Archive for the ‘flickr’ Category
Okay okay, I know it’s been a while, but first I was writing my thesis, and then being plied with alcohol and mixed emotions as a future alumnus of a wealthy institution of higher education, and finally reverting to my natural, hermit-y state, as per the instructions of not one but two trashy magazines’ horoscopes. Phew.
Anyway, yesterday I went for a truly lovely walk at the Bangor City Forest, which included the absolutely, can’t-believe-I-never-realized-how-fucking-awesome-it-is bog boardwalk. There I met many old plant-y friends, free from the fear of being sucked into the peat and preserved for curious scientists multiple millennia down the road. There was sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), there was labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum), and of course, there was Sphagnum moss in abundance. Pitcher plants in full flower (Serracenia purpurea) were a special treat. I even made some new friends: the cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), and who can forget cotton-grass (Eriophorum sp, actually a sedge).
The first stop on my grand-ish spring break adventure was Atlanta, GA, to visit some (most) of my study abroad program-mates. We ate, we drank, we lived like kings and queens. Notable highlights were a really sweet potluck dinner in honor of Passang-la, our incredible program coordinator of sorts who is in the states for a year on a Fulbright. Said potluck was hosted at the artist commune where one of the older program alumns lives, which was quirky and charming and well-decorated. There is also a recording studio in the basement, and a backyard with a sizable bonfire pit (where the picture above was taken).
A few of us hit up Little Five, a cute little rasta/hipster/scenester/touristy neighborhood, where we perused the offerings of the local independent book seller. We also sat outside and enjoyed the great truly phenomenal people watching at The Porter, where we were waited on by Sebastian’s South African rugby coach who by turns indulged and belittled our various tastes in beer.
We also had our obligatory night on the town, which is remarkable mostly for where it ended. I think the name itself is enough: Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken and Waffles. Just take a moment and let the settle in. Even though we got there around 3 am, we still had to wait an hour to get our chicken and waffles, by which time I was nearly comatose with exhaustion and would have fallen asleep on the spot if it were not for the thought of the Midnight Train (four friend chicken wings and a waffle) that would soon be mine.
The best part, was, undoubtedly, getting to see everyone from India, and being able to just pick right up where we left off, as if the year since we’ve last seen each other hadn’t happened at all. As I get ready to graduate from Williams and head out into the big wide world, I worry more and more about being able to form meaningful relationships with people outside the Williams community, and it was really nice to have a reminder that I can still relate to non-Williams folks. Granted, Emory isn’t exactly culturally that far from Williams in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a start.
Coming soon: Boston, Bangor, my bike, and general musings about life and graduating.
Yesterday was Mountain Day, and with the rest of the Williams campus I hiked up a mountain to feast on cider and doughnuts, listen to a cappella and sing The Mountains at the top of my lungs. The weather was perfect, the company was good, and to put the finishing touch on the perfect day I had Indian food for dinner with Poker F and watched the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay.
Today, inspired by the nice weather and a chat on the bus yesterday I took a bike ride out Route 7, stopping with all the tourists to take some pictures of the foliage on Mt. Greylock (see above). There are, of course, lots more photos on my flickr, both of my bike adventures today (including a closed bridge!) and Mountain Day fun yesterday.
(Link to photo)
So I’m in Indiana now, for the summer. Forgot to mention that. I’m (kind of) hard at work on trying to find a project to start designing an experiment I may or may not run this summer, maybe about mora-timing in Japanese, or maybe about direct and mediated lexicon-access models. Hurrah!
I kept meaning to write something while I was home. Honest, I did. But, obviously, I kind of didn’t. First it was the Python Challenge (which I got stuck on, sigh) and then it was a massive journal/sketchbook-diving, coffee-drinking decompression session. Ruth came for a weekend, which was heavenly and far, far too short. I hung out with Jue a lot, even spent an entire day doing all of the things one might expect twenty-somethings returning from prestigious New England schools to do: get coffee and bagels and the local bagel shop, browse the used-book store, play a bit of flatball in the park, enjoy long, meandering conversations about various personal and intellectual topics over yet more coffee at the local strip-mall Starbucks, and see that a summer blockbuster. I had dinner with Noa, and more coffee-and-bagels with Noa, Jue and his (delightfully über-nerdy) friend CJ, where we succeeded in thoroughly alienating Noa with our vast, shared knowledge of internet memes.
I did a lot of extremely, delightfully domestic things, baking bread and doing laundry and compulsively cleaning up the kitchen. I devoured a book about Red Auerbach that my mom give me, noticing my budding listlessness. I failed spectacularly at cleaning or even tidying up my room, and put off packing for my move until the very, very last minute—probably out of crippling fear of the unknown and the realization that I still had some serious thinking to do before I was ready for another adventure, or even for life to go on as it has been.
Oh dear, this is turning into another long, somewhat serious post. I suppose that what happens when I spend too much time sitting around drinking coffee by myself.
But oh! Life in Bloomington is absolutely wonderful. It’s sunny and not too hot, and my apartment is neat and spacious. I have three (three!) lovely little organic-y grocery stores within easy walking distance (one with an AMAZING beer and wine selection), and can walk downtown (or anywhere else I might reasonably want to go) in fifteen minutes. I have been thoroughly unsuccessful in finding a hip, slightly retro bike but have been quite successful in my culinary adventures so far (except for some failed bread, but I chalk that up to lack of my bread book and any measuring devices). I get along great with my roommate and my professor, even if (or perhaps because) the later is a little bit kooky. Tonight I’m going to a robotics club, sure to be full to the point of bursting with charmingly nerdy people. Life is good, and I’m even savoring, rather than resenting, the slight shortage of human contact.
The big news is that school is (kind of) over: culture paper handed in Wednesday, Tibetan exam taken Thursday, and philosophy papers finished yesterday (was it really yesterday?). And, just like that, another semester is basically finished. We have from now until May 20 for our independent research projects, which is certainly going to be intense and a fair amount of work, but of a totally different sort than the reading/writing grind of the semester.
The other exciting news is that I am now established in my exceedingly humble abode, a wonderfully tiny room above the temple at the Tashi Choeling monastery (of the Drukpa Kargue sect). Sure, the room is tiny and meagerly equipped, but it always smells like incense and the rinpoche staying in the other room (like all the other Tibetans around the monastery) are not only friendly but willing to tolerate my attempts at Tibetan conversation. Then there’s the amazing blend of sounds coming from the street and the temple and the apartments next door; the adorable and eminently cuddle-able monastery cat whose from legs are literally half the length of her back legs; the tiny monks running around everywhere.
I’m obviously pretty thrilled to be living here. It’s the perfect antidote to a stressful week of writing papers and looking at hotel after overpriced hotel and generally freaking out about the uncertainty surrounding the near future. This next month is going to be an interesting experiment in having some structured time to decompress from the semester but still actively engage in the stuff we’ve been studying. I’m a little nervous about not having everyone living in the same building, having certain times that everyone’s gets together, but at the same time I think the living arrangements we’ve worked out will make for a good balance of seeing a lot of people but also having plenty of “me time” to process everything. I’ll hopefully also be able to better engage with all the non-Emory stuff in McLeod, which has been hard to do what with, you know, school and stuff.
Tomorrow is Losar, the Tibetan new year, which means that I spent today in Dharamsala shopping for goodies to put on the alter in our room. This alter is like nothing you have ever seen, being composed mainly of fried bread called kapse, topped with some of the small, foil packages of biscuits that are somewhat ubiquitous here. The whole thing is draped with a white blessing scarf, just like the ones that, come tomorrow morning, we will each individually be placing over the throne in the temple where the Dalai Lama sits when he’s in town. Flanking the alter are litre bottles of Pepsi and Mountain Dew and plates of smaller pieces of kapse, grapes, candy and more biscuits. Enrique Iglesias and Sting are playing on the stereo, and the walls are decked out with foil party decorations and comically engrish-esque signs.
Yesterday we had guthuk which means, literally, nine-noodles, and which is a special noodle soup (thukpa) made with nine (gu) different ingredients and is served on the 29th (nyichugu) day of the last month of the (Tibetan) year. Hidden in the guthuk are little balls of dough that have folded up slips of paper on them, on which are written the names of certain objects that have symbolic significance. I ended up with two: one reading “porcelain bowl” (in Tibetan), meaning that, in the words of my roommate, “when there is work to be done, you run away; when there is food, you come!” and another having something to do with a cactus, which, apparently, means that people like me!
Tomorrow we wake up at the crack of the dawn, drape scarves over H.H.’s throne in the prayer room, have butter tea and then get straight to the main business of the next three days: eating, drinking chang (Tibetan barley beer, described by our program director as “beer soup”) and generally having a good time. I’m finding it hard to imagine that this incredibly sweet, innocent and completely dry campus of a few hundred Tibetan and Himalayan 20-somethings is going to cut loose and drink themselves silly for three days, and I suppose I’ll have to see it to believe that it’s possible. Needless to say, not knowing what to expect I’m a little apprehensive, but from what I hear it’s generally a good time and a great bonding experience so I’m optimistic. I will of course have more to say after the fact, so you and I both will have to wait and see what happens.
(Link to photo)
I am literally on my way to India at this very moment. My flight leaves later tonight which means a few more hours in the Newark airport, listening to people speak languages that I don’t understand and watching a steady stream of flight attendants, pilots, and TSA personnel filter through the Starbucks where I’m sitting. If I had had the foresight to pack my camera cable in my carryon I would post a moody and insightful picture of this cathedral of globalism, but as it stands you’ll have to make do with some airplane fins, and I’ll probably check my email again, maybe surf Facebook for a few minutes (for probably the last time in a while…) and then try to hook up with people from my program.
Keep tuned over the next few months for tales and pictures from The Subcontinent, and remember that I have a flickr, too, where more pictures will probably be posted.