Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Moving on Up!

Hey everyone!

I’ve finally taken the plunge and moved to my own self-hosted blog site! Visit my new & improved blog at:

www.thetravelingscholar.com

Hope you like the new layout and material! With the new site I’m able to upload my personal map, photos & videos from my travels!

Visit me there & bookmark the new location!

Lots of love,

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Loving on Indie Films!

As most people who knew me in my former California life can attest, I’m not a movie watcher. Or a TV watcher. Or a video game player. Generally speaking, I hate all things that are a waste of time. Since my move to the UK, however, I have found that I like watching my Keeping up with the Kardashians while I’m gymming (I’ve kept that dirty secret for far too long!), and I actually enjoy watching movies during my quiet evenings. My current genre du jour? Indie films!

In the last two weeks, I have watched Sideways, (500) Days of Summer and Little Miss Sunshine. Surprisingly, I enjoyed them all! I have a new soft spot in my heart for indie films, I’ve decided. So much better than big budget films… lack of funding must force creativity. In any case, I’m on a quest to enhance my portfolio of indie films. I think it will help me fare better when playing Trivial Pursuit — I always fail miserably in the entertainment/movie/TV category.

Also, I must commend Fox Searchlight for putting out so many good films. Quality work.

Any suggestions on must-sees? I’m clueless when it comes to movies!


Breaking Out — Is leaving HS friends really a bad thing?

Let me preface this by saying that this post is prompted by a facebook photo that I just ran across. The photo belonged to a girl (woman?), with whom I have a mutual friend; she went to my high school and graduated a couple of years before me. I wouldn’t say we’re ‘real’ friends, but I feel justified in looking through her random facebook photo albums…. please, isn’t that what facebook is for? In any case, I found it quite interesting when the majority of her current photos (posted December 2009) were snapshots of her and the same friends she had in high school. Now, I’m all for keeping friendships alive and maintaining bonds, blah, blah, blah, but really? At 26, isn’t it time that you had new friends, too? When 90% of photos are of you and the same people you were friends with at 15, I think it says something. If I had to guess, I would think it says, “I haven’t really grown/changed/advanced much in life and I still hang out with, and find interesting, the same people that I did when I was 14.”

Let me also say: a) I have no problem with this girl — she was actually very spirited and fun, so I’m not saying this out of anger/jealousy/whatever other emotions people associate with scorned women; and b) I also have a handful of friends from high school with whom I maintain friendships. It’s not the maintenance of friendships that I find irksome. I actually think it’s awesome to be able to keep in touch with people from the past and keep those friendships alive. Rather, I think it’s quite awkward when people maintain the exact same group through life without incorporating new individuals and new personalities into the group. Even if I tried to keep in touch with the same group of friends I had in high school, there would only be a select few that I would still share commonalities with. We all grew up and went our separate ways, finding new things that interested us. Some of us pursued higher education, some got married, some joined the military… some even have children. For us to all still find common ground would be a rather unachievable. The things that we find interesting now are so varied. I have no interest in spending three hours talking to my girlfriends about their over-achieving babies nor do I find interest in planning upcoming nuptials. Likewise, I find it highly unlikely that any of my girlfriends want to have a conversation with me about the effects of poverty on HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Now then, my question is, how does this happen? How do people continue to hang out with the exact same individuals for decades on end when their initial friendship began at such a young age? I understand the concept of adults meeting and maintaining life-long friendships, but it just seems that so much happens from the ages of 15 to 25 (high school graduation, college, college graduation, career choices, moving, marriage, children, etc.) that you really aren’t the same person that you once were. Doesn’t it say something about your growth as a person if your friends haven’t changed? Isn’t it important to meet new people and allow their perspectives on the world to open your eyes to new things?

Maybe it’s just me… maybe it’s late and looking at facebook friends’ random photo albums is unhealthy. Or maybe it really is weird to be BFFs with the kid you met in 9th grade geometry when you’re 26.

Either way, I would love input from people on this… it’s a topic that I find bizarrely fascinating/irksome.

Sleep tight,

Saying Goodbye to 2009.

It’s 930A, I’m up and feeling much better than I have been the last few days. Sniffles are gone and congestion has nearly disappeared! Thank God for lots of water, soup and Bendadryl to help me sleep about 18 hours yesterday. I’ve been holed up for a few days but I woke up this morning to the realization that today marks the last day of 2009. Crazy, really. Where has this year gone?! Despite the fact that time has flown by, a lot has happened this year for me; lots of big changes that have had a big impact on my life. Time for me to reminisce a bit and welcome in 2010!

Dad & I took our first international trip together in February. We visited England to look at possible grad schools… that was only 10 months ago? Wow. I’m already through 3 months of grad school!

I don’t know if I secretly thought/hoped that my grandparents would live forever, but my grandpa passed away in March and it was the first time I had to say goodbye to someone with whom I was extremely close. It was also the first family death I had to deal with in my adult life, and it marked the first eulogy I ever delivered. Even though I know he’s not alive anymore, I often still feel like he’s here, which makes living life much easier.

Got my acceptance to LSE in April (I applied quite late)! I actually recall the moment of my acceptance with 100% clarity. I think it’s like the JFK assassination moment that everyone from that generation talks about — you know exactly what you were doing and exactly where you were. I was so elated when I got the letter, definitely changed the course of my life. Here I am now, half way through taught courses with amazing new friends and loads of fun travel stories. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else!

Ahhh… graduation from undergrad was a very bitter-sweet moment for me. It was great to be able to say goodbye to my undergrad and know that I had the opportunity to pursue my Masters in London in the fall, but it was sad graduating and not having my grandpa there for the first time. Nevertheless, definitely a milestone!

A surprise birthday weekend for Tiff & our first family vacation in forever! We planned a surprise getaway to Carmel for Tiffany’s 19th Birthday this year, complete with handmade surprises and super-cute B&B. It was the first family vacation we’d been on in years (since Disneyland days) and it was the first time we got to bring nana along! So fun!

Saying goodbye to work after four years! It was quite difficult quitting a reliable job with a steady income to welcome a life of joblessness and full-time Masters work. I’m glad now that I had the wherewithal to actually leave, but it was a bit sad… four years of bonding and relationships and saying goodbye to the full-time job that allowed me to pay my way through undergrad.

One of the biggest things that happened this year? Moving to London! I really didn’t think I had it in me to leave my family, friends, relationships and the normalcy of California life  to move to a foreign country for (at least) a year. I’m happy to announce that I did manage to say my tearful goodbyes and settle in to London life. Quite happily, I might add. I already feel so much more fulfilled & so much more educated!

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I didn’t even realize that I had experienced so many life-altering changes this year. How can a year go by so fast and still contain so many memories? I must admit, this blog has definitely come in handy! I had created it with the intention of keeping up with friends and family from afar, but I have found that it has become the best online journal imaginable. Now that I know there are people reading about my daily adventures and trips, I feel somewhat accountable to upload pictures and thoughts on a regular basis. Now, a year later, it’s fun going back and remembering the things that I would have otherwise forgotten!

Thank you to everyone who made my 2009 amazing.
Let’s get ready to take on 2010!

Now, I’m off to make breakfast and face the last day of 2009. Possibly hitting up Trafalgar Square tonight to ring in the New Year!

Love my fish.

Soliciting Home Remedies!

Somewhat ironically, I have begun experiencing the symptoms of a cold on the horizon. For the record, it’s ironic because I was just having a conversation with a group of kids here about how I never get sick (clearly jinxing myself). While so many people have come down with cold after flu this year (credit to the change in location, perhaps), I have managed to stay relatively healthy — not a flu bug or a cough in sight. For the last two days, however, I have felt the ominous tingle in my throat and have been experiencing that sinus pressure that makes you want to empty your head out. You know the one?

So, I guess I effectively jinxed myself. I am getting sick, as much as I hate to admit it. I woke up this morning with a sore throat, stuffed nose and an achy body. On top of that, I slept until 1130! That’s seriously unheard of, so I’m going to accredit it to the fact that my body is trying to recuperate. I’m all about home remedies right now. I’m not really familiar with the NHS here and I don’t very much want to see a doctor that I don’t know (Dr. Kazadi, if you’re reading this, I miss you!) In lieu of doctors visits, I’m going to try some at-home healing: loads of H20, perhaps some Emergen-C packets and some tomato soup!

Here’s the problem: being that I don’t get sick very often (I’m probably jinxing myself again…), I’m not really familiar with all of the tried-and-true home remedies. Herbs? Teas? Homemade concoctions? Whiskey?

Anyone have a secret for banishing sore throat and sniffles?
Please leave me a comment & share your remedies!

Lots of love from your sickly traveler,

Regaining My Spirit…

…Today has marked the first day of valiant attempts at regaining my spirit. After nearly two weeks of not being able to hit the gym (a week in Malta + time in Scotland + holidays do well to sabotage my gym-going), I finally got in an hour of cardio followed by an hour and a half yoga class. It was invigorating, indeed, if not a bit ambitious. I can already feel the soreness plaguing my legs; it’s truly amazing how tight one’s hamstrings can get in two short weeks without proper exercise. I have effectively stretched them out but not without a bit of pain. I’m happy to say I’m back on track with my gym and eating habits just in time for the New Year!

After that super fun-filled gym session, Wen and I hit up Sherlock Holmes at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square to further revive my spirit. I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud to see Guy Ritchie’s work on this film. Good movie, substantial plot and a hot cast — Robert Downey, Jr. + Jude Law + Rachel McAdams = a lot of gorgeousness on the screen at any given time. Now I’m back at home, marinating in bed with a much-needed cup of coffee in my hand to ward off evil spirits (aka caffeine headaches) watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I just ran across this list ranking Disney movies from 48th up to 1st place and I was a bit surprised by the outcome… How can 101 Dalmatians or Pinocchio outrank the likes of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast or the Lion King? Perhaps it’s a generational thing… in any case, I’m re-watching Sleeping Beauty (haven’t watched it in a good 15 years) to see what puts this film ahead of 38 other films in the ranking. I find that in re-watching some of these movies as an adult, I pick up on some adult humor/innuendos that I hadn’t noticed as a kid. (Note: Re-watch Disney’s Hercules… it’s much funnier as an adult!)

On the agenda for tomorrow — gymming (complete with Pilates sesh!) followed by a visit to Zara… there are loads of amazing sales this time of year and I plan to enjoy a few of them while I can! Also, on a different note, I have been revisiting the idea of veganism. I had attempted to go from vegetarian to vegan once upon a time but had a difficult time when I realized how difficult the process truly is (eggs and dairy are in everything). With a bit of a stronger spirit, I have been investigating the move once more… it’s definitely a possibility for 2010! Anyone interested in veganism, check out this great blog: FatFree Vegan Kitchen… great recipes! Mmm!

Lots of love,

Team Shannex Theme Songs.

Songs have an uncanny ability to remember past adventures. I find that when I hear certain songs on the radio, I remember long-forgotten events that seem to be tied in with the music of the given moment. With our crazy travels this week, there were definitely a few songs that will have that effect on me in the future. Have a listen to the official soundtrack of Shannex’s {Shannon + Alex’s} Maltese excursion:

Empire State of Mind // Jay Z & Alicia Keys {Watch It Here}

The song of the moment — reminds me of Paceville! <3.

Stereo Love // Edward Maya {Watch It Here}

This one sounds like the island and the images in the video look like Malta!

Fireflies // Owl City {Watch It Here}

Whimiscal; courtesy of Paul. Malta was the first time I’d heard this song!

Lots of love from Edinburgh,