I’ve got to admit, it’s getting better…

Dear Friend,

Whew! Has it been a long and arduous week. And now commences a new one, bright and early, with a lecture at 9:15. And I’m up, ready (mostly) to go, and eating some really lovely Greek yogurt.

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Last week was cruel and hard, as I said, because of having to switch to a new section of my class, as well as coming down with the worst stomach bug I’ve ever had. Generally making me feel very unpleasant, and not wanting to move or do anything.

But the time has come! I must make up for lost time, and diligently begin to work hard this semester. I had started off well, until the sickness came in, which essentially made me useless for 5 days.

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I figured I would show some photos, since I’ve been neglectful on that point recently. The first photo is of Clifford’s Tower, the site of York’s worst massacre of the Jews in history. It happened in the 1200’s, and is still remembered. The Tower is lovely to look at, though, and it stands in the middle of a traffic circle.

The second photo is of Julie and me at the edge of the River Ouse, which flooded this past week. Clearly this happens frequently, because one of the pubs had just built up a wooden entrance ramp to let its customers in, despite the water.

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Finally, this photo was taken on a bridge which looked over into a little garden. The beautiful thing about it are the red berries, and the building that’s made both of brick and stone. The stone building clearly was a personal chapel of some kind, as the window style usually indicates such, and the serenity of the little garden just makes me want to hop down there and bask in sunshine. Of course, when there is sunshine. 😉

Sincerely, Annemarie


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The Organization (wo)Man

Dear Friend,

I am totally obsessed with stationery, notebooks, and organizing. I spend hours online reading how to increase my productivity by doing this or that, how to “hack” a planner, ie. create a planner out of a regular notebook, and all sorts of things. I love to accumulate pens, organize my shelves and alphabetize my books, put things in categorical boxes, and plaster my wall with calendars. I love to tidy things up. That’s just how I roll.

Granted, I tend to accumulate lots of notebooks and office supplies that only get half-used, and spend much more time planning how I’m going to get things done rather than actually doing things. Marquis sometimes gets frustrated when I say “I’ve gotta do this” or “I need to plan how I’m going to do that.” “Why don’t you just stop planning and do it?!” he says. Much as I love the look of a long to-do list, the man has a point.

I spent the past few days surfing the internet, finding the ways to create my perfect planner. I made one for myself in early November, so although I’m motivated to create my dream planner again (with all sorts of improvements), the notebook is too new, too empty to set it aside for a fresh planner. That Moleskine notebooks are so expensive in England deters me a bit more than the possibility of the fresh and new start of 2008. In any case, I’ll need a new one at the start of the next academic year in August.

So for now I just wanted to share the links that inspired me this morning, and now I’m off to the library to print out articles concerning Oliver Twist, so that I may at least accomplish what I ought to. Or I’ll sit for the next two hours reading about GTD (Getting Things Done).

Looks like I’ve stumbled upon one of the new self-help movements. Hurrah!

Yours, organizationally,

Annemarie

Moleskine Hack 1 by AK

Mike Rhode’s Creating A Custom Planner 

Living the British Life

Dear Friend,

Since coming to England to study, I’ve been amazed to find that things I didn’t expect to surprise me, did, and things that I expected to be really different really weren’t. For example, I thought I’d really get used to the cars coming on the opposite side of the road. It’s just a matter of looking right left right instead of left right left. The reality has been a whole lot more difficult to adjust to. One way-streets and intersections have proved the most confusing, and I find myself always looking the wrong way first!

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I also expected there to be obvious differences in the language, such as slang terms and the obvious pants-trousers distinction, but there are so many more than I imagined! For example, they say “fruit and veg” instead of “fruit and veggies,” and “pavement” instead of “sidewalk,” and the terms we might use to describe college or university, such as “school” don’t apply: “school” is elementary and junior high, “college” is the final two years of high school, or your residential college at university, and “uni” is university.

york-minster-46-1.jpgI’m making a conscious decision while I’m here to do and see as much as possible. Even though it’s a bit pricey to travel, I want to see the home of the Bronte sisters, the Lake District, and Edinburgh. I want to eat treacle tart and make flapjacks with golden syrup (and take tins of it home). I’m drinking tea like I do back home, but all of a sudden it’s more British with the beautiful pieces of china I bought. Stuffed Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, and beer are culinary treats I’ve tasted, and I look forward to trying more!

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I’m so excited about this trip, and I’m so pleased to be here. Seeing York Minster the other day was almost surreal, as the sun shone through the stained-glass, and as Kelly, Julie and I looked out over the city from atop the tower.

It’s so beautiful, and I’m so happy. I think I have to come back again someday.

Sincerely,

Annemarie

Testing, 1…2…3

Dear Friend,

I’m doing a few tests of my personal writing style to see what fits me best. As you can probably tell from my previous entries, I’ve been going the whole “artsy” route with the posts, which inevitably just leaves tantalizing glances of my life that don’t really give you a clue of what’s going on, and in a few years won’t serve as decent triggers for my own memories.

See, I’m studying in York, England at the University there. I’m in a point in my life where I won’t be able to do this again. So I want to savor every moment while I’m here, but also to remember it, to document it. So many of my favorite bloggers tell their lives in pictures, arty little snapshots of a still life of their feet, or an apple on a white table, or something. But it’s all been done before, and by far more eloquent (and camera-savvy) women than myself.

So I was thinking to myself, “who is my audience? what is my style? what do I want to say? why am I writing at all?” And so after some reflection (I’ve been trying to get my journal writing into gear too), I decided to write my blog as I would letters to a dear friend. I won’t do arty things unless that’s the mood I’m in. I want to tell stories, with detail, and to make them interesting. My friends and family don’t want to hear, “adjusting. this takes time.” they want to know how I’m adjusting, what makes it tough, who said what that’s making it better or worse.

I want to write details, but I don’t want it to be tedious to read. I know I tend to skip blog entries that are too long. But since I don’t have a daily audience of thousands, I can get away with writing more than a few words between colons. ::happiness in the form of a plum::, etc. These things are inspiring, but alas, not my voice. My voice talks about me a lot. That’s one of my new-year’s resolutions, you know? To listen more, to censor myself a little in life and conversations, but to kind of go wild hearing myself speak in text. Sorry if it’s not very coherent sometimes.

Epistles are fun. I always enjoyed reading epistolary novels, though some people I know hated them. Dear Diary sounded way too trite and twee, and Dear Universe was more the vibe I was giving off previously. I’m not 19th century-enough for the Dear Reader, and a name or even Hey You just isn’t what I’m going for. I decided I needed an audience for my ramblings, so why not put you in? You’re a friend, and I want to tell you what’s going on! So I think adventures punctuated with fun pictures… of me, of my surroundings, of my friends are what are in order. I think you’d prefer to hear what I’m saying… not what my idealized internet-inspired self would say.

Take care, and write back!

-Annemarie

Starting Anew

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(Heslington Hall)

I’m settling in, learning my way around, exploring in the precious few hours of daylight. (It gets dark at 4 PM!) I’ve been taking photos, getting used to having my camera with me, to document this spectacular and unique period in my life. I’m also trying to take a few moments each day to write about my experiences, to document my days in words, both online and in my journal.

Making friends, slowly working up the courage to speak to the British students. Learning slang, how they do things here. Going to meetings, learning about a totally new academic system, rearranging my habitual routines to accomodate the way things are done here. Working hard in the day, and resting when the sun sets.

Missing home, but filled with excitement nonetheless.

Blogger and York

Hi! I initially had a blog at http://chestnutandcopper.blogspot.com, but the University of York network won’t let me access it. So I’m skirting my inability to blog there by blogging here. As long as it’s free, I’m cool.

More fun to come!