Tag Archives: college

To the Wind Turbine

I love any opportunity to visit Northfield, and yesterday just such an opportunity arose. Even while I was still in college, it was a bit strange to be there when school wasn’t in session. I still expect to see familiar faces walking down Division Street and filling tables at the Cow.

Before heading to the Junebug Music Festival at the Contented Cow, I decided to do some exploring. Passing the St. Olaf wind turbine on my way into town gave me an idea. One of my favorite memories is walking to the Carleton wind turbine with three friends during the spring of our junior year. The time had come for another look.

I had my car this time, so the second trip was considerably shorter than the first. Still, I was reminded that wind turbine always looks closer than it is. You’re traveling along a two-lane highway, and it seems to be looming just over the next hill. The illusion was much more frustrating on foot, of course.

There’s a gravel driveway that leads to the wind turbine, but it’s blocked off. I parked my car and walked the rest of the way. Nothing like bypassing a metal barrier to make you feel daring, even if there’s no real risk involved.

Walking to a wind turbine might seem like an odd activity. The truth is, they’re very impressive up close. I remember how alien it felt on my first visit. It’s intimidating to stand under those huge spinning blades. Sadly the turbines weren’t spinning this weekend, but it was worth it for the photos.

I will share more photos on Friday!



Filed under Real Life

Blast from the (Recent) Past

This weekend I took a trip to Northfield, the town of my college years. It’s not a long trip — less than an hour from my apartment in Minneapolis. But considering how much my life has changed in the months since graduation, the distance can feel considerably farther. Revisiting a place can be jarring, even if you haven’t been gone for very long. What follows is a collection of moments from my trip, some disconcerting and some downright awesome.

As I drive through town, I expect to see my classmates at every turn. It’s hard to imagine them existing in Boston and London and Washington D.C. and Japan instead of here.

The building that used to be a Wendy’s has been converted to an Asian restaurant called Tokyo Grill.

I eat a quick dinner at the Arby’s where I always stopped before driving home at the beginning of school breaks. The cashier spells my name “Cortney” on the receipt. A valiant effort, I decide.

I find a signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars at Target. In purple Sharpie at that, which Nerdfighters will know is rarer than green Sharpie. (No Hanklerfish though.) A guy sees me stroke the signature with one finger and gives me a rather sympathetic look.

Talk about surreal. I buy stickers at my college Target for the teaching job that I never would have anticipated having. Life is nothing if not surprising.

I stop at Blue Monday for a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. I don’t like coffee, but I love hanging out in coffee shops. There are two or three Carleton students with headphones and laptops, probably doing work early so that they can go out later. I get the ideal seat by the window. A year ago I would have felt awkward being here alone on a Saturday night. Now I want to see, and I don’t mind being seen.

I go to the Contented Cow with my old roommate Katie. The Cow remains my favorite bar on the planet. The bartender recognizes me, which is sweet, and I see a guy who used to be in a band with my friend Miki. Maybe not so much has changed.

I feel grateful to have spent four years in such a lovely town. I feel grateful for the friends who let me sleep in their extra room. And I feel grateful for where post-college life has taken me.


Filed under Real Life

One Time I Took A CAMS Course

That’s Cinema and Media Studies in Carleton-speak. In my senior year, I asked myself, “Is there anything else I want to try before I graduate?” The obvious answer was CAMS. Since it was Intro to CAMS, I was one of two seniors in a class full of freshmen. Yeah, I was that girl.

I’ve always loved movies and the experience of going to the theater. Like, a lot. My creative side was interested in how films worked as an art form. Sometimes I watched Turner Classic Movies. Sometimes I listened to audio commentary for fun. Do you know what people always say on audio commentaries? “Nobody’s really listening to this, right?” Wrong. I’m listening, so tell me something good.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken more CAMS during my time in college. The skills learned in countless English classes transferred easily to film interpretation, so the assignments were rarely stressful. (Then again, being a senior in an intro-level class helps.) Mostly I just got to watch some great movies and develop a concept of film history.

The upshot is that I’m like one of those people who takes a psychology class and thinks they can diagnose their friends. While I’m watching a movie, I can casually try to identify the break between the first and second act. I can bore my mom with stories about how The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was shot in black-and-white because Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were twenty years older than their characters. I can say, “Oooo, composition in depth!” And most recently, I can watch Far From Heaven on Netflix Instant because it’s an homage to the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk, most notably All That Heaven Allows, which we watched for Intro CAMS. See, it all makes sense.

Far From Heaven

So forgive me if I go into wannabe-CAMS-major mode now and then. If you too enjoy the occasional TCM movie, gawking at old photographs, and a touch of humor, I can recommend a series of articles over at The Hairpin called Scandals of Classic Hollywood. Guaranteed to inform and amuse.

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Filed under Movies