Monthly Archives: December 2008

A lot to read

With Christmas essentially behind us and 2009 rapidly approaching, I have a lot to do! I feel like I should be taking it easy for a few more days, but it’s hard to do when 4 months of a semester in an entirely new world is coming. I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, but I am headed to China in about 1 month. I am going through the China Studies Institute and will be living in Beijing. Rather than take classes, I have opted to do a full-time internship (most likely with a law firm). 

Because of my impending travels, I have been loaded with books (fiction, language, and non-fiction) as well as maps from family and friends. Luckily, I don’t leave until January 29th, and I still have a 14 hour flight. This should give me plenty of time to get through all that I have to read. On top of brushing up on language (of which I only know “hello” and “thank you” thus far) , current events, history etc… I have all of the extra things to be worrying about: cell phones, money, packing and luggage, visas, doctors appointments, and much more. All of the busyness is going to be worth it though! I am sitting here in my room at home in Chicago and can’t help but continually think about the quote that stares me in the face each time I sit at this desk:

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by out discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – M. Scott Peck 

It is true that China is going to be one of the most uncomfortable places for me for at least a few weeks. I don’t know the language or the culture really. But in all honesty, I can’t wait. I live for these moments. I love CC and where I have been the last 2 1/2 years, but it is time to experience something new. In fact, I am so glad that I have such a solid foundation at CC with friends and professors that I can leave for four months only to come back to a place that feels like home. Further, I get to return to a place that will embrace what I have done. My best friends at CC went to Bali last summer with their Balinese Gamelan teacher. Just as they shared pictures, videos, music, and stories with me, I will do the same with them. It is one of those incredible common grounds to relate on even though each experience is so unique in its own right.

China Studies

More to come on Christmas, being home, and experiences at CC from the last block…

CC Blues

Hey everyone,

I thought I’d take a few minutes away from my family today and write a blog on this fine Christmas day.  Although I was wishing for a white Christmas in Colorado this year, I woke up and the only word that came to mind was ‘typical’.  After a cold and snowy few weeks, it’s sunny and 50 degrees across the front range, a welcome change on Christmas Day. 

Despite the happenings of the last couple months, I think we all have a lot to be thankful for.  Although I’m somewhat of an optimist, I would say there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

Being home is always nice.  As usual, I avoided the nightmares of holiday travel not having to fly.  Seeing family and friends and catching up on everything (especially sleep) has been much appreciated after the end of the block and a busy life at school in general.  However, I couldn’t help notice today that something was missing – CC.  For now, there will be no late night social hours in the library, no fine dining in Rastall, and most definately no dance parties.  It is said that absence makes the heart grow stronger.  Although I’ll certainly take advantage of my time home, I can’t help but look forward to heading down Uintah street in January.  Happy Holidays!  

Max

Let the festivities begin

This past week (and incidentally the last week of the semester) was nothing but fun.  See, that’s what’s great about the block plan.  When you sense burnout approaching, you sign-up for a less demanding course.  It’s not that I’ve been slacking off this block, but Formal Logic comes so naturally to me, that I only have had to spend minimal time studying.  In fact, I decided that I wasn’t going to use an alarm clock for the rest of the semester and operate on “Brazil-time.”  It’s a much more relaxing way to live. So while all of my friends at other schools were freaking out about finals, I was stress-free, joining in the holiday festivities and enjoying spending time with my friends before they left for break.

Kalweit putting her mad decorating skills to work

Monday night, my roommates in Arthur House invited me to participate in one of their families’ Christmas traditions – sugar cookie decorating. I was impressed with their mad frosting skills.  I have a long way to go until I get that good, but with some practice, who knows?

Tuesday night was my best friend Chelsea’s class party with professor David Hendrickson.  I had Dave first block, and, aside from being brilliant, he’s just a really fun guy to hang out with.  So when an opportunity to attend another one of his class parties presented itself, I had to take advantage.  After the class party, Chelea and I went to our friend Dan’s going away party.  He’s spending next semester in New Zealand, so we won’t see him again until next fall.

Ana teaching Lukas how to properly fold a tamale

On Wednesday night, I made Mexican food with Ana Ruth and Lukas.  I met Ana living in Arthur House last year; she works for Sodexo, the company that cleans the residential facilities at CC.  Ana is basically amazing.  She is super friendly and is the best cook I’ve ever met.  When I get an afternoon free, we’ll hang out cleanning, talking, and rocking out to Journey and The Beatles.  Being Mexican, I miss eating Mexican food – it’s just not the same here in the States. One day, I asked Ana to teach me how to cook Mexican food, so we have one day a block where we get together for a cooking session.  My friend Lukas, a lover of all things Mexican, heard about our lessons and decided to join in.  This block, we made tacos, enchiladas, and tamales.  It was all so good.  I spent the rest of the night studying formal logic, practicing challenging proofs until the wee hours of the morning.

Thursday morning, our professor informed us that our final was written.  Realizing that I would probably not spend any more time studying, I asked if I could take the final early that afternoon.  As a visiting professor, Ben was perplexed by the idea of wanting to take a test early – especially a final, but nevertheless agreed.  So at 1:53 p.m. on Thursday, I was free of classes.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at work, and then went out to celebrate the completion of a successful semester.

My mommy and me in front of a giant pile of toys at Share-A-Gift

Friday, I drove home to Boulder, where the hectic schedule continued. My brother’s girlfriend just graduated from CU and invited us to a party that evening.

Yesterday morning, my mom and I volunteered at Share-A-Gift, an all-volunteer annual holiday project that provides toys, bikes, and books for 3000 children of low income families in the Boulder County area.  My mom and I have been volunteering for nine years now, and it’s something that we look forward to doing together every year.

My father just got back from spending a month in Australia.  Since he’s leaving for Mexico tomorrow, we celebrated Christmas with him last night.  All of the presents were a huge hit, but his favorite was a remote control helicopter from my brother.  My cats were rather intrigued by this giant “bug” flying around the house.

So that concludes my busy week.  Hopefully I can catch up on some much needed sleep in the next couple days.  Happy Holidays!

Uff da!

Well, I haven’t written in a little while. This last block has been a little bit (more) hectic (than usual). I was the sound designer for ‘The Odyssey’ which was put on by the Drama Department last weekend. A week before that was our tech weekend which had me in the theater for literally over 24 hours between that Saturday and Sunday. I think I averaged somewhere around 4 hours of sleep each night for a week – Wednesday of 3rd week to Tuesday of 4th week.

Thankfully however, I did (somehow) find time to finish all my work for my class before I got sick this past Wednesday. A big hint on how to survive on the block plan: don’t get sick. (Especially not a fever of 101.8). They say missing one day of class on the block plan is like missing a week of class on the semester plan. I’ll be honest in saying that missing one day of class each block is doable, when you get sick and start to miss three or more days in a row… it’s not a good thing. Some professors ask for the note from the doctor which makes me feel like I’m back in third grade sometimes. But I’ve known kids who drop classes because they’re sick. High stress levels really don’t help you get better by the time you want to.

So a major staple of every CC student’s diet: Emergen-C. I mean, 1667% of your daily vitamin C in one go? It works wonders.

Getting sick does make it that much better to get home. Laying on my couch with home baked cookies right now makes every stressful moment of this past semester worth it.

Over the next few days I’m going to finally work on getting my show up on youtube – I’ll post the link once I do. But for now, I’m going to hit the hay in preparation for all the holiday shopping I need to do tomorrow.

Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone!

A crazy week

Last week was one of the most event-filled and interesting weeks since attending CC. I’ll run down the brief schedule:

Tuesday: Spike Lee visits to talk in Armstrong Hall, and I attend the reception at the President’s house

Spike Lee and me at the President's house after Spike's lecture

Spike Lee and me at the President's house after his talk

Wednesday: Etown comes to CC for a live radio taping with the Flobots and Matthew Caws from Nada Surf

Thursday: The Odyssey opening night (an enormous theater production in the new Cornerstone Arts Center)

Friday: Tiger Jazz Ensemble performance in Packard followed by Ice Age, featuring three of the best student bands on campus and electronic artist, Dan Deacon. 

Saturday: First full day of skiing up in Breckenridge followed by a night of music at The Fillmore in Denver — Vetiver and The Black Crowes

Sunday: Practice for a musical performance project for this block–we got an octet together to perform three Miles Davis songs as well as one John Scofield song as our final project for our Miles Davis Jazz course.

While each week at CC seems to bring something new, exciting, or interesting about, this week was just packed from front to back. I’m dying to go into detail about each of these, but I don’t think I have the space or time. In fact, tonight I am supposed to be packing my entire room in preparation for being abroad next semester. With time dwindling away here, I won’t delve too deep. I may just write about each of these in installments over the next week or so. 

Off to packing…

Brrrrrr!!!!!

Yesterday’s weather was the coldest I have ever experienced. I wondered, biking to breakfast, why my fingers were sticking to my metal handlebars… only to discover when I checked after class that it was -17° C! (-1° F). Wow. Wow wow wow. This may not be fantastic for anyone that has lived in Colorado for any amount of time, but I’ve never lived anywhere with temperatures below freezing. So, I thought I’d call my parents and do a little bragging about how hardcore I was living in Colorado… and they told me that my hometown of Victoria B.C. (located in a relatively warm part of Canada) was having record low temperatures of -18° C. Yeah, they basically stole all my thunder.

Last night's Kwanzaa Celebration

I had several “first” experiences yesterday — “first” lipchap freezing in my backpack, “first” wet hair freezing stiff. It was actually kind of fun — I never knew what was going to happen when I stepped outside. I was really relieved, however, when someone assured me that Colorado weather doesn’t get much colder. Right now we are enjoying a sweltering 30°F, so, braced by yesterday’s freeze, I’m feeling ready to don my bathing suit and do some sunbathing while the warm weather lasts.

However, not all was cold about yesterday — I attended a toasty dinner in Gaylord Hall to celebrate Kwanzaa, put on by the Black Student Union. Kwanzaa (I’d never heard of it before coming to the US) turns out to be a celebration of African heritage, which last for seven days, during each of which you light a candle that represents a different principle. The first principle is Umoja (unity) and the last is Imani (faith), so the man leading the ceremony joked that we should pay close attention because all college students need these two things to finish the four years.

And speaking of unity… I’ll be working on that one really soon because this Friday I fly back to Canada! And as the cold weather has given us an unusual present this year — a white Christmas — I’m sure I’ll be blogging about all my shenanigans in the snow with my family.

Snow or Shine

The past week has been insanely stressful.  Like many of my fellow CC students, I was working on writing a proposal for a 100 Projects for Peace grant this summer.  Upon turning 100, Kathryn Wasserman Davis decided to give $1 million for 100 projects for peace.  If selected, we get $10,000 to make our proposal a reality.  Between forming a group, coming up with an idea and vision, researching the location, making contacts, determining a budget, and actually writing the proposal, I had my hands full.  The good news is that my team submitted an amazing proposal.  It’s hard to say if we’ll get chosen out of so many worthwhile projects, but just the process of applying for the grant motivated me to use my summer as an opportunity to do a project to give
back to others.

After submitting the proposal at 3:54 on Friday afternoon (they were due at 4:00), it was great to know that I had an exciting weekend waiting for me.  Every December, Vail Resorts puts on a concert series called Snow Daze, the country’s largest early season mountain bash.  It’s great, because you ski all day, and then you just show up at the concert at 5 in the same clothes you’ve been wearing. Every weekend there is a new headliner, and this Saturday, it was The Fray with Meese.

The Fray at Snow Daze (note the drummer wearing goggles)

I’ve been following The Fray since they were first starting out in Denver.  I’ve been a fan for years, and it’s been great watching them grow and gain acclaim.  It was crazy hearing this local band that played at my high school prom just a few years ago at the top of music countdowns all over the world.  When we saw that the tickets were only $35, my friend Chelsea and I jumped at the opportunity to see them perform for Snow Daze in Vail.

Chelsea and me cuddling for warmth

On Friday, I got an email explaining logistics about the concert.  It reminded us that the show would be held outside and would take place snow or shine.  Well, they weren’t kidding when they said snow or shine.  Between the opening act, Meese, and The Fray taking the stage, the snow picked up significantly.  Suddenly, we were in the middle of a blizzard.  At one point, Isaac, the lead singer of The Fray, had to stop in the middle of a song to wipe off the piano keys because they were so wet that he couldn’t play.  I think the snow actually made the concert a lot more fun.  Snow was accumulating so fast that we were taking the snow off our shoulders and hoods and making snowballs to throw into the crowd.  And we had to dance just to stay warm, so Chelsea and I started a mosh pit of sorts.  It was a blast!

Holiday Spirit

Peter Pan on Halloween

Peter Pan on Halloween

At CC, students like to dress for the occasion.  Now I know what your thinking: at a small, private, Liberal-Arts college, students must like to dress ‘up’.  But, let’s not confuse ourselves.  Dressing ‘up’ at CC means dressing for the occasion by assuming a role within the context of an event, independent of your normal identity. Whether it’s Drag Ball, CC’s own Prom, Halloween, or simply just a themed party, you can find students playing the part.  When I asked Buck McKenna, a sophomore, when students dress up, he responded with a smile and a laugh and said, “Every other day.” 

The holiday season is no exception.  For the past week, students have been exhausting their creative mediums to express their holiday spirit.  Some tactics for creating a successful costume or outfit include scouring the ARC (second-hand clothing store and local favorite of CC students).  Others include visiting Hobby Lobby or simply mix and matching pieces of outfits/costumes which have accumulated from many a theme party. 

The holiday season is a no brainer in terms of dressing ‘up’.  However, some of the more bizarre occasions to dress for the occasion have included a ‘Barack-Out with your Caucus-Out’ theme party the night of the Colorado Caucus, a Great Gatsby cocktail hour, and a social gathering devoted entirely to the Hebrew Hammer. 

I have come to a rather satisfying conclusion that there is no such thing as ‘normal attire’ on the CC campus.  Some contend that this phenomena may be an attempt by students to play ‘dress up’ one more time before they enter the real world.  However, a closer examination will reveal that students at CC enjoy a culture of their own where good company, self-expression, and personal growth are common place.  You can feel rest-assured knowing that at the least, a good time is right around the corner.

Snowskates

Larsson making it past the tree

Larsson making it past the tree

I have finally been introduced to a fantastic and hilarious winter snow sport: Snowskating. My roommate has been telling me about this since freshman year. He finally was able to bring to school this year the essential piece of equipment: the snowskate.

The snowskate is essentially a skateboard with a wax/plastic bottom that replaces the wheels. For anyone who has ever mounted a skateboard only to discovered that their body does not generally like to move with with it, but rather stay put as the board flies forward–snowskating is exactly like this but slippery. At the same time, snow is a whole lot more fun to fall on than concrete.

Our adventures began on a snowy Thursday night trying to distract ourselves from the looming hours of studying we all had for tests or labs the next day. Our first stop was a hill behind McGregor. This proved to be just about the right level of steepness to test things out, however, the bushes at the bottom of the hill proved to be a great source of fear for the rider and a great source of laughs for the onlookers. We then ventured over to El Pomar where we suddenly had a steeper hill, but now the bushes were replaced by metal railings. Luckily we were all well aware of the railings and nobody had to end up in Boettcher Health Center.

We did catch a few looks from people leaving El Pomar and even had one friend join in for a bit. I had to leave early to start on the studies, but we all agreed we need to hit the fine slopes of Colorado College once the real snow starts falling here.

A final thought: It seems that all ice/snow sports were designed with humor in mind. Honestly, whoever thought that it’d be good to attach anything smooth or with an edge to our feet and slide on snow or ice must have loved watching people fall. Snowskating is just another one of those hilarious sports to list with sledding, snowball fights, and of course ice broomball (the best of them all–tennis shoes+ice=even coordinated people looking ridiculous!)

CC Cabin!

Leading up to the weekend, Principles of Macroeconomics had been keeping me really busy, so it was really nice to get out of my midterm Friday and know that a weekend of relaxation stretched ahead. So, what did I do with my hard earned free-time? Well, I spent a good deal of Friday evening in a friend’s room, where a large group of us attempted to learn the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and then to perform them. Unfortunately, because there was about two square meters of available floor space, I ended up doing my zombie march left into my friend’s zombie turn, and it just turned into a really big, fun mess. We then decided that in order to have more space, we needed to move outside… so we all started doing the moves to Thriller outside in the hall of the dorm. Thankfully, only a few people stopped to watch, most likely jaded by the habitual crazy antics of CC students on Friday nights.

The next day, I checked out the big craft fair happening in Worner Centre and struggled (successfully) with the temptation to buy everything, leaving with most of my money still in pocket. I then raced to my room at about 2:55 to pack for my trip to the CC Cabin, which was leaving at 3:00. Not the most brilliant plan, but I made it. Going up to the CC Cabin was part of my ORC (Outdoor Recreation Club) leadership training, which is something that the ORC (read: outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc etc etc club) puts on to train students who want to learn how to lead trips in the outdoors. My last ORC trip for the leadership training had been out in the wilderness, and I’d spent the night absolutely freezing in my sleeping bag, which I’d borrowed it from a friend and forgotten to check to how many degrees it kept you warm). So, I was really happy to be staying in the warm and comfortable CC Cabin this time. The topic of training was “soft skills”, which turned out to be sort of group dynamics and interpersonal skills, and we did some games surrounding that and talked through some scenarios. However, the best activity was after dinner… we were told to blindfold a partner and lead them outside on a wilderness adventure! When I was blindfolded, my partner had me running, skipping, rock climbing, and leap-frogging through the wilderness, which was absolutely hilarious and a lot of fun. The next day, after cleaning up the cabin, we toted ourselves back to CC, just in time for brunch J.