November 1 I had high hopes for today, some of which were realized. I did manage to study for my French quiz, and to clarify the book I read yesterday for history. I did not succeed in finishing all the other work I'd hoped to, particularly my history paper. For my other history class I went through an exceedingly depressing article on the Kurds. Tomorrow's election is also making me a bit jumpy.
November 2 Tuesdays are generally good days, but this one was an exception. I had class all morning, which I was a bit groggy for. After noon, I went to practice flute, and discovered I had a kind of sore throat. Had a rehearsal with the pianist for tomorrow's concert (Prokofiev, first 2 movements from the D Major Sonata). Didn't feel very confident. Back at the dorm, had dinner, and discussed the election ad infinitum. By about 9PM, things looked very bad. Bush carrying Florida, and leading in Ohio. Short of a miracle, John Kerry has lost. Also wrote my paper, starting late and ending later. I hope it turns out.
November 3 My sore throat continues. Busy all morning with class and flute rehearsal. Kerry lost. No time to be depressed yet though. Played in the noon concert, following Bach and Reinecke. Didn't make any terrible mistakes. Whew. I can still show my face around the area. Afternoon class was long and involved. Finally, returned to the dorm in the evening, and proceeded to brood on the election results for the rest of the evening. John Kerry lost by a margin of 3.5 million votes. He failed to carry several states that Gore had in 2000. Despite high turnout, he lost 51%-48%. Disaster for the Democrats. Four more years of hell. The Europeans ask 'what the heck happened?' and I agree.
November 4 French class in the morning, flute lesson in the afternoon, and a lot of math homework after that. A normal day in other words. Have reconsidered about moving to Canada immediately. Grad school will be here soon enough. If Bush bombs Iran like many people think he will, we will all be in very deep trouble. Tried to go to bed early, but couldn't fall asleep. Strange.
November 5 Today was close to a model Friday. I did my class obligations in the morning, had lunch with the draw group (people who I picked housing with the last 2 years) and eventually began in on homework. Dinner wasn't too exciting, but we drove over to it, which was unusual. After dinner, I helped a friend make banana bread, and ran into some people who were from last year's dorm. All in all pretty fun.
November 6 Dining hall at our dorm was closed, so breakfast was a longer journey than usual. After an afternoon spent in the library, met with a friend and went out to dinner. Discussed old times, and felt pretty good. We saw I (heart) Huckabees later, which was a kinda strange, but funny movie. I too don't know where my life is going. But I haven't found any existential detectives just yet, so I think I'll more or less keep muddling along.
November 7 I was going to be productive today, but all in all, I wasn't very. I read a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with schoolwork. While I did manage to get a start on math homework, and it actually seemed pretty easy, I didn't finish. Don't like feeling have finished at something. And my grand plan, the one that I wrote down for the weekend, clearly didn't happen.
November 8 Monday. Didn't quite feel ready for the week, but we don't get a choice about here. Morning was of course all in class. For the afternoon, I had a good chunk of reading to do, some of it which I actually did. Collective memory is a simple enough phrase, but it does have troubling implications for history. If people strongly remember something that didn't happen, what can we do? Clearly popular perception is important, regardless of whether it is accurate. But if it isn't accurate, can we count it as part of history? Not sure...
November 9 Felt irritated with myself all day. Nothing good happened. Well, not true, the lecture on the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran was quite interesting. But it was also depressing. I hope I'm not picking the wrong field of study.
November 10 A usual sort of Wednesday. The usual assemblage of morning classes. Then lunch, and finally afternoon class. Seminar worked nicely. I'd like to think I was to blame, but I'm not sure. Felt really sleepy afterwards, but studied French all evening. Oh yeah, and I got into Stanford in Paris for spring quarter. Score.
November 11 Work work work. Class. Flute. Homework. More homework. Yawn, I want more sleep. Tried to go to bed early, but couldn't even fall asleep. Argh. Arafat died too, which didn't really uplift me either. Even though I didn't like him as a guy, he was an important symbol. Who will fill his shoes? I'd say the best candidate is Marwan Barghouti. But he's rotting in an Israeli jail.
November 12 Tired, and more than a bit out of sorts. Got up early to finish an assignment. Was extremely sleepy for both morning classes, and wound up in the library reading about the myth of 'the fall of Masada.' A long story, but suffice it say it was used for two very contradictory messages at various times. Further evidence that history is made, it doesn't just happen. Was rather fed up in the afternoon with the state of the world, so wound up doing laundry. Actually went home in the evening for the first time in over a month. Wow, given that it's only 25 miles away. Home has fortunately not changed too much, which is nice.
November 13 An all day workday at home. Lots of French, math and history, with other assorted miscellany. Good stuff, but tiring. Weather was particularly pleasant out, so the living room was even warm as I worked. Having been a bit too successful finishing off homework, most of the evening was devoted to installing Fedora 3 on a spare HP e-PC. More to the point, I installed Fedora 2, tried to upgrade to Fedora 3, and wound up with a completely broken X server. Argh.
November 14 Ah, the luxury of not getting up. A nice one, especially since it's been a cold day on the coast. One essay and assorted schoolwork later, left me the opportunity to finish yesterday's business of setting up the e-PC. Got a working X-server on it, after 3 reinstall attempts. Net-installs over DSL are no fun any more.
November 15 Bastards. They've finished destroying Fallujah today. Only god knows how many people they've murdered in the process. And they're still at it. America has done to Fallujah what Syrian did to the city of Hama in 1982. The city rebelled against a corrupt and brutal regime. We (they) levelled it.
And you want to know who is responsible for this atrocity? Look at the 60 million Americans who voted for George W. Bush, the 'war president.'
Isn't it funny how Osama Bin Laden, the 'terrorist' has been so much less destructive than 'patriots' like George W. Bush?
November 16 Very exciting day. Chock-full of classes, a flute lesson, finishing a paper and trying to prepare for next spring/summer. Why do I feel like life's only going to get busier?
November 17 The answer to yesterday's question is "because it is." Getting busier, that is. Math midterm in the morning did not go as well as I was hoping. Sigh. History class included a lecture on the Intifada. The topic was, to put it mildly, somewhat depressing. Arafat was in many ways the best thing to happen to the Israelis after 1991. Had a meeting with my advisor who reappeared briefly from Egypt for this year's MESA conference. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do. Hope I'm up to it. Incidentally, they have DSL in Egypt? What next.
November 18 Almost the entire day was spent either playing flute or catching up on French work. Neither of which was all that great for my outlook on the world. Not that the world itself usually makes its case well either. Oh well, welcome to living from one day to the next I guess.
November 19 Math class was surprisingly lucid. Or maybe I was lucid, and the class was just normal. Either way, I feel unusually certain that I understand what's going on. Had the penultimate French test afterwards. I had planned on getting together for the usual Friday lunch, but decided not to. Worked on math homework instead. Not great fun, I'll admit, but it needed to get done. Did a variety of oddments during the afternoon. Attempted an after-dinner movie, but nobody else was interested. Grumble. Some of them were just off watching a movie I didn't want to watch either.
November 20 Feel grumpy right now. Spent a very dull morning in the library trying to finish the math homework. Spent an equally dull afternoon not doing anything much. Not sure which was more dull. Or why I'm in such a bad mood.
November 21 Been reading a lot today. Unfortunately, it's been stuff that wasn't assigned for class. Not too helpful. Nonetheless, got most of the readings on gender finished for my history seminar. Bottom line is that gender issues seem to always be about power in actuality, and who has it and who doesn't.
November 22 History lecture today was on the Gulf War. Let's just say it looks very different than the way the news portrayed it. Particularly, the massive slaughter of 82,000 Iraqi soldiers by U.S. aircraft and artillery, and of course the precursor to 'shock and awe' which knocked out much of Iraq's infrastructure. Spent the afternoon writing my weekly essay on gender, which is most definitely not a topic I feel competent on. Oh well.
November 23 French class had a lot of stuff about the weather. Which isn't looking too great. Meanwhile, we've finally made up our minds on Thanksgiving plans. We're driving down to L.A. Tomorrow. Which means I spent all day getting stuff ready to leave tomorrow at noon. Blech. Even managed to fit the laundry in.
November 24 Mini-lecture on gender in history class provoked 2 outcomes. Possibility 1: women in the Middle East are being oppressed by imposed traditions from the Middle East (the hijab, Shari'a). Possibility 2: women in the Middle East are being oppressed by the imposition of western values (materialism, necessity of looking pretty). One side say we have the answer here, the other says we are in fact the cause of the problem. I don't quite agree with either fully.
Left with my dad at noon for LA. It's a very long drive. At San Luis Obispo, we stopped for a lunch break. Like last year, traffice near Santa Barbara was bad. We wound up arriving around half past 8PM at my aunt and uncle's place. Everybody there, save my 8 year old cousin, was exhausted from Thanksgiving preparations. Guess exhaustion is a common problem on this particular day.
November 25 Happy Turkey day! Spent a good chunk of the morning playing various ball-related games with my cousin. In most I had the unfair advantage of being taller. She, however, has the unfair advantage of limitless energy, so it more than evens out. We helped to set up for the impending 20 other guests as well, which took some doing. Around 3PM, people began to trickle in, and after the usual chit-chat, we sat down for the business at hand. I shan't describe the food, because there was so much as to make any description inadequate. I actually ate somewhat less than usual, and talked a bit more. Eventually, after a good 3 hours of on/off eating, people started leaving. One friend of my aunt's however saw fit to rearrange part of the house, particularly the pictures on the mantelpiece. He had a very fine sense of decor, not to mention a hilarious manner of picking things up and announcing that they needed new homes. I guess most puppeteers are a little bit unusual, but he certainly stood in a class of his own. Oddly enough, I don't think he drank anything.
November 26 What's a good antidote for too much Turkey? How's about the Venice Beach boardwalk. L.A. being big and confused, it took 3 tries to get on the freeway, and almost an hour to get to the beach, but after that, things were good. It was remarkably clear, and most of the world seemed to be wandering along the beachfront. My cousin had her razor scooter, and I a pair of borrowed rollerblades, and we wandered up and down countless times. My father meanwhile had the opportunity to fully utilize his digital camera's 1 gigabyte of memory. Eventually, my cousin tired enough that lunch became an option, so we had Mexican food in a funky little alcove not far from some performing gymnasts from New Zealand. An interesting group. We finally headed back to the house just after witnessing sunset, and managed to hit a good bit of traffic in the downtown. After a smallish dinner, we spent most of the rest of the evening on a monopoly game which I managed to lose rather badly.
November 27 We all went to the J. Paul Getty Museum today. The drive to the museum took a while, but the location is just as impressive as it was last time. Aside from the stunning architecture, we got a stunning quantity of thick fog, followed later by rain. Fortunately, most of this time we were indoors, visiting an exhibit about the role of children in ancient Greece. Since my uncle is an expert in ancient Greek mathematics, among other things, it was an enjoyable trip. We had our lunch in the cafeteria, before returning. On the way back, my little cousin was very insistent that we stop at the LA 'festival of lights' in Griffith Park. We did, and saw a fascinating array of scenes created out of what looked a lot like Christmas lights. Very colorful, and my dad made sure to get many of them on the digital camera. Had a relaxed evening afterward, which included attempting to put a 3D wooden puzzle of London bridge together. Challenging, particularly since the workmanship of the pieces left something to be desired. And the instructions, they looked like they were from IKEA.
November 28 A nice day for driving. Got up rather early, said our goodbyes, and left L.A. around 9AM. The traffic was solid, but moving. Around 11 we stopped off in Santa Barbara in search of gas. We ended up visiting the mission too, which was quite imposing. We took the shortcut over the San Marcos pass, and saw a bit of the inland area too, before rejoining highway 101 before Los Olivos. Our stop in San Luis Obispo was quite lengthy, as my father was very keen to take a great number of pictures inside the mission. After that, and lunch, we continued. We got to Salinas around 4:30PM, but thanks to a wrong turn, missed the road to Castroville. Salinas is now a big place, and trying to guess the right way didn't work at all. Still, we made it to Santa Cruz before 6PM, and continued up highway 1, arriving home well after dark. My back aches just thinking of all the driving.
November 29 Lots of catching up to do. Got dropped off at school early, and had a morning full of classes. Afternoon was spent on problem sets, readings, and procrastination. I hate transitioning back from Thanksgiving to normal life.
November 30 Same type of French practice as yesterday. History lecture was on the end of Oslo. Had section, which turned into a speculation session on the Middle East's future. Not a very happy future, true, but I doubt that speculation will improve it enormously. Spent the evening digging through the week's history readings on Palestine, before calling it a day. Nationalisms of different sorts was the topic, though I am inclined to believe that the failure of nationalism to create a sense national community is somewhat to blame for the new wave of religio-nationalism we're seeing in Israel and here. Feeling a bit under the weather too.