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Although I thought I’d have lots of free time this week, I’ve been really busy with all of the crazy things I’ve been doing. Today I can relax a little bit, though my French Final is tomorrow and I have to start studying some Conditional Tense (grammar is not my favorite thing in the world, to put it lightly). So now that I’m almost completely recovered, I can start reflecting on the wild week behind me!

 

Last weekend, I did the usual: music. On Friday night after band practice, I went out and supported my entryway-mate, fellow band-member, and other friends at the Opportunes-Krokodiloes jam at Sanders Theater. It was completely AWESOME, of course, because they’re all super talented; I got chills too many times to count during the two hour set. Afterwards, I went out with my friends to a get-together at the Co-op, an alternative housing system at Harvard. In the morning, I powered out some work in preparation for the week ahead. Saturday night, I tried to buy tickets for Spring Awakening at Club Oberon, where some of Harvard’s shows take place, but it was sold out, so I ended up staying in and watching Crazy Stupid Love. (Mmm…Ryan Gosling.) It was the first movie I’ve watched at Harvard, since the premiere of Money Ball at AMC Loews in Boston when I met JONAH HILL! (That was a fun time. Things you do here…jeeze.) Anyways, I rented the movie through iTunes, putting my $100 promotional deal to good use. I went out again that night, but not for too long, because Sunday was my big day!

Why, might you ask?  It is time to talk about my band, The Nostalgics, in greater depth. I have definitely talked about them before, but I have yet to dedicate a FULL PARAGRAPH (or two) about them! You may recall that we won the Battle of the Bands back in October. This guaranteed us a spot at the Five House Formal on December 4th, which happened to be this past Sunday. We’d been working really hard to get as tight as possible, and by the time Sunday afternoon swung around, all twelve of us (Burt, Charles, Noah, Ben, Will, Jack, Patrick, Rachel, Alex, Leah, Nick, and I) were feeling pretty confident. After all, we were about to play at The House of Blues, otherwise known as the best music venue in New England. After having taken the Green Line to Fenway, we met up at said venue at around 4 pm for soundcheck. After struggling to find an entrance (yeah, don’t ask why), we entered the GIANT music hall (three stories! balconies! a raised platform for the drums on a five foot-high stage!). We soundchecked quickly, ran upstairs to check out our Green Room (the place where cool backstage people get to chill), and headed off to Bertucci’s. It was Ben’s 21st birthday, so we splurged (not really) on unlimited soup and salad, as well as these great warm rolls. (I don’t know if I like very many things better than a piping hot roll to sate my hunger after a long day.) Then, it was time to head back and get ready to play.

After our opening act and a quick pre-gig ritual, we were ready to head on stage. I can speak for the whole band when I say that we were blown away by how packed it was. Thirteen-hundred students filled the hall, dancing to our crazy tunes as we ripped through our set. It was indubitably one of the best experiences of my life, and definitely the best experience I’ve had at Harvard. I wanted to stick around to dance, but I had a paper due early that morning, so I trucked back to campus to work, my ears still ringing from the epic sound system.

 

My band, The Nostalgics, playing at the House of Blues!

When I turned on my computer that night, however, I discovered that I had to prepare a few things for The Crimson’s Grand Elections the next day and night. I ended up only sleeping two hours, which has only happened two other times here (don’t worry, I normally sleep for 7 or 8 hours), but I saw my first Harvard sunrise! Check it out.

 

Canaday in all of its Morning Glory

Monday was a whirlwind of Photojournalistic activity, which ended with a secret ceremony in which I was elected a Junior Editor of The Crimson! Never again will I have to wait outside of The Crimson’s building, as I have swipe access! Plus, when my photos are published in The Crimson second semester, “Crimson Photographer” will be next to my name. Holla! I returned to my dorm room at around 11:30, my excitement fueling the final push on my French composition, which I’d be presenting in the morning.

Earlier on Monday, I decided it was time to finish the project I’d been working on. No, it wasn’t for school; I’d been messing around with iWeb in order to develop a website for The Nostalgics, and for some reason, my server wasn’t able to verify the site. I called my dad in NYC, asking for help, and he hooked me up via an alternative server. At 4:30, the site went live, with a few kinks and useless links, but it worked! I ironed out the problems, and you can check out the finished product here. It was my first time working on a website, and it was a very fun and satisfying way to end my afternoon.

I woke up to nasty weather on Tuesday, making it even more difficult to exit my cozy canaday bed. However, I convinced myself to take the short walk to Boylston Hall, which is definitely one of the nicest buildings on campus. There’s a lot of open beams, light, and foreign languages– all the things a potential Romance-language/Visual and Environmental Studies/Mind-Brain-Behavior concentrator could ever desire! There I met with my funny professor for my Oral, which lasted half an hour, and was really interesting. We ended up talking about democracy in Iran, based on conclusions we could draw from the movie Persepolis. Afterwards, I went to Loker Basement, where my band quickly ran over a few songs, a cappella, which was hilarious. That afternoon, I quickly printed out my final Jazz Composition, sprinted to the Music Building (where I’d never been…embarrassing), and turned it in right on time.  Then I could relax. For a bit.

Let’s skip over some of the boring details (mainly because I don’t remember them, even though it was only a few days ago…hey, I’m sleep-deprived). Tuesday night was Eliot Formal! I got my classy clothes on, went over at 6 to soundcheck and set up, and ate a quick meal at Adams, which was the first time I’d eaten dinner there. Then I trucked back to Canaday in the rain to finish my review worksheet for French and rehearse some of my lyrics. YAY! After returning to Eliot, we played for twice as long as the Five House Formal, which was really fun and gave us time to expand and be more creative. We totally killed it, finishing our first-semester gigging season on a high note.

Eliot D-Hall, pre-dancing. Doesn't it look like The Nutcracker?

Wednesday was the first day that I actually did any reading! I had class at 10, in which one of my classmates played a song on his cello about Pierot, the famous fictional French clown. (It was absolutely beautiful.) From 12-3, we had our final Jazz session, where everyone’s compositions were played by a full band in Sanders Theater, which was a special treat. Right after that, I headed over to the Science Center to the review session for LPSA. I’m almost done with all of my classes except for that, which is really scaring me; French will be done at 11 AM tomorrow, and then it’s all Biology and Chemistry from there on! My next post will be from back home in Vermont, where I can truly rest and prepare for my favorite holiday of all time.

Happy atypical reading period!

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#timeflies

Sorry that I’ve been missing in action the past few weeks!  I’ve been all over the place mentally (Physically I’ve pretty much just been here in Cambridge…).  Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

Time flies when you're having fun

Time flies! Get it?!

Here’s a brief overview off what’s been going on in my life since my last post.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19th: Harvard-Yale

As always, Harvard-Yale (H-Y) was an unforgettable experience.  Just to be clear, H-Y is the annual football game against Yale.  It’s cryptically referred to as “The Game” here on campus.  This year, H-Y was at Yale so there was a huge exodus from Cambridge.  Most people made their way down to New Haven to take part in the festivities.

I look forward to H-Y without fail because it is one day a year when school spirit reigns supreme.  H-Y is evidence of the thriving Harvard community.  Students, Alumni, friends, family, and football enthusiasts all come together to share in the experience.  This year was no different.

I’m not much of a sports fan, so I prefer to shift my attention to the student tailgates.  I dressed up in my best Harvard apparel, ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and kicked back with some of my closest friends and fellow classmates.

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Me and my friends at the H-Y tailgate

Oh, and Harvard won the game 45-7. Go Crimson!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd: Home Sweet Home!

After Harvard-Yale, I went back to campus and powered through the last few days of class before Thanksgiving break.  By Tuesday evening I was sitting at the Starbucks in Logan Airport, waiting to board my flight home.

I love traveling to and from school.  As I mentioned in my Blogger Bio, I’m from Virginia, so I usually fly into one of the Washington, D.C. airports.  Travel from Boston to D.C. is a breeze!  Tickets are almost always available, and the flight only lasts about one hour.  Plus I can take the T (Boston public transportation) to the airport, instead of spending a ton of money on a cab.

The best part about coming home for breaks is the warm welcome!  My mom treats me like a soldier returning from war.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24th: Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is one of my top three favorite holidays (the other two are Halloween and the Fourth of July).  I look forward to it each and every year, and this year did not disappoint!  The spread at my house included everything from honey baked ham to corn soufflé.  I especially love Thanksgiving now that I’m in college, because I don’t have to ration the leftovers.  I’m only around to enjoy the food for a few days, so I don’t worry about saving anything for the next week, so I just enjoy the food recklessly.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27th: Back to School

I flew back to school on Sunday morning.  I decided to get to Cambridge early in the day so that I could get ready for the LAST WEEK OF CLASS of the semester.  The light at the end of the tunnel had never been brighter.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2nd: School’s Out! (But not really…) 

Last day of class!  Actually, I don’t even have class on Friday, so Thursday was technically my last day but we won’t worry about that silly little detail.  Regardless, I decided to reward my hard work this semester with an evening of appreciating the arts.

First, I stopped by Memorial Church (Mem Church or MemChu) in the Yard to see the Kuumba Christmas Concert.  The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College are just one of the many amazing choirs here on campus.  I went to support a few friends and hear some great music.  The energy at the concert was fantastic.  People were on their feet, clapping to the beat, and swaying back on forth.  One highlight of the concert, at least for me, was when the group sang the Boyz II Men arrangement of “Silent Night”.

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

My ticket from the Kuumba Christmas Concert

After Kuumba, I made the short walk of to Sanders Theatre to catch the second half of “Twas the Jam Before Christmas”, which was a joint-effort a capella concert featuring the Harvard Krokodiloes (Kroks) and the Harvard Opportunes (Opps).  Unfortunately, I missed the Opps because I was at the Kuumba concert, but the Kroks were out of this world.  They must practice in their sleep, because they seemed so comfortable on stage.  The jokes between songs genuinely made me laugh, and the soloists were incredible.  There was even tap-dancing involved in the show!  I think the best word to describe the performance is “cheeky”.  They do a great job of making sure their bits are fun and carefree, with just the right amount of sass.

My ticket from the Kroks and Opps performance

Okay, I think that just about catches us up.  You’ll have to excuse me now, as a hide away in my “Reading Period Cave”.*  Also known as the Harvard Library System (especially Widener, Lamont, and Houghton).

 

Widener

Widener

 

Lamont

Lamont

Houghton

Houghton

*Reading Period is the week or so before final exams.  Most students spend the time writing final papers and studying for exams.

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November is probably the most crowded month for Harvard kids.  We start referring to our iCals with growing frequency, trying to fit every single activity (including eating and sleeping) into a 24-hour matrix that feels far too small.  I mean, Free Time is never a readily available commodity on campus, but it goes completely out of stock in November.  The shelves of Free Time are empty, and the Free Time vendors just shrug their shoulders and say, “Come back next month, and we might have more in stock.”  So I’ve learned that sometimes, during the most crammed weeks of the semester, you’ve gotta steal your Free Time – seize any hours of freedom that you can find!

In that spirit, I rode the T into Boston on Thursday night, to see the Blue Scholars perform at the Paradise Rock Club.  The Blue Scholars are a dynamic musical duo from Seattle, makin’ smart folk hip-hop since 2002.  Sabzi is an Iranian DJ/producer, and Geologic is a Filipino rapper – and together, the dudes are pure magic.  The Blue Scholars use their music to treat relevant societal/generational issues, and I admire the intentionality manifest in their art.  Here’s one of my favorite songs by them, Cinemetropolis, the title track from their new LP:

 

I was lucky enough to attend another nourishing event this weekend (one that filled my tummy and my heart).  On Saturday, the Harvard African Students Association held its annual Fall Feast, which is always one of the best events of the semester.  Students and groups of various African affiliations lend their time and talents to recreate classic dishes from their home countries.   The array was stunning – jollof rice, stews, curries, shawarma, corn-mush, chicken, samosas, plantains – and by the time we got halfway down the line, our plates were spilling over with African delicacies.  We had to go finish our first plates before we could sample the second half of the buffet.  It was a true celebration, and everyone jokingly heralded their hometown food as “the winning dish.”  All the proceeds from the event went to buy food for Somali refugee camps, so they were selling these sweet T-shirts:

I felt kind of weird buying a shirt that said “Fight the Famine” while surrounded by such bounty.  But I think that’s the strange tension that many of us live with, especially as Americans.  We should still enjoy and appreciate things like parties and good food, knowing that they’re undeserved riches; but at the same time, we gotta stay keenly aware of the areas of great need that are sometimes starkly juxtaposed to our own comfortable situations.  It’s a complicated dynamic, and one that I haven’t totally come to terms with yet.  I could only be grateful for my blessings while I chowed down on hometown chapatis for the second time this month.  In honor of that unlikely statistic, here’s the official Chapati song by the Kenyan artist Man Ingwe:

 

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¡The Arts!

So, I must admit that I was very worried about what the arts scene would be like here at Harvard when I first applied.  I was generally drawn in towards other schools which focused more on a liberal, artsy education (e.g. Wesleyan/Oberlin/Brown), and I just assumed that Harvard’s focus would be more academic (it being Harvard). I was not wrong in assuming that Harvard places a lot more importance on academics than everything else (obviously, for how else would it accept top-tier academics?). However, I was TOTALLY incorrect in assuming that nothing else goes on here. On the contrary, there are so many extracurriculars that I can honestly say that I’d major in them if it were allowed. (It’s not. For a full list of actual concentrations, click here.)

My favorite extracurriculars are: 1) the ARTS! 2) making money!* 3) environmental action stuff.  The Arts completely trump the other extracurrics, so here comes my ecstatic list of reasons for why I love them so much.

Reason 1: Art, in general, is beautiful and an excellent emotional outlet.

The Science Center and Canaday lighting can get a little ugly every once and a while, so all I have to do is turn on my Christmas lights (yes, I have them on because yes, Daylight Savings has begun), look at my beautiful painting my sister gave me, and pick up my guitar. Suddenly, everything is gorgeous! My woes become pretty via melody, the cinderblock walls of my dorm room seem to blush with the x-mas’d-out lighting, and I am happy again. Want to know what goes down when I write? Check out my soundcloud. #shamelessselfpromotion

 

Reason 2: Art makes you new friends!

Although you can (feasibly) find friends elsewhere, you will never find your potential soul-mate if you don’t join an artsy group. (Spoiler alert: I’m biased.) I happen to be in the BEST artsy group ever, in fact. We are The Nostalgics, a Motown-soul band with the most extraordinarily-talented musicians on campus, and we have the most fun. Last weekend we took the bus to Wellesley College and played our funky jamz for the TZE formal; it was fantastic, although the travelling was a hike. The moral of this mini-story is: I would never have made these awesome friends without trying out and involving myself in the arts. They are my family, and we do a whole lot more than make music together– we make THE BEST FRIENDSHIPS <3 <3 …yes, that was disgustingly corny, but it’s true, and I wanted to give you an honest account of my feelings towards them and the arts in general.

 

Reason 3: Your evenings will be forever changed…

So, I thought I was going to Asian Feast last Friday night to support my roomie. Turns out, there were a lot more (non-asian, non-food related) things happening in Quincy D-Hall than the title described.  Take a look:

Irish Dancers!

 

 

Reason 4: It can make you money!

Contrary to popular belief, the arts can be [kind of] lucrative. There are many job offerings in the arts here on campus, such as working for the Office of the Arts (which I’m doing second semester as a blogger), writing articles about the arts or taking pictures/video for the Harvard Crimson (which I’m currently doing, but I’m not an editor so I don’t get any money…at least, not yet), joining a killer band that plays at formals and gets paid bank (see reason 3), and/or immersing yourself in the history of art here at Harvard (museums, music library, etc) for pay. Though majoring in Econ will probably make your pockets cozier, nothing is better than getting paid for what you like to do, and if that passion happens to be artistically-inclined, it’s time to celebrate because it’s possible here at Harvard!

 

and finally…

Reason 5: You will fall in love…

…WITH ART! (No guarantees on art’s romantic influences, but take a look at Frank Sinatra’s love life and you might get the gist…) Never tried sculpting before? How about art history? Or, in my case, Jazz Harmony and Composition? You can do all of those things here, for credit! No need to wait until class ends; with hundreds of courses in the arts, you can try out whatever floats your boat and feel the artsy undertow pulling you in.  Next semester, I am planning on taking a Printmaking seminar–and I thought those were only offered at arts schools. Wowzah.

 

Those are all the reasons why I LOVE ART at Harvard (and why you can, too)!

Hope you liked them 🙂

Peace, Love, and Art

-Reid

 

 

ps, even the buildings are artsy! Check out my picture of the Graduate School of Design

 

 

GSD

*One day the wonders of Dorm Crew will be discussed 😀

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Managing 350 performers for four sold-out performances of four hour each? I would have said this was impossible a month ago, but my job as producer for the past couple weeks has been to provide some organization to, Ghungroo, the largest student-run production on campus.

Ghungroo is an annual cultural show held in early March by the Harvard South Asian Association. For me, the show extends far beyond the dances, skits, and music acts that make up the show. Rather, the show is the largest moment where our student organization builds the community of students excited about South Asian culture, performance, and pushing the limits of what they thought they would be able to do. Over half of the students are of non-South Asian descent and the vast majority have never danced before. After the performance, many students stay close to their peers in their dances. On the final night of the performance, nearly a hundred alumni from the show’s generation-long history return to cheer on the current performances.

Producing a show of this scale is a major feet. Apart from booking spaces, coordinating rehearsals, managing our technical and production staff with the help of our amazing directors Alethia, Jeff, and Sharmila, and selling over 1000 tickets, we’re maintaining a full course load and (ideally) still getting sleep and seeing our friends. But while we put in hundreds of hours over the month, I gained the confidence to mange people and play a critical part in creating something far larger than what I could do by myself. Harvard is great at showing its students that if they put their mind to something, it’s pretty tough to reach their limits; I have to say this definitely applies here. But as with any student activity, the best part is definitely meeting the other students and making friendships that far outlast the show.

Like any show, the most exciting day is the actual performance. Ghungroo is known for its colorful costumes, intricate set, and exorbitant energy:

The "Bollywood Oldies" dance

The "Bollywood Oldies" dance

The "Nepali" dance

The "Nepali" dance

The glow-in-the-dark moon seen on the set during a filler by a dancer wielding glow sticks.

The glow-in-the-dark moon seen on the set during a filler by a dancer wielding glow sticks.

Lastly, sorry for the my lull in writing. With Ghungroo now over, I should hopefully have more time to provide updates on the blog. Next up: an update on my spring break trip to Dubai with the Harvard College in Asia Program exchange conference.

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