The Last Five Days.

The last five days in Scotland have been some of the best five days i’ve had all semester. Last Wednesday, J pseudo-surprised me by rolling out a suitcase from the arrivals gate at Edinburgh airport. (Pseudo, because it was meant to be a total surprise, but i’m very good at guessing and also am in the middle of exams, so certain details had to be divulged ahead of time). There was a lot of nervous tippy-toe walking around until he arrived, and even more (probably embarrassing) embracing when he did.

I couldn’t believe my blessings: he was here, with me, in my favorite place in the whole world.

Yet the excitement didn’t abate there- two of my very best friends from Mount Holyoke arrived the next day for a weekend trip full of milkshakes, late night catching-up-chats, and even a daytrip to the Trossachs for some hairy coo sightings! (Needless to say, there was a lot of hugs in the arrivals terminal of the airport this week!)

My favorite shot of the daytrip! Taken by Stirling Castle. (J should always wear a Hairy Coo hat, should he not?)

My favorite shot of the daytrip! Taken by Stirling Castle. (J should always wear a Hairy Coo hat, should he not?)

Enacting romance by the shores of Loch Katrine, the setting of Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake."

Enacting romance by the shores of Loch Katrine, the setting of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake.”

The view of Stirling from the Wallace Monument!

The view of Stirling from the Wallace Monument!

Called "THE Bridge" by civil engineers for its feat of genius, this rail bridge crosses the River Forth just outside Edinburgh!

Called “THE Bridge” by civil engineers for its feat of genius, this rail bridge crosses the River Forth just outside Edinburgh!

The Wallace Monument, Stirling.

The Wallace Monument, Stirling.

Our tour, which was the most excellent TheHairyCoo.com free tour, began in Stirling and made its way into the lower Highlands around a number of rather famous lochs. It was a beautiful, uncharacteristically rain-less day to spend frollicking on mountaintops and even feeding bread crumbs to the “dangerously cute” highland cows (for which the company is named!).

My favorite part was the stop off at Castle Doune, where the famous scene with the French guards takes place in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. J and i couldn’t resist clambering our way to the top to yell out our own (very poorly accented) French insults at my friends below!

Hairy Coos!

Hairy Coos!

Doune Castle - where the bulk of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed!

Doune Castle – where the bulk of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed!

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The view from the top of the castle!

The view from the top of the castle!

 

I was running on a high of can’t-believe-this-itis, especially when the tour guide of our day trip put on The Proclaimers as we drove past the lower Highlands. If a perfect day exists, that was it: Scottish mountains, excellent music, and a batch of my closest friends to sing along with.

Trying to get us all in the shot!

Trying to get us all in the shot!

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The last five days have been bliss, but now i have to face the last five days i have left in Scotland. And that, that’s just hard. The good-byes have been a mixture of late-night chats in the flat to quick, painful hugs farewell. My friends from MHC left this morning, and my dear flatmate Abby leaves tomorrow. It’s been a day of sad farewells.

J being here is enabling me to not ache so much for the Carolinas and their rivers of sweet tea, which is such a gift. I feel truly able to grieve for my last walks past the Scott Monument or cups of tea at the Elephant House.

It also means i spent half of my morning weeping over my cup of after-church tea, trying not to think too much about what life will be like without the hum of this rain-slicked, enchanted city.

And in the midst of this emotional farewell to the semester in Edinburgh, i have two exams to tackle and a life to zip fast in my suitcases. So the next five days are shaping up to be crammed – crammed with wadded-up t-shirts in my suitcases, crammed with farewell-to-Scotland activities, and a helluva lot of cramming for finals.

For days of auld lang syne.

Just outside the Writer's Museum, Edinburgh.

Just outside the Writer’s Museum, Edinburgh.

current jam: ‘come thou fount’ sufjan stevens.

best thing: having places and friends so wonderful that the time to leave them brings mourning. it’s the double-edged sword of loving something, i guess.

The Original London Sightseeing Tour

We pause in our Parisian program today for a London-town themed update…

J and i were running on a strict budget and even stricter itinerary in our five days (including travel) in Paris and London. There was no possible way we could do or see everything that we wanted – particularly in London, where the touristy spots are pretty spread out. The nature of being a really old city and having a lot of history to tell, i suppose!

Since we only had two days in London and J had never been, i wanted to find a tour that would enable us to at least see the bulk of the major attractions. After an inquiry with the lovely and helpful crew at the Original London Sightseeing Tour, our seats were booked.

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The Original London Sightseeing Tour is an open-top, double-decker bus tour that offers three routes around the center of London to choose from (everything from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London is included). With the price of the ticket you also get a complimentary river cruise and walking tours, which my father and i had done when last we were in London in 2011.

Both the bus tour and the river cruise are best known for their engaging commentary, be it with a guide or through the multi-lingual commentaries you can access with (free!) headphones. It was from the commentary we learned tidbits about conventional London hotspots (like how the Magna Carta was signed in the Tower of London) and more unconventional details, like the filming location for the interior of Gringotts in Harry Potter was the Australia House!

The aforementioned Australia House!

The aforementioned Australia House!

J & i atop the bus!

J & i atop the bus! We elected the open-air part in spite of the cold!

But the best part, for our compressed itinerary purposes, was the hop-on, hop-off nature of our tickets. Good for 24 hours, we were able to utilize the bus to actually see London (a luxury not afforded on the Tube) and hop off at the sights we took time to explore: Saint Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square.

The view of Saint Paul's from the top of our bus!

The view of Saint Paul’s from the top of our bus!

The view of the Tower Bridge from across the Thames!

The view of the Tower Bridge from across the Thames!

In case it wasn’t already apparent, i’m a big fan of The Original London Sightseeing Tour (long name and all!). Their staff were tremendously friendly and there’s no better way to see London than by the famous double-decker bus. I’d recommend this for any combination of travelers: families, couples, friends, groups.

It is thus with great delight i have something to offer all of you – a 20% off discount code! This code is only good from March 22nd - April 22nd, but you can book your tour up to six months in advance!

So if you (or anyone you know!) want to book an excellent bus tour and river cruise for an excursion to London anytime in the next six months, use the following code for 20% your ticket price: wanderingwrites.

You can make your bookings online (www.theoriginaltour.com) or over the phone at +44 (0)20 8877 2120.

Bon voyage! And be sure to let me know what you think of your tour of London!

**Edit: please note, as of now (23 April 2013) this code is no longer valid! Thanks! xo

current jam: ‘london calling’ the clash.

best thing: adventuring!

Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam.

I’ve written about all of the things below in greater detail, but if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam in the near future, these are the condensed top 5 things i would recommend doing! (See all my writing on Amsterdam here.)

1. Albert Cuyp Market. If you want to see a local side of town, this – the oldest street market in the Netherlands – is it. The market is exploding in stalls of things to try – everything from frites stands (mmm!) to lingerie shops. We took a full morning to peruse the selection and mostly ate our way through, devouring a powder-sugar-covered waffle at Wally’s Wafels and gorging ourselves on local olives. The prices are unparalleled for such gourmet food! (The market runs Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm).

top 5 - market

2. A Bike Tour. Really, i’m sure any company will do you just fine; Mike’s Bikes was great for the youthful, edgy side of Amsterdam (if a little heavy on the information about weed and prostitution for people not looking for that sort of entertainment) but if you want to get the lay of the land hop on a bike and go. It is the local way of getting around, after all!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

3. The Van Gogh Museum. While the actual Van Gogh museum was undergoing renovations whilst we were in Amsterdam, the Hermitage Museum displayed the bulk of the collection in a special exhibit. Regardless of their housing, Van Gogh’s paintings come alive off the walls and force you to pay attention to their kinetic, vibrant energy. Though this is on the pricier end of Amsterdam museums, it is worth every cent!

vincent

4. Dam Square. Though this is certainly the touristy center, there are so many great little shops to peak in (and wonderful people-watching!).  As a connoisseur of cheesy souvenirs, i loved shopping in Dam Square Souvenirs which is full of beautiful – if pricey – wooden shoes and other lovely Holland-themed merchandise. The best part, though, is the enormous yellow wooden shoe outside. Free mega-tourist-photo-op!

top 5 - souvenirs

5. Eat. Anything, really, but especially the bread, cheese, sausage, and frites! The Albert Cuyp Market is definitely the place to eat your way through, but don’t let your gastronomical exploits end there. Our favorite restaurant was van Kerkwijk, in Amsterdam Centruum. The menu is recited by the wait staff, who are warm and friendly folk, and it’s a selection abrim in quirky combinations (like steak slathered in strawberry sauce and goat cheese – shockingly good!). Another great place was right next to our hotel, the Café Onder de Ooievaar – the cheese and sausage plate made for a sumptuous late-night snack!

top 5 - eat

Bon voyage!

Highly Honorable Mentions:

The Anne Frank House (it was a wee bit crowded for this claustrophobic, but still very powerful – book tickets online & try to go first thing in the morning, rather than in the afternoon!)

if you like my condensed travel reviews, you’d probably like my tripadvisor profile!

current jam: ‘shake it out’ florence + the machine.

best thing: magna carterrrrr!

 

The Only Way to See Amsterdam is from the Seat of a Bicycle.

Amsterdam boasts of being the only city in the world that houses more bikes than people. The bicycles clutter the canal sidewalks, over-run the cars in the streets, and nowhere can one be found in the City Centrum where there isn’t some whizzing ding of a bell making music. (Especially if you’re a tourist walking in the bike lane). There are even special traffic lights just for the cyclists!

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bike lane from inside a tram!

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Naturally, then, the best way to see the city is like a local. At the advice of one of my flatmates, on day 1 of our Amsterdam Adventure, Abby and i took a gander with Mike’s Bike Tours. The ride spanned 2.5 hours and the major circumference of the city – seeing everything from the Anne Frank House to a Picasso statue in Vondel Park. The bike shop even had two shop cats!

CATS AND BIKES

The tour definitely does not shy away from talking about the naughtier sides of Amsterdam (as in, prostitution and drugs) so i wouldn’t recommend it for anyone wanting to stick to pretty canals and old churches.

But Abby and i had a blast wheeling around Jordaan, the Museumplein, and sweet little streets lining the canals. Our fingers and toes were frozen solid in the sub-freezing weather, but there was a pit stop for a much-need hot cocoa and the most delicious apple turnover i’ve ever had in my life at the Bertram & Brood. And, since you asked: yes the Red Light District felt safe, and yes: going about it during the daytime is certainly less seedy than at night. The women who work there are, after all, human beings engaging in a legal and heavily guarded profession.

Right: best place for apple turnovers i've yet found; Left: the church next to the Anne Frank house.

Right: best place for apple turnovers i’ve yet found; Left: the church next to the Anne Frank house.

I have to admit, though, i sort of pictured the Red Light District to be like a scene from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. You know, 19th-century can-can dresses and simpering red lips. I fear to say my imagination did not match the reality at all!

Riding a bike in Amsterdam, though, is no joke. Sure, the whole city is as flat as Kansas, but being on a bike here is kind of like driving a car in New York City. You have to constantly be aware, assertive, and unafraid to stick to your decisions (even in the face of an oncoming tram!). At one point, a father and his toddler son whizzed past me so fast i – literally – backpedaled. The most embarrassing part? The kid had one glasses like me and looked ridiculously cool for someone who couldn’t have been older than four.

Europeans, ya’ll. I am constantly being out-fahsion-ed. Even by the babies.

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It doesn’t get more quintessentially Dutch than a windmill and bikes!

 Our noses falling off from the cold, our legs sore from out-pumping oncoming traffic, and our ears stuffed with fun tidbits about Nieuwmarket and the vivacity of Dutch life all made for a great afternoon in Amsterdam. Should you ever get the chance to voyage to this once-quaint-seaside-villa, be sure to include a bike tour into your stay!

current jam: ‘lovely ladies’ from les misérables. (i can’t help it! stuck in my head after all that!)

best thing: apple turnovers.

Strolling through the Galleries: The 2nd Friday Art Walk

(Part 5 in my Hometown Tourist Summer Blog Series)

It’s no secret that the community i grew up in was deeply invested in promoting, sustaining, and enabling the arts. As a child i was lavished with creative camps in everything from clay handbuilding to playwriting, and such youthful pursuits translated naturally into a high school spent in arts-focused English classes and afternoons spent serving as a board member for a student-run theatre company. It was an enormous privilege to partake in such a vibrant and encouraging community, and a privilege doubled in magnitude in an economic climate wherein arts programs are the first to be hacked from public schools. But Carrboro-Chapel Hill’s investment in engaging young people with the arts extends far beyond painting classes for fourth graders: it is integral to the identity of the community itself. Prime example? The 2nd Friday Art Walk.

Over a decade old, the tradition of the 2nd Friday Art Walk is put on (to my knowledge) by the Carrboro Arts Center. Spanning the width and breadth of these two towns, the Walk encompasses all manner of galleries, knick-knack shops, and coffee corners whereupon local artists exhibit their work free to the public. Some places have hors d’oeuvres, some have wine tastings, and still others use the Art Walk to showcase more permanent collections of artistry and craftsmanship. While the various nooks and crannies housing these pieces are, in their large number, too far apart to be entirely within strolling distance, tackling one section of town for an evening of art appreciation makes for an illuminative and eccentric night out – perfect for an inexpensive date, art lovers, parent-child bonding time, or a too-cool-for-you night out with your hipster friends.

I had incidentally done the Art Walk in my years prowling the streets of second-hand clothing stores and cheap Tex Mex cuisine, but never had i prowled such corner shops with the intention of appreciating their small-wall galleries. Once again, in an effort to rediscover my hometown as an adult, i decided the time for conscientious and intentional art-walking had come. With camera and map in hand, J and i decided we would tackle the main streets of Carrboro for our first true Walking-with-Wolves-Art-Things Experience.

Alack, my timing couldn’t have been more imprecise. When we left for our sojourn, the heavens had thrust themselves wide and rain poured forth in torrents. Naturally, it cleared as soon as we made it to the first gallery stop on the walk (the ArtsCenter itself!), but it nevertheless left Carrboro glistening with the still air and fresh scent of a world recently drenched.

Though our clothes were damp, our mood and determination remained protected by umbrellas, so we continued to peruse the galleries lining Main and Weaver Street. As i did not have explicit permission by the artists to photograph their work, i didn’t take any pictures of the pieces on display. I can assure you, though, that there truly was something for every modern and post-modern taste; photography (my favorite a collection of prints taken in Tanzania (of course)), mixed media, up-cycled crafts, watercolor landscapes, acrylic portraiture and cityscapes, each piece truly rife with the joie de vivre of this corner of Carolina.

(art reflections, art in progress)

Easily my favorite pieces were in the This & That Gallery, which houses a number of small beauties for purchase on any given day, but for the occasion housed the prints in question of my much-missed East African trees and wildlife.

After exhausting the lanes of downtown Carrboro, we stopped in at Elmo’s for a bite of dinner before heading out to another (shamefully) first for me – Caffè Driade. This coffee shop is now officially my most favorite coffee place in all the triangle, and possibly the East Coast – so much so, i think it deserves its own blog post at a later date. But for now, i will say this: the garlands of fairy lights strung over the tiered back patio encompassed by the tall oaks and forest encompassing Chapel Hill made for a beautiful end to a beautiful evening – reminding me that art is foremost, for me, found in what is all around us.

If you’re ever in want of a free, fun, and unique way to spend a Friday night, i highly recommend a romp through Chapel Hill/Carrboro on the Art Walk!

current jam: ‘payphone’ covered by walk off the earth

best thing: showdowns.

Birthday Bliss Blogging Hangover.

Whew, ducklings, this has been a voraciously active week of Birthday Bliss; i am in need of some serious tea-drinking and eye-mask-wearing.

I cannot thank Becca Clemens enough for her hysterical guest post on Tuesday; it seriously is one of the funniest things i’ve ever read, and i’m so flattered she consented to publish her genius here! We both had such a raucous time swapping blogs that i feel secure hinting at another blog swap in the future!

Additionally, much gratitude is due to ALL of you who entered the giveaway. Your tweets, tumblr likes, and comments were both much appreciated and spread cheery nerd-love across the waves of cyberspace. Congratulations again to all the winners – you should be getting some mail from me in the next two weeks! Most especially, congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Hattie for tweeting the link to yesterday’s blog about JK Rowling! Thanks to everyone else who entered – may you find the book in another way!

However.

I may be a full endorser of a healthy competition and learning how to lose with dignity (blah blah, etc, etc) but … i also like to be inclusive. (And i happened to have accidentally ordered 100 of the “nerdy and i know it” postcards). So, to thank you all for your sweet comments and kind insights, i am pleased to say that ANYONE who entered into the giveaway and did not win will still receive a postcard from me!

Yes. Not lying. I’m going broke on postage for all of you, ducklings.

Should you like a postcard from me (with a love note, naturally. i’ll even spritz it with perfume like they did in the golden days, if you like) email your mailing address to lizziemcmizzie@gmail.com with the subject line being “Postcard Giveaway” and you’ll also get a singular “nerdy and i know it” postcard in the mail sometime in the next two weeks! It’s because you’re a shining golden star in the night sky, loves.

But for now, i’m going to crawl under the covers, weeping for the fat stack of papers needing writing and readings needing consuming. College. Unending agony done out of a place of passion. As Ron Weasley would say in Trelawney’s class circa his third year at Hogwarts, “You’re going to suffer…but you’re going to be – happy – about it.”

See you on the other side, folks. Thanks for reveling with me.

current jam: “could i leave you?” performed by julie andrews, written by stephen sondheim. 

best thing in my life right now: nerds.

The Eleven Desert Island Film Collection.

Okay, so i know if i’m in fact stranded on a desert island the chance that there would be a way to watch any sort of films would be about approximate to my chances of being elected to the Scottish Parliament this year. And were i to make a new home in Edinburgh, tottering about with piles of legislation to enact, the likelihood that i’d remain deserted on an island with plasma TVs would be, well, next to nil. Unless, of course, that desert island had parties where goodie bags were filled with 50-inch plasma screen TVs.

Inigo Montoya is not left-handed.

I digress.

The point of such questions – what five movies would you take with you on a desert island and the like – are meant to uncover one’s comfort movies, favorite-for-all-time movies, and (most important of all) employed on first dates to see if you’re future daddy/mammy material. Let’s just be real, okay?

So when i consider my Desert Island Movies, i have to be very clear: this is not an exclusive, “favorite movie” list. In fact, i find the “favorite movie” question to be (no surprise here) really hard to answer. I mean, there are the movies that make me think and stay with me in ways reflective in the every day – but aren’t necessarily movies i want to watch more than two or three times (like Children of Men or For Colored Girls). Then, there are movies that i just find comforting; movies i want to watch when i’m sick or feeling miserable, like Mary Poppins or The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version, obviously). And how could i neglect the movies that i love for their political and social connotations – the kind of titles i like to drop at fancy academic cocktail parties to glean approving nods for my brainpower, like Iron Jawed Angels or Cry, the Beloved Country. Naturally, how could i exclude films that make me laugh? Pirate Radio and Bridesmaids have earned their places on my shelf-of-favorites.

Yet desert island movies rest in a special category: they are the movies that are, simultaneously, ones i can watch over and over again without growing tired of the plot twists and character developments. There are movies for sickness, movies that will never leave you, movies that cover the breadth and depth of your cinematic tastes and personality. It’s a well-honed list; one subject to change, but unlikely to.

Thus, with no further ado, i give you:

The Eleven Films Lizzie Would Take to the Dharma Initiative Desert Island

(And, yeah, i know. Eleven. I’m bad at cutting things out! SORRY GEEZ).

#1. The Princess Bride: I feel as though this goes without saying. If ever there were one singular film that i think everyone who has an abounding love for a good story should see, it would be this one; there’s a dashing hero, a bewildered princess, conniving villains, revenge, and sweepingly fantastic comedic lines worthy of being quoted and re-quoted for generations. As you wish!

#2. V for Vendetta: When asked for a favorite film of all-time, this ties with The Princess Bride, despite the enormous and obvious genre and stylistic gap between the two. I will say, though, both films are abrim with brilliant one-liners (my favorite from this film: “Because behind this mask there is more than a man; there is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof!”). I first discovered this film at Governor’s School (2008) and have since been filled with an inexplicable zeal that the whole of the world will never be right until we all sit down and watch this film, after which we engage in a radical conversation about violence in our societies. Also, the references to Twelfth Night peppering the dialogue is enough to make my Bard heart swoon with delight.

#3. Sense and Sensibility: The Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet/Alan Rickman version from 1995, naturally. To satiate my hapless romantic sensibilities with the beautiful and dashing words of Jane Austen. Also, to look at Alan Rickman. Yeah, that too.

#4. The Sound of Music: On a rainy day in the third grade, my teacher decided to keep us inside during recess,  putting on a movie to keep us entertained in the absence of dirt-eating and monkey-bars-playing merriment. It was love at first sight; within a week, my hair was bobbed and the soundtrack at home in my CD-player, where is was spun no less than twelve hours a day. I sought out hills to spin in circles on the top of and wrote fan letters to Julie Andrews like it was my job. Nothing could ever come between me and this film; it taught me to love to sing, comforts me when i’m down, and such true love lasts a lifetime.

#5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: For the mean reds. Also, to prance around pining to be as classic as Audrey Hepburn. And the kiss with the cat in the rain. Those are the best kind.

#6. Stardust: Pirates in a dirigible boat, Neil Gaiman-written adventures, and a good-old-fashioned adventurous love story. It’s simple escapism with a dash of whimsy added in for good measure!

#7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: Okay, choosing just ONE from the trilogy was nigh-on impossible, but i could not pass up the most epic Eowyn moment of all time in the battle for Gondor (even if it meant losing some of my favorite Merry-Pippin sequences). And, you know, that heartbreaking song Billy Boyd wrote for when Faramir is leading the charge on Osgiliath. Makes me cry every time. While i may not profess my love for Lord of the Rings quite as much online (perhaps because it is a little older (but i imagine once The Hobbit comes out, this will change)) i can, quite literally, quote the entirety of The Fellowship of the Ring verbatim along to the film. I had “one ring to rule them all” that i never took off my finger for about three years in a row, and stashed in the back of my closet are two of my favorite full-length posters of Legolas. No judging. He was hot stuff  when i was thirteen.

#8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II: I feel like this needs no explanation; i saw it in Africa, sobbing like a baby the whole way through. Harry is forever for me.

#9. Moulin Rouge!: In the vein of epic romances comes in this film, overflowing with beautiful appropriated music and the lavish, brilliant direction of Baz Luhrman. I love everything about this film; its weirdness, the quirky cult following it has acquired over the last ten years, and its bohemian praise of truth, beauty, freedom, and love.

#10. Into the Wild: It seems in cinema, as in literature, i am endless looking for my Alaska. Few movies moved me the way this artistic interpretation of Chris McCandless’ journey did – and, as a grown-up-Haulden-Caulfield, i need to keep what’s not phony nearby.

#11. Up: Unquestionably my favorite Pixar film in every element – the dog, the curmudgeonly old man, and, most of all, the redefinition of adventure. I’ve never made it through this film without sobbing like a baby (perhaps to the unnerving of all around me…alas. I swear i don’t cry at any other film except the ones mentioned here).

And there you have it! The desert island collection, or whatever. It seems, as i reflect on the eleven films chosen, i have an affinity for terribly sad or moving epic adventure stories with love being the central lesson. Call me a sap. Or in the wrong universe/time period.

Comment Question: What are YOUR desert island films? Or at least one or two of them! (Rules for the giveaway are here if you need a refresher!)

Yesterday’s Winner: Kate Farley, for following the blog! Congrats, Kate!

current jam: “my favourite things” from the sound of music (obviously).

best thing in my life right now: i’ve just been cast in the 25th annual putnam county spelling bee as “vice principal panch” at mount holyoke!

My Hair: A Podcast.

Click below to listen the podcast-al style blog post for the day!

Yesterday’s Winner: Mary Day Saou for commenting on the post!

Comment Question: What is the worst haircut/hairdo you’ve ever had? (Also, as a side note, what do you think of podcast-like posts? Want more of them? Never want another one?)

A note on the giveaway: I realize now this may not have been crystal clear, but i wanted to clarify the rules now! Each entry into the giveaway (be it by following on twitter or subscribing to the blog, etc) is good only for that day’s prize! The slate is wiped clean at the end of each day, so if you’re hell-bent on getting these postcards you have five chances a day. Hope that helps! Thanks friends!

current jam: “hair” lady gaga

Captured and Imprisoned Again: A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

Captured and Imprisoned Again:

A Lefty-Trombonists Tale by the Sawktrombone.

I am not Lizzie McMizzie, and this is a hostile takeover of Wandering Writes brought to you by the Socially Awkward Trombone.

OK, so it’s not really hostile. In fact, I was invited here in what was probably the biggest mistake Lizzie has ever made…

Now you’re wondering who I am and how the heck I know Lizzie McMizzie. Well, it’s a long story, and I can’t tell you how tempting it was to just turn this post into a long and embarrassing story about Lizzie and Her shameless childhood antics. Alas, I will spare Her the humiliation and give you the cliffs notes (I’m saving the REALLY crazy stories for Her wedding).

Lizzie moved to my neighborhood when we were in the first grade. We rode bikes and built forts and put on plays like all normal children who have ambitions to stage Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar at the age of 7. I was a crazy child, but Lizzie was unusual. In that sense, She was (and still is) way more outgoing than myself. Yes, I loved musical theater, but did I want to act? No freaking way. Hide me under the stage please.

I have watched Lizzie grow through the years. I stood by as She tested out dozens of middle school names. I watched her go from a fashion disaster wearing rainbow ensembles and one opera glove to a fashion pioneer (AKA unintentional hipster). It was this sort of outgoing nature that made me positive that Lizzie was going on to great things. She never has cared about what people think of Her, and She remains grounded in Her beliefs. This brings me to why our friendship is so unusual.

Although I would admit to sharing a pretty strong moral foundation with Lizzie, as well as a love for old British men, most of our views do not align. In many aspects, we are polar opposites. Yet somehow, this friendship works. We have chats on all subjects, and I am probably the only one who is allowed to make fun of the fact that Lizzie is enrolled in an all girls school. Why? Because She knows that no matter how many times I joke about Her sexuality, I support Her in Her efforts to become an enlightened and cultured individual no matter how much it makes me laugh.

I also think it my job to bring Her head from the clouds by being as horrible and ignorant as possible to remind Her of the real world. But let’s face it, I’m a completely harmless goofball. So will this blog be a parody of McMizzie? Absolutely. I will shamelessly poke fun at Her (as a matter of fact, I already have).

That intro was way longer than preferred. Whoops. I shall now jump into my area of expertise. My blogs are generally about socially awkward situations that I mix in with music and trombone players. Today I will be diverging a bit in honor of Lizzie’s blog. I will be writing about trombonists and music, but it will be a kind of tribute to Lizzie’s style. I mean, just look at the title.

The Oppression of Left-Handed Trombonists

 Dearest friends/readers/ducklings,

 It is with a heavy heart that i alert you to an injustice that will affect you, dear reader, in no conceivable way.

A few of you may be surprised to learn that the trombone is an uncommon instrument, but it is more likely that you are momentarily leaving this page to search Google images for a trombone.

Now do you know what it looks like?

Good. We shall continue.

Historically, the trombone has never quite fallen into the category of “sexy”. Yes, there is a fair amount of innuendo that follows the trombone, but upon close inspection, one realizes quickly that the trombonists are the reason their instruments are seen as awkward.

Trombonists are awkward. In past blogs i have made it clear that anyone who decides to pick the trombone has been born with an awkward gene, or has had their childhood poop jokes suppressed due to the socially unacceptable nature of poop. But of course, if you like poop jokes you probably have been born with some sort of genetic predisposition to be awkward.

Poor genetics can be considered a disability right?

Let’s consider the genetic disbility that brings about red-green colorblindness. People with this disability are having new technology developed to make it easier to live in a world that is missing color. Trombonists born with awkward genes are left to fend for themselves in a world where avoiding eye contact is social suicide.

Life is hard.

Society enjoys pushing unpleasant things out of sight. For starters, trombonists are placed at the back of the orchestra. Not a big deal right? Trombones are loud. But did anyone stop to wonder why the trombone is loud? Maybe it’s because trombonists had been trying to get attention for years and when one of them got the bright idea to start playing loud for acknowledgement, the government placed the trombones in the back. All the government needed was a cover excuse that wasn’t “they’re too awkward to be seen by paying customers” because the media would have reported that as discrimination.

Government? you ask.

Yes. Government. It’s a conspiracy. The amount of awkward people on this Earth is regulated by a government that acknowledges the need for awkward people to play the trombone. If there wasn’t a need for trombones in every orchestra, all of the awkward people would have probably been exterminated by now.

The awkward people are kept in cells under the basement of every orchestra hall in the country. It is here where they are trained to play trombone and encouraged to speak to other “Awkwards” to improve their social skills.

Trombonist 1 (1): “I play trombone.”

Trombonist 2 (2): “I play trombone”

Trombonist 3 (3): “I play trombone”

1: “You play trombone?”

2: “I play trombone.”

3: “I play trombone.”

1: “I play trombone.”

There is rarely improvement.

When the need for a trombonist arises in an orchestra, a member of the stage crew, with the help of a uniformed official, reluctantly picks a person to place into society as a trombonist.

Now the real question is how the “awkwards” get captured in the first place.

Basically, if a child decides to pick the trombone of h/is/er own free will, s/he is doomed. After high school or college, anyone who picked the trombone as a child is whisked away and hidden under an orchestra hall. Even if the kid quit the trombone after a year, s/he is doomed to the same fate because s/he had the initial attraction to the instrument. Picking the instrument means you must have the awkward genetics.

One will occasionally find people who escaped the relocation. They keep their history under wraps, but it is difficult. Basically, if you know someone who is awkward, that person managed to avoid the government kidnapping by choosing occupations with limited social interaction. All of them played trombone at some point in their lives. I beg of my readers to PLEASE not turn these people in. If you know an awkward person, be friendly and accommodating. No one should have to go through what most trombonists suffer at the hands of the stage crew that poke through the cell bars under the theater. But of course, i don’t expect you to be accommodating. Go ahead and pander to the color blind. Throw the “Awkwards” under the bus.

It is now time to address the second part of this post. Lefties.

If there was ever a group that was oppressed, it was the lefties. Just a few years ago they were seen as the devil incarnate. Children who were naturally left-handed were forced to learn to write with the right hand. This often required school teachers to use razor wire to tie the left hand behind the back of the student as they learned to write with the opposite hand. Razor wire was used in the hopes that if the student couldn’t learn with the right hand, the left hand would be sliced straight off. This left (haha punny) the kid with no choice but to use the right hand.

Today, our society is just as bad as it was when there were frequent hand lacerations, but it manages to hide prejudices better. The world is still tailored to right-handers. For example, walk into any classroom. Most, if not all, of the desks are for the right handed. If there are any left handed desks, they are shoved to the back in hopes of keeping the devil people as far away as possible. Most computers are for right handed people, as well as most musical instruments.

Righties enjoy significant discounts when it comes to buying golf clubs, baseball gloves, and other sports equipment. All of the lefty stuff is priced way higher.  Hot water is on the right, cold on the left. People are better when in their “right mind”. When people are correct about something, they are “right”. Instead of saying “OK”, the word “right” is often substituted.

“Left” has bad connotations.

I “left” my stuff there and it was stolen.

S/he “left” the party too early and missed the goodie bags filled with 50 inch HD TVs.

Sandy was “left” at the cemetery to fend for herself among the awkward dead people that tried to kill her with trombone music and ghostly flatulence.

So where does this leave the trombonists that are left handed? Well, it’s funny, the awkward gene must also tie in with left-handedness. The percentage of trombonists who are left handed is higher than average. Still, they are a minority.

The left-handed trombonists tend to be the last people released into society. It would just be too dangerous. They get “left” behind so to speak. When a lefty trombone is released to an orchestra (as a last resort) they are embedded with a GPS locator and are essentially put under house arrest. They can play in an orchestra, but they still have to live in the theater. When the orchestra goes on tour, a trumpet player is assigned to the lefty trombone. This trumpet player is in charge of keeping the lefty out of trouble.

Trumpet players love having power of over people, so they enjoy being the babysitter of the lefty trombone. Usually the lefty is forced to stand perfectly still on snails and trumpet spit while the trumpet player alternates between blasting in h/is/er ear and playing the “Pictures at an Exhibition” excerpt over and over and OVER. No one could possibly imagine a worse torture than this.

There is one particularly terrible result that comes out of monitoring the lefty-trombone individuals.

You know those crazy people that think a chip has been embedded into their arm by the government? The ones who hide when planes and Nazguls fly overhead?  You probably just thought of them as homeless psychos in need of ostriching (ostracization), or John Nash.

(it should be noted that this had to be drawn with my right hand, as the mousepad was designed for right-handed people. prejudice.)

Wrong.

Listen to these people. They are escaped left handed trombonists. Somehow they managed to leave the side of their trumpet lord, and the GPS locator chip means that they are constantly being chased down. Help them stay free!

This is the end of my societal rant. I urge you all to help free the trapped trombonists as i am destined to be one when i graduate college.

Thank you for pulling through to the end of this. It should be noted that Lizzie did a guest post on my blog while I did a guest post on hers. So if you are now missing the McMizzie, feel free to hop over to socially-awkward-trombone.blogspot.com.

Lizzie: Thank you for allowing me to guest post today. I hope the reputation of your blog will not fall into the depths of Mordor after this. I wish you well, and I shall never forget your 4th grade offer to house my dark-haired family should there be another Holocaust.

-The Socially Awkward Trombone

Comment question of the day (see rules for the giveaway if you need a refresher!): What is the most awkward family event you were ever forced to attend?

Yesterday’s Winner: Morgan, for sharing the link on Twitter! Congratulations, Morgan, i’ll be mailing you the postcards next week.

A side note about the giveaway: if you choose to follow this blog as an entry into the contest (thanks!) you must let me know in an additional comment! This is so i can keep track of all of your beautiful faces. Or icons. Whatever. 

Birthday Week of Giveaway Bliss and Stuff!

Greetings Ducklings,

As you all may very well know (or not, that’s why the sentence will be blue with a link) i kind of hoard postcards. Seriously. I’m still waiting for A&E to call me up and see if i’m interested in being featured on the show and everything (perhaps i need another five years before the collection is piled up enough to make for super-dramatic reality TV). And if this isn’t a major turn-off for further reading, i commend you. Slash, i’m wondering if you too collect weird things – or totally normal things, just in ridiculous abundance.

Wait, how did we get here?

Postcards. Right.

SOOOOO if you’re still with me, i have a bit of surprise for you: a week-long celebration involving the giving away of presents. It is, after all, the one-year birthday celebration of Wandering Writes! STUFF YOUR FACE WITH CAKE AND STUFF.

One year ago this approaching Saturday i wrote and posted my first-ever blog post on Wandering Writes. Granted, that was back when we were hosted on blogspot, but the URL differed only in the host. It’s been a year of learning, of honing my writing skills, making plenty of mistakes, taking lost of pictures, journeying to five countries; a year of over 200 comments, 150 blog posts, and (between Blogspot and WordPress) over 15,000 page views.

I kind of can’t believe this. I don’t mean to come off as a braggy self-congratulating jerk, but i would be totally lying to you if i didn’t say i am humbled and incredibly happy with these small milestones. A year ago, i knew i loved to write – it’s been a primary passion of mine for years (ten journals and endless unfinished word documents account for this). But, outside of academic writing, i never shared much of these musings with anyone else. To be brave enough to do so is already something i am proud of; it being so warmly received is both affirming and a deeper, more invigorating challenge than i could have posed to myself with an audience of only one.

So, thank you. Whether you’re my parents and you’ve been reading every single one of these since i started publicly chronicling my trips and post card obsession and cat love, or a newcomer searching “ministry of magic visitor entrance” (let’s be friends) or “colorful bacteria colony” (how did you end up here?) thank you for thinking this worthy enough of your time. I hope i can live up to your expectations in the coming year – and it has been a real pleasure entering into this conversation with you this past annual.

And, in order to thank you for embarking on this voyage with me, i have a few treats for you!

I started this post talking about post cards and a week-long celebration…so without any further ado, i give you: lizzie mcmizzie’s WEEK OF GIVEAWAY BLISS AND STUFF.

Every day this week, there will be blog posts for your enjoyment – but these posts will not be your average, run-of-the-mill ramblings. Each day will be a post utterly unique to all my previous run-on rants (think: guest bloggers (as mentioned yesterday), podcasts, that sort of thing…). With every one of these five days of blogging bamboozlement i will be giving away a set of nine custom-made postcards designed by yours truly! If i do say so myself, they’re pretty boss, but i’ll let you decide that for yourselves:

Annnd, just to cap off the excitement, in each set of nine i will include a bonus tenth postcard from my personal collection amassed from across the world with a personalized note just for you. Don’t you feel special.

How do you win these little delights, you may ask?

I’m so obliged. There are a few rules; first among them, you must live in the Continental United States, Canada, or the UK to enter* and you may only win once. To enter, leave a comment at the end of each day’s blog post answering the daily comment question. Today’s comment question is this: what weird things do you collect, and why? 

This automatically enters your name once, but you can enter your name an additional four times by doing the following:

1.Tweet the link to the day’s blog post and mention me in the same tweet (@lizziemcmizzie).

2. Post the link to the day’s blog post to your facebook and send me a screenshot of you doing so on twitter or in an additional comment.

3. Follow me on twitter. Come back to let me know you’ve done this in an additional comment including your twitter name in said additional comment.**

4. Subscribe to Wandering Writes via email, the RSS feed, or on WordPress. Tell me you have done this in an additional comment. **

YOU MUST SAY YOUR NAME IN EVERY COMMENT YOU LEAVE. No “anonymous” winners! The contest opens every morning at 8:00 AM EST and closes every night at 11:30 PM EST. Winners will be selected by the List Generator tool on random.org with person #1 receiving the prize. The winner will be announced in the blog post the following day.

On the sixth day, Saturday, there will be an extra-special giveaway (even more special than these freak-flag waving works of art) so you should also stay tuned for that!

Okay, ducklings! Happy tweet-a-leeting and collecting!

current jam: “let you down” ardie collins (he’s swell! listen to it and check him out here!)

best thing in my life right now: i’m nerdy and i know it, what’s better than that?

*Sorry, super-international folk!! Shipping is expensive and i’m kind of broke!

**If you already follow me on twitter or are subscribed to Wandering Writes (in any capacity) tell me so in an additional comment. You can tell me this, via your additional comments, every day!