Songs for Seniors

Here are ten songs from my current playlist that hit me right in my senior-year heart.

(It probably says something about me that I tend to relate love songs to my relationship with my school.)

1) Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

Leaves are fallin’ all around,
Time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I’m much obliged,
Such a pleasant stay.

2) Promise to the Moon – Jason Webley

I’m ready now
To let myself change colors with the leaves
And let the wind come shake me down.

3) I’m Letting Go – Josh Woodward

I’ve been waitin on a free ride ticket
To a seaside thicket
On the edge of Puget Sound.

4) Brothers on a Hotel Bed – Death Cab for Cutie

You may tire of me,
As our December sun is setting,
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be.

5) Cups – Anna Kendrick

You’re gonna miss me by my hair, you’re gonna miss me everywhere,
Oh you’re sure gonna miss me when I’m gone.

6) Love Love Love – The Mountain Goats

Some things you do for money, and some you do for fun,
But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you, one by one.

7) Balloons – Julia Nunes

It’s time to leave while my eyes are still dry.
It’s time to leave while my head is held high….
You’re like nothing I have found or will find.

8) Ways To Go – Grouplove

Been working like a dog, I turned all my dreams off.
I didn’t know my name, I didn’t know my name.
I’ve got a little bit longer, I’ve got a ways to go.

9) I’ll Fly Away – Alison Krauss / Gillian Welch

Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away…
I’ll fly away, fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away in the morning.

10) At Least It Was Here – The 88

Give me some rope, tie me to dream.
Give me the hope to run out of steam.
Somebody said, it could be here.
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year.
But I love you more than words can say.
I can’t count the reasons I should stay.
One by one they all just fade away,
But I love you more than words can say.

Point Defiance & Tulle

As a local I must say that every Puget Sound student should try to explore Tacoma. And especially explore the gem that is Point Defiance. There is a zoo and aquarium, multiple picnic locations, gardens (so many), duck pond, a playground, a beach, the marina, a forest, a fort. There’s a lot going in that foliage heaven. So, deciding to take advantage of the free time that reading period gives and the nice weather, a friend and I decided to take the bus down there and have fun with the 50 yards of tulle that I bought but never used. I honestly don’t remember what compelled me to buy so much tulle.

Afterwards we had lunch at Don’s Market. Everyone should visit Don’s Market because it is adorable. And the options for milkshakes flavors are endless and you will be paralyzed with indecisiveness.

Saturday Traditions

My friends and I have a great tradition of going out for breakfast every other Saturday morning. Luckily for us Puget Sound is located near some of the best diners in Tacoma (Old Milwaukee Cafe and the Shakabrah on 6th Avenue).

This last Saturday we decided to try the Engine House 9. It was a firehouse back in the day and the owners decided to retain some of that history with firemen hats and the old architecture of the building. It may have either become a cheese place or a brewery before becoming its’ present day pub/restaurant.

The fries that are just automatically included with every meal are delicious and they have quite unique egg dishes. Like a California Benedict? Is that an actual thing? You also get the world’s most beautiful hot chocolate which tragically you will not finish because you are stuffed to the point of puking.

Finger Licking Good

In which Daniel ruminates upon his nibbley nabbley thoughts.

To my dear reader,

If you have been keeping up with my blog posts across the past year and a half, you may notice how frequently food is a subject of my writing. They do say that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, after all. But food holds a place of special meaning in almost everything I do – I write about food, I compose with food in mind, I compare people to food, and there are few moments in life when I am not eating.   am not a heavy eater, mind you, but a grazer.  I am always nibbling on a little smackrel of something.

My fixation with food has much to do with my eleventh grade creative writing teacher, the delightful Tarn Wilson. Ever wise and magnanimous in her teaching, Ms. Wilson proposed to me that all humans have two general, basic urges: to love and to eat. Needless to say, there is plentiful literature and art explicitly discussing the first, yet little explicitly dealing with the second.

Yet food is a powerful world-building tool, and because the part of the brain in charge of memory and the part in charge of smell are so near one another, even indirect stimulation of the “smell” part – such as reading descriptions of simmering stew or the bitterness of espresso – can conjure powerful mental pictures. Food therefore became a logically powerful tool in my writing, as it can so easily connect to an audience. Yet it is this year especially in which my fixation with food transformed into something a bit more succulent.

Firstly, I decided at the end of the 2014 spring semester to compose a piece for the 2014 fall semester’s musical theater cabaret, which was to be Halloween themed. Intent on expanding my compositional palate, I wrote scraps of dissonant violin lines and food themed lyrics that I wove together into a piece entitled “Good Enough to Eat: An Opera in Miniature”, which can be found on my SoundCloud here:

The self-contained nine minute musical adventure tells the tale of a little girl named Isabella, who lives with her wicked stepfather by the woods. One day, while wandering through the woods, she stumbles upon her fairy godmother, who promises her a world of magic.  Upon discovering the wickedness of Isabella’s stepfather, however, the vengeful godmother hunts down the stepfather and gobbles her up, and that is why the opera is called “Good Enough to Eat”.

But although the cabaret occurred in October, my urge to write about monstrous mothers and delectable daughters was not satiated. For my Magic Realism class, my final writing project became one a story entitled “Pepita’s Daughter”. The short tale speaks of Moschata Russel, a young girl with skin as vividly orange as a pumpkin.  Impressionable as children are prone to be, Moschata begins to idolize her new babysitter and takes her mother’s advice that “you are what you eat” a shade too far. Take a nibble of the first page:

When Moschata Russet stepped into the Halls of Full Harvest Elementary School, whispers followed like a wind in her wake.

“My mommy said that she ate too many carrots.”

“That’s stupid, that would give you big eyes and hers are normal.  My daddy says that her papa must have been a squash or something like that.”

“My mama says she doesn’t have a Papa. Her mama grew her from a seed she found in her pocket one day, and that girl just came from the sprout. Cross my heart, hope to die.”

No student seemed willing to speak to her over the matter directly. Once, however, a small boy in the grade below came to her as she sat alone eating her lunch, asking “Why do you look the way you do?” To this she replied, “For the same reason you look the way you do.”

The boy pondered this for a moment. He nodded and skipped away, back to his friends standing near the playground watching. They hurried away with him, throwing nervous glances back as they walked.  Moschata returned to her lunch of wheat bread and toasted slivers of squash.

After that, no children dared ask her why her skin was so perfectly orange, so cramoisy cardinal, so flavescently flammeous. Pumpkin skin on a plump little body; cheeks blushed with decay.

Why cannibalism, then?  I suppose that it goes back to what Ms. Tarn Wilson taught me: love and food. Food brings people together. It allows cultural boundaries to be crossed, and creates common ground between people that might not otherwise have any. Food builds bridges and sparks imaginations and recalls stories long lost. So, oddly enough, does love. I love my dog to no end, and every time I see her, I tell her “I could just eat you up”.  Why not, therefore, bring them together?

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

It’s Over(Sort of)

Ain’t no party like an end of semester party because end of semester party involves alot of stress relief.

The last day of classes was Wednesday and with it came a feeling of elation(did I use that word correctly?) as I submitted my research paper on Moodle. My planner, though still looking disorganized, had alot more blank spaces (see what I did there?) to be filled with a study schedule.

To be honest I had completely forgotten that Mistletoast (one of the end of the semester festivities) was happening. So, as I was leaving the SUB (that one food place) with my drunken noodles in hand I got swept into a winter wonderland. A bit like The Nutcracker if you put in acapella groups, a glorious chocolate fountain, and swing dancing. And minus the rats and the handsome Nutcracker doll. This tends to happen to me alot; I forget an event is happening and end up attending or participating in it.

After all the bonding I have done with my textbooks and BlueJ(the code compiler we use in computer science) it was nice to talk to people. Sometimes I forget how nice it is just to get out and socialize.

Then after I had my fill of the chocolate fountain I went for a celebration breakfast with a friend on Thursday morning (wow, I am such a party animal). After much deliberation we had decided on Knapp’s since we hadn’t eaten there before and it felt closer to us than the diners on 6th ave. There’s no better way to celebrate than with food after all.

Then that evening I went to my first holiday party ever. The thing is my family doesn’t celebrate the holidays. To us it’s just winter with alot of sales. I was talking to one of the new sociology professors, who is also Vietnamese, about how awkward this can be when considering to give family members a gift or not. The party was the International Political Economy , Economics, and Sociology office party. After getting lost and finding the wrong house, I finally ended up where I was supposed to be.

It was honestly strange and awkward since I was the first work-study student to arrive. So, I wasn’t sure how to mingle. Which resulted in me eating some delicious baked goods until I struck conversation with one of my old professors. I think my favorite part of this whole holiday experiencing was talking to my professors and hearing their thoughts and opinions on classwork, tests, reading period, etc. It’s always interesting to me because before you go to college it seems as though there are two types of professors; the eccentric ones who slept in their offices and go on rants. And the ones that are strict and cold-hearted. And, the concept of a normal professor does exist. What I’m trying to say is that it’s just fun to pick their brains.

Now that all the celebrations are over, it’s time to bingewatch Supernatural and spend some quality time with my flashcards.

It’s THAT Time of Year Again

No not the holiday season, not those all-nighters and all-dayers in the library but…..

the mass consumption and buying of food with all our dining dollars before the semester is over!

For some reason although we have the option to chose how big or small we want our meal plan and adjust our dining dollars spending there are still hoards of people with so much money at the end of the semester they buy drinks in bulk, buy everyone in Diversions a muffin or 10 pizzas in one night! Now I need to admit, I too have a bunch of extra dining dollars at the end of the semester, but I’m on the lightest meal plan and I still reasonably did not use up all my dining dollars. I ate my three meals a day, 7 days a week but I did consistently use my Cellar staff points to buy food as well (hey I worked for it, why not!) To get rid of some of them I asked some family to come in and eat on me, and I’ve bought meals for some of my male teammates. Let me to you, no matter what male athletes usually on the mega meal-plan have already refilled their dining dollars multiple times AND they never have enough dining dollars at the end of the semester!

However a little known tidbit is that all students can carry over 25 DINING DOLLARS to the next semester from the fall! That’s great! Except most people have way more than that so they need to buy a bunch of items anyway. It makes working at the Cellar during this time of year a little crazy. Yesterday was the first day of reading period and as a student-run operation we were only open 6-midnight to give us workers study time too! But when we opened at 6, the floodgates opened! There was always for the entire time until the end of my shift at 8:30 at LEAST five people in line, and the phone was ringing off the hook so often! I was in the back with my friend Mel and we just made pizza all the way through that shift, no breaks, refilling topics, grabbing more dough, don’t stop can’t stop!

Five Things For White People To Keep In Mind

There have been several great posts on this blog about the current events surrounding Ferguson and the Eric Garner case in New York. As a white person, I’m not qualified to talk about how these issues affect people, but there is no question that these issues are important, and discussing these events respectfully and informatively is important.

A few weeks ago, after the Grand Jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the murder of Mike Brown, I wrote the following on the Wetlands blog, in response to some recent conversations I’ve had with other white people about racism in this country.

———–

In light of the recent events in Ferguson (learn more about that here and here) and the growing awareness of police violence against people of color, there have been a lot of racially-charged discussions cropping up lately. These issues are extremely important to talk about, and I think it’s important for white people, like myself, to keep a few things in mind.

Understand that you have white privilege.

If you don’t know what white privilege is, please read up on it here. If you’re white, you have white privilege. You may be unprivileged in other ways, such as being poor, or queer, or disabled, but you still have white privilege. You are less likely to be killed by a cop for your appearance or for holding a toy gun. You are privileged. This issue does not affect you the way it affects people of color.

Do not silence people of color.

Their voices are more important than yours in this discussion. When talking about these current events, especially in a public forum like the Internet, promote what people of color say and use the white privilege you have to spread the word. Do not try to make it about you, or your feelings, or your perspective. Trust that they understand the issue more than you do.

Know the facts.

Read up about the situation as much as you can, and do not simply trust the media. Most postmodern news networks’ methods of reporting are more focused on opinions than facts, which lead to some pretty unreliable news reporting. Thankfully, with the Internet at our disposal, we can hear straight from the protestors themselves, not just from the police and the media. Watch videos and read tweets from the protests to stay informed about what’s going on. YouTube and Vine have been taking down videos of the protests, so watch the available videos and spread them while you can.

Understand how indictment works.

I’ve heard a lot of people argue that the decision on Monday was a result of a trial, where the jury was presented with all the facts, but it was not a trial. It was a decision to see if there should be a trial. The decision was extremely corrupt to say the least.

Read up on the decision process here.

Read the Grand Jury transcripts here.

Don’t get angry that people are angry.

This is not about you. People may seem very accusatory if you don’t know much about the situation, or if you haven’t had the time or emotional energy to stay involved. But you need to keep in mind you are not being attacked; people just want you to care because it is important to them.

Don’t get mad at people for being invested in this. Don’t say people are accusing you of being a racist if you don’t know everything about the situation. And please don’t use their extremely justified anger as an excuse to hate everyone involved in the protests. These people’s passion is not the problem. Your feelings are not the priority. This is not about you.

Don’t use your voice to drown out the experiences of people of color. Use your voice to help.

So Mel, how does it feel to be in your last week of undergrad?

concert space needlelunch

My mom and sister came to visit this past weekend to see my choir concerts. This is the first time they’ve been able to attend any of my concerts since I’ve gotten to UPS, so naturally I was over the moon that they could come. (I kind of blew off studying all weekend to hang out with them and do stuff in Seattle.) I’m so glad they got to come, and I wouldn’t have traded this weekend for the world… but now that they’re gone again, I am more eager for the semester to be over than ever, so I can go home and be done.

I thought, by this last week of my last semester as an undergraduate student, I would be filled with nostalgia, not wanting to let go of this experience and not feeling prepared to leave. And while I’m not really leaving (I’m still going to be in Tacoma after the holidays and participating in Adelphians for awhile), it’s still a big change, to be done with undergrad.

Being a senior is this really uncomfortable mix of feeling very ready to move on, and feeling nostalgic for the times when you weren’t ready to move on.

I’m ready to not have classes or schoolwork anymore. I’ve been in school pretty much continuously since January of this year, and I am really burned out. I’m ready for a few weeks of break from working, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to being a student at UPS. I’m not ready to be far away from so many of my friends here, after everyone leaves in May. And I sure wasn’t prepared to have our last class with Dr. Zopfi yesterday, since he is going on sabbatical and won’t be directing the Adelphians next semester.

It’s weird to think that, even though I’m still going to be around for awhile, my experience with undergrad is a thing that’s behind me. It’s tough to be appreciative of school during finals and all, but when I think about the past few years, I feel really lucky that I’ve been here and that I’ve gotten to have the experiences I’ve had.

Reflections: On Ferguson… and My History

Since the Ferguson decision, I have been reflecting on how deeply systemic racism has affected my own life, and it’s been a mourning process.

This might sound silly to some,  but I’ve woken up on early mornings angry and sick to my stomach asking myself, what are the forces that led me to come to the United States, to learn the white man’s ways, and think in my colonizer’s language? Why did I have to come here to gain the skills and knowledge that I need, in order to try to make some small social change in the Philippines in the future? I didn’t have to come back to the land of my birth, but I’m glad that I decided to. 

In Chile I studied the history of Spanish colonization and pre-colombian art and culture in Latin America, from which I gained an appreciation of Andean indigenous cultures and learned how European invasion has not allowed these cultures to fully express themselves, and still continues with the marginalization and exploitation of these indigenous groups.  For the first time I have imagined somewhere down the line, my own indigenous ancestors from the archipelago the Spaniards named ‘Las islas Filipinas’ in honor of King Felipe II  and how the Spaniards upon seeing them saw them as savages to “civilize.” I have thought about my great grandfather, a campesino from Asturias in Northern Spain who arrived in the Philippines in 1898, the connections between this and how growing up “mestiza” and comparably lighter-skinned in the Philippines, I benefited and still continue to benefit from a form of “white privilege” when I return. I have reflected on memories of my experiences with racism, traveling in Europe, living in Spain and being mistaken for a prostitute one time, how I came to be born in the United States and live here to receive what is considered a world-class education, only to put my trust under the nation that colonized “where I’m really from” for years and turned us into “Brown Americans” who continue to be a part of this system and this cycle of migration to the global hegemon that this country is. 

Race is just a social construct and being perceived as ‘ethnically ambiguous’ to many, I have come to understand how it is so fluid but feels so real. It’s crazy to think that since European expansion, this global white supremacist patriarchal system (excluding was originally designed to oppress me,  a ‘mixed-race’, filipino, woman of color of ‘American” citizenship (hahahahas). Regardless of this, I must say that I am so, so very privileged. There are so many great things about being an American.

I have hope that, and know that here, we are very gradually decolonizing our minds and our environments. There are movements to undo this  ’empire’ mentality of the past. This week, through the events I described in my previous post and my conversations with others, I have been able to envision the dream of an “America” that is truly multicultural. Where diversity is not only tolerated but celebrated. Where we speak Spanish and aren’t afraid to invade peoples’ personal space bubbles with hugs and besitos (jajaj!).  We should look forward to a ‘Brown America,’  – on an individual and on an institutional level. It’s difficult. We’re still figuring it out and I it isn’t easy, and it’s much more complicated than that (but I won’t go into detail). I am proud to be an ‘American,’ but I hope that one day I will genuinely be able to call myself an American. I hope that day comes before 2042.

In the process of reconciling with one’s ancestors while ending the semester, one should just refocus and enjoy a funny youtube music video about how the indigenous chief of the island where you grew up on killed  Ferdinand Magellan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO5SsP_f7iA

Humanity has a long way to go.

 

 

Keep the Four Cents

In which Daniel professes some delayed gratitude.

To my dear reader,

In truth, I have never found Thanksgiving to be a time to profess gratitude. Do not misunderstand me; I am very grateful that I have the chance to eat an enormous and delicious meal with family and friends. That being said, I don’t see the holiday as a celebration of gratitude, so much a celebration of family and food – both of which are perfectly wonderful. I instead find myself being thankful at the most unexpected and often inappropriate times, such as realizing how lucky I am to have a loving pet dog and bursting into tears while watching “The Hunger Games”.

Studies demonstrate that people who begin to consistently express gratitude begin to become consistently happier people, regardless of circumstance.  It seemed logical to me, then, that my next post should be one in which I express gratitude for the unexpected and seemingly trivial things in my life. Here are just a few:

1) The delicious combination of a buttered, toasted cinnamon sugar bagel and a chai latte at Bertolino’s Coffee on Union Street in Tacoma, WA.

2) The woolen socks currently on my feet – for, in the words of Albus Dumbledore, “One can never have enough socks”.

3) The calming nature of the scent of peach tea.

4) The fact that my room is currently quite clean.

5) The way that the texture of flannel feels like a warm blanket and thus makes me feel as if I am still in bed.

6) The day when, after asking my fraternity brothers for camping gear for an upcoming hike for which I was unprepared, I came back to my room to find a small mountain of their camping gear waiting for me.

7) The short play “Perfect”, from the collection of short plays “365 Plays/365 Days” by Suzi Lori-Parks.

8) The dog that just let me cuddle it as I took a break from writing this blog post in Bertolino’s Coffee.

9) Indoor plumbing.

10) An afternoon I had with a good friend at the Tacoma teashop Ubiquitous Journey, in which we played word association games.

11) The fact that, while we were at Ubiquitous Journey, one of the employees gave me a free gift card because of a previous blog post I had written about the teashop.

12) Waffle Day in the School of Music – a glorious event in the music building of the University of Puget Sound in which the School of Music’s two secretaries/gatekeepers/guardians Carol and Leah make waffles for the students on the last day of classes.

13) The squishy brown couch in Diversions Café, where I have publicly napped and shamelessly wept on more than one occasion.

When I think of gratitude these days, however, what comes to mind foremost is a recent experience I had while in the Cellar, the university’s pizza shop.  I and a few friends had been spending time in an on-campus house, and decided to take a break from our movie by stopping by the Cellar.  Not wanting to spend too much money, I left my wallet in the house and took only the four dollars inside.

Arriving at the Cellar, I realized that what I really wanted as my not-so-guilty snack was a chocolate milk and a pack of Hostess Donuts.  With only four dollars and the price of food, I suspected that I’d only have enough money to cover one.  “Ah well,” I thought, “I’ll check with at the register which one is under four dollars”.  But I secretly bemoaned the preemptive loss of one of my snacks.

Upon arriving at the register, I placed down my two items and the cashier rung them up.  “I suspect that I won’t be buying one of these,” I told him, “Since I only have four dollars”.  But much to my surprise, when the cashier scanned the barcodes of the two items, the number that appeared on the little screen was three dollars and ninety-six cents.  “Yes!” I cried, whipping out my four dollars and slapping down at the table.  Ah, the beauty of little things!  The joy of the small triumphs of life!

“Don’t you want your change?” the cashier asked as I seized my items and began to walk away.  “Not necessary!” I called back with relish.  “Keep the four cents”.

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With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert