Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Nothing falls like London rain, nothing heals me like you do." ~heather nova

I haven't blogged for a really, really long time. So I have tons to write about. And I don't know where to start. Sometime I need to write about the Arcade Fire concert that I went to the week before graduation, because it was one of the best experiences of my life. I can't even tell you how fabulous it was. Chris Martin called them the greatest band in history (greatest band in history; if you stop to think about it, that's quite a radical statement) and I'm well on my way to agreeing with him. But I think I'll go back to that concert later. It deserves its own post.

Then there's graduation. I'm not sure what to say about that. It was a busy weekend; my parents, brother, and four grandparents were there and there were so many events and things to coordinate with all those people. I was ready to graduate, but it was bittersweet. The day after graduation my immediate family and I took some pictures at the lake and I was reminded of how much I'll miss not only the people at Richmond but the campus as well.

The week after graduation my family and I left on our final family vacation before I enter the "real world" (eek). We went to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. My family's vacations are always whirlwinds. We try to cram as much as possible into whatever time we have. There is no time for rest on one of our vacations. We leave the hotel in the morning sometime before 9:00am and never return until after 9:00pm. So, after 10 days of that, I'm pretty tired right now. But it was great. Here's what I remember of our itinerary:

We flew to London Thursday night and arrived on Friday morning. It was an overnight flight and I didn't sleep at all. We had no time to rest once we got there, though; we would have been wasting valuable sightseeing time. So on Friday we did the Tower of London. It was actually very cool, and it took a long time. By the time we went to bed I had been up for about 30 hours and was exhausted.
Tower of London:
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The next day, Saturday, we went to Notting Hill to wander around the market that's there on Saturdays. If you've seen the movie Notting Hill you'll know what it looks like. Portabello Road is full of stalls selling a wide assortment of stuff. It stretches for at least a mile; it's amazing. I loved walking around there. I can't remember what we did for the rest of the day. The days are running together in my head, so I'll just write about everything that we did in London.

We went to Herrod's. At first it seems surprising that a department store is one of the biggest tourist attractions in London, but once you see it you realize why. First of all, it's absolutely huge. And it's beautifully decorated. We had lunch at Harrod's Famous Deli (I wonder when it added 'famous' to it's title), which was insanely expensive but very tasty.

We rode the London Eye. It provided a great view of the city.
The London Eye:
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View of Parliament from the London Eye:
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We toured Westminster Abbey. It's mindboggling how many famous people are buried there. It houses many English kings' bodies as well as quite a few writers (including Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Edmund Spenser). It's just amazing to stand there and think about how many bodies of influential people are surrounding you.
Westminster Abbey:
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We saw a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, although it was hard to see because it was so crowded.
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I know we visited more historical sites in London but I can't think of them right now. Ooh, wait, I just thought of a couple of random things. We went to Abbey Road and crossed the famous crosswalk (from the cover of the Beatles' album). Here's me crossing it:
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And U2 and Green Day crossing it:
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We also saw Platform 9 3/4 (from Harry Potter) at the King's Cross Station! There was even half of a cart sticking out of the wall:
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And we saw the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, donated by J.M. Barrie and located where he first met the boy who inspired Peter Pan (I just noticed there's something flying in front of me):
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My favorite part about London, though, was the plays. If you don't know already, I am a theater freak. I love plays. I'm obsessed with Broadway. So getting to see a couple of West End productions was a highlight of the trip for me.

On Saturday we saw Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque. We were in the front row. Dame Judi Dench was sitting a few rows behind us. Dame Maggie Smith starred in the play, and I adore her. I've adored her ever since I saw Hook for the first time. She was hilarious. She's quite a character. It was pretty amazing that we saw two Dames in one night.
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On Sunday we saw Othello at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. The Globe Theater is quite impressive, and the production of Othello was very well done. It was directed by Wilson Milam, and I'm a huge fan of his. I've met him and he's a really nice guy, and he's also brilliant. Tim McInnerny played Iago and he gave a great performance. At first I didn't recognize him; he looks different than anything else I've seen him in. It's a different kind of part for him. Othello is definitely one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare and I was so glad to get to see it at the Globe.
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On Monday I waited in line at TKTS in the morning and got a ticket to Equus. I ended up third row center; it was a perfect seat. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter himself) really, really impressed me. He displayed so much more depth than I've seen from him in the Harry Potter movies. He looked so much older, too. He's one of those actors who is so tied to a specific character that you wonder if he'll ever be able to distance himself from that character and move on, but his performance in Equus proved to me that he's talented enough to transform himself into other characters and do more. For about 10 minutes he walked around onstage completely naked, which takes balls. I had a pretty good view of him. :-) Richard Griffiths, fresh off his Tony-winning run in The History Boys, was also wonderful. The stage door was so crowded that I couldn't get a picture with Mr. Radcliffe, but I got a picture of him.
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After our four days in London we took a train to Edinburgh. It was a beautiful city, although it was my least favorite stop on our trip (I did enjoy it, just not as much as the other cities). We saw lots of castles.

Finally, we flew to Dublin. I was in charge of planning Dublin; we went there because of me. I love Ireland. I'm fascinated by it. In Dublin I dragged my family to lots of U2 sites. I felt at home in Dublin. It's one of the few places in the world I think I could live. I'm dragging now; I don't feel like writing any more, so I'll write more about Dublin and I'll post pictures of Scotland and Ireland later. This is long enough for now. Today I'm off to the Bronx for a career fair to meet with principals.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"I can't remember all the times I've tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass." ~counting crows

Today was my last day of student teaching. It was very hard to say goodbye. My cooperating teacher told me she's awful at goodbyes so she would give me a hug and that would be it because she didn't want to start crying. I'm awful at goodbyes as well, so we kind of blew it off and acted as if we would see each other again on Monday, which was fine with both of us. I exchanged lots of hugs with and almost started crying as a said goodbye to the two girls with whom I've spent the most time (they're AP kids so I don't even teach them, but they hang out in our classroom all the time and they feel like my friends). We took some pictures; maybe I'll post them later. Jessica gave me my first teacher gift, one of those cutesy little books that you find at the Barnes and Noble counter called "Those Who Care Teach," and we read and laughed at parts of it together. She made me the most adorable card, too. The kids in my drama class gave me a card that they all signed, and one student who was also in one of my English classes included this in his message:
"I graduated because of you...thanks so much. I can go to college now!"
He failed English first semester. Now he's the only kid in his class with an A. He worked really, really hard. He's such a great kid, and he's smart; I like him a lot. He's not graduating because of me, he's graduating because he decided to buckle down and take the class seriously. But I can't put into words how good it felt to read what he wrote. He credits me with him being able to graduate, and even though I don't think I can take credit for it, it's the most amazing feeling to have him express that sentiment. I had to try really hard not to cry when I read that.

I guess that's all for now. I'm sad. But next year I'll get a whole new crop of fabulous kids to love.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"And I will always love you..." ~dolly parton

Last night was the first night in months that new episodes of my two regular Tuesday night shows, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, were both on. VM was good, but GG was spectacular. Lauren Graham's rendition of "And I Will Always Love You" (ala Dolly, not Whitney) almost made me cry. And I'm not the only one; all the reviews of last night's ep are raving about it (here's an example from EW). It was by far the best moment of the season (of the past few seasons, actually). And they did a great job building up to it in the past few eps with the hilarious, charming Luke/Lor scenes. Anyway, last night reminded me of why I love television. So it was cool.

I have two more days of school; I can't believe it. Today my cooperating teacher took me, two students who always eat lunch with us, and her daughter out to lunch at the botanical gardens. It was lovely. I'm going to miss everyone from my high school so much. It's funny; right now most of my friends are contemplating leaving college, but leaving my high school (and all the people in it) is occupying my mind. It's my teaching job that I'm thinking about, not my career as a student. I guess that's because teaching has been my main priority this past semester.

I'm tired. A full day of school and then babysitting for 4 hours is tiresome. I need to get some sleep.