Archive for the 'Dins' Category

One month in…

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Today is the one month mark on the Dins’ World Tour.

While we were chatting late one Monday night at the really wonderful Taj Mahal club in Athens, I pointed out to Evan that our conversations with people we meet must sound so horribly obnoxious, since they all go along the lines of: “And then when we were chauffered to the castle in Belgium we were taken to the all-night party in Luxembourg by the Swiss It girls who drove us to a fabulous free, five-star meal at the museum where there was a private party hosted by the ambassador in the nightclub by the pool at the summer villa with the huge Warhol canvasses…”  and we can keep going like this for several hours.

It’s been pretty amazing, truly.  I should load pictures!  🙂

But for those people who would prefer to hear about how the trip isn’t perfect, you may like to know that when I got off the plane in Prague this afternoon I was quickly alerted by other Dins to the fact that my almost-new Samsonite luggage had been violently smashed in transit, probably somewhere between our layover in Munich and our arrival.  And this after I was somehow mistakenly left behind at our residence in Rome and had to make my own way to the airport.  On the upside, it seems possible that Lufthansa will make good on the damage with either free repairs or a replacement bag, although I wish my luggage (which I bought at Selfridges in London last summer!) could have made it through Tour unscathed.  Right now it’s entirely missing a wheel structure (making the other wheel fairly useless), and has serious looking rips up the side.  I’m not terribly hopeful that it can be repaired economically.

Ok, time to go do other things now, like try and make some progress on the first and shamefully still first book I’m reading for the summer, as well as maybe watch the DVD Ming gave me just before tour started.

Ciao!

 PS:  Seriously, anyone who wants postcards should email me their mailing address.  My email is on this blog under “contact details” on the sidebar.  I’ve already posted possibly two to three dozen postacards so don’t feel like it would be any kind of bother for me – I love sending them!  🙂

A week and two days into tour (Dublin, London, Brussels)

Monday, June 19th, 2006

I just realised that sometimes World Tour feels a lot like a pure vacation.  Like when I wandered about Dublin in the middle of the night or when I spent a leisurely day in London.  Yet at other times it feels a lot like travelling for work, or business.  Like when I’m dealing with the Singapore-related emails or when we have to rush from airport to concert venues.

Belgium has been wonderful.  I’m quite impressed with the 25 year old Prince Simon de Merode whose castle at Westerlo was the venue for the Havard Club of Belgium’s casino night.  The Prince also showed up at the concert we had tonight at the official residence of the Deputy Head of Mission of the American Embassy in Brussels.

The food has been fantastic here in Belgium.  I would love to live here (or really in most places in Western Europe) and work for a while, I think.  The scampi, ribs and beer at Wieren in Leuven was memorably good.  Leuven in general is very pleasant and interestingly quaint, yet bustling with the energy of a University town.

I’ve enjoyed my homestay here a lot.  While Patti White’s stunning townhouse flat in the tony part of London (Holland Park) was arguably more luxe–wait till you see the pictures of the colossal guest bathroom covered in trompe l’oeil murals on the walls and ceiling–I think Professor Paul Verlin’s recently renovated (and not quite finished) house here in a leafy neighborhood in Leuven has been exceptionally comfortable.  The house boasts custom hand-carved artisanal staircases, an AGA stove in the kitchen and a raindance shower rose in the guest bathroom (really a guest apartment on the top floor).  Staying here has been like staying in a really fabulous spa in Sweden.  Very restful, calming and rejeuvenating.  I’ve also really enjoyed spending time with the Verlins and chatting with Paul, Ann-Marie, Charlotte and Emily on all sorts of things.

It’s sad that Dublin will get narry a mention here on the blog, nor will London, though I will say that it was fantastic to have Laurel and Kenneth in the audience at the Christchurch concert, and I trully loved the time I spent in Oxford with wonderful company (really makes me wish I’d gone to uni there, and certainly tempts me to consider graduate work there).  There’s just too much to say, particularly because I’m constantly busy either doing things that really should be journalled about eventually to preserve them for posterity, or sleeping to recover from the exertion of said activity.  On the upside I’ve been pretty meticulous about keeping a photo-record of the trip thus far (save for the last 36 hours when all my camera batteries aggravatingly died on me).  The pictures will just have to do in place of actual written records.

Je suis ravie d’avoir l’opportunité de parler français à la Belgique 🙂

Tomorrow, Luxembourg.  Off to pack again!

First stop entry

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Here I am in Dublin, and I’m going to try and make this quick so I can minimise the amount of time I spend sitting in this Internet cafe and go hit the streets to look around.

Aside from the ginormously painful, expensive affair that move-out was (I even had to miss the first 7am call/gig entirely), things have been going fairly smoothly.  I was completely knocked-out on the flight to Frankfurt, where we had a four hour layover; I’m a little annoyed at having slept through dinner on the flight, but I made up for it with many bags of Haribo candy 🙂

Earlier today we sang our first gig of the tour, at a very strange interfaith peace conference of some description, and between the jet lag, sore limbs (too much hand-carry luggage!!) and complete lack of warming-up, I think we sounded a little weak.  On the way back to the Dublin university residences that we’re staying at, I noted that so far the trip still feels like just another Din roadtrip to Connecticut or Maine…  I was looking out the window at the Dublin suburb we were going through and thinking, “I can’t wait to get back to Quincy; Is this Allston, MA?”

The Irish accent is both really pretty, and also often indecipherable 🙂

IMPORTANT:  There is a great little group blog that’s been set up for the Dins and they’re loved ones.  Bookmark the page: Dins v. The World

Are we there yet?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Finally, a moment to recollect my thoughts, to give some actual thought to what I’m wearing*, and to pick up some of the stuff on my bedroom floor.

*I don’t think I’ve looked as bedraggled this semester as this afternoon at 3.05pm when I left the Core Program office after turning in my Justice paper.

Ok, so as promised, here’s what I’ve been up to since 10pm two days ago (people should tell me if they find these itineraries boring so I stop putting them up).

Sunday

10pm: Fiddling with group essay for MIT class. I told my group I would have a draft for them to vet by Friday (yes, the day before)
10.30pm: Leave for HUCEP with Ryan
10.45pm: In CVS buying Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Flaming Hot! Cheetos, Twerps and assorted other junk food.
11pm: I’m back at my desk eating cheetos, drinking a can of ginger ale
11.30pm: I’ve finished the cheetos, the ginger ale and two peanut butter cups (anyone keeping a calorie count? I am – that’s nearly a thousand. I don’t even want to think about fat calories). I feel fairly disgusted. The group essay is about half done.
12.15am: I email off the group essay (realising that I don’t know the names of my group members to put on the paper). I start work on the other essay I have due at 9am that morning.
12.30am: In the Quincy gym, walking on the treadmill while reading the background materials for my essay. There are five readings to respond to.
1.50am: Ryan comes looking for me because it’s time to sign out from HUCEP. I have walked three miles, supposedly burned about 500 calories and read two of the articles… the two shortest ones.
2.15am: Back in the room, I take a shower, then realise that I’ve left my Nalgene bottle in the gym, so I decide to go back there and do a little more reading.
3am: Sitting in the brightly-lit gym, reading
4.30am: I’ve starting to drowse after having read about half an article and wondering, “why do I have 200 pages of reading to do??”
4.35am: I fall asleep on the floor in the gym. Fortunately I have my blanket with me, so it’s not that sad. Actually, it’s still really sad.
about 4.50am: I wake up, in the dark, on the floor and wonder where I am. I realise I’m in the gym, wake my arms about so that the motion-sensor lights come on, and read just a little more.
5.30am: I’m in my room, going to bed.

Monday

10am: I’m awake, and my essay is now both unwritten and an hour overdue. I also have class in an hour and nearly half the source-materials unread.
10.40: I’ve skimmed the remaining source material (skimmed = guessed what the author wrote based on aub-headings) and hunker down to write the synthesis essay.
11.20: I’ve submitted my paper, which is just over two pages. I hurry over to Sander’s Theater for my class which started at 11am.
11.27am: I slide into the row where Ryan has a banana (breakfast!) waiting for me. Fortunately Professor S. has just finished his summary of what we did last time and is only beginning to move to new material.
12noon: One class down, many more to go. I hurry back to Quincy, get my lunch and bring the tray back to my room.
12.10pm: I’m speed-reading the discussion materials for International Law. There are about 50 pages, so it’s not impossible to finish before section starts at 1pm.
1pm: I bring my tray back to the dining hall, get dessert and walk into my section which is conveniently held in a room at the back of the dining hall. I have about five pages left to read.
1.20pm: I have finished reading the materials for the section. The sugar from the desert starts to induce a food-coma made worse by my general fatigue. Occassionally I read the odd page from my French sourcebook for my next class.
2.20pm: Section unexpectedly ends early, after a rather insipid discussion on the role of and possible reforms for the UN security council.
2.25: Back in my room to dump the absurdly heavy Gov sourcebook. I read another couple of pages of French.
2.50pm: I leave my room with twenty pages of French to go.
2.57pm: I realise just before walking into class that we were supposed to have viewed a French film to be discussed in class that day. Naturally I cannot even remember what film, and certainly have made no attempt to view it in advance. Drat.
3pm: Class starts. Seventeen impossibly convoluted pages of French left to read.
5pm: Class ends. I still have five pages of the reading undone. Oh well.
5.04pm: I’m in Sanders again, this time for Dins rehearsal, which started at 4pm while I was in class.
5.09pm: Rehearsal ends, after one final song.
5.15pm: In Quincy having dinner with Jeff.
6pm: Rehearsals start up again, this time in Adams JCR.
6.50pm: I leave for class at MIT. It’s raining, again.
6.53pm: I miss the bus. And feeling exasperated I hail a taxicab. The ride down Mass Ave costs $7.
7.03pm: I arrive at the classroom only to discover that the location has shifted to another room within the labyrinthine MIT complex.
7.09pm: I find the new location, it appears locked and empty. I am now quite overheated from rushing about, and mystified as to where the class might be.
7.10pm: The TF for the class emerges from the locked room. It turns out the new location is in an adjoining room hidden off to the side behind the locked door.
7.15pm: I’ve received back both the essays I wrote in the last eighteen hours. The group essay did ok, though not exceptionally well. My other essay earned the worst grade I’ve gotten out of four essays. It’s not a bad grade, I guess, but I don’t want to slip in this class.

9pm: Class finally ends. I still love the class, but I’m beginning to see that the Professor is pretty immovably certain about some things that I feel justified in not believing.
10pm: A short walk, quick detour to pick up a free DVD from blockbuster, a bus ride and trip to CVS to buy replacement batteries for my dead wireless mouse later, I am home.
11.30pm: I’ve watched two episodes of ANTM because I feel like I deserve it (I really don’t) and then start getting ready for bed.
12.30am: Asleep.

Tuesday

9.30am: I’m awake, and I have a paper strictly due at 3pm. It is clear that there’s going to be a bit of a crunch. I’ve already written the opening paragraph and conclusion, which take up about two pages of a seven page limit.
10am: I’ve officially skipped my first class. The essay is coming along nicely. I feel guilty about missing an important lecture on the International Court of Justice.
11.30pm: My second class of the day begins. Professor M. is talking about the libertarian analysis of federal abortion laws. My essay is probably about five pages.
1pm: Where did the time go? I’ve eaten two peanut butter cups. I’m worried about running out of space.
2pm: Lunch is ending in the dining halls. I’m clearly not going to get to eat there today. My essay is nearly done but needs to read over with a fine tooth comb. I also need to jettison some of my original ideas in order to make the time and page limit.
2.45pm: I’m clearly running out of time. I start writing a bibliography, which is horrendous because I can’t find a couple of important references so I’m forced to fudge it a little, meaning I leave out the publisher and year for one of my references.
2.50pm: I’ve printed my essay to the Quincy computer lab in the basement of the next building. Just because I’m slightly paranoid I throw my essay onto the network.
2.53pm: I’m panicking because my essay has printed wrongly (my pc settings were for two-pages-per-sheet) so I log on to the network and print another copy. Have I mentioned it’s raining, still?
2.57pm: I’m sprinting towards the Core Program office on Dunster Street with my essay in hand. It’s raining, and I only know roughly where the building is, partly with Devon’s help. A line from my TF’s email instructions is ringing in my head: “Don’t turn in your paper late. 3.01pm and you already lose a third of your grade.”
2.59ish: I join a stream of students hurrying to turn their papers in. This is after all a class with over a thousand enrolled students. My glasses fog up the moment I enter the building so I can’t really see either way. I stumble up to the second floor and turn my paper in. On the way out I meet Matt, Will and Evan.
3.10pm: I realize that I forgot to list the principal source of my paper in my bibliography – it’s the source material that the question asked us to respond to. Whoops. Too late. Too bad. In the end it turns out that neither Ryan nor Emily even included a bibliography so I guess it’s not that big a deal. I hope.
3.15pm – 6pm: I buy myself some lunch, tidy my room, change the fluffies’ diapers, call back Dr H to talk about research work, change clothes and eat lunch. I’m starting to feel less bedraggled. I also realise I don’t believe one of the major arguments I proposed in my justice essay.
6.05pm – 8.05pm: Dins rehearsal.
8.05pm-9.30pm: Blog writing, emails, laundry etc.
10pm: I’m hoping to be in the Quincy gym, probably reading for Justice tomorrow. And we’ve come full circle, no?

From the ashes

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

Me and my wonderful ski instructor Erich Windisch on the top of Vail Mountain – 11,000 feet above sea level!  Now 86 (!) years old, he was a ski jumper on the German Olympic team in ’52, is in the Ski Hall of Fame and has a ski trail on the mountain named after him.  Pretty cool, huh?  Thanks to Jon Wise who took this shot.

On Vail Mountain (30 Jan 2005)“> 

I’m alive, back from intercession and ready to face a new semester.  Sort of.  I got back from Vail at about 7am this morning having not gotten any sleep in about 24 hours, took a two hour nap, went fifteen minutes late to a class, registered, had lunch and then went to bed for the rest of the day.  Maybe not such a great start to the semester.

Tomorrow I will shop many many classes.

Intercession was an eventful week, and a lot of fun.  I read a couple of books, saw a couple of movies, had a number of good conversations, made a couple of important decisions and took four days for skiing lessons.  The skiing was magnificent, as was the weather and the scenery.  It’s great to feel so blessed.