About Me: Normandy

I’ve mentioned several times that I went to Bath during the summer of 2012.  I was there for five amazing weeks, and at the end of that time, I didn’t go home, instead I went to France.  I met my family in Paris, and from there we drove to Rouen for a night, and then we went onward to Normandy, and later back to Versailles and Paris.  Now, one thing you need to know about me: I have always been fascinated by Paris.  I’m not sure where this fascination came from – Madeline? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Passport to Paris? The animated Anastasia movie? – I don’t know.  All I know is that from a very young age I knew that I wanted to take French in high school (I did) and that when I went to college I wanted to study abroad in Paris. That was it. Case closed. No questions asked.

Until I found out about the Bath program, that was pretty much still my goal. Once it came down to deciding where to go, however, France just wasn’t a perfect fit for me.  Pretty much any program I went on there would be taught in French, which wouldn’t mean anything for me credit-wise since I had already filled my language requirement.  I don’t regret not going to France at all for study abroad.  And luckily, I got to go there anyways.

At any rate, back to the story. So we drove up to Normandy (An interesting experience) and stayed for about three days.  Let me say this: that was one of the coolest places I have been.  We went to pretty much all the various D-Day Landing beaches.  I’ve always found history fascinating, especially when you can really feel like you’re experiencing it.  We went to Utah Beach, one of the D-Day Landing sites.  This picture shows what it looked like at low tide, which was when the soldiers had to disembark onto the shore.  We didn’t walk all the way down to the water’s edge because it was so far – at least a mile.  Imagine what it would have been like for those soldiers who had no cover in the early morning light.

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Utah Beach, Normandy

 

One of the other stops we made in Normandy that has stayed with me was our trip to the American Cemetery.  This is where soldiers were buried who died during the war in Europe.  It overlooks Omaha Beach.  I can pretty much say that I have never seen a more beautiful location for a cemetery – and that’s part of the reason it’s stayed with me.  The scenery is in absolute contrast to what happened on that beach so long ago.  And the silence.  Up on the bluff in the cemetery, you can barely hear the waves.  Everything is silent, everything is in awe and remembrance of those people who lost their lives.

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The other thing that has stuck with me is the opposite of silence: the music.  When we had entered the cemetery museum, we signed a guestbook and saw that some people had come in just before us that were from the same town.  We found the man, his son, and his father (a World War II veteran) who had signed the book, and found out that his other son would be singing later on in the cemetery with his chorus.  We decided to check out the singing, and found out that the chorus was actually from a high school near our house.  It was the weirdest moment of being in a small world.  The chorus sang a couple of songs, but the one that has stuck with me is “I’ll Be Seeing You.”  This song was very popular during World War II, so it was appropriate for the chorus to sing it.  Standing there, the wind gently blowing, listening to this song that so many millions of people turned to for comfort during the war, surrounded by a hauntingly beautiful setting…It’s a hard feeling to describe.  Music has always been important to me, and I think it can create such strong, powerful feelings within you.  It made me feel the despair, hope, strength, and love of that entire era, and reminded me that the whole world was forever changed by those events.  That moment will forever be etched in my mind.

“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

 

About Me: Travel

I think I’ve always loved traveling.  I remember when I was younger and we’d be flying somewhere, we’d have to get up really early, drive to the airport, and wait for a shuttle to come and pick us up as the sun was just beginning to rise.  I’d have my little monogrammed pink bag full of mostly books and stuffed animals, and we’d wait for our plane to leave.  It was exhilarating to be traveling to somewhere new and different.  Now it’s just as exciting to be traveling to new places, but the actual traveling isn’t as fun anymore.  The act of traveling has lost some of its nostalgia for me.

Going to Bath last year was really the first time I’ve ever traveled on my own.  It’s scary being on your own.  But that’s part of growing up, really.  Writing this post made me think of an old Peanuts quote that a friend of mine used to have on her AIM profile (Yes, AIM. Don’t pretend you don’t remember it.). I had a tricky time finding it, but here’s the comic it came from:

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I couldn’t find a bigger picture, so here’s what Charlie Brown says after Peppermint Patty asks him what security is:

“Security is sleeping in the back seat of the car when you’re a little kid, and you’ve been somewhere with your Mom and Dad, and it’s night, and you’re riding home in the car, you can sleep in the back seat…You don’t have to worry about anything…your Mom and Dad are in the front seat and they do all the worrying…They take care of everything.”

It’s such a pretty sentiment.  Charlie Brown tells us though, that this doesn’t last – you have to grow up and then you can’t sleep in the back seat again.  It’s kind of sad, but in that way that makes you realize that it’s true.  Growing up is scary, but it’s also fun.  No, I can’t sleep in the back seat anymore, but I can go places by myself and experience them.  If I hadn’t gone to Bath last year, I think I would be a very different person.  No matter how not fun traveling can sometimes be (Running through an airport, getting stuck sitting on the tarmac…etc.), going to new places is fun.  It may not always provide the same level as safety as sleeping in the back seat, but as you get older, sometimes it’s okay not to play it too safe.

About Me: Harry Potter

No, the title of this post doesn’t mean that I think I am Harry Potter.  However, Harry Potter is one of those things that has had a serious impact on me, as I think it has for a lot of people in my generation (And beyond – let’s be honest, JK Rowling has cornered the young adult market for all of time).  I have my Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone book with a handwritten inscription from my parents saying, “Happy Birthday Colleen!”  I don’t think I have any other books that my parents inscribed, so it’s kind of like they knew that this book would be a Big Deal.  I’m not sure why Harry Potter has become such an integral part of my identity – I guess it’s like I said in my original blog post about me, that “You’ve Got Mail” quote is really true:

Kathleen Kelly: When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu)

The books are just so well done and well planned.  That’s one of the things I have always loved about the series – JK Rowling thought about the series, from start to finish.  A detail that pops up randomly in the first book, suddenly becomes significant in the last book.  And while some may say that this is just pure chance, I think Rowling really knew what that first Chocolate Frog trading card would mean in the larger mythology.

I said before that we read Harry Potter in one of my classes in Bath.  We read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Can I just say that the auto-spell check did not underline Azkaban? Proof that Harry Potter is significant.) and the conversations we had about that book were really spirited, but also really interesting.  That’s another great thing about Harry Potter (From a English major’s perspective), it can be interpreted in so many ways, and so many different theories and schools of thought can be applied to it.  One of the coolest things in our British Fantasy Writers class was that we got to go to Oxford on a study trip.  While we were there, we saw Christ College at the University of Oxford and the Bodleian Library, which were used for filming in the first few movies.  We saw all kinds of landmarks from the movies and our entire class (Mostly. Some were not Potterphiles.) was really excited about everything related to Harry Potter.

I don’t really know why Harry Potter is such a part of my identity, like I said.  I think it has something to do with the fact that it can still inspire and amaze you even years after you’ve read it.

 

 

About Me: TV Shows

I’ve said again and again, but I really love TV.  And right now, there are so many fantastic shows on television.  I watch way too much TV, but I enjoy spending some time everyday escaping into a reality that can be completely different from mine.  Some of my favorite shows right now are Once Upon a Time (Which I’ve already mentioned), Castle, NashvilleModern Family, Elementary, Psych, and Grimm.  As you can maybe tell from these shows, I really like mysteries, slightly ridiculous comedy, and fairy tales.

There are also so many shows from my childhood that I still love.  Shows like Friends, Frasier, and Will & Grace are all shows I can remember watching at different points in my life and I still like to watch reruns of them when I get the chance.  I know that it’s supposedly bad to watch a lot of TV, but I really enjoy watching all “my shows.” It’s a way for me to experience what it’s like to be a detective, or a singer, or a fake psychic, all while sitting in my living room.  Most importantly, I think all these shows are really good at dissecting human relationships and reflecting to the viewers some of the truths of the human condition.  That’s what good television can do – it can immerse you in something fantastical, but it also remains grounded in reality through the power of human relationships.

About Me: Music

I didn’t mention it in my last post, but I am actually a huge music fan.  I’ve been playing the piano since I was 6 or 7 and I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 14 (I also played the clarinet in elementary school and middle school, but I haven’t really picked it up in a while).  Music has always been a huge part of my life.  My parents always made music important in our house, and I’m really grateful for it.  It can bring so much joy and really be a companion during any part of your life.

My music tastes have changed some over the years, but I like to think that I have very eclectic taste in music.  I love most all types of music (Sometimes I even like rap, although it’s not my favorite).  I really like Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles, Ed Sheeran, Hunter Hayes, The Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons…all types.  One of my favorite lesser known artists is Alexz Johnson. Alexz Johnson was on one of my favorite television shows when I was a kid, So Weird, and then later she was on Instant Star.  In both of these shows she sang and I was always amazed by her voice.  She has put out a few solo albums and will hopefully be putting one out in the near future. I just recently discovered this song on YouTube that I’m hoping will be on her new album.  Her voice is just fantastic.

As I’ve said multiple times, I really like television too.  So when television and music combine, I generally really like it (Except maybe reality competitions).  One of my favorite shows now is Nashville.  It has really good, soapy storylines, and the music is generally fantastic.  Just this past week, two characters sang a song called “This Town.” It was kind of creepy, but really just hauntingly beautiful. (For some reason, it’s not letting my embed this video, but trust me, clicking on the link is worth it.)

http://abc.go.com/music-lounge/video/Nashville-Extended-Performances/_m_VDKA0_k8awz4ou 

These are some of my favorite songs/artists right now.  I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite songs from Sara Bareilles’ most recent album, The Blessed Unrest.  It’s called “Satellite Call,” and it’s really beautiful.

Me!

This is technically my eighth blog post, but I don’t count the first post as having much substance, so I’ll say that since this is my seventh post, I should probably tell you a little about me (As much as I’m willing to put on the Internet, that is)!

My name is Colleen (If you couldn’t tell from the URL).  I’m an English major.  I like movies, television, and books way too much.  I am constantly quoting movies and television shows that rarely anyone understands but me.  Seriously, on my list of “superlatives” one of my housemates in Bath made for all of us at the end of the program was that I made the most references out of anyone. Ever.  I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing, because I believe all the movies, and television shows I have watched have defined me in some way and given me insight into something I may not have known much about before.

I also love books, like I said.  And I’ll give you this quote from You’ve Got Mail (a movie!) that pretty much sums up my feelings about books:

Kathleen Kelly: When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu)

Honestly, I would also like Kathleen Kelly’s life – I mean she owns a children’s bookstore (For most of the movie anyways)!  But the fact that I chose that movie is significant, not only because it is probably my favorite movie, but also because it shows how much I love the 90s.  I admit it, I’m a child of the 90s and I will probably argue about how fantastic that time was for movies, television, everything (Except fashion. That is where the 90s kind of went a little crazy).  I mean, everyone probably loves the time they grew up in and thinks it’s the best, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten much more nostalgic about it.  I think it probably has something to do with the kind of world we live in post-9/11.  This is a little more serious than I wanted to go, so I’ll just leave it at this: kids who were born in the last thirteen years or so will never know what it was like before 9/11 – simpler, easier, not so scary.

Anyways, I think I’ll spend the next week of serious blogging telling you tidbits about myself.  I’m not sure what they’ll be yet, but I’m thinking along the lines of favorite movies, television shows, books, who knows! I just want to give you all a little picture of who I am:

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Ha get it? A little picture of myself!

Bath, England

I mentioned a few posts ago that I studied abroad in Bath in the summer of 2012…so I figured I better tell you about it! I spent five weeks in Bath, England as a part of the Advanced Studies in England program.  I could not have better things to say about this program.  The people were absolutely lovely, and Bath is now one of my favorite cities in the world.  While I was there, I took a class on Jane Austen (which I mentioned before) and a class on British fantasy writers.  These were two of the most interesting classes I have ever taken.  In Jane Austen, we were able to actually walk the streets that Austen walked and wrote about (She lived in Bath on two separate occasions).  We went to the Fashion Museum, which used to be the Assembly Rooms where parties and balls were held.  We saw the house where she lived and the park she used to visit.  No matter how many biographies you read of an author, or adaptations you watch of their work, there is nothing like standing in the exact place that the author stood, 200 years before you.  It’s just awe-inspiring.

My British fantasy writers class was equally amazing.  We had a really fantastic professor (Who I’ll call Professor R) and we got to read Harry Potter (Yes, it was that amazing).  But honestly, Professor R was one of the best professors I’ve ever had.  She led us in discussions that made me think about the books we were reading in completely different ways.  The coolest thing we did in that class was a faux-radio broadcast of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  We read the book for class and although we spent a few days discussing it, we also spent a couple of days reading and preparing for a radio broadcast.  Our class was split into two groups and given scripts of the original radio broadcast.  We had to determine what kind of sounds we wanted to use (Using objects in the room like the radiators), where we wanted to place our audience, and how we wanted to deliver our lines.  When it was time to perform, the other group plus the professor sat with their eyes closed and listened while we performed.  I have grown up in a time when radio does not have the same effect as it used to.  Now we have multiple screens on at a time and we’re generally still bored.  Sitting there, listening to the other group perform was one of the coolest things I have experienced.  It was completely different from how I interact with media, but completely amazing.  There was nothing to do except sit there and listen.  It’s kind of sad, I know, that I found this so cool, but if you really think about the last time you just sat and listened to anything – a song, a book on tape, a radio broadcast – without doing anything else (And yes, driving counts), I’ll bet it’s hard to remember.  Sometimes it’s nice just to have the silence of listening.

Bath was really an amazing experience (I know I’ve been using that word a lot in the post, but sometimes they’re aren’t enough superlatives).  I have barely scratched the surface with this post.  I spent my time over there learning a lot – about novels, the city, living abroad – but one of the things I learned the most about was myself.

You can read more about my time in Bath in the blog I kept while I was over there. (I should probably also mention that the picture in the header is from my trip to Bath.)

Emma Approved

Since I talked about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries yesterday, I suppose I should also talk about Emma Approved, the new series from the same creators.  This series is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma.  This series only started a few weeks ago, so there hasn’t been too much content as of yet.  Emma appears to be the head of a lifestyle company, that also is some sort of matchmaking company? – it’s a little unclear to me at this point. (Does anyone else remember Miss Match? Fantastic show. Also, does anyone know where I can watch it? Seriously.)

At any rate, Emma Approved is pretty good so far.  Emma is really not one of my favorite Austen books – I couldn’t get through it the first time I tried to read it – but Mr. Knightley is really one of my favorite Austen men (heroes? heartthrobs?).  My favorite adaptation – besides Clueless – is the 2009 BBC television miniseries. I mean it stars Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley, what could be better (Besides Paul Rudd)?  One of the main reasons I’ve never liked Emma all that much is because of the title character herself.  Emma is pretty obnoxious.  I know that the point is that she becomes better over time, but in the beginning, she’s pretty insufferable.  From my class on Jane Austen, I know that Emma was Austen’s favorite heroine.  That’s not really how I feel, but I still think Mr. Knightley more than makes up for Emma’s somewhat grating personality.

Emma Approved has cast a really excellent Emma in Joanna Sotomura.  She is very different from the Emma’s of past adaptations, but I think she’s a perfect fit so far.  I’m interested to see how the creators adapt certain aspects of this novel as they did with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but I’m really interested to see Sotomura as she gets to the deeper parts of Emma’s character.  So far she has played Emma’s arrogance really well, so I’m sure she’ll be able to handle Emma’s realization that she doesn’t actually know anything with serious aplomb.

My Love of LBD (not the little black dress)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  How do I even begin? For our Transmedia Fiction class, my group decided to look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as a part of archiving either an alternate reality game or a transmedia campaign.  In terms of accessibility, our group had it easier since the website lizziebennet.com laid out all the information for us.  In terms of content, however, I think our group easily had the most amount of STUFF to look over.  We decided to make a timeline using Omeka and Neatline Time applications, and our timeline ended up having 399 items – which didn’t even include everything related to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  It was a time-consuming process, but it was definitely worth it.  You can see the results of our hard work here.  I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

But just watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was an experience unto itself.  For those of you who don’t know, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.  Lizzie Bennet is a grad student who lives at home with her parents and two sisters.  It was told through Lizzie’s personal diary video blogs, as well as through Twitter, tumblr, and multiple spin-off videos of other characters.  It lasted for a year, and I can remember several people telling me that I needed to start watching it during that time.  Now, I love Jane Austen.  I took a class on Jane Austen when I studied abroad in Bath in the summer of 2012 (an entry for another time) and I’ve read all of her books.  Needless to say, I was really interested in watching LBD, but I just never got around to it.  When this project came up, I decided that since I needed the background information for my portion of the timeline, and because it was for homework, I needed to watch the videos.  Truly and honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve watched in a long time.  Of course the story was engaging, but the way the creators adapted certain plot points was truly fantastic.  Although I don’t think people give a lot of credit to Internet television shows (although the Emmys definitely did this year by nominating two Netflix series!), the acting on LBD was just superb.

The show kind of took over my life for about three weeks, while I watched each episode (sometimes multiple times) and documented Tweets for our timeline.  In the end, I think I probably annoyed everyone I told about how great the show was, but I’m sure they’ll understand once they watch it themselves.

As silly as it sounds, I think LBD taught me something too (Although it’s not that silly since we can say the same about any movie, book, or television show).  It taught me that I don’t have to have it all figured out.  Yes, I will soon be in the real world, but Lizzie Bennet took her time to figure stuff out and in the end, she was better for it.  I’m not worried about getting a job (ha talk to me in a few months though), or starting out on my own, because I know that if Lizzie Bennet can do it, so can I.  And even if that is silly, I still stand by it.

It’s Fall!

I have always loved the Fall.  Changing leaves, Halloween, cooler weather, my birthday, Thanksgiving – all of which are some of my favorite things.  Mary Washington is beautiful all year round, but it is especially beautiful during the Fall.  All the trees on campus change to vibrant colors that match the colors of the brick buildings and walks perfectly.

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Some of the beautiful trees on campus

It really is a fantastic time of year.  It’s even better since I don’t have to help rake leaves! Honestly, though, raking leaves and jumping in leaf piles are some of my favorite memories from childhood.  As I got older, however, the idea that any kind of creepy crawly could be hiding in that pile made it a little less fun.  Of course, I learned some leave-jumping wisdom from the classic television special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

As always, the Peanuts leave us with undeniable wisdom and humor.  This special is another one of my favorite childhood memories - It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! is one of my favorite holiday specials (the Snoopy Christmas special, however, is number one) about a holiday that was never exactly my favorite.  Halloween is great when you’re a kid and get bucketfuls of candy, but as you get older, it gets a little less exciting.  In college, however, I’ve rediscovered my love of Halloween.  I’ve dressed up (to an extent) every year, and watched silly Halloween specials.  I’m not into scary Halloween shows, but I have always loved the slightly scary, but fairly silly, Disney Halloween shows.  In particular, the movie Hocus Pocus is a classic that used to scare me as a kid, but I now love.  And the Disney channel original movies of the late 90s - the Halloweentown series, and Don’t Look Under the Bed are some of my other favorites.  Last year I re-watched Don’t Look Under the Bed, a movie about the boogeyman, and it is actually pretty scary for a children’s movie.  It deals with serious issues too – growing up, childhood cancer, and the idea that imagination is more powerful than reality.  It’s not surprising that it scared me so much as a kid.

Even with all the mildly scary shows and movies, Halloween is still fun.  Even if I don’t get buckets of candy anymore – now I just have to buy them.