Tuesday, January 29, 2008

welcome to samford!

Last night, just before I went to bed and just after I had spent approximately three hours being crafty (I love not having homework yet) I made a wonderfully virtuous decision. I was going to wake up at eight o'clock in the morning, three HOURS before the start of my first class, and go to the gym. I know, I know. "You shouldn't have!" you're thinking. "You deserve your beauty sleep!" But having not seen the gym in over six weeks, I was determined. So eight hours later, I stumbled out of bed, visions dancing across my mind of myself happily jogging on the treadmill, stomach fat melting away. I donned my best workout gear, and Ruth and I got in the car (separate cars, she usually lasts about three times as long as me at these workout sessions) and drove over to the gym. I know it sounds ridiculous to drive to the gym that is on campus, but it's about a 20-minute walk and it's freezing outside. But once we get there, we realize that there is NO parking whatsoever. Apart from the three empty faculty spaces and the eight empty handicapped spaces. (At the gym. I know. Call me insensitive, but sometimes I wonder.) After a few minutes of driving around in circles, we realize that we have, in fact, been defeated by the sorority house residents who use the Hanna Center lot as their personal parking spaces, and no one looks like they're leaving anytime soon. So our choice was to either risk a $30 parking ticket or go back home. We chose the latter. Obviously someone up there was trying to prevent me from working out. Slightly irritated, I return to my room, looking forward to my hot shower. However, once I get in the shower, the water stayed hot for approximately two minutes, just long enough for me to wash my face, before turning ICE cold. We're not talking lukewarm... I might as well have been bathing in the Alps.

So I'm currently sitting here with a clean face and dirty, wet hair, (stomach fat still intact, muscles unworked) waiting to get back in the shower until the water temperature slightly resembles warm.

I just love Samford.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the london top 10

my top 10 favorite things about london:

1. Abbey Road photoshoot
Two hours. One famous intersection. Approximately 5000 cars zooming past at various speeds. One camera. Two college students willing to risk their lives multiple times for a good picture. Sound like fun? Because it was. Immensely.

2. Wicked
It's so cliche to love Wicked, but I completely understand the fascination now. The show was impeccable. It would have been #3 on my list except for the song Defying Gravity; that moment was one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen happen on a stage. I had tears in my eyes. I don't even know how to describe it. If you have the chance to see this show, definitely go. The story is genius and I really want to read the book now. Not to mention everyone in our group who had seen the show in New York said that Kerry Ellis, who played Elphaba, was better than Idina Menzel.

3. Much Ado About Nothing
All my life I have struggled to pay attention to performances of Shakespeare's plays. I appreciate the man and I know he's a poetic genius, but to be quite frank, I have never been that enthralled by watching one of his plays. But after I saw this production of Much Ado at the National Theatre, I finally understand the fascination. The performances of the leads, Zoe Wanamaker and Simon Russell Beale, were absolutely fantastic. I was riveted; I can honestly say I have never seen better acting in my life.
(P.S. - look at this collage I just made by cutting pictures out of the program... I'm quite proud of it!)

4. Our slight brush with fame
The day after we saw the show, a group of us were in the lobby of the National waiting for our theatre tour to start, when someone noticed that Simon Russell Beale was outside smoking a cigarette. We watched him out the window, and then realized that he was walking in the door near us. Kelli makes a run for it and ends up right behind him as he's walking in, but he doesn't notice her. He weaves his way through about three clusters of Samford students, both he and Kelli power-walking all the way as she follows him, hoping he'll turn around. She's about six inches behind him the whole time, and pointing frantically while mouthing "he was in the show!" to all of the amused onlookers. She literally followed him all the way through the lobby to whatever door he went in, and he never turned around. I know it doesn't sound like a very good story, but it was one of the funniest moments of the entire trip.

5. British accents
They're everywhere. It's kind of fun how many different types there are, too. Some are really hard to understand, but a lot of them are completely beautiful. I'd like to take a dialects class at some point and learn to do a

6. Caffe Nero
Absolutely the best cappuccino I have ever had in my life. And they're on every corner.

7. Royalty
To my great dismay, I found out late in the trip that Prince William is REQUIRED to marry someone with royal ancestry. I really don't see how that's fair. So unless my royal blood is a deep family secret that will be revealed to me on my twenty-first birthday or something, this means my dreams of being queen are pretty much shattered. But... I still think the whole royalty thing is pretty cool. Also, from what I can tell, they get a lot of jewelry. And Faberge eggs, which are completely pointless but gorgeous. Check out this one... I'm pretty sure it's the one we saw at the Queen's Gallery that belonged to Victoria. (Kelli and I stared at it for about thirty minutes.)
8. Impressionism
Call me a heretic, but I don't exactly get excited to see stiff portraits of ancient royalty, or Renaissance paintings of mythical scenes. But give me a Monet any day and I can stare at it for a long time. The Courtauld Gallery and the National Gallery both had decent collections of Impressionist art and I fell in love with all of it.

9. The tube
Public transportation is amazing. You don't have to park your car anywhere, you automatically know how to get home from wherever you are, you don't have to end up at the same place you started... it's just so easy.

10. The Lover / The Collection
Kelli and I went to see these two back-to-back Harold Pinter plays with absolutely no idea what they would be like, but I loved them both. They were really confusing, and about an hour after the show, we were still discussing what was actually happening. I love stuff that makes you think like that! I think I'm going to order the plays so I can read them.

So that's it. My trip was amazing and I can't wait till I get an opportunity to go back again! My pictures should be up on Facebook in the next day or so... school started today so I've been a little bit busy. Cheerio!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

1.20.08 - london update # 5

Having spent over a week in Britain, I've noticed a lot of the people here fall into distinct categories. For the benefit of those who haven't been here, or who don't have my (quite keen) observational skills, I've provided a rough guide to the aforementioned categories below.

1) The Arthur Weasley (aka the Beefeater)
"Jolly" is the only proper word to describe these men in the 30-60 age range. They are often a little plump, have a prominent mustache, sometimes a bald head, and a red face. Usually found either smiling or yelling at kids.

2) The Working Woman
She's dressed to kill, usually in all black, and wearing four-inch heels. Wears a facial expression conveying great importance. Always in a hurry. She doesn't look at you, but stares off into space as if contemplating the mystery of the universe... or maybe the intricacies of some corporate multimillion-pound merger. Although she doesn't look at anyone, she has the remarkable ability to maneuver large crowded streets without bumping into anything or anyone.

3) The Foreigner
Just when you thought you came to this country because everyone spoke English -- you were wrong. These can be anywhere: sitting next to you on public transportation, working behind your favorite shop counter, bumping into you on the street. Often found in greater numbers than native British.

4) The Implanted Earphones Guy
Usually in the 18-30 age range, he is often found riding the tube. Attire: black peacoat, striped scarf, nice jeans, expensive shoes, plenty of hair product. And, of course, the iPod earphones that are permanently attached to his ears. There is never any head-nodding or foot-tapping to let you know what he is listening to, however; he's way too suave for that. Occasionally one has been known to pull out a BlackBerry and start e-mailing.

5) The American Tourist
Travel in large packs of between 10 and 40 people. All ages, all sizes. Feel the need to talk at cosmic volume levels in order to communicate with their friend on the tube, who is approximately three inches away. Conversation is never of intellectual significance, but usually centers around who texted who, who got drunk when, and what shoes who bought.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1.16.08 - london update #4

It's my bedtime, so I'm going to make this quick.
1. Theatre here is amazing. I can't get over it. We just saw Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre, and it was so great! I've never been much of a fan of Shakespeare, mostly because I've never seen one that can hold my attention, and let me tell you that we had a really busy day and I was half asleep by the time we sat down, but within 15 minutes of the play starting I was riveted. The acting was amazing; the two leads had such great chemistry; the set was really simple but the way they used the lighting and the revolve worked perfectly with everything. During intermission I mentioned how great the female lead was, and found out that she was Madam Hooch (the flying teacher and Quidditch ref) in the first Harry Potter movie! Also one of the guys was in the recent three Star Wars movies. I don't know which character because I haven't really seen those. Zoe (the female lead) really was fantastic though. I had never read this play before, but I really like it now. I think I'll watch the Emma Thompson movie version when I get home sometime.
2. Today was the longest day EVER. We were gone for 14 hours and we were speed-walking pretty much all of that time. In the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace I stumbled across a little room of some jewels and crowns, and I think I stared for about 20 minutes at this one crown and necklace. I've never been much for huge jewelry in the past, but I think I want to be Queen now. Just so I could go see plays every night and wear a lot of diamonds. And have Faberge eggs lying around my room. (Those things are pretty sweet...)
3. I'm going to see Ewan McGregor in Othello!
4. "Stronger" by Kanye West? My new favorite song. (Completely unrelated, but just thought I'd share.)

Sorry no pictures today... hopefully I'll get some uploaded tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1.15.08 - london update #3

I never thought I'd be saying this, but production-wise, Lord of the Rings was the most amazing piece of theatre I have ever seen in my life. Just when I thought the special effects couldn't get any crazier, or the stage couldn't change any more, it did. I followed the plot pretty well the first act, but got kind of confused during the second. I expected to though, because I didn't know the story, and I loved the show so much that it didn't even matter.

We went to St. Paul's this morning. I don't think I've ever climbed that many steps to get to the top (it was around 500), and once we got up there it was raining and 70 mile per hour winds, but it was really cool to get to see the whole city. The cathedral is really beautiful too.

Another highlight of today was the Courtauld Gallery. Kelli and I weren't too excited at first about spending 2-3 hours in an art gallery, but it was AMAZING. There is nothing like being six inches away from a Monet or a Van Gogh. Although I think my favorite painter whose stuff we saw today was Seurat. It was really fascinating though. I'm officially a fan of Impressionism now.

Okay, it's 1:00 in the morning-- after the show tonight, we walked around for about an hour trying to find the Hard Rock Cafe, ended up giving up and going home and eating at KFC, but it was really late. So... good night!

Monday, January 14, 2008

1.14.08 - london update #2

So the jet lag is finally going away, which is nice. We spent the morning at the Museum of London, which was really interesting, then ate lunch there and went to the British Museum in the afternoon. That place was HUGE. It kind of makes me wonder how the British got all this really cool stuff (the Rosetta Stone, some huge Egyptian statues, a whole bunch of Greek statues from the Parthenon, etc.) because there was absolutely nothing in there that had anything to do with Britain. We got done there around 4; we hadn't seen everything but we were all really kind of museum'ed out at that point. Dr. Sandley took us to Leicester Square, where a lot of the theatres are and you can buy half-price tickets. Kelli and I walked around the West End a little bit, went back to the house to change, and came back to get tickets to The Woman in Black. It was really good! It was really scary. I definitely screamed out loud at one part. We had dinner right before the show at a little Greek place, and the "Greek salads" we ordered didn't have any lettuce! It was just tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and a block of Feta on top. Kind of weird, but it wasn't too bad. The hummus was excellent too.
Sandley had planned to take us to Sound of Music tomorrow night, but instead decided to get us tickets to Lord of the Rings: The Musical. Here's something of the conversation we had:
Me: Is it supposed to be good?
Dr. S: Well, I've heard the set is AMAZING!
Me: What about the music?
Dr. S: Mr. O says it sounds like Enya.
Stay tuned for updates on that one. Tomorrow there's a 90% chance of rain so I'm breaking out the rain boots. We're going to St. Paul's, then some kind of art gallery that I can't remember the name of. Then we'll probably hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner because we apparently will have a good discount with these London Passes we're getting, and then it's Lord of the Rings time. Anyways, it's after midnight so I should get to bed. Good night!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

1.13.08 - london update #1

Five things I have learned during my roughly 12 hours in the UK so far:

1. Yes, the British indeed use the words "fiver," "tenner," and "quid" to describe their money. I know that people in Nick Hornby books and British movies talk like this, but somehow it still amazes me to hear people use these terms in real life.

2. They get very irritated when groups of 40 American college students don't know the rules. (Standing on an escalator is apparently only permitted in a single-file line on the right so that people who are in a hurry can sprint past you on the left.) One gentleman yelled at us this morning as he was hurtling full-speed toward the mass on the escalator, "Stand on the RIGHT! WALK on the Left! That's how we do it in London."

3. Everything is small here. The houses, the rooms, the beds, the wardrobes, the grocery stores, the clothing stores, the restaurants, the restaurant tables, the people. (Refer to #5).

4. They have changed the five-pence coin sometime since 1970 and mine got rejected today while I was trying to buy two oranges at Tesco. The guy gave me a really funny look and said "Uh, this is a very old five-pence coin. We don't accept these anymore." Seems like a ripoff to me.

5. They dress immensely better here than anywhere I've ever been in the US. Granted, I've never been to New York, so it could just be a big-city thing, but I feel like everyone I pass on the street has just stepped out of a Vogue photoshoot. Whereas most of the people I see in my home country look like they just came from a photoshoot for the "Before" section of one of those L.A. Weight Loss ads.

More to come later. At the top is a picture I took of Buckingham Palace today (Notice the flag is flying, which means the Queen was inside!) Anyways, I haven't slept in 30 hours... so, I'm off to do that. Leave a comment! I miss everybody!