Sunday, June 30, 2013

Art and Culture, but not really

I finally downloaded some iPhone pictures onto my computer so I'll chat a little bit about London today.

I'm actually really frustrated because during my visit to the Courtauld I wrote down the name of many incredible paintings and artists that I planned on revisiting or at least getting prints of. And because I'm Kara, I, of course, have lost that damn receipt that I scribbled the names onto. During the time at the museum I was actually really proud of myself for not conforming to note-taking on my iPhone, which is sitting right next to me. The irony.

So instead I'll shower you with random photos from my phone. Sorry.

These are Sean and Josh, two friends from high school that I met in London. Brian was there too for a few minutes but went to meet a girl. I believe this incident was mentioned previously on the blog. 

Katie and Julie at a pub, sorry if I've already posted this. 

Live music outside of the Tate modern on a gorgeous day. 

Ceiling mirrors at clubs make for excellent selfies- later I'll post more about this night

This photo is my pride and joy, I take full photo credit

A Ben's cookie and white russian for breakfast, neither are mine though, I promise

Vegan English breakfast

Pretty photo taken by Camden market

My lovely grandmother. This was taken yesterday. Isn't she just beautiful? 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mainly for UTH

I feel like I need to tell you up front that there will be no pictures/talk of London in this post, either. So sorry. If that's what you're after then either revisit here in a few days or spend a few hours perusing here.

This is more of a PSA/announcement of sorts about nothing important at all: my facebook. I was going to get it back before I went to paris in order to communicate with people/post pictures/keep up with life at GU and the bay area while I was gone. Today I did in fact reactivate my facebook for a good 6 minutes. And then I deactivated it again. It's stressful and overwhelming and just. completely. not. me. I know it would be so much more convenient to have a facebook than to not but...

I can't. I just can't. And I'd like to apologize primarily to you, Uncle Tom, but I promise you I'll send you the photos that would otherwise be posted on facebook. Some of them, at least.

I would tell you more about my position on facebook, but I'm afraid it would bore you all tremendously. Therefore, I'll end this little diatribe (and luck you, my diatribes lately have been quite lengthy lately) and leave you with a pretty photo (prettier than any profile picture I've ever seen).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I bet you've missed me

So guess what! This game doesn't work too well via a blog so I suppose I will just tell you. Towards the end of my time in London I spilled water right into my darling little macbook. Yes, it was all my fault and no, I should not be allowed beverages near any sort of machinery. Don't you worry, I've already revoked myself that privilege. Point is, that's why I haven't been posting.

The great news is that my computer is fixed now. You have no idea how happy I am about that, I literally hugged the poor machine in the apple store when they returned her to me. I thought she was a goner.

I still want to post about London, I think I need to for my own sake. So for the next few months I will do my best to post diligently about the end of my trip and maybe some other things. I have all sorts of photos to look at and maybe share. When I move to Paris in September (ah!), I will resume posting live about leading a glamorous life gallivanting through Europe and whatnot. The former I can write about all the time, the latter is definitely circumstantial.

Also, tonight Nick comes home! Since most of you know him I assume you are excited about that, too. I couldn't be more happy. Fine, maybe I was a little bit happier about my laptop. But seeing Nick is cool too I guess.

Please forgive me, I didn't proofread this.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Lesson From Londoners About Love

Since coming to London, I've learned so much about British culture and behavior. Mainly by making mistakes. In fact I've violated #1,2,3,4,6 and 7. But hey! At least I have great style that is according to myself, credibility check, anyone?


1) Don't talk on the Tube
2) Don't eat on the Tube
3) Always stand to the right on escalators on the Tube
my obsession with the tube continues
4) On a daily basis one should dress a step above casual
5) Whether you are a man or woman, great style is valued and appreciated
6) Be knowledgeable about current events
7) Showing love is not a big deal here

And right now, I want to talk about the last.

Love here is celebrated daily. I witness it constantly. In parks, on the street, on the Tube, in restaurants, in grocery stores, etc. People love to love each other in London. Romantic love is extremely visible, yes, but it's also common to see people holding hands or platonically kissing their friends and family members. Call me a hippie, but I think it's sort of beautiful.

In my American life, witnessing other people's affection is rare, very rare. And typically if I do, I am put off by it. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought public displays of affection were annoying and I had no interest in witnessing or partaking in them. I see pda in America as a ploy for attention or social validation, and in some ways I think it still is. If people are really in love then why must they showcase it blah blah blah...

But then I came to London and realized how graceful public affection can be.

In London being publicly in love has nothing to do with a facebook status or photo on instagram. Here it's the opposite: not caring at all what the world thinks because it's not about them, it's about being happy. In my experience, pda in London (and likely more of Europe) is not for show, it's just real. And because of that it is remarkable to witness. To see two people no matter their relationship genuinely wanting to be near each other and touch each other, not noticing or caring about the presence of other people is inspiring. It reminds me that there is a place in the world where a kiss is still, purely, only for the people directly involved in it.  And lucky for me, I'm in that place right now.

So I suppose what makes the difference in how I see pda is the motivation behind it. Is it for someone else or is it for no one except yourself and whoever you're with? I know that I can't judge this on a case by case basis, and I don't intend to. Instead I will try to change how much I judge those six middle school girls walking arm in arm through the mall laughing too loudly, or the mom that kisses her son on the lips, or the couple that insists that piggy back rides are still a valid form of transportation.

I guess what Londoners have reminded me about love is that it's the most beautiful escape. Seeing a couple kiss five feet away from me knowing it has nothing to do with me, with war, with judgment, with social validation, knowing it has nothing to do with anything but love, well that may just be the most hopeful display I have witnessed. And so now I welcome it.

After proofreading this I realized that I probably am a hippie, but maybe that's better than being my jaded american self. Cheers.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

This & That, Here & There

Hello there!

You may have noticed I changed my blog a little. I needed a bit more pink in my life. I decided that I am going to post more often, as well. Blogging is such an effective way to document things like traveling and I really don't want this blog to be something else I just sort of let die. Like dogs #1, 2 and 3. We switched to rodents after that.

So what have I been up to lately?

Cambridge, first of all: A lovely town, charming school. I daresay I may like Cambridge more than London itself. Though they are too different to really compare. I went last week and I think I was delighted to just be able to cross the street without panicking about the car on its way to amputating my left leg. It was so very nice to escape the city for a day.

I am not one of those people who normally has suggestions about where to go/what to do when people visit places that I have been. However, I am telling you all that if you ever come to London you need to go to the National Gallery. Hands down my favourite I'm british museum of all time. It's a beautiful building full of amazing art. Since pictures are prohibited, I can't properly communicate its magnificence to you. But just know that the first time I went was Wednesday and I have already returned. If you go to london then please just visit the National Gallery. But go right when it opens at 10 unless you want to be swimming in a sea of adorably uniformed British children on field trips. And trust me when I say that it sounds cuter than it is.

Yesterday I took the train to Brighton with a few girls from my program and my great friend Katie who came to visit me. We shopped a little, laid in the sun, basically did everything I expected we would. I forgot my phone and camera of course so I don't have pictures of Brighton, either. Mom, I wonder if this is where Brighton originated?

This is Katie, I brought her the obligatory Guinness to the train station. It sort of exploded in line to buy her oyster card

Oh! And weirdly enough I kind of ran into some of my great high school friends that happened to be in London last week. Well, they emailed me, but still. The weird thing is that my friends and I are not the type of people that are cool enough to run into each other in Europe. It was just so obscure. We had dinner and then one of my friends Brian left early to meet a girl he had hit on at a museum the previous day. Brian and I became friends about four years ago, three schools ago and two countries ago (including his travels). And let me tell you all how very comforting it is to know that truly, some things just don't change. 

Thank you for reading! I miss you all. xo

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Many Posts in One

Lately I have been so occupied. Every day there is an activity that is so appealing that of course I must participate in. Then there is class for about 8 hours a week not that bad, I know I know. And the reading, and the writing, which is pretty time consuming despite how much I enjoy it/appreciate it being assigned. My point is, I have discovered the ultimate pitfall of the blog: One wants to write mostly about the notable events/experiences in one's life, but when there are actually events/experiences that warrant documentation, one has no time to write about them! Okay okay, you caught me, I'm one.

So if you're interested, this post is a retelling of many notable events. You don't have to read the whole thing. But if you don't I will know and it will hurt my feelings. No pressure.

The Globe: 

On wednesday the group headed to Shakespeare's Globe, a model of the original Globe theatre in which Shakespeare's plays were performed. The original burned down in 1613 and there was its first replacement that closed in year something or other and then the one I attended opened in 1997 I think. The theatre is outdoor though much of the audience is covered by a roof. It is such an interesting setup, and there is so much history that is reflected in the architecture itself. There are even sprinklers attached to the roof in case of another fire. I'm not too worried about it.

We took a tour during the day, ate some delicious greek food and then saw The Tempest that night. I really should have read the play beforehand. Apparently there are implications about imperialism and gender that were completely lost on me. Also, Shakespeare is generally challenging to interpret at such high speeds for me. The acting was magnificent and the entire production was completely captivating. On Thursday I am going to see A Midsummer Night's Dream if I am not in Belgium. I bet you wish you could honestly recite that sentence. Really though, I am going to do my very best to read the play online summary of Midsummer before seeing it.

Another really interesting thing we were able to observe during our tour was a press viewing of a few scenes from Midsummer. Actors would come out, perform a scene, pause in certain places for "candid" photographs and repeat the scene over again while photographers snapped, the director advised and journalists scribbled. It was definitely a highlight of my day. I felt like part of the in crowd. Though I guess that day in and of itself was a highlight.

Hunterian Museum*:

About two hours ago I entered the most strange room of my entire life. Molly's friend requested she go to this free museum about medicine which was apparently, very interesting. It ended up being interesting and also, you know, horrifying. We walk into this room that is structurally beautiful and modern. It is full of humans of all kinds talking about all sorts of things as they view the exhibit. There is a little corner at the entrance of the room of reception and souvenirs. And that was the only comforting aspect of this experience; that the entire time I was in this chamber of sociopathy, there was a rack of magnets available to purchase from two exceptionally average receptionists.

So let me just clarify what I said here/why I will never be the same:

The room was modern. It was clean. There were beautiful glass cases with intricate lighting everywhere. It was almost sterile.

There were all types of humans. All types of humans as in dead babies in jars from hundreds of years ago. Also, the living humans there didn't seem to be put off by the dead babies and such. They were talking about all kinds of things, you see. As in Whut d'ya fink mum'll say when she says my new skert? Sigh, british people, you're in the presence of death here. There were other creatures, too. All dead, all in jars. Parts of other creatures, skulls of other creatures, many skeletons (mainly exceptionally large people and exceptionally small people). It was absolutely crazy. Everywhere I turned there was another dead and white being without eyes staring at me begging for mine.

To seek refuge from the demonic stares of creatures with immortal vendettas against humans for a) doing this to them and b) making an exhibit out of it, I ventured into a small back room full of art. But oh wait! The art is even more disturbing than the jars full of dissected abdomens! There  kangaroos with baby kangaroos painted on their bodies. There were many depictions of traditional Native Americans in traditional Native American clothing/jewelry. My personal favorite was the picture of some sort of ancient and royal european man whose face and clothing was about 647 years old but had the body of a 7 year old boy.

In an effort to escape the madness, I turn around suddenly. In place of solace I find a medium sized black statue of a panther? lion? cheetah? feasting on a tiny bunny. Just right there, in the middle of the room, a giant feline with enraged eyes and no sympathy is chewing on the backside of a bunny that was carved to look like it was still alive and twitching.

The art was all property of the man that experimented with these animals. His name was Jim Flageollet.* That was a joke. But I don't remember his real name.

On the way out I saw a mandolin in the corner as part of the exhibit. Apparently it used to belong to a famous person. Or maybe the plaque said it was made out of the bones of baby dolphins and then used as a weapon to dismember tiny monkeys.

It was just disgustingly fascinating. I would go back. No I wouldn't. But if you go to London you have to go see it. This exhibit probably influenced me more than anything I've ever seen. In my life.

I couldn't take pictures because it was prohibited. Probably because the British government wants to hide the fact that it has the desire to bottle us all.

* aka dead baby museum
* test to see if Jim reads my blog

Here are a few photos from the last few days that encompass more than words can.

Well, some words are needed. Incredible park, but I plan on doing a whole park post one day so I'll refrain from sharing details

Raw vegan chocolate cake that is so delicious 

Drinking at the pub where Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and others frequented. Yes, that's a piercing in my nose. My mom says it suits me but she thinks that Nanny won't approve. Mimi, what do you think? 

Platform 9 3/4 

Pretty park from today

Thanks for reading. And if I don't return from Europe assume I've either been discovered to act at the Globe or more likely kidnapped and jarred by the government. x's and o's