Romantic Ruins

Hello again my dear readers! First, click here for a playlist of fall music that’s keeping me going on these chilly days. Selection includes: The Head and the Heart, Iron and Wine, Vampire Weekend, Olly Murs, Feist, some other awesome people.

I hope all is going well wherever you are, be that Maryland, New Jersey, Ireland, or anywhere else in the world!

And speaking of Ireland…you know what Ireland is full of? Like, besides sheep. And greenery.

Castles!!!

Well, maybe I should clarify. Ireland is chock full of castle and fort ruins, but no matter how much they crumble, they are truly beautiful.

Here are some photos of Trim Castle and the glorious views from its ramparts, Co. Meath near Dublin (where they filmed Braveheart, no less).

Second stage of the castle's expansions

Approach to Trim Castle

Secret Staircase

Side View

Beautiful Land

Watch Tower

Ugh, so pretty

Can't you just imagine magical creatures living here now?

Landscape Surrounding

Landscape Surrounding

 

Church in the distance

Ruins in the further distance

Nature reclaiming the land

 

Creatively Serving

First, click here.

Now, envision yourself cooking a delicious meal. You wash the vegetables, peel, dice, sway to the music. Spinning expertly to get a new knife, you pull open the drawer, 1, 2, 3, pick it up, conduct the orchestra, close the drawer with your hip, spin, slide, resume chopping onions. Brown the meat, spice it up with thyme and lemon pepper, shake shake here, shake shake there, Oh fly me to the moon!

Or, if cooking doesn’t suit your fancy…

You’ve got a blank canvas before you, paints to your right, paper towels and water to your left, paintbrush in hand. Closing your eyes, you let the music paint a picture for you: an explosion of color, the voices of trombones and trumpets, lines and zig zags, the steady beat of the drums. You conduct the musicians with your brushstrokes. Dab, swirl, dot dot, loooong stroke, dab.

For me, part of the creative process involves music. From cooking, to painting, to writing, my concentration is aided by background rhythm and pure instrumentals. But not all creative processes are the same.

For instance, I know that when I paint with my friend Elissa on Friday, we will not be listening to my study session music! It’ll be something to get us through painting mural pieces for her senior project.

Which is actually what I wanted to talk about tonight (though music is cool too!).

Let me start by saying this: Part of being an art major or minor means putting together the equivalent of a senior thesis, but instead of it being a giant paper, it’s a gallery show, or in Elissa’s case, an instillation mural on York Road.

She and another friend of mine, Christine, have spent the past few months assembling the pieces of the mural and with the help of various friends have started to paint it. The mural itself is on six 5’4’ plywood boards that will be set up in the windows of the Verizon building.

Last week the Urban Art club helped prime the back of the boards so they wouldn’t warp.

This week, I’ll be helping paint the mural (can’t wait to break out my painting pants!)

I’m actually really excited to work on this, because 1) I love painting (on any scale) 2) I don’t often have time to do service, so it’s nice to have something that I can fit into my schedule for once 3) This will be me one day, so I’m gaining a new perspective in how to plan my future project.

But most of all, I’m looking forward to doing this because of the people. Working with fellow students on something like this adds a new dimension to your understanding of them and the people it will eventually affect. No matter what Elissa and I end up listening to, or talking about, when we paint, I know I’ll enjoy her company and the simple act of spreading color on a blank canvas.

The unveiling is on April 26 at 5 p.m. in front of the Verizon building.

No Faith? No Problem!

I feel like I haven’t been writing as much this semester as I used to. It’s probably safe to say it has something to do with the increased workload – both in the classroom and in the activities I’m involved in on campus. But, hectic schedule aside, I plan to make more of an effort in writing to you guys. So, I figured, what better place to do so than on the ride back to school after Easter break? A good 2.5 hour drive, a bag of Chex Mix, and the Riverdance soundtrack keeping my mom and me entertained. Yep, even getting stuck in Philly traffic provides an opportunity to admire the multitude of church steeples we drive past.

Church steeples…Church…Spirituality….If there’s one topic I haven’t really talked about on here, it would have to be the Catholic/Jesuit tradition at Loyola and the role it plays in shaping the student body both in and out of the classroom. And honestly, that’s a very complicated topic to address.

Sure, it’s easy to point out that Loyola’s core requires students to take 2 Theology classes, and one of the key community organizations is Campus Ministry, but there’s more to the individual’s exposure to religion than that.

Personally, I was raised Catholic and am currently…not sure. I’ve been told that my moral/ethical values align strongly with Catholic thought, but my societal views cause me to question some of the Catholic teachings. That isn’t to say that I’ve ever felt out of place or uncomfortable at a Jesuit school with the student body being mostly Catholic.

If anything, I’ve felt accepted here.

Both by students and faculty members, no matter their department. Some of my friends are Catholic, some atheist, some protestant, and some are everywhere in between and beyond. I’ve been able to have debates about the existence of God without feeling uncomfortable with them, either during or after. The professors I’ve encountered encourage questioning and a search for meaning in life, even if it isn’t strictly Jesuit or Catholic in the end. In this regard, there aren’t boundaries or restrictions to spirituality at Loyola.

Yes, there’s a chapel on campus, but no, I don’t feel its presence looming over me. At Christmas it hosts Lessons and Carols, one of the school’s well known and much anticipated traditions (good luck finding a seat, it’s packed within 15 minutes of the doors opening). Year round you can see alumni wedding parties arriving or taking pictures on the quad.

But even with a heavy emphasis on religious tradition, I’ve never felt like Jesuit teaching was shoved down my throat. True, it’s a big part of the campus culture: service, core values and classes, care of the whole person, insert school catch phrases here. But these are what make Loyola appealing, and I think define the school itself. Personal spirituality helps the transition into college and the progression through it, but it isn’t required.

So to those of you who wonder (and I promise I’ve been asked this), Is being Catholic required to enjoy the Loyola experience? I say No, But learning about Jesuit values shapes the way you think and interact with the world around you.

The Way to a Girl’s Heart? Good Food and Good Art.

I think my brain has been thought-out. It’s processed so much information and absorbed so many visuals over the past three days it just can’t take any more. A nap might be the best remedy, but before I have the luxury of doing that, I’d like to share with you the cause of my Sunday sleepiness.

Fall Break

No, I didn’t go home like most of the campus (I did last year. Homecoming through the eyes of a college student: never again). Instead, I shared an exciting weekend with my mom, as we explored the sights of Mount Vernon and two art museums.

It all began with an insanely relaxing Thursday afternoon of painting

My Thursday Afternoonand watching Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel (I’m a sucker for mysteries and British accents). After my mom arrived, we had dinner (fresh from the Trenton Farmer’s Market!) and Skyped my sister, who gave us the down low her kids’ Halloween costumes: a pirate and Yoda.

Of course, you can’t spend time with your parents on campus and not go to Miss Shirley’s for breakfast. This was my second time going, and I highly recommend the Cinnamon Roll French Toast! Combine their food with 60s/70s music, and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful day.

I know I said “art museums” and “exciting” in the same sentence, and many of you are probably shaking your heads in skepticism. But let me say this: The Walter’s Art Museum is not your typical art museum. Yes, they have large rooms filled with giant portraits of Europe’s nobility, countless paintings of martyred saints, and a very nice selection of 19th century landscapes, but they also have the “Chamber of Wonders.” Here resides everything from a mounted crocodile to delicately inlayed chests. Or

So pretty!!!

or

Lovin the Iridescence

or

Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

And, OK, fine, I admit it, I had to go there for my art history class, so it wasn’t out of pure intellectual curiosity that I gazed at art for four hours.

However, whether or not you go for fun, the Walter’s is a really cool museum. It’s also in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, which is home to some of the best restaurants in Baltimore and the first monument to George Washington.

Mt. Vernon MonumentFlowers at Mt. VernonSt. Paul'sOh Young Grasshopper...After discovering the not-quite-so-young-grasshopper, we walked over to Sascha’s 527 Cafe and had a refreshing dinner of crab cakes (another Maryland must have).

You’d think that I’d had enough of walking around, but no. My Italian class brought me to the Baltimore Museum of Art which is right by Johns Hopkins University, and easy to access via the Collegetown Shuttle.

Even though several of their galleries were closed for renovation, I still got to see some beautiful art.

Landscape at BMA The Kiss by Rodin

There’s a sculpture garden by the museum, but modern art isn’t really my thing, so I took pictures of the flowers instead:

So many pretty flowers! Leaves Changing

Although it was still fairly sunny, the temperature had definitely dropped by the time I got home, so I decided to make a stick-to-your-ribs Tex-Mex macaroni dinner. My sister gave me a book of pasta recipes, and I had yet to try one, so I took the advantage of the calm Saturday evening to make this:

Prep for DinnerTex-Mex macaroni!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my eyes are so tired and my brain is so sore. It was so much fun, but *yawn* I think it’s time to heed the calls of my warm bed.

Here Comes The Sun

This is going to sound ridiculous, especially coming from a college student, but it’s one of those things that will stay with you for a while (I can’t guarantee forever).

Wake up with the sun and walk around campus.

Bring an apple. Wear a jacket. Put on some shades (especially if you’re walking from Campion/Newman, you’ll be heading directly east). Listen to morning music (Fleet Foxes and Simon & Garfunkel are my preference).

I know what you’re thinking. What sane twenty-something gets up early to take a walk?

Confession: it wasn’t by choice that I discovered the calmness of campus at 7:30 AM.
I’m taking a life drawing class this semester which requires a lot of work: every week for homework we cover a new body part or bone structure and have reading assignments (open discussion during breaks in class), along with working from a model during the weekly class time. This week I had to draw the ribcage and pelvis from the front and side, so I got up super early to work in studio.

Last semester I had gotten up early for 8ams, but other people were walking around so the campus was populated, but very sleepy looking.

On the weekend though? Empty. Dead silent. Peaceful. Beautiful. Bright. Content.
It’s kind of rare to see Loyola like that, so empty yet so alive at the same time. The sun washes everything with a bright, golden light that practically makes the building glow. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some trees changing color.

The sunrise is so obvious but so often overlooked.

I’m asking a lot, I know. I really didn’t want to get up early (or at all) this weekend, but homework had to be done. I hear your groans and imagine your hands thrown up in disgust at the notion of rolling out of bed before noon on a Saturday.

But you should still do it. At least once.

So take a bite out of that apple, adjust your sunglasses, straighten your jacket, walk to the beat of your favorite band and soak up the morning sun.

Then take a nap in the afternoon.