Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Who ever said 'Life is fair'?

It figures, doesn't it? Last week when we were cramped into the church every day for 12 hours a day, it was cloudy, cold and rainy. We had time to sit outside, but really, one can only handle so much of that weather. This week, when we must all scamper in and camp at a desk in the Bodleian all day, the sun proves its existence, and the temperature rises to 16 degrees. What I wouldn't give to be able to take my research books outside and sit in the quad!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Through the Wardrobe

Upon walking home from the trainstation today, I noticed that all was not right with the world. Something was off kilter, and it didn't take long to diagnose the problem: Every morning and afternoon, we walk past a field that is normally home to three white sheep, and a horse as well, on occasion. Without fail, the sheep are grazing in the field as we saunter past. Today, the sheep were not there. And what's more, not only was the horse there, but there was an extra horse! This really is an issue: Kenny can testify to this, it's like seeing people every morning at the bus stop and then all of a sudden one morning one of the regulars disappears and fails to show up again-- it really throws off the whole routine. Sam suggested that maybe the extra horse ate the sheep, or perhaps they morphed into the horse and will next morph into a sentor. I like the latter suggestion better. Makes me think of Narnia.
I had a huge panic this morning- I needed to buy some groceries for supper, so I took out my wallet and was going to take out some of the 70pounds that I had withdrawn from my bank right after spain, and low and behold there was no money in my wallet. No money in my bag, in my purse, in my coat pockets. This really posed a problem. Yep, it's sad to lose $70 and normally that would really freak me out, but 70 pounds is pretty much the equivalent to $175 canadian, and that is a very scary amount to lose. But I had to catch the train so I gave up the search, and when I came home it was in the first place that I looked, which was a huge relief. All's Well that ends well.
We get to go see Romeo and Juliet on Wed night in Stratford in the swan theatre, I believe. The last visit to stratford was just in the Royal shakespeare theatre, so it'll be cool to get the real one this time. (hopefully)
I had a dream last night that one of my future house mates was absolutely livid with me, and I had this complete feeling of dread about moving in... I was quite happy to wake up and find that absolutely nothing had passed between us and that she really doesn't hate me....at least from what I know of.... :)
I can't believe it's March 29th already (well, it'll be the 30th by the time this is posted...). Tina graduates two months from today! As does all of the other great people that I don't want to see leaving Redeemer.... Dave, Matt, Rich, Dan....I don't want to go to choir and not see these people there, or go into the caf and not see them sitting at the tables skipping hvd's class or something.... There will definitely be a different feel in the halls. Sigh.

Monday, March 29, 2004

A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more

Happy Monday morning! Our week of play rehersal and performance is finished, we are all breathing a collected sigh of relief. The play went rather well, considering the number of practices that we had, and we're all still speaking to eachother, which is a great thing considering the fact that we spent 12 hours a day for five days, with 19 people cramped into a tiny church in stressful conditions. I'm amazed that we actually get along better now than we did before the play! Good times were had by all, is the general feeling of both the actors and the audience. I've posted pics of the play rehersal and cast on my photo site, check em out if ya like. Tina compiled a Top Ten list of how you know you've had too much Shakespeare... Believe me, they're too true to be funny, at least to us. Do you know how annoying it is to wake up with lines from shakespeare running around your head and they're not even your lines? 'Proud of employment, willingly I go' 'All pride is willing pride, and yours is so' 'Proud of employment, willingly I go' 'All pride is willing pride, and yours is so.' and so on and so forth until I thought I could scream. It's even worse than having a song stuck in your head for three weeks straight.
We had a cast party at Madeline's, following the performance, and good times were had by all. We had a number of cross dressers in the play, so we thought we'd start out the evening, getting things straight, with 'Man I feel like a woman'.... We had to strike the set the next morning at 10, so that was a little early to be at the church considering the late night... but, within an hour everything was cleaned up and we were planning the church service for sunday morning. Just our luck, it happened to be the weekend on which the time changed and we lost an hour of sleep, so maybe it wasn't a wise idea of mine to go watch Gone with the Wind until 2am Sat night. Fiddle dee dee. It was the strangest thing, when Cara and I left Lisa's place after the movie- we turned the corner, and there were two people who looked almost as if they had stepped out of the movie! The man was wearing a grey curly wig and tights and pants that went to his knees, and the he had a long blue and red waist coat with brass buttons on it. The woman was wearing a big dress with a hoop in it and a collar that went up high. They said 'bon soir' to us and continued on their way. I thought I was hallucinating.
The church service on Sunday went alright, but it was not very organized. Hard to believe that we only have one more sunday in Charlbury!
I'm trying to work out plans for travelling after the semester, and it's proving to be difficult. I think that we're going to have to spend the first two nights in a hostel or caming, which is doable, but we were hoping to start out at peoples houses. Anyhow. Off to write some papers, research and all that. The story of my life. For another week and a half!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Drama rehersal is underway for the ABU-Oxford production of Love's Labour's Lost (and slightly abridged).... We're a few hours into our second day of ten hour rehersal days, only three more to go after this and then production! crazy.
The weather was warming up last week....and then it frosted again last night and it's quite chilly today. It was an exciting week, I got to talk to the beautiful Ladies Welfare and Mare, and last night, quite unexpectedly I had the chance to talk to Dave Steinstra (sorry if I butchered that name) last night, so that was really awesome too. I wish I could just take all of you here for a week....
People are working out plans for leaving in a few weeks, which is getting sad. Sigh. Ah well, summer is soon and that shall be quite exciting in itself. My brother is graduating from Calvin in two months. I don't think that should be allowed. I'll be the only one in my family left in school! (I should clarify that-- as a student-- my mom, brother and sister will all be in school for many years yet, but on the other end of the classroom hierarchy)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Least of These

Apparently, I come from a very small town. I didn't realize this until someone at Redeemer enlightened me a year or so ago; Tweed is small, Picton is small, Bloomfield is small, Madoc is small--Belleville is definitely not small. But, compared to Hamilton, London, Peterborough, Toronto (and surrounding area), Ottawa and all of these other cities, Belleville really is lacking in the big city-ish aspects.
This is something that I am realizing more and more, as I live in Oxford (well, Charlbury really, but I spend every day in Oxford) and become familiar with London. It feels like a different world. Yes, it's a different country but I am positive that it exists just as much or more in Ontario. What is the defining difference? Well, obviously the cities are dirtier--as beautiful as Oxford is, it's filthy (and there are some alleyways that just need to be avoided due to stench). It's not the dirt or the smell that make the difference to me: it's the fact that I can't walk for more that two minutes on the sidewalks or in the alleys without passing someone sitting on there, leaning against a building. Sometimes, they're playing a harmonica or recorder, sometimes, they're wrapped in a blanket, sometimes they've got a dog beside them. But always, they look at me as I walk past- some say as much as they can before I pass by -'Excuse me miss I hate to ask but.....' and I'm past. Others don't say anything at all. They just sit there, looking, watching people pretend not to notice, carry on as if there might only be some obstacle on the ground that they must walk around.
My reaction, which I've partially described, is usually to look away, look straight forward, sidestep, and keep going. Everything that I've been told about 'these people' comes to mind, don't give them money cause they'll probably spend it on alcohol, take them out for something to eat instead, some of these people on the streets are probably making more money that a percentage of those actually working.... This is not very useful information to have in my head. Ok, don't give them money, easy enough if they're going to spend it on alcohol, they've probably got a huge amount stashed away anyway.
But what if I don't have the time to convince someone to let me take them into the nearest pastry shop and buy them lunch, what if I've got a lecture to go to, a train to catch? That leaves me doing what I've been doing for the past two months: Walking by.
This bothers me a great deal. It's not something that a person can do, day after day, and not feel the guilt of ignorance, or of refusal, rather. At least, it's not something that I can do. This has left me with the question I've asked myself over and over- what is it that I can do then? If I do give money, I can't give to everyone, and I can't give every day- truth be told, I really am a student and I've got a student's bank account to prove it (and I have to survive in this country for another month and a half). I get struck with a defeatist attitude: I can't do everything, so I can't do anything.
When Cara and I got together for prayer last week, we spent a long time talking about this subject and our respective struggles with it. We came to the conclusion that while we couldn't do something for everyone, we'd make an effort to have something with us, whether a granola bar or something else, that we could give to someone if, when passing by, we really felt a particular burden for that person. Good idea in theory, but as a result of my wonderful memory, I forgot every day this week. And now, play practice begins next week so we don't get to go into Oxford until the 30th of April.
When I went to see Les Mis, there was one song in particular that struck me, although I can't remember much of it now, but the general idea was telling people to look down as they walked through the streets, see those that are there and know that they're real people. This has also been weighing on my mind. I noticed at the beginning of this week that I have a tendency to walk to the other side of the street if there's someone on the ground on the side I was walking. Upon noting that, I made an effort to not change sidewalks the next time. And I looked at the man and smiled. Today, on my way to the trainstation, I said hello to the man playing the harmonica and he looked at me, smiled, said 'hello miss' and gave me a thumbs up. I know that it's not enough to do just this, but I think that it's somewhere to start; they are, after all, very real people, and should be seen as such. I'm not through with my search, though.

Friday, March 19, 2004

What dreams are these?

I had a dream last night that Tina and I were on our way to Heathrow Airport to fly home, and on the way we were stopped at a McDonalds which was advertising that those who came in to the store would be given a free piece of cake and a pint. It didn't strike me as odd that McDonalds would be givning a free pint; what struck me as odd was that it was Molson Canadian. Huh.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Thus Endeth the Lectures

Alas, the last lecture of the semester has come and gone, and realizations that this programme is actually almost over are dawning in all of our minds. We commence rehearsal for the play on Sunday afternoon (if I knew how to spell it, I'd write 'neit ope zondag!' ) and perform it a week from tomorrow night. Or is it Saturday night? I'm not sure. I'm not sure if I ever said what role it was that I have procured. If I have, I'll say it again, just for the heck of it. I'm to represent the lovely Maria, attendant of the Princess of France. My fellow attendants are Heidi (Catherine) and Cara (Rosaline), and the fair princess will be aptly played by Whitney. Sam has rightfully claimed the part of the King, and Joel, Matt and Jeff will be playing the parts of the lords. Mine own dear roommate, Tina, will be transformed into Constable Antony Dull, who I must say, gets the best line in the play: 'I am Dull.' Beautiful.

As the Oxford term (is it the Hillary term? I can't remember) is now over, this city is being transformed. Not in terms of structures or anything so great as that: it is being invaded by tourists. I'm quite aware of how we looked the first day on which we walked into the quad of the Bodleian, because every day that I come here, there are more and more folks staring up at the walls with their jaws hanging open. It becomes quite a task, actually getting past all of these gawkers, into the building, yet once inside, there are even more folks in the bookstore and the defuct chapel. Do you know one of the best feelings of having tourists around? Walking past the sign that says "Readers only past this point," showing my readers card to the guard at the desk, and walking up those mysterious back stairs, where these tourists can only dream of going. Strange to think that in two weeks, I'll never be able to climb those stairs again. My card will expire, and I might as well be a tourist, for all the guards know. At any rate, that point has not yet arrived, so I might as well walk up and down the stairs as many times as I can while I can!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

*trying* to work

I have come to the conclusion that the Bodleian is far too cultured a place to get anything done within. On the walls, there are poets like John Dryden and Abraham Cowley peering down at me. Not to mention the books. The walls are lined with books of every colour and author, ranging from Shakespeare to Swift to Bacon. The doors are huge archways into the neighboring rooms, from which there are more nameless poets staring at me. If only I knew Latin, I could keep myself busy for hours, reading the various paintings on the walls and ceilings. (Speaking of which, why doesn't Redeemer have a Latin course? If they did, I would definitely take that, as would the other Redeemerites over here. We should petition for one. The course book says that we have one. But then again, the course book says a lot of things that we all know don't exist.) I have been sitting here at desk U122, with my laptop in front of me and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" beside me, for the past hour, and what have I accomplished, besides gazing at my surroundings? Absolutely nothing. It's a good thing that Redeemer isn't this cultured or I wouldn't have made it through the first two and a half years!

I would like to express my indignation at the decision made last year to schedule classes during choir on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I realize that this is one of the things that happens with growing course selections, but if they have to do that, must they schedule 400 level courses during that time? 400's are generally offered once every two years, at least in English, and if the courses offered then were lower courses, there could be a bit more choice in the matter, I'm sure. At any rate, both first and second semester, a 400 level English course that I very much would like to take is being offered during choir. While yes, I am at Redeemer for the classes, I have had to suffer through this year not being a part of choir, and I refuse to do it again next year. At least there is one other 400 each semester for me to take; if there wasn't, I would be even more put out. I had a dream about choir last night. Maybe it wasn't about choir, but it had all the choir people (from last year) in it. huh. That's what happens when you listen to crucifixious before bed, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Joel had a dream last night that I got on the wrong train and was never seen again. I do hope that he doesn't have the gift of prophesy.

Sam was heard at lunch this afternoon saying, "When I came here, I was worried they weren't going to feed us enough. But now, I really don't care about food. It takes too much time to eat!" I'm worried.

What *is* the Ideal Man?

The Ideal Man! Oh, the Ideal Man should talk to us as if we were goddesses, and treat us as if we were children. He should refuse all our serious requests, and gratify everyone of our whims. He should encourage us to have caprices, and forbid us to have missions. He should always say much more than he means, and mean much more than he says. He should never run down other pretty women. That would show he has no taste, or make one suspect that he had too much. No; he should be nice about them all, but say that somehow they don't attract him. If we question him about anything, he should give us an answer all about ourselves. He should invariably praise us for whatever qualities he knows we haven't got. But he should be pitiless, quite pitiless, in reproaching us for the virtues that we never dreamed of possessing. He should never believe that we know the use of useful things. That would be unforgivable. But he should shower on us everything we don't want. He should consistently compromise us in public, and treat us with absolute respect when we're alone. And yet he should always be ready to have a perfectly terrible scene, whenever we want one, and to become miserable, absolutely miserable, at a moment's notice, and to overwhelm us with just reproaches in less than twenty minutes, and to be positively violent at the end of half an hour, and to leave us forever at quarter to eight, when we have to go and dress for dinner. And when, after that, one has seen him for really the last time, and he has refused to take back the little things he has given one, and promised never to communicate with one again, or to write any foolish letters, he should be perfectly broken-hearted, and telegraph one all day long, and send one little notes every half an hour by a private hansome, and dine quite alone at the club, so that everyone should know how unhappy he was. And after a whole dreadful week, during which one has gone about everywhere with one's husband, just to show how absolutely lonely one was, he may be given a third last parting, in the evening then, if his conduct has been quite irreproachable, and one has behaved really badly to him, he should be allowed to admit he was entirely wrong, and when he has admitted that, it becomes the woman's duty to forgive, and one can do it all over from the beginning, with variations.

So, according to Oscar Wilde, here you have it. Although when Tina was reading it the other night, she seemed to embrace the ideal as if it were her own! hmmmmm.

Is this a lager I see before me?

On this past Wednesday night, our group made the trip to Stratford for the first time since the day after our arrival, and took in a performance of Macbeth. Considering the past plays that we've seen, our seats were fantastic. For the first time, we were not in the highest balcony! We were on the first balcony of the Royal Shakespeare theatre, fairly close to the front. I haven't thought about this play since we studied it in, what was it, grade 10? of highschool, so there was much that I had forgotten. The best part of the play, I would say, was the scene of the porter, when he is called to open the gate in the middle of the night. He climbed out of the stage, and just walked around, rednosed, laughing for about three minutes. As they say, laughter is contagious, and not five minutes after we had witnessed the macbeths confess redhanded that they had murdered the king, we were all laughing hysterically. Most of his lines were improvised, and the first thing that he said, holding up his stein, was, "Is this a lager I see before me? Get it? A lager?" Funny. Especially since it got so much more reaction than macbeth's dagger hallucination scene.
And then, of course, the lines that were my favourite in highschool....
Out, out brief candle. Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Such a useful speech!

Today is the first day that I have been in the Bodlian before 4pm, because the Oxford term is over now, and we second class Oxfordians are now allowed full access to the library. Beauty. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a perfect spring day, lacking one thing of course. Can any one guess? Yes, that's right, the sun! Hand the lady a prize. It's a balmy 13 degrees today, with an expected high of 15, and of course, rain. In fact, it's supposed to rain for the next ten days, and then some, probably! But, it's wonderfully mild with a warm wind blowing, and it's exciting to feel the promise of spring. Speaking of Spring. We've been watching the daffodils pop up everywhere for the past week, it's very beautiful. Just like crocuses, people have patches of Daffodils all over their lawns, it's really interesting. And, of course, every morning when I look out the windown and see these beautiful yellow flowers, I start singing..... what do daffodils do? they last the winter and the spring right through, if they turn cloudy days sunny then I can try too..... that's what daffodils..... doooooo..... Funny how commercials can live with you for years.
So, what with saying that I'm at the Bod, I should go make productive use of my time here, and do some research!! As for you folks.... still in bed for another five hours, probably.... lazy, that's what you are!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Sex lecture from Marion

At this moment, I am supposed to be working on my take home exam for Loney, discussing the nature of love at first sight in Shakespeare's comedeies. However, just having finished lunch with Marion and Tina, I find myself unable to concentrate on the task at hand, due to a certain discussion that ensued during lunch. It was actually much less of a discussion than it was a lecture given by Marion, which could perhaps be entitled, "Why sex before marriage improves the actual marriages."
This lecture was kickstarted because I mentioned that one of my friends has just gotten engaged, and Marion blaming that on the fact that our 'religion' doesn't let us have sex before marriage. Some of the highlights from this lecture:
There are so many bad marriages around because people don't have sex before marriage. If young people aren't allowed to have sex before marriage, they get married specifically for the purpose of having sex. Sex is like alcohol- the more you have the more you know what you like. The more relationships you have, the better each new one will be, because you have more practice and will actually know what you want. Besides the CRC, are there any other denominations in Canada that still advocate abstinace? Crikey, you mean they all do? Well! Isn't that terribly old fashioned! I suppose England got rid of their Puritan ideas a long time ago, the church realized that they wouldn't be gaining any members by telling them that they couldn't have sex before marriage. Well obviously if all the young people are having sex, which I'm sure they must be, the church isn't about to tell them that it's wrong or they'd lose everyone in the church! I suppose it's an issue of tolerance, like the Anglican church in town- the vicar is a woman, she's gay, and she's living with the curate, who is her partner. I'm not saying there's a right or wrong at all, but I do think that there are many marriages that wouldn't have failed if they had've had more sex before marriage! You don't mean to tell me that your church discourages abortion too? Crikey. Well of course if you had've had sex with your boyfriend the breakup would have been an awful lot harder, but it's supposed to be, that's what relationships *are*, they're about intimacy!

Anyhow, we left her thinking that we're some phenomenally odd people, at least according to her view of young people. Despite what we said to her, she's utterly confused about why anyone would choose abstinace before marriage, and it was a rather new experience to have a fifty year old woman trying to convince me that having sex before marriage is not only a good idea, but that it's beneficial, it's crucial to life. So. It was an interesting study break, to be sure. huh.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Summer days quickly arriving

So, we have less than one month of classes left, and then three weeks of travel, and then I'll be back in the wonderful world of Ontario. This puts my mind on the subject of summer employment. It is my goal to secure a position at the Stratford Festival theatre for the summer, but they are not quite sure at the moment how many new employees they'll be hiring. So. If not Stratford, Hamilton, considering the fact that I'll have my own house to live in.... !!!! But. This is the question. Where does one find summer employment in Hamilton? I saw an ad for a greenhouse in the Time out this afternoon- so, considering the fact that they're hiring for four month positions, I emailed inquiries to that. I really do not want to work in a greenhouse again this summer though, it was warm enough in BC, I can't imagine how stifiling it will be in a greenhouse in Ontario!! This is where all of the wonderful people who read my blog come in (yes, that would be you!): I know without a doubt that there are a lot of people reading who have never left a comment of any sort, but this is what I suggest. I'm in England, it's a little hard to do job searching from here. You're in Hamilton (a lot of you, at least), and most of you have worked in the surrounding area before. I share with you my experiences in England, you share with me places where I can apply in Hamilton! That sounds like an incredibly fair trade to me. Please?? In this world, nowadays, the well paying full time summer jobs can only be attained through connections, so I'm calling on my connections. ...please don't make me work at a Staples part time for another summer.......

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A bit long winded today

I just took my touque out of the wash yesterday and thought to myself, "It's weired that it turned out to be such a good idea to bring a touque along to Spain!" Actually, we took them along on the journey because our time in London was supposed to be quite chilly (and it was), but we got more use out of them in our rooftop bedroom in Alicante than we did in England. Going to bed every night was a whole process. Tuck the sheets in nice and tight from the night before (so that they wouldn't fall off in the night), repile all the blankets on the bed, find anything else that could add warmth (such as jackets, sweaters, and jeans that could be layered ontop of the blankets), and then change into jammies, put warm socks on, put the touque on, and crawl inbetween the sheets prepared for another night of 5 degree weather. It's somewhat different than just not turning heat on during the night-- at home, we always turned the heat down to 10 degrees, but the furnace never actually started up during the night. In Alicante, they don't have furnaces in their houses, so as the weather outside gets colder at night, the houses get colder as well, and for the first five mornings, we could see our breath when we woke up. It's one thing when you're camping. It's an entirely different thing when you're sleeping in a house on a bed.
My Buy of the Week: When we found our way to the Plaza del Mar, we bought some lunch in the grocery store -Tina opted for a huge round loaf of bread for 50 cent or something and some fake Nutella, while Joel and I purchased a huge container of croissants, some sort of huge chocolate covered pastries for dessert, and Guarana for a drink. I was tickled pink about the drink-- in first year, my dear dormie introduced me to this pop from Brazil, and I haven't had it since. So, when I saw it sitting there on the shelf, there was no choice but to buy it. Anyhow. On to the buy of the week. After we sat on a bench in the mall eating our 'lunch,' we wandered around and found the store which both my sister and my very dear friend Shannon found while in France -- "Jennyfer." Those of you who visited my room in the past three years will have seen the Jennyfer logos that I had around my room, and I decided that I had to buy *something* in this store bearing my name. I searched and searched, hopeful to find a shirt that said Jennyfer, but alas, no such shirt was to be found. What I came up with though, serves as sort of a three-fold souvenir- Socks! They have the British flag on the sides, "Miss Jennyfer" on the bottoms, and they're from Spain. (and whenever I put them on I think of Mare, who, when not calling me Niffer, refers to me as "Miss Jennifer.")
By the time I get back to Canada, I think it will be rather strange to be able to go into almost any building in town and *not* smell stale smoke. I thought it was bad in London, with people smoking in some buildings.... but coming back here really makes it seem like England is smoke free. In Spain, they smoke in the airports, in the buses, in the elevators, on the trains, in the stores (in the mall there were several employees standing in their stores smoking), in the university, on the beach, everywhere. Not only that, but they just dropped the butts on the ground, be it in the mall or in the university.... Completely different habits, I suppose...They still have the cigarette vending machines on the sides of the roads. The first night at the girls' place, Federica offered us a cigarette when she got them out for herself, and when we declined she said, "ah, si, si si. I remembered...I mean I forgot --you're from de Canada."
Wine, in Spain, is incredibly cheap. I'm not sure I've ever actually bought a bottle of it in Canada, but our first night in Spain we bought a bottle at the grocery store to accompany our meal, and the bottle ran us a total of 1euro. And it was pretty decent stuff--this is coming from the girl who really could not down half a glass of wine if her life depended on it two months ago... Well, I could, but it really does not look very elegant or sophisticated when you take a sip of wine, and as it goes down your throat, your head, neck and shoulders do this involuntary shudder. Odd, really, because I kept trying to like wine, but I could never drink it without that happening. I think that I have conquered that in the last month, because I keep finding brands that I quite enjoy! At first, when we ate at Flanigan's, I thought maybe I only liked the expensive wine. But after the 1euro and then later on that week the 65cent wine, I think my tastebuds are finally getting cultured! Let me tell you something thought, a day of five hours of walking, sitting in the sun for hours and getting sunburnt, and getting quite dehydrated, and a glass and a half of wine at dinner all lend very well to two very giggly girls in the evening. Any of those who have grown up with me will know that when I'm tired and sunburnt I can get into fits of giddiness on its own, so I'm not sure how much the wine actually added to that.
So, when we watched the news one night, waiting with baited breaths for the weather report, we were confronted with some images quite different from those that we were accustomed to in Canada. While covering a story about a US bombing on Iraq, I think, they showed very graphic footage of the streets while the bombs were being dropped: disfigured children being carried across streets by their parents, men and women burning alive in the streets, streams of blood running down sidewalks, and people being shot point blank. It's quite a jolt, seeing this type of footage-- not the usual explosion scenes that I used to see at home-maybe they showed this footage as well back home, but it's definitely something that I've never seen in the news before. It was gruesome, and went on for almost five minutes. I couldn't understand a word that the news reporter was saying, but all Federica could tell us was that they weren't happy with the Americans at all. I should guess not. It's interesting, because we know that our media filters everything that we see on the news, and we have to rely on them for what we see of the happenings in the world, but it's somewhat of a jolt to see what they're not showing us.
So, Smartin's birthday today, we're all going down to the Farmers Pub tonight to read 'A Woman of No Significance' by Oscar Wilde, and have a pint. I'm going to try cider tonight, apparently I'll like it. We'll see about that.
I have a house for next year!!!!! I'm so excited about that!! Well, *we* have a house, I should say, I'm going to be living with Kenny and Rebecca, my two bestest roomies, and maybe Osanna and Dianna. What fun! After just renting a room in someone else's house for four months this summer, and then three months this semester, it will be an incredible relief to feel like I can have access to the whole house. And I cannot wait to live with these ladies again! So, if I don't end up in Stratford for the summer, I'll be in Hamilton, I guess, living with Kenny once more-- the poor girl, she already had to put up with me all last summer, 24/7, but it excites me to no end.
Before I can get to the summer, though, I must get through this paper, so I'm off to learn about how Shakespeare plays with time in his histories. Cheers, you lot!

Monday, March 08, 2004

All's well that ends within a month

Today marks one month left of school for me, before I head out for my little three week jaunt around the English, Scottish, and Welsh country side. Tomorrow morning we have auditions for our Shakespeare play that we will be performing on March 26 or 27th, I can't quite remember. Memorizing lines, rehearsing, and performance will take place in the period of ONE WEEK. This should be interesting, to say the least, I'm a but curious as to how it will turn out. I believe the chosen play is to be 'Love's Labours Lost,' mainly because there are many female roles in it and we have many females in our programme. I'm actually pretty excited about it, I haven't done drama since high school, and always had a blast.... One of my first introductions to Redeemer was via the high school drama festival, which was always a good time. I am sorry to say that I'm sure anyone else who remembers the plays that our school put on, and realizes that I was a part of them, will lose some sort of respect for me. Our first was 'Embracing margarine,' which was written out of a series of group improves, and I think that we confused every one in the audience except for the adjudicators - their comments: 'if you rehearse for another two months, you'll have a great show to put on during the summer!' hmmm. No one in our group won any of the acting awards, needless to say. The esteemed Ray Louter really loved it though, and said that he'd like to get ahold of the script someday and have Redeemer produce it. That would be quite humorous to see! Anyhow. Drama. I haven't auditioned for anything since first year.... I tried out for 12th Night, but Louter turned me down so I never auditioned again. But then I got into choir and there was no need for drama, or rather, no time for it anyway. But now I shall gather my courage up once more and audition. Maybe I'll try my line from grade six.... "Please sah, may I have some more?" (I was thinking about that the other day, and realized that that was EIGHT years ago already!! Guess it makes sense, I don't think that I'd make a very convincing Oliver anymore, but still...)

For all of those out there who care, and for those of you that don't, tomorrow, the great Mr Samuel T Martin turns 21!!! Happy almost birthday, St Martin!!

Oh, one thing I forgot to say about Les Mis- the guy who played the role of Marius, as Joel astutely pointed out, was Jon Lee, one of the members of S Club 7. Hmm.

Spain already seems like a long time ago.... I got back yesterday to my house, and it was so nice to be back, have my own space. To my absolute delight and surprise, there were three letters waiting for me!! And the kicker is that in the one from Lena, there were SEVEN letters, one from each of my girls!!! It was the absolute BEST way to end a reading break! Tina and I went out for a walk and when we got back, I had another letter on my bed, from the beautiful Kenny. It was a good day! I fell into bed last night (literally) at 10pm, and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out, and had an amazing 10 hours of sleep. sigh.

While we were at the airport on Friday night, Tina and I started to get bored around 10pm, so I read her some of my PG Wodehouse.... One of the Bertie and Jeeves stories, great things.... anyhow, about ten minutes into reading, I heard this very thick Scottish accent on the bench behind me, and whenever I stopped, it stopped, and when I read, it continued.... at one point I stopped and heard 'don't pay before the year 2006.' There was no one sitting on the bench anywhere near this 50ish year old fellow, and he was reading his newspaper aloud because apparently I was distracting him from his reading. Right ho, then. A lady sat down next to him and, after hearing his accent, said, 'You're from Scotland! I love Scotland!' and in his thick accent he said, 'I hate it.' After pausing for a bit, she inquired as to what part of Scotland he as from, and he said, 'The middle. And I hate it. I'm never going back there again. It's minus ten degrees there right now and I hate it.' This comment promptly brought the conversation to a close. He fell asleep a couple hours later and proceeded to snore all night. I wonder what he would have done if I had've snorted in his face to tell him that he was annoying me?

I saw Joel's pictures today, but unfortunately didn't get the chance to save them to a disk to transfer to my site. Hopefully tomorrow. Just so everyone is absolutely clear, these are not *my* pictures, I did not take them, Joel is graciously letting me post them so that people can see what we're up to.... There are some amazing pictures that are very artistic, but I'm mostly posting the ones that really pertain to what we're doing here, since it takes a couple min to do each one..... Joel, I will be eternally grateful to you for your pics!

I really should get back home to do a bit of stuff for school, a bit of birthday stuff for Sam, and a bit of eating of some sort. It's so disappointing to go from eating hot meals every night, as we did in Spain, to eating a sanwhich for supper. Ah well, food is food, and I'm grateful that I have some.
Have a splendid evening, or rather afternoon, I suppose, cheers!

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Perdindirindina

Home sweet home... Not quite yet, but I'm sitting in the Bodleian once again, at 10am on a cloudy Saturday. And so much to say! Where to start.... Hmm....let's see.... let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with ABC, when you count you begin with 123, when you sing, you begin with Do Re Mi.... Ah, but we're not singing right now, are we. I don't think that the studious Oxford students would like it very much if I suddenly burst out in a melody, even if it is from The Sound of Music (great movie, by the by).

Well, let's take a little trip back in time, to the evening of February 25. Location: Palace Theatre, Shaftsbury Ave, London. Event: Les Miserables.
The first day I was in England, just after I went through immigrations, I saw a stand that was full of pamphlets for different musicals and shows currently playing in London. One in particular caught my eye, and that one was Les Mis. I picked it up, excitedly showed it to Tina and Heidi and told them that I was definitely going to go while in England. They didn't seem too impressed, but that didn't bother me. I was going to see Les Mis! This event, however, was one that I really desperately wanted to attend but in the back of my mind there was this voice saying, 'nope, not gonna happen.' (I didn't talk back to it though, don't worry, I'm not that crazy.) So. Standing outside the theatre with Sam, Joel, Cara, Whitney, Susan, Julie, Erica and Lisa, with the ticket in my hand, I was so extremely excited (as was the rest of the group) that we went to take our seats 45 min before the show actually started. The seats weren't bad, for £12 tickets. We were on the second or third balcony, I can't remember, but it was high, and had seats in the first row. Whitney was telling me about the set before the show began, but I was not prepared for what they did with it, it was incredible. The stage floor was painted to look like a cobblestone street, and there were two circles on it -one very large one, and then a smaller one in the centre of it. With these circles, the stage revolves, so they managed to get sets on and off without us noticing them moving anything! These magnificent structures were hauled from each side and put together in the middle in less than five seconds, it seemed, and they would then have bridges, alleyways, iron and stone gates, and barricades. Javert jumped off the bridge at one point, committing suicide- which is pretty tricky, considering the bridge was completely flat on the floor. We were all kinda wondering how they'd pull it off, but as soon as he stepped off, the lights went funny, kind of swirly, the bridge was raised quickly so it looked like he was going down, and he rolled off the stage. I know, sounds cheesy, but it actually looked almost real! Mm. Sooo good. I would encourage anyone to see it, the music is fantastic, the acting is terrific, and there's actually substance to it! (for those of you that don't know, the story deals with the issue of grace and sin) And, having read the book a couple years ago, I wasn't sure about the changes they'd have to make with the story, but it worked magnificently!

On Thursday, the 26th, we went to the parliament buildings, met some politicians, and the only thing that I remember about their speeches is that one gentleman said, 'Whatever you do, don't look to this country as any sort of shining example [for politics and the legislative system].' We sat in the House of Commons for half an hour and they were debating ....something, I'm sure. I almost fell asleep. Even some of the MPs who were sitting down there were nodding off. Next, to the House of Lords for a half hour. Pretty much the same thing, except there wasn't even any debating, someone was doing a second reading of a proposed bill, so that was really fun and exciting.

Friday morning, Feb 27 -- We sat down to another scrumptious breakfast at the Foreign Missions Club in London, all packed and ready to head to the airport, and what did we see when we looked out the window? Yep. Snow. We all decided that if there ever was a good time to go to Spain, this was it. Monarch is now my favourite airline. The staff at Gatwick Airport were so incredibly nice and friendly and quick, the flight was great- we flew at 2pm, and they gave us drinks, a snack, and a whole meal for a two hour flight! It was rather strange walking into the airport in Spain, all we had to do was collect our luggage and walk out the doors.... No immigration or customs! Tina's friend Karen was waiting for us there, and we walked outside into sunny weather, got on the bus and headed to the centre of Alicante. Karen's apartment is actually right around the corner from the Plaza del Toro --the arena in which the Bull fighting is located! There wasn't actually a fight while we were there, which I didn't mind, because I'm told it's pretty graphic to watch.

The whole week was really quite something. I felt as if I was somewhat in a dream, or at the very least not in Spain. Who goes to Spain for reading break? I can't believe that I got to do that. karen's apartment is the fourth and top floor of their building, which means that we walked up and down a *lot* of stairs during the week, but it also meant that we got to climb out the window onto the roof in the mornings and watch the city wake up. All of the buildings are apartments- there are no houses in the area that we were in, and all of the buildings have rooftop balconies and balconies all the way up. Everyone has laundry hanging up on the roof, and everyone uses their balconies. It's quite a different atmosphere than anywhere else I've been! We could see the mountain with the Castillo de Santa Barbara ruins from our roof, and one of the first things I thought of as I was looking over at it at night, was 'This reminds me of being in Canada's Wonderland, being able to see the mountain from everywhere!' (Oh. Just while I'm thinking of it. Just north-east of Alicante, there's a theme part somewhat similar to Canada's Wonderland, I think, and it's owned by none other than Paramount. Have they taken over all of the amusement parks in the world??)
We went to the market on Sat morning, which ended up being somewhat intimidating because of the fact that everyone is shouting at eachother in Spanish, and none of us were quite able to converse with anyone else.... It was such a neat experience, though, to be part of something that is so culturally different than what I'm used to in Canada, or even in England for that matter! Besides the folks at the mercado, there were also booths set up along the explanada, selling various jewelry and sunglasses, and on the walkway by the beach, people would spread out a blanket and set down bracelets, sunglasses, cds, hats, all sorts of things. Those people, however, didn't actually end up showing up until the last two days, when the weather warmed up considerably. Right. The weather. When we arrived, it was warm compared to the snowy weather that we had left, but they were experiencing one of the coldest weeks in the whole year-- temperature hovering between 8 and 15 degrees and windy. But. There was sun! By Wednesday, the temp had warmed up to 15-20, and on Thursday and Friday, it was an amazing 25 degrees. I got a wee bit of a sunburn, which I don't mind. I've missed the sun. And we kept thinking of those poor people in our group who went north up to Scotland.... we heard a Scotsman last night at the airport tell someone that it was currently -10 there. Ouch.
So, I've made this blog plenty long for now, you poor people who are reading it, so I'll log off and nip off to the trainstation to catch a train back to Charlbury. More to come later, I promise, funny story about the Scotsman at the airport, observations about differences in cultures, and hopefully pictures.
Hasta luego!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Alicante, Spain

¡Hola! ¡Buenas! No Hablo Español, ¿hablas Inglais? Es todos que conozco. Yeah. So, it´s a little harder to do the whole Spanish thing than I thought it would be. For the most part, people here speak some sort of English, but last night we ran into the problem of going into a restaurant where no one spoke English. Out of the three of us, I am the only one who knows even a little bit of Spanish, so I was elected to place our order, which I did, but our camerara didn´t like the fact that we didn´t speak Spanish so we were a little neglected.
Spain is an amazing country, and Alicante is an incredibly beautiful city! Federica, an Italian and one of the girls with whom we´re staying, informs us that this is quite an ugly city and we should have gone to Granada for the week, but I´m quite enjoying the scenery and everything else here. I´m so excited to post my pictures next week! So much has happened in the past week, London, Les Miserables, flying to Spain.... I think I´ll just write a bit about Spain right now and leave London for next week.
When we stepped out of the airport on Friday, we had absolutely no expectiations of scenery, of anything. So we were pleasently surprised to wander into an oasis of blue skies, bright sun, and palm trees. Almost like what I have seen of Beverly Hills, except no grass (it´s something like a desert here) and more beautiful. The weather is a bit chilly, we weren´t sure what temperature to expect but it´s been about 10 degrees consistently during the day, quite a bit colder at night (only when camping have I been able to see my breath everymorning when I wake up, before this past week....). However, the sun is bright, and when it´s not windy the temperature is beautiful, and quite an improvement on cold rainy cloudy England.
Palm trees are everywhere. By the beach, they have what is called the¨Explanada¨, which is a long walkway, entirely a tile mosaic, lined with Palm trees and lights. It´s incredible. The water is that amazing aqua colour, greeny/blue, and it just seems to go on forever, which it can´t, because we´re really not that far from Africa!
On Saturday, we walked along the coast for a bit, before finding a path up the little mountain in town and walking up that to the castle. I can´t quite remember what the castle is called, but it was absolutely beautiful, the ruins of it.... Unlike all the places in England, it didn´t cost a thing to walk around, and it just kept going up and up until we could see all of Alicante and the sea and the mountains in the distance. Incredible. I can´t wait to get my pictures back from my time here. And I have to wait till May!! Good thing that I can see the pictures that Joel takes on his digital camera!
There´s so much to say about this week thus far, but I have limited time on this computer so the rest will have to wait until Moday or Tuesday, when I also hope to post the puctures from the last three weeks or so. Crazy that we´re going to be going back ´home´already in two days, although we´ll be speding the night in the airport on Friday and then head back to Oxford on Sat, so that should be good fun....
Es todos. Buenos!