Thursday, November 29, 2012

home, umami home


Note: The title of this post has nothing to do with the 305, in case you read it wrong.

As a wise man once told me, "Home is where you make it," and this year has produced a lot of definitions of the word "home." I returned to my family's house after graduation, but almost immediately began hopping all over the place--visiting friends around the state, living with family in Italy, etc.--and thus had one sort of home base but multiple homes (does that make sense?).

Nowadays, I find myself thousands of miles from my actual house in Florida, but for an extended-enough period of time that I must, for sanity's sake, make a home out of this place as well. I recently realized that I never shared what my digs even looks like here, so here ya go, a little inside scoop. It isn't surprising that I'm only getting around to sharing this old news just days before I head back to the 'States for the holiday break. Oh well.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blenheim Palace

One week ago, a few of us took advantage of some nice weather and headed a few miles north for Blenheim Palace's annual "Living Crafts for Christmas" market. It was...interesting. Not what we expected out of a Christmas Market, but it was still pretty neat to see the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. I've gotta run off for practice, so here's a simple picture-post:

Twas a looooong driveway...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Museums galore

Oxford not-so-fun fact/rambling story:
I live in on-site college housing, and every morning (9am on the dot), my "scout" comes to empty my trash. She has a key to all the rooms, so she gives a quick rat-a-tat-tat on the door before unlocking the old, noisy doorknobs. The walls are thin: I can hear the entire progression down my hallway (as well as the hallways above and below me). If you don't want to be disturbed, you can place your trash can rubbish bin outside your door, but you can do this for a max of 3 days in a row. I think the every.single.day thing is a bit excessive, and figured the 3-day-max thing was to ensure nothing illegal was going on inside your room. Turns out, however [note: here's the aforementioned fact], the housekeepers are called Scouts at Oxford because they "scout" out your room to make sure no suicide attempts have been made. Yeah, you read that right. Apparently the dreary England conditions + ridiculous workload drive a fair number of people over the edge.

I don't share this info to make light of the subject by any means (the name's origin is probs just an urban myth anyway), but rather as a basis for my excuse of not having "new" material to blog lately. I've been swamped.

Luckily for you, however, I found the draft of a blog sitting around that I've decided to put to use. I wrote it agggges ago [or so it seems], after visiting several London museums. My intention was to add to the post my experiences at several Oxford museums, but...well, did I say I've been swamped? There's definitely still a lot remaining on my places-to-see list...

So howsabout we take a little jog back to the days when leisurely trips to museums, like, happened. Ready, go:


Museums seem to be a big part of my life this year, from Madrid, to DC, to London, and now Oxford. And I haven't paid for a single one of 'em yet!

While in London [two months ago], I visited the following, [and recommend all four!] --

Monday, November 05, 2012

uhhh-pdates


eghhh...I'm getting really bad at this. Here's a life update. Kind of. Forgive me.


1. This Halloween, there were no (or at least minimal numbers of) costumes, there was no trick-or-treating, no sugar overload. Instead, there was a Formal Dinner at my Oxford college, which I attended and ate a delicious meal with my brother at my side and 'new' friends all around me. No complaints here.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Matriculation.

I have learned, firsthand, in this last month in Oxford—just like we're told circa age 5—that time flies when you're having fun.
-And when you're getting used to a new lifestyle.
-And when you're reading ~11 books and writing 9 pages each week.
-And when you're taking up an old sport again.
-And when---
 okay, we'll just leave it at 'time flies when you're having fun.' 
That's what all this has been, essentially.


All of this is just to apologize for the gap in updates. I'm working really hard to "find the balance" among all my various obligations here [self-assigned or otherwise, hehe], and blogging hasn't really fit in there anywhere. That changes now! (For today!)

Sooooo, on to the actual updates-- MATRICULATION.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

last week.

As you might expect (or at least, as you might have figured out from my lack of posts), this past week has been a busy one. I think a quick recap is in order, yeah?

In the past seven days, I have:
  • met tons of cool/fun/smart/amazing people
  • bought a bicycle
  • visited a pub (or six...)
  • bought all the necessary rain gear
  • pole vaulted
  • submitted my first of sixteen 9-page papers
  • met my college advisor, my research supervisor, and all my professors
  • went to my first college "bop"
  • successfully toured around town with my first visitors
  • and matriculated into the University (more on that in a later post)
It's been a whirlwind, and I'm already a bit behind on this week's paper due to all the wonderful time spent doing all the other things on that list above, but I'm not complaining.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

throwback Thursday

No much new has been happening lately, just a few orientation sessions and induction dinners, so here are some pictures from the verrrry beginning of my UK adventure. It was only 1.5 weeks ago, but it already feels like ages. The pics are from a rain-less day spent exploring London with a good friend. Enjoy.

London has a surprising amount of parks...

...but these reminders are definitely the best fixtures of the city, hands down.
(sorry for not a very good picture-- they're painted on the roads near crosswalk edges)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oxford on a Saturday

'Twas a beautiful day yesterday, and there was nothing on my schedule, so I did a wee bit of exploring in my new locale. Turns out, however, there is quite a bit of tourist action here, especially on blue-sky weekends. Now I know.


It is a lovely/beautiful/unique town though, 
so I completely understand why so many people flock here:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

lessons from London--



It seems that I'm always typing up these "Lessons from…" posts. I guess I've just really taken the "live-and-learn" saying to heart. Today's lesson came was taught to me during my sad attempt to catch a train to Oxford.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

carpe the heck out of diem.

I have arrived in Oxford!

My multitude of orientations (international student, graduate student, college member, program induction, matriculation...) have been keeping me from truly exploring the town [which is...amazing, by the way. I can already tell]. One day soon, I'll {hopefully} be able to venture around with my trusty ol' Canon PowerShot and send you some purrrty pitchers.

In the meantime, here's a quotation/passage/excerpt. It's from a recent high school commencement address [props to KK (sp?) for bringing it to my attention], and I was reminded of it today when I found a pencil on the ground.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Photographs and tourists.

Tourists.
Natural phenomena from every corner of the earth venturing to every corner of the earth.

One thing that unites us tourists is the camera. Pictures are taken of anything and at all locales. Today, I laughed at an Asian man taking a picture of a totally normal-looking squirrel. Moments later, I took a picture of a plaque that said "Charles Dickens" on it. Just because.

But sometimes, it's not just pictures of stuff that are desired, but evidence that you were actually there. When traveling solo, there's not much to be done about this besides taking an awkward my-arm-is-extended-as-far-as-possible self-shot. These are both terrible and embarrassing. I advise against them. (It's for this reason that you'll seldom find me in pictures on this blog). When traveling with a companion, however, there are a few approaches to take:
  1. If it's a remote enough location, and there is something convenient nearby, use the self-timer. It takes some trial + error, but is generally a good method.
  2. Take turns getting shots of each other.
  3. Decide to trust that passersby will not run off with your camera, own up to being an annoying tourist, and ask someone to take your picture.
Number three is what my friend and I opted for yesterday, since our whole intention was to get proof that we met up, and because we were at Parliament and the place was not ideal for setting up a self-timer.

Monday, September 24, 2012

To London!



Yesterday (or two days ago, depending on how you figure in all that time-zone-travel stuff), I made the journey across the Pond. [yes, I capitalized Pond.] The journey was rather uneventful—and I certainly don't mind "uneventful" when it comes to air travel. I was only woken up by turbulence once, which, by the way, is the scariest thing ever if it's the first bout of turbulence and you're asleep when it starts.

{{Explanation: For me, airplanes are the innocent-until-proven-guilty type. That is, I'm not one to sit in the seat, clutching the armrests at takeoff. I don't bother with making myself scared until I have reason to be scared. So when I'm fast asleep, and the plane starts shaking, that's when OhmygoshImgonnadie races through my head. Luckily, 'twas uneventful, as I said.}}

When I found my seat on the plane, I was kind of bummed out that my window view would be halfway blocked by a wing...

But I quickly got over it when I realized:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So...Oxford?

I know it's been a while. 
Turns out that getting ready to leave my country for a year has filled my time with things besides blogging. I do apologize. (Kind of.)


In a few short days (THREE! AHH!), I'll get on a plane to London, where I'll hang with my brother for a few days before heading up to Oxford. I have no idea what my London plans are, so keep an eye out for updates from there next week. As for Oxford, here's the [very] general outline:

Friday, August 24, 2012

so long.



countdown to Oxford: 29 days.

Thereforely, I present you with this song. It is old. It is a tad bit emo (what with Dashboard Confessional doing the steering and all). And it is wholly accurate.

So long sweet summer.


-M

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

my eating tour of DC

Somewhat juxtaposed to my previous post about running my way through new cities, my other preferred method of learning a new place is via the stomach. [or maybe they go hand in hand?]

DC is full of gems [gems, not germs. well, it's probably full of those too...], and my few days in our nation's capital left me fully satiated. Let's make our way, shall we?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

seeing cities.

One reason I enjoy being in running shape is that when I visit a new area, I can traverse it by foot. Granted, there are certain cities—New York, DC, Madrid, to name a few—that require NO running to cover serious ground by foot, as walking/subway is the best way to see the sights, but running delivers something altogether different. (<--That's not a link, I just wanted to emphasize it. Fancy that, eh?)

On our road trip last summer [HOW was that over a year ago?!], Z and I made sure to run at every stop along our journey, and I think that was one of my favorite aspects of the trip. Whether along the streets of Charleston, through the woods in New Jersey, or beside the river in Philly, running in those places gave us a sense of the locale, a piece of its personality. Running allows me to see a city from a wholly unique perspective, and somehow gives me a [pretty much unwarranted] sense of ownership or something, like I'm not like every other tourist or something.

Seven miles through Washington, D.C., confirmed this conviction.

A week ago, I was exploring the area of town around my host's house, and on the way to Dupont Circle happened upon Pacer's Running Store. Outside the store, a sign read, "4-6mi group fun-run, Tuesdays 7pm," and I thought…Why not? 
I didn't take this picture of Dupont Circle's park, but I did sit under that very tree before the group run...

Monday, August 20, 2012

thoughts from a plane (MM#27)

about a week ago I flew from TLH to DC and jotted down some thoughts to pass the time.  
i type them here, on this mindful monday, to productively reflect and rebuild...

When I return to Tallahassee in a few short days, I will be one. month. away. from my departure to the UK. Ahhh!

In recent weeks/months, it's seemed that not a day passes that I don't have to relay to someone my future plans and aspirations. And while the prospects are exciting, I admit I've sensed an internal twinge of uncertainty/anxiety/fear for what I'm getting myself into...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

teaser.

I have MUCH to post, but I have to run out the door to meet a friend at a metro station (whaaatt??). 
Therefore, all you get is this snapshot I took a few minutes before my plane landed (whaaatt??).

Can you guess where I am?


-M

Friday, July 27, 2012

never give up.


In this summertime season, the list of goals to attack always seems to be long: Submit applications for such-and-such school, job, or scholarship; Start getting more sleep; Get back in touch with old friends; etc., etc., etc.

The athletes reading this know that summer is often the season where goals are silently realized. What I mean is, the goals of improving your personal best, making the team, or qualifying for Nationals don't just magically get checked off at the end of the competitive season.

Summer is when it happens.

For runners, summer means base mileage. For soccer players, summer means strength, speed, and getting back to the joy of the game through kick-arounds. It's not necessarily that the toughest workouts are done in these hot Junes, Julys, and Augusts. Rather, the taxation is of the spirit-- the day-in-day-out necessary grind to improve yourself and stay dedicated to the goals you set out to achieve. As my [brother's] buddy Aaron so awesomely illustrates, it's these dog days that breed success.

Today (right about now, to be specific), my dear friend and future sister-in-law begins to reap some of the benefits of staying true to her goals, summer after summer, year after year. To coincide with the Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, here's a little takeaway from Ms. Janson herself:
"Never give up. If you love it, never give up on it, even though it can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming and difficult and labor intensive. It's hard work and it takes a lot of time, and a lot of years, and persistence, and education. Never surrender and never give up, and you'll get where you're supposed to be."     -Lacy Janson


Happy Friday, and happy OLYMPICS!
U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

-M

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life lately (MM#25)


The natural way for me to start this post is with a big fat SORRY for being so distant lately...
...but maybe instead I'll offer a YOU'RE WELCOME for coming back :)

Either way, I'm glad to be able to share some of what my life's been like these past few weeks. [Maybe you're interested, maybe you're not.] Here's a wee taste of what's been going down:

a. Got a job! I've been working at a local health and fitness center for the past month, and it's been great to get to know the staff and so many members of the community [all while working off this extra Italy weight!]. I don't have a picture of me working, nor of me working out, so instead, here's a picture of me from a zillion years ago as motivation to get back into shape...

Monday, June 25, 2012

U-S-A! U-S-A! LONDON.LONDON.LONDON! (MM#24)

I hate to brag, but...No, what am I talking about? I have no problem bragging about this one:

my brother's fiancée is headed to London!




Congrats, Lacy!

That being said...

Monday, June 18, 2012

There's No Leaving Now (MM #23?)


A fave musician of mine, The Tallest Man On Earth, just dropped a new album [must have fallen a long way! punny!] and I can honestly say that I have no regrets about my waste-no-time purchase after hearing of the release from NPR.

My preferred source of all musicky insight has this to say about the album:
"These 10 songs, like those before them, dazzle and shimmy and sulk, as Matsson continues to conjure images of a young Dylan projecting his voice through a megaphone."
So far, I've enjoyed every minute of listening to the album's finger-picking goodness [that is, the guitar kind, not the nose kind]. I don't know that I have a favorite track yet, but here's one that warmed up to me a couple of evenings ago-- it's called "Criminals". I like it:

I don't know how, exactly, I had planned to shape this music-sharing into a Mindful Monday post, but let's start with the album title, "There's No Leaving Now." It's easy to look at that and recognize its parallelism (?) with my present life-- I just got a job with a completely uncertain schedule, and while my adventurous side wants to get back out on the road and see the world, my exhausted side is happy to just stay put for a while. So I think that's just what I'll do. There's no leaving now.

Happy Monday.
-M

Monday, June 11, 2012

Strange. Built to Spill.

Some days were made to play oddly harmonious songs like this on repeat. Today's gray-sky-no-ambition 'tude makes it fit the bill. Start yer playin'.

Big thanks to Beca, who not only reminded me of the number, but also added it to my library circa '02 [by means of a mixed CD gifted to my bro]. She probably thinks I'm creepy for all the attention I've paid her twitter feed lately, but, well, did I mention what kind of day it is?

More like a mindless [rather than mindful] Monday, but hey, summer was made for that, right?
Enjoy it, y'all.

-M

Sunday, June 10, 2012

life has been a __?__

This is what my life has been like since returning from Italy:

I want to call it a whirlwind, but one of the teddybear-esque tumbleweed variety pictured above; nothing altogether damaging. The long flight back was shortly followed by:
  • two weddings, 
  • a few days of various graduation activities, 
  • Mothers' Day, 
  • several furniture relocation extravaganzas, 
  • and bunches of job applications + interviews. 
Currently, I'm assisting with the recovery of Harper Surgery #2 of 2 (the first go-round was with my brother a few weeks ago), so the fun continues.

Whew.

Tomorrow is Monday, so hopefully I'll be able to get a real post in. Until then, here's more tumbleweeds (kind of)...


Enjoy the rest of your Sunday :)

-M

Monday, June 04, 2012

A return to Mindful Mondays (#22)

A brief thought-of-the-day as I get back to writing these MM posts each week:

"To thine own self be true. Bah, ram, ewe. To your breed, your fleece, your stock be true."

err...wait a second...

Well, whatever masterpiece from which you choose to draw your inspiration, the fact remains: Sticking to your strengths and your morals (...and your self, breed, fleece, etc.) will garner the most success. Right? That's what they tell me, anyway.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Death at 22.

A beautiful summer day doesn't quite seem fitting for a post about a young woman dying, but it is what it is. I heard of Marina Keegan's story from a friend's tumblr and can't help but share. The article from which Beca draws her quote is titled, "How to Feel When an Impossibly Promising 22-Year-Old Passes Away."  Yeesh.

I have also linked to that article—and I encourage you to read it if it isn't old news to you already—but what I took away from it actually came from an op-ed written by the 22-year-old herself, just days before her premature passing:
"Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us."
This is, naturally, something that a recent college grad could immediately relate to, and I did. What left me with a dropped jaw was a statement she makes a few paragraphs later:

Friday, May 25, 2012

italy: a recap

Once upon a time I went to Italy. 

(It was last month.)

After all of my adventures [that you've already heard about], I returned to the 'States, reintroduced my body to exercise, went to a wedding, graduated, went to another wedding, and finally headed home to settle in (rapidly) to my routine of sitting around the house wishing for a job. In all that excitement, I admit that I kind of neglected this little blog. Oopsies.

You might notice that the ^^^above little synopsis of my recent life happenings omits any mentioning of unpacking. It's been a slow process, and today, I was reminded of my intention to post a recap of my trip.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

watery scenes.


No, no, no, the water isn't from my tears.
My flight doesn't leave for a few more hours.

Nope, these pics are from my week in Tuscany, as well as a daytrip to Lago Maggiore. I thought it might be poetic or something to post some pictures of water for you to look at as I sail through the air [safe inside a plane, if all goes according to plan] over The Atlantic Ocean.

Three cheers for safe travels!

Talamone, Italy

The beach at the Regional Park of Maremma


Really it's just my lack of photography skills as work, but I like how the horizon is nonexistent in this pic.

In Talamone, looking across at Monte Argentario

Sailboats among the misty mountains, near the Swiss border.
Do you recognize those islands in the middle of the lake?

The town of Intra, as viewed from the ferry
A little Laser action on Lago Maggiore

 Viva Italia!

I'll certainly miss this place. What a grand adventure it's been. Thanks for tagging along.

-M

market days

Sorry for leavin ya hangin for so long, but I haven't been with my computer much. Trying to soak up these last few moments w/family and friends, ya dig? I leave tomorrow, sighhhhh...

In Melegnano, a downtown market (with clothes, purses, kitchen appliances, produce, meat/fish, younameit) is held every Thursday and Sunday:

Today was my very last one, and as I snapped the above picture, it occurred to me: Nearly everywhere I've gone on this trip has boasted a market of some sort. I guess that's one difference [of many] between Europe and America...

 Here are the other markets I visited:

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

mamma mia...


Quote of the day:
(and basic summary of my experience here in Italy)


My aunt: [rough translation] 
"Shoot, I made way too much tortellini for just the two of us to eat.
  ...Oh well, it's okay because there's vegetables on the inside."

[at which point she commenced dumping a whole pot of spinach&ricotta tortellini on my plate]



Monday, April 30, 2012

lakes, landscapes, and seascapes. (MM #21)

How about a little Mindful Monday action, y'all??

I've mentioned before that this Eurotrip has been rather humbling at times. Being away from close friends and my native language has been somewhat difficult, but the breathtaking landscapes, the beautifully historic buildings, and of course my loving [Italian] family are regular reminders of God's grace and glory. This month abroad has gone by so quickly, but–short though it was–I think it has served an important role in my transition from college to my next stage of life.


Sometimes it's easy to look at a building that has remained standing for over 400 years and be impressed by Man. In a place like Tuscany, however, with a 360˚ panorama of nature available at all times, it's hard not to be impressed by God (or whichever higher power you might subscribe to).
The scenes that surrounded me this week have been astounding...


relaxing...


 ...and reassuring.


I know that my stresses, fears, and insecurities are nothing in the grand scheme of things.


And that's a good thing.




Just one Monday from now I'll be boarding a plane for Florida. Can't believe it.
-M

Sunday, April 29, 2012

cameramen


My little point-and-shoot is feeling pretty overpowered lately...
 
^my [mom's] cousin, Joseph, who has been kind enough to open his home to me this week.





 
(and no, the cat is not dead.)

 From one generation to the next...


(note: ^this is not a posed photo)


 (This picture taken with a Canon PowerShot SD1100. Sounds fancy, eh?)

PS- these two are probably the cutest roommates I could ever have.

-M

The land of milk and honey (and wine, and olive oil)

[just ignore the telephone lines...]

Tuscany! 
After a busy long weekend of to-and-fro travels (which I'm sure you're sick.of.reading.about.), my aunt and I have arrived.

 I kind of feel like keeping it [relatively] simple, so…here are some pictures of my adventures so far:


 --Waves crashing alongside our train--
Here's another (I know it's blurry, but it's the only one that captured 
the true color outside my window)


It seems like an old village sits atop every hill in this region. Here's one near my cousin's house:

Friday, April 27, 2012

over the river and through the woods…

Last Sunday, I met up with another friend who happens to be in Freiburg--she's studying abroad in Germany for the semester--and attended Mass at the cathedral. I didn't understand a single thing, but it was still nice to be in that place with God. [Although I haven't spent this trip with my nose in a Bible, or been to church every Sunday, it has nonetheless been somewhat of a spiritual journey, what with the constant humility lessons and all...I've had to trust that everything will work out...And not a day passes that I don't thank God for my amazing family (stateside or otherwise) and the immense beauty that seems to blanket this continent.]

After Mass, we headed into an area with a bunch of hiking trails on the edge of the Black Forest, and spent an hour or two trekking around.

music to my ears: Freiburg, day 2b

Disclaimer: There are videos in this post, but...they're not of the highest quality. 
My bad, folks, my bad.
video
(Also, please just ignore my talking...Thanks)

Maybe my perspective was biased by my happening to live with a music student and then meeting a bunch of his friends, but Freiburg seemed to be full of music.

The town is populated by a large selection of music students, street musicians, symphonies, and local bands. I wish I took more videos, but alas, I am a pansy, so here we are.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Freiburg, day 2a

Saturday was a full day of experiencing Freiburg in its many forms. The day began with a walk around town followed by a small hike up to an overlook, continued with some window-shopping, and finished up with a night on the town.

First, the walk:
The apartment that I called home for the weekend was located in the heart of the "inner-city" of Freiburg, which is less of what Americans would consider an 'inner-city' area and more like the historical district. The streets are cobblestone, the cars are few, and the buildings are lovely. Only the unremitting drizzle and the chill in the air made it a less-than-perfect stroll.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frei-what?

My arrival in Germany last weekend marked my entry into the sixth country whose language I didn't understand. At this point, however, I feel like I am so over the I-can't-understand-you thing. 
Well, not entirely: I still feel like some sort of "typical American" for arriving in a foreign country without learning the language, but at the same time, I'm no longer overly freaked out by my lack of knowledge.

Three things made Germany especially different from Spain and Italy:
     a) I could in no way, shape, or form follow along in people's conversations like I can at least pretend to do with the Romantic languages.
     b) I had less of an ability to pick English out of a crowd like I can in Italy and could in Madrid. I guess that's due to English being a Germanic language, but yikes, does that mean English sounds to Italians like German did to me?
     c) Everyone I came in contact with spoke English, and many of them spoke it very well. (Maybe that's why I had such a good time…)

Annnnnnnnyway, language barrier or not, to Germany I went.