The corpse with a six pack

Author’s Note: So, this isn’t exactly a blog piece, but, rather, a creative writing piece. I wrote this piece after a very emotional Sunday night (I say this with a smidgen of satire) where I needed to sort out my feelings and figure out why I felt so invested in this particular instance. Additionally, I read this piece aloud for my creative nonfiction class on the day we presented our work. I’m happy to say they quite enjoyed listening and I quite enjoyed reading. So I thought, why not share it with you? Plus, it’ll be a good preview to this Sunday. Sort of. Hope you enjoy “The corpse with a six pack” by me. (And, yes, I still have a cold. Cheers.)

The corpse with a six pack

This is it. It has to be. This moment defines all moments. I imagine peoples from all over the world with me in this moment. The moment that took a whole goddamn year getting here.

My body is tense, muscles taut like a stretched rubber band, ready to be released with a single flick. With my eyes wide and brow furrowed, I chew the right corner of my mouth as my hands wring together. My pre-finals cold threatens the moment. I choke back a glob of mucus, willing myself to stay quiet. I must not make a sound. Sniff back that cold, but don’t risk a tissue. You don’t want to miss this.

The chair beside me creaks as my roommate leans forward, resting her elbows on the wooden kitchen table. The laptop’s cooling fan whines in protest. The picture flickers and we pray to the Wi-Fi gods that this moment won’t be taken away from us prematurely. We dare not breathe. My heart pounds in my chest; I can hear it in my cold-clogged ears. I’ve never felt so alive as I watch the corpse with a six pack.

Can a corpse have a six pack? Or is the corpse flexing? Hm.

Sorry, back to the moment. The moment, yes, the moment. Everything else is hanging over your head. You have a presentation to prepare for tomorrow. You have a revised essay to get done (with an Artist Statement). You could be doing more important things, like getting that internship application done or calling your mom or ending world hunger. You should be ashamed of yourself. What the hell is wrong with you? Why is this corpse with a six pack so important to you?

I don’t know and I don’t care, because right now, in this moment, all I care about is this small kernel of hope, that my life isn’t a mess, that I can rise from the ashes, that this corpse will breathe. I need it to breathe.

But it looks dead. His face is an actor’s resting-dead-face—relaxed, calm, stoic, powdered in a white, snowy complexion, probably waiting for the director to yell cut so he can breathe. I bet he’s cold. He, the corpse, lies there on a worn wooden table, half-naked; dark, crescent cuts puncture his stomach. A wolf sits beside the table, its CGI features reflecting the production’s budget. Those surrounding the corpse wear heavy fur coats or wool cloaks, fit for winter. They stare at the corpse in disappointment and one by one, they leave.

No, this can’t be happening. Don’t leave. Don’t lose hope. If you lose hope, what will I do? How will I survive finals? How will I survive the rest of my life? What will get me through the long, cold nights, downing green tea and consuming Chipotle as I fight to stay alive in this résumé-enforced society? What will I hold onto? What will anyone hold onto?

The door shuts and the corpse is alone. The wolf stays, resting its head on its white paws in defeat. My roommate and I watch at the edge of our seats. I think I’m sweating, oh god, I’m sweating. My body is ready. My emotions are in shambles, but I can’t look away. No one can, because the scene hasn’t cut away. The moment isn’t over. Not yet. We hold onto this kernel of hope together and we wait.

And wait. And wait.

The wolf looks up and the camera pans to the corpse.

Oh, god, this is it. It has to be. The moment.

I grab my roommate’s arm for support and she shoots me a look.

Get your shit together, Lauren. It’s just a show.

But I don’t care. Because right now, right then, the corpse breathes.



Will the real Jon Snow please stand up?

Guess who’s back, back again…

So, this is embarrassing yet predictable. I wrote three blogs and then school started up again and then zilch: radio silence. I probably should have warned you. Right now, I’m going to be one of those bad bloggers who doesn’t post regularly, at least while I’m in college. But, rest assured, I haven’t forgotten about you yet! So, here’s something new, hope you enjoy…sorry, I still didn’t bring any popcorn.

In honor of the approaching season 6 premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, I decided to chat a bit about my experience in London with Jon Snow (the fictional character, not the news person).

I remember like it was yesterday, sitting in my London flat, eating some breakfast (which consisted of microwaved oatmeal and a banana, if I was feeling lucky), and scrolling through Buzzfeed (I’m ashamed to admit it’s my main source of news) and low and behold my eye caught an article, spoiling what had happened in the last scene of season 5, involving Jon Snow. If you know, you know (or you know nothing, Jon Snow). Sorry, anyways, I finally calmed my beating heart and raised blood pressure, when a sense of annoyance crept into my mind as I was irked that the show was spoiled, and any Game of Thrones spoiler is usually pretty big (i.e. someone dies). Damn you, Buzzfeed! (I’m kidding, I love you. I would have found out eventually anyways.)

(not Castle Black, but Windsor Castle)

Around the same time of my accidental spoiler, I was on the Tube with a few of my fellow classmates/travelers, when I noticed a man sitting not far away. He wore dark jeans, a black t-shirt, and sunglasses (or maybe he wasn’t wearing sunglasses, but it sounds right in my head) and he had a mop of black hair with a slight beard.

Oh dear, is that Jon Snow? I’ve heard about these things happening. I was in London. I was bound to see some famous person eventually. (Oh, no, now I’m thinking about society’s obsession with image and celebrities and philosophical stuff and…nope. Sorry, I’m typing this in my school’s library so all these books are threatening to absorb into my brain like some sponge cake…but I love books and libraries and cake and celebrities are people too…but I digress.)

I nonchalantly stared at the potentially-Jon-Snow man for a good few minutes, trying to figure out if he was Kit Harrington (the actor who plays Jon Snow). I even considered sneaking a picture of him, saying I met Jon Snow on the Tube, even if he wasn’t Jon Snow, but taking pictures are a big no on the Tube (as well as staring, but there are some exceptions as you’ve probably read in the previous London survival blog). After some close casual studying, I concluded that the man probably wasn’t Kit. If he had been, I’d probably just stare and not say anything or sneak a picture or follow him to his stop and ask him to take a picture there or just keep following him until I get the courage to ask for a picture or ask him if he’s coming back in season 6 and he better be or I’m not watching that emotion-wrenching, raunchy yet cinematic show ever again, or get arrested for stalking. Either way, maybe it was for the best it wasn’t Kit. (But I’d still love to meet you, Kit, and maybe have a pint and talk about all the behind the scenes stuff.)

The train reached my destination and I exited, throwing one last look at the mysterious man. As my companions and I ascended to real world London, I asked: “Did you think that guy looked like Jon Snow?” They hadn’t even noticed. Oh, well.

                                (Fav Tube station)                         (Not Jon Snow or potential Jon Snow)                                                 (Baker Street!)                             (Just me and my bro…my bro and I)

So, what’s the point of all this? The point is: don’t check Buzzfeed if you don’t want to accidentally see a spoiler, and, if you see Kit or any other celebrity, be nice, and, above all, Jon Snow better come back.


(Okay, so that wasn’t as travel-focused, but we’ll get there. I also might weave in some other places I’ve been, besides the U.K. All good fun! I hope to post more in the future…hopefully not the distant future, but time is all relative, so no promises.)


Advice of the day: find something every day to smile about (though hopefully it doesn’t involve someone else’s suffering…or your own).

Thought of the day: I feel like someone invented April Fools’ Day as a joke and now the joke’s on all of us…forever.


How to Survive a Walk Through London

So, you want to walk through London? Here are eleven things you should know.


(Traitor’s Gate, Tower of London)

First: Route

            Plan your route ahead of time so you’re not looking like a tourist. London’s streets signs suck. Get used to it. You can ask for directions but it will make you look weak. The pigeons might pick you off then. Don’t panic. Everyone is lost in their own world, just be lost in yours. Stick to the main roads and believe in yourself. When using the Tube (subway), ask the Tube workers for help. They are usually very nice and helpful and you won’t look as weak, you’ll just look like a tourist, but most people in London are. If you’re a student, carry your backpack around so you look like a student and can look down on all the tourists because you’re there to study and not mess around…but you secretly are a tourist too.


(London Bridge)

Second: Weather

            Before you begin your journey out onto the streets of London make sure you have all your needed items before exiting your place of residence. Always have an umbrella or rain jacket on you. Even if there’s not a cloud in the sky, be warned, it will rain. Plus you could wear your jacket if it gets chilly, especially if the sun goes behind the clouds. The sun is a lot stronger this far north and will burn you. Have sunscreen on hand so you don’t end up looking like a roasted lobster or a murderous guppy.

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 Third: Shoes

            Wear sensible shoes. This doesn’t mean shoes that go with your outfit, it means shoes that you can walk twenty miles in without filling your shoes with blood from all the blisters you would get. Plenty of Londoners wear tennis shoes (trainers) to work and carry their work shoes with them. None of this beauty is pain crap. You’d look more beautiful if you’re not cringing and complaining about your poor choice of footwear. Also, your shoes might get dirty, especially if it rains. Don’t worry about it. Shoes are meant to be worn, not put in a museum…unless they’re diamond-studded. Then you’re probably too rich to give a…okay, moving on.

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Fourth: Mind Yourself

            As you enter the London world you will be reminded to mind yourself constantly. Mind the Gap. Mind Your Head. And so on. In addition, you must be prepared mentally to take your journey. London can be an overwhelming and hectic place. You must find peace. Many people listen to music while others might give themselves motivational speeches. In their heads, not aloud. Try not to talk to yourself aloud. People might look at you strangely or not be fazed at all. After all, it’s London. And Londoners aren’t fazed by anything, because they are jaded and soon you will be too. So don’t lose your humanity over this.

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(Victoria & Albert Museum)

Fifth: Eye Contact

            Avoid eye contact, but don’t be an asshole about it. Keep your eyes up (or, if you’re having a bad day, down) and don’t stare through people. If you make eye contact with a stranger, give a slight smile and nod and then divert your eyes. There are many homeless in London. If you feel it in your heart, give them money or a smile, but, if you’re feeling cold and stoic inside, don’t make eye contact and continue your merry way. If you’re on the Tube, do not stare at someone, even if they’re hot. Feel free to stare at puppies though and little babies who love to entertain people around them. Smile at their mother to let her know it’s alright and her baby is adorable. Smiling is known as an American thing, but that’s okay, because America is great.

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 Sixth: Pigeons

            The pigeons secretly run London. Respect them, but don’t feed them. Pigeon-watching is the next best thing to people-watching, especially if one is flirting with the other, but she’s not having it. If you approach a group of pigeons on your walk, walk around them, for if you walk through them they could take flight and scare another passerby or knock a child in the face. And then people will judge you for hurting children. And you don’t want that. Also, don’t be surprised if a pigeon takes the Tube, because it has happened before. However, it is unfair since they don’t have an Oyster card. Where would they put it? Unless they have miniature ones.


Seventh: The Tube (Subway)

            The Tube is easy to navigate. Get a Tube map and find out what direction you need to go and what station you’ll get off via which line. There are signs in the stations and you can ask a worker for help. Give yourself time too for there are delays and check to see if there are any lines closed the day you will travel. If you use the Tube during rush hour, God be with you. You’ll feel like a true Londoner. You have no personal space. Also, exercise proper Tube etiquette. Always tap in and tap out with your Oyster Card or ticket so you don’t get fined a million dollars (or pounds) or arrested and then deported. Stand on the right side of the escalator so people who are late for a meeting can run by you. Let people off the train before getting on it. If someone’s having trouble with a stroller or something, help them. Be kind. Give up your seat to an elderly person or someone with kids. If someone accidently falls into you, don’t be bothered and, if they apologize, smile in return. No PDA. Ever. Don’t puke on anyone either. As said before, don’t stare at people even if they’re a celebrity or very attractive. Don’t be loud or obnoxious. Be aware of others around you. And, remember, mind the gap.

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Eighth: Vehicles

            Watch out for cars, buses, and bikes. Be aware of your surroundings. When you cross the street at a light, wait for the green man. Green is good. Red is not. Usually in London the crosswalk tells you which way to look. You are in Britain. They drive on the left side of the road, but London is a city so there are some one-way streets and strange configurations. There are also zebra crossings with blinking lights that give the pedestrian the right-of-way, but still look, because people are stupid and you have only one life.


(Tower Bridge)

 Ninth: Pollution

            Do not be alarmed if you blow your nose and gray stuff comes out. That’s pollution. You also might be stuffy and your senses could act up. Compared to past years, London is a relatively clean city, but there is still pollution and you will feel it. Avoid running and vigorous activities in certain areas. As you walk keep your mouth closed and eyes slightly squinted. There can be particles in the air or little seedlings from trees floating around, especially when it’s windy. If you wear contacts be extra careful or just wear sunglasses.

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 Tenth: Bad Tourist

            Don’t be a bad tourist. If you want to take a picture, don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk, but move to the side or else you might get run over or judged. Be respectful, but not overly nice. Some people may not treat you well, but don’t worry, you’re a tourist so you’re keeping London jobs afloat. They should thank you. Just don’t be a bad tourist and be mindful of others. Make sure you learn the currency coins so you’re not holding up the line, trying to figure out the different between a twenty-pence and a fifty-pence and why the hell they have a two-pence coin. Also, watch out for pickpockets and mean people who want to hurt you. The emergency number over there is 999. You cannot carry pepper spray though because that’s illegal in the U.K. Salt spray, however, isn’t.

DSCN0239 (Afternoon Tea)

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 Eleventh: Have Fun

            Enjoy yourself. You’re in London. Love it. Live it. Breathe it (not too much though). See what interests you and go for that. Don’t panic if something doesn’t work out. Be smart and kind. And, always, mind the gap. Cheers!

In the Know: A Brief Overview

I thought it’d be best to give an overall briefing of what happened this summer in order to prepare you all for the future posts. So, take out your notebook and pencil and pay attention…I’m kidding. About the notebook and pencil part. (Though you could if you wanted.) [P.S. Photo overload ahead. All mine btw.]


My study abroad program was called Literary London and lasted five weeks from May 25 to June 29 where I studied Shakespeare and the literary marketplace (you could’ve also studied Jane Austen, but I didn’t want to do that much reading in five weeks). The program was through my university and connected with AIFS who helped us throughout our journey. We stayed in some very nice and centrally located apartments that were a ten or fifteen minute walk from where our classes were at the University of London Union, right down the street from the British Museum. (Oh, you know, just visiting the British Museum on my lunch break, it’s whatever.) Our first week we had orientation and were zipped around a lot of touristy sites before settling down in our classes.


Throughout the program we also visited Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford, in addition to everywhere else people went on their own. I (with a few wonderful people, you know who you are) went to Dover, Brighton, and Edinburgh, Scotland.

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After the program ended my family joined me and we stayed in London for another week (which happened to be the hottest week in 130 or so years…yay, no AirCon, as they call it over there, but we survived). Then we spent a few days in Ireland and then a few days in the Netherlands where we visited some friends before returning to the States (that’s what Europeans call the United States).

Whew. Now we got all that logistic part out of the way, let me give you the gist of London.

London. A wonderful city, built on years and years of rubble and bodies, full of amazing history, and just waiting to prove itself the most superior city in the world.

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I loved London, which has a lot to do with the Tube (subway), which made it easy to travel around, and they spoke English (for the most part). London can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re not used to a big city, but I felt very comfortable there. It’s also a very international city and touristy so as a student studying abroad I did get sick of tourists and sick of the way some Londoners treated tourists. I did all the touristy things, though I wouldn’t recommend going to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace unless you like getting to know strangers that you don’t want to get to know or unless you’re nine feet tall to see over everyone in order to see what’s happening.

I had the pleasure of witnessing Trooping of the Colour when I was there which trumped every changing ever. It was phenomenal and I saw the royal family, including the Queen and Prince George. Not to mention all the beautiful horses and men in uniform. Loved it!

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I will admit I liked the abroad part more than the study part of study abroad, which might have been caused by my brain yelling at me that it’s summer and there’s no school in the summer or perhaps I felt like I had to get out and do a bunch of stuff since I’m in another place, especially London. We also had beautiful weather during the program with sunny cool days (while it was stormy and humid in Ohio). I did get sick of the hustle and bustle of London by the end, but would love to go back and definitely would recommend it to you all to visit.

Saying that, I should warn you, you will probably be broke by the end. First of all, London is very expensive, and, second, the conversion rate sucks so that the pound is worth way more than the dollar. But, don’t lose hope! There’s some cheap eating options and all the museums are free! (The Victoria & Albert Museum was incredible.) In addition, you could be a groundling (meaning you stand, but it’s an amazing experience that we’ll talk about in the future) at The Globe for only five pounds!!!


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I would also recommend wandering into St. Paul’s Cathedral (which is a very impressive structure) and witnessing an evensong (don’t matter if you’re religious or not).

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The parks are also gorgeous to stroll around and offer a nice break from the city. You can breathe in the wonderful London air, but don’t breathe in too much of it (pollution and all). You’re also not a true Londoner if you don’t experience the Tube at rush hour. (Thank God we missed the Tube strike though.) But I digress.

So there was a quick overview of the trip just to get through the usual suspects (questions). Now it’s time to narrow the focus. Stay tuned…or connected to the Internet, whatever works for you. We’ll start off with some survival tips next time.


(P.S. The British use “Cheers” a lot such as for “thank you” or “good-bye” or “have a nice day” or “you’re welcome” and so on. I like it…simple, easy to remember.)

Goat Talk

Perhaps it’d be best to start off this blog with explaining why it’s named “Goats on a Roof.” I’m sure you’ve asked yourselves that very question since many of you may not have witnessed the sight of goats on a roof, or a goat at all, or even a roof…maybe you don’t like roofs and prefer the moon and stars shining in your face at night or you live in a ruined mansion that’s probably haunted. Anyways, in order to explain the significance of this name, we’ll have to take a journey back seven years ago when I was a wee lass visiting Europe for the first time…cue dramatic transition music…

Tis a gorgeous day as we ascend the mighty Alps. The weather is perfect (i.e. not hot) and we’re about halfway through our stay in Switzerland. We have traveled to Brienz, a town on Thun Lake that we can see from above, nestled between two snow-capped mountains (though it’s July) that look down on the dotted houses of Brienz. The lake is blue and its clear surface glistens in the midday sun. As our train toots up the mountain side, weaving up and up into the heavens (okay, not that high), we spot herds of cows and goats balanced on the steep slopes munching on some grass and not caring much for the beautiful view or us.

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But some of these animals are born entertainers.

We stop briefly next to a chalet and barn, waiting for another train that’s coming down to pass us. On the chalet’s roof are a group of goats. They clop slowly around the angled roof and form a line as if they’re British Guards waiting for inspection. Their dark beady eyes stare at us as they all seem to smile slightly. We take several photos at this strange wonderment. (Alright, I’ll admit, I took many for as you may learn I am an excessive picture taker). Soon our train continues its journey up the mountain. We chuckle and shake our heads as the goats watch us leave. They shuffle out of their neat line and wander around the roof. We cram our heads until they’re out of our sight. Perhaps they know something we don’t…

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End scene. Yes, I could go on and make this a wonderful story that’s more action packed than it actually was, but I digress. The Alps were quite breath-taking (especially to someone who’s from Ohio) and I had an amazing time in Switzerland. Would love to go back, but we’re not here for Switzerland! We’re here for London! Sort of. Or maybe you’re not and are just here for the free popcorn. Sorry, there’s no popcorn.

Anyways, as you see from the small motto below the blog’s title, this blog is meant to observe, write and repeat what’s in the world (or just have a bloody fun time). At the moment the focus will be on my study abroad trip to London during the summer and then we’ll see where we go from there.

So, without further ado—clears throat dramatically—welcome to “Goats on a Roof.” And I hope you have a fun read or at least find it somewhat interesting and worthwhile.