Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What, it's November? For real?

Sooo November is here. I can't say that I feel too bad about its arrival. September and October flew by, yes, but I'm not going to complain when it's November 1st and it's 59 degrees out! Welcome November!

So I believe there are 8 weeks left until Christmas. Yikes! I am actually not stressed about this at the moment because I have other things to worry about: exams and projects. The semester is 2/3rds of the way over *takes moment to kneel and thank baby Jesus* and that means it's test and project time - I am working on my first ecological modeling take home tomorrow with my partner, and have successfully recruited an engineering to work on my project, something about which I am extremely excited and happy. :) I also found out that I have 9 days more than I thought before my next genetics exam, a relief. Now if only my insurance hearing goes well.....

Anyways, October was an exciting month and there were so many things I meant to blog about but didn't. Here is a flashback:

Salem - Jam and I went to Salem the second week in October. He was reading I Tituba, Black Witch of Salem for bookclub and that piqued his interest in that area of the world. I was certainly agreeable as I've only been to Salem once and it was in February and bitterly cold. We set off on a Saturday morning, but first we stopped at Babson to take a peak at the campus. Let's put it this way, they don't call it "Swellsley" for nothing, holy crap that place was beautiful! I loved how the campus was in its own little niche in the pine trees too.
We then toughed out the traffic into Salem, and Jam was generous to throw in $20 to park at a bootleg lot so we didn't have to fight the traffic to the parking garage. We wandered looking for a bathroom and got sucked into "Baobab" an African store. That's the thing about Salem, as much as it's full of witches and goblins and such, Salem in its heydey was a major trading port: "By 1790, Salem was the sixth largest city in the country, and a world famous seaport -- particularly in the China trade. Codfish was exported to the West Indies and Europe. Sugar and molasses were imported from the West Indies, tea from China, and pepper from Sumatra. Salem ships also visited Africa, Russia, Japan and Australia" (courtesy of Wikipedia)so a diversity of goods are hanging around Salem if you know where to look, beyond the touristy fringes. Baobab was beyond the touristy fringes by far, across the street from disgusting public bathrooms, but I'm glad we found it, as Jam and I purchased tiny wooden carved elephants for his goddaughter. Of course we had to mix history with our shopping, so we visited the Witch Dungeon and the Witch History Museum. Both have mannequins in their display that Disney would scoff at, but I think the point was expressed just fine. The dungeon was so creepy, and though many people learn about the witch trials, I'm not sure the conditions are always discussed as openly, and the Witch Dungeon illustrated how deplorable the prison really was. The Witch History Museum gave a nice timeline for the witch trials with some exhibits that were interesting to look at. Actually, I find Salem a rather sad place. Sure the festivities are fun and all, but when you go to the museums and learn about the witch trials, it's plain to see how painfully narrow-minded and ignorant the Puritans of that time and location really were. On the other hand, I suppose it is a sign of progress that we've come from hanging "witches" to making it lawful for gay couples to marry, LOL. After the museums and revelry down the main drag, Jam and I walked to the House of Seven Gables, a bit of a hike from the downtown area. This just proved that we have to visit again because it's absolutely gorgeous down there. Salem can be a good winter trip if you're brave enough to bear the cold when you dash from place to place, and I think I'd be up for a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum, which is filled with relics from the China Trade, and the House of Seven Gables. It was a great day.

The very next weekend I headed to NYC to see Madama Butterfly with my friends EE and Melu. They actually gave me a little certificate for my 23rd birthday, but we didn't get the chance to see that specific opera til October. It was the chance of a lifetime though, because it was directed by Anthony Minghella of English Patient, Cold Mountain, and The Talented Mr. Ripley fame, and of course I already new that the music was glorious, plus you just can't beat The Met. The set was great, I thought. There was a huge mirror towards the back of the stage, which made you feel as though the stage was much larger than it actually was, and as if you were really looking at the top of the hill where Madame Butterfly lived. The mirror was well-used to amplify effects such as japanese laterns on stage at the end of the first act and the origami birds at the beginning of the third. I also loved seeing the reflection of the characters mounting the steps to come onto stage. The costume was brilliant, and used a long red piece of fabric that wrapped around Butterfly as an obi, but could be unravelled for effect, and the unwinding made the death scene particularly moving. I thought the characters were well-sung too - their expressiveness defined their roles- in this opera, I loved Butterfly, she was sweet and naive and passionate, and I loved Suzuki, because she was wise and knowing, but protected Butterfly. Pinkerton was an ass, and the consul tried so hard to be diplomatic despite the fact he knew the true nature of Pinkerton. As little as she was on stage, I hated Pinkerton's American wife. Ugh, just the line "Tell her she must trust me" UGH! BOOOOOO! To have those emotions during the singing of an opera proves, to me, that the opera is outstandingly performed. I never had those emotions seeing Carmen or War and Peace or as good as it was even Tosca. There were moments in those other operas that took my breath away, yes - at the end of the first act of Carmen the applause were so so thunderous that the curtain was raised again to allow the audience a second glimpse at the positions of the singers - it looked like a tableau that David would've painted, absolutely glorious. The end of Tosca was incredible, almost armrest-clutching material, and delightfully horrifying. When the world was on fire in War and Peace it was a true feast for the senses, but no opera has ever made me sigh for the beauty of it all like did. A bonus was the fact that during intermission, delicious sushi was served. True we spent the entire intermission in line, but wolfing spicy tuna rolls and pounding champagne was never so delightful, as was the pizza we had afterwards :)

And finally, Halloween marked the culmination of October. My day was pretty low key, rushing around at work, getting coffee, going to a meeting, and then scrambling to genetics. When I got home I donned a wig and witches hat, some scary makeup and striped tights and went out into the yard to hand out candy. The kids were few but very sweet. Our pumpkins glowed on the stoop and my mom had festively lit candles in the living room and on the window sill. The house looked enchanting. The weather was gorgeous too, and the kids could mill around without coats on. I fixed myself an apple martini and enjoyed the sights.

November indeed.


Excalibur said...

You certainly got a lot into this post. That Salem picture of us is gorgeous, maybe our best photo together.

Anonymous said...

Just checking the awesomess of your blog. That picture is great. Salem really is the place to go for old-fashioned carved/waxwork figures in creepy tableax. What's up with that?