Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Europe Blog (Part one)

Hello all,

I apologize for any withdrawals I've caused you with my lack of posts (that's YOU Miss Eaton), but I've just been too busy touring Western Europe. Yeah, that's right. I'm officially one of those snobs that can brag about their globe-trotting travels and make you green with envy. 

Originally, I was going to make one giant Europe Blog, but it is just taking waaayyyy too crazy long. I'll try to go in some sort of order, but no promises. I've had a hundred things to do since I got back and had a surprise vacation to California that has kind of hindered working on this gigantic blog. I would rather do one huge blog, BUT I know I may not have time to do that and may never post ANYTHING about Europe if I don't get at least a PART of this blog done. 

It was actually pretty great. I won't lie to you, I wasn't prepared for Explorica's tour. It was like traveling boot-camp. We walked at least five miles a day (or so I estimate, probably way more than that), stairs not included. Needless to say, my calves now look awesome (hooray!), or at least less like pale pencils.* We were extremely busy, waking up sometimes at 5 or 6 am and staying out (or awake) until midnight. It was lovely, but tiring. I planned on writing about everyday, but I only had time to write about the first eight days out of fourteen. Still, that's quite a bit. I'll give you what I wrote, and also a schedule of what we did that way, which I will copy from Either Melany's notebook or Explorica.com, because I do not remember any specifics. I blame jet-lag.

Jet lag is freaking killer though. Not only do I continue to stay up late editing pictures for you people because I can not sleep, but I keep getting up early. It's weird. I never get up early. Seriously. When I got back I felt a combination of volleyball two-a-days soreness and fatigue and fever of the flu. It was gross. I bought this watch in Paris that has the Mona Lisa printed on the face. It's AWESOME, but sooo unreliable. Mona is a shifty lady. One night I was up editing pictures and kept looking at Mona, who was telling me it was around 3 AM when I decided to check my facebook. So I go into the kitchen, and guess what time it is? FIVE A.M.. I was wide awake. Shifty, shifty, shifty Mona! Now I wear her simply because she's hilarious and quirky, and not at ll because she's useful. 'Cause she's not.

*Still pale, by the way. Two weeks of outdoorsyness and NO TAN FOR MARY. Insanity, I say! Insanity! 


The plane to Cleveland is tiny and petite, but not too stuffy.  I am in a single isle, and to my left are two unoccupied seats. Tanner Jenkins sits on the opposite side of me, two rows behind, eating his trailmix and answering Mrs. Kieffer’s (a retired Albany elementary school teacher) questions with his many “Yes ma’m,” and “No ma’m,”s. It is a two or three hour flight from Dallas to Cleveland, and from Cleveland we head straight to London.

I look out the window and stare at the geometric shapes and wonder if the people who own the land plan out what their fields will look like from a plane. They always look so perfectly planned. They remind me of those mats I used to play on as a kid. You know, the kind with crayon-colored roads and fields that if you rubbed the wrong way would give you killer rug burn?  

It seemed as though at any moment I would see a giant three year sprawled across the horizon, playing on his crayon-colored mat. Maybe he would see our plane and pick us up between his peanut-butter-and-jelly-covered fingers and move us to a place that better suited him. Maybe he would see us and pick as up and begin saying, “Shoom, shoom!” as he spun us in circles. Maybe he would see us and do nothing at all.

Colt grabbed the seat behind me, and Alyssa took a seat across the isle. As for me, I sat in my seat pondering the Giant Three Year Old and tried not to scratch my face anymore. I was so freaking itchy. If things keep going the way they are, I’m going to look like a giant, walking tomato by the time we reach London. I took a benedryl back in Breckenridge, but all that did was make me pass out on Melany’s shoulder on the way to the airport.

I want to be excited about Europe. I really do. But I know if I start thinking about it, I’m going to start squealing, and I know no one on this tiny plane wants to deal with that. No iPod can muffle my squeals. I am also too busy worrying about coming back to America with a warrant out for my arrest. See, I left the US still having to send in my driving record, etc. for a ticket I received after running a stop sign in Austin. I gave everything to my parents, and I really hope everything gets turned in on time. But if not…BAM! Warrant  out for my arrest. Not. Cool.

Time for sleep.


Even if the American dollar was equal to Francs, Euros, or pounds, just buying a coke over there is more expensive than buying a fast-food meal in America.  It was usually three Euros for one coke, which is about $5.  And don’t think that going to an American place there will be any cheaper. In Switzerland, after I bought some crazy cheap clothes (even by American standards) from H&M, I walked down the street and bought an order of small fries and a small coke from McDonalds and spent over $13 American dollars.* I bought a lot of souvenirs, but I still spent more than double of that on food. And remember, we only had to buy lunch. Crazy, crazy, crazy.  I shoulda brought more peanut butter crackers.**

This is my example of how to save money while in Europe on souvenirs. If you didn't catch exactly what I did, I acted like I ONLY had eight Euro and deesssperately wanted that apron. Smile pretty, beg, and you can probably barter your way through saving a little. Or just be an idiot. I did both:

SMILE PRETTY TECHNIQUE: I was walking down a crowded street in France when all the sudden, I found it. Hanging amongst it's apron peers, I found the the most perfectest, cheesiest souvenir for my mother, an "I (heart) PARIS" apron.

Well I just had to have it. Buuuut, it was ten Euro, which is like $15, which is a little too much to pay for a cheesy apron, even if I had dubbed it the most perfectest. So before walking into the store to make my purchase, I sifted through my twenty Euro bills and found eight Euros in coins. 

I maneuvered through the door and between the abundance of tourist attracting things (none better than my apron, by the way), and found the purchase counter. Behind it sat a plump man in a white wife-beater. He was balding on top, but the rest of his white curls dangled below his ears and intertwined with his mustache in a very French way, even though he looked Italian.

Putting on my saddest face, I held out my coins and the apron and said, "Eight Euro?" He looked  me up and down, skeptical. Was I going to rob him? Was I going to steal the apron? He didn't even know, so he said, "No, that ten Euro. Take white instead."

I let my shoulders dip a little to portray the ultimate sadness his non-bartering was causing me, and told him it was for my mother. He looked me up and down again, his shoulders sagged, and he reluctantly nodded. 

IDIOT TECHNIQUE: I was walking down a crowded market street in Italy when I saw the prettiestest (cheap) cameo ring EVER.  I love cameos, and even if the thing looked like it came straight out of one of those machines at WalMart, I had to have it. It was one of our last days in Europe, and I didn’t want to come back with a bunch of unused Euros. So I went inside the tent, and asked the lady inside if she would take six Euros for it. “No,” she said with some weird mix of Italian and German accent, “That ring ten Euro. It antique.”

Well, I was curious to see if I even had ten Euros, so I dumped out my neck wallet on the floor and came up with eight Euros, which she did not accept. I then found some more coins that added up to 8.45 Euros or something, and by that point I think she was so annoyed with me that she just told me to take it. Woo hoo! See? Being an idiot isn’t always so bad.

*…No, I’m not kidding. Have the receipt to prove it and everything!

**When coming to Europe, BRING A TON OF FOOD. You will save so much money. I probably could’ve skipped lunch a lot if I had more peanut butter crackers. Sometimes I was starving and wanted to eat everything, but other times I really wasn’t that hungry and only wanted something small. And if I didn’t have cash, I was often put in the position where I had to buy at least ten Euros worth of stuff just to get an apple or slice of pizza with my debit card.


Silvana (our tour guide) had just released us for a bit of free time in Rome, and all of us kids were much more interested in getting gelato than paying attention to where we were or what museums and statues were around us. After a while, you just. Stop. Caring.

I had been having trouble finding a working ATM machine anywhere, but knew I probably needed cash to get gelato since a lot of places in Europe only accepted cash for small purchases. But I was hungry, and the only thing I relied on to be edible was gelato, so gelato it was.

I followed Amanda, Keely, Courtney, and her mother to what looked like the perfect place to get gelato. But then again, Fools Gold LOOKS like Gold, but is it? NO. Only FOOLS think that.

I didn’t even want to think about what I wanted before I knew I could actually buy it with my debit card. Didn’t want to torture myself, ya know? So I grabbed the Italian Dude behind the counter’s attention and said, “Can I buy THIS (pointing to gelato), with THIS (pointing to debit card)? NO CASH, no cash,” I said slowly to the tall, dark, and handsome (and in a second EVIL) Italian behind the counter. 

He nods slowly, scrunching his eyebrows together as if to say, “Girl please, I got you.” But in Italian, of course. “What Flavor?”

I tell him Chocolate and Fragola (strawberry). And then comes the handoff: He hands me my gelato, and I hand him the debit card.

“No,” he says, sticking obnoxiously pointed nose in the air and closing his eyes in the most dramatic, annoying way. “Only cash.”

I went on to say something to the extent of how I had JUST asked him if I could pay with a debit card, and right when I began considering throwing the gelato at him, Amanda saved the day and paid for me. So sweet Amanda, so EVIL Italian Dude.


Despite the numerous arguments that emerged on this trip over the correct conversions from American money to European, I stuck with the conversion facts I got from Google. They apparently change a lot, but this is what I used.

1 Franc = $1.08

1 Euro= $1.55

1 Pound= $1.88

And last, but not least, PICTURES!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Sort of.

The Europe Blog is taking a while, so I thought I'd give you somewhat of a TEASER of what's to come on marygarvinphotography.com. All these pics were taken in Europe, and they are all of friends that went with me. We had a ton of fun, and took some lovely pictures. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Shelby Eaton Blog

Until last night, I wasn't quite sure that my ramblings were catching anyones attention. Which I am cool with, because I LOVE RAMBLING. But Apparently, I have atleast one reader who so loves these blogs that she "vaguely" threatened me to post a ginormous blog before Europe, OR ELSE. As if she needed something to SUSTAIN her in my abstance. And I have proof! Here's the very threat itself!
So if you are displeased with this blog and I end up dead somewhere, Shelby, everyone will know it was YOU. But no need to do anything drastic, dear, 'cause I got your long blog right here. Ask, and you shall recieve. I asked for more requests and got a few, one from Julie, one from Maggie, and one from Megan. Sift through this long blog, and you'll find them somwhere in there. No particular order.

As I sit in the sanctuary of New Hope Church, I am asking questions. The worship music is loud, but sadly does not succeed in drowning my thoughts.
I am sitting Indian style on the floor in between two pews and two of my favorite people. Thomas Wilson is on my right, his outstretched fingers only centimeters away from my messy brown curls. His eyes are closed, so he is unaware of this awkward proximity we share. I want to stand up, but if I do, I will bump his guitar-blistered fingers and thus disturb his worship. If I shimmy to my left, I’ll bump into Brandon Clark, and bust his little worship bubble as well. So I sit. Indian Style. Playing with my Hair.
The voices above me are singing Hosanna, but I am refraining. I am distracting myself with possible escape routes that would enable me to get away with out bursting anyone’s bubble. I hate bursting bubbles, even if there were some bubbles in the room that I would love to not only burst, but completely demolish and erase from the earth. It would’ve been just like dropping the atomic bomb on Iwo Jima. It would be exactly like that, only in imaginary bubble terms.
I am angry because I can't worship. Rather, I can't sing passionately like those around me. Everytime I close my eyes (the mark of "true" and "sincere" worship) I feel fake. I began to feel like I was going through the motions, and was becoming overtly envious of the people who looked like they weren’t. I was zealously jealous of Thomas’s shaking fingertips and tear soaked eyes. I was envious of Brandon’s smile and prayer curved back. I was covetus of Megan’s high-held hands and jumping, spinning feet. Why couldn’t that be me?
I decided to doodle, because this is what I do when I want to avoid my life. I grabbed a “Tithes and Offerings” envelope and began to draw the lyrics of whatever worship song was playing in large block letters. “I Believe” was the first thing I heard, so that’s what I began to doodle.
While doodling, I began to ask myself if I was going through the motions of doodling to avoid going through the motions of worshiping, which would mean I was avoiding going through the motions of Christianity, which would be going through the motions of…
I hate when I do this. I go in circles in my head and come to the same thought that I do not want to hear. This is why I never ask anyone for help. Because by the time I have the opportunity, I have gone through every single possible aspect and suggestion they could come up with. It’s annoying, so I avoid it. This is exactly what I did in this case. I avoided it. Thomas had moved somewhere with more space to dance like the crazy Jesus fool he is, so I finally had space to escape.
I quickly made my exit from the sanctuary, past the lounge area, and through the glass doors before taking a sharp turn and sinking effortlessly to the ground beneath the West Texas starry sky. I exhaled, closed my eyes, and then rubbed them hard. When I drew my hands back they were black with watery mascara. Apparently, I was crying. So I looked up to the sky, and asked the Big Guy a very important question.
What do you want from me?
All I wanted to do was worship, and wasn’t that a good thing? Is that not what I was made for? Did God not give me a voice for His sole purpose?
As the back of my head dug deeper into the spackled exterior of New Hope Church, I felt something sharp poke my thigh through my jeans pocket. It was the “Tithes and Offerings” envelope with “I Believe” scribbled all over it. I was about to throw it away when…the Big Guy spoke to my heart.
What do you believe, Mary?
And that’s when I remembered my journey. There were times of jumping for me. But There were also times of emotionless, thoughtless worship sessions I attended only for social reasons. There were the nights of immense frustration, and the nights full of God's voice. Nights full of asking questions and having them answered before I even finished the thought, and silent nights.
At that moment in time, I chose to believe that worship didn't come in bulk. It’s independently manufactured, and independently sold to the Lord. Just as there are seasons during the year, there are seasons of worship.
I grabbed the “Tithes and Offerings” envelope and scribbled away. I completely dissected the thing. It was no longer an envelope. It was a fold out map of my thoughts on worship.
I Believe that worship is a process. I believe it’s about asking questions and later rejoicing in their answers. I believe it’s about being selfless and releasing the things that hinder and grasping the things of life. I believe that it's pupose can be forgotten, and can then be frustrating. I believe that it can be so beautiful that to an outsider it can be almost discouraging; making them feel as if such beauty is not to be shared with them. I believe that worship is sometimes a challenge...
Worship is not uniform. It is not bound to songs or lifted hands. It is not limited to standing and jumping, sitting or laying. It is limitless. It can be the way we live our lives everyday. It can be uttering Jesus’ name when no one else will.

The people around me were worshiping by singing and dancing, and I was envious of it. I thought that if I couldn’t do what they were doing, that I was not worshipping. That night I discovered that a great portion of my worship and development in Christ takes place in writing. Just as I am not to conform to the contours of the world, I am not to contour and restrain myself to the people I share faith with. Rather, I am to be the individual God made, and I am to worship the way He designed me to. I don’t need to put my hands up to worship, but that in no way is going to restrain me from doing so.

As previously mentioned, I once had to write a research paper on the views of love in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Instead of trying to summarize the entire paper, I’m going to copy and paste my thesis statement, which is supposed to do the job nicely:
Jane Eyre is not simply a love story. It is a plea for recognition of individual worth (Themes 1), a masterpiece that confronts social issues, hypocrisy, and the struggle for true love. It is not a “happily ever after” story full of beautiful dresses and diamonds; but rather, it is an exploration of the complex nature of love. Jane Eyre is Bronte’s endeavor to portray that love is only acceptable and full when it is evenly balanced in an unconditional, faithful, passionate, and logical manner.
Love: This is an area I’ve always struggled in. Even though I wrote an entire paper on “balanced” love, and even though I wrote my SAT essay on how emotions shouldn’t be a main determinate in big decisions and USED Jane Eyre as an example of this, I still don’t know if I believe love is completely about balance. Should love be balanced? Should it meet at the intersection of love and logic? Say we meet someone who doesn’t meet up to our logical list of what we believe we want in the opposite sex, but we fall passionately in love with them before we could even say no. Should we grant mercy to their faults and issue unwavering love at the sight of true passion, or should we reject this person because it doesn’t make logical sense? Is unwavering love discarding the balance of love and logic, or is it the byproduct of the two?
No idiot would enter a relationship that was COMPLETELY unbalanced and unhealthy. Okay, let me rephrase that, I realize that one cannot have a successful relationship if it is unhealthy and unbalanced. Everything faith or love oriented seems to be all about balance. Balance your days between work, school, prayer, eating, bla bla bla and achieve ultimate success! That’s why we have schedules. We feel this need for balance. That’s why I make so many freaking check lists. I have to know that I’m doing things right, and need something to look at to reaffirm that I’m on the right track. I know things need balance.
What I want to know is this…. Should I really throw away a relationship with someone I love if he doesn’t meet up to my own standards?
I feel like the answer is yes. But it’s hard. When I think about this, I can almost feel the way the Titanic felt when it hit the Iceberg. That bittersweet, inevitable crush. I knew the answer all along. I knew the perfection must end. It was inevitable, too perfect, but shocking and painful all the same.

Megan’s Lists!
CDs I love/Want to buy
Fleetwood Foxes-Ragged Wood
Fiest- The Reminder
William Fitzsimmons
Adele- 19
City and Colour- Bring me your love
Matt Kearny-ANY of his CD’s would be awesome

Favorite songs
Make the Deadeye Miss- Lorien
Of Confidence-The Dangerous Summer
Change Your Mind-Boyce Avenue
Go Baby-Lupe Fiasco
Little Weapons-Lupe Fiasco
Sensible Heart-City and Colour
Empty Corridors-Luke Pickett
Come on get higher-Matt Nathanson
The aaronic benediction(I think that’s what it’s called)-Misty Edwards
I will waste my life-Misty Edwards
This side-Nickle Creek
So much beauty in dirt-Modest Mouse
Bury me with it-Modest Mouse
When it rains-Paramore
We are broken-Paramore
When our hearts sing-Rush of Fools
The Con-Tegan and Sara
Steer-Missy Higgins
Put your hands on me-Joss Stone
Untitled-Justin Trawick
Currently-Keaton Simmons
Wrapped around your finger-Kelsey and the Chaos
That’s not my name-The Ting Tings
Wonderwall-Cat Power
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot-Brand New
Love is waiting-Brooke Fraser
Albertine-Brooke Fraser

Favorite stores
Buffalo Exchange
Cream Vintage
Room Service

Uncommon Objects
Wet Seal
American Eagle

Favorite sites

Favorite Photographers
Oh good God there’s a ton…

Moth Art

Robby Jencks

Hannah Havoc

Muska Hannah Capra

Trixie Pixie

People whose names I can't remember...

See also...
Brittany Strebeck
Table 4 Photography
Sara Keisling
Shari Henson
Audrey Woulard
Aric Alan
Kelly Moore
Briana Graham
Joey Lawrence
Sky Johansen
Jefferey&Julia Woods
Four Frames
Kirstin Bendarez

Favorite Books
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
A Waolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
I Was Told There’d be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
Looking for Alaska by John Green

Julie’s Request: What is your dream Europe trip? Example: The Lizzie McGuire Movie...

Paris and all its glory sit behind me as I sip a mocha latte in the shade of a sidewalk café. This cup of joe is particularly good not simply because I am in Paris, but because I am here with my cameras and husband, having quite the lovely time.
My husband and I have been touring Europe for the past couple months documenting the European religious lifestyle. While seeing the sights, we’ve been hanging out in subways with the homeless, and in rehab centers with the drug addicts; going deep into their hearts during late-night theological conversations. We are here visiting the broken and rejected to stretch our comfort zones both as journalists and as Christians. Our goal is to write, photograph, and video the lives of others to move one step closer to showing real-life financial and emotional poverty to prove that in our modern, do-it-yourself culture, there is a vast need for a higher power; for love, and for God.
We’ve been finding scraps of cardboard and writing messages on them like, “God is real,” and taking pictures with them by all the major landmarks in our awesome, artistic photographic style. When we’re done, we discard of them in public, visible places. Every night, we find a body of water and take a swim. If we’re not staying in a hostile, then we’re pitching a tent somewhere in the woods or beach.
Just in case you were wondering, dear reader, we are NOT here for just any assignment. We’re here reporting for the Christian magazine we launched together back home.* He’s videoing our journey, while I take the written and photographic side of things. After saving up tons of money for this trip and spending endless nights storyboarding, researching, and dreaming, we are finally here. Together. Working in harmony. Living the life we’re called to live. The life that makes us want to fall on our knees in worship every time we wake up. We’re living in our very own, European, God-designed fairytale.

*While we’re away, Maggie Shirley is taking care of the magazine as the Editor. Thomas Wilson is keeping things up to date with his All Things Cool section (a section of the website/magazine where Thomas posts a whole bunch of cool videos, music, clothes, books, and charities for our beloved readers. He has a knack for finding cool things), and Megan Shipley is challenging and inspiring everyone with her writing. Maggie is also our official head blogger, with Colt Keller being our movie, music, and HILARITY blogger. Tyler Grimshaw is giving tips on how to truly love people, how to be loyal, and how to utilize testifying skills. Bradye Waddell writes articles for all the female readers on how to be a woman of Christ, and lots and lots of fashion tips. Robby Jencks is Head Art Dude (yes, that’s what the position will be called), and will maintain an art blog on up-and-coming artists. He will also do a ton of illustrations for us. I will also need someone to continuously recruit young (high school and college aged) writers and artists to make our magazine wonderful. I’ll do lots of writing and layout design. That’s my favorite. I’ll be the founder/writer/Layout Girl. Oh, and of course. This husband of mine (if he’s a videographer like this describes him to be) would be in charge of documentaries-which are a MUST for this magazine. Who loves documentaries? MARY DOES!

And last, but not least, Maggot's** request.
Write about me! And then answer this question: What is your favorite color? Explain your answer in great detail.

This is going to be very short and sweet because I only have TEN MINUTES before I have to go pack for EUROPE! Maggot (or Marvelous Maggie, as you may know her) is my most favorite and dependable friend in the great town of Albany. Not to say anything bad about any of my other friends, but Maggie just made me FIVE CDs for Europe, and is thus AWESOME. She even made lists with all the names of the songs and decorated the CDs and EVERYTHING. They are beautiful, and I love them. I appologize for nagging you for them for the past couple weeks Maggot, but I just had to have your Marvelous Maggie CDs.

**Maggot is not a misspelling. It is an awesome, awesome nickname. It sounds funny, so naturally I love it.

My favorite color is purple. Always has been. I believe this is because I liked Barney as a child, and my parents did not. So by liking the color purple and painting my room Barney Purple, I am, in a sense, rebelling against my parents. Which you know, is necessary for a teen such as myself.***
***I hope you realize that this is an absurd explanation and is in no way really why I like purple. Purple is just pretty. It's a ridiculous question with a ridiculous answer. I love Maggot and her ridiculousity.

In closing, here's a mural I've been working on:

I expect MANY MANY MANY comments to welcome me back to the states, readers! I challenge you to leave comments. I love them, and this blog took a long time. haha I loved it though. I hope you enjoyed!

P.S. You can leave comments even if you don't have a blogger. There is an Anonymous option. But tell me who you are, otherwise it'll drive me nuts.