14 03 2012

I should be studying for a midterm, or finishing up homework, but I’m leaving for Florida tomorrow, so I’ve got travel on my mind.

This is a list of my favorite cities (or small towns) in the whole world, with some pictures, because they’re pretty. Hi, it’s future Kelly, from down at the end of the blog post. I got sick of adding pictures, so I got the top 10, and then just a few other interesting ones.

1. Salzburg, Austria: I was only there for a few days, but that was all the time Salzburg
needed to steal my heart. It’s Mozart’s hometown and the place where the real von Trappfamily from the Sound of Music lived. The movie was also filmed there. The views of the Alps are gorgeous, and the atmosphere is lovely.

2. Munich, Germany: Munich is one of the most beautiful, perfect cities I have evervisited. It has tons of old churches to visit, and great Bavarian culture. On a clear day, you can even see the Alps. The English Garden is a great place to walk or relax, and the outdoor Biergartens are fun places to sit and people-watch. Munich also gets points for the Hofbräuhaus, where you can drink a liter of beer while listening to (and dancing) the polka.

3. Lüneburg, Germany: I lived there this summer. It’s my third hometown, behind my actual hometown and my college town. It’s got the most bars per-capita in all of Germany, and it has cobblestone streets and buildings from the 900s!  Mostly, it ranks this high for all of the awesome memories.

4. Krakow, Poland: I was only there for a few days, but it was a really pleasant place. It has a really cool castle and the world’s oldest shopping “mall.” Every hour, on the hour a trumpeter plays from the tower of the church in the city center. Again, Krakow ranks so high in part because I had such a wonderful time there. I also genuinely liked the atmosphere.

5. London, England: Need I say more? I’m a huge Anglophile, so I love everything about London. The Tube makes it so easy to get around, Westminster Abbey is there, and the Globe, and so many other awesome things (Jack the Ripper, the Thames, the Tower of London, the British Museum, etc, etc…).

6. Boston, MA: Boston gets the honor of being the first American city because of its history. I’m a history major, so I love Boston for its historical sites. Also, it used to be a huge literary hub where Dickens, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and so many other awesome writers hung out. It also feels a bit more like a European city than other cities in the US, and I think that’s a big part of why I love it.

7. Segovia, Spain: Segovia is by far my favorite city in Spain. It has a really impressive Roman aqueduct still standing, an amazing fairy-tale castle, and a gorgeous castle. It’s also famous for its roast suckling pig, which is tasty.

8. Seattle, WA: Rain, coffee, seafood, the West Coast. Seattle has all of my favorite things, and it deserves to be in my top ten.

9. Decorah, Iowa: Decorah really shouldn’t be on this
list at all, but it’s been my home for four years. It’s quaint and adorable and I love it. How many Norwegian towns do you find in the Midwest, after all? For years of awesome memories, it deserves to be in the top 10. If you want to hear Hey There, Delilah rewritten to be about Decorah, you should probably click here. Also, for some strange reason I don’t have any pictures of Decorah. It’s not like I live here or anything…

10. Prague, Czech Republic: Did you know that in 1618, when the Protestants and Catholics were fighting, some Protestants got mad at some Catholic officials and threw them out the window? And that the Catholics survived the fall by landing in manure? For that awesome story alone, Prague rocks. Plus, St. Vitus Cathedral and the castle are pretty cool to look at, as is the astronomical clock. Prague has all kinds of cool history, and it’s in my homeland!

11. Dresden, Germany: I stumbled around Dresden jetlagged and confused, but I loved it all the same. It was my first exposure to Germany (and now I plan on living there). The old Saxon kings’ castle is there, and you can still see evidence of the firebombing from World War II. I saw my first ballet in Dresden, so huzzah for culture!

12. Lübeck, Germany: Lübeck is a really cool sea town in northern Germany. It’s famous for its medieval city gate and also for its marzipan. While the marzipan thing may have cost it a few points, the cool old churches (I LOVE looking at churches, can you tell?) and the fact that I got to explore it with my dad make me love Lübeck.

13. Bremen, Germany: Remember Brothers’ Grimm story about the Town Musicians? That’s about this town! Bremen is cool because it’s a city-state, and because it has some pretty awesome old buildings and churches. I didn’t get to visit it as much as I liked, considering this summer I could have gone there for free any time I wanted to spend 2 hours on a train.

14. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: There’s no real logic to this city being in this spot, other than Luxembourg is a fun place to tell people I’ve been. It also has this really cool gorge that leads to a valley that’s fun to walk through, and I liked following a trail along the old medieval city wall.

15. Bremerhaven, Germany: Bremerhaven used to be Germany’s anti-Ellis Island; it’s the place from which all the ships carrying immigrants to America left from. Its port is really cool, and you can visit a World War II submarine, if you’re into that kind of thing.

16. Berlin, Germany: I had such a good time in Berlin. I got chased into a coffee shop by beggars, drank my first coffee with Baileys, ate at a “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant called Asia Food, My Pizza, and fell in love with studying history. In Berlin you can see remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby over the balcony, and so much more.

17. Madrid, Spain: Madrid was my first European city. It’s big and exciting, and that’s kind of all I remember about it. But I recall spending some really good days there.

18. Toledo, Spain: In Toledo I got to visit the sword shop where they made the swords for the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s also on a hill and very “Spain-y.” The old city is really cool to explore, and, like always, the cathedral is AMAZING (because, really, what cathedral ISN’T amazing?).

19. Washington, D.C.: Again, my love of history is what makes me like Washington, D.C. I really liked seeing all of the monuments and visiting the Capitol. D.C. also gets points because I got to watch a tee-ball game on the White House lawn and get my picture taken with the president. Granted, it was President Bush, so….yeah. But Washington, D.C. is another place I want to visit again. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is there. And the Smithsonian too, come to think of it.

20. Iowa City, Iowa: It seems really underwhelming that little Iowa City should be on a list with all these other places, but I need more American cities, and Iowa City is cool. It’s got lots of bars and bookstores, and I enjoy taking road trips there. Plus, it’s home to the Iowa Hawkeyes, and NOTHING comes between me and my men.

21. Chicago, IL: I’ve got lots of good vacation memories in Chicago: spending 8 hours at the Field Museum with my friends, walking down the street with my semi-drunk mother after she’d drunk a half liter of Sangria, Chicago Cubs games, walking down Michigan Avenue, hearing an outdoor concert at Millennium Park. . . I’ve had good times in Chicago. Plus, I’m probably going to live there soon.

22. New York City: This WAS going to be number 21, but Katie has Second City Syndrome, so she made me put it below Chicago. But I loved New York City when I visited. I got to see Wicked on Broadway, and we went to a Yankees game. NYC loses points for its crappy subway system, though.

23. Paris, France: Yes, Paris ranks quite low. The Eiffel Tower is cool, Notre Dame is impressive, I could get lost in the Louvre for days, and the city itself is quite pretty. But it just didn’t seem quite as special or unique as other places I’ve been. It kind of just felt like a big city. Plus, the French people. Haha. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I visited Paris, and I did like it, but my opinion was just kind of, ‘meh.’ Here’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower from a cool angle, to offset the ‘meh’:

24. Barcelona, Spain: It’s kind of like Paris for me. I’m sure it’s a wonderful city, I likedcertain things. I liked visiting the Sagrada Familia, because it looks cool (I’ll even include a picture of it, so there, look to your left). I guess again, it’s just kind of, ‘meh.’ I think I should take into account the fact that I was in high school and not allowed to explore anything without my teacher, though. Maybe I would like it better now.

25. Hamburg, Germany: Hamburg is one of the biggest cities in Germany. It’s got the Reeperbahn, which is a famous party street. The Beatles got their big start playing music there. There’s this really cool steeple of a bombed church that’s still standing. That’s about all Hamburg has going for it. More than any other city on this list, Hamburg just feels like a big city, and not a lot else. It was only a free 20-minute train ride from Lüneburg, but I wasn’t a huge fan. Again, to show you that I did have some fun in Hamburg, here’s a toast to send you off.

PROST! Happy travels, friends! If you want, you can tell me some of your favorite cities.


(Not So) Golden Slumbers: Weirdest Dream Ever

9 03 2012

I had the strangest dream last night. It’s definitely worth being retold here.

I was backstage in an auditorium, watching ballerinas in pink tutus dance. They were rehearsing for some show, and I had to document it. The whole time I was watching, I had only one thought: Evil is afoot.

I turned and walked to a table in the green room. A beautiful green journal had been left next to the napkins and food. It was a wonderful, emerald green Moleskine notebook.* That’s gorgeous, I thought. I picked it up to admire it, and flipped through the pages. I recognized a friend’s handwriting, and was curious to know what she was doing at the auditorium, or why she had left her notebook sitting around. I didn’t have much time to dwell on these questions, though. As I was holding the notebook, I realized that this is where the evil was.


Somehow I knew. This notebook was a type of Horcrux. But it was worse than that. It wasn’t just storing a piece of a soul – it was a Time Lord. I was pretty sure that it was the Master, and that soon all hell would break loose if I didn’t destroy it. I ran to the director and begged her for a pair of scissors. She frowned and told me that I couldn’t have any scissors. I wasn’t a ballerina and I was just there to observe and assist. I rushed to the dressing room, hoping I would find a pair of scissors. I was lucky. I snuck them under my shirt and rushed to a corner.

My associates were in the green room by this time, and I had to talk to them while I cut up the journal. It was tough work, but I managed to cut the think mostly to shreds. The only thing the scissors couldn’t destroy was the cover. I flipped the cut-up journal over and noticed a bar code. The numbers kept changing – they were running forward like a number ticker on a gas pump. I realized that this meant that the journal was repairing itself and gathering more evil. If the journal was ever allowed to completely reconstruct itself, the job would be done and evil could reign. I had to continually cut at it with scissors as it fixed itself. The only way to destroy it completely was to burn it.

I somehow wound up at my grandparents’ house. It was one of those big family gatherings that my grandma loves and sees as vitally important. If someone can’t stay the entire multi-day period, she gets upset. I rushed up to her and told her that I absolutely had to burn the journal. I would come back, but I had to take care of something. She sighed. She was angry.

“Grandma, I really really have to burn this journal. It’s important. I need fire.”

“You can’t go anywhere. It’s Easter. It’s time for family.”

“I have to, Grandma. I’m sorry.”

“Well, you’d better take a nap first, because it’s a long drive.”

“What? No, I don’t have to go very far.

“Of course you do. You don’t think you can burn it here, do you?”

That’s when I suddenly realized. I had to drive to Western Springs** to burn it. That was the only place it would work. It was also a five or six hour drive. I started to have some doubts: the journal was already repairing itself faster than I could cut it up, and I didn’t even know for certain that burning the journal would fix anything. It might only make things worse.

Suddenly my mom shouted at me from the porch. Disastrous news were in from Poland. The mob*** was attacking a town! The TV displayed violent scenes. Buildings were exploding, people were running around everywhere and shots were fired. I saw a storefront completely devoured by flames. It was awful. Then I realized that I knew people who were there.

Absolute destruction

“Frank [lastnamehere] is there,” my mom told me.****

“He has to be okay!” I cried. But I was sure he wasn’t. I had seen his family run screaming from a burning house.

We watched the TV as the violence continued. That was when I realized that they were attacking the wrong place. “It’s not the right town!” I screamed at the rioters. “You don’t have the right place, stop!”

This just in, came the news report, Everything will be all right, they are deploying [insert my friend’s name here] to diffuse the situation. We expect it to be cleared up within the hour.

I sighed in relief. If anyone could take care of the situation, it was my friend. Evidently she’s a raging badass.

During all of this, I had completely forgotten the journal. Suddenly my hands burned. I screamed and dropped the journal. It was fixed. I picked up the scissors and stooped to grab the journal. The pages started flipping by themselves, and I screamed. Suddenly, it stopped on a certain page. There was a flash and I screamed. It was happening. It all made perfect sense. The Master was coming back. Evil and chaos. The riots in Poland, in the wrong place

And then I woke up…

Please don’t try to psychoanalyze that. I don’t even want to know. But at least there weren’t Nazis in it. Usually when I get really deep into studying or writing about the Holocaust or Nazi Germany (which I do more often than you’d expect), I start having Nazi Dreams. They either involve actual Nazis (like the one where they were chasing me and I was hiding from them) or some evil, totalitarian regime being after my friends (my family was in the Party’s favor and I had to hide my friends in a wall).

*I’m not making this up, it really was green, and the most gorgeous notebook I have ever seen.

**My really good friend lives there, which I’m assuming is the reason I had to go there.

*** This part of the dream is fuzzy now. In the dream I knew exactly who these people were, what they wanted, and why they were attacking.

**** I have no idea who this person is in real life (if he exists), but in the dream I knew exactly who he was and I was really upset.

This Sounds Like: Bram Stoker (that’s a new one…)
I Wrote Like: A Male

Creeping Philosophers

7 03 2012

I come to you today with a serious topic to discuss. You might find it upsetting and disturbing; you may even be a little frightened. I know I am terrified. Something has been going on in my life for the past few weeks that is becoming increasingly distressing.

Are you ready? Brace yourself, what I am about to say will disturb you.

Deep breath.

Are you sitting down? Good.

I am too, for the record.

This isn’t easy to say.

Michel Foucault is stalking me.

Yes, the French philosopher. Yes, the one who talks about power structures.

Google him, I have dealt with him enough. No, you know what? I’ll do it for you. Here.

Vague allusions in my gothic literature seminar. Constantly.

One phrase, over and over: I don’t know how you can even think about this without remembering Foucault’s theory…

It happened again, and again, and again.

The professor created a handout and spent a class period giving us an overview of Foucault’s theories. We discussed Foucault for another day. In an English literature class.

He never fails to come up at least once a week in that class.

In Chaucer the same classmate who brings him up in seminar talks about Foucaultian power structures. I duck my head and try to block it out.

And then he showed up again in another class. We were having a discussion about torture, interrogation, and ethics. A classmate raised his hand.

Well, thinking about this topic brings me back to Foucault.

What’s going on here? Is there some required Foucault class I don’t know about? Because believe me, at this point I would not be at all surprised if there is a secret, required class that I have not taken, making it so I can’t graduate. And it would be Foucault who stops me. He’s following me.

First seminar. Then Chaucer. Then Paideia. He won’t leave me alone. Today, I was reading an article that we will be discussing in Paideia tomorrow. He was there. I rolled my eyes and went on. He would show up again, wouldn’t he?

Tonight was the final straw. I was well into my fifth hour of working on my senior paper,  up to my eyeballs in the theories of historiography, representation, and memory. My goal was to have 12 pages written before I left the library. The library closed in 40 minutes. I only had 10 pages. I flipped through an article, hoping to find something that could give me two more pages.

You only get one guess: Who was staring back at me.

Foucault. He was there, in my article about historiography and the Holocaust. I tell you, he’s stalking me. He won’t leave me alone. I won’t be surprised if I show up to my next film class and somehow Foucault comes up in reference to Stagecoach. Don’t ask me how, but he’ll find a way to get to me.

Why, Foucault, why? Is this because I read Foucault’s Pendulum this summer and didn’t like it? Is it because I pronounced it “foe-calt” until recently? Is it because I haven’t read any of your work? I promise, I’ll read some of it. How can I not if people keep bringing you up? I just don’t have time right now, okay?

Please, please, just let me go. I’m sure you are wonderful. I bet you have a gorgeous mind. But please, I’m begging you, stop stalking me. I’ll read your stuff, I swear.

And THAT, friends, is what an overworked, stressed-out, overtired mind comes up with and shares on a whim.

This Sounds Like: H.P. Lovecraft (I was certain it would say Michel Foucault)
I Wrote Like: A female

Good Day(s) Sunshine

5 03 2012

I know, I know, it’s been so loooooooong. But don’t worry, I’m certain you have survived, mystery person who is probably not reading this. My life is really not that interesting; you wouldn’t want to hear about my day-to-day life, trust me. Plus, I was busy having an exceptionally fantastic week.

This has easily been one of the best weeks I’ve had in awhile. I’m not typically an unhappy person, but, like most people, I usually wind up getting into a routine and going through the motions of day-to-day life. I’m never really unhappy about this, I’m just busy keeping up with homework, figuring shit out, living my life. Usually during the week at least a few things happen that I really enjoy. But this week I enjoyed almost every single thing that I did.

Have you ever noticed that when something out of the ordinary happens, the whole day seems different and kind of surreal? I love that. It makes the day seem special. That usually makes me act like the day is special, which makes me really happy, because it’s not just an ordinary day. Of course, usually it is just an ordinary day, but that’s what makes it so awesome.

So many different things happened this week that every single day felt like a special occasion. I always like my life, and I’ve had a lot of really great weeks in my life, but this one was just super. It was also really ordinary, except for little things. It was just real life, except juuuuuust different enough that my real life got to feel like something exciting and different. It was like a vacation while I’m not on vacation.
Here are some reasons that life was awesome this week. I:

  • Finally found a way to actually GET OUT OF BED in the mornings! The trick is to set my coffee pot to brew a few minutes after my alarm goes off.
  • Got to hang out with a friend I don’t know all that well (or didn’t, before this weekend, now I know her much better) and don’t get to see very often.
  • Spent hours talking about boys when I should have been reading Jane Eyre.
  • Went to Mystery Beer Night in town, where it worked out that I didn’t really like any of the beers I drew. I still had fun, though, because it is one of the fundamental laws of the Universe that it is impossible not to enjoy yourself at Mystery Beer Night.
  • Saw my roommate for the first time since January, and this time it was for more than 10 minutes!
  • Stayed up until 2:30 in the morning catching up with said roommate.
  • Figured out what I want to do with my life. Sort of.
  • Spent one of the most pleasant hours of my life sitting in the dark fifth floor of Main, talking and looking down at campus and the town.
  • Went with my friends to one of our favorite places to hang out (I want to call it a bar, but it’s a bit classier than that). I finally broke the mold and ordered something other than a pomegranate margarita.
  • Got really excited about my senior paper. The page count is up to almost-8!
  • Drove to somewhere I’ve never been without really getting lost. It was a really pretty drive, too! I love road trips, adventures, and even getting lost. It was still good that we didn’t get lost on this trip, except for a 10-minute detour to Wisconsin (we definitely weren’t supposed to be in Wisconsin at any point on this trip).

But overall, I had a wonderful week. I really did. I hope you did, too.

This Sounds Like: Cory Doctorow (Again…)
I Wrote Like: A female! (Is it weird that even though this is right, I’m disappointed I didn’t write like a male?)