Autumnal Elation

Ah, autumn has come at last! Leaves crunch underfoot, wind whips down alleyways, and it wouldn’t Ireland without a good dose of cold rain.

And by rain, I mean torrential downpours that come at you sideways broken up by squalls of lighter, slightly more tolerable rain. What would have been a pleasant walk to the train station was more like a swim. I mean, I was soaked. I could squeeze water out of my pants, that’s how wet I was.

Now, why on earth would I subject myself to such unpleasantness?

For Science!

Ahem, sorry, *cough*. I mean, For Service!

The study abroad program at Loyola requires all students complete an immersion project, which can either be a massive scrapbook (including interviews!)/paper reflection about your experiences, or 15 hours of service while abroad and a reflection.

Erin and I chose to do the latter, so we were very happy to hear that there was a service fair provided by the chaplaincy to make it easier for students to find service organizations to volunteer for. At the fair, we came across a table for Fota House, a restored 19th century mansion and grounds that holds events and workshops during the year and hosts tours during the spring and summer.

Being the history and reenactment nerd I am, I was super excited to check them out. And by excited I mean I filled out the volunteer form and returned it to the house this week, full of anticipation for working in what is basically Downton Abbey.

This week Erin will be helping with Halloween workshops for kids, and the following week I’ll be pressing apples for cider with the gardeners! Ah! So psyched!

I think a large part of this excitement is missing the fall traditions of home. Not exactly homesickness, but just certain things that are my favorite memories at Loyola or New Jersey.

In case Halloween/Autumn Fever hasn’t hit you yet, here are a few things to get you in the mood!

  1. Dorm Decoration! I’ve had so much fun with this the past two years. Whether or not you opt in for kids trick-or-treating at your door, it’s still fun to get your orange and black on.
  2. Apple or Pumpkin Picking. Ok, so I haven’t actually done this since high school, but it’s a blast. I keep on seeing pictures of friends on facebook picking apples back home at Terhune Orchards, or with a Loyola group on a trip.
  3. Pumpkin Carving. While it’s technically an extension of the above, it’s by far my favorite Halloween activity. Ever since I can remember I would design the pumpkin faces for my family, and eventually got to carve them myself. I don’t care how gross pulling out the “guts” can feel, it wouldn’t be Halloween without the smell of pumpkin in the apartment!
  4. Halloween Movie Marathons. Whether it’s Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein or Friday the 13th, everyone loves a good movie scare. And if you’re not up for scares, ABC Family is probably showing Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus (Ah, the good ol’ days).
  5. Foooooood. Everyone loves it. Grab some orange frosting and ice some creepy cupcakes, or turn pigs in a blanket to mini-mummies. No matter what you make, Halloween themed foods are the best.

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.

Taking a Break

Ready…Set…Wait for it…GO!!!!

And they’re off! Spring break has begun! Fresh air! More sleep! No homework! Freedom!

Well, kind of. By the time this is published, some students will be on their way home and others will be chomping at the bit to finish their last midterm. And, ok, fine, maybe I won’t get that much more sleep, and I know I have homework, but the fresh air and relative freedom still stands.

I say “relative” because I know my time isn’t truly my own. I’ll be running around, being enjoyably busy, and I know I’m not the only one. Loyola students tend to be fairly active during the week away from school. During my talks with friends I’ve heard some pretty interesting stuff. Here are a few of my favorites:

Thanks to the ease of travel in Baltimore, my friend Mary is flying out to see her sister in Pittsburgh. She’s really excited to see the Andy Warhol Museum and ride the incline (like that little red trolley from Mr. Rogers). I visited there a few summers ago and had a fantastic time. She’s in for a treat!

I know my roommate Erin plans to take the opposite route, and will be spending much of her time catching up on missed sleep. She also has her sights set on gaming, reading and hanging out with friends from home.

Likewise, my friend Ben told me he’d be getting some quality homework time in, because school will follow you where ever you go!

On a school-related note, some of my friends (quite a few, come to think of it) will be participating in Spring Break Outreach, a program that students apply for, and during which serve in communities across the east coast. There are eight sites, all in different states, all addressing different issues. My roommate Nicole will be learning about environmental and energy issues and visiting with organizations and local communities who are trying to address the problem. Lindsey, my fellow blogger, will be leading a group that focuses on prison reform and works with Baltimore agencies to educate students about the difficulties faced by current and past inmates. Other programs deal with rural and urban poverty, migrant farm labor, building communities, HIV/AIDS awareness, and racial justice.

I’ve also heard from other students that they plan to hang out with family and friends (even to Arizona and California!), spend some time skiing, and more than once I’ve caught “Disney World” while walking through Boulder.

What are my plans, you might ask? Well….I haven’t quite figured them out yet! I’ve been eying a few art museums since I haven’t been to any this semester (and that just feels weird). I really want to visit the Barnes in Philly (so many Renoirs and Cezannes!) and check out the Brandywine Museum’s F.O.C. Darley exhibit. My dad will be celebrating his birthday by going to the Museum of Mathematics in NYC to attend a talk about math in Pixar movies (I’m actually kind of excited for that). Other than the usual hair cut, visit to my high school, and obligatory restocking of food, I have no idea what else lies in my future! I hope it involves a trip to Barnes and Noble, though. Maybe I’ll eventually get to see The Hobbit or catch up on Downton Abbey.

No matter what I do, I know I’ll enjoy my chance to breathe and recuperate from midterms!