Monday, December 20, 2010

One week

A week ago, I was getting on the bus to go to the difference between here and there is that the time seems to have gone much slower. It feels like months since I've been in Oxford, and yet somehow like I was there just yesterday.
So how's the adjusting? Number one difference is that there is not a whole lot of people here. It's a little bit of a shock to go from 40 friends to just family. I'm reverting to my more introverted self, I suppose, which is nice in someways and not so nice in others. I was happily surprised to learn in Oxford that a different place without any expectations of my personality creates an opportunity for becoming more outgoing even though I'm not usually. Coming back here, it's almost like my subconscious knows that everyone here knows me as a strong introvert, so that's it's been behaving. However, it's great to have a little quiet too...since there aren't friends all the time here, I don't feel like I'm missing out on something if I just decide to hole up in my room and read for several hours for fun. (I've just finished Persuasion by Jane Austen, and The Danger Box by Blue Balliet...both so wonderful!)
There are many things I miss about Oxford. First and foremost, the people! But secondly,
* Walking. I can walk into town, but it's not much more than a 20 minute walk, and everywhere I can walk to kind of has to involve spending money, of which I have diddly-squat.

*Gas hobs. I never realized how quick they are! I am having to relearn how to make fried eggs on an electric stove.

*Cheap GOOD shortbread cookies. Seriously USA, why do you have to make these things so expensive?

* Pound coins. I love those things.

*Academic talk on every subject imaginable.

*Food group, and along with that, believe it or not, the Kitchen Dance. It was such fun to cook with a bunch of people in the kitchen, singing along to the iPod, or just belting out Christmas carols. (O Holy Night and The Twelve Days of Christmas in particular!)

*Movie nights, whether Hornblower or Foyle's War, or some obscure, deep film, I miss all gathering in the living room and squashing on couches in blankets. Also, that tin of chocolates...the brazilian dreams or whatever they were were the best. Red wrapper with yellow on the tips.

And many many more things. But at the same time, home has been great. I didn't realize how much I missed my family until I arrived and it felt like I never left. I also have the great blessing of coming from a family who has traveled, and one that is used to family members leaving and going somewhere new and then coming back. They know how to support those of us who have gone 'there and back again,' and that has made it a great homecoming. They don't mind hearing tons of stories about Oxford, or my friends there. It's hard to help people understand exactly what it was like, but I'm lucky to have people that genuinely want to try to understand. I think for the first month of being back, I am going to have to get out my Oxford 'scarf' of memories quite often, to make sure that it's still there, that I still remember, and to reassure myself of its existence, but I foresee that in the future I will gradually be able to let it rest comfortably in a pocket in my heart, where I know that it's there and can take it out when I need it, but can just let it be what it is. That's my hope anyway.

Oh yes... MERRY CHRISTMAS! God is with us, isn't that fantastic?
here's a link to a paper by a philosophy prof from Messiah, which has to do with the significance of the incarnation in relation to atonement theory. It made me think a lot when I read it, and though it's not exactly 'Christmas-y,' perhaps a few will find it interesting:
The most recent version of the paper is the first link, I believe.

Over and out,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time to say Goodbye

I wished for about the billionth time today that time would move a little slower. This term has gone by in a flash.
I wish there was some way to seal memories, first feelings of something in a bottle, and then open it up and re-experience it again. Like the moment of walking around the back of The Vines and seeing everyone for the first time, and feeling nervous about making friends, or of turning in my first case study on Robin Hood, or walking across a land bridge to an island off the coast of Scotland. Or drinking tea in the kitchen of the Kilns. Or hugging a friend for maybe the last time.
Goodbyes are hard, did you know? But I suppose we're just going to have to get used to it. As Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchitt says, "Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it."
I was inspired to put some poems that I've written this term on here by my friend Zach's blog. I posted the Oxford Sestina before on facebook, but I think it's fitting, so I'll put it here too:

It begins with the opening of books
fueled by much desperation and tea
And the attempt to awaken the stone
-like brain from granite slumber with food,
prod it with cookies and conversation.

Then within there begins conversation
between the crowded pages of books
and the busy mind; words become food
and thoughts begin to swirl, bathed in tea,
building, building, mortar upon stone
until they manifest in writing.

Then, the conclusion, and one begins writing
a new experience of conversation
steeling feeling like immoveable stone
to accept the criticism of books
and the unknowns, armed with soothing tea,
and that dear word ‘good’ that gives the soul food

to write again. Then gather round for food
with a new family, for the writing
of a new branch that is bonded by tea,
not blood, and brought close with conversation,
unity of age, and the love of books
until friendship is laid firmly in stone.

This city breathes years in yellow stone
the treading of feet upon feet is food
for poetry, prose. The scenes of books
unfold around corners, walking in writing,
from the page to life, a conversation
with art, with the past, with the tea

shops and cafes where the giants sipped tea
and now you do, touching all of the stone
they have touched, echoes of conversation
in the pubs where they sat, eating the food
you are now eating. What are you writing?
will it return to its birth like these books

will it become like they have, the food
for another hopeful pen writing,
alive in this place of knowledge and books?

And another, written as a meditation during devotions.

Mark 5
Talitha Koum
from the depths daughter
sleeping daughter, with
cheek as cold as frozen steel
and heart stiff in proportion

Talitha Koum
be warmed, have this breath
see, I have taken you by hand—
you have Heaven in your palm.
awake, and eat again with me

Talitha Koum
“Little girl, I say to you,
get up!” leave this way
of monotonous striving,
take this hand and get up

Talitha Koum
do not sink to the earth,
to the world again, you
have not finished yet.
you are not dead but asleep.

How to come back to the real world? How not to be an island? It's an end to a very golden era.
On Thursday night, we had a dance party for about 2 hours. It was such a hilariously fun "closing ceremony" type thing. Today we watched The Snowman, and gosh darn it, I felt such sympathy for the little kid. I feel like when I step onto that bus for the airport, in some ways it's going to be just like that little boy running out the door, only to find that his snowman friend has melted. But then he reaches into his pocket and finds the scarf he was given, a kind of relic, the proof that his night with the snowman really happened and that it was wonderful. I guess that's what the photos, the memories, and my new friends will be...the Oxford scarf in my pocket. :-)


Friday, December 3, 2010

The end of tutorials

Well, today I had my last tutorial. I finished Victorian literature with Dr. Plaskitt last week, but this week I had my last Shakespeare tutorial with Dr. Thorpe. We discussed As You Like It, and looked at how strong of a woman Rosalind is. We talked about Shakespeare for a bit, but as usual we branched off onto other topics. We talked about Oxford and the kind of opportunities it provides, but how it's kind of a one of a kind place, an "island city," not only because it is almost entirely surrounded by rivers, but because it is intellectually set apart.
I've realized that returning from here is going to be harder than I thought...not exactly because I will miss the constant papers, or even the city itself (though I certainly will miss it) but because I will be back in the real world. The real world isn't a house full of intellectuals, the real world isn't Philosophy around the dinner table and speaking to nearly anyone in the house about Shakespeare and having them understand. The real world isn't walking in the snow at midnight while some of you talk about Wiggenstein's possible worlds, and others talk about how they will take up space on bookshelves in Borders with all the books they will write. Dr. Thorpe talked about Oxford as the Island City, but I guess what I kind of feel like is that sometimes being an educated academic makes you part of an Island generation.
That sounds so utterly snobby, and that kind of disgusts me, because that is exactly what I don't want to be. I don't want to come back acting like a snob because 'I've been to Oxford!' or act like some sort of elitist. I'm so very pre-disposed to have a snobby attitude too. So many people have thought I am a snob upon first meeting me. But the fact of the matter is, most of the world has not had the experiences I have had, has not read the things I have and doesn't think about the things I do, simply because they aren't academics. How do I reinsert myself into real life? How do I become a real person, and not just a white, upper middle class, intellectual, who has had many life experiences but doesn't really understand life? I don't want to be one of college kids who talk about poverty, and have visited a third-world country, but really have seen nothing of suffering, or think they have answers to real world problems because they've read about them in a book, or on some pretentious person's blog. I don't want to be the person who can read a philosopher and consider his ideas, but some how can't learn to relate to someone who might not be as educated as myself. I don't want to be an Island, mentally sneering at people who don't know who Virginia Woolf is. But it's difficult, because these topics, these authors, these ideas, this way of being, is something that I love. It's a lonely thought to think that unless I stay inside an academic bubble, unless I ignore the majority of world, I will not be able to often discuss the things I love. And I can't ignore the rest of the a Christian that isn't even an option, and I really don't want to do that either. It will take some deliberate and purposeful action on my part to make sure I don't become an elitist.

That was all kind of angsty and all that, so I apologize. I'm not actually in deep emotional and mental turmoil over this, but it is something that I've been thinking about, and realizing that I need to deal with a little bit. Don't worry, I have interests beyond academics...for instance, in about 2 seconds I am going to watch Crocodile Dundee, and I am just as excited about it as I am about reading To the Lighthouse.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Os Guinness Lecture

So, today the SCIO students got to be lectured to by Os Guinness! Pretty exciting. I had heard of him before, but not really read any of his work, so I was coming in without any expectations really. Wow. Hands down the best lecture I've been to while here. I am definitely going to try to read some of his books now.

He talked a bit about three things: calling, challenge of combating religious voices, and the notion of the public square. He spent the most time on the last point, talking about three different kinds of public squares: the sacred public square, the naked public square, and the civil public square. The sacred public square (one that prefers one religion over all others) and the naked public square (one that completely strips all religion out) really don't work in the long run, he said. The ideal would be the civil public square: a distinct political set up where different beliefs and ideologies are free to be who they are religiously, but where there are agreed upon certain political rights, responsibilities and respect. He made it clear that while it's the ideal, it's also the most difficult and is certainly not going to happen quickly, because it would take a lot of cooperation from people of incompatible world views. I'm not explaining it nearly well enough, but it was an amazing idea.

He also talked about some of the really great things that America has going for it, saying that the U.S. might possibly be the only place where a Civil Public square could even be possible at this point, if we don't wreck things further. He talked about how some of the ideas our country preserve are very good. I of course now cannot remember them all, but it was a really important thing for me to hear. I have kind of harbored a mindset that American is pretty much gone down the tubes and we've done so many terrible things as a country that we've got nothing to be proud of, but Mr. Guinness pointed out some of the really great political ideas that our country was founded on. He also made sure to point out that he was by no means saying that the founding fathers had everything right. Their views of African Americans, Native Americans and Women were abysmal. He just said "let's not throw out everything they established because they had serious blind spots in some areas." He is also one of the first people I've heard speak about having an American culture as not a bad thing. He said that in some ways the 'melting pot' idea is not bad. While saying that a person has to forget their old culture completely isn't good, the idea of saying something like "Well, in America there are certain cultural ideas, such as freedom of conscious that might not be familiar to you. That's part of what it means to be American" isn't bad, it's actually important. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it was rather revolutionary for me, because I've always been wary of being supportive of an 'American culture.' I don't like the idea of saying "do it our way, or get out" but I don't think he was saying that. I think he was saying, there should be certain things that people can't make a stink about. It seemed like he was advocating for there to be an Americanism beyond just legislature, because culture changes things more than legislature does. I'm probably explaining it very badly, and I still kind of need to wrap my head around it, so I may not have understood him completely, but it was something very new for me.

He also said that we were the "Crunch Generation," that how our generation handled the problems and issues arising today in the next 40 or so years would determine the course of the world. So he told us that we need to be people who think deeply and consider things carefully, to know what we believe and stick to it, none of this wishy-washy 'post-evangelicalism' ("What is that? he said, "A big bunch of nothing." Either you are or you aren't, don't put yourself in the evangelical camp if you think you're 'beyond that.').

There was a question and answer time after, and most of the questions were kind of technical, like what did he mean by this or that, or how exactly would a civil public square work, etc...I only had one question. I just wanted to ask him, "Mr. Guinness, you said we're the Crunch you think that we can do it? Do you believe in us?" I guess maybe it sounds a little hokey, but while what he said was very inspiring, it also kind of scared me. Can we be what he said we needed to be? and what happens if we can't?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rainy Monday and some creative writing

Wow, one post after another! crazy eh?
Today I woke up and I thought that it would be wonderful to be a caterpillar or a bear or some other animal that gets to sleep for a long time. Maybe a lung fish. Yeah, one of those!
It was rainy (it still is) and cold cold cold. I forgot to put on my cuddleduds, which was a mistake. I frizzled all the way to my lecture, just like Troll in Moll and Troll, and I didn't have any newspapers to protect myself like he did. I slipped on the stairs and fell on my bum on my way to my lecture, and I am pretty sure I am going to have a sweet bruise as a result. It sounds kind of like a ho-hum day, but it really wasn't. I had fun in all my lectures because...I didn't really pay attention and instead wrote a little sketch, which I have put here just for fun, in case anyone wants to read it. I liked writing it, but I don't know if it's any good or not, so don't be too excited or anything:

Mr. Wood: a Sketch
It was springtime, but Mr. Wood scowled from his stool behind the counter of the general store. He had no objection to birds singing or flowers blooming. He even patiently endured the running of his nose under the affliction of seasonal allergies. Yes, Mr. Wood was really a genial man. However, the one thing he could not endure had sent the bell of the door dingling that very moment, so he scowled.
Simpering within a fashionable, flower-laden straw bonnet came a tittering young lady on the arm of a slightly nervous, yet proud and adoring young man with a very pressed silk handkerchief tucked dandily into his pocket.
“Look at all these dear ribbons, Robbie!” she gushed at the collection of mauve ribbons draped appealingly over some fabrics. Mr. Wood snorted inwardly. What was that warning Wilde had written about women and mauve?
Young ‘Robbie’ obediently admired the ribbons while murmuring little compliments in her ear—”how well you they would look in your curls, Dora my love.” He gently stroked one of the golden curls as he spoke, and Mr. Wood wished that he could push both of them out the door and bar it against them and all of their kind. Such ‘live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes’ romantic mush-gush made him ill.
    Young Robbie and Dora would have pointed to his disgust as a case of sour grapes. Mr. Wood, though his scowls aged him, had no more than a few years over the besmitten pair. Springtime ought to have sent him to the general store with the love of his life on his arm, not to the stool behind the counter. If his life was like theirs, they would argue, he would view ribbons in a different way.
    However, it was not for the disdain of the ladies that Mr. Wood sat on his stool. Many young women in the town eyed the dark-haired, straight-nosed individual with interest, and many even said he might be handsome if he did not scowl so much. They would have  been happy to oblige had he asked any of them to go walking with him. But Mr. Wood disliked it all. He would not simper, he would stroke the golden curl. His compliments would have disappointed—a young lady may doubt her lover if his most sincere praises were for her “very strong cheekbones” or the “very durable and practical fabric of her dress.” He lacked sentimentality, and he found it unbearable that these cooing pairs of love doves would choose the general store as a place to ooze some of their own superfluous measures of it. He tried to put his mind off it by re-balancing the till and organizing a jar of candy drops by color until the dingling of the bell made him look up eagerly, anticipating the couple’s departure. He was disappointed in this, for Mr. Robert and Miss Dora were still cooing among the ribbons, and instead some new customers had entered. It was a bustling middle-aged woman with a critical eye, accompanied by a young lady who looked to be 15-20 years her junior.
“Hmm. Here it is, Katie, a very well organized shop after all. I had not thought it would be so from the crookedness of the hanging sign,” the woman remarked to her companion.
“Indeed Aunt, it had a decidedly careless air. But look how these pickle jars are arranged—professional, I do say,” said Katie.
In spite of himself, Mr. Wood felt some pride. His employer had set him to arranging the pickle jars the day before, and he had felt at the time that his work had been fine, and was glad for this confirmation of it. He made a mental note to adjust the sign.
“Excuse me, young man,” the woman addressed him, “ Do you sharpen scissors here?” The arch of her brow told Mr. Wood that the fineness of the pickle jar arrangement would be forgotten in an instant if he answered in the negative. Thankfully, he did not have to.
“Yes ma’am. Simply leave them here and they will be finished in and hour or two. Then you may return to the pick them up.” Katie and her aunt exchanged a look. “ I’m afraid we cannot stay in town that long, we have been out too long already,” said the woman, “I shall send Katie tomorrow for them, if you don’t mind, Mr —?”
“Wood ma’am. James Wood. That will be no inconvenience. What name shall I put on the order?” he queried, pen poised.
“Mine, I suppose—Mrs. Eleanor Brickle, and my niece’s as well, since she shall fetch them.”
“Katherine Ashby,” the young lady offered.
Mr. Wood wrote both names down in neat block lettering.
“They will be ready as soon as you care to come for them tomorrow,” he assured them. Mrs. Brickle nodded approvingly.
“Thank you Mr. Wood. This is a well-run shop.”
“I am happy to please you, and I will pass your compliments on to my employer,” he said, with another swell of pride.
The two women turned to go, but before they left, Miss Katie Ashby looked back over her shoulder.
“The jar of candy drops, Mr. Wood, is most splendidly organized,” she said, with a flash of admiration in her eye. Then the door bell tinkled, and out they went.
Mr. Wood folded the receipt carefully and placed it with the scissors into a box for sharpening later. Mr. Robert and Miss Dora finally came forward with their ribbon selections. They gazed lovingly at each other as he rung them up, but he did not notice so much as before.
“What very strong cheekbones Miss Ashby has,” he thought.

The End.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guy Fawkes day and other things

Yesterday evening we all went to the Guy Fawkes day Fair and Fireworks in the park near our house. This holiday is not one that I understand exactly...I believe it's celebrating the fact that Guy Fawkes was not successful in blowing up parliament. However, I am happy for any reason for fair food and fireworks, so I'm not complaining. Natalie and I decided that it was probably that they needed a November holiday, since they don't have Thanksgiving, so they looked around in history to find something momentous that happened in November to have a holiday for. Ha ha.

Anyway, I will say that the fireworks were way beyond anything I've ever seen on the Fourth of July. They were fantastic! They set off some twirly ones and glittery ones that I've never seen before. I took some videos, but of course it's a rather sad capture of them. Oh well. Another thing that is standard practice at Guy Fawkes day is burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes. They had a huge effigy of him made from straw and other burnable materials by an artist that they lit on fire after the fireworks. It was pretty intense. All this plus warm donuts and a toffee apple...a very enjoyable night. My fingers were freezing by the end though. I warmed them up with a hot mug of vanilla and almond milk though.

Here are the essay topics for this week: A  discussion of Bill Sikes' dog, Bulls'-eye in Oliver Twist for Victorian lit, and answering the question "How does Shakespeare present Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra? Does he change at all?" for my Shakespeare tutorial.

Update on Christmas Anticipation Meter: Way too high. I'm going to draw a turkey for my door to distract myself.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Various sorts of excellent adventures

Hello hello hello!
It has been a sad long time since I have updated, and since quite a few fun little events have past, I thought I would write some of them down.

1. The First Junior Common Room Party!
This was an excellent night of fun, held last Friday at The Vines. We had soda floats, and a construction paper clothing contest. I made a Robin Hood costume, complete with hat with feather, quiver and arrows, and a bow, all out of paper. There were so many other awesome creations, including a gnome, the pope, a river, the white witch, and many more. By the vote of the JCR, I won best over all! The prize was a fantastic Oxford calender for next year, so I can look at pictures of Oxford all through 2011 :-) After the contest we watched Singin' in the Rain, which was my first time seeing, what a great film!

Speaking of another great film, I also watched Space Odyssey: 2001 for the first time a few nights ago, and it was CRAZY, but also incredible. I kind of want to watch again soon.

2. On Wednesday, I had a rather stinky day. I got behind on my essays, and forgot to claim the crockpot so my plan for dinner for my food group was thrown for a loop. In my flusteredness (hehe, made up a word) at having to come up with something new, I forgot to go to my second long essay consultation, which was rather horrible. In Oxford, you don't just miss stuff. It's considered really rude to do that, so I was feeling horrible. I rushed around, returning library books and writing a very formal and sincere apology email to my adviser, then ran to a grocery store and grabbed some Jamaican jerk sauce to dump on my chicken and cook it as my slapdash meal. By the time I got home, I had about 25 minutes before I had to start cooking. I took that time to have a little cry, then write down a list of everything happy and good that had happened that day to keep myself from getting too discouraged. The meal turned out well, and the rest of the night was good, so God really turned that one around for me.

3. Friday I had my Shakespeare tutorial (we talked about Shakespeare's portrayal of Jews in The Merchant of Venice) and afterward, since I didn't really have anything pressing, I meandered home slowly, stopping in lots of little shops. I found so many things that would work as great Christmas presents! Then, when I got home, I had a tea party with some of the other Vinerians, and just generally lazed about. I read about 100 pages of Oliver Twist, but that was the extent of my productiveness.

4. Today, I got up later than usual and ate a chocolate muffin for breakfast. It was one of the best chocolate muffins I have ever had. I read all of Much Ado about Nothing, and some more Oliver Twist, and then after a great skype chat with Josiah, I went punting!
It was a perfect day to be on the water. The sun was going down a little, so it was glinting off the river and making everything nice and glowy, but it was also chilly. There were lots of ducks around, and one of the Vinerian girls in my boat, Bethany, found an apple floating in the water and starting feeding chunks of it to them. One duck came close enough for me to touch it on the tail! Towards the end of the trip, I decided to have a go at being the Punt-master, so I took over for a bit from Ben. It was pretty difficult, because those poles are so long, but I after a little while I started to get the hang of it a little more. When we were bringing our boat back and waiting for the others to bring theirs, we saw a guy take his lady friend out, and man, he was a PRO. He wheedled that boat around super tight turns and was using his pole like a rudder and was looking pretty professional. Then he drove into the branches of a tree, so we felt that he was human after all. We felt pretty good about ourselves for doing so well, especially since our Junior Dean, Graham(ps) said that we would have a hard time of it. (Ho ho, Graham! we showed you!)
After punting, we went to a coffee shop for little while, then me and Bethany and Zach went back to the Vines. Later, I played a great game of Settlers of Catan with Burk, Lydia, Daniel, and Zach, which included some nice Celtic background music that made it seem more peasant-y. haha.
And now I am blogging to put off doing more work. Ugh. I just need to buckle down.
Ok, over and out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oxford-y day

It's been a week. I met one of my tutors on friday, saw a friend from Messiah saturday, went to lunch at someone's house from church on sunday, and since then it has been papers, papers, papers and lectures.
We are required to go to at least 32 lectures this term, but it is not really that bad of a requirement, because you don't have to do anything for them except listen :-). So far I am going to a series on Oscar Wilde, Approaches to Shakespeare (basically, how to write papers on Shakespeare, something that will come in very hand for my tutorial), Reading Virginia Woolf (useful for my long essay), Shakespeare the Big Four (Tragedies), hopefully J.R.R. Tolkien and also a series teaching Old Norse! I'm looking forward to going to all of these.

I thought I would just give you an idea of my day today, which seems to be somewhat an average one (perhaps a little more running around than usual).

Got up at 8:15, ate a crumbly scone, ate a clementine and drank some tea, then headed off to the English Faculty building for a lecture on Dickens. Wished for a fried egg.

Arrive at lecture to find it is only for people in a certain writing course. Super bummers.

Go to library and edit my paper for a while, and decide that I am way too wordy. Talk with two SCIO students who also are there.

 Go to Frewin Court. I get stuck behind slow walkers many times. I also get caught in a sea of waist high little school boys, all in matching dark blue jackets. They hold each others' hands and walk across the road, and I feel very gigantic. I walk down Cornmarket street and there is a man busking, playing a song from the old Willy Wonka in jazz style, you know the one he sings in the chocolate room? ''If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it...'' Totally sweet. This type of thing a common occurrence on Cornmarket. There are buskers all the time, and normally very good ones.

I arrive at Frewin and wait for a meeting with my adviser for my long essay. We talk a bit, and he suggests I also read Orlando by Virginia Woolf to go with my rather hazy topic of Woolf and depictions of art (in the broad sense). I wrote a paper on To the Lighthouse on that subject, and I very much enjoyed the idea, and wished that I could expand on it, so that's what I'm going to do for my long essay.

Now I am going to edit my paper yet again...maybe write some more of the Macbeth one, who knows.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vacation in Edinburgh

Are you ready for a monster post? I am going to try to consolidate this...

Sept 30
Imperial war museum in London in the afternoon. War is the worst, in case any one was wondering. Pretty much every single artifact and exhibit there seemed to have "this is rotten stuff" written all over it. So after that depressing field trip, we (the people going to Scotland and Nice, France) walked around the city. I had a rolling suitcase and felt like a dork, but was later glad that went ahead a packed a little heavier than most people because of the rain and wind in Scotland. We sat for a while in St. James' park, then went for dinner at the Spaghetti House near Victoria Coach station...delicious! We then played cards for a while while waiting for our bus (which was leaving at 11 pm.) At the proper time, the Scotland bound group bid goodbye to the France bound, who were going by plane.

Oct 1
After a VERY long overnight bus ride, we (myself, Stephanie, Janae, Weston, David, Jana, and Corey) arrived in Edinburgh at around 8 ish. I slept probably only about 4 out of the 9 hours. After much map consultation, we located our Hostel, Castle Rock Hostel. It is aptly named, with a great view of the Edinburgh castle right from the front door. It was an excellent hostel, voted 5th best in the world, actually! And only 14 pounds a night! We couldn't check in until 2 pm, so we left our luggage there, and bought some breakfast there for cheap. We went on a free walking tour of the city put on by NewEurope company. It was really informative and well done...We heard some great stories about things like the Stone of Destiny and how it was stolen by the English, and then stolen back in the 50's by some Scottish Nationalist students (look that story up, it's awesome!) and famous Edinburgh characters, like Greyfriars Bobby, Deacon Brodie, William Burke and William Hare, and Half-Hanged Maggie. I recommend looking up all of those, because they are really interesting, but I don't have room to write all their stories. The weather was rather gross, cold rain and wind, and some of us needed to buy some waterproof jackets, so after the tour we went shopping. Then we had a nice evening of hanging out and playing cards.

Oct 2
We got up and were going to go to museums, but the weather was really nice, so instead we got on a bus to Cramond, a coastal town. We walked on the beach, picking up shells and sitting on the rocks and shuffling along. It was fantastic. Then, when the tide was low enough, we walked across on the previously submerged land bridge to Cramond Island. We bought some ice creams first though, in proper vacation fashion. The island was incredible. It was all greens and yellow lichen and red shrubs, square boulders and wind. There was a little wooded area toward the center, which we walked through. In the center of the woods was a old ruined stone house, overtaken by vines, but some of the window sills and doors and portions of walls still there. You could make out where the rooms used to be. I felt like someone right out of a book, and I plan to use that scene in a novel, if I ever write one. I took pictures, but it doesn't do it justice, and it can't capture the delight in discovering it, either. I'm sure it had been discovered many times before, since the path led up to it, but because I wasn't expecting to find it, it was just wonderful. We spent a while on the island, and then walked back across the land bridge, and back to our bus stop. We returned to Edinburgh and went to Starbucks to read and have hot drinks. We didn't read much, but did have a lively, at times almost heated debate about moral culpability. It was great fun :-)

Oct. 3
We went to St. Giles Cathedral (not a true cathedral, since the Scottish Presbyterian church doesn't have bishops, and cathedrals are the seats of bishops) for church. It was very lovely, and again liturgical. We sang a hymn that I liked a lot, but had never heard before...I wrote the name down somewhere, but I don't remember it now. After church, we went out to the museums. We saw the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery as well. I was surprised, the gallery had some big names in there! There were several pieces by Monet, Cezanne, Gaugin, Renoir, Degas, Raphael, Botticelli, and even Da Vinci. We again went to Starbucks, but this time, some of our other Vines friends, Burk and Lydia, visited us from their vacation in Glasgow, so that was fun. We made spaghetti for dinner and played cards for many hours. I learned to play a new game called Kempes which is great fun.

Oct 4.
Jana, Weston, Corey, and David went back to Oxford a day early, leaving in the morning. Janae, Stephanie and I stayed in Scotland, and took a day trip further inland to the town of Stirling, the site of William Wallace's most famous battle, and also of the huge monument to him. We climbed up the monument and could see the whole area--the river forth all shiny and snakey, the lumpy hills all mottled with greens, yellows, browns and reds, and the wind farms far off in the distance. I wanted so badly to be a giant for a while so that I could climb up the hills and sit on them. They were a bit flat on top, so they looked like the perfect sitting place. After climbing down the 267 stairs of the monument, we hiked in the woods around the monument. There were ferns every where, and just as much lichen. The grass was so wonderful. It was very short, like it had been manicured, but I don't think it was. It was almost moss-like, it was so cushy. And it was so amazingly, I've never seen something so green! Again, I took pictures, but they didn't do it justice.
When we returned to Edinburgh, we went to a new coffee shop called Chocolate Soup and sat and read for an hour or two. I had a drink that tasted just like Vanilla Milk, and it made me miss home a little bit. Then, we had a dinner of fresh bread, hummus and ham at the hostel, and just sat and talked for a long time. It was so nice and relaxing! Taking hours to talk is not something we have a lot of time for in Oxford.

Oct. 5

We got up in the morning, checked out of the hostel and were on our bus back at 11 am. There isn't much to tell about the ride back, except that it was very long again. There was some fantastic scenery on the way back though...we drove along the coast for a while, and I looked out the window once and saw a great view of some sheep on top of a super green hillock, with just the sea behind them. We arrived in London 20 minutes before our bus to Oxford left, so we just sat around a little while. We got in at about 10:30 at Oxford.
All in all, it was a GREAT vacation! And I came back with my desired souvenir: a wool scarf in my family's clan tartan! I love it!

Just quickly recapping yesterday and today, we had orientation for our tutorials, and I emailed both my tutors to set up times to meet. I am a lot less nervous than I was for them...I am actually really looking forward to it! I am a little nervous about how my papers will be received, but there is no telling until I've submitted stuff to them, so I won't worry about that until I have to actually do it. Today I just worked on reading Middlemarch some more (which I will do again after I finish updating this!), and then went to Fresher's Fair, which is the big club and organizations fair for freshman. I put my name down on a bunch of different lists, including choirs, Scottish and Irish dancing, and archery...I'm not really sure about which one I want to do! I really will only have time for one of them, so I need to choose wisely. We got lots of great coupons too, like free pizza, and half off ice cream cones. Natalie and I took advantage of the ice cream right away. I had some blueberry ice cream which was FANTASTIC! I want to go back to that place again, because they also offer Green Tea ice cream! Well, that is all for now! time to read.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A day at 'Bawth'

Hello hello! sorry, it's been a week since my last update. Mostly, I have been busy writing away at my papers. Last Saturday, Natalie and I did visit the Pitt Rivers natural history museum, which is a great little place. I posted pics of it on facebook, so you can see them there.
However, yesterday we took a field trip to Bath, or 'Bawth' as Dr. Liz Baigent, one of our senior members calls it. She grew up there, so was the leader of our trip.
We first visited the very famous Roman Baths that are there. From the shoulder down, the baths are from roman times, but from the shoulder up, there was some remodeling done by the Victorians, who just loved doing that sort of thing...sometimes even tearing down legit old stuff to build old looking stuff 'the right way.' Ha ha. Anyway, the baths are filled from a natural hot spring there, and the Great Bath was all filled up and everything! The staff at the baths said not to touch the water because it wasn't sanitized, but I still did. It was very lovely and warm, like a jacuzzi! I also visited the pump house, the hang out spot in Northanger Abbey, but it was converted into a restaurant, so there were a lot of tables. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a taste of the famous Bath waters, (mostly because there wasn't an attendant there so that I could buy a cup) but I did get a photo of the fountain!
Because Jane Austen lived in Bath for little while, the town like to capitalize on that, though she actually loathed the place. They tend to over look that part, he he. So, Natalie, Libby (another girl from our house) and I went to the Jane Austen Centre gift shop. We didn't got into the centre itself, because it was expensive, but we did shop a little! I got 2 post cards, one of which is staying on my door, and one is going to dear old Gabby. Bath is also known for its stone, which is a yellowish limestone, and it actually what many of the buildings in Oxford are made out of too, so Oxford and Bath have a similar look. However, Bath has TONS of shops. It was known for that back in the day too, as one might remember from Northanger Abbey. Everything was very expensive, but such cute stuff! I wanted to buy several hats, but they were rather steep, so I did not.

We saw some famous buildings, such as the King's Crescent (which those of you who took Downing's Romantic Period class will remember!)
We also saw the Haha in front of the crescent, which is a type of wall that was made in the lawn to keep out animals (and peasants) without having a fence line to mar the beautiful green view. It's a little hard to describe, so look up a picture of it. Anyway, it is called a Haha, because people on the other side can look down on the people below and say haha, you can't get in. Seriously.

Well, that is all for now, except that today we had a lecture by a lady who is going to be my Victorian lit tutor! Dr. Emma Plaskitt is her name, and she is very funny and incredibly almost scares me a little, actually :-) Anyway, I am looking forward to having her though. She talked about Gothic and Romantic women writers, and mentioned some stuff about Northanger Abbey that was similar to things I said in my paper about it, so that made me feel like I was on the right track.
Well, have to keep reading for my next paper! tomorrow I am going to Dorchester for a few hours, so I need to get a lot done tonight.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday, but not Free-day, plus tales of Hampton Court

I successfully submitted my first case study last night, and returned by books to the library this morning. I felt like I had done as best as I could have done in that time period, so that's all I can do. It still won't be good it enough, because this is Oxford, but I guess I'm going to have to get used to that, eh? I realized another awesome thing about being here with all these great people in your house:
There are so many people to proof read your stuff and do a great job of it. Seriously, back at Messiah, it's not easy to find a easily accessible person who is experienced enough in high-level writing to proofread for you and give you useful comments besides the usual punctuation and grammar type things. The writing center at Messiah is good for that sort of thing, but in my experience, I've never actually been able to read through a paper in it's entirety with someone there...there just isn't enough time.
So, I have been really loving all these great proof readers! I was able to get mine read by five different people counting my mom.

I should say a bit about the Hampton Court trip. The place is huge, and has been used by at least three kings, the most famous of which is Henry VIII. In fact, there was an actor playing him wandering about, as well as some of his advisors and his wife Katheryn Parr (forget which one of the six that was...I think the last, actually, the one that survived). Probably the most beautiful place there was the chapel, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures in there. The ceiling was ornately carved and painted blue and gold. There was an upstairs balcony just big enough for the King and Queen to kneel at their own personal heavily embroidered altar cushions and each had a little reading pedestal with a big old bible on it. The kitchens were also impressive; in the time of Henry VIII, 800 people worked in them!
I really liked the decoration of the Georgian apartments though, which were the newest parts of the palace. Lots of paintings and beautiful furniture. The gardens were HUGE, with a lot of green, including the world's oldest collection of Yew trees, around 300 years old. They also have the longest grapevine in the world there; it was planted in the 1700's and still produces grapes! there were a lot of big, juicy clusters on it when were there. It was planted by a man named Capability Brown, which I think is just about one of the best names ever.
Another plus about the palace was that they had robes for you to wear, if you wanted, which I did, of course. It was actually very handy, because it was colder that day than I thought it would be, so I had a little extra layer or warmth and medieval style.

Natalie and I forked over the 3.85 pounds to go inside the famous Hampton Court maze. The maze is mentioned in Three Men on a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, so there was no way I was passing that up. I figured it would be a cinch, as Harris in Three Men did, but it was trickier than we thought. It's a relatively small maze and I think it took us a good 20 minutes to find our way out.

Today was kind of sleepy...I think everyone was probably struggling to stay awake during the Simon Schama video. However, I woke up for our lecture by Dr. Richard Lawes, (who is my seminar leader) about Little Gidding (the place that inspired T.S. Eliot's poem) and the Metaphysical poets. I really liked it, and from what he told us about the place, I can see why Little Gidding would have inspired Eliot. It was almost like a family Protestant nunnery or something, only with married couples and their families. They had a small chapel, and they kept watches praying through the night, and had spiritual discussions where they would discuss scripture together, but also literature and other things and how they pertained to faith. That sounds pretty cool to me. I have been gaining some more fondness for the idea of liturgy while here. I'm still not convinced it should be the main focus, but I am very appreciative especially behind the ideas of it. One of the girls here wrote a paper that I proof read about the Common Book of Prayer, and the reasons it was written, and what the author hoped it would do. It was really a way to get the whole church to worship as a community, instead of the priest just doing everything and the people looking on. The Puritans thought it was papist trash, but I don't think I agree with them.

Well, I have to get reading for my next case study, which is on Jane Austen this time! I'm answering the question of whether film adaptations of her book betray her writing or whether it simply speaks to the universality of her writing.

I leave you with a quote from Dr. Lawes which I found funny and rather true: "Just about anyone who is anyone from a literary point of view dies of tuberculosis."

Tinkety Tonk!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Busy busy busy

Sorry that I haven't been updating...I have been focusing on writing my first case study paper for the British Landscapes course. I am writing on Robin Hood, which has proved pretty interesting, but a little nerve-wracking simply because I don't know a ton about him, nor did I have much time to research. I am definitely more knowledgeable about the subject now though, I'm just afraid that though my paper has a lot of citations and that sort of thing, I still feel like a fake scholar, because I wasn't able to read thoroughly all my sources, I only skimmed, and I'm afraid that whoever reads it will notice that. On the surface it might look like a well researched essay, but in reality it is a fraud!
Oh well, as our Senior members told us in orientation, "Oxford is a place where your best isn't good enough." It think that was supposed to make us feel better, like we should be expecting not to do as well as we thought, so we shouldn't feel too bad, it's a normal thing, but in reality, that little phrase just kind of discourages me and tempts me to turn in second rate stuff, since my best isn't going to do any better. Oh well. First weeks are always the hardest, right?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

London adventure

Here is the promised post about said London trip. We headed out fairly early, taking the Oxford tube to London. It was only about a 90 minute ride. We were then taken to a few famous sights of London by Dr. Simon Lancaster, our jovial Australian tour guide...places like Grovesnor square and the Buckingham palace and such. Well, Natalie and I left the group at around 1 to try to make it to the 2 pm showing of The Merry Wives of Windsor at the globe. With some directions from Simon, we went to brave the London metro system alone. As some most close to me know, public transportation/getting lost on it was one of the things that caused me anxiety coming over, but I am determined to get over this, so off we went. We got all day tube passes (which proved to be very wise) and climbed aboard. We got off at Mansion House station, which is one of the closest to the Globe, but we still needed to find our way across the Thames.

Unfortunately we got a bit lost, and it took much longer to get there than anticipated, and we missed the beginning of the play by ten minutes. However, by the time we would have gotten there, they would have sold out of tickets anyway. So, we browsed the gift shop, and then decided that though we had missed Merry Wives, we would get tickets for the 7:30 pm showing of Henry IV part one. We paid our five pounds for groundlings tickets and then decided to explore the area. While we were there, there was a Thames River Festival going on, so we went around there, visited the Tate Modern Art Museum (which I took two illegal photos on accident...I didn't see the sign until later. however, the pictures were for a very good reason! visit my facebook album to see why). Then at 4: 30 we went over the Bridge past the Salvation Army HQ to St. Paul's Cathedral to join with the rest of the group for Evensong there. St. Paul's, as those of you who have been there know, is absolutely gorgeous, with glittering mosaics on the ceilings of echoing Roman domes and chandeliers and just so much space that the eye just keeps going up. Now imagine that whole space completely filled with the sound of a men and boys choir, up to their chins in white robes. The sopranos went somewhere to the top and nestled in the corners, and the deep notes in the organ made the bench under us quiver a little. It was one of the best experiences I've had, and though I'm not really very familiar with the liturgical way of doing things, I absolutely loved it. If you ever have a chance to go to Evensong there, do it!

After that, we all went back across the Thames to the festival to get dinner. From a little stand, I bought something that called itself Les Pommes de terre d'Or, but that was a little pretentious because it was really just herbed potatoes and carrots. Very delicious though! Natalie and I then got in line at the globe, managing to be in the first 70 or so in line. This meant then when we finally walked into the Globe, we were right up near the stage, and also by some stairs that the actors frequently used. So cool! The play was three hours long with an intermission, which was rather tough on the feet, but it was so incredible. There is nothing like Shakespeare performed well...I know a lot of people don't care for him, but until you've seen a play done live and done well, I don't feel like you're allowed to completely write him off as boring or tough to understand. Natalie and I were a little nervous that Henry IV part 1 might be a little dull being a history play, but that couldn't haven further from the truth. It was hilarious, and also serious at parts and just FANTASTIC. The costumes and music were amazing, and I just wish I could go there every weekend! I wasn't able to take pics of the inside during the performance obviously, but I got pics before the actors came out of the stage and surrounding area.

It ended at 10:30 pm, so then Natalie and I had to get ourselves back to the Oxford bus stop in the dark. I was pretty nervous about this part, but we were able to find it. We had to take the tube to Victoria and then walk by some clubs (scary!) and ask someone at the train information booth, but we found it and got on. The ride back was good too, thought my legs were aching from standing for so long. There were some slightly annoying/funny British drunks sitting behind us. (annoying because they were loud sometimes, but mostly they were funny). One lady was wearing all sorts of Union Jack gear, including I think a small flag on her shoulders, a jester hat and a thong...outside her jeans. She sort of passed out right away and slept. Three others in the back were a little more talkative. Here's a sample:

Drunk woman: "What's churlish mean?"
Drunk man 1: *drunken mumblings* " means being rude...for the sake of it."
Drunk woman: "That was a very good definition."
Drunk man 1: "Was it?" *drunken mumblings."

Apparently this group was just interested in definitions and words, because they also had another conversation related to it:

Drunk man 1: "What's the difference between will and shall?"
Drunk man 2: "I dunno..." *drunken mumblings* "Well...Will is...'I will go to bed before 4'...and shall is...'I shall slay the dragon.'

And try to imagine these conversation spoken in a slurred British accent. He he. It was pretty funny. Then we got in at half past 1 and to bed right away!
And now that I'm back from church and have eaten, it is time to work on my paper!

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Lazy" day

Well, today felt a lot less crazy than the past couple. I've officially been here for one week! time flies, eh? Today we had British Landscapes like always, and we got out relatively early, so me and some of the large group doing Robin Hood for our first essay went over to Frewin court (kind of the hub/hang out place...or at least, it will be once we really get into the term more. Right now everyone is just trying to get their hands on books for research!) and then to the Bodliean library. I passed by the room there where they filmed the restricted section of Harry Potter! didn't go in yet, but I will be doing that soon. Unfortunately, I don't think you can take photos there, so poo on that. I've done an ok amount of research and have written about 150 words of my 2000 word's not much, but it's a start. I'm learning a lot about Robin Hood though, that's for sure! Tomorrow we are heading to London, and will do a touristy action there. I've seen most of the sites we're going to, but it will still be great. We're most likely going to St. Paul's for Evensong, so that will be fantastic. I am going to try to see The Merry Wives of Windsor, but I'm not sure if there will be tickets available or not, so here's hoping!

Something I'm pretty sure I've mentioned, but feel like saying again, is that I love living here with all these great people. I remember being a little sad that we wouldn't get to live with British students, but to be honest, I don't think I would trade my housemates for any number of Brits (though Brits are great!) They are all very fun, and all serious about both academics and faith. Part of our time here is to help us see how being a scholar and being a Christian work together, and I just so appreciate having these great people around. I know that Messiah is tooting the community horn all the time, but I really do think they're right about how important it is. I'm looking forward to what God is going to teach me through them.

I also really appreciate the staff here. Dr. Baigent, our senior lecturer is both very intense and kind, Dr. Rosenberg helps translate into americanese for us, the two Dr. Kirkpatricks, Matthew and Jonathan (brothers) are just genuinely jovial and brilliantly intelligent at the same time. So far I haven't really spent much time with the English seminar lecturer, Dr. Richard Lawes, but he seems great too. On top of that, we've got a great junior dean here at The Vines looking after us, Graham. He he he, we had a mandatory fire drill last Sunday morning at about 6:45, which was kind of horrible, but I was planning on getting up at 7 anyway. Poor Graham said he just absolutely hated to do it, and thought we would all hate him after that. However, we were readily pacified by the fact that he was running around in his slippers and dressing gown looking fantastically British. He also prepared a movie night for us on Wednesday, where we watched his favorite movie, Valiant, an animated film about homing pigeons.  So needless to say, this is a great place to be!
Well, I must continue reading the Book of Margery Kempe for my seminar (must be done by Tuesday!) so Cheers!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and Salisbury Cathedral

Great day of sightseeing today! Stonehenge was very beautiful, but perhaps less exciting than one might think. You can't get that close to it, obviously, and there are unfortunately two highways that go right around it, so it kind of takes away from the mystique of the place. There were flocks of birds perching on the stones though, and it looked really neat. I will put pictures up later. By the way, contrary to what you may have heard, Stonehenge has nothing to do with druids or aliens. It does have a lot to do with the winter and summer equinoxes though, at least, that is the speculation. Pretty much everything about it is conjecture. However, interesting fact: the stones used to build it game from an area 150 miles away, so these huge stones had to be transported that far. Apparently a while back a mock stone transportation happened, where a group of researchers tried to transport stones of the same type and size that far using only prehistoric transportation methods. They failed, so you can imagine how tough it must have been to get those stones to where they are now!
Old Sarum is an ancient military stronghold that was used from the neolithic era through Henry II I believe. There was a cathedral build next to it which was severely damaged by lightning 5 days after it was completed, and the stones from the cathedral were used by the priests to build the new cathedral and town in Salisbury.
As for the cathedral itself, WOW! so absolutely beautiful, and less smothered in icons than some cathedrals I've been in. We went on a rooftop tour, and so when up partway into the spire, which is the tallest in the country. I'm not too bad with heights at all, but even I was feeling a little unsafe at points-it is high! we got to stand on a closed of balcony on the outside of the spire and see the view of the surroundings from there. Breathtaking! I took photos but I don't think that they do it justice at all.

Well, I have to get back to work! things are getting a lot tougher academic wise here...I may have to update this thing a lot less :-( All right, that's all for now!

in a rush...

Just have a few minutes to dash this off. Yesterday we had some orientation/Simon Schama movie, and were supposed to have our first seminar in English, but apparently we were supposed to have read three books a head of time, but the lists weren't given to us until we got here, and we didn't have library access until today, so it was canceled until tuesday. I was able to register at the English faculty library, and get books out for my first essay for British Lanscapes, which will be on Robin Hood. I was getting antsy having something due and not being able to start research on it. It has to be 2,000 words and is due thursday (not today, but a week from now). I am a little nervous about it, because it is to be written in the British style, but I figure if I accidentally bomb the first essay, there are a lot more for me to make up for it with! Well, I have to grab breakfast and get out the door. Field trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and Old Sarum today! yippeee!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday recap and Monda: First day of British Landscapes course

Hey, sorry I missed yesterday. Quick recap, we went to church at this great church called Emmanuel, you can check out their web site. Around 160-200 members, so not that big, though they said that they grow a bit when the semester starts and the students return. Such friendly people and the sermons were very rooted in scripture, which I really appreciated. It was geared sort of more toward the young adult age, though they have a good number of middle aged and older there are well, so the opportunity for mentoring is there. They are praying for more families with children though, so join with them! In the afternoon we had tea at the Crick road house, which was super fun. We played some fantastic games of ninja and steal the bacon. Then return to vines and bed.

Today we were up early and out of the house by 8:10 to go to Wycliffe hall for orientation and meeting the rest of the staff. The other "Senior members" (as we are to call the staff; we are junior members) are really nice. We had lunch there and then began our first bit of the British Landscapes course which was a great history video done by Simon Schama about the history of Britain. If you are into history and aren't bored by documentary type stuff, I totally recommend it! it was extremely well done and littered with great Britishisms too. I really enjoyed it. We then had a photo scavenger hunt contest where we broke up into teams and had to take group photos in front of certain places in the city, mostly all places that we will be visiting often, to help us get used to navigating the city. If we got all 8 spots, we were eligible to enter our photos in the contest to win either Most British Photo, Most American Photo, Funniest Photo, or Nicest/Best Photo. My team was great, and I had a lot of fun. I'm not sure if we will win anything, but it was worth it to walk around the city and take photos.
Well, I have to take a shower and I absolutely MUST make more headway on Cymbeline, so toodle pip! Tomorrow is my first day cooking for my food group, so I'll fill you all in about that after it happens.
EDIT: I forgot to say, I learned how to play Rook today! I like it a lot. I pretty much stink at it, but it is very fun.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


So, we slept in until 9 this morning, then after some devotions and breakfast, a group of us headed town to the city center. It's about a 35 minute walk from The Vines, but it was a nice day and we were ready to see the city.
Well, I'm not much of a city person, but it turns out that Oxford isn't much like the cities I've been used to. I'll sum it up in this: the majority of our walk was through wooded parks and along bike paths through fields that had cows in them. But even the city part was great; large portions that we were walking in were pedestrian only, and there are so many awesome little shops. There are also awesome big shops, like Blackwell's book had 4 floors! I bought international stamps, a blank paged note book for mine is all used up and gave 50 pence to a street juggler. Then at two we returned to The Vines for a barbecue with the kids from the Crick road housing. It was a lot of fun, very delicious and we played a great, chaotic game of soccer in the garden. the area was only a bit bigger than the multipurpose room at church (longer I think, but not too much wider) and we had 22 people playing. It was fantastic, and  I scored a goal while cherry picking.
Now I am sweaty and muddy-footed but very happy.
Well, I think I'll go downstairs and have some tea! tinkety tonk!

Friday, September 3, 2010

At The Vines

Hullo hullo hullo!

 I apologize in advance for any incoherency. I am so jet-lagged right now I can't believe it.
Flight over was pretty good; Natalie and I watched How To Train Your Dragon, which I highly recommend to any one. I did not sleep a wink, though I tried. I normally am not able to sleep anyway, but any attempts that I made this trip were thwarted by a loverly pair of unaccompanied minors behind me who decided to was a good idea to talk loudly all the time even when everyone around them was trying to sleep and the lights were all off. Oh and also kick my seat. And also drink as many beverages as their annoying stomachs could hold. I swear I heard them open somewhere near six cans of soda. Maybe that' an exaggeration, but it seemed like a lot. So no sleep for me. But that is ok, because now I am here!
Heathrow was uneventful...the customs people there scare me to death, but the only comment I received was the woman's disbelief at the high tuition cost for the program. "Who pays this bill? do you pay this? That is a lot of money!"
Alas and alack, I know it too well, customs agent lady.
We took the coach bus to Oxford, it was a 90 minute ride. There was some really nice scenery and quaint houses, but I think it was wasted on me, since I was kind of in a haze. I did see a half-timbered McDonalds though, which was pretty stylin', and also a man riding his bicycle beside the highway with a basket and Farmer Hogget (Babe reference everyone) cap. I didn't get a really close look at him, but he may have even been wearing overalls or something awesome like that. There were also two German fellows a few rows back in the bus, and the were quite talkative, so I got to listen to German the whole ride, which was fun, especially since one of them had a very deep voice and kind of sounded like Mufasa. I've only had one beginner's German class, so I couldn't pick out much, but they did talk about the number five, or words that had the word five attached to them a lot.

Then we hauled our luggage from the bus stop to The Vines. In reality, it is a very short walk, but today, with my arms done for after dragging the luggage through the airport on top of no sleep, it felt like three billion miles. I was so close to cussing a swear and crying at the same time. But I powered through, because I felt like maybe scholars should be a little more couth than that. Also the only other option was sleeping in the lane on the ground, soo..yeah. I made it to The Vines.

Well, that's all for now! I guarantee that all my posts will not be this long, so consider this one a special treat.
Tinkety Tonk!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oxford awaits!

Well, I'm probably not going to write much on here until I get to Oxford, but in the meantime, you can read some old posts from my Messiah blog...haven't updated there in forever, but there are perhaps some interesting things to read: There you can read my thoughts responding to Dana Goia's lecture "Why Literature Matters," and some thoughts about Wuthering Heights and Of Mice and Men, as well as various other jots and tiddles about other subjects.

 As you may have noticed, both my blogs have titles that refer to my left-handedness. That is because two of my most favorite things, writing and drawing, I use my left hand for. Also, eating, which is another favorite activity. I also am pretty sure that I hold books in my left hand when I am reading. So, that is why I have honored my left- handedness in my blog titles, if you can count being in a blog title as an honor.
(Actually what really happened is that I named this blog without thinking about the other and then thought I should probably come up with a good explanation as to why they are similarly named).

That is all.
The End.