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?

it's not just for the classroom!