Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do You Miss It?

I went out to breakfast with two of my very best friends from high school this morning, which is always a treat this time of year. Two of us live out of town (one in Vegas and one in, you know, Scotland) and the other just had a baby, so getting schedules coordinated in order to see each other is always a struggle. So it's usually once a year, around Christmas, when we're all back in town.

One of the questions asked was "do you miss it?" Do you miss being away from home? And yeah, I always miss home when I'm away from it. And I've also discovered, for all our fails and foibles and what not, I like being American. Be it ever so humble, and all.

But now, as I'm back here, I find myself missing things back in Scotland. One of the big ones is that I miss hearing people talk. And yes, it's a mixture of Scottish and assorted other British, mixed with the range of Greek, German, Eastern European, Chinese and Scandinavian from my course, but I miss hearing people talk. Which has me finding I turn on BBC America to fill in the noise.

Today's noise is brought to you by Law & Order: UK, which aside from being awesome and comfortingly formulaic as Law & Order (one go to tv badass is Olivia Benson from SVU -- she will take you down and be awesome doing it), adds in accents and wigs. Plus it has the fantastic Freema Agyeman from Doctor Who (Martha Jones) and the almost too beautiful to be real Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica (Lee 'Apollo' Adama). Seriously, school girl crush. Honestly didn't know he was British until I stumbled on one of the BSG behind the scenes and heard him talking in his real accent. Be still my heart.

It's familiar and foreign at the same time, and just what I needed after working on my essays today.

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups; the police who investigate crime, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It Followed Me Home

Snow still on the ground here in MD, and ice is still on the roads. Well, only in parts. The road leading to my parents' house is traditionally one of the bad ones during 'weather' because it's just out of the town limits. That means that it's on the very bottom of the plow lists to get cleared, but still widely traveled. It makes for interesting drives during snow. Much better just to hunker down and stay indoors.

Now US airports and pictures and snow-tastrophies are on the news back across the pond and I get messages from flatmates and friends back in Scotland. The gist of all of them? "The snow followed you home -- don't bring it back with you!"

I'll try, y'all. Even if St Andrews is really pretty with the snowfall. I'm just as over it as the next person.

St Andrews Harbour under snow just before I left. Even wrecking travel plans, it was pretty.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow. Buckets of Snow.

You know what I really wanted? I really wanted blizzard-like winter weather to follow me from the UK back home to the US. The East Coast is lovely this time of year, but you know what it really needs? It really needs the type of road closing, flight canceling, wind howling, grocery store mad dashing snow that I had back in Scotland this past month. That'll help me not feel so out of place!

Thanks, weather gods! That backpack I got for Christmas pales in comparison to the sheer joy at having traffic snarled here, just like in St Andrews.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Snow has followed me to the US. I apparently can't get away from it this year. But it's coming down now, which technically makes it a white Christmas.

Here's wishing you and yours a happy holiday if you celebrate, and a relaxing Saturday if you don't.

Remember: Be good for goodness sake.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

My luggage finally made it back to the States and into my loving arms at 2am this morning. Considering that the flights into Baltimore from Heathrow had been sacrificed on the altar of 'we can only fly 1/3 of our normal schedule because holy crap the snow is killing us in the UK' I have nothing to complain about. And it doesn't look like anything was thiefed from my bag either, so again, nothing to complain about.

It made it back by Christmas Eve. Which means I had time to do that inevitable holiday task -- wrapping.

As the dining room table had already been cleared off for dinner (which for my Southern family means barbecue, coleslaw, and mac & cheese among other amazing foods -- turkey can wait, the eve belongs to pork) my bed becomes wrapping central for all of us who waited till the last minute (or who had no choice because their luggage was on another continent). Which while I wish wasn't so, usually means not them doing their own wrapping, but knocking on my door with a pitiful 'Rebecca... since you have the tape out, could you...'

They keep saying I'd miss it if they didn't ask. I reply they've never given me a chance to miss it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome Home

After an incredible amount of luck, my flight from Edinburgh made it in to Heathrow. And then, even with a six hour delay, my flight from Heathrow actually left and made it into Baltimore.

My luggage, however, decided it really wanted to spend Monday in London, so it stayed behind and planned to get the next BWI flight out.

All in all, 26 hours of travel time later, I am thrilled to be home.

The Departures board at Heathrow. I was one of the lucky ones. Everyone else? Enquire Airline, which means 'your flight has been canceled, but we don't have the heart to upset you again, so get that info from your airline instead'

Thursday, December 16, 2010

St Andrews Chorus Christmas Concert

Like I've said before, I'm a member of the community chorus here in St Andrews and we had our Christmas concert a week ago. It has been far too long since I've sung choral music, but the body and the soul remember just as soon as you warm them up. Putting on all black, making sure that shoes are comfortable for standing, making sure that you as a member of the chorus aren't in anything that will stand out too much, and singing. As soon as I pick up and open a black folder, I'm instantly transported back to Mr Thomas, my high school choir director, and no matter how long I'm out of high school, the first thing I think of when I stand on a stage is 'Remember, no selfish gestures'. Aka, if you draw attention to yourself by fidgeting or playing with your hair or staring off to the side you're distracting from the music -- so don't do it. The music is bigger than one person. Stand up straight. Be proud because you're creating something beautiful that didn't exist before and won't exist when you're finished. It exists in the moment, so love it and be proud.

We did three lovely pieces, but my favorite hands down was Paul Mealor's Stabat Mater (and actually was the premiere of the orchestrated version). The most fantastic part was that Paul was there for the concert, as he's based at the University of Aberdeen. I've never sung for a composer before, so it's both thrilling and intimidating to know that the person who put the ink to paper for it was sitting there listening. He was very complimentary, as was the review in the Dundee Courier, so kudos to us!

The St Andrews Chorus after the concert, with Paul Mealor.
Younger Hall, University of St Andrews

I've missed choral music, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was faced with it again. People on the outside may think that it looks regimented, and it very much is, but within that and within the performance there's a moment of freedom where it's not just you but all of you. I love it, and I can't wait to jump back into it next semester.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

(Not So) Wasted Weekend

Some people would consider it a wasted weekend to spend the vast majority of it in pajamas and watching old and new tv shows on the laptop between research for papers.

Some people would not include me.

It was still cold, but I don't think any new snow fell. I say I don't think because yesterday I realized that I'd completely missed all of the daylight hours between sleeping in late (after a surprisingly fantastic night out with the IPT crowd) and relaxing with the blinds closed in my room. Not that missing all of the daylight hours is particularly hard when the sun is completely set before 4pm, but still. I didn't have anywhere to go, so watching all of the 1st season of Glee over yesterday and today was a particularly appealing choice.

Sometimes it's nice to do a whole lot of nothing.

So while that's not the most interesting thing to have a picture of, I leave you instead with a shot from Holy Trinity in the centre of town. Look -- snow and lit Christmas trees. Tis the season, after all.

Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Very Tesco Snowstorm

It's refreshing to know that some things don't change, no matter where you are.

The snow is still coming down, and yesterday there was some speculation of difficulty getting both the post and groceries up into Scotland because of the snow and ice and apparently the fact that the salt for the road hasn't come in yet.

Really, people? You saw this coming miles away. But that's another story.

Anyway, so with it still miserable, and it still cold, and now people wondering if the markets will get a refresh, what happens?

Rush on the Tesco!

I walk in, and what's missing? Most of the bread, milk, beer, and...

...toilet paper.

It's comforting to know that there are some things exactly like home.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

50 Questions Meme

One of the things that I wanted to do eventually was to answer the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind, and as there was nothing particularly thrilling that happened today (other than class -- but my head still hurts from all the yelling about an author that we weren't reading and 75% of the class had never read) I figured I could start out with a few of them and make a starting dent.

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Calendar Made of Chocolate?

Oh yes indeed, a calendar made of chocolate!

My Advent calendar -- complete with festive Santa and other arctic livestock.

In the States, the candy Advent calendar isn't nearly as popular as it is here in the UK.  To be honest, I'd never had one growing up.  We have a felt doorhanging calendar -- two, actually.  One with a cute little mouse that you move each morning (we would fight to get to be the one to move the mouse when we were little - what a breakfast/early morning conversation that was) and we had a newer one that had an ornament in each of the day pockets that we decorated the felt tree with until the star in the pocket of the 24th to top the tree.  Always a family thing, always in the kitchen, and always part of the decoration.

My flatmates were talking eagerly about which Advent calendars were the best (don't get one at Tesco because they're child sized, so the chocolate is child sized as well -- go for the Lindt ones because they're adult sized, even if they don't have Santa Claus or Doctor Who on the front) and I piped up that I'd never had a chocolate Advent calendar growing up.

They looked at me in sheer horror.

So, when in Rome, do as the Romans.  The chocolate shop in town was out of Lindt calendars, but they had these festive ones, which are obviously made for children, but the chocolates are good sized, so they pass muster.

When I brought it to the till to pay, the lady asked what name I wanted on the bar.  I replied 'Oh, I don't need any... Rebecca.  Put Rebecca on there."  Which makes me feel like I'm eight, but you know what?  I could use some good old fashioned child-like Christmas cheer at the moment.  Class is hard, my papers are a bit soul-crushing, so if getting my name in icing on my Advent calendar is going to put a smile on my face, gosh darn it I'm gonna do it.

And you know what?  It does put a smile on my face.  Simple things.  And the best part?  I get another chocolate tomorrow morning.