I had the opportunity to listen to two and half hours of the best live music I’ve heard in along time last night. My dad had been planning the concert, a fundraiser for People of Faith for Peace, for months and despite cold weather, lots of rain and the threat of snow, more than 125 people came out and filled the seats of Portland’s Old Church.
I took two snippets of video last night, both of which are embedded here. The first is of my dad, singing a song he wrote for me when I was a newborn that is called “Song for the Children.” The second is a song by my sister called, “Are You Still in Love With the World?”
I hope that everyone out there had as wonderful a Christmas as the one my family had today. It was intentionally light on presents, but overflowing with an abundance of love. We cooked and ate together, and a dinner that was originally planned for seven expanded to feed eleven. And the fridge is still overflowing with leftovers. I feel grateful for family I was lucky enough to be born to as well for all the friends who are our chosen family. May all holidays be as good as this one.
My sister rolled into town with her boyfriend Trevor around 5 pm this afternoon, which means that all the necessary holiday parties are present and accounted for. My parents and I spent most of the day talking about doing some early food prep without actually getting down to business, so my dad and I will be getting up around 8:30 am in order to chop celery, onions, mushrooms and garlic for stuffing (the turkey has to be in by 10:30 am at the latest).
We’ve made our Christmas wishes and the candles we wished on are still burning outside on the back porch. My mom and I did manage to get an enormous apple crisp baked off today, which is good since there will be no room in the oven for such things tomorrow. I went to church tonight, the same church where I grew up and learned to be a member a community larger than my family. I’ve been there nearly every Christmas Eve for the the last 19 years and so it doesn’t really feel like Christmas if I’m not there. We sang the same old Christmas carols and at the end, lit candles and sang Silent Night.
This is a slightly disjointed post, so I’m going to end it with a clip of my sister and Trevor playing some music earlier tonight. I do love a holiday that becomes a jam session. I have high hopes for tomorrow.
This afternoon my mom and I went out for a walk with the dog. This is a fairly normal occurrence around these parts, but it’s the first time I decided to bring my camera along and capture what I saw as we walked. It rained most of the day around here, only really letting up around 3pm. This meant that the ground was still wet and the trees and shrubs were all carrying droplets of the leftover rain. It made for some lovely picture taking and I like a whole lot of what came out. To see the whole set, go here.
When I bought my D50 last summer, I chose a Nikon in large part because that’s the brand of camera that my dad has. It wasn’t so much familial brand loyalty that motivated me, as much as a hope that I’d be able to convince my dad to share a particular lens with me.
You see, some time back he used to do a lot of product shots and so needed something that would do close-up detail well. He went and got himself an AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 to do that work. However, times have changed and he doesn’t do this same kind of photography anymore. And I knew that this lens was just sitting there, languishing in a little padded case in his basement office.
A few days before I headed out to Portland, I mentioned to him that I’d be interested in borrowing this lens for six months or so and that I’d be happy to lend him one of my lenses in exchange. He ended up doing me one better and offered me the lens straight out. This particular piece of equipment makes me very happy as it takes gorgeous pictures, captures amazing detail and makes food look especially delicious.
If you click the link on the photo above, it will take you to a set of 22 pictures on Flickr that I took while messing around with the lens earlier this afternoon. It’s all just stuff around my parents’ house, but some of it came out looking really cool.
The last week has been something of a humdinger. I finished my thesis, wrapped up my last class of grad school and started a relationship, all within the same five day period. And then tomorrow afternoon I get on a train that will take me up to the Newark Airport and I’ll fly off to Portland for a two and a half week vacation. It’s such a whirlwind life I lead.
Thanks to all of you who came out to the graduation celebration at Triumph last night. I had a terrific time, which is a nice thing to be able to say about one’s own party.
If any of you were thinking about coming out tonight to help celebrate my graduation, I want to let you know that the venue has changed. We’re going to be at Triumph (117-121 Chestnut Street) instead of National Mechanics, as they are hosting a burlesque show for which there is a $20 cover.
Around 2:30 pm yesterday, I suddenly stumbled into a period where I couldn’t cope. Where everything converged and I truly felt like I might fall apart. Within half an hour I found out that my great-aunt was in the hospital and that a job application process I’ve been in hit a stumbling block. I couldn’t quite finish up my thesis and the paper that’s due tomorrow night was still looming, mostly untouched. To top it all off, there has suddenly been some movement in my dating/relationship life that is really terrific, but has also been taking up a lot of mental space.
When I realized that I could no longer deal, I retreated to my bed for a nap and a little recovery. I crawled under the covers and spent some breathing deeply and focusing on relaxing each part of my body, starting with my toes. I found myself to a floaty, less jangly place and drifted off to sleep for about a half hour. I woke up having shifted back into a place where all things are manageable, which was a great relief.
I still don’t know what’s happening with my aunt, but my cousins have stepped in to take care of her and I feel great relief that she’s not going to be alone anymore. The job hunt is going on the back burner until I get all the school pieces wrapped up and tucked away.
The thesis is done. I still have to print it out, get some signatures and otherwise jump through some hoops, but content-wise, it is all finished and formatted into a single, cohesive document.
I’m still dragging myself through the final paper of grad school. It is something of a slog, especially since I didn’t adore this class and so don’t have much enthusiasm for it. However, I will get through it.
And the dating thing? It’s there, as something to look forward to when this last paper is done!
I left my computer for two and a half hours this afternoon to go meet with my thesis adviser one last time (got the final edits!) and go to the grocery store. When I returned I discovered that my eBay account had been hacked and it had been used to send out a bunch of emails to people, asking them to purchase things off eBay. This effected my Gmail account, because it’s the address associated with the account. EBay sent me an email recommending that I change my email password, but when I logged out of my account in order to do so, I discovered that I was then locked out and couldn’t get back in.
I’ve now been locked out of my Gmail account since 4:30 pm this afternoon. I still can’t do anything about the eBay account, as you can’t even report a problem if you can’t log in and since they’ve frozen my account, I can’t log in. Of course, there are no phone numbers to call. I was able to change my password on my Gmail account and it’s allowing me access to chat and my reader with the new password, so I think that after the recommended 24 hour period that apparently it takes to reset your account after something like this I should be able to get back in. I hope.
It would not be good to not be able to get into my Gmail account for an extended period of time, because as I’ve started establishing myself as a writer, that’s become the account from which I coordinate projects, all my Slashfood stuff and everything related to Fork You. However, there is a sort of perverse part of me that is finding it liberating. It’s an unscheduled vacation from email that I wasn’t planning, but I’m trying to make the best of.
Tonight I attended the very last class of my grad school career. It was sort of anticlimactic, being that I haven’t really loved this class and have been anxiously awaiting it’s end. I still have one more paper to write for it, but then I’m home free. The thesis is all but done, save some final editing and formatting (that also feels sort of anticlimactic. Maybe that’s because I don’t feel like I can relax until it has the final signatures and is submitted for binding).
I do believe that this has been the quickest year and a half of my life. In many ways it feels like I just started this program. However, there is also lots of very real proof that it has been a labor-intensive process (the thesis for one). Much of the evidence is intangible, like the fact that I now comfortably call myself a writer and feel really comfortable with that identity. There is also the fact that I have learned that I can write on demand in a very coherent and readable way.
I will never, ever regret going back to school and getting this degree. I actually rank it among the top three best decisions I’ve made in life (along with going to Whitman for undergrad and moving to Philadelphia). It’s also nice to be at the end of it and moving on to lots of cool, new stuff.
If you’re in the Philly area and want to help me celebrate the fact that I’m graduating, come out to National Mechanics on Saturday, December 15th at 8 pm. A good time will be had by all!