Wednesday, December 30, 2009

beethoven, transformer

so last night i had a dream that beethoven and i were lovers, even though–or maybe because of–his incredible ability to turn into a Transformer. it was like, musical genius and superhero abilities all wrapped into one. yes, i said Transformer, like the toy-turned-cartoon-turned movie-turned possibly there was a comic strip somewhere in there. but in my dream i was totally enamored by it. interpretation?

Friday, December 18, 2009

ah! the labyrinth

my steps tread back and forth, new paths and old converging. i feel like my life is hegel's dialectic: old ideas crashing against new ones, and a synthesis is formed from the two.

Monday, December 14, 2009

running, running

i had the most disturbing dream last night. well, maybe not the most disturbing ever in my life, but it certainly ranked itself up there. it was a long dream, but of course the portions that are clearest are those that happened the latest.

there's a house that i've been in before in another dream–or maybe it's a museum or mansion? it's huge, with wide windows letting in bright, clear sunlight, and those wide, square staircases that sweep against three walls–white marble steps with dark railings.

then i'm in another kind of house, and it is chaos. the rooms are all in disorder, and there is an air of evil. there's something wrong going on here, but i don't know what it is. a sweatshop, a brothel? this house seems to be used for a dark purpose. and then i realize i'm being pursued. whatever is going on here, they are either trying to catch me to make me part of it, or kill me so i can't tell others.

i run through the cluttered rooms–bedrooms?–and stop dead in one of the rooms as i see a woman lying facedown on the bed, naked. she's in labor, or has had the baby, and it rests between her legs. her body is so pale, but also bruised, like she's been abused, maybe. i don't know who she is in real life, but in the dream i recognize her and run to her, horrified. she raises her head to me and her brow is covered in sweat, so i run and find a paper towel that i run under the sink in the room, and wipe her forehead. she smiles a little, but she's so weak, and then she begs me to help her hide the baby. i don't know what to do, the baby's umbilical cord hasn't even been cut and i don't want to hurt either of them.

but i can hear voices coming from the other rooms, and i know i have to save both of them somehow. somehow i call out "help", and it's said in such a manner that my friends outside will hear me, but not the evil people in the house. and now these evil people are coming. they can't know i'm here, or they'll take me away and i won't be able to help this woman and her baby.

i hide underneath a desk in a pile of blankets and clothes, and for once feel thankful that the room is so messy that i have things to cover myself in. the evil people prowl into the room, look around, say something, and then leave. and then i jump up again and call out again to my friends, and there they are!

somehow we have gotten the woman and her baby outside, and clothed her in a long white robe. but she and the baby are separated now. it seems she thinks the baby will be safer this way. so one group takes the baby and runs, and she and i and a couple others run another way, down a major paved road by the water. it's very sunny, and there are hardly any cars on the road, and the sunlight is glinting off of the sea.

we are just determining how we should cross the road and which way to go, when we see them start to approach us from all sides. they look like a swat team, or something official and authoritarian, but i know that they are the evil people. alarmed, we all start running again.

<><><> part two <><><>
in my second dream, i'm walking through a sunny park with my friend kristen, and–i kid you not–woody allen. now, in real life, i'm not sure how i feel about woody allen. i don't find him that funny, and while i have no judgments to make on his personal life, i doubt i would covet his company myself. so, you must ask yourself, why is woody allen in agatha's dream, and what does that signify? what indeed.

in my dream, there's a little photo booth, such as you see at arcades and carnivals, where you can duck inside and take rolls of silly pictures. either kristen and i have just done one, or woody allen and i have just done one, or maybe all three of us. i have no idea, because no part of the dream takes place in the photobooth, but it's there as an afterthought, something important for some reason.

so woody allen and i go and sit down on a park bench just on the edge of the park, and look at the sunlight. hmm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

academic integrity

i am morally caught by a small but significant situation happening on our campus; a young woman who has been accused of cheating, has been expelled by our honor commission, and her friends have organized a campus-wide protest on the matter. this young woman has supposedly cheated in the past–to which she confessed–but this time she says she is innocent, and has been given an unfair trial because of past prejudices.

this is a serious matter indeed. academic integrity is of the highest importance at gettysburg–it was our student body themselves who initially created the honor code, and have upheld it to this day. i'm very proud that our students, and certainly i did when i was a student, consider honesty and integrity intrinsic to education. so part of me is concerned that there may have been some personal bias or skimming of the law in this situation, though i trust that the honor commission is acting in the way it thinks is most fair.

and that brings me to the second point: i'm more proud that the student body feels that, in the spirit of what the honor code stands for, they should actively protest its misuse if it fails to protect individual academic work, as it should. if there has been a mistrial, then it should be contested. and if it's still proven that she is guilty, then, like john miller's philosophy, the challenge and reaffirmation of the verdict can only strengthen the system that we hold so dearly.

do you think i'm over thinking the matter? how can that be, when the lessons you learn in college are what you take with you into the "real" world. i'd rather have the next generation of the workforce be very deeply concerned with ethical business and action, than not.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

angry dream

i had a weird, frightening dream last night, and i can only remember the very last bits of it, although i know it was much longer. at the very end of the dream, i am in a school, or some sort of house-turned-school, and there is blue in the room somewhere, blue carpet maybe? and metal sinks. that's why i thought it was a classroom. and there was a man there who was the teacher, and i was really angry with him because he brought guns to school for a class assignment, and wanted to let the kids play with them, and one of them went off and shot me in my right hand.

i stared in horror at my hand, which had the flesh torn away over my second and third knuckles, and which was bleeding profusely. the bullet, which was small and round (like a b-b gun? i don't know guns), was lodged between my knuckles in the angry red flesh, and i held my hand gingerly, anxious that i needed to get to the hospital, but also pausing to berate this man for bringing in weapons and creating a dangerous situation.

i don't remember if i was able to save my hand, or what happened before or after this. when i try to think back, it's like i can almost see images and remember feelings and thoughts, but they're just obscure enough, just enough out of the corner of my vision, that when i think too closely about them, they disappear rather than come into focus.

do you know what i mean? it's like when you look at stars at night; your pupils will filter the most light from your direct vision, and thus the stars in your peripheral vision often look brighter by comparison, but when you try to swivel your eyes around to view those, they shrink from scrutiny.

addendum: interesting interpretations from . oooh interesting.

Monday, December 7, 2009

barbara kirkpatrick stroup

so, you may think this is weird, but i get google alerts emails with anything that references "gettysburg college," and the other day an obituary came up that interested me because it referenced that she'd taught at gettysburg. i doubted i knew her, but i thought that it would be a shame not to learn a little bit about the life of community member here in gettysburg.

so i clicked on the link, and started reading. as i read, i tried to imagine the progress of the little girl to the teenager, to the young adult, and so on, living through a world that i normally only read about as "history." i am always fascinated by my elders-they have so many stories to tell, and indeed, so did barbara. a graduate in english (yay!) from dickinson college in 1940, and a recipient of a master's from ship u., she also took graduate courses at columbia, uconn, nc state and penn state. plus, she had many interesting adventures moving around the country and teaching in one-room schoolhouses, with "a pot-bellied stove," says the article.

i thought of my own grandmother, who was a wellesley graduate, and who received her own masters in education, and it made me proud of the intellectual ambition of these women, when i remember my favorite 18th century lit. professor telling me once that, when she was in graduate school, one of her older professors told her she'd never make it in the professional world because she was a woman. funny that people still say such things. but foolish people obviously can't stop those who have a will, and spirit, and heart in what they do.

so anyway, if you want to learn more about this incredible woman, i think taking the minute and a half that it takes to read her obituary is a tribute we can all afford to make:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

fist-pumping senior citizens

this weekend was truly unique. yesterday i went down to bethesda, md with my colleague courtney to do some off-campus interviews, but since we had a little extra time, we decided to live it up at the warner theatre in downtown d.c. ....listening to the musical stylings of "young at heart," a group of senior citizens ranging from 75 to 90 years old, who sing and dance to thoughtfully choreographed and arranged hits from the seventies through modern pop.

here, they have a website, which obviously means you have to look at it:

their slogan is "finding the zen in senior citizen." yes!

then we went to a christmas carol singalong w/ courtney's parents and it was amazing. interviews today, shopping, and now back in gburg contemplating the mess that is my house.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


i had an unsettling dream last night. or maybe not unsettling–what should i call it? wistful? longing? i dreamed that i married the wrong man.

in my dream i am in a house that's brightly painted–pink, or purple, maybe, with white trim. there's a pretty yard in the back, and my family is gathered there. my aunt and my cousin david are standing on the back deck and joking about a wooden shed tacked onto the deck that one of my other cousins has been hiding in or something. the air is festive, and i realize that it's my wedding party, and that that is what we're all waiting for.

i go into the back of the house with the expectation that it's time for me to get ready. i feel a sort of excitement, because this is my wedding day, and surely it should be the happiest day of my life! as i walk through the house, i feel that something is unsettling me, but i don't know what it is, and anyway, the unsettled feeling is more than compensated by the thought that i'm about to get married.

so i walk through the dining room, and right before the front living room there are two sets of spiral staircases built into the wall to my right–they are encased in turrets that run through the center of the house straight up to the roof. i climb the winding stairs and arrive in a room that is bare, with wooden floors, pink or purple painted walls, and is an octagonal shape with windows on each wall. the sun coming in the windows is so bright that i can't see what's out them–rather, the bright, white light is coming in and surrounding me in a semi-circle, blinding me–not badly or uncomfortably, just enough so that all the light is on me, illuminating my skin, my wedding dress.

i see it suddenly, lying across a chair by one of the windows and i eagerly pick it up. it's a strapless gown with silver scalloping across the top of the bodice. not quite what i'd choose for myself, but i'm pleased with it, as if perhaps someone else chose it for me but i'll wear it because it's nice. i put it on and look at myself in the mirror and for a moment, i'm very happy.

but it's only then, when i put on the dress and look at myself that i stop and realize that i don't know who the groom is. or–i can't remember who he is. i think wildly, what on earth am i doing? but i know that i must have agreed to this, and this is what i'm supposed to be doing, and this will make my family happy.

so i'm happy to do it, for a moment, because everyone else will be so pleased. and maybe he's really wonderful!, i think. i stand in that room in my bright wedding gown and muse on what he could possibly be like, but after a moment's elation my hopes feel shallow. it doesn't matter what he's like, because i just don't love him. i know who i love and right now all i want is to see his face.

i'm so overcome by this emotion that i run out of the room and dash back down those winding stairs, and run through the front room into the back, and there he is, standing in the dining room, in his tux, looking radiant. there's a white flower in his button hole–a rose, or a carnation. i guess he's either dressed as a guest, or maybe he's part of the wedding. but it doesn't matter. he's not the man i'm set to marry. and he looks at me with anguish, and i look back at him, but neither of us speaks. what can we say? this day is already planned by others, and we don't know how to change it.

i'm so disappointed that i don't know how to keep standing. people are walking back and forth between us, since we're standing in the middle of the dining room, so there's no moment to be alone and explain ourselves. and anyway, i don't know what to explain because i feel that i've pushed this on myself. how could i ever have thought i could bear to marry someone whom i didn't love? i try to recall all of the great reasons that i might have done this, but whatever they were, they won't come to me.

so i stand helplessly in my wedding dress and we look at each other sadly, and i think my heart will break.

i wake myself up before i can bear to watch anymore.

what are these dreams? what's going on with me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the savvy grouse

just found this blog which reviews events/culture in pennsylvania...pretty fun:

i always love to hear a visitor's viewpoint about gburg! i had to laugh in reading about the ghost tours...yes, we do have quite a lot of those. but they shouldn't all take 1 hour 45 minutes...maybe they got an 'extended' tour because it was so close to halloween?

Monday, November 16, 2009

winter, and a train ride through germany

another strange dream. a bit shorter than the last i recorded, since it only took place over two "scenes" that i can recall, but it was still very vivid. it was another traveling dream.

this time, i am traveling to germany for a semester abroad, or a vacation, perhaps. at any rate, i don't know where my starting point was, but wherever it is, i am taking a train to get to germany. it's winter, or at least, the train is speeding through lofty, snow-covered mountains–we speed past tall, tall bare trees, and i notice that it isn't a heavy snow, but enough to cover the ground in speckly white. the train doesn't feel like a modern amtrak or something–it is perhaps an old steam engine. or maybe i assume that everything in europe is old?

the winter scene is so calm and lovely, and it's relaxing to look out the window and watch the trees whipping past. but then i realize that we're driving quite recklessly, and suddenly my view changes–i'm on top of the train, or at the front, maybe. at any rate, i can suddenly see the track ahead of me–a new, but wooden track–and we don't seem to stay gripped to the rails the whole time. up and down, up and down we race over the snow, scaling great heights and then quickly whooshing down into the valleys, so quickly that i become slightly nervous that we'll fly off the track. but i'm not really nervous–it's so hard to be, when the scenery is so beautiful. finally, we seem to make it safely to the station, and then i find myself in a train station clothing shop, sort of like the ones at the airport (since they don't really have such things at most train stations), and i'm trying to use my cell phone when i realize that it won't work outside of america, and i am totally put out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

what is love?

ok it's not like i'm a total geek. well, ok. to be fair–yes, i am. but i was surfing the web, looking up nintendo references, like people do, and found this great quote describing a video game called "Dragon Warrior," from a website that clearly a lot of care and dedication went into making:

"what is love? perhaps love is like being lost in a dark cave. you wander around in the empty black with a limited supply of torches, hoping to find something pure. but you don't. instead, you only find ghosts and monsters. and then finally you find a brilliant light, one that fills the cave with a radiance that outshines your torch by at least twentyfold. you walk towards it, entranced by its beauty. unfortunately for you, it's a dragon. but once you kill it, you meet this totally hot chick who is immediately impressed with you. also, her dad is like a king or something and he's super rich. that's what love is like. well, that's what Dragon Warrior is like, and they're basically the same thing."

i don't know the game–but i think i know a little more about love now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

a french journey

last night i dreamed i was in paris. france dreams are usually happy ones for me, except this one evoked in me a confusing mix of emotions. i was happy, and yet dissatisfied.

in my dream i was planning a trip to paris with my friend liz (which makes sense, as in real life we went to paris together while we were abroad in college), but at the last minute she had to cancel and told me to go on without her. i was ok with that because, even though i was going alone, i felt i was going to meet the person with whom i would walk forever after that. i mean, i know that's dramatic, and i didn't actually say that in the dream, but you know how you get a feeling?

so liz gives me the name and directions to the hotel at which i'm supposed to stay, and i feel confident that i'll remember it. i have vague images of a plane, the airport, being in another hotel, not the final destination–but some in-between world of yellow wallpaper and golden sunlight illuminating through gauzy curtains, and flowers on the windowsill. it's pleasant, and i'm happy. i know i am only waiting to meet this person, and i don't mind waiting here in this beautiful room until it's time to go find him.

then it is time, and i head out of the hotel and start walking down the streets of paris. i'm supposed to be going somewhere near the champs élysées, but now i can't remember the hotel, or how to get there, or even where i am. i'm not unhappy, because it's paris, after all, and i'm going to meet that person, but now my way is confused and there aren't any people walking down the streets to stop and ask for help. it's cold, and fall, and not an unbeautiful day, but it's awfully lonely.

i take out my phone and look at it, and the battery is almost dead, and i feel discouraged that i can't google map myself and figure out where i am, or how to get to where i need to be. but i'm not totally discouraged. i feel a sense of mild adventure mixed with my anxiety–this is the journey, after all, to get somewhere and to someone important. i don't mind doing what it takes.

strange how themes repeat. or maybe not strange. i keep coming back to this search in so many different dreams; especially the one that i think of often, that i had back as a sophomore in college, and is still so, so vivid and moving.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the reality of dreams

when you long for something to happen, what do you do to make it happen? i dream. sometimes i'm not dreaming of anything specific--just of a world in which my thoughts transcribe reality, like dorothy wishing that the world over the rainbow were real. doesn't that song just make you tear up? what a film. there's so much dreaming in the wizard of oz, that it makes you fall in love with all of the characters instantly, you feel so much empathy for them.

not that i believe in wishing over doing--only that i understand what it is to wish to be carried away on the air beyond the physical capabilities of the body. if i only had a brain, a heart, the nerve. i think that's why the film is so beloved--we all have something that we wished we could master more fully in our lives. the definition of living is the repetitious realization of what you want it to be. but there's always the struggle, the journey, towards it. we wouldn't be human without that.

but that's why we never feel we achieve our dreams fully--because we don't want to; what, then, would we look forward to, afterwards? because, deep down, i love that longing. i love seeing a bright point of light in the distance, a goal to run towards.

i have a recurring dream on this theme. the last time i had this dream was in february, but it seems always to be in the back of my mind, just beyond my line of vision. there's this place that i keep going back to, and it's almost like the connecticut shore, but i can't place where it is. i stand on something like a peninsula, with wide sunny streets and cheerful shops and suburban houses, and cherry blossom trees and very green grass. in one moment i'm at the end of the peninsula, where the streets fade into blue water that stretches out across the sound. in another moment, i look again and the street keeps going where the water used to be, and i know that i'm still near the beach, but the road that reaches it is now much, much longer.

i always feel slightly dissatisfied being there, even though another part of me is always at peace, content, basking in the sunshine, and i walk around picking the nicest flowers. in my latest dream of this place, however, i am on some kind of magic carpet that lets me fly up into the cherry trees to reach the blossoms that i normally can't. it's very freeing, and yet at the same time the nicest blossoms are always just out of reach–i pick what i think are the best, and then glance just beyond my fingers and see more. the game continues until i wake up, and i don't know if i feel playful or frustrated.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

key words

out of curiosity, and no doubt some vanity, i track the number of visits to my blog through google analytics. actually, it's not very good for my vanity because i don't get a whole lot of people actually caring to read my blog, but i do get quite a few interesting key word searches, in part due to the title of this web journal. here are some of my favorites since the blog's debut in february 2008:

  • "description of docks looked and smelled like in the 18th century" what?
  • "i wish i was living in 6 century" really? do you wish you were living in serfdom?
  • "in love with trees" agree.
  • "kitten howling "first night"" eek i remember those nights...
  • "red hair in the 18th century" considered evil; it's true--look it up.
  • "do you ever wish it was the 18th century now" oh yesss to that...but not to living in the 6th century, for heaven's sake.
  • "how is the supermarket of the 18th century different from today" think about that for a minute, now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

tears of the giraffe

in botswana children learn the lesson of the tears of the giraffe. the story goes that there are women who sit, weaving their baskets, and the giraffe wants to give them something to help, but has nothing to give, and so she gives her tears for them to daub on their baskets. the lesson is that everyone has something to give, even if it is only their tears, their compassion.

alexander mccall smith taught me this story in his series on botswana's finest lady detective. this month has been full of grief for so many people--the loss of friends, family, beloved pets, and some long and tiring days. i wonder that we can bear it all. but i see now that the heart has room to take all of the grief in the world and give it back into something good: an embrace, a listening ear, tears to daub on baskets.

"i suppose that it means that we can all give something," she said. "a giraffe has nothing else to give–only tears." did it mean that? she wondered. and for a moment she imagined that she saw a giraffe peering down through the trees, its strange, stilt-borne body camouflaged among the leaves; and its moist velvet cheeks and liquid eyes; and she thought of all the beauty that there was in africa, and of the laughter, and the love.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bollywood and star wars

oh my goodness, what am i doing? these past two weeks have achieved new levels of stress, on top of which i have two videos to edit, graduate school applications which i haven't even contemplated beginning, a gre subject test to study for, fifteen more high schools to visit this week, and, let's look at the calendar for a moment...ok yup in 24 days i will be a bridesmaid in monica's wedding, and i have no idea how to be a bridesmaid, and i'm going to blush horribly like i do when anyone even mentions blushing, and i have these amazing shoes that i might die in because they're really smooth and the heel is about on par with the eiffel tower, and i just have to make it down the aisle without blushing and falling on my butt, and then i will just have whatever groomsman i cling to on the way back drag me out of the church. oh, god. i feel unready for life.

you know what's a great cure for when you feel like you need a boost of confidence? star wars. also, bollywood dancing. actually, alternating the monsoon wedding soundtrack with the throne room theme from ANH would just about do it. if only i had brought my ipod to ohio.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

much better now

a day in the cleveland botanical gardens has renewed my faith in life. it's a lovely little center, with winding paths that slip between and beneath heavy branches, and rough hewn stone seats tucked into corners so you can sit in solitary quiet and listen to small things, even with many people there.

for we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end... for now we see dimly as in a mirror, but then face to face; now i know in part, but then i will know fully just as i have been fully known.


oh! i am a bit lonely today. loneliness in cleveland is a sad thing. leaving pittsburgh, after having hilary around to make me cheerful, means that i have to come up with my own means for procuring happiness.

but despite everything, despite the tragedy in my family, i plan to have a productive sunday. whatever that means.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

mt. riga: and this should be about it

so monday came and i rose at a leisurely pace in the storey camp, shivered extensively until i made up the fire, ate some breakfast, showered, and wandered down to the lake to sit on the dock and watch the current of the water twist back and forth with the breeze.

aunt olivia and uncle dick had left early on monday morning to pick up uncle dick's sister and her husband from the hartford airport, where apparently they had caught a redeye flight from oregon, and were tired and famished. we had a nice lunch, and then took a walk together down to virginia and ken's again to sit and talk with them and with chuck and elizabeth, who were planning on heading down off the mountain later that day, to return to their home in vermont.

great-uncle ken had some interesting stories about world war ii which i had never heard, namely involving the fact that he worked on the coast guard out on a sailboat to monitor invading german u-boats. did you know that there were u-boats off the east coast? i had no idea, but apparently that is the intelligence he had to relate several times back to the mainland, except they never attacked harbors because new york harbor is so shallow, that the damage would have been a wasted effort.

he also once owned a sailboat that had been jfk's. talking to him made me miss my grandpa, my mother's father, who was also in the coast guard during world war ii, and who loved sailing. it also made me wish i'd known my other grandpa, virginia's brother. great-aunt virginia kindly told me some things about my grandpa, that he was also something of an engineer, that he built real mini motor cars for my dad and for my cousin will when they were little. that he drank too much, but he loved children, and was so, so kind. i almost wish, sometimes, that i would see his ghost on the mountain, to know that he's still around.

then aunt olivia took us on a tour of the other camps nextdoor. there's the wells camp, which belongs to my grandfather's brother frank's children, and their children. and next to that, my aunt dinnie and uncle rick have the blaker camp, and next to them are great-uncle crosby wells's camp and outbuildings, and next to him is cousin conrad, who raised a big camp against some protest by my aunt dinnie, who said it was too close to the other camps (there are rules on the mountain of how closely you can build), but there it is. he also has a self-rigged 'hot tub' which is basically a water tank that he lights a fire under. and next to conrad is great-uncle tom's camp, what we call "the treehouse" because it's built so high up into the trees, but he doesn't come up much anymore because it's too strenuous for him. and then way down from him is cousin alice's camp, but we didn't walk that far.

so you see, despite the fact that we only spend roughly a month at best on the mountain, we still manage to be a family of inbred mountain people.

the next day, tuesday, was the day i was leaving. aunt olivia and i decided to take a walk, stopping in first to see viriginia and ken, who invited me to have lunch with them, and then we continued down the road toward the dam to see fran and pete miller (the same fran who jumped off the dam house at 70 years). only pete was there, but we chatted with him for awhile, walking down with him to the lake so he could show us the contraption he'd built to pull his dock up out of the water for the winter. he built it using lawn mower tires he'd had in his workshop for a good fifteen or twenty years and had never found a use for. we have some clever, creative engineer-like minds up on the mountain. i am not one of them.

other than the brief drama of me stepping on a green garter snake, and subsequently screaming and making an impressive leap of several feet across the grass, aunt olivia and i continued our walk unscathed, strolling down to sit on the platform of the dam house to watch the water, and then walking down the mountain road to look at the waterfall. i like those meandering, easy-paced walks. my aunt says that when she and uncle dick were first married, they had "nothing to do but take long walks" :). but really, there is a very tranquil pleasure in taking a walk, whether you have an envigorating conversation constantly, or whether you walk in easy silence.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

mt. riga: i'm still talking about it

the long and short of it is that fran jumped all right, and in fact her son rob gave me his flip camera to capture the moment. the best part was when she finally climbed through the skylight in the roof and was sitting up there ready to jump, but found she couldn't find the strength in her legs to push herself up. so rob climbed up there and gave her a helping hand...right under her butt. it's all on film, and i desperately hope it will be up on youtube soon, spreading joy to the masses.

after the party, i walked back towards the storey camp with chuck and elizabeth, and as they dropped me off at the foot of the trail leading up to the cabin, they invited me to dinner with virginia and ken. which of course i said yes. because otherwise i would be eating alone, not sure when aunt olivia and uncle dick were to be back from their day trip, and who wants to do that on the mountain? so it worked out perfectly.

the only thing is, when we finally all got in the car to head down the mountain for dinner, we passed aunt olivia and uncle dick coming up the mountain road, but they said it was fine, so i had dinner at the woodland, some little restaurant in lakeville that had yummy food, but weird service. great-uncle ken asked if he could have corn in addition to his meal, and the waitress said that corn counted as a starch, so if he ordered it, they'd have to substitute out his pasta from the chicken parmesan. what is she, his nutritionist? since when do restaurants forbid you to have two starches? i would have thought they'd be happy making any money they could on charging it as a side, but whatever. it was a nice evening, and then i came back and went to bed.

mt. riga: being the second chronicle

my dad, who is paranoid, began to worry that i, at twenty-four years in age and having traveled all over the country singly, could not be left alone for so long a period as six hours. actually, i do not count the time when i was asleep, nor the time after i showered and walked down to the schwartz camp to hang out with virginia and ken, so we're looking more at two hours of total "alone" time. my baby cousins could be left alone for two hours and would probably be fine.

so at any rate, i got up that morning, ate cookie crisp and took my stuff over to aunt olivia's, showered, puttered some more, and then went down to have a chat with everyone at the schwartz camp. they gave me a tour of their cabin, which i'd never really seen in detail as a child, which was pretty cool, because my great-uncle and his other son, phil, are both engineers, and so there are all kinds of contraptions in the camp. they have a solar panel that charges the batteries that run the water pump on-demand (other camps usually get gas-run motors), counterweight-balanced gas lamps rigged up to the ceiling in the main living area, and my uncle's very interesting little creation hanging on the mantle, a hand-made 'betty lamp' as was used up through the 18th and possibly 19th centuries, to burn any sort of fat or grease in a small dish, the precursor to oil lamps. his burns bacon fat with a wick made from shoe laces twisted together into a short pipe.

so after this little rendezvous, i was just leaving their camp when i saw a silver toyota carolla drive past and park at my aunt dinnie's camp, just down the road. i wondered who else on the mountain had a car like that, when the driver door opened and my dad jumped out, looking dishevelled and breathless. with a sense of forboding, i turned my steps towards him and called out "dad, what are you doing here?"

here is the crucial part. dad had driven down only several hours earlier. rather than say something like "i know you weren't expecting me" or something along the lines to justify reappearing so suddenly, he cried "well there you are!"

"where should i be?" i replied in confusion, and repeated my initial inquiry. at this point we were quite close to aunt dinnie's cabin, and i could see my uncle rick on the deck so i thought it better to not stand awkwardly by without greeting them, and began to walk down to the cabin.

"i worried about you being alone," he said anxiously, following me. sigh. i don't remember how i responded, but at any rate we went and chatted for a bit with aunt dinnie and uncle rick, after which i made my escape and headed back up to aunt olivia's camp to get ready for a surprise birthday party for fran miller, whose camp is just down by the dam, and who had turned 70 in march. they were going to try to get her to jump off the dam house in honor of the occasion, because that's what people on the mountain do to the elderly.

mt. riga: the first chronicle

and so the summer draws to a close. i think i spent the near-end of it well last week, taking one last trip for the year up to mt. riga to be with my family.

i feel that i can't get enough of this mountain. the drive up through connecticut, the views, the sounds and smells of the earth and the air, the wind on the night, looking up between the leafy covering of trees to make out pieces of casseopeia, orion, the big and little dippers...and lying curled up in my sleeping bag up in the loft, listening to the sounds of the fire crackling below, and the breeze rustling the branches outside, above me. i used to be afraid at night, because it was so dark, but now i can listen as i didn't before.

on saturday afternoon of last week, i drove up to conn. and arrived at my aunt's cabin at about 8:00pm, just as everyone was finishing dinner. inside, the flood of hellos and questions began and did not cease for the next twenty minutes. i was greeted by my stepsister, who unaccountably had grown another six inches in height, and in gorgeous dark, ringlets that trail down to her waist. i can't beleive she wants to be a blond.

then my dad, and stepmother, and aunt and uncle all were greeted and hugged in turn, and then i was reintroduced to several familiar faces at the dinner table who i could a little more than vaguely recollect: my great-aunt virginia, my great-uncle ken schwartz, and their son and his wife, chuck and elizabeth, my first cousins once removed. as you may imagine, everyone was still talking at once and so i was sat down at the table to take part in a very agreeable conversation about how i was doing, how they were doing, news relating to other relatives and to the mountain, and a general discussion on the virtues of the dessert: two pies from the local market.

i do not think i'd ever seen my cousin and his wife before that evening--or rather, if i had, i do not remember it. i could remember great-aunt virginia and -uncle ken pretty well enough, but it was possibly the second time we had ever had a chance to sit and talk together for an extended time, and it was gratifying to get to know them in a way i hadn't as a little girl. they are very active, considering their age, and my great-uncle has a very dry sense of humor, which he employs frequently. great-aunt virginia is very sweet and good-natured.

i'd arrived late in the evening, for mt. riga time, so the rest of that evening was quiet, and shortly after dinner, i went back to our cabin with dad, kornelya and jalom. they were going to bed early, as they would be getting up the next morning very early in order to go back to brewster for a craft fair in which kornelya would be selling indonesian jewelry (which is very cool). they planned on staying in brewster sunday night, so that the agreement was that i would spend sunday night back in my aunt's cabin, and they would return on monday to the mountain (brewster is only about an hour away).

my aunt and uncle, however, were also going to brewster on sunday, but planned on returning in the evening, so i was free to please myself as i wished, puttering about and amusing myself until they returned. essentially, there would a window of several hours in which i would be sleeping on my own in my cabin, and then waking up and heading over to hang out in my aunt's cabin. why am i giving you these inconsequential details? well, the backstory is necessary becuase of what followed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

adventures in charlottesville

i had the best weekend visiting charlottesville, va, and my cousins. apparently i have a whole slew of first cousins once removed, second cousins, and everything in between. they are fun people; i'm rather sad i never knew about them most of my life--or rather, i knew very little about them.

the main purport of my visit was to see UVA, which turns out to be an 18th century hedonist's dream. my second cousin, jessie, who's 15, was my tour guide. we wandered all over the campus, musing on the idea that when english settlers first came to virginia, they wrote back to their relatives across the pond to tell them how 'tropical' the weather was. this led to a discussion on the hell it must have been to live in the original jamestown, and on our inability to conceive of why anyone in their right mind would agree to cross the atlantic in a cramped, stinky boat filled with disease and people you can't get away from, only to settle in an area where you would live in a one room hut with fifteen other people and eventually die of dysentery, if it hadn't happened already on the boat. at any rate, UVA was deeply beautiful, but i have to admit that i was most impressed by the clinique makeup counter in the university bookstore.

then jessie took me on an adventure all over the city, where we crossed our tracks so many times that i feel i must have memorized every street by now. of course, this is impossible, since my sense of direction is about as sharp as wet tissue paper. but i did begin to have a vague recollection of the places we were seeing. we went downtown, met up with some friends of hers who took us on a random trip to this creepy observatory that looked like the scene from a horror film. then we made a random trip to the SPCA, since jessie wanted (and has since acquired) a fluffy white bunny named lester, which i somehow feel is appropriate. then we decided to make another random trip to ash lawn, the home of james monroe. it turned out it was closed, but we were able to walk around the grounds and i pretended i lived there. in my head.

i also got to see my great aunt (or second cousin going in the other direction? not sure). at any rate, it was a great weekend of relaxing conversation and catching up on years of stories. i feel very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

no more touch!

i am not clever. do you ever have moments where you feel like you should just crawl into a hole and not come out for awhile, until whatever curse is causing you to mess up everything you touch decides to leave you alone?

ok, that's rather dramatic. but really. last week, i made a physical mess of everything in the kitchen. it was as if, every time i tried to get something off a shelf or from a cabinet, i'd mess up three more things next to it. i knocked all of the tupperware out of the cabinets--out of two separate cabinets, mind you. in the pantry i reached for a plastic ziplock baggie and knocked all of the storage bag/tin foil/plastic wrap boxes off of the shelf, lodging them securely behind the pantry shelves in such a manner that they will never be seen again. that action caused a ripple effect, effectively knocking over a large box of tea, which of course was open, so all of the individual tea bags scattered all over the pantry, into more impossible crevices. that in turn fell into the bag of cat kibble, scattering kibble in the process, which i then stepped on and ground into the kitchen floor, and then the cats came running because they had to see what was going on, and started batting kibble and tea bags around the floor. throughout all of this i tried in vain to catch anything i could, while holding my ziplock bag, but by the end i just threw it back into the pantry, slid the doors shut against the trauma within, and ran away.

at work the chaos continued. one of my guidance counselors called to say that a family weekend had accidentally been rescheduled for the weekend i wanted to visit, and so i found that i had to change my flight time in order to be able to actually meet any students. so i went on and changed the flight, but i didn't realize until i hit the submit button that i'd be charged an extra $150.00 to make the change.

and now, i've registered for the gre subject test only to find out today that the date i chose i may have to work in the admissions office... and it will be an extra $50.00 to change the date of the test. sigh. i need to stop trying to do things until the planetary alignments shift in my favor, or something. arg!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


for some reason, i was worrying lately about the future, and about finding the right person to marry and settle down with. what if it just doesn't happen? it's a bit frightening sometimes, to think of the possibility of never marrying, or of being alone. i mean, for all of the empowering messages out there for women to break away from this obsession, in reality i think most people, men and women, fear not finding their soulmate. or they fear being without love in general.

and yet, i was reminded of a conversation that i had earlier today with a friend who i was driving to the airport. in the car we fell to talking about the respective moments of our lives that were particularly painful–we talked about losing people we love. i was remembering that i'd had several dreams in which i'd encountered and been comforted by the people i'd lost, and my friend had had the same happen to her. it is a reminder to me that there are so many kinds of love that are important, and romantic is only one of them. the love for family is sometimes even stronger.

it made me realize that, no matter how frightening it may feel to be alone, it's better to do so rather than to compromise yourself with someone who isn't right for you. because you never are alone. i really believe that. they are always with you–the friends and family you've lost. they come in dreams and in waking moments, where feelings or physical signs remind you of their constant presence.

dreams… i believe that dreams are truth, and our loved ones protect us through them, and through their presence in our waking world, wherever we go.

i used to be afraid of the dark because i thought i was alone, but i see now so clearly that that isn't true. in eat, pray, love, elizabeth gilbert learns about the balinese belief in the Four Brothers. each person is born with four invisible brothers who follow you throughout your life to protect you. the four brothers represent the four virtues of indonesian life: intelligence, friendship, strength and poetry; and yet they are very real. in fact, at night, they stand around your bed and fight off evil demons that may try and attack you.

so maybe i have four brothers who watch over my life. or maybe i have my grandparents, my favorite sixth grade teacher, the wonderful woman from my church who died of cancer so long ago now. or maybe it's a combination of all of them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

fair-weather economy

oh my goodness, i don't know what's wrong with me. this morning i feel like a total zombie. even a huge cup of coffee has not saved me from staring almost mournfully at the wonderful young woman i just interviewed, who hopefully realizes that if my eyelids are drooping, it is not because she isn't amazing, but because of the inadequacy of caffeine. what a beverage betrayal.

of course, i also didn't get much sleep last night. or maybe it was the six separate power walks i took yesterday while listening to fast-pumping bollywood techno on my ipod. hmm. at any rate, i seem to lie down in bed at night, and it's like i can't turn my brain off. it insists on running at full speed, contemplating the day's interactions, speculating on future events, what next month will look like, predicting the direction of the dow jones, etc. no-kidding. i actually don't get anything about the stock market; apparently its success is solely dependent upon society's projection of happiness.

i just heard on the radio sunday evening, while driving back from ikea, that studies show that the stock market does better on days that the sun shines, because people feel naturally more optimistic. well you know what? that doesn't make me feel optimistic, that a chunk of our economy is based on clement weather. isn't that a "fair-weather economy?" a real economy would stick by you, no matter what.

mmm must get more coffee. tonight, i will work off this sluggishness by relaxing w/ my office at the home of one of our campus visit coordinators, who has a pool and wii and who makes the most amazing homemade ice cream and pulled pork (not to be eaten together). yayyy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

mindful attention

a friend recently posted this article on facebook, concerning the limiting aspect of twitter for the newspaper world and the philosophy behind it:

"i worry that microblogging cheats my students out of their trump card: a mindful attention to the subject in front of them, so that they can capture its sights and sounds, its smells and tactile qualities, to share with readers. how can twittering stories from laptops and phones possibly replace the attentive journalist who tucks a digital recorder artfully under a notepad, pencil behind one ear, and gives full attention to the subject at hand?"

the author, a journalism professor, worries that twitter is come to be seen as the sole neccessary venue by which to convey information--that is, the newspaper article (online or otherwise), with its thoroughly investigated knowledge, is superfluous.

we've started playing with twitter in regards to admissions, but i question how much value it really has. i'm willing to go along for the ride and experiment with 'twittering,' say, application review, but to hear that so many people see the space of 140 characters as a replacement for a fuller--and consequently more accurate--account of the most important moments of human record, is kind of unsettling.

it also makes me wonder, am i joined in this feeling, or have i become too old for my generation? maybe i'm supposed to embrace twitter more. but i couldn't have told you all of this in the space of 140 characters.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the nissan cube

this is weirdly impressive.


things i'm addicted to:
• my cats
• my new blackberry... or pinkberry, rather
• the myst computer games
• the legend of zelda
• cheeze-its

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


i can't believe how bad sylar is!!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the responsibility of belonging

i think people underestimate the extent to which they can touch the lives of others. in a thomas hobbes world-view, we could argue that everyone is out to get each other, but i feel rather that there is more room to spread love than hate–and certainly more responsibility to do so.

i interviewed four great young people today, the last of which particularly touched me by her enthusiasm and genuine commitment to changing the world through her service efforts. i have been thinking about various career paths, and one of them is to possibly "go to the other side," as we say in the world of education, to teach and counsel at a private school. hearing her talk about her school's traditions and atmosphere and intellectual drive made me want to be there myself.

did you know you have that power? i think we forget that in most everything we do, we are not only acting for ourselves, but representing everything with which we are associated. you are your town, your high school, your college, your country, your family. for better or for worse, to some degree we have to accept the responsibility of belonging.

james sherry, in his essay "pride and prejudice: the limits of society," reminds us that we have
"…an eternal reminder that we are all part of one community, and not even the best of men can be totally beyond the responsibility and the reproach of belonging to it."

how will you make your community one that you're proud to belong to?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


the restlessness is taking over me again. i can feel it stirring a wind up through my veins, pulling at my hands and feet, and i know i must run outside and go somewhere or i feel i might burst. where to go? and why?

there seems to be some psychological benefit to the physical journey. maybe it's my conviction that we travel inward as we travel over the earth, and somehow the movement of the body gains me a sense of purpose in my mind that i didn't have before. whether it is where to go to graduate school, or whom to marry, or anything important in life–somehow i find the decision easier to make while letting my thoughts flow over me and through me as my feet span the ground.

at the same time, i am not always careful not to let my mercurial nature run me into the ground with feverish activity. this is something to work on.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

communication across the ages

i've gotten back into writing in my paper journal again, as well as in this journal. i fell out of it for over a year, mostly from feeling that i hadn't anything to say which couldn't be shared with the whole world, if i cared to...but now it is useful to have somewhere to put my private thoughts once again. not that they are so very private, mind you, but, well–you know, half the things you say in your head wouldn't be of interest to the general public, and i probably spend too much text already on writing things here that are of interest to no one save myself. but that's a topic on which i've already meditated, and the truth is that i like having both digital and paper options available to me.

for one thing, the ease of typing allows my thoughts to flow quickly without losing them while i write. writing by hand takes a little bit more of a process–and yet i do find that i write more creatively sometimes by hand. this is an interesting phenomenon that has been noted both, i believe, in scientific study as well as by the average layperson. i remember reading an article in the atlantic last summer (while i was in the library up in salisbury, ct, while at mt. riga, incidentally) where friedrich nietzche's friends noticed that, upon switching from pen and paper to typewriter, his prose had become terser than ever. 'our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.' isn't that fascinating? what have we lost–or gained–then, by the switch from processing our thoughts with writing tool in one hand, to processing them with both sets of fingers touching keys?

that is why i prefer to maintain both, when i can. people should be made to reflect on their thoughts through both mediums, so that nothing is lost in translation, as it were.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

agatha: 1, GRE: 0

i took my GRE!!! i am so pleased that it's done. i got a 680 on the verbal (yayyy) and... a 510 on the quantitative hahaha. anyone shocked by that? yup, didn't think so. that's ok, i'm more confident that graduate schools will be looking at my verbal score.

now i'm going to go out with the gburg people and celebrate over beer and wings. good times.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


yawn. back from camping at the mountain. i already miss my family and wish i were still back up there. stupid GRE. i take it thursday...and then back to the office. sigh. it's not that i don't want to go back to work, but... i don't want to go back to work. my first week of vacation i was sick with strep throat, and so i really only feel like i've had a couple days vacation. maybe i can ask for more time off...

hmm. not sure about that. stories to follow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ew germs

i am sick of this illness that has taken me. i don't know if it's a cold, or the flu, or what, but it needs to start telling its story walkin'.

but i am too cheap to pay for another visit to the doctor and for an antibiotic...i'm going to finish this thing off the old-fashioned way: whiskey.



no, i cannot tell you what it means, because i refuse to flip the flash card over and look. and yet, i'm supposed to have that word memorized as part of my gre studying efforts. still the first few official days of my vacation have been going pretty well--i cleaned the house, changed the cat litter (always an activity i put off until the bitter end), had the refrigerator fixed (again...long story), and now am going to buy stamps to mail some letters to friends. and then more studying for the gre.

i tried on my bridesmaid dress again last night, as kristen is visiting and she wanted to see me in it. i was pleased that it fit me better than before; i seem to be slightly curvier than i was in march when i first tried it. unfortunately, larger boobs also means more arm fat, so my goal is to lift weights until the ratio of arm-to-boob fat is where i want it to be.

now back to studying!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the road less (or more?) taken

do you ever get the feeling that you're standing at a crossroad with many paths radiating away from you? and sometimes each way is distinct and descrete from the others, and other times each seems to meld into others until they become confusingly indistinguishable.

what program should i apply to in graduate school? english phd? masters in education? or stay in admissions and continue the extensive growth i've seen in myself this past year? i feel caught between choices, and am wondering if one of them isn't really a choice that covers all paths...

blech. i need vacation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

a bit of blogging philosophy

what is the worth of blogs? i mainly created this as a way for friends to keep up with my...relatively?...diverting life, but it occurs to me (ok, not for the first time) that most of what is written here is interesting to no one save myself. so is that the case for most blogs, or are my personal accounts just not that exciting? are blogs really about getting your thoughts out there for friends and the world at large to respond to, or more about the pleasure of seeing your thoughts in (digital) print? blogging is odd when you consider it in that form, then–egotistical and yet not guaranteed to reach an actual audience.

and yet, does the author always want an audience? of course they must–or else, why create the archive? sorry. i still remember reading derrida for english critical methods class.

on an even more random note, i also keep coming back to the dream i had so many years ago. it's not that i keep having that dream necessarily; but the intense happiness, the freedom of driving my own destiny–the images always seem to be at the fringes of consciousness, sneaking back in when my thoughts start to wander.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

gender in higher education

someone on facebook just posted this and it's fascinating:

here is a great quote in response to the article:

"This is an interesting piece and some of the responses are fascinating, and troubling, as well. To "Guilty": what institution has mandatory women's studies courses? And, to Kate: who is the "they" and who is the "we"? Initially, I read your response along gendered lines; that is, the "they" are male students while the "we" are female students. However, I, then, saw several references to race and nationality; is the "they" students of color, or those students with non-European heritage?

"In interacting with my male students, I definitely note a sense of loss. The lower-income white men with whom I come into contact are angry--not at any one group; rather, they astutely recognize the changing economic order, and many of them note that with this decline, so goes their guaranteed affluence. The majority of these men do not see other groups being privileged over them; instead, they perceive that living the so-called American Dream--a fantasy that was closer to reality for white men above all others--is not automatic. I live in a part of the country with a low cost of living; thus, many of my lower-income students come from economically stable backgrounds. These young men see that their parents did not have to go to college in order to live a life with lots of stuff; as such, they are frustrated that now, if they want stuff, they must go to college. Many of them do not see the cause-effect relationship of intellectual strength and prosperity; rather, higher education and stuff are intangibly related to material wealth. (This lack of recognition seems to be inherent in the majority of 18-year olds, no?) Many of my young male students also suffer loss because they realize that their prior successes in HS, which were, most often, athletic in nature, mean nothing in the world of higher education. They go from being celebrated and recognized in the small world of their high schools, to being just another body in a classroom whom no one knows.

"What I find particularly sad is that the majority of these young men do not realize that they can regain their power and autonomy by investing in themselves intellectually. (However, as any CC prof can affirm, the majority of our 18 and 19 year old students do not understand this.) To see "political correctness" (read: inclusiveness) as the cause of this identity loss in male is nonsense; rather, the changing economy, dependant as it is on the highly technical knowledge that requires at least a four-year degree, is a primary cause for identity loss among many young men, as it is the cause of distress for many Americans in general."


i have dreams lately that i am in strange houses, boats, and other enclosures, and i am moving swiftly through each room with increased excitement and apprehension, because in each room i am discovering something new, but it's not quite what i was looking for, and the search continues.

when i wake up, i'm deeply disappointed that the dream has ended, and i close my eyes, trying to recall the dream-journey clearly enough to keep myself moving to the next room. i know that spending too much time thinking about dreams, waking or otherwise, is bad for the psyche, but i can't help it. it's so exciting, the adventure of the dream world. sometimes i imagine that the doors that i can't open in real life, i can get to in my dreams, and they will be real. is that weird? don't answer that.

the thing is, i can't help believing that even though it's just a dream, what i see is real. what if our understanding of consciousness is completely limited? suppose that the capacity of the brain is such that, if we were able to tap into it, we could see what we imagine is impossible to know?

why only use 10%. that's what i'd like to know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

be kind

this is the best quote from our staff retreat, submitted by sarah:
be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

it is important to practice compassion, when we all have our demons to overcome.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

i wish there were a legend of zelda movie

old school, 1985 gray square box nintendo-style.

Monday, May 11, 2009


the other night i had a strange dream that i was on campus and standing in breidenbaugh hall. i felt a curious sensation all around me and i looked up and found that the building was dripping water from the inside. it wasn't raining outside, but inside the dripping seemed to be increasing, and as i dashed from stairwell to hallway, the drops fell more thickly, obscuring my vision everywhere i turned.

i wasn't afraid. i was anxious, but more out of the oddity of it all. i had an odd sensation of déja vu, a feeling of coming to a point again where i had been before–but not exactly a point in my past, not a point backward. like, here i am–remember this? yes.

and anyway, any memory of my favorite english building will always be welcome.

i tried looking up "rain" but couldn't find anything about rain happening in a building. but most sources seem to agree that to dream of rain is to dream of an opening of wisdom, love and personal wealth. since it was raining in the building with the english department, i will interpret this as a good sign for my future in graduate school.

rain. beautiful.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

mmm sleeping

i set my alarm for 9 a.m. today. at 9 a.m. my alarm went off, i hit the snooze, and went back to bed. i knew i should get up, i had big plans to go to the saturday morning market in town, and then to clean the house, and then to research graduate school programs. around 9:40 a.m., my phone rang. i pressed it to my ear and heard bx inviting me to go hiking with her and kara at catoctin mountain park. i groggily said yes.

then i slid the phone back beneath my pillow and shut my eyes once again. so tempting to sleep for another three hours...

at 9:52 a.m. i forced myself to sit up in bed, which even though i'd now slept approximately 9 hours, was still something of a miserable prospect. the cats meanwhile had been bothering me on and off for several hours, but i'd managed to snooze through most of it. they had tried everything in their tiny brains' power to get me to pay attention to them–knocking jewelry off my dresser, scratching my dresser, attempting to reach up and claw my padded bulletin board, rolling all over the bed and pouncing on my chest, etc.

by 11:15 a.m. i'd managed to get ready and head out to the market. i bought my tomatoes and goat cheese, and headed back, calling bx and telling her i would leave soon to join them. in the car ride down to maryland i listened to the last cd in my harry potter audio book, and cried at the part when harry brings his family back from the dead with the resurrection stone, and he tells his mom to stay close to him. actually, the whole last 3 chapters are tear-jerkers.

so anyway, i made it down to catoctin and had a lovely hike w/ bx and kara, only i am totally out of shape and as soon as i got back home, i lay down again in the recliner in the living room and passed out for a good hour and a half.

i think i may have a sleep addiction. yes, in fact sleep is sounding sooooo good right now.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

warm evenings

things are finally calming down, and my life regains some... some what? i'm not sure. it gains something. maybe the increasing warm weather is part of it, but this time of year is always renewing. i begin to remember other warm days, and warm evenings sitting in the yard and listening to the trees.

when i was a child i used to think that that time between the sunset and the night contained some magic. if any magic could happen, it would be during those hours when your vision becomes hazy for lack of sunlight, but hasn't yet adjusted to the darkness. don't laugh at me, because i didn't truly ever believe in fairies, but i did hope that one day my skepticism would be proven wrong, and that one of those evenings i would glimpse them out of the corner of my eye, hovering in the twilight.

now to simply sit outdoors, it's enough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

got the dot?

i am so totally proud of this video and of my college:

got the dot?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


boo. college fairs need to tell you WHERE they are, and HOW you get there. and they should tell you the CORRECT TIME that the fair actually ends.

boo. at least my hotel gave me a very nice fruit plate, after they messed up my reservation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


this day has seemed to last forever. i'm tired, my head and my heart are tired. i want to sink into my bed right now and forget everything, but i won't.

i think i'm just dejected because i'm running on a shortened amount of sleep, on top of everything else; but it's as if only today has it really hit me, what happened on our campus, and that is compounding all of the other small, inconsequential grievances, like the rain today. i had driven to philly for a committee meeting, and no one at the meeting mentioned the subject to me until the very end, when we were walking back out to our cars. i expressed that the whole campus is so appreciative of the love and support being shown by alums, parents, our town community, and fellow institutions all over the world. i said we were hanging in there, and we would be ok.

and then i got back in my car, and started driving down the turnpike, and before i knew it i was sobbing. i recovered after a few minutes and made it back to the office, but now i realize how badly we all need this support, no matter what our relationship was to those involved. because we're all involved.

i've always been proud of gettysburg, and these past couple of days i have been even more proud: of the college and our president for encouraging us to reach out to each other, of the maturity of our students in handling their grief...i can't think of what situation we would be in, if people turned against each other, started making accusations, spreading rumors, degraded the community they belong to. i am grateful that the community we have built here is strong enough to hold us together.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

spring smells

another sunny weekend...we have been having good fortune in that department, and yesterday's junior open house was a great sucess–a bit chilly, but the first sunny joh in several years. my only prayer is that get acquainted day in two weeks will be just as beautiful.

yesterday evening kayla and i decided to break out my little firepit and we had a barbeque, roasting seasone vegetables in tin foil, and hot dogs (for me–kayla is vegetarian), and finally, delicious smores. it was so windy, however, that the smoke and ash blew all into our clothes and so now i smell like campfire, which makes me unwarrentedly happy. mmm. campfire.

if they made a perfume for garlic and campfire, i would totally wear it. that is how much i love both.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

sing, sing, sing with a swing

another great beginning to my weekend. on thursday, i decided to just send out an email to the whole campus with the request for people to bring me their unwanted books, so i could collect them to send to indonesia. i had the idea when i went to visit last summer, and my stepmom told me how difficult it is to get books in english over there.

so i sent out this email, not really expecting anyone to respond yet–i figured i'd keep emailing periodically until the end of the semester. well, within about a five minute span after the email was sent, i had TEN people eagerly respond with offers to give me textbooks, novels, academic journals, and even two sets of older encyclopedias! i couldn't believe it. no matter the motive, i am so thrilled by how many people were willing to donate. i need to start planning how to collect all of them now, and how to mail them.

so on friday i picked up my first set of textbooks from an economics professor, and then headed to FASH (friday afternoon social hour), where i fell into conversation with one of my former english professors, temma berg, who also offered to donate books, and a friend of hers who also offered to donate, and even offered to lend her knowledge of NGOs and other services. this is getting beyond what i could have imagined, but who knows? maybe i should make this into some kind of official cause. stay tuned!

later that evening, i went to hear a friend play in the gettysburg college jazz ensemble, aka the buzz jones band, and they totally blew me away. i am constantly overwhelmed by the incredible talent on this campus, and to hear them play at the majestic theatre is particularly gratifying because of its ties to both the college and community. the evening's entertainment ended with a vibrant arrangement of "sing, sing, sing" and i went home humming jazz to myself.

today bx and kara are coming to visit so i am very excited because i haven't seen them in... well, i'd better not think back to how long it's been. but today will be great :).

Monday, March 23, 2009

yes, like the Force

ironically, in this season of spring, i was suddenly struck this evening by thoughts of mortality.

it's not that i'm morbid person, or at least i don't think of myself as such, yet i was reflecting on my experience at the vet today, and a couple there who had to put their beloved pet to sleep. it may be ridiculous to sob over the death of an animal, but i will never laugh at the pain of anyone who loses someone whom they cherish as a part of their family. i feel very fortunate to have two healthy, if destructive to my house, cats.

but what about the mortality of people? in some ways we are more careless because we know a great many injuries can be treated now with modern medicine; on the flip side, however, new diseases and extended lifelines have made that same seeming immortality to be more fragile–the more we can save it, the more life becomes precious, irreplaceable, and death unacceptable.

the further we advance as a society, the more we draw back from facing the inevitable, than did our counterparts in earlier centuries. or is it just more openly accepted, to be so afraid of the end? was the faith of earlier generations stronger, or wasn't there ever that tiny seedling of doubt, of dread of parting from every sensation and connection we live for every day?

or maybe people have always had the same feelings, but recognize them in different capacities throughout time. i like to think of einstein's theory of matter never going away–only changing form. surely all the paradises of faiths everywhere proclaim the same message that c.s. lewis, the dalai lama, philip pullman, joseph campbell, george lucas, and however many thinkers on the subject you can name, proclaim: namely, that the meaning of life after death is to be one with God, part of that sacred synthesis of energy and being that radiates across the universe, binding us...

....yes, like the Force. <3

Sunday, March 22, 2009

bursting open in every direction

spring is finally here! it's in the air, stretched acrosss the sky, at work, at home, at church, even at walmart. or is it just me, carrying this happy giddiness everywhere i go? no, i think it's everyone.

this weekend was positively glorious with temperatures in the 50's and plenty of sunshine. on friday, i had a terrific day attending the faculty author's reception at the library, and then a senior recital from one of our fantastic ethnomusicology majors, with whom i am planning a video on her mellon grant research and passion for music.

yesterday i was outside planting lilies-of-the-valley, blue irises and hyacinth in my backyard, one of which hopefully will bloom. i don't know if i followed all the planting instructions, but the package seemed to indicate that if planted in march, they would bloom by early summer. i also have my little lemon tree which is flourishing, despite its origin as a seed from a supermarket lemon. i won't have fruit for several years, but who knew the fruit from the supermarket was actually fertile?

tomorrow huck goes to the vet to be neutered and i'm a bit freaked out, after hearing a story from a friend about their pet's death after a routine spaying operation. but it's an out-patient business, so i just drop him off tomorrow morning and pick him up after work. and i know my other cat, jack, went through it and was obviously fine, but still... i hope they won't hate me, because i plan on calling every couple of hours to check on him.

spring really must work some miracles. up through early march the streets felt so empty at times. now it seems like everywhere i go, there is a new energy bouncing off of every surface. people bloom out of their houses like the crocuses coming up, as if they'd been hiding, dormant, inside, all winter long. yesterday, the man who works at the gas station across the street from me shared with me two cornmeal pasties that an hispanic friend of his brought him after he fixed their car. ah, spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

grad school: the new frontier

we are almost at the end of an exhausting season of application review; my energy has waxed and waned, but i have done a lot of great work with the accepted student website so i am looking forward to yielding an amazing class, once again. because it's gettysburg and we Do Great Work.

i want to start visiting graduate schools. i haven't finalized my list yet, but i'm beginning with the schools where my favorite professors got their PhDs, and consequently are a recommendation in themselves. but what to go to school for? will i really spend the rest of my life talking about the 18th century? maybe. i could probably actually do that quite happily. but i would need to balance that passion with other fields, other directions–i hate the thought of getting a degree in something that doesn't apply to modern life, and one of my goals with my Phd would be to use the focus on social justice and communal responsibility in austen's literature, to apply to the world in which i live.

i wrote to a couple of department chairs at various universities to find out more about their programs, and of course now i'm kicking myself because i did the exact thing that more or less takes up valuable time when other prospectives do it–i gushed for a good six paragraphs about how much i love austen and 18th century lit., and how i needed an environment that was academically rigorous while cooperative. which i could have written in the application itself. but i didn't. i wrote it in a super-long email and hit "send" without thinking, as is my usual habit, and now have my big mouth to thank for the fact that said professor may very well think i'm crazy.

well, well. for what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

so busy

i can't believe how much i've accomplished in the past month–and also how much i still have left to do. it seems like every hour of my day is filled with some admissions work, and it's all driving me forward, but i hope i have the energy to keep going through app review. i caught a stomach bug on sunday which really should only have lasted a day, but it was only this afternoon that i really began to feel well again, as if my body suddenly saw an opportunity to force me to slow down, and took it.

and yet, i'm sitting here, waiting for barack obama to come into congress to give his first state of the union address, and i had the sudden thought that, no matter what i have due tomorrow, at least i don't have half the worries on my shoulders that he does.

mrs. obama looks lovely, of course, and every time i see her i wonder what she's thinking. she strikes me as a reflective woman who sees a great deal but now feels compelled to withhold her opinion. it's something with her eyes–grave and warm at the same time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

warm weather and dreams of spring

this is too much–how can i bear to go back to the cold weather that inevitably is in store for gettysburg when today was so gloriously warm? this whole weekend, actually, was just gorgeous, and i feel very happy in how i spent my time. i got to clean my whole house, and opened all of the windows to let in the warm, clean breeze–so much nicer than the stuffy, dry air we've been having lately which no doubt is not helping to contain cold and flu germs to individuals.

then i went to target (target! target! my favorite store ever! next to ikea, anyway...) and bought a lovely new bookshelf, a wall mirror for the front hallway, and some odds and ends. nothing is so wonderful as a trip to target after having been away from it for a long time. but my trip to barnes & noble on the way home afterward was strangely disappointing. it's like there's a stagnation there, which doesn't make any sense for a bookstore.

my dreams continue to be vivid and unsusual. i think my mind is fervently wishing for spring now. there's this place that i keep going back to, in several different dreams now, and it's almost like the connecticut shore, but i can't place where it is. i stand on something like a peninsula, with wide sunny streets and cheerful shops and suburban houses, and cherry blossom trees and very green grass. in one moment i'm at the end of the peninsula, where the streets fade into blue water that stretches out across the sound. in another moment, i look again and the street keeps going where the water used to be, and i know that i'm still near the beach, but the road that reaches it is now much, much longer.

i always feel slightly dissatisfied being there, even though another part of me is always at peace, content, basking in the sunshine, and i walk around picking the nicest flowers. in my latest dream of this place, however, i am on some kind of magic carpet that lets me fly up into the cherry trees to reach the blossoms that i normally can't. it's very freeing, and yet at the same time the nicest blossoms are always just out of reach–i pick what i think are the best, and then glance just beyond my fingers and see more. the game continues until i wake up, and i don't know if i feel playful or frustrated.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 things about me

1. When I was a little girl I wished to be a Disney princess—usually Ariel or Belle. Jasmine on other days. I still want all of their dresses.

2. I still make wishes on eyelashes even though it’s kind of silly.

3. I love, love red wine, especially semi-dry. And have recently taken a liking to Guiness. I am ok with white wine, and I hate rosé.

4. I’m completely terrified of amusement park fun houses—the kind where you sit in a little car on a track in a dark building and people in masks jump out at you.

5. I love Jane Austen and Star Wars and do not find them incongruous subjects.

6. I get my red hair from my grandfathers from both sides, but no one else in my family is an actual redhead.

7. I dream of things that happen in the future pretty much all the time and I hope it’s not odd.

8. When I was five I begged my mom to let me wear my ballerina tutu to school. Wearing it, I walked into my kindergarten class and announced “Who wants to marry me?” 3 boys raised their hands. I wonder where they are today?

9. Sometimes I wish I were an opera singer. And had the voice to be an opera singer.

10. As a baby, my mom changed my diaper on the lawn of Gerald Ford’s house.

11. The middle finger of my left hand is double-jointed and bends backwards in a way that disturbs people.

12. I love to write bad fiction, but wish it was good fiction.

13. I love britcom and Turner Classic Movie channel.

14. I think this “25 things about me” has become so viral because people love best to talk about themselves. This is the key to marketing.

15. I have never been to Disney World or Disney Land.

16. I talk to myself. Often. I hear that more intelligent people do that, and I am going with that.

17. I have a weakness for the Shopaholic book series, as well as Jane Austen spinoffs, despite my otherwise literary elitism. But no romance novels. Ever.

18. I have trouble sitting still or staying on one topic for an extended period of time.

19. I hate bananas. No–it’s not a metaphor; men are fine. Bananas are not.

20. Once I made my sister drive me to a 24-hour grocery store after midnight to buy smoked gouda. The man at the register tried to talk me up by using it as a come-on: “So, you like cheese, do you?” I do like cheese.

21. Captain John Smith was my great-great-great-great,etc. great uncle from my maternal grandmother’s side. Most of the rest of my family settled in New England in the 17th and 18th centuries, while the Swedish side emigrated in the 19th century to the Midwest (another good story).

22. I am the youngest of 7 first cousins on my dad’s side, and have been told repeatedly by my aunt that I “will always be the baby.” Even after I get a doctorate.

22. Men I crush on even though they’re old/dead: James Dean, Jimmy Stewart, Harrison Ford, Alan Rickman, that young guy in that movie “The Russians are Coming” who is no longer young.

23. I love music and sing soprano, play piano, and used to play the clarinet. My sister and I used to tour with a choir that went to England and sang in various cathedrals. I can’t remember if we were good or not, though.

24. I am cool with taking the name of the man I marry, so long as it’s not something like Mrs. Kiplefink-Panting.

25. My dream is to get my PhD in English literature and Jane Austen, and promote her sense of social responsibility in community-active projects.

Monday, February 2, 2009

18th century thoughts

i've been thinking recently.
• i don't really like sam richardson. i think he had no clue as to how women think. also, he had some disturbing fixations with s & m. didn't anyone else notice that in pamela?
• edmund burke was incredibly handsome. i know this has to be true, because fanny burney had a big crush on him
• if i could go back in time, i would "accidentally" have tom lefroy's uncle killed so he'd inherit everything and he and jane austen could marry. but only if i could be sure it wouldn't prevent her from writing.
• james boswell has to be one of the most unattractive men i've ever seen (at least in portrait, but if they can't fudge your portrait to make you look good, that's a bad sign)
• i think you could compare jane austen to star wars and probably find more similarities than you'd believe possible. ex: darth vader and sir thomas bertram: both bad parents who own slaves, who repent in the end and are redeemed by their children
•2nd ex: princess leia and all austen heroines: ridiculous amounts of time spent on styling hair

Sunday, February 1, 2009

football: a new frontier–wait, is 'new frontier' redundant?

incredible–a high of 45 degrees today, practically spring. i know this is a breath of warmth that always comes at the end of january only to dip back into frigid temperatures in february and march, but i couldn't help running around outside today and frolicking. it was so warm that i didn't even wear a scarf. and that tells you something.

now kayla and i are getting ready to go to a superbowl party...i guess i'm cheering for the steelers since she's from pittsburgh, and i don't really know anyone in arizona.

i never grew up in an area or with a family that cared about sports, so it's still a little foreign to me what the superbowl is or why people care so much. or how football really works. i wikipediaed it a couple months back, actually. apparently the very tall fork-like structure at the end of the field is only necessary for a very small part of the game. isn't that surprising to you? i mean, i've told people this before, but it seems to me like it's quite big piece of stationary metal to have on the field when you don't use it that much. football players should do something more exciting with it–like set up a spring board in front of it and take turns doing somersaults into the end zone.

but i realize that there is some very emotional attachment for some people, so i respect that, and i like eating barbeque wings and beer, so i won't complain today if there's some tv on in the background while i eat.

ha! i knew what 'end zone' means. snap!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

i miss you

dear friends, i just want to say that even though i haven't seen so many of you in ages, i really really miss you and know that even though all i do now is read applications and eat swedish fish, i wish we could have one giant reunion in gettysburg...everyone would be invited: college friends, friends from connecticut, family, random strangers who looked cool.

and we would have joyous times together. just wanted you all to know that.

and thanks for reading my lame blog, those of you who do. because you could be internet shopping right now but you're reading this. and that touches me deeply.

<3 to all

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

fairy lights

i want to write something.

but i don't know what to write about. sometimes, i have these flashes of a profound thought or a clever phrase, but just as my mind begins to consciously examine the spark, it goes out. it's like it can only exist when i don't look directly at it, like a light in the dark. have you ever noticed that if you look up at the night sky, the brightest stars are never those in your direct vision, but the ones just radiating away from the center of your focus?

it keeps haunting me, the sound of a voice, a word, a vision out of the corner of my eye, just behind my left shoulder, but no matter how instantly i turn, i've always just missed it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the sauce of life

i was making spaghetti tonight and went to grab a jar of sauce to toss on the beef. i constantly debate which size jar i should buy, because when i buy a large one, i never use it all before it goes bad, but sometimes the small ones aren't enough to cover a standard pound of beef, which is the smallest quantity that you can buy these days. and of course, this time i had the small jar and it wasn't enough.

life, like spaghetti sauce, seems to never come in the right size. so how do you work with the size you have and recognize it for the blessing that it is?

Monday, January 12, 2009

internet impatience

i've been noticing for quite some time now my extremely limited patience when using the internet. one of my friends from work posted a funny youtube video on facebook about the impatience of people in general when dealing with technology, but it's odd, isn't it? i mean, of course there is a logical explanation for the often direct correllation between improved technology and your unhappiness.

i can view the profile and check the status of each of my 300+ friends on facebook instantaneously and continuously, but somehow i feel unhappy when i'm on facebook too much, like i'm some kind of coke addict who has the need but no longer feels pleasure from the fix.

on the other hand, i very much enjoy this new facebook application for the new shopaholic movie that's coming out in february. you get to pretend to shop, and you get a closet full of prada. ahhh.

new kitten!

so life continues in the wells household with the addition of our new kitten, huckleberry. huck is four months old, with orange stripes and a white chest and white paws. he snuggles into my lap and then kneads my chest the way he did to his mother when he wanted milk. i'm not sure how to explain to him that it's unlikely to happen. but anyway, the first night with him was all howling as he ran around the bathroom and generally freaked was the second night...and the third day.

but now he seems to be adjusting happily, so much so that he will cuddle with kayla and me just about anywhere, and he and jack now have a little game where one crouches underneath the bed by the wood panel at the foot, and the other crouches next to the bed on the other side of the wood panel, and they swipe their paws at each other, duck, then swipe again. i thought they were fighting at first but then huck began to cry when i pulled jack away so i let them have at it.

if you're still reading this: clap, clap. i just wrote all of that above and then thought: really, agatha? do you think your friends really want to read an extensive narrative of your cats' behavior? but clearly you do if you are still reading.

also, this evening huckleberry started farting every time i picked him up. i really hope this goes away.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


i am a crucial part of social change.

words from a young woman's application essay. this is what i love when i read applications: even in the midst of reading a lot of trite essays, you see the potential of so many. you see minds opening newly, thoughtful observations about the world that now are so easy to accept but, ah! at seventeen, they were so fresh and unheard of.

then you remember all of the things that you learned from that moment to this, and you remember that there is no end to learning, and no end to opening. the world is so, so wide. but when you get older, you forget to see it. if you imagined yourself seventeen again, open to learning, what else would you discover, that you now think yourself incapable of?

Monday, January 5, 2009

back to the grind

i have so not adjusted to a proper sleep schedule yet. ugh. today was surprisingly productive, however, given my minimal brain functioning. did you know that your IQ drops about twenty points when you go on vacation? i swear that i read that somewhere but, of course, i don't yet have the mental alacrity to cite the source for you. i'm sure that your own experience would support the theory, however.

it's nice to be back, at least. being home is always stressful, but being back at work i can see everyone again and hear all of their stories. i am lucky to have such an office.

Friday, January 2, 2009

an astrological beginning

a lovely start to my new year! hmm, i say it like i'm the only one experiencing 2009 right now and that's not true at all. i feel very much one with the global community.

so i broke this into two parts since the last post about the casino was getting rather long. but the part two is that on new year's eve, we woke up in the hotel and looked out the window and saw that it was heavily snowing. ok, i didn't look at the weather forecast earlier, but i forgot about the existence of snow, living in gettysburg, aka "the south."

i then got a text from vicki informing me that she was sick and that her new year's celebration had been canceled due to that and the inclement weather. totally disappointed, there was nothing to do but head back to greenwich. em and i decided to stop at the outlets on the way back, and wait out the storm a bit, which was predicted to stop around one. but instead of getting better it got worse. determined to make it home before dark, i told em that i wanted to head out, so we parted but after i'd been on 95 south for about ten minutes she called me and told me that her friend andrea had invited me to stay with her as well, since she was much closer than greenwich and it would be safer.

so i slowly drove north to south windsor, taking much more time than usual because of the weather and because of the mean connecticut people who are not nice on the road. if you're from connecticut and you drive in connecticut, i mean all of you: you don't need to speed when there are six inches of snow and ice on the ground, and the wind is kicking it up so that you can hardly see a couple feet in front of your car. that is unneccessary. that is why your ford pick-up ended up in that guard rail back around exit 76. also you are a man and you were over-confident. that is also why you pay more for insurance.

anyway, i'm sorry that vicki was sick, but hanging out at andrea's ended up being a blast so i was very happy that it all somewhat worked out in the end. we watched "baby mama" which was dumb but vaguely entertaining, interspersed with episodes from the twilight zone marathon on the scifi channel. we also made homemade chocolate chip cookies and played sequence, which is this weird card game with chips and a playing board that i'd never heard of before and was much more challenging with the addition of champagne. and if you're wondering, yes–i was too scared to open the champagne bottle. but so was em. andrea opened it for us.

the next morning was great. andrea's mom and dad are awesome–her mom was excited to try out the new belgian waffle maker she'd bought, so we had fresh blueberry waffles, and her dad was excited to keep serving us cappuccinos and espressos from his espresso machine which only he knows how to use.

then andrea got out her astrology books and we took turns looking up each other's personality horoscopes and relationship horoscopes. then we contemplated playing in the snow. actually, i contemplated that silently but i don't think anyone would have wanted to join me, as it was about 15 degrees outside.

this afternoon i met vicki on my way home at a barnes & noble and that was nice, too, except apparently she's now given her stomach bug to her fiancé. oops!

happy new year, dear and lovely friends. you light up my life so much more than you can know, and i think of how lucky i am to have so much love around me, when love is the most important reason to live. it is such a happiness when good people get together–and they always do.

it's not just for the classroom!