Monday, May 30, 2011

of things green & wicked.

as it turns out, i'm obsessed with spinach and tomatoes and cucumbers and BRIEEEEE on a toasted bagel.

three of the things on that list are apparently killing people in other parts of europe.  the "killer cucumber" epidemic.  look it up.  wicked, i know.

oh, and speaking of wicked, you know what the best part of having accidentally not reserved tickets to the show you were supposed to go to tonight (flarepath, in case you were wondering) is?  it's running to the piccadilly circus tube stop, taking the piccadilly to green park, realizing that the victoria line is closed for the bank holiday that is today, running to the jubilee line, transferring to the district at westminster, finally running out of the tube station, dodging people with our primark bags of lovely and cheap clothing, and then getting FOURTH ROW TICKETS TO WICKED.  two minutes before the show starts.

in case you missed that through all the explanations of how we ran across LONDON to get to the show on time, i got FOURTH ROW TICKETS!

i completely and totally loved the show.  everyone says, "it's so amazing, you have to see it, the costumes are amazing and the story is so good and when she flies away it's breathtaking, blahblahblah."  and i'm thinking, "yeah right, it's probably just another musical with a cheesy story line and catchy tunes and i highly doubt i would be impressed."  

au contraire my friend.  this is what my face looked like for...well...pretty much the entire show:

yep.  i was wholly won over.  the costuming is amazing.  the story is so good.  and holy cow when she flies away?!  i was completely entranced.  

not only were the theatrics unbelievable (truly, though.), but there were some important lines in there too.  i like it when i get meat with my potatoes.  and that's what this show is.  one favorite line was this:
"there are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities so we act as though they don't exist." 

which reminds me of these:
"Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
(Rilke, poet)

"Our minds are tempted by simple dichotomies, yet our lives are rainbows.  The enemy is really a friend or can be turned into an ally, or is hungry and we can feed them."
(Kathleen Ragan, in her delightful book "Outfoxing Fear."  Really though, this book is a delight.)

so now i'm off to bed, to dream of unadulterated loathing, popularity, and all things green and wicked.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

putting off actual blogging

ooookay, this is going on my birthday list.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

on books and bicycles: {preview}

you and i were members of the best team in baseball

{title for this post from ozma's "baseball"}

here's the thing.

angels in the outfield.  can we talk about it for a minute?

remember the crazy publicity guy?

remember jp?

remember how everything good about the 90s is contained within this one film?

oh, and by the way, remember this part?

it's matthew mcconaughey.  in case you had forgotten he was in that / didn't realize when you were 10 years old who matthew mcconaughey was.

lately all i want to do is talk about this movie.  it comes up at least once a day.

and this has got to be the greatest picture of joseph gordon-levitt in existence.

i mean, we girls grew up on joseph gordon-levitt and matthew mcconaghey.  playing baseball no less!  come on.  we were doomed from the get-go.

dear grocers of london,

dear grocers of london,

why don't you refrigerate your eggs?

andslightlyworriedaboutgettingsalmonilla, ecoli, or another bad-egg disease,

Friday, May 27, 2011

inundated with images | day in pictures

today has been an image-heavy day.  so it's only appropriate that the associated blog post would be the same.

we started at the national gallery of art, which houses such beauties as these:

{"night on the boulevard montmartre" by pissarro}

{van gogh's "a wheatfield with cypresses"}

{renoir's "gladioli in a vase".   renoir who said, "i just let my mind rest when i paint flowers."  
thank you pierre-auguste.}

{a personal style fav, "lake keitele" by gallen-kallela}

{and the day's winner: seurat.  i'm mesmerized by his colors.  in addition to learning how to make popup books this summer, i want to venture into pointilism too.}

after only finishing half of the national gallery, we had to give our over-stimulated brains a break, so we wandered through trafalgar square,

and grabbed lunch at pret-a-manger and ate it in st. james park.  that park is right out of this movie:

{okay, the park here is actually regent's, which i haven't made it to yet, but st. james felt the same}

per the show we saw last night ("silence"), i closed my eyes after lunch, on a park bench, and listened for a while.  i remembered how at the ranch once, we were out in the canyons, and mom asked us to sit in quiet and see what we could hear.  spencer loved that.  and then i thought why is it that sight is our primary sense?  we rely on it for all our information.  why can't hearing be that sense--the one through which we construct the world and perceive ourselves?  what if how beautiful someone was was based on the noises they made rather than the shape of their face?  beauty could be based on the texture of their voice, their footfall (i come from a long line of i'd fail this one), or on how they breathe.  we pay attention to the tiniest details of sight, down to the pores on someone's face, so why shouldn't how someone breathes be a factor in how we understand them?  hence i'm trying to relearn the world through hearing.  just in case i ever go blind.  (which reminds me of this day...apparently i am subconsciously concerned about going blind!)

after lunch we walked across the horse guards parade enroute to the tate modern:

and we found large green turf furniture by the national theatre:

walked past construction sites

and found ourselves some modern art!

here's the thing.  i love modern art.  loooooooove.  i'm like a little girl on christmas morning when i walk into modern art exhibits.

this was a favorite at the tate modern today: jenny holzer's blue purple tint.  aphorisms scrolled and scrolled up the message boards.  kind of felt like ticker tape, or like when you first start to read and by the time you've figure out what the fourth word in the sentence says, you've forgotten what the first word was and hence have no idea what the point was.  kind of like what i imagine losing your mind to old age would be like.

lines i loved:
giving free rein to your emotions is an honest way to live
go all out in romance and let the chips fall where they may
if you have many desires your life will be interesting

you may read all of them here

and then there was the guerrilla girls exhibit, all about how women artists need better representation.  this was too good not to post.

we also saw some oldenburg (who is a favorite)

and lichtenstein,

whose "house" in the sculpture garden in dc i spent a good hour puzzling over.

and lastly, the red fabric staircase from heaven.  the whole thing is made out of fabric.  at this point, my brain was pretty frazzled...which i think amounted to me enjoying this way more than i should have.

the last piece was saw in the tate modern was a video of a man kicking a metal bucket through the streets at night.  i couldn't stop giggling (again, frazzled brain)...but seriously?  a man kicking a bucket?

modern art, i love you.

and then home sweet home.

(home, but only after GELATO of course, which today was ferrero rocher and raspberry.  the raspberry was like i was eating real raspberries.  real raspberries!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

pause, for a romantic moment and a semi-superb omelet

today we went to kew's botanical gardens.  annnnd i love plants...last year it got a little out of control: bromeliads and cilantro plants and the one with silver leaves all over my apartment.  so needless to say, i was happy today.

the palm house (a whole house of palms!  ahh!):  
fun fact: did you know that the raffia palm has fronds that grow as long as a london bus!  that is LOOOONG!

the lily house:

and CARNIVOROUS PLANTS.  if carnivorous plants were a theme park, i'd go there everyday.
fun fact: the one pictured below lures insects in with sweet nectar on the inside of the plant, so the poor little insect keeps climbing in deeper and deeper.  i vaguely remember something about the nectar getting sweeter the deeper down the insect goes.  sweeter and slippier (word?).  and then the insects loses control and slides into the pool of nectar and drowns. and then the plant eats them.
it's kind of like what boys do to girls.
( jk boys )

and here's amber touching a lizard.  can check THAT one off the "to-do-in-london" list.  phew!

friends under a pretty tree:  (please note the carpet of blossoms beneath the pretty tree.  if i had a rainstorm, this is where i would run.)

and then kew which point i did have a rainstorm:

it has really only downpoured once since we've been here.  today was twice.  so there i was, in between kew gardens and minka house, with my sweet little camera (any suggestions for a name for camera?), in flipflops and no umbrella.  so i just soaked it up (literally--my feet wouldn't dry once i finally got home).  my hair was dripping, mascara everywhere, so rainy the air was thick and white and nowhere to go but under an azalea tree.  it was one of the most romantic moments of london so far.  

which reminds me of this letter that i reread today, from sullivan ballou to his wife.  this, kids, is what true love looks like:  

July 14, 1861
Washington D.C.
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure — and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows — when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children — is it weak or dishonourable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?
I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.
I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one.  A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honour that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honourable manhood around us.
I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me — perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you.  How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm.  But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours — always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters.
Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.
love letters
yes please.


and now, you're probably wondering what i've been eating lately.

one egg, fork-scrambled with milk
stove to high, slab of butter in skillet (like they do at hampstead creperie...i'm learning!)
egg into skillet-->bubbles and hisses

slice british mild cheddar into thick pieces
throw or place (depending on your cooking style) into bubbling egg
slice small tomato
toss tomato chunks betwixt fingers so guts fall to cutting board
throw or sprinkle (depending on your present mood) tomato into egg
sprinkle garlic salt into bubbling and gooey tomato_cheese_egg

spatula: flip in half
best way is when the half is skeewompus
then the cheese gets all crispy and delicious
then flip.

then eeeeeeeeat.

the activity of the night was seeing "silence" at hampstead theatre.  by and far my favorite of all the theatre we've seen.  it was a devised play (there is no script when the crew first comes together--through rehearsals, they develop the entire show), and was in brechtian theatre style (in other words, theatre that is very aware of itself as theatre--no curtains, you can see the entire stage (backstage and all), and the actors sometimes address the audience..all in an effort to give the audience a more real experience with the ideas happening onstage).

in a few words, silence was a story about how we connect with each other, how we get at truth, how we get people to talk, how we use moments of silence and noise to relate to each other.

it shows noise as a device used to cover our nakedness.

and man are our lives filled with noise.  my favorite character was the soundguy: every time he was close to connecting with someone, his cell-phone would go off.  how true to our world, that the magic of the silence that leads up to some kind of heartfelt communication can be instantly shattered by that silly little cell-phone ring.

and speaking of silly, here are some pictures:

on the tube, preston, lauren, and i decided to forego the green park stop and ride to westminster, spend a little time on the bridge, you know.  only my favorite evening activity here.

our faces are golden with the glow of big ben.

we talked a lot about things like futures and past loves and what to do when all your friends move away.  

and then a man with a guitar came and sang to us.  {this one's for you, courtney}: it was one of the most awkward experiences of my life.  he sang four songs to us.  LONG songs.  and i couldn't figure out if he was trying to get us to give him change (he didn't ask and had no kind of hat or anything and was pretty well dressed...) so then we clapped, and then he kept right on singing!  the awkward thing about it was i didn't know where to look.  did i look in guitar man's eyes?  at his hands?  did i smile?  did i sing along?  so conflicted.  maybe, courtney, that's where awkward happens, is when you aren't sure what is expected of you, so you aren't sure how to act.  anyways, he sang some elvis, sang some french songs, sang some "i just called to say i love you" (which happens to be one of the first songs i remember listening to.  i asked my mom to explain it to me.  we were in the car driving home through st. louis when i was probably four or five.  she said it's a story about a husband who just misses his wife so much because she has been gone that all he can do is call to tell her he loves her.  i remember thinking it was the most sad and most beautiful thing i had ever heard.  and then, of course, i got introduced to les mis and that changed all conceptions of sad and beautiful.).

and speaking of sad and beautiful, after explaining all about how he feels no need to prove his manhood, despite spending the last month with 30 girls, preston donned my floral print rainslicker.  wow.

what a day.  rain, omelets, awkward men singing on bridges, pictures where my head is half as large as the person's next to me, what more could a girl ask for.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

river's gonna take you

tonight i walked the thames with amber.
much of the time in silence,
much of the time not.

sometimes silence is closer to communicating
than words are.

i wish all my evenings could be spent
in sparkling cities
with long and wide rivers,
strrrolling rivers,
and friends beside whom
to walk.

GELATO of the day: apple pie

the chocolate: {Big Race}

THE DESCRIPTION:  crispy wafers and cocoa creme in Cadbury milk chocolate

PRICE: .......under a pound.  a Scottish pound that is.


AS OPENED & EATEN (on the bus through the scottish countryside):

THE REVIEW:  the cocoa creme was kinda grainy.  and the bar was so sugary i felt a little queasy afterwards.  but says this bar is limited edition, sooooo.....glad i ate one i guess?  additionally, this bar was apropos to our trip in scotland, as the theme of the trip was "and miles to go before we sleep."  big race.  long race.  miles and miles to go....  .

SCORE:    17

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

of crepes with cheese, the giddy thing called man, and seeing wizards on the tube

i am one hundred percent certain that these three people sitting across from me on the tube on monday are adjunct professors at hogwarts.  

monday i taught all of class.  like, all of it.  all 75 minutes.  we talked about merchant of venice...via speed dating.  i make shakespeare relevant.  (smiley face)  

then we congregated at flat one to go to the creperie in hampstead and highgate cemetery (attempt #2).  this time i got the crepe complete (no mushrooms, just ham and cheese and egg and lots of garlic).  i died of crepe-love.

we made it to the cemetery...this time SO MUCH FASTER than last time.  except the western side we learned is only open for a tour at 2:00 every afternoon, so attempt #2 for highgate failed.  so we went instead to the eastern side of the cemetery.  which i guess is a half-win.  (it was actually beautiful.  i am fully satisfied with our cemetery experience.)

the headstones all had the neatest inscriptions on them.  i loved this one, ethel may whiteman's:  "i trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be."  

the cemetery was full of ivy, headstones overgrown in the stuff, trees clothed in it, trails hidden by vines and branches.  i wandered through it to a little secluded area where you could barely tell the headstones from the bushes.  
when i looked up, the treetops, such little flimsy trees it suddenly seemed, were bending back and forth in the wind.  rather violently actually.  it was a blustery day and the tops of the trees showed it.  and then i looked back to where i was, by the trunks, by the grounded roots, and it was still and calm, like you'd never believe there was a wind at all.  
sometimes in those "through the rain" moments, when i can feel the wind blowing right through me, and i feel thin and bare and leaves all aflutter, it helps to remember the roots are stable.  there is peace at the foundation.  there is peace in the rings we've built year by year into strong trunks.  and when it's rough and riotty all up top, it can still be safe and calm and quiet deep down below.

i also found so many names in the cemetery to add to the "names for daughters" list.  and one "name for son".  none of which i am including here, after the lily fiasco of '10.  in which i started sharing the name lily with people and suddenly errbody's naming their daughters that.  (i know, i know, i set the trends of the world.  what can i say.  a girl's gotta be careful with that kind of power.)

walking back from the cemetery we went through the park.  it was too lovely a park to keep walking so we bench-sat and bench-talked.  and i told stories about teaching high school and how going home to my family is one of my favorite parts of life.  

which was followed by (what else) sweet crepes at the cremerie.  (yes, this did require two extra rides on the tube.  we mean business okay.)  here's the thing: the sweet crepes...they're not all that.  the current concensus is that cheese on crepes is greater than or equal to chocolate.  the sweet ones were essentially chocolate chips with crushed hazelnuts and cream.  nothing special.  and certainly nothing picture-worthy.  sorry sweet crepes.  unimpressed.

howEVer, we did learn that there is another of these creperies in south kensington, close to where we live.  this means a new tube stop for going home (despite the fact that walking from south kensington to home may or may not include a walk through a very long and dark and creepy corridor...)  we're willing to sacrifice for crepes.

tuesday (trumpet noise)

two favorite parts: during the wedding scene, an actor threw flower petals from the top balcony of the audience.  they were swirling through and around and inside the globe and the happy (soon to be unhappy) couple paraded through them up to the stage.  it was magical.  really though.  i do not use that word lightly here in london.  too many truly magical things to be throwing it out for things that are only semi-magical or pseudo-magical.

favorite thing number 2: geoffrey from fresh prince of bel-air was leonato.  that's right.  i kept waiting for him to do the carlton.  he never did, but still a special moment for all us americans in the audience.

i'd say this is the best performance we've seen so far.  beatrice and benedick (benedick especially) won us all over.  such great acting, such great humor (thank you, shakespeare, for being a genius).

also, a note to those who may be going to the globe any time in their lives: be a groundling!  i had a 30pound seat for the first half of the show, and here's what happened: you can't see their faces, you can't really hear them, you fall asleep, the people in front of you are too tall, etc.  no bueno.  every other show at the globe i've stood on the ground by the stage.  so back i went.  and suddenly the show came alive for me!  really though.  i became part of the show.  benedick looked at me when making a joke like, "hey listen to this one!"  and i did.  and i laughed.  because, for all the globe, it was suddenly a joke just between him and me.  

plus the groundling tickets are only 5P.  go there.

and one more thing about much ado.  you know the song "sigh no more" by mumford and sons?  yes, the one i am obsessed with.  that one.  well did you know that pretty much the entire song is stolen (or maybe borrowed, from one english heart to another) from much ado about nothing?!  it's true!  
"sigh no more, no more", "one foot in sea and one on shore", "man is a giddy thing", "serve god, love me, and mend", "live unbruised, we are friends".  it's all shakespeare, baby.

AND sigh no more is what old mumford named the entire album.  marcus mumford, i love you.

(*a special shout-out: i have recently converted a fellow-study abroader to mumford and sons.  and when benedick said, "serve god, love me, and mend", me & fellow-study abroader looked at each other with big smiles across the globe.  it was a special moment, brought to us by willie and marcus.)

so then we went and got thai food.

these are the bird of paradise napkins at the restaurant.

worth a picture because 1) they're BIRD OF PARADISE NAPKINS.
and 2) they incited the following conversation:

preston:  what is this even supposed to be?
carolyn:  a bird of paradise.
preston:  it's a bird?  noooo, what is this, the head?  the body?  the tail?
carolyn:  no, it's a flower.
preston:  so it's not a bird?
carolyn:  no, it's a bird of paradise!
preston:  you just said it wasn't a bird, but that it was a flower!!!
carolyn: PRESTON!  a bird of paradise IS a flower!

the thai was good (khobkhun was the name.  gloucester road) but the servings were pretty small.  if i go again, i'll order a dish for each person at least.  

also there was no mango&sticky rice on the menu.  which i'm still puzzling over.

the best part of dinner was staying long after we were done eating to play silly games of stumping each other with movie and actor references.  i never knew how movie-illiterate i am until i'm with all these people who know movies i've never even heard of...and all the actors and actresses in them.

but i did manage to work joseph gordon-levitt (of "angels in the outfield" fame, for those who may be unfamiliar with his work...hehehe) into the mix.  twice.  triumph.

a brief pause for a hipster photo moment:

and now unpause for gelato!  tonight went pretty much like this:  so we're done with the play...let's go get dinner!  so we're done with dinner...let's go get gelato!  so we're done with gelato...let's go find chocolate bars!

here's what we found:  our hampstead creperie, but the south kensington branch!  

and guess what...they have many more crepes than the hampstead one AND gelato.  new favorite.  (i am a little panicked though that even if i got gelato every day here for the rest of the study abroad, i wouldn't get around to every flavor.  ahhh!)


(i opted for peach today.  it was unbelievable.  really though.  i can't explain.)

and then off to home to "do homework" 
(aka: find theme songs for our skit in class tomorrow, including the top gun anthem and careless whisper.  it's gonna be goooood.)

post-scriptus: blogging lately has been essentially travel[b]logs.  i post pictures and thread them together with rather thin esplanations (like inigo montoya).  sorry.  my 2:34am brain can't write poetry or witticisms like it once could.  i will try to be better.  but for now........serve god, love me, and mend.