Sunday, November 29, 2009

The moment you've all been waiting for, or at least I'm going to pretend you're interested...

Alright guys, you are in soooo much trouble. WHY didn't anyone stop me?

Remember that whole "I'm not good at cooking" thing that tends to come up in my conversations? If so, why didn't anyone say something when I mentioned I would be throwing a Thanksgiving Day Party?!

I am happy to report that the party was huge success, but it did come dangerously close to disaster. It started when I tried to make spanakopita, which is a dish my family would always have on Thanksgiving. Its fairly easy to make, however when I went to put it in the oven, I accidentally put the oven on broil rather than cook. So the top burnt and the bottom wasn't cooked. Awesome.

Then I found myself just staring at the turkey. I had no idea what to do with it. I've never cooked a turkey before and can I just say that an uncooked turkey is about the ugliest thing on this planet? Thankfully, SJF knew what to do and demonstrating that he's not always a jerkface he showed up and helped me make the turkey. Who am I kidding? By "help me" I meant, "he cooked the turkey while I stood in the door way of the kitchen drinking a beer and 'supervising.'"

Despite my poor cooking skills and much to my relief, everyone seemed to love the food. My suspicion  is that the massive pile of empty alcohol bottles that was quickly growing over the course of the evening had something to do with the fact that no one seemed to notice how bad my food was.

Best part of the whole day? The Wall O' Hand Turkeys.

Everyone, or almost everyone, drew a hand turkey in true American fashion.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Things I am thankful for...

...that I don't breathe really loudly through my nose. Otherwise, I'd drive myself crazy.

...that my downstairs neighbors don't have loud sex every night that keeps me awake, mostly out of jealousy.

...that my downstairs neighbors aren't vampires. Like real vampires, not the pussy vampires that glitter and are full of teenage angst about whether they should suck your blood or not. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm thankful they're not that kind of vampire either.

...that I can read, so when I see signs like "Push" or "Pull," I know what they mean and I don't look like an idiot trying to open a door.

...that I am talented enough at bullshitting that I can at least successfully convince people I'm right in an argument even though I know I'm probably dead wrong.

...that I'm awesome.

...that I don't have three legs and not because having three legs would cause people to look at you funny, but because you'd have to have all your pants specially tailored. I just don't have the patience for that.

...the cup of hot chocolate I'm currently drinking which is the only thing keeping me from turning into a giant block of ice.

...that I've completed any immediate homework that needs to be done this weekend, so I won't feel so bad when I drink myself stupid at my Thanksgiving party on Saturday.

...that I'm a terrible cook, which gives me an excuse to sit back while other people cook. "Listen, trust me, you don't want me to cook that. It will taste so much better if you cook it. And by "better," I mean not burnt."

...that my tiny room is at least big enough for my bed so that I can sleep lying down.

...that I don't have very good looking legs because then it's not so bad if I don't wear high heels to show off my legs and then get blisters and permanent foot-bone damage from walking on my toes all day.

...the interwebs, without which I would not have LOL cats and internet videos to distract me from more important (yet boring) things I should be doing instead.

...all my wonderful family, friends, and readers who really do make every day worth living. I love you all and Thank You! (shukran)

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The time my brain stopped working

Do you ever have one of those moments when you're just cruising on your own awesomeness and then reality hits?

That was my morning. I woke up early and started cranking out some work. I read, I listened to some music and I organized myself. I had an Arabic study group to attend this morning, so I was trying my best to get stuff done before I had to head out for the session.

And man, I was cruising. I was starting to feel so good about myself. It was only 10:10am and I had to leave at 10:30 in order to get to the session which started at shit. It started at 10!

It was in that one moment that my awesomeness came tumbling down (temporarily of course). That split second when your heart stops for a second because you realized you just fucked up. It's like those dreams where you're always late to whatever it is you needed to get to because you just didn't realize the time until you looked at a clock and figure out you're hours late.

Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating. It was only a study group, and I still made it in time to get some stuff done. However, that lapse in awesomeness threw me off for the rest of the day. (Which is, of course, the reason I'm posting a useless blog post rather than doing some work.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I've been a naughty blogger

I'm sorry. I know. I haven't been good about writing recently, but can you blame me? After 4 hours of Arabic lectures today my brain is fried. Especially since the lectures contained information about how our mid-term exam (which only 3 weeks away) will be organized. Oh man, I'm fucked. Time to put my nose to the grind!

Yet, by the time I got home, instead of grabbing the Arabic textbook, I grab the computer. I mean, it's way more fun to write blogs or plan for a party than to review Arabic. Psht.

I'm actually really looking forward to this weekend. I'm throwing a Thanksgiving Day party! It should be really fun, but mostly because I cannot wait for an excuse to eat and drink myself stupid. However, I kind of forget what a big deal it is to host a party. Don't get me wrong, it's loads of fun, but it's nerve-wrecking. This will be my first London party I've hosted. What if no one shows up? What if who does show up hates it? I'll ruin my party throwing reputation and after last years Halloween Party, I've actually got a party throwing reputation whether you believe it or not.

I'm pretty sure that if there's enough alcohol, people will love it...or at least not remember whether they liked it or not. ;) 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two months, 6 umbrellas and counting

Alright, so I was warned-- it rains here. Regardless, I'm still going to bitch. Really, it's not the rain I have an issue with, it's the umbrellas. When I first moved, the weather was pretty nice, and about two weeks in, it starting raining. So, I figure it was time to go buy myself an umbrella and got one. I used it successfully that day, and by the time I got home, I realized I no longer had my umbrella.

This has been a reoccurring theme thus far. I buy an umbrella and loose it. Normally when it rains, it sprinkles, and if I'm caught without an umbrella, it's not really the end of the world. However, last week, we had some really crazy weather. It was pouring and extremely windy. I had a date that afternoon and after getting all dressed up, realized I could not find my umbrella. Not uncommon, so I stopped on my way to the tube station to pick up a new one. I got to town early and did some shopping before meeting up with SJF. By the time I was done shopping, I realized I had no idea where I was and had to be at the date in 10 minutes. I ran out to the street trying to find a bus or a tube station and, yes you guessed it, by the time I realized I was getting rained on, I also realized I no longer had an umbrella. So, lost, and drenched, I had to walk several streets before figuring out that I was only three or so blocks away from the date, and couldn't be bothered to grab a bus. That meant walking in the rain. So I stopped at the first store along the way (after about another block in the pouring rain), and bought umbrella number two for the day. I stepped outside, opened it up, and the wind immediately broke it. No joke. I didn't even have time to stand underneath it. Mother Fucker. So I gave up and just showed up at my date looking like a drowned rat. It was hot.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Can someone please explain why people this stupid get to be in charge of my money?

Two months after opening my first UK bank account and I finally have a bank card and PIN. Absolutely ridiculous, but at least this whole chapter of my move is over.

I do need to share that on the highly confidential letter that arrived today is this quote:


Right. Because if you don't have my address right, I'll somehow magically get this letter and read that message. Friggin morons.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holy Crap, Lions!

It recently occurred to me that this time, a year ago, I was on my first real adventure in Kenya. Being a bit of a sentimental mush-ball, I've spent the past few days reflecting. It was that trip that opened my eyes to the world and solidly set me on my current path. 

For me, the urge to travel was more than a desire see world, it was the need to experience the world. I had assumed that this experience was only possible by traveling to the ends of the earth and visiting places out of the ordinary. Africa called to me. She whispered my name in my thoughts and dreams, promising the experience I sought. A friend once lent me a book with the intention of scaring me away from any further thoughts about Africa. The book was Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, and the second I finished it, I knew I had to go. Theroux is a great writer and he had a real life experience while traveling from Cairo to Cape Town. He escaped being shot at, got sick, and met hundreds of interesting people. Everything that my friend was convinced would scare me only egged me on towards my own adventure. A year later, I finally had my chance to travel to Africa.

This day, last year, I was visiting Lake Borgoria and Lake Nakuru and saw rhinos, hyenas, baboons, and tree-climbing lions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This conversation would have been completely different if we were talking about Chuck Norris

Me: Whatcha thinking about?
SJF:... Do you think Bruce Lee would survive in prison?
Me: Of course, it's Bruce Lee.
SJF: Yeah, but he's such a little guy, what if a whole bunch of inmates wanted to make him their bitch? How many inmates do you think it would take to bring him down?
Me: I don't know, he wouldn't have much space for full-on kung fu in a jail cell, but he does have the one-inch punch.
SJF: 17, 17 could do it.
Me: Wait, why would Bruce Lee be in prison anyway?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just another day in the life

I'm afraid I do not have much to write about today. I did get to meet up with a friend from the States who was back in London for a quick trip. We had a lovely lunch and it was great to catch up. After lunch, I was supposed to meet up with SJF, however he canceled...for the second two days. Of course he had reasons, but that just seems a little ridiculous to me.

That is the story of my life, especially my love life. In fact, I'm quite pleased I got him to hang out with me a few times! That was pretty good on my part. I kept the crazy hidden for at least a couple days. Maybe it's better this way, because I certainly couldn't have kept it hidden for much longer.

On another note, on my way to my dance class last night, I came across this grafitti on a small side street and found it quite appropriate being that it was Veteran's Day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

You are sooooo not helping

Official Day One of Reading Week and I feel like I accomplished nothing. The goal was to wake up nice and early, get showered and dressed and then make my good self over to the SOAS library to study all day until a concert on campus at 7:00.

By the time I rolled out of bed and made my way out the door, it was about 1:00. Instead of heading straight to the library, I made a quick detour to the local shopping mall. Shut up! I needed new jeans. I own nothing that fits and doesn't have a hole in the crotch.

New jeans in hand and I finally got to the library roughly around 2:00. I did get some reading done, but not too much before I decided it was dinner time and I needed a break. I did get a little more done before heading to the concert which turned out to be alright, but not as good as Friday night's.

Now, I'm home and what do I do? Decide that it's a good idea to write to my readers rather than get more reading done. Fantastic. You better have enjoyed that story, otherwise this was a total waste of time. *Menacing voice while shaking fist in your direction* Enjoy it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A tiny slice of heaven in amoungst the chaos of life

Friday night found me busy with class and one of the best evenings I've had in a while. After class I went to a dinner party with a friends who are fellow ethnomusicologists and we enjoyed a delicious meal of East African Fish Stew prepared by our host.

After dinner we went to a club called Passing Clouds for a concert. The concert featured the kora teacher from SOAS, Kadialy Kouyate. When we arrived a djembe group, which I unfortunately did not get the name of, was performing and it was spectacular. The group was tight and the drums sent rhythms pulsing through the venue. Losing my sense of self within the sound, I felt nothing but joy. Cliche, sure, but there is just something about drums that get my emotions going. There is so much passion in sound and rhythm.

I enjoyed the company of friends and great musicians, until I decided to finally head home at around 1:30 knowing that catching a night bus would take me roughly an hour to get home. Pulling a pure Alex-move, I hopped on the wrong bus and ended up, oddly enough, at the end of the road where the mbira concert was only the night before, which as you might have guessed, was not home. I then had to wait for 30 minutes before the next night bus made it my direction. I was lucky enough to find a bus to take me pretty much to my stop, but certainly not directly. After roughly an hour bus ride, I had only one more short bus to catch before finally stumbling home. So leaving the concert at 1:30 (which was early by the way) I did not arrive at my door step until after 3:30. The trip should have taken me roughly 20 minutes if I had caught the right bus. I know what you're thinking: Well played.

Slowly approaching 2 months in London, and I'm still busy sight seeing. Yesterday, I found myself in Regent's park, which is my new favorite spot in this city. It is a tiny slice of heaven for this nature-freak/Mainer-at-heart. I love the city, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I just need to get away. Thankfully, I now know I have Regent's park. You can hear birds singing! What a concept! There are open fields as well as tiny forest-like hideaways. It is a beautiful park, especially this time of year.






 's the nose to the grind for Reading Week. I have a week off from lectures and a To-Do list a mile long. Here we go.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

Today is Guy Fawkes day, a day of fireworks and bonfires, and I am pretty sure I did not have a typical holiday.

Today in a class, a friend told me about an mbira (a thumb piano from East Africa, particularly from Zimbabwe) concert going on in town that she might be playing at. Figuring that I had nothing better to do after class, a few of us head out to this concert. We were told it was at a bar called the George and once we finally stumbled upon the bar, which was out in the middle of nowhere, we discovered it was all boarded up. We could hear something going on inside and finally found an entrance. We forced ourselves through and discovered it was no longer a functional bar but a squatter's house.

Mbira music was wafting our direction and following it, we ended up in the garden out back. The garden was small and very Secret-Garden-esk with a bonfire in the middle and a few mbira players huddled around the fire. As the night worn on, more mbira players showed up, roughly 10 or so, and I enjoyed my Guy Fawkes day huddled around a fire in a defunct bar's garden listening to mbira music and watching local fireworks. You can't ask for a more beautiful way to spend an evening.

I ended up leaving a bit early as things were just starting to finally move inside into a slightly more formal concert setting, but I have a big weekend in front of me.

Tomorrow, it's up early to attend a Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum until my Middle Eastern Music lecture in the afternoon. After the lecture, it's off to a dinner party with some friends and then to another African music concert. Saturday it's another early morning to see a Christmas parade (please don't ask me... it was SJF's idea) and then a good-bye party for an acquaintance that night. Finally, Sunday is apparently off to Greenwich to experience the weekend market.

Thank god next week is reading week.