Friday, March 31, 2006


However much Danish I may have forgotten, Europe does have its lingering effects: I've developed a brightly-colored tights habit and have trouble addressing letters without adding "USA".

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"We are a young family with 2 boys, the farm is in the wild mountain and we can look the Mediterranean . . ."

I've recently realized that with Peace Corps taking 27 months there's no way I'll be able to leave after graduation and be back in the States in time to start grad school in August two years later. So with school year 2009/2010 suddenly empty, I think I want to fill it with the organic farm volunteer thing. There are listings from Ireland to California to Israel, so in a year I could work in a good number of places I've always wanted to see. When it's not the growing season in Sweden it is in New Zealand, so I should be able to find fairly steady work. It wouldn't be paid but at least the lodgings and food would be free, and I'd meet families all over the world. This is exciting like whoah.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Last night I went to a round-sing and was dismayed to find it populated by what are politely called "those girls who wear capes" and less politely called things I won't repeat. The type who are generally into neopaganism, anime, John William Waterhouse, and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

I'm really rather worried that my reaction was so negative. I made Christine's first cloak. I once had a quasi-relationship with an SCAer, for crying out loud. In elementary school I was about as geeky a kid as could be wished for, but now that seems to have changed. I never thought I'd condemn people for being too weird.

So what's my problem with these people? I didn't find them fun to be around, but other people who aren't fun to be around aren't scorned the same way. Is it some kind of recognition that the girl in the tight jeans and heavy eyeliner isn't of a group I want to be like, but she's at least good at what she does? The thing is, there are people out there who are into weird things who aren't socially incompetent. Ellen is as into fantasy novels as anyone (she writes them, for one) but is the kind of brilliant personality who makes you wish you were a Paris hostess of the 1600s so you could invite her to your salons. Allison rhapsodises at length over Priam's last speech in the Iliad, but she's witty and has a great sense of style. Christine and Cass write fanfic, but it's well-written fanfic.

Whereas there's a certain type who just doesn't have that. I want to tell them, "You look completely goofy with a cloak over your backpack, and we're not even going to get into the limits of wearing vintage styles. Dying your hair that color makes you look like a thirteen-year-old trying to freak out the grownups."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Reading material

I'm not sure what the bathroom-wall graffiti is usually like, but around here it tends towards debate on politics and sex. I've discovered a new genre on the second floor of the library: religion.

Penned on a door is "Show me the way, O Lord. Be a light unto my path - I need you now!" The responses vary from correcting the writer's theology ("God is the light, you are the lamp") to advising alternate sources of help ("A good secular novel is much more uplifting"). Myself, I wondered what makes a person choose the door in a women's bathroom in a library as the medium to address a god she evidently views as male? Of all the people I would expect to be in that stall, the Lord is about the last.

High honors

I got one of the best compliments of my life today. After some internal debate, I went to an anti-war vigil outside the public library in commemoration of the third anniversary of the war in Iraq. Turns out the protesters/vigilers were mostly from the local retirement community who introduced themselves as "the fogey brigade". They also do a vigil outside the post office every Monday afternoon, some of them with signs on their walkers. So it was a few of us students and twenty or so retired people clutching at our signs in the wind, watching the cars drive by.

As Mary and I were bent over my sign ("Teach democracy by example, not by war") to repair the tears the wind had blown in the paper, she whispered, "Man, these old people are fabulous."
"Yeah, I hope I'm fabulous like them when I'm old."
"Oh, you will be. You have a good start on it already."

Friday, March 17, 2006

To clarify

Dear Ireland,

The green dress I am wearing today is solely because I like you (and because I celebrate any holiday I can get my hands on) and should in no way be construed as support for St. Patrick, that grove-chopping repticide.

Verdantly yours,
Julia Wise

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The worth of a beating heart

It's so strange how different deaths have different impacts. Recently Tom Fox, a Quaker peace activist from the US, was found shot dead in Iraq where he and several other peace activists had been kidnapped some time ago. The Quaker community has been constantly keeping each other informed of his situation and now his death. It seems strange that a population so aware of the deaths of Iraqis and US troops alike would pay so much more attention to the death of one of our own. The Quakers are the last people I would expect to be exalting one person's death when they are (more than most populations) so aware of the costs of violence in our world. Is Tom Fox's life worth more than anyone else's?

In Richmond when the Harvey family was murdered and the city went into shock, I wanted to ask people why they weren't shocked that other people are killed in Richmond all the time, why the death of a rich white family was worse than the death of black children or adults in poor neighborhoods. But it's not as if it's wrong to be shocked at a murder. Sometimes I feel it's a mark of ignorance to take individual deaths personally, to be moved by them, since it implies that you're not considering all the wrongful deaths and sufferings that happen every day around the world. No one can consider and mourn them all or we'd never be able to function. But on the other hand, what are we if we take all tragedies in stride, if we let nothing affect us? Is that diminishing the worth of all lives, the meaning of tragedy? We may function better, but don't we lose something?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sometimes Bryn Mawr students are a little too single-minded

I was reading that some Jewish families traditionally do a vegetarian meal for Purim, because the only way for Esther to have kept kosher while not letting on that she was a Jew would have been to not eat meat at all. I realize Purim doesn't start until tomorrow, but tonight was my night to cook so I did hummus and pita (surely they ate something similar in ancient Persia?) and hamentashen.

After I had set them out on the table a girl approached me with one, asking "And what are the beautiful . . . vagina cookies?" I replied something about them being hats, but I couldn't help wondering what kind of freaky triangular vaginas she was familiar with.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

All's right with the world

It's raining, but I'm inside with a bowl of Cream of Wheat.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


It's good to have friends with a variety of political opinions, because the ones who seem crazy to you make you realize how crazy you seem to some of the others. I used to think that living in cooperatives and communes and things was wrong because if you're living on one you're not changing all the people in suburban isolation behind their picket fences. Ideally one should be a kind of missionary, talking one's neighbors into sharing lawnmowers and communal vegan dinners. But the older I get the more hopeless that seems to me (except for settlement houses, which some Jane Addams-wannabe part of me still loves). And I've started looking at co-ops to move into after Peace Corps, becase at this point I'm ready to admit that I can't change everything and on some fronts it's okay to eat my vegan meals in peace and try not to make the situation outside worse.

I swore it would never happen, but I'm starting to feel like the realist. Maybe it's just coincidence, but three conversations I've had with friends in the past 48 hours make me want to yell, "Do you have anything we could try now? Do you have any theories that don't require the overthrow of capitalism, the mechanization of all labor, the demilitarization of the country, the colonization of the moon, or the word 'hence'?!"

Saturday, March 04, 2006

No, you're just angry and young

I finally saw someone wearing the "Angry Young and Poor" sweatshirt that Delia's used to sell. For, if I remember, $28. I wanted to laugh in her face, but possibly she got it secondhand.