Saturday, November 29, 2008


oh my lord, thanksgiving at my aunt's house was an adventure. five boys, one girl, three cats and nerf guns shooting nerf-sticky things everywhere. em and i surmise that some of it may have been showing-off, but probably the bulk of it is what they normally do.

they also have three of the fattest cats ever, who swing their bellies from room to room until they find you and come and flop down in your lap, rolling onto their backs. i loved them.

best quote of the evening: we were playing boggle, my aunt jennie, my sister, and my cousins david (19), christian (9) and gwen (10). at the end of each round we went around the table and everyone read out the words they'd come up with. david went last, and by the time we got to him, all his words had already been said so he said "well, i've only got one word left: teste."

aunt jennie, em and i all held our breath and looked at each other, trying not to laugh. then gwen perked up and said "oh! like someone who's testy!"

so innocent.

Monday, November 24, 2008

pie and the life of an insect

i have vermin in my house.

they are large, scary, insectoid type beings with big brown exoskeletons and lots of terrifying wavy tentacles. they sneak up around the sides of the oven and scavenge for food, and when i try to squish them, they scurry back into an impossibly tiny crack through which even my small hands cannot fit.

tonight i was baking a pumpkin cheesecake pie and one came creeping out from under the tea kettle. frustration welled up inside me as i reached for the nearest squishable weapon and once again it slipped back into the darkness before i could end its life.

it was a big bug. my mind began to wander and i began to imagine what it must be like to be this horrible, ugly insect. for some reason i started to picture it as an epic struggle, a constant battle for survival in a world where you are viciously hunted by loud, ungainly giants with kitchen spatulas and william sonoma aprons.

the insects suddenly have british accents and the largest one is gathering the smaller ones around him, saying a low, urgent tone, "listen, you must flee to the hills if i don't return before midnight," and the littlest ones are crying and being shushed by their mothers, when suddenly the air is filled with the deadly mist through which the faint outline of a large tube with "Raid" written on it–

–and then i remembered that the pie was going to burn.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the greatest gift of all

today kayla and i decorated our little christmas tree, listened to christmas carols, and made gingerbread cookies. and the perfect end to the evening? the colbert christmas special. here, you can see jon stewart offering stephen a jewish alternative to the birth of christ:

if we only all could appreciate the greatest gift of all: being serenaded on a cold jerusalem night by rock legend willie nelson.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

wedding bells

my friend monica is getting married!! another friend engaged. i am so very happy for her, and it doesn't feel at all terrifying, as it usually does, to think of a friend engaged. maybe because we're a bit older. maybe because i met her boyfriend and i like him. anyway, i'm more amenable to thinking of marriage in general as a happy thing, good for society as a whole and not always likely to end in traumatic misery, as most of my family has been want to display.

love and marriage–not just a mirage? maybe. i should let life show me that the scenes of my childhood are not the fate of the whole world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

life: moderately entertaining

counselor fly-in tomorrow! i'm pretty excited; it's usually a good time and fun to show off campus to visiting high school counselors. other than that, life continues.

now if only it would snow, my life would be complete. well, my life would be complete with a few other things, as well. but you know. snow would be lovely.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a great week

i don't want to jinx it, but i may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

this weekend we saw west side story and it was wonderful. i thought i would make it without tears at the end, but yup, that didn't happen. oh well. let it be a testament to great dancing, lyrical singing, and overall moving performances. i think our musicals have room to be even better, but i definitely look forward to sitting in the balcony at the majestic for the next one.

on top of that, thanksgiving dinner last night was absolutely fantastic. now having volunteered for my second time to help serve the meal, i've decided that it's more fun to serve it than to eat it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

moral economy

i found on my computer today a short piece commenting on edmund burke, jane austen, and the idea of a 'moral economy' that i'd written senior year. my curiosity was roused to read it again in light of the present state of our own economy, and it struck me as very much relevent.

i had written it after listening to my english professor, beth lambert, stand up and discuss her views of what she called burke's 'chivalrous' ideals for government when he advised parliament to rethink their treatment of the american colonies.

jane austen, too, touches on this in the microcosm of her country villages. above all else, above her wit and her charm and her ability to see through all of the bullshit of the world, her first and primary goal is to show her readers what it means to act in the name of social justice.

though small worlds, her examples of moral and immoral leaders are subtle reminders of the dangers of social irresponsibility. sir thomas bertram in mansfield park struggles to control his slave populations in antigua, while back in england his children think of nothing but vanity, money, adultery and drinking. meanwhile elizabeth bennet teases that she really began to fall in love with mr. darcy "from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at pemberly."

but of course she does. that is when she discovers his humanity–that he is a competent and fair landlord, doting on and protective of his sister, and runs a moral household.

i hope we have come to a point where we will begin to consider more deeply, as i think we have as of late, of how the character of those whom we elect to represent us, reflects the our own character. i don't mean that the private lives of our leaders need to be splashed on every tabloid–but to quote a line from an old film, "my pa always said, 'never do anything you'd be ashamed to see written up on the front page of the news.'"

Sunday, November 9, 2008


oh my gosh, it's november 9th already! hard to believe. i want it to be christmas already, but i start thinking of christmas in september, so that's just me. as it is, i had an exciting morning of church and then a trip to the dollar store to pick up some cheesy christmas things to send to my cousin richie who's in iraq. poor richie–he's really depressed right now, and who can blame him? war is dumb.

so i found a lovely christmas stocking, a stuffed raindeer, a glass jar with cocoa mix shaped like a snowman, and the pimpin'-est, tricked out animated gadget in the dollar store: a red convertible with santa and snowman figurines in it that bounces up and down and plays "low rider." perfect.

it's almost veteran's day so i salute the brave men and women who have fought for this country, but wish still more that they didn't have to. to you, my dear friends:
peace, love, happiness

Thursday, November 6, 2008

transporting sensations

another beautiful fall day. yesterday evening i was leaving the library right as the sun was setting, and it hit the white walls of penn hall so that they turned golden, setting off the vibrancy of the trees. i'd forgotten how beautiful the autumn is in gettysburg; i missed it last year when i was traveling.

it makes me think of marianne dashwood remembering the beauty of her childhood home as the autumn leaves are falling. isn't it nearly always that what we remember is so much more beautiful than when we see it anew? ah, autumn leaves...

"dear, dear norland! …with what transporting sensations have i formerly seen them fall! how have i delighted, as i walked, to see them driven in showers about me by the wind! what feelings have they, the season, the air altogether inspired!"

and yet, when caught unawares, i am still momentarily stilled by the quiet elegance of so much natural beauty around me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

new hope

wow. i can't believe it. barack obama is president! ok the entire planet is talking about this so i'd be just in denial of this monumental event if i pretended it wasn't a big deal. some conservatives are crying that the entire country really just wants to remain conservative, but i rather feel that that was disproven last night. we've had eight years of conservatives, and eight years of liberals before that. time for the pendulum to swing again.

i can't stand it-i feel i will burst. there's so much possibility of happiness; the world is on fire, sparking with potential.

Monday, November 3, 2008


i had a frightening and strange dream last night. i was in the jungle, or in some tropical place, and was pushing through bushes and tree branches trying to follow a stone path that wound through the jungle floor, and then came to a wall of rock. a set of stone steps were carved into the rock and i followed them up into the open air.

i was with my family, i think, or at least my dad, and when we reached the top of the stairs we found ourselves on the edge of a low precipice that sloped back into the bush, with little huts and other 'village'-esque elements all around. someone beckoned us into one of the huts and when we went in, we saw little statuettes and i realized that this was some tourist trap and felt mildly put off by the pandering of these pieces of religion.

then the dream changed and i was walking by myself through jungle again, only this time the foliage shifted into something more or less what you'd see in new england or parts of pennsylvania. i was following a long line of people who were marching towards a clearing up ahead.

here's where the dream becomes sickening. every single person in this line had a pike thrust through their body and jutting out of their mouths, almost in the way people used to be beheaded and then have their head put on a pole for display. it was awful. it was like they were still alive, and yet they were all suffering such agony. were they murdered, dead, alive?

i ran ahead but in doing so i had to run down the whole line of them, face after face of horrible disfigurement, but still i ran until i came to the clearing. and then before me were suddenly two lines, one on either side of me, of these poor people, and the lines tapered to an end at the clearing where a podium stood in the middle and an old man bent double over it, clutching the sides for support.

he had long scraggly white hair and an equally long beard, and it hung about him in a matted mess. his eyes were sunken in and his skin was completely lifeless. and then i felt a wave of it. some great evil had happened because of him–it was he who was responsible somehow for the mass murder of the bodies snaking towards him, and his milky eyes were cold, as if he sensed their protest.

then the speared bodies raised their arms and they were suddenly holding bows and arrows. it was a tribute. they had been conquered to be part of some army, and they were supposed to display their arms. in one movement they raised their bows, at first i thought in salute, but then they all aimed them at the old man. i watched him as his face contorted with rage and suddenly there was a flash of lightning.

by now i was standing practically next to the old man, and watched him look down in his left hand, in which had appeared a small ivory obelisk. it had an etching of Jesus Christ on it in dark reddish brown tones. he rubbed his thumb over it and looked up at the bodies before him, momentarily uncertain.

my own indignation and anger increased towards him as i took in this holy image of peace. my mind whirled around this strange thought from out of nowhere: Christ is angry that he has murdered in His own name. this is the final judgment.

as the old man looked down at his hand and then slowly up again at the arrows aimed at him, i sensed his fear, but i was pulled back and drifted away from the clearing before i could see what became of him, and the dream faded.

i woke up, feeling sickened. some of the messages in my dream are obvious, and yet, it was so random.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

serious accomplishment

ladies and gentlemen, i cleaned my whole house today.

this can't be taken lightly, as i've just finished six weeks of travel and the whole place was a horrendous mess. i vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed, wiped, plucked (you don't want to know), swept, dusted, folded, sorted, rearranged, and redeposited the cat whenever he got in the way by coming over to check out what i was doing (which was pretty much all the time).

i think i want to recover the couches, but that's a project for another day. besides, couch covers are expensive, and i'd rather buy shoes.

i look excessively forward to regaining a normal living pattern now that i'm home. i especially look forward to sleeping in my own bed, even if it is slightly uncomfortable because i need a real mattress. one day....

it's not just for the classroom!