Marsh Mardi Gras
I don't know what's going on this winter. There's been almost no snow and when there has been some it's all melted so quickly. The last few days have been really warm too. And tomorrow is supposed to be almost 50 degrees and sunny. I won't complain though, that's nice weather. It's beginning to feel like spring a little. (Knock on wood...)
This past Friday was Marsh Mardi Gras and it was so much fun. Marsh is the art theme house and it typically is almost all sophomores so I have a whole bunch of friends that live there. One of my closest friends Katie, and her roommate from last semester (who is also named Katie and is also really cool) planned the event. There was a live band and a cake and awesome decorations and a lot of people made masks. It was really festive and a really good time. Lots of dancing and great live jazz music. Unfortunately, I had to be up bright and early the next morning to help conduct interviews for new RC applicants. I didn't get to stay out all night, but that was fine. From the beautiful decorations to everyone getting dressed up to the cake with little babies in it to the whole dorm coming together, plus me and a couple other honorary Martians everything was incredible so I still had a great time.
And the RC interviews were fun as well. It was interesting because the interviews I helped with were in the same room as I did mine in last year. So I kind of had a little bit of a flashback, but I don't remember much of my interview. I knew how they might have felt though. I remember being nervous at least, haha. It was cool to help be part of the process though.
I had a couple of friends who went skiing today and they offered to bring me along, but I had a bunch of work I wanted to get done. I have a particularly beastly petrology (the study of how rocks are made, essentially) problem set that I've just been staring at. So I think there may be a geology study party tonight. I'm going out for Thai though tonight to celebrate my birthday (which is tomorrow) so I might miss part of the study party. Sad times... But I'll work something out. It would probably be good to understand what's going on in petrology.
It's been a long time since I've posted a new blog entry. School's gotten off to a quick start. I have four fantastic classes though and I'm really excited about this semester. I'm already working on a friend's Theatre and Dance thesis. It involves playing childhood games, goofing off on a set of monkey bars, a couple monologues and some dialogue and a little bit of dancing. So it should be fun. Our rehersals have consisted of double dutching, playing hand games, and playing the cup game from Zoom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCX_lgF4inI).
I'm also in the process of reapplying to be an RC again next year. I've ultimately decided that I'd rather be a first year RC than go abroad next year. So I'm crossing my fingers that I get rehired to work with first years. I think that would be a ton of fun and a really rewarding experience.
But before school got rolling again, we had Interterm which is a big chuck of time (namely the month of January) off to recuperate. That's not the actual reason, I don't think. It's more tradition than anything. But it was great. I spent a good amount of time, but I came back two weeks before the start of school to hang out with friends here and explore the area. I got to go to so many awesome places in the Pioneer Valley. I went to the bookmill in Montague. (Yin blogged about it last semester.) I tried a few legendary restaurants slightly off the beaten track around here. I also explored some really old graveyards in the area. Some of which have graves of men who fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Most recently (just during the first week of classes actually) I went to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett with a few friends which was awesome. It had just snowed too which made everything especially beautiful (picture below).
I know I just blogged and I concluded by saying that winter was here. But now it's really here! Today right after my last anthropology class of the semester (Already over? What?!) there was a quasi-impromptu snowball fight on the first year quad. You see, we got 6, maybe 7 inches of snow this morning. The campus is coated in white. It's a little winter wonderland, seriously.
And I built my first snowman EVER. He was at least my height too and I'm 6'. So cool.
But the best part of the snowball fight though, besides tackling my friends Todd, Chris, and Julio, was hitting our College President, Tony Marx (or T-Marx), with a snowball. The man's a good sport. There were maybe 120 of us all out there and he jumped right into the fray. But as you can imagine, absolutely everyone wanted to say they hit our president with a snowball. And that's pretty much what happened. But seriously, how cool is that?!?! It was pretty awesome. Our president's got balls, brave man.
Imma Make It
Tonight was the dress rehersal for Amherst Dance. It's going to be a really awesome show I think. I can't believe how many talented and creative people we have. Some of the piece were amazing. I'd like to think the hip hop number I'm in or the acrobatics piece makes people think the same thing about us. That'd be cool.
The title of this entry is the title of Michaela's acrobatics piece. (It's to Imma Shine from one of the Step Up movies.) She named it that in hopes that we would, make it that is. And we did, for the most part. Run through number one it was so sick! We'd never thrown in all the stunts and a couple were rough, but it worked. The second time around we were all exhausted. I mean really really tired. So there was a lot of falling and botched stunt sequences. We didn't finish because we were all on the floor (from falling) and laughing so hard.
So I hope we make it, but we totally should. We're up early in the show for a reason. Plus adrenaline is an awesome thing. Knock on wood.
It's been a fairly uneventful week otherwise, but we got our first real snowfall on Saturday which rocked! It was really pretty. Winter is here.
Back at Home[?]
It's Monday night after Thanksgiving break. And it's the last day in Novermber. It's wild. But I'm back at Amherst which I refer to in conversation as home. Yet home is home. Basically wherever I'm not is home. Kinda of strange. But I'm back home, at Amherst, and it's nice for the most part.
The last two nights I hung out with some friends by the fire and had tea and cookies. Pretty chill stuff. I felt so relaxed and at peace with the world. It was awesome. How school should be, right?
Then I had class this morning and I was like @%^#$! The semester really feels like it should be over, yet I have work to do. Finals are right around the corner. Oh my goodness... I'm in a really silly mood right now, I apologize.
It's great to be back, but getting my back into work mode is a challenge. It's all good though. I'm back in the swing of things now (I think) and having everyone here again is incredible. I cannot describe how great the community feeling of this campus is. Being at home, actually home, is kind of bizarre because you're not living with all of these other people all of the sudden. Which can be really nice, to have a break, you know, and it was, but coming back to school feels really good too.
I just got back from an audition for a senior's thesis project. It's in the Theatre and Dance department and the project sounds interesting and fun. It's a bunch of movement and dialogue and monologue that is a collection of memories of childhood in America. It sounded really cool so I went out for it. We'll see what happens.
Otherwise I think I'm gonna hit the sack early tonight and get ready for a power study session at Val tomorrow morning. I'm setting my alarm for 8am, call me crazy... G'nite boys and girls.
Meteors and Massages
I am stuffed. I just had a delicious meal at my RC meeting. There are ten of us plus our staff coordinator, Tish so we actually went out to a local restaurant which was nice. Then immediately afterwards my co-RC, Rachel, and I had our Morrow Dormitory photo taken. I ordered six party pizzas for everyone in the dorm who turned up. It is all gone which means the turn out was even better than I expected.
A couple nights back there was an awesome meteor shower. And Amherst, being in rural Western Massachusetts, has almost no light pollution. That plus a new moon and clear skies made the stars extra visible and likewise for the meteors. We saw about half a dozen in half an hour. A few friends and I went out on Merrill Beach to watch. Merrill Science is our science building which is on a hill so you enter on the third floor, not the first floor, and you can wander out on a pebble-covered terrace in the back that looks out over the athletic field and the Holyoke Range. It was a great spot and we had fun until we all were freezing. But for the meteor shower, it was totally worth it.
After last Wednesday I finished all my work until finals. Retrospectively, I realize that I've blogged a lot about how much work I always seem to have and I tend to frame it all in positive terms, but now I have no work to do until finals and I don't know what to do with myself. It's a little bit insane.
But to help with all that stress last week, our Campus Center sponsered Spa Night and I signed up for a free 15 minute professional massage. Great idea. It was wonderful. I can't think why I didn't mention it in my last blog, but since I didn't the title for this entry has alliteration so it's all good. I also made a stress ball and tried out an oxygen bar. The O2 bar was something I had always wanted to try and it was a bit of a let down. Not gonna lie. It didn't do anything and it just required me to shove some weird tube-apparatus thing up my nose. Not pleasant. But the massage was great. And, and there were free cider doughnuts and complimentary cups of apple cider. Overall, Spa Night = major success.
I'm just relaxing now until I leave for home on Friday afternoon. I'm excited to have a little warm weather. It's starting to feel like winter and I'm so not digging it. Winter is not that bad, but I'm certainly not going to complain about a week off in sunny, 70 degree Florida. It's sometimes a pain to live so far away. I can't escape home for a weekend like many of my friends if I really need to, but they're all a little jealous when I talk about how I go home for winter holidays and pick oranges off my orange tree.
I'm going to go to bed now. It's pretty early still but I have to be awake for a Geology 11 Lab tomorrow at 8am that I help with as a TA. I guess I won't get sympathy from high schoolers though who are in classes daily well before then. G'nite everyone! And have a great Thanksgiving Break!
Cooking with Howie
My long week and a half of non-stop work is over! And I don't know what to do with myself... Haha.
But the last week has been awesome too. Tuesday was a great day. I was on the go all day long. I had a morning Valentine (our dining hall) study session. Got a lot done, felt productive, took crossword breaks with my friends. (I am terrible at crossword puzzles, but I try and help anyway. Today I was actually a help!) Breakfast/lunch Val study days are my favorites. It means I have no class until the afternoon and I can get work done. I have three other friends, Marissa, Michaela, and Joe who don't have class Tuesday or Thursday mornings either and we usually sit together for part of the morning while other people come and go. Tuesday I was just trying to get a paper done so I was sitting by myself listening to some music including Yin's recent song of the day: "Gifted" by N.A.S.A. The Treasure Fingers remix on youtube, so good!
I went straight from Val to take my mineral test. We had to know approximately 80 minerals' chemical formulas and how to identify them in rock samples. I did really well on the test and the samples our professor gave us were some of his favorites so it was really neat. Who doesn't like pretty rocks? Gemstones anyone?
Next up after geology was West African dance which is such a good destresser! Definitely glad I took that class. Everyone's clapping and the drummers (who are absolutely incredible) build up the intensity and you walk out of the class so uplifted and energized. It's fantastic.
But I was anxious to get out of class that day because I had a dorm event (which Sara attended). It was a cooking lesson with our dining hall's head chef, Howie. He once cooked for President Food. Cool stuff huh? Anyway we made crepes and chicken fajitas. I cook at home and love to do simple stuff. This was easy and so so so delicious. It was then followed by bananas foster which is pretty much just a ton of brown sugar and butter with banana chopped into sections cooked on the stove. Once it starts to carmlize, you remove it and add rum and put it back which causes a huge flame to shoot up! It was incredible. (Although I later realized that it singed off s bit of my arm hair. I was like what smells so bad. Oops...) But the residents who turned out loved it and we all want to do it again. We managed to cook really good food. I miss cooking so I just enjoyed being back in a kitchen. Plus it got me pumped for Thanksgiving.
I wanted to write this blog yesterday, but I couldn't find the time. Wednesday I typically have six hours of class and a two hour RC meeting. Eight hours of listening to other people talk can sometimes be rough and I had a paper due by 10am this morning (ie before I went to bed).
But all that work is done and now I can just essentially relax until Thanksgiving break. It's going to be wonderful. I'll have to find something really interesting to do.
Sigh or Relief... (Almost)
It is the weekend. Hallelujah. It has been the longest week I've ever had at this school. Let me just say, I love this college. This is exactly where I want to be. In this blog, I feel like I should just always talk about how awesome everything is about life here. Well, regardless of where you live or what school you go to, you're going to have a rough week every now and then.
This was mine.
I had a bad combination of friends having issues to deal with, of residents having life problems, and of way, Way, WAY too much work. I had an ecology test today. I have two more tests coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday and a paper due effectively before I go to bed Wednesday night. I've done nothing between last Friday and yesterday other than work (mostly work), dance, or help people with, in some cases, fairly heady issues.
Overall it's just been extraordinarily taxing -- emotionally, physically, mentally. I've been stressed and down and just plain exhausted. I really wanted to go home for a few days. I just did not want to be here. (First time that's ever happened to me actually.)
The last couple of days have been less stressful and I'm in a great mood again. I feel like my regular exuberantly upbeat self. I have some fairly incredible friends who haved help pick me back up, who really looked out for me over the last couple of days and it meant the world to me.
My friends hate seeing me on tours because I frequently make them tell my tour group what their favorite thing about Amherst is and the problem is that lots of people I ask have no idea what to say. (It because they love most things about the college!) However, many say the people here and the community are the best things and it's so true. I can reaffirm that after this week.
I still have more work than I know what to do with, but at least all of it coming at once means I will have very little work between now and finals. Ughh... don't want to think about finals...
Anyway, in other news... umm... haha. Pre-registration is coming up next week for spring classes. Here's my list right now: Igneous and Metamorphic Rock Petrology, Surficial Earth Dynamics, Seminar in Conservation Biology, and Race, Gender, and Class in US Environmentalism. I'm pretty excited about it; although I am considering Practice of Art or Anthropology of Religion.
And the thing I'm most excitied about, which I have been considering for a while, but now I've decided I'm going to do it, is growing out my hair for Locks of Love. I'm going to do it. I'll need 10 useable inches of hair which means about 12 inches total. I'm a guy, I know, but here's my reasoning. I consider my hair to be (very superficially) one of my really good attributes. I know it might look really good in the picture provided, but it's really soft too. I always have people petting me, no joke. But back to my reasoning! So I decided that because I'm so attached to it and because it's a large part of my self image that drastically changing it will be kind of a liberating, self-exploratory experience that will in some way, shape, or form, make me really examine who I consider myself to be on a new level. Besides, it's for a great cause and I'll feel like I made a difference in the end.
See, that turned into a pretty positive blog entry after all. I knew I could do it. Well, not really. I had a disclaimer at the beginning for a reason after all. And email me! I love it. Any questions you have at all.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Rain, Rain Go Away
I promised I'd talk a little bit about Homecoming, but there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the weekend. BESIDES THE FACT WE KICKED BUTT, 23-0. And that it was rainy and gross. It was awesome to see my family though. My little sister battled the elements and the relative cold (not cold for here, but certainly for what Floridians are used to) to see the Jeffs pull off an exciting win. My friend and next door neighbor, Kate Berry took this picture of me an my little sis, Sara:
It's Homecoming Weekend! And my family is here! So I'm doubly excited. This weekend is going to be radical because there is going to be so much to do. Tomorrow is the big game, but unfortunately it's supposed to rain. But it won't matter so much. Homecoming is all about alumni coming back, especially at a small school like this one. For the first time, I'll know some of the alums and I can't wait to see them all.
Meanwhile, my family is here visiting all the way from sunny Florida. They're slightly envious of the fall leaves and apple cider and general autumn festivities. But in a month or so they'll be teasing me about the cold. Anyway, it's really great to see them. My little sister, Sara, came to my minerology class this morning but didn't really understand a word of what my professor was saying. But I think she really enjoyed looking at the thin sections I got to show her under the microscope. Simply polarizing the light does some pretty neat stuff. See this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5bCcr7vNpA. Optical mineralogy can be kind of psychadelic.
My family's been to visit before. My grandparents live in nearby Hartford, CT. But there are many place they've still never been to. Stop one today was Atkins Farm about ten minutes down the road to buy apples and delicious home baked good. I had never been there myself before I went apple picking a few weeks back. It's so nice to have locally grown produce in abundance. I absolutely love it. My mom was saying the same thing today. She quipped that at home we consider apples from Washington state to be locally grown. It's kind of sad. Most of where I live is one development or strip mall after another. New England is a welcome change of scenery to them.
Then we proceded to Northampton because I thought my teenage sister would love it (which I think she did). Northampton has so many incredible restaurants. Northampton is a very cute, funky, liberal town with tons of awesome little shops. Amherst isn't too dissimilar, but it's a slightly smaller town and it's not quite as out there. I don't really know how to compare them. I guess I'd say Amherst is quaint - the quintessential New England town while Northampton is just cool. But it was nice to walk around and show them a few of my favorite place. Faces is a must see store. It's awesome.
Well, I'm being bad. I'm running a bit late for a mid-semester run through of the Amherst Dance show. We still have a month and a half left. It's just kind of to see where all the pieces are. I've got to run, but I'll hopefully have more fun things to share about Homecoming at the end of the weekend. Bye!