A Fresh Perspective

Hey everyone. I wanted to give a quick update on my plans to revamp EGC. I’ve updated my logo to reflect a more professional and relatable perspective, and I’ll be publishing more lifestyle content going forward.

First, the logo. I will always love this flower for the sentimental value of a first logo, but it is not a mature font or color for someone who is nearly 22 years old. I made the original logo on a cheap art site and typed the title in Microsoft Word. It worked for a while and it was what I knew, but the hot pink just doesn’t suit me in this phase of life. So we bid adieu to this logo…

And welcome a new one!

I’ve spent the past few weeks collaborating with designers and my awesome editor/mom to create a logo that retains the colorful essence of my first one while conveying a mature elegance and dignity. I would say the task was achieved. I’m very proud of this new look and I am so happy to finally unveil it!

With the new look comes a desire for new content. You may have noticed I’ve stopped doing as many reviews, and my last two posts were about working in a supermarket and looking for a grownup job. I still love movies and stories, but I want to live in the real world and share my real experiences. I’ll still probably post one review a month, but I’ll also be discussing the trials and tribulations of job hunting, tales from the supermarket, easy and nutritious recipes, and other observations that come with being a post-grad in 2021.

Going forward, my audience won’t primarily be my family and friends or people who happen to read my screams into the void, although I appreciate when they drop by. My audience is people like me who are looking for their next step and following the breadcrumbs of opportunity. I want to share my opinions and tips to help 20-somethings navigate this life in progress.

Thanks for reading this far! You can reach me on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr with questions. Until next time, keep charting your own course.

Frankenstein (2004 miniseries)-Yearning Son

Hello! You didn’t think I was gonna just analyze the novel and then leave Frankenstein alone, right? 😉 Before I rip apart the 1931 “classic”, allow me to present a positive alternative. This American miniseries was produced by Hallmark in 2004. I know, I was surprised too, but they got at least one quality production on the resume. Luke Goss stars as beloved Peter, and Alec Newman plays scatterbrained asshat Victor. I have already explored the plot of the novel in depth (Unconventional Son), so this will primarily address cinematic highlights of the adaptation,

I am incapable of properly “reviewing” or “analyzing” Luke’s performance without aid, so below are some clips of key moments. Obligatory spoiler warning ⚠️ clips recorded from YouTube where the entire show is available for free in two parts.

Tenderness-This is the first of many times Peter addresses Victor as “father” in this adaptation. ‘In the novel, this address is used only once, on page 124. I don’t believe Victor would have slept through that, but it’s a movie. Peter’s face as he says “my father” embodies a beautiful mix of tenderness and fear and hope.
Anguish- While Peter has expressed anger and grief throughout his short life, the expressions Goss presents allow us to truly FEEL his anguish, and anguish is the only appropriate word here. He got STABBED by his FATHER! And also got his only real chance at love destroyed before his eyes. Victor is a coward for screaming, because his life isn’t entirely ruined.. yet.
This sums up the end of the movie pretty well. Peter comes to see Victor’s body and has a poignant conversation with Captain Walton. Walton disapproves of Peter’s actions, but misses the yearning behind them. It’s interesting that Walton makes the comparison to Christ, as this is never previously stated.

Clearly, writer Mark Kruger and director Kevin Connor had the good sense to do justice to Peter and give him a complex and sympathetic arc. Overall these clips highlight Goss’s emotional range and acting capabilities, and he deserves mainstream success.

Alec Newman gives an authentic and engaging performance as our favorite college dropout (which is to say I hated his character). He has ZERO chemistry with Elizabeth, which makes sense, given THEY WERE RAISED AS SIBLINGS! He has more chemistry and banter with his best friend Henry Clerval, played by the adorable Dan Stevens. Mark Jax gives a surprisingly heart wrenching performance as Alphonse Frankenstein. Victor’s father is an admirable influence on his son, but all his guiding efforts end in vain.

The characters are effective and interesting to varying degrees, but the setting of rural Germany circa 1822 is breathtaking across the board. The quaint villages and lush trees embody the Romantic era perfectly, and offset the dark tones of the plot.

Overall I give this miniseries a 10/10 for faithfulness to the novel, engaging emotional performances, and a gorgeous aesthetic. Watch if you are a faithful fan of the novel and willing to undergo intense emotional work.

Introducing 🎥 Reel Representation 🎥

Hello all. A disclaimer: I began this post in May, before my state was disrupted by riots and protests about the wrongful death of George Floyd. I remain safe at home, checking on loved ones and praying for peace. On with the post.

I know I promised to update more frequently with all the time on my hands, but a quarantine can’t stop college! Now that finals are over, I wanted to introduce a passion project, a new series on the blog. I was assigned to research a social issue throughout American history, and I chose to research “physical nonconformity in media” because it is close to my heart. I looked at movies such as The Elephant Man, Rear Window, The Greatest Showman, and the television show Speechless, These and other works of art are to be the basis for a new review series: Reel Representation.

First, a bit of background: I’ve chosen to use the term “physical nonconformity” as opposed to “disability” or “disfigurement”, because both common terms have pejorative and limiting connotations that I would like to avoid. As I said in my essay Breaking the Binary, the distinction between appearance and ability is often overlooked, yet incredibly important. Stories of physically nonconforming people in media often condescend to them in storie such as Everything Everything, or The Elephant Man. I do want to address these and other “classics” and how they portray distortions, but first I want to focus on positive portrayals.

Some positive examples of physical nonconformity on film include Penelope (2008), The Greatest Showman (2017), the novel Defect (2007), and the television show Speechless (2016-2019). These will be covered first

One important facet of representation on screen is the common correlation of physical nonconformity to “monstrosity” or evil in the horror/sci-fi genere. I tend to avoid scary movies, with one important exception: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I have two separate articles, one for the book and one for the 2004 Hallmark miniseries, and I will address the 1931 “classic” in a third piece. I’ve been passionate about this story for years, and I’m excited to share my thoughts.

Part 1/2-The Wonder of Miscasting

Part 2/2-The Shape of Ableism

Above is a two-part video essay by Sarah the Scrivener, a social commentator and activist. She explains the problems of media representation eloquently, with credible research and statistics.

I look forward to exploring stories of representation and sharing unique perspectives. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Frankenstein.

Frankenstein: Novel and Introduction-Unconventional Son

This review has been two years in the making and is quite long. Maybe if I finally post all of my thoughts surrounding this story, I can move on from this obsession and focus on other projects. We shall see. Also major shout-out to my girl B for proofreading this essay and offering suggestions.

I was first properly introduced to Frankenstein through the 2018 Guthrie production. I knew that my mother had written her master’s thesis on the novel but I was still more familiar with the Boris Karloff version, with electrodes in the neck. I went in expecting horror and what I got was severe heartbreak. I vividly remember riding the bus back to campus and crying on my friend’s shoulder.  I decided to name the Creature Peter, after Marvel’s Spider-Man. In typical fan discourse, the Creature* is named Adam or Prometheus, which are both worthy symbolic alternatives, but I chose my personal name before doing much research. I was again reacquainted with the story in my sophomore British Literature class, where I filled ten pages of my notebook with curse words. If you don’t believe me, I can send you the photos. 🙂 I continued using Peter as the Creature’s name, but not in public class discussion.

Frankenstein was first published in 1818 by 21-year old Mary Shelley. The classic novel follows the life of the Creature, a man sewn together from the dead limbs of other humans, and electrically animated by Victor Frankenstein, a college dropout with some biology credits. Despite his initial obsession with creating life, Victor is repulsed by his new son and runs away. Victor and his Creature dance around each other for years, until the Creature asks for a mate. When Victor fails to comply, the Creature kills two people in retaliation, after accidentally smothering one earlier.

While the events of the novel play out as a classic tragedy, the philosophical questions that underpin them deserve serious contemplation. What constitutes a “human”? How does one obtain and maintain a “soul”? How far is too far in the pursuit of knowledge? How does one evaluate Peter’s violent actions against his continuous cries for love and belonging? That last one hits home-we all desire love and belonging and achieve it to varying degrees by varying means and circumstances.

*Anyone who refers to Frankenstein’s creation as “m**ster” will be scolded and blocked. It’s rude and plays into cultural misconceptions. 😉

There’s the spoiler-free portion. Spoiler warning from here on out. ⚠️

I wrote this paper (Thy Fallen Angel_ Disability Representation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) a few weeks ago, for a course about stories of oppression and resistance. This paper focuses on the parallels between Peter’s experience, and the experience of “disabled”/physically nonconforming people in our society. This blog is a less academic paraphrasing of the essay, but feel free to compare the two. I also wrote a paper comparing Frankenstein and Rime of the Ancient Mariner

To address the elephant in the room, no Peter’s narrative is not explicitly stated as being about “disability” but his story mirrors such narratives closely enough for solidarity and empathy. He is “born” to a father who deeply desires him, but suddenly changes his mind, leaving his newborn son to fend for himself.

Victor narrates Peter’s “birth” in the novel with these chilling terms; “For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far
exceeded moderation, but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished and
breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 60)

This newborn is not taught proper social skills and so learns by observation, on the fringes of society. Peter’s story about his time with the de Lacy family is especially poignant. Peter finds a family in a secluded cottage and observes them for some time, slowly learning what a healthy family dynamic is supposed to be. He is welcomed as a friend by the blind grandfather and shown the first true kindness in his life, but this is quickly taken from him when the son and daughter-in-law are terrified at the sight of him. The two strangers act on impulse, physically attacking Peter and driving him away, The one brave initiative Peter took in his whole life proved to be a disaster.

Peter spends months alone in the woods, reading books swiped from the de Lacy house (particularly Paradise Lost) and examining Victor’s journal. Peter wants answers as to why he was created in the first place and then so cruelly abandoned. Who among us hasn’t tried to explain or analyze our suffering?? Meanwhile, Victor suffers from anxiety and family drama, rendering him incapable of telling his loved ones what has happened, and amplifying his paranoia about being “watched” or “hunted” by his son.

When he is discovered and chased off, he eventually comes face to face with his creator again and begs for mercy, pleading,

“Remember, that I am thy creature. I ought to be thy Adam but I am rather thy fallen
angel, whom thou didst turn from joy for no misdeed… How can I move thee? Will no
entreaties cause thee to turn a favorable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy
goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed
with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone?” (Shelley 93)
This poignant and pitiful plea comes in the middle of the first meeting between Peter and
Victor after being apart for many months. From a mental newborn who couldn’t speak, Peter has grown into quoting Milton and contemplating his own creation and existence; yet all Victor can see is the physically deformed body. Victor is so shocked and disgusted by Peter that he doesn’t take so much as a second to explore his unconventional son’s mind or heart.

When he reunites with Victor, Peter is promised a companion, an equal, and this brings him more joy than he’s ever known. Victor assembles this female companion but is suddenly terrified that she and Peter will biologically reproduce. This fear causes him to destroy the bride in front of Peter’s eyes. Peter is left with his rage and the two separate. Throughout all of this, Victor maintains that his son is an “abomination”, and a “wretched devil”. Parenting 101! Those who do not physically conform can have trouble relating to others and so lack the intimacy they crave. While Peter is an extreme example, this yearning for companionship is universal.

I should mention that Peter does kill three people independently-one is an accident and two are intentional. Peter accidentally smothers Victor’s kid brother William when interrogating him, and he is remorseful for this. When Victor destroys the bride, Peter kills his best friend Henry and wife Elizabeth in retaliation. Peter does not enjoy killing as an end in itself, but understands that it’s the only possible way to make Victor understand his pain.

Finally, Peter and Victor meet aboard the ship of Captain Walton, after years of a cat-and-mouse game. Victor dies of “natural causes” (probably of frostbite or malnutrition), and Peter comes to take his body away. Peter knows he has no one left to turn to, no one who truly understands his unique circumstances.  Victor has been narrating the entire novel to Walton, and now Walton is face with proof of the fantastic story. Walton has a choice: will he agree with Victor that Peter is an abomination? Or will he vindicate the suffering of a lonely man? Walton’s choice is irrelevant, as Peter has given up all hope in life. Peter has these parting words for Captain Walton:

“Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. My work is nearly complete. Neither yours nor any man’s death is needed to consummate the series of my being…but it requires my own.” (Shelley 188)

This quote appears on the final pages of the story, before Peter jumps off the boat,
disappearing into the ocean. He plans to “collect a funeral pile and consume to ashes this
miserable frame…” (Shelley 188), seeing no purpose or hope in his existence. What strikes me about this ending is the lack of redemption. Both characters die, although Victor gets an unfairly better deal.

If you’re still here, thank you for reading. This novel has been close to my heart for many years, and Peter will always be my favorite unconventional son of literature. I’m disappointed in major media for distorting the story, but surprisingly Hallmark did a fantastic job with their 2004 miniseries. Stay tuned for the next installment of Frankenstein Fridays! 🙂

Edition Cited

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Johanna M. Smith. Frankenstein: Complete,
Authoritative Text with Biographical, Historical, and Cultural Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Contemporary Critical Perspectives. 3rd ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016.

Miss Congeniality-Outdated Feminism

Before someone tries to throw hands at me about the title, let me clarify that I do admire this movie, and have seen it more than once. However, as I get older and watch it with new nuance, I see some critiques of this enduring classic.

The story follows FBI agent Gracie Hart (alias Gracie Lou Freebush) as she infiltrates the Miss United States pageant to catch an unexpected villain. I almost feel like the second scene is misleading. The prologue tells us who we have, the second scene leads us to believe we’re in an intense action movie, and then it pivots to an office!

Two standout supporting characters are Kathy Morningside and Victor Melling. Candice Bergen makes a meal of her bland role and entertains us as pageant director Kathy Morningside. No one with a name that cheerful can be trusted, and Ms. Morningside soon turns into a storm. While entertaining and campy, Caine’s stylist Vic is a two-dimensional stereotype that does no good for authentic representation

The two shining elements that pull the plot together are Gracie’s relationships with Vic and Cheryl. Cheryl is a shy contestant who opens up to Gracie and finds some confidence. r endearing earnestness helps her steal the show and eventually the title of Miss USA. In addition to being her stylist and consultant, Vic morphs into a father figure for Gracie, and they  ultimately winning Miss United States and being saved from explosion.

April 25th

Everyone knows that April 25th is the best day of the year! Cheryl’s “airhead moment” has become an iconic meme. 

While the movie ostensibly shows a strong female embracing other strong females, subtle misogyny abounds and is hard to miss in a post-#MeToo era. 

4 minutes in, a waitress is insulted with the line “this broad’s got two asses”. Right off the bat, this is the kind of subtle language that annoys me about this movie. Even before the pageant starts, the group that picks the agent to participate is made up of ten )males and one female. It’s a free-for-all of objectification and debauchery. (17:08-19:10). Once the pageant starts, Gracie wears a camera, and her male colleagues have a disgusting field day with what they see.

In addition, Gracie Hart is unnaturally forced into a romance with her colleague Eric Matthews, played by adorable Benjamin Bratt. While Hart and Matthews have an entertaining rapport as colleagues, there was no justifiable reason to force shift to romance at the end of the movie. The subtle flirtations and misdirects are one thing, but 

A Brief Shining Moment

This is one of the most straightforwardly feminist moments of the movie. While I don’t like the word “liberating” being used to describe a beauty pageant, I like her attitude shift and commitment to her friends

It’s not about her “becoming a beauty contestant”, but about her learning to operate out of her femininity as well as her masculinity. We also get to see Gracie make real friends, which is endearing

While an entertaining and colorful romp, Miss Congeniality doesn’t hold up as a positive example 20 years after its release. For a colorful Sandra Bullock comedy, I recommend The Proposal and for an epic Sandra Bullock action movie, i recommend The Heat (for adults only). Miss Congeniality gets 7/10 for a strong cast, a good soundtrack, and genuine humor and heart. Three points docked for the misogyny and the unnecessary romance. A great choice for a tween slumber party, or a “throwback classics” night, 

Inception-The Ghosts in Our Dreams

Hey everyone! It’s only been 16 days since my last post, but the world seems to have been upended on its axis. I’m on an extended spring break and online learning for the rest of the semester, but I plan to just keep watching movies and discussing them, like I always do. Since this month feels like a bad dream, I thought I’d tackle an intriguing dream-centered movie next…Inception.
A while back I wrote a review of The Great Gatsby (2013 dir. Baz Luhrmann) and used the subtitle “One Man’s Mirage”. It appears that Leonardo DiCaprio has a penchant for unstable characters, particularly highlighted in 2010’s Inception.
The movie is quite similar to a show called Stitchers, about extracting memories from the minds of the dead. The main difference is that in Inception, dreamers are still alive. The film follows Dominic Cobb (also called Caleb) as he attempts to plant a life-altering idea in the mind of a grieving son.
The best part about the movie is that one can never be sure if a scene is taking place in reality or in a dream. There are multiple scenes that appear to be real, but turn out to be entirely designed, catching viewers by surprise. The biggest use of this comes in the last frame of the film. All I will say about the controversy is this: I believe in the wobble, I believe in redemption, but I also understand the heartbreaking allure of delusion.
The problem with this movie is that Leo DiCaprio steals every scene. This is not a compliment. Even with such commendable actors as Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy, Leo’s intense passion pulls focus and no one else can do anything until he is out of frame. I suppose part of this is due to my expectations of a Marvel-like ensemble film, rather than the backdrop of paper characters we see
The only exception to the above grievance is Marion Cotillard. Her intriguing performance as Caleb’s damaged wife is on par with DiCaprio’s and they have palpable tension. The nature of this tension is complex, and both actors understand this.
Although DiCaprio and Cotillard pull most of of the focus, Ellen Page does her best to add depth with her reactions. Her role as the  dream architect Ariadne (could they have made that metaphor any less subtle?) adds a voice of reason and caution to a reckless heist.
In terms of violence, this movie is on par with Marvel-plenty of “bad guys” get shot, but there’s very little blood or gore. There is one scene of a woman jumping off of a hotel balcony, but her body isn’t shown.

Overall I give this movie 9/10 for an intriguing concept, a stellar cast who does their best, and some stellar set design. One point lost because Leo hogged every scene.

Travel Update-Closing Thoughts

This post has been in my draft for the last two weeks, and will now be released on the very last day of my Study Abroad term in England. We leave our hotel on December 5 at 8am, and it has been many amazing adventures compiled into one beautiful story.

After Oxford, we spent three days in Canterbury and three in Cambridge before settling in Ditchingham for finals week.

Canterbury Cathedral has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows I’ve ever seen’ and at this point, I’ve seen plenty. We stayed at a conference center on the cathedral grounds and explored the picturesque streets.

In Cambridge, we explored more picturesque small town streets, along with the many colleges of the illustrious university, and attended Evensong at King’s College, which was an ethereal experience. I’ve attended many Evensong services over the last three months, but there is a reason that the King’s College choir is world famous.

Our week in Ditchingham was a unique experience. We stayed in a conference center with sketchy WiFi and turned in a plethora of final projects. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. One of the highlights of the week was performing scenes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest for our final drama project. Every group had been assigned a scene but very few people knew the plot of the entire play so it ended up being a giant collage of fun.

We got to London on the 29th and I saw Waitress that night (here’s my review). It was an absolutely incredible show, full of empowerment and self-discovery and an amazing score. The following night I saw Matilda, which was another giant collage of fun, with some light horror thrown in. Apart from that, I’ve been exploring the city, working on final papers, and reminiscing about the past three months.

Yesterday I went with some friends to the Sky Garden. We rode to the 35th floor of a snazzy downtown building and watched the sunset from a terrace higher than the top of the London Eye. The restaurant/bar is a cross between the Como conservatory and the overlook at the Guthrie theater.

Let me first state that I recognize and cherish the increíble privilege of seeing so much of the world. This trip has been incredible. Back in August, I had one sort of vision of how this semester would go and it was honestly just a hazy stereotype but this trip has been beyond my wildest dreams and I’m so grateful for all of it. This is my last day in Europe, which is mind-boggling to consider. There are definitely parts of my life that I can’t wait to get home to, the biggest one being my family and the second one being my kitten, and I am excited to take the lessons I’ve learned from this semester and build a new life for myself going forward. I absolutely want to come back and revisit some of my favorite sites at the earliest possible opportunity, so keep an eye out for the next travel announcement.

While all of this travel has been amazing, moving from place to place every week can make a head spin. We roll up to a town, see the highlights, and then we’re out. On my next sojourn across the pond, I want to stay in one place long enough to become a local. I want to see what normal life is like, outside of a church or a holiday.

Another interesting learning curve of the trip has been the fluctuating social dynamics. There are 20 people on this trip, and I like spending time with different people in different degrees. There’s also the issue of coordinating logistics amid so much free time. As a result, it can get hard to plan social outings with more than three people,

Part of the reason I haven’t blogged as much in the last few weeks is that I lost focus a little bit. After Salisbury, I got sort of caught up in my head for a few weeks and wasn’t paying as much attention to the amazing experiences around me. After some time I got somewhat desensitized to the increíble cathedrals and informative museums. I’m not proud of it, but it did happen. But I got some good reminders to refocus and I’m soaking up every moment of these last hours, and cherishing the priceless memories of the last three months.

I was texting a friend and she said “I can’t wait to hear about your trip!” While I appreciate the sentiment, something about that sentence felt odd to me. I wouldn’t call this a “trip” so much as a lifestyle change. In my mind, a trip lasts one to three weeks, perhaps a month. We’ve been traveling for so long that we have embraced the nomadic way of life.

Our teacher told us that upon our return, many people would inquire about our experience and most would expect a one-word response. Some of the words I would use are: “amazing” “unique” “incredible” “broadening” and “beautiful”. I’ve seen so much more of the world, of myself, and of my peers, and I will continue to process these observations over the next weeks. Thank you for following along with me on this journey, and I’ll see you soon.

Bon Voyage ❤️ E

Oxford-A Tale of Two Libraries

Hi! Here’s a slightly tardy update on a cool experience in Oxford. As of publishing, I am in Canterbury and we leave for Cambridge tomorrow afternoon.

On the 16th, I visited the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which is an incredible experience. There are books on display from 1505, and the library itself dates back to the eighth century. Later, I visited an unassuming boba tea shop with windows and walls covered in notes. I was honestly more intrigued and impacted by the note wall than by the library.

First, some explanation: I have the utmost respect for established institutions and it was amazing to get a peek into the inner workings of a historic university. We learned about the practices and habits of the college in regards to administration and education and even discipline. Our tour guide said “there is an easy way and a complicated way to do things, and people of Oxford will always choose the complicated way”. This proved true as she described the system of smaller “colleges” within the larger university and which jurisdiction belonged where.

The Radcliffe Medical Library. Pictures of the inside were forbidden, but they have not only an ornate building, but a labyrinth of underground book storage and reading rooms. The people of Oxford are dedicated to the preservation and expansion of knowledge to an impressive degree.

This is the Oxford coat of arms. The Latin phrase means “God my inspiration” and the open book is something of an Oxford inside joke, since the Cambridge coat of arms is a closed book. It was fun to learn about the ongoing friendly competition between the two iconic institutions. This is the only example where the page is turned down, to show that they read more than one page of the book, a rebuttal to a Cambridge diss.

The tour was lovely, but at the end I was left to find lunch in Oxford and while away two hours. I was burned out on travel and history and needed a break. I was also going through some issues with comrades and feeling insecure and isolated. I wandered through town until I found the Covered Market, with a sign proclaiming the establishment dates from 1774. Although the concept of the market had deep roots, many of the shops looked new. An unassuming boba tea shop caught my eye, not because I was thirsty, but because the walls were a work of art.

The sheer number of post-it notes on the windows made for a Pinterest-worthy set up. The color was a refreshing surprise on a dreary day. Upon closer inspection, I saw a variety of words and artwork on each note,

This note made me smile. I don’t know who Lottie or Melissa are, but I hope they and their feet are happy together.

This was my small contribution to the collection. I don’t know who will see it, but I hope they will smile.

The connection between historical and modern records struck me as intriguing. I found myself wanting to know more about the writers of the notes and what prompted them to inscribe their thoughts and feelings. While the records of history are important and well worth preserving, they are less accessible to the general public, and less applicable or relatable. I found myself understanding and agreeing with many of the neon sentiments and engaging in a sort of conversation with them. It just goes to show that while the methods and frequency of written records have evolved over time, the impulse to preserve our minutiae has not.

This leads me to question the nature of my blog as well. I view my writings in a similar position as notes on the wall, as thought processes that someone down the line may enjoy. I don’t necessarily write for approval, although I won’t turn it down. I write to share my passion about things that spark joy in me, to process complex ideas and themes, and to hopefully inspire discussion and thought in others, whether I know them or not. What I write about may change over time, but these core values are my North Star.

Non Voyage ⭐️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 E

The Crucible of Chaos

What day is this being written on? I am aware it is sometime in November but beyond that I have no idea. I’ve discussed the malleability of time at length, but it continues to amaze me. Particularly here in Salisbuty, when the night is fully stretched out by 5:30pm, and we have little on our daily agendas.

We’re coming to the end of a slower week in Salisbury, the longest I’ve been anywhere since Florence. I left Florence about 21 days ago, and that already feels like a far-distant memory, a symptom of leading a life of organized chaos. This trip has hammered home the old adage that “the only constant is change”. Less than two weeks ago I was in a house with seven people feeling more at home than I had in weeks-or was it days? And now I am in a small solo dorm and the beach of Lyme is a world away. The only thing I have held onto over these turbulent months is myself. I know that no matter who I am with or where I am, I am with myself first.

I think about December 6 often. What will my morning look like, when I have no itinerary or assignment lording over me? How will I choose to spend my time in an unfamiliar home? Sometimes I worry that upon my return, this entire incredible experience will vanish like a cloud; that the present moment is all there will be, and the luxury of permanence will lull me back into complacency. I worry that I will be the same person I was, just with some cool photos.

Outside the John Fowles cabin in Lyme, I was speaking to a Scotsman and I told him we had been in Edinburgh “a couple of weeks ago”. My travel mate reminded me that it had been months rather than weeks. Lately I have had increasingly vivid memories of the first weeks of our trip, while other segments have entirely vanished. I remember how unsure and scared and shocked I was. I knew nothing of how the world worked, or who my travel mates were. Now, with less than four weeks remaining in our journey, I can see the end in sight as if it were a moment away. I can see the beginning and the end and flashes of the middle. But the middle is where the magic happens. The bulk of the trip has been about learning who I am apart from the communities I was raised in, which is what I set out to explore. What I have found is that I am who I always have been-resilient, inquisitive, sociable to a point. In essence, I am me. This is the barest possible introspection, and I will be processing and unpacking this journey long into 2020.

This trip has forced me to reckon with myself and with how I approach the world as a whole. In my prior life, I was never one to sink into the present moment, but here I have no other option. I feel that I have finally learned this lesson only a moment too late. I had some issues early on with hanging on to useless attachments back home, but I have compartmentalized and released them. But I have also unconsciously released memories of incredible moments through the journey. Of course one mind cannot be remembering all of the last three months simultaneously, but I am making a conscious effort to retain every shining moment, whether through writing it down or tying it to a song or capturing it in a photograph. Back in Coniston I wrote about the balance between capturing a moment and living in it. That tension has only sharpened with the intervening months.

As I come into the home stretch of my journey, I begin to see the final side of the prism. We return to London for the last week of our journey and I am curious to see how perspectives will shift with the seasons. I am only beginning to examine the effects. My journey into the first steps of adulthood truly began this summer with the writing of the essays, and this trip has been the crucible in which my new identity has taken shape.

Bon Voyage 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 E

Poppies and Prayers

There’s a red poppy on my table. There’s a red poppy on every table, and in every gentleman’s lapel. It is Remembrance Sunday, but I have to ask the store clerk what exactly this nation is remembering. She graciously informs me that Britain remembers all war conflicts on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, which is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month-an auspicious anniversary indeed. As I make my coffee run, I see a notice that even Starbucks will stop all service for two minutes at precisely 11:00. I woke up entirely unaware that today had any particular significance, but I am now overwhelmed with the weight of the day.

Today is also Veteran’s Day back home. Prior to this trip, I never gave Veterans Day much thought, apart from as a day to honor my grandfather who served as a medic in the Korean War. But having seen so many war memorials in the last three months puts it into a new perspective. An ocean apart, a bittersweet holiday is remembered.

Family photos of my grandfather circa 1950. He served in the Korean War, but family knowledge is inconclusive as to whether he was a conscientious objector. He served for two years before returning to Bemidji and starting the amazing family that now surrounds me.

I see more elderly men around town today than I have all week. I wonder how many of them remember their fathers and how many remember their friends and fellow solders. There are many who wear medals and sashes today. I don’t understand the complexity of representation of each garment, but I admire those who have the courage to serve and am pleased that this service has drawn a large crowd of solidarity.

Here is a shot of the historic cathedral from last night. This is approximately 600 steps from the front door of our lodging, and I have been spending as much time as possible here this week.

Our service today was led by the Reverend Joseph Moesel, who served as an active army chaplain for the last 20 years. He reminded us that “Those who experience war are those most ardent in establishing peace”, and the real “architects of war” are those who fail to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (‭‭Micah‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬). The a capella chanting of a verse of “For the Fallen” by Lawrence Binyon felt as though it had been recorded from a war funeral, although the choir of children sang it yards away from me.

When the congregants rose to sing the national anthem, I felt a moment of conflict: was it my place to sing the anthem of a nation I am a citizen of? But “God Save the Queen” is less a patriotic battle cry and more a blessing of a ruler, a sentiment that transcends citizenship.

The solemnity of the day is a testament to the scars on the global psyche, and I am reminded of the regrown trenches of Albert. When we visited Albert, the gaping craters had grown into soft valleys, almost appearing as places of rest. A similar thing has happened in the minds and hearts of British citizens. Holidays such as Remembrance Sunday have allowed craters of grief and rage to be mended into scars, honored and acknowledged but no longer an immediate tragic apocalypse. I went back to Salísbury for Evensong and the reverend spoke on the balance of remembering the past while imagining a better future.

I have grown accustomed to an “ordinary Sunday” Anglican liturgy, but today’s emphasis on peacemaking and remembering our fallen soldiers was a rare and precious experience, if not an entirely pleasant or joyous one. I’ve lived through many Veteran’s Day celebrations in America, but only now do I begin to comprehend the weight of the sacrifice we honor. It was a privilege to bear witness to a sacred tradition and honor my family in the process.

Bon Voyage 🌺 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 E