Monday, 24 January 2011

Productive Day is Productive.

I suddenly realised that J-term finishes the day after tomorrow, classes start, and I am entirely unprepared for this impending happening. It is looming, big and dark, very much like a very loomy thing. So this morning I had to bite the bullet and get on with preparing for the arrival of actual work and actual things to do. I was fairly successful in my uber productive day of productivity; I have topped up my one-card so I can do laundry, I have met with the director of Orchestra, I have ordered the books I need for my first two weeks of classes, I have set up an amazon student account, I have purchased a sketch book, I have marked all the bowings in for the first violins. Not bad for a day's work, and I still have the entire evening to get more done. Being productive is fairly satisfying. 

I spent a great deal of time marking the bowings and fingerings in on music today, it takes much longer than I had anticipated, and since it's all marked in in pencil, you can't always see everything, and suddenly 5 copies in you realise you've missed a slur or something and you have to go back and change everything. Luckily thanks to the months I spent working at the Howard, I am very accustomed to performing repetitive and mind-numbing tasks, and actually this is a little more stimulating than hours of laminating. I also discovered that it when exposed to a special brand of peppy pop music it is possible to keep fairly up-beat while doing this. Perky-pop of the minute was Miley Cyrus. So there I was, in the library, before class starts, in my new enormous lumberjack shirt, rocking out to Miley Cyrus, and scribbling all over a huge pile of music. It was then that I decided I needed a cool transplant. And that Miley needs to learn how to master the key-change. 

I am unsure why I have not previously discovered the Amazon Student account. I was alerted to its existence by a friend. Transpires, with an Amazon student account you get free two-day delivery. On everything. It's jolly fantastic! Which was pretty lucky, since classes start in two days, And my books should arrive in two days. See what I did there! I feel a little more prepared for classes now. I have bought the books for my Modern British Novel class, and my French class. There aren't any posted for my Medieval Lit class thus far, which is a little disconcerting, but hey ho! The only book my Creative Writing professor seems concerned that we get is a very particular Sketch Book, which had to be a very specific size and have a special kind of binding and certain number of pages. I went to the bookshop to purchase this magical, mythical Sketch Book. I'm more than a little concerned by this. I really am last in the artistically inclined camp. When God was passing out artistic talent, I was looking the other way. Hopefully use of The Sketch Book will be limited to cutting and sticking. I am very proficient in cutting and sticking. 

The productivity of my day is made somewhat more impressive when one considers the complete lack of  gainful activity which has been completed within the last month. Which has been so close to zero as to be almost entirely indiscernible. Also the fact that it is actually ARCTIC out there. For once in my life I am not exaggerating even a little tiny bit. It's in single figures. IN. FAHRENHEIT. Inhaling makes me cough. My lungs are rejecting the oxygen. It's that cold. And that's during the day. The other night it was -9. STILL. IN. FAHRENHEIT. That's -23 degrees Celsius guys. The high-schools in South Hadley were closed today, it was so cold! I'm going to turn into an icicle. Talking of icicles, there are some pretty spectacular icicles around actually. They're huge and lethal looking. I fear for my life every time I walk into a building. On the bright side they are also pretty beautiful. I think New England might be built for this kind of weather, all the little wooden houses, with the white trimming covered in snow and ice, it's pretty much picturesque. 

The prevailing weather conditions are proving the time for the somewhat outdated heating system in my building to show its worth. It has been almost unbearably hot in my room. To the extent that I've kept my window open pretty much since I moved in. The heating has turny dial, but I'm pretty much convinced that this is nothing more than a placebo dial, and not a very good one at that. From my experimentation the only thing that changes as you turn the dial is the amount of noise that emits from the heater. Apparently all the noise is made by steam. This is hard to believe, I am of the opinion that it is more likely a gremlin which lives inside the pipes. With a spanner (a wrench for all you American folks). A loud bashy spanner. Nevertheless the excessive efficiency of my heater is proving rather helpful because despite the fact that there is currently ice on the inside of the window, it is pleasantly toasty in my room. 

In other news two of my friends have broken their feet. Sadly they both broke the right foot. I think it would have been somewhat marvellous had they broken a left and a right one so I could have mix and matched friend feet. Or something like that. One of them is legitimately in pain, the other has been walking around on the broken foot for several months and very very bad at not walking on it cast and all now purple casty-ness has been applied. Clearly with all the ice and snow, now is not really the best time to be crutching around campus. So I get to go on fun crutching adventures to the Dining Hall and look like a massive fatty while I help myself to two plates of food. It's all fun and games. 

Oh and guys! it's my birthday next Wednesday! Just as an FYI!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Art of Feng Shui

So mainly what has happened between my last post and this post is EVEN MORE SNOW. And when I say even more snow I mean literally 2 feet of snow. Sadly I did not take any pictures of the monstrous snow because I was too busy frolicking in it. We went on a hike, well ok maybe a glorified walk, but still in a LOT of snow and we even went off campus. On the way back we trudged through a huge field of snow which no one had crossed before and it was above our knees and it was AMAZING! Apparently this is what is called a "Nor'easter" and it's going to happen AGAIN THIS WINTER! I will try to remember to take pictures next time. 

Anyway in an attempt not to make this a whole month of posts about snow, I am going to talk about my recent forages into interior design. Well actually, when I say "my recent forages into interior design" what I really mean is, I decided that having my desk by my window where there is a draft the size of a breeze, was not going to be good for my productivity. Also I was getting frustrated by the challenges associated with opening and closing my window over the top of my desk. Small things make all the difference you know. Anyway, so I decided to make changes, but being almost entirely spatially un-aware i had to call in the cavalry, in the form of my much more spatially aware friend. 

I'm pretty pleased with the result, and the vast majority of my friends were similarly impressed by the dramatic changes hauling some furniture around a teeny tiny room can make. I even have a little tea corner, and my room has become drastically more tidy because everything is more open and so the mess notices more because you can't hide it in corners. The only slight downside is I can't sit in bed propped up against the wall anymore because neither ends of my bed are against a wall, but i can sit sideways in bed, and hopefully this will encourage me to actually work at my desk, which will be an exciting change in my life. 

This room rearranging happened while I was supposed to be writing my last final paper from last semester, which I didn't manage to complete on account of my body's rebellion. (Just on an aside, I finished it! I'm finally free of finals! Yippee!) So clearly it made a great deal of sense to do some research on the possible implications of the move on the energy within the room.

It's actually pretty easy, you use a handy dandy mapping type grid like this one:

(which, co-incidentaly I found at this website : which has some tips for if you're actually feng shui-ing your room.)

Anyway, so the basic analysis of my room shows the following trends in energy, which range from fairly satisfactory, to down right bizarre. My romance corner has been blocked off by my chest of drawers, my desk is in my creativity area, and my knowledge and spirituality are locked firmly in the closet. My bed is in my wealth area, I'm not sure what this says about anything, but I do know this has become a running joke among my friends. I haven't really kept to the colours either, since everything in my entire room is turquoise. 

It's nearly the end of J-term, I have my last J-term classes tomorrow, and then I start again with actual classes that mean things the following Wednesday. It's weird to think that I'm over half-way through my all-American experience already!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

I'm dreaming of a white... erm... January 9th?

The snow finally came to Mount Holyoke last night. It was actually pretty amazing. The snow came, and then when I got up this morning paths had been all cleared in the snow and everything is running as normal. Literally. Nobody stopped driving, busses are still going, and we had food as usual. If only England was so efficient in times of adverse weather. Well actually, I quite like getting a week off every time we have snow. Also there is a great deal less childish excitement about snow in general. Which is kinda sad. I think the most obvious sign of this is the fact that with the advent of snow there was not the mass facebook hysteria which would have ensued in England. Most people's profile pictures have remained largely snow free. Statuses continue as if nothing had changed. It's kinda a little sad. 

Luckily I managed to find several people who would indulge my childish adoration of snow and sledging. Which meant I got to trial the tray which I borrowed from the dining hall all those months ago in preparation for such an eventuality. I donned my ski jacket, fastened the snow skirt, put on my wellies and ventured out into the snow. After some practice I became very efficient at the sitting on the tray and sliding method of sledging, but one of my more enterprising friends decided it was necessary to test the face first approach. Being the gentleman I am I let her try this first. It was a disaster. However, I was undeterred. Transpires the art of face-first-tray-sledding is all about your position on the tray. The trick is to get the tray low enough on your boobs that all of your groin is on the tray and then you have the leverage to pick your legs off the ground while keeping pressure on the back of the tray; it's scientific. 

I also spent a great deal of time skidding around on the ice on the lake in my wellies. Literally hours. It's surprisingly fun, and almost as good as in actual skates, with the added advantage of being less likely to fall over and look like a fool. There's a section of ice which has been cleared for skating and there's edging type things around it. I guess on monday someone might come and clear it again. To be honest I was just excited to be walking on a lake. Which was when it was decided that we should walk across the lake towards the waterfall. I have to admit it did not feel hugely safe. At all. But it was very exciting to be walking along in the snow where there should be water. And the snow was all clean and fresh and pretty. And crunchy. There's something very satisfying about being the first person to go crunching through some snow. Particularly when that snow is on a lake. I wonder if the snow which is currently falling will cover up the tracks we made into the middle of the lake or not. 

Also today we went to see Tangled. Which is adorable. It was a really funny, really cute, really lovely movie. I went with a bunch of girls who I don't really know all that well, girls from various classes I was in last semester and friends of friends, who are all in one friendship group together and then I guess I somehow managed to infiltrate. Anyway they were just the right level of dorky where you quote lines of the movie back at each other. And make jokes about how the protagonists head was larger then her waist, and in fact how her eyes were larger than her waist. It's films like this though which give young girls unrealistic expectations of romance. That and the story a friend told me over dinner about her parents meeting while getting on/off a lift at the same time, and then falling in love. Which suggests that this kind of thing actually happens in real life. Although I remain largely unconvinced. 

Talking of things I am unconvinced about, one of the previews before Tangled was for a film called "Gnomio and Juliet". Yeah. An animated version of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy featuring a cast of garden gnomes. And whilst I don't doubt the ability of animated garden gnomes to carry the full weight of a Shakespeare character, I do doubt Disney's ability to, well, deliver the ending. It is a very sad ending. Everyone dies. There is a double suicide. There is not really much in the way of happily ever after. Disney is pretty much known for its happy endings. What would be the point of a Disney movie which did not have a happy ending? Romeo and Juliet just isn't really a family friendly plot line. I really can't see it. Which means, clearly, that I'm going to have to see it when it comes out. Because I'm so confused as to how they are going to make this work. And I hate to tell you this Disney but either way I'm going to be angry. Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending is not ok. However, Disney movies without a happy ending is equally not ok. 

Right now I should be finishing up my 10 page paper on constructions of childhood. Clearly I am not. I will have to finish it tomorrow though, because it's due on Monday. I'm really excited to be rid of the paper. Because then I will feel more free to do other things. Other things I need to do include practice clarinet, and send emails, and figure out what I'm going to do with my life this summer. Also spend more time hanging out with friends rather than sitting in my room pretending to be writing essays while actually procrastinating on the internet by writing super long blog posts about my day. Well. I spend a fair amount of time with my friends. It would just be nice to not feel bad about it all the time. Like I shouldn't be having fun and should be writing papers. I like having fun. Ok. I'm going to go write some essay and then sleep and then write more essay, and so on until the essay is done. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Fairly Superstitious

I travel by myself a lot; to and from uni, camp, Mount Holyoke, miscellaneous other adventures, it's all fairly standard. However, as the Sherpa's pointed out when I was in Nepal, the travel spirits are against me. It's true. I don't technically believe in travel spirits, but I have to concede that given the overwhelming evidence, it is clear that the travel spirits, whatever they may be, are indeed against me. What it basically boils down to is that while I attempt to get from A to B, just about everything possible happens to try to make my life harder, without actually preventing me getting to B, although I do usually go via Z and I have to do my thing where I look like I'm about to burst into tears, to prevent me from getting into trouble/get me onto busses where there were previously no seats. Sometimes being female has distinct advantages. I don't think blokes could get away with this practice. 

For these reasons travelling involves a lot of mental preparations (i.e. thinking mainly about the fact that I always get to my final destination, rather than about the fact that everything is likely to go wrong on the way to my final destination) also I have to bring a variety of lucky charms. I like to wear my lucky socks. I also have a travelling Buddha, and a St Anthony statue, and special traveling beads (I like to cover all my bases; it pays to be safe rather than sorry.) However, I have lost my lucky socks, I left St Anthony and Buddha in America, and I didn't think to wear my travelling beads. Generally I am not a superstitious person, so I set out blithely positive about my upcoming travels; I had a suitcase full of snacks from home and Christmas presents, a smile on my face and brain full of excited plans for J-term. And in this excitable state I sallied forth into the wide world. 

It all started out very well; I packed exactly 23 kilos of luggage, perfectly within the baggage limit, I sailed through the empty airport, perfectly content. It all went a little funny when I got picked out to have my hand luggage checked at the airport. But I tend to look suspicious for unknown reasons at airports, so I thought nothing of it. I got on the plane, and found I was sat next to a very very very tall German bloke. Which wasn't ideal because it meant we were vying for the extra couple of centimetres of knee space between the seats. What made it worse was that the lady in front of me, who was not the smallest lady in the world, put her seat all the way back so it was in my face, and promptly fell asleep and started snoring. Loudly.  To add insult to injury my seat wasn't functioning properly so I couldn't recline either. Great. Then there was turbulence, and I got travel sick, and couldn't eat the food they gave me. Needless to say when I got to Boston I was a very happy bunny and bounded off the plane and through customs. I love American customs; they're always so happy and friendly and nice, I know this is not the average experience, I like to think they're nice to me because they're not used to being faced with nearly 6ft of excitable British girl. This is my theory. 

So I collected my suitcase, the zip on the front pocket had been broken off, but no matter, for I was at Boston Logan, and I was going to get onto the bus to South Hadley and everything was going to be peachy. I got myself Dunkin' Donuts and settled in for the long haul. At least half an hour before my bus was due to arrive, I got up and stood outside in the snow to make sure I didn't miss it. This is where my troubles started in earnest. I watched in abject terror (only mild exaggeration) as my bus failed entirely to stop. IT JUST DIDN'T STOP. At all. This was no laughing matter. I had to run, top up my Charlie Card, and catch the next Silver Line T. I got on the next one, but by this point it was 4.45 and the connecting bus to Springfield left at 5.20, and there were delays on the line for unknown reasons. I have never run through a station as quickly as I legged it through South Station. Luckily I have a fair amount of leg so I can go pretty fast. I got to the ticket desk only to be informed that there were no tickets left to Springfield. I thought I was going to cry, suddenly the lady found one more ticket, gave me a student discount and bundled me off to my gate. I got on the bus, happy as larry, sat down, in the last seat on the  bus, which was by the toilet, but it was all good, and waited to leave. At which point I realised I was no longer in possession of my Ukulele. 

So I did my looking like I'm about to cry and speaking in my best British accent trick, and the bus driver promised to wait while I ran BACK through the bus station to see if the Ukulele was at the ticket counter. Luckily it was right there, so I ran through the bus station one more time, walked all the way down the bus, trying not to look to guilty and we were OFF! Off out into Boston, onto the Mass Pike, and in the direction of my bed, and hopefully some form of sustenance. If all goes well.

Which is how I ended up on the bus to Springfield in the seat by the toilet, which smells, erm, interesting, with no reading light, but pretty safe in the knowledge that I'm actually likely to make it back to Mount Holyoke. Eventually. Touch on wood. Yep, definitely not superstitious at all.