Saturday, 7 August 2010

everything's not lost.

It seems like I start every post in this way, but I have to say it anyway; it's truly sad to think about how long it's been since I wrote on here.

I guess a few things have happened since I last updated...

I got married. I had an awesome honeymoon in the
land "Where Dreams Come True," Disney World. A little over a year ago, I moved to Connecticut and got a job at an insurance company that will not be named. I just started a new career path over there, which I am very thankful for. Oh, and my Mac crashed about a month ago and I lost about 3000 photos from the last three years and all of my iTunes music. Word. And I got a haircut. I actually got a few hairs cut.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

So now that I've caught you up on that, we can talk about much more relevant things than my evolving hairstyles.

No one really prepares you in college for what life after it is going to be like. And, I suppose it might be different for everybody. Being an artist, it was difficult to adjust to an insurance call center job, using zero creativity and being tied down to a strict minute-by-minute schedule. Being married and having responsibilities, I am not in the position to quit if I want to. It's easy to get lost in all of that, and forget to do the things you love. For a while, I forgot what it was like to go outside and lay under a tree, and watch the light flicker through the branches. It's one of my favorite things to do; it makes me feel whole, and small, and connected with God, and at peace at the same time.

Being a "grown up" made me understand what can happen to people if they let time pass, and work day in and day out, and get into a routine, and begin to forget who they are personally. Work is a part of life; an important one at that--but I've been so encouraged lately to stay active, or rather, start to be active again, to work on my music and my art, and to go outside. I feel so strongly that I need to keep on doing what I've always done: to write, and express myself, and enjoy myself. I say this because this past year was one of the most challenging I have ever had, not because of my marriage (which was, by the way, FANTASTIC) but because of feeling like a free spirit, a songbird, in a dark cage with no way out. There's always a way. It's easier said than really understood and taken into practice; I can attest to that.

I can see now, progressing onto a new stage in life, that there is time and place for everything, and that when it seems like you just can't bear it anymore, something, or everything changes. For me, it was a something that meant everything, and that was my job. I have a good feeling about this next chapter, though, so stay tuned. I think I'll be back soon.

Monday, 12 January 2009

i want to remember the places that we left, lost to the mists of time.

I'm sitting here on my bed at home, listening to Au Revoir Simone, and it feels weird. It feels sad; the musical notes cling in the air and then burst, presumably because their home is not here. I only have ten of their songs on my iTunes, and I began listening to them on a regular basis last February while I was in Surrey, England.

It is so different now.

It is so hard to grasp that at this time last year, I was only eight days away from flying to England. It's been a year since I left, seriously. And now, I am completely engrossed in my daily routine, occasionally stopping to think about those dream-like days in Europe. Did that actually happen?

I keep meaning to make a scrapbook out of all of my memorabilia from everywhere I visited. I have a bag full of tickets, drawings, objects, and even receipts (okay, i may be a little too sentimental) just waiting to be looked at. I finally got a scrapbook for Christmas--thanks, Max! I just need the rest of the materials and I need to assemble it. I have this idea that doing that will correctly sum up my time in Europe, and, in turn, I can show it to others.

Other people who visit Europe are so much better at talking about it in social situations and telling poignant and funny stories. My cousin is in England now, and he already seemed to know more about the culture in two weeks than I knew after four months of living there. I guess I didn't read that many books about England; I just tried to experience it, and soak up everything I could that was around me.

I miss it more lately than I have, ever. For the first few months after I got back, I did not miss it at all. Other people I studied with were complaining about the woes of being away from Kingston, but I was simply joyful about being home. As time passes, I miss little things, like accents, passion for tea, the mist in the air, the view of the football field from my window, and a handful of special people I got to know from around the world. I do miss the freedom I had, the relaxed feeling of the university modules, my trip to Barcelona, and my care-free adventures.

It is so easy to romanticize places I cannot easily get to. It was an absolutely inspirational experience, and it was a necessary experience. It was essential for me, as a young, single (unmarried, not single single) girl to travel the world like I always dreamed of doing. It was perfect in Paris. I miss it there particularly; I truly wish I could spend much more time there.

Alas! What is the point to all of this? Traveling taught me countless lessons, but many of which I did not expect to learn.

I learned how to be assertive and ask for directions without getting my wallet stolen.

I learned lattes, chocolate, and bread are much better in Europe. Sorry, Panera Bread.

I learned to make the most of staying in a youth hostel by really talking to the people there and getting to know them.

I learned that people from different cultures and of different ages could be great friends. I could walk around a city with someone I had just met that day, and have a wonderful time! What a refreshing thought! In high school, it was much more common for me to talk to strangers at a coffee shop, but somehow along the way in college, I got complacent and stopped doing it. I'm glad I experienced it again.

I learned that hospitality and a smile go a long way.

I learned that everybody is the same. No matter where we are from, we all have similar desires, hopes, longings, and feelings. We all have empty spaces inside of us; we all need them to be filled.

I learned that traveling is not as glamorous as I made it out to be. After going through constant packing and unpacking, tours, walking, and dealing with airports, I get tired. I want a home. I want steadiness. I want someone who loves me. I want to do adventurous things, and I want to travel more, but more than that, I want love and stability. No matter how much I love Paris, it won't love me back. I would never be so foolish to choose the independent life of a traveler over real love.

I learned that I can be independent and that I am completely capable making my way around an airport and a foreign city. It's a good feeling.

I learned that it is important to be who you are, no matter where you are, and to participate in quality relationships. There is no point in trying to be someone else in a different place; it doesn't feel good, no matter where you are. Turns out I'm not very good at being a "normal" college kid. I'm actually pretty happy about that.

I learned much more than that, I am sure, but those are the highlights.

So, here I am, back to my beautiful life at home. My hope is that I apply some of these concepts to my life now, and I think I have. I have made new friends, and I have rekindled old friendships. It still feels weird to listen to Au Revoir Simone, though.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

J'adore Paris

Paris était meilleur que j'ai désiré.

The first thing I did when I got to Paris (well, besides getting a metro pass) was to buy a mini-baguette (which was not called a baguette) and walk around and eat it.
The hostel that I stayed in, St. Christopher's was the nicest hostel I have ever seen.
It was a new, clean, and funky hotel for young travelers and backpackers.
There was a bar on the ground floor and there were free tours of the city through the hostel!
I met a girl named Peggy from Singapore and a girl named Alana from Sydney, Australia who I ended up spending a lot of time with.

When I walked down the Champs-Elysées and saw the Arc de Triomphe at the end standing proudly with a French flag hanging from the middle, I felt oddly like I was home.
I was able to climb the Eiffel Tower at sunset and then see it light up and sparkle while eating a banana and chocolate crepe at the bottom. The Eiffel Tower was more massive and beautiful than I had expected it to be.

I saw the Pont Neuf bridge, l'Opéra, the building where the French revolution started and many of the places that the Impressionists painted. I went to the Louvre, of course, but I was more excited and impressed with Le Musée D'Orsay, whichholds the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world. The Mona Lisa was at the Louvre, and it wasn't that great. If you want to have a conversation with me about that, you can let me know. I did really love the sculpture of Cupid and Psyche and Venus de Mélo was exciting as well.

I did not see the Moulin Rouge, and it really does not bother me. I did see Jim Morrison's grave at Le Cimetiere Pere-Lachaise, but that was a bit of a disappointment, because after a long search for it, it was a small, hidden, and ordinary grave. The cemetery itself was impressive, though, with some of the most unique and creepy graves I have ever seen. The Notre Dame was lovely, but I found it disturbing that after the walk-through, there was an actual merchandise stand in the church. I just don't think that a church and a market should be combined--it seems somewhat sacrilegious and irreverent.

I honestly ate the most unhealthily than I have probably ever in my life. I don't think I had even one actual meal. I ate bread, cheese, pastries, lattes...and one plate of nachos.

The reason I haven't gone into that much detail on this post is because my experience in Paris was beyond words. Cliché, right? I don't care; clichés are often true. It has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life to meet people from all over the world, who are traveling for different and similar reasons, and who have dropped everything to find something new and adventurous. I'm coming to the end of my adventures with only one week left, and I know I will understand things much more clearly in retrospect. But I am sure I've said that several times throughout this blog. I'm sure I'll write a farewell blog, so stay tuned for that.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

Katherine, a graphic design student at RISD invited me to go to the Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia exhibition that was taking place at Tate Modern in London. I of course obliged, considering that I missed my chance to go for free; but that is another story of its own. On the way, we walked across the Millennium Bridge, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. This was a welcome change from the rainy, windy, cloudy, cold weather we have had for the last few weeks. Just walking outside in London made me feel alive and content. The exhibition was interesting, and I saw some fairly famous pieces by Duchamp like Fountain, The Large Glass, and the bicycle wheel on a stool, which I cannot remember the name of. Many of the works were replicas, though, which was a little disappointing.

Afterwards, we met up with Joel and Michael and took the train to Greenwich. We first stopped at a little antique and vintage market, which I wanted to stay at for much longer but the others seemed to be done. I really want to go back because I was enthralled with the hats, lacy gloves, and pumps. There was even a little instrument booth where I got to try out a ukulele.

We left and went to the Prime Meridian of the World, which is 0° longitude. The National Maritime museum was also up there, along with the Royal Observatory. I stood over the official line, which means I was standing in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres at the same time! It was an exciting experience, considering I just finished a physical geography course in the winter. I spoke with a few people from here, though, and nobody seems to know about it! I was really surprised.

When I got home I had dinner with Debs, her friend and Immie and then I went to a pub called The Ram with Immie, her boyfriend and a few of her friends. I have been feeling kind of down lately, but I think the change in weather (because it is finally warm and sunny here) and the activities lifted my spirits.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


this is me having fun.

hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it.

this is not my photograph.

the study abroad group plus a couple of English girls.

yes, the fried Mars bar.

This past Thursday night at 11:00 p.m., a friend and I boarded a National Express bus headed to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a long and tiring ride, and it was difficult to sleep. We were surrounded by cuddling couples and snorers, but we managed to get there eventually, sleep or not. The weekend was filled with fried Mars bars, ukulele playing, and haggis-eating. On a side note, haggis is the belly of a lamb with oats and spices. My friend, Graham, from Connecticut lives and goes to the University there.

On the way to his flat, we got somewhat lost, but it was worth it. We were on Princes Street and although it was in the middle of a shopping area, over to our left was a huge green mountain of a hill with Edinburgh Castle standing atop it. While of course visiting museums, galleries, the writer's museum, and a monument to Sir Walter Scott, it was not the most exciting of places. For its beauty, though, I was left in awe.

The first evening, Graham took us to a crepe party, where I met his friends from the United States, France, Denmark, Lithuania and England. It was explained to me several times that there weren't many Scots at the University. I had a crepe with Nutella and bananas, as well as one with cheese and a martini. I thoroughly enjoy meeting people from all over the world. It seems that it's easy to find many international students congregated in the largest cities. These people also tend to be more exciting, adventurous, and open than the locals (but I don't take this as a rule).

There is a story of a dog who stayed by his master's grave until his own death, and there was a statue made of him there. I was also able to see the cafe in which J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. The last night, Graham took us to Arthur's Seat, which is the main peak of a group of hills in Edinburgh. It was nighttime, and it was a serious hike, but at the summit, it was worth it. We could see out to the North Sea and to the highlands. On the way down, we saw the heather on the hill, which I have heard much about.
I have recently made friends with the daughters of the lady I am lodging with and it's been refreshing to get to know some real English people. For a while, I was spending most of my time with Americans and I strongly desired to acquaint myself with some people from other countries. I was able to bring one of the daughters, Charlotte and her friend to a friend's birthday celebration, which ended up being fantastic!

I have traveled to several places, which has been quite a blessing. A lot of the American students here did an entire tour of about 7-10 European countries, but I am content with my travels. I would rather not rush around to every country and spend money I don't have because I know that I will come back to Europe someday. Besides, I found a friend to travel with me to Paris and I have bought the tickets, so we are officially going to Paris in early May as my last traveling adventure outside of the United Kingdom. I have always wanted to go to France, and there is much anticipation to see the artwork and countryside, as well as the city. As an artist and a French speaker myself, I know that I am realizing a dream. I am going to try to go to Bath and Stonehenge, as well as Greenwich, where the Prime Meridian is, before I return to the United States. I am going home in about five weeks, which I am overjoyed about.

Au revoir.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

when eyes can't look at you any other way

It snowed today in Surbiton. It did not last more than five minutes, but it was long enough to remind me of home. It was like a long, cold breath and then it was gone. This kind of weather seems unusual for England, since it hasn't been too cold this month, and in fact hasn't even rained much. But, maybe the fact that it was cold and rainy this week was a cruel way of welcoming Max to England. It's like it had to prove its own stereotype to a visiting American. But he's on a plane on his way home to New York now, and on my walk home from the bus stop, my toes felt as if they were miniature ice cubes clanking together inside of my canvas zebra trainers. Needless to say, I immediately changed into warm pajamas and my L.L. Bean slippers as soon as I got home.

This week wasn't real. It was here and now it is gone, and it feels bizarre to go back to the way things were before Max got here. I am of course sitting in the house sipping on red label fair trade tea from a slender cup and eating any kind of food that I can find in the refrigerator.

Rewind seven days. I stayed at a friend's in Kingston and woke up at 4:15 a.m. to catch a train to London and then a tube to Paddington and a connecting train to Heathrow Airport. I waited excitedly at the arrivals gate with a sign reading, "MAX." My heart pounding harder than I had felt in a long time, I recognized his kind, beardless face and his slender body immediately. That didn't feel real, and neither does any of this. Am I tired?

We saw everything we needed to see, and we enjoyed each other. It was the perfect combination of sightseeing and just hanging out. We saw some amazing things at the British Museum and the British Library like the mummy of Cleopatra, the Rosetta Stone, original manuscripts and diaries of Beowulf, Shakespeare, Hebrews, the Beatles, the Magna Carta, Da Vinci, Newton, Galileo, and so many more. I showed Max all of the things I've seen before, and he especially liked Buckingham Palace. I enjoyed it more the second time, and it was a perfect transition to walk from there to St. James's Park.

I was just getting used to this independent, new lifestyle and now it seems I'm back at the beginning. I have been proud of myself that as a country girl from Connecticut I am able to use public transportation and navigate my way around the city, as well as being confident in airports. All this to say I am glad to know that I can be independent and be alright but I desire to have my companion by my side. As soon as he got here, it is a cliche, but it felt like the puzzle pieces came together.


I forgot to mention that Max and I went to Hampton Court Palace (King Henry VIII) and met up with Nathan Scharoff, my friend from high school. What a blast from the past.