Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The joys of libraries, and other simple pleasures

I think I'm finally beginning to realize the full wonderfulness of libraries. I used to feel like an underachiever of sorts when it came to libraries and bookstores, compared with some of my nearest and dearest book-loving relations (you know who you are). But now I have an entire shelf of my bookcase devoted to library books, one side from the PSU library, the other from the public library. I have a sticky note on my computer desktop listing all the due-dates of the various lots of books (I currently have 6 lots of books checked out). Granted, a bunch of them are for my research paper and a bunch of them are things like visual French dictionaries, but I've also started gathering an arsenal of "pleasure reading" books, including a couple Peter Mayle novels and "The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax." I'm finally getting comfortable just wandering around libraries and seeing what I find. It's pretty cool. Anyway, this is probably fairly boring to read about, but it's been sort of a revelation to me, so I thought I'd share my new appreciation. :)

It's been raining for most of the day, with a relatively sunny spell in the afternoon. I spent half an hour getting up every few minutes to check for a rainbow, because it was grey and rainy on one side of my apartment and clear and sunny on the other side. I finally found my rainbow in the grey skies, which was very nice.

Hugo and I have decided to have an adventure next month, and go to New York for Greg's birthday party. Hooray! I'm very excited. I've never been to New York, and never really felt the need to go "because it's New York" like some people do, but family and birthday parties are very good reasons to travel, so I'm going. And Hugo is coming with me, so he gets to meet more of my wonderful crazy boisterous happy family! (Can you tell I'm excited?) Now I just have to find plane tickets.

Monday, February 16, 2004

The Not-So GreatClips Experience

I got my hair cut this weekend! Twice, actually. I went to GreatClips to get it cut on Saturday, and the woman did such a horrible job that I had to go somewhere else and get it redone on Sunday. I was going for something intermediate -- short in the back, longish on top and in front, but the first woman cut it too short. I had brought in pictures of what I wanted and spent quite some time explaining exactly how I wanted it. She said, "Oh, you want a boy's haircut." I said NO, I did not want a boy's haircut. But she did it anyway, so I ended up with one of those bowlish cuts that looked absolutely awful. I think she at least realized that she'd cut it too short, because she kept asking me if it was okay. I said, "it'll grow back" and told her it was alright, even though it was far from alright, because I didn't want her to try to fix it. The next day Hugo took me to his favorite GreatClips to get it fixed up. So now it's back to how it was two summers ago when I first chopped it off -- about an inch long, shorter in the back, and kind of spiky. Pixie, she called it. It's sooooo much better. And she did it for free, even though I didn't have my receipt from the day before. She was pretty apalled at the job the other lady had done -- it was uneven in a number of places, and she spent quite a bit of time "fixing" it. She was very nice, and I'm getting used to the short hair again, even though I hadn't intended it to be this short. Oh, well. It'll grow. :)

Hugo and I went to the Vagina Monologues at PSU on Saturday. Nice Valentine's date, huh? :) It was fun. A couple of the monologues were marginal, but some of them were really good. I also bought a book called "That Takes Ovaries! : bold females and their brazen acts" which should be fun to read. :P

My only other exciting news of the weekend is that I rearranged my bedroom. Woohoo. :} Now I can get to both sides of the bed so I can make it properly. I'm sure you're thrilled. :P

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Make-My-Day Moments

You know those moments, the ones that come along at times you least expect them, that take you by surprise and totally make your day? I had one of those on my way to class this morning. I had just gotten off of the streetcar and was crossing the street toward a parking garage when I heard a trumpet start playing. It sounded like it was coming from the top of the parking structure, and I couldn't figure out why somebody would be playing the trumpet up there. But then I walked past the garage and glanced inside to the little booth where the parking attendant sits waiting for cars to exit and pay the parking fee. The parking attendant, who looked like a student, was sitting in the tiny little booth playing his trumpet at the cash register like it was the most natural thing in the world. That made me smile all the way to class. :)

Other happy moments of the day: getting my environmental sociology midterm back and finding out I'd gotten 100%, visiting my old "place of employment" and talking to everybody there, walking through the Park Blocks and sitting on a bench in the wonderful cool afternoon sunlight, and coming home to the wonderfully happy vase of yellow and pink daisies on my side table.

Sunday, February 08, 2004


Addendum to the French radio comment... Most of the songs they play that are in French are pretty good, but they play some of the corniest English songs imaginable!


Contradancing and French Radio

I went contradancing last night for the first time in a very very long time. It was fun to go back again, dance with some old friends, and meet some new ones. I think I spent most of the evening laughing hilariously at the confusion running rampant in the sets in most of the dances. An example of how the evening went: we got there a little late, maybe at the second or third dance, which was a circle dance. The caller walked us through it, and got very confused at the end when she found we were facing our partners instead of next to them. We went through the whole thing again to see if we could figure out what was wrong, and eventually she just changed one of the moves in order for us to progress with our partner. We went through it again like that, and right before we actually started dancing the caller said, "Oh, it gets even better than this -- this dance is a mixer! So you're supposed to lose your partner! It was right all along!" It was very silly. Later in the evening she was trying to explain a snakey under-the-arch move in another dance that nobody was getting. When we finally got through it she told us the name of the dance and that it was written by Erik Hoffman. I thought, "No wonder nobody got it!" I love Erik's dances, but I think they're a little advanced for this particular contra crowd. :} All in all, I did have fun, and maybe I'll go back sooner next time. :P

I've been listening to French radio all morning, in an attempt at being able to pick out a word here and there and just getting used to hearing the language spoken. I poked around the internet for a while looking for radio stations. I tried a couple that advertised themselves as "popular with French youth" but they were utter crap. I eventually found Radio France's "France Bleu" which is actually pretty good. It's mostly music, mostly in French, but with a few songs in English here and there (Sting, Bob Marley, Ani DiFranco.) For the most part, I've been enjoying the music, but not understanding much. The annoying thing is, they don't seem to play anything all the way through. Of course, I couldn't tell with most of the French songs, but then they started up Gypsy by Suzanne Vega. I got all excited, because I love that song, but they cut it off halfway through and went on to something else! It's very strange. But anyway, it's kind of neat to be listening to, even though most of it simply washes over me.

My plans for France this summer continue to evolve in new directions. The newest revision of the plan is to go for two months rather than one, possibly changing locations, but most likely doing a "combination" program of one month in each of two locations, Annecy and Nice. Hugo has pointed out (and I have learned from my own research) that Nice is more of a tourist beach town than anything else, so it would be great for a vacation but not necessarily the most realistic view I could get of France. He says Annecy, on the Eastern border by the Swiss Alps, is "real France." Since WorldLink Education specifically offers and encourages combination programs, I figured I might as well go that route, and spend time in a couple of different places. I'm still trying to iron out the details, which is hard; I'm so excited about it all that I want to do everything, so it's hard to pare the summer down to something I'll actually be able to manage. :P

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Flying Dream

Man, I had some incredible dreams last night. Including the longest and most intense flying dream I've ever had (which isn't saying much, since I haven't had that many, but it was all the more incredible for all that.) I actually wrote my dreams down when I woke up, so if you're in the mood for a story, read on...

Graham and I discovered a place to fly and devices that allowed us to fly – like little clip-on microphones with a battery pack that clipped to the belt. I'm not sure how or why these made it possible for us to fly, but they did. We were in an ice canyon; the walls were covered in sheets of ice, icicles, and ice-waterfalls, but it wasn’t cold except to the touch. We just flew and flew and explored. We knew we weren’t supposed to be there, but couldn’t help shouting out to each other about the beautiful things we saw. The flying was wonderful. Standing on the ground, I could just bend my legs and push off into the air, then be taken by an invisible force that buoyed me up. It was not wind, and I wasn’t blown or carried, but simply supported – I could fly anywhere I chose and know that I would not fall. If I paused at a canyon wall to investigate something I could anchor myself simply by touching the wall (and feeling that it really was ice), and begin flying again by turning around and gently pushing off.

The canyon was the perfect place for doing tricks. I dove towards the floor and pulled myself up with somersaults, flew on my back as if I were swimming under the surface of the ocean and looking up at the sun, twisted and turned and twirled and completely abandoned myself to the joy of flight. I don’t know for how long I flew, but I never tired.

And then I found the most beautiful place of all. I had made my way up to the canyon head, a shallower area, more like a shelf at the end of the canyon than anything else. I flew upwards to meet it and look over this new feature, and caught my breath. Before me was a garden. I can only call it that, though nobody had planted it and nobody ever tended it. Covering the shelf floor were many-colored plants that looked like coral, and many-colored coral that looked like plants. Everything was so still, it was impossible to tell the difference in the sea of greens and pinks and blues and reds and purples and oranges. They looked as though they’d been growing upwards for a very long way, because I could not see a hint of ground through the foliage. The back part of the garden was blanketed in snow, a deep, soft, fluffy snow that I knew would do no harm to the garden it covered. It was the boundary of this snow-patch, the place where the plants and coral began to peek their heads out of the melting snow and see sunlight again, that I found most breathtaking. Patches of snow alternated with patches of color, creating a brilliant mosaic of life. I called to Graham to come and share it with me.

The dream got fairly strange after that, as dreams are apt to do, but that part was so vivid that all the images and events were still in my mind when I woke up, surviving the dreams that followed and even the radio alarm clock. What a beautiful dream! I wonder where it came from...