Thursday, March 17, 2011

My useless skillz

Here is some random stuff: I know completely useless and random facts. And I have a ridiculously large knowledge of men's haberdashery. Seriously. I know all this random stuff about stitching on suits, the lay of the buttons, patterns of fabric, appropriate ties for occasions, the differences between italian and english and american suits, what kind of material lays nicest against certain body types, and how choose the right cloth for any occasion.
I'll tell you what this knowledge is for. It's so that I can totally geek out over this totally awesome blog I found that I freaking love so much cause it knows so so so so so so so much more than me and I love learning about pointless things.
I hope I marry someone who is going to need to wear a lot of fancy suits.

3 piece suits make me melt. Every time.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Take Courage

There are these two signs I see everyday, one coming in, one going out of London. They are so inspiring, and I love seeing them everyday. The one above is the one I see as I leave. It's wonderful because immediately after the sign, I go into a tunnel, and the tunnel takes me from cityscapes to country side. That sign is like my portal to Narnia.

This one though, is my favorite. It is the sign I see as I go to work, and its background is the dome of St. Paul's cathedral, the Tower Bridge, and an old Norman Church. I'll try to snap a picture on my in someday, but for now, you'll have to have the ground level version. Isn't it lovely?
And doesn't perfectly capture the ideals of London circa WWII?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another I like....

5 favorite things:
Movie: Shawshank Redemption
Song: Some Mistakes by Brad Paisley
Book: The Count of Monte Cristo
Food: Anything SPICY
Season: Summer

4 smells I enjoy:
Old books
Fresh cut grass
Onions as they are being sautee`d.

3 places I want to go:
Taj Mahal

2 favorite holidays:
4th of July

1 person I'd marry on the spot:
mmmm...The man I won't name.
Or Zachary Levi. Tall, dark, and handsome. And Republican. score. I know that's 2, but sometimes you need a back-up plan, ok?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cynthia = Rapunzel

These are my floating laterns. I really want to go this year.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Saturday the 19th dawned bright and early for me. It began with a 2.5 hour train ride from Tunbridge Wells, through London Charing Cross to London Paddington, and then onwards to Oxford. I slept pretty much the whole way. And since it was dark 75% of the time, I feel just fine about that.
Don't let the prestigious history and gothic architecture fool you about Oxford - it is definitely a college town. And also very touristy, surprisingly so for February.

Arriving at the crack of dawn as I did, I got to see the town in the best way possible - with no one else around. Oxford is rather small and easily walkable. Everything you want to see you can walk to in about 20 minutes, no matter where you start out. I started out at Christ's Church - more commonly known as the Great Hall for the Harry Potter movies. It definitely lived up to it's name. Walking in and around that ancient place was fun, as was watching the Oxford boys row (or punt) on the Thames.
Then across the street to visit Alice's Shop - an adorable store dedicated to Alice in Wonderland, as those stories were composed in Oxford. It was surreal and made me very nostalgic for Disneyland. And also tea, strangely enough.
Next on the list was Bodleian Library - 3rd largest library in the world! OH YEAH. It just smelled wonderfully of old books, and time and dust, and intelligence. I was so happy. And also, right next to the library is the History of Science Museum.... um, can we say COOLEST THING EVER?!? Especially since they were having a display on early Persian Astronomy, which you might think is incredibly specific exhibit, but it's still amazing. Trust me. Oh, and they happened to display the Einstein Oxford Chalkboard. Which is kind of famous.

But the funniest thing in that whole museum was the old wooden spiral staircase that creaks loudly as you walk up it, and the sign that says, "pleae tread lightly on this old staircase." It's the little things, really, that make life funny.
Next to Ashmolean Museum, which has your standard museum stuff.... Honestly I was still on a Persian Astronomy high. But there was a Stradivarius Violin which had some interesting carvings on the back of the Garden of Eden. And another one, which is considered the most valuable and it is nicknamed The Messiah, for reasons I still don't understand. Ironically, the instrument is in mint condition, for having been made in the early 1700s, and it hasn't ever been played. Which seems like the antithesis of a musical instrument's existence, but who am I to say?

From Oxford I went to visit Blenheim Palace - the place where Kenneth Branagh filmed his Hamlet. It was even better than I thought it would be! But it was freezing cold, and that made me sad.
The grounds of Blenheim are MASSIVE. Probably at least twice the size of BYU campus. And they are lovely, with lots of little areas of happiness, and a secret garden, and a water fall, and an arboretum, and an Italian garden and lots of other really lovely things. The palace is amazing and ornate. It is the place Winston Churchill grew up, so it's bound to be fabulous, right?
Blenheim is really an experience I don't think I can describe. Sorry. Pictures do some justice, but old, stately, ornate homes just need to be seen. I don't know how marketing people do it.

After I came back from Blenheim it was time to head home - unfortunately I had a short trip, but then I got to talk to Calista. And of all the things I did last weekend, talking to Calista was definitely the best. 18 months is way too long, I don't care what they say.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brought to you by Congress Spending

This post comes inspired by Kylie.

Things I cannot get over:

1. The Economy/The Electoral College/ Stock Market/ Politics.
At best I sort-of half understand all these. I have tried so hard. Really, really hard. But I don't get it. Any of them. Every side presents their case with at least some truth, but without me knowing EVERYTHING it's hard to find who is telling the most truth and therefore pick a side. Can't I just go look through a telescope for a while? No, because congress ran out of money. It's one big circuitous ANNOYING fight in my head.

2. Sports love
To illustrate the extent of my lack of understanding, I cannot even write a paragraph about how much I don't understand. Pretty extensive, huh?

3. People who get uncomfortably close.
To be fair, I have done this for comedic effect, but I know some people who just get all up in your face. And that "I'm terribly near-sighted" excuse just won't work here. If I can freaking feel you breath, you are too close.

4. How trees grow.
Yup, I didn't pay attention in 2nd grade. I could probably solve this with a quick trip to Wikipedia, but I like that trees are still mysterious to me. That way I can keep pretending faeries live in them and build up the tree to accomodate their ever increasing population.

5. Why melted cheese and fried chicken skin are so dang good.
Seriously, it could probably solve US-Middle East relations, but no one ever thinks to bring along some KFC do they? That's really why they get mad around the discussion table. They're hungry but they have to eat fancy food, carefully selected to impress the visitor, not solve problems. Come on, world leaders, think!

You didn't know that the first thanksgiving was actually a successful peace treaty due to my 11 secret herbs and spices.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes i find things that are so ironic it makes me laugh out loud.

"The greatest thing I've ever done, was to give up the thing I love most, for the God I love even more."
~Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Technology is the Future

This is just too hilarious, and still kinda cool.

But how long will it take a hacker to get into the Pope's iPhone and see what he's confessing?

Maybe people can start making graphs of their sins too, and chart a yearly progress. "Let's see... I'm always good around the New Year, but man, spring break week really needs some more vigilance. And St. Patrick's Day."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today I love

TWIX! Second favorite candy.

Because it's finally sunny here. Love that.

Cause I'm geeky...

I'm so hungry right now... and these make me feel like Christmas is coming.

I'm reading this right now. It. Is. SO. GOOD! Truly.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Me and books get along real well.

Yesterday I went to explore Tunbrige Wells downtown area. It was lovely. Why you ask? Because I found a GORGEOUS second-hand bookshop that will probably get tons of money from me before I leave England. Here are some samples.....

The Rubaiyat - some old Persian poetry that is just delightful. With pictures! Gaston would be happy.

Second edition of my second favorite book. Heck yes I did.

I might need a bigger suitcase. HAha from L-R: Arabian Nights, The Jungle Book, Essays by Bacon, Stories from the Greek Legends, Confessions by Augustine, Frankenstein!, Alexander Pope's trans. of Odyssey, some Churchill poetry, Treasure Island, Keats Poetry, Rubaiyat, and Lorna Doone.

It was a good day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Life of a State Dept. Intern

When I told the people in my office about all my internships, they said to me, "What are you? A career intern?" And I guess the short answer is yes. The classroom only takes you so far.
In the Embassy I probably have the second best internship out of everyone. I'm so not trying to toot my own horn, but really, it's true. The guys do Homeland Security roves, the other girls do econ and PR, and one other lucky intern (this is THE best internship...) is part of the chain of assitants to the Ambassador.

I get to catch bad guys. I look at the special cases, all the silly criminals, and all the brilliant ones too. I get to investigate informant calls, document records, and watch some really awesome FSOs interview people who are lying and see beads of sweat roll down their face. It's 30% hilarious, 50% work, 20% ingenuity and 100% fun. No other internship has ever been this awesome for me. I can't say how appreciative I am that the State Dept actually put me to work. My other internships sometimes were... floundering. And even though there's a lot of autonomy in my dept (which is the BEST), everyone in there is really taking care of me too. They're such nice people. I don't even have to fetch coffee!

Working for the State Dept has been like drinking water out of a firehouse. I started out on a steep learning curve 4 weeks ago.... and I'm still on that learning curve. Due to some events in my office, they have a rotating schedule to help other FSOs recognize fraud. Last monday (the beginning of my 4-week mark) I started training people. Me. Their little intern started training federal officers. It is a whole lot of responsibility and I think I'm going to be second-guessing myself for a long time. But it's fun to tell about cases I've already had. In fact, this past week I wrote my first cable. Which, we jokingly declared could someday pop up on wikileaks, and then wouldn't I be oh-so famous?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little bit fabulous

When I don’t have a good book to read I start watching TV. I think a lot of people think that’s a waste of time, but I don’t care. I can get caught up in a good show like I can a good book.
These are the best TV shows out there. You all need to start watching them and fall in love like I did.
Leverage: Modern day Robin Hood. Love it!

Community: Best characters ever written. End of story. I'm so sad that we only get 22 minutes a week.


Chuck! Casey and Morgan are freaking hilarious.

Marilyn Monroe once said, “If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” That’s kinds of scarily true for me. Dramas are ok, but good comedy…. I’m such a sucker for it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The to-do list...

OK, back to things about London.
Things I have discovered so far that I love:
FlapJack minibites = little piece of heaven. They’re like this really sweet, really little oatmeal bar crossed with maple syrup and brown sugar. DELICIOUS.
Primrose Hill – You can see a lot of downtown London from up there, and it’s stunning.
Regent’s Park – Just another park… I don’t really know how to describe how much or why I love them. This one has lovely roses, and a great fountain.
Kowloon in Chinatown – 80p for lunch! Kyle, Keri and Kelly… we are SO going here. Maybe more than once. Also, Nandos!

Things I still need to do (well, some of them…)
Go to the south bank. See the Globe theatre. See a play in the Globe.
Send postcards (i.e. get addresses)
Go to the Savoy
See Crown Jewels, and go back to St. Paul’s.
Harrods, just for kicks and also to be posh.
Find and marry Prince Harry.

Well, I better get crackin.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I just won the best game. It’s ultra-predicting powers make it true.

I marry....

even though I don’t typically go for fair guys, but you know, whatevs.
We drive around on sweet motorcycles.

We have 3 kids (they’re in our little motorcycle side-cars, don’t worry)

My job is a Mommy. Yay!

We honeymooned at the Grand Canyon.

And we live in a secret Bond Mansion.

Yeah, I just won at fake-celebrity life. It's ok to be jealous, I would be too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jam and Bread!

I think I could live off of bread as long as I had a few things to go with it. Cheese, butter, jam (strawberry!). And a toaster, for weekend brunch.
Seriously, it’s the best. Also: milk.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

thoughts on a saturday night

today i walked through a different kind of fairy tale place. it was beautiful!

1. Indian curry in London is about a bajillion times better than Indian curry in Provo. Or Portland.
2. Especially Thai Green Curry. And Chinese food.
3. I saw stained glass windows by Chagall. Wonderful. See it here!
4. London is wonderful. To be honest, I didn't love it instantly... I was worried about that. I loved the Königsthul the second I got there, but London had to grow on me. Now, I love it as much as I loved Germany, but there was an adjustment period. I definitely am a country girl, and it took time to morph into a city girl. But now I jay-walk and take short cuts and know where to find good deals like the rest of them.
5. April is looming and it worries me.
6. I went to a traditional English pub and had traditional food. There was a real fire and real candles and real flowers! Loved that.
7. My job is amazing and you should all be waaaaaaay jealous. I catch bad guys!
8. Cornish pasties are also amazing.
9. I'm talking about food way too much in this post.
10. But what the heck, lets add English chocolate which is even better than German, Swiss and Belgian chocolate. BOOM roasted.
11. Yesterday as I was walking to work (and taking a shortcut) a scary old guy reached out and grabbed me as I was walking past him. A little nerve wracking... Probably won't take that shortcut again.
12. I got to ride in an armored embassy car. Be jealous.
13. And see the Rosetta Stone, the original Van Gogh Sunflowers, and also some really great Monet pieces. Also, the Dutch masters are really that - Masters.
14. I miss seeing stars. It's either cloudy or too polluted here.
15. I've thought about one person way too much this week.
16. I get lots of compliments on my necklaces and earrings. YAY!
17. Community is back!
18. Brother, sister, and sister-in-law are coming to visit. BEST THING EVER.
19. Cute boy in church. Get to see him tomorrow!
20. I'm just so happy.

Life is good people! Life is GOOOOOOOOD. "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - St. Augustine. That saint knew his stuff.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A typical day

This past week set a pattern which I hope doesn't change that much. It was an amazing first week.
4:15AM: Wake up WIDE AWAKE (i hope this changes...) and try to force myself back to sleep.
5:30AM: roll out of bed after lying there for an hour, unsuccessful at falling back asleep. Get ready for work.
6:05AM leave home for the train stop.
6:24AM get to the station just in time to catch the train to London.
7:14AM: get off the train at Waterloo East Station, and weave in and out of the crowd to catch the Jubilee westbound underground line.
7:34AM: get off the Jubilee line at the Bond Street stop, avoid all the peddlers, exit onto Oxford Street, walk to the embassy.
7:50AM: arrive at the embassy, pass the men with the big and scary guns, go through security, arrive at my desk.
8AM: check emails, respond, catch up on the world news. Try to feel well informed.
9AM: visa and passport checks start coming in, and throughout the day I am logging the info, looking up people, checking the authenticity of the documents, sitting in on interviews, going to meetings, briefings, and lectures, writing memos, networking, and trying to make a good impression.
3:30pm. This past week proved to be hilarious for my co-workers around this time... this is usually when I started to have to fight to stay awake. Friday was a success though! I made it through the whole day!
5PM: head home. Same thing... winding through crowds, dashing to make the trains in time, trying so hard to remember to keep to the LEFT side... pass on the RIGHT. Trying not to look like an idiot on the underground, trying to keep my head when I miss a connection, and trying to not kill slow walkers.
6:35PM: arrive at home in dear 'ol Tunbridge Wells. Have a lovely dinner. Visit and watch TV with the Bascoms. Do some reading, play piano etc. Write blog posts. Walk the dog. etc.
9PM: crash into bed. dead tired.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
11 more weeks!!! Life is very fun and exciting, you know. On weekends I expect it will be different. For instance, today we played around Tunbridge Wells (where I bought stamps) and took a trip to Costco (which is the same as in the states... in case you wondered), and walked Alfie, the dog... who is adorable and I love him. Tomorrow I'll go to London for church and to walk around the parks and perhaps go to a museum. We'll see. All in all... a very thrilling and busy (though I hate to use that word) week.

And in case you wondered if this post could get more boring, I've decided to end it. I promise more exciting things in the future. When I'm not tired, swearsies.

A little off the beaten path

We're going on a litte adventure with this post. We'll affectionately subtitle it, "in which Cynthia explores her connection with odd music."

There's this poem by W. Shakespeare that I love. It's in Much Ado, and while I usually just think it is funny and it makes me happy, there are unfortunate times that the poem just resonates with me. The title of my blog is from this poem - "Sigh no more, Ladies. Sigh no more..."
A little over a year ago I found a band that I have to come to love intensely. Mumford and Sons. They put parts of this poem into a song, and it was the first song I ever heard by them, in the middle of one of those unfortunate times. I listened to all their music, and every single song has at least one line that always resonate with me, no matter when I listen to it.

One of the things I love most about this song is that they take other lines from Much Ado and put them in the song. "Serve God, Love me, and mend." "Man is a giddy thing."

Other songs worth listening to...
1. Winter Winds..."My head told my heart, let love grow. But my heart told me head, this time no."
2. Liar... "you say you have spoken, and like the coward I am, I hang my head."
3. Awake my Soul... "Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep totally free."
4. Hold on to What You Believe.... "I ran away... it was a promise I could not make."

and last but certainly not least, is Little Lion Man. It's my second favorite song ever written. But be warned... it has some swear words in it. But in all of the English language, I don't think there are other words that can so clearly convey all the anger, self-loathing, and despair that the guy sings about having. A very moving song. Well, at least to me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

3.5 days of AWESOME!

This is what I wrote yesterday....

Today I assisted in an arrest. Yesterday I read informant letters. And on Monday I just tried really hard to stay awake all day.
It's been a busy 3.5 days since I arrived!
Note to self: allow more than one day to adjust to time change when engaging in international activities.

London is lovely. I'm so happy to be back, and I am really excited to be working in the Embassy. It's HUGE and fantastic.

I intended to write this fantastic post about what I've done and learned and all that jazz. But I find that I am so exhausted that I cannot really form coherent, much less interesting, sentences. Jet lag is my worst enemy right now. And terrorists.

I'll write about the arrest though, since that just happened, and it was the most interesting thing.
Some guy came into the embassy, and he's been living in the UK for a very long time - way past his visa allowance. He came to the US embassy to see if he could get a visa to 'visit' the US. When they ran his passport number, a little flag went up, and we (the Fraud Dept.) were informed. (His passport was also a fraudulent.)
Anyway, the visa dept cannot make arrests - actually, arrests can't really happen in or on the embassy. So we got to call the police, give them a picture and let them know who to arrest. The fun part was when I got to follow him out of the embassy with someone else from my deptartment and point him out to the police so that they could make the arrest. He was very calm (which I learned was common... no one really fights the police), and then they patted him down, cuffed him, and took him away.

I just reread that and realized it's very boring. There are other details that make the story interesting, but I'm not supposed to tell. Suffice it to say that working at the embassy is very, very interesting. I highly recommend it.