EB White’s Inspiration for Charlotte’s Web plus an adorable teacup pig

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Maira Kalman is my spirit animal. I want to grow up and be just like her. I may actually name my firstborn after her.

Love, Ahn

My Moment of Zen

I just finished a book the other day and came upon this quote which I can’t stop thinking about: “There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable than the present moment. And yet it eludes us completely. All the sadness of life lies in that fact.” -Milan Kundera. (The book is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter- it’s very good)

So today I’m making the most of the present moment. I’m seizing the day! If you’re reading this, I hope you have a moment today where you stop and feel very fulfilled with your life. If you don’t, today could be your day to make a change or as Charles Bukowksi said, “drink from the well of yourself and start again.”

Peace out cub scouts,
Ahn

Why Moan? A Guest Post from Chelsea

It just so happens that while I’m posting this “Come On Eileen” comes on… Coincidence? I think not. This is a FABULOUS article written by my dear friend Chelsea who is waay cooler than me and is currently abroad, staying with her boyfriend in Kosovo. You can read her awesome blog My Balkan Life here: http://mybalkanlife.tumblr.com/

Seriously check it out. And without further ado, Why Moan 🙂
Love, Ahn

Image

I sat down the other night and finally started watching “Game of Thrones.”  I only watched the first episode, so there will be no spoilers here, don’t worry.  It’s not giving anything away to say that the first episode ended in a sex scene (as well as various other sex scenes throughout the episode).

The signal that I was about to witness some serious sex action was the moaning of the woman from off camera.  Which brings me to the purpose of this piece.  It’s been said before and it will be said a million more times; media gives us completely unrealistic ideas about sex, specifically when it comes to the female orgasm.

Why, may I ask, is it always the women moaning in pleasure?  Why do the men not vocalize their sexual satisfaction of the act?  Well the answer is that they do yet it is not ever as emphasized in media or works of fiction as it is for women.  Here are some examples.

 

The famous orgasm scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” which I will come back to later.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE


Granted, Sally is making a point, a great one, actually, but the whole conversation between Harry and Sally is because he thinks that every woman he sleeps with has an orgasm, simply because she vocalizes herself.  And him?  Well there isn’t any mention of that.  How does the woman know that she was pleasing her partner?  Was the man moaning with pleasure the whole time loudly?  Based on what we see in movies, no, and perhaps not in real life either, but it doesn’t make his experience any less fantastic than the woman’s was, does it?

 

Here’s another example.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdK6LVDI3kg


            Another example of how women are trying to help the man come to realizations about the female orgasm.  Chandler comes in and says “She didn’t agree with me like she agreed with Joey,” and later “How do I go from ‘that’s nice’ to ‘dear God someone is killing her in there.’”  We get it Chandler, you want to please your pretty, new girlfriend and, as a woman, I can respect that.  But really, you want her to sound like she’s dying?  That’s a bit sick and twisted, if you ask me.

 

Another.  No clip.  Almost any Samantha sex scene from “Sex and the City.”  Various scenes show her moaning in bed with ridiculous smiling expressions just to show us as viewers how almost every partner she has is wonderful in bed.

 

This happens all over the world.  Having been abroad for over six months I haven’t seen nearly as much sex on TV as I do in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t soaked into every aspect of society. 

 

Here is a song that I hear nearly every day when I take the bus to work:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsYwjtF2b_g 

 

“You make me wanna sex noise tonight.”  That’s the main point of the song as well as the main noise.  Did you notice that it’s the female orgasm you hear, not a man moaning in pleasure?

 

So my question is this: Has hearing and seeing females come to orgasm through various forms of media over the last, God knows how many centuries, made it an even more common thing for a woman to feel as though she has to moan in bed to show her partner that she’s enjoying herself?  I get it, I’m not new to this, having sex with someone, and particularly one you care about, is a highly physical and emotional act.  The sweat and panting that is portrayed in movies is no joke, but is the screaming with pleasure something that a woman has been conditioned to believe is necessary?  I am not saying that if we didn’t hear these things in works of fiction or pornography that sex would be a silent act.  No, of course it wouldn’t be.  There is certainly no control over how you may react to certain things you pursue with your partner.  But watching the screams and moans of women throughout various outlets has seemed to have made us believe that one partner ought to be vocalizing themselves more than the other, and that one partner is usually a woman.

However, in my opinion, it seems that when it is two people having sex on screen, who are of the same gender, this rule does not apply.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to demonstrate with a dirty girl porn scene from a forbidden website.  Instead, the first scene from Brokeback Mountain in which Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) come together in their sexual relationship.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qNfGiEHuUg

 

Excuse the not so great quality of the video.  My point is you do not hear just Jack or just Ennis vocalizing their sexual pleasure, it is clear that they are both enjoying  based on their vocalization.  The following is the scene that I referred to at the beginning of this piece.  Before Bran is completely in the window and still climbing on the outside of the wall, the only sound that can be heard is of Cersei moaning, nothing from Jaime.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cFx5HSpAvQ  (You only need to watch about the first 20 seconds)

 

Hello, alert, alert, sex scene about to begin, woman moaning.

 

So, do women who are a part of a sexual relationship with someone, feel the need to moan mostly because for the better part of their lives they have seen this behavior in women throughout pop culture?  Where did this phenomenon begin?  Also, when did it begin?  Yes, sure, when one is in the heat of the moment they are sure to moan…but that includes men, not just women.  When did it change from an accurate depiction of a sexual encounter to making it seem that only women enjoy sex?  To return to When Harry Met Sally.  When did it become the standard for women to fake an orgasm?  Was it always like this?  Why does it have to be the woman who vocalizes and fakes an orgasm?  I honestly don’t know the answer to this question, but do men fake orgasm?  Can they?  Is it too blatantly obvious when a man comes to be able to fake that?  So now we have this standard that is set where women must be enjoying sex if they’re moaning, but they could also be faking it, but why?  To please their partner who isn’t pleasing them?  To get things over with because they aren’t enjoying it at all?  Because they are really close to achieving orgasm, but it really won’t happen for them no matter how many hours they spend in bed?

One of the most awkward sex scenes I have ever seen in a movie was in Spanglish with Tea Leoni and Adam Sandler.  Leoni comes in from a work out and pushes Sandler to the bed.  The whole scene is her riding on top of him yelling and moaning.  What is Sandler doing?  Laying there, smiling, and basically cheering her on, nothing else.  Given that this is a Sandler film, one might assume that it’s supposed to be some sort of awkward kind of humor.  But it is just further proof of my point that these works of art in our culture do not emphasize male pleasure during sex.

All over TV and the internet we read and hear about how to please a woman, how to make her climax, ways to make it easier to get the Big O when you’re with your partner.  I’m not saying that I disagree with some of those things, because it can be a tricky thing for women for multiple reasons.  Then we see monthly issues of Cosmopolitan “The Sex Move That Brings You Closer #BestNightEver,” “How to talk dirty…without sounding ridiculous,” and “Why Guys Pull Away (and what to do when it happens)” (all from the April 2013 issue’s cover).  I think I have the answers.  First article headline: if you love each other or care about each other in the least, any “sex move” will make you closer to one another.  That’s the whole point of having sex with someone.  If it’s a one night stand, well, I don’t think you’re looking to get closer.  This is an unnecessary article.  Second headline: if you want to talk dirty, just do it.  If that’s something that will bring pleasure to you and your partner, then it won’t sound stupid to either of you.  Again, if that person is in bed with you then I’m sure that they like you.  Do whatever you want, be yourself.  If it’s a onetime thing, then who cares what they think, do what you want.  Yet, another unnecessary article.  And last but not least, if you feel a guy is pulling away from you, JUST TALK TO HIM.  Guess what, that’s the only solution to any problem in this world.  Way down at the bottom of this issue is a small, tiny headline: “Score Your Dream Job.”  Well, based on all the other headlines on this magazine, I wouldn’t trust tips on how to score your dream job.  As a recovering Cosmo addict I can safely say, it’s POISON!  Not to mention the fact that it’s all about how a woman should please a man.  Does Cosmo even have any avid readers of their magazine who aren’t straight women or gay men?  Seriously, there are no sex tips for women looking to please their partner who is a woman.  Well…actually…this is probably a good thing since the tips for straight women are ridiculous.

 

Moving on to a bigger issue in the sexual world we come to the often talked about topic of rape.  What I am about to write is something that frankly disgusts me.  One evening two summers ago I was with my boyfriend, a couple of his friends and a couple of my apartment mates at an acquaintance’s house.  Now, this guy had been awkwardly hitting on one of my apartment mates and she asked us if we would go to his house with her because he had invited her over and she didn’t want to go alone.  The guy was pretty messed up by the time we got there, the evidence being the fifteen something scattered beer cans around the room.  We all went to the porch for some air when he began telling us how he doesn’t believe that rape actually happens.  I was so disgusted by his bold and ignorant comments that it has stuck with me ever since.  “I mean, all I’m saying is that if I’m with a girl and reach down there and she’s wet, when she says no, she doesn’t mean it.  You don’t get wet like that if you don’t wanna fuck, and if I’m trying to fuck and she says no, but I felt that, then I don’t believe her.”  An argument soon ensued between him and some of the other women there and my boyfriend took us home trying to make us feel better about what had just happened.

If a woman is with a man and they are starting to get intimate with one another, the body begins the natural process of lubrication in an attempt to make the upcoming sexual intercourse a more pleasant experience for both partners.  However, this does not mean that she wants to have sex with you.  If you boldly reached down there thinking it’s what she wants, felt her and how she’s “wet,” then she moves your hand, and says “No,” then guess what, she doesn’t want to sleep with you.  Any pressure you put on her from that moment on to have sex with you is an asshole move because guess what, she probably will tell all her friends that you’re an asshole for doing that to her, and maybe a lot more. 

While this does not directly relate to my point about the vocalization of the female orgasm, there is a connection to it in that men think it is their right to sleep with a woman simply because she seems a little bit into it.  One of my favorite shows as a young teenager was Degrassi:Tthe Next Generation.  For those of you who don’t know about this show, it’s a very soap opera like Canadian teen drama that was broadcast in America only on premium channels.  One of the first episodes I watched when I was thirteen is one that has stuck with me for the last ten years.  Paige, the bitchy cheerleader has a crush on an older high school boy from a different town.  They find themselves together at a party and he tells her how into her he is.  The following happens, apologies, again, for the poor quality of the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAXq1Y8ItR8

This is an event in the character’s life that sticks with her throughout nearly every season until she went off the show.  Which makes sense because being raped is certainly something that would stick with any woman throughout her life.  I remember sitting there, watching this happen all by myself, terrified and scared that things like this could happen to girls so close to my age.  Did a boy really think I would want to have sex with him just because I kissed him?  The talks of sex that I would hear at my high school honestly turned me off from wanting to try it for the longest time.  Boys would tell bold stories about how they “got into ‘so and so’s’ pants the other night’ and then the next week you would hear the same story from a different boy leading the whole class to believe that girl was a “slut,” a word I despise.  We were all horny teenagers once upon a time and you all know exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.  Looking back, that girl probably went home every day upset because maybe she thought those boys really liked her and they just kissed and now she was deemed the “slut” by everyone at school.  Honestly, I don’t know, I can’t read minds.

But, surprise, surprise, I never heard girls in high school talk like that.  It would be a giggly, “oh my god, we almost kissed the other day, but then Mr. White walked by and it would have been too awkward for him to see that in the hall, so we didn’t.”  It wasn’t until I went away to college that I heard girls talk in a manner that, until that point, I had only heard guys talk like before.  Before I transferred to the college I graduated from, I went to a small, private Catholic university.  The ratio of women to men was 70% to 30%.  All the “good guys who were the ‘best’ boyfriend” were caught within the first few months of freshman year which left the rest of the freshman women on campus to filter through the rest, trying to find love in all the wrong places.

I realized quickly that almost everyone had slept with someone and the phrase “hook up” became understood between young men and women very quickly.  “Are you guys like, together, or are you just hooking up?” was a common question.  Based strictly on the friends that I had, their experiences, my own experiences, I often felt that this thing called “hooking up” was never all that wonderful for the young woman involved.  First things first, it tends to be hard for women to achieve orgasm the first time they sleep with someone.  You may disagree, but that’s okay, this is just my opinion.  Second, whether people like to admit it or not, because of such an intimate act you share, feelings develop.  More often than not it is the woman who will admit to those first and have them shot down by her partner…who probably feels the same thing, I think, but is afraid to admit it.  Third, it is the woman who has to deal with many more consequences and an outcome of the sex being had than the man does.  It’s not the man who has to deal with a missed period and the decision that ultimately comes with it.  Some women find themselves too afraid or ashamed to even tell their partner that “whoops, we were the .01% that goes wrong in birth control and yes, I am now pregnant.”

There are just too many factors to count when it comes to having sex with another person.  The decision, I think, comes a bit too lightly for many people.  Does that mean it is the wrong decision?  Not necessarily because I believe that it is important for people of all ages to have healthy, happy sexual relationships.  I suppose the moral of this essay is this; women, don’t fake it or feel obligated to vocalize yourself sexually because being quiet during sex doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy it any less!  Please, I would like to hear what you, reader, think about this.

The Great Gatsby: The Great Yawnfest

Once again, I have to apologize for being absent. I am the worst blog partner ever. I’ve been in a rut and when I’m in a rut I swing between two extremes: either become incredibly productive and throw myself into work or throw myself into watching Grey’s Anatomy re-runs. Unfortunately, for this rut, I chose Grey’s Anatomy. Oh well, I could choose heroin or something, but I DON’T! See? It’s only obsessive TV watching, not drugs, therefore it’s OK. Do you see the destructive path of laziness my brain takes me down? It’s horrible. I’m sad because I don’t have a job yet and it just hit me that I’m not in England anymore having the time of my life. Cue the heartbreaking violin as I cry myself to sleep. 

Going on with Ahn’s theme, I am also procrastinating from working on a paper. Why am I writing a paper on summer break? God only knows. 5,000 words on China’s role in the degradation of the global environment. Someone please put me out of my misery. I hate writing about the environment, it’s incredibly depressing.

It’s not really as bad as I’m making it out to be, I’m just dramatic. I’m just a 4. 

Yesterday, I saw Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby”. Do you like my blog title? It’s adorably cliche, simple, and stupid, kind of like me on my worst days. Unfortunately, for Mr. Luhrmann, so was his adaptation of the incredible, classic, great American novel. As my friend Kate, whom I read the book with in our 11th grade English class, tweeted, the movie “was all wrong.” 

The movie certainly captured the opulence and grandeur of Gatsby’s parties, the 1920’s era, and Gatsby and Daisy’s love story, but these seem to be the most important themes for Luhrmann. F. Scott. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby is much more than a love story. It’s a great and oftentimes, complicated, social commentary on the contrasting attitudes and moral beliefs of the East and West, and a social commentary on the 1920s in general and the “Godlessness” that surrounded the era. As many film reviewers remarked, including The Independent, Luhrmann’s Gatsby had “energy, but not subtlety; dazzle, but not depth.” Luhrmann only scratched the surface with Gatsby and failed to understand the great commentary Fitzgerald was making. Luhrmann painstakingly and a little too obviously put in quotes from the book, but where was THIS:

“That’s my Middle West — not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. I am part of that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters, a little complacent from growing up in the Carraway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family’s name. I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all — Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.”

This is what Luhrmann failed to capture in his movie, and in my opinion, is one of the best parts of the book. I mean, really, WHERE WAS THIS? There was no semblance of this theme in his movie and it is a CRIME, I tell you, a total crime, because “The Great Gatsby” is a tremendous example of an American novel. 

Daisy was far too likable. I mean, really, the woman was supposed to be a total idiot and horrible woman, but I found myself feeling kind of…sorry…for her? Why? She’s not supposed to be likable at all, she’s supposed to be LOATHED, like you know that girl in high school that always dressed nicer than you and got better grades than you and bragged about it all the time? You’re supposed to hate Daisy twenty times more than you ever disliked that girl, who probably wasn’t that bad to being with. Also, where was the powerful scene with Daisy’s daughter? Gatsby’s realization of Daisy’s daughter is such an important part, how could Luhrmann even consider cutting it out, especially when the movie was far too long because it was filled with other COMPLETELY USELESS SCENES. 

One more thing, while I enjoy the musical stylings of Jay-Z (but NOT Lana del Rey because she is way over-rated and has just about the WORST stage presence I have ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen one too many high school musical productions where the actors are in 9th grade and peeing in their pants on stage) Luhrmann really missed out on a great opportunity to take advantage of the greatness that is jazz music. We can all argue that jazz created hip-hop, rock ‘n roll, and pop music, so Luhrmann did technically use jazz music by definition, but if Luhrmann really was so thirsty to catch the hey-day of the times, then why not take advantage of the music? There was one measly jazz solo in the movie. What gives, Luhrmann?! The Harlem Renaissance and Duke Ellington not good enough for ya?! The soundtrack could have been AMAZING and he totally could have given it a contemporary flare. Instead, it’s something I can easily hear on the radio on an ol’ day. What a waste and a bore.

In general, the movie bored me. Luhrmann embraced what Fitzgerald was trying fight, which was the glorification of material possessions and high society without any real depth or meaning in one’s life, which is a total shame. 

Also, Robert Redford forever, 

Hahn

 

 

Is This How Hispters Feel?

ImageI may be the only person in the world who isn’t super pumped to graduate. Immediately after my friend and I finished our last finals we sat in our apartment looking at each other blankly and just go, “I miss school…” I know, this sounds bad. But here’s how second semester goes:

  • When planning out your final semester, you think to yourself: “Yes, I do enjoy reading and research, so what’s the harm with taking a class with 4 people at 7 am on Monday mornings…It’s only once a week, after all!” and “I’m not worried that I’m taking 10 hours with my adviser; we get along so great” or “those 4 hours of independent study on national security law are going to be FUN WORK!” Stop it. This is the current (hardworking) you talking. I’ll tell you right now: you’re being dumb. The only truly “second semester senior year” scheduling decision I made was to take Walk/Jog Fitness. Pass/fail. Warning: you won’t even manage to show up to a majority of those 20 minute walk/jog classes even though it only meets two times a week and all you’re expected to do is walk around a track and talk to your friends.
  • A note on Pass/Fails. If your school offers them, for the love of god, take them up on their offer. My school allows students to take up to 4 classes pass/fail. I used none. I hate myself.
  • So back to the narrative: you get back to school after winter break super pumped to live it up during your last semester of college (even though right before you left you realized that you hadn’t fulfilled one of your gen-ed requirements and you had to take Music in the Western World over your Christmas vacation).
  • The semester starts out good. Your schedule is pretty light, because you’re in what is supposed to be the “research” phase of the semester before the heinous writing starts. Naturally, you choose to watch Mad Men instead. And when you give a girl a Mad Men, she’s going to want a drink to go with it. Thus proceed the first months of your semester.
  • October hits and school is kind of cramping your style. Turns out you aren’t exempt from midterms.  Your protestations that you’ve already taken so many of those and you deserve to stay home and sleep instead of coming to class move no one.
  • Your teachers are beginning to pick up on the fact that you aren’t doing as much “research” as they thought. Thus far, you’ve managed to scrape by with embarrassingly minimal effort without anyone really noticing what a big pile of poop you’ve become (Disclaimer: I used to work super hard and for any future employers who happen to be reading this post, I swear I got this laziness out of my system).
  • Life starts to get super real. Deadlines are coming at you like a speeding train and trust me, you’re nowhere near ready. What should have been months of work is now crammed into about 2 weeks (something I recommend to no one). This comes as a big shock to your system, which has so far been “living” off of $5 pitchers of Bud Light and Domino’s pizza (don’t be surprised if you come down with scurvy).
  • The last 3 weeks of the semester are going to take a while to recover from. You are cognizant of both the fact that you have three 25-page papers due and that you are leaving college FOREVER in 3 weeks. I think the line “write drunk, edit sober” was invented during the author’s last 3 weeks of college.
  • The last 2 weeks are just especially bad because this is when you start to get sentimental but also annoyed that there are administrative tasks you’ve left undone. Do I really need loan counseling? I know, I have $750,000 in debt, whatever. My kids will pay that back some day. And degree audits? I’m just gonna cross my fingers and hope I’ve fulfilled my requirements (thanks, Music in the Western World). Graduation is way more fun when you’re not sure if you got a real diploma in there or a nice letter kindly telling you what an asshole you are for not returning that library book after 347 emails throughout the semester. I mean really, what do these people expect from you?
  • Finals Week arrives. Don’t any senior try and tell me your finals week was stressful. You aren’t that worried about your grades and if you are, well, it’s probably too late for you anyway. So you spend most of your time at the bar, reminiscing over the past 4 years. Your conversations will range from that TSS scare your friend had that one time to the genius of Camus. You start to love friends you used to hate. Everyone becomes more tolerable when you think you might never see them again. Make mistakes. There’s plenty of time to regret them when you’re living in your parents’ basement this summer.
  • By the way, you should probably turn that basement into a home gym because by now you’ve probably also figured out that your pre-Spring Break workout routine is not gonna carry into second semester. You WILL gain weight. As one of my friends put it, “Second semester is way too fun to care about being skinny.”

One final note before I discuss what happened to me at graduation: I hope by this point you’ve found a friend, a partner in crime really, that has given up as much as you have. I can’t stress enough that this person should have formerly cared as much as you did. If you choose someone who has always been a lazy dud, you won’t feel any better about your new found poor academic performance. Luckily my workaholic turned alcoholic friend Em fit the bill. For example, she decided to take up an “Honesty Pledge” at the end of the semester, yelling things like “THIS IS A SMOKE FREE CAMPUS!!” or “Those shorts are waaaay too short. But really, does he think that’s appropriate?!” to the man running past us on our walks home from class.

This leads us up to graduation. You realize that what’s been happening to you the past semester is that you started HAVING FUN. You stopped pulling so many all-nighters and worrying about your perfect GPA and what people around campus think about you. Reputation be damned, you are here to have a good time. So by the time graduation comes knocking, it’s probably going to literally knock you over the head. Your fun has come to an end. AND IT’S DEPRESSING. At graduation, my friend held me while I cried “I’LL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN!!!!!!!!” I hope this isn’t true, but let me tell ya, the view from my parents’-basement-turned-home-gym isn’t looking too good.

Carpe effing diem, college students. 

Ahn

I...I....I'm...done?

I’m done. With college. I do not know what to do.

So imma dance!!

Sorry I forgot to post a Mood Music Monday post yesterday but I was busy writing. Actually I’m still writing. If you’re interested, I’m working on a paper on the role of attorneys in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel within the broader context of the national security enterprise…

You don’t care. I know this. But I wanted to paint a picture of the amount of fun I’m not having right now…

For the most part, I’ve been working diligently and so I keep listening to this song to maintain a positive outlook on life and remind myself that my senior year of college is quickly coming to a close and I should not take my last few weeks for granted.

Today it’s a very Seattle day in Mid-MO and this song really has that rainy day vibe, so dig it.

Peace,
Ahn

“Let us not take ourselves too seriously.”

In honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday yesterday and my recent struggle with unemployment, I thought this quote was appropriate. 

Image

 

As soon as something exciting happens to me, I will write about it, otherwise I am applying for jobs and watching copious amounts of television and reading “Foreign Policy” online. Although, I saw “The Company You Keep” and “42” this weekend, which were SO GOOD. You should see them both immediately. I almost forgot that I had a huge crush on Shia LaBeouf, and then I remembered. 

Love, 

Hahn

Guest Blog Post: Our Week in London by Young Greer

As many of you know, Hannah and I spent our last week abroad in London before returning to the U.S. for the summer. It was supposed to be a week filled with last minute sightseeing and relaxing, but instead it became the week from hell. We had to be out of our other hellhole, Alywn West, by Saturday afternoon and we spent our last days in Winchester packing, well, I did. Hannah decided it was an appropriate time to get some sort of mystery flu on Thursday and spent the remainder of our time in Winchester in bed. It was awesome! 

She mustered the strength to walk to the bus station Saturday afternoon and we arrived in London early evening. When we got off the bus, it was clear that Hannah was only days from death, yet I decided that we had to charge on towards the London Victoria Underground Station. Complicating our young struggle was our luggage, 3 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 2 purses that collectively easily weighed easily 500 pounds. Ok, maybe 200. The station was only a few blocks away but it took us almost 20 minutes…struggle. For some unknown reason, Hannah was 5 or so steps in front of me for our walk, only looking back for directions and the occasional look of death. 

I will never forget the look on Hannah’s face when we finally arrived at that God forsaken station. It was a combination of fright, anger, disappoint and defeat. The next thing I know, she turns to me and says “I can’t, I will pay for a taxi. I can’t do it” and then she started to cry. After I stopped to catch my breath, and laugh just a bit, I looked down the entrance of the underground and saw about a billion steps, I understood. Now, it might seem mean that I laughed at her, but at the time it was extremely hilarious, maybe you had to be there, but you should be glad you weren’t.

Equally as funny as Hannah’s emotional outburst is the conversation we shared in the cab.

“Hannah, are you ok?”

“I can’t, this week is so dumb”

“What are we going to do? I know, we will get on standby and be home by Monday morning!” 

“Monday!? I can’t wait until Monday! I have to go home now! We will just call my mom and we will go home.”

“Ok, great plan” 

Shortly after we arrived at our hostel, which happened to be on the second floor of a building whose first floor housed a pub.

We ordered a drink, connected to wi-fi, our best friend this semester, and called our parents.

About an hour later we checked in to our hostel and settled in for the week.

Earlier that week, we had hatched a plan for our visit to Westminster abbey. Being the sneaky college-tourists we are, we decided to go to a service at Westminster Abbey Sunday morning and avoid the entrance fee. Sadly, Hannah didn’t quite make it to church after she spent the night coughing, and making a sound similar to that of someone who was trying to cough up a lung. It was great. At this point she had also began to lose her voice and we were both worried. 

So, Sunday morning I got up and went to church, partly to see the Abbey and partly to escape the cough while Hannah stayed at the hostel. I returned that afternoon with lunch only to find Hannah in the same position as when I had left her hours before.  Later that afternoon I went down to reception and got us moved into a private room, to spare the other people that were in our room another night of listening to young Hannah hack up a lung and got a suggestion for a doctor’s office a couple of blocks away. 

Monday morning we headed in the general direction of the office, about a ten minute walk according to the receptionist at the hostel. Keeping up with me was the biggest struggle for young Hannah who already walks at a rather lethargic pace compared to me. I did my best at walking as slow as possible, but Hannah managed to stay about 10 steps back wandering around, ready to fall over at any time. 

Thanks be to God, we made it to the office and, of course, the doctor was at some training for the morning and wouldn’t be able to see her until the afternoon. We went to a Starbucks to call her mom, which was quite a sight and after only 10 seconds on the phone, Hannah handed me the phone, sad as could be, saying “you talk to her, she can’t understand me.”  After a quick conversation with the always delightful Susie Morningstar, we left the Starbucks and made our way to somewhere a bit quieter to wait for the doctor.  

Sidenote: this was also the time we heard that Baroness Thatcher had died! 

After a quick visit and some antibiotics Hannah and I headed to a drug store for water and sick people supplies and then back to the hostel. It was about this time that Hannah and I realized that her getting sick had prevented us from fighting with each other non-stop. It’s ok, we know we are ridiculous and that some people were worried about us spending the week together, we were worried too. 

After another delightful conversation with Hannah’s mom, I made my way to the local pharmacy to get some cough medicine that would hopefully help Hannah (and me) sleep that night. Hannah’s mom was adamant that I needed to get something with codeine, but when I asked the pharmacist, who spoke little English, if she had anything of the sort, she replied very sternly by saying “no! Codeine not good! Take this, no codeine, but very good!” and then moved on to the next customer. 

Tuesday we had planned on taking a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover, but there was no way young Hahn would make it. So, Hannah stayed at the hostel and I made my way to the cliffs for the day.  It was an extremely beautiful site and since young Hahn couldn’t make it I brought her back a little piece of the white cliffs, a small token for her day in bed.

When I got back Tuesday night, we met “the Germans.” Seven incredibly loud, smelly and overall rude German men invaded our hostel room. Even though there was a no alcohol policy, and they knew that we obviously wanted to go to bed, they thought it was appropriate to pre-drink the night away…in our room. They let us know that when they would come back for the night, probably around 4 in the morning, they would be loud and wake us up, and that they hoped it would be ok. They were right, at 4 am they came in loud as could be, turned on the lights and continued to banter in German until I had had enough.  After some choice words, the lights were finally turned off and they began to settle into their beds, only to wake up again around 8 for breakfast, at which point I asked “How are you not hungover and asleep?” No reply, at least not in English. Wednesday morning we ventured out to the city to see the National Portrait Gallery, Hannah’s new favorite café, Pret A Manger and Harrods, but not before stopping at the front desk to inform them of the hooligans in our room and ask for a change. 

Alert the media! Hannah made it a full 6 hours out with the general public before returning to our hostel for an afternoon nap. Luckily, she was feeling much better, probably because of the Pret A Manger, and my delightful company, I’m sure. After dinner at, you guessed it, Pret, we settled in for the night.

Thursday morning we headed to Newbury to see DOWNTON ABBEY! I COULD NOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT!!! It was the best place on earth. Wow wow wee wow! We came, we saw, we conquered and we were changed forever! And now we really can’t wait for the Season 4 premiere! 

At the beginning of the week we had decided that if we made it to the end of the week, we would treat ourselves to Chipotle Thursday afternoon, and that’s exactly what we did. In typical Hahn and Greer fashion we bickered the entire way to the Chipotle over the correct way to get there along with other completely obscure things and after arriving at the glorious chipotle, we ate, we drank and we were merry. Not only for the Chipotle, but because we were going home the next day! 

5am Friday morning we leaped out of bed, knowing that we would be in our own beds that night, checked out and made our way to the train station. We got to Heathrow, paid our overweight baggage fees and awaited our flight to paradise…the United States! 

Being in such close proximity for 8 hours was a recipe for stupid fights and we sure had them, but what else is new. Around 2pm we landed at the Raleigh-Durham airports and made our way through customs. Now, here comes the part of our story that gets a bit sad. Once we made it through customs, there were nice, old men there to help us get to our connection. Sadly our flights were in different terminals and all of a sudden we were being pulled away, leading to the saddest goodbye in history. We didn’t get a change to have one more fight, or to laugh at ourselves for our fight, but only to say “goodbye, see you in August!” and then we parted our separate ways. 

Hannah and I both made it home that night and had never been more thankful to have survived the semester and more importantly the week. Maybe God was looking out for our general well-being by making Hahn sick because He knew the fighting that would ensue, or maybe it was just a coincidence, but either way, we both survived and that’s all that matters. 

Young Greer

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