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No one really warns you how hectic senior year will be–this week so far I’ve had a research presentation, am writing three different papers on top of my regular reading, and am juggling work! It’s been quite the ordeal to say the least, so keeping myself balanced is becoming more and more important. Sometimes, it’s just really nice to take a long mental health break–or even a nice mental health day to recharge and reassess your life. Since I knew last week that this week would be incredibly long, I made sure to take my breaks then, so that I would be much better prepared to handle the stress of this week.
Last Wednesday, I had tickets to a concert–for a band called Why?–in Portland at the Wonder Ballroom. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up, so my friend Robin and I drove up together to see the show. Robin works on a campus for a company called Uhaul CarShare which allows Linfield students to rent cars and drive them around the greater McMinnville and Portland area. Since neither of us have cars on campus, it was a really convenient way to get up to Portland without taking the bus or having to crash in the city overnight–we both have early morning work and classes, but we really like the band so we figured the late night would be more than worth it. The concert, drive up, and the crowd were amazing! I’m really glad we took the time to go up and see them. After the show, we took some time to explore Portland at night and found a fantastic late night pizza joint in the Mississippi area. I cannot stress enough how much I love pizza, so it was a wonderful end to the night–great music, one of my best friends, and a great slice of pizza.
It’s the first semester of my senior year at Linfield. It almost seems surreal–I can hardly believe that four years ago, I was an incoming freshman, so excited and nervous for the year to start. In some ways, the feeling remains the same. I’m both excited and nervous for the year to unfold. Classes, work, and friends will soon pick up and I’ll be caught in a whirlwind of keeping myself busy while trying to keep myself sane. They say that senior year is supposed to be the most fun, yet the most stressful (I’ve yet to figure out who “they” are, but we’ll just call it the general rumor and consensus). All of my friends are graduating with me this year–we’re all trying to do as much as we can with each other while we’re all in one place and before we scatter across the country. We’re working on weekly friend dinners and study groups. If we get the balance just right, I think it will prove to be a great semester.
I’m transitioning into the fall from a summer of research. I spent my days, and quite a few of my evenings, this summer working on a project focused on Shakespeare and Gender. A fellow student (Kate McMullan ’13) and our Professor, Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner researched the role of women in Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” and his contemporary/successor John Fletcher’s “The Woman’s Prize, or the Tamer Tamed”. We did our own personal research into the plays and assisted the Portland Shakespeare Project’s production of these plays as dramaturgs. My work focused primarily on “The Tamer Tamed”, so I attended the majority of rehearsals for the production and assisted the director/cast with the text, answering or researching any questions they might have about plot, context, pronunciation or the meaning of any unfamiliar phrases. It being a Renaissance play, there was quite a bit of unfamiliar language, so I had my work cut out for me. However, I had an absolutely amazing time working as a researcher and as a dramaturg. I was able to split my time between the McMinnville campus and Portland so I could straddle my own research and my position as a dramaturg. At the end of the summer, DPP, Kate and I had the pleasure of accompanying the Alumni Shakespeare trip to Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival! We were able to see five different productions, including a modern rockabilly adaption of “Taming of the Shrew”, which Kate and I were then given the opportunity to teach the alumni about.
I’ll be able to continue this research throughout this semester through various presentations, and I’m hoping to use the Gender Studies research I’ve accumulated to my senior thesis. I’ll also be working on an honors thesis in the Spring, in which I’m hoping to continue the Shakespeare and Gender theme. In addition, I’ll be DPP’s teaching assistant for his Shakespeare: Tragedies and Tragicomedies. I’m really looking forward to the ways this will help me throughout the rest of my time here at Linfield–especially in all the experience this position has given me. I plan on going to graduate school for Literature, so working on a research project like this gives me excellent experience in the field, studying areas in my interest. Plus, getting paid to do just the thing you love is amazing. I wouldn’t have had any other job this summer.
Working on research throughout the summer has kept my mind fresh and active, so I think that bodes well for all of my classes this term. My senior thesis is centered around Literary Theory and Charles Dickens’ last completed work, “Our Mutual Friend”. We’re working on sending all of our papers to an undergraduate literary conference at the end of the course, so class has gotten to a very quick and intense start. It’ll be a lot of work to juggle, but definitely worth it. I’m also working on finishing up my second minor–Creative Writing. I finished my first minor–Visual Culture–last semester, and I just need two more Creative Writing classes to complete this one. Luckily, I love everything I’m studying so the work isn’t tedious or tiresome. I’m taking Non-Fiction this fall, which is a genre I haven’t really experimented with in the past, so I’m looking forward to testing my writing abilities.
Overall, this semester has already taken me up and swept me along. It will be an interesting experience to see where everything leads, but it’s my senior year and I’m excited to see where this takes me.
It’s hard to believe that this is the last week of classes! The semester has gone by so quickly. In about two weeks, several of my close friends will be graduating, I’ll become a senior (A SENIOR), and summer will begin.
Instead of going home for the summer this year, I’ll be living on campus again, doing research with the English Department! I’m really excited, it complements my field of study perfectly. Through the Linfield Center for the Northwest (or the LCN) my professor, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, was able to secure a research grant for another English major and I to research Shakespeare and Gender Studies. We’ll focus on Shakespeare’s comedy, ”The Taming of the Shrew” and compare it with a later sequel (written by another playwright in the 1700′s) called “The Tamer Tamed”. We’ll look at the performative and technical aspects of the plays, as well as apply Gender Criticism–comparing contemporary gender theory to that of Shakespeare’s time to see if our discomfort with the events in “Taming of the Shrew” comes from a modern viewpoint or if it’s actually embedded in the text.
I really can’t imagine a better way to spend my summer than living with my friends, reading Shakespeare, seeing plays and so much more. I’ll have time to go on trips with my friends throughout Oregon, I’ll go to see my extended family in Hawaii, and the LCN is paying for a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in August with Linfield Alumni! I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to explore my academic interests, while getting paid, and while having enough freedom to explore my last summer before I graduate from college.
Life is happening so quickly and it’s absolutely amazing.
I feel like I say this almost every time I blog but–this week has been a whirlwind. Schoolwork, events and meetings really pick up around the end of the year. I really enjoy the sense of business, however. Today’s been the first chilly day in about two weeks, so I think that’ll help everyone hit the books and get to studying for finals. I’m working on several papers right now, so I’m drowning in visual culture, gender and cultural studies, and performance ideas. It’s a bit to deal with, but I think it’ll all turn out well! It usually does.
However, I did manage to get myself some breathing time to get out and enjoy the things I love. Thursday, I was able to see the Linfield Theatre Department’s production of “Spring Awakening”. Several of my friends were in it–and starring–so it was absolutely amazing to see them perform. I love musicals and it’s been quite a while since I’ve had to opportunity to see one. On top of that, “Spring Awakening” is one of my favorites in terms of the music, and this was the first time I’ve been able to see it live, so it made the experience even more special. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried pretty much throughout the whole show. It was incredibly emotional and raw–everyone did a beautiful job with the acting and music. Their harmonies were absolutely amazing–I really think that Linfield should try to put on more musicals. There are so many talented people here, it was wonderful to see some of their great diversity.
On Friday, Linfield hosted Wildstock! It’s one of our big end of the year events, so it’s always a blast to attend. Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day, so everyone was out and about–listening to music, playing some of the games, and listening to music. Wildstock, in essence, is everything that an average college student loves–free food and free music. I got dinner from Thai Country and El Primo, so I was pretty thrilled. I had quite a bit of homework, so I popped in and out of the event, but everyone listening to the music looked like they were having a great time. I didn’t want to stay out too late, however, because I had an incredible day planned for Saturday.
Through Linfield, I was able to get tickets to the His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak at an Environmental Summit at the Memorial Coliseum! We all got on a charter bus bright and early Saturday morning and traveled up to Portland. The experience was almost surreal! The Dalai Lama was so wise and surprisingly really hilarious. He had an amazing laugh! We had a morning and afternoon session, with a long break in between for lunch. We used this time to get out into the city. Since it was a beautiful Saturday, we took the opportunity to go to the Saturday market. I haven’t been there in a very long time, so it was nice to get back into the city. We ate South African food from one of the booths and sat on the waterfront. It was a nice way to stretch from sitting inside all morning and to think about what we were learning at the Summit. I’m so grateful that I was able to have this experience–something that will probably come around only once in my lifetime. After the Dalai Lama finished speaking, the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on and played a concert. It was a pretty strange juxtaposition between the extremely calm Dalai Lama and the rock band, but it was really fun all the same. They opened up the bottom of the Coliseum to go up and dance during the set too. A bunch of the Linfield group went down and danced, but I was feeling a little tired from the day so I stayed at the top to watch our things and take pictures. It was still fun to see everyone though! There were so many people! I’ve always liked RHCP, so it was great to see them live.
That evening, once we got back from the Dalai Lama, several of us decided to go see the new film version of “The Great Gatsby”! We met up a friend’s house first–where I met the most adorable puppy. I just have to include this because it was so cute. After getting distracted by the puppy–Balin, like the dwarf from “The Hobbit”–for a while, we all headed over to the movie where we met some other students from Linfield. They’d dressed up and gone to a fancy dinner/drinks downtown to get in the Gatsby mood. They all looked quite dapper! The movie itself was actually really good! I’d recommend seeing it–but of course, you should read the book first, if you haven’t and plan on going to the movie. A lot of the dialogue was actually taken directly from the book, so that was a lovely treat for lit nerds like myself. The costuming, colors, and set were amazing–Baz Luhrman always does an amazing job of capturing the feel of a book or era, and Prada did the costuming, so what’s not to love?
Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day! My family came down so we could have a Mother’s Day dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my family, so it was really nice to have them around for a couple of hours. I’m really close to my Mom and little sister, so I missed them a lot! We went out to GVB–Golden Valley Brewery. If you’ve never been there, I definitely recommend it. They source most of the meat products locally and brew their own beer! It’s also just a local staple; one of those restaurants you have to go to at least once while you’re here.
I can only imagine how much crazier this week will be! I have several papers to work on, lectures and thesis presentations to attend, and so much more! I’m definitely looking forward to these last few weeks in the semester. This summer also looks really promising, but that’s a story for next time.
This has been an incredibly full weekend! I can hardly describe the full capacity of my trip up to Seattle. For my Post-Modern Art class, we took a trip up to Seattle for Friday and Saturday to tour the city and see some amazing contemporary art galleries and installations. I went on the trip last year, with my Modern Art class, but this year was infinitely better. The sun, the people I was with, the art–everything culminated into a amazingly memorable experience.
We met up at 6:00 behind the art building on campus to start the drive up. It takes quite a bit of time to get from McMinnville to Seattle, so we wanted to get an early start. Of course, no one ever likes travelling in a van for three hours, but I drove up in the car with my professor, two other art professors and several of my friends in the class, so it made the time pass much more easily. It quickly turned into an absolutely amazing day, and we made it into the city by about 10:30, which is pretty good time! Our first start was at the 4Gallery. They’re actually a government funded organization which puts together public art installations or galleries, works bringing art to the community and promotes local artists. It was very cool to see how a group like that functions, especially for the art majors in the group who are looking to pursue gallery management or a career in the arts.
After we were done at the gallery, we drove up to the U District and were released for lunch! There’s so much good food on the Ave. it was difficult to choose! A group of us ended up finding a small Thai restaurant. Thai tea and spicy noodles are just so perfect for lunch on a sunny day. When we were all done–some people got pho, others Mexican etc–we met back up on the UW campus and were able to tour with our professor, Brian Winkenweder, who got his undergraduate degrees from UW and is from the area. Their campus is absolutely breathtaking–the neo-goth facades were absolutely lovely, especially on such a gorgeous day. Installed at Red Square on the campus is a large sculpture piece from one of the artists we’ve been studying, “Obelisk” by Barnett Newman. It was wonderful to see it in person. It’s one thing to discuss and analyze a digital reproduction; but a whole new thing to actually stand next to it. We also toured their Graduate Reading Room in their library. It felt like walking through a mix of Hogwarts and the castle from “Beauty and the Beauty”. The interior and exterior of the building was breathtaking.
After we were done with our tour of the campus, we all headed back to our hotel, which was only a few blocks away from the Ave. After a little break, we headed back to campus to check out the Henry Art Gallery. This was one of the standout experiences of the trip. There is a stunning James Turrell exhibit permanently installed at the gallery called, “Light Reign”. It’s an elliptical shaped skyspace attached to the gallery. The whole room is curved like an ellipse, with a smooth granite floor, pale grey walls, and long wood bench seating following the curve of the room. On the ceiling, there’s an ellipse cut through to the sky outside. The intense blue of the sky coming through the hole is surreal. To enjoy the piece, you have to lay down on the floor beneath the ellipse and watch the play of light, color, and the soft hum of city noise outside the pod. There’s no special trick lighting or paint–it’s just the sky and natural light. I must have stayed in the room for at least almost an hour. It’s transfixing. It play with your sense of space, light, and your body in the space of the installation. I adore it. The rest of the Henry had a gallery exhibit featuring photography examining the subject of beauty and the body. The second floor house several more large installations–one by an artist called Latouffey who heavily referenced alchemy, philosophy, numerology in his blend of text and diagram in painting. It was so much to process mentally! The colors were so vivid, the work so incredibly detailed and the references so densely layered. Right after that was a large gallery space featuring the work of contemporary/post-modern artists. This was heavily content laden as well, with large video installations, many rooms with various interactive pieces, works by artists we’ve studied like Cy Twombly, Alberto Burri, Richard Serra, Marcel Duchamp and more. I can’t even begin to describe how much imagery and content I absorbed. When Robin and I felt we just couldn’t process anymore, we returned to James Turrell’s “Light Reign” once more and spent at least another half-hour, enjoying the play of light as it grew closer to the evening.
After we finished at the Henry. we were released into Seattle to entertain ourselves for the evening. Robin and I met up with our good friend Miles, who graduated from Linfield with a degree in Creative Writing last year. He lives and works in the city now, saving for grad school, so we don’t get to see him very often. It was a wonderful opportunity to see him again! We went out and got the most delicious pho I’ve had in years. Linfield really needs a Vietnamese restaurant, I’ve decided. I was going to take a picture of it, because it looked delicious, but for those same reasons, we devoured it pretty much immediately. It’s always nice to see former students who’ve already graduated. It makes the whole process of graduating and leaving Linfield next year a little more tangible. After meeting up with Miles for dinner, Robin and I just decided to take an easy night and hang out around the area. We split some amazing Haagen Das (Java Chip, Mint Chip, and Belgian Chocolate–they let us pick three flavors!) and explored the UW campus after dark. It was so peaceful and different! We were too exhausted from all the art and traveling, so we ended up just chatting with some other friends on the trip and listening to music at the hotel, once we were done.
The next morning, we got up bright and early to go to the Sculpture Gardens. I’ve been before, but the gorgeous day outside made it a completely new and amazing experience. It’s right on the waterfront, so the sea air blows through the gardens. The water is so pure and blue! I love the smell of salty sea air, so it just provided the perfect morning to walk slowly around and look at the sculptures. Richard Serra, one of the artists we’ve studied, has a large outdoor site-specific piece called “Tides”. This is always one of my favorite pieces, just because of its monumental size and the delicacy of its curves next to the hard angles of the city. It’s amazing. There were other pieces I enjoyed as well, that I hadn’t taken much note of in the previous times I’ve visited the gardens. The breathtaking made everything look so much more vivid and beautiful.
We were supposed to go to Tacoma to look at another museum after the sculpture gardens, but it was such a beautiful day our professor just released up into Seattle to explore until about 2:00 when we would head home. Robin and I, with several others, took a long walk along the waterfront then up to Pike’s Place Market. It was bustling, as always. We wandered around for a long time–Robin bought me a gorgeous peony. They’re my favorite flower, so I was thrilled. There are just entire walls of fresh flowers along the walls at Pike’s Market. It’s incredible. There are so many people, so many different languages being spoken, and so much food. When we got hungry, we just bought food from different vendors along the way. I bought some char siu bao, which is my favorite Chinese bun, and Robin got tamales, which we shared. We also bought a fresh avocado and made our own guac right in the park where we ate lunch.
I didn’t want to leave! It was such a fantastic experience, and one of the highlights of my time here at Linfield. I couldn’t even begin to tell you every wonderful detail about the trip. This upcoming week there’s even more to do! I have a large research paper due, but it’s also the week of Wildstock and I’ll be seeing the Dalai Lama and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, courtesy of Linfield! May is turning out to be an unbelievable month.