I got some pretty good grades.

I got some not-so-good grades.

I almost cried in French class. It could have gotten ugly.

I wish it was one of those stories I’ve told where I was expecting to bomb and did really well instead.

It’s not.

I have to write about Tom Stoppard.

I have to write about Edith Wharton.

I’ve narrowed down writing about either TS Eliot or Ralph Ellison.

Then I have to put French back in its place.

I won’t be blogging for a while; at least the rest of this week.

I’ve been trying to reserve all-out fun for the weekends. It’s worked up until now, when everything is due and finals are on the way.

I’ll be on chat intermittently. I hope I’m lucky enough to catch you.

Make sure to pop in and say hi. Make sure I’m eating and sleeping. Showering. And such. Tell me a joke. But make sure it’s funny.

Thanks to all those who’ve been nothing but encouraging and tolerant so far this semester. It has meant the world to me.

Just So I Don’t Forget

A couple more photos from the Festival of Colors.

I am most curious about what the girl sitting atop her father’s shoulders is doing. Also, I’m stooping down. The children to my left aren’t (much) taller than me.

Taken with Cynch's camera

All the colors were great, but as I walked through the clouds and crowds, sometimes thoughts of agent orange and nuclear invasions crossed my mind. Dark, yes, but that’s my brain for  you. Is this what Hendrix had in mind when he wrote “Purple Haze”?

Taken with Cynch's camera

My Professor Wrote Back

School is amazing, people.

In response to the email I sent last week:

Thanks, May, for this context. The shifting demographics of NYC are fascinating. And as one of the cities billions of outsiders, I’m always intrigued at how sprawling it is and yet how people familiar with NYC are familiar with the shifts in the demographics and meanings of individual blocks. [His wife] and I visited the city in 2007 for a week but would love to spend a longer time there at some point. (We attended church at the Harlem chapel, so added to the stream of white non-evangelical worshippers…)

To answer your question, or try: Langston Hughes described a “vogue” in “Negro writing.” Many white patrons and audiences of the time found “the Negro” fascinating, largely because of the perceived primitivism that African American culture offered, and this was manifest in cabarets in Harlem that didn’t shy away from jungle themes etc. So, a lot of Harlem Renaissance writing was supported, among white people, by this vogue, which isn’t exactly the resonant with what a lot of black artists were hoping for. So a lot of scholars have painted the Harlem Renaissance as a “failure.” These scholars also emphasize that all the black copyrights didn’t result in civil rights. But it seems to me that if we think about it in a more long-term way, the Harlem Renaissance writers had their works anthologized, and that has done quite a lot to help validate the culture, even after the Renaissance’s end. Today, I think, studying the Harlem Renaissance in a class like our would be as important as studying high modernism, and that’s an impressive climb up through the rungs of literary history.

Festival of Colors

I’m always on campus and without my camera whenever I decide at the last minute to do fun stuff.

In Spanish Fork at the Hare Krishna temple, around spring’s advent, they throw a huge Festival of Colors. I’m not sure what that involves with the Hindu culture, except for what I saw: colored, scented chalk powder (or cornstarch) everywhere, on everybody. (“Everybody” felt like at least 10,000 people.) The burning of an effigy. Loud, Indian music and people dancing and shouting and it feels like Woodstock, except that it definitely isn’t Woodstock. It was fun; everybody pelted everyone else with bright colors, and for the bulk of a Saturday afternoon, everyone in Utah was the same.

Oh, wait.

Just kidding, Utah. Not everyone in Utah is the same. I try to make a point to hang out with the people who are the least like everybody else. Within my own comfort of conformity, of course.

It was nice of the emcee to tell people to keep their clothes on.

Yesterday was a hat day, because it was not a good hair day. This hat is usually grey and black with a herringbone pattern. When we left the festival, this is what my hat looked like:

This is the potential someone’s hair achieved, because she did not wear a hat:

It was a pretty full day.  A friend put a huge purple smear on my face, and I did not fully assess the damage until we were well out of Spanish Fork. After the festival, I was able to change my top in the car on the way to Draper’s Cafe Rio without a citation for indecent exposure. I did Rocky impressions and obeyed dog commands.  A friend successfully cleaned up after peeing herself. (This was a lot funnier then than gross now as I’m typing. …Nevermind, it’s still pretty funny now.)

I’m sure other photos will pop up eventually.

Another Letter, Again

Dear Australia,


I know I said I was done writing you, but I just finished watching my best friend’s wedding videos, and I am weeping. I’m sure you’ve seen what a beautiful bride and wife she is. Of course you have.

It’s incredible, the different and disparate paths our lives take. The Lord definitely guides us – if we let Him – to where we need to be.

It’s Palm Sunday here, and my gratitude is overflowing.

I’m glad Becky and I got to talk on the phone a couple of weeks ago. The signal was clear, and she didn’t seem as far away.

It makes me happy to see my friends really, truly in love. I think back to that January morning in the temple and all the true and righteous choices that led to her marriage. What a beautiful day! What a wonderful life! She inspires me.

Becky loves and gives and understands and cherishes. I’m so blessed to have her friendship. She’s been there for me pretty much since we first met almost six years ago, and I can always count on her for her support.

Keep me posted, Barry. I’ll see you soon.


So Many Choices

I have a paper to write for history class. Well, all my classes, except for French. We have to come up with 4-6 pages of original thought on any of the readings.

This assignment asks you to return to one of the texts we have read during the semester and to analyze it in a sustained and detailed way. You should return to one (and only one) of the assigned readings with the intention of asking and answering a question that we were not able to pursue in class. Again, the intention here is not to repeat what we’ve discussed in class but to combine your knowledge of the American literary-historical narrative with your skills as an astute interpreter of literary texts. This combination of background knowledge and interpretive skill should permit you to make an original argument about one of the texts we’ve discussed.

Let’s see if I can narrow it down…

Continue reading

I Sent One of My Professors This Email Tonight

I meant to speak up earlier about the total area Harlem covers. It’s actually shifted down (south) about 10 blocks, and it doesn’t quite go up to the northern tip, but only to 168th Street, if that far. Maybe even just to the 150s. North of that is a strong Dominican Republic presence as well as an Orthodox Jewish community (Yeshiva University is at 181st Street). This area is called Washington Heights, and this is where I lived most of my time in NYC.

The relatively new Harlem LDS chapel (almost 5 years old) is located at 127th Street and Lenox Avenue. It houses two wards. A lot of young (and white) LDS families who attend grad schools (mostly Columbia) integrate into these congregations, and it seems … odd how this wave of non-black, non-evangelical worshipers occupies the heart of Harlem for at least three hours every week.

Concerning the petition of civil rights through copyright, how immediately and readily accepted were the works of the Harlem Renaissance? Was it only through the High Modernists’ advocacy and sponsors’ endorsement of “primitive” culture that the literature spread? Were they the only ones who could realistically effect change? There are those who’d read African American literature because it has academic and moral value, and there are those who would/n’t read it because it’s African American. Did the literature only reach other High Modernists and scholars at the time and then later spread to other audiences?


I really like my history class, people. I just wish there was something more I could do about this B. C’est la vie. Or, c’est la B.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Puns make me laugh. Even stupid ones.