The sky is on fire!

At about 10:30 p.m., while I was talking on the phone to my Chicagoan friend, sorting through some of the nuances about which I'm writing for next week's conference, I was startled by an explosion and a flash outside. And then another. And then I realized!

The kids at the college across the street were having fireworks as part of their May Ball!

And these were not rinky-dink fireworks. This was a full-on Fourth of July pyrotechnic extravaganza.

Happening across the street from my flat.

These fireworks were being shot off from the enclosed garden at the college across the road. Surely that's not safe?

Whatever! After a minute or so, I realized that I was just going to start saying "Ooo! Aah!" over the phone, which seemed rude, so I excused myself, hung up the receiver, and went outside to watch with the other residents of my building. Two floors up, someone shrieked with what seemed to be genuine distress every time something exploded.

There were hisses and whizzes and whees. There were fireworks I'd never seen before. It was, in some ways, a more fulfilling display than the one in Edinburgh at new year's--if only because the smoke from previous fireworks didn't loom and obscure subsequent ones.

When the exquisitely loud finale had finished, we stood for a short time and listened to pieces of (still glowing) debris tapping to the ground all around the building.

Given that I'd already gotten to go, with a friend from my college, to see the assorted finery in which that May Ball's attendees were decked (while they waited in their block-long queue to get in to their party), I'd say this party weekend is off to a good start.

Would you like to see the dress that I won't be wearing tomorrow evening? (Alas.) The picture doesn't begin to do it justice (or, in other words, to explain to you why it even crossed my mind that a $300 dress could be a good idea): fortunately, I have a lot more flair than a headless plastic mannequin. In addition to its (stifled giggle) boned bodice, the dress features removable straps, so I wouldn't even have had to have worn it strapless. Instead, I will be wearing my trusty £40 evening gown for the fourth time. Now that's good value for money. I figure that tomorrow I'll take a break from writing this conference paper and rustle up a shawl somewhere in town--a doubly smart move, since it's only supposed to be 60º during the day tomorrow.

See what's happening to my mind? That's why I'm going to bed now. Tomorrow will be interesting: heavy brain work interspersed with a search for sparkly eyeliner and and a gauzy shawl and a way to pin flowers into my hair. Welcome to midsummer!

Today: 700 words (of my 3100 word conference paper). Gosh, I'm always startled by how well it turns out I know this genre, once I start writing within it. I'm just about at that moment where, having given your audience some facts they need, you tell them the argument you're going to make and then really launch into things. In other words, I'm right around the fifth minute. Before I perform this thing, I'll probably have compressed what I've written so far and made this argument moment occur closer to minute four, if not three.