Smidgen Stories

On Tuesday I won the BBC ticket lottery and saw a live recording of a BBC Channel 4 radio show! In addition to seeing the mostly invisible aspect of radio broadcasting, I saw some fantastic views of the rooms featured in the BBC news including the main desk where the anchors sit and the background loaded with workers collecting information about UK and world current events. Couldn’t take pictures of those areas, but luckily this experience didn’t end without a few greatly appreciated Doctor Who decorations.

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Yesterday, I got another haircut as a hair model for an academy. I’m telling ya, this is a great gig if you want to save money in exchange for a few hours of your time. My first experience took three hours for a high-fashion hairstyle that was priced around $100 but, for a hair model, was free. This experience was $25, took 2 hours, and will land me a spot on the academy’s website! I am such a fan of well-timed haircuts. It’s such a permissible way to feel pampered and like a million bucks!

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Foodie adventure time: BAO! Upon hearing heaps of great reviews coupled with a resilient craving for pork buns, I braved the queue and received this fella:

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the classic pork bun

I’m sad to admit it but it didn’t live up to my expectations. However, it was still lovely to nosh on and a great reminder that “top 10” lists aren’t sacredly true for everyone’s taste. That applies to destinations, music, food, and whatever else you can rate.


Next comes some snapshots of the gorgeous Green Park followed by pictures inside the imaginarium that is Fortnum and Mason.


Here is a glimpse into the London area of Brixton. The market there is teeming with life and spirit, as are the people who are currently fighting to prevent their market’s heart from being ripped out by the man. Really sad stuff. There’s a petition to sign if you like it when towns have souls.

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Finally, I’d like to end with some pictures of QM’s somewhat oddly-located cemetery. It’s smack in the middle of campus and it’s there because they didn’t want to disturb ages-old graves, which is a great call on their part even if it does make the campus a touch strange. But anyway, this cemetery is a wonderful way to include death in daily life, so to speak, in contrast to how we usually hide it away until we must deal with it when something dies. From a philosophical biologist’s perspective, it’s also wonderful to see a symbolic coexistence of life and death in the form of graves and flowers. It reminds me of a poem we used to read on Rosh Hashana about how life is intimately entwined with death. I don’t remember it exactly, but it depicts how a tree lives on eternally after it dies. Some of it returns to soil, ready to nurture new seeds. Its fallen trunk acts as a shelter for rabbits, and so on. The cemetery can also be construed as a way to refocus on the greater themes of life after stressing over finals for weeks.

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Happy Spring and Finals season!

After seeing an IMAX about space and nearly crying during its trailer because space is so beautiful (that’s another story), let me just remind you all that you are made of stardust and your last inhale probably contained an atom that also passed through the lungs of Cleopatra and that we are the universe attempting to understand itself.

Happy Thursday! 🙂

 

 

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Comical Professors and Van Morrison (!!!)

I’m not used to having classes that are so blatantly applicable to life! Examples: lectures on feminism and postmodernism in my European Culture and Society class, and the value of nature in a capitalist economy in Geographies of Nature. So REAL!

I’d like to tell you a quick story from my last Euro class. The scene: our professor is shooting out all these incredible facts about how we live in a postmodern world and what it means and what is everyone’s favorite Starbucks go-to and can we ever prove the eclipse happened and all of a sudden he springs

“You don’t even know if you exist unless you’ve taken a selfie that morning.”

Whoa. No wonder this guy has tenure! (In case I’m not being clear, this sentence was so powerful because it completely encapsulates the essence of postmodernism and simultaneously couldn’t resonate more with our mostly eighteen years old millennial class. And it’s funny.) Man, the professors here are just full of goodness.

Which brings me back to our old friend placenta prof! Today he added another moment to his “greatest hits” collection.

So, we’re learning about the precursors to humans, namely Homo australopithicus and Homo habilis. He keeps reiterating the important advances that eventually led to our species, like the use of tools and having bigger brains. Yada yada. Excitement level is unwavering at zero. That is, until he reaches for his baby and pelvis props, announcing, “I will attempt to give birth this morning!”

The entire class explodes with laughter. Even the “manly” men couldn’t help but giggle. (Overall, England seems much more patriarchal than the US, and that’s reflected in the sociology of the sexes here quite noticeably. But that’s for another time.)

So he takes his pelvis model and a baby doll and actually shows us how much trouble it is for a baby to traverse the birth canal because of our ginormous brains! Now that’s LEARNING!

He also told us that hominins (a type of ancient humans) have gained “two tablespoons of grey matter every 100,000 years”. Chew on that unexpected measurement of intelligence! (Sorry for that unsavory pun. <– but not for that one! 🙂 )


I’m going to a CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL on Friday!! And, as they’re conjoined, a Cheese and Wine affair too! As my funny father quipped, I’ll probably regain the ten pounds I gave for a ticket after a day’s sampling of chocolates and cheeses. (Get it? Go punny papa!)


On Wednesday, Van Morrison and I decided to meet at the Royal Albert Hall and have a conversation. We talked of many things: New Orleans, gypsy souls, dancing in the moonlight. But the subject matter wasn’t the main takeaway, no. As I wasn’t the only one involved in this meeting of friends, I’ll let the grown man sitting in back of me explain what we were all feeling after the conversation had ended:

“YAY!”

His exclamation resounded with a pure sense of joy… a vulnerable, raw display of genuine human happiness. It was especially unique because of my location in London, a part of the world known for its reserved residents. That’s the magic of Van Morrison: his music zeros in on the part of you that’s grown numb to the spirit of life and taps it awake. His music is interwoven with spirit and soul. I left that theatre feeling renewed with motivation for life. That’s big stuff right there. Other reactions blurted out seconds after the last chord ended included “Brilliant!” and “Utterly brilliant!”

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It wasn’t til the last half hour of the show that the magic really started for me- the first hour was him playing his lesser-known music and duets with “friends” that I didn’t recognize (but will post pics in case anyone can solve the mystery.) But after he played “Days Like This”, the audience knew what was coming next. He really saved his allure for the end, in my opinion, letting loose his legendary voice and leaving me feeling awed, thinking, “he’s still got it.” “Brown Eyed Girl” was a pleasure to behold, “Into the Mystic” sent waves of relaxation and good feeling about the entire concert hall. There was no way to avoid the goodness he poured over the crowd, even if you were in the limited legroom, obstructed view seat you bought for 50 pounds four days before the concert.

So yeah, Van’s the man!

Figuring myself out

So I planned to have other posts done by today but that didn’t happen, so sorry if you were confused by the change in scheduling. Gosh, I sound like an administrative bureaucrat… sorry!

A roundup of odds and ends and personal revelations (not too personal, don’t worry. But on that note if you’re interested in mainly my travel logs, this post may not apply to you very much. See what you think):

Eggs in Britain are very different than in the states. For lunch a few days ago, I fried two and the yolks were neon orange. Yes, neon! And they were much, much tastier than their American counterparts.

Sophie-cles moments:

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I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to spew words for the sake of limiting silence. Similarly, I’d rather stand alone while waiting for class than engage in some shallow, worthless conversation about deadlines. When you get me rolling on a juicy topic of course I’ll unlock my verbal gates, but if we’re riding on a bus and it’s been a long day and my mind is blank, I may not speak much. Some perceive this as me having a conversation with myself, and they are often right. Call it whatever you like: internal dialogue, zoning out, daydreaming… happens a lot in my head. If something like this happens when I’m around you, you should probably take it as a compliment that I feel comfortable enough to sit with silence because I don’t feel pressure to forcibly make memories. In sum, I side with Gandhi when he stated, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

I’ve noticed that I’m also reluctant to engage in high-intensity conversations that require deep knowledge of a subject and the sufficient arrogance/stick-your-neck-outedness to defend your views. Happens a lot when males talk about sports, for instance. I’d rather refrain and know myself than be provoked to convince others of my views.


Thoughts inspired by today’s Geographies of Nature class on Technonatures:

Let me start by stating that throughout the past 50 hours, I’ve gotten 9 hours of sleep (the Venice trip started at 1 am Wed morning and I got back this morning at 2 am.) This morning, I zombiely (new word, heads up Merriam-Webster) drank a latte and trudged to the aforementioned class. You’d probably think this story goes on and on in a tired tone but this is where is miraculously breaks that trend: today’s class was so inspiring (as most are) that I’m motivated enough to skip a nap and BLOG instead. That’s true inspiration, people! Also a warning that my grammar may be affected by lack of sleep/coherence.

So yesterday on the Venice trip, I met a chemistry major who spiritedly talked and joked with me about loving biology and chemistry and reading science textbooks to fall asleep (not because they are boring but because they are interesting enough to read during free time. I don’t identify as much with that as he did but do to an extent.) In the middle of a post-security checkpoint corridor leading to the food court at 5:20 am, I felt energized and extremely receptive to passionate philosophical thought. That shocked me. And then today in class, when we discussed OncoMouse, a strain of mice highly probable to get cancer so we can experiment on it, and the basis of fear in governing our scientific experimentation boundaries, I felt like flying. (My latte could’ve also affected this.) But what I mean to conclude with is that I’ve realized that there’s hardly anything that makes me as happy as being provided with infinitely pithy discussion topics. That’s not the entire package, but there you have it: a way to my heart. Publicized and analyzed online. Good golly. I’m keeping it though. Why not express what lights you up?