yet left.  It was an amazing dinner party-- Alex made turkey, roasted potatoes, almond green beans, fantastic carrot cake and gluten-free chocolate granola bars.  We had fun imitating each other, telling jokes, talking about the future.  I got Alex to sign my copy of the book that he wrote-- something I'd been meaning to do for over a year.

Then on Monday, my dad made me and Zan his famous grilled hamburgers for lunch.  Later, Cara and Emmett came over to spend an afternoon at the pool with margaritas, and that evening a group of us got together to watch St. Elmo's Fire (and now we say that everything is "out of hand" and feel grateful that our lives are more together than those of the characters, despite some existential similarities).  And last night we all gathered at Penn Commons for a goodbye round of drinks for Emmett and Emily.  And now... now it feels real.  Emmett leaves today.  Emily leaves tomorrow.  Thomas leaves in a week.  We're all really splitting apart and going our own ways-- teaching in Germany, biking to Portland, starting grad programs in California and New York.  This little bubble of time is over.

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 to 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.