Sunday, May 29, 2011

Remember that time I actually wrote but then my blog just turned into sharing links? Yeah...

Yes, I haven't written at all and I've just started to share my favorite links which is turning out to be really lame because it was supposed to be a "follow Friday" post and I've posted on Sunday two out of the three times. BUT I have good excuses I swear!
Over the past week I met up with *most* of the wonderful people I met in London. It was a week where we drank a lot of champagne and cider, danced throughout Boston, sang karaoke, danced with Ed MacFarlane from Friendly Fires (in love) and giggled, laughed, chatted and gossiped to our hearts content. It was an amazing week with some people who know me best of all, even though they met me only a year and a half ago. I hate leaving them.

This week I am packing up, and Friday Madic and I begin our journey to Austin. I'm nervous with excitement. It seems a bit surreal. But I cannot wait!

I hope you are having a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! We're having a lot of family time, gathering around my new nephew and cooing, while my mother is slowly realizing this is my last weekend home and is getting overly sentimental. Ah family. I love it.

And now, a few of my favorite posts from the past week, with a lot of explanation :). I may have missed a few fantastic ones while I was away so if you know of a fantastic post that just stands out, please let me know!

100 Awesome Things: Being Single - Heck yes it's awesome! and, the opening poem makes me giggle.

Confessions of a Love Addict: Welcome to Oblivion - I read this just after I returned from an afternoon with my cousins and their babies. While I was there all I kept thinking about was how much I wanted a baby. One cousin (my very best friend growing up) laughed at me and said "Oh Annie I want you to have one too, I can't wait until our babies can play together, but you need a man first, and it doesn't look like you're in a rush for that." And oh, how true that is. But there are moments, here and there, when my niece (that's what I call my cousins' children, I'm always "Auntie Annie") starts running away, then turns a bit and reaches out her hand, inviting me to run with her, or when she stumbles exhausted into my arms, nestles into my neck and falls asleep... my heart swells, and its as if my entire body aches for one of my own. So to come home, turn on my computer, and see this post in my inbox, made me feel a bit better. I know it will happen someday, but it doesn't help to try to plan it out, that will just make you ache more. Also the friend she was talking about in this post sounds a lot like me - I can't figure out my dream job - I see no long term with any boy, I'm just me, searching for happiness.

Almost Fearless: It Doesn't Count If You're Not At Home - Honestly everything on Almost Fearless I'm in love with. I have complete life envy. This is actually a guest post, so now I covet this blogger's life as well. I now stalk follow his blog. I hope someday I will meet a man who wants to drop everything, start a mobile/online career, and travel the world with our adorable curly headed babies (so - my future husband better have curly hair 'cause mine is as straight as a board).

Eleni Zoe: My best friend's shoes  - I loved this post, if you read it, and check the comments you'll notice I cried a bit when reading it. Things you should know: everything makes me cry but most of all talking about weddings, best friends, and funerals will absolutely bring out the tears. And this has it all.

Bluebird Rising: My Oprah lives in Brooklyn - is there a family and friends theme this week? maybe it's because I'm soaking up my last week with my family and best friends, so I'm feeling sentimental. But this post really touched me. Also, you probably already know how much I love Amy.

cheers loves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do not trust anyone. And the unmentionable.

I feel the need to describe the terrors of Celiac Disease.
Terror meaning you cannot trust anyone - ever. Even your own sweet grandmother who is just trying to fatten you up and put a smile on your face. Because your dear sweet grandmother is getting old and she just may pick up the wrong cake mix and give you a piece of moist chocolate cake assuring you its gluten free, made especially for you because you missed out on the blueberry cobbler the day before. And you gobble it down as soon as you get home from work and then maybe you have another piece because, well, it was a hard day at work. Then a few hours later you are snuggled up in dream land, dreaming about Jake Gyllenhal and Prince Harry vying for your love while you walk down your old street in London and all of a sudden something seems horribly wrong, but you aren't sure what it is. You grasp at your stomach and moan. You realize it's not just in your dream, that there in your little bed you are moaning and tossing and your insides have lit on fire and are trying desperately to make an escape through your belly button.
So you rush to the bathroom, and unmentionable things occur. Your mother, hearing your moans, arrives in the bathroom. She is welcomed with the sight of you cross legged on the floor, head resting on the toilet seat, tears streaming down your face from the pain.
"What's wrong?" she asks, wishing there was something she could do to fix it, but six years of this terror tells her it is hopeless.
"That. cake. was. not. glu-ten. free." you let out, trying to catch your breath. After another unmentionable you tell your mother to return to bed, there is nothing to be done. And it continues. All night long. And you are just so tired. So you curl up and try to fall asleep but your dreams are littered with terror, and you rip awake again in time to put your head into the toilet once more. And it continues.
The next day you try to eat, but your stomach rebels, your small intestines alight with flame. You writhe in pain. And you laugh at the only time you never got sick, because you were in a foreign place, because you didn't know anyone well enough to trust them with your food, because you questioned every waiter, read every label. But at home, with the people you love, you let your guard down. You think that people know you enough, that your parents and your grandparents have cooked for you enough to know to read labels as well. You forget that everyone makes mistakes. You forget that your grandmother can be a bit absent minded. And you get sick.
And that is my terror of living with Celiac Disease.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Favorites of the Week

Happy Friday friends! Although the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms all day we are enjoying warm weather, a bit of sun, and a slight breeze that keeps sweeping beautiful aromas into my office. I have gone outside to slip my feet out of my flats and gripped the green grass in my toes, reveling in the tiny hint of summer.  It's a feeling that overpowers the fact that I am working all weekend.

I want to welcome all of my new readers, I am so glad you came to visit! It warms my heart! If you are new please leave me a comment so I can come and visit your blog!

Today I have some wonderful posts from the past week, featuring some of my favorite bloggers and even a few blogs I just found this week. I hope you enjoy!

This Girl's Journey: Things I have Learnt While Traveling - I have traveling on the mind this week! And I completely agree with some of the things she wrote (some things I have yet to experience... like Italy!).

Get The Words Out: 5 Loves on Monday - You should probably know that if there is a post that has anything to do with Jane Austin in my little blog-o-sphere it will wind up here. Yes, I'm that kind of girl.

Riding Giraffes in Stilettos: Things I know for sure - Another "things I know for sure" post, this time from one of my favorite blogs in all the world - Precious and Jemily have perfected the "champagne lifestyle, lemonade money" way of life.

Confessions of a Love Addict: If the World Ends  - I don't really believe the world is going to end tomorrow (do you?) but it's interesting to think about what it would mean, what today would be like, if it really did.

I <3 Vegetables: 5 day challenge - $2 a day - I think it is so wonderful she took up this challenge and brought awareness to all of the hungry out there.

Hope Dies Last: Quiver - I felt like she was writing as me. Can anyone say, "The Boy"

Wine Will Fix It: Into the Tea Leaves - I love this little story.

40:20 Vision: Who are the Real Relationship Role Models? - I am very blessed to have my parents as wonderful role models, as well as B1 and E, married 8 years now, young but strong.

What was your favorite from the week?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Adventure in Wales

I was sitting on the front stoop coffee in hand, sunglasses shielding the late morning sun smiling at the empty Friday before me.  As I turned my face towards the beating sun the phone rang. I stared grumpily at Penn’s number. Why on earth was he calling and did he really have to interrupt my peaceful love affair with the long awaited sun?
"Hello?” I spoke into the phone trying to hide my annoyance. Penn responded quickly, “We have an extra train ticket. One of the boys couldn’t come last minute. Do you want to? If you can make it in forty-five minutes the ticket is yours.”
No longer annoyed and all thoughts of a peaceful, relaxing weekend rushed from my head. I jumped from the stoop and into the house. Running into my room, I grabbed pieces of clothing and a toothbrush on the way in and threw them all into a backpack. No idea what to pack, I just tossed random shirts and shorts and socks into the bag, along with face wash and a toothbrush, the bare necessities. The boys had said they were going to Wales for a coasteering weekend and I had wanted in since the beginning but the trip was planned months in advance and did not have room for a fifth person, so I leapt at the chance before thinking it through completely.
It wasn’t until I had met up with the boys and boarded the train I started to doubt my haste actions. Sitting beside Penn as he enthusiastically discussed the coming weekend with Mike and Matt across the isle, I realized this may have been a mistake. Although in relatively good shape, and ready to take on any adventure, I was still a girl heading to Wales with three very in shape men to kayak and climb rocks in the middle of the ocean. What had I let myself get into? I took a deep breath and focused on the landscape racing by outside the window. As we left the city my breath became less forced, and my grip loosened on the armrest. As each field of sheep passed a new calm set in.
Haverfordwest station was surrounded by mountains rich with greenery with little houses tucked into their folds. So long in the city, I had forgotten the joy of seeing only green. We boarded a bus and set off on a half hour ride even deeper into the country. The roads grew narrower the higher the bus climbed into the mountains of Wales. It tumbled up hills and emerged onto Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The lodge was nestled into the mountain, not far from the small town of Mathry. Standing in the drive of the lodge, surrounded only by cows, I looked at the boys. Identical stunned expressions looked back at me. A swell of pride moved up my chest and emerged on my face in a smile. I may have been the only girl on the trip, but I was a country girl and these were city men through and through.

After dinner, the boys and I walked down the road just as the sun began to set. The dusk that crept up around us made the country look eerie yet wonderful. The grey blue sky peeped through the black branches and critters moved unseen around us. The dirt road was narrow with banks rising high over our heads on either side limiting our view of the country. We walked along silently, reveling in the fresh air and quiet. But it wasn’t quiet; it was just a different kind of noise. Not the noise of taxis rushing by or yelling pedestrians or car alarms going off. It was the bleating of sheep, the deep moan of a cow, the rustle of bird wings through the trees. The air was full of sound, but it was peaceful and soothing. Soon the road opened up and the silhouette of a barn appeared. It welcomed us with a pungent perfume and the shadow of large animals pawing in their paddocks.
“Is that a cow?” Mike whispered. I chuckled under my breath at just how city these boys were. He walked closer but stopped three meters shy of the gate. “Is it ok if I’m here?” His voice was low as he looked back at us. I continued to laugh but nodded my head as I joined him. “I have never been this close to a cow before and I have to come all the way to Wales to do it!” Just then a cow near us tried to mount another and Mike hopped away. “Didn’t think I’d ever see that either!” he laughed as he tried to hide his rush away from the fence.

The cows woke us bright and early the next morning and I was lured down the stairs by the smell of bacon. The lodge owners set out a delicious breakfast to prepare us for the day ahead. “Heyo!” A Welsh voice boomed as the four of us sat down. “Name’s John, welcome to Wales! You lads ready for the day ahead? Excuse me, lady, are you ready too? You think you can handle this?” He added when he spotted me standing a foot below the boys. Color rising in my cheeks, I instantly became aware of how frail I was, but beamed back at him.
 “Can’t wait!” My voice sounded only a bit more stable than my legs quavering underneath me. John threw his head back and laughed.
“Don’t you worry; I won’t let anything happen to you. Have some breakfast and I’ll catch you all in a few minutes.” He turned and walked away while the boys laughed at my red face.
Behind the kitchen a shed filled with coasteering gear awaited us. The four of us jumped, pulled, and tugged our way into the winter wet suits. Although struggling with the suits and looking a bit ridiculous, it felt great to put it on. I felt legitimate.
A van took us down to the water. As we hopped out and onto the beach we paused in amazement. I had no idea places like this existed in Great Britain. The view before me was something I had reserved in my mind for tropical islands and the southern coasts of Spain, Italy, or Greece. Jagged cliffs rose high around me, and before me splashed a sea as blue as the sky above. The soft waves lapping against the pebble beach and the call of seagulls flying above set the perfect soundtrack to the striking contrast of the black cliffs and sapphire sea, I was transported to a distant exotic world.
Breaking the silence, the boys began to clip on their gear but I paused a moment longer. This time it wasn’t the beauty that delayed me, but my own apprehension. The worry of the day before crept over me and I once again doubted my abilities. A hard hip check broke through my thoughts and tossed me into the sand.
 “Get your stuff together lady, we’re going in!” John stood above me, his eyes bright with laughter and dancing with mischief as he pulled me back onto my feet. He clipped my lifejacket, double checked my helmet, then turned to the water and with a wave of an arm shouted to the group, “Let’s go!” 
Where exactly they were going, I wasn’t sure. And judging by the surprised faces around me neither did anyone else but we followed him anyway. The group trudged straight out into the sea. At first the water seemed warm but soon enough infiltrated our wetsuits and seemed to turn to ice. “The trick is to get completely wet right away,” John yelled to us as he dove under the waves, “a layer of water will get between you and the suit and your body heat will keep it warm, you just have to get swimming.” And he pushed off towards a rock in the distance. Cautiously I followed, dunking my head under the frigid waters, stifling the screams trying to escape from my chest in rebellion.
The rock poked out of the sea ominously. It was steep with jagged edges and when John yelled to us to climb on up, I thought he was joking. But he jumped on the rock with ease and headed up to the ledge before I could voice my doubt. Penn clambered up in front of me quickly, although not as gracefully. I grabbed on to a jagged edge, thankful for my gloves, and pulled myself up. The gloves latched on to the barnacles speckling the rocks surface enabling a strong grip.
A small channel ran between the rock and the cliffs. The water appeared calm as our group approached but, as the last gloved hand clasped to the side of the mountainous rock, giant waves billowed through loosening our grips and throwing us back to where we started.
“We’re going through there. We can wait for the waves to die down… or we can have a little fun.” John looked at us devilishly. My heart quickened as Penn squeezed my arm – his eyes matching John’s.
“Ready for this?” He gave me a challenging grin. But something had happened to me from the moment I submerged myself beneath the water. As the sea seeped into my wetsuit my hesitations, my fear, all of my worry left me. I was in. I grinned back at Penn and we swam towards the crashing waves.
In a moment we lost all control of our destination as a wall of water came crashing down on us. I felt a pull behind me but tried to swim on into the crest of the wave. It lifted me high above the others. I thrust myself into it and rose further but quickly crashed down and was pulled under. The life jacket brought me back up, and gasping for breath I spotted another coming for me. Penn was nowhere in sight. But there whoops and cheers of the group who had stayed behind. They were having fun, it was all ok. I gave into the next wave but barely caught my breath before another one came. Just as I thought I would never get through I felt someone clasp onto my arm and pull me towards the other end of the channel.
“Just let the next wave take us into the rock,” Penn yelled over the rush of the wave. I grabbed his hand and together we were pushed to the rock. It wasn’t graceful. The wave pushed Penn around so his back faced the rock. Our hands separated and I was propelled forward into him as we both crashed into the jagged surface, Penn taking the brunt of the crash. We clambered onto the rock and collapsed. John and the rest of the group made their way easily through the channel and quickly joined us, the waves having died down just as we reached solid ground.
“Are you okay?” John called out. I struggled to my feet, but was hindered by the laughter billowing from me.
“That was amazing!” Was all I could get out. I was laughing and gasping for air, my legs shaking from the rush of adrenaline now pulsing through my veins. “What’s next?” John laughed as he pointed to a ledge higher up the rock.
“Ready to jump?” He started climbing up. “I wonder if it’s deep enough.” And in a moment he was in the air and into the water. He emerged with a cheer. “Just jump straight out, keep your legs together and arms crossed, it’s great!”
I jumped with a squeal. Surrounded by cliffs on the coast of Wales, I flew through the air and dropped 30 feet into the icy sea. I was free, full of life, bursting with excitement. I crashed into the ocean, my lungs once again rebelling against the cold and the sudden rush of water. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I just want to travel

A couple days ago I announced to my mother I had made another career change, and then five minutes later I took it back.
"I don't know what I want to do! I just want to travel, that's it, just travel." I whined. Living back at home I've become such an amazing whiner.
"Then why are you plopping yourself down in Texas for a year?" Mom responded defiantly - Mom has also become very snappy. Oh we make a happy household.
"Because I've always wanted to live in Texas! So I'm trying it out. And then in a year I'll go to Nepal for three months, then I'll come  back and make more money then go --"
"ANNIE!" My mom interrupted me with an abrupt yell, "I want grandchildren!"
"Well in order for you to get grandchildren from me I need to find a man, and I don't see that happening any time soon."
"Not at the rate you're going! Why can't you just sit still for a minute and allow a man to actually meet you!"
"If he can't keep up he's not worth it! Oh and Mom, I am your fifth child, why don't you go bother the married children. Or even the ones who are in relationships." Also, side note here, she does have two granddaughters already, but they live in Denmark, and that makes her sad. She wants grandchildren stateside. "Also!" I begin to storm, "I am only twenty-three years old!" Here's the problem with that argument: all of the females in my family have either married, had a child, or had a very serious boyfriend that would quickly lead to marriage by the time they were my age. Usually by the age of twenty-one. My family is used to that. They expect that. I even expected it.
At nineteen I thought I had my life mapped out for me. I had a date picked out for my wedding to "the love of my life." We had a plan to live in Spain for a few years and come back home to start having babies.  Even after things crashed and burned with The Boy I still thought of myself as a girl who would settle down young, with a handsome man, have babies right away - and lots of them, live in the country with the white picket fence and a family dog.
I can't pinpoint when things began to change. But after living in Europe, after halfheartedly going on dates, meeting a wonderful man but losing him again due to distance, I realized that I didn't just want to be a wife and mother. I want to live my own life, have my own plans, be my own complete person.
Yes, of course I would still like to meet a man someday, I still absolutely want to have children, but I am in no rush. I am twenty-three, I have years ahead of me. Right now, I need to figure out what kind of life I want to live, who I want to be, where I want to be. And maybe, someday, someone will come along who wants the same things out of life, and we will continue to travel side by side.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A London Walk

A travel writing piece I did while in London. Our assignment was to go for a hundred meter walk and write about it... 

When he first got to the city I warned him about the pace everyone kept. "Londoners are always in a hurry. Taxis and buses are on a mission, they will not slow down for you. Pedestrians will over take you, walk through you." But he still walks slowly, even crossing the streets, which makes me fear for his life. Seeing my exasperated face he simply said, "What's the rush? We can't see anything if we rush." But I had become accustomed to the London rush, it felt unnatural to walk slow. But he is right, if we only focused on our destination we would miss out on the journey. So we head towards Kensington Gardens.
Normally, back home, I wouldn’t go out on a day like this. Rainy, murky days are excuses to stay inside. We must avoid the weather and the mud. Where I come from there’s a lot of mud. But London has no mud and the puddles are minimal despite the continuous fall of rain. At first Jake complained about the rain, but if he wanted to see the real London, this was it.
A young woman walks by on her cell phone. I notice her shoes, I’m always noticing shoes. They are boots, could be Fryes, camel in colour, expensive. I point them out to Jake, but while I notice shoes, he notices cars. And the cars are beautiful on my street, and expensive. I have never seen so many expensive cars in one place, and Jake is mesmerized. I don't know the names of any of the cars, which he cannot believe, but I've already moved on. As I turn to my right I see the opposite of wealth. “Burney” is the homeless man on our street. Very elderly, he wears an old suit and ratty sneakers. He sleeps on the front stoop of number 44, Burney House (from which he gets his name) where he meticulously folds and unfolds his cardboard house, sleeping odd hours, and heading off all night. Today we catch him packing up his house. For the first time I notice his rolling suitcase. I have never seen him with it before, and wonder briefly what could be in it. He wears only his suit and sneakers every day. He does not have a hat or mittens or a coat to wear over his suit. I shiver thinking about it. Jake and I look at each other, I see color rising on his face, probably mirroring my own. We marvel at all this wealth while he packs up his cardboard home.
A few steps more and Gloucester Road comes into view. Gloucester Arms is just ahead of me across “hell road,” a nickname lovingly given to it by the Richmond students who refuse to walk to the side with the cross walk. Instead they dodge the oncoming fury of taxis and buses who have no intention of slowing down, let alone stopping.
The road is busy as usual, but thankfully no buses. I hop around a couple taxis, Jake is meandering along behind me and narrowly avoids being clipped by the Tiffany taxi. I love the taxis here and although it almost ended my dear friend's life, the Tiffany one is my favourite, very elaborately done, in the famous Tiffany blue, very hard to miss. But even the plain black taxis are elegant, not an eye sore like the yellow taxis of New York, glaringly obvious even on the darkest nights. London taxis are so chic, so very London. You almost expect the taxi driver to hop out, open your door and say “Your coach, m’lady” with a bow. But Jake says no taxis for us, the best way to experience a new place is to walk around.
We turn right on Gloucester Road where I point out Gloucester Arms, a great place to get fish and chips, a pint, and meet forty year old Irish men. While we pass by the shops I look in, a couple Indian restaurants line the street, as well as a small twenty-four hour convenient store that sells two pound samosas, and the small man behind the counter always expects me to buy a beer, I never do. A couple windows down is a pastry shop. We stop to look longingly at the delicacies behind the glass and I notice a small sign in front of a piece of chocolate cake, "Gluten Free, Suitable for Coeliacs." I grab at Jake's hand, we run in quickly for a piece of cake then continue on towards the park for a small picnic.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Name, Follow Friday (er, Sunday), and a Little Bit of Love!

On Friday I wanted to do a wonderful Follow Friday post for you all, I had been planning it all week, but then Blogger hiccuped so much it passed out and I was left with just twitter to announce my love. And then my Twitter stopped working and so glared at my computer until I got out of work (what? actually do work at work, no thank you!). When I got home my internet wasn't working at all. So I opened a bottle of wine and watched Reba with my mom (she's obsessed with Reba, records every rerun there is, and Lifetime also loves Reba, so there are a lot of reruns). So that was my Friday, hooray!
Yesterday work was slow yet again. I started poking around my blog and realized, although I love Albert Einstein's quote, it just didn't seem to fit. Also, there are about fifty blogs with the same name. I needed something different.
When I first started college, right around the time The Boy and I broke up, my mantra became "Believe."
Believe that things will get better. Believe that this was the right decision. Believe in love, despite it all. Also, Believe that the Red Sox will win the World Series - and they did friends, they did. My mom bought me a wooden BELIEVE sign that hung above my bed until it got lost in one of my many moves (I'm asking for a new one before I leave for Austin).
"Believe" has so much optimism behind it, so much possibility. So much inspiration. Please take a look at my "I Believe" page for some more inspiration, and let me know what you believe.

Why "Believe You Me"? My name couldn't just be "believe" and I have always thought that phrase was silly, and like to use it a lot, and then giggle.

The pirate ship: do you see it? why is it there? I love pirates! I really do. Have you read the True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle? I want that kind of life. Except for the framed for murder part... Also my nickname from Bear is Pirate as a result of the best Thanksgiving we ever had, a story that is perhaps for another day.
I have to clarify, because I was yelled at during a heated game of Apples to Apples about how horrible real pirates are. I don't like real pirates, I like the ones in fairy tales, make believe, Peter Pan.

Now on to my "Follow Friday" post:
I used to have a "blogs I love" page, but really I love a lot of blogs, so I've decided to start a new series where I link you to my favorite posts of the week. So, without further ado...

Thought Catalog: Ten Reasons Why Being Single Sucks  - Honestly, I don't think being single is that bad. Although I miss Penn occasionally, I'm pretty content. But this line just made me chuckle :
"A single person’s substitute for sex is a glass of wine, and an order of chicken tika marsala while watching old episodes of 30 Rock. To get some kicks, maybe they will wear something provocative for the delivery man"

Just a Titch: On Tug of War

Oh Hello Friend: Collections/Jane Austen - because you should all know how much I love Jane Austen

Almost Fearless: Crash Course on Getting a Job on a Cruise Ship - I really love everything about this blog. They are living the life I want. And this post made me go, "hm, maybe I'll do that." Because I never want to stop traveling!

Life Begins Now: 6 ways to tell you've been traveling for awhile - it reminded me that it has been too long since I've traveled.

Bluebird Rising: The Night the Rain Came - I just loved this.

Harbor Cottage: Things I know for certain - I thought this was a fun concept, and tried to think about what I knew for certain. Turns out, not much...

Hate You Probably: Good Game Life - so horrifying it's funny.

Kissed a Frog: Follower Love  - Ok, maybe I'm a little biased because she talks about me! But you should read her anyway, she's great!

Sailing Bo: turn off your tv - everything Bo writes, I love.

And there you have it! Go read them and love them!
And I want to welcome anyone who found me via #FF! And to thank those of you who recommended me! I love it/you/this! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

She Lived With Laughter in Her Heart

I believe my epitaph (or I hope) will read, “She lived with Laughter in Her Heart.” At my house we have a sign that says “Live, Laugh, Love,” a saying that has exploded within the young lady population. It’s something to live by, and I believe my saying ties it all together.

My parents taught us to give everything of ourselves, to help others at every opportunity possible; to be aware that we are not the only ones in the world. They encouraged seizing the day, making the most of our one life, getting as much out of it as possible. They encouraged happiness and laughter and brotherly love. They encouraged adventure and fun and spirituality. They encouraged life.
My older brothers helped to enforce the idea of living into my days. They always did their best, were involved in anything they could. They followed their dreams, never worried about them not coming true. They always did what made them happy and what would benefit others the most. They learned not only in the classroom but around the world. They opened their lives to different cultures, different ideas, and different religions.

I live: As I heard stories and watched the lives of my brothers, I knew that life was nothing to take for granted. I wanted my part of it, and I wanted to give my part as well. So I did it. I became involved in many organizations in high school, I volunteered as much as possible. And, taking a leaf out of one brothers’ book, I took a year off after high school and moved to the Dominican Republic. I lived at an orphanage and taught English and volunteered at the local hospital. I savored every moment, whether in the classroom, at the hospital, or just out in the streets playing with the children.

I love: I hold every moment close to me. I reveled in the eyes of my young niece as she spoke her very first word. I felt the excitement of my sister’s first high school dance. I burst with pride and warmth when my brother proposed to the love of his life. I live for these moments, these moments of pure happiness and innocence. Of pure love. I love life. I love all the possibilities around me. I love the fact that everyone has a chance to make a better world.

I laugh: I am known for my smile and my laughter. I am known for my unfailing optimism, my energy, and my craving for adventure. There are countless moments around the dinner table I will never forget, where all ten of us dissolve into laughter we cannot suppress, where food goes untouched for minutes before we can compose ourselves enough to eat. There are study sessions and coffee breaks that are interrupted by giggles and cackles, telling that life is being enjoyed. Laughter rings through my house, whether at home or at school, raw and completely free. We are happy, despite the situations around us.

We are together, we are loved, we are whole, we are happy.

I am not one to sit back and let the world pass by. If there is something I want to do, I am going to do it. I cannot merely breathe through life. I must live it too. I have an urge to go out and save the world, and I am going to do everything I can to make it happen, with laughter in my heart.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

London Love

A couple of weeks ago, just like millions of other people all around the world, I tuned into the Royal Wedding. Yes, I thought the dress was very pretty, yes I absolutely adored the hats - even the ridiculous WTF? hats, yes I had a forty minute conversation with Panda about how awful, just plain awful, Chelsy Davy looked and Harry should clearly drop her and find me. Stat.
But the real reason I watched it? It was in London. Because watching the panoramic views of all of the London landmarks transported me back to the happiest six months of my life. The memories came flooding back, and I just let them take over. I sat back and relived it all, and couldn't keep the happiness from gushing out of me.
I closed my eyes and saw...
Panda and I getting completely lost and turned around and late meeting DT at Westminster Abbey. Completely smitten with Miss Mary and her bedazzled reading glasses. The way DT looked at her, his darling wife, his "English Rose," which curiously mirrored the expression he had when explaining Anne Boleyn, and pointing out Queen Elizabeth's tomb.
Penn and I deciding to see every sight in London without taking the tube until I finally broke down and cried about my poor little feet just in front of the Gherkin. And yet we still continued to walk over the bridge and to the Tower of London where I glared at him and proclaimed "Off with your head!"
Taking three hours to walk through Portobello Road Market, driving the boys crazy and finally sending them off to find food while we stopped at every booth, sifted through clothes, antiques, handmade items, and bought dresses, scarves, and earrings.
Walking with Professor Jackson through back streets. He made us notice the graffiti, appreciate the graffiti, causing me to not be able to look at graffiti ever again without thinking of him.
Professors announcing we will be spending the last forty minutes of class in the pub discussing "deep topics"
Chasing buses in stilettos at 3 am because we couldn't find where the N9 stopped.
Sitting in the back of a cab with Sie, Panda, and Stien rocking out to Sie's ipod as she took videos while we giggled and sang in our tequila voices.
Coming back from Spain, Wales, Paris, Ireland, and stepping out of the Gloucester Road tube station and getting the overwhelming sense of "I'm home."
Following DT to East London and down some streets to a small cafe that served jellied eel. Trying the jellied eel and trying not to gag as the woman behind the counter gently suggests we try it with pepper.
Exploring St James' park on St Patrick's day, half fuddled and overly giggly as DT explained torch bearers and brought us down a quaint mews.
Heading to the outskirts of London, far down along the Thames, to DT's favorite pub. We drank pints and played trivia and danced all the way home. Panda taking DT's phone to talk to Mary, telling her how much we all loved him, to which she replied, "Oh no, he got you all drunk."
Running around Picadilly Circus, seeing Les Miserables, visiting every market, every museum, castles, and palaces. Always having something to do, something to see. Staying out past midnight every night yet still able to wake up at seven am to jog in Hyde Park and attend every class. Finding "our pub" "our restaurant." Settling in to a routine yet still adding new and exciting things.
And finally, laying in the middle of Regeant's Park, beaming up at Penn, Sie, and Panda, gushing, "This can't be real life!"

If I could, I'd return in an instant. But then again, would London be the same as my London? The London of 2010. Because yes, the experiences were wonderful, but it was the people who really made it. I didn't know a single person when I headed to London, but quickly I made some of the greatest friendships of my life. Without them, London just wouldn't be my London. I'd need to scoop up Sie and Panda and take them with me. Until then, I'll just look at pictures, and take advantage of the national news when it decides to go Britain-crazy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Boy, a finale

When I found out The Boy was applying to grad school in Austin, well, let's just say I didn't take it well. As I explained before, I have been trying to get away from him for almost four years now. Wow. Four years. 
A week after I found out, I was in Copenhagen and finally able to cry into my best friend Neen's arms about how unfair life can be. We drank wine, we talked about how I could ever have loved a boy like him. She reminded me how far I have come, how much I learned from that relationship, how I won't make the same mistakes I made before.
And then we stopped talking about it. We drank more wine, some vodka, some rum, some gin, and we had fun. 

Today she emailed me,

"The Boy's facebook says he didnt get in to utexas. i did a little dance for you when i saw that, then i felt petty for a second, then that went away and i did another little dance."

That's my best friend. And, my God, did that lift a huge weight off of my chest.

Today "The Boy" is featured at Check the Box Entertainment!
Do you follow Check the Box? I have been for awhile now, and their posts are so relate-able! Head on over to their blog to see my post, and explore the rest of the site!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Deep breaths before my breathing turns to fire

In the past week I have come up with at least five new blog topics, but I haven't been able to write them down, and they disappear. I've been busy. My mind has been otherwise occupied. I have been sick. And most of all, I have been stressed.
It could be the combination of lousy weather, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of proper meals, and the fact that I am moving in one month and have nothing packed or planned out. I don't know why I said "could be." It absolutely is a combination of all those things that have caused me to stress out, grind my teeth, snap at my sisters, parents, best friends, and develop an unexplained illness.
And so, I am grumpy. Cranky. Irritable. a bitch.
Yes, I admit it, I am absolutely no fun to be around. Not. At. All. And I feel terrible about it because I only have one month at home. I don't want my mother to be glad to be rid of me, I want her to actually miss me. I want my sisters to remember that I was a ridiculous amount of fun, and my father to think of me as a hard, diligent worker who always had a smile on her face (hm, it sounds like I'm dying...). I just want to be the real Annie before I leave. Not some terrible, nasty witch.
So I have made some changes, I quit my second job so I can get more sleep. I've rearranged my hours so I have time to exercise, time to plan healthy meals, time to pack and time to just breathe.
I have also cut down on blogging, as you can see. I will not be posting every day, or every other day, or maybe even every week. And I may not be reading your blogs either, so please excuse my absence of commenting.
I will be answering emails, and sending out a twitter update once in awhile, but for the most part, I'm trying to stay away from the computer. I'm trying to just enjoy my final month here. I'm trying to soak in sisterly bonding, help my mother out around the house, visit friends, and plan my reunion with my friends from London.
I will be getting a massage, gardening, reading, playing board games, and frolicking through the meadows as I come to terms with my decision to not spend another summer in the beautiful country side.
I will be laughing. Running. Dancing. Singing. Packing. Playing. Drinking. Eating. Loving. Oh, and some more packing.
I promise to be back soon! Until then, go have some fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The one where I decide I'm Never. Growing. Up.

My mind is full of fantasy. Of pirate ships and cowboys running off into the sunset. Of princesses and princes. Of fairies in the woods. Of magic dust. And girls who can fly, and mermaids who swim in the deep ocean.
Sometimes, when I need a break from the real world, and when I am lucky enough to be near it, I escape to "my meadow." It's three meadows down, deep in the woods. When you walk into the clearing all you see is rolling hills, the dip, and grow. A single tree resides close to the middle. Most importantly, you cannot see even a tiny sign of civilization. I am convinced this is where the fairies live. And if I look closely enough, I may see a centaur walking quietly along the tree line.
You wouldn't know it to look at me. You wouldn't know it to talk to me. But it's there, in my head, giving me smiles.
In Denmark a couple weeks ago we visited Tivoli. It was full of color and bloom on it's opening weekend. Everything dressed to the nines in preparation for Easter. A ballerina, a jester, and a clown frolicked around the gardens making friends and putting on mini performances. And then there was the Pirate Ship. Sitting so serenely in the "bay." Almost ominously. Lurking almost. But it seemed to welcome me. It seemed to whisper "Come explore!" Unfortunately it was off limits. Unless of course I wanted to book a birthday party.
A BIRTHDAY PARTY?? It was the most brilliant idea anyone has ever put into my little head. A birthday party, on a pirate ship? Yes please!
E laughed at my excitement. "Well, you can tell you grew up with boys." And she walked off. Not one for fantasy? But boys or  no boys. Think of the romance. The adventure. The pure happiness I will feel perched in the bird's nest while everyone sings happy birthday!
Not to mention it allows me to celebrate growing older, but never actually grow up.
And so, my friends, it is added to my Before 30 list, whether it's my 25th or the 30th itself, I will celebrate a birthday on a pirate ship.

And we will drink rum ;)