Tag Archives: london

Good Things #44: Technology Edition

Image 6I’m loving my technology these days.

Music. I’ve said this before, but really, I would be nowhere music-wise without friends. And now in my second year of teaching, my students are just as good at making recommendations. One of my tenth graders asked if we could follow each other on Spotify (totally awesome way to get music fo’ free!) and this may be one of the best music decisions I’ve made so far.

Recently I was talking about music and what I like and why I like it. I admitted that I don’t choose to listen to Christian music very often. As I was talking, I felt like I was a freshman in college again, apologizing that I didn’t like most Christian music I heard. It just wasn’t very good (this is my opinion, of course). I kept tripping over my words because I hate it when people think I’m a) less of a Christian, or b) a snob. I like to think my music taste doesn’t make me less of a Christian, and I do not want to be a snob. It’s unattractive in pretty much everyone.

And what do I find on my student’s playlist?

A Christian artist who isn’t bad – who’s actually quite good. Someone I’d choose to listen to and I wouldn’t feel like I were betraying good music.

Listen on.

Also, Nick Drake. Another student-prompted discovery. They teach me something new every day.

Instagram. Okay, the cat’s out of the bag: I have an iPhone. Yes, the woman who rejoiced over her outdated technology and her inability to check email on the go is now the not-so-proud-but-it-is-what-it-is owner of an iPhone.

(What happened? It’s called “one night I got a text, opened my phone [yes, opened, because it was a flip-phone] and the entire screen was sideways and white and I lost all my contacts and the iPhone was cheaper than another flip.”)

One of the perks of an iPhone is Instagram. Okay, okay, yes I made fun of my dad when he got an account. Yes I would say, “What, you gonna insta that?” every time he took out his phone for a garden picture. And yes, I hate the filtered lifestyle Instagram creates.

What I do like? Pretty pictures.

How many posts have I made?

Three.

Internet. I am so grateful for the internet right now. Not only does it allow me to do this thing called blogging, but it also lets me stay in touch with my globe-trotting brother. The guy’s off in the land of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein (and BENEDICT), and even though he’s thousands of miles away, I get to keep up with him via Facebook and texting and twitter. I’m so proud of him, and I a little bit want to be there. A lot bit.

But the internet is the next-best thing.

Happy almost-summer!

P.S. My second chicken class is this Saturday. Supposedly we have five students signed up…I better prep the girls.

A London Update

The best sleeps are the stolen ones. I’ve had a lot of those since getting to London. The best, though, was in a tiny graveyard in Oxford. I thought it was secluded (“I just need a place where no one can see me. I’ve had enough of people.”), and I laid down in the grass and leaves and branches and fell asleep. It was safe – my friend sat beside me writing a short story – but it wasn’t nearly as secluded as I’d imagined. People walked by, talking and laughing, and the sounds of the small city lulled me to sleep. It’s been far too easy for me to drift off lately.

Not everything about this trip has been so easy.

For example: I am currently sitting in an airport again, roughly 6.5 hours early, because we had to check out of the hostel at 10:00, and who wants to drag this luggage all across London? S is off on his way to Scotland, so I paid the 5.50 pounds it costs for a one-way ticket and came to Heathrow early.

Decent plan.

Until they tell me I actually have to check this bag (“I carried it from Boston.” “Doesn’t matter.” Ah, joy.), but when I went through the queue to check it, it was way too early.

“You’ll have to come back at 16:50.”

“Are there any coffee shops I can sit at?”

“Well, most things are through security…”

And I find myself at a Krispy Kreme (Yes, you heard that right, a Krispy Kreme in London. I’ve never set foot in a Krispy Kreme at home.) I’m writing this in Word because I only get 45 minutes of internet.

My vision of an afternoon spent sipping strong coffee, reading, and writing, is looking very different.

~     ~     ~

“Catherine, what should I do when I go to London?”

Well, first off, buy a London pass. It goes against every bone in my body to fork over 60 pounds in the blink of an eye, but it is so worth it. We toured the Globe (If only we could’ve seen a show there! An actor was warming up on stage while we were touring, and she sounded like us music majors, all trills and blubberings and over-dramatizations.). We walked through the whole Tower of London and saw the crown settings of Georges and Henrys, Victoria, and Alexandra.

We did the London Bridge Experience (an underground historical/horror show) and my eyes were closed for most of it. The butcher took a liking to me and kept asking me questions, but he was a crazy murderer and I was freaking out.

We climbed a monument (ah! I forget the name!) and saw the city from the sky.

We did all the free stuff at the Tate Museum of Modern Art. It was awesome. But there are whiney artists everywhere, I guess, and they’re always wanting to stick it to the man.

And, probably the best part aside from the Tower:

Westminster Abbey.

There it was. The real thing. So many names I wasn’t even expecting. So much history behind that stone.

Kings and Queens, Dukes and Earls.

And Poets’ Corner shocked me with its concentration of literary history.

Then there was Oxford, with its more intimate streets and academic walls and surprise exhibit of Magical Books. Illuminated manuscripts peered out at us, with the imaginings of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and countless others. The best part was that it was unexpected: we just wandered in and there it was, golden and colorful and fantastical.

~     ~     ~

“What should I not do when I get to London?”

DO NOT not buy an Oyster card. Your feet will destroy you.

DO NOT assume they will take your card everywhere. (“Do you have a chip?” “What?” “A chip?” “What?” “We don’t accept cards without chips.”)

DO NOT assume that the coffee will be strong. It probably won’t be.

DO NOT assume that trying new beer will always pay off. It often won’t. But at least you were adventurous, right?

DO NOT think you can fit everything in. You can’t. Just accept it and tell yourself, “If I really want to, I can always come back.” You might never return, but it’ll placate you long enough to get you back home.

~     ~     ~

Now, Switzerland waits on the other side of that plane ride. A friend I haven’t seen in over a year (the same friend who writes me beautiful letters of her new life) and a chance to think and read and talk about things that matter to me. Such a different vibe, I think, than London.

We shall see!

 

[P.S. I am so technologically challenged that I cannot figure out how to get my pictures from the iPhone my mother forced upon me for this trip and my computer. I guess they will have to wait. Know that they exist and that the photo in this post is unrelated but at least pretty.]

London Awaits

This very moment I am awaiting my plane to London, England.

I am sitting at the terminal, surrounded by people, but I am alone. This is my favorite way to travel.

“Catherine, is anyone going with you?”

“Yeah, S is meeting me in London, but I still get to fly alone.”

My grandmother does not understand my phrasing – “get to” – and most people don’t. There’s something about the separation – the ability to exist without the confirmation of anyone else – that reminds me who I am.

C. S. Lewis wrote that it is only when we look at the other that our Self is able to be. I agree with him…mostly.

There is another Self that materializes at the Gate, and this Self is just a little different from the others. She doesn’t need to do anything. She doesn’t need to be anything for anyone else. All she has to do is be. Oh, and do what she’d like, of course. Which is write this, at the moment.

My bag is filled too full with books (check out the What I’m Reading to see what I brought), and as you can tell, I decided to bring my laptop after weeks of internal debate. Of course I could just write in my notebook, but the moments flit by so fast, I know I’d lose them.

I sit, eager and calm, ready and not ready, because I’ve learned that after each trip, I come back just a little different than before. Not in big ways – I don’t dye my hair or pierce body parts or change my name – but the landscape of my mind shifts. It grows. It changes. And the places my mind wanders in down moments now includes the place I’ve just come from, with all its colors and shapes and sounds.

Here I come, London.