Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday Adams? Clockwork Orange? Plain and simple freak?

Happy Halloween!

Normally, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Getting dressed up in funny costumes and stuffing your face with candy is my idea of a fun evening. However, the Brits do not make a big deal of out of Halloween and I'm surprised how much fun that sucks out of the holiday. No decorations, no anticipation. Halloween is just another day.

Thank god for CouchSurfing! Couchsurfing is full of international people and therefore gets to celebrate holidays whether the country cares or not. Therefore, last night I got a message from a local couchsurfer asking if I was going to a Halloween party. I said sure since I had no plans for tonight.

Then I got a message back from her at 5:30 saying, "Great! I'll see you in a bit." Shit. The party was later that evening and I was still at the school. I decided I'd have enough time to book it home and attempt to throw together a costume. This is what I came up with.

Scary huh? I was supposed to be a doll... Not sure it worked.  Maybe the stripy tights make it better?

Yeah, I know. I ended up something between Wednesday Adams, Clockwork Orange, and a goth rag doll. Whatever.

The best part? I realized after getting all makeup'd and dressed that I'd have to make it across town towards the Thames for the party. Which meant riding a bus, and getting two Tube lines. I actually almost decided not going because of this, and then said "what the hell.?! It's Halloween!" Plus, I seem to get some strange satisfaction when people look at me like I'm insane. It's just how I roll.

So I grabbed my coat and made my way to the bus stop. I get on the bus and the few people don't even look at me. Good, off to a good start. I get to the Tube station and still no one does a double take. What the hell? Now I'm starting to get pissed. LOOK AT ME! I'M DRESSED UP IN A FUCKING DOLL COSTUME! ISN'T THAT WEIRD?!

No. Apparently not. And it's not even like the Tube was overwhelmed with other party goers. In the hour it took me on the tube, I only saw one other person in costume (excuse me: "fancy dress") and she wasn't even on the train, just running through the station.

So, then why was nobody looking at me like I was weird? Because I live in London. London is full of freaks everyday. I'm going to have to do alot better than a cracked up Clockwork Orange to get any attention around here.
This is what we call "goals."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Angry Dance Therapy

I think I really need to work on  my anger management. (Shut up. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that.) I'm half Greek and half Irish, which gives me the drinking habits of both and the anger management issues of both. Therefore, I usually have something to blame.

That being said, I'm sure there is still improvement that can be made.

For example, yesterday (my day off), I went into school for a meeting I was asked to set up. The meeting lasted all of 1 minute and I have no idea why they couldn't just tell me that information when I went to that office in the first place and had to arrange the meeting. At any rate, I figured I'd make getting out of the house worth it and went to a coffee shop nearby. There is generally a eat-in/take-out price difference. It's cheaper to take food or coffee out, but I was in the mood to sit down and asked for a coffee for eat-in. The coffee was advertised as one price £1.50.

I sat down, enjoyed my coffee, and once I finished, I went inside to pay. I had pulled out exactly £1.50 and then the young man behind the counter said £1.80, which is pretty normal for eat-in vs. take-out price. So, I grab some extra change and give it to an older man who had now taken his place at the counter. He looked at the change and then looked expectantly back at me. I didn't make a move because I was still actually waiting for change back and then he said "it's £2.10." This man was trying to jip me! The eat-in/take-out price is never much more than 10 or 20p for a coffee. So I asked if it was so different, why wasn't there a price written on the board. And at that point the man began to RAIL on me. He had some thick, probably Turkish, accent too which made being yelled at even worse! He told me all about how this was still cheaper than Starbucks, and it's a better experience, and honestly I don't remember half the things he was yelling about because I was so shocked that I was getting yelled at!

Now: Here's the part were we indentify the correct and incorrect ways to manage my raising anger.

The Correct Response:
I should have handed over the extra change, explained calmly that it was a rip off and he should never expect my patronage in his establishment again, especially after such rude treatment of a customer. At which point, I should have left the building and properly satisfied my building anger by performing my version of an angry dance.

My Actual Response:
I got so flustered that I could not even count my change so I simply shouted "Fine! Then just take everything I have!!" and proceeded to throw all the change I had in my hand at him, which was probably 30 or 40p too much. And then I left the shop on the verge of tears.  I could feel the familiar sensation of my right fist itching to punch something and honestly had to sit down on the side of the street and calm myself down before I punched the next person who looked at me funny.

And no, I'm not exaggerating. All that really happened. I'm such a loser.

For the future: Remember that angry dances are therapeutic and don't involve punching someone. Although punching someone can be therapeutic too. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A German and a Somalian walk into a bar...

Yesterday I went to the Comedy Store's King Gong competition. It was a tame version of the 70s Gong Show.

Instead of fat women dancing, there were terrible comedians. It was a little different in that the audience was in control. Three members of the audience were given cards and once all three cards were in the air, the comedian was gonged off stage. Some of the worst comedians were a couple of old Irishmen who I'm pretty sure were on crack. I think the shortest time for the evening was 24 seconds before the comedian got gonged. But the average for the evening was less than a minute. The audience was brutal!

I think my favorite for the evening was an older Indian man. He only really had enough time to get up there and say in a very funny Indian accent "Who likes the spices? Don't eat them. They are not good for you." By then, two of the cards were in the air and he started to walk off all disappointed. It took some convincing to get him back on stage, but once he did, he only repeat himself and quickly saw the third card go up. You kind of felt bad for him.

Actually, the comedians weren't all bad. After two hours, only four had made it the whole 5 minutes without being gonged. Of those four, the final two were a Somalian and German.

And get this, the German won! Who would of figured that the Germans have a sense of humor!?

(Sorry. I couldn't find just the end bit on Youtube, but this whole clip is hysterical. Cracks me up everytime.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I am convinced London has it out for me

No joke. London is like a city from a scary movie, where you can visit but you can never leave.

I had enthusiastically planned a day out of the city, and was going to the New Forest. I was just going to spend a day wandering the forests breathing the forest air and enjoy the fall foliage. Being a Sunday, I had checked bus schedules and made sure that I could get everywhere I needed to go. I was going to catch a 7:15am bus out of Victoria Station in London to Southampton. From Southampton, I was going to grab a shorter bus at 10:05 to New Forest. The short bus from Southampton to New Forest was very limited and only ran every 2 hours.

I left the house at 6:00, with plenty of time to get to Victoria Station. I grabbed the bus at the end of the road and headed toward the closest Tube station. Lo and behold, it's Sunday and the tube station doesn't open until 7:00. The bus wasn't going to get me to Victoria Station fast enough. So I thought I would take the bus to the closest tube station to Victoria as I could get by 7:00 when they'd open. Then I would try to bust ass and make the 7:15 bus.

The tube station that I picked, happened to be one that is closed for the foreseeable future for repairs. Fantastic. I resigned myself to the fact that I had missed the 7:15 bus and had decided to try the train station. Trains are generally faster, so maybe I could find something that would get me to Southampton before 10:00.

When I got to the train station, I found out the next train would arrive in Southampton just after 10:00. In that case, I decided that I would just take a cheaper coach and try to catch the 12:05 bus to New Forest. I had to walk about five minutes to get to the coach station and by the time I got there, the next bus would arrive in Southampton at 11:47. Buses are almost always late, so I was pretty sure I'd miss the 12:05 bus to New Forest.

So I went back to the train station (it was only just past 8:00 now) to see if I could catch a train to Southampton before noon. Once again, by the time I got to the station, the next train to get to Southampton would arrive at 11:45. Still not in the mood to pay a large sum with the possibility of still missing the bus to New Forest that was already later than I intended in the first place, I walked to the corner of the bus station and cried for close to an hour.

Shut up. I know. It's pathetic, but I was SO excited to get out of the city and enjoy fall. I've had such a hard week, that the prospect of getting out and enjoying myself, nature and the wildlife was invigorating.

Eventually pulling myself back together, I treated myself to a nice breakfast. Then it was off the Natural History Museum to get my dose of wildlife. Granted, they were stuffed and slightly disturbing, but they did the trick. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon in Hyde Park trying to recreate the feeling of being outside the city.


By the time I got back I even had time to nap before dinner which gives me time to do all the reading and studying I should do. So, when all is said and done, today wasn't so bad. I still enjoyed myself.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Slight change of plan

Due of a lack of sleep this past week and staying out late last night, I've decided to postpone my day trip until tomorrow. This happens to be a great idea as today needs to be spent apparently fixing a minor bank crisis.

However tomorrow, I've decided I'm heading to Nottingham. Whee!

In other news: I win! My blog is apparently noteworthy enough to be visited by the Crap Blog Detective who commented on my last post! Here's the funny part, I know my blog is crap!
However, I am disappointed that this guy is not funnier. He's a bit lame. I mean, why not just go all out? Why not something creative, like "when I read your blog, I get the sudden urge to punch kittens"? Well, I never said I was good at the insults either, but I think there's got to be something better than: "None of those towns are particularly inspiring, so I think you should stay at home and write tedious blogs on how the UK is not the USA. There's just too much history and culture here. You will become dizzy and confused."

All in all, I'm flattered. I just feel like he has so much more potential to live up to! 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Help! Where shall I venture?

I've decided that I'm going to get out of town tomorrow. I've been craving it and I've decided a day trip is in order. The question is: Where?

Here are my choices for tomorrow:

Dover: to see the White Cliffs of Dover and the ocean! But I hear Dover the town itself is pretty run down. But who cares about the town if I spend all day chilling on the cliffs and surrounding areas.

Brighton: Again out to the ocean (because I miss it so much). Brighton is a sea-side resort. It's less about the country side if I head out here, but at least it will be the ocean.

Canterbury: To see the cathedral and relive the Canterbury Tales

Nottingham: To ingulf myself in Robin Hood myth and see some more history.

All four of these trip are between 1-3 hours outside of London and a great chance for me to get out of the city, but I can't seem to make up my mind!

I need your help! I'm going to let you choose for me. So please, let me know what you would like to hear about.

Don't let me down!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Europeans, um, could you NOT dry hump me? kthnxbye

I'll admit it. I enjoy my personal bubble. I know it's a bit of an American thing to say, but good god people! I don't want to talk to you while your standing on top of me! I don't want to be able to smell everything you had for lunch on your breath and I don't want to notice that you have two tiny awkward black hairs on your forehead.

I thought I would be ok with the European encroachment of personal space, but no. No, I'm not.

First, it's incredibly intimidating. You might be talking to an acquaintance and they will stand within inches of you, and stare you right in the eyes. If you have a bit of space, at least you can look at their nose, hair, or forehead and they may not realize you're not looking them in the eye, but when they're that close? You find yourself nervously switching from their eyes (all the while noticing that their left eye has a brown spot shaped like a pair of balls or upside down heart, your choice of interpretation I guess) to the floor. Or you'll be walking down the street and they continuously walker closer to you, so you compensate by trying to veer to the other side, keeping the distance between you the same. But that only works until you run into the road or building.

Secondly, it's incredibly annoying. If you're standing in a line, the person behind you stands on top of you. I'm not exaggerating either. The front of their shoes are usually touching the heels of your shoes. In fact, just the other day, I was at a copy machine at school and you need to enter your user name and password. The guy behind me was pretty much dry humping me AND looking over my shoulder while I typed in my password. I actually turned around and did a coughing "eh hem" and he didn't move. Didn't even seem phased.

So, I swear, if one more person stands on my heels or gets far too close to me, I may lose it. I might just go ballistic and I might just start another American vs British war.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why hello muscles. How have you been?

Today was my first dance class since I've moved to London. I haven't danced since I left Portland over a month ago and it's amazing what your muscles can forget in a month.

I've started a Basics class with this new teacher, and the stuff we did was all stuff I know. And yet, I looked like a moron and I'm sorer than hell! This is sad. I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of things soon enough. But tonight was not fun for my muscles.

Oh. On another note. I got a haircut yesterday. I just don't know when to stop. First, I dyed my hair and that turned out to be a bit of a mess. It was darker than I anticipated AND in certain lights it looks green. So unhappy with the color, I thought "well maybe if I get a new hair cut I'll like my hair better."

Not so sure that worked out.

Yeah. I have bangs. Or, as they say here, fringe. I'm not so sure how I feel about it. Plus, this picture seems to show off the greenness of my hair. Fantastic.

Will this hair debacle ever end!? Will Boots ever stop embarrassing herself?! Will she ever become fashionable enough for London?! Will she ever stop boring the masses with her blog posts?! Will that funny-smelling milk she drank earlier disagree with her later?

Answers to these questions and more in another blog post, written at an indeterminate time, by an unidentified author in another dimension. So you can stop asking them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Social Life, how do I miss thee. Wait, who am I kidding?

In a moment of self pity, I found myself lamenting the loss of my social life. I've lived in London for an entire month now and have gone out a whole two times. I spend my days locked away in my room or in the library trying to keep on top of my reading and only see friends when they too are walled up in the library. And then I got to thinking...oh, yeah. I've never had much of a social life so what am I bitching about?

Well, I did have a little bit of a social life in the form of Cait and Kate. This last summer these two provided me with an outlet that if I needed to get out of the house. I miss them dearly.

Now, I find that my solitude is causing delusions and hallucinations. I begin to believe that my readings are my friends, and when I'm lonely I talk to my articles as if El-Shawan's examination of contemporary Egyptian music really gave a damn about my day.

What's worse is when the books start talking back. Mostly, it's innocent stuff like telling me the temperature or that I look rather smashing on that particular day. Other days, they tell me to burn things. I rather enjoy those days.

I've also apparently starting finding other outlets to entertain myself. I was going through my Photobooth files and found this photo:

Not really sure what's going on, but I found it amusing. I tried having a conversation with my picture, but my picture only showed off by responding in Arabic which is completely rude seeing as I've only had two and a half weeks of practice thus far.

Ok. So I was so going to just end this post there and leave you with that awkwardness, asking yourself "is she joking? or has she really gone insane?" Well. Just to clear things up: I have gone insane.

Now, if you'll excuse my Gilbert Rouget's Music and Trance is calling my name. Literally.

P.S. I totally made an awesome video of my Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations between Music and Possession book talking (which was completely funny and disturbing all at the same time) and now I can't find any way to upload the video onto my blog! What a bummer! I was completely going to have you convinced I was crazy...if I haven't already convinced you. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm a regular ol' Betty Crocker

Attention Interwebs! I successfully baked a delicious dinner last night. Oh yes. It's true.

For anyone who knows my history with cooking, this may not seem believable. Or rather, if I successfully cooked a meal, I probably burned down my kitchen, or set a cat on fire. On any other day, this might have been a probable assumption. However, last night, I honestly made a meal AND didn't light anything on fire.

I was in the mood for roasted potatoes and decided to be lazy and rather than make the potatoes a side dish and then have to cook something else, I made that my main dish. How? Adding bacon. Oh yeah. Potatoes, bacon and carrots. Heaven. For those of you who might like to try my recipe, have at it:

-Potatoes (however many fit in whatever baking dish you might use)
-Carrots (to add some color, but let's not get too healthy here)
-Bacon (as much as you want)
-Olive Oil (gratuitous, unhealthy amount)
-Unlabeled spices from a cabinet that you didn't know existed

-Throw bacon on a skillet and cook until it smells good
-Chop potatoes
-Chop carrots
-Throw carrots and potatoes into baking dish, it you chopped too many let the dog eat whatever doesn't fit. If you don't have a dog, discreetly throw away extra when no one is looking
-Chop the cooked bacon and throw onto the mix of potatoes and carrots
-Pour olive oil over mixture
-Add whatever spices smell appropriate
-Put in oven (set at "hot") and cook until done

I'm quite scientific, non? Maybe that is the root of my cooking problems. I wing it. That's how I roll. In the end I made the most delicious meal!

Yummy! Aren't you jealous?

What did you do this weekend?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nazi's love blondes

I know you are just dying (no pun intended...wait who am I kidding, of course it was) to know what I ended doing about my nasty two-toned hair. I went to the grocery store and literally sat in the hair color aisle for about 45 minutes debating what color I should dye my hair. On one hand, I really really wanted to go darker. On the other hand, I've heard so many people say "stay blonde." So I hoed and hummed and all those pretty women with their dark hair taunted me from the front of their boxes.

In the end, I reluctantly grabbed the color that would match my roots. That way I wouldn't have to dye it anymore, it would be a tad darker and make me happy, but it would still be blonde. So a total win-win situation.

Or at least that was the idea. Here's the color it came out:

I promise I wasn't trying to go brown! It was supposed to be a dirty blonde. However, I think this really IS a win-win situation. I wanted to go darker, but tried to appease everyone by staying blonde. It's not my fault the Universe gave me what I wanted. I'm just awesome like that.

I actually panicked about whether the masses would hate me. Especially the men, because lets face it my love life is just a little pathetic right now. However, as far as I'm concerned, the only naturally occurring blondes are Germans and other northeastern Europeans. To prefer blonde hair over other colors, means you support the theory of the superiority of the Aryan race. In other words, you're a Nazi.

Have a great day everyone! (Except for you, you Nazi scum)

P.S. Please don't ask me why's there is a picture of Hello Kitty as Hitler. I just found it on the interwebs and thought it was too outrageous not to post.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Severed body parts, spiders, and monsters. What's not to like?!

Halloween is just around the corner and I'm afraid its going to take me by surprise. For the past two years, my roommate and I threw elaborate Halloween parties and were literally planning for weeks and weeks ahead of time. Last years party took the cake. We decorated every room and went all out.
So instead of planning for this year, seeing as the Brits are completely half-assed about Halloween meaning I probably won't be doing anything, I thought I'd share some pictures of our last year's party.

Halloween 2008
The Fortuneteller's Tent (The Living Room)

The Spider Lair (The bathroom)

The Cemetery (The Front Room)

The Mad Scientist Lab (The Kitchen)

If you look closely you can see an evil kitty hiding underneath the operating table.

The Egyptian Tomb (The Hallway)
complete with mummy made out of toilet paper

I have way more photos of the party itself, but beyond this part I was too drunk to really get any good photos. So deal with it. :)

Now, aren't you pissed I won't be having a halloween party?! I know, me too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

London Fashionista I am not.

I decided to get a haircut. Like it?

It's the new London look.

Psych! I totally gotcha! You really thought I got the boy-cut didn't you?! With my sparse womanly facial hair (and yes, I do think there should be an official term "womanly facial hair") I'd look even more like a pubescent boy than I already do if I cut my hair like that.

However, I do need to do something about my hair. I mean, what the hell is up with this root line?!

Due to a combination of laziness, poorness, and the want for my "original color" back, I haven't dyed my hair in a long time-- you're thinking, "no shit with a root line like that!" Throughout my history, I have been known to go through hair colors like Liz Taylor goes through husbands. I've had purple, light blonde, dark brunette, auburn, honey-colored and dirty blonde hair.

I didn't even remember what my normal hair color was! And the last time I dyed it was an attempt to get it back to the original color. Apparently, I had truly forgotten what color my hair is.

A History of my Hair Color in Photos: (Unfortunately, my photo selection is limited. I don't even have a photo of my purple hair!) *Chronological order*

My auburn phase.

Then to strawberry blonde...

No, this is not a wig. This was my actual hair color. But you probably weren't looking at my hair in this photo. You were either concentrating on the doodling I decided to do on my face, or the kick-ass paper mache spider in the background that I made.

A little lighter, but still rather dark.... And, PLEASE ignore the face...

It's hard to tell, but now I have blonde hair!

Dark again...and yes, drunk again...

Oh yeah, I was throughly plastered by the time this photo was taken...but here's the last hair color before what it is today.

Man, looking back, all these photos are pretty embarrassing. This project has taught me that I'm not photogenic AND don't have any shame.

So, something needs to be done and soon. I think I'm going to cave in and go darker. It's fall. For some reason fall makes me really want darker hair. I swear to god, I'm worse than the trees-- changing every season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I may or may not endorse punching baby seals.

Have you ever had one of those mornings when all life's little problems have finally piled too high, you're pretty sure you can't keep yourself together one more day, and you have a gut feeling that you're going to get news that will make everything even worse so that the only way you could even feel the tiniest bit better is if you punched a baby seal square in the face and that would only help until you realize that you just punched a really cute baby seal in the face and then you would feel even worse than before? Yeah. I had one of those mornings.

Unable to log into the school's online platform, I sent an email last night to online support explaining that I was having trouble logging on. I received an email this morning informing me that I was in the system as not having paid my fees and therefore cannot be granted access. On top of that, I have been waiting for SOAS to deposit my loan disbursement (in pounds) into my bank account here. They said that it would take no longer than two weeks and I would get an email once it was done. There was no email today and tomorrow would mark the two week mark.

I know I shouldn't have panicked too much seeing as they still had until tomorrow but I had carefully planned the budgeting of my last bit of change to last me until...tomorrow. I am almost out of food, have just enough on my travel card to get me to school and back until Thursday night, and I currently have 2 pounds to my name. So, if something happened and it didn't come through, I'd be screwed.

The combination of these two issues caused me to absolutely dread going to the Registry office this morning, sure that they were going to tell me that something happened with my loans and I couldn't pay for school let alone my expenses. But, I went in none-the-less.

It turns out that lots of people have had the online platform issue and it took two seconds to get me the appropriate access and when I asked about the loan disbursement to my bank, it turns out that was done on Monday and nobody had emailed me. I was too relieved to fuss about the email. I can finally breathe!

Within a few minutes, my debilitating sense of dread was replaced with euphoria. I've survived the first full week of classes and I now have my loans for at least the first half of the year. This would have made me happy any day, but the feeling is indescribable after the morning I had.

I had no classes today, but since I had to go onto campus to sort out the finance stuff, I got a significant amount of studying done and feel pretty good.

On the bus ride home this evening, to finish off my crazy day, as I made my way to the door just before my stop and passed a tall black man wearing a black robe with a black turban and large walking stick. After a couple second he asked, "Miss, excuse me. You seem like you are clever. How many choices do you have between zero and one?"
Completely caught off guard, I had no idea how to answer. "Um...infinite? I don't know."
"What is zero?"
"What is one plus zero?"
"What is one if you take away zero?"
"So what do you have?"
"Exactly. You must change the way you think. Things are not as complicated as we make them out to be. Most people would answer my question the way you did. But you must alter your thinking."
There was a brief pause while I pondered just how appropriate this was to me on this particular day. Then he started once again "There is only one religion that allows you to alter your thinking in this manner."
Oh, great, this is what this was all about. But for some reason, I allowed him to continue.
"That religion is called Islam. It allows you to alter your thinking and blurs the line between rich and poor, because you cannot be one thing or another when you think this way."
I really didn't understand what the hell he was really trying to get at here, but again, he did give me something to ponder this evening, so I thought I'd let him go on.
"Miss, if you ever get a chance to read the Koran, please do and maybe you'll find something that resonates with you ... or not, but you should always try to expand your horizons and at least maybe it will change your perspective of a religion so hated."

Fair enough. Before I could respond, the doors opened, and I nodded a thank you in his direction as I stepped off the bus.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm like a fucking history book!

Good morning readers! Can I just say, that I am pleased as punch (though, I'm not sure I've ever actually seen pleased punch) that I now have 17 readers. I love you guys. I think it's great that my awesomeness is starting to catch on.

I do feel it necessary to post an apology for my last, uncharacteristic post. It was some self therapy that was sorely needed. I mean, even the awesome elite need some encouragement every once in awhile.

Now, some of you might have noticed that I've changed my name back to Petrop the Awesome. Boots McGee is an outstanding name, but I'm afraid I need to drop it. Jen, you can still call me Boots if it makes you happy. While the story behind the name Boots is pretty sweet, I still like Petrop the Awesome better. It's like Alexander the Great. You know, that guy that pretty much created the largest empire ever? Alexander, Alexandra. Coincidence? I think not! Yeah, I'm pretty much just like him! But think about it, Awesome is better than Great! My person causes the general public to be full of "awe" and I think that's exactly as it should be.

To make things more interesting, my full name can be Petrop "Boots McGee" the Awesome but don't allow that title to make you complacent and start using shortened versions like Petrop or Boots (except for Jen because I like her). I am Petrop the Awesome, or if you must, Boots the Awesome. It's just the way its got to be. In fact, now that I've written it, I kind of like Boots the Awesome. Ok. Scratch this whole post. I'm now officially Boots the Awesome.

You may now bow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shopping in Horse Stalls

Once again hitting the streets of London to explore, I made it to Camden Town this afternoon. I heard Camden Town is great for it's markets and even though I had no money to spend, I was eager to take in the market experience.

I have since learned that camden, translated from British English to American (or real) English, means "lots of fucking people." Oh my god. They were everywhere, pushing and shoving. Which, if you think about it, is the "market experience." So it really didn't bother me that much. I took a deep breath and told myself to relax seeing as I wasn't in any sort of hurry and it was tolerable but certainly not what you would call pleasant.

There were way more people than this, but this appears to be the photo I got of the crowd. You'll just have to believe me on this one.

The main stretch of road just after the Tube stop is mainly Indie Punk or goth clothing. It was actually more an Indie Punk/Goth overdose if you ask me. Yes, I get it, you like striped tights, bright colors, and My Little Pony necklaces. Enough already (but if you ever feel like getting rid of that My Little Pony necklace, I know someone who might take it off your hands).

I would just like to add, that I Google image searched "Indie Punk London" just so I could show you a picture of what I'm talking about and this guy popped up. I actually saw this guy and his outfit today was even worse. I almost stopped to take a picture and decided against it. No joke. I'm glad someone else got a photo.

After battling my way through the hordes of boys wearing tighter pants than I could have ever hoped to fit into, I made it to the Stables Market and it was amazing. There were lots of shops with vintage clothing, old cheap leather jackets, exotic imports, and antiques. Plus, most of the shops were in renovated horse stalls which gave the market a great eccentric feel. Oh, and the food! There were food courts, but every small kiosk was another world cuisine. Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Balinese, Spanish, Chinese, Moroccan, and just about any other kind of cuisine you could possibly dream of.

Overall, I think I'm in a heap of trouble. The Stable Markets had overwhelming amounts of goodies perfect for new dance costumes, both ATS and fusion costumes. I was salivating just browsing and looking back, I am very proud of myself that I did not buy one thing. I swear. Nothing. I have so much will power.

Now it's time to make use of my will power and force myself to finish all my reading, given that it's another weekend night and I am once again sequestered away in my room being completely unsocial. Although, I could really go for watching a movie...

Friday, October 9, 2009

You can flog me if it would make you feel better....and I mean that in a completely non-sexual way....pervert

I've not been very good about writing, and when I have written, I've mostly complained. I'm sorry. No. Then again, I'm not really sorry. I'm a complainer. It's like my job. I probably should get paid for it. I'd be rich, and not CEO-of-an-international-company rich, but greedy-monarch-who-uses-state-money-to-supply-her-gold-toilet-paper-and-caviar-swimming-pool-fetishes rich.

So. Anywho. I know, I've been bad about writing and even worse about catching up on all my favorite blogs to read and YET my wonderful friend over at Life, Love and Wine has given me an award-- the Simply Fabulous Award. I'm humbled!

Apparently, the rules of the award are to list my 5 favorite obsessions and then pass it on to five other great bloggers. So, here we go:

1. Coffee. Plain and simple, I just love coffee. I believe the liquid that courses through my veins is probably coffee. Might explain the twitching, might.

2. Chocolate. Again, it's pretty simple. Give this woman some chocolate and she be completely content...until its gone.

3. McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives. Oh, these wonderful UK cookies probably belong to an "2a" category as they're just chocolate covered cookies. But they're cheap and oh so delicious. In fact, I just stocked up on them yesterday because Tesco was having a sale. YUMMY!

4. Hmm. This is getting tough. Seeing as my first three obsessions are all food related, I'd like to say my fourth and fifth aren't. But, I'd be lying. My Fourth: Alcohol. And, boy did I move to the right country for that obsession?! My school's main building has a pub in the basement, where you can buy beer any time of day, even between classes and just yesterday my African music professors invited the masters students to join in their after-class ritual of a glass of wine in the staff common room (which is also complete with a bar).

5. My fifth and only REAL obsession, (like I'd probably die without it) is learning. It's ok. I'll let you stop laughing and shouting "nerd." Go ahead. You can finish anytime. But it's true. I LOVE learning, particularly about music, hence the Ethnomusicology Masters thing I'm doing, though it could be anything. The more you learn, the more you learn that you know nothing. And that is what keeps me going-- the endless pursuit of knowledge and the inescapable mystery of the world.

Now that I've rambled, I'd love to send the award along to some of my favorite bloggers. Not because I expect them to write their obsessions and continue the chain (unless they want to), but because I honestly think you should check them out!

1. Mosaic Art by LeeAnn Petropoulos: LeeAnn has just celebrated her year anniversary of being a blogger and full-time artist. Her blogs are fun to read AND her art is stunning! I recommend you head on over to her site, especially soon as she's holding a contest for $100 off any of her artwork!!!

2. Life, Love and Wine: I know she's the one who gave me the award and I'm probably breaking all the rules by listing her, but that's how I roll. I'm a rebel. No, seriously check her out. She is not only a funny writer, but she always posts DELICIOUS recipes!

3. There's Nothing That the Road Won't Heal: Ok, so I know that the idea of this award is just a little girly, and I might get in trouble for sending it over to this guy, but again, I don't play by the rules. Plus, I just think it's funny. ;) John is a folk musician who started out keeping a blog while on tour and I have recently forced him to continue writing even while he's between tours. He's a great writer, smart and funny!

4. Not That Kind of Girl: This is a great blog, because she pretty much takes all the things you wish you could do, or wonder why the hell anyone else does them, and then she does them. It's funny, well written and a great inspiration to go against the grain and try new things!

5. More is Better: This girl has adopted the life of a nomad and of course blogging about it. She's funny to read and it's fun to vicariously live a nomad's life through another person! :)

So there. I'm done for today seeing as I have probably about 100 pages to read tonight (yes on a Friday night and no my social life is currently non-existant so stop rubbing it in), it's already 10:30pm and I wasted two hours of my life attempting to be cheap and catch the bus rather than the tube home. (See? Complaining. Rich! I tell you, Rich!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I got a tan from standing in the English rain

I think I'm in love. I absolutely love the School of Oriental and African Studies. Where else could you spend the afternoon listening to Zimbabwean mbira, Senegalese kora, a Chinese tea room ensemble, Korean drumming, a Middle Eastern ensemble, an Afro-Cuban band, Klezmer music, djembe, Javanese gamelan and Indian tabla all in one room?

Today was the music performance fair. For three and a half hours, I had the pleasure of listening to all the above mentioned musicians and more that I'm sure I forgot. I didn't have any classes today, though I did have my first Ethnomusicology in Practice course yesterday. Oh. My. God. It's going to be amazing and I'm going to learn so much, but it is SO much work. Lots of reading.

Tomorrow I have Arabic and Music of Atlantic Africa. It should be an exciting day!

Oh. And in case you were curious, I found my umbrella. Don't ask me where I found it. Ok, fine. I found it in my backpack. Shutup. It was really hidden. I did, however, leave it at home today and of course it poured. Awesome. On my walk home, while completely drenched, "I am the Walrus" came on my iPod and I thought it only appropriate.

"Sitting in an english garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don't come, you get a tan
From standing in the english rain."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ghosts and Lost Umbrellas do not make for a good day

Today kinda sucked and not in the "my life is shit and nothing ever works for me way" but in the "I really feel like complaining but don't have a lot to complain about" kind of way.

It was the first day we had proper rain since I've been here. Everyone said, "English weather sucks. Beware!" and it has been nothing but sun for two weeks. Today, it rained. I realized, due to the sun, I still did not have an umbrella, so I thought it would be a good day to invest in one. This decision was not taken lightly however, as I was down to my last bit of cash for the next week or so. Regardless, I figured an umbrella would be a good idea and I spent all but my last two quid on it.

I went to my first Arabic class (whooo hoo!) and had to sit next to the most annoying person in the world! Ok, maybe not as bad as Naked Cowboy, but close. She honestly finished every other sentence the teacher said, just so that everyone around her knew how smart she was. If you know the answer to something and pipe up every once in a while, I'll forgive it and forget. But every freaking sentence! I was about to smack a bitch.

After class I head to the library to see if the Arabic textbook was available (remember I spent my last bit o' change on the umbrella so I'll have to wait a week or so to properly buy the book) and of course it wasn't, at least for loaning. It there for reference, so I can complete the homework. I grab my stuff and get ready to head home and once I get out in the rain I realize I have no umbrella. I had lost it already.

I never did find it.

Now, I'm down to 2 quid AND no umbrella. I really hope it doesn't rain in the next week.

After all that, I think I subconsciously decided to punish myself by walking to the bus rather than taking the Tube home. It's cheaper that way, but meant more walking in the rain. Along my walk, I swear I was pushed, shoved, and bumped more times than I can count. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it common courtesy to walk down the same side of the sidewalk that you drive on? So, in the States you stick to the right and here, you should stick to the left. Then you never run into a person heading the opposite direction.

That would be the simple way to do things. Half of London, foreigners not from England decide to keep to the right while the other half keeps to the left. And for some reason both halves feel completely justified in their choice and refuse to move. If you're not quick enough to dodge in and out, right to left to right to left, then you'll be bumped. I tried a couple of times to just barrel through, and while you feel good running over some chick who refused to move over, your body doesn't necessarily thank you for it.

Finally, at home today I think I've discovered a I've caught a ghost on video! Crazy, but it's no joke. I literally spent most my afternoon listening over and over trying to debunk it. Have a see for yourself:

It's the video towards the end. This was while my friend Matt and I were all alone wandering around Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya. We were the only ones around when this video was taken. There's a whispering voice at the very beginning of the video and I can't explain it. It doesn't sound like my friend (who you can hear later in the video) and again I swear no one else was there. Plus, (and other people have said this so it's not just me trying to make it creepier than it is) it sounds like a black man speaking in another language. Remember, we were in Kenya.

So have a look for yourself and send me your suggestions, but I've been pretty creeped out all evening.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

So Close and Yet Safari

DONE! Finally done! I've finished editing and rewriting the journal of my trip to Kenya. I've tried to put it into a readable format, so please check it out. I would love your feedback!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


This guy is my new hero.

Well...looks like I've got some practicing to do. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Decisions

The SOAS Department of Music held it's Post-Graduate Students Welcome meeting this evening and I've officially begun my journey towards a Master's in Ethnomusicology. I had the chance to meet some amazing students and faculty members. I held and overheard lively discussions concerning music whilst sipping more free wine and it was a music nerd's dream. One faculty member in particular and I had an informal discussion about my passion and area interests. She not only sparked within me more passion for the path I'm leading, but made several new exciting suggestions and gave me an initial list of connections and opportunities for my upcoming year.

I am going to be in a very different place next year and I have a feeling I'm going to love it.

Reflecting on this, I thought, "SOAS is going to end up being the best decision I've ever made." And then I realized that's not true.

I've made alot of bad decisions in my life (far too many for someone who's only lived 24 years), but my ending up at SOAS is really only the latest good decision I've made in a stream of good decisions.

My first good decision: Leave Steve. I learned some valuable (and unfortunate) lessons during my time with Steve, but in the end, I couldn't have made a better decision than to leave him. My life was heading into a dead-end and my drive for individuality, success and happiness had escaped somewhere through the window while I was too busy being in a relationship and living the American life.

My freedom brought new challenges and new opportunities. Had I not been single and back on the quest for my individuality and success, I would have never grown into the person I am today. Who I was when I was with Steve would have never taken a trip to Kenya for the hell of it.
The person I was after Steve did.

That was my second best decision. Not only did I have the best vacation ever, my eyes were opened by my first worldly experience. I soaked it up and loved every minute of my exposure to life outside of the one I knew. My trip provided priceless memories, experiences, and photos. Most importantly, had I not taken that trip, I would have never met the man in Lamu who told me the story of his girlfriend, a student at SOAS. SOAS had sent her to Kenya for three months to learn Swahili and it is this fact that intrigued me, caused me to research the school and discover its reputation.

And here I am. Had I not made the previous two decisions, I would not be here so I do not feel I can truthfully say that coming to SOAS was the best decision I've ever made. Regardless, I can say without a doubt that I am blessed to have the opportunities I have had, to have the support from my family and friends who have helped guide me to make these decisions, and to have the willpower and drive to be the person I have become-- so different than three years ago.

Now that I am here, I can feel the workings of the Universe beneath me. I know that there are more opportunities and more good decisions to be made just around the corner.

Life, ready or not, here I come.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How's Life?

I've had a rather hectic two days with plenty of good and bad. Yesterday, I enrolled in my courses. Rather, sort of enrolled. This whole system is so different from the US system, it's sometimes hard to determine where you stand.

The enrollment process was full of queues. I stood in one queue to get a enrollment confirmation stamp, a second queue to get a fees stamp, a third queue to get a data stamp, and I'm pretty sure I had to stand in a fourth queue because I needed four stamps, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the last stamp was for. Probably to note that you've successfully stood in queues all day long.

All that, and I had to wait in ANOTHER queue to turn in my stamped card and receive my Student ID/library card. You'd think that would mean I was enrolled. Nope. I still had not even chosen my classes by this point. Once I had my ID card I had to take a sheet, fill in the courses I wanted and find the teachers of each course who would sign my sheet.

So what were the courses I finally decided to take?
1. (Required) Ethnomusicology in Practice
2. (Required Area Study of Choice) Music of the Middle East, Near East and North Africa
3. (Minor Course of Choice) Introduction to Modern Standard Arabic
4. Dissertation
And, for the hell of it, I've decided to audit Music of Atlantic Africa.

That's 13 hours of lectures each week. Crap.

The good news for yesterday, I went to the Arts and Humanities Faculty Welcome Party and got to meet other students (only met one other ethnomusicologist) and drank lots of free wine. The related bad news is that I apparently drank too much free wine and was hung over before I even left the party and had to ride the tube home with a massive headache.

Today, I had to figure out how to change the loan disbursement I received yesterday to help with living costs from US dollars to pounds. Not sure why Sallie Mae thought it was a good idea to send US dollars to a UK school... Thanks Sallie Mae! You made this so easy! Mother fuckerramblecrapbitchramblemumble grumble. My choices were to deposit the check into my brand spanking new UK bank account and wait 6 weeks. Yes. 6 weeks. Or, I could give the check to the school who would change it and deposit my loan into my bank account in no more than two weeks.

In the mean time I have to pay my landlord who was already kind enough to wait this long for the rest of the rent. I told him I was waiting for my loan and I can't possibly ask him to wait another two weeks. So once I pay him, I'm left with 20 pounds cash and roughly $100USD in my US bank account to live. I also have credit card bills due before the loan will be deposited. Great.

The good news for today, is that I have a Staples Cash Card because I returned a few things before leaving the States. After they argued that they would only give me store credit and I told them that it would do me no good seeing as I was moving to the UK, they gave me a card saying that they have UK stores and I could use the card in the UK. Great! I'll need school supplies. The closest Staples is about a 45 minute walk from my house, and trying to save on costs, I walked and didn't take the bus. I arrived and asked if they could tell me how much is on my card and the cashier looked at me confused and then told me I couldn't use it. MOTHER F'ER! Looking at the back of the card, it says "for merchandise in the U.S. retail stores only." I'm going to hurt someone. Not only can I not use it here, but I can't use it on the online store either. And it's not like it's a few dollars. I have $57.74 on that damn card!!!

Absolutely pissed off, lonely, beaten down, and dejected I marched back along the 45 minute walk home. While crossing a road an Italian man came up along side me and said (in a very sexy Italian accent), "Excuse me, miss. Excuse me. Are you alright?"
"Oh, yes. Thank you."
"You look unhappy."
"Oh, it's been a long day."
"It will be ok. What is your name?"
"I'm Antonio. I'm from Italy. Where are you from?"
"The States."
"How's life?"
"Um, it's good. It's been a little rough moving here, but it's good. Thank you. How about you, how's life?"
"Very good. I'm going home now with the bread I just bought and making BBQ. I love BBQ."
"Yeah, I love it too." And by this time, I was smiling again.

How's life?