Live Music

What is it about live music? As good as iTunes is at converting sound at the most high-tech resolution, there is just a depth and soul to music you hear in person. Nothing, in my opinion, exemplifies this the way stringed instruments do.
At Music in the Library on March 6, the Eastman Guitar Quartet performed some lovely pieces by the Debussy, Bach, and others.
On Match 28 in Tower Fine Arts, the Arco Trio played some short and sweet chamber music pieces. That’s not to say the music was in any way simple, but the songs were designed to be played by small groups for small audiences. They were the classic example of “less is more.”
I’m very impressed by the variety of music right here on campus. I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of the audience members at Music in the Library autographed a sign-in sheet suggesting they weren’t there entirely willingly. As a former violin player and wanna-be guitarist maybe I’m biased. After all it would take a class requirement for me to sit through a rap concert! The beauty of music is there is something for everyone and it seems a healthy variety of music comes to our campus.
(The next Music at the Library is on April 3rd and features Mitzy Collins on dulcimer and Roxanne Ziegler on Celtic harp. It’s at 12:25 at Drake and I hope you check it out!)

Writer’s Forum 2: What’s Your Life Story?

What is your life’s story?

That was the question posed by poet and memoirist Ira Sukrungruang at the Writer’s Forum. He feels that anyone’s life can be a story worth telling. We all have similar experiences (the death of a loved one, our first kiss, etc.) but we have unique reactions to these events.

Ira grew up in the Midwest as a child of Thai parents. He feels his life was pretty ordinary. His ability to look at life and see the humor and beauty in it is out of the ordinary. He read a poem he wrote about snow that would resonate with any hardened upstate New York resident as well as a life-long desert dweller.

In addition to the question of when can I find time to read his latest book, I’m left with some questions about my own life. What’s my life’s story? What will my story be?


The next Writer’s Forum will be on April 17. Check it out!

Writer’s Forum 1: Picture It


On February 13, Laura Moriarty came to campus for the first Writer’s Forum of the semester. It was also my first time attending. I had wanted to go all last semester, but pesky work kept getting in the way. I was very excited to check it out and didn’t quite know what to expect.

I’ll be honest: I had never heard of Laura or her latest book,Ā The Chaperone, and was a little surprised by how many audience members were clutching a copy. But it turns out, I had just been missing out. When Laura read from the book, I was intrigued and afterwards bought a copy from the Lift Bridge Book Shop table in the back of the room. (Good call putting that there!)

Laura’s book has been optioned into a movie which is very exciting. The whole room gasped when Laura told us that Julian Fellows was going to be writing the screenplay! You could tell that there were many Downton Abbey fans in the room.

Whenever I meet someone who is a writer, I always want to ask them when and how they knew that writing was their calling. I almost asked Laura during the question and answer period, but I chickened out. But she said something else career-related that really struck me. She said that she was a pre-med social work major in college. She could picture herself as a doctor, but she couldn’t imagine talking about medicine all day. I can picture myself at a desk as a “business person” but I really can’t picture myself managing an office full of people.

Before I got too carried away thinking about writing the next great American novel, Laura said something else: she was obsessed while writing this novel. She said that writing takes research and dedication. That’s when I had to ask myself if I really have what it takes to be a writer.

The next Writer’s Forum is March 27 at 8pm. I can’t wait and I hope to see you there!

I Want To Go!

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: if you have the chance to study abroad you must take it!
Tonight I went to a “New Zealand Night” to learn more about the Winter Session trip and about study abroad in general. It was a great night! Many students who have made the trip in the past shared their stories. Interested students, such as myself, had the opportunity to ask them questions as well as to talk with Nancy Vander Molen, the trip’s leader. There were trivia questions, prizes (I won the t-shirt in the photo), and snacks. Students shared their photos and videos on the big screen.
Brockport offers a variety of study abroad programs, so if you’re just curious or very interested check out the International Education page of their website.
I thoroughly enjoyed my study abroad experience this past summer and I highly recommend it. You’ll never be the same!

Torn in two…hundred directions

I have two exams tomorrow, two quizzes on Friday, and a paper as well as a project due on March 1st. Taking 17 credits isn’t for the faint of heart. Add to that working at least 20 hours a week and wanting to spend time with family and friends and life can get pretty hectic.
I’m literally laying in bed as I type this thinking about all the things I need to do (one of which was go to sleep an hour ago so I can get up at 6am and not be cranky pants as I shovel all this stupid snow that’s coming down now) and my head is spinning. How will I get it all done?!?
But then I remember to just take a deep breath. It will all get done. Maybe something will have to give, but that’s what prioritizing is all about.
Feeling stressed by that giant to-do list? Maybe you need to step back. Determine what’s most important and what can wait.
And always, get a good night’s sleep. Speaking of which…I think it’s time for me to zzzzzzzzz šŸ˜“

Hitting the Books For Fun

Over the break I tried to read as many for-fun books as I could. When I was a kid I didn’t read much because I always felt I was being forced into reading something I didn’t care about. When you can choose a book of your own volition it makes a world of difference.

My Life in France by Julia Child – My friend picked up a used copy of this book for me at a library sale. (If you like books at all, library sales are awesome places to shop. If you wait for the last day of the sale you can usually get an entire grocery bag of books for two bucks!) I studied in Italy this summer and reading this book brought back many memories of adjusting to life in Europe, which is more different than you’d expect. It also made me want to go to France even more than I already did. Maybe some day. Le sigh.
Throne of Fire and The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan – You may know Riordan from his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. (You may also be wondering what a college student, and 31 year old, like me is doing reading books from the kids section. I love taking a break from “grown up” academic books by cleansing my palette with lighter fare. Also, it’s fun to sit down and polish off a book in a few hours every now and then.) I loved the Percy Jackson books! (The movie? Not so much.) When I found out Riordan was writing a new series involving ancient Egyptian myths I was thrilled because Egypt has always been fascinating to me. Throne of Fire and The Serpent’s Shadow are the second and third books in the Kane Chronicles. I was disappointed that they are the last in this series. I can only hope for a spinoff series like Riordan has done with theĀ Heroes of OlympusĀ series.
How to be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell – This is the second book in the How to Train Your Dragon series and it’s just as humorous as the first. If you like the Diary of a Whimpy Kid series (don’t be ashamed to admit it!) then you’ll like the series as well.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – I try to read this book at Christmas time every year. This is only the third time I’ve succeeded, despite the fact that the book is very short. This year I downloaded the free iBook version and read it on my phone whenever I could spare a few minutes during the busy holiday season. The formatting wasn’t the best, but it was free so I shouldn’t complain. (I’m shocked how many classic books are in iBook format for free. If you have an iPhone or iPad you must check them out!)

Avalon High by Meg Cabot –Ā This book takes a modern look at the King Arthur legend through the perspective of a mysterious high school in Maryland. I was halfway through when I realized I had read it before, but that didn’t stop me from finishing it. I’m a big fan of Meg Cabot’s light-hearted writing style. (You may know Meg Cabot from the Princess Diaries series. If you’re looking for more light-and-fun reading I would highly recommend the series. Don’t judge the books based on the movies. There are some significant differences.)

WonderstruckĀ by Brian Selznik – Don’t be fooled by this book’s high picture-to-word ratio; the story is very complex and moving. If you are at all artistically inclined (I wish I was), the illustrations in this book will make you want to break out the sketch pad and pencils. If you enjoy this book, check outĀ The Invention of Hugo Cabret,Ā also by Selznik.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron – I enjoy nonfiction as much as fiction and, contrary to the trend of the previously mentioned titles, I can read books meant for adults! This book was a quick read and made me laugh out loud more than a few times. (If you’re looking for even more humor, check out Tina Fey’s Bossypants. But be prepared for awkward looks from strangers as you LOL if you read it in public.) It was also a library book sale find and I’ve passed it along to my mother who will no doubt enjoy the “getting older sucks” theme and witty observations about life in general. This book, along with Julia Child’s, has really made me want to do something big and exciting with my life. Too bad I can’t quite figure out what that is.

Thanks for the Chance

Turkey. Stuffing. Potatoes. Aged sheep’s milk cheese from Italy.

You’re wondering if this is a game of “which one of these things is not like the other one”? It is not. It’s a list of the delicious foods I have consumed this weekend.

Due to family members’ work schedules and travel plans, we decided to have Thanksgiving on Saturday. A week or so beforehand my cousin wrote to me and said we should think of something to do for dinner on Friday night. Because she had gone on her honeymoon to Tuscany some years ago and I had studied abroad there this summer, we decided on an Italian theme. Given the fact that I cannot cook (I took Professional Food Writing) I offered to bring an antipasto. And I knew just the one: pecorino tuscano with honey.

While in Firenze (Florence) my group and I ate at an awesome restaurant called Casalinga. This was one of the few dining establishments that did not have English on their menus. I decided to get brave and order what I thought was a cheese plate with honey. It turned out my rudimentary Italian was correct and that’s exactly what I got. And I’ll never be the same! The three different ages of pecorino were variations on nutty and tangy. The accompanying honey, walnuts, and pears were perfect.

So when the time came, I brought two ages of pecorino tuscano and honey to our pre-Thanksgiving Black Friday Italian dinner. The dish raised more that a few eyebrows, but most everyone who tried it loved it. While we were eating, I got to tell everyone stories about my time in Italy. My cousin also shared about her honeymoon.

Sharing food and stories with loved ones is what celebrations are all about!

The moral of the story is if you have the opportunity to study abroad YOU MUST DO IT! Seriously, I can’t say it often enough. You will learn so much and have experiences that will improve your life in amazing ways. Studying abroad isn’t cheap and it’s not like taking a trip to Disney World, but in the end you will be thankful that you did it!

Sustainability Week

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Did you know?

  • Brockport’s grounds crew uses integrated pest management instead of pesticides.
  • All the new furniture in Smith Hall is made from recyclable materials and is LEED certified.
  • The college is investigating using post-consumer composting in the dining halls.
  • BASC uses produce from 10 local farms.

All these facts and more were shared with students during “Chalk the Walk” which was part of the first annual Sustainability week October 21-28, 2012.

Students from many majors kicked off the week with Campus Clean-Up, picking up trash around the campus and along the canal after enjoying a free lunch from TRAX. During Chalk the Walk students wrote sustainability facts in chalk on the side walk outside of the Union. Also during the week there was a Brown Bag Lecture about aquaculture, two documentary screenings, and a Sustainability Fair in the Union.

The College has already implemented many sustainable practices. Now it’s up to each of us to do our part!

Test (Result) Anxiety

Test anxiety is very real. We each experience it to one extent or another. Thankfully, I typically only have a minor case during the test itself.
But what gets me is the waiting. No matter how well I think I’ve done when I hand in that paper there is doubt that nags at me. What if I skipped a page? What if I got critical concepts backwards in my brain? Were my answers clear? The list of questions bouncing around my brain can be longer than the test itself.
A few weeks ago I had a test on a Friday. I didn’t feel super great about it but since the weekends are uber busy for me, since I work retail, I didn’t have much time to worry about it. I arrived in class on Monday with a stomach of butterflies. It was the first test in this class so there was an extra level of uncertainty. When the professor entered the room without a conspicuous piles of papers I began to worry. When he/she announced that the exams wouldn’t be returned until next week the butterflies became carnivorous. There was no school the next Monday so this news meant it would be at least nine days until I discovered the results. Nine days felt like an eternity to wait! In the mean time should I keep studying as I had been? Do I need to tweak my routine a little or did it need a major overhaul? How could I know until I knew the results of the test?!?
Fast forward to the next Wednesday. This time Professor had a big pile of papers in tow. He/she began class lecture as usual. Couldn’t we catch a break and get the results at the beginning of class? No, of course not. The butterflies had chewed through my stomach lining at this point and were making their way to my other organs. Finally, with just ten minutes left in class, it was announced we would get our tests back. I began to relax slightly. The answer to my burning question was coming. When professor was about to pass the papers back he/she stopped and said there was an answer key to be passed back along with the test and he/she had left it in the copier. Rather than let us look at the tests while the papers were retrieved, he/she left the room then to go get them. My butterflies when nuclear! I was tempted to start digging through the papers on the desk to find mine but social decorum prevented me.
The professor returned in what probably felt like a jiffy to everyone but me and passed back the tests and answer keys. My insides returned to normal. I received a better grade than I anticipated. All was right with the world.
But only until the next post-test waiting period.