Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Cross a Very Large Pond

If we were having coffee, we wouldn’t actually be having coffee.  We’d be having tea because that’s what you do in England and I happen to be in that country now.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how absolutely exhausted I am.  Some people have the magical ability to fall asleep anywhere… I am not one of those people.  I haven’t slept in a day and a half and look like a total zombie.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that my travels went extremely well!  No delayed flights or hiccups.  I flew six hours from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, Iceland followed by another three hours to London.  Although I didn’t actually sleep, I spent most of my flights with my eyes closed listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook.  Which, I suppose, is the next best thing.  Once I got to Heathrow, I successfully passed Boarder Control, picked up my suitcase, exchanged my United States Dollars for Pounds, picked up an Oyster card, and hopped on the Tube, which took me to King’s Cross Station (yes, like in Harry Potter), which is five minutes from my hostel.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my hostel is a bit sketchy and that I forgot my shower shoes and can’t remember where I packed my toothbrush.  BUT it also has free Wifi, which more than makes up for its deficiencies.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how WEIRD it is to fly to the other side of the world and find yourself somewhere familiar.  When I studied abroad here two years ago, I spent a LOT of time exploring the city on my own.  I was a bit shocked how quickly I fell back into the swing of London.  It’s like I never left.

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Trafalgar Square is probably my favorite place in London.  I never get sick of hanging out here.

If we were having coffee, I would gush about how in love I am with this city.  I love (almost) everything about London.  (Overcrowded Tube trains are NOT fun.  Freaking Piccadilly Line.)  I love the architecture.  I love the blend of historical and modern.  I love the big red double-decker busses lumbering everywhere.  I adore Trafalgar Square.  I love that I couldn’t wait an hour before hitting up the National Gallery.  I love the way all the paintings by Monet, Rembrandt, Reubens, and Turner make my heart soar.  I love stumbling upon an entire street of antique book shops.  I love the extensive parks system and how the middle of the city can feel like the countryside.  I love that I’m in the city of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Woolf.

I’m excited to spend the next couple of days here.  Tomorrow, I’m exploring Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House, and going to church at Hillsong.  Monday, I’m visiting museums and seeing a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the National Theatre.  Tuesday, I head to L’Abri!

Okay, okay… enough about my enthusiasm about England.  What do you have to share over coffee?

swiftly, silently (a poem)

swiftly, silently

the hours slip into the fog

as she gives up counting sheep

no bleating penetrates the haze

boundaries between light and dark

are lost amid vacant pastures

of unspoken verse

and today slips into tomorrow.

she loses herself in the rhythm

of poetry that has not been penned

savoring the unsung words,

        rolling the idea of vowels across the threshold of her lips

like a puff from a midnight cigarette

what will she say to you?

what will she say to you when her time comes?

in that moment

when syntax must harden

when the verbs and nouns align

into concrete—

will you press your hands into the cool pavement?

will you make your mark upon the page?

empty fragments floating amid

ungrazed grass, waiting for the Sandman

to sprinkle his dust and claim

the syrupy, smooth whispers of verses

melding as midnight and morning intertwine

fog shifts over the water

she braces herself against the steel railing

white haze encompassing

stirring in her the need to reach out—

to grasp the words, to fill a pasture with her pen

but the damp river air washes away the sounds

they slip through her fingers

kissing her ears before sliding away

as a blush on the horizon signals the coming of dawn. . .

alone she remains.

hand extended towards the fading mist—

silently

swiftly

I don’t often write poetry, but when I do, it shows up on my blog years later.  This was drafted during my semester abroad in London.  I submitted it in my Innovative Creative Writing class a few semesters ago, where I received lots of wonderful feedback from my classmates.  As an inconsistent poet, it feels good to let these words finally see the light of day.

What do you think?  Should I do the whole poetry-thing more often?

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Sometimes, You Have a Bad Day (Writing 101, Day 14)

It was an all-around off day.  Let me explain.

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Around 2 AM, I crawled out of bed to grab a drink of water.  I’m usually able to navigate back through the dark rooms to my bed with no problems whatsoever.  Apparently, I was more asleep than awake though because as I made a dive for my bed, I discovered that my aim was off by two feet.  Instead of rolling up in a cozy blanket burrito, I found myself launching towards the foot of the bed, ricocheting off, and banging my side painfully on the corner of my desk.  Glad that my brothers weren’t around to laugh, I crawled back under the covers clutching my hip.

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This morning at 7:00 AM, my alarm went off with the clanging of church bells.  I silenced it immediately, wanting to soak in the hazy bleariness of drifting between being asleep and being awake.  I could still feel an ache in my side from the night’s mishap, but ignored the dull pain.  After several minutes of rolling around and cuddling stuffed animals, I pushed myself to a sitting position… only to bang my elbow painfully on the way.  Dang it.  Not again.

———- ———- ———-

At work, everyone was crabby.  Mom was being nitpicky about sorting apples, which royally pissed my older brother off.  She told the lady who works in the store to stay home, leaving me to run things all morning.  It rained for hours, which meant business was slow.  It also meant that we couldn’t pick apples, leaving us another day behind schedule.  Dad putzed from one task to the next, cursing under his breath because any task, no matter how small, seems to eat up more time than it should.  I tried to sing the “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” song from Monty Python to cheer him up, but it kind of backfired.

———- ———- ———-

It’s the little things, sometimes, that break down a day.  Our kittens recently started living on our front steps and made the place a giant litter box.  Stepping out the door is now a smelly experience.  One of the leaders of an organization Mom is involved with handed in her two-weeks notice, leaving lots of big decisions to make in a short amount of time.  The floor needs to be swept for the third time today.  An employee has a cold, but insists on working.  My little brother is coming home from college tomorrow and someone has to pick him up.  The packing line is clogged and must be dismantled and scrubbed before we can clean any more apples.  The dishes haven’t been washed.

———- ———- ———-

It’s amazing how irritability builds and spreads to everyone.  I haven’t been infected too badly yet.  I plan to lie low, stay out of the way, and flashback to the middle school days with the following song:

Sometimes, you have a bad day.  But things could always be worse.

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Here’s the scoop (on a non-sucky weekend in Morris)

So… if you keep yourself occupied enough and plan in advance, weekends in Morris don’t suck as much as they normally do.

My Bible study girls night on Friday was a success!  Thanks for all the encouragement, dear readers!  We had a good turnout, great fellowship, and our toenails are sporting all kinds of flashy colors.  (Mine are golden.)  We also watched Napoleon Dynamite, which was like a massive flashback to middle school.  (Vote for Pedro, anyone?)  My hostessing, in case you were wondering, was certainly as awkward as it always is, but everyone was pretty good-natured about it.  Thank goodness!

On Saturday afternoon, the International Student Association organized a celebration called the Festival of Colors.  The event was to celebrate the Hindu holiday of Holi, which celebrates springtime, good triumphing over evil, and community.  The problem is that Holi is a springtime holiday, so celebrating it now is like suddenly moving Christmas to August or Easter to October.  Personally, I think the oversight in the original event planning shows a lack of cultural awareness.  But they later remedied it and marketed it just as a color festival.

My roommate Katie and I attended and, boy, what a fun half an hour!  It was a free for all of water balloon tossing, bucket dumping, and (of course) throwing colorful powder!  We got covered in all kinds of colors!

Katie and I after the Festival of Colors.
Katie and I after the Festival of Colors.

For some reason, even though it’s now officially Autumn, the ghost of Summer has come back with a vengeance.  The weather the past few days has been absolutely glorious!  To celebrate (and get out of the apartment), I organized the few friends that didn’t go home for the weekend and we walked to Dairy Queen for ice cream!  We then went to a friends’ house for pizza and movies.  (And, being the oh-so-mature college students that we are, we went for Disney’s Mulan.)

This morning, I was all geared up for attending early church.  I got up at eight, did my daily hang out with Jesus, showered, dressed up and then… then I see the note from Katie (who was out late at a video game party) asking if we can go to the later service.  Normally, I’d get annoyed by the sudden change of plans, but not today!  I briefly considered using the two hours I now had to do homework or finish my painting project.  But instead I decided to curl back up and enjoy an extra hour of sleep.

Also, there’s something about being one of the last people to leave church that is extremely gratifying.  I’ve been attending my church here in Morris for four years and always felt like a passer-through.  But I’ve been doing a Bible study with adults from the community on Monday nights, so I’ve actually had the chance to get to know people of my congregation.  Thus, I actually had people aside from my college friends (who like to duck out as fast as they can) to talk with!  I was so deep in conversation with one lady that Katie (who drove with me) ditched me and rode home with our friends.  I didn’t mind–it just meant I could talk longer without feeling guilty!

This evening, in light of the final hurrah of Summer, my friend Neala and I walked to the wind turbines.  You see, that is what we do in Morris.  We have movie marathons and we walk to the two wind turbines that fuel campus.  It’s a long walk–takes about twenty minutes to get to the overlook and a full half hour to get to the turbines.  We didn’t make it all the way, but settled in an arbor in the community gardens to talk and get out of the heat.  We wandered about the gardens, talking about post graduation plans, Neala’s upcoming eleven-month missions trip, what books we’re currently reading, and how much we hate the recent seasons of Doctor Who.  (It’s always refreshing to find someone who loathes Moffat’s story writing as much as I do!)  We then grabbed dinner and parted ways!

It’s been a surprisingly good weekend!

Did you do anything interesting or exciting?

P.S. My friend Neala is fantastic at taking photos…

Photo by my friend, Neala!
Photo by my friend, Neala!