Sunday, May 27, 2012

Use your eyes; the world goes and flutters by.

Do yourself a favor. Actually, do me a favor, for you. Please? Next free morning you have, find the mountain closest to you, and start up a trail. You can look up a specific hike if you'd like, but the particulars are not very important. Just walk on up there. Make sure to look around you -- don't miss the trees, the rocks, the flowers, and everything that covers the hillside and makes it complete. Take lots of breaks to take in your surroundings, because things like that can be overwhelming.

(Oh, you'll want to bring a camera with you. Not that you can capture an experience in a picture, but looking back on the pictures will help you to remember how you felt.)

Pretend you have more energy than you have. Climb a tree, pet a sheep, jump over a stream, hop across a few rocks. The more energy you give yourself, the more you'll have. (...yeah. I'm going to pretend that wasn't obvious.) Really though? Think about your body. It can walk up mountains -- just you and your body! That's incredible. Think of all things you can do.

When you get to the top, find somewhere to sit down and soak it up. Get comfortable -- you'll be there for a while. The view from anywhere high is always incredible, but being surrounded by nature is the best feeling there is. I could describe every plant, every living creature, and every single air molecule, but it wouldn't do. The thing is, up there, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

I hope you brought your iPod, because I fully believe that the right music can enhance any experience. And I hope you have the We Bought A Zoo soundtrack. I would recommend listening to Hoppipolla, by Sigur Ros.

(In case you're wondering, I went on four hikes this past week, all of them awe-inspiring and mind-stimulating. I have never felt more connected to nature or closer to heaven than I did on top of mountains, overlooking this beautiful earth. The pictures above are of our trek to the top of Loughrigg Fell in Ambleside, northern England. Below is from the top of Arthur's seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.)

Breathe it in and smile -- life is so much more than we deserve.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What a glorious feeling.

I'm haaaaaaappy again!

So here's the story: back in March, I learned that Alex's parents were going to be in London one of the weeks that I'd be here; and better yet, they wanted to take me out to a musical! A) I love the Bennetts, so of course I was game. B) Who am I to turn down a free musical? I looked at my schedule and realized that I'd be free today, May 17th. We arranged that we'd go see Singin' in the Rain.

Today we toured the Olympic sites, which in my opinion need some fixin' up before the actual games start -- but it is what it is. Even though I left early, I still didn't get home until 5:25 -- and I was supposed to meet the Bennetts for dinner at 5:30. I rushed to get ready, power-walked to the tube, but still ended up being 20 minutes late. That was fine. We met up by the statue of Eros and I was so happy to see them! It's hard to explain the feeling of seeing a familiar face in a completely unfamiliar place. It's such a relief and comfort. We walked down the street a bit to a restaurant and sat down. I thought it was kind of strange that Allison suggested what chair I should sit in, but shook it off two seconds later. After perusing the menus and chatting a bit, someone came up behind me and clapped me on the shoulders. Startled, I looked behind and found myself face to face with none other than Alex Bennett! One second, "Oh hey." Two seconds? Recognition that he was not supposed to be there, followed by a scream. Yes, I screamed. And everyone in the restaurant went silent and stared at me. I swiftly apologized, then started laughing; with that laughter came tears. Yes, I was so happy that I cried. Alex Bennett. In London. With me. In a restaurant, eating dinner, going to see Singin' in the Rain. What a glorious, glorious feeling.

So now you know: the secret to happiness is being surprised by one of your best friends in London. That's all you need.

Singin' in the Rain is the most happy, fun, and inspiring musical I've ever seen! I couldn't stop smiling that entire time. Maybe it was just Alex there that made it four times better. I don't know.

I've got a smile on my face. Happy and head up, with a joy in my heart, because I am living a life full.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sherlock. Egrets. Brains. Phantom.

What do these four things have to with each other? They just sum up my past two days -- debatably the best two days I've had thus far. Yesterday (and it feels way longer than yesterday! My days are so packed) I decided I wanted to go to 221b Baker Street. I mean, it was already in the top three of my must-do's while in London, and I had nothing planned! So Amanda, Whitney, Jared, Natalie and I joined forces and journeyed to the fictional residency of a fictional character.
(So, way after the fact, I decided to upload pictures since I documented every step of my excursion. Enjoy.)

le tube stop

What even...?

I was literally jumping for joy.


There, in all its glory!

Asian lady gettin' all up in my picture

Finally. :)

Here’s the thing: I feel like I'm a phony Sherlock fan, because I've only read a few of the books. However, I adore the movies and am absolutely IN LOVE with the BBC show. For those of you who haven't watched it -- WATCH IT. It's the best show on television. (This kind of goes along with how I hate myself for not having read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it’s officially my summer reading project. I’ve read The Hobbit though.)

After me jumping up and down in excitement, browsing through souvenirs, buying postcards, and taking hundreds of pictures (which are literally taking hours to upload), we went on a walk through Regent's Park! That place is heavenly. It is so quiet and peaceful that you forget you're in the middle of one of the hugest and busiest cities in the world. Refuge. Natalie walked like an egret, Whitney charmed us all with her laugh, Amanda danced, and Jared documented it all with Nat's camera. Seriously though... He went to town with that thing. There are so many photographs. I love that kid.

After a lovely stroll through the park, Whitney and Amanda decided that they wanted to get lost in the city, and Jared had to meet some others for a play, so Nat and I went to Primark! Think H&M, but with lower prices and five times as many customers. Bleh. We didn’t even attempt to go into the dressing room, but I ended up buying a few things regardless. We also found a cute store called New Look, which was wonderful because a) it was also cheap, b) it had equally cute clothes, and c) WE WERE TWO OF FOUR CUSTOMERS THERE. That is happiness.

And I thought that was the best day of my life – until today! I guess I’m just going to have multiple best days. Every day is a good experience, really. Today we took the tube/walked to the British Library. What’s in the British Library, you ask? The coolest things. They have a treasure room, which contains things like the original hand-written Magna Carta; original versions of pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Haydn; the napkin that Paul McCartney first wrote the lyrics to Yesterday on, as well as the original scrawlings of lyrics to Ticket to Ride and Help; Jane Austen’s writing desk (just a desk, though… Meh); the original manuscript of Jane Eyre; and many, many other treasures. Seeing Beethoven and Mozart’s work moved me to tears. Sometimes I just forget that those were real people who had to sit down and note by note, write out these magnificent pieces. It’s incredible. The biggest thing I gathered from all these things was that I am so, so lazy. I have no drive! There were Da Vinci’s notes on architecture from when he tried to figure out what fissures were. Fissures. He couldn’t google it or look it up in a dictionary, he just thought, drew, and wrote until he understood. These people had such passion, dedication, and incurable curiosity. I want to be more like that.

While at the library, I realized that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by people. With 40 other people constantly surrounding me, it’s hard to get alone time. So I decided to walk home on my own. I didn’t know where I was going, so I decided to just walk until I got to a bus stop. On the way, I saw a cool memorial to people who died in a tube bombing (I think), some ghetto areas of town, and an overgrown crypt. After about 40 minutes, I found a bus stop and hopped on the 30 to Marble Arch. I opted for the bus instead of the tube because I’m sick of being underground and not knowing where I’m going. It wasn’t long until I was immediately intrigued by a museum that I saw out my window and found myself wishing that the bus would stop. 10 seconds later, the bus stopped (fate!) – so in the spirit of living in the moment, I ran off! Luckily for me, the museum had free admission. Yippee. This place was so cool. It had an exhibit on brains, one on old medicines and remedies, one on obesity and diet books, and other cool things! It was so random and so interesting. I only had a few minutes though, as I had to get back to the Centre in time for dinner (which didn’t actually happen – I was 45 minutes late. Heh), so I didn’t get to look at the exhibits in much depth. I’m going to go back ASAP. I wish I was better at communicating so I could accurately convey how I felt by myself, at this crazy museum, not caring that I’d be late getting home, not really knowing for sure how to get home, and just being in the heart of London. I heart London. Sigh.

Late night jam sessions with Romm and Natalie make my life.

There hasn’t been one night that I’ve gotten more than 6 hours of sleep. I don’t know how I’m surviving.

Today, I consumed my weight in Nutella. Please don’t judge me when I come home 10 pounds heavier then I was before.

Ants are overtaking our bathroom, one tile at a time.

Have I mentioned I really like the people in this group? I really like these people.

Movies I want to watch: The Great Mouse Detective, 101 Dalmatians, and Anastasia.

Someone asked me if I believe in the Oxford Comma. I do.

I used my major today by explaining that the word “knight” didn’t mean what it means today. It wasn’t someone noble and revered. It was just an average military dude. I love my major.

OH. I SAW PHANTOM OF THE OPERA TODAY. In the first act, I was disappointed with both the Phantom and Raul, but I think during intermission they took some singing pills or got really pumped because they were much better in the second half. I loved how loud the music was. I always want to be overwhelmed with sound when I go to things like this, and the orchestra is seldom loud enough. But they were tonight!

I’m going to Paris today… Paris. Paris! Sometimes I can’t believe my life.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm in London?

On Sunday afternoon, a few of us walked home from church. The sun was out for the first time since we'd gotten to London, and it was absolutely lovely. Hyde Park is beautiful.

I feel a bit overwhelmed by all there is to do here. There are so many things to see, so many things to learn -- but I don't have time for it! We went to the British Museum yesterday but we only had one hour there. One hour! So Natalie and I picked three rooms that we wanted to go to and missed out on the rest. We're going to go back soon and spend hours exploring.

I had a moment of clarity as I was holding a 3,000 year old jade carving: I am in London. This should seem obvious to most people, but it's hard to grasp. Often times I feel like I am at Disneyland or that I am dreaming. I'm walking through cobblestone streets, I'm riding the tube, yet I'm in this trance. All I know is that I got on a plane. I didn't see where it was going; yet when I got off, I was in the most interesting, beautiful city. I can't comprehend it. I am scared that I'll waste my time. I need to take advantage of every possible second; every decision I make affects the person I am becoming. What a huge responsibility that is! At any given point in time, there are things I could be doing -- exploring the city, visiting a museum, reading for my classes, talking and bonding with friends. How do I choose? How do I balance my time?

...Really though. Your suggestions are welcome.