I don’t know why I do this, the whole putting off blogging thing that I seem to always do. Once I get going, I really enjoy it, it’s just the process of getting started I suppose.
I’ve decided to make today’s post strictly random thoughts because is Wednesday, the halfway point of the week, and for some reason my brain has shut down. All that I can muster up is some thoughts de rando.
Before I get into random things though I have some big news to share first. I went to Cleveland (TN) yesterday to look at apartments with Suzanne (roommate). We both only had one day to look, and we want to move in soon considering school starts next week. So we looked all morning and into the afternoon and began to get a wee bit frustrated with the state that most of the apartments in our budget were in. Cleveland has extremely cheap real estate, especially right now, but we’re poor college students and need the cheapest thing possible. So, we found one that we fell in love with (mostly because of the brand new appliances in the kitchen and the large closet space) that we kept going back to as we continued our search. Finally, around 4:00, we decided to just go for it after exhausting all of our resources. We signed leases and got everything arranged, and this girl got herself an apartment! Woo hoo! I’ll be paying all of my own bills and everything which is really exciting for me because I’ve never had the opportunity to pay for my own stuff. Although I’m not complaining about that, I’m one blessed girl! So anyway, that was an answered prayer and I was barely able to sleep last night because I was so excited thinking about moving in!
So that’s that. Now, onto the random, more important things. Or maybe just random.
1. I make popcorn at work at least three times a week, and I love to open the bag as I walk past everyone’s cubes to my desk so that I make everyone craves popcorn. It never fails that at least one person makes popcorn within the hour. It’s my own little way of being a leader, nay, a trendsetter.
2. Why are people so afraid of parallel parking? Maybe I’m just blessed with an uncanny ability to parallel park cars or something, but I really don’t see what is hard about it. Maybe I should offer lessons to people on the weekends as a side job or something. I realize now that this is a semi-stupid random thought, but I’m not filtering these. Lucky you, getting a real glimpse into my mind.
3. Ah! I have no more thoughts! That just goes to show you how completely brain dead I am right now. Yesterday was a very long day.
I promised to try and blog every few days, even if they were silly and said nothing, so here it is. I’m trying to be disciplined. Maybe my moving process will inspire me! :)
Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.
My dad mentioned to me awhile back that he was sad that I wasn’t still blogging. I replied with the obvious answer: I’m not traveling, so why would I keep up my travel blog? This answer didn’t seem sufficient for him, but I brushed it off and went about my merry way.
I’ve been really, really bored at work the past few days, so I’ve been reading a few blogs that have thousands of followers. I really enjoy reading them, but I’m beginning to notice a few things about them. First of all, these writers are young. Not young in the sense that they are under 30. I mean that about 90 percent of them are my age, if not younger. Second, the most popular blogs seem to be women (I say women even though I am their age and don’t consider myself a “woman”) with husbands and kids. People want to read about housewives! What is this about? Most of them have side jobs, but their blogs have gotten so popular that they are able to sell advertising and literally make a living off of their thoughts and musings about their daily activities! What the heck?
The last thing I’ve noticed is that while yes, these blogs are very aesthetically pleasing and include lots of visual aids, there really isn’t that much to them! They talk about their clothes, their hair, their husbands and children, and that’s it! Wah lah, they have a super popular blog that is now making them money! This is mind boggling to me, and I can’t help but think the thought that always seems to creep in my head when I’m reading most things, the thought that hey, I could easily do this. Now, I don’t mean this is in a cocky way, and I’m not even sure how it could be taken as that because these bloggers are not professional writers in any way, they are just good at getting their thoughts out. Which, in all honesty, doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me because I always tend to feel like everyone has the ability to put their thoughts down in a semi-interesting manner. But I guess that’s probably not true.
So, I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m going to use this blog as a bit of a practice blog. I’m going to force myself to write a few times a week (maybe? hopefully? we’ll see) and just see what happens. Unlike most bloggers, the thought that people might be reading does the opposite of exciting me, it intimidates me. I’ve never been one to let people read my writing or know my thoughts, mostly because I feel like I’m 90 percent crazy about 90 percent of the time. But hey, I’m 22, so I really don’t have much to lose by just putting what I think about life and random things from my day into an internet blog.
Did you think I was finished? Oh no, you thought wrong. This is my first attempt at writing about my day/week/life, so here goes.
-I really hate how facebook keeps all of your friend requests, even the ones you deny (they don’t call it denying anymore though, it is the “not now” button these days). Even when you say no, it still keeps them, it just “hides” them. As if one day I might think, hey, what ever happened to that 50 year old creepy man that wanted to be my friend? He didn’t seem so bad, maybe I should go back and befriend him! Um, no. Not happening. If I change my mind, let me find the person and request them myself. Sometimes facebook tries to be too helpful.
-People seem to think that since I’m young and unsure of what I’m doing with my life, that entitles everyone and their uncle to give me advice. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is very helpful, but the ones that got married and had kids young always give me the “stay single while you can!” speech, at the same time the ones that stayed single for a long time give me the “find love and hold onto it because it’s the only thing that matters!” talk. I used to think I needed to take everyone’s advice as signs from God that were leading me in a certain direction, but I realize now that people are just trying to be helpful and I should heed warnings, learn from others’ mistakes, but blaze my own trail and do what I want to do.
-The more I think about my future, the more I’m realizing how different our generation is from the ones before us. Our grandparents didn’t think about what career they wanted to pursue; they just did whatever job they were given and pursued it with everything they had. Women didn’t worry about being independent and staying young forever, they just married if they fell in love and had kids and stayed content with their life. People from that generation seem to be so much more content with the cards they are dealt. Today, everyone’s motto seems to be “if you don’t like your life, change it! do everything it takes to get everything you want!” I don’t know, to an extent this seems ok but for some reason it just seems better to not be constantly wanting something different than what you have.
I think that’s all I really have to discuss right now. Maybe I’ll write a blog about my family’s medical mission trip to Panama soon. It was definitely a trip worth telling people about. We’ll see.
One more thing, I never read over my writing before turning it in. It’s a nasty terrible habit I have that is the cause for a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, not to mention typos. Maybe I’ll try and be better about this. Maybe I won’t. You never know with me.
Since I haven’t been able to contact anyone I figured I would blog about my adventures really quick to let everyone know I’m alive and well.
Molly and I arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia, last Friday. We got little to no sleep the night before, but adventuring around the capital of Slovakia was well worth the exhaustion we suffered. Martina met us at the airport and we got to ride in a car, on the right side of the road, for the first time in months. We went to the city center and she showed us all around the city, which was AWESOME. We went to her house and hung out with her parents and actually got a good night’s sleep for the first time in a very long time.
The next day, her parents made us brunch and we ate and ventured into the city again. Staying with Martina has been way more of a cross cultural experience than anything we experienced in the UK because her family doesn’t speak English and we have to use what little Slovak we know, plus Martina’s awesome translations, to communicate. We ate traditional Slovakian food which was dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon, it was phenomenal! It tasted like a baked potato. We spent the day in Bratislava again and went to the castle and explored for awhile, then we went to the next town over and went to an aquatic park, which is basically indoor and outdoor pools and water slides, which was awesome! There was an indoor water slide that timed how fast you go down it, so we spent over an hour trying to beat our times and trying different methods of racing down the tube. Definitely a blast for us! We got another good night’s rest, which was amazing.
The next day we woke up early and caught a train to Prague, Czech Republic. We spent the day walking around the city and Martina’s friend Martin was with us so we were all able to hang out for the day. We ate lunch at an authentic czech restaurant and tried soup made of cow’s intestines (surprisingly delicious!) and some czech dumplings and cheese. It was all really tasty! Aaron Hoover told me about a rooftop cafe in the city center, so we went up to the top of a hotel where it was located and enjoyed an amazing cup of coffee while overlooking Prague at sunset. Talk about surreal! We also walked around the Charles Bridge, one of the most famous icons of the city, where there are vendors and musicians and painters and such. Our hotel was awesome as well, and right in the middle of the city, which was just grand. The next day we went around the city again and watched the big famous clock go off on the hour. We ate lunch at a fantastic pizza cafe, then walked back to the bridge, where we were lucky enough to have the pleasure of running into our dear friends Mary Beth and Alex from our Cambridge group. Talk about a small world!! We walked around with them for a little while and then went on our way to the train. We also randomly saw the winner of Czechoslovakia Superstar (the Slovakia/Czech version of American Idol) in the park, and Martina was too shy to ask for a picture so Molly and I asked because we had never heard of him. So we got our picture with him and later looked him up and he’s a good dancer and very good looking so that was neat! His name is Ben Cristovao, btw. Talk about a great little trip!
Today we caught another train to Vienna, Austria, where we spent the day exploring the city. We chilled in a park around the awesome buildings, and ate schnitzel and german sausage. We went to the amusement park that Austria is famous for and rode a few roller coasters! Favorite thing!! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m semi obsessed with amusement parks (functional or defunct, either way). Anyway, we walked for hours around the whole city and it was a great great day all around. We caught our train back to Bratislava, where Martina’s fantastic father picked us up (her parents have been gracious enough to take us and pick us up from the train station whenever we take our trips) and took us home! That’s where the present catches up with my story, and now we’re watching dirty dancing in Martina’s bed, and I couldn’t love slovakia/prague/vienna any more than I do!
We are going to Hungary for a few hours tomorrow before Martina takes us to the airport to head to Rome!! Woo hoo!! Pumped for Italy! Crazy to think I’ll be back in the States in about 10 days!!!
Last week we went to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I think it’s safe to say we all fell in love with the city, probably because even though it’s the capital, it still had a small town feel to it. The buildings were all GORGEOUS, and the scenery surrounding it was breathtaking. On one side there is the sea, and on the other there is a huge volcano. The city was perfect, and provided everything we wanted for a few days full of adventures and fun times without being overwhelming (cough, London). We hiked up Arthur’s Seat, which is the volcano, and it was a glorious day for a hike to be sure. The weather held up and it wasn’t frigid cold, which is always a nice thing for the UK. The wind was CRAZY at the top, and much to my dismay there wasn’t a lava filled crater at the top (I think part of me was picturing Mt Doom and my dream of wanting to cast the one ring into the fire). However, it was the most amazing view I have ever seen, especially because you could see for miles and miles, including the entire city and the sea. We had a great time and took many photos, so you can all relive it through me if you’d like :)
After leaving good ol Scotty Land, we headed down to Hexham, where our host families awaited our arrival. This was everyone’s favorite thing, because we got to stay in a home and have baths and real cooked meals and just hang out with a family that quite literally adopted us as their own for the weekend. It was fantastic and very relaxing. I stayed with Caitlin and Nicole at the Sinclair residence, which was fantastic. We went to Hexham Abbey for church, which was surprisingly a good service. We also got to go out and meet some of Andy and Catherine’s friends, which was a blast.
On Sunday we ventured to Hadrian’s Wall, which was another hike and another gorgeous view. The weather was cold, but not terrible, especially after we had literally been rock climbing for a few hours to get our blood pumping. We were extremely high up as we walked along the wall, but my phobio of heights didn’t take hold so I was alright. We had a lot of fun at the wall and took lots of pictures there as well, so feel free to photo stalk to your heart’s content.
We went to Durham Cathedral yesterday, which was beautiful, and then headed back down to Cambridge. Four hours on a bus that did not contain Andy as our driver later, we were home, and were able to relax. This week is full of homework and catching up on all of our stuff, along with the arrival of Mary Beth and Ashley’s parents, and Ron Gilbert coming to film us. Fairly busy week! We realized that we are well over halfway through the program, which is terrifyingly sad! We leave for Ireland on Saturday for a week for Spring Break, which is going to be great! No computers or anything :) yay!
I’m off to grab lunch with Molly, hope everyone is doing swell!
I forgot to mention my St Paul’s experiences from yesterday and today. If I haven’t mentioned it before, St Paul’s is a local church that also serves as a community center. They cook lunch several days a week for mentally challenged and elderly folks that like to come and fellowship with one another for a few hours while enjoying a cheap meal (they ask for about two pounds per meal from the attendees). A few of us like to go and volunteer our time to cook and serve and just hang out with the people there.
I’ve made several friends that attend the luncheons regularly. Perhaps my favorite is Norman, who is arguably the cutest old man I’ve ever met. He lives close to our bed and breakfast, so we pass him sometimes when we go to the store. He sits outside of his home, no matter how cold it is, and listens to his portable radio. He told me today that he used to work in a radio factory. I got to listen to him talk about his life growing up in the 50’s. His dad was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) in WWII and passed away ten days before he was born while in Italy fighting. His mom moved to the States and remarried soon after. He went to live with his aunt and grandmother, who were apparently very mean to him. He said that “there wasn’t an object in the house that wasn’t used to hit me.” He told me about his job as a paper boy when he was “knee high” and how he has lived all across England, before settling in Cambridge in the late 60’s. He remembers exact dates extremely well, considering he’s nearly 70. He’s very sweet to everyone, and always is the first to offer his chair up to any lady that comes in to the lunch. I just love him!
I also got to talk to an elderly couple, Margaret and Eckerd (spelling?). I asked them how long they had been married, to which they replied 57 years, and Eckerd patted Margaret’s leg and said “and she’s the very best of all!” before he kissed her on the cheek. Eckerd went to look at the St Paul’s website on Dr Estes’ computer, so I got a chance to ask Margaret about their story. She told me how they grew up together because she was friends with his sister, although she always thought he was attractive. He went off to the army, and she went off to school, and a few years later they were both in London (her studying and he was stationed there). They kept in touch, and when he got out of the army they were married when she was 24. Doing the math, this makes them around 80 years old. They both still hear very well, and they are very affectionate to one another. For example, he kissed her forehead before he went to use the bathroom, and she told me what kind of dessert he wanted whenever he wasn’t paying attention to my question (and she only rolled her eyes slightly at the fact that he wasn’t paying attention). They have five daughters, and she said they wouldn’t have had it any other way because “boys are just trouble.” I asked them if they were still just as in love as the day they got married, to which Margaret got a very mysterious twinkle in her eye, smiled lovingly at her husband, and said “oh dear, much much more.” He then grabbed her hand and they looked at each other with a look that can only be described as the look of two people deeply in love with one another. They were just precious, in every sense of the word, and I feel so blessed to have met them and seen love manifested in the way God meant for it to be.
Imagine it! Me, a self proclaimed love cynic, witnessing this. Imagine my surprise when immedately after hearing their story, I had to escape to the bathroom for a minute because without realizing it, I had in fact begun to cry.
Very few people know this about me, in fact probably my Dad and only a few others actually do know, but I’ve been struggling with my faith for the past two or three years. Not in the grand sense that I’ve renounced my beliefs in Jesus or anything to that extent, but I’ve just been constantly struggling with the idea of finding my own faith and not just accepting what my home church and parents always said to be true. Faith isn’t really faith until you make it your own, which is something that C.S. Lewis has been helping me through, especially on this trip.
Now that I’ve got that out, maybe my complete change of spiritual mentality will make more sense. I’ve done a complete 180 from where I was in my walk with Christ this time last year. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying learning new things every single day, with the help of Lewis and my daily readings of the Bible and my almost constant attitude of prayer. For some reason being in England has been like a sabbatical for me, in the sense that I’ve had a lot of time to enjoy the little things in life and spend time basking in God’s grace in a way I’ve never been able to do before. There’s something about questioning everything about your faith and then beginning to draw conclusions on your own that makes your faith so much more, at the risk of sounding cheesy, real. Especially in comparison of just taking everything you’ve been told as truth, without discovering anything for yourself.
But then again, that might just be me. I’ve had some amazing experiences over the past couple of weeks, and now I will recount a few of them.
We went to Oxford, which is where C.S. Lewis spent a good chunk of his lifetime. We got to visit his grave, his old church, and one of the houses that he spent a lot of time in and where he wrote Narnia and many other of his famous works. Being in the house where his genius mind created some of the best known books in history was breathtaking, overwhelming, and very humbling. For an English major, or probably for anyone who has ever enjoyed a Narnia book, it was truly an amazing experience.
We also got to venture to Tolkien’s home and grave, along with getting to see several other literary places such as Christ’s college, which was not only where Harry Potter was filmed but also where Lewis Carroll was inspired by Alice Liddell to write Alice in Wonderland. We went to the Oxford Museum and learned about some more history intertwined in Oxford’s past, and even had a dress up tea party as Alice in Wonderland characters.
All in all, I loved Oxford. It was very similar to Cambridge, in the way the buildings are still old looking, and there are many pubs and colleges everywhere. The buildings in Oxford are taller, and everything is way more spread out. It doesn’t have the small town feel that Cambridge does, so although I wouldn’t have minded spending a week or so there, I was still grateful to be back home in Cambridge.
The next day after our return (aka Wednesday) six of us took a day trip to London to see Wicked. It was AMAZING! I was very pleased with the performance, especially because I was skeptical about it before I went, mostly because I didn’t know anything about it. But it was grand, and I was very glad that I went.
Molly and I have been planning our independent travel, which has been fun and rewarding to get a few flights booked. We’re going to Slovakia to visit Martina for a few days, and she is taking us to Prague, Vienna, Hungary, and Slovakia (duh). We found a flight from London to Bratislava, Slovakia for around 25 dollars, and a flight from Bratislava to Rome for around 50 dollars. We are being very frugal! I’m so excited about our travels. We’re meeting more of our group in Rome and traveling to several Italian cities. After that, for the last two or three days of our trip we’re venturing up to Switzerland to see the Alps and bask in the greatness of nature (and see some awesome sheep and cows!). I’m proud that we’re planning all of this on our own, and I’m excited to see how it pans out.
We’re heading to Scotland on Tuesday for a week, and I’m SO EXCITED!!! I can’t wait to see Scotland and stay with host families and watch a football match. Ahhh, yes. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love the UK.