November 2009


I am thankful for so many things in my life.  After recently going through my Netflix queue and looking at my bookshelf, I see the lives of people who are not so fortunate in those films and those pages.  To commemorate Thanksgiving, I wanted to briefly state what I’m thankful for.  Not why or any other explanation, but just a mention on this blog to show appreciation.  In no particular order, except for perhaps the first several:



life / health










other cultures and religions

e-mail and Skype to connect with those far away

random jokes





fresh berries




a bright, shiny future (*crosses fingers*)



the GAC Shakespeare pit












outside plays


architecture from antiquity to the Renaissance










Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study.  Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.  ~Henry L. Doherty

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus

A gentleman need not know Latin, but he should at least have forgotten it.  ~Brander Matthews

A Loeb Series

If the Romans had been obliged to learn Latin, they would never have found time to conquer the world.  ~Heinrich Heine


I want so much out of life and I expect so much out of myself.  I also love my friends and family dearly, so I suppose that’s why I expect equal love and support from them.  However, that’s not always the case.  I also do my best to say what I mean and mean what I say.  I don’t promise things that I can’t deliver on and almost never utter phrases in the heat of the moment that I regret later.  These practices are also not as common as I’d like to believe in the people I care about.

Case in point: I have lots of furniture compared to my roomie (whom I love dearly, I should add) and more clothes.  I asked if it would be possible for me to take the larger room since I knew this would be the case.  He said we would discuss it.  When I arrived, “my” room, as he called it, was the smaller room.  We also agreed on Seattle for the location of the apartment.  I agreed to Bellevue after he took a look at the bus schedule and said it wasn’t far at all from the UW campus.  It’s a long f-ing way to the campus, turns out, and we’re almost into Redmond.  However, it’s maybe a whole ten-minute walk to his workplace.  “Our” joint bookshelf is currently full of all his things and the four DVDs I wanted to add were moved off (I have a personal bubble about my things; please ask!).  My mother gave me placemats, but I can’t place them on the table I purchased because he wants them a different way.  For Thanksgiving, we’re going to a friend’s.  I wasn’t asked about the food, so I bought ingredients and will put in the time tomorrow to make two dishes I really dislike.  I am really and truly doing my best to keep cool and laid-back about all these things, but I’m having a hard time.  To cap off all this, I was called stupid by my roomie for liking a movie he dislikes.  I several times attempted to stop the conversation by saying something akin to “let’s agree to disagree.”  Needless to say, that didn’t work.  I even mentioned two other friends I know to be terribly brilliant and who like this movie.  He said our taste in quality was stupid.  Please, for the love of God and our friendship, don’t call me or my friends stupid.  We’re not.  You aren’t either.  We differ in our opinions, so please respect the differences and move onto a different topic.

I want this to work and I don’t want to in any way talk to my parents, whom I’m also very close to, because I fought so terribly hard for their support.  It’s less than a week in and I feel trapped.

I don’t know how this all will work out.  Maybe I’ll suggest that my roomie read this post.  I don’t want anyone to be hurt, but I think it’s past the time for that because I’m already hurt to my core.

And a few additions: I’m not a chauffeur; if you want to go somewhere, please chip in for gas and consider the time and money it takes.  If the market across the street is cheaper, I need to go there.  I’m new here and don’t have a job.  If we agree on something, I would appreciate it if we stuck to the agreement.  If you want to say something, say it.  Don’t keep muttering “uhhhhhhh….”  A “yes” or “no” will suffice.  I’m not you.  I don’t have the same tastes or needs as you.  I like green and yellow and blue; you like red.  I need to have a place to do schoolwork, places for my cat’s food and litter, space for my things, and sleep.

I don’t think anyone but me, save my parents, really understands how much went into making this move happen.  Four days of driving, hotels, food, basic new furniture, etc.  All for a place to live and go to school out of state for less than a year.  I also had mono or a mono-like virus when I left.  I’m sick still and need rest.  I don’t have time for the countless errands and commuting time.

Plus, my mom is my mom.  It goes with the territory that I get to complain.  You don’t get to make snide comments.  She’s probably the closest person to me.  We have our ups and downs, and I may tell you what happened between us on occasion.  I know she’s eccentric and needy.  If you must know, she’s freaked out about health problems and recent developments and has bi-polar.  Please keep your comments to yourself.  You have two parents that you can despair about all you want; I’ll listen, but I’ll keep the commentary to myself.

Roomie, I hope you understand my frustration.  I love you and want you to be as comfortable and as happy as possible.  I’d also like the same for me.  You won out on the location of the apartment, which is a biggie.  Please respect my wishes sometimes in other things and respect my opinions.  You may not agree, and it’s basically a given that we’ll disagree, but we can find a happy medium.

I arrived in Bellevue on Saturday after driving through the Cascades in a snowstorm (which was dangerous, yes, but very beautiful).  I really like the apartment.  It’s far away from the UW campus, which is a shame and will cost me a small fortune in bus fare, but it has just enough room.  The decor is either Ikea furniture or boxes of Ikea furniture at the moment, but we’re working on getting everything organized.  We’re both SUPER excited to decorate (candles, pictures, plants, etc.) and I can’t wait to put up this little Christmas tree I bought on clearance last year.

This coming week, I’m going to go to the campus and am going to try to talk my way into classes that I want to take to get adequate preparation for grad school.  I’m hoping for a Latin class, a “Bible as Literature” class, some kind of medieval lit class, and a medieval history class.  Art and religion would be great, too.  Or Old/Middle English.  Something to keep me busy and to help me feel prepared for the road ahead.

Sammy, by the way, was actually pretty good during the long roadtrip.  The first day was an adventure, though!  She climbed her way up into a tree at a rest stop when I took her out to stretch her legs a bit, and it took Mom, a very nice trucker, and me about 30 minutes to get her down.  Then, even though she had plenty of time during the day when I took her out to walk, she, uh, made a mess in her crate.  That was fun…  But, even though the first day was a little too exciting for my taste, the following days were fairly boring and uneventful.  Mom and I had a few altercations (which tends to happen), but I think we parted on good terms.  It seems her fear of letting me go was adding to her stress and making it hard to be relaxed and calm.

I have to be off to make pumpkin cookies and to put together our new dining table.  I hope that anyone reading this has a lovely Thanksgiving (or, if not a Turkey Day fan, a wonderful Thursday and weekend)!

P.S.  Congratulations to my friend, Alicia, who won a research grant and will be in Greece in January!  I hope God is good to me like that and helps me achieve my European dreams.  Below is a picture from Burghley House’s sculpture garden.  It helps me remember to see the positive in everything, even when things aren’t going my way.

Eye at Burghley House





Tombstones near St Margaret's Church, Durham, UK

I made some progress today in moving/packing/cleaning.  I sorted out all my stuff from my trip to Europe this summer and my graduation gifts/cards that had accumulated in the living room.  I also was able to take my cat, Sammy, into the vet to get a microchip.  Now, THAT was fun…  She’s not exactly a kitty anyone could love.  She’s a beautiful, fluffy orange tabby, but she is grumpy and has a temper, especially with people she doesn’t know.  And by a “temper,” I mean the vet clinic has an orange sticker on her file saying “WILL BITE!”  The orange isn’t an ordinary orange, either.  I was watching an episode of Desperate Housewives the other day, and Lynette referred to that particular shade as a warning, a signal of danger and trouble ahead.  Yep, that’s the color of my kitty’s sticker.  Anyway, if you’ve never seen a microchip for pets, it’s about the size and shape of a piece of wild rice before it’s cooked.  It’s prepackaged in a large syringe that is inserted under the cat’s or the dog’s skin and basically pops the microchip into the animal.  Oh, and there’s no anesthetic.  Guess what Sammy plus a large syringe minus the pain meds equals?  Let’s just say that literally the fur flew and she rivaled the “Hell Kitty” I’ve seen in a YouTube video (which seems much less funny today because Hell Kitty is also orange…).


That was basically my day.  I went to a new restaurant this evening with my parents (La Baguette Bistro) and had a nice long dinner, which is rare because Dad’s an “order, eat, pay” kind of guy.  I watched Project Runway and was happy to see three women get into the finals.  I talked with my Dad about my trouble figuring out something for a research proposal in my postgraduate applications and have (I think) settled on hospitality, which is prevalent in medieval literature (Sir Gawain, Beowulf, Robin Hood rhymes) and in classical lit (Odyssey especially).  My other potential choice is the ideal woman, but I think hospitality is something I could really run with.  I’m thinking a lot about grad school, as per usual (hence the picture).

To end my day, here’s the BBC’s quote of the day, which I adore: “History is the transformation of tumultuous conquerors into silent footnotes.” — Paul Eldridge

Good night!


Florence in sepia

Feeling restless, so here’s one of my favorite photos from Italy this summer.  The title is, to the best of my ability, in Italian for “Florence in Sepia.”

At the Fitzwilliam

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University

I am by no means a great blogger. In fact, I probably have about three out there that I gave up on because I didn’t like the username (or forgot it) or the whole setup thing was way to complicated. All I really know about computers is how to type, surf the web, and use my audio/visual applications. So, here goes another try.

I suppose I should first explain the logic behind the naming of this blog. While I was on vacation in Europe this summer, I read an absolutely amazing book by Salman Rushdie called The Enchantress of Florence. Appropriately, I was in Italy and went to Florence at the time. But that’s beside the point. One page had my scrawling all over it by the time I was done with the chapter, and the words which had moved me so much were these: “The past was a light that if properly directed could illumine the present more brightly than any contemporary lamp… The relaying of wisdom from one age to the next, this cycle of rebirths: this was wisdom. All else was barbarity.” Being a great believer in learning from those who went before us, I was glued to this passage probably for a good hour of the train ride from Venice to Florence. I thought of the reoccurring genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, of the use of Greek philosophy in the Bible, and of basic archetypes which appeared in the dawn of civilization and occur today. We need to use history to make the world a better place in terms of peace, equality, and intelligence.

I could go on and on about how we could better ourselves and the peoples and societies around us by using the knowledge from the past and passing on that knowledge (hey, I love literature and history, especially the ancient stuff, so I get rather worked up about the need to appreciate the ancients). But I won’t. Instead, I’ll finish up this post with a little bit about me.

I am a recent graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota with a major in honors classics and a minor in English. I am currently living back at home with my parents in Oklahoma City while I pack for my already-rented apartment in Bellevue, Washington. I will be taking the time from my move-in until Christmas to tinker with my thesis (on women and transformation in ancient epic) for a better grad school writing sample and to finish applications to grad schools in the UK (Durham, York, St Andrews) and in the US (Minnesota, Washington). The UK offers programs in medieval studies, so I would be able to study the time period in an interdisciplinary program. That’s part of what I love about classics: I can translate Ovid in Latin and be aware of the cultural and historical ramifications and reception of his poetry. I love looking at literature through history. The US universities can only offer literature programs, but oh, the money required to go back to England… If all goes according to plan, just the way I want, I’d get an MA in medieval studies, then an MA in ancient epic, then a PhD in literature “marrying” my interests in the ancient and medieval time periods. And it would be lovely to go to Durham because it has a lot of the features I love about Gustavus (on a hill, river, small-but-not-too-small town size, near a large city) and I would be able to get married, theoretically, in Durham Cathedral, the Britons’ favorite building. To an Englishman, of course… Yep. And after that fantasy bears fruit, I’d become a literature professor and help students learn composition, the importance of the Odyssey and Beowulf, and Latin.

I love books, travel, friends, family, cats, owls, art, classical and neoclassical architecture and sculpture, cathedrals and evensong, periwinkle, green, historical fiction, films, autumn in Minnesota, snow, coffee, tea, and music.

Just to do the basic introduction stuff (“Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m a classicist”), here’s a list of what I’m currently up to and a few favorites. I hope whoever you are, you’re having a lovely day or night!

Currently Watching: Doctor Zhivago (2002). Well, not currently. But it was the last thing I watched in its entirety.

Favorite Film: LOTR trilogy. C’mon. It can only be taken as a whole. It’s so epic! Plus, I want those dresses of Arwen’s. Aragorn wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize, either.

Currently Reading: Anna Karenina and My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead. Bonus points if you can tell me which Roman author the second work is referring to…

Favorite Book: Harry Potter books. Same. All the books have favorite parts for me.

Currently Listening To: The Tudors Soundtrack. Rockin’ Renaissance.

Favorite Band: Coldplay. Just… I’m in awe.

Currently Drinking: mandarin green tea. It even smells good! I could totally make saches out of this stuff. But it’s too yummy.

Favorite Drink: coffee in any form. But a Bellini in Venice or tea in a tearoom in Cambridge can be the best thing in the world.

(picture of me in front of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, where I studied history and medieval studies for a month in summer, 2009)