Saturday, August 15, 2009

Seal of Approval

The following items have my approval:

Grey Gardens for HBO: I'm a big fan of Grey Gardens and I was skeptical about the HBO film however, I was very impressed. Everything about it was so perfectly executed.

The Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcasts: If you like Mythbusters but can't stand that woman with red hair, you'll love these podcasts. Miraculously they provide you with everything you would ever want to know about topics you've always wondered about such as spontaneous human combustion, the unsavory combination of orange juice and toothpaste, Rasputin's mysterious death and the Pied Piper (all of these episodes are especially good) in a mere 15 minutes.

William Finnegan's profile of Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff, entitled "Sheriff Joe" from July 20th's New Yorker:
Once you read this you will be shocked and want to talk about it with everyone. I read it about 3 weeks ago and I still can't stop thinking about it.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on Moving, and Madison

Moving sucks. I hate moving. Shit! Right now I am moving from Madison to Nepal (via New York) and my mom is moving from New York to LA. What this means is a hassle. Like, Where will I put the stuff I don't need in Nepal but I want to keep? And, What about if I'm coming back to Madison--should I keep some things here? Like, my speakers or my bike? Also, moving makes you reprioritize and get frustrated and so my Sensibility Meter is all out of whack.

My small room is full of stuff I can't keep. These fall into the following categories: things I brought with me from New York and didn't use (after not having used them in New York), like a harmonica and three pairs of flats; things I accumulated in Madison and didn't use, like a purple lurex top and some nice tins for holding tea; things I had in New York and Madison
and seem too useful to get rid of, like a harmonica & flats & India ink & a humidifier & an old dish shift sign-up sheet & a biography of Grace Paley & two corkboards & several short coats. One solution is to sell things to local people. I sold the iPod Touch I got by rebate with my new computer to Syrym (room 27), who took it to Kazakhstan today and will bring me $$$ after he sells it there. I sold my speakers to Jacquie and my bike to Kate (room 5). I gave a photo of Obama to Katie (room 32) and shells to Julia T (room 2). I gave coop-related drawings and emotional ephemera to Elise (room 28).

Moving also fucking sucks because it means you have to say goodbye to people. In this case, I also have to say goodbye to a community that I've helped build and maintain. I'm frequently involved with some contained community that has clearly articulated roles and responsibilities--probably less clearly defined boundaries--so I have a lot of experience with being part of something and having to leave it. Each time it's heartbreaking. In response to saying goodbye to each other, people have different reactions. Some get mushy, some get angry, some get distant, some put it all behind us, some bring it to the fore. Some plan to stay in touch and some say they will but don't mean it. The easiest goodbyes are when you know the relationship is mostly done but still remember each other fondly. Relationships that allow this kind of warm but easy separation are few for me, because I am needy. So right now I'm dealing with being realistic: the current incarnation of my most meaningful relationships is about to be over, but this doesn't mean something different and equally sustaining can't emerge. That Sensibility Meter has been telling me to pull away for the past two weeks, but house meetings and writing policy and making video tours and doing dishes and loving this place are unavoidable. Leaving this place is unavoidable. I am a part of this. I am apart of this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This will likely be the most succinct post I will ever write (because I already have biochemistry reading to do).

On August 1st, I moved to Boston, MA for medical school (more on that at a later date). Here are some things I have noticed about the city so far, especially my neighborhood, the South End:

-Friendly traffic enforcement agents...!
-Lots of one-way streets, many of which inexplicably switch direction midway.
-Lots of BAKERIES of all sorts
-Many rats (thankfully, not spotted inside any building)
-Luckily, the city is very walkable, because in comparison to good 'ole NYC, the public transportation sucks.
-Street names in New England are very literal (ie there's a playground on "playground street," a school on "school street" get the idea)
-Cape Cod is CLOSE.
-Everyone went to Harvard.
Just kidding.

To be continued...

College Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

There are two main libraries here at this 40,000 person university: Memorial Library and College Library. I've spent more time at College because I've had to make some movies (about a Yeti and about the International Coop), and that's where the computer lab and technology check-out is. They are always quite friendly! This morning I had to return an external hard drive and take out a video camera. Jake helped me get a camera off reserve and then told me, Good luck with your shoot! He helped me before too, when I was editing some Yeti footage and then scanning images of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The people behind the desk are always approachable and willing to help. They will drop whatever they're doing to teach you how to edit or explain what you need to know about the DV Station or help you scan large pieces of paper and then teach you about your online storage cache. When the library was closing today they let us stay until our data finished uploading. Also, other people in the computer lab will watch your stuff if you need to make copies or get some food from downstairs.

The downstairs is undergoing some massive renovation, like frikkin everything else in this city these days, so this may contribute to the relative lack of air conditioning. (By the way, no buildings at the UW are cooled to below about 70, it seems.) But the circulation people are still cheery and abiding! I had several overdue books and it turns out there's no charge at all! You can just return them whenever you want!

One weird thing is that there was a copy of the Onion in the computer lab desk of the people who were helping me this morning, and when I came back this afternoon someone had written my full name on the front page. There was also a 608 phone number--not mine, obviously. There are no "Julia Gruberg"s at the UW. Strange.

Being a Pedestrian in Durham

The other day, carless, and baffled by the DATA bus schedule, I decided to walk from my house to 9th Street (a little cultural center near Duke's East campus.) I have walked comparable distances and farther in other places in the world like New York -- three miles. But Durham is different!

For one thing, there are hardly any sidewalks. If you live downtown, then all is well. Things are walking distance and you only really have to deal with the heat. My walk, though, required walking on some pretty car-centric roads, not even that accommodating of things like bicycles. Try crossing two lanes of cars turning onto the entrance ramp of the highway!

In some places, once you are safely across the street, there are little footpaths worn into the grassy shoulder. Here you can see evidence of the foot traffic, but the thing is that you don't really see many people walking. It's just you, and the cars. And it definitely feels different to be the lone walker during rush hour! If you do pass someone walking in the other direction, someone is going to have to move to the side so that the other can pass, but it's okay because you understand each other, both being part of the fellowship of Durham pedestrians.

Actually the main thing that walking around in Durham makes clear are the strict class levels of transportation. Not having a car to get around, definitely sets you in a certain economic and societal level for the most part. You can see it in the way people act about the bus system here, and the fact that the majority of people you do see riding buses or walking around are non-white, and unlike me, routinely get around Durham carless. For me, as someone who can borrow a car pretty much whenever I need to (with some advanced notice), it is illuminating to remember that the city is way more than my daily experience and routine.

Margaret's Cantina in Chapel Hill

Okay the tag line for this place is "local, seasonal, genuine": love it! This place may be located in a strip mall which may seem bad, but it is actually conveniently right next to the Chelsea movie theater which may be less comfortable then other independent movie theaters in the area, but I still like it.

Anyway, I am not sure why anyone would go to Blue Corn Cafe which has a similar menu (Mexican/Latin American fushion whatever) -- IN THEORY ONLY. I don't get why everyone raves about BCC, because Margaret's is so much better, has actual good vegetarian options (tempeh tacos and tofu that is not sick!), is very busy and vibrant, and also is cheaper. Also, you can tell stuff was made that day and hasn't been sitting around for awhile, which is nice. I also like how the clientel here all kinds of people -- families, students, young professionals, soccer teams etc.