{January 20, 2012}   Scattered Pictures

Some fav moments/pictures from my writing residency in Wroxton, England.  Thank you to everyone for following my adventures abroad and a special thank you to everyone who donated to my virtual food drive.  I’ve sent them copies of my non-fiction essay, “Eye Strengthening and other Holy Topics.”  If you would like to read it too, please take a moment to CLICK HERE to donate to Feeding America and help the 1 in 6 Americans struggling with hunger.  and I will be happy to send you a copy!

Wroxton Abbey our home for 10 days


Furry Friend

Broughton Castle - used in Shakespeare in Love

Fish 'n Chips!

Lost in Oxford


Grounds behind the Abbey

Tiny Knight!


There are so many incredible things that I have experienced and learned this week.  I’m a little overwhelmed by the wall of work I will be facing over the next 20 weeks because whenever you are faced with the reality that what you don’t know so far outweighs what you know – it’s just plain daunting, you know?

But here are some things I do know after 9 days in Wroxton:

  • No matter where in the world I travel, it I am destined to be the ‘fourth dude’ rounding out a group of three guys.  However, it seems now I have reached the age where I no longer a guy-girl but Wendy to their lost boys.  I’m still processing how I feel about that…
  • Don’t eat Bangers and Mash after 8 p.m. if you plan on sleeping that night.  I turned into some sort of evil British Gremlin
  • You don’t have to tip for drinks when you are in English pubs.
  • We seriously need to have “tea time” in America – I will be bringing this up with my boss at our next status update.  I may crack out from withdrawal when I get back
  • Careful when you use the word utilize – it does not always mean what you think it means
  • They don’t sell rice pudding in Oxford.  Trust us, we checked everywhere.
  • No matter what country you are in, drinking red wine AND doing shots of whiskey is never a good idea.
  • There is an actual prison in London called “The Clink” and that is where the term comes from.
  • Everyone, no matter where they’re from, has a Keith Richards story.

For me, the greatest thing I learned here is to just admit all the things I don’t know.  I’ve spent years being afraid to ask too many questions and peel away the layers of my stupidity for the world to see. I guess once you accidentally brand yourself “White Girl with a Fat Ass” to anyone who has a working knowledge of how to Google – which is pretty much the entire world except my mom – fear of embarrassment is no longer an issue.

My best times during this residency have been my “Moron Moments” where I finally just fessed up that I didn’t know what they hell all these wonderfully well-read writers were talking about, because after I asked they explained it to me.  MAGIC!

I’m reading a piece that I wrote and work-shopped over the course of the week at the New Student Reading tonight.  I’m excited but also a bit nervous.  Want to read it?  I know you do.  CLICK HERE to donate to my virtual food drive for Feeding America – in support of the 1 in 6 Americans struggling with hunger and I will send it to you.

That’s the deal.  Why?  Because I’m in England and only have one night left sleeping in an Abbey/Tinderbox and I said so.  Cheers

{January 12, 2012}   Double Rainbow

My room is cold. Like Dickensian cold. As I noted before, I thought myself to be a genius by figuring out that if I pile a bunch of my clothes (yay, for over packing!) up in front of the window with the curtains shut that manages to block out the draft. Then the room is not exactly warm but if you sleep in socks, slippers, long sleeves and a sweater – you will live.

However, the kindly british housekeeping staff at the estate keep sweeping my curtains open for me like they do at a hotel. Pip, pip, cheerio and what the frak! They totally keep breaking my beaver dam of warmth. I can only imagine what they think upon seeing all my clothes piled up on the windowsill Henry Hughes style. So today I shut the curtain tight, walled up the window with clothes and left this note,


I added the cheers with the small hope that this would keep them from thinking I’m batshit crazy. Fingers crossed it works!

Yesterday I had fish ‘n chips for lunch, we were visited by an amazing poet and I learned what Treacle is and I worked on revising my drafts for pieces that I’m sharing in a workshop on Saturday and a new student reading on Sunday. More importantly, I finally managed to get my hair looking half-way decent. This morning, after a really amazing workshop I set off to walk the grounds. The sun was shining and as I trekked across the estate taking pictures of rolling green hills, fairy tale trees and the redrum-esque abbey itself I settled into a rare moment of complete peace and gratefulness. Then it started to rain, sprinkling at first. I had walked to the farthest point of the grounds, out by the waterfall (yes, a waterfall!!) and I stopped in awe to admire the grand double rainbow this sunny sprinkle-shower created. I tried to get a picture of this beautiful phenomenon but like a foreboding jump cut in a horror movie the sky went hazy grey and it started to pour. My moment was over.

Sliding back across the muddy estate while being drenched by a sudden rainstorm was actually quite fun. Only my hair is back to crap. I immediately came down to our computer lab in the basement of the abbey, not only to share this with you, but because it is snug down here and if I went back up to my room I’d be risking pneumonia.

Upcoming: Today my group workshops the writing samples I brought with me, I am on a mission to eat Bangers and Mash, and tomorrow I’m going to try and visit Oxford.

{January 10, 2012}   Today I…

figured out that if I line my windowsill with all of my workout clothes that I’m not working out in to block the draft, it won’t be so bloody cold. and felt pretty darn pleased with myself

attended a lecture on the book Train Whistle Guitar

walked 3 and 1/2 miles through the English countryside to the castle from Shakespeare in Love

saw some sheep

was licked by a Scottish Terrier

ate a gammon, leek and mustard pie at a fancy pub

traded stories about famous musicians

had a pint

walked 3 and 1/2 miles home from a castle as the sun set on the English countryside

took lots of pictures – which you shall see at some point

Now I shall nap, and later work on my writing assignment.

Lloyd, I might never come home….

et cetera