"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Over and Out

You know, I hoped it wouldn't come to this. But I think it has. I regret to say (even though not really) that for the duration of my stay in England, I will most likely not post another blog. (Pause to anticipate the shocked and appalled gasp from my mother). Sorry Mum, still love you. My hours here are dwindling and I intend to use them well. If it makes you feel any better the list of things I won't be doing for the next few days includes the following:

1. Sleeping
2. Blogging
3. Hair (I will promise to wash it, just not much else)
4. Other things that waste time.... (very specific, I know)

Just a few things I WILL be doing:

1. Gino's
2. Gino's
3. Writing a talk
4. Preparing a lesson
5. Preparing a musical number
6. Putting into action 3, 4, & 5
7. Finishing up my last assignments (not that I haven't done those already, of course I didn't procrastinate...)
8. Gino's? (I mean I do have a punch card to fill up! So much pressure!)
9. Packing (that should be super fun, especially since I haven't purchased much- just kidding I'm just havin a laugh)
10. Last minute acquirements (a few Boost bars for the road, perhaps?)
11. Italy.

So now having said that, you won't be expecting anything from me and if I do put anything on the blog it is like me going above and beyond.

Keep calm and carry on. If I were less of a slacker you would know about my personal relationship with that phrase, but you don't, because I'm not. If I were less of a slacker you would also know that a phrase I love maybe even more than that is "You're havin a laugh." It can also be adapted to different situations, "They're havin a laugh" or "He's havin a laugh" etc etc. In American terms it is similar to the expression "You're kidding, right? There's no way THAT is happening." Love it.

But again, I wish you all the best and hope that you all keep calm and carry on.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tara Crossley-Holland

Ok, I promise, it is not what you think. I did not fall in love with someone with the last name of Crossley-Holland and I have not resorted to testing out my name with his. It is not like that.

To preface, in art I gave a presentation on the Rococo period a few weeks ago. I think I mentioned that briefly, but I may not have mentioned that I gave almost the entire presentation in a fake french (ish) accent. Or that I had an entirely original (at least I would imagine) pronunciation of the term "rococo." That being said, the class seemed to enjoy the presentation to some extent. I also showed a clip from "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and obviously that alone would make it the best presentation ever because who doesn't love Percy?!

Now to the real story. In English, I had a presentation on YA lit author Kevin Crossley-Holland. In preparing for this, I was feeling some pressure to give a delivery like I did for the Rococo presentation. I could not think of a single clever or humorous thing to do. What was I to do in such a predicament? Such a dilemma. But I finally decided to just go with the tried and trusted presentation tactic of "dress up like the person you are presenting as and have them come as a guest." So that is what I did, more or less. Without a Savers or DI close by, I did the best I could. Which involved large amount of baby powder. To whiten my hair, of course.

I whitened my hair, pulled it back in a bun, introduced myself as Kevin Crossley-Holland and gave a brief synopsis of my (his) life, all in accent of course. It took me a minute to work into a natural British accent with a hint of northern England. It got even trickier when I read an excerpt from my (his) book, The Bracelet of Bones, and had to be a British man reading the part of a Viking man. Things were getting complicated. It was a relief to turn the time back over to "Tara" for the remainder of the presentation.

Though, perhaps not quite "rococo" I think that I still managed not to disgrace myself entirely. Well, I guess that depends on your definition of "disgrace." In this instance it means, "to not give an entirely boring presentation on a boring author all while speaking in an accent." My Professor then later referred to me as "Tara Crossley-Holland." So at least he remembered who my author was!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dahncing Through Life

Nothing like having a holiday from your holiday! This weekend (free travel weekend) was awthum. We kicked it off by seeing "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Globe, which I mentioned in my last post. Did I mention I met Benedick? Ok, fine, I know I mentioned that, I'm still just really excited about that.

Thursday was Brighton Beach day. When I was running that morning I was getting pretty sweaty due to the heat, so we definitely picked a great beach day. Brighton is about an hour via train, so not too bad. But we got out of the train station and there is a really long street and you can see straight to the beach. As you might imagine we (Amy, Hannah, Emily, Jessica, Sarah and I) were all giggling like the schoolgirls we are.

The beach is not made up of sand, but of rocks. We were excited about the prospect of not having sand in everything! Obviously we took care of business first and rented our cute, legit, blue-striped beach chairs and then made a dash to test the water. FREEZING. So we decided we would wait to take the plunge. When we finally got to that point it was a pretty comical affair, some squeals were heard.

After spending some time laying out and enjoying the sun and The Graveyard Book, my then-current read for English, we decided to head over to the pier. But on the way over a few of us pitched in 50p to try some "jellied eel." An interesting experience. And by "interesting" I really mean "utterly repulsive." I may or may not have lost my jellied eel all over the beach. Right in front of an eating area. Bahahaha.

The pier was totally like you see in the movies! Apart from a creepy encounter with a henna-dude, it was an awesome experience. I went on this ride that takes you up super high and then swings you down and up again- it was super fun. Most importantly, I got a tan. So for all of you who were telling me I was going to come back super white... just kidding! I'm still going to come home super white.

Then Friday we got up bright and early and headed to the British Library. The tube was packed and let me just ask the question, is there a better way to start off the day? packed tube? Yes, please! Actually, packed tube isn't always a bad thing. At least, Friday it wasn't a bad thing. I had no where to hold on to because I was squished right in the center, so at one point I started to wobble a little, and this dreamy guy took it upon himself to help me keep my balance. Tehehe. The British Library was sweet. They have some treasures there. I got a kick out of the Beatles section, because they had like song lyrics written on the back of birthday cards and directions to a house and stuff.

From the Library we headed to Wimbledon. We got our strawberries and cream and took a quick look around. To see most of it you have to pay and we were content with seeing what we saw without paying. Then we went to the Rajdoot in Wimbledon Village and had the best Indian food ever. On the way home we stopped at the Natural History Musuem and did the Butterfly Exhibit. I was under the impression that the exhibit was cool because you could touch butterflies, so I was a little surprised when we got chastised for encouraging the butterflies to land on us. Still laughing about that one. We paralleled it to a petting zoo and being told that we can only pet the animal if it comes over and starts nuzzling. We retaliated by stamping ourselves with butterflies at the different stations. They felt the sting.

Did I mention that the weather all weekend was pretty dang hot? Seriously though.

After the butterflies, we ate some leftover at the Centre and then headed out the door to go and try to get discounted tickets to Wicked. We had success and we got great seats too! The Theatre was set up very well. I got a kick out of listening to Wicked with accents. "Dahncing Through Life" was a personal favorite. Elpheba was incredible. I seriously couldn't even breathe during "Defying Gravity" because she was just on fire. Fiyero looked like Prince Charming, which was awesome. Even the ensemble was on fire. They were seriously intense. Loved it. I loved it so much that when we got back to the Centre I attempted to reinact by jumping on the table in the servery and try to defy gravity, it didn't really work though.

So, I'm not the most spontaneous person. Actually, my spontaneity is like nonexistent. So being in London has been interesting, because usually plans fail, no matter how hard you try. Things just come up and things don't work out, but then better things happen and in the end everything comes out all right. This is just something I have gotten used to. But let me just say that I spent so long on the tube on Saturday that I finished an entire 200 page book. Who knew that closing the Victoria line and the District/Circle line could be so disastrous?

We intended to be at the British Museum when it opened, but then on the way there Shelisa's debit card got eaten by the machine and they told us to stay close by because they would get it out in the next hour or so. So we went over to Portobello for a bit, but then headed back to the bank. They then told us that they wouldn't be able to get it out until Monday. So at this point we didn't really have enough time to get to the Museum because we were meeting Hannah at Camden Town at noon. So we tried (and failed) to do a few other things in the hour that we had.

Camden was fun and pretty crazy. The tube was insane getting there and back. There was a football match that day too so all the Manchester United fans were out in force. A lot of chanting and Ole-ing was happening. Other people were sweating on me and stuff.

Earlier this week I discovered that there was a Summer Festival at John Keat's House. So I booked for the "Closing Readings and Concert" and I was pumped up about this. It was happening Saturday at five thirty. So we got back to the Centre from Camden and had like fifteen minutes to get ready to head back out. So we get to Hampstead and head to the house (we also received the best directions to date- "it's the sixth left and first right"). I seriously had butterflies as we approached the house, until we got there and realized that the Closing Readings were actually happening on Sunday and there was a "Three voices" reading happening on Saturday. Oopsie. So we kept our fingers crossed and put our (Amy, Shelisa, and I) names on the waiting list. We explored the grounds of Keat's house in the meantime. We read "To Autumn" and "When I have fears" while passing the time. Then, luckily, they managed to squeeze us in!

So don't even worry, we just listened to a poetry reading at John Keat's house!!!! And we got a little break between readings, so we got to explore the house and we weren't sure if we were allowed to take pictures or not- so we were sneaking around getting pictures. Many phrases like "Clear!" or "Cover me" were heard during this time. We did stop short at jumping into John's bed though. We were tempted. We also might have attempted to kiss his death mask had it not been behind glass. It was magical. And though it was not the original plum tree, because plum trees do not generally have very long lives, we saw the fake plum tree, where John would sit and write poetry.

On the way back from Hampstead we did our usual Saturday activity of Gino's and Trafalgar Square. By this time most of our fellow Londoners were returning from their travels elsewhere. It was fun to hear about their experiences.

Sunday was, as per usual, wonderful. I love my Sunday school class. They are awesome. The lesson was about "Preparing for the Second Coming" and I used the talk by Elder Andersen about "Preparing the World for the Second Coming" and we had a good discussion about missionary work and my class is mostly males. One of the boys told me he could see me serving my mission in South Africa, because he went there once and I look like I could be South African. Hahaha. I also had the very big surprise of seeing Reed Peterson! He used to be in my home ward and his wife was my Sunday school teacher at one point. He was there on business and just happened to be at the Peckham Ward! It was a lovely surprise.

After church I took the tube straight to the British Museum. Luckily, museums are Sunday-approved activities. Rick had a good tour of the place (Rick Steve's) and he took care of me. I also learned some interesting things about the mummification and the extraction of internal organs. I had heard about the method of using a metal rod to pull the organs out through the nose, but that wasn't the only way. There is a different way, that apparently was less expensive. I'm just going to leave it at that.

The rest of Sunday was interesting. And once again, I'm just going to leave it at that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The World Must Be Peopled

Ok, so here is the deal. The internet wasn't working for awhile at the Centre, and before that I was travelling. Then I even went to a pub to try and get some good internet, but I couldn't get it to work there. So I typed up a little posty-post about the "North Trip" on a Word document, but then the internet started working, but I couldn't get the whole copy-paste deal to work from the word document to the blog. So just know that the North trip was super cool and I'm now really great at Scottish dancing and have got a nice Scottish brogue going on.

We arrived back in London late Friday night and Saturday was our "Harry Potter Day." Basically we (Amy, Shelisa, and I) went around to all the spots from the films. It was exciting. Saturday night we took a bike ride through some different parks and it was amazingly beautiful. It has been awhile since I have ridden a bike, and this was the perfect time to do it. Best thing ever. We followed the bike ride up with a little trip to Trafalgar Square. A perfect Saturday evening.

Sunday we did the "Sung Eucharist" at Westminster. I got a blessing from the Preacher-man. It was very interesting to watch and stuff. I got a little drowsy during the Sermon, but the dude did mention Shakespeare, so points to him. We also enjoyed the whole thing whilst sitting next to John Dryden (or at least his remains). The rest of my Sunday night is a blur, so I probably was at the local pub or something. Jokes. Just joking...

Also, from Saturday to Monday I visited the Tate Britain, the Tate Modern, and the Saatchi Gallery. The Tate Britain had a whole wing of Romantic paintings by Turner, Constable, and even some Blake stuff. My favorite from that wing was probably "Hero and Leander." They also had THE painting of "The Lady of Shalott" and THE painting of Ophelia. So awthum. I was not as pumped up about the Tate Modern and the Saatchi. Just sayin...

Then Tuesday we went to Windsor Castle. Don't even worry, they just have the bullet that killed Admiral Nelson. WHAA????!!!! For reals. They had the bullet. Just hanging out there. The rest of the stuff was pretty cool too, I guess. Ok, but really. The place was sweet and in the gift shop they were playing the Royal Wedding Dvd and we ended up being in there for like ten minutes just watcing. The ladies working there were making fun of us, but one of them commented on Prince William's jaw during the kiss, "of course, just as a motherly figure." True story.

Then we just went and saw Phantom of the Opera. No big deal. Except it was a big deal. It was awesome. Christine had a rough start, she was an understudy, but by the second half she was rocking it. The Phantom was stellar, as was Raoul. Pretty much it was super awesome. The chandelier drop was a little pathetic though. And by a little pathetic, I mean really pathetic. But hey, still really great.

And today. Today makes the top five chart for me. We had class in the morning and then we went over to the Globe Theatre and got in the queue for the ground seats for Much Ado About Nothing. We were right up next to the stage and front and center. The play changed my life forever. But really. And I met Benedick after the show. I'm in love. Beatrice was in the movie The King's Speech. She was unreal. Another highlight- Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-air was totally Leonato. Just in case you couldn't quite tell, I was pretty much loving everything about this. Even the guy next to me who brayed like a donkey as a form of laughter added to the event. Did I mention that I'm in love? AH! I have never heard such thunderous applause and just pure enjoyment from an audience before. It was really great to be a part of that and I am just going to go hang out at the Globe every day for the rest of my life. So if you need me, look for me there. (one of the funniest lines from the play was "the world must be peopled!").

This weekend is the free travel weekend and there are only a few of us who stayed behind and I'm kind of digging the Centre being quiet. Bowchickawowow.