Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer Reading

In the mail this afternoon I got a nice surprise. It was a large white envelope with the Westminster logo on it. I open it not to find financial information or registration/orientation I find my first homework assignment. I haven't even started classes yet and I already have homework. I don't know why I'm surprised. I mean, it's grad school and it's summer term which means the classes are shorter but are still required to cover the same material as during the normal semester. It makes complete sense for them to send out information before so we don't waste the first class of the term. But...I have homework. It's like summer reading, never mind the fact that it has been fairly chilly lately, the principle is still the same. I haven't had summer reading since the summer before my senior year of high school. I haven't had real homework since spring 2006...four years ago. Needless to say, I'm a little out of practice. This suddenly became very real. I am starting grad school in less than two weeks. I am actually working towards a quantifiable goal that I have had since I can't even remember. I've always wanted to have a list of letters after my name...MA, PhD. It's actually happening and I got myself here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mr. Knightley vs. Mr. Darcy

No offense Mr. Darcy or anything but I think that Mr. Knightley totally kicks your butt. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the book and we can't forget the iconic A&E movie adaptation but it's been bumped.

The 2009 Masterpiece Theater version of Emma with Johnny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley and Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse. Romola Garai is Emma and does a much better job than Gwenyth Paltrow (no offense, again). Emma is one of my least favorite of Austen's novels but this movie made me want to watch it again. It captures all the wit and humor of the book and the secondary characters are charming and obnoxious as the occasion calls for it.

I think Masterpiece Theater should redo Pride and Prejudice...don't you?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Roses and Thorns

When I was a Peer Mentor in college we would have our Team Lead meetings once a month and we would always start with Roses and Thorns. It was a way for all of us know get a brief look at what was going on with each other. Here are my Roses and Thorns for the past month-ish

I was complimented several times on my hair and outfit today

Finished a good book

Started new job responsibilities - just one job this time!

Found cute new duplex

Start school in a couple of weeks

Spring has finally arrived after a freak spring snowstorm

Had consistent, fun, rewarding voice lessons

Great friends have volunteered to help with the move - without bribing!

Went to a musical fireside and got to listen to great music - with a great bass section. :)

Have painted 3.5 rooms in the past week - 2 more to go

Surrounded by boxes stacking in every corner

Have had strange dreams about moving and not being able to find my new place

Start school in a couple of weeks

Worked 50-60 hour work weeks

Sarah's Key (6/30)

Sarah's Key
-Tatiana De Rosnay

This was a book that I had passed several times before I actually picked it up to see what it was about. It centers around the Vel'd'Hiv' round up of Jews in Paris on July 16, 1942. Sarah is awoken in the early hours of the morning by the French Police pounding on her apartment door. She is eleven years old. It is just her, her four year old brother and her mother as her father has gone into hiding. The police tell them to pack a bag and to come with them. Her brother hides in a secret cupboard and Sarah locks him in, thinking she'll be back soon to let him out. Her father comes out of hiding to so the family can stay together. With more than 13,000 Jews, Sarah and her family are packed into the Velodrome d'Hiver stadium for several days without food or water. Those that survived were then shipped to Drancy internment camp outside of Paris. There the men were immediately sent to Auschwitz. The mothers and children were later separated - the children left in Drancy to fend for themselves. The children were then shipped to Auschwitz and immediately sent to the gas chambers. Sarah manages to escape from Drancy and is taken in by an elderly couple on a farm in Orleans.

The driving character of the story is Sarah but you actually don't spend much of the narrative specifically on her story but rather how her experience during WWII changes the life of Julie Jarmond, an American Journalist living in Paris sixty years later. Julie has a unique connection to Sarah and her family that she is completely unaware of until she is assigned a story of the anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv' Roundup. Sarah's story is absolutely tragic as are most Holocaust survivor stories but it's how Sarah's life and the mystery of her life affect Julia and her family that is interesting. Julia is completely changed by what she learns about the round up and Sarah specifically and it sends her life on a completely different trajectory. It's as if de Rosnay is saying that no one who truly understand the horror, despair and tragedy of the Roundup could ever possibly be the same again.

De Rosnay uses the uncertainty and mystery surrounding Sarah as a beautiful and tragic metaphor for the thousands of nameless Jewish children that were rounded up that night, separated from their families and later shipped to Auschwitz and immediately sent to the gas chambers. No one knew who Sarah was - not even her husband or son. She died crippled under the knowledge that her parents were killed in Auschwitz and her younger brother starved to death in Paris. When her son finally discovers the truth about his mother and his heritage, he, just like Julia, is completely changed.

It was wonderfully written and beautiful in it's tragedy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Please explain this to me...

I have moved a lot in my life. I have moved 8 times with my parents, 4 times on my own, plus moving out of my dorm room at the end of every year in college. I am not a stranger to moving and yet this time it all seems far more daunting and stressful and I'm not entirely sure why. We're moving two weeks from today. The apartment is in shambles, boxes everywhere, empty bookshelves and half empty closets. The apartment always has the faint (or not so faint) smell of paint permeating the air. This place has always been a bit of a refuge for me. It's always been a place where I can just relax and veg. Not anymore. I'm sitting in my living room with my life backed and stacked in boxes and I am fighting the urge to just yell or scream. The clutter and mess are driving me nuts. I was going to be productive today and paint my room and finish up packing all non essentials but I woke up this morning and just couldn't do it. I can't paint or pack anything else today. Partially because we're running out of places to put boxes but also I just don't want to. I wish we were moving today or even next Saturday. The thought of living in this chaos for another two weeks makes me want to run for the hills!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Change is a commin'

I am sitting in my living room surrounded by boxes. Everything is pushed to the center of the kitchen and the fan is going full blast to help the newly painted walls dry. My hands have small splatters of paint primer all over them and I have even managed to get paint on my pants. I'm tired and overwhelmed. Lisa, Shannon, DeLayna and I signed a new lease this morning. We'll be moving in May 1st into our new place. It's nice - lots of space and light - but it's different from our current place. Since we painted our current apartment we have to paint it back and because life is hectic right now we decided to get a jump start on it. With the help of Lisa's parents we have managed to get a coat of primer done in the kitchen and the bathroom and we'll hopefully finish the kitchen tonight. We've boxed up the nic-nacs in the living room along with the DVDs. I honestly wasn't expecting to be as emotional about it as I am. I mean, I'm not sitting here in tears or even near tears but there is definitely a little pang. This has been my first real 'home' in such a long time. It's not going to be as easy to leave as I thought it would be. Now, don't get me wrong. I am happy about our new place. It's a lot bigger, it's in a nice neighborhood and it's closer to school. As far as personal space's kind of a step down. Both Lisa and I are in the basement and our rooms are considerably smaller. Both Lisa and I think the change will be good but I'm surprisingly attached to my current place.

The next month is going to be stressful - work, moving, school. I feel myself slowing down whether or not I should. sigh....