Friday, November 26, 2010

New Song on Repeat

Ok it's not a NEW song or even a new-to-me song but it's being played on a loop for at least the next five years.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How Silly Putty Saved my Skin and Primark Saved Thanksgiving

Bad Habits

Both lines of my ancestry boast several generations of self-declared and unapologetic pickers.  My plight was inevitable.  I can't go a day (or an hour even) without scratching a new constellation in my skin somewhere.  My fingers are constantly feeling for imperfections and, on finding them, show a determination, normally unseen outside the realm of a child seeking ice cream, to pick and scratch and dig until their craving is satisfied.  Which is never.  Enter Silly Putty.  I noticed that my skin looked the worst at times when my hands were bored (ie, reading books, researching online, or any other activity which requires my eyes more than my fingers).  Finals week preparation is the absolute worst time for my face as the added stress causes my fingers to seek their targets with more aggression and tenacity.  Last term I thought of a possible solution.  For the last four weeks I have carried a blue egg of Silly Putty with me everywhere I go.  And I mean EVERYwhere.  I use it in class during lectures, while studying in the cafe or when reading a book at home.  I can't believe the difference.  Because it can only be in one hand at a time, I still manage to pick a place here and there before I thrust the putty into the offending digits, but all in all it's been a brilliant solution if I do say so myself. :)  The real challenge will be finals week this term.  I hope the putty remains intact until then! 

Thanksgiving

Everyone knows the secret to a good turkey is a paper bag.  Clearly the English don't cook turkey; not one grocery store here provides paper bags to customers (some of them not providing any bags at all).  My mom would be so upset.  I found myself stressing over this fact several times in the last few weeks, unsure of what to do next.  Luckily I had a brilliant realization.  Primark!  For those of you who haven't been to Primark in general or the Oxford Street location specifically I will try my best to describe it.  Imagine you live in a city of 12 million people.  Everything is expensive (ok, really truly that's not fair because yellow peppers are super duper cheap and it makes me incredibly happy).  Then comes the wal-mart of clothes and accessories with its two story building in the heart of one of the world's busiest shopping districts.  Now can you see that when you walk in it looks like Black Friday every day of the year?  Shelves are upturned, people are pushing, kids are crying, the line for the fitting rooms is so long that patrons resort to undressing in public to try on clothes near anything with a vaguely reflective surface.  It is madness, chaos, and confusion defined.  But for the best turkey ever I will venture to this black-hole and hopefully surface with two (intact) paper bags.  Wish me luck!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Karma~

How did this just happen???? I don't remember saving a kitten from a coyote or a small child from drowning recently. I think you may have overpaid me. I don't want your books to come up short so please tell me how to pay for this so you don't take it away any time soon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Am I Being Brainwashed???

Texts I wanted to send from the concert we attended tonight:

1. A bit new agey and hippie but I burn a little nag champa now and then so I can get with it.
2. Kind of cool
3. Pretty cool!
4. He can shred that sitar like no one's business
5. Catchy
6. Interesting violin/cello duet, not at all eastern sounding but a nice classical piece
7. American 90's sitcom theme song
8. Why are so many middle aged British women wearing saris? Clearly they knew about this before the advert in the free Metro newspaper.
9. Ok that was a little cult-y and weird...
10. Slow and boring!
11. This is weird
12. What do I need to do next week? Let's write out a lovely little schedule to kill the time while this goes on.
13. Can we be done now?
14. Is this going to pick up at any point?
15. Why is she playing the cello and the drums? Could they not have two people?
16. I may not speak a foreign language but I know that this is just the same verse over and over and over and over and over.
17. The sari's are growing in number and beginning to surround me!
18. Everywhere I look there are more of them watching me!
19. I am sure they think I am unrefined and out of reach for writing while this "amazing" performance is happening.
20. What time is it?
21. Someone just ripped a big snore that resonated through the audience as photos of children's fingerpaint drawings flash before our eyes.
22. Am I being brainwashed?
23. The first half was SUCH a con to get us to stay for this weird shit.
24. Am I expected to participate in a mass suicide at the end of this???
25. Why are there no indians in the group?
26. God I wish Alex and Erin were on either side of me passing notes (GREATER THAN!)
27. Someone is really truly proud of this production.
28. What is the deal?
29. Who are these secret society people scattered throughout the crowd?
30. Are they going to burn down the theater at the end al la Inglorious Basterds?
31. OH GOD! The lady behind us is sitting with legs folded with her hands in the prayer position on her chair! That shit is happening!
32. This is some weird shit!
33. Lucky! (the lady who got up and left)
34. Please be done, please be done, please be done!
35. It's not done.
36. Seriously, what is the secret?
37. "Where is the eternal father? I am dying to see him." This is not working for me.
38. This feels like a giant recruitment tool for some really weird shit led by a guy who's voice really fits better as a giant tortoise on a cartoon.
39. wow

Of course when I got home I googled this situation. Here's what I found. I might highlight some of the more interesting bits...  What the fuck, I say?!  If these people had been in street clothes they would have seemed completely normal and that, my friends, is frightening.


Teachings

Sri Chinmoy taught that rapid spiritual progress could be made with divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender. He described divine love as self-offering and self-expansion; divine devotion as an expression of divine love as dedicated action; and divine surrender as a merging of the finite self with the infinite.[31] His path is not one of earthly renunciation or asceticism, but a middle path where the seeker has the opportunity to renounce, or transform, the negative qualities which stand in the way of union with the Divine. Sri Chinmoy taught that meditation on the heart brings the light of the soul forward to reach the highest reality as soon as possible.[32] Chinmoy states: “We are all seekers, and our goal is the same: to achieve inner peace, light and joy, to become inseparably one with our Source, and to lead lives full of true satisfaction.”[33] Chinmoy built up a world-wide following of disciples and taught them that he was an avatar or incarnation of God.[34]
He asked his disciples to adopt a vegetarian diet, abstain from recreational drugs including alcohol,[35] and lead a pure, celibate life,[2][36] though followers who were married at the time they joined are allowed an exemption from celibacy.
At bi-weekly meetings, the men wear white clothing, while the women wear colourful Indian saris.[37] The focus of meditation at these meetings is a black-and-white copy of a photograph of Ghose's face taken in 1967 while he was in what he described as a transcendental state of consciousness. It was sometimes referred to by Ghose and his disciples as "The Transcendental Picture" or "The Transcendental Photograph", but more often simply as "The Transcendental". Sri Chinmoy advised his disciples when meditating on his picture to feel that they are entering into their own highest part, that the picture does not represent a human being, but a state of consciousness.[38] The picture is considered by his disciples to carry an immense spiritual charge and is by far the most important image in Ghose's organization, the Sri Chinmoy Centre Church.
Sri Chinmoy recommended meditation during the quiet atmosphere of the early morning, before starting daily activities. As the traditional Hour of God, between three and four a.m., known as the 'Brahma Muhurta', may not suit the western lifestyle of keeping late hours, Sri Chinmoy requested that his disciples meditate at six a.m. every morning. Reading Sri Chinmoy's writings, singing his songs and performing dedicated service were also considered forms of meditation for his disciples.[39] Sri Chinmoy believed that running and physical fitness were a help to the inner spiritual life as well as to the outer life of activity, and encouraged his followers to run daily.[40] Although influenced by Hinduism, his path catered to an international community of seekers from diverse backgrounds.[41] He also encouraged his followers to offer free meditation classes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

Every year at this time the British Commonwealth observes a two minute silence in honor of the sacrifices of soldiers and civilians in times of war. Remembrance Day, as it is known here, was formerly Armistice Day and in the US is known as Veterans Day. Now I don't know about you but in my home state Veterans Day was something recognized mostly by the military. Perhaps we might notice more movement at Fort Douglas that day, unsure of what they are up to. Or we might see on the news that night that a moment of silence had been observed while we listened to our ipod or ordered our hot chocolate in a bustling cafe earlier that morning. I know there are some of you who remember this holiday, but of those I know the observance is usually driven by a military link. Perhaps your brother served in the Coast Guard (cheers to you bro!), your grandpa fought in a world war, or you know someone currently deployed. In England, however, there is a three week build up to this day when poppies start blooming on lapels all over the city. Politicians are wearing them on the tv, professors in school, and little old ladies out for their morning walks. But it isn't just those who obviously lived through wars or have a professional desire to show solidarity. Everyone wears them. And at 11am everyone will sit in silence to reflect on those who suffer in war. The moment will be broadcast live from Whitehall and observances will take place in several major public locations such as Westminster.

I began writing the previous paragraph to tell you a little about the activities today but as I typed "Westminster" I started feeling ridiculous for being so close to them and not actually participating. At 10:20 I packed up my laptop and made my way to Westminster. As I approached Parliament Square, the poppies proliferated. Hundreds of people were trekking through the drizzle to find their spot. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and had no idea if whatever was going to happen would be in a central location or if it was just near the cathedral in general. I followed the flowers and ended up outside the gates of the Abbey. Within the gates of Westminster, a group of military men and women (along with a few tiers of press) waited patiently until the prince arrived. “You only ever get Phillip” the gentleman behind me told his wife with a sneer. Nonetheless, it felt valuable to be participating in something of enough importance to require the presence of at least a token royal. A trumpet solo of what I assume is The Last Post, based on some of my internet readings, was played and ended at the commencement of the bells of Big Ben. Up until this point I was being josteled a bit on all sides as people made their way past me on the sidewalk, and I could barely hear the speeches that were given because of all the double-decker busses two feet behind me. But as the bells began everything stopped. I looked over my shoulder to see that the entire square had been mysteriously closed to traffic what could only have been one minute prior. The whole square was still. I wish I were a writer so I could explain the calm that came over me at that moment. There was something so safe in that space.

As the bell echoed through the square and the rain sprinkled our faces, I thought about the lives of those I know and love who have been impacted by wars. Without expecting it I became overwhelmed by emotion. There is a reason that citizens demand to have this moment every year. In that two minutes I moved through sadness, anger, bitterness, love, and hope and I saw that it is necessary to take time, even if just two minutes a year, to reflect on what we have experienced, where we have come from, and where I can only hope we are going. I recommend you do it sometime. It will make your day. At the end of the two minutes another trumpet quietly played Reveille to bring us back to the present moment. A few lingered to watch a bit of pomp and circumstance but most of us filed our way back to whatever tube station we came from and resumed the course of our day, hopefully a little more aware of why we have the chance to live them.


Monday, November 8, 2010

I Have Some Damn Cool Women in my Life

This is written by a friend of mine who puts it better than I ever could

"i am SO SICK AND TIRED of people wanting me to take their nephews, their brothers, their cousins, their bro-in-laws, their grandsons, their friends, their WHOEVER!!! off their hands so that i can drag them around for the rest of my life to give them the "kick in the pants they need" (yes. it has been told to me in exactly those words). I have NOT worked my entire life to be where i am in order to pull and kick and shove and force and bribe and WHATEVER, some man around for the rest of eternity."  



Adam Rex

I found Adam Rex's blog a while ago through a series of tubes.  I can't remember the exact pathway but it somehow involved THISTHIS, and THIS.  I have blog stalked (blogked? stalged?) since then.  His illustrations are wonderful so you should check them out.  And by the way, not having kids doesn't mean you can't enjoy some great kids books!  Hey, my sister credits her GRE score of 800 in Verbal Reasoning to children and young adult books.

Also, watch this video cause it makes me giggle and I think you will too.

Hey It's About Balloons, maybe you could have an Adam Rex book week?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And Though You're Gone

I posted THIS a few days ago because I am going through my regular, cyclical obsession with The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society.  I love this album.  I discovered through Spotify, however, that I was completely jipped with my version of it.  Apparently there are two bonus tracks I was not privy to:  Mr. Songbird and Days.  The first is as catchy and happy as Picture Book.  The second is in a league of its own.  Days is one of those songs that captures so much emotion with such elegant simplicity.  I can't listen to it without thinking of my Gram.  I won't bring down the mood by describing just how much I miss her and how often she crosses my mind.  This song captures that sense of loss but, more importantly, honors the times that people had together.  Were it not for the times we shared with people, we would have nothing to miss, right?  Ray just says it much more poetically.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Remember, Remember

The 5th of November

The evening began with a race: four boys dressed in black and white stripes and red bandanas pulling burning barrels. Then the reading of the bonfire prayers... (here are some video clips for you too).

Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow

By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holler boys, holler boys, ring bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God Save the King!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o'cheese to choke him
A pint of beer to rinse it down
A faggot of sticks to burn him

Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we'll say old Pope is dead

Hip Hip Hoorah!
Hip Hip Hoorah!
Hip Hip Hoorah!



video


video

This is likely the most quiet event of the evening.  After the prayers the processions begin!  I can't explain so I will just show you.  There are far too many pics to post up here so I put a video of one of the cooler moments and I'll give you a link to the rest of the pics.  Enjoy!

video

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Curly Cue has Flowers!

The first week I lived here I added a new plant to my life.  Meet Curly Cue (he goes by Cue for short).  As it turns out he is a Chlorophytum, not just a curly grass as I originally assumed.  So imagine my surprise when he started growing an expected appendage (don't be dirty here people).  Even more exciting was the day that the shoot opened it's first tiny, delicate blossom (the one on the left in the photo).  I thought, "cool!  I'll take a pic in the morning and show it off to everyone."  But Cue was one step ahead of me again, and by the time I woke it had shriveled to nothing.  I waited four days for the next blossom to open so i could share it with you.  This one also lasted a short time but I was able to capture the moment.  



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Three Month Anniversary

Tonight I will fall asleep spooning a stack of research books, as I do most nights these days.  They don't exactly hug the curves.  I am exhausted but I feel the need to share a bit before drooling onto those dogeared, highlighted pages.  The day I read about the IR program at Regent's I began crying.  I couldn't help it and I couldn't stop.  For that brief moment, time seemed to rip open just wide enough for me to see my future-self walking around the streets of London; absorbing the culture, the sights, the sounds, the (often unfortunate) smells.  I watched myself splash through puddles in my Wellies, cuddle up in a coffee shop, and beam in awe and gratitude at every person I met because surely they were part of the mysterious fabric of life that ultimately allowed me to live out my dream and move to this fabulous city.  I knew with no hesitation or doubt that I was looking at my future and yet I couldn't fathom the thought of being so incredibly lucky.  And lo the tears did come.  I cried many times between then and the move as well out of frustation, fear, anxiety, excitement, anticipation, loneliness, nostalgia, and love.  Yet every moment of panic and dismay was worth it.  I still find myself hoping that this is not all a complete mind trip.  That I am not, in fact, moments away from a 5am wake-up call reminding me that I am three snooze buttons and ten minutes away from a long, snowy walk to Trax, which I will take to a job where I quite literally plug myself in to the corporate machine to make money for the rich and apologize to the poor for their bad luck.

Because of the wonder that is the universe, I met amazing people who linked me with incredible opportunities (you deny this but you know who you are).  As I sat in class today I found myself unable to express just how much I love what I am doing.  Not to say that I know how to do it most of the time.  I feel overwhelmed by how much I need to catch up on to get where I feel I should be at this point in my life.  But ultimately I know that I have found what it is that makes me tick, makes me think, makes me happy.  Looking back I don't know how I didn't figure out sooner that I was born with a bent toward sociology and anthropology.  Perhaps it is because I am good at math and I do have a math mind (I like real, solid, true, knowable answers) that I found myself drawn to numbers all those years.  I should have taken a hint when I came across my elementary school report cards a few years ago.  Every single teacher, and I mean EVERY one in EVERY term said what I good student, sweet kid, insert complimentary comment here, I was but that I was "too social," "too talkative," "overly chatty," and the like.  Couple that with the fact that EVERY job I have ever worked at or applied for has been in customer service and you would think I would get the picture before now.  But no.  This morning was the first time that I really acknowledged the fact that I am made to be social and study the social aspects of life.  It is simply who I am.

With the short duration of this course I know I will inevitably lack the time to fully delve into every class with the rigor and depth I wish for.  However, in just ten weeks I have learned so much about areas of research that tackle questions I have had all my life.  I am suddenly in this incredible community of professors, researchers, and fellow students where I feel I truly belong.  I am no longer listening to rich, young things discussing the ways in which we can rebrand a company to appeal to a new demographic or calculate the future value of a company to determine whether an investment is profitable.  I can now discuss the the importance of water rights in terms of power and politics, and theories of identity development in post-colonial nations and it's impact on ethnic conflicts.  And that makes all the difference.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Classic

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

Taco Night!

When we were in Rome, Lindsey and I decided we wanted a day where we did absolutely, positively nothing at all whatsoever.  We were so incredibly tired of being tired and dirty (FILTHY actually, I don't know that a city has ever made me feel quite so gritty) and wanted a whole day of just vegging out and being lazy.  This Sunday was that day and it was spectacular!!!  I would like to report that we slept in but that would be quite the overstatement.  The previous night ended at 2:30 am Sunday and we woke around 7am (for those of you paying attention that was the same day).  Our first task was to make a big American hangover breakfast: biscuits, scrambled eggs with cheese and peppers, hashbrowns (that refused to cooperate which was sad), "bacon" or as close as we could find, and fresh-squeezed OJ.  




After our wonderful breakfast we spent a long time on the couch just chatting and planning our November challenge.  Last month was No Jeans October and laid the foundation for many ideas about what we could do this month.  The result: 5 hours of workouts a week.  Eventually we made our way off the couch and to the grocery store to get fixins for dinner.  We made veggie tacos that rocked my world. I quite literally lived in the taco afterglow all day today.  A.Maze.Ing!!!!!! 










Mind the closing Doors, Please. Mind the Doors.

I chose to reserve my judgements and refrain from posting on the British interpretations of Halloween until I experienced the holiday fully.  As it turns out, I was right from the beginning.  They haven't quite figured out the point.  I saw about 87 cats, 52 devils, and probably 156 dirty ho's but I think some of those might have just been people going out for the normal weekend.  We were the Underground lines: Circle, Northern, Waterloo, Hammersmith & City, and Victoria.  :)

From Left to Right: Waterloo, Victoria, Hammersmith & City, Circle, and Northern


Addendum Nov. 6th, 2010: The reason they suck at Halloween may be linked to the relationship they have with the 5th of November.  I'll let you decide. 

Flashback

I used to listen to these A LOT!  A chat today brought them back to mind and I can't get enough.  Enjoy!

Taco Bell Song

Ultimate Showdown