28 October 2009

the eyes of my eyes are opened.

 e.e. cummings' "i thank you god for this most amazing" popped into my head this morning.  To me it's the happiest, sunshiney-ist poem in the world, a sincere prayer of gratitude that I have oft repeated. It reads:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

This morning I considered sarcastically rewriting it, including the damnable heavy rain and the tribulations of being a graduate student as apart of my fascetious catalog of blessings. I decided against it for sake of time (being in such a hurry to leave the house to go to school to read a book that I forgot at home, in the rush) and went on my merry day.

At midday, I hit the wall, admitted defeat, and resigned myself to the misery brought upon me by my own forgetfulness, copiers, my eagerness to sign up for conferences I don't have time for, and even my own acid tongue.  

It was an off day, and when I got home I started to tweet that the only redeeming quality of the it was that I had realized that I had good hair this morning, and throughout the mess of my day had continually been able to say, "at least I have really great hair."


I kept finding things to add on that had made the day better, and had vastly exceeded my number of allowed characters with all of my qualifications.  There were so many redeeming qualities in my day! So many good people that make my life better! So many that I had to name them, one by one:

-an in-depth discussion about gin with L.

-A letting me whine ad nauseum about my troubles, including particularly pathetic complaints about soap residue. What a saint.

-unexpected professional development in class, which included a professor memorably giving a student five dollars for a well timed comment.

-Realizing with R that we constitute a peanut gallery, and getting to liken us to these guys:

(I am the short one, naturally)

-In turn, getting to talk about muppets at school.

-Did I mention how fun it is to have a girl friend here? Finally!

-A very nice girl brought "Happy World Series & Halloween" candy to class that included my favorite, Reese's PB cups.

-Seeing a modest, incredibly smart professor get the accolades she deserves. There was so much love in the room! Why do we wait until funerals to tell people how great they are?

-Free wine. Free wine. Free wine.

-M (a man) talking in a very loud voice about douching (you had to be there).

-My roommate telling me I should make cookies for our party instead of getting candy because my baking is so much better.

-A dry, low traffic, twilight ride home, complete with plenty of yellow leaves on the ground to ride through.

I don't talk to god hardly at all anymore, but some days I just have to put it out into the universe how glad I am that somebody- and so many- make(s) my life as beautiful and wonderful as it is. 

Good hair is a start, but being apart of everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes is so much better.

(excuse the wonky formatting... evil Blogger....)

26 October 2009

why there are still people who don't watch 'mad men,' i just don't know.

NYMag's animated gif basically sums up the best 45 minutes television has to offer, week after week. Joan is my favorite.

24 October 2009

watch out for that pie filling.

I had to share this video with you because really, it just shows that they will put anything on television these days. Don't try this at home: 

20 October 2009

three disparate things.

1. I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale again.  After a particularly difficult year of high school, I asked a favored English teacher what to read that summer, knowing that she had to have good taste because she'd done her masters thesis on e.e. cummings.  She suggested Atwood's book. I loved it. It got me thinking about woman's place in the world.

As an undergraduate I pursuaded another kind English instructor to let me do a paper on it. The course of that research introduced me to Phyllis Schlafly, the ERA, the Christian Right, and the LDS Church's efforts against the proposed Amendment. It revealed to me that dirty word: feminism. As a graduate student I've done work on the Eagle Forum and am now working on the Moral Majority. The Handmaid's Tale was written in a very particular moment, and that moment has come to define my career and how I spend my days.

And to think it all stemmed from a very casual book recommendation to a teenage student.

2. When I was living in the dorms at college, I embarked on a mission to a suburban Macy's for a bathrobe. I left the store with a piece of fluff the color of buttercream frosting. It was one of the first times that I said, "damn the costs," and bought something because I liked it and I knew I would need it for a long time.  Now that it's suddenly winter bathrobe season, wearing it puts me back in Pflueger Hall, back in the steamy smell of Dove body wash, back next to the drafty window where I used to sit after my showers. It puts me back in a time before I was an aunt and before my relationship with Mormonism got so fraught. I put on this bathrobe and I go back in time, back to before I knew anything about how good life could be.

And yet I kind of like that my cozy bathrobe takes me back to that time of not knowing any better.

3. Yesterday I went to New York City for the first time. It was big and bustling and dense and busy and shadowy. I only saw a few rushed snippets of the city, and I didn't like it all that much. How do people live there?  Why would anyone choose that? 

And then I remembered that I was in New York City, where I had never been before. That I made choices- a lot of them, big ones- that got me there. That I'd better enjoy right where I was because I'd never get to go to New York City for the first time ever again. Times Square got a little prettier and the people seemed a little nicer. 

New York made more sense to me when it was a myth, but at the very least, there I was. And Philly seemed so blissfully quaint when I returned.

15 October 2009

the journey.

It's never easy when you get the call. A great uncle passed away peacefully in his home last night after a long and fruitful life. His passing was something of a surprise, as in recent years he had greatly improved his health and happiness through a daily workout routine. I came across this poem last night, but today I felt like I just had to share it. It's never too late to change your life. Every day that you live better will be a gift. Small changes count.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

deploying rain gear.

bike commuting in the rain? it's all about attitude.

Fall rains have come to Philly, and lucky me, I bought rain gear last weekend. I'm a believer in being an all weather cyclist (got to keep my miles up), and to do this my roommate assured me that I would need rainpants. It only took one uncomfortably damp ride to convince me that he was right.

Anyways, when I found myself at the amazingly huge Denver REI flagship store during a sale last weekend, I couldn't resist the opprtunity to outfit myself for inclement weather. I picked up a pair of REI Taku pants (at 1/3 of the original price!) and a pair of North Face Apex gloves with my members coupon (I also finally got a bell for the Dahon!). Say what you will about cost; if I am going to sacrifice my cycle chic, I am going to do it right. My rain gear was rounded out with an old REI jacket, a pair of Danskos, and Nutcase helmet. I went for minimalist with my makeup and grabbed an extra blinkey light for extra visibility.

So not cute at all, but very, very functional. To keep my neck dry, I put my hood on under my helmet and rolled off to school on the Old Dutch. There were more cars on the road but they were way nicer than usual. There were still a ton of bikes at school (we Owls are a hearty people). I felt especially grateful for the covered bike parking and thrilled that I was not soaked like many of my peers.

The Taku pants are cut quite generously (I got the petite smalls) and it was easy getting them on and off over my pants. My pants underneath were totally dry, and I very much appreciated not having to worry about having a wet seat. The pants have nice side zips so you can get into the pockets of your pants underneath. My hands stayed dry and warm in my gloves. The grips on the palms are a great feature when it comes to wet handlebars.

The only gear that failed was my 3 year old jacket- it was good at first, but over the course of the ride it became so saturated that I was damp when I got to school (yay, dark shirts!). I'm guessing I will care less about this as it gets colder and I can wear a sweater (although you can buy me one of these if you want).

All in all, my outing was a good one. I was glad I threw a rag in my bag so I could un-slick my bike before getting it up the stairs.

The goal of this boring gear review isn't so much to promote consumerism, but rather, to answer the fearful carpeople who ask, "But what do you do when it rains?" Being carfree isn't that hard, but an good sale at REI can make it easier.

12 October 2009

rocky mountain high.

After not posting for twelve days, guilt is finally starting to set in. I know, I know, twitter isn't enough for you people! (you people!!!) My first impulse was to post this Whitney Houston video because I fell in love with the song watching VH1 while I was in Denver (tvs are so novel to me), and then I was like, oh yah, I went to Denver!

There were so many awesome things about the trip. I went for a Western history conference, and of course enjoyed the expected joys of conference attendance- finding out what kind of work other people are doing, networking, presenting, free coffee. Less expected, but definitely what made the trip worthwhile, was the time spent with friends. It was a strong reminder to me that facebook is so illusory- connecting and reconnecting in person matter. The memories of the weekend will definitely buoy me through the intensity of the rest of my semester.

I was lucky to have extra time after the conference to see the city. While exploring on Sunday, I was stoked to come across this:

Pretty sweet huh? I'd been bummed about not being able to take the folding bike and the total dearth of bikes in downtown Denver (well, it was freezing), so I was pumped to stumble upon the very promising beginnings of a city-supported bike program.