Sunday, September 21, 2008

Emo regression

August 2007: I am a happy twee kid, smiling along to Belle and Sebastian and Architecture in Helsinki on my orange iPod Shuffle as I bake cookies and get excited about coming back to school and wrapping myself up in books.
October 2007: Radiohead and Wir sind Helden make me wonder why I'm applying to consulting jobs.
March 2008: Bookworms Joanna Newsom and Rainer Maria power me through the last phase of my thesis on James Joyce and Julio Cortázar (side note: this thesis was actually quite twee, as it asserted that playing childhood games means nothing is ever really lost and colonial atrocities don't matter. Really?)
April 2008: The happiness of my last few months at college becomes tinged with the ache of inevitable loss at graduation. As a memento to all things Cambridge, I become increasingly attracted to The Magnetic Fields.
June 2008: My brief return to the Midwest also prompts a return to Sufjan Stevens and a renewed interest in Bon Iver.
July 2008: I fill the sadness of TFA Institute and the empty plasticity of Phoenix with The Shins, Ravens & Chimes, and Death Cab for Cutie. Their words are like sad monsoon rain on the desert of my heart...
August 2008: Back in New Orleans, I listen to The Weakerthans as I prepare for a year of teaching.
September 2008: Amidst evacuations and floods, my playlists are already almost exclusively filled with Bright Eyes and the Postal Service, when finally, on September 21, 2008, I arrive at the ultimate emo rediscovery: Yellowcard. I cover my heart with my hands as I think about listening to "Ocean Avenue" on my very last day of high school. I have come full circle.

Things I miss in Cambridge

1. Incredible New England autumn. October is almost here, and it's my very favorite month of the year
[incidental list with short explanations—my ranking of months:
October—gorgeous trees, crisp air, clear blue sky, Halloween, campfires, beginnings of coziness all around. First snow, sometimes.
May—springtime, end of school.
September—transition into October! But this September has been subpar, to say the least.
January—my birthday month, and I really do love snow. A good time to get trashed in order not to feel the cold. The setting of Inter(c/s)ession, during which, depending on how you spell it, Harvard students get a break between semesters or they have someone intercede on their behalf. Either way, you get to go skiing in Vermont. Also a month during which we didn't have to produce the Arts section of The Crimson but did get to have that great event where we drank champagne and watched the presses run for the last time, which usually fell on my birthday, not that any of that matters now.
December—Christmas (birthday of both Christ and Kristina), New Year's, and a very doable 3 weeks of school (sans exams) between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. Also Starbucks has Gingerbread Lattes, and Aliza and I construct amazing gingerbread houses to enter into competition.
June—you know, summer etc.
July—see above.
April—often cold, rainy, and packed with papers.
November—mostly a pretty bad month, and I don't even like turkey that much (although I do love Turkey).
August—as Aliza always says, Sunday of the year.
February—new classes start, which is always fun, and February gets a bit of a pass for a) being short and b) being the only month of variable length. But winter's getting a little old by now.
March—probably the worst month in terms of weather in Boston. It's still cold, but the snow turns to rain so that you have to wear galoshes everywhere. I wore my galoshes so much that I got a hole in them. Then again, I got them from Marc Jacobs for $35, so perhaps all was not lost. But March redeemed itself a tiny bit this year by being the month that I turned my thesis in and went to Istanbul with the 15 best people in the world.]
2. Jeankapor.
3. Chocolate chip walnut cookies from Finale.
4. Not having to wake up at 4 a.m. ever except for flights (and often going to sleep at 4 a.m. or later), whereas starting tomorrow I have to do it on a regular basis. Howhowhowhowhow can this be happening?!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


(or, in TFA talk, continually increasing effectiveness)

I just got my recommendations for this month (or however often they put them out), and, of the 8, there's exactly one that I might potentially read or even purchase: Graham Greene's Journey Without Maps. It's true that the reading list also includes Branded Entertainment: Product Placement and Brand Strategy in the Entertainment Business. But at least we're getting somewhere.

Still not back in New Orleans, so I thought I'd remind you (and myself) of some things I had forgotten about Iowa:

1) The sure way to know that you're almost here is to see a bunch of fireworks stores lined up along the highway. Selling fireworks is illegal in Iowa, but it's not in most of the neighboring states (or, at least, in Missouri), so you find these little border towns like St. Francisville where the only industry seems to be fireworks stores. Not sure how the town's namesake would feel about this.

2) Our state motto (as shown on the welcome sign as you cross the Des Moines River, a more conventional way to know you're almost here) is "Fields of Opportunity." Now that I think of it, I remember voting on this in elementary school, but I never actually thought they would use it for anything because it seemed so silly. Then again, Louisiana's motto (according to the new license plates) is "Sportsman's Paradise," so maybe it's a rule that they have to be sort of bad and not really represent what's actually good about the state. But they also have a sign saying "Bienvenue a Lousiane" as you cross the border, which makes up for it.

3) The book Gilead is set here and is one of the best examples of non-terrible regionalism I've ever read. I took like a year to get through it, since it moves really slowly, but it's great for days when you're feeling sort of quiet and removed. It also reminds us, on two occasions, that Ulysses S. Grant once referred to Iowa as "the shining star of radicalism," which I really like.