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To help us grow. [15 Mar 2010|10:39pm]
If you haven't heard this, it's not earth shattering,  but it's good and unexpected from her.  www.youtube.com/watch

In other news. 

Something in my life has shifted. I'm not sure if it's the 21-year-old-ness, or something else, but something is definitely different. I'm pulling away from some things that I always held onto, and moving toward this period of growth that simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. I feel like I'm being pressured to come up with something great to say or do for the rest of my life, but I also feel like I am finally getting the tools to become what everyone wants me to become. And, if I'm being totally honest, what I want to become. (But I wish someone would tell me what that is.)

It's a really tough battle to fight as an ambitious, driven, goal-oriented girl who also wants to be a mom. Society tells me career OR children, but I say I make my own rules, thankyouverymuch. 

My heart is happy for the first time in a long time. I finally feel like I'm rebuilding what broke after my last ended relationship. This time, it's not just a matter of me moving on to someone else. I legitimately took time to heal, and I'm seeing the positive effects of that decision every day. The time that I took for myself has enabled me to commit in a new and more veritable way to the relationship I'm in now. And I think everyone involved is healthier for that choice.

Not to mention the fact that I feel like a grown up, but I also know that if I'm thinking that thought in an articulated way, it means I am absolutely not a grown up.

Stone Mountain was a long climb, but it was so worth it. So happy to be at the top. 

(And now for a little e e cummings: "For life's not a paragraph, and death, I think, is no parenthesis.")

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The fissure. [25 Jan 2010|01:36am]
 I can't write here without being pressingly conscious of the death of my - our - friend Matt. But because one of the last things he did was support Joe Raines in his fight for Livejournal, here I am again. 

I turned twenty one on Monday of last week, and I've been thinking a lot since then. There are these weird flashes that I've been getting of me as an eight, or eleven, or seventeen year old. I remember how it felt to think I knew it all back then. And then I think that my twenty six year old self will be remembering twenty one and thinking how foolish the twenty one year old was to be judging her seventeen year old self on all her mistakes. It just seems like it's going to be an endless cycle of learning and remembering, and I think the trick is not to beat yourself up about the things you didn't know while balancing the knowledge that you don't know it all. Make sense? Great.

Being single has allowed me, so far this year, to become extremely self-aware. That has always been something I'm good at, but recently I've realized just how much being in a relationship with someone else affects my relationship with myself. It's hard for me to articulate the different ways that I change when I'm single, but they are very real and very bold in my own mind. 

Sometimes at night, or even in the day -- passing a cluster of stores, or a tree, or even a smell -- I will think of Oxford, and think of my home there. And some moments, like this one, make those movie reels inside my mind play memories extra slowly, so that somehow my body floats backwards and forwards simultaneously into what I was and what I will become. And in this fissure between space and time, it becomes easy to live without the worry of a twenty six year old blonde wrinkling her brow. 
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[27 Oct 2009|04:46pm]
 My account has been inactive for longer than 90 days. This is very strange. 
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And it seems... [10 Aug 2009|05:35am]
...it's just begun. Yet I'm on a plane tomorrow bound back home, to my family and friends, away from all this beauty and history and academia and grandeur. It's wonderful over here. I'll never be back as a student, and that is depressing. Time to descend the mountain, back into the villages - "This way, there's work to do." 
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Now I believe this is all really happening. [08 Aug 2009|09:23am]
Gosh. Okay. Lots to cover.

Our London adventure was fabulous. I was on a mission to find a very particular pair of shoes, which I found and purchased - they were the only pair in the store, and in exactly my size. I think it was fate. Les Mis was life-changing. I'd seen it twice before in the States, but over here it's just another ball game. The cast was perfect, the staging was beautiful, and the message, as usual, was so moving and powerful. I am going to have to do that show before I do. Eponine, please.

The rest of the week has been filled with quiz nights and friends, pubs and homework, high table dinners and my new favorite restaurant, Noodle Nation. Delicious. It's hard to believe that almost 5 weeks ago tomorrow, I will have sat with a table full of strangers, uncertain of how the journey ahead would go - who I would meet, what I would do. These friends that I can now laugh with and confide in are the kind of people I want to always surround myself with - smart, well-read, funny, witty, kind people who really care about what's going on.

I took my common exam yesterday, which strung together the lecture series we've had between classes every day.  I very much enjoyed writing it - it provided a nice opportunity to sum up what I'd learned, and recount some experiences I'd forgotten about. My favorite essay from the exam is posted  hereCollapse ), if you care to read it.

Tomorrow we begin our winding-down process with our first exam, followed by our second on Monday and then a festive dinner before send-off. What a whirlwind. More soon.

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Past few days. [01 Aug 2009|04:58pm]
Read more...Collapse )

Just thought this might be kind of long.

I can't believe my time here is almost over. I have a little over a week left before I'm on a plane back to America. Have learned so many things, academic and beyond. Can't wait to be able to write about something other than a list of my activities and tell you all about what I know now. To summarize, for now, I'll say this: racial divides are completely American constructs, I am a people person, Birmingham-Southern is beyond the right choice for me, Oxford is beautiful even when it rains, England is really really really inefficient in terms of small business (and I think I may be impatient), back up everything you've ever put on your computer. That's all for now.

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Good stories. [30 Jul 2009|06:35pm]
This entry is just gonna be a bunch of good stories from the past week.

1. Various pubs in Oxford, weekly, have these things called Quiz. Absolutely hilarious. You go and form a team with some of your "mates," and play against all the other people there. One typically eccentric employee reads out the questions and your team writes down the answers on a sheet of paper, then switches with another team to "grade." You can imagine the drunken shouts of disappointment/triumph. On Tuesday night, Dr. Lester asked me to get a team together and go play, so I did. One of my favo(u)rite nights in Oxford so far. One of the sheets was "One Hit Wonders." We were given a picture sheet with photos of ten bands, and we had to identify the one hit or the band. I'm sorry to say, the professors (2 Americans, 3 Brits and a Scot) nailed us to the wall. Topped the evening off with mozzarella covered French fries from a kabob cart. Cherry on top.

2. There are A LOT of pubs in Oxford. I've been to maybe 12, but I have friends who carry around lists that they periodically check off. Tonight, we were making the rounds when a drunken Oxford guy tried to grab at my friend Alexis. Will, a guy in our group, turned around and raised a choice finger at drunk guy. Drunk guy barrels back into the group of probably 9 girls and 3 guys and tries to start a fist fight. We were able to get into a nearby restaurant before anything actually happened, but shortly after the staff had closed the doors behind us, we heard a giant crash. This guy had completely smashed in the window looking into this restaurant from the street. I guess he really wanted Alexis' number.

3. Weather here is ridiculous. Hot, cold, freezing, rainy, sunny, the most beautiful clouds you've ever seen, torrential, windy...you name it, I've experienced it. And normally all that weather happens within a 24-hour span.

4. I know lots of cool British phrases. "We're going to have a proper knees-up, = "We're going to have a fun party." "Bang on," = "That's right." "Minxing," = "Seducing." All very interesting things. Also, an old man I met in a pub told me that New Zealanders are called kiwi. Cool. This man also let me know that the older woman (not his wife, merely his "mate") next to him was getting irritated because I was, and I quote, "encroaching on her territory (ie him)." Shortly after that, she told me to bugger off. I did.

Bath tomorrow and London Saturday.
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Crash. [29 Jul 2009|12:31pm]
So this morning, as I was Skype-ing with my dad, my computer completely froze. I pressed the power button to turn the whole system off, and when I restarted it I got a grey screen with a blinking question mark in the middle of a file folder.

I've spent the last 6 hours either on the phone with the Apple Store in London or at the Apple Service provider store down the street working on this. Turns out my entire hard drive has crashed, which means I had to pay 70 pounds ($115) to get a brand new hard drive, and my old one is currently siting in a bag in a bag on my desk. So two and a half years of memories are maybe, maybe not, five inches from my right arm beside a text book in a little piece of metal. I asked the tech guy to pretend my hard drive was a cancer patient, and to give me some numbers. He said there's an 80% chance that some data will live, but only a 20% chance that all data will live. So the what I might lose forever includes, but is not limited to, the following things: 

-Thousands of photos in iPhoto and Photo Booth
-My entire iTunes library (easily fixable) 
-Every video (probably 100) that I've taken from December '08 to yesterday using FlipVideo
-A year's worth of movies I've recorded directly from iMovie of my best friends and I goofing off in the SGA office
-Everything I've ever written on this computer
-Everything that's ever been recorded from Garage Band

Every ten minutes or so, I'll remember something else that's potentially gone forever. It's wild - I have a new hard drive, so essentially I have a new computer. I have to re-do EVERYTHING - bookmarked pages, downloading Skype and Firefox...all the things that haven't yet occurred to me. I know there are many more important things to be concerned with in the world. I know this is not a big deal. But I'm being self-involved for a few days while I worry about it. It would be a pretty devastating blow.

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Like a real entry. [28 Jul 2009|07:38am]
On the train from one spot in Paris to another, in the midst of being terribly lost, Elizabeth and I sat side by side. The subway car was dingy, but not the way American subway cars are dingy. This dinginess was foreign and posh, reminiscent of the many European couples who'd publicly displayed their affection and many cigarettes hidden under seats to avoid detection by smoke alarms. We were giddy with laughter at our misfortune in missing our first train, then getting on another that took us in the opposite direction from the one in which we should have been traveling.

The doors opened and the typical mass scrambled into the car, the late ones rushing as though they could make the subway system go faster simply by shoving their way in and being the first to grab the germ (but posh germ)-ridden safety pole. In the bustle of movement, a man who I can only describe as a cross between Danny DeVito and Jaba the Hut hopped (really hopped) on board. But it wasn't only him - he toted an amp and a 1,000,000 year old saxophone. A small cup made out of duct tape was fastened to the amp, which rode comfortably on a dolly. This man, I realized, was about to troub (what I've come to call it) on the subway.

He pressed play and instantly a tinny and awfully synthesized instrumental began to stream out of the speaker. The natives, glamorously bored with the whole scene, found my enthrallment with this subway troubadour entertaining. They looked upon me like an adult looks at a baby who has discovered the sound a rattle makes for the first time. In the midst of my affectionate laughter (which had been noticed and acknowledged by the troub with a wink), I heard familiar strains of melody stream from the bell of the saxophone. What was that song? I suddenly remembered the closing scene - the credits, in fact - of the movie "George of the Jungle" circa 1990's, where the talking ape sings a song in a blue sparkly vest. I'd seen the movie countless times with my younger brother. It finally struck me: "I Did It My Way."

I looked up to find that the friendly troub was standing in front of me with his duct tape cup. Since we truly had no change, I informed him that I had nothing to give him. He responded in an accent thick with experience, "But your love?" "...do what?" "You have nothing to give me but your love." "That's right - nothing but my love." He collected some change from my fellow passengers before asking me again, "Do you love me?" "Yes, sir. I love you."

And with that, the man with the ancient saxophone tipped his hat and winked again. In the next shuffle of coming and going, the dolly and its owner were gone, and the strains of a well-worn track echoed in the underground.
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Memorial. [26 Jul 2009|05:21pm]
This weekend we took a trip all over God's earth to visit different WWI battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials. It was a lot packed into three days, but I'll try to recap what I can.

We began in France, at a Canadian war memorial for the battle at "The Ridge" in Vimy. It could be because this was the first memorial we visited, but it's the most memorable to me. The tomb of the unknown soldier they've built is absolutely incredible. The pictures are up on Facebook. It's an enormous white stone memorial that overlooks the countryside on what's known as "The Ridge." This was said to be the first battle in WWI where Canadian forces came together and made real progress. They defeated German armies at Vimy and, although the battle was won, the fatality total was staggering. Thousands and thousands of soldiers died in this place. At one point while I was photographing, a little French girl in a pink coat wandered up the stark white steps and looked up at the 100 foot carved portrayal of a woman writhing in misery. I was lucky enough to have my eye at the lens at this particular moment. I couldn't help but be reminded of the girl in the red coat in "Schindler's List." It was a powerful moment.

We visited the trenches after that. Much of what was there was recreated, but to walk in the trenches where these people fought and hear about the conditions they dealt with (rats the size of housecats - kill me) as they were in battle was really humbling. I have to confess my ignorance about the history of WWI - this trip taught me lots.

We visited so many cemeteries and monuments that I can't begin to name them all. I so enjoyed the experience of being able to really see where these men lived and fought and died. In Ypres, we attended a memorial service in a TotUS for a WWI vet who lived to be 111 years old. The service was so moving (I cried, of course) and his widow was there - just incredibly intense. The band played "God Save the Queen," which doubles as the Star Spangled Banner, so I was struck by not only the patriotism of this man and his family, but remembered the terminal full of army men and women next to my flight to Oxford, the day before the fourth of July. Talk about poignant.

On a lighter note, Belgium is BEAUTIFUL and seriously underrated. I've never heard people rave about Belgium like they rave about anyplace else in Europe, but Ypres is among the most lovely places I've ever seen -- not to mention they have really fantastic chocolate and waffles. As a present for my big sister in Chi O (I promised her I would) I did my own special rendition of Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" in the streets of Ypres. People in the restaurant across the street were dying laughing - the staff stopped what they were doing to sit down and watch the crazy American girl hop around in the streets. I suppose it's good to know that Europe hasn't made me an intellectual snob...at least, not entirely.

I have no idea how I could possibly want to sleep any more than I have on the bus today, but for some reason, I'm exhausted. So happy to be "home" from a weekend of travel. Adieu.

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Battlefield. [24 Jul 2009|12:25am]
WWI battlefields for the weekend.  Normandy and Belgium. See you on Sunday.
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This is hella long, so read only if you really love me. [21 Jul 2009|06:42pm]
I'm sure that the two, maybe three of you who read this thought I'd never write in it again. I've been waiting for exactly the right time to update about the past week - Thursday in Oxford, Friday in London, Saturday and Sunday in Paris - and here, after a hot shower and "Intolerably Cruelty" with a good friend, cozy pajamas, and the sounds of my drunken Oxford peers drifting in through my open eight-foot windows, I feel ready.

Thursday of last week was an adventure.  A typical day of class, followed by a dinner with the entire Birmingham-Southern group including our faculty sponsor for the summer, Dr. Lester. I have close friends who adore Lester (almost to the point of unhealthiness) and so I was really excited to get to know him, seeing that our first introduction was here at St. John's. He tried to take the group to a really charming former pub (or it had been when he was studying here years ago) turned swanky restaurant that had been booked for Thursday night all week. After being turned away there, we jetted off to another restaurant: a much more suitable, in both atmosphere and cost, Italian place down Gloucester Green. Dinner was great, wine was delicious, but the company was definitely the star of the evening. V. Markham Lester is a gem of a professor and and as cool a man as I've ever met. He regaled us with stories about his campaign efforts as President of the Arkansas Young Democrats for President Kennedy, and other incredibly entertaining stories. As the dinner drew to a close, a birthday cake, which Dr. Lester's wife had ensured made it via the backpack of one of my classmates, was presented, candles and all. It was a really special moment to celebrate the 58th birthday of a man who is the prototype for what college professors should be like: relatable, but not a pushover; full of interesting things to say but also interested in your thoughts. Really a great night.

After the dinner, a few of us went to a pub down Cornmarket St. called the Purple Turtle. The American girls who were there definitely got the party started on the dance floor, and before long it was a multi-cultural extravaganza. It was particularly interesting to see how the room reacted when Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was played.

The next day, my friends Elizabeth, Guv (short for Gouvanear and pronounced /GOO-vah-near/...holy pretentious names, right?) took a bus to London for the day. Although rainy (surprise, surprise), we managed to cover a pretty good bit of the city on foot, just stumbling upon whatever we decided we wanted to do. While we were in Harod's, in the midst of a dress purchase (Elizabeth's), I brought up that I was going to Paris for the weekend and had a hotel room that she was more than welcome to stay in. Thus, our trip to Paris was born. We were giddy about our weekend plans and Guv, although not invited because of his sex, was excited for us too. We found a great lunch place where the service was fabulous and the conversation was as good as the food - the perfect amount of sustenance without being overbearing. I had a goat cheese salad. And a tea to go (or "take away" here). Many funny and fun stories from that day that I'll save for the next time you and I are in person.

Saw "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on Friday night as well. Underwhelmed, but still cried when Dumbledore died.

Saturday morning began our adventure. We caught a train to London, and from there took the Eurostar/chunnel to Paris Nord. Might I add, two twenty-year-olds navigated the European transportation system completely independent of anyone's help and very efficiently. It sounds small, but it was a giant victory for the two of us considering we had to use trains, subways, taxis, and Eurostars. One giant step for womankind.

When we got to Paris, we immediately crashed in the hotel room for about an hour, and watched American cartoons in French. Hilarious. Although I'd taken four years of French prior to the trip, I was reeeeeally nervous about using it in conversation. So nervous that when we took our first taxi ride, I wrote down the address of the place and kind of caveman-grunted it to the driver. Classy. After we got settled, we put on our newly purchased pretty dresses and taxi-d past the Arc de Triomphe and to the Eiffel Tower for the evening. We got there when it was still light out, and got to watch the sun set on the lit and sparkling Eiffel Tower. A moment I will never forget. Made me cry. We had dinner in a cafe across the river, overlooking the Tower in all its glittery-ness. Cheese plate, glasses of champagne, spaghetti, salad, and the best, most wonderful chocolate dessert I've ever had. By the way, Paris knows how to do food. The portions are exactly right, and the meals LAST. We sat at dinner for two and a half hours, and the restaurant was still rocking when we left at 12:30. Took the only glorious shower so far and had the first real, solid night's rest of my stay in Europe. Thank you, Dad.

Sunday we got up, got dressed, and immediately found a breakfast bar on our way to see the Arc in daylight. Two fried eggs each and a banana crepe for me. Thank you and goodnight, I could have died. Delicious. We stayed at the Arc and photographed it from every possible angle between the two of us - there's a giant, translucent French flag tethered in the center for the Tour de France, and it was mesmerizing. After that, we walked the length of the Champs Elysee to the Louvre, where we saw the Winged Victory, Mona Lisa, and Venus de Milo. I'm giving you highlights - of course there was much more beauty and fabulousness. Took a cab to Notre Dame and walked in and around the cathedral for a couple of hours. Just beautiful. The architecture, for its time and ours, is something to marvel over.

That's all I can muster to type at the moment. My fingers are tired, but tomorrow or Thursday I'll definitely write about today at the Globe and seeing Ethan Hawke. Totally cool.

Am deliriously happy, in case you were curious. If I could move you all here with me, I would.
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Oh my goodness. [19 Jul 2009|06:31pm]
Just got back from Paris. it's 12:30 AM here, and I haven't done a lick of my homework for tomorrow. Not. Good.

...it'll okay, though. Paris was magical - maybe I brought some back. Can't wait to tell you all about it.
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Inefficient Britain. [13 Jul 2009|05:51pm]
I have noticed today, overwhelmingly more so than other days, the inefficiency of this country compared to my own. Color me an impatient American, but I just expect some things to run smoothly and they often don't in little old Oxford.

For example...

Went to see "Bruno" today. That's a whole separate entry. Patrick said it best: "The Hangover" is 85% funny and 15% offensive, and "Bruno" is just the opposite. Anyway, the theater/re we went to was absolutely filthy. There are no attendants who come and clean between showings, so everyone's leftover popcorn and candy wrappers are littering the floors. Additionally, there are three levels of seating which differ in price depending on their proximity to the screen. Only the second tier, which is the lower balcony, has seats with cupholders and more than 5 1/2 inches of leg room. I could comfortably hang my legs over the seat in front of me. And did.

Went to the grocery store after that. It's important to note that everything in Oxford closes at 5:30 PM, with the exception of pubs, which close at about 11:30 PM. We were running to make it to Marks and Spencer's (kind of the English version of Target) before the doors closed, and did - but I'm not sure that was fortunate. The floors were filthy, there was fresh and not-so-fresh produce hanging haphazardly from the shelves, and nothing was really where it was advertised to be. They had absolutely no universal brand soft drinks, nor bottled waters - had to go to another store to get those. When it was time to check out, we got to the already dense line/que to zip through the self-checkout. It was more of a slow tear than a zip. Three of seven machines were down. They also charge for plastic bags - 5 pence per bag - which is fine with me, except that one you finish checking out, the bags are all the way at the end of the row being manually distributed by a woman (the only employee that I saw anywhere) who was also responsible for fixing the obviously wonky computers. 

Have I stressed you out yet? I just gave myself a zit telling you that story. Hope it was worth it. So I think I may be British in mind, but American in expectation.

Other than that, absolutely lovely day. Goodnight friends.

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Palace places. [12 Jul 2009|07:33pm]
Blenheim Palace. If ya ever pass through Oxford, good grief. Ridiculous beauty. Go on a pretty day.

A couple of notes: 

1. Be forewarned that if you elect to take the tour through the palace, you will be faced with animatronic dolls to help tell the "untold" stories of the palace. As far as I'm concerned, those stories can stay in the closet. I have never been more terrified on a tour of a house, and that's including the Haunted Mansion at Disney World when I was eight years old. I do not do animatronic. Especially when their backs are to you.

2. There are sheep that wander around on the grounds. If you walk toward the Column of Victory, and find a pack of sheep, it's unlikely that they'll pay any attention to you. They'll probably act like they are inconsolably over you, unless you decipher the approximate pitch and timber of their bleating, get down on all fours, and follow them around the garden. Don't ask me how I know.

It has been, I think, my favorite day so far. I can't believe that I've been here an entire week already. In some ways, it feels like time is flying, and in others, it feels like I've been in this place for years. Something is just really homey about England for me. Dad says it's where "our people" are from - not literally, but in the "we-like-to-read-and-get-skin-cancer-easily" way. My friends and I joked that we celebrated our one week anniversary tonight, which is funny and sad all at once. In four more weeks, we'll be back across the world in different parts of a country where, before a week ago today, we never knew the other existed. Funny how the world works.

This does make me realize that my family is very important to me. All my new friends have stories about their own families; some good, some not so good. My closest friend here is a New Yorker who attends Richmond. Her dad is 78 years old, and she's already planning for her brother-in-law to walk her down the aisle since her father probably won't be alive when she gets married. It's the hearing other peoples' stories sometimes that makes me so grateful for my own.

And I've made friends with the kabob cart owners across the street. Houssein and Ali. Even though Ali kind of creepily read the Birmingham-Southern letters across my chest on my sweatshirt and may or may not have wiggled his eyebrows. Pretending I didn't notice.

Was outside, eating chocolate ice cream, in a palace, next to an interracial couple with the most beautiful children I've ever seen, and I thought...who gets to live this life? Me, apparently. Al hum dil Allah.

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Just the facts, Charlie. [10 Jul 2009|04:40pm]
My first week in England! I can't believe it's already been a week. I knew time was going to fly here, but this is nuts. I guess when one gets up before 10 AM, the day really starts to go faster. Funny how that happens.

My daily schedule looks like this: 
7:20 AM: Wake up
8: Breakfast (They put out cereal and fruit, but then a waiter/waitress comes around and says, "Would you like a fried breakfast?"  which includes eggs, a triangle of hashbrowns, sausage, bacon, and possibly a biscuit. Can't remember.)
8:30: History of Technology with Dr. Chapman, the cartoon-y man who jumped out a window and attacked our speaker at our seminar today, which brings me to
9:30: Coffee in the college pub with students and professors
10:15: Seminar series with hour-long talks from all the faculty with the program. Pretty darn cool.
11:15: Religion in Britain from 1800 with Dr. Haynes, the younger smart Rhodes guy.
12:30: Lunch, buffet style. I've had vegetable pizza for the past couple of days. In England, they put about 60 pounds of cheese on top of a vegetable medley which includes corn. ...I'll say that again. Corn. ?? The drinks on the table are really funny - we're started to call them "Bad Kool-aid and Worse Kool-aid. Really gross sugar-y drinks with a cough syrup aftertaste.

So every day until 2, I'm going going going, which I like a lot. I'm discovering that I am a community person. If I have a group of people to do things with, and I know they're going to be there too, I don't mind getting up at 7:20. I think I would be a really good team athlete, except that I am a horrible athlete. EVEN get up for class when I am really sick, like I was today. I have what I like to call the Oxford funk, which looks a lot like swine flu.

...okay, it's not that bad, but my back hurts. I've never had a sick where my back hurts. Not liking it.

I bought some begonias for my room. They're really lovely and make me smile. Pretty pink flowers.

I went on a tour through Christ College about Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. Lots of super cool stuff and random facts. Like what, you ask? Okay, I'll tell you. The White Rabbit character came from Alice (who was actually a real little girl)'s father, who was the Dean of Christ College. Apparently he was notoriously late for dinner, and would always slip in down a spiral staircase and through a back door. He'd apologize to the rest of the high table and say, "Forgive me gentlemen, once again, I'm late, I'm late." So the lateness came from...well, the lateness, but the rabbit hole was derived form the spiral staircase! I loved that.

How about Britain is not really a Christian nation? I mean, I know they are technically, but something around 6% of people attend church regularly. And Oxford, side note, is INCREDIBLY racially diverse. I had no idea. There are Asians every time I turn around. Very interesting. What's even cooler is to be in a country where African Americans don't have the same associations they have as a race in America. Those prejudices, here, are redirected ad Muslims.

Want another cool fact? Okay. Lewis Carrol was a pseudonym. His real name was Charles Dodgson, and the dodo character form the Alice books came form his stutter: "Charles Do-do-do-dgson." He was said to have been this really famous mathematician (which is a word Brits LOVE to say, by the way. Mathematician.), so when he started telling Alice these stories and publishing them, he wanted to keep his childrens' fiction fame separate from his math notoriety. Right?? I love random facts like that.

I have about a thousand other incredibly cool things to tell you about solar history, but I'll keep it to myself. I can feel you yawning.

So tomorrow, the group is going on an excursion to Stonehenge, Portsmouth, and the Royal Naval Dockyard. I'm excited to see more of the world. I'm thinking that if I lie down on one of the Stonehenge rocks, it'll be just about the same as lying on my bed. Maybe a little softer.

My brain is so full and the drug fog from my cold medicine is pulling me into my Stonehenge bed...miss you all.

(Sorry this is not poetic or prettily written. Least clever entry ever.)
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When I was a little girl... (Today's entry) [07 Jul 2009|06:37pm]
...my grandfather used to ask me, "What did you learn in school this week?" Usually, I would answer back with something halfhearted, but I'm pretending that Mac is here now, and I've never been more eager to answer his question:

I learned how steam engines work. I learned that time zones were formed based on perceptions of solar and lunar eclipses because of travel by boat. I learned that the railroad revolution took place in more or less a matter of thirty years, and that a person born at the end of the American Revolution would have gone from living in a time where the fastest possible mode of transportation was a racehorse and penning something for others to read was improbable to a time when they could sit in a train car and be transported at 60 MPH while reading a newspaper and having their photograph taken. Know what? I didn't consult my notes for any of that. Know what else? I learned all that in an hour from my cartoon-y professor Dr. Chapman who (no kidding) concluded class by climbing out the first story window and walking across the lawn.

I also learned that it rains a lot here, and that if you're going to drink beer, you might as well drink the really fruity carbonated cider-y stuff. I don't like beer-y beer or fishy-y fish. I learned that last night at dinner.

Sometimes when I'm walking through the grounds, I hum the haunting Harry Potter theme and count myself among the Hogwarts scholars, to be here in a place which houses mystery and great wonder.

I have a totally made-me-cry meaningful story from last night to tell you, but I'm just too tired to type it out. One of the days, Alice. And now, back to your regularly scheduled program...which, for me, means 85 pages of reading. Thank you, Oxford.

(But really, thank you Oxford.)
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So little to say, so much time... (Entry from yesterday) [07 Jul 2009|06:36pm]
Wait, strike that. Reverse it.

WAY too much to fit into a computer screen. I had a pretty bad bout of homesickness early on which was thankfully cured by my friends at Worcester and my new friends here at St. John's. Everything about Oxford is truly magical. Besides that a lot of the Harry Potter movies have been filmed here, there is just something in the air. I've never been in a place where learning and academic achievement is not only encouraged, but regarded with the highest esteem. This is where I want to be, and these are the kinds of people I want to be around.

Got a good look at my professors. The History of Technology guy, Allan Chapman, is about 250 years old with hair that is some mixture of Michael McInturff and Christopher Lloyd in "Back To The Future." He's a professor here at John's during the regular school year, and I'm sure will prove to be a true English character. The other professor, Stephen Haynes, is kind of the heartthrob of the faculty. Young, salt and pepper hair, with cute glasses and a daddy-cool attitude. Very much looking forward to his religion class tomorrow although I (cough) haven't read for it.

I can't relay all the adventures of the couple of days that I've been out of Internet commission (took them a while to get it hooked up), but the list includes: Movenpick ice cream (to die for), a walking tour of Oxford that took my breath away, one of the best chocolate dessert in the dining hall that I have ever had (and I know my chocolate desserts), great laughs with great new friends in bad pubs over bad beer (trying to like it, but really - oh my gross), hilarious British television (should be included in your Satire class, Tatter), bad British jokes told by charming professors, long but deliciously informative lectures, burned coffee, exploding appliances (still haven't figured out the voltage system...), and darts. Was that enough parentheticals for one paragraph? 

It's interesting being an American in British culture. If Brits had come to a university in the US and had not been afforded Internet access immediately upon entering, I'm sure it would have been fine. Here, though, there was an uproar about the fact that it took the tech folks a couple of days to wire everyone into the ethernet. The beds here are, I'm sorry to say, hard as rocks and without a top sheet. Very interesting. Rhodes, Richmond, and Furman, on the other hand, have each produces fabulous friends for me.

Pictures and videos are posted on my Facebook account - hopefully all of you who care to can get there to look. My enormous room here at the College overlooks the street, shops, and pubs in front of St. John's, and light from the nearly floor to ceiling windows winks me awake each morning with a reminder of just how lucky I am to be living this life. Thanks to all who've been e-mailing and checking on me. It means the world.

Warm face, warm 'ands, warm feet...loverly, loverly.
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Things I've learned in Oxford so far. [04 Jul 2009|07:18pm]
1. You have to press the handle down in order for carts in the British airport to move easily. Otherwise, it makes for a very unpleasant and tiring journey out of the terminal. Didn't learn this one until about five feet before my destination. Helpful.
2. It takes getting used to, the whole cars on the other side of the road thing. On my trip from the airport, I nearly had a heart attack when a car passed us and the person in the American driver's seat was completely asleep and reclined in his chair.
3. The suffix "shire" means county.
4. The drinking age is 18.
5. It is bizarre to see high school seniors at pubs.
6. It is bizarre to be admitted into a pub, and to order a drink legally. I've never done this in the US. Too scared.
7. Worcester College is not pronounced /WAR-ches-tehr/, but rather, /WOR-stehr/. Don't ask me, I didn't make the rules.
8. When you are an American in GB on July 4th, other Americans are easily identifiable. They're usually the ones toasting to Toby Keith and singing the National Anthem. I may or may not have joined in.
9. The Old Parsonage Hotel is lovely, and the staff is extremely hospitable. Have really enjoyed my stay here. And British television is REALLY bad.
10. However, there is only half of a shower door. I noticed this when I was already IN the shower. So I took a bath instead. This place forces me to slow down.
11. Additionally, the volume on the television only goes to 15. This place forces me to listen up, and not blare the television like some gross American.
12. A day of jet lag and a night of fraternizing at the Four Candles Pub equals one tired girl.

Goodnight friends.
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Dean's list. [02 Jun 2009|11:52pm]
I made the dean's list. Three A-'s and one A. At BSC, for some reason, an A is the highest available grade. Why not an A+, 'Southern? Really. Either way, it's the first time that I've gotten straight A's since, no kidding, the fifth grade. Kind of a milestone. Kind of a miracle.

My nerdy group of friends at school and I have started our very own Accelerated Reader competition for the summer - without the tests, I mean. I've enjoyed it. Give me a competition and I am all up on it like white on rice. So far, I've read The Watsons Go To Birmingham (9.5 points), The Bell Jar, (10 points), and have almost finished Slaughterhouse-Five (points have yet to be determined). Let me say this: if you're planning to read The Bell Jar, be sure to have a good psychiatrist on speed dial. That book sucked the life out of me for a couple of days. But seriously, I thought I was depressed. Little did I know, it was just Sylvia Plath's trickery. It's one of those books that makes you want to justify it with an, "Okay - yeah, the main character tries to kill herself four or five times, but in the end she gets released from the mental hospital. That was a happy ending, right? Yeah, that must mean Plath is trying to tell us that everything's not hopeless! Totally! I feel better." 

Then you find out that a month after it was published, our girl Sylvia stuck her head in an oven and died.


In other news, have you heard of this? www.sporcle.com/ You'll thank me later.

In July, I'm going to study in Oxford (England, that is) for 5 weeks. I am truly anxious about this experience. What if no one likes me? What if I have no friends? What if the lunchroom is like a scene out of "Mean Girls," and Tina Fey has written in all of these fabulously beautiful, awful people to mock me? Except in this version, "Black Hotties" will have been replaced with "Sewanee Preppies" who only came to shop and gab about Prince William (or Harry - which is the hot one?). Just mildly terrified.

That, and I'm experimenting with fairly hardcore feminism. i think mama likes. I'll get back to you.

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