Monday, November 29, 2010

"A Really Kindred Spirit"

"A bosom friend -- an intimate friend, you know -- a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will too. Do you think it's possible?" ~Anne of Green Gables
I know that I do not post blogs regularly. I rarely have anything of great import to post. I even slacked when I was in Europe. Today, however, I have something impressed upon my heart: thankfulness. I know, I know. Thanksgiving was last week. That doesn't matter to me though. I will always be thankful for something, and right now I am thankful for my kindred spirit, Serenity.

I would not even know what a kindred spirit was if it were not for Serenity. She introduced me to the Anne of Green Gables series when I was thirteen years old. I read the books, all eight of them, because she liked them...and I liked her. I wanted to be just like her, and if she loved Anne so much, I wanted to see why. I was immediately sucked into Avonlea and the characters' lives, connecting with Anne as if she were a long lost friend. When I finished the series, I was devastated. There had to be more than this! (It turns out there was, but it was just published in 2009: The Blythes Are Quoted.)

I don't remember quite when I realized that Serenity was a kindred spirit. I think I always felt the connection, that strong tie that binds you to a person, but I never said it until I was a freshman in college. Once I was out of high school, the unseen barrier that divides the child from the adult was removed, and I could comfortably say, "I think you will always be my kindred spirit." (Something I did say in an email that I still have to this day.)

Having a kindred spirit, I have learned, is a beautiful thing. Not only do you never run out of things to talk about or have several common interests, but you always feel loved and cherished by someone no matter what. I don't know how many times Serenity has offered her support and love. So often I wanted the chance to do the same in return. I wish I could write a song about this as easily as Taylor Swift does or write a poem describing exactly how much Serenity means to me. Instead, I will use modern technology to shout to the world how amazing she is, how beautiful she is, both inside and out. I will tell everyone when I talk about her that her positive attitude, even when life is handing her lemons, her strength, her bravery far exceeds my own and most other people I know. I will do my best to describe the light that shines out of her smile, her laughter, and her eyes when you are with her, and you can't help but be affected. I feel a deep pride in saying, "Seren is my friend, my kindred spirit."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ooh La La! The Thrills of Paris!

Before I delve into Paris, I will do a quick recap of Spain:

It was beauitful! I went to the beach on Monday, and for the most part the weather was perfection. It did rain on our walk back to the bus, but I still think it was worth seeing San Sebastian! I explored some on my own, but my favorite part was shopping, of course! I found the most flattering jacket and bought it. The city of Bilbao itself was filled with architecture everywhere...statues, stairs, even the metro system had some architecture at either main entrance. I loved every moment. Seeing Jenny was great too, and I felt bad that she was sick and I was too. It made the damp weather hard to go out in, but we did our best, and I am satisfied with my time in Spain.

Now on to Paris! Can anyone say whirlwind adventure? We only had one and a half days really, but the girls and I managed to see a few things and experience Paris at its finest. We of course saw the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. There was lots of walking involved as well as getting lost on the metro a few times. It was all part of the adventure though! Saturday night, we ate at one of the most delightful little cafes across from the Notre Dame. I had the crème brûlée, which was to die for! I would go back to Paris just to have that again. :)

While we were at the TOP of the Eiffel Tower, Elise saw someone get proposed to. The woman said yes, thankfully, and then they went back to talking! I suppose none of us really know what you do in that situation, but we thought going back to talking immediately after was a little weird. I guess on top of the Eiffel Tower, you can't do much else. Maybe scream that you are yelling it from the rooftops? I know that's what I would do...but I don't want to be proposed to up there. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

English at Heart

I'm not off to a very good start of blogging, am I? :) I will try harder to write more than once a week!

This week has been filled with touristy things and travel! I saw Les Miserables and fell in love with it. It is such an emotional story. I also toured several places on Monday, including Westminster Abbey, Winston Churchill's War Cabinets and Museum, saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and viewed the London Bridge and Tower of London. That already seems so long ago though!

I am now in the English countryside and have been enjoying the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. I was able to help out in the church's school that I am visiting. Here, my degree in English and specifically British literature, is quite useful! I was told by one of the teachers that I am really English at heart. That made me so happy. :)

I drove to Winchester yesterday (left) and explored the city, known for the Great Hall (part of Arthurian legend) and the Round Table, as well as Jane Austen's house and gravesite. It was the perfect day. I was obviously overwhelmed when I stood over Jane's grave and realized that this was the place she actually was, not in some far off place that I read about online or imagined while reading Pride and Prejudice. It was wonderful.

Tonight, I am going to a barn dance (yeehaw!), but I don't think it's anything like what I've been to back home. I am sure there will be pictures and some detail to come on that event. :)

Tomorrow, it's off to the next adventure!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's a Jolly Holiday in London!

I've walked a lot in the past two days and seen many touristy things! I was mostly on foot and today I am completely sore, but it was worth it. Of course, it rained the whole time but rain here is different. It's just sort of present and you get used to it. It's also just a drizzling sort and never pours like at home. :) In all, I covered about 4 miles on foot, which turned out to be a good exercise for me. I saw the National Gallery, which has several famous paintings and was overwhelming. I loved that I had taken an art history course and learned about most of the paintings. I also visited St. Martin's, a church next to the Gallery. I ate in the cafe downstairs in the crypt...quite interesting to say the least. I also walked to Westminster Abbey and crossed the Thames, right by Big Ben! It was a wonderful first day!

Today was a special day...I visited John Keats' house. He was my senior seminar research topic, and it felt unreal that I could sit in the very room he worked in and touch the same mantle he stood at. It was absolutely delightful. I could not take indoor pictures, but the outdoor landscape was beautiful. There was a mulberry tree that had been there for over 200 years!

The people here are lovely as well. I feel right at home with everyone and am learning how everything works here. I watched the X Factor tonight (and not on youtube for once), and also their version of Dancing With the Stars (called Come Strictly Dancing). They had a former member of Parliament dancing! It was, um...yeah. Anyway, I am a happy girl here having the time of her life!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Start of Something Good

I am writing this blog in another place! It is still so unreal to me. I flew in this morning after a travel day of 28 hours, got through customs and all of that, then took the underground straight to my stop where I met up with a marvellous lady, Gemma, who showed me where I am staying and then took me to the nearest shopping centre. The entire time I was sitting on the tube, I kept thinking, "Here I am...I am really in Europe. The adventure has begun." As I saw bits of scenery, my stomach got butterflies and the weariness faded away (temporarily). This is really happening.

I must add something here because it was so perfect and just what I needed to start the trip right. I boarded the plane in St. Louis with a girl who ended up sitting next to me on the way to JFK. It turns out, she was from Berlin. We both had long layovers, so after talking the entire two hours on the first flight, we decided to hang out until she had to board her plane that evening. It made the time go so much faster, and I made a new friend. It was exactly what I needed to boost my travelling spirits.

I haven't done much in the way of sightseeing yet. I am going to wander through the city tomorrow and see a few things here and there. It should be great fun! Their transportation system is excellent. The states (at least Chicago) could learn a thing or cleanliness. :)

One last thing: you may notice some words are "misspelled" or at least not American English. The computer I am writing from has a British English spell check. I rather like it!

Off for now,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Off I Go!

I am now counting down the hours until I get on the plane that takes me into a whole new adventure. 3 hours and 15 minutes. I feel like I am in free fall mode right now, knowing that I should hit the ground running but still slightly afraid that I may land on my ankle wrong as I hit the ground or that I will trip on my own feet.

I think that this next seven weeks is another step to becoming an independent adult. I thought graduating would have been enough or maybe finding my career path. Still. I am joyful to take this in-between step. I also feel like a "grown-up" for leaving my computer at home. Those of you who know me know that it was hard enough to leave my "Friends" DVDs behind for seven weeks, but I think that leaving my computer behind, something that can be distracting, will prove to let me see what is around me and keep me free to do other things. :) Plus, everyone has computers over there, so I can hop on and off every day or so to keep people in the loop.

The butterflies in my stomach are starting to build, begging to be released. I'm not quite sure they will fully be released until the trip is over! I am ready to take this trip head-on and see what God will do. It is going to be one amazing ride!

This seems to be more of an informative post, but I haven't left yet and can't give much more than that.

Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Mr. Darcys and Captain Wentworths of the World

In my attempt to blog while I am in Europe, I've decided that I need to "practice" before I leave. I am such a horrible blogger, which is most obvious just by looking at the date on my last post: April 16. If I am to keep a blog going at all in Europe, I have to start now, I've decided.

I may be stepping out on a limb with a blog about the opposite sex, but I am in no way "bashing" men. In fact, this blog is more of an admittance of my own behavior rather than a slandering of the male sex. I've been thinking lately how often I find myself, or one of my friends, swooning over men from an era that is quite different from the era in which we live now. We...and I really do include myself in this...we watch every BBC/Masterpiece Theater adaptation of Jane Austen's or Elizabeth's Gaskell's novels and nearly melt at every touch, every word, every moment the gentleman's eyes connect with his fair maiden. Our stomachs tie up in knots, and we forget to breathe as we are immersed into the scene unfolding before our very eyes.

I have a feeling that some may read this and think, "Good grief! It's just a story...this girl is crazy! Mr. Darcy is just a character. Mr. Knightley doesn't exist. And Mr. Thornton was mean!" While I do admit it does seem slightly silly to become wrapped up in these characters, it is inevitable. Most women, at least those who hug their pillows and hardly dare to blink lest they miss something while watching Pride and Prejudice or North and South, are looking/waiting for their own Mr. Darcy. Even their own Mr. Thornton. It is not just women of our time who have searched for their Austenian gentleman. Women have been falling at the feet of Captain Wentworth and Mr. Darcy for nearly two hundred years. There is something instilled in these characters that is timeless and continues to make a mark on girls of all ages.

I still have not admitted my own folly in this. I watched a film tonight, Lost in Austen, in which a woman from modern London mysteriously changes places with Elizabeth Bennett. While the entire plot of Pride and Prejudice is changed, it all works out for good in the end, with a few bumps and potholes along the way. It was not so much the story itself that caught my attention tonight but the title of the film. Lost in Austen. It echoed in my head when the movie finished and continued to repeat over and over. I realized that I was maybe a little lost in Austen myself.

As I watched these films and read the books, I made a mental list of the qualities that I thought were essential to finding a man. It is not that making a list of qualities is a bad thing. In fact, I think you should know what you want and should not settle for less than that. My mistake, however, was evident once I was absorbed in the world of Austen and other writers like her. I was so set on that mental list of qualities, that I readily excused the weaknesses of the characters I had fallen in love with. Of course, I knew that Mr. Darcy was prejudiced or that Mr. Thornton was a little rough around the edges, yet I told myself that those character flaws were what helped drive the story.

While that may be true, I find that I am not so ready to excuse those same flaws, or new ones, in men today. I bemoan the fact that these men from novels have become non-existent. I rant with my girlfriends about society's lack of single gentlemen. (I am in no way saying that those who have found their own are not really with a gentlemen or their own "Mr. Darcy.") We turn away from men who do not seem to "fit the bill," even at first glance, and barely give them another minute of our time.

 If I take a good, hard look in my heart I find that I am being unfair to men all the world over. Besides the fact that I do not know all of the men in this world, could it be that I focus too much on the flaws and fail to see the strengths, the very qualities I am looking for? Do we all, as females, fail to recognize that the flaws of Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, or any of the other gentlemen we prefer from the novels were what the heroines themselves focused on at first? Elizabeth found Mr. Darcy to be insufferable and full of prejudice. She was not swept off her feet at first meeting. It took working through the flaws in both characters to realize he was Mr. Darcy *swoon*.

I will still get teary-eyed while watching Mr. Thornton see Margaret Hale on the opposite train at the station. I will feel the butterflies in my stomach when Captain Wentworth shows Anne her childhood estate and begins to dance with her in the front yard. I think that even if I never find my own Mr. Thornton or Captain Wentworth (although I hope that I do), I still need to see the qualities in the opposite sex and not be so quick to find the flaw(s). And this is going to take lots of work!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Silver Platter of Life

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” 

  Andre Gide, French writer

Today started just like any other. I woke up late for class, rushed around to get ready, and opened the front door to leave the comfort of my house. The after effects of rain. Part of me wanted to go back inside and crawl under the covers, ignoring the puddles and slight chill in the air. Still, the "better" student inside of me pushed my feet forward and thus my day began.

Have you ever began a day, like this one? Not different from any other? You're just walking down the street and then Bam! your life is changed forever. (Would a post of mine be complete w/out one reference to Friends?) It could be many things: a new relationship, a baby, a new job. etc. You see it happen to others and never think you could be so lucky yourself. When the world (whatever the world represents to you) is offered on a silver platter, you don't think twice that this is you, a normal average day person, who never has life-changing opportunities. 

Do you walk around it, pushing that silver platter aside for the path you are already walking? It's safe that way; you know the path. You kind of even expect how life might turn out if you stay on it. you take a chance on life and see where this new adventure takes you, losing sight of the shore and jumping in feet first? 

I am ready to take a running leap of faith and make the biggest splash the world has ever seen! 


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Thrills and the Chills of Subbing

Whew. I made it through my first day of subbing. It was quite the experience for someone who grew up in a small church school most of her life and only subbed in the same school. (Note that I do not dislike my upbringing or any previous experience; public school is VASTLY different.)

First off, by request of friends, Matt and Kate, I wore my teacher-y outfit, complete with a sweater. Granted, once I got there I realized I could have worn jeans. Oh well. I looked professional. :) Notice the picture that's right here. Typical first day of school picture, minus the backpack. (This was taken at the end of the day. I was very tired!)

Let's see...the kids were very sweet except when they got on each other's nerves. Then, kindness flew out the window, even towards me. It looked like I was choosing sides many times, when of course, I wasn't. I think I held my own though, and quite well. I had about 25 students, I think. That is a lot for me to take on at once!

As far as turning out like previous substitutes I had, I don't think that happened today. Two boys from another class that I was teaching tried to convince me they could sit beside each other (Kindergarten nap time déjà vu!), which I did not fall for. They kept lobbing these ideas of what their teacher lets them do, and I kept hitting them right out of the park. :) It took a lot of effort, but I succeeded. As far as the storytelling goes, I did not really have a chance to say much besides what we were working on. I did tell them my name was Anastasia, to which they all said it was a beautiful name and they really liked it.

Matt suggested I teach them the "Math is a Wonderful Thing" song. As much as I wanted to, there wasn't a way, as it was test day in math. I did, however, get to talk about Schoolhouse Rock, which I think is awesome. They even knew what I was talking about. (It was a little disappointing to find out they only see them through youtube. ABC's One Saturday Morning, anyone? :D) Still, that was something that my teacher used to teach me, and I've always wanted to do the same.

One thing that kind of bothered me was a social studies book we read. It was made for the classroom, but it had a cuss word right in it. I had to read the book aloud to the students, and I almost said it right there. Personally, I don't like to cuss, but I'm not going to go ballistic on others that do it. To have it in a classroom teaching tool though? Is that normal? I really have no idea.

Overall, today was good. The next time will be great, and the third, tenth, and fiftieth time will be even better. Practice makes perfect, right?

Miss Corder (NOT Miss CorNer...half the class thought I said that!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

the Sub...

I got my first call tonight to substitute teach tomorrow. This is my first time at a public school, and it's the first time I do not know the kids. (Previous subbing has been done at my church's school.) I am excited but nervous. It's the fifth grade classroom. How do fifth graders act these days? Rowdy? Mean? A little mature or not at all? I have NO idea.
When I think about the kind of sub I want to be, I always look back on my own experience with subs. I went to the public elementary school in a small town in Missouri for three years (K-2nd). I only remember two substitutes from that time. In Kindergarten, we told our substitute teacher that we had long center times in the morning and at nap time we could lay wherever we wanted. I put my mat next to my cousin's, even though we were not allowed to be by each other (due to playing around and talking). She believed us, and the next day, our teacher (who was just plain mean) yelled at us. It bothers me that in Kindergarten we knew to lie to the sub. Seriously? I was five years old!
In first grade, we had a substitute teacher, and I still remember his name: Mr. Hoffman. He rushed us through our seatwork, giving us the answers when we were done, and then told Hercules stories the rest of the day. No joke. He loved Hercules. I believe I had him for two days. He was never asked back. Our teacher was amazed that the entire class of 30 students received 100 percents, and we told her that he gave us the answers. She was furious. I think he was probably better off being a professor of mythology or something.

So you see, with only these experiences in mind, how do I know how to be a good sub? One that doesn't let the kids walk all over her and lie, but still has fun and can share the knowledge that has been gleaned over the years? I hope the kids want me back, and even more that the school staff does.

More to come on the subbing topic!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coping with the sick bug

I hate having colds. Right now I am suffering from the worse kind...stuffy nose, nasty cough, headache, and I put "d's" on the end of my words like Monica did (See Friends Season 6 Episode 13). Usually, I love being sick, as it gives me an excuse to sleep and not do anything. (Twisted thinking, I know.) However, with this semester being so tough, it is actually freaking me out. I've not been able to do any homework that is due this week since I can't do anything for more than a few minutes before I feel wiped out. This has led to more than enough sleeping and entertainment watching.

Whenever I get sick, I pull out my "sick movies." These are the movies that I always watch when the sick bug bites. Some have been on the list for a long time, while others are recently added. I may not get through all of them, but I have them beside me just in case.

1. You've Got Mail - I have been watching this whenever I get sick for the past four years, solely for the scene when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is sick and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) comes and takes care of her. That, and I think their story is one of the last great love stories of Hollywood that is not tainted. ;)

2. Gidget, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Gidget Goes to Rome - I love the Gidget series; so much, in fact, that I own the TV series as well. Its lightheartedness and nostalgic feeling makes me forget how sick I am. I just want to be on the beach with my own Moondoggie (preferrably with a different name).

3. Some Kind of Wonderful - This is a newer one for me, but I love it. It brings me to tears everytime, sick or not, when Keith (Eric Stoltz) gives Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) the earrings. It then makes me want to watch He's Just Not that Into You for the Gigi/Alex storyline.

 4. Anne of Green Gables and the Sequel - Need I really say much about these two? The greatest love story of all time, and if the movies had just ended with the sequel, then all would be well. Still, the first two are well done, despite the end of the second when Gilbert is ill not following the book. Nevertheless, it makes my sickness look minscule compared to Gilbert's near death experience.

5. Penelope - I almost forgot this one! This is my favorite James McAvoy character by far (well, he did do a good job as Mr. Tumnus), and really, I have no words for this. It is definitely a must-see.

6. If I am up for a longer movie, I opt for Meet Me in St. Louis, Singin' In the Rain or any other classic on my shelf (In the Good Old Summertime - an earlier version of You've Got Mail, Summer Stock, Bringing Up Baby, Roman Holiday, etc.).

This is the main list, and movies are always floating in and out. However, these are ones that I never tire of. :)

I am off to watch Gidget Goes Hawaiian...What do you like to watch? ;)