February 25, 2011

in which i share a poem about the effects of winter.

Filed under: poetry — Rachel W. @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , ,


in better weather,
i reject socks and slippers, and
my bare feet kiss the tiled bathroom floor gently,
accepting the cold with an acquiescent shiver.

tonight, however,
the ragged edges of my cracked skin
glance off with an aloof “shh, shh”
only daring to breathe when occasional puddles
present themselves as moist sacrifices to greedy soles.


February 22, 2011

the burden of caring.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 11:31 PM
Tags: , , ,

world issues have nearly completely consumed my brain today. between the issues currently and recently in libya, new zealand, wisconsin, egypt, australia, etc, i’m feeling overwhelmed.

this lead me to think about the burden of caring.

i’m in my last semester of undergraduate study, and i’ve got plenty going on in my own life, but i cannot cease to seek out information outside the “bubble” of my school and even my country. it’s my nature. i like to be informed, not just about news issues.

however, up until a few weeks ago, my deep need to be informed and care about what’s happening, from the lives of my friends to the lives of people in countries, had been suspended (partially due to the grieving process, i believe). it was a me-me-me-fest, 24/7. i was a slave to heightened sensitivity and mood swings, with generally agreeable or good days but terrible nights that brought tears like clockwork. deadlines for schoolwork and for the school newspaper that i write for had no meaning.

i honestly felt like shit most of the time, despite–or maybe because of–being the center of my universe.

but now i’m feeling mostly normal again (well, normal for me). i can CARE.

caring takes time. caring takes energy. caring causes headaches and rants and broken hearts. apathy is easier. i’d probably get better grades, more sleep, and spend less time online about to tear my hair out in aggravation.

so why care? is it actually worth it to have a bleeding heart?

caring proves our humanity. that robot that just won jeopardy could sit with a single college-student as she anxiously awaits the results of a pregnancy test, weighed down with the possibilities that could disrupt her entire future, but a robot couldn’t absorb those emotions and be stressed out (unless you’re Data in that one episode of star trek: TNG). i doubt hearing the death count from libya would furrow its brow.

apathy allows those committing heinous acts to continue unabated, those being oppressed to remain silent, and the suffering to believe they are alone. it devalues those outside of your own universe and raises you, the individual, to the status of unreachable and self-sustaining island, which we were never meant to be.

it is because of this that i also have a beef with those who say “i don’t watch the news, it’s depressing.” guess what: avoiding world events doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening. taking the time to actually know what is happening is the first step towards eliminating personal apathy. if you can care about the life events of your friends displayed on your Facebook, you can take the time to regularly hit up a reputable news website.

i’m about to tear my hair out. my multitasking brain is attempting to analyze world events from the perspective of someone who’s finally attempting to learn why and how countries are interdependent. i don’t understand most of what’s happening, but i’m not going to give up. i’d rather get upset or up in arms about things happening outside of myself than spend an hour in a pity party. i take the burden of caring seriously.

February 13, 2011

some random things about me can be found here:

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 7:47 PM

i’ve been following this guy’s blog for awhile now, and, since i’m in a procrastinatey mood, i figure i’d steal an idea he stole from this other writer, who stole it from someone else, who probably stole it from someone else…some facts about myself.

1. i’m 21. that’s also how many facts will be present in this list.

2. i am an optimist at my core, despite having struggled with depression and self-injury and a current foray through the grieving process. this probably has something to do with my strong christian faith.

3. while i’m technically a registered republican, i also don’t really think there’s a political party for me anymore. i don’t like having to compromise some morals and beliefs for one and others for another. if someone can tell me how to register as an independent, i’d love to know.

4. all my favorite colors are neons. my very favorite is neon purple, with cerulean and scarlet making up the second and third places.

5. i am what i call an “englishy” person. words, in so very many ways, are my life and my trade and my contribution to society.

6. i’m also a “francophile.” i’m fluent in french. my maternal grandmother is french. i’ve been to france twice, the second time (if you’re a latecomer to this blog) to study abroad for a semester. i miss it dearly and hope to either have a job there someday or a job that will provide me with enough funds to travel there regularly.

7. i probably couldn’t give you just ONE favorite author, but if you were to give me a genre i can comply. for example, neil gaiman is my favorite living sci-fi/fantasy/etc author.

8. however, favorite poet is a lot easier. pablo neruda. i refer to him by his first name because that’s how comfortable i feel with him. i’m in the middle of a senior paper analysis of his love poetry. i even own a tshirt with his face on it. and so on…

9. i am generally distrustful of apple and their products. however, this did not stop me from purchasing my first apple product last week, an ipad.

10. i name all my electronics after tolkien-related characters or things, except for my phone. i’ve never named a cell phone. to date, i own a gandalf, shadowfax, ainulindale, and elanor.

11. my favorite musical is RENT.

12. i used to want to go to grad school right after my undergrad, but i recently decided that was the easy way out, so i’m going to try and find a job instead and then eventually get my MFA.

13. two sounds i hate more than the oft-evoked nails on a chalkboard: popping balloons and loudly flushing toilets.

14. i played violin from age 11 until i graduated high school. it’s exceedingly hard to make time for it when you’re not a music major.

15. i first read the harry potter books a mere two years ago, all seven of in ten days (in the middle of the semester, i’d like to point out). i am now what is commonly termed a ‘potterhead.’

16. i do calligraphy in my spare time. i’m pretty good at it.

17. making crafty/artsy things and attending dance concerts or plays mellow me out better than marijuana ever could.

18. i have, at last count, around 65 gbs of music on my zune. i’d say i’m pretty enthusiastic about music. i also have a boxful of inherited vinyl and a turntable, but i’m waiting on an adapter cord from amazon to make the turntable work with my zune’s docking speaker.

19. can i say laughing is a hobby? because it is. there are few “types” of humor that aren’t funny to me.

20. i have no qualms about sitting down with a box of triscuits and systematically consuming the whole thing.

21. no matter how messy my dorm or bedroom is, my bed is always made. i can’t really explain why.

February 10, 2011

don’t be afraid to be a little bored.

i keep running into this picture. mostly on tumblr, but not mine, as i will explain.

now, i don’t mean for this blog to turn into one about the grieving process, but quite frankly, it’s been consuming my life and i can’t pretend that it hasn’t been. therefore the above picture irritates me for a few reasons.

i have wished for it. i have prayed for a thing dramatic and big and life-changing to occur. and life did make a strange sort of chaotic sense for awhile. retrospectively, it was nice.

my dad died. he wasn’t supposed to. [disclaimer: do NOT tell me any of that “he’s in a better place now, he’s not in pain” blahblahblah bullshit, because i KNOW. just don’t.] he was actually doing better than he had been, despite still being in the nursing home. the last time i saw him alive he was feeding himself pudding, saying that he’d been having more of an appetite so he needed to eat to keep his strength up. i needed to get back to tulsa, i needed to meet my friends i was leaving KC with, i needed to go get through dead week [ha.] and finals and come back for a proper break from school, so i walked away, the whirring and clicks of hospital-esque machinery and the sounds of my dad eating slow and slowly behind me.

i walked away with no premonition of it being the last time i’d see him alive. there was an unopened pumpkin pie on my right, left by a family friend so he could have a bit of thanksgiving, and i hoped that he’d eat it before it didn’t taste good anymore. it was tippins, his favorite (homemade notwithstanding).

two days later i was at the movies with some good friends, back in oklahoma, when i got a call from my native area code but with a number i didn’t recognized. i was watching a movie. i rejected the phone call. my sister called. i rejected it too. she sent a text saying something close to CALL ME RIGHT NOW. i left the theater, exasperated, called, she told me that they’d found dad unresponsive and were trying to resuscitate him. that unknown call i hadn’t answered was from the nursing home. i stood outside the theater, not moving, feeling fuzzy pricks of pain at the edges of my vision that i did not know were going to come true or not. and then my sister called, hysterical, saying that they couldn’t bring him back. i fell to the floor. it felt like my life and my happiness had been cut down the middle, sharp and irreparable. it still feels like that sometimes.

i’m 21 years old. my life up until this point has felt largely out of my control. as a child with books for best friends and then an adolescent with divorcing parents, i’ve been a piece of cork on ocean waves until around the college years began. then it was me. this was MY life. and then it didn’t feel like my life anymore. perhaps even less so, because it’s well-documented and advised that grief is something that you HAVE to go through. you have no choice in the matter. if you manage to suppress it now, it will come and bite you in the ass later. so i’ve been yanked around by my emotions for a little over two months now, but that doesn’t mean i have to like it.

i’ll never stop missing him. it will hurt less and it will hurt less often, but it won’t stop hurting. when someone close dies, it’s like having one of those injuries in your leg or foot or whatever where doctors can do all the fixing they want, but you’ll still always walk with a limp. i walk with a limp. some days it’s hard just to crawl. i have a friend [eh, friend might be kind of a strong word here…] who lost a sibling when they were both young who can attest to this, and for some reason quite a few friends my age who have also lost their fathers in the past few years.

look at your boredom, your routine, your normal, and give thanks, because it can all be pulled out from under you faster than you can say “lolwut?”

the things that change your life aren’t always the things you WANT to change your life. i can’t send this message to the thousands of tumblr folk who have reblogged that photo, so i shall send it to the internet at large.

be thankful for the mundane.

December 31, 2010

one month, three poems.

Filed under: poetry — Rachel W. @ 12:14 AM
Tags: , , ,

my dad’s been gone for a month as of today, as such, now seems as good a time as any to post some rather recent poems for and about him.

the first is a “cracked” sonnet (so i call it), and i read it at the memorial service. i didn’t write it specifically for the occasion, but i was finally able to finish the last two lines beforehand, so i read it there. the other two pieces are free verse.

//A Sonnet Akin To My Father’s Right Hip (Cracked)


Someday I will bury you, my father,

and the ground will cradle your exhaustion

like the afternoon beds of spent toddlers

who run without grand design or caution.


If the Bible is right you’ll then receive

coordinated parts to fit your knife mind

that knows the saxophone, but for now thieved

of dexterity, your hands remain blind.


But it’s not that time; it’s not that time yet,

or this is what I tell myself to sleep.

I am not middle-aged, kids underfoot,

And you’ve not yet seen five decades complete.


Rest now, my father, rest and have peace.

Memories I’ll hold close as skin, but your hand I release.


//untitled #1


They can see it.


Death has left greasy fingerprints across my face

and I shine like cheap pizza under the glare of heat lamp eyes.


I’d rather weigh down my pockets with stones,

embrace a hair shirt with arms trembling for a lover I don’t have,

shield my eyes from searching gazes that want to know

if I am “okay”

than put the hole in me on display

for their condolences to supposedly fill.


I am alone when I see his still form,

I am alone when I cross dad off the Christmas shopping list.


I will be alone when the flowers die

in a burst of fragrant sacrifice

and leave their bright skeletons across the carpet.


And I will be alone when the pillars holding me up

dissolve into oceans without waves or a shoreline.


//untitled #2


It wasn’t meant to stay here.


A black box sits carelessly atop the microwave,

among napkins, cookie crumbs, and cast-off playdo—

the last transmission we’ll never hear.


Alone at home while my family endures work or schooling,

I reheat tasteless burritos under its watch.


It wasn’t meant to stay here.


The wreckage leaves dead flower petals underfoot

and I avoid them like a careful elephant.


I wonder if it’s like touching flour

or virgin sand

or silica.


I wonder if it’s like hearing a rough hand rub five-o’clock shadow

or the rush of a rain stick

or leaves slapping each other in a windstorm.


I wonder if it’s something more poetic

than the leftovers of a person’s incinerated body,

if I’d hear that too-loud laugh when I opened the box

or see the flash of a smile.


It wasn’t meant to stay here,

and I will keep wondering.

December 27, 2010

my new (inherited) vinyl collection

Filed under: music — Rachel W. @ 5:00 PM
Tags: , ,

these all, with the exception of one that i purchased myself, used to belong to my dad. i also now have his turntable, which has all the cords necessary to utilize modern stereos for the sound.

i even sorted them by genre [and year, but i’m not putting that here cause my energy has run out and it’s in a different spot on each friggin record].


-the beatles, 1962-1966 “best of”

-the hollies, greatest hits

-lettermen, greatest hits

-the very best of johnny rivers

-boz scaggs, hits!

-elton john, too low for zero

-the carpenters, yesterday once more (best of)

-neil diamond, gold: live at the troubadour

easy listening:

-the very best of roger whittaker


-glenn miller plays selections from the glenn miller story and other hits

-the best of glenn miller vol. 3

-count basie and his orchestra, prime time

-buddy rich, drummer’s drummer

-nat king cole [just says “we proudly dedicate this album as a tribute to the man and his music” on the front]

-count basie, straight ahead

-bill pearce trombone with the dick anthony orchestra

-herb alpert and the tijuana brass, SRO


-the world of flatt and scruggs

-lester flatt featuring feudin’ banjos, country boy

-boxcar willie, king of the road

-eddie rabbitt, horizon

-jerry reed, texas bound and flyin’


-donna summer, walk away: the best of 1977-1980

-jimmy ruffin, sunrise


-london festival brass ensemble, the magic of christmas

-christmas with the lush strings of the hollywood symphonette

-john denver and the muppets, a christmas together

-a christmas festival [compilation album]

praise and worship:

-jim and tammy bakker present the PTL singers and orchestra

-jim and tammy present the PTL musical family


-television’s greatest hits: 65 tv themes from the 50’s and 60’s

-henry mancini, the music from peter gunn

-henry mancini, the pink panther

-john williams, star wars

-john williams, superman: the movie

-leonard rosenman, the lord of the rings [the animated one, obviously]

-jerry goldsmith, star trek: the motion picture

-burt reynolds’ sharkey’s machine [compilation]


-rockin’ around the house! 50 original hits

and the one vinyl i’ve bought for myself so far:

indie rock:

-arcade fire, the suburbs


October 24, 2010

so i realized i’m turning into a crying pansy.

Filed under: movies — Rachel W. @ 11:55 AM
Tags: , , ,

one of my “claim-to-fames” was that the only movie that had made me cry EVER was the passion of the christ…which almost didn’t count, because it made most everyone i knew who saw it cry.

however, in the last…3 years, i’ve cried at FOUR movies. FOUR.

[if you stumbled upon this petit blog and don’t know me in real life, then you need to know that i’ve also never cried over a book (despite being a self-professed bookworm since i learned to read), but music can make me cry almost at the drop of a hat. so i’m not made of stone.]

and the list doesn’t even really make sense, except for like one of them.

  • Benjamin Button. (i was PMSing. i cried when cate blanchett’s character came back to him.)
  • Amelie. (my favorite french film and definitely in my top 5 of all time. i was also emotionally compromised at the time and cried at the HAPPIEST part, near the very end.)
  • The Last Song. (I WAS FORCED TO WATCH THIS. also, emotionally compromised cause the dad dies in the movie and my dad’s been in the hospital since july.)
  • Boys Don’t Cry. this is the ONLY legit one to me, because, um, watching a rape scene spliced together with hilary swank trying to talk about it and people NOT UNDERSTANDING is, like, A THING THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU CRY. also, that happened  last night.


September 23, 2010

why I’ve always proudly said “no habla espanol” (and why I was wrong)

(this is also “Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy.” sorry i got all behind and schtuffs.)

I, Rachel Whitlock, am a hypocritical liar. For years I’ve said something like “learning any second language deserves to be commended, no matter what it is.” What I’ve ACTUALLY meant is “please learn French, but if for some reason you refuse, just don’t learn Spanish.”

Allow me to explain.

My maternal grandma is full-blooded French, and I’ve cultivated a love affair with everything to do with that part of my heritage for years. But a preference for French cannot really be blamed here. I blame middle school and my own stubbornness.

For a few years, while living in Kansas, I went to a magnet school in a slightly ghetto-ish part of town. We were required to take a foreign language, starting in 7th grade, and for some reason Spanish was the only one available. I was a little bitter. I couldn’t take a language common in foreign language classes across the country, and the one that happened to run in my family. Aside from a unit on the basics earlier in my schooling, I hadn’t taken any before, and 7th grade happened to be the year where you don’t actually learn the language, but the history of Mexico.

Additionally, there was a TON of Mexican kids at my school. They all hung out together, they all spoke Spanish to each other like a secret code, and they were all mean (I don’t know why). It was like a club that, as a 12-year-old bespectacled loner with her head always in a book, I didn’t want to join.

Fast-forward to high school. I finally got to take French! Oh but then I got to deal with every other person besides classmates and my teacher saying “Spanish is more useful.” More bitterness.

Junior year I was introduced to my first love (okay, yes, after Jesus, but you get what I mean), the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Sure, he’d been dead since 1973, but his poetry worked/still works something magical within my soul. I was dimly aware that he wrote all of his works in Spanish, but since I was reading in English and for the first time, this didn’t mean a thing.

The summer after my junior year, I went on my first missions trip to Mexico City. Ten days of serving people in need, from those living in garbage dump slums, to boys playing football (soccer) in the street, to community centers, to dusty clumps of buildings full of smiles and food, to one room churches…I was moved in my heart, and yet blocked by language. Not being able to properly articulate beyond the very basics of my job functions—asking for the amarillo crayon from a child simply by pointing and saying the color—made me want to bang my head against the tent poles.

Then I left. I burned to help the big-eyed Mexican kids fishing for tadpoles in the grimy dump pond, but I did not burn enough to learn Spanish.

Various incidents from that point until today have encouraged my grumbling towards the Spanish language (the immigration debate, Spanish worship music, “please press one for English”…) but my love of Pablo continued unbound (I also discovered Octavio Paz). I’ve recently started researching him more in-depth for my *dum dum dum* senior paper.

Something odd happened last spring to foreshadow my recent epiphany. I was working in the English department and a (male) friend (who shall remain nameless) used the phone on my desk to call his mom. The entire conversation was in Spanish.

Now I don’t know if it’s because I was attracted to this male friend, but for the first time in my 20ish year-old life, Spanish sounded beautiful and special (and, I will admit, sensual). This was not mean Hispanic kids at my middle school talking about Hispanic things with other Hispanic friends. It was not fast and eager words eager to say something that I was helpless to reciprocate. This was love, which came across in the way he said the words, the way he accented them and funneled them through this language that I’d so belligerently resisted.

I was so completely thrown, but then I pushed it out of my mind, thinking it was wholly related to my attraction to that boy. Well, not completely. But it did plant a seed, which suddenly sprouted last week: my derision for Spanish, no matter what I called it, was just that, and the more I examine my favorite poet, the more it lacks sense.

I’m going to work on it. I swear I will. A language-based prejudice, especially for one like me who is quite interested in linguistics, has no place in my heart. First, my attitude, and next, I’ll try to learn.


(um, I probably conjugated that wrong, but that’s what my translator thingy tells me.)

September 11, 2010

days 4 and 5: favorite book and favorite quote.

considering i have lots to say about both of these topics, it may not have been the best idea to put them together in one post.

oh well.

since i’m such a book person, i don’t really have ONE favorite book. therefore i am going to approach the question like this:

if i could recommend a single book to anybody, what would i recommend? this usually means the life-changing ones. the ones that changed who i am as a person, how i look at the world, how i think about *things*…yeah.

the answer?

the poetry of pablo neruda

it’s a huge-ass anthology of selections from almost every published collection of his poetry, spanning his life and posthumous works. pablo, as i so lovingly call him, really did change my life. this started at age 17 in my high school creative writing class, and now, at 21, i’ve begun the preliminary research for my (college) senior paper. he’s shown me, probably as much as that passage from 1 corinthians 13, what love looks like. he’s taught me that political poetry isn’t just about pointing fingers at The Man. he makes me appreciate nature. and so on…this anthology shows all of who pablo is, and it’s well-worth both the cost and weight of this tome. if poetry is “not your thing”…well, you’re reading the wrong blog.

favorite quote…s.

a room without a book is like a body with a soul. [cicero]

music starts where the power of words stops. [translated, wagner]

and yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays. [shakespeare, from a midsummer night’s dream]

hope is believing in a world that does not exist yet, a concession towards the kingdom of the heavens. to hope is to believe that life could be better. it is ultimately our belief in this “unbroken totality” that allows for the potential of tragedy. for without this hope, tragedy is no longer tragedy — it’s simply expected. without a belief that allows for a better world, the tragic is fact. [jon foreman]

you are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely. [ogden nash]

when heaven meets the earth, we’ll have no use for numbers to tell us who we are or what we’re worth. [sleeping at last, from “heaven breaks”]

we are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. we don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. we won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. we were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home. [jamie tworkowski]

we’re just a million little gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust. [arcade fire, from “wake up”]

we’ll dance like flames for there’s no gravity, for now i’m just a candle trying to stay lit in this windy night. [matisyahu, from “silence”]

[okay, i need to quit with the lyrics. also, um, too many funny ones from shows and movies to even start.]

September 8, 2010

day 3: your favorite tv show

dude. i don’t even have to cheat on this one and put more than one, because there is no contest.

acting, script, cast, plot, characters…(more things that i can’t think of) i love them all. i got on the bandwagon summer of 2009 (starting with season 1, thank you very much) and i have adored it since then.

there is also, *ahem*, this:

ladies, say it with me: humminahumminahummina...

and this:


and this…


and don’t even get me started on their real-life accents…

yeah, this is my favorite show.

(first three photos courtesy of

September 7, 2010

day 2: your favorite movie.

i’m going to cheat on this one too.

favorite-foreign-movie-that-i-don’t-own-but-really-need-to-get-on-DVD: Amelie.

it’s simply wonderful. audrey tautou is, in the words of british actor simon pegg, “cute as strawberries.” yann tiersen, composer and accordionist extraordinaire, contributes a score that both accentuates that cuteness and doesn’t make it too syrupy OR sad at the sad parts. the cinematography is, if i may use such a word, plucky. and so on. i have nothing but good things to say about this film. also, not only was it filmed on-location in mostly paris, but in my favorite neighborhood of paris. *le sigh* i miss france so friggin bad. did i mention it’s technically a french film? well, there you go. teehee.

favorite-movie-musical-from-before-my-time: Fiddler on the Roof.

oh, jews. who doesn’t wish at some point or another that their life was (even briefly) like a musical? this movie is legit. you gotta appreciate a musical that has both drinking songs and serious sabbath prayers. culture is not trivialized, but embraced, beards and all. each progressive branching-out by the daughters of the protagonist should be vaguely challenging to modern-day parents and their kids–getting grounded is not so bad as being SHUNNED by your entire community (including your family), now, is it??

favorite-children’s-book-adaptation: two-way tie between Harriet the Spy and Matilda.

1. i don’t think i’m in the wrong to say that harriet the spy is my favorite thing with michelle trachtenberg. no, i haven’t seen buffy, but joss whedon is certainly a demi-god. 2. poor mara wilson. i don’t think anybody’s seen you since you were adorable in the 90s (unless, like me, you were subjected to the “thomas and the magic railroad” in 2000 because your little brother was obsessed with trains…*cough*).

September 6, 2010

day 1: your favorite song

blahblahblah, i like way too much music, blahblahblah.

\”Dog Days Are Over\” Florence + the Machine

when it comes down to it, i’ve been obsessed with this song and album (but this song in particular) since i discovered it last december. musically it is gorgeous and keeps my attention. i love florence welch’s voice. the lyrics have become more relevant now than ever, with lines like “happiness hit her, like a train on a track.” i feel like this is a happy song (personally) and the beginning gets me every time. i just break into a smile whenever i hear those first few seconds. i never get tired of it.

Happiness hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your loving, your loving behind
You cant carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
‘Cause here they come

And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had and what was left after that too, oh
Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head
Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
‘Cause here they come

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your loving, your loving behind
You cant carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
‘Cause here they come

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run

\”Rococo\” Arcade Fire

look, you’ve probably heard enough raves about their new album, but i adore arcade fire, so here is another. i love this song. i love this album. i love this band. and for all the hipsters who do too, well, this song is your answer. it’s pretty and damning, two of my favorite things (haha). i also really enjoy the track immediately before it, “modern man,” but i only wanted to bend the rules to a certain point. anyways. again, this is a track i love right from the very beginning. i repeat it over and over (well, at least since i obtained the album) and i love it each time. (i say love a lot, i know. but i’m serious, people.)

as far as damning, it might be just scathing, but scathing is also delicious.

Let’s go downtown and watch the modern kids
Let’s go downtown and talk to the modern kids
They will eat right out of your hand
Using great big words that they don’t understand

They’re singing
Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo…
Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo…

They build it up just to burn it back down
They build it up just to burn it back down
The wind is blowing all the ashes around
Oh my dear God what is that horrible song?

They’re singing
Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo…
Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo…

They seem wild but they are so tame
They seem wild but they are so tame
They’re moving towards you with their colors all the same
They want to own you but they don’t know what game
They’re playing

Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo
Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo

annnnnd thus concludes my first return to regularly-scheduled blogging.

um, yes (inauspicious)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 5:56 PM
Tags: , , , ,

i’m not really a blogger. i’m a writer. not to say that bloggers are not writers, but i feel like writer is a much bigger word than blogger.

words make up so very much of my life, and if it means the internet gets subjected to them, then so be it.

so, even though i’m not really a blogger, i’m going to *attempt* to get better at “real” blogging (as opposed to twitter, *cough* which i do a lot of)

i’m going to do this:

Day 01 — Your favorite song
Day 02 — Your favorite movie
Day 03 — Your favorite television program
Day 04 — Your favorite book
Day 05 — Your favorite quote
Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 07 — A photo that makes you happy
Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 09 — A photo you took
Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11 — A photo of you taken recently
Day 12 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 13 — A fictional book
Day 14 — A non-fictional book
Day 15 — A fanfic
Day 16 — A song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 — An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
Day 18 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 19 — A talent of yours
Day 20 — A hobby of yours
Day 21 — A recipe
Day 22 — A website
Day 23 — A YouTube video
Day 24 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 24 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 25 — Your day, in great detail
Day 26 — Your week, in great detail
Day 27 — This month, in great detail
Day 28 — This year, in great detail
Day 29 — Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 — Whatever tickles your fancy

(if i forget, i’ll do the days in between, simple as that.)

June 26, 2010

EP review: bradley hathaway’s a thousand angry panthers

bradley hathaway's A Thousand Angry Panthers EP

it is a measure both of my impatience and love of a musical artist when i download an EP. when i heard that bradley hathaway had released one, i nearly dropped my phone on which i’d read the happy news. i wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. i had hoped for the filling meal of a full-length album (i’m musically greedy), but certainly a snack of this 4-song EP would at least hold my attention.

oh, it did. if “a thousand angry panthers” is the bread basket, the waiter accidentally filled it with lembas bread (a lord of the rings reference, and in case you didn’t get it, lembas bread fills your stomach with one bite).

hathaway opens with “she was raised by a man with a sickness,” a story about a girl framed unobtrusively by guitar and violin. it is a song that haunts without leaving the listener completely hopeless. he sings honestly but not morosely, his faith as open here as it is in his spoken-word. this is a theme that flows over into each successive song.

“carolina” fills in the intrumentals and evokes stretches of green hills and cloudless sky–homey but not honkytonk as he sings “and the wind brings You closer to me.” it is a tune about home and quiet that manages to feel exactly like those things.

“would you think less of me” is another story, a broken one with shades of piano and saloon blues. hathaway’s pain is shared with the listener in such a way that the most recent heartache is universal and relatable: “there is love, there is beauty, and then there is pain, and at the moment I can’t help but feel that they’re all the same.”

packing a different emotional punch with the same intensity is the finisher “the world is screaming.” it is as urgent at the title, a cry to cry out as the world falls apart around us. it’s nearly a rock anthem, the biggest musically we’ve heard hathaway, and even non-christians could agree that “…we’re all waiting for a messiah to come, but we can’t agree on who he is and which is the one.”

“a thousand angry panthers” excels at everything it attempts. hathaway sings stories enhanced by masterful–and often low-key–instrumentation and, though “just” an EP, it had the right amount of polish and the right about of bradley for a full-length release. each track is full and beautiful. at his lowest, he has created some of the most poignant music in his repetoire. hats off, sir, you’ve exceeded my expectations.

May 14, 2010

i’m a sucker for dystopian novels.

Filed under: quotes — Rachel W. @ 3:34 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

so i’ve nearly just finished with Brave New World (emphasis my own):

“Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”
“But I like the inconveniences.”
“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”
But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.
“In fact, said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.
“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shruggged his shoulders. “You’re welcome,” he said.

and i really have nothing to add to that.

February 18, 2010

some sort of arbitrary list regarding music in 2009.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 10:22 PM

yes, it’s february. so what? it’s MY blog, after all.

anywho, to clarify, this is not necesarily what i think was the best music of 2009, not exactly. sometimes i catch on to music a lil late. this list comprises the best of the songs that really stuck with me that i DISCOVERED in 2009. some of them were released last year, some of them weren’t. but the unifying factor being that i first heard them in 2009, played them over and over and over and over…and i still listen to them/like them. that doesn’t always happen with good songs. for example, if i actually like something on the radio, then they overplay it, it can be ruined-or-nearly-so for me. [*cough* “chasing cars” *cough*] songs by the same artist will be listed together.

so yeah, here’s my list. it’s not a convenient number or really in any specific order (okay, except for #1. #1 is important.), but, like i said, it’s MY blog. i do what i want!

eclectic-ism imminent. i’m just easily amused in general.

1. “Dog Days are Over” Florence + the Machine
2. “Kids” MGMT
3. “Design Your Universe”/”Sancta Terra” (live version) Epica
4. “Sometime Around Midnight” The Airborne Toxic Event
5. “Summertime Clothes”/”In the Flowers”/”My Girls”/”Lion in a Coma” Animal Collective
6. “Wake Up”/”Haiti”/”Windowsill”/”Intervention”/”My Body is a Cage” Arcade Fire
7. “Sleep Alone”/”Siren Song” Bat for Lashes
8. “Elephants”/”Duet (ft. Ray LaMontagne)” Rachael Yamagata
9. “Elements Combined” Fiction Family
10. “Mystery of You”/”Shadows”/”Take it All Away” Red
11. “Swim” Jack’s Mannequin
12. “Skeletons” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
13. “Possibility”/”Time Flies” Lykke Li
14. “Micro Cuts”/”Undisclosed Desires”/”The Smallprint” (and many others..) Muse
15. “Knock You Down (ft. Kanye West)” Keri Hilson
16. “We Are Pilots”/”Frozen Oceans” Shiny Toy Guns
17. “All This Time” OneRepublic
18. “Be Here Now”/”Jolene”/”Empty”/”Lesson Learned” Ray LaMontagne
19. “Braille”/”Eet”/”Folding Chair”/”Laughing With” Regina Spektor
20. “Your Call” (album version) Secondhand Serenade
21. “My Hands are Shaking” Sondre Lerche
22. nearly every track from Hello Hurricane, but especially “Mess of Me” and “Always” Switchfoot
23. “Song For You” Alexi Murdoch
24. “Defying Gravity” (cover) Lea Michele/Chris Colfer of Glee
25. “Satellite Heart” Anya Marina
26. “Glass of Water” Coldplay
27. “Over the Hills and Far Away” (cover)/”While Your Lips Are Still Red” Nightwish
28. “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare” Matt & Kim
29. “Sex on Fire”/”Use Somebody” Kings of Leon
30. “Revenge is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were)” The Veronicas
31. “Can’t Stop the Rain”/”What Hurts the Most” (cover) Cascada
32. “Colorado Sunrise” 3oh!3

it’s very possible i missed some, but oh well.

January 5, 2010


Filed under: france — Rachel W. @ 5:16 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

So…I haven’t put up a blog post since the middle of november OCTOBER.
I’m back in the states now, by the way.
Not that I didn’t do anything between then and december…

Quite the opposite.

I helped a friend through a difficult break-up (if such a thing is possible,
that is; does one ever really “get over” someone?), went to some museums, had a
brief scary incident with a nicely-dressed but tempermental frenchman, had more
awkward/unwilling sex/dating talks with the french fam, saw movies with good
friends, did christmas shopping, ate churros, went ice skating, saw a play, took
some intense exams, rode on a giant elephant machine thing that runs on
hydraulics, performed in a play (in french, yes), read books (french and
english)…in short, life happened.

And that was BEFORE I went to paris.
My aunt monique lives a little ways outside the city limits, and most of the
week I was there I took the train into the city and did whatever I wanted to do.
By myself. It was great. With the loads of snow that arrived on day 2 (rare for
paris) that was a bit limited, but hey, Paris!
I did museums, mainly. Music, the arab world, modern art…I’m a nerd, and it
was awesome. I also explored the majority of the ginormous Pere Lachaise
cemetery, making a friend in the process, and finally got to the inside of the
palace at Versailles (last year, I only saw part of the gardens outside).

And then, suddenly, I was on a plane headed home. Strange. I’m still getting
used to this country that speaks english and depends so heavily on both the car
and fast-food (I’m now convinced that the new burger king cupholder-shaped fry
cartons are both ingenious and deadly), and I suspect it will take perhaps as
long to readjust as it did to adjust to france…which I never fully did in the
first place. I think I’m “doomed” to forever be between 2 cultures, and honestly
I’m okay with this. It’s who I am. I’d already explored this concept in a poem I
wrote for a class last year, and now I believe in it more strongly than ever.
I also suspect that not all the effects/consequences/repercussions of this
semester abroad will be immediately evident, and that it will be one of those
life events I’ll look back on when I’m older as being something formative. I’d
like to know what my other friends who’ve done study abroad think about this.
Right now, most of the changes in me feel superficial. For example, a meal
without bread and then cheese following the entree is missing two crucial
elements. I have now fully embraced both straight-leg and skinny jeans. And I
resent the car-centric nature of transportation here (with the exception of new
york and to an extent chicago, DC, yes, I know).

But I am so ready to see my t-town people again. I expect shrieking from certain
people, and hugs from all. Having a good phone again has been a lifesaver this
nearly 2 weeks, but I’ve always been “quality time” focused, and texts can only
fill so much of that 4-month long hole I had.

So, with that, the “rachel went to france” blog has come to a close. By no means
will it end–france will always be in my heart–but where my life takes me is
the next journey. Before I get too existential, I bid those who have followed my
wee adventure a sort of farewell and hello. I’ll see some of you very soon.

P.S.: i totally typed this whole thing out on my blackberry while i was on the road. my thumbs were a bit sore afterwards.


October 18, 2009

never stick your knife in the jam.

hellooooooooooo readers!

this week, my blog is coming straight from my journal. i had a four-page spurt on saturday that i think is actually fit for public consumption. well, that sounds presumptuous, but whatevs.

since it’s coming from a place that is usually just for my eyes, i rambled…about a few different subjects. france is in there too, i promise, but i’m going to try and edit as little as possible. in this aspect, i hope to preserve the stream-of-consciousness style that i somehow did without trying. i will italicize things that didn’t add up to complete thoughts, or things that sound like the first draft of a poem.

[end of explanation. start of rachel-thought.]

sometimes, like now, i feel like english words will erupt from me like a foul foreign vomit, and that i must do something, anything, to get them out or get them to fade. it’s strange.

i do like it here, but at the house i feel like every move is nearly calculated, but never quite reaching a whole number. i am a remainder of something, a .”33 repeating,” much messier than the deceiving simplicity of “one-thirds.” i take to some french things easily, adding some white to my violet to lessen the effect of rachel. other times it is not enough and i’m still washed-out and country-less.

i feel like i have utterly changed from holding french like a sort of gift to that part of my brain, precious pearls i will wear with my heels to make a delicious roast in my kitchen, to an anglophile once more, staunch, c.s. lewis the ghostly high king and epperson his willing prime minister. i do not know how to fix this and feel infinitely lucky to be here, especially with all the issues with paperwork, money, long-stay visa…i will only fully appreciate it when i am far away, when i have left behind two more pointless crushes in this country and attempt to carry only experiences in my heart, not any boys.

i am moving and still, on an airport sidewalk that takes me past different people but to the same place each time…

why am i not happier? rare are the times when i wake and praise God for being in this country that i do not love any less than i did before, but differently, and with a certain power that’s overcome the initial charm. i feel the weight of centuries. each rock looks ancient, and anything related to my true personality, spontaneous, free, young, happy, silly, feels misplaced somehow.

i am less french and more so. unexplainable in the slightest. i reach for big familiars since i must change small particulars into big unfamiliars.

measured, as if each step will make bread, and one extra will burn down the kitchen.

i feel like i’ve kept procrastinating something i don’t know how to do. i need a class to write with inspiration, while i never pledge such a thing while actually taking such a class. i pride myself on a few select pieces and reject the rest as evidence of youth and the lack of talent i surely have. evidence of something inevident. i have too many thoughts to do anything else, but i must learn, put off, surely i am mediocre at best…

and boys. to admit anything on paper feels like a defeat, and yet without some sort of XY-chromosome related problem i wouldn’t fully be rachel…again.

maybe this is what is called an existential crisis. i don’t know how much of myself is american, how much is young, how much is evidently/constantly battling some sort of shallow love, and how much is the lovable rachel that i can keep. i’ve thought that i know myself, and this is why i know certain things would be “bad for me.” but this? i do not know the answer. i’m supposed to grow up, become serious, learn wife things like cooking and house chores, get a job and be productive…but i find the state of my heart and soul more important than a lot of other things. really. i don’t know why i just realized this, or why it feels so important. feels. everything feels. i’m not bipolar, or at least not dangerously so, but this world is such an onslaught on the heart and soul, i am sure. and at once delightfully fulfilling.

push and pull, push and pull…

i’m twenty years old. most everyone’s parents, mine included, had kids in their twenties. the idea that i will leave this decade with a husband and at least one half-rachel, half-unknown child…hell, even five years from now…it feels as impossible as the simple fact that a sun lightyears away gives this earth life and light, thanks to a God who prearranged everything with His perfect, delicate hands.

how has it occurred that this little heart of mine has felt emotions so strong as a young girl?
how is it that i am content and not content at all to be alone/not alone (well, not really in the true sense of the word, i know) and cry at songs because of past associations and people and a ltitle heart that just wants to be loved?
how is it that i find it much more dangerous to fall for (boy 1) and (boy 2) with this little heart of mine than to engage in “worldly” activities?

love: true. something true. literary and magnificent. a love musical, not of the perfectly harmonized, but messy, always in progress, never finished, nevertheless the most beautiful sound that exists. yes. delicate bare-bones piano melodies. sweeping grandiose symphonies. simplistic intimate guitar. oceanic sound of rock with the undercurrent of passion.

[so there it is. raw rachel. comment if you will.]

oh, by the way: never stick your knife in the jam. only a spoon. if you dare to put a knife in, this is a near-capital offense and you will feel stupid for ever being nonchalant in your selection of utensils to use for your half-awake morning toast.

October 11, 2009

dry spell?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 10:34 PM

sooooooo…i don’t think i did much that was interesting this week.

well, i had a presentation on Charles Baudelaire on thursday, THAT was interesting. i wore a new dress from H&M (think “businesswoman” type dress, not “OMG IT’S LYK PROM” type dress…), black footless tights, and my favorite pair of grey boots (yes, amber, THOSE boots. :D). somehow, without practicing my information AT ALL, i managed to present in exactly 15 minutes (which was the only guideline i was given. “don’t go over 15 minutes). no, i don’t recommend doing it relatively unprepared (apparently i momentarily forgot all the good things i learned from oral comm freshman year), but Jesus must love me a whole lot. 😀

on friday night, i somehow got the fam talking about farting. at the dinner table. i consider this a WIN. i don’t know whether this is the american in me, the whitlock in me, or the rachel in me. either way, it was hilarious. patrick was laughing so hard he had tears, and even zabeth was spilling the goods on patrick (apparently he has “issues” at night, XD). ahhhhhh good times.

since following the same format for more than a week is boring, i’m now going to start to compile my “pros and cons” list. it’s been a little over a month (oh la vache), but i might as well start now.

-house rules are very particular.
-nobody knows what ranch is.
-friends from home/ORU are, yes, at home/ORU.
-no thanksgiving.
-waking up at 6:30 on wednesdays.
-access to books in english severely limited.
-hulu doesn’t work here.
-pandora doesn’t work here.
-(while on the subject of hulu) it’s infinitely harder to watch my favorite shows.
-i forgot all my movies at home, D:
-not texting those awesome home/ORU people.
-sometimes being french is hard.

-public transportation = i can be independent without a car. the u.s. fails at this, for the most part.
-i’m learning lots and lots.
-that is, i’m also learning to be culturally elastic, as it were.
-first time really on-my-own in terms of not being surrounded by either a Christian family or school, i.e. another kind of learning.
-this country has castles.

…i’m sure i missed some on each. i’ll, you know, say them randomly as they come up.
’til next week,

October 5, 2009

beware of “peter.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 4:13 PM

yes, this is a day late.
so sue me, i was busy yesterday.

speaking of yesterday, this update comes in two parts. because i say so.

part one: rachel goes to the countryside.
yesterday was my second-cousin (not sure on the exact terminology, she’s my great-uncle’s granddaughter) Lou-Anne’s 9th birthday. now, since this is france, this calls for a birthday lunch together. and no, it’s not just lunch. it’s basically the whole day together.
the three of us drove for about 45 minutes to their house, which, as far as i can tell, is west-ish of Nantes, closer to the ocean, and sort-of in the middle of nowhere. there’s a small town 5 or 10 minutes from their house. anywho… after introductions and some “bises” (the french cheek kiss, which, in this family, is four, not two), the “l’aperitif” (appetizers is the closest equivalent) was brought out, and the talking and sharing began.
i got the usual questions about what i’m studying here, what i study at home, what i want to do after college (no, i still do not know yet, but the french keep asking me nonetheless…), what i think of france, etc. then, because lou-anne has the patience of the usual 9-year-old, she opened her present from “mami et papi” (grandma and grandpa), which made me smile: it was a Nintendo DS game. haha.
annnnnnnd lunch. i’m still not sure what it was called, but it was good. they had this contraption for melting individual slices of cheese (along with various veggies, if you wanted), and, when it was melted, this is put on a potato. yummeh! and then there was smoked ham and other sorts of cold meat to eat with. this also marks the first time i’ve seen my aunt drink wine (or any alcohol, for that matter) since i’ve been here, which seems really odd for someone french, but i feel a bit uncomfortable asking why.
and, i’m sorry United States, but your birthday cakes blow chunks compared to french ones. just saying. i don’t know how to describe it, except using “words” like “amazing” “OMG” “chocolatechocolatechocolatechocolate” and “:D” i’m not even kidding.
then i got to play Wii! apparently it was Mario and Sonic-something-something-the olympic games. and i generally fail at ping-pong, but less at swimming and running. just, you know, in case you were wondering. i was beat multiple times by Lou-Anne, who, in case you have short-term memory problems, is NINE.
so. yeah. we all then went to this cool bridge-thing that, when it’s low tide, takes you (by foot or by car, it’s wide enough for either) to an island on the atlantic. cool idea, in theory, but it was high tide when we got there (and rainy) so we nixed that idea and drove to another pier instead to see the ocean.
the ocean never ceases to amaze me. this was only the 3rd or 4th time i’ve seen it in my life, and, even when stormy and gray, it just goes on and on and on and on…insane.
after going back to the house for some more talking and taking of pictures, we went to a farm.
a real farm.
like, the kind with animals and poop and funny smells and hay, which is probably more strange to me than the entire country of france.
first stop was the dairy cows, in the middle of being milked by those funny looking machines that hook up to the udders by the two guys who were working at the time. everyone told me i should touch an udder. i politely and awkwardly declined, which only increased the general pressure from my uncle, who proceeded to make a VERY awkward reference to a certain piece of male anatomy…HELL NO to touching it after that. >.<
also, i might be a little afraid of cows. maybe. cause then we walked around some to see the meat cows, and i still didn't want to touch them. we got fresh milk and eggs out of the adventure (i tried the latter last night, mmmmm, but not the former yet).

part two: random things about the french that i’ve learned

–you don’t talk about farting…pretty much ever. if you think someone farted, you pretend nothing happened. if someone does it loudly and nearby, you pretend nothing happened. not even a “wow, that smells terrible.” no. i come from a home where this is discussed rather, erm, openly? and when lou-anne let one rip she was promptly admonished from her entire family, while i giggled like i was the nine-year-old. the verb “to fart” is “peter,” and no, it’s not pronounced like the name. it’s more of a “peh-tay” whereas if someone is named Peter, professors are extra careful to say “pee-tair” to not confuse it. bahaha. (sorry, peter, it was too funny not to use).
–they don’t like talking about money: getting paid, borrowing, most anything of the sort…but have no qualms discussing sex at the dinner table.
–they’re pretty convinced that the united states is a superficial country. i partially agree…well, sometimes.
–98% of the people here (from what i can tell) think Obama is the best thing ever for the states, and do not understand at ALL why the health care reform thing is a debate there. i’ve yet to see another opinion on this (i.e. they seem to be more united on this than we are) but i’m sure there is one somewhere…
–meals are so important, they will not be cut short to do something else. that other thing can wait. we’re eating. we have time. this i like, actually. i don’t particularly like rushing my meals anyways. even on sundays, when the three of us go somewhere to walk around a bit and they have to wait for me to come back from church to eat, the meal is not rushed. entree, cheese, dessert, coffee. no skipping sections.
–while we’re on the subject of food…most of our cheeses being italian and, unless you’re in wisconsin, the pathetic lack of good “american” cheese is incomprehensible. in other words, “you have cows. you have milk. what’s the deal?”
–convenience: tax being included already on a price tag.
–inconvenience: i’ve yet to find something that’s open 24hrs a day that’s not a gas station. and that was the ONE gas station i saw like that.

til next week!

September 27, 2009

j’ecueute les haricots verts.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 5:24 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

*(see note at the bottom for the title explanation)

hello, faithful (i hope) readers, and welcome to week 4 of rachel’s france updates!
in this installment, i will simply relay anything interesting i did this week.

you suuuuuuure?
okay let’s go!

last sunday, i had my second week at l’Eglise Amour Foi Esperance. apparently i missed the memo that it was baptismal sunday? two twenty-somethings got baptized, but not until they told their conversion stories and there was much applause and love from the church. for a tiny church, they (we?) sure are a “full of the joy of the Lord” bunch! it’s amazing. after each one was baptized, we sang a song, and there was a line of people to hug the soaking-wet girl/guy. oh, and i may have forgotten to mention that we take communion every week. and it’s still grape juice, lol.

monday, i went on a little shopping excursion to a huge CD/video games/DVD/bookstore called Fnac (pronounced, well, like fuh-nack. who knew?). i spent my money wisely, even though, in typical rachel fashion, i was going gaga over the fiction section and the books-in-english section of the bookstore section, and running to the little “listen to the CD before you buy it” station every 10 minutes in the music section. i ended up with a 100 song compilation of piano music, a tiny french dictionary of my own (because a) the one i’m borrowing from patrick and zabeth is HUGE, and b) it’s nearly impossible to buy one in the u.s. that isn’t french-english/english-french), and a french translation of pablo’s (neruda, in case you, um, don’t know me that well) 100 love sonnets. all was well until i waited to get home to check my receipt. turns out i’d been charged twice for that CD compilation. oops. how was i supposed to prove that i only bought ONE?
now, i know it’s generally a good shopping practice to check the receipt before you leave the store, but it’s one that i’d forgotten until then.

tuesday, i had my theater class. it’s probably my favorite class, as i usually lol enough for the entire week in those four hours (2 on tuesday, 2 on friday), due to hilarious exercises in which we, for example, express a strong emotion without speaking, repeat tongue-twisters together, or walk like an animal of our choosing. this week, a french boy participated in our class.
“rachel,” you say, “you’re in france. of COURSE there are french boys in your classes!” well, you’d be wrong. my program is just for “foreigners” learning french, so the presence of a native french speaker is, yes, unusual. i’m not gonna lie, he was GORGEOUS. i wanted to do a stereotypical “oh la la!”…but i restrained myself.
i also went back to Fnac and successfully got back my 10 euros i was overcharged without a problem. i always run into the nicest people :D.

wednesday, i had a rather humbling lesson on french politeness. the previous day, a friend of zabeth’s had come over with a child she was babysitting (perhaps her grandson), and they were talking when i came back from class. i neglected to say hello, and just plopped down and started making faces at the adorable baby. this was addressed at dinner, along with the fact that i’d been neglecting to ask how patrick and zabeth’s day had gone while i was at class/out having adventures. oops. i keep forgetting that the french place a bigger emphasis on politeness, and that it really matters if you neglect the subtle rules that govern it. oy. since then, this has been rectified. i realized i’d been having difficulties before because of my own inherent awkwardness of just being looked at when i come home, and THEN i realized they were looking at me because i WASN’T saying anything. oops.

thursday, besides being the longest day ever (well, it’s that way every week), was perked up in the middle by a nice lunch downtown. my new friend from church, liz, is an american who moved here 30 years ago from seattle for “a number of reasons” and has been here every since. she helps lead worship every few weeks. we had lunch, along with her friend (whose name i’ve forgotten) at a tiny cafe run by an american woman. you can (and are in fact supposed to) order in english! yay! (if you’re ever in the area, it’s called The Black and White Cafe) i had a chicken-and-fresh-mozzarella sandwich and APPLE PIE. like, the way americans make it HOMEMADE. ahhhhh. i’m going back just for pie. srsly.

friday was uneventful and nice. after my morning class (theater again), i came back for lunch, etc. fridays are also grocery-shopping days. today i went searching for another interesting magazine, which i found in Rock & Folk. apparently it’s a standard for music here and has been around since at least the 60’s! not gonna lie, the biggest selling point is that it included a music compilation (dead weather, yeah yeah yeahs, passion pit, wilco, the love me nots, and many other good tunes). i also finished my second Jonathan Safron Foer book, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close…and wow. i almost cried. it was moving and hilarious, i highly recommend it. this was a good and bad decision. good because i can’t think of anything i’d rather do on a nice friday afternoon than read. bad because i didn’t/don’t have another book to read afterwards. my aunt has a veritable library, but they’re all in french, and i’m not quite brave enough to attempt one of those yet. tomorrow i’ll hit the library before class, they have a good collection of novels in english.

annnnnnnd yesterday i had my first “night outing.” my new friend brigit and i saw District 9 (in english with french subtitles) and then hit mcdonalds. we had our own little america, briefly, until i looked down at my sprite-without-ice, out the window at the half-dozen kebab places nearby, and over my shoulder at the tight-knit little groups of french teens eating. but the music was kelly clarkson/eric hutchinson/etc, so it was a bit surreal.

today i had church (which was WOW, a guy from ethiopia spoke, really made me think), and went apple-picking with the fam (in my skinny jeans, because that’s how cool i am). i managed to convince them to buy pears too. yay!

*title: “ecueuter” [uh-kuh-tay] is a french verb specifically used for taking the ends off of fresh green beans (les haricots verts [layz-harry-coh-vair]). there is no equivalent in english that is just one word and not general like “remove” and i spent upwards of half an hour confirming this to the fam, because they were convinced that there was an english equivalent. no, there is not. “j’ecueute les haricots verts” is a lot simpler than saying “i’m removing the end stalk thingys from the green beans.” alas, english quasi-fails in this case.

September 20, 2009

house rules.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 6:48 PM

third week in a row of updating! it’s a miracle!

this week’s installment will clue you in a bit on the day-to-day workings of my stay in france. as per the title, there are some “house rules”…though they aren’t called that, that is what i call them.

firstly, shower before 10pm. now, this seems like a fairly simple thing to grasp, but it’s harder than it sounds. i’m used to showering whenever i want, whether it’s 2am while at home for the summer right before going to bed, or 6am at ORU in the middle-end of an all-nighter to wake myself up. i’ve had this habit since graduating high school, thus it’s rather hard to break now. unless patrick or zabeth specifically mentions something about the time, i just go upstairs after dinner (which usually ends around 9 or 9:30) and putter around with homework/a book/the internet until i go to bed, missing my chance entirely.
this rule is in place for a 3-in-1 reason. the hot water heater is located in the kitchen, which is next to patrick and zabeth’s room, and my shower is located directly above their room. seeing as they tend to go to bed early, it makes sense.

secondly, saturdays i am required to clean my room. nothing especially back-breaking is required of me, really. buuuuuuuuuut i’m finally realizing how much hair i have. it gets everywhere, and the vacuum does NOT like it. also, there are an obscene amount of old knick-knacks on the wardrobes and little tables (exluding my own on the nightstand), so it takes 4 times as long to dust all the surfaces. but dust i do. i also clean my bathroom with the standard sorts of sink/bathtub cleaner.
side note: they have this thing about “airing” things out. the towels do not just go back on the rack after showering, no, no, no, they go outside to dry. they’re quite concerned about having anything moist inside the house. also, i’m generally encouraged to open my skylight window thingy during the day as long as it’s nice. this does make sense, seeing as the French have never seemed to be too keen on air-conditioning (there have been a few days that were nearly hot, thank goodness those are leaving and fall is arriving). also, we “air out” our bodies, too, in a way. (no, not like THAT…) sundays (after church for me, and lunch) are for walking, may that be a park or downtown or a castle or a riverbank.

and, since i do not have one big third item, i’ll detail a few little peculiarities of living here. i already mentioned the “house shoes” thing…oh! so, for those of you that don’t know, french meals traditionally go like this: l’aperitif (kinda like an appetizer, but with a specific drink called “l’aperitif” and various crackers just for such an occasion) [oh, but we only have l’aperitif on saturdays.], entree, cheese, dessert. this doesn’t take THAT long (well, in my opinion. 1 hour at the least, sometimes 1.5) and we start around 8pm. the cheese varies (i’ve found 3 that i love so far), and dessert is yogurt, fruit, or some sort of chocolate/coffee thing in a cup (mousse, creme, little cake, etc). oh, and ice cream is only on sundays, because it’s bad for you, apparently.

other side note: i’ve read 2 new books since arriving here. i need to get hooked up with a library that has books in english pronto, or else this is gonna get expensive fast. speaking of things that you read…at the “tabac” where you traditionally buy, you know, cigarettes, but also magazines, the porn is not kept behind the counter. it’s with all the other magazines, just on the highest shelf (i assume so that the children and midgets don’t see it). unfortunately for me, i am neither, and so unless you stoop over like an old guy you still get an eyeful of the covers. oi.

annnnnnd that’s all for this week.

September 13, 2009

oh la vache!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 5:33 PM
Tags: , , , ,

salut, all.

today i went to my first church service in france.

first of all, let me explain how i went about finding a church to go to. my grandma sent me some sort of list she found of churches near here (by france’s version of the ZIP code). i looked at this list, and, i’m not kidding, picked one because it had the best name. most of them are just “eglise” (church) + denomination + location of some kind. i picked one called Eglise Amour Foi Esperance, or, roughly, Church Faith Hope and Love (well, technically “love, faith, and hope,” but the other way sounds better in english). forget that whole “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” thing.

so, after a few emails back and forth with the pastor’s wife and a few phone calls to a young man who goes to figure out how to get there (ligne 2 direction Marcel Paul, arret Longchamp, if you’re ever in nantes), i set off this morning for Eglise Amour Foi Esperance. aside from the fact that on sunday there are a lot fewer trams and busses going various places, getting there went off without a hitch. i arrived at the proper stop, took a look around at the addresses around me, and walked in the correct direction until i ran into the same young man who helped me figure out how to get there, Nicolas, who prevented me from getting lost. see, the church is so small it’s in a back building with no sign.

the church itself takes place in a room of inauspicious size, and there can’t have been more than 30 people there total. BUT a church’s size is no indication of how present God is. the worship leader is a woman who moved here from the united states around 30 years ago from Seattle, and the worship is happy and ALIVE. i haven’t yet figured out if the woman who spoke today is the pastor’s wife or the regular pastor, but whatevs. the message was good, the worship was good (started out with a french translation of “blessed be your name”) and i’ll definitely be going back.

only problem:
nicolas is VERY attractive in a number of ways. i don’t know how old he is, but 1) he’s really nice. 2) he’s good with his mom, 3) this is gonna sound corny, but i can see that, like most or all of this church, he has the joy of the Lord, 4) he ran the soundboard, therefore he is at least a wee bit nerdy, and 5) OMG he’s PHYSICALLY attractive. face, eyes, oh la la.
this is bad. i am not here to get a “petit ami” (boyfriend), nor do i want to continue my bad crush habit (see: almost any other old post on here) while in france. i’m here for STUDYING, learning the little things about french culture, being french, and gaining some new friends along the way. plus, i promised everyone back home that i wouldn’t come back married…because i’ve heard stories of those who get married in france, they don’t ever leave again. and i’ve got 1.5 years after this semester of schooling (at least, if i don’t continue with a master’s program) before i will allow myself some ridiculous thought like that. plus, you know, he might already have a girlfriend. there’s always that.

i’ve had odd instances of a very tangible loneliness while here. it’s usually for a specific person who shall remain nameless, but it’s also me going into withdrawal for lack of hugs. the french are a bit odd in this respect. they seem to have no personal bubble, there’s that cheek kiss thing (“la bise”) and i’ve often observed young couples making out and practically (or actually) groping each other at tram or bus stops…but there is a distinct lack in hugs. cultural difference, i’m sure, but one of my love languages is definitely physical touch, and right now i really want hugs all the time. and cuddling. when i go to bed, all i want to do is cuddle someone, and this is a weird and new feeling. not that i’ve cuddled much ever, but now i want to. meh.

classes have started. i’ll be logging the most hours in my written french course (it’s 7 credit hours, oh la vache), but school will be weird otherwise as well. i have only 1 morning class on mondays and fridays (but they’re each 1.5 and 2 hours respectively) and get to go home for the rest of the day after that. i start at a different time each day. i’m a commuter. the school is ginormous (like, the size of a state school. for those of you that are unaware, my school at home has a little over 5K currently). there are 4 different places to eat lunch on campus…and so on.

well, i’m done rambling for this week. direct any pertinent questions to the comments.

[by the way, “oh la vache” techically means “oh the cow!” but it’s used as a kind of expression for “Wow!”]

September 7, 2009

comment dit-on “revamped” en francais?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rachel W. @ 5:44 PM

aye. the state of this petit blog is terrible.
well, ima fix that.
(by the way, i still dislike capitalizing things. deal with it.)

presenting my “revamped” blog, en france, je m’amuse!
i thought and i thought and i thought and…i can’t really justify NOT using this specifically for my study abroad adventure, seeing as i have one friend who’s currently doing it (that i know of), one who did it over the summer, and several others who currently have one for other reasons.

anywho, i’m in france for study abroad until shortly before christmas. i’m staying with my great-uncle Patrick and his wife Elizabeth just south of Nantes, and studying at the universite de nantes….well, starting wednesday. tomorrow i get the placement results for my exam (!!!), and i start class the day after. yay? 🙂

a few remarks on the french/things that are french:

the grocery stores here, after a lifetime of american ones, are FASCINATING. i don’t know why. for example, the meat section. not just your standard section of beef and chicken. no no no. i also saw duck, rabbit, turkey (not just the big ones), and horse. also, you have NOT seen a cheese section until you’ve been at a french grocery store. oh la la. for the record, my favorite is camembert. i’ve found it once in the u.s., and the best i’ve eaten here in france is “le camembert bio,” or the organic kind. mmmm. 🙂

“les chaussons.” now i understand why ma grand-mere always says “house shoes” when i’m home in reference to certain pairs of shoes. “les chaussons” are, well, shoes you wear inside. patrick and zabeth have specific sandals they wear inside, and my Toms have become my “chaussons.” they work rather well, i think.

laundry is every monday here. and apparently it will always be dried outside. what’s really nice is that zabeth is going to do it for me every week.

i adore public transportation. i am, for all intensive purposes, independent here. i’ve got a handle on how to get to a few major places, and it’s fantastique!

funniest thing i’ve seen so far
: a boy, probably in france’s equivalent of middle school, listening to “Sexy Back” at full blast on his iPod. also, a restaurant called Kit Kat Bar.

OH! and i’m eating so well here i think my body is going into shock. i haven’t disliked hardly anything i’ve tried…3 healthy meals a day, french cheese after lunch and dinner, l’aperatif before dinner on the weekends, fresh fruit from their garden (!!!) and jam made from it besides, espresso after lunch (this i will miss during the week while at school..wait, after dinner too? for some reason i can’t remember right now)…oh la la.

that’s all for now. i’ll try to update on a regular basis (every week or two or whatever :P).

a tout a l’heure!

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