January 2011


It’s a bit late to come out with my resolutions for the new year, but I’ve found that being back in Durham has encouraged me to make some.  I feel most myself when I’m with peers, and I’ve been able to see myself clearly in the past week or so.

Without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2011.  Some are silly, some are serious, and some are things I need to put into writing to cement them in my life.

  • More color!  Whether it’s nail polish, lipstick, or a bit of teal eyeliner, I want to incorporate more color into my daily life.  No fuss, but more fun.  Like Chanel Mademoiselle lipstick.  I had been coveting it for months before finally purchasing it in Dallas right before I came back to the UK.  You may recognize it from the amazing adverts with Vanessa Paradis.  It’s a gorgeous pinky beige, and it’s definitely an improvement over my usual lip balm.  Nail polish is another type of color I would like to use more.  I recently got Nails Inc. polish in Denim as a gift, and so I will use it along with my typical and sporadic use of Chanel Particuliere, a perfect taupey grey.  (Yes, I know.  I seem to have a Chanel fetish going by this post, but these two cosmetics I languished over for months before budgeting and purchasing.  I’m a sucker for a really good quality neautralish and everyday wearable product!)
  • Get out of the house at least five times per week to study somewhere else.  I get way too distracted in my room, and so studying in the library or at a friend’s house is much better for me and for my work.  There is also usually the added perk of being near a printer, which is super handy for getting articles which otherwise may float to the back of my mind and never surface in my research again.
  • Get enough sleep every night.  I have the talent?  Ability?  Work ethic?  Misfortune? of getting into “the zone” when I’m working on an assignment and not noticing the time.  One evening I worked steadily after dinner (about 7:00ish) until 3:30 AM.  AM!!!  I didn’t stop to look at the clock, and completely lost track of the time.  I am hoping the resolve to work out of my room will lead to more productivity during the day, and therefore, less pressure at night.
  • Finish my essays on time without stress AND with enough time to revise with a peer or, if possible, a professor.  Unfortunately, I only have a handful of essays, and some of them are the one shot I have at my grade.  It’s added pressure I think the MA programs in the States usually avoids because of the longer duration of program and greater variety of classes for one’s degree.  The one year time crunch means I need to be vigilant.
  • Be more easygoing about going out.  I’m in England, for gosh sakes!  I should enjoy what the country and the city have to offer.  Pubs, conferences, nightclubs…  I need to take advantage of it all.  Even though I am not looking forward to going to Klute next week, which has been dubbed “the worst nightclub in Europe” and is known for “quaddy-voddies” (quadruple vodka shots, which, from what I hear, is as bad as it sounds), I should go.  When else will I get the opportunity?
  • Be more stringent with my gym schedule, and on days when I can’t fit anything else in, do yoga in my room.  At least a sun salutation.  The college food is heavy on all the things I dislike: potatoes, carrots, gravy, red meat, salt.  Therefore, I have to take care of my diet as best I can outside college dining and in my activity.  (Though my legs are getting super toned due to the freaking hills around town!  After being back in Durham for a week, my butt feels it!)
  • Correspond more.  Skype, letters, emails, Facebook.  I need to do more of it all.  AIM, I think, tends to take up too much time, so I need to relax by writing more thoughtful correspondences to those I truly miss and care about: my friends and pseudo-family in Minnesota and Seattle.
  • And as always, I need to remind myself how grateful I am for my family, friends, education, and life.  I need to learn all I can both in the classroom and from my friends.  I need to stop worrying about time, which goes all too quickly, and carpe diem.

All experiences of life seems to prove that the impediments thrown in the way of the human advancement may for the most part be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity, perseverance and above all, by a determined resolution to surmount.  –Samuel Smiles

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We’ve finally begun our Issues module lectures on the Renaissance.  As I read dense, boring, and often ill-written articles in preparation for Monday’s class, I was struck by the eloquence of Paula Findlen’s article, “Possessing the Past,” in which she discusses the material collection obsession of Renaissance patricians.  To illustrate her point about books and the preservation of knowledge, she included a quote from Petrarch:

And I perhaps own more of them than I ought; but just as in certain other things, so does it happen with books; success in earning money is a stimulus to greed.  There is indeed something peculiar about books.  Gold, silver, precious stones, beautiful clothing, marbled homes, cultivated fields, painted canvases, decorated horses and other similar things, possess silent and superficial pleasure.  Books please the core of one’s mind; they speak with us, advise us and unite us with a certain living and penetrating intimacy.

92, adapted from Petrarch, Rerum familiarium libri I-VIII, 157 (Fam. III, 18)

Petrarch believes to truly possess a book, one must read it, understand it, and contemplate it.  It has to feed one’s mind and soul and not just his or her pride and vanity.  It’s a lovely thought.

Works Cited: language.uoregon.edu