A day at the museum

I’m graduating in a little over a week from COLLEGE!

WHAT!

Anyway, today we went to the Museum of the Rockies here in Bozeman for a final art class. Although our purpose was more just to have something to do, for days on end I was bothering Chris telling him, “I get to see the geckos!” and getting overly excited.

You see, if I had really done it right, I would have gone to school for herpetology, or the study of reptiles and amphibians. I love frogs, salamanders, skinks, snakes, and lizards galore! So upon entering the museum I immediately raced to the glass enclosures. There were fat geckos, flying geckos, geckos that looked like leaves, and brightly colored little geckos. They were all wonderful to observe, and have such interesting body structures! I could talk about their feet all day.

The museum also has some wicked exhibits about Montana’s ancient shallow seas that used to cover modern day Missoula and other parts of Montana. I’ve been to the museum dozens of times in my life but every time I appreciate something more. I love the amazing skeletons of the dinosaurs and the petrified wood and fern impressions. I will always be a sucker for neat plaster exhibits of old school nautilus’s swimming around prehistoric seas.

Overall it was a great day to spend in a place I love. I’m going again tomorrow but tomorrow will most likely be the last time I go before graduating college!

What it feels like to write a thesis

USEFUL

Step 1: Turning in a proposal and experiencing gut-seizing fear.

You wonder “Why did I ever decide to do this?” Your emotions will revolve around a mixture of apprehension, excitement, and wanting to vomit thinking about all the RESEARCH!
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko a

Step 2: Sitting your ass down and researching.

THIS IS THE WORST! You get so mad at the world, kind of like Dictator Lukashenka, because you spend 83.9% of your time ELIMINATING sources rather than FINDING sources! Your advisor asks for “1st person sources” and you want to scream “Those are as hard to find as the rich husbands I need to fund my future doctoral degree!” (Just kidding…)

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Step 3: Realizing how weird and specific your thesis is.

By now you’ve got some semblance of data. You’re done being bitter and now you’re actually sort of excited about what you’re writing! You want to tell people and nobody really thinks it’s that interesting but you still tell them about it. You talk about it at parties and to strangers and when you pet dogs outside of coffee shops you mention it to them. You spend your nights lying awake re-organizing your outline and wondering if the coffee shop will have your favorite roast for your next hard-core thesising day.

(Also at this point the verb “to thesis” becomes a reality. You are always thesising, about to thesis, etc.)
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Step 4: You’re in too deep to give up! 

Now you should put on a false sense of bravado. Even if your adviser hates your stuff, even if you’re potentially screwed, you have to just act like everything is peachy and you’ve got it under control! (Because you totally do. Obviously. Even if most of your thesising is spent making effective study playlists…)

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Step 5: Realize how quickly the semester is going and have a single, graceful moment of panic.

You are scared s***less and you frankly have no idea how you will make it through. You might occasionally cry in Target store aisles looking for shampoo thinking about how little time you have left.

431px-Judith_mit_dem_Haupt_des_Holofernes_2Step 6: VANQUISH!

I’m not here yet. I’m still in the false bravado stage. I hope to get here and have the damn thing bound and slap it down triumphantly in the library and scream “HELL YEAH” and then erase all my favorited research links and burn all the old drafts! Then I fully plan on having a large helping of wine and cake and being sufficiently praised for my hard work (although the praise probably won’t happen).

 

The residents of Lewis Hall (Birds of Montana)

 

After class sometimes I wander thru other buildings on campus. I found the biology building full of beautiful, taxidermied birds and other critters.

And, here they are!

In order:

1. An osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

2. A Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

3. A Western screech owl (Megascops kennicottii)

4. A ruddy duck (Oxyjura jamaicensis)

5. A great horned owl skull (I saw one hunting with my father in December!) (Bubo virginianus)

6. A little 5 oz. burrowing owl (Athene cuniculana)

7. My favorite, the beautiful Bohemain Waxwing (Bombycilla Garrulus)

I love living in Montana where so many birds are always present! Normally you just see crows, magpies, chickadees, and sparrows, but kestrals and hawks are seen in town on a regular basis and eagles build the most gorgeous nests right near major roadways. We’ve got such a wealth of critters always roaming around! This year alone I’ve seen bighorn sheep, woodpeckers, enormous elk, a beautiful baby rubber boa, antelope, all kinds of ducks, and a few owls, and I haven’t been nearly as outdoorsy as I could be.

Pre-departure

001_31A 004_28A 006_26A 007_25A 008_24A 009_23A 010_22A 011_21A 012_20A 013_19A 014_18AJulia and I wore our typical dresses to the typically un-feminine Stockyard.

I attended a magazine launch party in heels armed with a notebook trying to take down quotes from attendees. Found an abandoned beer in the elevator to the party. Admired the string lights, live art, and the typewriter that people were free to use.

I also drove around Bozeman itching for spring to finally stop tempting me and flood everything with live, greenery and sunshine.

 

A walk in the woods (ish)

Going for a cool afternoon walk in some “woods” nearby, with muted colors, hushed noise, and cottonwood leaves littering the ground might be one of the best things ever. Waking up from a lovely nap and then doing that is even better.

Fall returned for an afternoon. The  cool breeze was enough to make my skin feel slightly flushed. The oranges and yellows against the grays and browns, the murmur of water, and the whispers of trees gave way to a feeling of contentedness. Winter released its vice-like grip for a short while, and we walked, savoring the last shreds of a too-short season here in Montana.

Food and thoughts. Or, if we want to go cliche, food for thought. You choose.

 

 

What does it say that I’m super sensitive to spicy food but always find myself being with the people who love the hottest food possible? (I’m trying to eat more spice to get myself used to it!)

Seriously, though.

This weekend was mediocre pie with somebody not mediocre in any way, La Tinga and sharing our space with a bitter Michigander whose presence I found quite humorous, and Sunday morning donuts worth drooling over for a pittance.

Just so you know, writing a check for $4.50 for six donuts doesn’t make people, specifically older already feisty men, very happy. In case you were wondering.

Wandering in den Wäldern

Black and white and some photography, finally. Julia and I found ourselves in the trees, around the autumnal woods. Perfect temperatures and a variety of shadows made me feel creative again. An image of myself that I dearly enjoy even came out! We sat on the ground, walked in streams, and waxed about anything and everything.

Photographing Julia is easy- she takes direction, comes up with her own awesome ideas, and we both know that every frame will not turn out.  I don’t pretend to be professional, and she doesn’t either. We improvise with what we have and see what turns out!

I have missed taking photographs I enjoy. I have quite a few more to post soon!

Massive photo post of what’s been going on.

Alright, so my life has been semi-hectic. I apologize for a lack of real posts. Using Frans Hals is not a legitimate excuse, I know! Forgive me!

I moved into my apartment, as you saw in a previous post. I have a window that won’t shut, and chickens that wake me up at 4 am living behind the apartment. I have to buy groceries like a real adult- and damn, it’s tough! My classes have started- I love my Italian Baroque class, even though I thought I was Baroque-d out! (You know what they say: If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!). I got in a debate over medieval art before class with a sassy grad student today. My Oceanography course seems interesting, and my course on the History of Museums is going to be AMAZING because I find museums to be the most glorious of things. If I could take up permanent residence in one…well, I can dream.

I’ve been bowling and breakfasting and not turning in my film, so some of these are a few weeks old! Remember that hike I hated? Yeah, some more pictures from that trail from hell.

This last weekend a good friend was in town and stopped by- an adventure in the Lewis and Clark Caverns ensued, and a tour of my campus was included- a brush with Walt Whitman was required, as I walked past this sculpture everyday. Discussions of music, stalagmites and stalactites were had, and Bozeman actually wasn’t an oven, which made walking and hiking bearable. Breakfast was had with other friends at a kitschy establishment that proved to be delicious. I got ready for class, and unpacked more things.

Goodbyes have been happening lately. I hate goodbyes. I’m so bad at them, I’m more of a pretend we’ll see each other and never make the formal thing happen kind of girl.  I do genuinely believe, though, in the whole “small world” concept. Living abroad for two years has taught me that you can and will see people again, no matter what, if everything lines up. The world is incredibly interconnected, and people find each other and luck has a way of making it possible to make your goodbye not so much of a permanent thing. I have not seen my best friends in Switzerland in almost two years (a lifetime for somebody 21) and although it hurts, I have no doubt that I’ll see them soon. So, when I say goodbye to people in my life, I never really put faith in that goodbye, because I don’t believe it will really be so final.

Other than making grand ideas of mine known to the Internet, I’ve been biking sans helmet (a certain somebody is judging me), going to the gym every morning before class, and the library has already been offering solitude from the oppressive, smoky heat. I’m on the student newspaper this year, and everybody on staff seems to be rather glorious. Fall has yet to arrive- right now it’s just hot hot heat and a lot of sunscreen.

I hope your summers are winding down beautifully!

University starts tomorrow, CHE?!

I’m trying to be cool like this cavalier about school.

I’ll be a senior in college, I’m taking wicked courses, my apartment and the lovely people in it seem pretty swell, and although I have yet to get my shit together enough to pump up my bike tires, I think everything is going pretty swell.

Plus, I’m taking a class ALL ABOUT medieval art. We’re talking warped perspective, amazing use of color, really crazy creativity mixed with amazing uses of repetition. I love medieval art because it seems to be so bland but then BOOM you find a manuscript with illustrations of a tree with penises in it in gold leaf.  Yes, you read correctly. The medieval period is honestly of the most unique and awesome times in all of history. I love it.

I hope all you cool cats are going to have a lovely fall! I hear thunder, and I hope the coming storm is marvelous. Challenges are going to abound in many ways but I think that if I can get myself organized and prioritized I can handle whatever comes.

Image source: Wikimedia

New Digs!

I am now the renter of an apartment with two other girls. My room is fairly small, but I prefer “cozy”- I fit my bed, a dresser, and a table in. The walls are covered in maps, pictures, and posters from photography and art museums. I even managed to install a shelf that called for POWER TOOLS with a beautiful hand-cranked drill with help from Julia!

Also yes, these are digital, mostly because I was lazy and wanted them NOW not LATER.

Trying to make it interesting.

(By the way, Meghan isn’t dead, she’s sunbathing. Just in case this looks suspicious.)

Life here has reached the point where if I’m not researching about hyper masculinity for a paper or procrastinating by watching The Departed that I’m not photographing anything.

Which is sad and will change soon.

I miss taking photographs, being around people I love who are energetic enough for the snap of a shutter, but everybody is stressed, and the mood on campus is morbid. I did register to vote (WOO!) and this week I saved myself $7,000 by haggling over transfer credits!

Also, enough of this black and white film. I think I’m going to end up purchasing my standby: Cheap 200 speed Fujifilm.

On a side note: My roommate and I have turned our cramped, third world dorm room (exaggeration alert) into a nursery for plants. We bought packets of seeds, some little pots, and have about 50 little dirt-filled cups lining the windows, waiting for the sun to create life!

Alas, el sol hasn’t been in the “I’ll be out!” mood, especially in the morning when our window gets the light, and so the sprouts haven’t…err…sprouted. Le sigh!

Another side note: TRAINING FOR A 10K IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Which thus far I have been quite terrible at. I ran 13 miles this week, a pittance compared to my cross-country days, but hey, this lazybones is working on it!

Anyway, here is some photographic evidence from last weekend that I have a life, albeit the generic kind that probably barely passes for interesting.

Black and white world

 

My day to day activities are quite mundane, and I would be the first to admit it. However, that does not mean that they aren’t worth capturing.

Harlan and Emily are going to be roommates next year- Harlan always has the most wonderful expressions, and he is not self conscious in front of the camera- I often find myself toting along the camera just to get some more expressions from him. I took Emily out to Cafe Zydeco for an early birthday dinner- we both gorged ourselves, it was very messy! Thank goodness nobody we knew saw us!

I find that photographing everyday things that seem boring make these moments significant. I like lending significance to the dull, the muted- it makes me feel more alive in turn.

 

The f/1.4 lens makes a debut!

Okay, guys. I’m excited.

So the photographs I’m posting aren’t my favorites, but the focus of the 1.4 lens is SO awesome that it makes them automatically more fun! I like how it’s soft and crisp at the same time. Plus, it lets it so much more light, and I hate using artificial flash!

When my parents gave it to me, I took of my 50mm f/1.8 and compared it to the f/1.4, and showed them how much more LIGHT will be let it, and I got super ridiculously loud and happy about it. In a public place. Oops.

I’ve got another roll almost ready, and I’m finally starting to get the hang of focusing with the lens, so perhaps the next roll will be a little more awesome, but here are some photographs from the first roll with this beautiful new addition to my lens collection!

Someday I’ll take pictures of all of the lenses I own and give a visual catalog. Some of them are quite lovely! This is my current favorite though.

Primavera in several forms.

The last few days have been busy with mostly unimportant things like reading about World War II, sun bathing, eating food food, and enjoying being 21, which hasn’t been super exciting but is freeing at the same time.

My photographs will be improving soon, though, as a result of the f/1.4 50mm lens my parents got me for my birthday! I opened it this morning at my favorite breakfast place in Bozeman, the Nova, and am SO excited to shoot with it and experience the gorgeous focus and diffusion! WOO!

Anyway, here are some photographs from my 50mm 1.8 lens of yesterday and some of the days before.