Some Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

It’s been awhile, friends. I hope you’ll forgive me, and  that you’ve stuck with me here on the blog. It seems lately that the writing well has gone dry after losing Boo. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy that I’m still deeply in pain over that, but if you do I honestly don’t care. Losing a best friend always hurts.
However. In the inestimably wise words of Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” As much as it hurts, as wrong as it feels, my life is going on. I have laughed, I have enjoyed myself, I have worried and fussed over other things besides losing my cat, and generally just kept on living, just like Robert Frost says. So in that vein, I have decided to share just a few of the more pertinent life lessons that I have gathered so far in my twenty-two years. I’ll try to be clever, and wise, and even funny again. And hopefully I’ll make you think, just a bit, as well. I also hope you’ll share some of the lessons you’ve learned so far in your life in the comments.

A Few Things I’ve Learned So Far

— Pets will break your heart. They will. But I have come to realize that I would never, ever, ever trade the love and joy and comfort of my cat, even to avoid how much it is hurting to lose him, and that’s true with all the pets I’ve lost and I can’t imagine not feeling the same when I lose other pets in the future.

— If you haven’t read ThLittle Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, you absolutely and unequivocally should. It is one of the most poignant, brilliant, and gorgeous things ever written disguised as a children’s book. It is also especially beautiful if you have just suffered a loss. I read it the other night without knowing this, and found myself bawling with the bittersweet comfort it gave me. Overall, this book is just going to drop some serious truth on you.

It includes charming and whimsical illustrations.

— The probable number of people who have sang along passionately to “Someone Like You” by Adele while staring at a picture of an old love and crying is mind-boggling to consider.

Adele songs– always relevant.

— If you want to wear leggings as pants… go right ahead. Seriously. Wear whatever the hell makes you feel beautiful and happy, and don’t ever let someone tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear. Fashion is subjective and a matter of personal opinion, not an excuse to put down other people. Be like this guy–comfortable in your own skin, and whatever you chose to put over it.

— In that same spirit, this is a great quote to live by, brought to you by the amazing Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” (This is not an excuse to be blind to all advice, help, and suggestions. It’s just a reminder that you can never please everybody, so at the end of the day you have to go with what you believe in.)

— It does not matter how much you love someone, or even if you believe they love you, too– if they don’t WANT to be with you, then it will never work. Falling in love is an act of gravity, a law of nature that you have no control over. Commitment is always, always a choice. Learn this lesson early, and save yourself a lot of heartache in the long run, even if it feels like your heart is breaking in the short term.

So. Many. Celebrities. So little time to creep them all. You just have to fill your stable, and then ignore the studs and fillies that go prancing by. (Until, of course, one of your stable gets married or has a significant other, then it’s time to head on down to the horse auction.) ((Why did I suddenly choose to go with a horse theme here???))

I honest to god hope I never, ever know Damian McGinty, because there are things I've done for this blog with Paint that can't be forgiven.

I honest to god hope I never, ever actually know Damian McGinty, because there are things I’ve done for this blog with Paint that can’t be forgiven.

— Travel. Anywhere you can, any way you can. It will change your mind and your life.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Paddington Station, London

Paddington Station, London

— The best birth control is working at a daycare.

— It is completely okay if you are girl in your twenties or thirties and you do not like wine; do not let Pinterest convince you otherwise. It is also completely okay if you do not like to drink.

Except the problem where I don’t like wine.

— One of the most disappointing but helpful lessons I learned at a college filled with foreign boys– JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS AN ACCENT DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THEM SOMEONE YOU WANT TO DATE.

— You’ll know the difference between a crush and love, but there is nothing and no one that will be able to tell you if you truly love someone. Seriously, there’s just no way to tell for sure unless you decide you’re sure. Unlike my entire childhood led me to believe, there is no blurb on the movie/novel of your life that tells you definitively who the two romantic leads are. Thanks a lot, childhood.
Right-in-the-childhood

— Be kind. See Ellen DeGeneres if clarification is necessary.

— Sports are just a game. No matter how much you love them, always remember this: Just. A. Game. They do not trump human decency.

GRAMMAR MATTERS.

— Don’t overthink things. Most of the time, things are much simpler than you want to believe.

This is one of my favorite things ever.

This is one of my favorite things ever.

Also this.

— Both tea and books possess magical, healing properties.

— You are not infallible, no one is infallible. Never, ever, ever believe that you are always 100% right, because you are not. Accept that you are going to be wrong sometimes, and learn how to admit it. It’s one of the most useful lessons, to own your mistakes.

— You can still get a sunburn when it is cloudy, USE SUNSCREEN.

— You have to love yourself before someone else can love you. Well, at least to have a healthy relationship, you need to love yourself first. I fully believe this; I have spent a lot of life struggling with insecurities and wondering what was wrong with me because no one ever liked me back. Now, finally, I have grown to love myself, my imperfections and my best qualities, and I am a million times more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been before. I think that translates to a maturity that would serve a relationship well, much more than if I’d been in one previously in my life.

— Cats will never miss an opportunity to put their butt in your face.

— You really should floss your teeth every night.

— You are fully responsible for your own choices. You are not responsible for the choices of others. In the end, you make decisions for yourself, even if it is only how you decide to react to something.

— Hair products can change your life.

— Romance novels are NOTHING to be ashamed of. Of course, as with all genres, there are fantastic books and there are horrible books, but the genre as a whole has progressed light-years since the stereotypical “bodice-rippers” of the past. Seriously, some of the most important things I’ve ever learned came from romance novels.

The answer is yes. Do yourself a favor, gentlemen.

— You will find friends in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times. You will also realize that some people will always be your friend, come what may, while others were only meant to be a brief chapter in your life.

— Eat dessert.

If Emma Stone says it, you should listen.

I call it my dessert tank, personally.

— It is perfectly fine to be in your twenties or thirties or any age, and to be a virgin or to not have a boyfriend or to never have been kissed. Just because romance is absent from your life does not automatically mean something is wrong with you or that your life is lacking or even that you’ll never find it.

I don't get what's wrong with this? My jokes are hilarious.

I don’t get what’s wrong with this? My jokes are hilarious.

— I believe you are responsible for your own happiness. I have known a lot of bitter, angry people in my life, and it has only reinforced this to me. Always try to make your own happiness.

— Unless you’re a sailor, take Dramamine before you go deep sea fishing. TRUST ME, DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKES MY FAMILY AND I DID ON THE UNSPEAKABLY DREADFUL SUMMER VACATION AFTER SIXTH GRADE IN SOUTH PADRE ISLAND (Incidentally, that’s also where I learned the lesson about getting a sunburn while it’s cloudy.)

— New lesson: Do not go to South Padre Island.

— You WILL make a fool of yourself in front of someone you like. Just accept it, and enjoy the hilarious story you’ll be able to tell your friends in the future. And, if you’re really lucky like me, you’ll humiliate yourself over and over and over again, and provide enough stories to one day write your own book about it. (In case you didn’t know, I am an optimist.)

Sublesson: Daily Odd Compliments are the best.

— You’re probably never going to use cursive or algebra outside of school, but learn them anyway, because learning is always important. Besides, I like to write in cursive, it’s much prettier than my print handwriting.

— Some things are wrong, even if the person in authority is telling you that they are right. (For example, it will always be gif with a “guh” sound, not a j sound. Jif is peanut butter.)

— Take naps if you can. And laugh freely.

–Do not, under any circumstances, get a drastic new haircut any closer than a month before a major life event.

Junior year of college. Worst haircut of my life.

Junior year of college. Worst haircut of my life.

— From what I can tell so far, the golden rule is still the best one to live by.

— Wear bicycle shorts under your dress or skirt. Just do it.

— Be honest whenever you can, and kind when you can’t.

— If you’re going to drink a lot, do it around people you trust, especially the first time. And for godsake, have someone hide your phone from you.

The problem.

The solution.

— Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned so far: Love may not be all you need, but it’s the most important thing. Love comes in all forms, and whether it’s for someone else or yourself or your pet or your favorite food, love is the rain and the sun and the minerals that nourishes the healthy growth of life. I believe in love above all things.

— And the final lesson I am sharing with you today– make your own rules and learn your own lessons. All the things that work for me will never be exactly the same as the things that work for you. You may never learn some of the things I’ve listed, or agree with any of them, and that is absolutely and perfectly fine. What I do wish could be universal, however, is tolerance when everyone inevitably comes to the realization that no one will ever agree with every single thing we think and believe.

Post originally inspired by 25 Things Every Woman Needs to Know

Advertisements

11 Animals That Perfectly Sum Up My Vacation in Texas During July

Soooo… I took a bit of a sabbatical from the ol’ blogging, but I have good reason. The fam and I have been on vacation, that glorious mainstay of the summer.

VACAAAAAAY

We decided to amble on down south to that state unto itself, Texas. Now, I have been to Texas quite literally more times than I can count, but this time we decided to visit some new places we had never been before. We started off in Fort Worth, but before we even got there we got a flat tire. On our rental car. Just toodling along on the highway. We also learned that if you get a flat tire, you are responsible for repairing/replacing it. So heads up, car renters. Luckily, ours was a very simple and inexpensive fix, and we did not find ourselves too inconvenienced– well, except for having to unload all our luggage out of our car on the side of the highway to get the spare tire out of the trunk, putting it back in, then having to unload it all again when we got to the nearest Walmart Tire Center. All of this in burning, sweltering heat.
Did I mention that it was hellaciously hot? That was the mainstay of the whole trip: stultifying, draining heat (get ready, because there’s going to be a whole lot of synonyms for hot coming your way). We went to San Antonio and visited some of the old missions there and did a lot of strolling along the Riverwalk- which necessitated walking around outside. We visited Galveston, where the humidity nearly knocked me on my hindquarters whenever I stepped out of doors.

Me for a SOLID WEEK

Now, as my fam and I are dedicated, hardcore zoo junkies, one of the big highlights of the trip we were looking forward to was the two new zoos we were going to that we had somehow never been to before, the San Antonio Zoo and the Houston Zoo. Now, let me stress here, we freaking love zoos. Like, zoos are the best, guys. But we were going to zoos. In Texas. In July. Let me just give you a visual of what I felt like:

Ohhhhh, I just can’t WAAAAAAAAIT… to be in air-conditioning.

Simba there is perfectly embodying what I was feeling like, both at the zoos and during most of the trip. And in that same vein, I present to you animals at the zoo who understood exactly what I was going through during vacation. In Texas. In JULY.

1. LIZARD OF… UM…SOME SORT, SAN ANTONIO ZOO

I honestly thought maybe this lizard had died, but then I recognized how I was feeling before I came in the reptile house.

I honestly thought maybe this lizard had died, but then I recognized how I was feeling before I came in the A/C of the reptile house.

2. ANOTHER LIZARD OF UNRECORDED TYPE (perhaps a monitor?), HOUSTON ZOO

I just... I can't even

I just… I can’t even move from this log right now.

3. CHAMELEON, HOUSTON ZOO

Don't even try me today

Don’t EVEN try me today


4. YET ANOTHER LIZARD I DON’T KNOW THE EXACT NAME OF, HOUSTON ZOO

I can't even get comfortable, no matter what I do. (Note: DO NOT WEAR A MAXI DRESS TO THE ZOO ON A SWELTERING DAY)

I can’t even get comfortable, no matter what I do. (Note: DO NOT WEAR A MAXI DRESS TO THE ZOO ON A SWELTERING DAY, OR YOU WILL END UP WALKING AROUND LIKE THIS WITH YOUR DRESS HIKED UP INDECENTLY HIGH AND YOU WON’T EVEN CARE EVEN A LITTLE BIT)

5. YOU GUESSED IT IT’S ANOTHER LIZARD, SOME SORT OF MONITOR, HOUSTON ZOO

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week. I was jealous this one got to sleep in a waterfall though.

Got my ass in my waterfall and I ain’t movin’ today, son.

6. KOMODO DRAGON, HOUSTON ZOO– (IT’S A LIZARD BUT I KNEW THE NAME YEEEEAH!)

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week.

My lizard brethren were really feeling my pain this week.

"Like, you don't even understand how little I care right now." --this komodo when I stuck my face right by the glass and woke it up.

Komodo?? How about KomoNO.

7. CHEETAH, HOUSTON ZOO

I'm not running again until at least the middle of September.

I’m not running again until at least the middle of September.

8. LIONESS, HOUSTON ZOO

I don't think words are necessary here.

I don’t think words are necessary here.

9. LEOPARD, HOUSTON ZOO
(Brief note, LEOPARDS ARE MY FAVORITE ANIMALS, MILD HYSTERICS ENSUING, OKAY WE’RE GOOD)

I honestly am not even interested in eating your face today, it's just too hot for that nonsense.

I honestly am not even interested in eating your face today, it’s just too hot for that nonsense.


10. ORANGUTAN, HOUSTON ZOO

I honestly have nothing left to give.

I honestly have nothing left to give, just go on without me.

11. BABY ORANGUTAN, HOUSTON ZOO

CURSE YOU, YE FOUL AND CRUEL WEATHER GODSSSSS!!!!!!

CURSES UPON YOUR HEADS, YE FOUL AND CRUEL WEATHER GODSSSSS!!!!!!

Suffice it to say, it was a little warm throughout our visit, and the heat often has a derogatory effect upon my person, my attitude, and any motivation or interest in life that I have. I was excited when we finally got to Galveston because all I was thinking was BEACH!OCEAN!WATER!BIKINI!LESSCLOOOOTHES!!!!! And during our last vacation to Galveston three years ago, I was recalling that boys just seem to be much hotter in Texas (the conclusions of this hypothesis will be revealed for your amusement in my next blog post so stay tuned) so I was hoping to maybe find me a cutie who appreciated a girl who doesn’t like running.

LOL TOTALLY IGNORING I DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT IN A BIKINI THOUGH

But then, you know, humidity happened.

I wore my hair up. Every. Single. Day.


Many more noteworthy and interesting things happened while we were there but I could spend ages talking about all of them (Quick highlights: mom got pooped on by a bird, a man was grilling on a tiny grill in the parking lot of one of our hotels wearing a shirt that said “hustler”, I saw an elephant swimming underwater, that baby orangutan dumped wood shavings on her head for a solid fifteen minutes in a shower of utter adorableness, I SAW DOLPHINS IN THE OCEAN, I had a few drinks and did NOT get sick (huzzah!), and no one in my family got eaten by sharks!!) . I’m going to include a slew of photos below to showcase a few things I particularly liked, but before I go I will sum up how nice it was, even after such a lovely trip, to come back home, via this final animal picture:

Ahhh, home sweet home, where one can truly relax.

Ahhh, home sweet home, where one can truly relax.

Now I hope you will enjoy my photographic endeavors below:

The charming beginning to my trip.

The charming beginning to my trip.

I always find it an auspicious beginning when your rental car has Smurfette in Paris stuck to the window.

I always find it an auspicious beginning when your rental car has Smurfette in Paris stuck to the window.

Whoops, how did this innocuous card about pillows find its way in here?

Whoops, how did this innocuous card about pillows find its way in here?

Mission Concepción

Mission Concepción from the back, San Antonio

Mission Concepción

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

I hope you can tell that is a sunshine with a moustache... Mission Concepción, San Antonio

I hope you can tell that is a sunshine with a moustache… Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission Concepción, San Antonio

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

My sister in Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Still my sister in Mission San José, San Antonio

Front doors, Mission San José

Front doors, Mission San José, San Antonio

There was a lady taking her bridal portraits, it was gorgeous. Mission San José

There was a lady taking her bridal portraits, it was gorgeous. Mission San José, San Ano

Mission San José

Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission San José

Front entrance, Mission San José, San Antonio

Mission Espada

Mission Espada, San Antonio

Mission Espada

Mission Espada, San Antonio

My lovely sister and I. That's me there on the left, melting.

My lovely sister and I. That’s me there on the left, melting. At the beach, Galveston

The view from our hotel in Galveston.

The view from our hotel in Galveston.

This was on the inside of our hotel door in Galveston... isn't this kind of the point of a hotel???

This was on the inside of our hotel door in Galveston… isn’t this kind of the point of a hotel???

Enjoying a drink on our last night of vacation in Galveston!

Enjoying a drink on our last night of vacation in Galveston!

 

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
patchwork

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

sunset
giant's
giant's 3
giant's 2
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

carrick
carrick3
carrick 4
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

edinburgh
pub Edinburgh
holyrood
sara sarcophagi
edinburgh elephant
stained glass collage
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


dunfermline

dunfermline wedding

dunfermline 3
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

highlands

urqhuart 2

loch ness 2

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

eastbourne
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

hastings2

hastings
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

stonehenge
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

tower bridge
westminster
big ben

tube

tower
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

british museum 1
british museum 3
british museum 4

THIS IS ME REFLECTED IN THE ROSETTA STONE, PEOPLE.

THIS IS ME REFLECTED IN THE ROSETTA STONE, PEOPLE.


british museum 6
british museum 5
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

doune
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

adam smith collage
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

gretna green
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.

Why Camus is Responsible for Me Missing Class, Wanting a Tattoo, and General Other Tomfoolery

Hey, Readers.
In case you were sad or missed me (optimism), I apologize for going so long without writing. The problem was that I’ve been buried under a landslide of homework, especially relating to a class I’m taking called Senior Seminar. You have to take this class to graduate from my college, and basically all you do is write a really long essay. For some reason, I decided to specially arrange mine with a different professor and choose my own topic. I then proceeded, for some reason, to go with existentialism as my topic. I have been wading through an avalanche of Albert Camus for the past week. If you know nothing of existentialism, don’t look it up. It will probably make you very depressed. I find it fascinating, but somewhat overwhelming, and I’ve been drowning in something of an existential sea lately. I just finished (mostly) a book-long essay by Camus. It was admittedly pretty rough. But I’m here now, and hopefully I’ll be able to refrain from bombarding you with Camus-esque sayings and existential despair.
There’s been a strange repertoire of thoughts jostling around in my head for the last week; today was a Tuesday and in Political Geography Hitler guy continued to astound me with his painful awkwardness, constant commenter guy tried to chat with me, and Dr. Crow told a story about how for three days in a row in 2006 he beat geese with a stick at a local park. My mind was a little bewildered after class today.
I’ve also been terribly poor lately, and with my apartment bill coming due this week I’ve been avoiding shopping like the plague, and it’s been really hard, okay. I finally gave in yesterday and went to a thrift store with my friends, and even though all I bought was a shirt for 91 cents, I still felt a little better just for having tried clothes on. Speaking of, I’m going to be putting my outfit and my cute, less-than-a-dollar shirt on my other blog, so you should definitely do me a favor and check that out. If  $0.91 isn’t a bargain, I don’t know what is. Also, I don’t know the next time I’ll be able to go shopping because, frankly, the only way I’d have the money to is if someone took pity on me:

In the same vein of wildly improbable things that will never happen, I have decided that my next post is going to be a list of either my top favorite wedding dresses that I could never afford that I’ve ever seen on the internet, or my favorite hot guys I want to marry but will never even come within a mile of. Since I wrote so much on the hopeless romance of my life, I vowed to avoid it for awhile, but I have to comment on something frustrating- why is it that every hot guy you randomly see on TV, even if they’re not that famous, all already have girlfriends or are engaged? I was watching the FA Cup this weekend, which is a soccer tournament in England where all the lower level clubs get the chance to play bigger level clubs. There’s a lot of “giant-killing” that goes in, if you’re familiar with the term, which is why I love the FA Cup. In some instances, it’d be like if the University of Oklahoma basketball team beat the OKC Thunder. Now, I’ve already noted the fact numerous times that English soccer leagues seem to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to hot guys (strangely, especially goalies), but the FA Cup has taught me this is true even in the lower levels of English soccer. Consequently while I was watching this weekend, I saw this super hot keeper playing for the lower league team. Naturally, I creeped him… and he was engaged. Sigh. And recently my favorite club, Tottenham Hotspur, signed a 22 year old player from Germany who is terribly attractive. I checked him out… and he has a long-term girlfriend. My plan to marry someone out of the English soccer league (they will have two of my big wish list items for a potential mate, an accent and a love of soccer) is never going to work if they all ruin it by already having significant others. It’s terribly inconvenient. I’d been planning for years to set my sister up with one of our favorite single players from Tottenham, only to discover he’d gotten married behind my back and ruined my dream of a sister/brother-in-law that would provide the necessary access to all these hot, young soccer guys. It’s no wonder that I’m so accepting of this:
catmates
This was made by my brilliant best friend Skye, by the way, and I was absolutely remiss in not including it in my last post, where it would’ve been so appropriate. However, the only slight alteration I would make is to change “spouses” to “spouse.” While I have no doubt that Skye (who is like one of those girls you see in movies, aka gorgeous, smart, funny, and yet still so genuinely nice that it’s impossible to hate her even a little bit) will end up with a spouse, I have my doubts about myself. But I don’t doubt that we will end up with cats together at some point in our lives, because we are catmates (our souls are bonded with friendship and a love of cats).
And if this is not proof enough that Skye is awesome, then let me just share something with you- she gave me the password to her Amazon Prime account so I can watch the second season of Downton Abbey online, since only the first is on Netflix. (At this point, I hope you’re saying, well of course this girl likes Downton Abbey. I assure you, it was inevitable). That is true best friendship. Sadly, the overabundance of Camus I’ve been soaking in lately has rather prevented me from actually catching up on Downton, much to my frustration.
Camus is also partially the reason that I missed my first class this morning. I was up really late trying to finish the Camus book essay I mentioned (The Rebel, if you’re interested), and it took me forever. And then, to compound matters, I got sucked into the black hole of the internet and started looking at literary tattoos, a topic I find fascinating since I plan to get one soon. Long story short, I was going to get approximately four hours of sleep when I laid down for bed, but then I couldn’t sleep. I maybe got two hours total before my alarm went off at 8:15. Groggily I rolled over to look at it in a stupor before hitting the snooze button. The third time it went off, I finally picked up my phone and actually looked at it. I randomly get the forecast on my phone every day, and what to my wondering eye should appear, but the alert that we were in a TORNADO WATCH. In JANUARY. That’s just Oklahoma for you, guys. One of the most famous quotes about this place is from Oklahoman Will Rogers, about how if you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute. It’s so true. Anyway, so I noted in disbelief that we were in a tornado watch, listened to the rain absolutely hammering down outside, considered the fact that I didn’t bring my rainboots to school this week because I had no idea it was going to rain, and decided I was going back to sleep. I’m not going to class during a tornado watch. Especially when I’ve been up all night reading Camus. It’s just too much for my soul to handle.
Something else that occupied my time last night is that I….drumroll, please… PAINTED MY NAILS! You might not be impressed with this, but you should be. I never paint my nails because I’m terrible at it and my nails are usually so short there’s barely anything to paint. I can’t stand for my nails to be long, plus I have tiny hands, and these two things combined make it look like a five year old has painted her nails whenever I do it. But I actually like how it turned out:


I always see nail tutorials that call for nail polish that costs tons of money, but I got those two colors and topcoat from Dollar Tree for $3. I call this look “The Shimmery Mermaid.” I’m sure you’re very impressed. Also, if you’re curious as to why I have the number 11 on my hand, it’s because that was the snack count for my kids today. Because that is what working at a daycare reduces you to- writing down snack count on your hands.
The last thing I want to talk about in this post is another thing that’s really been taking up my attention lately. I found this blog on Pinterest and decided to check it out, and let me just tell you, it’s awesome. It’s a list of ways to travel cheaply, something I am incredibly committed to doing. Pretty soon I’m probably going to do a travel blog post, where I show you pictures and talk about the different amazing places I’ve been able to travel to so far in my life. But from this other blog post, I have been poring over the first entry, Work Away, which allows you to select pretty much any country you might want to go to, and then shows you job openings from people all over the world. They can range from anything; from working on a carnival in Romania to house-sitting in the Swiss Alps to lambing on a Welsh farm. The variety is amazing, and the best part is that to be on this website, you must be checked out and verified as a legitimate host, so it’s safe. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to take one of these jobs, now it’s just a matter of finding the right one! I’m sure I’ll be talking about it more in future posts.
Well, everyone, I feel like I’ve sufficiently bored you all with a glut of random, useless details from my life to make up for my week-long absence, so I’m going to wrap it up. Please check out the new outfit post on my other blog, and also, please check out this write-up that my wonderful, talented friend Lauren did over my blogs in her online article for a local newspaper. That’s also a sign of best friendship right there, when your friends use their job to promote your hobby! Go give her some love, and check out and like her photography page as well. She’s not just a wonderful writer, she is also an unbelievably talented photographer and she took my favorite picture of me ever.

Adieu,
Sara

PS I had to go with French tonight, because that is the nationality of the great Camus (even if he was born in Algiers, he was still very, very French).