So much has happened in the last week, and I promise to write all about it shortly. But first, it is necessary to talk about the wonderful beautiful amazingness that is the snow falling and the beauty that is snow-covered Prague.
Long story short, on the bus after dropping Katy off at the airport for her flight back to Geneva, I was staring out the window when all of a sudden we turned the corner, and one of the many valleys that makes up the edges of Prague came into view. If there was ever a time I wished I had my camera, this was it.
The snow was still falling in light, fluffy flakes that drifted down slowly as the bus meandered past, but the sky in the distance had transformed from the monotonous grey of precipitation to the much more varied, though equally grey, of pre- and post- storm clouds. The sun was doing its damnedest to peek out from among the clouds (and failing miserably, I might add), but the light of mid-morning was nonetheless bouncing off the windows of churches with snow-covered roofs and struggling to cast eerily beautiful shadows of the snow-laden branches on the snow-dusted sidewalk.
Did I mention it snowed?
Everyone says snow in cities is disgusting – how it turns grey from the car exhaust and how it ruins your shoes and how if you’re not careful it causes you to land in an embarrassed heap of jacket and gloves at the bottom of a slippery hill or flight of stairs. But I think the snow is beautiful. How it turns the dreariest of mornings into something beautiful, and how it first covers everything in such a fine layer of white as to be almost unnoticeable, but before you know it there are piles of snow perfect for snowball fight forts and sledding.
Perhaps I’m a snow romantic, not unlike Lorelai Gilmore, and perhaps if I was in Boston this semester I wouldn’t have the same pro-snow opinions, but I’m loving the snow here. The way the flakes settle on my jacket as I walk across the street. The way they look as they fall under the streetlight outside my window. The way the snow on the ground gives everyone an excuse to stop on their way to work for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Perhaps I’m a snow romantic, perhaps I’m not. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the next month or two of snow-covered Prague, and hopefully a few opportunities to get some gorgeous snowy pictures of the wonderful city I live in.
Unlike the majority of Americans, I cannot spend hour upon hour on youtube. I do not enjoy watching people doing stupid shit and getting hurt, or videos of baby animals being baby animals, or really anything that youtube seems to feature. Nonetheless, there is one thing on youtube that I can watch for hours on end – spoken word poetry. I have to attribute this love to my high school freshman English class’s poetry slam, and our accompanying trip into the city for the regional teen poetry slam finals. I love Taylor Mali defending teachers, Sarah Kay and Katie Makkal with tips for their as-yet-unborn daughters, and Hollie McNish’s simple reminders of the sad realities of discrimination.
Just yesterday, I discovered a new poem by Mark Grist that I really really love and that reminded me of one of my favorite poems ever, about girls who read.
One of the best parts of my trip to Turkey was the hot air balloon ride. It was, simply, amazing. Being up in the air at sunrise was gorgeous, and the balloon itself was SOOOO much bigger than I could ever imagine. The whooshing sound scared me each time the flame was turned on, and the flame kept not only the gas in the balloon hot, but also those of us in the basket warm. Our guide was fantastic; he was funny and knowledgable and always seemed completely in control of the balloon (thank goodness!!). From the air, we saw for miles in every direction, and saw everything “worth seeing” in the region of Cappadocia.
We took off around 6 in the morning, as the sky was lightening, but well before the sun actually rose. There were about 50 balloons that went up that day, nothing close to the rumored 150+ balloons of peak season, but still absolutely amazing to watch. We spent about an hour in the air, rising and falling in altitude and floating around the valleys of Cappadocia. At no time did I feel like the balloon was anything except safe. Even though they started the trip with instructions on how to brace yourself at landing, we ended up landing the basket directly on the trailer, with no impact whatsoever. The trip was definitely worth the money (even though it was the most expensive part of my trip to Turkey by a lot!).
We all have those places, people, objects, whatever. We have these mental pictures of them, and as time goes by, our memories change. Places get fancier, objects get more valuable, and people get prettier. Or the opposite. Psychology and neurology tells us this is inevitable – our memories consist merely of neural pathways, and those change over time.
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t matter how much our memories change, because they will never live up to reality. This statement has always and will always be true for me when it comes to Stanford Sierra Camp. There’s something about SSC for me that is perfect. The lake isn’t perfect – its actually effing freezing most years. The people aren’t always perfect – I’ve gotten into my fair share of spats with my annual best-friend-for-the-week. But camp itself is perfect in every single way.
For starters, it looks like this:
♫Everything was beautiful at the ballet/ Graceful men lift lovely girls in white/ Yes, everything was beautiful at the ballet/ I was happy… at the ballet.
I may or may not have had this song stuck in my head yesterday while I was trying and failing to get work done in the library. And then Tara’s message pops up: “want to go to the ballet tonight?” And college is all about spontaneous decisions, or so I’ve heard. So I, of course, said yes!
It was about 5:30 when she messaged me, and the show started at 7:30, so I finished that one assignment (amazing what a good motivator having something to do can be…), and rushed back to my room to get spruced up and head out. One hour later, we had our $20 rush tickets, our burritos for dinner, and were getting ogled on the streets of Boston. It was wonderful.
And then, of course, came the ballet itself. I’ll be really honest, I’ve seen a lot of ballets. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Sleeping Beauty, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard all the music. And the production was absolutely amazing.
I’ve definitely ruined all theater-going experiences for myself by being involved in theater. Maybe not ruined, okay – definitely not ruined. But I certainly watch everything in a completely different way. I’m always noticing how the lights are designed, where actors and actresses exit, how fast their changes are; not to mention that I spend half my time calling my own mental cues. It doesn’t ruin a performance, but it absolutely changes them.
I don’t go to the ballet very often, but when I do go, I always wonder why I don’t go more often. I am always awed by the choreography and the skill with which the dancers perform. And I always walk away hoping I can bring some of that beauty into my classes. Last night’s show, more than any other ballet I have ever seen, instilled in me a bottomless sense of beauty.
The girl dancing as Aurora was something beyond anything I have ever seen. She had impeccable balance, beautiful leaps, gracious arms. Literally everything I ever imagined a professional ballerina should be. And I swear, she couldn’t have been over 21 years old.
Beyond Aurora, all the dancers were amazing, and the sets were fabulous, the lighting set moods with such ease, the costumes, oh! Absolutely stunning. Each dancer must have had at least a half dozen costumes, ranging from full skirts to pancake tutus, with crowns and garlands, and period style shoes. My favorite costume was Princess Aurora’s white pancake tutu; the one with the pink overlays, not the gold one.
Every time I see men jumping, I am amazed anew by the power and speed of their jumps. I will never forget the image of those six male dancers leaping in unison, each of their entrechat quatre looking like a dozen beats. (They were four – I counted. I counted a lot of beats, and a lot of spotting…) And yet, with all their strength and speed, they are incredibly graceful. Even lifting their partners, even holding them with just one hand, they never look anything but graceful.
The beauty of the ballet was stunning. Everything was beautiful. Graceful men, lovely girls in white.