April 2009

A List of Lasts

It’s hard to believe that this is the last Real Life post of the spring semester. I can think back on all the days where time seemed to creep by, but now in comparison it’s like everything is in fast forward. I’m not even a senior, but I feel like I’ve been saying: “This is my last [fill in the blank],” quite a bit in the past couple of days, so I decided to compose a short list:

-My last (and first) big choir performance until next spring! Unfortunately I’m still trying to find a recording of our performances, but no luck so far. On Friday we performed in Evans Auditorium on campus for a completely sold out audience! The Women’s Ensemble went first with our “Four Songs” by Brahms, followed by the Orchestra with a piece by Mahler. After intermission I was able to snag an empty chair and watch the Orchestra and Cappella Nova perform Mozart’s Requiem; such an epic and beautiful piece! Sunday’s show at United First Methodist Church downtown was better overall, but also included an impromptu and poorly timed serenade from the church bells during the final intense moments of the Requiem. I hope to maybe join a choir while I’m abroad, and really look forward to singing again at L&C next spring. Our conductor is one of the most amazing people here at L&C, and her energy and enthusiasm for what she does is positively unparalleled. All in all it’s be a fabulous experience.

-My last race of the season! After taking a break last weekend from racing, the crew team heads down to Sacramento on Friday for our final big race of the spring season. This is a huge regatta, including Division I, II, and club teams from up and down the west coast. Our women’s team did not perform as well as we wanted at our conference championships, so we’re gearing up for a mighty throw down come Saturday. I’m also excited because our winning pair is getting the chance to race, and being that this is an important regatta, we’re going to pull out all the stops in showing what L&C crew can do with speed. Plus it’s going to be really really fun!

-My last week of classes until January! Ok, this one isn’t totally true because I will still be a full-time student while abroad in Ireland. But it’s my last week of classes at L&C until my final semester ever, and it’s kind of a big deal. I think that I can say with confidence that I have had the BEST professors of my college career thus far, packed all into this one semester. Through their teaching I have discovered some new things about myself. Even just working on my final papers for philosophy have showed me what I am capable of achieving in my understanding. For once I’m actually proud of the work that I’m turning in, and I hope that my final grades reflect this significant change.

-Final SAAC meeting! At least, as secretary. I’ll miss being this involved in the fall, so I’ll probably make up for it tenfold next spring. I’ve made so many friends and connections through SAAC and working/being in athletics that I can’t imagine what I would be doing without it. It’s sad to see the senior athletes go, but I’m ready to be the one to fill their shoes and leave my mark.

I guess next year as a senior my end of the year list will be more sincere in its finality, but it’s still nice to feel this sense of closure with things. And then that feeling fades and I start thinking how unbelievable it is that this fall I’ll already be a senior, and I’m going abroad, and I’m living off campus in the spring. All this new independence is a bit overwhelming, but at the same time it gives me some really fabulous things to look forward to in the next year.

Other than that, I have no more reflections or parting thoughts. My mind is almost at the point of being completely drained from all the hectic last minute details of these final weeks. As always, I am happy to respond to any questions that people might have about L&C or life in general as a college student! Feel free to contact me at any point during the summer or next year at asbridge@lclark.edu.

Happy Summer,
Jess

29 April 2009

we haven’t committed any lasting damage

Anna painted a heart on my faceThe Clothesline Project display on campusThere should be a yellow warning sign that says Schoolwork Crossing, and the end of the semester should heed it. Even though we’re about to bump hard into final exams, there is a negligible decrease in the number of cool events going on around campus. It’s tricky to balance all the last assignments of the year with all the other things happening, but I can stuff writing three essays and taking two final exams into the next week.

Diva Day performanceWhat Makes YOU a Diva?Wednesday was a great day for abandoning homework for the afternoon. The Womyn’s Center hosted the Clothesline Project, the only Take Back The Night event we decided to do this year. Most of the shirts in the Clothesline Project display were hand-lettered by members of the Raphael House, a local Portland women’s shelter. I like the Clothesline Project because it raises public awareness about sexual and domestic violence through creative survivor empowerment.

Anna painting her foot pinkI made rainbow handprints and Anna fingerpainted my cheekIn the afternoon, the first of the Senior Thesis plays (written and/or directed by graduating theatre majors) was held outside. Modeled on the Vagina Monologues, “Diva Day” combined interpretive dance (click for video), anecdotes, and experimental theatre. Oh, and all the actresses wore silly giant representations of Diva Cups over their costumes. Afterward, the audience members and cast had a dance party and painted their answers to “What makes YOU a Diva?” onto a big banner. My friend Anna and I painted our hands and feet and danced across it. We accidentally left smeary footprints on the ground, but the paint was both washable and nontoxic, so I think we haven’t committed any lasting damage.

Anna is the best kind of dork when discarded clothes are there for the donning!On the subject of Anna, she’s a phenomenal performance poet and musical artist. She said it’s okay I share some of her awesomeness with y’all, so here’s a video of her performing an original composition at the Platteau Student Art Center’s Last Open Mic of the year, and here’s a song she recorded in a studio with better audio quality than my digital point-and-shoot can muster. The Open Mic on Friday was three hours of story-reading, ukulele, high-energy girlrock, poery, and original compositions plus covers of such favourites as Tegan & Sara, Sufjan Stevens, and Nickel Creek.

Nothing Compares To You playbillIt’s a good thing I like experimental theatre so much, because when I showed up at the mainstage for Nothing Compares To You, another Senior Thesis play, I had no idea I was in for such a spectacularly nontraditional performance. For the entire hour-plus show, the audience was herded around the set (no seating!) from scene to scene by two silent and bescarved actors. The somewhat anachronistic scenes at first seemed entirely unconnected, but by the end they were geniusly intertwined. One of the best performances I’ve seen, like, ever.

Les & Eva Aigner speaking about their experiences surviving the HolocaustAfter the Diva Day performance on Wednesday, I went to a talk by two Holocaust survivors. Eva and Les Aigner, who now live in Portland, regularly speak publically about their experiences as Jews in the ghetto and in Auschwitz. Even though Les said he felt like the luckiest man in the world for having survived the Holocaust, the talk sure put my last 25 pages of essay-writing into perspective!

I went out to dinner at Oba! with my parents on Saturday night. I was glad they were picking up the bill – the food was so good but pretty expensive for someone on a college student budget. Also, this time of year is one big conglomeration of Prom Nights, so the restaurant was flooded with high schoolers pinned to corsages and zipped into schmancy dresses. I’m so relieved that that particular rite of passage is behind me! They all looked really excited, though. Awww.

I can has A in ur class? This LOLcat created at icanhascheezburger.comI gave my final presentation in Judaism on Monday morning on the subject I’m writing my final research paper on, the Lilith legend. I made a pretty powerpoint and everything. Last week in Qual Methods I presented my ethnographic findings regarding how students tell their Coming Out stories to the class as well. Even though I got into a fight with the printer and showed up to class without a speaking outline as planned (tip: don’t wait to print until five minutes before class, it will bite you in the rear), my presentation went smoothly and my professor said I was cohesive and organized. I can has A in ur class?

one of the electronic music pieces at the concert included live flute and guitar accompanimentOn Monday night I went to the Electronic Music Concert. Students from all sections of the Electronic Music classes played their compositions. Some pieces had accompanying music videos (everything from self-filmed raps to classical remixes set to psychedelic fractal art), and some had live performances, including live musical accompaniment and John’s fire-juggling.

I already have a fun summer reading list all worked out. I’m so excited to go home and walk my dogs and bike and play with toddlers at the preschool I work at over break. I hope they’re hiring again this year – I still need to call during business hours and find out.

This is my last Real Life Blog entry for the semester! Your emails will still find me over summer, so definitely point your questions toward maisha@lclark.edu. I’m happy to ramble at length about whatever you wanna talk about.

28 April 2009

i think my favorite logical gate is NAND

Working on a new video.  Apparently skateboarding around campus with a video camera doesn’t work too well unless you jury-rig a steadicam, which I plan to do later today.  If that doesn’t work, I guess it’s back to the drawing board.  Are there any particular video topics you want to see?

I just finished my statistics project that my friend Sam and I have been working on for about a month.  We presented it yesterday in class and it went a lot better than I was expecting (I guess I’m just pessimistic that way).  We culled a bunch of information from sourceforge.net in an effort to see if there was a correlation between a software project’s popularity and its code’s adherence to program formatting conventions (comment things, don’t swear, don’t use goto, etc.). Our results were somewhat disappointing.  Based on our sample of sixty projects, we could find no correlation.  Regardless, we performed the statistics tests on the data, so as far as the coursework is concerned, we’re set.  I would have liked to have observed something definitive, though.

Course registration is in effect; currently I’ve got spots in International Affairs, an English Class (this one is a tentative backup), and Computer Network Security (”hacking class,” which I’m hoping will be really cool) I’m a bit miffed that I’m on so many waitlists for courses I want to take (as I’m going to be a Senior, I’m running out of time).  I’ve been trying to get into the Introduction to Electronic Music course every semester since Freshman year (yes, this is my sixth time on this particular waitlist).  It’s a relatively small elective class and everyone wants to take it.  They work hard to accomodate the demand, but it’s always overflowing.  Perhaps I’ll just give up on my (not-terribly-serious) dream of learning how to make beep-boop music.  I’m also on the waitlist for Introduction to World Music, which I would very much like to be the class that fulfulls one of my general education requirements.  Here’s to hoping that a bunch of people decide to drop those courses.  If not, it’ll work out some other way I’m sure.

A few days ago, Portland comedian/monologuist Rick Huddle came to Council Chambers and performed his “Spent” show.  He plainly and humourously told the story of the “current financial situation” (I love that euphemism), explaining sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps, government bailouts, executive bonuses, and some of the governmental intricacies that had to do with all of it.  As someone who didn’t really take the time to understand all of this economics business, I found his performance very informative.  Definitely catch him if you get a chance (I also see on Rick’s website that he has an endorsement from the hilarious and insightful Mike Daisey, another brilliant monologuist who has performed at LC).
I enjoy this time of the semester especially, because it is professor-evaluation time.  It combines my loves of spending  filling in Scantron bubbles, voicing my opinions, and carrying manilla envilopes to the Dean of the College’s office.  The Dean’s Office, every semester, polls all students in all courses about the effectiveness of the course and the professor.  Some people don’t take them seriously, but as the professors will attest, these results have an effect on little things like tenure and raises, so it’s actually pretty important. I like that students have an institutionalized venue for voicing criticisms or praises and that it seems to be an effective catalyst for any necessary changes.

Anyway, I think it’s time for me to go back to work on my Computer Science project.  It’s larger than normal because Nick (programming buddy) and I convinced our professor to let us do one project for both of the classes we take from him.  So, yeah…  more on that endeavor when we actually get somewhere worth mentioning.

Still searching for a house for the Summer, which is approaching quite quickly.

Now playing in my ears: “The Cold Swedish Winter” by Jens Lekman

23 April 2009

Concerts & Racing & Papers, Oh My!

This will be a short post of highlights, as I have a million things on my plate right now and, sadly, not enough time to relax and reflect! First of all we’ve been experiencing some glorious weather this week and it’s made everything seem much more pleasant. I got to sit outside with one of my classes, and though I got a little sunburned, it was still a beautiful time. Last Wednesday, SAAC held our annual community outreach day - we spent time a Riverdale Grade School playing with kindergartners and 3rd graders in their PE classes. I haven’t had that much fun in a while. I got to be with 12 kindergartners and it was non-stop action for an insane 45 minutes. Those of us that were involved had a blast (including the kids!) and we hope that SAAC can continue to make this possibly a once-a-month event in the future. In crew we had our conference championships on Saturday in Lake Stevens, Washington. It was a bit of a drive, but a good bonding experience for our women’s team. The men ended up placing 3rd overall in the conference, which was awesome, but the women’s side didn’t do as well. A teammate and I had a strong win in the women’s pair event, but other than that it was a day of less than stellar performances. We’re hitting the water hard this week as we have a weekend off from racing and are trying to cut down the team to the final 8 which we will take to California. It’s an exciting week of intrasquad competition, but exhausting for all athletes involved as there are 10 of us fighting for only 8 seats. On the singing front, this weekend is our much anticipated performance weekend!! The Women’s Ensemble is putting our finishing touches on the four pieces by Brahms, and Friday night in the auditorium on campus is our first performance. On Sunday we head downtown to the United First Methodist Church where we will have our final performance. I’m really looking forward to showing all the hard work we’ve put into these, and it’s going to be a fabulous show.

Well I’m off to finish up some reading for Thursday classes and then get to bed. I’m beginning to feel the mental strain beginning to build in these last two weeks, but it’s all a matter of being extra productive and just powering through the home stretch.

Until next week,
Jess

22 April 2009

welcome to my skin

Utopias/Distopias class outside at Albany QuadrangleApril is unnecessarily cruel. It knows that students are staggering under the weight of final projects, papers, presentations, and exams, so what does it do? Taunts us. With a succession of incredibly lovely days. Just try to nestle yourself in a corner of the library on a day that is sunny, hovering around mid-70s, with gentle refreshing breezes, with a sky bluer than… y’know, really blue things. Just try.

Andi Zeisler, co-founder/co-editor of B*tch Magazine, discussing feminism and popular culture with students at a special lunchOn Friday I attended a special brownbag lunch in Albany. Andi Zeisler, co-editor and co-founder of B*tch Magazine, talked to a room full of gender-interested students about popular culture and feminism. Now I’m all sorts of excited to read Andi’s new book over summer break.

Ali looking at the Senior Art Exhibition on campusAli and I spent far too long in Hoffman Gallery staring in awe at the senior art exhibition installations. Seriously quality stuff in there. We have a lot of art majors this year, and they all outdid themselves. Wow.

one of the installations at the Senior Art Exhibition. It’s made entirely of plastic straws!On Friday and Saturday I packed in more hours of work for the Admissions Office than I did for the entire month of March. Seriously. I even ran a couple of residence hall tours, which I intentionally did not sign up for this year since last year it was kind of a fiasco for me. Luckily, all of my tours went smoothly on Saturday. I even got to talk to an admitted student who had me as her tour guide when she visited campus as a junior last spring. She recognized me even though my hair isn’t violet like it was a year ago.

another art installation at the senior art exhibitionAlthough I managed to fit a little bit of studying into the chinks around Sunday, I didn’t get as much done as intended. Sunday evening was the housing lotteries. As an RA-to-be, I helped facilitate next year’s room selection for all of my future Apartzfeld residents. It took our RA team four hours to place 250 students, which is probably some sort of speed record. We should win a medal. My room is in Hartzfeld B wing, and the vast majority of my residents fell on the continuum of thrilled to satisfied with their housing situations for next year. I am totally stoked about the batch of students who will be my neighbours come fall.

Kenna took this picture of meI’m all registered for classes for next year! I’m set to take Anthropology of the Body; Spanish 201 taught by Matthieu; Women’s Self-Defense; and I’m waitlisted for Astronomy (which fulfills my category B math/science graduation requirement), but I’m pretty confident Tufte will let me in since I hear he’s a chill dude. Co-Chairing the Gender Studies Symposium is an extra two credits per semester too, so I’ll actually be taking a full load (16 credits) in fall.

This is the photo I submitted to the World Traveler contest that won an awardI found out today that a photograph I submitted to the LC Interactive Learning Center’s World Traveler contest actually won a prize! Sweet! Now I have to figure out whom to give my iTunes giftcard to. My hard drive regularly tantrums at me about being completely full, so I don’t think buying it mp3s is the best way to placate it.

Mt Hood as seen from my dorm room window during sunsetOn Monday I took a drastic step in order to finish my homework: I yanked my internet. Completely unplugged. By 2am, I had written a ten-page rough draft of my Qual Methods ethnography, read the entire second half of a hefty novel for Utopias/Distopias, drawn a picture, met with my self-designing major advisor, called my mom, and listened to my collection of Rodrigo y Gabriela so many times through that I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d dreamt in flamenco guitar and nothing else once I finally went to bed.

Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s!Getting so much done on Monday meant I had Tuesday completely free (except for my three classes, all of which were held outside – Welcome to my skin, sunburn. You’re not really wanted here, so if you could not unpack your bags, just pass through and keep your antipathy to yourself, that’d be great. Love, Maisha.). Point being, when Kenna and Margo proposed a trip downtown for Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s, I seized the opportunity with both hands. I got a derrrricious bowl of marrionberry sorbet.

I really think that sorbet should be considered as a way to solve the world’s problems.

Email me about life, the universe, and everything at maisha@lclark.edu.

22 April 2009