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The Loneliest Christmas

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This morning I made myself a cup of coffee and warmed a powder sugar-topped pastry after I had fed the cat I’m sitting. The two of us enjoyed our Christmas breakfast in silence, other than the crackling fire (complete with holiday tunes) playing from my iPad Mini 2, compliments of Netflix.

Once we finished our breakfast. Nox (the cat) munched on some treats that his parents had left for him in his stocking. I sat before my host’s tree, decorated with ornaments of their first Christmas together and images of their wedding, and felt very thankful for my solitary wrapped present. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Personal, Travel & Tourism

 

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Do You Believe in Ghosts?

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If I had any doubt before going on this City of Edinburgh Underground Vault tour, I don’t anymore. This was the first paranormal experience of my life!

We missed the last tour by 15 minutes, but the guy at the City of Edinburgh Tour stand on The Royal Mile said we could try to catch up. He walked us all around The Royal Mile trying to find the group, but we couldn’t find them. We asked if he could take us to the vaults, and he said we could wait for the rest of the tour there.

We follow this guy down a few streets, and he takes us to this very bizarre door that’s full of graffiti. He had to unlock it.

That’s when we started getting nervous. My friend (Gill) looked at me with wide eyes, and I’m sure I looked at her as well. Still, like two fools in a horror film, we followed this short man in a powdered wig inside.

On the other side of the graffiti door, there is a stone hallway with another door and the stone steps spiraling down. He had to unlock that door, too. Still, we followed him down the spiral stone steps, and he leads us through a third door into the vaults.

It’s very dark down there, very few lights for mood only. He pointed to a bench in the adjacent room and told us to sit and wait. The tour would be around 10 minutes or so. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Travel & Tourism

 

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Stay Left, Hug Right: Driving in the UK

 

If you want to venture outside of the cities and towns, you might need to rent a car. There are coach tours that take you around, which are a great way to see the country’s main attractions, but if you crave more independence and solitude, you can hire a car. 

The first time I drove in the UK was 1990. I was 20 years old without a fear in the world. I remember the novelty of driving on the left, and the biggest problem I had was when I turned a corner. My instinct and training wanted to bear right, so I had to keep repeating “stay left” to myself as I turned. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Travel & Tourism

 

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Top 10 Suggestions for a Unique London Experience

 

London is a magnificent city drenched in history and mythology. As a first time tourist, you will undoubtedly want to see the main attractions, and so you should. See Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Go into Madame Tussauds, if that’s your thing. Ride the London eye. Cross the Millennium Bridge. Climb to the dolma of St. Paul’s Cathedral and look across the Thames at the picturesque Bankside, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

Apart from the common tourist things, there are so many other things to see and do in London. After frequenting that remarkable city several times over the last couple of decades, here are my top recommendations: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Travel & Tourism

 

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Major Changes in the Autumn of Life

Hyde Park in Autumn

Hyde Park in Autumn, October 2015

The past five years have been the most difficult of my life. The person I was in 2010 is dead, but it was a slow, agonizing death brought about by deceptions, betrayals, and even sexual assault. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anymore, after having lost my community, my faith, my job, my home, and my very identity, my husband of 15 years moved out.

The one thing I thought was strong enough to survive anything, wasn’t. The one person I thought I could trust to be honest and genuine wasn’t. In his own words, he’s been pretending to be someone else for the bulk of our marriage.

I don’t even know how to process that.

He’s made it clear he doesn’t want me around, and I had nothing left in the States except a handful of dear friends scattered around the country, an unfulfilling job, and an empty apartment.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Healthy Living, Personal

 

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London Travel Tips & Helpful Apps

London Sunset

London is expensive. I mean, really expensive. The prices exceed that of New York City and San Francisco for living arrangements. The exchange rate makes it even more pricey for Americans. Even the competitively priced AirBnB (app) has rates at £120/night, which equals close to $200 in Zone 1. Plus, space is extremely limited in Europe, especially the cities like London and Paris. That $200/night will get you a studio about the size of a large American walk-in closet, a kitchenette, and a bathroom in which you can barely turn around. I kid you not. Space is definitely a shock when traveling to Europe from America for the first time. Still, they are better priced than most hotels in the heart of London’s Zone 1. Zone 2 is still considered central, and it’s usually only a few tube stops away from the greatest attractions.

I remember flying to London in the late 80s and early 90s. I paid $500 for a ticket then. These days when I travel, I use point from an American Airlines reward card, so I get a “free” ticket. This “free” ticket costs $700 in taxes, more than I used to pay outright. Of course, it’s still a great savings since a round trip ticket in the summer from PDX to LHR is about $1200 before taxes.

Fortunately for me, when I travel to London each August, I look after pets for my friends, so I get accommodations for free. They get peace of mind and free pet sitting. It’s a great arrangement if you can find it.

Despite these ways I save enough money to make the annual trip possible, it’s still expensive. Over the years, I’ve found ways to make the most of my money and time while in this remarkable city, and I’d like to share those with you. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Travel & Tourism

 

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An Open Letter To Benedict Cumberbatch

Dear Benedict,

Last night, I saw you perform Hamlet for the second time. Unlike so many of those around me, I did not travel to London just to see this performance. I come to London every year because London is the city of my soul.

Although I recognized your talent and have greatly enjoyed your work until now, I frankly was a bigger fan of Hamlet. As an author and English professor, Hamlet is my favorite play, one I’ve both studied and taught. I identify with that melancholy Dane on many levels, so an opportunity to see Hamlet in London, especially starring an actor of your ilk, thrilled me.

After my first viewing, it took me a week to even put my emotions and thoughts into words.

I was so deeply moved that I had to see it again before I returned to the States.

After my second viewing, I waited by the stage door in hopes of an autograph, determined to find the courage I didn’t have after the first. When you made it around to me, I tried my very best not to keep you any longer than necessary. I was just two or three from the end of the line, and I knew you would be leaving soon. After a performance like that, you must’ve been utterly exhausted, especially since you do that an unthinkable seven times a week.

You were kind enough to not only sign my program but also agreed to a selfie. As you moved onto the next person, some girls pushed me, and I cried out as I briefly lost my balance. You stopped and seemed very concerned, and you told them to be careful and not to push.

You went on to sign their programs, and I quietly muttered, “brilliant performance.” To which you sincerely responded, “thank you,” turning back to look at me. Sadly, in my timidity I had cast my eyes down. Although I met yours a second later, I had but a fleeting moment of eye contact before you looked away.

“Brilliant performance,” I said.

What I had meant to say was this:

Your performance was magnificent. Inspired. Remarkable. You captured Hamlet just as I have always seen him. Raw. Broken. Desperate. Drowning in pain, in such profound despair.

Your delivery was exquisite. Your grief, piercing. Your impassioned anger and sadness deeply touched me. You embodied Hamlet in a way I’ve never seen.

What I had meant to say was that I was in awe to be in the presence of an actor who possesses the level of dedication necessary to deliver such a performance, not to mention the talent. In awe of the focus and effort you must have to become the prolific actor you are.

Before I saw you as Hamlet, I considered you a fine actor.

Now I realize you are an exemplary actor.

What I had meant to say was Thank You for taking the time to sign our programs and pose for pictures. Even though you had given so much of yourself on stage, you took the time to do that for us, and what’s more you were so kind while you did it.

My humble utterance of “brilliant performance” held all of the above and more I’ve not the talent to effectively express in words, despite my profession.

Although I can’t say I have seen everything you’ve done in your career thus far, I have seen many. I have enjoyed them all. I have felt them all. Now, I have a new-found, deepened respect for you as an artist.

I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future, and I can only hope to have the opportunity to express my admiration in person one day. On that day, I won’t cast my eyes down, but I will hold your gaze and fully be present in a rare moment when two human beings truly see and understand one other.

Until then, I wish you continued success, happiness at home, and peace within.

Quite sincerely,
Christine Rose

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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Personal

 

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