Monday, July 21, 2008

Chasing Dreams or Living Them

This fragment of the Berlin wall stands at the entrance of the Imperial War Museum in London and serves as a stark reminder to check our priorities. At least, to me it does whenever I return to that incredibly moving and emotionally intense museum.

Remember when I asked you guys a few weeks ago to name some of the museums that top your list? This one is at the head of mine and it's because I can't leave the building without a no-holds-barred reality check. It never fails that I end up sobbing quietly as I wind my way through one or more of the exhibits.

Back in 2006, it was "The Children's War" where the entire exhibition was dedicated to Britain's home front during World War II. I think I probably made it through the beginning of one letter that started "Dear Mummy, Are you still alive..."

And I just lost it.

I seriously could not imagine having to stay in a city that I knew would be bombed while I put my child or children on a train in order to send them to the country to live with strangers (but where they would be safer). Yes, we were in the war together, but to see it through another country's eyes? Sigh. It's powerful.

Also, this time, we went into the Holocaust Exhibition, as last time one of our family members was a bit too young for such a heavy and graphic subject matter. I believe we spent a good hour and half listening to the testimonials of the concentration camp survivors, watching the various clips, and looking at the photos and displays that filled rooms and rooms of the exhibition. Silence overcame everyone as we all took in part of rail car that had deported the prisoners to the camps, as well as the massive, clear wall display that was filled with shoes and other possessions of the murdered...

Let's just say I was emotional here too.

Oh, and I think it's interesting to note that the war museum has been housed inside the old Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam, ever since King George VI moved it there in 1936. Before that, it had been housed in South Kensington at the Crystal Palace from the time the museum opened in 1920.

So, this is a roundabout way of getting to my point today. (Now that I've depressed you, right?). If there's anything that I've learned over the past few months--and not just from this museum, of course--it's that LIFE IS TOO PRECIOUS TO WASTE. It's too damn short. As many of you know, my 23-year-old brother-in-law has been hit with not one but two incredibly scary and extremely rare diseases and he's got quite a battle ahead of him. But his strength blows me away, a true fighter! I'm so proud of him. And I only pray I'm the same if faced with the monsters he's up against. And throughout his treatments, he's making plans that will help him reach his dreams.

Therefore, here's my question to you: What are you doing to live your dream? Are you still reaching for it? Are you chasing them or living them? Do you have a "Just Go For It" attitude about life? A "What the Hell Do I Have to Lose By Trying?" attitude?

This doesn't have to be writing related; it could be about anything that you dream about doing, about learning, about wanting to achieve.

I have pretty much always had that mentality, especially when it comes to visiting places (as you know, I love to travel). But now more than ever, I'm not letting anything stop me from living my dreams.

Have you seen the Matt Harding video below? "Where The Hell Is Matt?" This guy has traveled around the world for the past three years and danced in front of some spectacular sites. But the best part is: The millions and millions of people who have been watching his progress and who now join in with him around the world. It's become so popular that Stride Gum has sponsored his travels. This guy lives his dream. It's a delightful, charming, heart-warming, and inspiring video and I hope you all enjoy it... But you may have seen it already with the millions and millions of other folks. :-)

Take Care,


Where The Hell Is Matt?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whedon is Back!

I'm probably the last person to know this, but Joss Whedon is back! Please tell me you guys have watched the hilarious and well-performed Acts 1 and 2 of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. PLEASE. This is sooo fantastic and makes me wonder why Whedon isn't on television now--I miss "Buffy" terribly!

Thanks to a really cool TV blog, The Flaming Nose, I read about Dr. Horrible and learned that Whedon is only posting Acts 1-3 THIS week for free on the website. It is available for download on iTunes and you can bet I'm buying it! I had a big ole grin on my face the entire time I watched Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible), Nathan Fillion (Captain Hammer), Felicia Day (Penny), and Simon Helberg (Moist) on the screen...I think the music and lyrics are perfect for an evil, yet heart-warming musical. And the storyline captures my attention as well. Sigh...That Whedon. :-)

Each Act is only about 13 minutes and only Acts 1 and 2 are available to watch right now. Act 3 will be available July 19th. Like I said, I'm probably the last to know about this, because over the last two days their server couldn't handle the traffic. But apparently it's been fixed; I had no problem logging on today.

Hope you have a chance to watch and enjoy it!

I'm going to have to break out my "Buffy" DVDs sometime soon...


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sharing the Mystical...

With a crowd of 600. All right, not exactly "friends" per se. Fellow tourists who all hoped for the same mysterious and inspiring experience--perhaps even a spiritual one--out on the Salisbury Plains. We all made the pilgrimage to Stonehenge.

We were a tad surprised at the amount of people we had to wade through in order to find a good spot and take in this amazing stone circle that we've watched specials on and learned about in school. It stood before us now in all its mystic glory, not 20 yards away, and that sent chills dancing down my spine. Only two days before, 20,000 people had stood on the grassy field in and around the stones for the summer 600 really didn't seem so bad, considering.

We didn't make it around the entire path, as our tour guide graciously gave us 15 minutes to soak in the sights and sounds of Stonehenge. Yes, that's right...15 freakin' minutes.

But, I did take a couple photos. This time, using that feature on my camera, I isolated the color blue.

This first picture is the view you get as you first walk up the path toward it from the entrance. I'm stoked I caught that hare hopping in front of me.

And you get this view as you walk around the path...It faces the roadway. This was as far as we were able to get before we had to head back to the bus, as our 15 freakin' minutes were up. Grr.

And my husband took this picture of the all the tourists. Seriously, I wasn't exaggerating. LOL (you can click on it to get a better view)

To have been there and to have actually seen this marvel with my own eyes was surreal, especially when we were rushed through the experience. But truly cool nonetheless.

The only bummer part? I didn't even get a chance to visit the gift shop! :-(

Ah, I guess that's why online shopping was invented, eh? I still need to get a good book on the area.

Hope you're all doing well!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Only Five More Months Until...


Bella and Edward. Bella and Edward! On the big screen! (Yes, I've gone mad with the exclamation points.)

Happy, happy sigh.

I can hardly stand the wait until next month when the final book in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, hits the shelves. Hmm. Although, I have to confess, I'm almost afraid to find out how it ends--I already know how I want it to end, you know? (Of course, I'll buy it, though!)

Do you ever get like that with a favorite series? Almost afraid to read the final installment because you think there's a good chance it will end differently than the way you would like?

Hope your writing is going well!


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Black & White and "Red" All Over

I can't believe a week has passed since my last post! Sheesh. I hope you all had a fantastic Independence Day and a nice long weekend.

Have you been writing? I have! I have! Proposals. Queries. Chapters. Ideas. And I've been sending things out too. Now that the dust is settling around here, I've got so much to catch up on and it seems I'm putting in about 16 to 18 hour days now. But, honestly, I don't feel like it's even enough time. I need more hours in the day.

But that's obviously not going to happen, so I'm going to have to figure out a different plan of action. Somehow. Like learning how to write faster! Yeah, that's it. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm posting more of my pix from London, using my Canon Powershot. I like to call these the "Dude, These Are So Going to the Tate Modern" series. (I'm totally joking, of course. My family and I cracked ourselves up by saying, 'Tate Modern, Baby!' after almost every shot--we all had cameras. I know, I know. We have no excuse. We amuse ourselves to no end. Ahem.)

All the photos can be made larger by double clicking...or doing whatever PC owners do to view larger photos. Sorry, I'm a Mac Girl. :-)

On the Victoria Embankment.

On The Victoria Memorial Overlooking The Mall. The road around Buckingham Palace was closed to vehicular traffic that day (Sunday), so pedestrians and bicycle riders had the freedom to roam the street. Also, the Union Jack flags still lined The Mall from the previous weekend, which marked the ceremony of The Trooping of the Colour, a celebration with all the pageantry that now honors the Queen's Official Birthday. I love the surprising amount of red in this picture, including the headbands and even in the crowns on top of the flag poles. And check out the girl at the bottom who's excited to see someone. I just noticed her. Love that enthusiasm. (Or she was in distress and was giving "The Signal" from Team America. Man, I hope it was the former!)

Band of the Scots Guard on Veteran's Day, June 27th.* Our cab just happened to drop us off next to them because our hotel was on the other side of the arch in Trafalgar Square where a huge celebration was taking place. And huge events mean major traffic. Heck there's major traffic even without an event in London. It's just like Southern California in that respect. Anyway, we caught them in their relaxed moment, but I'm not sure if they'd already played for the event or not. By the way, I've searched and searched for the official name of this band and "Band of the Scots Guard" is the one that kept coming up, but if it's incorrect, please let me know. I should have just asked them, as other people were taking pictures with them. (*see update below)

The Queen's Horse Guard Parading Through Hyde Park Corner, Wellington Arch. We had just ascended the steps of the pedestrian subway and entered the park on Constitutional Hill when the Horse Guard crossed the street from Hyde Park Corner and made their way toward the Wellington Arch.

At the Horse Guards on Whitehall.

Scots Guards at Buckingham Palace *.

Scots Guard at The Tower, in front of building with the Crown Jewels.

Okay, it's back to grindstone for me! How about you guys? Are you writing? Getting ready for any conferences?

I also see that I haven't changed my "Currently Reading" sidebar in a looong time! I've read about a dozen or so stories since those two featured, but yes...I obviously loved those books. And right now, I have another dozen in my TBR pile, so I better get crackin'. Wow. I say more hours in the day!

Take Care,


*UPDATE 7/16/08: Coincidentally, tonight I'm watching a program on PBS called "Guarding the Queen" and the name of the band has been solved: The Band of the Grenadier Guards. Which also means the name of the group of soldiers is the Grenadier Guards. Okay, I think that's it... Hope I didn't miss anything!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Seeing Stars in London

So, today is my birthday, but we decided to throw a Bash while in London and invited a few of those who were in town. Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jack Black, and Dustin Hoffman were among those celebrants (I'm not sure who invited the Big Panda, but whatever...). As you can see the Paparazzi and well-wishers were out in full force! It was very sweet and humbling. ;-)

No, seriously, not 30 minutes before we stumbled upon the premiere of Kung Fu Panda, we'd been eating dinner and remarking how we only had 1 more day left in town and how we would love to see a celebrity because that would just top off this amazing trip. See, if you read Stevyn Colgan's blog, he often regales his readers with tales of running into the famous on the streets of London...So why not, right?

And lo, and behold! Our wish came true. (Um, if I had realized the extent of our powers, I would have wished for something different, like gas prices to go down and the Dollar to go up and more food for the world. Sigh.)

What's funny is that we've lived in the Los Angeles area our entire lives and have never seen a movie premiere, and then we just happened to stumble upon one in Leicester Square in London. Very weird.

A good view of the press and Lucy Liu's back. Nice dress, though.

Jeffrey Katzenberg (The "K" in DreamWorks Pictures SKG) and the Panda

Ian McShane (he was in HBO's "Deadwood" and the movie We Are Marshall)

Jack Black

And of course, Dustin Hoffman

A view of the theater and crowd in Leicester Square. Another place that was always hopping!

I hope you all have a great day!

Who would you like to run into while walking down the street? Anyone famous? Or an old friend? Anyone?


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

For Our Friends to the North & Trafalgar Square

It's Canada Day today, of which I was gratefully reminded when I read Barrie's post this morning! Thanks, Barrie. I'm having a heck of time getting back into the swing of things here and completely forgot the date.

So, in honor of our Canadian friends, I just happen to have a picture of the lovely Georgian building in which the embassy, Canada House, resides on Trafalgar Square. The building itself faces the Nelson monument, and to the left of the building sits the The National Gallery. This fantastic museum displays paintings from artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Rembrandt, Turner, Constable, Da Vinci, Picasso, and so many, many, many more. A cast of thousands, truly. We spent hours in there during our first full day, just wandering the galleries and staring in awe at iconic works of art, like Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Rembrandt's self portraits at Age 34 and at Age 63 (the year he died), as well as the stunning and vibrant religious art. Such a collection. I highly recommend this museum to everyone, and it's free (all the National museums are)...Although, donations are welcome.

Here's a side view of The National Gallery:

Something was always going on in this Square, some type of event. Be it an all-day Hari Krishna parade and festival or a Veterans' Day Event (June 27th) of celebration. This square also tends to be a gathering place for friends and only once did we find it nearly empty...and that was when when first arrived and the rain kept a lot of people inside.

I must confess, at first I too was confused by the drops of water falling from the sky...I've heard of this phenomenon, but to be a part of it! Very exciting. We just don't experience this in our arid, little Orange County. ;-)

Here's looking out past Nelson's Monument toward St. Stephen's Clock Tower, which, of course, houses the famous bell nicknamed "Big Ben."

(Look! There's water falling from the sky and covering the ground!)

Hope you're all doing well!

Do you guys have a favorite museum? I don't know that I could narrow it down to just one...What about you?