I’ll start off with the usual apology for not blogging as I should have. This time, I really think that I’ve got a better reason other than laziness. This past month or so has been different. Different from the others, in a way that I can’t really describe. My thoughts about a lot of things have been cynical almost… towards the workings of the church, towards the poverty I’ve been seeing here… to name a few. So, I didn’t have anything uplifting to blog about – I kept some thoughts to myself, so I could really steep over some things and figure them out. I’ll give you just a brief version of whats been going on, and then tell all about my London trip!
Its been difficult to see Italian culture and livelihood through the eyes of a ‘regular inhabitant.’ I’ve seen beggars using the restroom in the middle of the street, ladies bent down over a sewer, men throwing up on the steps of churches. These aren’t rare occurrences. I see things like this weekly, as I walk past on my way to work. People come here for a “better life,” but it seems like the culture – devoid of any opportunities for growth, installment, and the pursuance of dreams just stifles and kicks ambition to the side. Sometimes, it feels hopeless. That the homeless will always be homeless. That the poor will always be poor. That the emigrants will always be shunned and disrespected. As a Christian, what am I to do and think? How do I go back to America – the place that has EVERYTHING they don’t – without feeling guilty? Yes, I’ve been severely blessed with a loving, wise, and frugal family – but why weren’t they? Its a tough city to live in.
On a positive note, I’ve submitted another piece to competition. The theme of the contest was “Myths and Legends.” I wrote a piece called “Phoenix,” and it portrays the mysticism and beauty of this fantasy-bird. I’m finishing up some things, and starting some others. Its always a gratifying adventure.
On December 9th, the church choir put on the Christmas program. It went really well – surprisingly well, even. We had a huge international potluck after (HEAVEN), and then a church-wide sing-a-long. I was impressed at the Choir’s output for the program!
On to the fun part. I just got back from a trip to London. I left Monday morning, and came back on Saturday. The absolute worst thing could have happened before I left. While I was packing the night before, and doing laundry, the electricity went out at my house. My clothes, including all my underwear I needed for the trip, was sopping wet. I couldn’t dry ANY of it to take to London. I left with 1 extra pair in my backpack, and a completely dead phone. That wouldn’t have been a problem, if I hadn’t been needing to meet J once I arrived in England.
Other than that little snag, the trip was pretty awesome. On Tuesday night, I heard the choir of Westminster Cathedral sing Benjamin Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols.’ It was unbelievable. 23 boys ages 8-13. I just don’t understand the discipline and attention span… On Wednesday, I saw Les Mis with J, and Thursday I saw Wicked by myself. Finally, I’m able to say that I’ve seen the show. On Friday, I went to Evensong at Westminster Abbey, so I could hear the choir. It was a great service… only, the man in front of me was humming along while the choir was singing. Not a huge problem, except for the fact that it was the SAME PITCH THE ENTIRE TIME. I was so close to smacking him in the head with my order of service. Try to ruin MY experience in the Abbey.
On Tuesday, J and I caught a train from King’s Cross to head to Cambridge. It was such a beautiful ride through England – there was a little snow on the ground, and there was a light fog. It cleared up for us during the morning, so we were able to get some pictures when we first got there. We ended up talking to a girl on the train, asking for suggestions of what to do while were in Cambridge. She told us that we needed to see the Colleges, of course, but there was an entrance fee. She assured us that if we just walked past the guards and acted like we belonged, we could get through. We took her advice. About 50 yards away from the entrance, we put my camera away, tucked in out shirts, and pulled out a few books to put under our arms. I told J that I was about to give him a detailed rendition of my senior thesis, conversationally, so we’d look and sound the academic part. As I talked animatedly about Brahms, we quickly walked past the guard and were free in the middle of King’s College to do as we please. It was especially victorious, because it was closed for visitors. Score 1.
On Wednesday, we ‘hit up’ the Museum of Natural History. It really was great – we were able to be kids again… I loved it. After the matinee of Les Mis, we happened to stroll into the premier of the Hobbit. The entire cast was there in Leicester Square, being interviewed on Jumbo-trons before the screening. Score number 2.
Thursday was the last day before J left – but he also had to work in the morning. I went back to the Natural History museum because I, for some reason, wanted to look at the rocks again. I ended up finding a whole ‘nother rock room, and literally spent an hour and a half in there. Who knew I liked rocks so much! Then, I went to the Science Museum by myself and acted like a kid there, too. Only, this time, I was alone. I casually showed all the crazy kids how the experiments worked, while I was really only wanting to do them for myself. It had a bunch of cool exhibits. London “rocks.”
Friday was to myself. I went to the main shopping area, found the H&M, the Apple store, the Abercrombie. All for sheer amusement, since I didn’t have much money. After that, I just decided to get lost. And boy, did I get lost. I ended up finding some really awesome Coffee bars though….
My hostel experience was not the best… When I arrived, I wasn’t given a comforter to sleep with – only a sheet. When I came back after seeing everyone in my room with one to ask, the clerk replied with “We have one comforter for every person.” I asked him why he didn’t think that I was a real live person. He came into my room and yanked a comforter off of someones bed and told me to “give them words if they had a problem.” After 3 nights, 2 Italians moved in. Whoopee. The came in at 2:30AM… turned the lights on, talked loud, took showers, unpacked. I came back the next night to all their wet clothes hanging to dry in the bathroom. Never have I smelled a smell so horrible in my whole life. Great thing was, I had to bathe in that room for 3 more nights! Then, the next night, I found my bedding taken off of my bed, the few things I had hidden under my sheets in the middle of the floor, and one of the Italian guys sleeping in my bed. Not really a big deal, but I didn’t know where my sheets were, and more importantly, my difficultly obtained comforter. So, I had to pick a new bed, hoping it didn’t already belong to someone. That night, we were greeted by a 3:00AM arrival of the Italians, and were also blessed by incessant phone alarms going off – of which the guys were drunkenly incapable of turning off.
Saturday morning ended the trip. Met some friends from Paris for coffee and breakfast before I headed back to Rome. Now that I’ve had more than a week to reflect on the trip, and organize some thoughts, I think I can provide a succinct impression of the city. I loved it, more than any European city I’ve been to. I think, being in Rome for 6 months (can you believe it! six months!!) really influenced the way that I took in London. Rome is dysfunctional, rude, dirty. London works like a dream, people are considerate and helpful, and clean. I feel like my eyes were wide open the entire time. I really can’t wait to visit again.
For those of you that don’t have access to Facebook, here is a link to my London photo album. It should take you straight there and let you look through some pictures.
Merry Christmas to all! Hoping that your time is filled with Mariah Carey’s Christmas Album and plenty of wonderful memories.