Friday, January 14, 2011

Blogging is cathartic, especially while waiting for downloads.

So, I've decided to continue blogging even though I'm now in the states. I figure my life is interesting enough to fill up a page every three or four weeks or so. Maybe one day I'll move up to blogging more frequently, but for now, this will do.

In other news, I bought (well actually, my mom bought as an extremely early birthday present...I can't even thank her enough, I'm so overwhelmed with how amazing I am to have her as my mom) my ticket today to return to England! I'm flying into Manchester on March 20th to have a week of fun with Cameron, enjoying York and its surrounding areas and ending up in London to see all of my lovely friends whom I miss INCREDIBLY. Get ready, England. You know you haven't seen enough of me.

Other than that, this past week has been one of the most difficult in memory. Recruitment for Chi O, taking 5 classes, and attempting to pick up 8 hours of work DO NOT MIX. But, on the brighter side, I'm almost finished with being busy to the point of insanity and, as an important note, I have not suffered any injurious emotional attacks during this stressful time. Not crying, FTW.

Other than having my butt kicked, I'm settling back in at Northwestern nicely. I love where I'm living and having my some of my closest friends near me once again. It's cold, but it's snowy and picturesque. And, since I remember where absolutely nothing is in Evanston, I'm getting to explore all over again. God is amazing with his surprises. Sometimes getting lost is irritating, other times exciting. Either way, you end up at the Einstein in Pancoe having navigated through Tech feeling extremely accomplished, even if it does make you late for work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Welcome Home.

So, as London is sitting buried--completely shut down--under 5 inches of snow, I'm sitting in the basement of my fiancé's home enjoying Christmas and all its joys. Wait....what? Fiancé?


I'm getting married! :)

Thanks to Erin Melissa Photography for all of the AMAZING pictures!...and for stalking us around Opryland Hotel.

And thanks to Erin, Josh, Alex, and Galen for coming to witness the occasion and for celebrating with us after. Pie and wine just wouldn't have been the same without ya'll there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let us give thanks.

I'm kind of stealing this idea from Rose who went abroad last Fall to Ecuador. Needless to say, I knew going abroad would be difficult. Being thrust into a different culture, far away from your friends and family, is never easy. While I've adjusted incredibly well to being in London and I absolutely love it here, I have to admit there's nothing like home, and nothing like family. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and, while I'm celebrating the holiday with a few people I know, I'm also going to 6 hours of class. I'm spending the day of thanks away from the things that I am the most thankful for. And that I'm having trouble with. So, this blog is dedicated to all of the things I'm thankful for. For all of the people who've changed my life--who've made me who I am, pushed me forward, encouraged me, and loved me. To all of you, you are what this holiday is about and I am so thankful to have so much support and love in my life.

Things I'm thankful for:

My family. The best in the world.

My Best Friend. Who could ask for anything more?

My crazy friends. I'd be so boring without you.

And, I'm thankful to be in London.

Life is....complicated. But, it's good, so good.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Epic Story...

I know, I know…time for an update! You guys have been seeing pictures on facebook and not getting any information! That must be torturous. Ok, well here’s the grand tale of how I met Imogen Heap.

First, I have to give credit to Cameron, who encouraged me to keep up with the goings on of Royal Albert Hall, though I thought all of the events would be too expensive. So, this story starts with me milling around on the Royal Albert Hall website, looking for random good concerts. The special this past week was the Concert for CARE, a UK-based charity organization that works to establish strong economies in small villages of third-world countries. The conductors that performed during the concert were truly amazing: Patrick Doyle (Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing), Harry Gregson-Williams (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Craig Armstrong (Love Actually), Christopher Gunning (La Vie en Rose), Rachel Portman (Chocolat), Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood, better known as the lead guitarist for Radiohead), John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon), John Ottoman (Valkyrie), Anne Dudley (American History X), George Fenton (Ghandi, Memphis Belle), Michael Nyman (The Piano), Dario Marianelli (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), and David Arnold (Casino Royale, Independence Day). So, even without Imogen’s performance of “Can’t Take It In” with Gregson-Williams, this concert was already a dead-ringer. On top of this, Jil Aigrot, the voice behind the voice of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, performed “Non, Je ne regrette rien” with Gunning conducting the orchestra in the background. Talk about the best £10 I’ve ever spent.

So, after discovering this goldmine, I called one of my other theatre/concert-obsessed flatmates, we bought tickets, waited a day, and took off on the tube Monday night toward South Kensington. After we arrived at RAH and walked up four flights of stairs, we headed to our seats in the Upper Circle (aka. Nosebleed Section) where we were stopped by one of the seat attendants. She told us that not enough seats had been sold in our section and that they were moving people into the Stalls section (aka. The front-row section) below. So basically, we sat about 8 rows away from the stage for £10…can you say, “EPIC WIN”?

Since I’ve already told you about the conductors, I’ll skip going through each one and just say that they were all incredible, especially since most of these pieces I knew well from watching the films.  After Imogen performed with Gregson-Williams, she walked off of the stage right past where Elliott and I were sitting, but best of all, she turned around, came back, and sat in our section! A little bit later into the concert, we noticed that all of the performers/conductors were doing this and that they had family in friends sitting in our section. It was at this point that we realized, not only had we been upgraded to a better seat, but we had been placed in the Family and Friends Guest List section. So, we were sitting quite near Imogen Heap, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rachel Portman, and Jonny Greenwood (who was sitting exactly one row in front of us). Needless to say, we had a major freak out moment that I’m sure the people sitting around us noticed. Anyways, after the concert ended we stuck around to try and meet Imogen Heap. I was terrified to go up and say anything, especially after having lived in Nashville and knowing that famous/semi-famous people kind of aren’t fans of being attacked by their fans. But, Elliott pointed out that this wasn’t just some meeting on the street; it was an organized event and she was standing in the middle of the auditorium/hallway, completely open to all of the people attending the concert. So, after watching a few other people go talk to her and realizing that she was quite happy to meet them, I finally got up the nerve to say hello and shake her hand. Elliott got up the nerve to ask her for a picture, and well, that’s history.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So, this week I finally started classes. After freaking out this for the past five days trying to teach my self the West Saxon dialect of Old English, I discovered that my classes might not actually be as difficult as I'd anticipated and, barring any unforeseen complications, I'm going to enjoy them immensely. That being said, we must also note that I'm only going to be in classes for about 8 weeks--including examination week. To me, that can't even be considered an entire quarter, much less a complete semester. Looks like I will get to continue exploring England, even with school going on at the same time.

These last couple weeks' adventures have been...well, amazing. First, I visited Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard and meet the Queen. Unfortunately, both of those endeavors failed. I'm apparently too short to watch the Changing of the Guard successfully and not important enough for the Queen. I did, however, tour Buckingham Palace and visit the State Rooms where the Queen receives her most important visitors. Never in my life have I seen something so opulently decorated, but still retain an exquisite amount of taste. It avoided all the faux pas of gaudiness and displayed, like the Queen, an elegance befitting of the Royal Crown. Since meeting the Queen fell through, I found another way to achieve my jollies. I watched the London Symphony Orchestra perform the original Return of the King score to a screening of the film in the front row of the stalls section in Royal Albert Hall. To make it even better, I got to meet Howard Shore. Jealous? Just wait. To top it off, I saw the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables, one of London's most famous and beloved shows, only 10 rows away from the stage. Never fear, it doesn't end there! Lastly, I accomplished a life-long goal--visiting Platform 9 3/4. These experiences were so surreal, yet so very and completely awesome. I'm still kind of freaking out.

(These pictures are not zoomed. I repeat, ARE NOT ZOOMED)

(One of my favorite scenes--the lighting of the Beacons of Amon Dîn )

On top of all that, I've spent the last two Sunday mornings attending church at St. Paul's Cathedral. Yes, that St. Paul's. The big one with the bird lady in Mary Poppins. The Communions that I have shared there have been some of the most meaningful in my life. The grandeur of the Cathedral, despite being man-made, feels completely divine. Its beauty is beyond comprehension. When standing forward to receive Communion you face a beautiful golden, mosaic Christ, risen with arms open, waiting to accept you in His love. In this moment, it is impossible not to be shaken by the love of Jesus and His sacrifice.

It seems that this journey far from home will be profound in many ways and will continue to surprise me with its deeply touching, passionate moments--moments that give the world new color and awaken a sleepy college student into life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Topics of Conversation:

As most of you know, I’ve now been in England for over 10 days. Pause. In ENGLAND. Whoa now.

First off, let’s just talk about how insane this is. It’s just now becoming real to me, as I’ve settled in to my apartment, that I’m actually living in London. I’m not coming home next week. I’m not near my friends or family. I am, once again, in the middle of nowhere in one of the biggest cities on the planet. This time though, I think I’m more prepared.

Ok, so what you really want to know is what the heck I’ve been doing for 10 days. Here’s the rundown:

My first days in London were spent exploring my area. A roommate and I walked all the way from our apartment on N. Gower St (Google map it…) to Piccadilly Circus and to Trafalgar Square and then to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, and across the Thames to the London Eye. That experience was…surreal. Everything in London is an incredible mix of the old and new. Buildings on your left could be 20th century modern complexes and to your right could be a cathedral dating from the Middle Ages. What’s more, the people in London seem to feel this too. Nothing is lame or boring for them. These buildings, old and new, are as inspiring to them as they are to me. While the night life here is extremely busy and a party-like atmosphere can be found on every corner, locals really do chill mostly in the pubs. They talk, laugh, have a drink, and go home at 11 when pretty much every single pub in London closes.  It’s definitely not the “city that never sleeps.” Sometimes walking around London at night reminds me of a very old New York or Chicago, like what those cities will be in five hundred years. To use a paradigm that is often expressed in history classes, England is the wise old man, and America is the young child, the teenager. That’s pretty much exactly how it feels.

The First Weekend—My first weekend abroad was spent on a temporary homestay in Chester, a town about fifteen miles from the Welsh border. I stayed with a lovely old lady named Hazel Crank who made my housemate and me sack lunches filled with random goodies like Roast Chicken Crisps. Look them up if you dare. My favorite experience in Chester was walking around the city walls and touring the cathedral. Chester is the home of “the most complete circuit of Roman and Medieval defensive town wall in Britain.”  The stones on these walls date from 100 AD. The history surrounding them is dreamlike. It is, at once, impossible to imagine all of the events associated with the wall and impossible to separate them from it. Similarly, Chester’s Cathedral, which saw the change from Catholicism to Protestantism and survived the wrath of Henry VIII, was built on the ground of a Pagan religious site. The Cathedral has been a place of worship essentially since the Vikings invaded England. How incredible is that? What hallowed ground have I stood on since living in England for only 4 days!

Also that weekend, we spent one day in Liverpool, the home of the Beatles! Of course, that entire day was spent touring the Beatles Museum (more specifically called “The Beatles’ Story” for anyone who’s planning future vacations) and taking a taxi-cab tour of the Beatles’ childhood homes. I touched the Penny Lane sign and held the gates of Strawberry Fields. Coolest. Thing. Ever. One day, I’ll go back and actually tour the inside of the houses, but our time limit didn’t allow for that unfortunately.

This week has been spent preparing for classes. Not very many exciting things have happened, minus enrolling in UCL and trying to fit things into my schedule…which is pretty much how it goes in the US as well. I’ve done a bit of shopping…probably shouldn’t have, but I did. The main event of this week, though, happens tomorrow, when I go see Les Miserables at the Barbican Theatre. Shut the front door. I’ll let you know, how that goes.

Also, just so we get this out of the way—Yes. The Guinness is better here. It tastes like good coffee.  And the best thing ever happened---see below: