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Still here

I saw this on my walk the other day, and thought it was symbolic of the times, in a good way - of all the things you would expect to be spray painted, Merry Christmas is not high on the list, and on a real estate sign too.

Sorry it has been so long. I finished my last to projects for school a week late, only on December 21st, after two nights without sleep, so I have been doing as little as possible, and sleeping as much as possible.
I continued to meet Professor Olds, to make sure I had translated the source she is working on correctly, as her research assistant, making the corrections in the database. I had one steady Latin student this past semester. Another needed me to proctor her midterm when she missed it. But something kept coming up and eventually she just stopped responding to my queries. I hope she got it sorted out with her professor. Only now do I actually have a Latin dictionary of my own, a graduation gift from Professor Claussen.

Mostly, however, it was my regular classes that took up all my time. We did not meet often for class, even though when we did meet it was for three hours. However, Professor Nasstrom probably assigned too many papers, given the need for one hundred hours of service, including The History Wars, read both for a debate in which I represented “The Press,” and for a paper, the topic of which we were only informed of after the fact. She gave me a C on my first paper and B on the third. Because I am a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, she gave me the opportunity to get out of the last paper, but I needed to boost my grade after those. She read a draft for me, ahead of time, and, having rewritten it, I ended up pulling an A- in the class. Anyway, my Tuesdays were totally given up to the internship. I mostly worked with the Legacy Oral History Project. I made a timelines to be included in the introductions to two oral history transcripts, Naomi Newmen and Jocelyn Vollmar, juxtaposing the major events in their lives with other major events, in the historical development of various areas. In the case of Jocelyn Vollmar, for instance, I got to research the San Francisco Ballet. It’s the oldest professional company in the United States. I researched candidates for oral histories as well, Krissy Keefer, co founder of the first feminist dance troupe and one who ran for Congress with the Green party, Terry Riley, who sparked the minimalist movement in music, Peter Coyote, an actor you all might know, having been on many famous and popular television shows, in addition to some known movies, and having done voice over work for popular documentaries, the Olympics and the Academy Awards, but he is better known in Europe, and he was also a founding member of the Diggers, an San Francisco anarchist group in the 60s, and Robert Cole, director of Cal Performances and representing the very intriguing position of arts presenter, in which he developed relationships with Peter Sellars, John Adams, Yo-Yo Ma and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among others, introducing Robert Lepage, Cecilia Bartoli, Herbie Hancock, Bryn Terfel and Ian Bostridge. I got to scan photos, and write to people for permission to use their photographs in a transcript. I got to drop off photographs and manuscripts at the copy shop. I got to help with mailings, of invitations and of donation requests. In the case of the later I ended up stuffing the envelope that went to Nancy Pelosi’s husband. I also was surprised to receive one of the letters myself. Then there was the evening I volunteered for the opening of the Rock N’ Roll exhibit. I served drinks. I had to teach the other volunteer at my station how to open a beer with the bottle opener, and I have never actually drunk a beer before! We ran out of wine, or rather we ended up without a wine opener. At one point, in the middle of the concert, I was clearing out the empty bottles, and they clanged very loudly – quite embarrassing. But it was fun talking to all the artists who ended up studying areas related to public history – the one sharing the table with me ended up getting her masters in museum studies, but she had a dance studio too. Another, with a degree in library science also was having her fashion designs exhibited at one point.
However, I think the biggest drain on my time was the Twentieth Century class. I reluctantly devoted an awkward evening to the dinner we had in lieu of our final class, at Professor Neaman’s house. It was just the professor and I in his car on the way over, and throughout the evening I felt like I did not have much to say to my classmates, and that in my attempts to help, with the dishes, or setting the table, or slicing bread, or preparing coffee, I was only getting in the way. We got to meet his daughter – she gave us a dance performance to “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. Apparently cooking is a hobby of Professor Neaman’s, and he shared with us the secret ingredient to his pasta sauce – cinnamon. Throughout the semester, though, it was a lot of reading, which I felt I had to do all of, unlike previous semesters where I read selectively, even where I had to do a response for each reading, as was the case in this instance. However, it was more that I felt like I could not write less than a tremendous amount. At the end we were supposed to weave together our weekly responses, into one long piece, which ended up being about fifty papers, even eliminating as much extra stuff as I could, and my final paper was thirty pages, so that in that last week I ended up writing seventy pages. However, Professor Neaman does not care about deadlines so he was OK with it., when I turned them in a week late. I do not think I deserved the A I got on my second paper on existentialism in film noir, in particular. I did not finish that one in time for class either, but had to email it to him later that evening, in spite of spending two whole weeks on it, and pulling an all nighter that last night. In class that day we walked to a mausoleum, to look at the ways people wanted to be remembered, as exhibited in the way they designed the niches for their urns. Afterwards we sat together on the bottom floor again. The light hit one of the stained glass windows perfectly, a window of Jesus surrounded with light – it was pretty cool to see. There was something about the place that was extremely peaceful and I could just feel the tension melt away, and I just fell asleep. When I turned in the first paper, a book report on a book about Nietzsche, also, I had to pull an all nighter, and I did not even get to the reading for that week, so I had to fake the response.
Thanksgiving week when I had expected to get so much done, my final paper for my internship class gave me surprising difficulty, if mostly because I really didn’t want to be writing it, but my final piece for my Fiction class was even more unexpectedly labor intensive. I ended up doing a lot of research, so that days were spent just thinking, before research gave me the explanations for more and more of the elements of my story, allowing me to make more and more connections, and the details just came together, almost as if I had had them in mind the whole time. I resisting involving the mob for a long as possible, but the story just made its own demands. At least I know now that I can write, even if I feel the current piece is still not very moving yet – too cerebral. I also needed to attend two word nights for my fiction class. I only did not have to attend three because I read at one of them. A couple started fighting in the street behind me in the middle of reading my poem on a stool at the front of the cafe, really loudly, the man pounding the wall. The teacher complimented me on my composure, managing to keep going without pause – probably a result of my acting experience. When I attended my first word night, I had pulled an all nighter writing my final paper for Claussen’s class on The Fall of Nineveh Chronicle due the next morning – still wasn’t quite finished with it. In general it got to the point where I felt like going to bed at one in the morning was early, and four in the morning was a normal bedtime.
Thankfully, Professor Claussen let me out of the final, again thanks to membership in Alpha Sigma Nu. For Claussen’s class, we also got to see the Tut exhibit, at the De Young museum. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, for all the bad reviews, though probably not as fun without a class that knew the material and a teacher giving information, many of the artifacts having been imaged in the power points that went with our lectures. I fact, I got to take over at one point, regarding the depictions of the gods and their roles. Finally, there was the final dress rehearsal for Il Trovatore, to which I was invited by Professor Amati-Camperi. I certainly didn’t notice that people were marking, even though it was a dress rehearsal. The witch had a particularly powerful voice, though the teacher felt she was off in places. I also enjoyed the tenor a lot. My professor loved the soprano. The sets were very cool, though I could not described they as “beautiful” – very existential, spare and dark.
I got my Dad and I tickets to Riverdance, for Sunday – one of my birthday gifts to myself. Dad complained about the seats I got – I didn’t get to pick seats on the isle this time. Then there was these kids – I think her parents were actually from Ireland, from their accents – who wouldn’t stop fiddling with this candy wrapper. I saw that they left other food garbage behind, as well – I wonder that no one told them no food in the theater. Dad also complained that the flamenco dancer was not dancing flamenco – it was some weird hybrid thing, with barely any feet and belly dancer hands. Worst of all, for my father, was that the dancer did not play her own castanets. Worst of all, for me, the flamenco music is a type of cante jondo, or deep song, which means it is music first, and dance second, specifically, it is an improvised vocal music first. Plus, need more clapping!
Firedance from Riverdance: www.youtube.com/watch
This one seemed more in keeping with tradition: www.youtube.com/watch
Or: www.youtube.com/watch
The Russian dancing was awesome, though, as something I am not very familiar with – there was a lot of aerial action. Then there was the awesome dance off with the tap dancers and a saxophonist against Irish dancers and fiddler. They mocked each other, with the tap dancers, for example, having one spin the other under his arm like ballerinas. Finally, there was a really interesting scene with a nymph and a satyr that was more like ballet than Irish dance.
Monday my father and I went to see Sherlock Holmes, in X-D. Don’t waste the money for the X-D experience – nothing special about it really. I loved the movie, though. The sets and costumes seemed pretty realistic – that is filthy and not overly romanticized. I particularly enjoyed being presented with a much more athletic and capable Dr. Watson. He was, after all, a soldier right out of the Afghanistan War, and we are always presented with this chubby old guy. Also the more obsessive, as in unconcerned with hygiene, and manipulatively acerbic Holmes, in the fashion of House. They’re both closer to the books, than the original movies, if still not spot on.
Tuesday I dropped off my computer to be fixed – the CD drive was jammed. They said it would be a week, but they called Wednesday and it was already fixed. The warranty ended December 2, but they still gave it to me, saving me $200. This after I had thought I lost my phone on my birthday, while in Borders. Poor Jennifer had to deal with me freaking out all afternoon. I swear I remember having it with me, putting it in my pocket, going up the escalator. Then Dad called and said he had it – it must have fallen out of my pocket, leaving the car. It makes me feel hopeful again, after the bank had taken our car, and we got a notice of foreclosure from the bank. The latter occurring, after Dad had waited in line from 10:00 am to midnight, without bathroom or food break, to talk to a NACA representative at the Cow Palace, and they were supposed to be taking care of everything with the bank – we did all they said, but they don’t seem to be doing much. Still, we’ve sent offers to the bank, and I think, now, that it will work out.
As for Avatar, the new white guilt flick, as they are calling them now, there were a lot of the old clichés from the white people meets indigenous people scenario:
For new years eve, Dad and I made pasta with white sauce:
We warmed up the store bought meatballs in oil.
We filled the pasta cooker with water, throwing in a handful of salt, and left it to boil.
We sautéed the onions in oil, until just before they were transparent.
Then we added milk – four cups I think – and cheese, with pepper, nutmeg, and just a pinch of salt, for a low fat white sauce.
Waiting for the cheese to melt, we dumped the pasta in the water – six minutes, since it was dried.
We mixed two table spoons of starch with just enough water and dumped it in the sauce
When it began to thicken, we added the meatballs.
I put oil in the bottom of the bowl before dumping the pasta in it and tossing it. Then we dumped in the sauce.
We watched The Proposal: really cute relationship, but the Bullock character’s confession scene was cliché and not very believable. We also watched Four Christmases, essentially no good at all.
In other housekeeping, they let me sign up to take the test again before school started. I ended up getting a perfect verbal score, a math score in the six hundreds or five hundreds (not unexpected), and a five on the essays. I am debating retaking it to try for a six on the essays. They ended up refunding the money for the test I missed too.
Here’s the rest of this semester’s quotes:
Professor Claussen:
“You don’t build camels, they appear magically out of wet hay or something”
“they’re like economists except they’re bad at math” – sociologists, I think
“I don’t know what they are now – I’m a historian”
“It’s those darn Egyptians that are giving them their problems there.” 
What does Henry VIII do? “he eats turkey legs!”
“Dear Yasmah, you are so dumb.”
“Our president insists we teach ethics in class . . . You’re in ROTC, right? Don’t torture prisoners of war.”
Professor Steinberg:
 “How would you like to live in the shadow of the semicolon.”
“Why are we bedazzling the phoenix?”


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
My mom wants me to take her to watch Sherlock Holmes. XD I can't wait!

The Avatar article has a lot of truth to it, but I think they would have less to complain about if, instead of becoming the MVP, Jake had somehow helped the people help themselves. He did after all, embrace a new culture and integrate himself into it, and that deserves some anti-racist credit.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Definitely I got no racist vibe from the character - there was nothing racist about him, he was completely open. It's the idea that I guess they are saying is racist - for me it is not so much racism that is the issue as it is the rehearsing of tried cliches, though the fact that the movie takes these cliches to outer space is definitely an interesting twist, if it only gives excuse for cool special effects. And we talked about how much we enjoyed all the humorous moments, so that the screen writing kept things fresh as well.
Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
Riverdance Tickets
It will be great to watch Riverdance, i have bought tickets from
http://ticketfront.com/event/Riverdance-tickets looking forward to it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )