(Last modified 24 April 1997.)

Wanderjahr: Week 35

Locations: Swarthmore, Philadelphia
Dates: 4/13/97 - 4/19/97

Sunday I got up late (so what else is new?), had some yummy muffins made by Melissa R. Chatted with her and Jay as they worked on taxes. Wrote more email. Melissa and I went to Sherry & Dan's; saw Sherry's garden, learned the names of a bunch of plants (including marvelous-smelling bee-balm), enjoyed brief sunshine between clouds, discussed sustainable agriculture (lots of fascinating info from Sherry).

Back to M&J's place for Melissa to do some gardening while it was still light. I did more email (mostly trying to work out travel plans, for which I was woefully underprepared as usual). We had pizza for dinner. Read some fiction; stayed up 'til 1, slept late.

Monday through Wednesday spent most of the daylight hours working on a monster 20-page SWAPA 'zine. Whew. Monday evening (after, I think, dinner with Melissa B), roamed over to Swarthmore for the weekly SWIL movie. Afterward went walking with Melissa B in the Crum; nice walk, though a tad chilly. Eventually headed back to Media.

Tuesday late afternoon (after work for her and SWAPA for me) Sherry came over to M&J's, and we went for another walk in the Crum. This time we started at the ML end, where I'd never been, walked along the Crum all the way to campus, then came back down across campus to the somethingorother gardens (I keep misplacing the name). Nifty again to walk in the Crum with someone who knows plants, though Sherry's more focused on garden plants than wild plants -- it makes me much more aware of plants as I go by them (I usually just don't notice them much at all). Chatted about education, life, etc. Got back to Media just in time for me to hop in my car and drive back to Swarthmore to pick up Kendra to go to dinner at an Indian place in Philly. We had a nice talk, including half an hour or so of talking while wandering around Swarthmore after dinner. The first real extended conversation we've ever had in person, I think -- most of our interaction's been via email and SWAPA... Was glad to hear she'd made a decision about grad school, but sad (for entirely selfish reasons) to hear it wouldn't be Stanford. Eventually went back to Media.

Wednesday I got my SWAPA 'zine into shape and headed into Philadelphia in the late afternoon to see Dominus. Got my usual late start, arrived in decent time, then spent 20-30 minutes driving around the neighborhood looking for parking. Then spent 45 minutes sitting on the doorstep wondering where Dominus was -- turned out, when it finally occurred to me to call from a payphone, that he can't hear the doorbell from his office. We went to the grocery store and got stuff for dinner, then went back to his place to cook it. Talked about jump-starting cars and why buildings fall down. Eventually Lorrie came over, bringing yummy fruit and ice cream for dessert. We all chatted for a while, then went to bed.

Next day, after usual late start, walked a dozen blocks or so to meet Jacob for lunch. Good exercise, and my overshoes (plus the umbrella Dominus loaned me) made walking in the light rain not at all unpleasant. And I finally began to get some idea of how parts of Philly are laid out -- something I never do in a city until I have to spend some time walking through it with a map. We ate at a café which every Wednesday night apparently has all-you-can-eat dessert buffets... yum. It'd been years since I last saw Jacob; was good to get a chance to see him again.

Walked back to Dominus', drove across Philly to the art museum (Chris T. had told me in no uncertain terms that I must see the Duchamps exhibit there). Listened to NPR on the way: cool Terry Gross interview with Robert (?) Reich, former Secretary of Labor, on the way -- was delighted to hear that he'd declined a second term in order to spend more time with his family. Not something you hear men say very often, especially those in positions of power. "I realized this might be the best job I would ever have," he said, "but it was also the best family I would ever have." Awww. Raised him even higher in my regard than he previously was (I also like his politics, his speaking style, and his apparent general integrity).

Arrived at museum and found they were displaying a special exhibit on Michelangelo's influence on Rodin. Went to that (and the companion exhibit on hands made by Rodin) first. Superb. I love Rodin's work, especially his joints and most especially his hands. Some day when I'm willing to spend more money on art (and have a nice place to put it), I'll get myself a small-size reproduction of Cathedral (the twin hands intertwining) or The Kiss or Hand of Rodin Holding Torso. Or Fallen Caryatid, but I've never seen a miniature of that; doubt it's popular enough to be worth the miniature-production company's time.

After Rodin, went and found Duchamps -- which alas, didn't thrill me. Wandered among the moderns for a while until I came across some Impressionists; discovered that besides Water Lilies, which is ubiquitous and does little for me (at least in prints), Monet painted some absolutely lovely views. Was particularly taken by coming across one called something like "The Bend of the River at Giverny" suddenly -- it caught my eye from across the room and nearly took my breath away. Eventually 5:00 came around and the museum closed, and I went out through the rain to my car.

Was unable to get into correct lane heading south, so spent 20-30 minutes trying to correct for the resulting wrong turn. Grr. All roads should be designed so that if you make a wrong turn you can turn around shortly thereafter. Especially during rush hour. Eventually got back to Dominus' place.

Checked email using the extra dumb-terminal attached to Dominus' system. Lorrie showed up; I got a photo of the two of them (and a stuffed octopus) in front of one of Lorrie's lovely quilts, then headed home. (Took another wrong turn on the way to 95, but this one was a little easier to correct.)

I'd missed Anna's weekly woodswalk, alas (but it was just as well, as they went walking in the rain and got soaked, which I wouldn't have enjoyed). Melissa B and I went to Renato's; I had dinner (she'd eaten already) and we talked for quite a while. Then went back to her room (I was staying on her floor that night); Joe and Heather showed up, we all chatted while I spent a couple hours on final formatting and printing of my SWAPA 'zine. Sleep happened eventually.

sin photoFriday late morning I drove up route 1 to pick up Melissa R at her work; we had lunch at Bellissimo's (the Italian place where I'd previously eaten with Melissa B). Took Melissa to her other job at the Math Forum, then hung out with her, Joe, Otavia, and miscellaneous others in the math lab for a while. Joe showed us a marvelous item he'd just seen in seminar, which I can't easily reproduce in ASCII so won't try. Talked briefly with Gene, but he was preparing for a presentation or something so didn't have much time. Decided it was too late in the day to find other faculty/staff folks in, so headed down the hill; eventually Melissa B and Joe and I went to a Chinese place for dinner, general chat, and wandering around the mall.

We got back to Swarthmore just in time for roundsinging. It was too cold to sing outdoors, so we sang in a room in Kohlberg. Started around 7, sang 'til nearly midnight (though with lots of long breaks in the middle). The pretty/silly ratio was closer to my ideal than the previous time, so despite a few problems I rather enjoyed it. After our voices gave out, we told jokes and did card tricks for a while, then played games (one involved saying a fact about oneself unrelated to any previous facts given about anyone; the other was Categories, as we'd played it back in Boston) 'til (ack) 4 am. Stumbled off to Melissa's room (hadn't moved my stuff to Greylock, so just stayed on her floor again), half-asleep; then we talked for 45 minutes, after which I was wide awake and she was too sleepy to stay awake. I think I finally got to sleep sometime around 6, woke up suddenly around 10:30. Not a lot of sleep this week.

Showered (ignoring the fire alarm when it went off, as Melissa recommended), went to SWIL. It was Parents' Weekend at Swarthmore, so a couple of parents were in attendance at the meeting. Jim and I went to the mall so I could pick up a pair of white pants to go with my white shirt and shoes; we showed up just in time for Live Chess, and I took the role of a white knight. I don't think I'd participated in Live Chess since I was a student... And I'd never seen Challenge Chess, in which every time a piece tries to capture another piece, the two people engage in a contest of skill of some sort. I lost a Smurf-naming contest to Amy, then (reincarnated as a white pawn) beat her in a staff-balancing contest. We all did a lot of standing around in the cold wind; the parents who were acting as judges for the challenges were heard to remark, "Couldn't they have done this inside?" Eventually Joe, the black king, challenged Andrew, the white king, directly; Joe beat Andrew at limbo, and the game was over. We all took various equipment (mostly squares of carpeting) back to SWIL's storage room (known for arcane reasons as the George S. Hurliman Memorial Library). Joe, Melissa B, Jim, Otavia, and I stuck around to shelve books, peruse the SWIL Archives, and (in Otavia's case) alphabetize many of the newly-shelved books. Thus occupied, we whiled away the afternoon in lighthearted nostalgia.

Eventually collected my things from Melissa's room and some of us walked over to Greylock. Ordered pizza, chatted with Sherry and Dan there for a bit, as people prepared to play a strategy game; then Melissa and I wandered up to the Scottish Ball on campus to watch for a little while. "A little while" turned into a couple of hours, as we watched various cool dances and listened to various cool fiddle tunes. Also waltzed -- my second time ever waltzing in public, I think, and my first time waltzing at all in several years. I was just getting the hang of it again when the music ended. Ah, well.

We got back to Greylock around midnight, and found Sherry & Dan had just left. Oops. Various other folks showed up once the dance was over; we desultorily considered playing Boggle (spent some time finding made-up words on the game's box), and chatted and/or semi-dozed until the strategy game ended. And then for another hour or so after that, until around 3:15 Sunday morning I finally got up enough energy to brush my teeth, at which point everyone else went home and I collapsed into sleep.


Movies, Books, etc.

The Matisse Stories, by A. S. Byatt
Good collection of three stories inspired by/connected to Matisse paintings, though my unfamiliarity with the paintings in question, and my general difficulty with color, left me a little at sea in a couple places. Still, lovely stories, well worth reading, and I suspect artists/painters would get even more enjoyment from them than I did.

Vampire Princess Miyu
Four episodes on videotape of (apparently) a Japanese animated TV series, about a young vampire whose mission is to send all the other monsters back to the Dark. Interesting ideas, some fairly cool non-traditional-anime art in places, but nothing really spectacular (and doesn't live up to the tape-box's cover art).


Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>