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One Door Closes, Another Opens

This post marks the end of an era. Technically, the end of a summer. An amazing, fabulous summer filled with friends and fun and camping and the most amazing internship I ever could have asked for.

When I decided to apply for and eventually accept the internship at Forum this summer, I didn’t expect it to be what it was. I expected to go in, sit down, get some work done, go home. I expected to love it at the start of the summer, and merely like it (if even that) by the end. I expected it to be just another job that I worked on for a few months. I expected to learn a lot and meet a lot of cool people and work with a lot of radio personalities and have a good time.

But Forum was a lot more that that. I met so many amazing people at KQED who go above and beyond every single day in trying to get the most and the most interesting news to the public. They inspired me with their commitment and their critiques and their professionalism and their passion. I got to see people in a hundred different professions come through, got to talk to them and ask them questions about their jobs. (Too bad I haven’t found my perfect profession yet!) I worked on every single part of the live show process – the research, the calling, the pre-interviewing, the meeting & greeting, the screening, the reading, and the thanking. All that’s left is the actual hosting! I actually looked forward to Mondays. (I was going to continue with the amazing-ness of my summer internship, but I think that pretty much sums it up.)

So one door is closing. I said goodbye to my internship for the last time yesterday. But another one is opening. I’m leaving tonight to start my senior year. I’m super excited for all my classes, and I’m excited to be living off-campus with my three best friends.

I sent a box yesterday that weighed 22 pounds and was full of books. (Don’t worry, I sent it Media Mail, and it cost < $15.) But if you looked in that box, or you looked at my Amazon orders list, or you looked at my class schedule, you might be a bit confused. Because … well …

  1. Particle and Nuclear Physics
  2. International Relations Seminar – US Foreign Policy in East Asia
  3. Advanced Japanese
  4. Physical Chemistry
  5. Literature of Haruki Murakami
  6. African Dance

I expect this semester to be a bit difficult, to say the least. I expect Japanese and Physics to have the hardest classes and tests, Lit and East Asia to have a lot of reading and essays. I’m hoping Chemistry is easy, but we shall see. And yes, they’re all part of my majors/minor. (Except Dance. That’s just fun.)

Breaking News Room

Last Monday, exactly 7 days ago now, Robin Williams committed suicide. Last Monday, like every Monday this summer, I was at work from 8am-4pm. The news about Williams was announced a bit after 3pm. This is significant only because it meant that I was at KQED when the news broke. In fact, one of the Forum producers broke the news.

She lives in Marin, so she always has a tab open to the Marin Independent Journal; Robin Williams lived and died in the jurisdiction of the Marin Sheriff’s Department, and they led the investigation. They wrote the press release and the Marin IJ were the first to see it and publish it. Our lovely producer saw the press release, and told us about it so fast that nothing came up on Google. (Because, as Dan pointed out, Google is an important source: “If it isn’t on Google, it isn’t true!”)

After a simple email to the entire news room with the news and the link, everyone was moving. Within about three minutes, Forum producers had determined if Williams had ever been on the show (he hadn’t). About three minutes after that, the emails started and the people walked down to ask if he’d ever been on the show. Since photos don’t exactly come across well on radio, people were looking for audio clips, which we unfortunately couldn’t provide.

We’d planned a show for the 9am hour. In fact, there were two shows planned (each 30 minutes). As sometimes happens, however, breaking news replaced the previously selected topics, and a Robin Williams show was instantly being crafted. By the time the decision was really made and the potential guests lined up, it was nearly 4pm. And, with the time sensitive nature of the show, the producers did all the work anyways. They know who’s been on Forum in the past, who they’d most like on the show, etc, without needing to ask questions, which always slow down a process.

It was fascinating to watch the process of breaking news being digested, interpreted, and reported on in the station around me, as tragic as that news may have been. I certainly didn’t expect anything along those lines when I began my internship at Forum, but it was certainly an interesting experience from which I learned a lot.

You Are Carrying…

Curtain rises, two boys sit center stage. A dilapidated building with a ladder propped against the side is in the background.

KHALID: Jamie, what are we doing here?

JAMIE: Sitting.

KHALID: But, I mean, why are we sitting here?

JAMIE: Because my bike tire is flat, but I don’t have my pump, so I can’t keep riding. And you’re supposed to be fixing that barn, but you’re lazy.

KHALID: I am not lazy!

JAMIE: Yeah you are.

KHALID: Am not!

JAMIE: Then why are you sitting here, doing nothing but staring at the sky with me?

Khalid stands, exits SL. He returns, carrying two buckets.

JAMIE: What’re those?

KHALID: Stuff.

JAMIE: Well, what’re you gonna do with them?

KHALID: Fix the barn. And you’re gonna help me.

JAMIE: No I’m not.

KHALID: Yeah you are. Do you want the tar or the stain?

JAMIE: What do I do with them?

KHALID: Well, one of us has to tar the roof, and the other one has to stain the walls.

JAMIE: Which one’s easier?

Khalid pauses.

KHALID: Tarring, definitely.

JAMIE: Well then, I want the tar.

Khalid smiles.

KHALID: Here you go.

He laughs and runs to the barn to begin staining the walls.

JAMIE: Khalid! You tricked me! Staining is totally easier than tarring, isn’t it?

Jamie slowly walks to the barn and begins to climb a ladder.

Blackout.

Lights up.

In blue light, a young girl wanders across the stage, staring up.

Time passes.

She walks across again, in the same direction as before.

Blackout

The young girl begins across the stage again, nearly falls over a wicker basket that is on the floor downstage center. 

MARY: Oh!

Mary sits. She looks around, then pokes her head in the basket. She lifts out a pen and puts it back. She lifts out a hand-held air pump and puts it back. She lifts out a piece of parchment, then reaches in and pulls out the pen again. She shifts, lying on her stomach, and begins to write.

Jamie and Khalid enter together, laughing.

JAMIE: Hey! What are you doing?

The boys run to Mary.

MARY: I’m writing a letter.

JAMIE: But that’s mine!

MARY: I just found it in the grass. I didn’t know it belonged to someone.

KHALID: Well who’d you think it belonged to?

MARY: Well… I don’t

JAMIE: Yeah! What, did you think aliens put it here or something?

MARY: No. I just thought…

KHALID: Hey, wait. What is this? He looks up from the parchment he has been examining.

MARY: That’s my letter. I’m writing a note to my dad.

KHALID: No, under the note. Not on the back. Just…under.

JAMIE: Let me see… It’s like a watch or something. Or a clock?

MARY: It’s a chronometer.

JAMIE: A what?

MARY: A chronometer.

KHALID: What’s that?

MARY: It’s kinda like a clock, but really really specific. Like, it is really good at telling time? I’m not really sure how to explain it. But my dad collected them before he died, so I could show you what they look like…

The three kids walk offstage, picking up the basket on the way.

Fade to black.


This post was my response to the Weekly Writing Challenge from a couple weeks ago, which was to make a post with a random list of words. My words were these:

 

Tutorial: Painted Floral Stemless Wine Glasses

About a month ago, remember how I went on vacation to Stanford Sierra Camp? And how I had an awesome time and made some awesome arts/crafts projects? I came home with this stemless wine glass, and got so many compliments on it at camp that I lost track. But then I thought about the fact that we don’t have glasses in our new apartment in Boston, and I decided it was time to make some wine glasses.

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One month later, I’ve completed all sixteen glasses. (Technically fifteen, since one was already finished) They take a while, but they’re a lot of fun and actually pretty simple.

Materials: 

Crate & Barrel Stemless White Wine Glasses, like those here.

Acrylic Paint. I used Martha Stewart’s Satin Acrylic Paint.

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Q-tips. Brand name q-tips work better, but off brands can work too. You’ll get better results if your q-tip has a tightly wrapped tip – these will hold up to repeated use better.

Procedures:

Step 1. Pick a set of four colors. I found that the color combinations that appealed to me tended to be in similar colors, but had a bit more variation than the first glass I made.

Step 2. Clean the glass. My mom helped me with this step (by helped, I mean completed for me…) But I think she used a diluted bleach to really clean the glass.

Step 3. Flip the glass over and hold it upside down. You’ll be painting on the bottom and up the sides. Using one q-tip for each color, use five dots in a circle to make a single flower. I suggest practicing a bit on paper first to get a sense of how much pressure you need. Over time, I varied the size of my flowers (not intentionally…). It seems that larger flowers, in which you press down harder when making each dot, end up a bit smoother than the smaller flowers, which have little peaks in each dot. These peaks seem to be smaller and smaller as the paint continues to dry and I like both the smooth glasses and those with a bit more texture, so do whatever is easiest for you.

Step 4. Complete the first layer of flowers. Use the colors “randomly” – try to limit making two flowers side by side that are the same color. You’ll be making a second layer that partially overlaps the first, so don’t worry about covering all the space. The most important thing is to get the height you want on the glass. This is a bit difficult to measure, since you’re holding the glass upside down, and you can make the flowers go as high or as low as you want. I chose to have variation in the depth of the flowers so that it seems a little more like a pile of flowers. (This makes sense if you consider that my first glass was supposed to be of cherry blossom flowers, which often fall and form piles.) But you should do whatever you want. I painted my flowers deep enough to be visible with a normal pour of wine, so that it is easy to spot your color out of a table full of glasses, but I also kept them low enough that you’re never going to touch your lips to the (potentially poisonous) paint.

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Step 5. Let dry. This only needs to be a superficial dry – 2 to 24 hours, depending on if the glass is in the summer sun or not.

Step 6. Complete the second layer of flowers. This layer will finish off the flowers. Look for spots that have a lot of a single color, and layer a flower of a different color there to break it up. Look for spots where flowers are abnormally far apart, and put an extra flower there to bridge the gap. This step is totally optional, but it adds depth and interest to the glasses.

Top view

Step 7. Let dry completelyThis is the long boring part. The paint I used takes 28 days to dry completely, and then it will supposedly be dishwasher safe. I’m letting them dry for 28 days, then I’ll hand wash them and ship them to my new apartment and my almost-housemates.

Step 8. Enjoy! Pictures of this step will crop up here and there, I’m sure….

 

TBTW: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I know very little about Ernest Hemingway. I haven’t read many of his books, and I certainly haven’t read biographies about him. But after reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, I feel like I almost met him. I feel like I lived with him in Paris and I joined him, his wife, and friends on their glorious jaunts around Europe. I feel like I watched him write, watched him live through the pain of losing it all and starting over, watched him push away his closest friends and pull closer to literary genius. But I also feel that maybe, just maybe, the manner in which I met him was a bit disingenuous.

jpegThe Paris Wife follows Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first of four wives, as she completes a pan-oceanic romance and life with the famous author. We first meet Hadley as she first meets Ernest, and as we learn about their individual backstories, it becomes tantalizingly clear that this relationship is both perfect and horrible at the same time. As the book progresses through the entirety of their relationship, we live through Hemingway’s torturous process of becoming an established author, and the even more challenging reality of being a budding author’s wife.

The book is a work of fiction colored by truth, or perhaps a work of nonfiction colored by imagination. Either way, McLain’s prose is enticing, if simple, and we easily fall into the life of Hadley, or Tatie, as she is known to her husband. We cherish their tender moments together as Hadley cherishes them, and though we can see it coming chapters before she notices, we weep with Hadley when she realizes her life is falling apart.

It works as a simple book, representing the era, and introducing the readers to the very real characters of 1920’s Paris. (Other ex-pats and authors in the city and the book include Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and F Scott Fitzgerald.) But real life is more complex, and I find it hard to believe that everything happened just so. Did they really grow their hair into the same style, and was it truly intentional? Did Ernest call his first wife mere weeks before he killed himself to shore up a long-dead relationship and simultaneously reignite a still-burning flame?

I find it hard to pick a side on this one. For sheer entertainment, go for it. For factual accuracy in the events, it may as well be an encyclopedia. The problem is that it sometimes reads like an encyclopedia, with a few quotes thrown in to break up the blandness. To be honest, I think that McLain did a great job in accomplishing what she clearly set out to achieve – writing the story of the six year long marriage between Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson from her point of view. And because it offers a new and interesting take on the events, I think this 2012 novel will (justifiably) be around for years to come. But on its purely literary merits, on its elegance and style and quality of prose, I can’t recommend it. None of this kept me from enjoying the book, but looking back on it, I wonder what The Paris Wife could have been in the hands of a more experienced author.

 

Meet Your Idols

There are certain people that we’ve always idolized. Actors we’ve grown up loving. Radio personalities we listen to daily. Authors or playwrights we read without regard to the topic of their work because their words are so phenomenal. Dancers and choreographers we would kill to be good enough to work with. Professionals we wish could be mentors, and mentors who are really heroes.

Everyone has these people, even if we don’t necessarily think of them that way. And I think it is interesting that these people inevitably pop up in our lives when we least expect them to. Sometimes you meet an actor on the street, or you recognize a voice in the hallway or a face in the airport. But what do you do?

I walked past Brian Wilson one day in San Francisco. He was just standing on the corner, staring at his phone, reading an email or maybe checking a map. No-one walked up to him, no-one asked him questions or for an autograph. He seemed like a completely normal person, just chilling out on a street corner, waiting for a friend to show up.

A friend of mine saw Fik-shun (So You Think You Can Dance) in an airport, and went up to say hello. Now they’re hanging out, drinking wine, being friends. Because sometimes your idols, though completely normal people, are also, well, normal people. They have normal friends and normal relationships and normal interactions with normal people.

Over the summer, I’ve met a lot of KQED reporters and voices that I’ve literally grown up with coming through the little box in my room and in the car. When we listen to their voices, we have an image of who they are, and sometimes (often) they don’t look like that. Just like the actors and actresses that are cast as our favorite characters don’t always fit the mental images we form while reading the book, these radio voices don’t always – rarely, really – fit the mental images I form while listening to them.  Peter Sagal (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!) makes fun of himself every live show because he “doesn’t sound bald.” But the truth is that we can’t tell what someone looks like by the sound of their voice, and we often create false images. And every time you meet someone and they shatter your personal characterization of them, it is surprising. But it also reminds me that these characterizations are so absurd and so incredibly likely to be false. I’ve met dozens of KQED voices, including Joshua Johnson, Rachael Myrow, Craig Miller, and of course Michael Krasny. All of them were different from what I expected. For one, they’re all way nicer than I expected. (Did I expect KQED staff to be mean? No. Did I expect them to welcome any and all questions, offer to buy me lunch, and be quick to ask “can I help you find somebody” whenever I looked even the slightest bit lost? Also no.) They all look like…themselves, they all sound like themselves, but when they don’t look like they sound it is weird. I don’t really know how to explain it.

I started this post this morning, about six hours before the news of Robin Williams’ death broke. But now, it somehow seems even more fitting. He was such an amazing comedian; my favorite movies of his are Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber. To see such a wonderful talent on the silver screen, such comedic genius, it is infinitely more painful for me to learn that he struggled with a fight against depression for so long. Of course, he has dramatic roles too (my favorite is Good Will Hunting), and I can’t help but think that he brought his real-life struggles into those characters. I guess everyone has a secret life, and maybe it should stay that way. RIP, Robin Williams, and may you always laugh.

Napa

My third overnight in one week (read about #1 and #2) was a trip to Napa, aka California’s drunkest county. A friend of mine, Nichole, has an amazing relative, Tori, who owns a fantastic winery, Frog’s Leap. She was kind enough to invite us (Nichole, myself, and four other friends) to the annual Frog’s Leap Peach Festival, which is essentially their harvest kick-off celebration. For the price of your ticket, you get to eat as much food and drink as much wine (and peach-flavored beer) as you want. The light breeze was warm, and there were kids running around, and quaint little chalkboards with all the options at each tent listed. There was the tent where you could get corn with peach butter and ribs, the tent that had two different types of salad, each with peach vinaigrette, the tent with the three sliders (salmon, pulled pork, and roasted pepper; each with a peach sauce, of course.) And then there was the dessert tents: peach ice cream, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, deep fried peaches with cream. Let’s just say the food was fantastic. And then there were the wines…

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Over the course of three hours, I tried all seven wines, and the peach beer. And I had four glasses of water. (Don’t worry, I was drunk, but actually not that badly. I guess all that drinking in Prague served me well.)

I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, which was probably my favorite of them all. It was light and refreshing and honestly felt more like I was quenching my thirst than I was drinking alcohol. I absolutely loved it. I ended up buying a bottle on our way out, and my dad said it was the best Sauvignon Blanc he’s ever had. He doesn’t drink all that much wine, so I don’t know if that carries any weight, but I loved and he loved it and it was totally worth it. So yeah.

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I moved on to the Zinfandel, which was also great. One of my favorite two reds. I swear, these were not my favorites because they were first. I never got that drunk. The Zin went really well with the corn that I was having, and with the deep fried peach I had next. I bought a couple bottles of this one too to bring home, and it went well with the BBQ chicken, bell peppers, and pasta we had with it. I’d say it’s safe to say this Zinfandel pairs well with most any summer dinner.

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Then came the Cabernet Sauvignon. It was good, but I’ve had better. Perhaps it was just overshadowed by the absolutely amazing sliders I was having at the time. Pulled pork with peach sauce on the right (amazing), smoked salmon with peach glaze in the middle (amazing), and pepper and mushroom with a peach truffle sauce not really pictured (absolutely amazing). But the wine was good too.

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The Heritage Blend. This one was just okay. It tasted basically just like red wine without any distinct flavors, which makes sense, seeing as it is a mix of grapes. I didn’t like it that much, and was glad I was distracted by the scavenger hunt that we completed. It took us all over the main property, and we theoretically learned some stuff about the winery, but really we just used it as an excuse to get up and walk around. Plus, we were gunning for the basket of wines. We didn’t win, but that was okay, because it was actually a lot of fun.

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And the Merlot. The Merlot was goooood. I like Merlots in general, and this one was better than a lot of Merlots that I’ve had. It pretty much tied the Zinfandel for my favorite of all the reds, although I bought Zinfandel and not Merlot to bring home because a Merlot seemed too heavy for outdoor barbecue. At least, this one did. But when I go to a restaurant and see this on the menu, I’ll definitely be getting a glass or two. By this point, we had tasted all the food, completed the scavenger hunt, and moved on to the photo booth. We had to wait in line. The above selfie happened.

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Followed by the Petite Sirah. We were chilling out, chatting, and eating some more peach ice cream, which was the perfect blend of peach flavor and ice cream creaminess and generally tasty. The wine was good too. It was berry-y and full of flavor, but I think it would have been better if it had aged for a few years, or maybe a decade. You can see Elizabeth’s glass of peach iced tea, which was also tasty (I just had a sip.)

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Finally, I finished off the wine selections with a glass of Chardonnay. It was sweet and smooth, like a Chardonnay should be. I didn’t like the Chardonnay as much as the Sauvignon Blanc, but I tend to not like Chardonnays as much as Sauvignon Blancs, so that doesn’t surprise me. But it was definitely a nice wine to finish the afternoon with, and it was nice to get Nichole into a photo, not like I had to ask…

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Okay, not finally. And not really finished either. I grabbed a glass of the peach beer too on our way out. The party was over, but ours wasn’t… The beer was good, if not fantastic. (I’m spoiled. Thanks, Prague.) But it was good. I liked the peach flavor, and it went well with the peach ice cream I was finishing when I got the beer. It also went well with the burrito, which I got when I was finishing the beer. It seems to go well with most things.

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When we walked in, Tori made us promise to be Frog’s Leap fans forever, and after this fantastic afternoon, I can certainly do that! We finished the evening on a small meadow on Frog’s Leap property, after driving past vineyards. We had a few more beers, a burrito, some s’mores, and slept under the stars. Or would have, had there been stars – it was cloudy. But the trip as a whole was AMAZING.

 

 

 

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