Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006


This isn't a formal break from blogging, but I won't be blogging as frequently between now and the new year. I might get a few things in here. Most of my readers are home anyway, or not at a computer as much around the holidays.

I hope you all have a great break from whatever it is that you might be doing. Make it a celebration.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

London - 19 Mar 06

It was a long and bittersweet journey to the airport this morning. I am so thankful for the journey/adventure that Kate and I had, but found the goodbye tougher than I expected. I didn’t expect it to be that difficult because I will see her in four weeks and two days. I will never forget this week, but I sometimes grow accustomed to not being around Kate for long periods of time. When we are brought together after such a long time apart I feel so refreshed, as if I wasn’t living in a way before our reunion. Love is one complex feeling. It does invite the possibility of great pain into one’s life. A part of this pain, comparitively an easy part to deal with, is ushered in by having to say goodbye to loved ones. I see her last wave to me and I have to build up my courage in order to make that last turn when she vanishes from my sight. I bat the tears away and try to be stoic and manly as I walk through Heathrow. At times during my journey home I picture her waiting at her gate. Throughout the afternoon I imagine her on the plane flying back to Denver, back to so much I love and know. I grow envious of the ones that get to see her next, because our visit was so short.

It makes me sad to know that in less than a month I will be leaving behind a new love, London, without knowing when we will be reunited. Leaving here will sort of be like leaving a great friend never knowing if and when you will ever see each other again. Maybe I will never return, maybe it will be 30, 20, or 5 years from now. It is a hole in me not to know for sure, but that is because I love this place.

Kate and I did so much this week. We took a lot of pictures which I know I will be thankful for if I don’t remember everything we did on every day.

Sunday: We got settled in Muswell Hill and rested for a bit. The first sightseeing was a trip to St. Paul’s for an organ recital. At this point in the day Kate was very tired and afterwards we got food at Marks and Spencer and brought it home.

We were a bit slow on Monday morning to get out of the house. We headed to the National Gallery and Kate got to see Trafalgar Square as well. We went to lunch at Wagamama and it was so good! I am glad I waited to go there with Kate. At Trafalgar I gave Kate the postcard that surprised her with the trip to Paris. She cried, as I knew she would, and we embraced with big smiles on our faces right in front of the National Gallery. We went down to Oxford Street. Kate saw the shopping madness. We had dinner at Spaghetti House which was alright, but not worth a return trip.

Tuesday: We went straight for the TKTS booth in Leicester Square to get Les Miserables tickets. A quick trip to AIFS to drop off a paper and back to Muswell Hill. We had some proper fish and chips at Toff’s on the hill. Kate was pleased with that dining experience. It might have been her favorite. We then headed back into central London to the Tower of London and awesome views of Tower Bridge and City Hall. Then to Leicester Square and a regrettable meal at Garfunkel’s, the UK’s Denny’s. Then it was Les Miserables and a great end to the day. The songs were catchy and good. The Queen’s Theatre was roomy and the eleventh row impressed me with grand legroom in this Hobbit controlled environment.

To get to Heathrow by Tube you have to take the Piccadilly line. From Finsbury Park to Heathrow there are 27 stops. That makes for a good hour on the train. It is eight stops short of riding the entire length of a London Underground line. Much of the Piccadilly line west of central London is above ground too.

Anyway, that morning a busker (street performer) hopped on the train with a guitar.

He freaked some people out. All the Londoners were saying, “Ah, great. Another nutter.”
“Hey folks. Sorry I am late for the show,” He said.

He started playing his guitar and was actually not that bad. He played a few Beatles tunes and tried unsuccessfully to get the carriage to sing along. After a few stops he said, “I will spare you the pain of listening to me upon receiving any donation.”

A lady from one end of the carriage walked to the center where he was standing and handed over a couple of pounds.

He stepped off at the next stop and got on the next carriage up from us to do the same thing all the way up the train.

I couldn’t sit with Kate at her gate until she boarded. I had to say goodbye after she checked in and before she went through security. Those first few steps we take that separate us are always the hardest, no matter how long the separation. All we can see in our immediate futures is the absence of each other. That is all I ever see when we have to say goodbye like this. For a time I feel so empty and devoid of something that completes me that I only care about seeing her again. I literally care about nothing else for a moment.

Wagamama is one of the best places to eat in London. I regret to say that it has not come to the US. Wagamama’s curry is worth crying over when you realize you are 5,000 miles away from it. I have some friends going abroad in the next year though. Chris, Erik, please if you are in Auckland, go to Wagamama. And to the Mick and Rachel, I think you are going, there is a Wagamama in Dublin and Cork. This just in, there is one Wagamama coming soon to Boston. This is good. They have to start somewhere.

The TKTS booth sells half price tickets to almost all of the big shows in the West End. There are a lot of rip-off booths, but none come close to being as good as TKTS. The sales are for same day shows. Many of the best seats in the house are reserved for last minute buyers; this explains the eleventh row seats for Les Miserables.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

London - 11 Mar 06

Picture taken at Dunkeld

There is more to say on Scotland, but luckily I have a map with our route marked on it. I have also saved an itinerary. This list is just parts of the trip that I don’t think I have written about: the castle on the cliff on Skye, sheep with colors on their backs and what that means, the nuclear sub, the nukes in Scotland, Fort Augustus and Loch Ness, how people really do believe in Nessie, Dunkeld (the cemetery, benches, trees, bridge, and the church, but most memorable, the peace on the bank of that river with the snow drumming away on my hood), and the train ride home.

I walked along Oxford Street today from Marble Arch to Oxford Circus stations. I like the crowd of Oxford Circus every once in a while. I came for a copy of In Cold Blood and I found it for ₤3 at an HMV. I’ve started it and am quite struck by Capote’s rich descriptions. He really did master the non-fiction novel. Even though I am only thirty pages in, I can tell this, that I was inspired by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote in the film of the same name because it seemed to accurately fit the man, and it does. Prior to watching the film I was only vaguely familiar with the kind of person that Truman Capote was reported as being like. I always love when a movie puts in me the desire to learn more about its subject. I am looking forward to reading more of it as I travel to Heathrow tomorrow and wait for Kate’s arrival at 10 a.m. It is peculiar, but I am sort of nervous to see Kate because it has been so long since we have been around each other. I am also comforted by this feeling because it is a level of excitement and anticipation that is not often reached. One more night in this house without Kate.

The ewes get weird colors on their backs during the mating season because of the colors painted on the undersides of the rams. Each ram has a different color on his belly. The ranch hands are able to tell what ram did what ewe. They joke that the ewes with multicolored backs are the “hot ones.”

Scotland, because it is so desolate and sparsely populated, is home to the UK's nuclear stockpile. We saw an enormous nuclear sub that was cruising about in one of the bays. The Scots don't like that there are all these nukes sitting around in their ground. I didn't like it, and I was there for three days.

Dunkeld was our last stop before returning to Edinburgh. I spent most of my time standing on the lip of a river bank. I was taking it all in. I was being sentimental and dramatic about it all, but rightfully so. I was not just thinking about the amazing weekend I had just had, but the four months I was spending away from familiarities, away from everything. I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity. On that river bank it hit me, I was not taking this trip for granted. I was learning and seeing as much as I could in four months. I was working to make the UK a temporary home. And, maybe that is when I first thought I don’t want this place to be a temporary home, I love this land.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

London - 9 Mar 06

Returning to the Scotland trip…Saturday’s start was at Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. We then ended at Loch Ness. Before we left the Isle of Skye we drove the northern perimeter of the island. It is beautiful. There was plenty of snow, and hairy coos and sheep were running around in it. We had some more snowball fights as well.

One bus stop was at a creek where some of us put our faces in the nearly frozen water. Fab also filled up his bottle with the mountain water and it was so great. I think too many people are scared to drink mountain water. We are all so paranoid. Some of my best shots of the whole weekend were taken on Skye at a waterfall and at a castle that was next to a cliff. I got a donut for 36p from a local bakery in Portree. It was far better than something in London for the same price.

The group had a memorable presentation from a Scotsman on how the Scottish lived 600 years ago. I don’t know completely what it would have been like, but I’m pretty sure it would have sucked. He showed us how to fold up a kilt and how to kill using traditional Scottish weaponry. The Scottish, like the British, strike me as a generally sexist group compared to the general population in the US. Gender stereotyping and discrimination is much more of a joking matter over here. I feel the US is closer to gender equality than the UK is. It is a cultural habit of some British, who are mostly from the old school, to use sexist jokes when talking to foreigners, as if they are showing off their chauvinistic values. I don’t know if they think we would be impressed. I just don’t know, but it is sketchy.

I have been really busy, and I will be for one more day so I am going to bed, but I haven’t written anything about how soon Kate is going to be here. I am excited.

I don’t like Scotch. Scotch tape is great. I love the green plaid pattern on the paper inside the tape casing, but scotch whiskey is nasty. If I were more of a fan of that liquor I would have liked the Isle of Skye a little more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, the Isle of Skye is not just for scotch lovers, it was one of the most far out things I saw when I was abroad, but there were all these famous distilleries around, like the Tallisker distillery, which makes some of the finest scotch you can buy.

The island feels like the North Pole. You drive to the northern tip of it and the cold blue sheet of the Atlantic envelops your vision. There are impossible rock formations that remind me of Mordor, except they were blasted with snow when I saw them. There are signs of civilization, but that didn’t keep me from feeling I was the only person around for miles and miles.
The water that we pulled from the creek was the best. Don’t always be scared of diseased water. Drink. Enjoy.

Ah yes, the Loch Ness Monster. There are people that believe there is some creature in the loch. Light only works thirty or thirteen feet down in the water. The loch has so much peet in it that deeper than one of the two said distances there is no light that is able to pierce the dark water. The myth really does live on, even in the Highlands.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

London - 6 Mar 06

The rest of that week was pretty busy. I had to lead a discussion on The Merchant of Venice. That wasn’t very fun. I was also making plans for the Scotland trip. It was a hectic few days and things are going to remain busy for at least the rest of the week and then Kate arrives on Sunday…Sunday!

I wrote the following on some scrap paper on March 4 from the hostel at Loch Ness:

I debated on whether I should take my journal along and decided not to. That was a stupid thing for me to do, especially considering my last journal entry.

We have seen so many things the last two days. I need to write down just a few words about things and maybe explain a few of them in greater detail later on in my writing.

Thursday…The 120 mph train to Edinburgh still took five hours with stops and all. It was instantly colder in Scotland, but also much friendlier, which is more important. The Scottish not only have a more aesthetically pleasing accent, but they will give you the time of day. The rush in London makes people so rude at times. They need to chill out! The pints are cheaper in Edinburgh, which was a nice present after paying $500 for this trip. I drank a Corona with lime, the first Corona since I had been here. They cost ₤3 or more in London.

Friday…Woke up early and left in the canary yellow Haggis tour bus at 8 am with Tony the tour guide. He proved to be fantastic and hilarious throughout the whole trip. We ended the day on the Isle of Skye, but on the way there we saw so much. Tony used his GPS (global positioning sword) for most of the trip. We saw Stirling, Glencoe, and Fort William on the way to Skye.

Lunch was at a 300-year-old pub which Rob Roy supposedly visited quite regularly. I had the braveheart burger with some haggis on it. It was pretty good, not too bad for intestines. I indulged in some chocolate cake and ice cream afterwards.

We also saw a castle that was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I thought of Kendra because she is absolutely obsessed with that movie.

Scotland’s countryside is beautiful and surprising. I didn’t expect to see so many mountains with tons of snow on them. The drive through Glencoe was beautiful. The mountains slope down to the valley with no foothills in sight. I ran up one of the slopes for a while with someone from AIFS that came along.

I believe near Fort William we saw a monument to commandos, but the highlight of the visit was the RAF jet practicing in the valley. The jet came in at really low elevations and then would pull straight up. It was an air show. The Atlantic around Scotland was so blue. It is weird to see snow on the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, which peaks at 4,409 feet, because the snow goes from sea level up to the peak in one swoop.

Scotland was radical. It was so nice to go to the other end of the island. It really isn’t that far away, but it is much different than London. The tour guide was funny. He asked us if we were enjoying our time in London. We all said yes. He then asked if we had gotten the BBS yet.

“Ay, the Black Boogie Syndrome, have you gotten it?” He asked again.
There wasn’t anyone on the bus that didn’t have it. The air down in the tube stations and in parts of London is so nasty and polluted that it turns your boogers black. Not a light shade of black, but black.

Haggis is sheep intestine. Usually it is served as a steaming pile of brown stuff on your plate, but the burger I had was a haggis patty. I thought I would be able to stomach that more than the steamy intestine rings.

I wish we had spent more time in Edinburgh. There are loads of museums and lots of awesome architecture there, especially when you come out of the depths of the train station that is in the center of town. On the train ride up I read a short book, The Case for Easter, by Lee Strobel. I left it in the hostel the next morning.
The first picture is of that really old pub.
The second picture is of Glencoe Valley.

Monday, December 11, 2006

London - 26 Feb 06

I didn’t go six days without writing, but I did go six days without writing in this journal. I spent more time on blogs this last week. I also wrote some important, lengthy, and exhausting emails to friends this week. Feeling the need to write and finding myself without this journal today I wrote the following on a McDonald’s napkin:

I don’t know if I have something in store, but I needed to write so I improvised and used these napkins. Sitting in a McDonalds on Fleet Street, right up from St. Paul’s, I have some time to relax. Personally, I like to think that I write a good amount, or more than my peers, but I have no reason to believe this is true. Perhaps I write significantly less. To raise my writing to an above average level I should write a lot more, and in different locations and times. I have been to too many places where I find myself desperately short of pen and paper. My next computer will be a laptop. I have to promise that to myself because I am becoming more convinced that a laptop is going to be essential to me becoming the writer I want to be.

I often forget the value of writing anything down. It doesn’t have to be after my most recent big adventure. You see, even in the previous sentence I marginalized my day to day experiences. It is still all life, and life is good.

This is a first, journaling on a napkin, but I like it. It adds a sense of adventure and character to this entry. I rode the very slow Hammersmith and City line to the former destination in order to buy another layer, this time a red Nike fleece. I bought my first London Krispy Kreme. It was delectable. I walked from Holborn to here and will now sit under the roof of the most beautiful church I have ever seen.

Later…I just can’t wait for Kate’s arrival. It is two weeks away and she will be here. We just got done talking and she sounds great. Now in a few minutes I’ll talk with my parents. Be back later this week.

I still have the napkin from McDonalds. I copied what I wrote on the napkin into my journal, and then folded the napkin up into a stack of brochures and random stuff from daytrips and whatnot.

Yes, they have Krispy Kreme in London. I paid $3 for one donut.

Not including the Docklands Light Railway, the London Underground is composed of twelve lines. Some lines are newer and faster than others. If you ever go to London, or have been, stay off the Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan, District, Circle, and Metropolitan lines. Those damn trains are always breaking down. A bunch of times I got into a Circle line station and saw a train there with its doors open. I naturally assumed that that train was about to leave the station. I got on, so did many others, and we sat there for a few minutes without word on why we weren’t moving. This is often the case on those crappy lines I mentioned. The rest of them aren’t bad, but the Piccadilly Line gets grossly busy during the rush hour. It also gets hectic in between Holborn and South Kensington because it stops at many of the big London attractions that inevitably draw the most annoying tourists. This is not to say I wasn’t a tourist for three months, but I was quiet, respective of the locals, and tried to be as un-American as possible while I was over there, that meant not being so boisterous and arrogant. In other words, I tried not be a flamboyant Yankee.

Happy Birthday to Mr. Ferber...

...Who is 27 on this day.

The Quarter Life: Friendship and Community

If you haven't visited Aaron Boeke's blog, go there now. Okay, so you know where that is. That's good. Now whenever you see "The Quarter Life" in my blog title you should read my blog and then go to his blog, or vice versa, because we have started a new series on life in our 20s and a lot of what that entails. Our first topic is Friendship and Community.

I have a community of friends that are as unwavering as anything God can give me, except salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. We all have received a Gift greater than one another, and that Gift is continually bringing us closer.

Not too long ago I thought of these friendships as simply that, friendships. I was sold on the fragility of friendships throughout my life, but an odd thing happened when I left for university in Laramie, Wyoming, we became closer. While I was growing deeper and stronger with friends in my hometown I witnessed college, time, and distances separate my new friends at the University of Wyoming from their hometown friends that had been split by a high school graduation.

I took a journey to find out what was keeping us that close. It didn’t take much searching to know that something greater than me, you, us, and our friendship binds us together. What started out as a curious inquiry into Christianity, or a required trip to church, has developed into the community of brothers and sisters that I still find myself underestimating. I know other families like this are hard to find because this one isn’t broken. Though we are made up of broken pieces we are made new and whole by what binds us together. We have all had opportunities to walk away, to grow apart, to pursue life alone, or to find a new community. No friends have proven to be as great. No community has proven to be as strong. No time too long. No distance too far. No struggle too agonizing.

I am still young, but I know I have found friends that will be with me the rest of my life. Just like other friendships and communities, the one I am a part of is fragile. We are susceptible to envy, anger, discontent, and the tragedy of human nature. We have weathered all, and we will weather them again. You may think I sound presumptuous about the future. How do I know we will weather the storm again? How do I know we will continue to grow stronger? Well, I can’t predict the future, but I still know someone that will be there, Jesus, the foundation of this community that feels no borders, and that knows no condition not worth the love that we have been given, and the love we all try to share.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

London - 20 Feb 06

I wrote a lot of emails today, a tremendous amount, maybe more than I have written on any other day in London thus far. I wrote enough to confirm that I write a lot differently in here. I believe my writing is weaker in here, maybe because I think the excess of “I”s and “to be” verbs are going to save space. Maybe they do, but they make the writing weaker. I also use loads of adjectives instead of describing something in detail. Another factor could be that when I write in here, it is only for me. Naturally, I do realize Kate will read this, but this is not for an audience. Emails, papers, and especially blogs have many readers, especially my blog. Ha-ha. I know what I write is going to be seen; it never leaves my head and I think that improves my writing in emails. Not only do I have to write to express my feelings, but I have the goal of entertaining my readers with something, anything. Above all, I want to provoke thought, emotion, and discussion. At this point in my writing career, if I succeed at doing any level of that at all, I am pretty happy with myself.

I was going to write that the Brits call the horns or buzzers at the end of a sporting event a hooter. I heard it tonight while watching some of the Torino Olympic coverage.

The UK has the real KFC over here, but London has become famous for having hundreds of rip-offs. We have KFC (Kansas Fried Chicken), Perfect Fried Chicken, Kabal Fried Chicken, London Fried Chicken, and others. These are all on the way to ghetto Finsbury Park, so I see them everyday.

We are in another cold spell this week. The weather is not pleasant at all right now. It makes me miss my coats and other layers that I left in the US. They would be very welcome right now! I see on my calendar that I get home in eight weeks. I think the time is going fast and I know the next eight, or at least the last six weeks, will go much faster.

I don’t like the British accent. I love hearing Kate’s voice every other day because of her good American accent.

Obviously my ideas on what is "for an audience" and what is for me have changed. I am willing to put a lot more out there now than I used to be. Still at times I find myself scrapping blog ideas because I don't think people would be interested in that, or I think what I wrote is crap because it is so different. I have found that some of that stuff, not all, is really the best stuff to throw out there. I can't be embarrassed of what I have written, or how I have written it. That is easier said than done, but a good rule for me.

I remember sitting down and writing loads of emails at least once a week. My experiences were so new and fresh I found lengthy descriptions and sweeping emotion coming at of me whenever I spoke with or wrote to someone back home.

I was freaking cold for a long time there. Everyone on the tube in the morning rush hour wore big wool coats. I thought about mugging a few people and running off with the coat, but I didn’t want to get deported. It might have been worth it for those few moments I had a thick warm layer on. Ah.

It took me a while to come around to the British accent. I really enjoy it now. Of course any American girl I met over there swooned over the Brit guys because of there accents. I always thought this was so pathetic. When I went to Laramie and met a bunch of foreigner athletes I encountered this lowly phenomenon. Some guy could speak with a really dirty sounding accent and the girls would just melt for him. I was envious at first of this power, but then I saw the girl that this foreigner had just won over and I felt better about it all.


Friday, December 08, 2006

A little Premiership love for you...

Emre's goal, Newcastle vs. Reading

London - 18 Feb 06

18 Feb 06, Saturday

I didn’t manage to write the rest of the weekdays. I don’t really know why.

For class on Wednesday we visited a local Hindu temple. I was in an accepting and welcoming mood until our guide gave us a universalism lecture on how there is only one God, and all the religions of the world reach the same God but in different ways. This is very easy to say. It is also very easy to believe because it makes any religion convenient. This belief eradicates all arguments about the rights or wrongs of any religious practice. If you believe this you don’t have to face tough questions like, “Well, what happens to non-Christians and people of other religions when they die?” This question is certainly a tough one to face for any Christian, but I like it still because it leads to discussion. I would rather the question be there, even though I am not prepared to give an answer.

The guide mentioned holy days of prayer. “The Christian day of prayer is Sunday, but not any more. Now they go shopping.” I should have stood up and walked out of the room. I am fine with him if he believes this, but where and why does he think that fits into a welcome speech to a Hindu temple in which he can present that as fact. I could have screamed so loud. When you promote your opinions of other religions as fact you, more often than not, abandon the principles of your religion, and certainly risk offending those in your presence.

The Eye was on Wednesday. It was a good time, not boring or too long. I wish it lasted longer than a half hour. The views of London, specifically Westminster and the City, are too much to take in for how long you are in the pods on the top half of the wheel.

And yesterday, Cambridge, a very beautiful place, but for visiting for a few hours there isn’t a ton to do. I visited King’s College Chapel, and a museum where a few weeks earlier a patron had fallen down the stairs and taken a couple of vases from the Ming Dynasty with him to the floor. Oops. I couldn’t imagine going to Cambridge. So prestigious. So much in the name. Bob gave the tour and didn’t fail to impress with his limitless knowledge of the UK.

Kate is in Longmont this weekend. I am jealous. It is comforting to know that she is in my house and for me, the very place of ease and comfort.

I’ll actually have to do some studying tomorrow before I go to the 3:15 evensong at St. Paul’s. I might even venture over to Leicester Square and get a look at the crowd for the BAFTAs.

Finally, I ran today. It was sunny this morning and the run felt great. There are some significant hills around here that are great for running and I was able to push myself today, even after taking so much time off. Anyway, I wasn’t as bad a runner today as I thought I was going to be. Running will now be a twice a week activity. I missed it, but now it is back, not as much as I want, but a decent amount.

There is a lot to respond to here. First, the visit to the Hindu temple. I guess one of the reasons the guides universalism comment bothered me so much was because I felt like he was just saying that to be polite. I know he and I believe different things. I don’t need to be patronized by him because he might be afraid of insulting my beliefs. Give it to me straight, what do Hindus believe?

I am glad I didn’t get up and walk out of the room when he made fun of Christians. He had this little smirk after he said that, but it was a serious smirk like, you know what I am talking about? Well, I don’t know what you are talking about. I do know that most of us here aren’t Hindu, in fact most of us are Christians, and we have come to learn about your faith and you can’t talk to us about your faith without insulting another faith. It was hard to swallow. I got all bothered for a while.

The London Eye is the biggest ferris wheel in the world. Technically, it is a observation wheel because you are enclosed in some pods. The London Eye stands on the south side of the Thames at a diagonal across the river from Parliament. When you are at the top you are 443 feet above the Thames. It is pretty insane. It opened in 1999, and at first was a temporary attraction, but it has become permanent. It is officially a more popular tourist attraction than the Eiffel Tower.

Cambridge was quick. I took a lot of pictures. I saw a church where George Washington’s uncle is buried. I saw a church tower that stood before the Norman invasion of England in 1066. I saw where King Henry VIII studied. I saw Isaac Newton’s old dorm room. Did you know that ole’ Newton was curious about his eye one day after his years at Cambridge so he stuck a needle in between his eye and eye socket? He poked around in there and wrote about it afterwards.

The BAFTA ceremony is the UK’s Oscar ceremony. I could have gone down there and spotted a lot of celebrities but it was a rainy weekend in London. The red carpet had half an inch of standing water on it.

Hah, I can’t believe I thought I was going to run twice a week after that run. I didn’t run again over there.
*Pictures taken by me of the Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge and of the Houses of Parliament from the London Eye.

London - 13 Feb 06

13 Feb 06, Monday

I am not going to write much tonight, but I had to say a little something about talking with Kate tonight. At the end of the talk we were both in a funny mood and laughing a lot. We were trying to get ready to pray but we just kept on laughing. It made us both really miss one another at a greater level for a few moments. Kate went from laughing to crying a little bit. I got teary eyed and silent. It was very hard at that moment to not break down, but we did very well. I love her so much that it is impossible to block her laughter from touching my soul.

Our trip to Paris is booked as of today. We will be traveling on the Eurostar and spending one night in Paris. I hope the hotel isn’t a dive, but that isn’t a big deal. She will be so shocked. I can’t wait to spring that one on her. I think she could pass out. I am going to wait until she gets here to tell her. London and Paris with Kate. It is incredible that I am not lying when I write that.

I remember that night we got to laughing so much. There was so much fun in that laughter, and then there was so much sadness. We hadn’t forgotten that we were apart, but it served as a hard reminder that a month still separated us, and so did an ocean. I remember thinking about Laramie then, a town I had lived in for four and a half years, and it seemed so far away, so foreign. Kate seemed so far away, so far away that it seemed as though I could never see her again. What was once so familiar was now alien to me. I hadn’t even been gone long, just over a month to be exact. Seeing her again was like a miracle for me. All of a sudden I had this love back in my physical presence that I had separated myself from for a couple months in order to protect myself from getting too homesick. I will write more about seeing her again when that entry comes up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

London - 12 Feb 06

12 Feb, Sunday

I wrote the following before and during the organ recital at St. Paul’s tonight:

Quiet. Echoes of footsteps. The red glow of the choir stall lamps. Black and white marble floors. Ornate. Holy. Peaceful. The glow of the gold leaf. The inability to tell when the dome above me stops rising toward the heavens it was built to reach. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel: the men that are depicted in mosaics around the bottom of the dome. They are angled toward the floor. There are so many statues and busts of children and babies in this place. I would like to see a list of the people who have worshipped here. You look or walk in a direction of a corner of the church and you never quite reach it because it is too vast, or you are simply stopped in your tracks by an elaborate anything that has evaded your gaze until now. To think that the previous cathedral that stood here before the Great Fire of London was bigger is baffling.

Later on...I did attend the service after the organ recital. It was a little different because it was informal. There was no choir to lead the hymns. I have to go to an evensong service next week for a choir. That will be more worshipful. I also found Holy Trinity at Brompton, but they didn’t have any evening services, which I was surprised by. I will have to make it there by 11:15 on a Sunday to worship there. I will definitely make it soon I think. Maybe a service there in the morning and an evensong at St. Paul’s later that day.

This next week is a busy one with the Globe visit, the London Eye, and a trip to Cambridge. Just like this last week I will find myself in awe again of all that I am getting to do here. I am being spoiled. I love it.

I need to clarify that the Holy Trinity church I found was not the one I was looking for. I was looking for Holy Trinity Brompton in Knightsbridge, London. I found Holy Trinity Church in Chelsea. When I got there and it was all locked up I was a bit confused. I didn’t know what to expect, but to find out they didn’t have an evening service was surprising. Eventually I found HTB and went to a service there. I thought the service was going to be geared more toward the young adult, but it was more family based. I made note of the evening service, but never got around to going to it. I regret that.

By the way, HTB has an amazing website. Click on the link I included and take a look. They podcast messages too. HTB is the home church of the Alpha course that you may, or may not be familiar with. Alpha is sort of big.

London - 11 Feb 06

11 Feb 06

I finally got to see the changing of the guard today. It was memorable. I enjoyed seeing the guards and especially the pictures I was able to get. I got a great shot of myself next to the lone guard at St. James’ Palace. Every time I bring out the camera and get some pictures I get so excited about showing them off when I get back home. I will be able to put on quite the show with my pictures. I have one video of Trafalgar Square and then I took one today when the guard and the band marched by.

Kate arrives in 4 weeks and one day. We just got off the phone and it is a weird feeling to be this close to her arrival, but it is certainly not close enough to regularly anticipate her arrival. I will do my best to not think about how awesome it will be to have Kate here.

The roommates and I are going to another host’s home to have dinner tonight, should be interesting. I hope the food is good and maybe it will be cheap, or free? That would be excellent.

The changing of the guard was a great time. I was surprised to hear the band play all sorts of tunes from movies and musicals. They played the tune from Titanic. I wanted to leave right then. There was a huge crowd at Buckingham Palace that day. One boy near me got his head stuck in between the bars of the fence surrounding the palace. A mounted policewoman cleared the way for the fire department to get the boy unstuck. I think the boy wiggled out of the fence before anyone helped him. While the band plays the new guards stand at attention, or try to. One of them passed out and a couple of stiffly moving guards rushed to his aid.

The dinner I had on this night was one of the best I had while I was away from home. It was just a spaghetti dinner, but with some vegetables and garlic bread. I don’t even think I had to pay for any of it. The girls that cooked it up were all very nice and welcoming about having people over to the house they were staying at. The hosts were out of town.

My poor picture of Salisbury Cathedral in the last post does not do it justice. Actually, no picture does it justice. Go see it. United Airlines had a special sale today for nonstop flights to London from Denver for $175 each way. Hearing about that depressed me for a good part of the morning.

And about the pictures I took over there, it is funny, but I am sure I am not the only one that does this, but I foolishly expect people to be as fascinated with my pictures as I am. This is never the case. You see a picture of a church. I see my Sunday home. You see a picture of a street in London. I see a route I walked as much as I could because I loved every last bit about what I was doing with my life as I took those steps.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

London - 10 Feb 06

10 February 2006, Friday

It has indeed been too long since I wrote in here last. This week wasn’t too busy. I gave up my search for a coat, but didn’t leave the TK Maxx (the UK version of TJ Maxx) without a Quiksilver zip up sweatshirt. It has been nice to have another layer.

New pen. The one I was using all this time was not working properly. However, I don’t like the way this looks nearly as much as the previous pen.

I saw Stonehenge and Salisbury today. The former was more interesting to see than I thought it was going to be. The highlight of the day was Salisbury Cathedral. The spire is the tallest in England and the second tallest in all of Europe. It was most impressive. Again I found myself in awe of what humans can build. The spire stretches higher than everything else in the surrounding town. It is indeed the closest thing to Heaven for miles. The builder achieved his goal.

Being at Stonehenge made me think of how there are so many sights I have seen on this trip that blow me away. You can live your entire life in America and see famous landmarks in pictures, film, TV, and the internet. Their intense and detailed replication begins to mean less and less to the person receiving the replications. Eventually, the building, or landmark, is no more real to you than that UFO you have seen in a thousand pictures. It exists only in your mind until you come to a place like England. You stroll out of the tube station and Big Ben is looking you in the face. You drive over a hill and that 5,000 year old arrangement of rocks is right in front of you. There is such a massive movement to bring reality to people so they don’t have to go look for it themselves. You might forget what real is, until the fresh breeze of something as beautiful as the Salisbury plain on a cold winter afternoon stretches out to you in its hues of green and blue. The dose of reality strikes hard. This has certainly been an enlightening experience, coming over here I mean.

I don’t come by many enlightening experiences, especially for wanting to be a writer, but you can’t try to come by enlightening thoughts. If you go searching for them they will run away from you, but if you live your life and busy yourself with what you love and value, then those thoughts start snaking their way toward you. I would suggest just grabbing one at a time. If you tighten your grip on everything all at once your greed will get the best of you and you won’t come out anymore wiser or smarter than you were before this all went down.

Tomorrow I think I might finally get around to seeing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Apparently it takes place at 11:30, but that sounds a bit early. I hope we catch it in time. I will end with some random, brief observations.

The British have bad teeth.

There aren’t as many fat people in Britain as there are in America.

I hear about violent acts more than I thought I would. The reporting of it is still smaller than the US, but factor in the size and it seems the same, although there are far fewer guns in the UK.

TVR, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lotus, Ferrari, Porsche, Opel; these are all brands of cars that I see so much, everyday, that the experience has become like seeing a BMW in Longmont. It is that much of an occurrence.

Just reading that for tonight was enough for me, I hope it made some sort of sense to you. Maybe some thoughts on it tomorrow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

London - 6 Feb 06

6 February 2006, Monday

I did return to Oxford Street to buy a jersey. I ended up getting an England one. It is sweet. I will definitely sport it once it gets warm out.

I started a letter to Kate yesterday. It was nice to sit for a while and think of things to tell her that I had not already told her on the phone. I also finished looking at my calendar for the week she is here. I started laying things out for a one night, two day trip to Paris. I just can’t imagine breaking that surprise on her. That will be unbelievable for her. If the one night stay doesn’t work out than we will do a one day rush through the highlights of Paris. I figure in two days we could see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and maybe a couple other things. There was a while there that I was thinking about going to Prague for spring break, but I don’t really want to go with a crowd, and besides, I would rather dedicate that money to the time with Kate, and toward the trip to Paris. I do believe I will return to Europe again, and I have to remind myself of this when I feel like I am not going anywhere. That thought is ridiculous because I live in London, and I am going to Paris, Scotland, and the Middle-Freaking-East to see Guy. I am going to see a lot. After being in Europe for a while it will be particularly nice to see a whole new region of the world. A crazy opportunity. Too tired to go on.

The England jerseys are my favorite shirts I own. I went back before I left and bought one more for myself and one for my dad. I should have bought more. I can’t find an England jersey for less than $70 anywhere. I didn’t pay half that much for a couple of them over there.

My trip to Paris with Kate was my only trip to mainland Europe while I was overseas. Many students I knew took two trips to the continent and some even more, but my trip to Israel was the monetary equivalent of three round trips into Europe from London. For a while I felt like I was missing out on these opportunities to go places when I was the only one in London and everyone else I knew was in Spain, Italy, Germany, or watching a live sex show in Amsterdam while eating space cakes. Okay, so I wasn't jealous of the fourth destination, but it was a real destination for most Americans I met over there. After I went to Paris and Scotland, and as my trip to Israel approached I felt that I had spent my money well, and I realized that the biggest adventure was always going to be living in London, and it was.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"We [have] become accidental crusaders for Christ."

Okay, I thought I was done tonight, but a quick visit over to Aaron's blog led to reading all of his blogs for the day.

I followed his link to Boundless Webzine and read "Gays vs. The Garden Guy." You can read it here.

I am too tired to react right now, but even if I felt like writing I wouldn't be able to say something as good as this right now:

"Both Kaufman and the Farbers have made a tragic mistake. In an attempt to stand up for what they believe in and defend their right to do so, they have decided that love is in fact not the most important thing, but being right is." - Mr. Boeke at his blog. I like it.

That's not Saddam falling

I am not writing tonight, but I thought some of you might get a kick out of this.
A Guardian cartoon...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

London - 4 Feb 06

4 February 2006, Saturday

I didn’t think A Midsummer Night’s Dream was nearly as funny as most people in the theatre did. It was at the Novello, but I was in the front row, which was awfully nice. It was the first time I had ever been in the front row of anything.

Guy was the first one to wish me a happy birthday yesterday. That was very special. I also had a long conversation with Kate from Oxford Street. I was looking all over for a coat, but no luck yet. I did buy a new bag at a store called Topshop. It was ₤25, but I splurged anyway. I am going to continue that search for a coat tomorrow at Camden Town. I should also return to Oxford Street for very cheap official football jerseys. I love those shirts. I regret not buying one today. Maybe I will return tomorrow before the organ recital at St. Paul’s.

When I am away from Kate for this long a time I literally go into hibernation in a sense. I am not going to lie, I like kissing Kate and I think about it on occasion when I am not around her, but I really can't over here. I can't for a number of reasons. She is so far away, both in distance and time. I will go crazy if I think about how long it is until I get to kiss her. And, thinking about kissing her is only going to make me miss her more. Also, if I let myself go it could be trouble, the mind is pretty powerful and creative. So far I am doing very well, and Kate is too. It can be very hard from time to time when I see couples walking hand in hand, or snuggling. I find that I envy them and hate them for doing that in front of me because my girl is thousands of miles away.

The Pianist is on TV right now. It is such an amazing film. I saw an advertisement for the Super Bowl just a moment ago, but I will not see it tomorrow. I am not interested in the winner and it will be on very late.

The Clapham North is the name of the pub that I went to with co-workers last night. It was a fun time and I didn’t have to buy one drink, though I did buy some chips.

Sitting in the front row during AMND at the Novello was great, but also frightening. One of the actors was foaming at the mouth, spitting this way and that. I had to swiftly move my legs to one side to dodge the thespian’s phlegm.

Topshop is an extremely trendy store in the UK. I felt way out of place in there. Every shirt was small and every pair of jeans was acid washed and full of holes. I bought the bag, hurried out of the store, emptied my pockets into my new man purse, and dumped the extravagant shopping bag in the nearest trash bin.

London - 2 Feb 06

2 February 2006 - Thursday

I am 23 years old tomorrow. The plan is to go out with the co-workers from MOM’s. It should be a fun time, with maybe some free drinks. My prediction, tomorrow won’t feel much like a birthday. How could it without a little pile of presents, cards, family, and cake? Bummer.

The Producers was a great show. Hopefully Kate and I will be able to go to it when she comes over here.

It is really cold here right now. I am not enjoying the weather at all…especially without a coat. I searched for one tonight, but of course the coats were short in the waist or short in the sleeves. Marvelous. I found a bag I would like to buy. It would be more comfortable than something on my back all day long.

I had an hour long conversation with Kate tonight. I miss her so much. Oh, and I am making last minute decisions now, but I should have my reservation for a trip to Israel by this time next week. I’ll be there during Holy Week. I fly back to London on Easter. I’ll be in London just over twelve hours before heading back to the US on April 17th.

My birthday over there didn’t feel much like a birthday because it was completely different than any celebration I had ever had, but it was one of the best. Being with new friends was awesome. I didn’t spend a penny on pints and probably had six. I did have some good chips and garlic mayo. Mm, garlic mayo, big fried chunks of potatoes, and a golden pint.

Kate and I wouldn’t see The Producers, but we got a good bit of everything else in while she was there. There is no use writing about it now because I wrote about it plenty after she left.

The London winter surprised me. Temperatures were very deceiving before I went over there. I wasn’t factoring in the dampening cold that London has. When I read 40 degrees on the weather report I naturally thought of the 40 degrees I knew, that 40 degrees is dry, not too windy, and definitely bearable with a sweatshirt. I didn’t bring a coat over there. That was a bad idea. Layers didn’t help that much until I bought some more clothes.

I did buy that bag I wrote of toward the beginning of this post. I wore it everyday from then on and still have it. It is a man purse, and I love it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

London - 31 Jan 06

31 January 2006, Tuesday

I finally made it into the British Museum yesterday with another tour, courtesy of Bob. He knows so much. Anyway, the museum would be a good place to go with Kate. They have an awesome library, Egyptian artifacts, and the Rosetta Stone. The museum is another magnificent building that is surreal to walk through because with every step you take you wonder at a human’s ability to build such monuments to science, history, education, and especially religion.

Yesterday ended with two great conversations with Kate and then my parents. They were especially enjoyable because they were only 5 pence a minute. That is a lot better than 20 pence a minute, the rate I was getting with Orange, a huge cellular company over here.

A tour of Parliament was the first thing on for today. There was high security of course, but very much worth it. We got to see the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords is almost all gold it seems. Everything gold is either solid gold, or gold leaf; no fake crap in the House of Lords.

I spend a little time during the week trying to solve sudoku puzzles out of the Metro, the free Tube paper, but I am not good at them at all.

Tomorrow I go to The Producers. I hear it is a funny show. Friday is my birthday. I really don’t know what I will be doing exactly, but I will figure something out for sure.

This isn’t really a problem for long term residents of London, but three months isn’t enough time to explore the depths of all the museums and galleries in London. They are endless, and impossibly huge. I went to the British Museum three times and I saw half of the exhibits…maybe. Every museum I visited in the UK, and especially in Paris, was too big for a day’s visit.

The rate with Orange was horrendous. After the conversion I was spending 35 cents a minute to talk with Kate and the parents until this entry, the first day I had my new cell with much better service.

Honestly, some of this writing sounds like it is straight out of a 13-year-old’s journal. I am so tempted to edit the older entries, or to just scratch sentences and paragraphs all together. As you can see, I didn’t worry about getting deep thoughts down. I never forgot that those would inevitably come at the end of this journey, and much longer after my return home.

I put the bit in about sudoku just as a reminder to myself that the British are obsessed with sudoku. There are sudoku puzzles in every paper, and often a paper offers multiple puzzles. I took them up, and by the end of the semester I wasn’t that bad.

The Producers show I saw wasn’t with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, but the actors in their stead, for the West End production, were great. Not much on stage can beat Springtime for Hitler.