Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,
You died last night. Unfortunately, because of the time difference in London, I wasn’t told until this morning (although I was actually a bad boy and was still up way past my bedtime. Haha). I’m sorry we didn’t spend more time together. That golfing trip you always wanted to do never happened because you got too old and I never had enough time. I’m sorry I seemed to never have enough time. I’m sorry I didn’t listen more. I wish I had known more about your and grandma’s pasts. Your love story. Your dreams. Stories of fun and stupid “guy things” you did in high school and college (I’m sure there were a few).

I wish I had known more of the terrors you went through when you were my age in World War II. You gave your heart and soul for this country, saw close friends die literally right next to you, so that I and the rest of my generation would live in a world not ruled by Nazi tyranny but a world of freedom and hope, for both today and tomorrow.

I hope you know that I had the utmost respect for you because of this reason.

I never talked to you or asked you about this because of the scars I know you undoubtedly had. I pray in death you find healing for those memories, those aches etched into your mind. You didn’t let what happened on the battlefield stop you from living out on the battlefield of life at home. After all that was said and done, you raised a great family, my dad, and instilled in them the values that are now instilled in me.

Thank you Grandpa. For serving selflessly country and family.

I’m sorry you never got to see my wedding. I know you would have loved to. I know you would have loved to meet the beautiful girl I would marry, whoever she is. You would have been proud. You always had nothing but kind and encouraging words for me. You always dreamed I’d grow up to do great things.

And I will.

You loved me enough to even before my birth, before you knew whether I’d be a “good” kid or “bad” kid, to quit smoking so you could be around me more. And when you were around me, ever since my birth, you were always smiling. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I’m always constantly smiling.

I’m sorry you won’t get to hold your first great grandchild in your arms. I’m sure you would have shown just as much affection towards him or her as you had me. And I’m sure he or she would have loved being around you too.

I’m sorry you died the way you did, but I’m glad you died in peace in the end. I don’t believe this is the last time I’ll see you, rather a transition period, as if a friend were leaving for a far distant country and I wouldn’t hear from him again for a long time.

I’ll come visit that foreign country one day with you.

So instead of making this day a day to mourn our loss of you in this world, I’d rather make it a celebration of your life and moving onto the next.

I don’t know the theology of heaven, how it works, what it entails, what the can and can’ts are – hopefully I’ll get a clearer picture in seminary, though even seminary can only attempt to understand heaven by the smallest of means – but I hope you’re looking down on us. And when you look down, at the end of the day, you are proud, of me, of Sarah and Curt, of Kim and Jim, and of Dad and Uncle Jim.

Thank you for your endless support.
Thank you for your infinite encouragement.
Thank you for your genes that gave me such a great mind (and rather bushy eyebrows at that. Haha).
Thank you for defending my unmerited freedom.
Thank you for your unconditional love.

I loved you Grandpa. I will miss you dearly here on this earth in the years ahead.

Your First Grandson,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeboys and Health

So, as some of you may have heard, about a week ago, I was feeling a little under the weather. To set up such events though, I thought I'd inform you of the fun news first:

Saturday I woke up to a bright, shining British sun smiling down on my shining face (the shine of the sun would stay all the weekend long; the shine on the face - not so much).

Why was my face so shiney? (we're talking smilie here, not Teletubby Baby-in-the-Sun Shiney)

I was to see my favorite English-American today: Rohan Hooda!

Rohan was born in the UK, at some point moved down to Florida, attended middle and parts of high school with me, and then shipped himself off to Boston. Suffice to say, he's picked up a little accent from everywhere he's been, so if I think I have it bad, at least I can come home and not be annoyed by my friends about my accent. His American friends always wanted to hear his British accent and his British friends always want to hear his American accent! In the wise words of Charlies Brown: "Gooooooood Grief."

Rohan and I started the day at the Museum of Natural History, where we saw the Dinosaur Exhibit. Unfortunately, because I was so consumed with the game of catch-up that Rohan and I were engaged in, I really do not remember much about the display of Dinosaur Artifacts other than a couple of skeletons, reading about something where Dinosaur head shapes could indicate the male and females of the species, and seeing a giant anamotronic T-Rex that tourists were taking pictures with. While most assuredly smaller than the one shown in "Jurassic Park", I couldn't help but think had the T-Rex actually had the ability to open its mouth and roar, the children who were gaily smiling with it now would no doubt be running faster than a large group of people out of an airport after someone yells the words "Bomb!" (which I've always wanted to see real time at some point. Perhaps "Fire!" at a Movie Theater or something like that. I'd do it myself, but well, there's that whole fines, prosecution, and possible jail-time that keeps me at bay with that idea).

After going through the next exhibit (one on rocks - yes, you read that correctly: rocks), we decided to leave and explore the world around us. We skiddattered over to Hyde Park, where we saw a few war memorials and discussed how 50 years ago, we would be in the war right now, and how scary that notion was to us. 100 years ago I would have been married with kids! I would go further into the ever-changing nature of our society and the role in which young people play, but I feel that I would lose a couple of you quickly with such dry subject matters (though with my A.D.D. writing-style, I'm sure I could find a way to talk about the Garbage of Antartica and keep you all semi-entertained for the first few minutes). We scampered more through Hyde Park, saw some people on skate-board shoes (not roller-blades; they were shoes with side-ways wheels - CRAZY! What will they think of next?!), went to Speakers Corner and found no crazy men preaching about the world's end (unfortunately - though this whole 2012 thing is getting kinda ridiculous and as I find out new facts, it's getting boarderline creepy. For a good laugh at the absurdity of the Apocalypic Movie Industry, watch the new trailer of 2012 if you haven't already:, and then went to the American Embassy (where I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have my passport and Rohan wasn't allowed in because he's Middle Eastern looking... haha. I'm just kidding!... kinda...). We stood outside and chatted for a while by a rather large statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower and discussed the possibility that there might be a very similar statue one day here of one of our classmates, Charles Fiodor Scott Nadd. He's in the army. Remember that face: Look for him to become President of the Free World by the year 2040 or so (that's assuming the world doesn't end in 2012 and Obama hasn't liberated us to a socialist society that is).

We then made the mistake of going to get Middle Eastern food. It was actually pretty good. However, that night I would reap the bounty of what I'd sown into my belly (now truly I can't blame this, but it seems to coincide as the thing I ate right before all of this started to happen. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'll use it as my scapegoat for now, kinda like Steve Bartman with the Cubs chances at World Series history).

After dinner, we saw the Invention of Lying (not worth seeing in my opinion, all of the good parts were spoiled for the most part in the trailers - yeah, i hate those movies, don't you?), and then I went home. I started to feel a little chilly - the open-the-refridgerator-but-it's-okay-because-you-have-clothes-on-and-its-not-that-terribly-cold kind of chilly. However, once I got to my room, it started to get worse. Well, one thing fell to the next and before you know it I had 3 layers on plus my winter jacket, along with my blankets and comforter over me and I was sweating profusely, yet still chilly in the it's-freezing-and-I'm-outside-with-no-clothes-on kind of chilly. So, sick all night Saturday and all day Sunday. But, thanks to some great hallmates, I was provided with home remidy treatments and food and drinks from the grocery store. Yeah - they're nice people. :)

Oh, and I would be nowhere if I didn't thank my mother for those lovely niquil tablets that helped knock me out for much of those 36 hours. Thanks mom!

Anyway, I woke up Monday morning, no more chills, feeling great, able to take a shower for the first time since Saturday Night (even a stronger showering of axe probably couldn't hide my scent), got out, got dressed, perhaps even felt good enough to go to class, went to the bathroom, peed Kool-Aid... hold on... oh, boy, that's not good... (and in case you didn't get the analogy - watch this (I promise, it's not graphic or anything:

To make a long story short, I called up my program advisor, went to a private doctor, who transferred me to a hospital but told me in case I'll need to have tests run. At the hospital, I had an ultrasound, urinary tests, and blood drawn - of which I passed out for because my blood surgar was low because I hadn't eaten anything in the past 2 days... and then they missed so I got 4 different holes poked for blood... I hate needles...).

At best: it's a urinary tract infection.

At worst: it's cancer

(when they said that I jumped a little in my seat).

I got my results two days later: It turned out to just be a urinary tract infection.

Not fun, but hey - at least it's not life and death.

Other things of note this week:
1) I saw Les Mis for the second time while in London (first was with my family). We got late tickets. We had two options for the same price. Backrow in the 2nd balcony or Frontrow in front of the stage.

Was that seriously supposed to be an option?

Les Mis first row seats for approximately $30. Not bad, eh?
2) I still don't know whether I'm taking Global Financial Markets or Behavorial Psychology - it's the 3rd week and Wake still hasn't let me know which class I'm supposed to be dropping.
3) I'm thinking about starting Kung Fu lessons. I'm envisioning someone just asking me a question when I get back home: "So what'd you learn in England Austi-" "Fung Fu."*strikes a pose*

Pick-pockets beware.

So that's what been going on in my life for the past week or so.

Hope your week was a little less eventful than mine.

Continue to pray for my grandfather as he continues to recover from his treatment.

- AustinLostinLondon

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

London Culture, Linear Algebra, and Loads of Food

Alright, haven't written here in a while: Guess its time for another update in the life of AustinLostinLondon.

Things I've noticed about London thus far:

- Their entire population may be wiped out within the next 50 years. I'm not talking about plague, apocalypse, or swine flu. I'm talking about an entire country dying of one thing. Something that is unavoidable to these people, yet at the same time completely and utterly avoidable. It's like your first visit to the In-Laws. You could avoid it, but why try when you know its gotta happen sooner or later? Only these parents are really far away and actually don't want to meet you at all, so you really don't have to go there. London: you don't not have to go there. London - you don't have to get this disease, this plague, this death-bearing curse: London you are in danger of... Lung Cancer.


They haven't apparently figured out cigarettes are terrible for your health, turn your teeth yellow, and make your breath smell like you've stuck your bloody head in a chimney for hours on end. Its kinda like Sex-Panther: you think its a turn on, makes you look cool, but in the end, it really just makes you smell of a mixture of dirty diapers and Indian food.

I'm giving London 50 years.

(for those reading and don't know my humor - I'm kidding... kinda...)

- Mayonaise: it's literally on everything everywhere. Sandwich? Mayo. Chips? Mayo. Toast? Mayo. Children?... Mayoooo....

Beware of the Mayo.

- They're much more reserved. They're very calm. They're very shy. At parties, they'll have a drink, but will hardly dance.

I am not.

Example: My first day in my new dorm.
*in the shower - I hear someone walk into the stall next to me*
Me: Hello!
Him: ... Hi?
Me: How are you today?
Him: ... Good...
Me: ... I'm sorry, but is it impolite to talk to someone in the shower here?
Him ... ummmm... Yes...
Me: Oh, sorry. I'm from America.
Him: Aaaahhhhhhhh....

I apparently live up to the stereotype of loud, outgoing American. It's like mixing Groucho Marx with the Little Boy from the Sixth Sense - it's just not workin'.

- They know more about our politics than we do. Obama is on the cover of so many major news magazines its absurd, and I've received more questions about Obama and his plans for America than I have about American movies, stars, or pop culture, what tends to headline many major news stations in America. Even worse, I've also realized Americans really don't know ANYONE else's leaders either. Do you know who this guy is? Yeah. Gordon Brown. Still don't know? HE'S THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE UK! I'm in the country and I had no idea who he was. I could have done something really stupid in front of the Prime Minister and been completely unaware of the fact. I mean, I could have tripped over my shoes and not known who I had done it in front of. I could have punted a baby and not known who was watching. I could have walked up to the column at a church and... well... that's for another time... point is: America I've realized is very central oriented. Perhaps we should change this?

Other things of note that happened to me this week:

- I showed up to Linear Algebra without my glasses. Luckily for me, the screen was digitial and ALL the way at the top, not to mention I was stuck in the far left corner of the classroom. Yeah. I sat in a 3-hour lecture of Linear Algebra trying to take notes orally. And if you don't think its difficult, you try listening to "And the set v w with v w subsets of V and v w not equal to epsilon is linearly independent unless vector w is equal to theta dot v for some theta subset F" and see if you can write that out.

- I've been cooking myself food. Nonetheless, you would think I would try and culture myself while in England. well... Fish and Chips is about the extent of food culturing so far. List of items I bought at the grocery store today:
- Mac n Cheese
- Pizza
- Granola Bars
- Cheese Sticks
- Honey Nut Cherrios
- Oven Baked Chicken
- Fish and Chips
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Milk
- Apple Juice
- Cookies
... and I'm just realizing now I forgot to buy fruit... or anything remotely healthy for that matter... I'm so coming back to the states malnourished like this kid...

... okay not that bad...

Seriously - give to Africa.

Well, that's all the time I have for now. Until next time!

- AustinLostinLondon