Friday, May 31, 2013

Watch With Glittering Eyes

Crushing On: John Watson's Style

I think Imma start a weekly (or, you know, whenever I feel like it) post called Crushing On:.
Tonight, I'm watching The Hounds of Baskerville, and just noticed John's EXCELLENT green coat. So tonight, we celebrate, obviously, the adorable, classy Martin Freeman as John Watson, but most especially Watson's excellent, "I'm just off for a walk in the country but then maybe I'll catch some bad guys" style. But really, I like it. A lot. And I'm still obsessed with that coat. Lots of not entirely clear pictures of it to follow.

SEE IT? It's good. Like really good. Think of all the fun ways you could dress that coat. Please & thank you, wrap it up and ship it to me stat. John Watson sold separately.

Sweater love. Awww bless him.

Crushing On: John Watson, unlikely style icon.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Adventures & Other Things That Make Me Happy

I was sitting at the piano yesterday, going through an old notebook, looking for song material, when I came across journal entries from Study Abroad.
And they made me happy, and not like they'll necessarily make you happy, but what the heck. Also, I apparently have plans to live ALL the places. Nbd.
We'll just pretend it's like I'm liveblogging the whole experience, instead of failblogging the entire three months. It is without further ado that I present to you: Adventures (ONLY eight months after they happened.)

Saturday - Saturday market in Loche, live there much? It's all so picturesque, but it also feels quite real, and I could happily live here. More than Paris, even. Yeah, I went there. & there's lots of gorgeous woods round here, like in Amboise, where we're staying. Mel & I went for a run last night and it was major fairytale. So in love with this country, but also terribly excited for Belgium, Amsterdam (!!!), & obvs...England, etc.
Paris did teach me I could be a city person if said city is beautiful enough...but being out here in the autumn woodsen reminds me of home & the fact that deep down, I'm just plain country.
& bought a gorgey russet sweater at the market. (& Alicia bought it in grey...twinsies!) (Joking.) (But really.)
Off to Chenonceau!
Also there was this sweet black lab at the market and everyone immediately goes up and pets him for like a year - like, spot the dog-lovers - but he was the sweetest - Sapphy - but made me miss Hoss & Boo hardcore.
Also yesterday - Leonardo da Vinci's French home & a huge park with tons of his inventions - gorgeous, mad fun, vair cool, and I took mebs a million pictures for KK.

Saint-Malo Saint-Malo Saint-Malo!
So gorgeous and peaceful and wild. You understand. I think beaches just won in the eternal beach vs. mountains discussion. It is so perfect. The oooooooooocean. Last night we were in our church clothes and straight up got in there. Soaked to my waist? Don't mind if I do. And it was tres warm. BRILL. & today we just like sat and watched the ocean for over an hour.
Here I want to live.
Also Chenonceau yesterday (Saturday?) - so lovely & fairytale-y. The wooooods. Mmm. Oh, and happy October!

At Port...en...Bennis. I think? (UPDATE: Nah, it was Port-en-Bessin, my little fools.) It's a fishing town, not v romantic but almost...realistically romantic? Like modern drama? Think the town in Ondine when there's the accident. Although obvs less chaotic. But, like, Mel & I popped outta our hotel room at tenish, wandered the tiny town center, with two roads facing each other across a canal, with all the boats blinking blue and guys hauling fish out of their boats. Also cool moving asphalt bridge, v. Hogwarts. Anyways, it smelled of fish & salt & grease & it was raining lightly, the kind you barely feel but can see coming down hard in the goldy streetlights, and it was fantastic. Normandy D-Day beaches manana.
Oh & Mont St. Michel today! Really really lovely, & made me think of our Christmas Village train, all steep little road winding up through the cottages.
"The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, the sea."

Omaha Beach - assess, adapt, and overcome.
At Omaha Beach: how incredibly brutal. War is horrible & brutal & sick & dehumanizing, but warriors - they're noble & believe in something & are braver than I think most of us can realistically imagine. The greatest horrors of mankind seem to create the greatest men.

Oct 3
The Bayeux Tapestry this morning - seriously excellent.
Giverny this afternoon, except it was pouring.
And now we've been on the bus for ages, & it is so grey and green and it's sleepy and sad and lovely. & Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head just came on. Excellent. I love France, uh, a lot.
One of those days where I dream - more than normal - that I can fly. Comprende?
& all the countryside & towns we're passing...the houses all look either like mental institutions in horror movies or crazy, stupidly picturesque & lovely & cosy, all windowboxes and smoke curling out of chimmneys and painted shutters and all that, or some bizarre combination of the two.
Very If You're Feeling Sinister.
Yet all highly magical, too - that wooded glen with smoke rising out of it? An elf feast. These brick houses? Holding a mad magician, C.S. Lewis style, every last one of them. That sort of feeling.
Count me in and consider me sold. If I could get thrown into a story right now, Inkheart style...well, I'm not so sure I couldn't, today.

Just watched The Sound of Music on the bus (love). (HELLO Christopher Plummer. Who knew that was him? Not me. I love Captain Von Trapp.) (LOVE.)
In ma homeland...The Nederlands! What's more, last day with Pieter, our adorbs bus driver/ ma Dutch brotha. He's the jovial big-belly-ed kind of man whose tip of the nose gets red when he laughs at his jokes. That kind. Adorbs.
Nederlands Nederlands Nederlands.
It's about 4 here, the sun's low in the sky & mad bright, & it's v green and chill & Just a Boy is playing. Done & done. One of those Mindy moments: "Or rather, who I have been is not who I will be."
It's naice. xxx

Sent mom a pic of the I Love You sign drawn in the sand for her birthday, and today's Demarie's birthday, so we all wrote on Post-Its & covered her hotel room door in em this morning. Besides which, on the bus, her countoff number is 3, so when she called it out we all launched into Happy Birthday. I love other people's birthdays!

I love how Holland is literally claimed from the sea. Like there's an area, like a whole county/providence (?) that didn't exist in 1930...because it was THE OCEAN. That's solid.

In France the clouds moved so fast it was bizarre, & in the Netherlands, they don't move at all. Oh, I'm sorry, did I say at all? I meant at all. The most green and blue still kind of peace, though...I like Holland MUCHO.
Still tripping out about the clouds, though. In 5 minutes they have made no progress. It's majer surreal.

Holllllllland. We were in Amsterdam yesterday and it was fab, I lurved it. So this morning we went to Leiden, and I was like, I love this. Leiden > Amsterdam. And we climbed up inside a windmill. Shveet. Then we stopped in Delft, and I was like, I DIE. Delft > Leiden. The Netherlands just keep getting better and better. All we've done in Delft is walk around & now we're drinking cinammon steamers in Coffee Company, where there are lots of scruffy, sensitive, well-dressed Dutchmen having deep discussions in English. It's just really sun-lit & cosy & there's a very nice, very broad-shouldered, very ginger baristo. Happiness is a Dutch coffee shop in the sunshine in the autumn.
(& the biiikes!) (& Vermeer's hometown!)

That's the end of that run-on trip down Memory Lane, babes.
xxx and all that jazz,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weathervane Stories

Weathervane Stories

            The weathervane woke and flew North. Weathervanes are patient, always getting pushed around by the wind. Never able to turn off the damn radio singing up the chimney. And it is an irrefutable truth that those who own weathervanes are also in possession of terrible taste in music.

            The weathervane stretched one rusty leg, and as it began to stretch the other, it rose. The wind blew South, and because there is a first time for everything, the weathervane flew North. “The North,” the road sign said. “Deer Crossing,” the road sign warned. “Switchbacks ahead,” the road sign scolded. The weathervane flew on.

            Flying over the dark trees, the weathervane watched a small stream slip from trunk to trunk, threading around white sheep, small beacons in the dark. The weathervane slowly settled onto a top branch, ignoring that damn wind. “Go South,” she whispered. “It’s what you do.” She pushed at its iron plumes. “Go South.” The weathervane stepped off the branch and sank to the ground, settling into black mud. The wind drifted away, disappointed.

            “Fine. I hope you freeze. I hope you get stuck there. I hope a sheep eats you. Good luck out there, tosser.” The weathervane stayed quiet, and watched, and listened, as she grew into a distant, belligerent mist. 

            “Tosser?” it thought. The weathervane closed its eye and went to sleep. In the morning, it pulled one leg up, then the other, and flew North. It rained all day. The weathervane had never been cold before.

            The weathervane flew to a place where he could see no trees, only slate, only chimneys, only streets, as the sun disappeared, winking. “Come out West, pardner.” The weathervane planted its feet on a roof opposite a café, and watched the lights.

            One thin-lipped woman hurried something onto a napkin before slipping out the door, which jingled belatedly as she rushed away. The barista scribbled her number on someone’s latte. “Call me?” The weathervane closed its eye and went to sleep.

            When the weathervane woke, it stretched one leg out, then the other. But it stayed. Only for a little while. Long enough to see the thin-lipped woman beaming a thin-lipped smile at the weathervane from the front page of the paper lying on the stoop. Long enough to watch the barista dance out the café door on her last day; she was off to get married. Long enough to fall in love with the girl who lived in the house at its feet.

            She was very tousle-haired, this girl. She wore little shoes with straps around the ankle, and windy dresses with zippers and darts.  Sometimes she smiled back at the door and the weathervane could see her bright red mouth. Some days a knapsack sat against the small of her back, and some days she hugged a book to her chest.

            When she took her rosy cheeks South, far South, the weathervane lifted one leg, then the other, and flew after her. The wind was floating East at the time. “There’s nothing for you in the South,” she promised. The weathervane flew on.

            “What a funny weathervane!” her new friends giggled. “A raven? How unique in Tijuana.”

            “It’s sentimental,” she lied. It certainly hadn’t been sentimental enough for her to pack, and she supposed her mother had slipped it in her bag. “It reminds me of home,” she smiled.

            She only listened to The Smiths and Yo-Yo Ma. The weathervane could only just see the record player turning lazily if it craned its neck towards the open window. At dusk the weathervane could hear ice cubes and quiet conversation, and sometimes the girl would laugh, and the weathervane knew it was her laugh. That laugh, the one that rose over cello and Morrissey, was the only laugh that sounded like it came from a red mouth.

            The mariachi band at her wedding was lovely, big men with bigger moustaches crowding into her green backyard, dark but lit with fairy lights. Tequila for everyone! It’s a wedding! Everybody smiled when they drank the tequila; they loved it; “Más, más!” And it was good for a very long time, but it must have stopped being good, because she stopped laughing. Sometimes she shouted, and it never sounded like the shouts that would come from a red mouth. Sometimes someone else shouted, and it never sounded like things you should shout at a rosy-cheeked girl with red lips.

            But the weathervane stayed because she was still tousle-haired, and she still listened to that song it really liked, about a bicycle. One morning an old car pulled out of the garage, as it did every morning, but that night, and a night after, and another night after, the garage waited, empty. One morning another, different, old car crept to the curb, and she threw her suitcase into the back, and the weathervane knew this was different than sometimes “going to the movies” or “out for drinks”.

            The weathervane followed the old car East, to a place with much larger birds of metal. He flew North, far North, alongside an airplane of suits and plaid scarves, North alongside a coach of gray jeans and muddy shoes and quiet people. He followed her to a place where he could see no trees, only slate, only chimneys, only streets. She dragged her suitcase up the street, up the walk, up the stoop. She still wore her little shoes with the straps around the ankle, and those windy dresses, but her mouth was never bright red anymore, and he couldn’t hear her laugh over the silence, let alone over a record player.

            The wind swanned by on her way from coast to mountain to desert. She would slip through the bottom of the door and sit in the fan, watching the girl. On the roof, she would tell the weathervane ghastly stories. “She’s getting fatter and fatter!” The wind would spit. On the occasion the girl would leave the house, the weathervane saw that she was. Her dresses floated less. “She never smiles.” The weathervane could only believe the wind: he never saw her turn back to the house and smile now.

            Sometimes the weathervane knew things before the wind, but could only sit patiently and listen. “Her hair is white, and she moves so slow.” The wind scorned, whipping around the rusty weathervane. “Her life is short, you fool. She never smiles. You’re rusting on this roof. What are you doing?” The weathervane didn’t know that it mattered. It belonged here, waiting to hear cello and red laughs.

            When the weathervane lost a wing to rust, the wind beat it again, hurling words like “dying” at it. The weathervane didn’t know that it mattered. It belonged here, waiting to see windy dresses and canvas knapsacks.  The wind speared it with a short goodbye and swam South, warm and golden long before she reached the sea. A white van stumbled onto the curb, and the girl hobbled out. She wore black shoes with fat soles and a dress drowning in garish flowers. She carried a dark stick and her suitcase.

            A man in beige pants and a blue shirt hurried up the walk and gave her his arm. She looked back at the door and turned a key. The weathervane watched her, and she looked up and watched it. Under her wrinkled forehead and sagging cheeks, she had a red mouth. She smiled softly at the weathervane, her eyes the amber of tequila, and almost as clear. At her smile, the weathervane felt as if it had rusted straight through, as if the rod through its body was no longer solid.

            She turned and trudged down and into the white van, filled with the white heads of pensioners. They looked like the sheep in the mud. Very beacon-y, the weathervane thought quietly. It flew North, farther than it had ever flown, and waited on top of a big beige building, just above a window that was always closed, where the girl slept and ate and sometimes read. The weathervane waited for her red laugh.

            The wind was right, it was always right. The girl had a short life, after all. But the weathervane thought it would wait, anyways.  And a raven weathervane is never more in place than in a quiet churchyard.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I have ALL the homes.

Then think you right: I am not what I am. – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Living in London and traveling England was the best thing I’ve ever done. It was magical and cold and spiritual and lonely and uplifting and cold and empowering and inspiring and cold, and most of all, I put on at least half a stone. Digestives are the delicious, delicious devil.

For all the courage and wonder England poured back into me, for all the beauty it sewed back into my seams, it did a nasty thing. It introduced the idea of discontent into a simple life. I have got two homes where I used to have one, and I am too simple for this loaded gun. To quote A. A. Milne, how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. How lucky I am to have two such places, filled with two such sets of people, home to two such sets of memories. But how hard it is. Even so, it’s a blessing. Even when it hurts, even when it makes you so sad you feel nauseous (that’s a thing, isn’t it? Just me?) isn’t there something kind of wonderful about one’s heart being in two places at once? That’s a lot of love to go around, fools.

I was only away for a few months, and when I returned, I was thrilled to be home for Christmas, and how good that felt. I had missed snow, and my dogs, and my family, and the many simple pleasures of my daily life. Also my fat ginger cat. Obviously. But as time wears on, I feel this itch – a nagging need to return to my other home. It won’t be for years, I know. I leave in August, off to colorful Guatemala for 18 months. (And God did good by not sending me on a mission to the UK – I for sure would have bunked off in the night and stayed forever.) And after that, God only knows. Seriously. But I do need back. And it scares me. What’ll I do without my family? If we’re being honest as honest gets, here, I live with my grandparents, and they’re old. Not terribly so, as grandparents go – early to mid-seventies – but shouldn’t I spend as much time with them as I can? My brother wants to live in the States, so does my mother – shouldn’t I be close to them? My brother, especially, is my best friend. My cousins and aunts and uncles, to whom I’m all very close – they’re all here. I want to marry a good Mormon boy in the temple, and I don’t know too many of those who are willing to leave their family and country and move to a foreign place for, well, longer than two years. And even for two years, they do it for God, so I can’t quite convince myself they’d do it for some girl who will probably spend their life’s savings on merchandise at the Harry Potter Studio Tours. (I mean, £130 in one go. That’s a little bit ridiculous.)

And above all, I don’t know what God’s plan is. My deal with him – and you know just how well making deals with God goes – is that if I must stay in Utah, I’d like to stay right here. Right in my own cabin in the woods in the mountains, right here where I know I could be happy –at times a bit discontented, probably, going to the same grocery store my whole life, but for the most part, truly happy. And there’s a part of me that rather likes the idea of always buying my overpriced produce from Ream’s. Still, if I must stay in Utah, I’ve argued with Him, don’t send me out to Provo or Sandy or for heaven’s sake, Spanish Fork. Let me stay here. But my hope is that if He doesn’t keep me here (and I mean right. here. buddy.), He’ll let me go to my other home, and everything will work out. So it’s scary, because I want to do His will and I want to do what I want to do but I don’t know what His will is and I don’t know what I want to do. But hey ho, in God we trust, righto.

In interviewing for Study Abroad, I blurted that I was a total homebody. I then realized my mistake –ugh, I didn’t want them to think that if they accepted me I’d be sniveling and homesick all the time – and stammered, “Um, but I love to travel. I…I like being at home…but I,um…like to travel…too...” I thought I had blown it with that. They would think I was a fool and a baby and no Rupert Grint for me-o. The last part remains true (not for long. #DeterminationNation) but obviously my professors didn’t think me fool and childish enough to turn me away. So not that long ago, a little bit over a year ago, actually, I thought that. I thought I was a wanderlusty homebody. I’ve since discovered I’m not. I’m a homebody homebody.  It’s just that in my desperate need to travel to England, a need I’ve nurtured since probably ten years old (thanks, J.K. Rowling, for screwing me up royally. Two homes are the last thing a girl needs.), I think I knew England would feel like home. Not all of it. There were places that were not for me. I mean, you know, I can’t think of any, but I’m sure there is maybe one nasty industrial town in England I couldn’t bear to live in. Probably. Or it might all be perfect. That’s more likely.  

But in London, I found an exciting, vibrant city tailored perfectly to the fact that I’m, you know, 19. I want to try food that makes me sick and see plays that make me cry and nearly fall into the Thames (but actually) and, most especially, see gorgeous men every day of my life. Most especially. But you know what? I didn’t love London because I’m, like, so cosmopolitan and such a traveler. I loved it for the sweet man who ran the corner shop and always recognized me and asked how I was doing. Probably because he was concerned I would one day OD on Coke and McVitie’s. “Y’all right, love?” Translation: “I see yesterday’s Kinder Eggs have already caught up to your chin. How about some nice fruit and veg, love?” I loved it for Mark’s & Spencer’s (I’m looking at you, Veggie Percys.) I loved it for the Starbucks I threw ALL my money at every morning and the baristo (is that a thing?) with the excellent Cockney accent, and also for the smiley Polish girl at Paul Rhode’s who I never, ever, understood. I loved it for my Southbank, which was apple cider and honeycomb at Borough Market and the Mexican Street Kitchen (hello winter veg burrito!) and the Thames and Southwark Cathedral and those sweet roasted nuts on Millennium Bridge. There is an embarrassing wealth of food-related things on here.  I loved it for Kensington Gardens and Ben’s Cookies and I loved it overwhelmingly for The British Museum, which rocks and is the coolest and if you don’t agree then you suck. Sorry.

The point, my friends – yes, astonishingly, there is a point – is that I loved my routine, I loved the BYU London Centre, I loved the million little daily things that made it feel like my London, my home. Just as my home in the canyon makes me feel warm and loved, just as the astonishing where-have-you-been-all-my-life-ness of Ambleside makes me feel both cosy and alive, I felt like London loved me back. I’ve got a book, an oral anthology, called Londoners, it’s bloody brilliant, and there’s plenty of people that don’t feel that way. London couldn’t care less, they feel, and, you know what? I forked over a large sum of cash and then mysterious BYU travel peeps arranged a (pretty bloody posh) living situation, transport, dinner almost every night. It was a bloody good gig. So I’ve never really had to fend for myself in that big grey city. I can absolutely see how it would drain you, and especially if you’re from the country. Even I plan to head to Ambleside after, tops, ten years in the city. But five and a half months later, London is still pulsing, pulsing, pulsing in my blood and I may be wrong, I may be too optimistic, I’m sure as heck naïve – but I think I’ve got enough of London in my system to survive, and, dare I say it, thrive.

I just hope I got to go for more than the incredible experience. If that was all, if God was like, yeah, everything can fall into place for you to go just to like, renew you and fulfill this dream of yours, then okay. If He’s got a different plan, a plan that doesn’t involve that green island, fine. I can deal. I can trust Him. But I hope You sent me there to prepare me for a life there, Big Guy. I really, really do.

I am not what I am, yet. I’ve only been alive 19 years, there’s only 365 days in a year, I was not really fully functioning for at least 5,840 of those days, I actually doubt I’m fully functioning now. At least, I hope this isn’t my mental and emotional prime. That would be embarrassing. I would almost certainly be a divine fluke, in that case. Put this one back on the assembly line. But if I am not what I am, yet, then I am slowly getting there. England was an essential part of that. That place is now an essential part of me, and I know it sounds silly, and I know it sounds dramatic, and I know I was only in England for a little over two bloody months, but they were the most insane and incredible two months of my little life, they really were. When you’ve only been around 233 months, 2 (plus that other spare fantastic month floating around, called France and Belgium and the Netherlands) that are so drastically different from the other 230 are actually a big bloody deal. I wouldn’t be me, a terrifying thought, without London and everywhere else, I wouldn’t be whoever I’m going to be without it, either. I am not what I am. But whatever I am to be, there’s this beautiful place thousands of miles away that is going to be part of it. There’s this country called Guatemala that’s going to be part of it. There are a hundred other places and people that are going to be part of it that I don’t have a bloody clue about yet. But I am so stoked about all my homes and all my people and all my transfigurations. Change is the actual scariest, but it’s also the actual best. And there’s something wonderful about not knowing a bloody thing about the future.

Dear Heavenly Father,

As long as said future involves England.


P.S. I promise someday I’ll learn not to try to make bargains with you.
P.P.S. Just as long as you send me back to England.