Thursday, November 27, 2008


I'm thankful for a) not being a peasant in late Imperial Russia, b) my acceptance letter from Tuebingen which finally came today, and c) the Tales of Beedle the Bard release party that I bought tickets for today. And of course, all of you :)

Here's what my Thanksgiving feast looked like:

Mmm. And to the right, you'll see my dinner guests -- books on Russian peasants for the paper I was working while I ate.

The dessert spread. These cookies were no pumpkin pie, but they were mighty delicious.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reclaim the Night

Well, I'm back in the land of research papers for the next couple of weeks, but before I get too deeply into them, I thought I'd share a couple of thoughts about Reclaim the Night.

Reclaim the Night is an annual march held in London to protest sexual violence against women. These marches are held all over the world -- even in Charleston, I did it last year -- and it's always a great moment of empowerment and collective action. Walking through the main streets of London, past Trafalgar Square, the West End, and thousands of onlookers was such an experience. My voice was completely gone from my lengthy illness, so I couldn't do much more than hold my sign and look determined (and more than a little cold!), but I loved it.

I have a couple of complaints, however. The first is that I honestly thought the march would be much bigger. Granted, our march in Charleston consisted mainly of students from my Gender and Violence class, but even given that relatively humble frame of reference, I was surprised that a march being held in one of the world's major capitals for a cause I consider to be so ubiquitous didn't garner a larger crowd. When we assembled in an auditorium after the march, there were only about as many people as might show up to CofC's production of The Vagina Monologues.

My second beef is not even specifically about the march on Saturday, but is a rather more general observation. Throughout the march our group was at the front of the pack, which meant that I got a great view of the onlookers. This was pretty awesome for the most part; the majority of the people were either cheering us on or taking pictures as though we were a tourist attraction. What pissed me off were the number of men -- and yes, they were all men -- who stood by and heckled us with insults or sexual advances. What these particular men said or did doesn't really matter. I didn't have my feelings hurt, and I'm quite sure not a single woman in the march felt threatened by their displays of pathetic machismo. What is troubling is the general sentiment that their actions represent. Throwing insults at women who are protesting violence against women is a sanction of that violence. It is indicative of the violence that pulses just below the surface, and often in plain view, in our society. I would often like to believe that the reason this violence persists is because of insufficient public education -- that people just don't realize how enormous the problem is. Surely all people, whether men or women, could get behind a cause that seeks to liberate their sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, and selves from the fear and the threat of rape and violence at every turn. I know in that reasonable, realistic part of my brain that this isn't the case. Clearly, my thinking is that of a bleeding-heart liberal who is totally out of touch with just how sick the world really is.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm dreaming of...

FOOD. The past few days I can't think of anything else.

1. It started with bratwurst. I don't know why, but when I was too sick to even eat toast, I just laid in bed day-dreaming of this bratwurst I had at the Robin Hood pagaent a few weeks ago. Sooo good.

2. Pickles. I can't get a decent pickle here, and it's driving me mad.

3. Cake. Well, I'm usually thinking about cake.

4. Yes, it's almost Thanksgiving, and no, I won't be having it here. So my mind keeps venturing back to Thanksgivings past and all the wonderful things I won't be eating this week. Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce in the shape of a can... sigh.

5. Homemade mac and cheese. I've never even really loved this, but all things involving cheese and carbs sound good to me right now.

6. Homemade anything, really.

7. Cheesesteaks.

8. SUSHI. This is probably the longest I've gone without sushi since I first tried it. As soon as I get back to Charleston, I'm going to camp out at Oriental Garden and eat my weight in it.

9. Pasta salad, a la Papa Zuzu's. Mmm.

10. Bagels.

This list could go on and on, but I'm getting ridiculously hungry typing it up. Why oh why can't I have cravings for fish and chips or shepherd's pie or unidentifiable steamed things?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Don't worry, it'll be brief. I'm just pissed off that yesterday I walked all the way to other end of campus to the student health centre (in the rain!), paid 30 P, and waited forever only to be told there is nothing wrong with me. Yes, I explained that my symptoms -- nausea, fever, etc. -- are very unusual for me, and that they usually indicate a bacterial infection for which I need antibiotics, but the nurse who saw me for a record three minutes flat didn't do anything except take my temperature and declare me healthy. "But if you do vomit, you need to come back," she told me. Even after I told her I hadn't been able to eat anything for several days, which might explain the lack of vomitting. And guess what I did in the middle of the night? I puked. But I'm not going back. I get that they see a lot of people with similar symptoms, and I never, ever present in the "normal" way, but the fact of the matter is, any time I see a medical professional, they don't listen to me. It's always been that way, and most recently (before now, I mean) it could have cost me my life. It worries me. Sorry if that's tmi, but I'm angry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Week Ever

So this week has been a good one. Obviously, knowing that our country is safely in the hands of Barack Obama for the next four years is such a huge relief, as I've mentioned before. Bonfire Night was last week, and we had a great night celebrating both a traditional English holiday and this brand new era of American history. And, of course, I spent the weekend in Paris! It was such a wonderful experience, even with the two 13-hour bus rides :) Oh, and I found out that Flight of the Conchords, my FAVORITE show, is doing a second season. If you've never heard of them, you should totally check them out of YouTube. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Outside the Louvre on the first day.

Sacre Coeur! Yes, we climbed all those stairs, and my ass still hurts.


Centre Pompidou (the modern art museum)

My favorite room in the Centre Pompidou.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama wins!!!!!!!!

It's four o'clock in the morning here, and I have tears running down my face. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll reiterate how historic an election this has been. We have just elected our first President of Color, and it's difficult to imagine that the candidates in future elections will ever again be four besuited white men. Wow. Maybe now our leadership will actually reflect the American people, not just a select few of them.
This election is historic for the very important fact that it signifies the end of the Bush regime, something I (and so many others) have waited eagerly for since 2000. I know that my generation, those who have come of age post-911 and in the middle of this war, has felt the Bush years keenly. Young voters have been vocal and influential in this election, and for me, it's unbelievably refreshing. And that's to say nothing of other previously-ignored sectors of the electorate. Hopefully in years to come, we'll be saying a lot more than nothing. We have a voice now, and we have spoken.
Congratulations Barack. And congratulations America. We have our hope back; let's use it and work together for the change that we all so long for.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Need I say more?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy November!

November is shaping up to be a month of adventure. I've gotten one of my major assignments out of the way, so hopefully that will make more time for travel. I went to Bath and Stonehenge for the day yesterday, I'm going to Paris next weekend, and I'm planning on going down to London for their annual Reclaim the Night march at the end of the month. Keep checking back for updates! Here are some highlights from the trip yesterday:

This one's pretty obvious. Also, it was freezing cold and raining.

Stonehenge's neighbors.

At the Roman Baths (in Bath). Left to Right: Katie, one of my flatmates; me; Anni, another friend; Susanne, another of my flatmates.

A lovely view of Bath in the rain.