TV Romances Suck Lately, and My Cat Has a Celebrity Twin on Glee

Woe is me, Dear Readers.
TV romances have really been letting me down lately. I have chosen to pretend that Glee ended on the episode before the last season finale, because I cannot accept that Finn and Rachel aren’t together. That was literally the only thing I asked of that show. I accepted shenanigan after shenanigan (including the shameful neglect of Rory, the character played by the love of my life, Damian McGinty), suffered heartbreak, and watched many episodes in pain because of how disappointed I was with the way the storyline was going. But I still faithfully watched, every week, knowing that eventually Finn and Rachel would work out their differences and live happily every after with each other, because they are clearly meant for each other. I simply could not accept in my mind what came to pass, and I refuse to watch the travesty of whatever Glee is now. In my mind, Glee ended with them winning nationals, with their lives before them, and knowing Finn and Rachel would be facing whatever came together, making each other better.
Then, you have The Office. I would argue that Jim and Pam are one of the greatest, most sweet TV romances of all time. And now suddenly, this is being threatened by a (admittedly hot) soundman. COME ON, OFFICE. You spend how many seasons making everyone fall in love with Jim because he so clearly is in love with Pam, and then you throw this nonsense at us?! Uh uh. I’m not buying it. SO JUST STOP.
As for Downton Abbey, which I mentioned my love for, I recently accidentally came upon an enormous spoiler for all of Season 3 (I’ve only watched Season 1). If you keep up with it, then you know what revelations I was absolutely blind-sided by. My favorite heroine on that show? Sybil, partly because of her fabulous romance with the hot Irish chauffeur, Branson. My favorite hero? Matthew (obviously). I rooted for him and Mary to be together since they first met. Come to think of it, I said the same thing about Sybil and Branson. So much promise in Season 1 of glorious romance… and then I hear about Season 3. If I’d been watching Downton regularly, I would have been destroyed. I could never have watched TV again; I could’ve never trusted another show. I have accepted I can never watch Downton again.
It’s a sad day when my favorite TV romance is on The Middle, between Sue, an incredibly awkward sophomore in high school, and her brother’s friend, a dumb but loveable senior. It’s painfully awkward, but ridiculously sweet. I actually really like Sue, and she kind of reminds me of Edith from Downton Abbey, who I also admittedly like (though I can never watch her again). In fact, I kind of feel like Sue is a kindred spirit, because she had this conversation with her brother, Axl, on the Valentine’s episode of The Middle (I’m really disappointed because I so wanted to find this as a gif but apparently no one has made one of it yet and I emphatically don’t know how, so I apologize)-

Axl: She’s at a wedding…something you’ll never be in. I suggest buying a wacky hat and starting your cat collection now.
Sue: That’s not even an insult. I love cats!

Well said, Sue. Well said. Speaking of middles, today is actually my half birthday. I know that sounds like a silly thing to notice, but it’s just crazy to me that I’ve already been 21 for six months. I’m already halfway to 22. That’s just bewildering. Tuesday also happened to mark the two months until graduation point. I will graduate college in less than two months now. It seems impossible. I feel like if you’re American, for your whole life, as you’re growing up, there’s just certain events you daydream about and imagine, like turning 16 and getting your license, and  then graduating high school and finally being 18. And then, far off in the hazy future, you wonder what it will be like to be 21 and able to drink, and somewhere even more removed, you think of graduating college and a final cessation of school…. forever (unless you’re one of those crazy schmucks who goes to graduate school, of course [that was a joke]). But, for me at least, the thought of actually being done with school was so far away as to be impossible, truthfully. Yet here I am, almost to that very point… and it still seems unfathomable. I simply can’t picture a life where I’m not expected to be in school, much less get a job. I was actually job-hunting today, googling jobs in Oklahoma for English degrees. Nothing was coming up. The top results were national articles optimistically reassuring the reader that jobs for English majors really do exist! Unfortunately, they don’t seem too plentiful near where I live. It’s somewhat disheartening. To cheer myself up, I started thinking about things I might want when my full birthday rolls around, and my sister made an excellent suggestion- The CatGenie. It’s a self-flushing, self-cleaning litterbox. I feel like it’s the Holy Grail for Crazy Cat Ladies. Changing litterboxes is certainly one of the biggest drawbacks about owning a cat for me. I dream of a future filled with both cats and CatGenies; a blissful, furry, stink-free world. I think Sue would approve.
In other TV ramblings, I just watched the season finale of the show Gold Rush (which sucked). I never cared even the slightest bit about that show, but my dad and sister LOVE it. The thing that finally suckered me in was hearing about Parker Schnabel, a boy who took over running his grandfather’s goldmine when he was SIXTEEN. I was blown away by this; how many sixteen year old boys do you know that would be willing to take on that kind of responsibility?! He’s eighteen now, and I have to admit that I have a huge crush on him. I am beyond impressed with his maturity and intelligence, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s absolutely adorable and clearly loves his grandpa. I try to ignore the fact that this is a cougar crush, which is lamentable. Also lamentable is that it takes a guy who starts running a goldmine at sixteen to impress me, because they’re pretty scarce on the ground, especially in Oklahoma. Even I might be able to acknowledge that standards like those might be a touch too high.
For those of you who have never watched any of the shows I’ve been talking about, or only a couple of them, I apologize fervently. This post has probably been pretty useless so far for you.  I will now share something that doesn’t require you to have watched a TV show regularly, and instead requires only that you watch a two minute video. Hopefully this video will make up for those of you unfamiliar with the show I’ve been rambling about, so reading this doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time. To preface, I have to tell you that for some reason, I find goats to be just inherently hilarious. Just looking at a goat makes me giggle a little. Last year, one of my friends showed me a 7 second video of a goat screaming like a man. I thought it was honestly the funniest thing I’d ever seen. Then, recently, I discovered this video and realized I had been completely wrong. It’s just a compilation of goats screaming like humans (some of them are actually sheep, but I find goats funnier so I choose to ignore that they are sheep). You may be hesitant and think this sounds ridiculous, but do yourself a favor and watch it. It is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t even watch the video if I have to wait for it to load, because I start laughing so hard I don’t even end up being able to see it through the tears. I don’t know if I actually have even seen every actual second of the video; I think there’s still parts I can’t stop laughing long enough to watch.

Well, I feel like this has been one of the most random posts I’ve ever done, so sorry about that. But I’ll share a fun fact to try and loosely tie everything together. I started this post talking about Glee, and I’ll end it that way, like a bizarre, drunken sort of thesis.
Some trivia from my life: my cat, Finn, who I’ve mentioned before, is actually, honest-to-god, named after Finn from Glee. To understand why, you need to see what Finn (aka the actor, Cory Monteith) looks like when he smiles. So for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, observe:

finn (3)

Look at that charming, ridiculously adorable half smile!! I totally fell in love with Finn while watching Glee, largely because of that smile. I have to admit that I really, really love me a crooked, little half-smile (possibly because heroes in novels often have them). But Finn provides a perfect example of one in real-life, human form.
Enter my cat here, who was named Franklin when we adopted him. My mom strongly objected to the name, so we were left trying to find one we could all agree on. It’s not always visible in pictures of him, but Finn (the cat) has a serious snaggletooth. It’s one of the things that made me fall in love with him, too, when I first saw him at Petsmart. It’s very visible in this picture:

2011-12-03_01-37-28_669
It makes for some hilarious pictures of this cat, I tell you, but you’re probably not seeing what this has to do with Finn Hudson’s smile since, you know, he doesn’t have a snaggletooth. But take a look at this picture of Finn (the cat, again):

2011-12-28_15-34-52_376
That’s right, you guys. My cat has a half-smile. It’s pretty much ridiculously adorable. His snagtooth makes his mouth uneven, then he has that tannish patch right above the snaggletooth that makes his mouth look even more uneven, resulting in a charming half-smile, reminiscent of Finn Hudson from Glee. No, but seriously. Compare them side by side:

finn vs finn
You see it, right?! I mean, surely you have to. Their smiles ARE THE SAME. They even hook upwards on the same side, guys. My cat is twins with Finn Hudson. Recognizing this even without helpful side by side comparisons, I pitched the idea of naming the cat Finn to my family, who thought it was hilarious and agreed. And now every time I call my cat’s name, I’m reminded how much TV romance has been determinedly awful lately. Sue from The Middle, I know you love cats, too, but please take pity and go with loving a guy as well- you don’t know how much depends on you. The future of my TV watching may be at stake.

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Sara

PS My goodbye for today is a cartouche that says “Desperately” in Egyptian hieroglyphics, or at least according to this hieroglyphic generator I used. I chose hieroglyphics because they come, obviously, from ancient Egypt, a country that worshiped cats as divine and had their own cat god. I like to think they would’ve appreciated a CatGenie as much as I would.

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The Surprising Tale of a Single Girl Who Loves Valentine’s Day

Greetings, Dearest Readers.
I’m going to be upfront and confirm your fears, this is going to be a post about Valentine’s Day. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This girl wrote a whole post dedicated to being a Crazy Cat Lady, so a Valentine’s post from her is just going to be a whole hot crock pot of crazy. I mean, I have ample reason. I haven’t had a date on Valentine’s day since I was a freshman in high school (that’s eight years, in case you were wondering). And I don’t even know if that really counts as a date, since neither I nor my boyfriend could drive, and our date consisted of us going to Bad Brad’s BBQ with my family and awkwardly holding hands under the table. Since then, I haven’t even been asked. Now, as Lizzie’s aunt says in Pride & Prejudice, “That savors strongly of bitterness.” But I am being perfectly, one hundred percent honest when I say that I LOVE VALENTINE’S DAY. Absolutely adore it. No matter how many pass boyfriendless, I never cease to enjoy them. Yesterday was no exception.
You might wonder why. Countless numbers of  unattached people despise it, and grumble loudly about it being “Single’s Awareness Day” and a completely awful, commercial, joke of a holiday. That is certainly one way to look at it. But for me, Valentine’s Day is simply a day to celebrate love. Now, I am obsessed with love as a concept. Since I first began stumbling through little books on my own when I was three or four, I have always gravitated towards the ones with a prince and princess. Now, as an adult, I rarely (if ever) read books without a hero and a heroine who fall for each other. If I’m being honest, I pretty much read only romance novels. I think love is the most powerful, important, and beautiful force on this earth. I could go on for days about how much I love love.
I have a strong suspicion this is the reason I haven’t had a date on Valentine’s in eight years. I’ve been told more than once in my life that I’m too picky and my standards are impossibly high. I’ve seen people all around me happily dating a few or a lot of people as we’ve gotten older, yet year after year passes and I find myself always single. On one hand, this frustrates me, and I start thinking that people are right and I’m ridiculous; I should just go out with somebody to at least say I dated. It’s not like I haven’t liked guys, but it always seems they were never interested in me, or when I got to actually know them better I could never have imagined dating them. And there have been people interested in me at times, and I’m sure with some effort on my part that something might have possibly come of it. But that’s the thing- I’ve never wanted anything to come of it. I’m really shy around guys I’m interested in; I’m not confident and I’m afraid of embarrassing myself if they don’t like me back. So far, I’ve never found a person who made me brave enough to put myself out there. I also have this slight problem where, even if I like a guy initially, if he starts showing even the slightest sign of something that could possibly be interest, I get so freaked out that it literally makes my stomach hurt.
I don’t know where this excess of anxiety and nerves came from; my mom loves to tell stories about what a confident little flirt I used to be when I was younger. I remember in elementary and middle school “dating” a whole slew of “boyfriends.” I mean, of course they were nothing serious, but I don’t remember ever being particularly shy around boys when I was younger. In high school I had a lot of unrequited crushes, but I at least had two somewhat serious boyfriends (well, as serious as two relationships of three to four months each can be) when I was a freshmen and then the summer before my senior year. But somewhere between when I dated my last boyfriend at sixteen, to the current, single me at the age of twenty-one, something happened. Unfortunately, I think I know the culprit- puberty. The older I got, the more I recognized that being in a relationship with someone was actually something serious, that you have to dedicate time and effort to. And I also realized that the older I got, relationships tended to have repercussions and expectations.  Suddenly, it was no longer just holding hands with a boy you see for a couple hours at school. It was real, and you had to actually trust someone to know you. And what if it was the wrong person?? It wasn’t like my romance novels, where I know the two are meant to be together and everything is going to turn out all right at the end. That’s one of my favorite things about romances, that guarantee of a happy ending. As I’ve aged, I have become something of a control freak; this has resulted in me being very cautious and, truthfully, something of a coward. Relationships in real life, with a glaring lack of a guarantee, were terrifying to me. I couldn’t stand the idea of making a mistake. The result of my years of reading is that I have a firm, unwavering belief in soulmates. I truly think that there is one person in the world who is exactly right for another person; that the characteristics of each perfectly complement the other and make them the best version of themselves they can be. What were the odds that the guy I randomly agreed to date would actually be that one person meant for me? The risk seemed unacceptable.
It’s still one of my deepest, most intense fears, that I’ll think I’ve found the right man and he ends up being wrong, and I have no desire to have a bunch of serious relationships before finally settling down. I want to fall in love, once, for real, and be happy with that person for the rest of my life. But I’m finally beginning to believe, just a little bit, that I could survive a failed relationship. I think that if I found someone who made me feel like they were worth the risk, I could be happy and not regret the relationship if it didn’t work out in the end. But until I find someone who actually makes me feel like he’s worth the effort, I am perfectly happy for Valentine’s to pass me by without even the hint of a special someone in my life. Better happy alone than unhappy in a relationship I’m in just for the sake of being in a relationship.
This is the reason why Valentine’s Day has evolved into something different for me than the traditional concept of a couple in love. For me, it’s a chance to celebrate the idea of love, in all its powerful glory. As the great F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, “There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” I think this is one of the most astute things I’ve ever heard said about the madness that is love. You can never love someone the same way, because no two people are exactly the same. While I believe in soulmates, I also believe that you can fall in love with someone who isn’t yours. It’s just a different kind of love. And for me, Valentine’s is about yet another type of love- the love I have for my family and friends. Valentine’s is just another chance for me to celebrate that, and to take the time to acknowledge and appreciate it. It’s also a day to remember to love myself; I always dress up on Valentine’s Day simply because it makes me feel good to do so. I spent a wonderful afternoon at work with my kids playing fun Valentine’s games and it reminded me how much I love my job and the kids I work with. Then I came home to eat dinner with my family. Along the way, I stopped and bought flowers for my mom and sister and my Nana. I also bought them some of their favorite candy, as well as my daddy (I would’ve bought him flowers, too, if I thought he wanted them).  I think it was as enjoyable for me to give to them as it was for them to get it. When I got home, my mom has a rose and a sweet card waiting for me. My parents almost always get me something nice for Valentine’s Day, and it means a lot. We went to dinner and had a lovely time, and I came home and snuggled up with my darling cats.

My handsome Valentine since the age of 6.

My handsome Valentine since the age of 6.

My great point in all this, I guess, is Valentine’s is whatever you make of it. Loving your family, loving your friends, loving your pets, loving yourself, loving that special someone, or even loving love itself; whatever your choice, Valentine’s can be wonderful. The same thing can be applied to life itself. Every single day is what you make of it, whether a celebration or a day to grumpily consider how everyone around you is either engaged or having a baby (let’s be real here, this thought has certainly crossed my mind on plenty of Valentine’s Days, as well as just regular days). And with that thought, I imagine this picture describes perfectly how I’m going to be spending my Valentine’s Days:

cat dinner partyJust imagine that guy as a woman, and it’s my future (cat dinner party, whaaaat!). Though, if Josh Hutcherson or Damian McGinty are reading this and needing a date for next Valentine’s, I am more than available. I’m sure the cats will be able to keep each other company.
Also, just a fun added note: I was awoken last night by the sound of Finn throwing up. When I went to clean it, I found perfectly whole stalks of some kind of plant. I began searching for a likely source, and finally discovered that Finn had gotten onto the dining table and eaten a large amount of leaves off the flowers my mom got for Valentine’s. There were a bunch of gnawed off nubs, still wet from Finn’s slobber. I moved the flowers to a place even Finn couldn’t get to, and learned a valuable lesson for all those future Valentine’s I’ll be spending with cats.

Con amore,
Sara

PS Italian was my choice for goodbye tonight, because it is considered one of the most romantic languages. “Con amore” means with “With love.”

A Tangled Web of Pride and Prejudice and Leggings

Hello, Readers.
Today I am going to share with you how a pair of leggings taught me a very important lesson this week.
When I was younger, and the trend of wearing leggings as pants first was becoming popular, I was very critical of it. I was horrified every time I saw a girl who was putting on display, quite visibly, a clear view of her assets. I remember first really becoming aware of this when we were in the UK (you can see about my trip here if you missed last week’s post). I thought maybe it was just a European thing, but I was quickly disabused of this notion as it spread like wildfire through the US.
If you have ever looked at my fashion blog, you will already be aware that I am a hypocrite. As time passed, I slowly began to warm up to the idea of leggings. Because, really, they are ridiculously comfortable. I admittedly wear them all the time now. As a matter of fact, I wore them yesterday. I do have certain rules for legging wearing; my top must be longer than my hindquarters, and it generally needs to be loose. I am not a supermodel and I do not have anything I think needs showing off.
And this brings me to my point. I work, as I have mentioned, at a daycare near my college. This daycare is actually inside, and run by, a local church. On Tuesday, after I had finished my normal job, one of the ladies that work with the church had asked me to stay and watch a couple of kids while some women of the church had a special dinner. As a free meal, including a delightful sopapilla cheesecake, came with the task, I was only too happy to help (I am fully aware that things like sopapilla cheesecake are probably the reason I don’t feel confident enough to wear leggings as pants).
There was a very large turn-out, but I think there was only a handful of women there who were under the age of sixty. Many elderly women are wise, and they’ve come to the age where appearance no longer concerns them. Therefore, there was an interesting range of outfits gracing the women there. But by far the best examples I saw were as follows: a woman with an unashamed mullet, another elderly lady in a flame-red, low-cut blouse, and ( my favorite) a woman who had to be nearly the same age as my grandmother wearing leggings as pants.
Completely and unabashedly wearing them. She clearly didn’t abide by the same leggings rules as me; her shirt cut cheerfully off right at her waist and nothing stood between everyone’s eyes and the assets she’d been born with but a pair of black leggings. I admit, for the rest of the evening I was simply a little bewildered by this, and I was inclined to go right home and blog about how awful leggings purely as pants were. But the more I thought about it, the more I approved. That lady was rocking those leggings; she could clearly have cared less if anyone else approved, just like the lady with the mullet and the silk blouse. They obviously were comfortable with themselves, so why shouldn’t I be?
I felt ashamed for my initial, tentative judginess. Especially after what happened to me on Monday.
I wanted to blog last Thursday, because I had had such a fantastic day. Sometimes, it seems like you have those days were everything goes right, people are being extra nice to you, you’re in a great mood and you just feel like you’ve really got it together. Thursday was one of those days. And then, you have days where you’re annoyed and don’t know why, people seem to be going out of their way to be rude, something unjust usually happens, and your feelings inevitably end up hurt. Monday was one of those days.
I wanted to blog about it, but I am the type of person who needs to lick my wounds in private. When I get upset, I need to have time to myself to sort it out before I can talk about it. I wasn’t ready on Monday; so I decided to post about something that made me really happy, which was my trip to Europe. I’ve finally sucked it up and got over having my feelings hurt (something that happens to me a little too easily, which I’m trying to work on), and realized what happened was good for me.
On Mondays, I have an evening class that lasts for two and a half hours. I know I have mentioned repeatedly that I’m majoring in English, but I don’t think I’ve said that I’m also minoring in Spanish. It was a very last minute decision, and is only possible because I am taking Intermediate and Advanced Spanish at the same time. It’s somewhat stressful; it means I am a year behind everybody in my advanced Spanish class. So on Monday, I’d already been having an unpleasant day, and then I went to my Spanish class, which is always a trial. The final straw came when one of my friends in class shared something with me. As I mentioned, I have a fashion blog. It’s something I love to do and which is really important to me. It’s also something that makes me feel pretty vulnerable. I mean, it’s a bargain fashion blog, and I am by no means claiming to be wearing haute couture. I also fully recognize that I have a somewhat quirky sense of style that doesn’t appeal to everyone. But the people I know never mention if they don’t like my clothes.
On Monday, my friend, who is an education major and is subsequently doing a practicum with one of the English teachers at our college, told me that the professor had used my fashion blog as an example in one of her freshman writing classes. I was so excited and felt so flattered; the professor who did this is one of my favorites and I respect her so much. I was thrilled she thought it was good enough to mention in class. My bad day had suddenly seemed a little brighter. But then my friend continued telling me about the experience, and she mentioned that there had been a girl in class who kept saying “ew” every time the professor scrolled past one of my outfits.
I never realized before just how cutting a simple “ew” can be.
I have always known that by choosing to do something that requires me to submit my personal opinions to others, I created a situation that was rife with the possibility of criticism and judgement. I’ve just been lucky so far that I’ve never really been forced to face that (the internet can be a wonderful buffer). The whole time I was hearing this story, I was just trying to brush it off and pretend like I was dismissive or annoyed more than anything, when really I felt a little like I’d been punched. I actually felt a little bit like Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice when she overhears Mr. Darcy criticizing her to Mr. Bingley. She makes a scornful joke about Darcy to Charlotte, acting like she was glad he didn’t approve of her, but you can see in her face that she is stung.

Do you see her face?! That is definitely an “OH NO YOU DIDN’T” face. In case you were wondering, Pride & Prejudice is my favorite movie. I see some unfortunate similarities between myself and Elizabeth Bennet; I had a tendency to be incredibly judgmental and self-righteous when I was younger, and I’ve worked very hard as I’ve grown to be better about that. But every once in a while, I catch myself doing it again. I also have discovered an alarming deal of pride in myself that leaves me very vulnerable to criticism. I have found that I think I’m a pretty nice person, and I want people to always like me and it makes my stomach hurt a little when they don’t.
This is why I was even more ashamed of myself when I thought of my initial reaction to poke fun at the lovely ladies of the church supper. Just three days before I had almost teared up because some girl I didn’t know at all and wouldn’t recognize if we came face to face hadn’t liked my clothes. I wanted to be incredibly angry and find out her name just so I could hate and judge her from afar, like Elizabeth does to Mr. Darcy. In fact, I wanted to walk up to her, look her over disdainfully, and then say a simple “ew.” This is how I imagined it would go:

But I realized, insulting her wouldn’t make her like my clothes. Sure, it’d make me feel better for a minute, but do you see Elizabeth’s face towards the end there? Her feelings are still clearly hurt. And that’s the thing about fashion- it’s intensely, incredibly personal. I think people’s fashion choices can be one of the best ways to display their unique, individual self. That girl had every right to not like my clothes. But since fashion is so often such a representation of our inner selves, when people don’t like it it feels like they don’t like our very selves. And that’s why I do think it was poor etiquette to so rudely express her difference of taste. But I like to believe she wouldn’t have done it to my face, just like Darcy doesn’t mean for Elizabeth to hear him. So I restrained myself from asking who that girl was, and I was proud of that (there’s the pride part).
But then I turned right around and almost did the same thing I had condemned in someone else; I judged someone for their fashion choices and thought about expressing my disapproval at their expense. I realized I had been mildly prejudiced against an old lady because she was wearing leggings. And it seemed so ridiculous when I considered, because I WORE LEGGINGS TWO DAYS LATER. I should be the greatest advocate of people making their own fashion choices; I’ve said repeatedly on my blog that it doesn’t really matter what you wear as long as you feel beautiful in it. But a pair of leggings showed me I shouldn’t be quite so proud of what a great person I am. And that’s the valuable lesson I took from all of this, that we never can become complacent in our own goodness; we need to always be working to love our fellow man and respect their right to make choices as fiercely as we guard our own right to do the very same.
Is it any wonder I love that movie so much? It really is amazing how often I find parallels between it and my own life. Ironically though, I dislike the actual Jane Austen novel. I honestly don’t feel like Elizabeth really loves Darcy that much, and considering I find him to be one of the greatest heroes of all time, I always felt he deserved better than what Elizabeth seemed to feel for him in the novel. I actually don’t really like any of the Austen novels I’ve read. But seriously guys, don’t tell anyone I said that. I feel like I would get my English major card revoked if that were to get out.
A final note on Pride and Prejudice, I was absolutely fangirling (is this the correct term?) over this article I read the other day, which says that they are recreating the Netherfield Ball from Pride and Prejudice in honor of its 200th anniversary. I would probably sell a kidney to be able to participate in that. My final piece of nerd business over Pride and Prejudice concerns a video series I recently got into called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It’s a webseries on YouTube that has recreated Pride and Prejudice in modern day life. It’s really super awesome, but I need to warn you it’s also super addictive. It also has 85 episodes now, so be warned. I ended up spending literally an entire night watching videos. It sucked me in.
So anyway, that’s how a pair of leggings taught me a valuable lesson. Also, just a fun note, for some reason every time I try to type the word “leggings,” I first type it as “leggins” and then have to go back and fix it. This happens pretty much every single time. It made writing the post a little difficult.

Good day,
Sara

PS Is using English for my goodbye cheating a little bit? Probably. But this post is about Pride and Prejudice, and P&P is quintessentially English.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost: 11 Places You Should Visit in the UK/Ireland

So.
I realized I like to start things I’m writing by saying “so.”  I also realized that I seem to be getting into a habit of writing every Monday. I’ve been lazy; I can’t blame it all on Camus this week. I meant to write a number of different times, but the siren lure of sleep was always stronger. Also, I’m struggling with the peculiar self-doubt that I imagine plagues people who write. I mean, when it comes down to it, most of what I’m saying is completely irrelevant detritus from my not incredibly exciting life. It seems very arrogant to think that people really care that much about what I want to say. But I’ve committed to writing as my chosen profession, and that means I’m just going to have to power through and hope someone finds what I have to say interesting. So this time, instead of sharing with you my top ten dresses or the hottest guys I have a crush on, I decided to share with you probably the most interesting thing I’ve done in my life. This is a list (with pictures, yaaay!) of  some of my favorite places I went when I spent two and a half weeks in Europe.
When my sister, Rachel, was 19, she barely avoided having a serious, potentially life-threatening wreck driving back from school one day. I still remember my phone ringing, and before I even answered it I just had the most horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. She was crying so hard I couldn’t understand her- my sister, who never cries. It wasn’t long after that she decided she was going to Europe, no matter what it took. You see, growing up we had read endless amounts of books over foreign countries and it had always been our dream to travel someday. Rachel decided she wasn’t waiting around any longer and was going to make that dream happen, and she did. She flew on a plane for the first time to spend three weeks in Europe with a friend, and I was nearly sick with jealousy. But it just made the rest of our family determined that we were going to go.
Finally, we got our chance in 2009. I was graduating high school; my sister was graduating college. We contributed all of my graduation money, my parents went into minor debt,  Rae worked like crazy, and we managed to make it over there as a family. It was the best experience of my life, and it only made me more determined to get back there again. Hopefully these pictures will give you an idea why.
These are in no particular order, may I just state. Also, all photo credit goes to my prolific mother, who used approximately four memory cards in the two and a half weeks we were there.

11.  The Countryside, Ireland
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We didn’t get to spend a lot of time in Ireland, but most of the time we were there we spent driving through countryside, which was an attraction in and of itself. I mean, do you see that? It’s patchwork. Seriously, patchwork. And it all looks like that. Ireland really is as green as they say, it’s crazy.

10. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

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I simply can’t say enough about Giant’s Causeway; it was one of my top places we went anywhere on this trip. I could’ve stayed here for days. The last picture is looking out into something of a little harbor, and there was a seal swimming. It was just outrageously gorgeous. Just these four pictures aren’t enough to do justice to the scope of the place and the wonder of it, but I thought I should limit myself to four of these, otherwise I would just go on about Giant’s forever.
Also, just a note, if you think that Northern Ireland and Ireland are the same country, YOU ARE WRONG. Never say that to someone from either place, trust me.

9. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

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I feel like I should’ve included this with Giant’s Causeway, because we did them the same day and they’re only a couple miles apart from each other along the coast of Northern Ireland, and I always associate Giant’s and Carrick-a-Rede because I loved them both so much. But, they are separate attractions, and Carrick-a-Rede deserves its own spot. Carrick-a-Rede is a tiny rope bridge that leads from the mainland coast to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede. It was built because, traditionally, salmon fishers would cross the bridge (of which there have been many incarnatations) to fish off the island in the seasonal channels of the sea used by salmon.  The first picture gives you some idea of the absolute beauty of the water; it honestly did look like Caribbean water. The second picture is of me, facing one of my absolute greatest fears: heights. I am one hundred percent terrified of heights. But I was in Europe for the first time, and I resolved to toughen up and cross the bridge to the island. The third gives you a view of the bridge from the coast, just to get an idea of how tiny that bridge is and how high up. The wind also blows like crazy through the area between the coast and the island, and many days the bridge isn’t even safe to cross. So, basically, be impressed I did it, you guys.

8.  Edinburgh, Scotland

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Okayyy, I certainly cheated a little  bit here. We did a lot of different stuff in Edinburgh; it was probably my favorite overall city we went to. The first picture is just us walking down one of the streets of Edinburgh, the second is my sister and I in a pub we ate at for lunch. Hilariously, there was a “stag” party going on, aka a bachelor party. To our complete surprise, the drunken group of Scotsmen began cheerfully singing “Build Me Up, Buttercup” by The Foundations. Who knew the Scots liked Motown?? (PS this story will be relevant later on). The next two images are from Holyrood, the Queen’s official palace in Scotland (it has been the monarchy’s official residence in Scotland since the 16th century). Enjoy me laying in a sarcophagus; there were three or four scattered around and it seemed the only thing to do. The next image is a view of Edinburgh Castle (maybe my favorite place in Edinburgh) from the window of The Elephant Cafe, where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. The last is a collage of three of the five stained glass windows from St. Margaret’s Chapel, a tiny church inside the walls of Edinburgh Castle. It is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating from the 12th C. It has a fascinating story behind it that you can read about here. The middle window depicts St. Margaret, who is the one who makes the building truly fascinating and whom you can read about here.

7. Dunfermline Abbey, Scotland


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Dunfermline Abbey is the burial place of Robert the Bruce, arguably the most famous king of Scotland. The first picture shows the top of the Abbey, honoring Robert. There was a wedding going on while we there, so we didn’t actually get to go in the church and see where Robert the Bruce was buried. But it was pretty amazing because there was a bagpiper playing for a lot of the time we were there (second picture), and we actually got to see the couple take pictures and get into their amazing getaway car. I’m also almost sure we accidentally ended up in a couple of their wedding pictures…

6. The Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness, Scotland

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The top picture is from one of my favorite experiences on the trip; we drove through part of the Highlands and this is what everything looked like. Mist, rain, the jagged crags of land sliding in and out of view… it was exquisite. It was like the bones of the earth were bursting through the land. The second picture is from when we stayed on Loch Ness, which was nothing like I was expecting. You may not know, but Loch Ness is ENORMOUS. Like, it’s crazy, I never realized just how big it was. Probably the best known town around Loch Ness is Inverness, but we stayed in a town on the opposite side of the loch, which is incredibly long. The second picture shows Urquhart Castle, the ruins of which sit just along the bank of Loch Ness. We ate in a cafe onsite, where I’m convinced I saw my soulmate, a Scottish boy working in the cafe. Of course my mom couldn’t get a picture of that, but my dad did manage to say something about how cute I thought he was loudly enough that the boy heard him. I had to hide in the gift shop in shame. The last is me standing triumphantly in Loch Ness, daring Nessie to come at me, bro.
As I mentioned in my entry for Edinburgh, while we were at the pub we ran into a stag party singing Motown. Well, while walking around in the town we stayed in on Loch Ness, we passed a pub. The members of a “hen,” or bachelorette party, came stumbling out wearing feather boas and crowns. They were intoxicated. And they were singing “Chapel of Love” by The Dixie Cups. Either there was a conspiracy going on, or bachelor and bachelorette parties in Scotland really, really enjoy singing some Motown when they are out drinking and partying it up.

5. Eastbourne, England

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Eastbourne is a town on the coast of England that boasts a really amazing pier, as you can see in the background. The water was appendage-numbing cold and the salt in it was burning my skin like fire. It made for an interesting combination. If you’re wondering what strange thing that is I’m doing with my hand, I was sarcastically demonstrating how cold the water was when my mother inquired. Part of the reason I loved Eastbourne so much is because it is one of the only places we had a really decent meal. I don’t mean to criticize the food of the UK and Ireland; I’m sure it was lovely. We were simply too poor to try anything beyond the most basic stuff (we ate from gas stations and American restaurants like McDonald’s and Subway a lot of the time). Another problem was that, in the UK/Ireland, restaurants close SO. MUCH. EARLIER. My family is used to eating at 8 or 9; most places we were at (besides London) closed at 5 or 6. By the time we got to Eastbourne, we were nearing the end of our trip, and we were basically starving. We had, again, waited too long to get dinner and everywhere we were looking was closed already. But, like a miracle rising from along the sea, we came upon The Carvery. It was similar to a buffet (or a Boston Market, if you’ve ever eaten at one. It’s my family’s collective favorite restaurant, but crushingly, there are none in Oklahoma), and it had simple choices of cuts of meat, like turkey and roast beef, and simple sides like mashed potatoes and green beans. We FEASTED. I still don’t know, to this day, if the food was really actually that wonderful, or if it’s really true about hunger being the best seasoning.

4. Site of the Battle of Hastings, England

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Hastings, if you were not aware, is where William the Conqueror landed and fought the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He won, became King of England, and completely changed life as they knew it. This is a site that is particularly dear to my sister’s heart. She cut her toe by accident on a rock while we were taking the battlefield tour, and she deliberately knocked the scab off of it over and over in the hopes that it would become a scar, just so she could say she had a scar from Hastings (she was successful, in case you wondered). I’ve come to be fascinated even more by Hastings and William the Conqueror as I’ve gotten older, especially in regards to the effect his conquering of England had on the English language (it’s the English major in me). It’s somewhere I’d love to go back to. The first photo is us on the battlefield; the second is me sitting on the spot where King Harold was reputed to have been shot in the eye with an arrow and killed. I tried to edit the picture so you could maybe see the words and, as a result, my skin looks intensely strange and red, and I apologize.

3. Stonehenge, England

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Rachel, myself, and my dad at Stonehenge. I mean, it’s Stonehenge. It’s as amazing as you’d expect (except for the whole disappointing fact that you can’t actually go up to Stonehenge itself, and must stay behind the ropes). The only really weird thing about Stonehenge is, you picture it as being out in the middle of nowhere (or at least that’s how I pictured it), but in reality there’s a major highway right by it. Kind of a jarring disconnect between the ancient past and modernity.

2. London, England

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London is one of the most amazing, overwhelming places I’ve ever been. There’s simply too much I could say over it, so I just hit a few of the more famous highlights. I only know that I am determined to return there one day and spend more time, because there is so much we missed (Most disappointingly to me: Hyde Park and Herrod’s…ughhh). First picture: Tower Bridge; Second: Westminster Abbey; Third: Big Ben from a boat on the Thames; Fourth: “Mind the Gap” warning from the Underground, aka the tube; Fifth: Myself and one of the famous ravens of the Tower of London.

1. British Museum, London, England

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THIS IS ME REFLECTED IN THE ROSETTA STONE, PEOPLE.

THIS IS ME REFLECTED IN THE ROSETTA STONE, PEOPLE.


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Okay. So. I know I said that these weren’t in any particular order, and that’s true for all entries, except this one. The British Museum is the single most amazing place I’ve ever been in my life. The amount of history and culture and art and just things of relevance to our identity as humans packed into that building is mind-blowing. We spent an entire day here and didn’t even come close to looking at everything. I came to the conclusion when we left that I could probably live in the British Museum, happily. My face in the second to last picture pretty much says it all; I couldn’t even comprehend the sheer splendor of the British Museum. Of everywhere we went, that is the place I am most determined to get back to. Just a note, the picture of me reflected in the Rosetta Stone is one of my favorite pictures of me of ALL TIME. Also, I know the British Museum is also in London, but it deserved its own spot, right at number one.

Honorable Mention:

Doune Castle, Scotland

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This may look familiar to you, and if so, it’s for a very good reason. Doune Castle was the site used to film the castle scenes in Monty Python: The Holy Grail. For all MP lovers, it’s a really cool spot to visit, but it only makes Honorable Mention because there is nothing but an empty castle left with very little to actually do. Also, we got attacked by a swarm of flies when we were trying to leave. I am not even kidding; it was like a plague of flies attacked our car.

Adam Smith’s Grave, Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

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To me, this was one of the most bewildering things ever. If you don’t know who Adam Smith is, his most notable achievement is probably the fact that he is known as the FOUNDER OF CAPITALISM. Seriously. The guy founds capitalism, and this is the best they can do for his eternal resting place?? I was outraged on Mr. Smith’s behalf. His marker is literally a tiny plaque in the ground surrounded by pebbles and yellow grass. It was a crushing reminder of the fickle nature of life and fame, and for that it goes on the Honorable Mention list only. (Smh, Edinburgh.)

Gretna Green, Scotland

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Gretna is probably a very obscure site that most people won’t care about at all. But if you have ever read romance novels… ahhh, so many romance novel dreams were realized when we went through Gretna Green. It was just… fantastic. (It was a very tiny town with not a lot in it, but it was still a dream come true to actually have been). If you’re curious why, you can read about what made Gretna Green so famous in the past, and even still today in Scotland, right here.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my list and found some of these place sufficiently intriguing enough to check them out or, perhaps, even spark a desire for travel. I think that travel is one of the most beneficial, educational, and enjoyable things a person can do in this life, and I encourage everyone to take the chance if they ever get it. For example, on this trip I learned that Ireland really is as green as everyone says, that Scottish people love Motown for pre-wedding events, and that English people really do say “Cheers” constantly. Seriously. It’s ALL THE TIME.  The world is an unbelievably amazing, scary, and fascinating place. Hopefully I’ll bump into you somewhere while I wander within it.

Oiche mhaith,
Sara

PS I went with the Irish words for “Good night” because I have already spent like three or four hours putting this post together and I don’t want to take the time to look up any other languages. Luckily, I am good friends with an Irishman who speaks Irish and has already taught me the way to say good night in Irish. Also, I feel bad because there is very little of Ireland on this post. We regrettably spent only about twoish days within it because of time problems.