Wednesday, March 30, 2016

IRELAND (or, the one where I finally get a Spring Break)

Hello, world.

I have seriously neglected the blog the past couple weeks. I finished Hilary Term (hallelujah) and then promptly left for Ireland with some friends to start out this break right. Now, this is kind of a big deal. We don't get Spring Breaks at BYU (I know, I know). So this was my first-ever university Spring Break. And it has not disappointed me so far.

Ireland was incredible. We started in Dublin and then moved up the coast, coming up north through Belfast, then along Giant's Causeway, Slieve League, down to Donegal, and then back through the northeast to get back to Dublin. But I'll just post the pictures and let them tell the story.


{Also, did you know that one of my favorite short stories takes place in Dublin? It's called "The Dead," by James Joyce in his collection called Dubliners.}

[In the square at Trinity College.]

[Trinity College again. The Book of Kells is held here. Also, this square is where protesters fought with British soldiers during the Easter Rising in 1916.]

[The Library at Trinity College.]

[With the ever-lovely Emily.]


[Oh, you know, just an indie band playing on the streets of Dublin.] 

[St. Patrick's Cathedral with Emily and Dani.]

This trip also introduced me to the wonderful thing that is Air B&B. We stayed at great places each night. One of the perks was getting insider information on places to see (and full Irish breakfasts, but that's a different story). The guy at the first place said that we needed to go see a place called Newgrange, which is an ancient tomb that is older than the Pyramids of Giza . . . and you get to go inside. So, naturally, we set out to see Newgrange. And it ended up being one of the trip's highlights. 

[See that mound in the back? That's Newgrange.]

[The entrance.]

[The crew.]

[Quintessential Ireland.]

One of Emily's coworkers had highly recommended that we stop at a potato crisp factory on our way to Belfast. So, we did. I mean, how often do you get to go to a potato crisp factory? And how often do you get to meet Mr. Pat Tayto? Once in a lifetime. 

[Oh, and did I mention that the potato chip factory is in a castle? Yep. It is.]

[The spud himself with the crew.]

Next up, Belfast. I felt like we were transported right into the center of history--the Troubles weren't too long ago, and there are still disagreements . . . even bombings in Northern Ireland. We went to see the Peace Walls and the murals in the city: 

[The past is not even past.]

The next day, we went to Giant's Causeway, which I was stoked about. Going to Giant's Causeway has been a goal of mine for years, and it met all of my expectations. 

[This is my excited face.]

[On the causeway. This is a natural coastal formation. Years of wind, fire, and water made the coastline look like cobblestones.]

[Sooo, we kinda look like a mid-2000s band with our shades of green. What can you do? It was St. Patrick's Day. We had to wear green.]

[Dreams do come true.]

We then went to a Rope Bridge, which connects a small little fishing island to the rest of Ireland. I'm not a fan of heights (especially when you can see a sheer drop off), but I swallowed my fear and went across the bridge. And the view (and the day!) were absolutely gorgeous. 

[On the bridge.]

[Irish coast.]

[Natural beauty.]

It wouldn't be a proper St. Patrick's Day without a parade. And don't even worry--we went to two. One we watched . . . the other we somehow drove through. 

Our last destination was Slieve League, which has the largest sea cliffs in all of Europe. We got there at sunset and the next morning we hiked around a bit. You could not have asked for more stunning views. 

[Pure beauty.]

[A watchtower which was built during the Napoleonic Wars to ward off Napoleon.]

[Livin' on the edge.]

[The crew . . . and somehow we all ended up matching again?]

Basically, this trip to Ireland was incredible. Truly, it was. Great sights, great company, great conversation. One of my most favorite trips I have ever taken. I'd say Spring Break 2016 is off to a great start. 

(Also, Spring Break 2016 aka Best Spring Break Ever is not over yet--I have more pictures to post from Dartmoor [as soon as I get them from Briana], Easter weekend, etc. But for now, back to dissertation.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but never thinks about changing themselves"

Last night I finished watching the BBC's newest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. 

I was almost weeping at the end; it was so beautiful.

I need to read that novel again. Or at least the last 700 pages (because those are the best).

"When our lives are knocked off course, we imagine everything within them as lost. But it is only the start of something new and good. As long as there is life, there is happiness. There is still a deal--a great deal--left to come." --Pierre's last lines in BBC's War and Peace. 

Sorrow without resentment and joy with gratitude.

P.S. Can we talk about how hot James Norton is as Prince Andrei? Because he is. Ridiculously so.

I mean, amiright? I'm totally right. *swoon* 

Monday, March 7, 2016

A not-so-passive-agressive rant about elitist bibliography style guides

Revisions, revisions, revisions.

That is the theme of this week. 

Putting together bibliographies, checking footnotes, and making sure that all things are in their proper place. 

Bits and bobs. 

But even then, Oxford just has to be pretentious. 

They won't let me use elegant Chicago style (and I am passionate about my Chicago style guide). 

Oh, no. 

Oxford just has to have their own guide. And the Oxford History Faculty has to have its own style guide. 


^That is how I feel about it.^ 

On a related note, I finally figured out how to find that style guide on RefWorks. 

So, you know. Progress. 

Even so, just look at this line from the "Conventions for the presentation of essays, dissertations, and theses in History" style guide: 

"Style is a personal matter, while the precise structure of an essay, dissertation, or thesis (henceforth referred to collectively as 'thesis') will depend on your subject and the kinds of material you use. So any rules given here can only be of the most general kind." 

Really? Really? General rules? Thanks, guys. This is really helpful. 

The rest of the style guide is almost as vague. Almost. Not quite. But almost. 

This is going to be a fun week. 


^Still how I feel about this new style guide I have to use.^


*But in happier news, things are actually going well with these essays and it's good that I can be on the revision stage instead of scrambling for an argument.

This also happened while we were talking about my paper on 1920s U.S. foreign policy:

J: I think that Joan Hoff-Wilson [a historian of the 1920s] called it "independent internationalism" or something like that. Anyway, look it up.
M: Okay. And I think George Herring [another historian] called it "involvement without commitment."
J (bursts out laughing): That sounds like something a terrible frat boy would call a relationship.

Basically, my thesis advisor can stay. He is allowed to stay. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

me, myself i've got nothing to prove.

"Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
--"As Kingfishers Catch Fire," Gerard Manley Hopkins

The last couple weeks I have been gently reminded of the quiet beauties of life. 
That there lives, as Gerard Manly Hopkins says, "the dearest freshness deep down things." 
And that life manifests itself in many forms. 
Not always loud. 
In fact, usually not loud. 

The stillness of a bending river 
or the gentle formation of roots 
carves life 
and creates changes 
in ways that a supernova could not fathom. 

There is power in moving forward. 
A release of tension and heavy clouds
to trust in yourself enough--
and trust in God more--
to allow yourself to be unsure. 
I might not know what tomorrow will bring
or the next six months. 
But I can trust enough--
hope enough--
that there will be forward progression. 
And although we never know--
we can never know--
exactly what the future will hold, 
there's no need to be stuck in the past 
or in pretension. 
Mistakes don't have to define you. 
They shouldn't define you. 

If I were to describe the way I feel right now, 
I'm not really sure what I would say. 
Sometimes there really are no words to describe life. 
Perhaps it would be that I am starting to feel unburdened. 
Some of this is because it's the end of a week 
and almost the end of a term 
(which has been incredibly, incredibly busy--I'm still not entirely 
sure if I will make it to next Monday). 
But some of it is because I'm relearning 
that I don't have to do it alone. 
(I seem to have to relearn this lesson at least once--if not twice--every month.) 
But that there is a beauty--
one of those quiet beauties
that you never see
like roots spreading their tendrils 
through thawing soil 
or the slight change in pitch 
as the melody changes keys--
but a beauty 
in spending time with others. 
Letting them see into your soul, 
even for a little bit, 
and allowing them 
to unpack their heart as well. 
A window to a soul 
like driving past a house at twilight
with their blinds open and lights on 
and you see a man
a woman 
a child
chopping tomatoes by their kitchen sink
or sitting at a piano
or laughing at some joke you will never know. 
Those windows into lives that you cannot fully understand. 
Distanced from you, 
yet sharing a connection
a connection we all share 
by simply being human. 
By simply living. 

No one is alone. 
No one needs to be alone.
I cannot have myself without yourself. 
And in those others' faces, 
we see ourselves. 

"For Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces." (Hopkins, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire") 

"lovely in eyes not his." 
and we are. 
made lovely in eyes 
that are not our own. 
made lovely 
in mine. 

Now watch me NaeNae

I love visitors. It's so fun to share this beautiful Oxford place with others.

And it's always fun when Janae comes to visit.

[Cheesin' it up in the cloisters at New College.]


[Thanks for letting me drag you around to different colleges, Janae. We walked over 22,000 steps yesterday. So good on us.]

[The beautiful Merton college.]

[At Corpus Christi.]

Thanks for coming to visit me, Janae! Now you can tell my mom that I am alive and well. 

what i'm listening to

. . . and no, none of these songs is a passive-aggressive attempt to get attention (except in the way all blog posts kinda are), nor is it an post to subtly-not-so-subtly tell the world how I'm feeling about my love life (I feel like I have to preface it that way or people will wonder. Oh, the joys of 21st-century communication). They are just songs that have been singing on my playlist and in my head. Songs that I listen to as I get ready in the morning or do admin work. Poetry on repeat.

cinder and smokeiron and wine.

you asked me to pray for rain // the juniper bends as if you were listening. 

your ex-lover is dead, stars.
[please ignore the cheesy stars/moon mobile thing and just listen to the perfect blend of lyrics and melody.]

and all of that time you thought i was sad, i was trying to remember your name. // 
live through this and you won't look back. 

careful, guster.

as usual, you'll get your way. // ringing all the warning bells. // careful you don't hurt yourself. 

Girls just wanna have fun (aka the one where I post a lot of pictures of me with green eyeshadow)

A couple of weeks ago, my stake (a group of LDS congregations in the Reading, England area . . . basically, a stake is the Mormon equivalent of a diocese) put together an amateur theater production called a "roadshow." Essentially, we sing cheesy songs, dance, and wear weird costumes.

It's pretty fun. Ridiculous, but fun.

Case in point:

[Some of the YSA in the Oxford ward. All decked out for the YMCA. Because you wear green eyeshadow for that, right?]

[Tim joins in the fun, even though he's not quite cool enough to be YSA. He's trying, though.]

[This is what happens when you ask Tom to take a picture of you. He takes a picture of himself. And then Alyssa photobombs his selfie. Also, can we talk about how Tom was the perfect Watson? Yup.]

[I've decided this is a good look for me. I should have grown up during the 80s.]

[Blurry, but don't care.]


[Another ward's production.]

[And another. With Vikings. I liked this one a lot. But they didn't have green eyeshadow so I can't fully give it my endorsement.]

[Why yes. Yes, I did wear legwarmers.]

[Fierce. Green eyeshadow fierce.]

[I'm a big fan of these people.]

And perhaps that's the message of this entire post--I'm a fan of these people. Even more than green eyeshadow.