Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Not to be a Grinch but...

Note to all public transportation users in the D.C. metro area: that solid, albeit boney object that your elbow/bag/foot/arm/entire side of your body is repeatedly hitting, is ME. Yes, allowances are made in tight quarters at rush hour. The personal bubble area is significantly smaller, occasional bumps and bruised toes are the norm. But when you consistently hit someone, keep your deadweight arm on their lap for an ENTIRE bus ride, something is wrong.

And while we are at it, as I continue inching myself away from you, trying to meld into the window to get you out of my bubble, do NOT follow me. I'm doing it to get away from you, not to give you more room.

But on the upside, my morning bus driver gave everyone a peppermint this morning. City life isn't all bad.

One more week until Christmas. Four more days to home...

Friday, December 7, 2007

La Maison Blanche

In preparation of a year of new things, today I did a new thing. I went inside the White House. Yes, despite my voting record and the fact that I own Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto," they let me in so I could see the Christmas decorations. I'm still on cloud nine about it. Full details, plus pictures of the lovely SNOW that covered our area this week, in next entry. Lovely weekend wishes for everyone!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A New Purpose

Exactly one month from today will be my favorite day of the year - which is foolish as there are 364 to follow - my birthday. But as I have become one of those people in recent years who have grown resistant, and quite bitter, to adding another candle to the cake, I don't really look forward to it as much.

(That's not entirely true. I love how I always end up with multiple cakes. How my mom always color-coordinates the wrapping for her anal-retentive middle child. And never ever having to work or go to school because it's a holiday, all over the world!)

But anyway, I briefly contemplated holding off on turning 24 - still collecting the cake and presents of course - and staying 23 for a few more months, because I do not feel I've gotten the most out of this year as I should have. The words "squandered" and "wasted" actually, come to mind.

But instead, I've decided to say good riddance to 23 in one fail swoop. Au revoir, you silly odd numbers! Arrivederci 2007, you kind of sucked!

In order to ensure that 24/2008 is more productive and appealing, I've decided to embark on a project, blatantly ripped off from here: http://jen365.blogspot.com/

Her explanation:
Last year for my birthday, I decided to do something I'd never done before, and I traveled solo to Paris. This year, I want to do 365 things I've never done before. Starting the day I turn 29 I will do one new thing every day until I turn 30. The things I've never done can be as simple as "wear a Florida Marlins hat" or "skip across Sheep Meadow in Central Park." I'm more interested in small, interesting weird things than big things like "skydiving" or illegal things like "drugs and stealing" or completely not-me things like "tattoos."
Thus, I have decided to do something NEW every day of 2008. No, really. I'll chronicle it all here, a post a day, if all goes correctly. I am getting rather excited about this and have already jotted down a few ideas.

But I need more! So please, whoever you are, whether we share the same blood or you have never ever met me before, suggest something. Anything, within the confines of decency, my morals, and my (meager) wallet. And preferably easily photographable to make this blog more bearable. Jen has done everything from showered with her clothes on (a possibility) to serenading a customer service rep (awesome but probably not happening). All ideas welcome.

To get it started, a list of a few things I HAVE done:
  • Taken a vacation by myself.
  • Rode in a pace car at a race.
  • Walked barefoot in Chapel Hill, Durham, London, Paris, and Washington D.C.
  • Gotten stamps at a non-stamp giving ATM when I wanted cash.
  • Pulled an all-nighter. Or 20.
  • Written in a paper journal every day for the last two years.
  • Seen the Pope.
  • Slept in the street for football tickets.
  • Danced with an Argentinean.
  • Gone to a hairdresser and just said "cut it all off."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Home sweet home

I write now from the comfort of home. Home home, as I like to distinguish from wherever I am currently living, and the place that remains home no matter where I go. I'm not a Thanksgiving person, but I am a home person, a family person, and it just feels good.

I like dogs at my feet, a pantry and refrigerators - yes, plural - packed to the brim. I like ridiculous conversations that no one else would get. I like how familiar everything is. I even kind of like my twin bed. (But only for the next few days.)

Yes, the slowed pace is already driving me crazy. And I can feel my accent getting thicker, which will only lead to teasing from those not lucky enough to be from here, but oh well. I get homemade rolls, a relish tray, and the Macy's parade. Carolina basketball coverage and lots of hugs. And of course, where else would I get to contend with a (self-appointed) Supreme Overseer and Dictator of the Clover Dinner Roll Distribution* and his attempts to impose a TATT -- trans-Atlantic traitor tax on me -- for missing last year's festivities?

Nowhere, thank goodness.

Welcome home, Bonnie. And thank you, God.

*AKA SODCDRD, AKA my little brother, Joey.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is my life

At about 2 p.m. today I realized I only had blush on one cheek. Thus I either looked lop-sided, with one incredibly-defined cheek bone. Or like I'd been slapped. Which would explain why the people on the metro this morning were extraordinarily pushy: they thought I could take the abuse.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Worrying is like a rocking chair; it swings you back and forth and takes you nowhere." - Kenyan proverb

I am three minutes away from my self-imposed "must start packing" deadline, but I wanted to write. Why am I packing? Because I am headed for my sweet Carolina for Homecoming weekend. :-) It has been 5 months and 2 weeks since my last visit to Chapel Hill. The longest I've gone since I first stepped foot on campus in August 2002. And yes, I keep track.
This week started out with me tired, and is about to end with me finally not as tired. I remember from psyc 10 that we can accrue a sleep debt of up to two weeks. I swear I just accrue and accrue and accrue. Mine tends to drag on for weeks, where I just need sleep. It always tends to be around this time of year. I just have to fight fight fight it.

Last Saturday was a day I fought and won around 3 p.m., when I finally left my apartment in need of a meeting with my old friend T.J. It was nice to see him, and a photogenic wedding party too.

An hour and six minutes after my deadline started, I actually am almost done packing. I'm trying this thing where I only pack what I need. Crazy talk, I know. I'm sure I'll regret it come Saturday morning, if not sooner.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

Thanks to my awesome roommate and her generous employer, I got to go to the Redskins v. Cardinals football game on Sunday - for free!

My last and only NFL game was a Panthers game ages ago, before I even cared about football, or knew about that whole offense/defense two teams in one thing. So I was quite excited to be at one and actually care what was happening. Sort of.

The downside was not really caring who won or lost. :-( But I got to see players like Kurt Warner and Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss. I got to see a blocked kick*, but no sacks unfortunately. Saw a player knock out a ref - kind of awesome, not going to lie.

*This is still so rare to me that I think they are quite cool.
Of course I got to listen to the multiple belligerent drunks scream obscenities at players, and fans. Interesting fact: if you leave a game early, you have no soul. (While I have spent many Carolina sporting events bemoaning the quitters who prefer to beat traffic than support their team to the end, I have NEVER bellowed it for thousands to hear.) Also, apparently being named Neil makes you less of a human being.

Drunk Redskins fan to Cardinals kicker Neil Ruckers:
Hey, Neil! You suck! Your name is Neil! That's almost as bad as being named Carl. Or Dwayne. Neil, Neil, Neil, Neil...

And on and on. I have to say, it made my previous attempts at trash talking - i.e. dissing Duke's Gothic architecture - sound not so lame after all.

All in all it was a fun day. Even with the oppressive heat, hellacious traffic, and Brady/Patriots trash-talking on the shuttle to parking. And I do actually have a picture of me at the game, but it's on the roommate's camera. Will post later.

Movie Review: Michael Clayton

Saturday night I went with the roomie to see "Michael Clayton."

I give it 3 stars. The plot was original and engaging. It could have been a John Grisham thriller. The book version, as the movie versions never reflect Grisham's talent, at least in my opinion. The camerawork was different, with unique angles and a less polished picture. It made it seem very real and up-close.

The acting was excellent. The reason I wanted to see it was George Clooney, and he did not disappoint. The supporting cast was good as well. Tom Wilkinson was the most impressive

The main problem was that the middle dragged and only redeemed itself because the ending was so good. It may have been because I was quite tired, but had I rented it I may have been tempted to turn it off. But I'm glad I paid X amount of dollars to see it and stuck with it.

It's not a must see, but it would be worth renting.

And there's about two minutes where it's just George in a cab. Just George. (It's not as boring as it sounds.) I probably would have paid just to see that.

Monday, October 22, 2007


A push for everyone to watch CNN's amazing documentary "Planet in Peril." Airing Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. And if you can't watch that, at least watch the panel of experts on Thursday night, discussing how all of this really does affect everyone.

CNN takes viewers around the world in a two-part, four-hour documentary that examines our changing planet. This worldwide investigation, shot in high definition, looks at four key issues: climate change, vanishing habitats, disappearing species and human population growth.

To tell this story, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin traveled to some of the most remote and remarkable places on Earth. From exposing illegal wildlife trading undercover in Southeast Asia to seeing first–hand the devastating effects of deforestation in Brazil, they have gathered evidence on the unsettling changes taking place all around us.

Planet in Peril premieres October 23 and 24 at 9 p.m. ET.
Source: CNN.com

Off soapbox now. Real entry coming tomorrow or Wednesday.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"It's not strange, unusual maybe, eccentric in a quaint way, like dessert spoons." -Ned, Pushing Daisies

I'm sure I've written about it before in here, but I love rain. I like the way it sounds hitting the window. (Even better when it hits a skylight.) I like the way it smells. I like how everything looks after a good shower. I like how it cleanses everything it touches. I like to put on a hoodie and PJ pants and curl up with a cup of tea and a movie or book.

Or, you know, I like to get up at 6:30 in the morning, trudge to work, freeze half-to-death for 8 hours, have my commute time doubled because the metro is stuck for 30 minutes on the track one station before I get off due to another train having mechanical problems. Then walk a mile home with increasingly wet jeans, missing taking a shower in street water by inches, and still get whistled at by idiots in a pickup truck.

But really, I have had way worse experiences. Last summer's fall in mud/soapy shoe/missed bus/refusing to cry on side of street debacle comes to mind. And even more incidents, sadly. (All of which would be obsolete were either of my 2005 rainy day inventions to come to fruition: shower curtain/umbrella hybrid, and giant "hamster" ball. And these aren't some harebrained schemes, I have drawings.)

However, I am now at home in front of a heater, sprawled on the living room floor with tea and my blanket, watching "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" and listening to the traffic outside my window rush through the rain. A satisfying sound.

Now a brief rundown of the past week:

Old friends: Saturday, at two separate meetings, I got to spend time with my best friends from high school, Brett and Genie. They are my oldest friends (known since 5ish and 14ish, respectively.) and I love that as much as some things change, this never really does. I had lunch with Brett and his wife and her parents downtown. It was really great to just chill and catch up, and get to know each other.

I then met up with Genie and two of her friends. We went to Union Station, and then to King Street in Alexandria for some shopping. I had never been here before but I will definitely be going back. It had cute and unique boutiquey type shops, but also some chain stores. We had dinner at a casual Italian restaurant, and ended the night gossiping and laughing.

All in all it was just really great to catch up with two of my most favorite people.

Sunday: *Warning Shannon: Mention of sports. Skip ahead to next section.*
Yes, I planned my Sunday around the Patriots/Cowboys game, as they were indeed showing it here. I have no idea how I became that person who schedules things around sports. I really really don't. But it was a good game and a great end to the weekend.

Work: I am still at the same temp job and it is getting better. I'm getting to write more. Granted it's just writing letters, but every letter has to be different, so there's room for creativity. And I'm certainly learning a lot. I never thought I'd know so much about patent reform that is for sure. And no, I don't really want to know about patent reform, but oh well. Though, with all this newly acquired patent knowledge, I should begin to explore patenting my rainy day inventions before someone steals my idea. Of course, this would be pointless if a certain bill is passed which would weaken my patent's validity and stifle innovation. (And that's a preview of what the 42 letters I wrote on the subject were about.)

Ok, this is far too long. No pictures because I forgot my camera last weekend. And all attempts to take pictures of the rain outside my window tonite failed. Potentially picture-worthy weekend coming up, so we shall see. Lovely weekend wishes to all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just keep swimming...

Very quick update as I am exhausted with a hundred things left to do before bed and "CSI" is on.

I got a temp job this week - emphasis on the temp - which I am supposed to be able to keep 2-4 weeks. We'll see. It's a job, it's a paycheck, it has some good points but some bad points too. But I'm just trying to look at it as just another little detour or trial period before the real thing. Which will begin...eventually.

Sidenote: They just showed a commercial for the New England/Dallas football game - does that mean they will actually be showing it? So far the number one downside of living here is that when Washington or Baltimore play, they don't show any other NFL games. Grrr...

I have done little this week except work. I did have a good dinner with friends one night, and hang out with the roomie others, but other than that it's been work and not enough sleep.

But this past weekend was nice. I went into DC with the roommate and her visiting friend. Explored the wares at Eastern Market and walked a lot on the Mall. It was insanely hot for October though, which is really not cool. But luckily...

...today it was finally Fall! Except as I am apt to do when the weather changes, I under-estimated what a high of 70ish meant. I.e. - I didn't wear a coat and no hat, so my ears throbbed for an hour. Tomorrow I will be the only person wearing a hat, but at least my inner ear won't be bleeding. (I don't think my inner ear actually bleeds, but it definitely feels like it.)

I haven't figured out how to respond to comments on here, so if you've left one, thank you. They make me smile.

Here are a few pictures from this past weekend. I will probably start to upload them to my Webshots account at some point, which I still haven't updated with London pics in...a year, wow.

Anyway, lovely weekend wishes to all as usual!

Eastern Market - an area with a various stalls, produce, flowers, etc. on the weekends. Not as Portobello Road as I was hoping, but still nice and worth repeat trips.
Phone conversation with Joey:
Me: I have to find North Carolina Avenue.
Joey: Why, so you can steal the sign?
(While I do really want a street sign with "Carolina" in it, I don't think I'll be making my "purchase" in D.C.) CapitolView of the Washington Monument from the Capitol.The White House and my abnormally large head. As Joey pointed out, had I moved slightly to the left, I would have blocked it. Haha. Until the engraved invitation comes, this is as close as my big head and I can get.
(Sea glass earrings bought at Eastern Market.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"All these assumptions society makes. Get a job, eat food, live in a house. It's facism. Absolute [sic] facism." -Mason, Dead Like Me

Small update before the weekend.

On Wednesday I got a very un-expected call from a recruitment/temp agency that had seen my resume posted on Monster.com. Automatically they scored a few points for not being an insurance company attempting to recruit me for sales, which thus far have been the only people to contact me out of the blue.

Anyway, they had a lead on a temp writing job and wanted to speak with me further. So I walked into Ballston, took the metro a few stops, then took a bus, to their office in Tyson's Corner. (Oh the glories of not driving.) After many little tests and chatting, they submitted my info to the job. As of now I haven't heard anything. But it would be good to have some income for a few weeks while I look for something permanent.

In the meantime, today they had a job working for a few hours as a receptionist at a law firm in the Courthouse area. So I did that. I guess it's a good day when only one person screams at you over the phone, and at least it was in English. And to hear a lawyer get a room of lawyers to quiet down by screaming, "All rise!", well, it made me laugh to myself entirely too much.

As for the interview last Friday, I think it went ok. I'm not crazy about the job, and the commute really is not ideal, but I'm holding out on a final judgment until I hear anything. Normally I can get a feel for what they were thinking, or how they perceived me, but not this time. They did email earlier this week for a writing sample, which I sent, but as of now I haven't heard anything. Which goes for pretty much everything these days.

I don't have any city pics, but as I finish my room I may post some of it. Here is the more finished part and usually my favorite part of any room: my desk.
Complete with my first Caramel Apple Cider of the season. :-) I should just give up now and buy stock in Starbucks.
And the piece de resistance - the first and only covered bulletin board I (and Mom) will ever make. If there is a trick to a staple gun, Mom and I did not find it.
And because I just have too much stuff, shelves. And the bad part is I still have a rolling plastic cart full of more stuff. If anyone ever sees me attempt to buy post-it notes, note cards, or note pads, you have my permission to tackle me.

Maybe I'll have something more exciting next time. Lovely weekend wishes to all! :-)

Monday, October 1, 2007

First week down

Fall is in the air. Sure, it was about 80 degrees today, but it's so close I can smell it. I am actually not a huge fan of summer, so I am more than ready for a new season. I live on a tree-lined street now, and I am very much ready for the leaves to start to change, and then fall. I'm ready for them to crunch under my feet. Ready for cozy sweaters, socks and boots, and basketball!

This weekend was the perfect opening to Fall. It was absolutely beautiful. A great reason to abandon the decorating and organizing duties, and get out of the apartment.

Saturday I went with Karey and Ashley to climb the bell tower near the Iwo Jima memorial. It provided a great view of D.C. across the river, with the background music of the bells ringing (loudly) in the background. (And by background, I mean two feet behind and above us.)
After that Ashley led us to a street fair in Clarendon. Lots of great jewelery, arty, and historial-esque fares in the stalls. Sadly, no free food samples, but the day was too nice to make too much of a difference.

Sunday I got up far too early to go to a non-denominational church about two minutes from my apartment. It was a very small congregation, with a significantly older crowd. It was good, but I will be trying a few more before making a decision.

After that, I decided to head into the city for the first time since moving. I had seen a crafts fair advertised called "Crafty Bastards." Automatically, it's going to have to be awesome since it has one of my top five inappropriate words in the title. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. After failing to write the address down, I ended up wandering around Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan areas for more than an hour - in vain. It was a nice walk, pretty outside, and it's always good to see new areas. But after my feet started crying and my throat started begging for relief, I back-tracked to a Starbucks, and then decided to give up and follow a sign toward the White House.

Which I found, so at least I'm not so directionally challenged and lost-prone I can't find that. I sat on a bench in a little park across from it and read for a while, resisting the urge to call Mom and say, "I'm reading a book! In front of the White House!" Instead I settled for reading, and tourist-watching, and stealing a glance at it occasionally and grinning.

And I'm ok with being a bit of a dork. I still get a feeling of comfort and joy when Goldsboro's Center Street is lit up at Christmas. The Old Well still takes my breath away and Big Ben makes me instantly smile. I think as long as the familiar sites of a place excite you, as long as the ordinary things never become mundane, then you're doing something right.

And now it is Monday/Tuesday and it's back to organizing and job hunting. It is a very frustrating search, but I know something will have to change eventually. I hope.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Many months later and...she's back.

From a new city in a new state on a new bed - queen size. That last bit alone could warrant a post. I will never be able to go back to a twin bed again. The fact that I can sleep diagonally - if I so choose - it simply boggles my mind. Of course, I am unemployed and reeling from being away from home, so it doesn't take much these days.

As I type - from my giant bed - I am surrounded by my possessions in varying amounts of disarray and unpackedness (it's a word...now). As many times as I moved in college, one would think I'd have it down to an art by now. But I don't. In fact the more I do it the more I hate it, but I'm sure that will never stop me.

Amidst all the packing and life-organizing, I am still job hunting and trying to get my bearings in a new city. Both are going very slow. But I have my first interview on Friday, and I send out more and more resumes every day, so hopefully the tide will turn. And as far as knowing my way around...I don't. But I do know where the nearest grocery store, Starbucks, and movie theatre are, and really, what else does a girl really need?

The blog updating will probably be pretty slow, or incredibly boring, until I get settled, and maybe even after, I don't know. Most of what I write is probably only interesting to me anyway.

Until next time...

Monday, February 26, 2007

All good things must come to an end

Today I started my last week of work. It feels...weird. Like it won't actually hit me until it comes to 6:00 on Friday and I have to log off my computer and turn in my security pass. I wasn't expecting to be sad about leaving. London and work. London because before I came here, to be honest, I only liked it, I didn't love it. I spent a great four weeks here, yes, but I also spent great times in Italy and Spain and Salzburg, among other places too of course. Now, however, I LOVE it. I want to see everything, want to read everything, want to go everywhere. I fit here, I was happy here. I'm really going to miss it.

As for work, I'll miss the people. I've said over and over that the job isn't glamorous, it's tedious and frustrating, but the people make it worth it. They're nice and respect me. And it has been inspiring to be in such a creative environment with such talented and passionate people.

When all is said and done I shouldn't be surprised that it will be hard to leave work, hard to leave my shitty flat, hard to leave London. Six months of a life is a long time, so of course it's going to be hard to walk away. But I will walk away knowing that I have more strength and courage in me than I ever thought possible. I still have a long way to go but I am much better prepared now than I was in September.

I believe with all my heart that everything happens for a reason, and every step I took here has a purpose, is pushing me toward something else, is playing a vital part in who I'm supposed to be. I know that I'm supposed to be a writer, I know that I'm supposed to travel and see and do amazing things. I know that I can do things on my own, that I can make it. But then I know that no matter where I go my family and friends are always right there beside me. This I think I am more sure of than anything. Before I left I was afraid my friends wouldn't need me anymore, that my family would realize things could be easier. But I don't think this is the case. And I couldn't be more estatic, couldn't be more grateful.

I'll finish up my week here, which if Monday is to be the preview, will be absolutely mad. But that's ok. Sunday I am off to Lanzarote, Canary Islands. I had the strangest urge to go lie on a beach, so that's what I'm going to do. It is all very last minute, very spontaneous, very not-me, but I'm excited. I'll be there until Thursday and then I am back home to sweet Carolina on March 9.

I'll try to update a few more times, but no guarantees depending on how work goes and what my Internet access is like next week. But thanks for reading and commenting and supporting me, it means a lot.

"London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London."
-Peter Ackroyd

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lights, camera, action!

On Sunday I went and stood outside for 2 hours in Covent Garden, at the end of the red carpet, to watch the celebrities arrive for the BAFTAs, the British version of the Oscars.

I saw:
-Sienna Miller
-Judi Dench
-Helen Mirren
-Ricky Gervais
-Jake Gyllenhaal
-Daniel Craig
-Forrest Whitaker
-Thandie Newton (only realized later when I looked up pictures of dresses online)
-Ruby Wax (The UK's Joan Rivers)
-Penelope Cruz
-Pedro Aldomovar

My favorite was Jake, because he saw all of us standing outside and waved and made a funny face. I think I saw Helen Mirren and Judi Dench the clearest because I could see them walking down the carpet toward us before they went in. Helen Mirren is absolutely regal in person. Sienna is tiny, and Daniel is very stiff. (I don't care for either of them so I may be biased.)

Even though I couldn't see them very well, and there was a big group of people, plus a blocked-off street separating us, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I went. It was thrilling to hear the paparazzi call names - no idea what they said though - and see the flashbulbs go off, and then wait too see who was next. Because of the way we were positioned we were right near one of the entrance doors, and once inside they had to stop and pose, right in front of a big picture window facing us. Thus I got to see their backs a lot clearer than their fronts! I think I saw some other people too, but have been unable to find decent pictures online as of yet to figure out who.

I know there were a lot more famous people there, obviously, and someone saw Daniel Radcliffe get out of a limo, but between all the staff and the distance, this was all I managed to see. No pictures of them, as it was all too quick, but I do have some pictures of the red carpet and such I can post later. Something interesting that I did not know, was that the lights on the beams above the carpet, were ones that flashed, like flashbulbs, so it made it look like there were pictures being taken constantly. I don't know if it is always like this at award shows, but it added to the excitement. (And hurt my eyes after awhile.)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

...And somewhere men are laughing, and little children grin, but there is no joy in K-ville - for DUKE HAS LOST AGAIN - DTH Cartoon

This post brought to you by 79 - 73. By Wes and Tyler and Reyshawn and Marcus and Bobby and on and on and on. By Paulus fouling out and Cameron Crazies not so crazy anymore. By being woken up by a phone call at 4 a.m. and lying in bed for an hour, grinning, and maybe even crying a little because I've never felt so close, and so far, from the things I love before.

A sample of the phone call I got from Mom, per my request, when she called to tell me the score:
Mom: Are you lying down?
Me: (Thinking: seriously, it's 4 a.m., of course I'm lying down!)
Mom: Because you aren't going to like this...
Me: Oh no...

Cruel Mom, cruel. But my own fault because I forgot to tell you I just wanted a "yes" or "no," playing with my emotions in the middle of the night is just wrong! But it's ok, because I'm not sure how many other mothers would make a trans-Atlantic phone call just to relay the score of a basketball game to their daughter. Love you! :-)

The worst part about being in London yesterday? Everyone was just walking around like it was a normal day. Talking about the weather and their jobs like it was just any other Wednesday. Whereas I, specifically decked out in a Carolina blue shirt, Carolina ring and bracelet, and my lucky Carolina blue socks, could barely sit still. Kept checking every sports site I could think of to see what they were saying. Kept going back and forth with friends over how much we hate Duke - a topic that can never be exhausted, and always brings forth previously un-explored reasons. To everyone else it may have just been a normal day, but we know better. :-)

In honor of last night's win, some pictures from the last Franklin Street celebration I took part in. From a night where four girls got the best senior gift ever - in the form of a Cameron Indoor win and a crying J.J. Redick. From the best senior night ever - for us.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Tar Heel "crazies"

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
View of a bonfire from Top of the Hill.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Close-up of fire - because of course, beat Duke, build fire.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
NSATC on top of the world - or at least Chapel Hill.

God bless those Tar Heel boys...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

You scream, I scream, we all scream "BISCUITS!"

Before I reveal the results of my great biscuit search, I have to relay a conversation I had with two New Zealanders and a Briton at our work party last week about what an American biscuit is. It basically went like this:
Me: It’s a biscuit! A biscuit! Doughey and soft and buttery and like Heaven!
Not me: So it’s like a scone?
Me: No, it’s a biscuit!
Not me: Like a biscuit biscuit?
Me: No, a biscuit is a cookie. It’s an American biscuit. It’s Bojangles!
Not me: What’s Bojangles?
Me: (Blank stare as I really don’t even know where to begin to describe Bojangles.)
Not me #2: They’re made with yeast and you put butter and jam on them.
Not me: Like a scone?
Me: No! Like Heaven!
It went around like this for awhile, throwing out the words “biscuit,” “scone,” and “cookie” way too often. I should add that at this point we had all partaken of the special punch at the work party, so none of us were at our sharpest. Hence my inability to describe it other than repeatedly saying “It’s a biscuit!,” and them not being able to move past “Like a scone?” And to anyone wondering, no, they aren’t like scones, in my opinion the two are like apples and oranges.

After deciding on Friday that I HAD to have a biscuit, I searched on the Internet off and on at work for the rest of the day for a place where I could find it. I looked up multiple American restaurants in London I had heard of, and some I hadn’t, scoured menus, and found nothing. I finally did a search for “American biscuits in London,” which I think sounds like a great play or movie that I would definitely see, and came across another girl’s blog who had engaged in a similar search when she first came here. After reading through many comments, most having to deal with buttermilk, which doesn’t concern me as I have the mix, it’s the working oven I don’t have – sidenote: bastard landlord! – I found one comment that recommended Irish soda farls, which he said were similar to biscuits. Saturday while in Bloomsbury I picked up some of this bread at Waitrose, and for breakfast Sunday tried it. I warmed it on the frying pan a bit, added butter, and dove in. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to a biscuit while here, but still not good enough. It had a funny aftertaste, but wasn’t unbearable and I won’t have any trouble eating the rest of it. I had very little butter that morning and I think adding more will help as it was lacking a bit in flavor. But I think the biggest factor was that as I ate it, I just kept imagining it was a Bojangles buttery biscuit, and that helped. And made it, and me, infinitely sadder as well.

And on a completely unrelated note, GO TO HELL DUKE, GO HEELS!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I'm going to Disney World!

Not even sure they do the Disney World commercials anymore, they didn't show it here, but it has always been my favorite part, so they should!

Watching the Super Bowl in another country was interesting, to say the least.

Anyway, I kept myself busy until 10:45 when a British announcer, broadcasting live from Miami, came on the air with one American football co-announcer, and one football co-announcer. (No idea who either of them were.) The highlight of the pre-show was hearing the man refer to the locker room as a “dressing room,” and talking about the need to replace the divets on the field after the Cirque de Soleil performance. I pretty much muted the TV any other time they came on, just not in the mood for announcers apparently. Though I should add that the play-by-play was done by two American announcer, Sterling Sharpe and someone else. (Not Shannon Sharpe like I thought, though I swear he sounded just like him.) Perhaps the main reason I decided to mute it was because even the Brit introduced Dan Marino as “perhaps the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl.” Grr! Two continents feel the need to declare this every chance they get! Ahh!

For the majority of the game I sort of kept forgetting I was watching the Super Bowl, kept forgetting this was IT. I think it’s because I haven’t seen any games this season, and stopped following the season pretty much as soon as basketball started up. I knew even less of the players than I normally do, which is a combination of the fact that no one ever seems to play on the same team for more than two seasons, and because I’ve been out of commission this year. The hardest part was being quiet for the benefit of my flatmates, which is excruciatingly hard, as I realized just how vocal I like to be when the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. I yelled “No no no!” quite loudly before I stopped myself and just cursed under my breath for a bit.

I found myself dragging about halfway through the second quarter, but started reading a book and by the time halftime was over – which I’ll be honest, I muted – I was far more interested in the game and excited at the prospect of all of Peyton’s naysayers finally shutting up, for now at least. When you see the pictures below you may think me pathetic or sad, having a Super Bowl party for one, but you know what, I looked forward to it all day Sunday, actually, I’ve been looking forward to it since the two teams were decided, and shopping for munchies, laying it all out, and settling in for the night was fun and made me happy. So pathetic or not, I don’t think it matters.

I didn’t really mind missing the commercials, I think it made the game go faster and I can always catch them on YouTube. I did mute Prince’s performance because I just wasn’t in the mood. But I think it’s funny how all the articles I have been reading are exclaiming over the fact that he sang “Purple Rain” – in the rain. Wow, sensational! Now I’d have been impressed had he been able to make it rain purple rain. Then maybe I would have turned the volume back up.

Monday wasn’t pleasant to say the least. Five cups of tea and at 3:00 I still had to fight to keep my head off the desk. (I did succumb, while in the sequestered filing room, to closing my eyes and leaning against the filing cabinet for a minute, but luckily a co-worker came in to talk to me and keep me awake.) But it’s ok because I am a sucker for good stories, and not many are better than Peyton and Dungy finally getting their rings, Carolina boys Saturday and Reid getting ones too, and all the other players who were crying and kissing the trophy that make me not hate athletes quite so much. I am now thinking that this last sentence, and after staying up half the night before I need to work the next day, means I am officially no longer allowed to repeatedly proclaim my hatred for sports. (I was already beginning to see this on the horizon after four years of getting up at 6 a.m. to wait in freezing weather for basketball tickets.) But I will continue to proclaim my hatred for cocky, too-rich and entitled athletes, and the way our society glorifies athletics. And I still hate baseball.

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My Super spread

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Things to keep me occupied while waiting for it to start/slow spots in the game.

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My super-cool argyle knee socks I just bought from H and M. I just like them a lot and wanted to share. (And I got a bit bored.)

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Just me. (Don't look directly at it though on account of the fact I don't have on make-up!) I replaced my usual pajama shirt of "Carolina School of Journalism" with just a "UNC" one, the closest I have to a sports-team related shirt for the occasion.

Monday, February 5, 2007

C'est la vie

This weekend can probably best be described as the weekend that should have been. Nothing terrible happened, no grand plans were set awry, just little hiccups all along the way that made me kind of just want it to be Monday and have it all over and done with.

I let myself sleep quite late on Saturday as a reward for not sleeping well all week. I’m not sure why this has been the case. Someone asked if it was because I have a lot on my mind, and for one of the first times in my life, if not the absolute first time, I don’t. I’m on the cusp of leaving this great place and going home, and I’m ok. Everyone at work is asking me what my plans are, and other than a destination and an ideal career goal, I don’t have any. But I’m ok. And though occasionally when I’m asked this I flashback to senior year, and my heart races and I feel the panic threaten to consume me, it goes away a second later, and I’m ok. (And unlike last year I don’t have to restrain myself from clawing the interrogator’s eyes out.) So in conclusion, not sure why I haven’t been sleeping well. But I’m ok.

But on Saturday I got up, got ready, and set out for Hammersmith to return two ill-advised Primark purchases, sans receipt. This meant waiting in a queue to have them tell me to do so I’d have to exchange them for something else, then searching for other items (the easy part), and then queueing again for the fitting room, and again to pay. Once I paid, I was told in a childish “I’m taking my toys and going home” tone that because I didn’t give them a receipt, I wasn’t getting one. This is unfortunate as I bought a turtleneck whose hanger was marked as a 12 (and I know by now not to go by the hangar but I did anyway) but was actually an 18. So next weekend I will have to repeat this all over again.

I should mention Saturday’s weather. It was clear and sunny, warmer than it has been, but still in the 40s and somewhat windy. I let the shining sun fool me while I was dressing, and thus wore a short-sleeved turtleneck and a blazer, with a pashmina and gloves, but no hat. By the time I got to Russell Square with the intention of loitering around Bloomsbury for the remainder of the afternoon, I was freezing. I decided to just get a pizza at my favorite pizza place - a place frequented while staying at the Mentone for summer school - and then hopefully find a sunny spot where I could eat it, and then get on with my day. Ha.

While walking to the pizza place along the Brunswick Centre, previously mentioned in here, some miscreants threw ice from about four flights up down at me and a few others. The height at which it was thrown, and the force at which it crashed on to the pavement in front me, would have almost assuredly meant a trip to the hospital had it hit me. I looked up to see the little bastards laughing, and immediately wished awful, terrible things to befall them. I wanted nothing more than to scream up multiple expletives, ending with some sort of “I bet your mothers secretly hate you!” insult. But despite having the mouth of a sailor too much of the time, something in me simply will not let me shout up multiple storys, in public, words like that. I just rest easy knowing they probably have bad teeth or mullets. (Stereotypes, I know, but I nearly died!)

At this point, I gave up. I went back to my flat, ate my now semi-cold pizza, took a nap, watched a few movies, including “Notting Hill” on BBC4.

Sunday I had higher hopes for. I woke up at 9 refreshed and alert. I read a Bill Bryson book for awhile, made myself an interesting breakfast, entry on that coming tomorrow, and then set out with the intention of going to Covent Garden. I got sidetracked by Waterstone’s and a book I’ve been eyeing since September, newly in paperback and half-priced. This resulted in browsing for an hour because it would be silly to just put £4 on my card! After this I decided I really didn’t want to walk all the way to Covent Garden, that I really just wanted to sit and read and write at Café Nero. I debated this for entirely too long, thinking I shouldn’t waste the time I have left here sitting in a coffee shop. But you know what, a very wise person (coughAshleycough) told me that even if it’s as simple as something like sitting in a Café Nero or eating at EAT, I should do it because in a few months I won’t be able to. So that’s just what I did.

Got in line at Nero craving a warm Panini and a cup of tea, only to discover they didn’t have my favorite kind of Panini. Strike one. Decided to go for a grande cup of tea and a muffin instead, only to realize I had spent my £5 on pizza yesterday and had less than £3 in change. Strike two. One muffin and one impossibly small and over-priced cup of tea later, I settled into one my favorite spots and pulled out my notebook and pen to write. Strike three. No pen! Not only do I always carry pens, I’m a writer, I should have one surgically attached! I’m pretty sure the first thing they teach you in “Being a Writer 101” is to always, always have a pen! I’m in a stationary store, tons of pens lie one floor beneath me, but I sat for an hour – while eating, drinking, and writing, not just thinking – debating if I should just take all my stuff, thus losing my seat, and go buy a pen, or if I should just take my bag and leave my coat and Waterstone’s purchases, make a mad dash to buy a pen and return. In the end I decided, given Britain’s zealous commitment to safety, and tendency to dispatch police cover to any suspicious, abandoned object, which they presumably blow up at some point, to gather my belongings, buy a pen (or in my case multiple pens) and then come back and find another seat.

But before this I made a quick stop to the bathroom, where I proceeded to drop a battery in the toilet. Now this may sound random, but it’s really not. I always carry extra batteries with me for my digital camera. (But apparently not a pen. Maybe writing’s the wrong calling.) Despite the toilet being…clean…I still had to put my hand in a public toilet to fish out a battery that never holds it charge long, and definitely won’t now. And of course the sink in the bathroom was one of those brilliantly designed marvels that only lets water out if you push in on the faucet with one hand, thus not allowing you to form a lather with the soap with both hands, or even really get your hands wet enough as you are also juggling a coat and bags and a purse. Don’t even get me started…

I wrote for awhile, and then decided to make my way to the grocery store to pick up some Super Bowl munchies. What kind of munchies for American football does one buy in London? Well, I bought chips and dip, classic American fare I feel, but then some hummus and pita bread and brie and crackers. And some veggies to offset some of the carbs. What can I say? I’ll be up until 3 or 4 in the morning watching the game, obviously not how it’s done in the States, so it’s ok if my food is a little off as well.

Tune in tomorrow for my Super Bowl recap, and then later for the results of my great biscuit search. And I plan on updating my blog EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. No really, I do. I already have entries for Tuesday through Thursday, the plus-side of having to wait until 11:00 to watch the Super Bowl was that I had lots of time to write. So come back soon!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Happy Friday, Happy Groundhog Day, Happy Happy

Clearly I'm in a good mood today. Though to be honest, I've been in a fairly good mood all week. As my time dwindles here I really see no choice but to smile and make the most of everything.

I went and saw a play last night, "Man of Mode" at the National Theatre. It was quite good, and I would recommend it. Had it not been for the £5 student ticket offer I probably wouldn't have even looked twice at it, but I'm glad I did. Though written in the 1660s, the director, Nicholas Hytner, set it in the present, though still using 17th century language. It's about a cocky, rich, deceptive womanizer "obsessed with having it all," and follows he and his friend's attempts to do so. It was incredibly well-acted, and the sets were modern and eye-catching. Some parts were weird, like how every scene change was met with random people dancing, but it worked.

I have three more plays coming up, which means I'm one away from my goal of 10, though I may end up surpassing it. "The History Boys" next week - have been wanting to see this for awhile. And then the week after "The Glass Menagerie" with Jessica Lange, and "Underneath the Lintel" with Richard Schiff, aka Toby from West Wing!! It may not be Josh or Sam, my faves, but I love Toby too and the play sounds really really interesting. (I swear I'm not one of those people who only sees plays if there is someone famous in them.)

Not sure what I'm doing this weekend, though I haven't slept well at all this week so I hope to catch up on a little sleep, but not as much as last weekend. But my main goal is to find BISCUITS somewhere in London. I need them desperately. The craving was already quite fierce, then Mom sent Bisquick mix, which I can't use as our oven doesn't work, and then I was forced to read how everyone in CH got free biscuits, AGAIN. Mark my words, if there is a biscuit to be had in London, I will find it.

Happy weekend to everyone and check back Monday for an update.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fighting the Monday Blues

Welcome to the start of my fifth to last week in London. Ahh! Time has absolutely flown by and September seems like years ago. More reflective posts coming later, to be sure, so I'll hold off for now.

This weekend was slow and un-eventful, for the most part. We had our end-of-month work party on Friday night. It was Australia Day so we had a beach partyish. Someone, I believe it was Karey, asked what the occasion was for a party. It's the end of the month, and over here, that's occasion enough. Thank goodness! But the party was a lot of fun and so was hanging out with people from the bar afterwards.

Saturday I recovered from Friday, slept a bit and then stayed and watched entirely too many episodes of the "Band of Brothers" miniseries. But sometimes, even in London, you need days like that so it wasn't too bad.

Sunday I slept late again, have been really tired lately, and it felt nice. I finally got up and got going, had lunch at McDonald's at Marble Arch because sometimes you just need McDonald's. Afterward I set out for the City, Aldgate East tube to be specific, in search of Spitalfields Market. I hate going to the City on the weekends because it is absolutely dead. I got all turned around while coming out of Aldgate, which has to the most confusing tube and subway system I've ever been on. I ende dup wondering around the City for a bit, where there was no one, which is not cool. I ended up really close to the Swiss Re building, or "The Gherkin" as it's known here. (Thought I prefer to call it the Faberge Egg, as that's what it looks like to me.) It's a skyscraper, and the closest I'd been to it. It was weird, because I don't really like skyscrapers, and I don't like seeing them in London. I like my London buildings to have a history, with white stucco, Georgian or Regency window frames, layers of paint, no more than five or six floors. But I can appreciate the building for its unique design, even though being so close to it is completely intimidating.

After this I decided to give up and followed the signs to the Liverpool Street Station. While doing so I found much better signage for the market, and made my way towards it. The Market is one of the oldest in London, and cleaner, with a better set-up than most. But it was only alright. For one thing I thought the crowd was kind of yuppie-ish, pretentious even. I did look through all the clothes stalls though, bought a great juice drink, and then bought a cool matted photograph.

After this I was of course cold, hungry, and tired, so I went back toward home and the Cafe Nero at Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road, where I always seem to find myself on Sunday afternoons. I chilled here for the remainder of the afternoon, had a tea and muffin and wrote for awhile.

Now the weekend is up and I'm back at work scrounging for things to do. See a play this week, maybe heading to Windsor Castle on Saturday, trying to make up my mind about Ireland and tours in all that. Will be updating again later this week as I am bored, so watch out!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Today I woke up to SNOW outside my window.

Sure, it was but a light layer, didn't stick to the roads, and will probably be all melted by the time I go out for lunch, but it SNOWED.

My heart still skips a beat when I wake up to see snow on the ground and ice on the tree branches. Even though I'll probably never have the exact same excitement as snow days brought when I was younger, they still can make me a little giddy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On the 23rd day of my 23rd year...

It’s cold here. Really cold here. And windy. The kind of wind that pierces your body, making it hard to move, which is unfortunate as all you want to do is move to anyplace that is warm.

Yesterday was back to work as normal after a busy but good weekend. I’m hoping that the way Monday morning went is not an omen for the rest of the week. I fell up the stairs at work, spilled hot tea on my foot, ripped my panty hose, and smashed part-ways into a wall. In my partial defense, however, I would like to say that this is only the fifth time I have fallen at work. This is HUGE, as there are four flights of stairs and I run up them, easily, 20 or 25 times a day, and in four and a half months I’ve only fallen five times.

As to the weekend, Saturday I took the train to Cardiff for the day. I love taking the train as it provides amazing scenery and makes me appreciate all of Great Britain. To be honest the scenery this time wasn’t that great until after we passed Bristol, but there was one scene in particular that will stay with me a long time. Passing through the countryside, which was a beautiful shade of green that I didn’t expect in January, there was a solitary hill, with one, perfect tree at the center. I’m not good with tree names and types, but it was one where you could see all the branches and leaves, appreciating the structure and shape. The way it stood at the center of the mound, and the way the mound stood alone, overlooking everything around it, it was strength and protection manifested in the landscape in a way I’ve never really seen before. I started to take a picture, but the train moved too fast, and I’m kind of glad, because a picture never would have captured how perfect I found the scene to be.

As for Cardiff, it is a nice city, small but nice. I started at Cardiff Castle, located very near the city centre. It’s small, but the grounds are beautiful, and very green as well. Though it was cold and windy, the sky was clear and blue and made walking around the grounds nice. I took a tour of the inside, where the architecture was amazing. So many intricate details, murals on the walls and ceilings, delicately carved woodwork everywhere you looked. There was little furniture, which was nice because it’s always the furniture that deters me as it always seems so unwelcoming. The tour guide was great because he had a perfect, dramatic British voice. He would take pauses when describing the room, that weren’t too short or too long, but gave a sense of anticipation to whatever he said in only a way that British people can do. My favorite room was the library, an incredibly long room full of shelves of books, with the names of different great writers painted on the walls. And it was the warmest room of the house (the tour guide called it a house) as it still used the original heating method to heat it. (Or well, maybe not the original, having trouble remembering the exact date of the radiator, but at the latest it was from the 19th century.)

Oh, almost forgot the peacocks. Peacocks freely roam the castle grounds. My hatred of birds is no secret, but there are certain birds I can tolerate, at a safe distance of course. Penguins, flamingoes, swans – but only in an appreciation of the fact that they mate for life – and peacocks, the latter simply because their feathers are pretty. So the fact that there were peacocks just walking around didn’t bother me as much as you might think – until I came out of the house after the tour and had one on the railing by my head, so close that when it jumped away the tail grazed my hat. I froze, cursed, and then hightailed it out of there. And of course the whole time there I never saw them with their feathers out, which I think is a good thing because I think that means they are going to attack, doesn’t it?

After the tour of the inside I climbed to the top of the Keep to get a good view of the grounds and Cardiff. I didn’t stay long, however, as the wind was too strong and I was having trouble keeping my balance. And flying off the top of a castle keep in Wales, while a great story, is not how I’d like to die.

By this point I was quite frozen, so after warming up in the gift shop, and buying a few things of course, I walked around town a bit, passed City Hall and other municipal buildings, and finally ended up at the National Museum, where I went to unthaw for awhile. I also looked at some of the exhibits too. They had some great artifacts, and some beautiful, and massive, Celtic crosses made of stone.

After the museum I headed back toward the city centre to eat and shop and absorb Welsh culture…in their malls. Yes, malls abounded in the city centre to the point that I kept getting lost and couldn’t tell if I was in St. David’s mall or Queen Anne’s arcade. I bought some really good mixed nuts, spent less than 10 pounds at their three-story Primark, quite a feat, and then spent my last hours warming up, yet again, in a Café Nero with a cup of tea and my book.

The first half hour of the train ride home was miserable thanks to two incredibly drunk, vulgar men in the same car as me. I waited it out hoping they would pass out, but when they didn’t, wisely switched cars, where I was later yelled at by another drunken man coming out of the toilet for my “bad manners.” Apparently he being in my way and refusing to budge, forcing me to move around him, constituted bad manners. Whatever.

Sunday I slept late, then slept some more later in the afternoon. Just was very exhausted. In between all the sleeping I ran in Hyde Park, and then went to the Imperial War Museum, easily one of my favorite museums in London, and I've seen them all. I only went through two of the exhibits, my favorites, the one on the Holocaust, and the one on post-1945 conflicts.

Nothing too big looming on the horizon. Hope to see another play this week, and then will probably just stay in London this weekend. I want to take another trip out of the city, maybe an overnight one, and then think about where I want to go for a few days my last week here. Any ideas throw them my way. For a weekend trip I’m leaning toward Liverpool, and for my last week I’m still leaning toward Ireland, but just for a few days.

Friday, January 19, 2007

"You're easier to believe in with the lights off." - Bean, Love Song

Friday, Friday, Friday. This week was one of the longest in awhile. Not sure if that's good, since my time here is rapidly dwindling away, or bad, since it made the work days go so much slower.

But it wasn't a bad week, in fact, I've been in a surprisingly good mood. Maybe because all of last week I was sick, and did not work on Thursday as a result. But for the record, lying in bed all day only made me feel worse, not better. But I am mostly better now. I still have slightly runny nose and a cough, and that sick taste in my mouth, but I'll be fine.

Also last week, I got paid to shop. No, really. On Tuesday I get to work to discover half the office on the pavement, as everyone who had keys to get in was away. So a few girls and I went shopping while we waited for keys, and I found a great scard for £2 at Top Shop. I mean, when else am I literally going to get paid to shop?! The keys arrived at 10:30 - I normally start at 9 - and we were all free to go about our days. Though, to be honest, I don't think anyone did any work until after lunch.

Last weekend I re-discovered why I love it here so much, and I really do love it here. I am not ready to go home and leave all of this. I'm looking forward to seeing my family and friends, and getting on with my life, but I am going to miss it terribly.

Anyway, on Saturday I went to the Russian Winter Festival in Trafalgar Square. There were tons of people - more people than birds I'd say, which is hard to do. The festival was only alright, and I didn't stay that long. I picked up some free brochures on Moscow, listened to all the different accents and languages around me, watched some folk dancing, and then bought an over-priced hot dog and chips. But it was nice to experience a different culture.

Afterward I headed for Westminster, as I had not seen Big Ben since November! Gasp! I walked all around Parliament, through some parks, across the Hungerford Foot Bridge, and then along the river to the National Theatre, where I sat at a cafe. I wrote for a bit, and then browsed through the book stalls in front of the National Film Theatre, one of my favorite London activities, even though I've never bought a book.

Sunday I went to church and then sat at the Cafe Nero in Paperchase and wrote. I went to the British Museum for a bit as well, but just wasn't in a museum mood. I did sit in the Great Court and people watch though, which I thought a perfect Sunday activity.

This week has been work as usual, for the most part. It's slow around here so some days I have to hunt for things to do.

Wednesday I went and saw my first play in months, "Love Song" at the New Ambassador's, where I saw one of my favorite plays - "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" - the first time I was here. It starred Neve Campbell, Kristen Johnston, Cillian Murphy, and Michael McKean. Neve Campbell's acting disappointed me, but everyone else was wonderful. Kristen and Michael had great chemistry and played off each other well. And Cillian was very good at his role, which had comical and easy-going parts, as well as some more intense scenes. I've only seen him in Batman Begins, where he creeped me out supremely, so to see him in this role was nice. And he didn't creep me out. I knew nothing about the play before going, only that I got cheap student tickets and who was in it, but according to the program I read before the show, it was all about love. Love love love. I wasn't really in the mood for that, but it ended up being ok. It was about different types of love and was interesting and different, weird but in a good way, that makes you think, not makes you disturbed.

Tomorrow I am headed for Cardiff, Wales. If I end up going to Ireland in March I will have been to all parts of the UK. I am hoping that the weather holds out and doesn't disrupt my trains, or prevent from doing everything I want to do.

Lovely weekend wishes to all and will write again soon.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Right back where I started from

Apologies as usual for not writing sooner/more often. I’ll be better this year, promise.

I’ve been back in London for a week now. It was great to get away, but it’s also nice to be back.

Christmas at home was AMAZING. Nothing spectacular or exciting, just home. Which in itself can be pretty spectacular and exciting when you’ve been away for four months. Christmas was like it always is, which is exactly what I expected and wanted. Same traditions, same food, same feelings. I knew as soon as I walked into my house that I had made the right decision, that the number on the credit card statement pales in comparison to everything else. In addition to all of the wonderful aspects of being with my family in my house, I also got Bojangles biscuits, Pizza Inn, and El Rodeo. I got to spend a perfect night in Chapel Hill with my friends, and got to re-connect with an old friend at home. I got to see Anderson and CNN and part of a “My Super Sweet Sixteen” marathon on MTV. (I think they knew I was coming home.) I shopped at Target and got a caramel apple cider from Starbucks – in Goldsboro. I soaked up the Southern accent to the point that I am still drawling. (And being teased mercilessly at work for it.) I got to sleep in my bed, which truly is the softest place on Earth – at least compared to the bed here. (I felt like I slept on air my first night.) I got to watch 1 ½ Carolina basketball games. I got hugs. But most of all, after a month of not being that happy, of being exhausted and frustrated and confused, I got to re-charge, got to get back to a part of myself that I didn’t realize I was missing.

And that was my Christmas.

I got back on the 30th, and spent New Year’s Eve at a flat party in Bayswater with my flatmates. No watching fireworks at Big Ben or any other tourist things, does this make me a real Londoner? No, probably just made me smart and warm. I’ve never really been out on New Year’s before and it was a lot of fun. Free drinks made by someone who actually knows how to make drinks, lots of picture taking by the roommate and I while waiting for the clock to strike midnight, lots of being ignored by the people at the party, as they were all older and married. (Not as bad as it sounds – we made our own fun. And it was interesting and a learning experience to say the least.) At midnight I got my New Year’s kisses from several people – all of the European kiss-kiss kind. And then, in a very nice and embarrassing gesture, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was nice of Marissa to tell the guy throwing the party, and nice of him to make everyone sing to me, but embarrassing because I just don’t like attention like that. But mostly it was a nice thing. J So 23 started with kisses on the cheek, champagne, a little dancing, and French fries at 2 a.m. at a Halal restaurant on the way to the tube. What this means in ways of prediction for 2007, not sure. But I look forward to finding out.

And that was my New Year’s.

The first day of my 23rd year was uneventful. Seriously. Finally letting the jet lag get to me, I stayed in out of the cold and rain, watched “The Little Mermaid” with the roommate, and then had birthday cupcakes, courtesy of Marissa, and then birthday Nutella and Pandora, courtesy of the flatmate Angelo. It was a good birthday and I have no regrets about how my year has started. It was weird not being home for my birthday, watching the Rose Parade, taking lots of calls from family, but it was still nice. And I did get my family birthday before I left, complete with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed décor and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I always seem to end up with more birthday cakes then I know what to do with, and this year was no different. I’m still not happy about turning 23, for starters I don’t like odd numbers, and I just am not ready to be another year older. But I guess all in all 22 wasn’t a bad year, lots of changes, that’s for sure, but a lot of good things as well. So hopefully 23 will be alright as well.

And that was my birthday.

Life started again on the 2nd, or at least the semblance of a life I have here. Back to work, though work, and pretty much all of London this week, has been pretty dead. Apparently they’ve had a record number of office workers taking holiday or calling in sick. Work still managed to be stressful at times, but still a little too slow for my taste and I’m hoping things will be closer to normal this week.

This week was perhaps my most trying week here, however, as the SALES have started. Every store window declares, in hot pink, green, and of course, RED, 50% off, 75% off, LAST CHANCE. Every store I pass on Oxford Street – to and from work and on my lunch break – pulls at my self-control, and debit card. So far I think I have done very well. I’ve only bought stuff I will really wear, and got some really good deals in the process.

This weekend I was out and about in London in a way I haven’t done in awhile. I went to Hammersmith on Saturday morning, and then Canary Wharf in the afternoon. I went to the Docklands Museum first, and then sat at a Starbucks in Jubilee Place and wrote.

The Docklands Museum covered the history of the Docklands of London – bet you couldn’t have guessed that – from when it was the Roman port of Londinium to now, with the DLR and rejuvenation of Canary Wharf. It was very well put-together with lots of interesting pictures and artifacts. The artifacts were especially amazing, as they were real objects, no replicas. I love seeing a Viking axe that they just happened upon while excavating in Covent Garden in 1984! They had a jawbone from a whale – twice my height! I think I started at it for five minutes.

The exhibit that I liked the most, however, and the reason for journeying to the museum in the first place, was on Jamestown. It was actually smaller than I had expected, but had lots of artifacts from Jamestown and interesting facts I did not know. For instance, I never knew that orphaned children from England were sent to the colony as servants. They had real tobacco in a barrel at one part of the exhibit. Mom made fun of me when I told her it made me think of home. She’s right, we may live in the country but it’s not like I’m around cured tobacco – ever. But for some reason the smell sent me instantly back home.

My favorite part of the museum was a map labeled “the Southern part of Virginia.” In actuality, it’s North Carolina, turned on its side, so the Outer Banks are at the bottom, but still, it was North Carolina. Cape Fear and Cape Hatteras, as well as Roanoke Island were labeled. There were drawings of animals along the Eastern part of the state – apparently lions roamed wild around the Wilmington area! J Instead of the Atlantic Ocean – it was called the “Southern Virginia Sea.” And the area around Beaufort was simply described with “this is a swampy wilderness.” I think I studied the map for 10 minutes, and then came back two more times before leaving it. It was very well drawn, in colored pencil, and very detailed in its rendering of the Outer Banks and various inlets. The map made it worth the long tube ride to Canary Wharf, and the even longer walk, in the cold, bitter, wind and rain from the tube station to the museum.

Sunday I went to church and then sat in a coffee shop and read. I think I may have finally found a coffee shop that I can read in and feel at ease, relaxed, and just good. It’s the Café Nero on the second floor of Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road. It’s close to church, work, and only about a 30 minute walk from my flat, and it only took me four months to find a place to chill and read and write in!

And that was my weekend. As usual it was too short, but I feel good about the week ahead, and that hasn’t happened in awhile.