"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Friday, April 30, 2010

ZigZag

A line or course that proceeds by sharp turns in alternating directions.

That's kind of how I feel my blog has been over the last month.

I've gone from standard posts (like Retail Wednesdays) to uber short ones (like "G" and "Y") to really long ones where I posted some of my play to introspective ones (like "V") to goofy completely ridiculous ones (like"D").

I started out with titles like "Attempting Astronomically Ample Activities" and ended up with titles like "Untitled".

But there is one thing that every single one of these posts had in common: I had fun with them. And from the comments I received, it looked like you guys did too.

So thanks for coming along on this crazy hairpin turn journey :)

Monday is going to be the big retrospective day and I'm looking forward to really thinking about what this month has meant for me. I didn't complete my play, but I wrote 70 more pages than I would have if I hadn't signed up for Script Frenzy (and I still have today, so I'll be even closer).

And I've certainly blogged a WHOLE lot more than if I hadn't signed up for the A-Z Challenge.

Thanks for reading everyone... I'll be back tomorrow for the Last Line Blogfest!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yipee! and Yuck.

I have come to the realization that I use a LOT of exclamation marks in my blogging and commenting. A LOT. Which I think is kind of funny, because I don't really exclaim much of anything when I'm talking.

But in blogging if I'm excited about something, an exclamation point is the only way to really get that point across.

For example:

If I say yeah.

It looks like I'm just saying, yes I can see that.

If I say yeah!

Then it looks like Yay! I'm so happy!

*all above should be considered a rabbit trail from the actual content of this post*

What I really wanted to do is let you all know about the new happy member of my family.

I have posted her picture here:
Isn't she cute? And look at that sassy butterfly tattoo.

Her name is Kaylee

She's promised to be my BFFL and never allow the evil ceiling mice to kidnap her. But I tuck her away every night, because she's just so cute, they wouldn't be able to resist.

So I am very excited to have Kaylee around.

As for the yuck part? Well, I woke up on Tuesday morning to discover that a cold had attacked my head during the night.


So now I have that whole sniffly, snuffly, my head feels about three times as big as it actually is and it's not actually attached to my body thing.
Yeah, kind of like that.

Anyhoo. So I'm not being very coherent, but it's down to the last two days of the A-Z challenge and I didn't want to miss a day! Not this close to the end!

Tomorrow is Z and then Monday, we're going to have a blog extravaganza where all of us that were involved are going to write about our experience through this month. I'm excited about that.

TTFN!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Xerophilous



hahaha. X is hard.

At first I was going to do X-Files. Because My Dad and I have been watching it. Almost finished with the first season and I am loving it. Young David Duchovny is *ahem* palatable.
(oh rats. I just realized that my Dad reads Retail Wednesdays. Um... Hi Dad! Yeah, nothing going on here, you can just scroll down the page *facepalm*)

Anyways, my Mom doesn't like the show and it scared me silly when I was younger, but I am so loving it now. It is a really interesting series.

Then I was thinking that I could do Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I just love me some Xander.
And he's TOTALLY like a younger Chandler. Really and truly. It makes me grin pretty much a lot.

But then I realized that it's Wednesday! And I can't skip Retail Wednesday! (especially because I think Jenn and Lindsey would probably hunt me down and chain me to my computer until I had done another post)

Do you realize how impossible it is to come up with a good "X" title for a Retail Wednesday post? Like totally impossible!

Xerophilous means "Flourishing in or adapted to a dry hot environment"

Which is the best thing I could come up with. Because our AC units have been on the fritz for about a year now and we all suck down copious amounts of water and wave books at ourselves to cope. But I think we're managing to flourish. Or at least adapt.

Lame. I know.

But let's get onto the (there it is! that's the word! Onto. Should it be on to? or onto?! If you have no idea what on earth I am babbling about click over to Falen's post about into.)

Anyhoo ... let's get onto the Awards!

Strangest Topic Award:

A woman came in looking for our section on alpacas.

I just thought it was kind of a weird thing to be looking for.

Funnier was my coworkers response after the woman had left...
"Why yes. It's right over here between our sections on llamas and mountain goats!"


Time Waster Award:

It would be nice if customers would display these prominently just so I can prepare myself.

A customer calls and asks for a book. I look it up, find it and bring it back to the info desk where I pick up the phone.

Me: Yes, we do have a copy. Would you like me to hold it for you?

Customer: Is it your only copy?

Me: Yes it is. What's your last name? I can put it at the register for you.

Customer: No thanks. I'm not sure I'll be able to get there today.

Me: Well, we can hold it until tomorrow for you, if you want.

Customer: That's all right. I don't want to waste your time. I'll just find it when I come in.

Me: (after the customer has hung up) But you ARE wasting my time! I already have the book here! When you come in, you aren't going to be able to find it and you are going to make one of us look until we find it! And if someone else buys it or moves it, then you are going to get cranky and say, "Well, they said it was here yesterday." AGGHHH!!!!


Phone Freak Award:

J answers the phone.

Woman: Hi, I was wondering if you have the AP Psych review book?

J: (looks for it) Yes, we do.

Woman: Do you have the one with the CD?

J: Yes. We have one with the CD and a few of the one without the CD. Do you want me to hold it for you?

Woman: No. I don't know which one my daughter wants. I'll call you back later.
Can I have one of these signs? Please? Can I post it all over my store?


Private Amusement Award:
A customer came up to the desk and said:

Excuse me, do you have architecture?

Fortunately one of my coworkers answered him and showed him to the section, because I was laughing in my head and thinking:

Why yes, we have architecture! Otherwise you'd be outside right now.

My brain is weird.
See, this is a bookstore without architecture.


BWA HAHA Award:

Three teenage boys come into the store. I am guessing they're between 15 and 17.

They look like typical teenage boys.
Just. Like. This. Maybe.

As they walk past the info desk one of them exclaims (yes, exclaims) "Man! I can't wait for that new Twilight book to come out!"

His friend snorts. "Dude, you read Twilight?"

Kid is not embarrassed at all. "Yeah, man! Twilight's awesome!"

Me: *snorting water through my nose from holding in the laugh*


So Disgusting I Think I Might Barf, but It Was Too Bizarre Not To Share Award:
(which gets its own prize for being the longest Award Title Ever.)


A man came up to the desk and told a seller that we might want to check on the men's bathroom.

Never. A. Good. Thing.

So I snagged the only male employee in the building and made him do recon to make sure no creepy men were lurking in the bathroom. They weren't, but they left behind creepiness.

I see a mound of stuff (mainly white) in the one toilet. Like all the way to the top. And I'm thinking, jerkfaces.

So I get gloves and a trashbag, because there's really only one way to deal with this and that is to pull the paper towels and such out. They are never ever going to flush.

Why am I still a supervisor, you ask? It's cause I get to do fun stuff like this! NOT!

Ahem.

So I drag the trashcan over and realize it is not just paper. No. They left us a much better present.

(do you know how awkward it is when you realize you have to search pictures for "underwear"?! Do you know how relieved I was when this came up on the first page?! Do you know how messed up it is that they actually make an underwear rug?!)

Yup.
Um, ew! and Gross! and... WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING NOW IF THESE ARE IN OUR TOILET!

Words have totally escaped me.

Fortunately, M is a gentleman and offers to do it for me. I guard the door and try not to think about... Anything.

Please just kill me now.

Thanks for stopping by *waves excitedly*.

Don't forget, you still have a couple of days to enter Naomi's creepy cute owl and pillow giveaway! And while you're there (even if you don't enter) become a follower, because she rocks and she had a bad day, so she could probably use some cheering up.

AND

When we each hit 108 followers (because 108 is THE number and brownie points if you know why) there will be a SUPER SISTER CONTEST! (real name and full details to be revealed at a later date.) It will rock! It may contain the following: book prizes and owl prizes and flash fiction prizes and may include drawings and writing contests and other super amazing things!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First off, I am SO sorry for the lateness of this post. I started it this morning, but the video took longer than I anticipated. And then YouTube kept freaking out and not posting it forever! But by then I was totally invested. So I tried posting it directly to Blogger. grr... But it's here! It's time!


Today is the day you have all been anxiously waiting for..... the revealing of my Fifty Fabulous Followers Contest Winners!

But first.

There is another contest you have to check out. Simon C. Larter hit 250 followers! (and it's no wonder. Have you read his Blog? No? Shame on you!) He's having The Most Epic Contest in the History of the Blogosphere, EVAR!*

One of the bonus things you can do to get cool points AND more entries into the drawing is write a poem in either iambic pentameter or anapestic tetrameter.

So here is my anapestic tetrameter masterpiece. Please hold your applause to the end:

If I start feeling bad on the day that's today
Now I know I can just find a mirror and say,
"I'm a follower, see, of Sir Simon's own blog!
So I am not a toad, and I am not a frog!
I am cool! I am hip! I know just what to do!
Because Simon C. Larter is awesomesauce too!"

And then I will quickly go back to my work
To be done and return and then quietly lurk
As I hit the refresher again and again
Waiting there for new content from Simon "Da Man"
Will it be some flash fiction that soon will appear?
Or some sarcastic humor I'm going to hear?

But it really won't matter what shows on my screen.
Be it i-am-bic pen-ta-me-ter on gangrene
Or a tale of a Scotsman imbibing some booze
Cause I know that whatever Sir Simon may choose
I will laugh and I'll snort and my beverage inhale.
That is always what reading his posts dost entail.

So I'm writing this poem, my tongue firmly in cheek
cause in just over one plus a half of a week
Simon's giving away lots of prizes, you see.
And I know that a winner is gonna be... me!
He will give you a squirrel or some vodka, it's true
Or perhaps he will jot down a poem about you!

So go enter his contest and do it post haste
For the clock's ticking down... there is no time to waste.

Okay, yeah, so it's not the greatest thing ever, but it was totes fun to write.

All right. Enough dilly dallying around. Let's get on with it!

One more thing. I have decided I hate doing contest drawings. I Lurve doing contests. I love finding new people and making owls for you all. I hate doing the drawing, because that means there are people who really want to win who won't... ;-;

I wish I was a bazillionaire and could mail you ALL happy little owls. But I guess that would kinda defeat the purpose of the contest, huh? Anyhoo. I'm depressing myself and this is supposed to be a HAPPY post!
(P.S. stay tuned at the end for news about a SUPER SISTER CONTEST!)


My brother, Dave, so kindly helped me with the drawing of the names. The video below shall reveal all!

video

Congratulations to the winners! Please e-mail me with your mailing information and your happy owls, silly books etc. will find their way to your house :D

(P.S. If you link to my profile, you can get the link to my e-mail address)

(P.P.S. If for some reason the video doesn't work, let me know and I'll post the winners in the comments.)

And thanks to all of you who left me owl poetry. I loved each and every one and I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to repost them here :) (in no particular order) (remember, theres' SUPER SISTER CONTEST NEWS at the end)

Mia:
Oh Grey and Fluffy friend.
You stole my aching heart
I'll be here 'til the end
And then we'll pick some flowers

I'll watch you fly above
And hope you don't attack
My head is full of love
And thinks your name is Dave

Jenn:
Amigarumi Owls…
I must have one!
Amigarumi Owls…
so much fun!

Amigarumi Owls…
made by Miss. Sonshine.
Amiaruimi Owls…
One of them must be mine!

Falen:
I'd like me an owl
to represent as mascot
my great writing group

Lola:
Girl owl of cuteness
likes to look at all the boys
on the other tree

Summer:
Owl, owl, soaring high
In the inky, pitch-black sky
Whose immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Alyson:
With your big round eyes
and distinctive hoot,
critters say their goodbyes
and begin to scoot.

Dangerous With a Pen/Lindsey:
The coolest owl is
David Bowie in Labyrinth.
I MUST WIN AN OWL.

Readerly Person:
Owls stay out late at night
so they can read when the moon is bright
and laugh at literary fights,
then dream of fire-fly lit lights.

Teebore:
While a robotic
Bubo would be a great owl,
yours would be better.

Brown-Eyed Girl:
Green owl
Purple owl
Grey owl - OW OW! ;)

Shannon O'Donnell:
I could win an owl
my girl would be so happy
she loves them so much

AND NOW THE SUPER SISTER CONTEST NEWS!!!!!!!!!!

So, Naomi and I decided that when we each hit 108 followers (because 108 is THE number and bonus points to anyone who knows WHY), we will hold a massive 2-part contest extravaganza complete with flash fiction, drawings, amigarumi, books, us making fun of writing random stories about you and other as to now unknown awesomesauce prizes!

Aren't you excited?!

So if you are not a follower - cave to peer pressure and do it now! If you don't follow my sister, shame on you! She is awesomesauce (finals have eaten her life for now, but she'll be back in a few days) and you should go follow her now! (she has two blogs, but we decided to say "Writing: A Soul's Way of Breathing" will be the one we'll watch the follower count on.

I'm at like 81 (craziness!) so that's only 19 stalkers to go. Naomi is at 59 followers! So that's only 41 to go! We can do it!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Voice

If you are a writer or you frequent writer's, agent's or publisher's blogs, then you have no doubt heard that word over and over and over.

Develop your voice
Keep your voice unique
Make sure your query letter captures your voice

We say
I liked the voice of this novel.

Or

Their blog has such a distinctive voice.

What the hey are we talking about? Sometimes (not all the time by any means, but sometimes) I think the word is thrown around without us really thinking about what we mean by it. Don't know how to compliment that piece of flash fiction? Just say, I liked the voice.
Haven't a clue what that poem actually meant? It had an interesting voice.

You know what I mean.

I asked myself, Self, what on earth is your voice?

(btw, have you noticed that when you repeat "voice" over and over like I just have that it starts to sound REALLY weird. Just saying)

When I was working on my novel, I was sure I had found my voice. *angelic singing* I was sure I was writing something that no one else had ever done and that it would be the greatest novel of the century (okay, so not that last part.)

I finished it. People read it and complimented it. It was WAY too long so I sat down to edit it.

Suddenly it was the most blah thing ever. The characters (well, some of them) were flat and unrealistic and it sounded like every other Christian Historical Romance I had ever read. oogh.

So it hides there in its folder waving at me occasionally.

I started a couple of other projects, but everything was falling flat. I had lost my voice.

That's right, I had writer's laryngitis. (this is in fact a real disease, soon to be named after me)

A year ago I started blogging. Whoo. hoo. Please, spare yourself the trouble and never go back to read some of my first posts (the Lost stuff is pretty decent, but I wrote pretty much the WORST book reviews ever).

So I didn't really do much of anything here. For quite a while. (looking back over it, I pretty much ONLY wrote Lost stuff, which no one read, because I wasn't going to any blog but Nik at Nite. pretty sad - not that I was following her blog, because her blog is awesomesauce, but that I wasn't checking anyone else's out, but expecting other people to find me.)

Then I started poking around to some other bloggers' sites. Wow! There were cool people here! And we had similar interests! And they were funny or serious, but always entertaining. Maybe I should try writing like they did!

(hint. If you are looking for your voice, imitating other people will not be very successful)

However, it will make you write more. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I posted a LOT of garbage. But then I started to write about things I actually cared about. Like my job and the ridiculous people there. And my writing struggles. And more Lost (a little bit). And some of the TV I was watching. And my family.

I visited more blogs. I wrote more garbage. I started to write some not so garbage. People started coming over and reading. Crazy.

Then I started the A-Z challenge AND started ScriptFrenzy on the SAME day. Because I am insane.

So I had to write every day. Except Sundays. That is a lot of days and a lot of blank pages to fill. But I had to write, because I didn't want to fail. I had to come up with something halfway decent to post about Every. Single. Day.

I'll be the first to admit that some of these days are pretty much garbage. Especially toward the middle when my brain started melting.

But something remarkable happened around "S" and around page 50 of my script. (of which I am woefully behind on, but am still holding out hope for a win) my laryngitis seems to have cleared up.

It was also about this time that I got the following two comments within a 24 hour period.
(I hope they don't mind that I'm repeating them here :)

Both commented shortly after I had done a late night comment on their blog.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Rebecca, you are too funny -- although that's bad about the post that hit the twilight zone.


Raquel Byrnes said...

I like your posts...but I love your comments. Very funny.

I read those and thought, "huh. I'm funny?"

I have NEVER considered myself a funny writer. Sarcastic? absolutely. Humorous? perhaps. But not funny. I don't do funny. Every time I try to be funny I'm so not. At. All.

So I asked myself, self, what did you do that made them think you were funny, because you really should try it more often.

I love funny books and it has always made me sad that I can't write funny.

I thought about it and realized that I hadn't overthought things. When I comment on someone's blog I don't agonize over my words. I don't go back and forth to make sure that I haven't repeated myself (at least not much), I don't self-edit to death (much). Mainly I just jot down my reaction or what I'm thinking or whatever random thing popped into my head and hit post. This can be dangerous, but it is also very freeing.

I think that's when it hit me. Your voice is what comes out when you aren't worrying about your voice or about what someone is going to think or about whether it's "right". Your voice has to be authentic.

I had over-edited my voice until it pretty much disappeared. But this month has helped me get past that.

Is every word I write going to be not garbage? No. (umm... yeah, that sentence pretty much was garbage)

Is every post going to be scintillating and attention grabbing? No.

Is my story going to magically write itself? No way on earth.

But my voice is growing stronger with every word I type. My voice will continue to develop and grow as I do, but I'm not as worried about "is this my voice?" anymore. It's my voice because it's me. When I just let myself go and don't think about HOW I'm writing, everything flows much more easily. Editing is still a monster, but at least I'm editing me and not someone I was trying to be.

Have you thought about voice? Do you write your blog in a different voice than you use in your fiction or even in real life? Was there something that helped you to find your voice?

And here's an extra little treat - just a little song by someone who's "voice" I really enjoy (and it's pretty much my favorite song right this minute)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Untitled

I've talked about my play on here a couple of times and I'm gonna post another snippet of it for you. But first I need some

Or I could just get one of these signs, which made me laugh so hard I shook the entire table:
hahahahahaha! *snort*

Anyhoo.

I really do need some help. I need some suggestions for a title.

My original short story was called An Unlikely Fairy Tale but I don't like it.

So I've been trying to come up with something better. I want something that still references that it is a fairy tale and is a bit whimsical.

I've been playing around with things like "Twice Told Tale" (yech), Two Timing (okay, not really) and my favorite so far is "Twice Upon a Narrator". I've gotten one good response to that and one mocking response to that. I think I'm headed the right direction, but I figured if I threw it out to all you brilliant people you can help me get my juices flowing. (If you come up with a title I use I'll even put you in as Guest #1 or Guest #2 depending on whether you wan to be nice or snarky :)

I've kind of talked about the plot before, but here's a brief summary.

Jarvis is a traditional narrator ready to tell the story of Jane with her enchanted hair when he is interrupted by Gloria, an impulsive, passionate and slightly hyper replacement narrator who was hired even though Jarvis was never fired. They clash and she continually throws out things that disrupt the story (aliens, laptops, etc). At the end of the first act they have a fight and Gloria leaves. The second act begins, but it drags. Everything seems drab without Gloria's constant "interference". She returns, bringing with her pirates and kidnapping schemes. Throughout the rest of the play Jarvis realizes that he needs a little more spontaneity and Gloria comes to see that a plan and tradition may be more necessary than she wanted to admit.

And of course they all live happily ever after!

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Terrible puns?

And here's another excerpt. This is Gloria and Jarvis' big blow up right before the end of the first act. Gloria has just brought in a rock band to play at the ball and has distracted Jarvis from seeing them setting up. The band just began to play......

JARVIS

What is this?

GLORIA

They’re musicians.

JARVIS

(Throws down the cord.) We just talked about continuity and how there is no electricity. You said you could see my point. What is this?

GLORIA

(hesitantly) I might have had electricity installed while you were busy.

REYNOLD

Electricity? I can plug my laptop in! (starts to run off stage, but JARVIS’ voice stops him.)

JARVIS

No! Reynold, you stay right there. This has gone far enough, Gloria. I can’t believe I trusted you. For you to pull something like this while you lied to my face.

GLORIA

I didn’t lie to you.

JARVIS

(steps toward her. The crowd parts as he makes his way to her.) “The Martians were taking it a bit far.” “Vampires have no place in this story.” “All right, I guess I can see that.” Did you mean any of it? Or were you just playing me so you could do whatever you wanted without my interference?

GLORIA

I don’t think vampires belong.

JARVIS

Certainly, make a joke out of it. You have not wanted this story to be told from the moment you walked on stage. I do not know why you took this job in the first place, unless you meant to sabotage it. If that was your intent, then congratulations. You have succeeded.

GLORIA

(growing angry)

Who are you to say what my motivations are? You just can’t handle a little competition. Are you afraid I’m going to improve the story and you won’t be needed any longer?

JARVIS

I think it has already been proved multiple times that I am the superior storyteller here, Martian girl.

GLORIA

Why don’t you throw that in my face a couple more times? I’ve already apologized, what else can I do? I think the reason it rankles you so much is because it proves that you can’t see outside of your narrow little box, even if it might actually improve the story. So maybe that was a bad idea? Does that necessarily mean that all of my ideas are also bad?

JARVIS

Every time I have left you alone or allowed you to tell the story you have thrown something into it to distract and confuse the plot. That is not good!

GLORIA

And which of those things have you allowed to play out for longer than thirty seconds? How do you know it won’t work if you won’t allow the story to run? You keep telling me to be patient and let you tell the story, even if I think it still screams Cinderella. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve played along. You’ve done nothing but shoot down every little original thought I’ve tried to work in.

JARVIS

At least I never lied to or manipulated you. It is no wonder you are sniping for my job. You are incompetent, undisciplined, untrustworthy, volatile and disruptive. You are a disgrace to the good name of narrators everywhere.

GLORIA

(Quietly) Is that really how you feel?

JARVIS

It is.

GLORIA

Someday I hope you realize that you have talked your way right out of a job. Sure people like fairy tales, but you can only tell them so many times and in so many ways. Variety is the spice of life and your life is so bland it’s choking you to death and you can’t even see it. Goodbye, Jarvis. I hope you find your happily ever after, but I have a feeling that by the time you get there you’ll find that it’s not as satisfying as you think it will be.

(exits)

JARVIS

Gloria...

(curtain closes)


*******************************************************************************

I still don't entirely like Gloria's final little speech there. It needs to be tweaked. but this is only the first draft, so :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

CONTESTS!

Real quick to tell you about 2 sweet contests:

Cleverly Inked's Birthday Phenomenon. You have to see it to believe it. More books than I can stand!


Woo hoo!

Time To Travel!

I was bitten by the travel bug my freshman year of college.

Actually, when I think about it, it probably dates back to my childhood. We were always a family that took trips together. We lived in the MD/VA/DC area for about 14 years. Most of our extended family lives in northern PA - hello road trip! Driving 8 hours at a time was normal for us. We laugh when people have to take a 4 hour trip and get a hotel half way there. It just seems ridiculous to us. Since moving to NY we've done daytrips to Philadelphia - a 2 1/2 hour drive. We didn't go many different places (never been west of TN since I've been able to remember) but we traveled a lot.

Almost every year since I was about 13 we've taken vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. From NY it's about an 11 hour drive. Sometimes we stop at our friends' house in VA for the night to break it up. Sometimes we just drive it straight through. Travel. A part of my life :)

My freshman year I was a music major and in the chorale. For our spring tour we traveled to France. It was absolutely amazing. (even though I switched to English my second semester, I became an "honorary music major" invited to all the music events and staying in the chorale for all 4 years)

I love flying, I love travelling and I started making a VERY long list of places I want to visit someday.

Get ready for a BUNCH of pictures :)

France: 2003

We started in the Paris area - one of our first concerts was at Notre Dame de Versailles.
If you have never had a chance to sing in a place like this I can't even begin to describe the experience. The acoustics are beyond unbelievable. And this place was pretty much filled with people who came to hear us. Absolutely unreal!

We did something like 7 concerts in 9 days. (The exact details are fuzzy and I'm feeling too lazy to go find the info) Craziness. We traveled from Paris down to Marseille and Martigue and then did a big loop back up to Paris. 51(I think) of us in a bus. For over a week. Can you say punchy?

Anyways, besides the concert, Miss Carol Anne (the mom of the trip - also worked in the Music Dept) and our director made sure we did sightseeing and fun things. One of the stops we made was at the palace in Pau.
This place holds very vivid memories for me. I hadn't been feeling well since our first day (We stopped here on the 5th day). They had just polished the floors or something and there was this strong chemical smell. I got violently ill and Miss Carol Anne and the local pastor who was travelling with us took me to the hospital. Oh joy. Isn't it amazing that I didn't swear off travel all together? Anyhoo - after struggling through the language barrier (it's a good thing I had someone with me to translate) they diagnosed me with a larynx infection (on a concert tour. Isn't that just great). But they put me on antibiotics and within a day I was feeling TONS better. So I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip. Unfortunately I couldn't sing - just lip sync - but at least I could stand upright :)

Funny story - when Miss Carol Anne was out in the waiting room (a hallway between hospital wings) a nurse came walking through, very cheerfully greeting everyone. She nodded her head and said, "Bonjour" to each person - until she got to Carol Anne. Then she smiled and said, "Howdy!"

ha!

Here's one of the churches in Pibrac - I love the Spanish influences on the architecture.
And one day we took a little side trip and had the chance to go wading in the Mediterranean Sea.
Gorgeous! Our bus driver got all fussy about the sand, though :)

We also took a trip up to the Mariner's Chapel - here's me in my chorale dress:
With the sea in the background.

And our last day, we were back in Paris and they gave us a free day to do siteseeing - So I got to climb (okay, take the elevator up) the Tour de Eiffel:
We went to Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Saint Chapelle and climbed the billion stairs almost all the way to Sacre Couer -
Then we finished the day off with dinner at Chez Clement on the Champs-Élysées. So Fantastic!

My junior year we went to Ohio. That was fun, though much less exciting, but I had a crummy camera so I have no decent pics from that trip.

Then my senior year, the Chorale headed off to Florida, but I had the chance to take Literary London with my favorite professor - the class included a trip to London over spring break - the same time the Chorale was traveling. So sorry, but London trumps Florida any day.

We stayed in London - no outside trips - but saw SO much it was ridiculous. It was exhausting, but exhilarating. It was a nice balance of stuff, though. The morning was for whatever group thing we were going to do and almost every afternoon was for us to see things we wanted to see that weren't on the class agenda. There were twelve students - 11 girls and 1 guy - and the male professor. It was hilarious. The 1 guy was really the only male English major from my year and he was like a brother to all of us. But I think all the girliness tried his patience at times.

We climbed to the top of The Monument.
The quintessential view from the top of The Monument:
We took the double decker bus where we had the MOST hysterical tour guide. We were on the bus for almost an entire round and the guide started commenting on how we were all still there. I didn't want to get off the bus.
Of course we had to visit the Tower of London
as well as St. Stephen's Clock Tower (housing Big Ben), Westminster Abbey (where we had another fabulous guide), the Globe Theatre, a number of museums and the British Library, etc. etc.

We also saw some lesser known places. We stopped by Platform 9 3/4. But at that time I hadn't read Harry Potter, so I had no idea what it was. And one of the girls led us to the area where they filmed some of the parts of Diagon Alley
Though we couldn't find the exact place that she had in her notes.
I also made my way to 221b Baker Street, but the museum was too expensive, so I didn't go in.

Our last night there we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and got to go down in "the vault" with a bunch of memorabilia. Here I am sitting on Jimi Hendrix's couch and holding his "flying V". Impressive, I know.
And, of course, what trip to London is complete without the traditional picture in a phone box?

I loved the trip so much that I was dying to go back for another visit. And I wanted to take Naomi. So we started saving our money and in 2008 headed off for a British adventure of our own.
We went to a lot of the same places, but at our own pace and looking at what we wanted to look at.
Went back to Platform 9 3/4 now that I knew what it was, did the Tower Bridge, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, British Library, British Library - you know, all that jazz.
Here we are at Southwark Cathedral on a lovely drizzly Sunday afternoon.

We spent a lot of time walking along the Thames. At one point we walked out on a pier and a teenage couple came out to ask if we wanted them to take our picture. It was so nice!

We went to the Globe Theatre and they were actually rehearsing while we were there, so we got to see part of a sword fight scene. Unfortunately, the theatre wasn't open that early in the spring, so I have yet to make it to an actual performance at The Globe :(

I love the really, really long and steep escalators. They're crazy!
When we visited the tower of London our Yeoman Warder was absolutely hysterical. He claimed to be on Facebook and I so wish that I knew his name so I could look him up and tell him how enjoyable he made the tour.
We also happened to be there when they did this interactive retelling of the War of the Roses. As the crowd you had to follow along and then choose sides at each pause. If you chose wrongly, you were sent back to the beginning to await execution. If you made it all the way to the end you got a certificate. I wasn't too strong on my War of the Roses history, but between Naomi and I we remembered enough to make it to the end. Yeah! No beheadings for us!
And then for one of my work friends we took a trip out to Abbey Road to get some pictures for him. It's not something I would have done on my own, but it's really cool to have these pictures, so I'm glad we did it for him.
We went to two musicals - Les Mis (which didn't live up to all the hype I'd heard. I wasn't that impressed.) and The Lord of the Rings (which was total awesomesauce and I've talked about it before. It was the best. thing. ever. I want to see it again SO badly I cannot even TELL you!)
Then on our last day we took a trip out to Oxford. We climbed Carfax tower (which after our hike the day before to the top of St. Paul's was nothing) and went to the covered market for lunch and wandered around Christ Church College. On the outside it was like walking around Wonderland and the inside?
Harry Potter!
It was so much fun and we're dying to do another trip at some time. This year it's Toronto for the Polaris conference, but we both want to do Greece and Egypt. I'd really like to travel around the US more too - visit the Grand Canyon and the Alamo and Mount Rushmore and so many different things. Plus, visiting P.E. Island is on my "bucket list". I have to go see the places my favorite author wrote about.

How about you? Have you had any great trips? Anywhere you're dying to go?

(sorry for the extreme length of this post, but I just couldn't stop once I got started. And I'm a little picture happy, in case you couldn't tell :)