Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Paris is always a good idea."

For those of you who don't know, the title of this is from the movie Sabrina. About a week and a half ago, our study abroad program went to Paris for a few days. I thought that pictures could describe my experiences there better than I could, so this post will mostly just be pictures. Also, since a picture is worth a thousand words, the pictures here should save me some time and talking...and then maybe I can go spend those thousands of words on the final Shakespeare paper that I'm in the middle of right now. :) The above picture is just behind the Louvre, in the garden behind it called the Tuileries.

I thought this couple embracing behind a girder on the Eiffel Tower at sunset was entirely romantic and rather quintessentially Paris. So I didn't bother cropping them out of the frame when they showed up in my picture. :)
This picture is for Will. They had flags and such from countries around the world inside the top of the Eiffel Tower.
This is at Versailles, where I found out that Louis XIV really knows how to build a palace.Notre Dame is even more awe-inspiring and beautiful and cooler than everyone says it is. Make sure you go there before you die.

This is Emma, my friend currently in Paris on study abroad whom I met up with. She is beautiful. The gargoyle isn't Emma though. We'll call him Pierre.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Someone else's honesty changed my life.

Isn't that funny how that works? I realize that this title sounds a bit melodramatic, which I usually try very hard not to be. But, I'm writing this very late at night, and to be entirely truthful, the title is very accurate for how I feel both now and when it is perfectly sunny outside and I am thinking exactly clearly. I was reading a recent blog post by my beautiful friend Michele, when I realized that I've had a similar experience lately that I hadn't quite processed yet.

At the end of October, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Ireland and Scotland. Right before we boarded the plane from Dublin to Edinburgh, I put my camera in my coat pocket, since we were kind of in a hurry. The plane was over an hour and a half late, and even if it had been on time, we wouldn't have arrived until after midnight. Before we boarded, I'd had a number of my things out next to me in the waiting area. I gathered them all up, but because my backpack was very full and because we were in a hurry and because I get sometimes get nervous when I'm tired and don't know exactly how things will work out, in a moment of foolishness, I put my camera in my coat pocket. Both my coat pockets have very large holes in them, which I didn't know then. Sure enough, I put my camera in it, and it fell out of my pocket as I gathered my things and waddled and bustled up and down the sixty-something stairs and steps to get up, down, and up again into the plane. I didn't use the camera for the rest of the night, and by the time I woke up the next morning in Edinburgh, it was long gone.

Now, this would have been terribly heartbreaking no matter what, but it was especially so then, because I had over 400 pictures on it, full of beautiful memories from Stonehenge, Stourhead, Bath, and our two days in Ireland. I'd been looking forward to visiting and taking picture of Stourhead since I was eleven years old. I had been searching for pictures of gardens on our speedy dial-up internet, and I stumbled across one of Stourhead. I fell in love, and when I was there a few days before going to Ireland, I managed to get some truly breathtaking shots--none of which were anywhere in my possession...except on the memory card inside my lost camera.

Well, I frantically called the airline and the airport, filed two or three lost property forms in several different places, and waited to hear back from any of my sources. But as the days went by, I eventually gave up on Oscar, my red Nikon Coolpix camera. Allie and Sicong, two other girls in my program, are amateur photographers with two cameras they like to use. And both generously offered to let me borrow their spare cameras for the rest of my time here. So kind.

Then, about a week and a half ago (maybe two weeks?), I received an email from the Dublin Airport, saying that a match for my lost property had possibly been found, and would I please call them to verify it? I did. And after much difficulty interpreting Sharon's (the nice lady on the phone) rather thick Irish brogue through Skype's less-than-ideal phone connection, we determined that it is indeed my dear Oscar. And the best part of all is that I don't even have to pay the 60 or 70 pounds to have them ship it to me. I have a layover in Dublin when I go home in three weeks, and they said they'd be happy to hold it for me until I fly through and I can retrieve it in person. After I got off the phone, every person that I told the story to was shocked and amazed that it had actually been found. How sad, that our world has become like that. And yet, how wonderful, that it isn't all bad.

I don't know who that person was that picked up my camera in the Dublin Airport. I don't know why they turned it in, when it would have been so easy to just keep it themselves. But, they didn't. Or rather, they did. Turn it in, I mean. I'm so grateful. It's a very, very nice camera, as I discovered last summer, when I started experimenting with other cameras. They don't even know how happy they've made me, because having Oscar back means that I can keep all those pictures--all those memories from places I've dreamed of visiting nearly my whole life.

Thank you, nice person at the Dublin Airport. Thank you for giving me Stonehenge and Stourhead and Bath and Ireland back. Thank you for being honest.

P.S. Paris update and beautiful friend stories to come.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Token: I'm thankful for...

When I clicked on the "Blogger: Dashboard" link on my Favorites tab a few minutes ago, I had no intention of posting right now. But then I started scrolling through the short overviews of the many blogs I follow, and I noticed that almost every single one of these nice people I'm friends with have been listing things they're thankful for. And I thought, "My goodness! I am so thankful for these nice people who help me want to be nicer too." They all set the good example to be thankful for things, and I just thought, I'm thankful for them too. And I wanted to tell somebody about it. I've had a lot of people be especially nice to me lately, and I think they deserve some credit. Even if they never actually read this post, because to be honest, I'm not entirely sure who actually does read these.


I'm thankful for the nice people whose blogs I follow who talked about things they're thankful for and made me want to to that too. (Rachel, Tracy, Michele, Julie, Natalie, and all the others too.)

I'm thankful for my nice roommate Julene who took notes for me in class today because I was too sick to go and checked on me later to make sure I was doing okay.

I'm thankful for my nice roommate Nicole who checked on me three times to see if I was doing okay and went to Tuk Tuk to bring me back some delicious Thai food so I wouldn't go hungry.

I'm thankful for my nice mother who actually considered sending me medicine overnight even though it would cost a ridiculous amount of money (I told her not to--I can get medicine here). :)

I'm thankful for my nice friend Mary-Celeste who made me some cranberry-vanilla-orange tea (or something delicious like that) this morning even though it was going to make her a little bit late for class.

With friends like these, being sick is not bad at all. What nice people I have. I felt a bit like this woman, grateful and calm, serenely sipping my tea.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Revived again.

I haven't posted in a while. At first, it was because our internet stopped working. And then it was because I was in Ireland and Scotland for a week. And then it was because I got back and things started happening and I realized that I was learning a lot and thinking a lot and needing to figure a lot of things out.

And when I need to figure things out, my response typically isn't to broadcast it to the blogging world. And I didn't know how to write about and process the things that needed figuring in a way that would make it I stuck to my journal instead. So, forgive my excessively lengthy absence, and know that I'm trying again. Disclaimer though: the internet on my computer still doesn't work, so I can only blog when I can access other computers in peace and there may still be lengthy gaps on occasion. :) 

Now, as for what I’ve done this month, there are enough things that I think I’ll just write a list, because there are too many.
1.       Went to Stonehenge! And it rocked. :)
2.       Visited Stourhead gardens—one of the most famous and most beautiful gardens in the world.
3.       Went to Bath, home of many Jane Austen characters, and bought a Jane Austen book (Emma) in honor of it.
4.       Visited the War Cabinet Rooms and the Churchill Museum—all about WWII in London, and really moving.
5.       Went to Ireland and had an Irish man in a pub dedicate a song to me! (It’s a good story.)
6.       Unintentionally slept all night long under a huge underwear poster on the tile in the London Stansted Airport in order to fly to Dublin the next morning. We didn’t see the rather sensuous ad above us till we woke up. Oops. Oh well.
7.       Lost my camera on the way to Edinburgh, Scotland. (So sad.) But have just found out that the Dublin Airport has it! Unfortunately, over 400 pictures are on it, but at least it is found. :)

8.       Went to Scotland and hiked Arthur’s Seat, where Orson Pratt dedicated Scotland for the preaching of the gospel. It’s also (I think) where Eric Liddell and his sister talk about serving God on top of that mountain in Chariots of Fire. It was awesome, because a lot of my family comes from Scotland. I loved Scotland. 
9.       Went to Cardiff, Wales, and Herefordshire, where a lot of my other ancestors came from.
10.   Went to a Muslim mosque for the first time, which was SO cool. Learned a lot about their faith, which I loved. They’re really similar to Mormons, in even more ways than I thought.

11.   Went to the premiere of Disney’s The Christmas Carol two days ago, and stood three feet from Jim Carrey. It really wasn’t all that great, but it was fun to see what a movie premiere is like, I guess. Unfortunately, I left before Colin Firth got there, but my friend got his autograph.
12.   Also went to Les Miserabl├ęs, a concert with Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and a play in a dark, dank, rather sketchy little pub. Think, The Hog’s Head from Harry Potter. It was great.  

Anywho, I'll post again soon. More thoughts to come--another girl needs this computer, so again, I've got to sign out.