08 April 2011


i've been keeping three separate blogs for a while now (travels, photos, 'intelligent thoughts') and it's getting ridiculous since i hardly post in any of them anyway and they are all parts of me.  and especially since my travel blog is half photo blog and my photo blog will inevitably just become reposted images from my travel blog.

ANYWAY the point is i decided to merge all three so i could just be one person with one blog and no pressure to have it be successful.  it'll just be my blog of my life.

all of the posts from this and the other now live in the archives of edgar's adventures, which you are welcome to follow if you are still interested in my thoughts and my life and my images and my various projections into the abyss.  this particular blog will probably be deleted at some point.  see you on the other side?

EDIT: jk everyone.  i decided to move everything back to this blog (a pure open awareness/juliamarisa) partly because it has more followers (#narcissism) but also because it has the most personal url (my name) and was my original blog (dating back to my style blogging days, though those posts have been deleted).  i will probably be redesigning the little darling and possibly renaming (but maybe not) in the next few weeks.  but just so you know, this blog will now be photos, travels, thoughts, and life.  no pressure, just me.  i will delete edgar's adventures and better consciousness probably right now.

21 February 2011


So, different country is different.  I swear I didn't mean for that to come out as a meme.  BUT the actual city of Bath isn't so much of a different world from the city of Charleston.


Bath is surrounded by a river rather than a harbor, and Bath is significantly smaller, but ISN'T THAT SO WEIRD???  A lot of the sidewalks in Bath are paved with the same flagstones as King Street, and the most posh bits of both cities are located near the tips.  Bath Abbey stands out as 16th Century Norman, but most of the rest of the city is Georgian and dates to the 18th and 19th centuries so even the architecture looks similar to parts of Charleston.  Or rather parts of Charleston look similar to Bath.

I'm living at point A, so the city center is just a short walk down a really steep hill away.  I think the hill might actually be called Beechen Cliff and the stairs down tend to be covered in damp leaves, so don't be surprised if I die or break something.  Point B is my University, which is super tiny and completely lovely.  I've been taking the bus, and though it's only five miles, the commute is about 45 minutes since my nearest bus stop is a 15ish minute walk.  I intend to acquire a bike soon so I can sleep in an extra half hour. :)

This is the whole university.  Well, actually this is just the Newton Park campus, but it's the only one I go to.  There are three other campuses--one for arts, one for education, and one for... I want to say nursing or something?  Mine is the main campus and is home to the social sciences and whatnot.  I'm completely obsessed with the fields and hills that surround it, and I'll get some real pictures on one of the deliciously foggy mornings we keep having.

And one last map for the geographically challenged so you can see where I actually am in the world:

JK guys.  I don't think you're actually geographically challenged.  Most people know London and that's it.  If you don't know where England is though, you are definitely geographically challenged and should immediately start spending as much time on google maps as I do.  Bath is about 13 miles from Bristol, which is where they film Skins.  I never got to stalk Rachel Maddow in Noho last semester, but I will absolutely attempt to stalk Dakota Blue Richards.  And Matt Smith should go ahead and start expecting me because there is NO WAY I will leave this country without crashing the set of Doctor Who in Cardiff.

I kind of keep forgetting that Harry Potter is also actually of English origin.  I should add them to my 'to be stalked' list.  But Emma Watson is in Providence, Rhode Island.  She should have been on last semester's list with Rachel. 

08 February 2011

autumn in new england

Some bits from my domestic exchange semester at UMass in Amherst, MA.  Fall is hands down my favorite.  After two years in Charleston where fall doesn't exist, being in western Mass for the season filled my heart with joy every single day.  Even the grey dreary ones.  I was almost always smiling those months.  The world is just so fantastically beautiful, how could I not?

07 February 2011

an observation of difference.

So, a different country is bound to be slightly different. These are some things I've noticed:

-The toilets all seem really difficult to flush. Some of them are really neat and have these buttons--little for a little flush and big for a big flush. Others just have regular levers, but it's like they know when it's yellow and should mellow and when there's brown that needs to go down. I think they probably use a lot less water than american toilets, but its kind of a pain sometimes.

-Everything is still green. Most trees are bare so you can tell it's winter, but probably 60-70% of the grass is still green. I guess it doesn't really get cold enough here to kill everything. My campus is absolutely gorgeous and apparently is frequented by sheep in the early mornings. I'll have pictures of it eventually.

-Tea! This one should be fairly obvious, but its basically a ritual. The first thing you do when you come in the door is put the kettle on.

-School. They just do less of it here. I don't know much about education prior to GCSE's (exams taken at the end of what would be 10th grade), but for college (equivalent-- 11th and 12th grade) I think they generally take 3 a-levels per year. So imagine only doing three classes your last two years of high school, and your last two years are optional. Though I think a-levels may have been made compulsory recently. Anyway, for Uni (college to us) you do three years rather than four and you're only taking 6 classes a year. Classes also only meet either once a week or every other week depending on your year, and just for two or three hours. Students are expected to be much more independent and readings lists appear to be generally a few required readings plus a huge list of optional readings that you ought to choose a some things from but no one ever does. I haven't encountered any sort of busy work--you basically write two big essays for your whole grade. None of the professors get very fussy about attendance or punctuality either, though that may have more to do with them being used to the unreliable buses.

-They drive on the left. Duh. But they also seem to be much more reckless/confident drivers. They'll just speed around turns and kind of drive in the middle until they have to move over for another car. It's kind of like Bull Street all the time except faster.

-Row houses seem to be the norm and you can forget private bathrooms. Maybe this is just because I'm closer in to a city center where things are more cramped. I know row houses exist in northern cities in the US, but I don't know about their bathroom situations. Here, expect to share with the whole house.

-A lot of the sinks operate on two taps so your water is either really hot or really cold. Mixing to get lukewarm is not allowed.

-Compost and recycling! The city of Bath seems to be really awesome about these two things. At home, I can think of a total of maybe three people I know who compost, and if you want to recycle you have to take it yourself to the blue bins at walmart. Here, they collect both. Repeat: they collect compost.  You just collect it in a little bin in your kitchen and then the city picks it up for a city wide compost.  You can then buy some of the mulch they produce and they use the rest for something awesome, but I can't remember what it is.  Probably for the parks, etc.  Public works.

-I think I already said about the money, but it's all different sizes.  This gets kind of confusing for me as the 5p coins are dime sized and the ones that look like quarters are only 10p.  There are also coins for 20p and 50p but not 25p and £1 comes as a coin as well.  I think there are also £2 coins, but I haven't gotten one yet.  Bills start at £5 and go £10, £20, £50, etc. like ours do, but the £50s were too wide for my american wallet when I had them.

-The bus drivers are usually friendly.  I always felt like the bus drivers in Charleston were very upset with their jobs most of the time.

That's all I can think of so far.  Next up, everything that's the same!

03 February 2011

mary-kate and ashley were here.

OK, so my entire time in London was spent obsessing over Winning London, Doctor Who, and
Harry Potter.  I also went to Fleet Street since Catherine loves Sweeney Todd so much.

Edgar at London Bridge.  We did not cross for fear of its falling down.

I tried to make my pictures of the Tower Bridge look really ominous slash Victorian.  Edgar has trouble looking ominous because he's just so darn cute.  I also really like him because he fits just in my hand.  The Tower of London was a ridiculously long walk from my hostel, but I couldn't really figure out the underground as it is slightly different from the DC metro.

These are the outer gates to the tower complex.  It would have cost almost £20 to go inside, so I just wandered the perimeter and learned some of its history from the info signs posted around.  Actually I should say read some of its history rather than learned because all I can really remember is that there used to be a moat where that grass is and the king(s) kept a menagerie of exotic animals inside to further deter enemies until it became impractical and they were all moved to the zoo.  The polar bear was allowed to swim in the Thames on a long leash to catch fish.

Edgar on the Thames!!  I actually don't know if the public is allowed access to the banks, but I happened upon a set of steps leading down so down I went.

One of the things I like most about London is how accommodating it is to difference.  Well, some of these things apply to all of England, like how the money is all different shapes and sizes so the blind can tell how much they're handing over.  And they paint at all the crosswalks to tell you which way to look for oncoming traffic.  The most helpful bit was that all around the city they have these maps of the surrounding area with circles showing 5 min walk and 15 min walk distances and all the major buildings and things are marked.  Every so often I'd be able to check I was going the right way and I was able to find a lot of things I wouldn't have otherwise like Tottenham Court Road.  There isn't anything like that in New York.

Oh, I also went to the Tate Modern and crossed Millennium Bridge to get there.  Some of you will remember it being destroyed by death eaters.  I was wary the entire crossing.


PS I still haven't asked anyone specifically about the word 'cheers,' but so far I've noted it to mean hello, goodbye, and thanks.

02 February 2011

old london towne

London comes in two parts because I'm too lazy to edit more than eight or ten pictures at once.  I've started to get this hipster editing thing down though.  Obv you have to decrease contrast and saturation a tad, but I've found the magic really starts to happen when you pair a warmer temp with a slight green tint.  DON'T YOU APPRECIATE MY HIPSTER EDITING TIPS???   I put a lot of work into figuring that out.  Other hipsters keep their techniques under wraps like they're trade secrets or something.  And lets face it--they basically are.  I think I just lost some street cred.

Anyway, these are from day 2 in London.  I actually managed to sleep in until 2 that day.  I am an idiot basically.  I arrived around around noon on day 1 and went to the British Museum which was super close to my hostel, wandered up Tottenham Court Road (hp!), found Oxford Circus, and bought a pretty canvas/leather bag at Topman.  It is almost exactly the bag I imagined for myself weeks ago but could never find.  Its just that the canvas on this one is olive instead of beige but I can deal because it's the right shade of leather and it fits all my stuff.  Day 2 I found Trafalgar Square and some of the other centrally located government type stuff.  ^^This is Edgar at the London Eye.  We did not ride it because it costs money.  We hoped that we were standing near the spot where Rose and the Doctor realized the Eye was transmitting to the plastic.

Phonebox/Big Ben from the Abbey side.  I didn't go into Westminster Abbey either because that costs money too.  Also, 'Big Ben' is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower, not the tower itself, but you probably already learned that in second grade and just forgot.

Seeing Parliament from across the Thames made me feel like Mary-Kate and Ashley in Winning London.  They are the only real reason I considered doing a river cruise, but I still wasn't willing to fork out.  Basically, my entire London trip was just a fandom explosion.

I also wandered into St. James Park where the squirrels are exceptionally fearless and will climb into your lap if you kneel down to try to photograph them.  There was an ACTUAL SQUIRREL on my ACTUAL KNEE you guys.  Actually there were two, but then I started to worry about rabies so I stood up.  These were the cutest, fattest squirrels ever.  The park was right behind the cabinet war rooms where Amy Pond met Winston Churchill.  You had to pay to go in there too so I didn't.

I probably missed out on some good stuff for being so stingy, but I will go back soon when my pockets are a little looser.  I mean, I got stopped and ask for directions twice, so I obv fit in and look like I belong.  Also, I got hit on by a French man leading a big bus tour that he couldn't convince me to pay for.  He also couldn't convince me to meet him later for drinks ("What happens in London stays in London.")  Maybe if you were 20 years younger Michel.  And if your name were actually Michelle.

31 January 2011

meet edgar

This sweet little owl is named Edgar and was handmade by a friend of mine!   I decided to bring him with me to the UK as my travel companion/garden gnome and is likely to appear in place of myself in most of my 'tourist' shots as traveling with a tripod is inconvenient and photographing oneself in public is a bit embarrassing.

I named him Edgar on a whim--it was just the first name that cam to me when I saw him--but I found out yesterday that the first King of a united England was Edgar, crowned AD973 at what is now Bath Abbey.  How do I do it?

I had a surprisingly late start date of 31 Jan at Bath Spa, so I was lucky enough to be able to spend almost a month in Charleston.  Thank you so much to Becca, Nina, Anna (and Eric and Thea), and Ben (and Laura and Jonathan) for giving me rides and places to stay!  I loved seeing your faces and spending time with you.  I don't know why my writing is so formal right now.  I suppose being in England is turning me a bit posh.  I've started thinking in this really posh accent and it feels weird to speak because it comes out in plain old american.

Look at me being american in america!  I was crazy not to visit the battery or waterfront park while I was there, but I did manage to get down to one of my favorite spots in Charleston--this little lake/park at the end of Bull near the Ashley River.

The thing about Charleston is that I had to leave to figure out just how much I love it there.  Massachusetts was great but it lacked radical and academic queers and I didn't really meet anyone who inspired me to activism the way Charlestonians do.  And I know I'm going to love England (already formulating plans to live in Bristol before even seeing the damn place), but Charleston: