Thesis Thursday: Big News that has Nothing to do with My Thesis

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

Alright, full disclosure: while this has nothing to do with my thesis, it has everything to do with my future. As you all may know, I’m graduating from Ithaca College in May. As with many grads, I have little money and many loans. As of Tuesday, I also have a (potential) job.

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I’ve alluded to this several times over the past year, but now it’s (mostly) official. Taylor and I–yes, your two favorite fighters–are headed off to South Korea together to teach for a year, starting in the fall. We don’t know where yet, but we’re about to get started with our Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificates and background checks and all that fun stuff.

giphyI’ve never been this terrified and yet excited about something. Sure, I went abroad to London and did a lot of traveling there, but … well … they mostly all spoke my language. The culture shock wasn’t terrible. I did okay. It was also only for four months, and I had a bunch of friends as back up and we were going to a university run by my home college. Everything was as safe as can be.

Don’t tell Taylor, but I wouldn’t have agreed to go without him. I’m not THAT brave. But this is an opportunity that I really, really want and have for some time now. I want to be scared. I want the adventure. Sure, there are going to be obstacles along the way that I am NOT going to enjoy, but I welcome them. I don’t want to be safe anymore. I really want to travel, and I also get to teach.

There aren’t many other times in my life were I would get to do this. That’s the main thing that keeps running through my head. It’s the reasoning that reminds me how disappointed I would be in myself if I didn’t take this chance. So. In a few months … here we go.

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Oh yeah – I’m still going to be blogging as much as possible. It just may end up being a lot about South Korea.

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The Ridiculous Road Adventure of Where I’ve Been

Hey guys! Technically I got back in on Tuesday, but I spent all of Wednesday trying to get back into school and readjust to this time zone. I have accomplished neither of these things so far, but I’m swimming.

10371740_10209264455393030_5099012362909423142_nSince I don’t have anything for a Thesis Thursday this week, I thought I’d do some life blogging and show you guys some pictures of where I went. This was not a normal trip out west. Rachel and I–you know, Rachel from the first couple seasons of Bibliomancy for Beginners–went on a road trip.

I have never had so much fun and whil
e having so many moments convinced I was going to die.

Day 1: LA to San Francisco

This day was a beautiful one. Once we got out of the city, we got onto the Pacific Coast IMG_2700Highway and took that up to San Fran. This is NOT the way that your GPS will ever tell you to go. It winds around the edge of the coast–literally, the edge–but it is SO PRETTY. So pretty.

San Francisco itself was kind of annoying, and the place that we were staying wasn’t so great. But we went out that night and found the most delicious Thai food I ever tasted, and Rachel and I decided that things could only go up from there! We were wrong.

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From the Notebook: Giveaway Winner and Hiatus Annoucements

Hey there guys! This is my shortest video to date, and brings with it good and bad news. The good news is that we’ve chosen our giveaway winner! CONGRATS SHELLY HAMMOND! The bad news (well, sort of), is that after this week I’m taking a short hiatus. SO. Enjoy me looking so goddamn flustered and disheveled as I try to film this in between everything else happening in my life!

Perusing Poetics: Say Nothing, See Nothing

I promise that this week’s post will be an actual intellectual piece of reading material. I promise. Read on and see.

This week we read two really awesome things, and I had so many things to say about both of them. First we read excerpts from Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley, and then we read an essay by Jerome Rothenberg from The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy. My initial reaction was, “Oh yeah totally doing something from Bradley because the only thing that Rothenberg’s got going is A REALLY ANNOYING USE OF THE AMPERSAND AGAIN AND AGAIN” but actually … I was wrong.

If you’re into Bradley’s book, I do highly recommend it. But my rant about persona and Truth and all that jazz got sidelined when Rothenberg gave me this little quote:

“The hypothesis would be: I see through language. And its corollary: without language, I am blind” (13).

Now, the quote that I instantly connected to before this one was “‘a new language must be found’ … not only for the sake of speaking but of seeing, knowing” and I was like “YEAH THAT SOUNDS AWESOME” (12). Then the one in block quotes came around a few sentences later and then I was like, “Hang on. What?”

At first, I took a step back and said, “Uh, no.” Because what sense does seeing with language make outside of reading? (I should probably have explained that a lot of Rothenberg’s focus is on “‘wordless’ oral poetries” [14].) My immediate reaction is that when I see a red flower, it doesn’t matter if the person next to me can communicate our shared vision or not because we’re both looking at the same red flower. (Also, I am aware I am working under the assumption we are both in possession of our sight. That is not a slight against those with blindness but rather I simply relating my own thought process given my privileged of having my sight mostly intact.)

Now let me back up a little bit. You may or may not know that I was abroad last year. Though I lived in London, I traveled in Europe a lot. The favorite question for people to ask when I came back is which place I went was my favorite. I always hedged this question by replying that I loved everywhere I went, but I was just more comfortable in places where I could adequately communicate, like Ireland and Scotland. When I traveled to Paris, Barcelona and Italy, I always had at least one travel buddy who spoke the language we needed. It is this experience that I drew on to refine this “hypothesis and corollary” in my own mind.

See, when traveling to new country where you don’t speak the language, the inability to communicate does feel like a type of blindness and a sense of invisibility all at the same time. Especially on public transportation, you feel removed from reality in a sense. There is all this chatter happening around you, but you can’t understand a word of it. You can’t overhear a funny story someone is telling or engage with a shopkeeper about buying a silly souvenir. Sure, you can get by with pointing and playing charades, but it is the most physical feeling of living in an alternate reality that I have ever had.

This is especially potent when someone you’re traveling with DOES speak the language. They end up ordering for the group at dinner or getting directions or navigating the public transportation. This isn’t a bad thing; I’m forever thankful for my friends for this. I might have died from anxiety otherwise. But when someone else can jump into a dialogue before you can, the muzzling effect is deafening. Perhaps this is just me, being someone who is not accustomed to taking a backseat for extended periods of time–and really wanting to be in complete control of every situation–but that is the deepest truth I can admit about traveling in those countries.

Again, I don’t regret those travels. They were some of the most amazing experiences of my life. But this was also certainly a part of my experience. It just wasn’t something I connected with the act of seeing until Rothenberg said it. I think of the five senses as five separates. But the truth is, as with much of the human experience, nothing is separate. Everything we do or don’t do feeds into something else with simple cause and effect.

Such Oddness, Much Wow (Otherwise known as Barcelona)

1799006_10205648208069107_4964790468546682847_oThis is it. One last trip before we head home in eleven days. I can’t believe it. However, Sam and Madison and I were hardly going to be daunted by a lack of time and an influx of homework when the chance to travel to Barcelona, Spain, came up!

In a nice change, we left for Spain on Thursday night instead of Friday morning. This meant that moving into our hostel bunks while everyone else was asleep was a bit difficult, but it meant that we had the whole weekend to really sink our teeth into the city.

In the morning, we met up with a friend from the home campus who’s spent the semester 10685549_10205664971528183_2637685069801115340_nin Barcelona and ordered him to show us the sights. It was threatening to rain, but we gamely hopped around the city (dear Metro, how I love thee). One of our first stops was a market, so that Madison could replace the purse that had broken the night before. It was the strangest market we’d ever been to. You need antiques? Toilet seats? Underwear? They got it. (And Madison did find a purse.)

10599486_10205664978888367_2987625295561204200_nA few more bops on the Metro put us at the base of the National Catalan Museum of Art, which is really high up on a hill with a great set of fountains in front of it. We huffed and puffed our way up to the top and were richly rewarded with a view of the city. As we sat down to enjoy it, I just about started crying. Everything is coming to an end, and yet I’ve been so, so lucky this semester and in that moment I just felt ALL OF THAT. The guy singing on his guitar was also cool (especially when he sang “Legalize All Weed.” How … odd).

We did a bit more running around, past a few cathedrals, into a few more markets, until 10805737_10205664979928393_1019452571448705141_nwe finally got hungry enough to go get dinner. Though it was getting dark, we decided to buy some cheap bubbly and head down to the beach. I’ve never written a bucket list, but if I had “drinking on the shore of the Mediterranean” would totally have been on it, and now I can scratch that off. It was a fabulous night.

10425065_10205664984648511_2334261426668401106_nThe next day was the one filled with the most scheduled fun. We had bought tickets to Park Guell the night before, and were not disappointed despite the rain. It cleared up just enough for us to be able to enjoy roaming around all the Gaudi art and gorgeous flowers. I’d never seen anything quite like it.

After that we shot over to the Sagrada Familia, which we 10403154_10205665004849016_7385962425694758431_ndid not go inside because tickets were hella expensive and it was undergoing major renovations anyways. We stopped in the rain just long enough to snap a few pictures, and then used our prime tourist location to scope out some gifts and postcards. We needed to take up time before heading back to the National Museum. Why?

BECAUSE IT’S FREE SATURDAY NIGHTS AFTER THREE.

10423890_10205665011409180_1842329071756041011_nWe are the masters of “free is in the budget,” and this trip was no exception. We climbed all those freaking stairs again to get in to see a bunch of art for free. Which was great, because we all agreed we wouldn’t have wanted to pay for it. We all had this really disgusting moment where we went “You know, I’ve seen better.” Yes, only after this semester can I say that while looking at prime pieces of medieval and romantic art. No big deal.

After that, it was time for tapas. SO MUCH TAPAS. I wish this would catch on a little bit more in the US, because guys this is the best way to eat. Why have one thing when you can have seven for cheaper? After that, it was another early night for us.

The next day was basically more running around until we could get into another museum 10438593_10205665027329578_157594326294214546_nfor free (more on that later). We did some more shopping, stopped by the Joan Miro park to see some questionable art, found a fantastic candy shop called Happy Pills and discovered a few more cathedrals. What was worth all this wait?

GETTING INTO THE MUSEO PICASSO FOR FREE.

10392449_10205665022449456_640497025377947006_nThat’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Museo Picasso is free after three on Sundays and we took full advantage of it. This is one museum we would have been willing to pay for, but THANK YOU BARCELONA FOR BEING AWESOME. So many of his most famous works are in that collection, and it was absolutely amazing. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take pictures so here’s a Picasso (the singular Picasso) from the National Museum.

It was pouring when we left the museum and nowhere close to dinner on the Spanish10405631_10205665071810690_5939610382439288666_n timetable, so we found a bar close by and tried out some real Spanish margaritas and mojitos. I had a couple of fantastic strawberry margaritas. As far as I can tell, their recipe is 98% tequila and 2% anything else.

What was for dinner you ask? MORE TAPAS OF COURSE.

Then, early the next morning, that was it. Back to London and all the homework we didn’t do but should have done.

I can’t believe that the next time I get on a plane, it will be to the States. I can’t believe how soon that is. I just … can’t. This semester I’ve been to five countries outside of England, and visited Stratford-Upon-Avon and Cardiff besides just LIVING in LONDON. Maybe in a few posts I’ll be able to process that all, but for now? I have 11 days left and I have to make them count.

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Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart

And all of Paris plays a part!

Yes, I know that I said I would be talking about art in my next post, but as it turns out I didn’t get around to that post and it’s better to do that in a few weeks anyways and GUYS I SPENT A WEEKEND IN PARIS AND THAT IS EXCITING.

The trip was through the school, which was fantastic, because1781864_10205559836419871_877643297077200481_n I do love my trips being subsidized. We traveled via Eurostar train to the Paris Gard du Nord station at way too early in the morning and popped out to beautiful Paris … where it was raining.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Undaunted, we commenced upon a big long walk that started at our hostel near the train station and wandered past the Notre Dame until it ended up at the Louvre. The Eiffel Tower was almost hidden in the fog, but that’s okay because we’ll see it much better later. I wasn’t really paying attention much on this walk, because it was raining and I’m like a drowning cat when that happens, but I was still pleasantly surprised by it all. I walked into Paris with absolutely no expectations.

We went back to the hostel and chilled for a while after that, because we had big plans for10609464_10205559854700328_1063314421491552861_n the night. On Fridays, the Louvre is open for free to people under 26 after about six at night until it closes and we were most certainly going to hit that up. Seeing the Mona Lisa was important of course, but honestly not that impressive. However…

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

Over the blog posts, I’ve mentioned that I am a fanatic about ancient Egyptian history. The Louvre has HUGE AND MULTIPLE SECTIONS of these kinds of artifacts. I ran through these flailing about like a moron, dragging my group past reliefs and statues and fawning over every single one. THEY HAD SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS REMAINING ARTIFACTS OF AKHENATEN AND RAMESES II FOR GOD SAKE. Ahem. Anyways. I just about cried and I’m not ashamed in the slightest.

Despite being really tired, that night there was a full moon party in the bar beneath our hostel and a bunch of us attended that. Not going to say much about that (hi Mom!) but it was probably the most fun night out I’ve ever had.

10423833_10205559909181690_1545233039349298776_n…the aftermath not so much. I ended up sleeping in really late that morning, so I got a really late start. However, turns out you really can’t go wrong just wandering around Paris. We went back to the Notre Dame to take pictures while it wasn’t raining and then walked along the Seine for a while. It was a gorgeous if chilly day, but all that mattered to me was that I could get out my technology and record it all.

That night, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower and queued to go up to the tippy top. It1560494_10205559935022336_1878353214304840639_n was dark by the time we got up there, but totally worth it. I fall in love real hard for night time at high altitudes with the lights all down below, and so just one corner of the view from the Eiffel Tower was really worth it. If a bit cold.

10470606_10203353653384888_6349130638338917526_nWhen we came back down we wandered around a bit more to see the Tower do it’s hourly light show and see the Arc du Triumph. God, Paris is gorgeous at night. Then, back to the hostel for food and bed! No regrets ever where sleeping is concerned.

We didn’t really have a lot of time the next day, but Sam, Madison and I did explore a nearby market. We met the George Clooney of Salt (don’t ask), bought some super pretty earrings and then made our way back to the train station for the ride back to London.

Given that so many people had told me I would hate Paris, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t do as much as I could have, but I don’t regret that either. I feel like I did all the Paris-as-city things I really wanted to, and I don’t feel the need to go back. I can say I’ve done it and move on, and I’m happy with that. All in all, the weekend was absolutely fantastic. Anastasia didn’t lead me wrong.

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Halloweekend and Other Things

One of the things that I heard before coming to London was “Halloween is not a thing.” This is a lie. There were people dressed up on Halloween, and the days before and after it, of all ages. Huge groups of kids, teens, and adults. Just EVERYWHERE.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

In the week leading up to Halloween, me and a few of 1899991_10205404887186237_5032713882415195870_nmy flatmates had a great experience seeing a live taping of an episode of the X Factor. Thankfully for us, we got into a performance night, not a voting night, so we got to see live performances of Fleur doing Lady Marmalade and the like, since the theme of that episode was Night at the Movies. We also just got to stare at Simon Cowell and also see the shenanigans that everyone gets up to in the commercial breaks (there are many). We were told that we were the loudest crowd to date in the studio – go us!

My flat had been discussing Halloween for months leading up to it, when we decided that we were going to be the Guardians of the Galaxy. I got the part of Gamora, since … uh … there was enough leather in my closet to make a costume without having to supply much. This was a very low budget, Guardian-inspired move, and I think it came out beautifully.

Our actual Halloween weekend included two 10352735_10205439899301518_2435541998945746223_nseparate parties that were really awesome. The first was a party in the Vaults under Waterloo Station, which our art professor actually got us into. Features included a mist room with “zombies” coming at you, a movie room for relaxing and watching movies like Beetlejuice, a bar/lounge and a dance floor with music by a full brass band. It was crazy!

10301598_10204472764252598_9049521662569891830_nThe second was a party with just friends at a flat, which was awesome as well. I’ve been very lucky with the people that I either came over here with or met/gotten to know better while I’ve been here.

The most recent random thing that’s happened IMG_1640since I last posted about London was our attendance of another football game, this one Charlton Athletic vs. Sheffield Wednesday. It ended in a tie, but it was a really good game all around. We also had these seats RIGHT at the grass line in the middle of the field, so half the time it was like the players were RIGHT next to us. We went in rooting for Charlton (the home team) of course, and totally got lost in the chanting and the noise and the raucous fun of the game. I’m going to miss being able to just pop by a sports game at home.

Coming next time: Me being all sorts of artsy fartsy in London!