Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's play a game I like to call....

Where in the World is Shivonne Glenn?*

For sake of simplicity, I've been informing anyone who will listen to me that I have relocated to London to start my new life. Strictly speaking, this isn't quite accurate. I'm actually currently residing with the Benn family in the borough of Sutton in an area called North Cheam. Basically, telling people I live in London is kind of like people from New Jersey citing the big apple as their residence. And since I'm no poser, I feel it's time to rectify the situation and finally determine where the crap I've been living. Upon being questioned about my actual whereabouts in relation to London, I answered with the utmost entirely fabricated confidence, "ummm....southwest?" I managed to stay composed when it turns out my guess was indeed correct and restrained myself from fist pumping the air whilst screaming, "who's your greatest downfall now geography!?!" So let's get this sorted, shall we?

This is what I know about North Cheam- it is north of the village of Cheam. Hah. Skills of deduction at their best. Cheam is a large suburban village with roots dating back as far as 1018 and appears in the Domesday Book as Ceiham. Henry VIII acquired part of Cheam in 1538 and constructed the ostentatious Nonsuch Palace, demolishing the church and most of the village to make way. The palace was later handed over to a mistress of  Charles II and sadly was pulled down to cover her gambling debts. However, Nonsuch Park remains (where yours truly goes for her daily run) which was meant to be Henry's hunting grounds as well as the Gothic revival Nonsuch Mansion built in the early nineteenth century.

 Nonsuch Palace (left) and Nonsuch Mansion (right)

Cheam Village then (early 1930s) and now

*granted, not as catchy as Carmen San Diego but I work with what I've got.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life Transition #56,782,926*

*completely accurate approximation by writer's self-evaluation

I've come to the self realization that I, Shivonne Nicole Glenn, am a woman captivated by transition. Change, movement, evolution, passage, metamorphosis, transformation- pretty exciting stuff, am I right? This is one of the major underlying factors that makes travel so enticing to me.  I read "transition" as "adventure".

In juxtaposition, or in harmony (I haven't quite decided which), with my love of transition is my  obsessive need to always 'have a plan'. As a free thinker (doesn't that sound wonderfully pretentious?), I believe one of the greatest attractions of my projected idea of transition is the complete upheaval of it all. An organic experience you can't predict, a crazy ride you jump on in the hopes of having your world turned upside down so you can come out breathless on the other side, not quite certain how you arrived at the destination. But no, I always have a 'plan'. More often than not, some elaborate list tidily recorded to recite upon enquiries in the 'what are you doing with your life' vein that are never actually realized. Case in point, my 'plan' for the last three weeks was to research volunteer work, update my resume, organize my wedding website, complete my visa application, and become a certified group exercise instructor. What do I do instead? Dye my hair red, make numerous attempts in Asian food preparation, party a weekend away in Bristol, and immerse myself so deeply into Jane Austen literature that I've half convinced myself that I am indeed a nineteenth century novel heroine.

Transition indeed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blog Resurection

Ummm....yeah. After reading Ivy's latest blog about being MIA, I came to terms with the fact that I have yet to blog since being stateside. I know, I know: I am a blogger failure. I would use the excuse that the blog becomes superfluous when I'm not half a world away, but since I'm still playing phone tag with some of my favorite people I decided to just put it all out there. Or I guess more specifically here. So this is the world according to Shivonne as of now.

Back in my Hometown
I've decided to spend the summer in Amarillo living with the family and working at, yes-you guessed it, Malcolms. Every time I go back to my old high school job I swear it's the last time, but here I am again: mid twenties, living with my parents, and waiting tables. Isn't that the profile of every blind date loser you see on the movies? Well at least I'm not into the whole role playing sci-fi scene-that's your sign that you really have hit bottom. Seriously though (prepare for the explanatory self rationalizing bit) I think this is a good thing. I get the next few months to relax, earn some much needed cash, regroup, and most importantly spend as much quality time as possible with my kick-ass family. At the moment the whole clan is here sans Monica so when I'm not at work I'm watching a little of The Office with Noah, running errands with Daniel, having girls' night with Mum and Reese, and learning about my Daddy's new passion for sustainable living. Amarillo definitely has it's pros-my church and family, cool summer nights, cheap living-but I'm not planning on an extended stay which brings me to my next update....

Austin Bound
I've spent the last two+ years since graduation running away from the real world in the best way possible-by traveling it. But now [insert monumental drum roll] I've decided it's time for a change. No longer am I to be Shivonne the Texas Nomad. No. My next goal is much more vague and elusive because, after all, I love a challenge. So here it is: to grow up. No, seriously. I've decided it's time to settle down, pursue a career I love, stop hopping from place to place, job to job, and really make a life for myself. Heavy right? Well it feels like it to me. I hardly know where to begin! Here's what I know: 1. Austin has been my favorite ever place to live regardless of country and 2. I still don't know 'what I want to be when I grow up', but I know what I love: fashion. So it's time to make something happen. Come September I'm packing up and moving south. I'm in the midst of convincing my baby sister to take the highly coveted role of Shivonne's roommate (I mean, who WOULDN'T want to live with me?), and my older sister is pretty positive she can use her connections at Nordstrom's to get me a job selling shoes. I figure whatever future I might be inclined to in fashion, retail experience is a must. I know it's not much, but it's a start. I'm not sure what my future may hold, but I'm committing to the next year living here in the states working towards something I just might love. And that's good enough for now.

The Boy
After the all important family meet (his not mine) in London last month, Chris and I seem to still be going strong. Unfortunately 'going strong' doesn't really cut it when applying for a work visa to another country so we're doing that thing every couple dreads, that dirty phrase you hope never to be faced with: long distance. We had a couple of other options (New Zealand was tempting) but we decided we both need to focus on our individual futures before we can really move forward with ours as a couple. The plan is to talk everyday (skype may be the best creation of all time) and see each other at least three times over the next year. First visit is tentatively scheduled for a birthday reunion in September (mine not his-ditto for the country). It's not going to be easy, but I feel this is the right decision as opposed to pushing back everything to spend another year together in New Zealand only to find ourselves in the same predicament after that tour. Don't get me wrong-I'm still all about the travel. I just think that now I'll travel for vacation instead of living to travel.

Well I guess that's the abridged version of my life at the moment. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything shapes up in the coming months-one thing's for sure: this is going to be an interesting summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Travel Limbo Hell not sure if ya heard, but apparently there's a freaking volcano erupting crap all over the place in Iceland, and all flights from London Heathrow are suspended until further notice. Right. With my flight scheduled to depart in roughly twenty-four hours, I'm a wee bit concerned to say the least. The official word on the street (by 'the street' I of course mean the official airport website) Heathrow is on lock down mode until 1am Monday morning at the earliest. Yesterday it was Sunday at 1am so obviously they have to keep pushing back the time. My flight should/would be departing at 1pm Monday so I'm kind of on the cusp of things at the moment. And do you know what the real kicker is? I'm flying London to New York via Iceland. Right.

At this moment I'm flippin' out just a bit. My transatlantic flight is pretty much the least of my worries. If it doesn't take off I call the reservation center and book a new flight at the first available time which I'm thinking might cause quite a bit of delay due to all the back up. Unfortunately I already have a non refundable hotel booked in New York City the night of my arrival and two US Airways flights the next day to get me back to Texas. So I'm sitting here checking airline/airport/travel agent websites and making respective calls to any number I can find, and I'm at a bit of a loss. Do I keep my domestic flights on the off chance my international one goes through? What about my Mom who took time off from work to pick me up in Dallas upon my arrival Tuesday morning, or my sister who secured her only two consecutive days off for the entire summer to meet me there? Sigh.

Thankfully I have wonderful support on both sides of the pond. Chris and his family have been very sympathetic, and I know I have somewhere calming to wait out the storm here in London. And then there's my daddy. I called him yesterday frustrated, stressed, close to tears and his ever calming influence and perspective put me back on track. He reminded me everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan. Make sure I don't get to bogged down in my stress to miss an opportunity He is setting before me.

So here I am. Sitting. Waiting. Wishing. And though I might not see you as soon as I would like, hopefully I'll be stateside again before you know it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

London Calling

Greetings from across the jolly ol' pond!

After a 14 hour and 8 hour set of flights, 6 hour layover in Abu Dhabi, crossing numerous timezones, moving up a hemisphere, countless movie viewings (thank you in air flight entertainment), and very little sleep, Chris and I arrived at London Heathrow Airport on Monday evening weary but content to reach our final destination for the moment. After clearing customs and collecting our bags we were met by Chris' parents who graciously picked us up from the airport (more public transportation at this moment seemed insurmountable). Walking out of the airport doors into the misty chill of early London spring brought a smile to my I do love Great Britain.

For some reason, I've always romanticized England, and really the whole UK in general. My short time residing here two years ago only reinforced my passionate love affair with the country, and I've been anticipating my return ever since. It might be because I've adored Jane Austen from an early age, it might be the sheer oldness of a country with such a longer, richer history than my own (let's not kid ourselves, the good old US of A is a baby in this world), it might be the castles, the rolling green countryside, the accents, the winding roads, the architecture. It might be my love for historical fiction revolving around the salacious court of Henry VII or my love for period films set in 19th century London. Whatever it is, to me, it's pure magic.

So far we've made good use of our time. Chris' family has been so welcoming and accommodating to me-from the homemade chicken curry feast his youngest sister Caroline concocted our first night back to the simple fact of opening their home to me a relative stranger. I haven't met Chris' other sister yet-Claire is working on her masters in Philosophy at Cambridge but will be meeting us up in Scotland for our holiday, but Caroline has been amazing. We went to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square where she put good use to the History of Art degree she's currently studying. I felt as if I had my own personal guide leading me to highlight pieces and explaining the artist, setting, and background of each masterpiece. Next we took in the Portrait Gallery next door where I saw the likes of Richard III, Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn, Lily Allen, Kiera Knightly, and the Beatles. The next day was less culture but more money intensive-yes, the very important task of shopping was seen to. We decided not to play around (we're not amateurs for goodness sakes) and made our way straight to Oxford Street. After hitting up Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and even making a wistful trip down Bond Street to admire Chanel, Tiffany's, Cartier, Prada, and every other high end label you can think of from the safety of the street side of the glass we set homeward several pounds lighter but with our shopping fix in place.

Today (Saturday) we're busy packing for our big Scottish adventure. We leave very, very early tomorrow morning for our long scenic drive up, and I'm beyond excited. We even get to revisit Callander, the village where Chris and I met and worked during my last British trist. But first we have our first big night out on the city tonight. Chris' friend Sam's 25th birthday bash is tonight at an American retro bowling alley/bar where we'll enjoy live music, dancing, and I'll finally get to meet all his mates. Big night out followed by early morning drive? I did always love a challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bon Jovi can be so wise....

[cue awesomely over the top eighties cover band/karaoke music]

That pretty much sums up how I'm feeling this moment. Standing at an internet terminal in the Abu Dhabi International Airport on a six hour layover between a fourteen hour flight from Australia and an eight hour leg to London with 2 hours of sleep over the past 34 hours. Oh, and might I mention the kind airport staff are apparently preparing us for the climate change from Australia to the UK by freezing our tushies off in this refrigerator of an airport whilst we engage in this torturous travel limbo. Ain't world trotting glamorous? Thankfully only two more hours of the waiting game until we board our final flight. With the anticipation of finally meeting Chris' wonderful family on the not too far horizon, I think I just might make it. Just don't be surprised if you read a story in the international news section about a crazy Texan backpacker kicking in the air conditioning unit of Abu Dhabi International resulting in temporary loss of power (both mine and the airport's) and general panic. See you on the other side.....

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Photographs to Speak the Thousand words I'm too tired to type...

My goodness what a week I've had.

After arriving home last night from our whirlwind Outback tour, I was planning to write a lengthy, in depth, captivating, amusing, all-around-amazing post about our exciting week of travel. Just one tiny problem-I'm pooped. Today was not a day of rest unfortunately. Another early morning saw Chris and I rub our sleepy eyes and head into the city for a day of errand running with dreams of resting quickly evaporating in our grasping hands. After getting everything else out of the way, I made my way to the state library for one last enchanting day in its dinstinguished walls where I've formed so many lovely memories. I've already been blowing up their free wifi for five hours, and I'm just now making it to the blog section of my internet to-do list. Who knew how much you missed being virtually sans internet for a week? What is the world coming to where we have to check our emails every few hours to stay 'in-touch'? Well there are pros and cons to everything so I shouldn't complain, especially since this hassling medium is what allows me to stay connected with everyone I love across the world. It's all in the perspective my friends.
Anywho, after checking countless emails, confirming flights, looking up hotel information, sending some emotionally exhausting correspondence (I figure if you're not gonna commit to an email, just don't do it. Who wants to open a highly anticipated note to discover a one liner?) I am just about interneted out. As I'm typing I can barely keep my drooping eyelids from immersing me in complete darkness and my head from slamming down on my keyboard. So instead, I spent thirty minutes trying to do an upload of as many photos from our trip as possible to share with all my favorite people. With this shoddy unsecured wifi connection, I managed two. So here they are in all their glory, and I guess you'll just have to wait to see the other 9,874,392 photos some other time so now you have something to look forward to. Or make you cringe. Your pick.

The ever entrancing and mystifying Uluru in all it's sunset glory. I literally have over a hundred pictures of the world's most famous monolith-from sunrise, to sunset, to base walk it's covered. So let me know if you want to see picture after picture of a big red rock, and I've got you covered.

Still fresh faced after our first day of our travelthon toasting Uluru with, what else, cider. The English bloke seems to really be rubbing off on this poor Texan.

The next 48 hours are all I have left of my Australia adventure, and unfortunately they will be dedicated mostly to laundry, cleaning, and packing. How very glamorous. Thankfully we do have one more night of Melbourne shenanigans to engage in-so I now I must leave you to prepare for one last night on the town. So goodbye from next post will most likely be from Chris' very own England. G'Day Mate!

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel
read only a page." -St. Augustine