Posts Tagged 'friends'

One helluva week.

I’m doing my best to make do on my once-a-week promise, and it would seem I’m a little late. Frankly, though, a little late is more than I was expecting, so I’m going to keep thinking I’m awesome and run with it.

It’s finally stopped being sub-zero wear-my-gloves-all-the-time freezing in Norwich (though I hear the freeze is returning to us soon), and I have definitely flown about a million different directions this week in terms of school, friends, and general awesomeness, so I will try and pause the madness to inject some new happy ramblage into my transatlantic.

For starters, if you didn’t throw a calendar in my face, I’d have a hard fucking time believing I’ve only been in the country for a week as of today. The last seven days have been some of the longest and most ridiculous of my life, for reasons both public and private, and sometimes it just does not feel possible for time to move so incredibly slowly. I know that comes off in a slightly depressing way, implying that all of this lengthy-but-not-lengthy time has played out for depressing reasons, but alas, this is not so! I’ll start proving this to you by telling you how amazing my first classes of 2010 are so far.

Tuesdays at 10.00 AM (an semi-ungodly hour, but manageable) find me in the Arts 2 building, taking my first literature class NOT based around one of any numerous classics that the canonical world of English literature apparently finds wordgasmic. That’s right, I am finally taking a contemporary literature course! I find this very exciting, as I am one of the most un-English major English Majors out there and find myself untterly disenchanted by many of the traditional, canonical texts required of my course. I haven’t yet read anything for it (here’s hoping that’s not true about 12 hours from now when I walk into the classroom…the first book is ready and waiting for this post to be finished), but if my general contemporary experience is anything to go by, it should be an amazing class. I still haven’t quite worked out how I feel about the teacher though; I’m a lit major, but I don’t look down my nose at the people that enjoy cheap best-sellers…which clearly he does. Maybe it’s because I plan on writing something that’s more entertaining than intellectually stimulating and life-changing, but that’s how I feel. As long as people are reading, who the fuck am I to judge them?

On that stimulating classic note, though, we have Shakespeare – and I’m not going to lie, I am more than excited for this one. Lectures by the likes of Peter Womack, Joad Raymond, Tom Rutledge, etc etc – who wouldn’t be? It’s like the poster-child lecture list from the Facebook group I was just invited to join – The Thinking Woman’s Crumpet. Now that group is a blog post topic to itself, but I’ll stay on track here, and meander back to Shakespeare (who, I have to say, should he have looked anything like Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love, would fit right at home on that lecture list). It’s my one class with the epic Lewis Clark this term, so granted I always sit next to him in lecture, I will always be paying attention to the subject matter at hand. There’s that, and the fact that I have Joad as a seminar leader again, and I swear, if I make myself look like an idiot one more time in one of his classes, he really will just straight up laugh in my face. So we’ll see how that resolution goes.

Midday Friday is my favorite time of the week, as it’s my creative writing class. This term I’m taking Creative Writing Drama, specifically focused in the Film and Television realm. SO EXCITED. I’ve only had one class so far, and in one session, it’s been the most motivating, promising class I’ve taken since I got here. It really made me feel like I have a plausible future in writing, and it made me realize how amazing it would be to achieve that. By the end of the course I’ll have written my first screenplay, which won’t be impressive to a twenty-million-scripts-under-his-belt Stefan Smith should he ever read this, but I’m incredibly excited. Basically it’s the best two hours of my week!

So anyone who’s been anywhere (and wow, I mean that in the least contrived, least snobbish way possible) knows the saying “it’s a small world”. Right before Christmas break I yet again learned the truth of this statement, as via one happenstance conversation with someone at my work, I found out that I am not the only Oak Ridge High School alum working at the Chapelfield Mall. In Norwich. In Norfolk. In England. That’s right guys, even though I’ve probably walked by the guy in Raleys, I had to move to Norwich to meet him! It is seriously a small world. I can’t get over it!

On an almost equally ridiculous note, I just want to throw out a recent encounter with an object that, at least in my experience, is an entirely hot-beverage-loving English creation. It is the Instant Disposable Teacup Maker Thing. Basically, it’s this like little cup-holder that turns any Dixie disposable cup into a teacup. It’s kind of amazing. And probably exists somewhere in America, and I’ve just never seen one. But I love it, and I love thinking of it as basically an English invention that further proves their love of tea.

Another Englishy note that I failed to make last term when I first realized it was my love of having local shops. Over here, most every neighborhood seems to have a local corner store where one can pick up any foody sort of items they might need to stock up on. I have a local shop (a Co-op, to be exact), a local green-grocers for fresh fruit and (gonna be english here) veg, and a local butchers, for fresh, AMAZING-smelling meat. I’ve already heard Simon, who’s off being a jayhawk at the University of Kansas complain about the lack of a local shop. Rather, he’s had to hitch a ride to Wal-Mart (welcome to America!) to pick up snacks…like CHEEZITS, oh my god, I miss Cheezits. Simon, I hate you.

I’m realizing at the moment that while my post is sort of on the lengthy side, it doesn’t quite fit the whole “helluva week” implied in the title. I’m okay with that, though, as it is definitely the most apt description of my week, whether you’re getting the sense of that or not. And I really need to stop so I can go do some actual coursework.

So, there you have it, in it’s not exactly epic glory – my first resolution-keeping post. Now I have to go read some contemporary lit named Morvern Callar, and hope Eleanor’s not exactly positive review is just a bad joke. Otherwise, I’m up for a long night.

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One word: Stokage.

So it’s been two months now – two months and two days, to be exact. I have had a Tahoe-filled, World Market-tastic summer full of friends, family, and tanning. Basically, I did a fan-fucking-tastic job of absorbing as much Californian amazingness as is physically possible in 63 days. I have little to no time left in lovely little El Do, and then it is off to the airport, then to Las Vegas, then to Gatwick, where the FABULOUS Laura Wells will be picking my fine self up. To finish up this paragraph of really direct, fact-filled sentences, I’m going to say that my summer was perfect.

When I arrive back in England, I won’t be going straight off to Norwich. I’ll be near Brighton for a few days with Laura, and then I’ll be lugging my ridiculous suitcases off to move into the HOUSE off on Unthank. You know, the HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE!!!! that I’ll be living in this year. Just kiiiind-of excited about that. Because I’m amazing, I got THE best house-warming presents EVER for my three ridiculous guy housemates. I would totally show them off here, but on the off chance that any of those three crazies (I love you guys) read this, I’ll keep it a surprise.

These days when talking with people, be it at work or with friends, it’s inevitable for the, “So…which do you like better, California or England?” question to come up. As follows, it is then inevitable for me to not know what to say. Do I like England more than I like California? I don’t know. California is my homeland, I fucking love it and always will, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. At the same time, I love England. I love it. I can’t imagine spending three years there and not staying. Both places are absolutely, incredibly amazing. So basically my plan is to marry a rich English man and just jet between the two. I’ll let you guys know when I come up with a better plan than that.

For now, though, just getting back to England will do. Getting back into the whole living-in-another-country thing should be interesting…and by interesting, I definitely mean TEN KINDS OF HOLY SHIT I’M BACK AWESOME =]]]] . I cannot wait. This year, I can at least pretend I know what’s coming…and if it’s anything like what I imagine, I will have plenty to write about.

Dust off your transatlantic, guys. 48 hours and I’m back.

xxx

19 days.

Consistency, as fate would have it, is not my thing. Example? A month and a half of no transatlanticking. Yes, I just turned transatlantic into a verb.

Because of this failing, not only have countless eventful weeks passed – weeks that included most of the traveling I’ve done since I’ve been here – but it has gotten to the point where I have not written in so long that I don’t even know where to start. And yes, while I had to re-write that sentence three times, it does make sense.

I’ll start with the end. The end being in 19 days. In a half-assed fashion, D5 loses Sam tomorrow. I say half-assed because he’ll be leaving, stripping his walls of the posters, notes, and memories that made this year what it is, but after a week-long stint in Austria, he’ll be back in D5 with just a backpack and a sleeping bag to get him through the last 5 days of term. Laura, Sam, and I spent a good hour just sitting in the kitchen, doing nothing this afternoon, doing our best to avoid thinking about this. Because thinking of the people in this flat slowly stripping and vacating their rooms makes me want to cry. Next year will be amazing, that much I don’t doubt, but it will be a very different kind of amazing, and I’m not even going to try to pretend that this year is something we can re-create. You can’t do that. That’s half of what makes it so great. It’s also half of what makes it so shit.

Some stuff we can continue, like throwing together random dinners, á la Monday night. Laura, Kate and I have taken it upon ourselves to extend our cuisine-knowledge of Norwich by mapping out a schedule of new restaurants to try through the end of term. Monday night we started out with sushi, by hitting up (literally) the ONLY (legit) sushi restaurant in the entirety of Norwich. We dragged along a good portion of the flat and friends, and while it was slightly overpriced, it was totally worth it. I for one felt awesome, because not only was I doing the honor of exposing most everyone at the table to real sushi for the first time, but I got to explain most everything about the menu and food to all the Japanese food noobs. And, while it was incredibly tempting, I did not use my position of power to feed them bullshit and pretend to put my four years of high school Japanese to use. On the contrary, I was a fantastic guide of awesomeness, because whether it be sushi, pasties, or guacamole, awesomeness is what I do.

Except when I happen to be using the London tube system. Amidst my many month-of-April travels, I hit up Dane Hill (the land of Laura Wells, near Brighton), Folkestone (Coventry-land, in Kent), and Harrogate (from where Eleanor hails, near York). Somewhere in there, on the way to Folkestone, I believe, I was in London, trying to get from Liverpool Street Station to Charing Cross. Had the tube been fully functioning, this probably would have taken under fifteen minutes. As my luck would have it, as it would happen to have it EVERY time I go to London, the tube proved completely useless as the line I needed to use to get to Charing Cross was closed for repairs. That said, I needed a quick way to get from station to station to catch my Folkestone train – and what better (if you have ten quid to spare) than a taxi.

I was a little unexcited about taking a taxi because while I’d just gotten paid that day, I didn’t want to part with a tenner just for a quick drive. So when I got in the taxi, I nervously eyed the little ticking pay machine at the front of the cab and watched slightly miserably as it skipped upwards in forty-pence increments. I was the opposite of (new favorite word) chuffed until the taxi turned a corner and we suddenly came up alongside the Thames and I saw, lit up in the nine-in-the-evening night sky, the London Eye and Big Ben. It was absolutely incredible. I sat there in awe, absorbing the epic view, missing the jump from £6 to £9, until we turned back onto a sidestreet and came right up next to Charing Cross. Call me a tourist, but I was totally willing to shell out the £10 after an unexpectedly awesome sideshow like that.

I had many other adventures throughout my travels, many of which are probably worth telling but sadly, due to my lapse of timing, I can’t quite recall in a fashion worth transcribing. What I do definitely recall, and definitely find worth writing about, is the whole village concept.

When I first came over here and people explained where they were from, I had a time of it explaining why growing up in a village sounded…well, silly to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in America, the term village is practically a novelty term, relegated to either historical fiction and fantasy novels or ridiculous 1990’s housing developments in the El Dorado Hills area. Over here, though, it’s a commonly used term for, well, villages. Small pockets of houses and a few stores that exist a good twenty minutes from either the next village or possibly a town or city. When this was explained to me, it made sense and I figured it mapped out sort of in the same fashion as the different areas within Sacramento or El Dorado County. Then, when I did my bit of travelling throughout April, I got to really see how the whole village thing worked out. Some places do sort of work out like El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park, where there are fairly large-sized town-ish things that exist a few miles apart. But those are definitely not villages. Villages are literally a few pockets of housing, a few shops, and that’s it. If you’re looking for a summer job and you live in a village, chances are that unless you’re working at the local shop, you’ll go looking for employment elsewhere and thus pretty much have to commute. I don’t think I’m explaining this as well as I’d like to, because as I reread it, the system sounds pretty similar to what we have in the states, so everyone reading this is probably confused as to what my point even is. But still. I swear. It’s different. And interesting enough that I thought I’d take a stab at trying to explain it.

Something I definitely CAN explain is my frustration with what I have so far experienced of an English summer. There are beautiful days that inspire Pret picnics with French Fancies enjoyed on the grass of the Cathedral Close, and then there are days that inspire every Norwich citizen and their mother to avoid the shit weather and rain by heading to Chapelfield Mall and buying a fucking pasty from my work. I might be a little better at handling the mixture of bipolar and ADD that is the English summer if I had not, for the better part of the last ten years, had the wondrous experience of the 103°F (39°C), sunshine-all-the-time, let’s-go-eat-nonstop-fro-yo (Jaime Bissell I love you), spend-the-whole-day-melting-by-the pool El Do summer. I want that. I want that right now, especially since I was just informed this morning that it has already reached the point in El Do that you can comfortable lounge about at 6.00 AM in a tank top and shorts, if you happen to be awake and outside at such an ungodly hour. Oh, and by the way, I had to stop myself from writing strap top instead of tank top. I blame the nine months in England and Laura Wells for this slow degradation of my vocabulary.

So now I’m sitting here in my pigsty of a room, trying to remember what the fuck I’ve been doing for the past month and a half, and why I haven’t bothered trying to write about it. It’s ridiculous, because it points out the disturbing reality of how much can happen in a short time, and exactly how much of it you promptly and depressingly forget. I look back on the journals I kept in high school with faint amusement and a fair portion of derision, but to be honest…at least now I know what I was doing. It may have, 90% of the time, been something along the lines of, “OMG, HE SAT NEXT TO ME TODAY”, but still. At least I didn’t a. rip any of the pages out, or b. forget a really important four years of my life. I now have on paper, documented throughout four separate journals, how lame I was. But this way I know exactly how much I enjoyed it, and every single amazing friend I met along the way.

I like to think that these days I’m a lot less lame, though apparently my skill at recording any bit of it has gone to shit. I don’t know if I’m going to take a break from writing here over the two months I’ll be home, but whenever I am full-time writing on here, I’m now promising myself that I’m actually going to do it. Waiting longer than a month makes it seem like a burden, and it’s not until I’m 100 words in that I realize how much I enjoy it, and why I do it. Writing here still serves the purpose I first intended for it: it keeps me in touch with home, it makes me happy, and somehow, at the same time, it makes everything make a little bit more sense. I’ve been getting desperately homesick a bit lately, which is a horrible feeling when compounded with how much I simultaneously want anything but this year to end. But there you have it…torn in two directions, loving it and hating it in inexplicable amounts either way.

19 days, guys. And I don’t know if I’m more happy or sad.

Bitch best blog more!

For starters, I just thought I’d say how much I love hearing that people read my blog. A bit self-important, I know, but it’s nice to know that people either care enough or are bored enough to read a bit about my life. I don’t think I thank people enough for stopping by, so as my favorite McBride would say, there that is.

To trade in for my three sentences of self-importance, I’ll share how I’ve suffered twice (in recent memory) for my lack of Englishness.

I work at a pasty cafe. Most of you know that. Now, working at a pasty cafe, you get asked a certain variety of questions and as such are readily prepared to answer most any of them. For example, “What flavors of pasty do you guys have?” Or, “What comes with the light lunch?” Even once, despite seeing our display full of fresh pasties, “Do you guys have any pasties?” I won’t lie, I have my moments where I mess things up, but generally speaking I am entirely capable of running the counter on my own.

That is, of course, until a man approaches the counter, and to the best of my hearing, he inquires if we have any “oise”.

“Any what, sir?” Mayyyybe I just heard him wrong.

“Oise.”

Maybe not. “Pardon me?”

Impatient look. “Do you have any oise?”

Shitshitshit, still have NO idea what he wants. “I’m sorry sir, just one more time for me…”

Cue the GOD, how stupid IS this girl? look. “OISE. Do you have any OISE??”

“Excuse me, let me get Abbie.”

Abbie walks up, all smiles. “Hello there, what can I get for you, sir?”

“I just wanted to see if you have any oise.”

“Oh, no sir, I’m sorry, we only have the cold drinks. We don’t have any ICE.”

ICE?! Ice?? I am sorry, but there is no way on the PLANET that that man asked me for ice four times. Nope. Oise, yes, he asked me for oise plenty of times. But ice? I don’t care how strong your English accent is…oise? And for the life of me I don’t know how Abbie understood him. And on the first time.

The next day I was in the kitchen talking with Sharaz when he starts telling me about this really funny thing that happened to him the other day. Sharaz, for the record, works at the bar at the Holiday Inn in town. So he deals with a variety of customers (hello gypsies!), including many very English ones (Norfolk Turkey Association, anyone?). Aaaanyway, he starts telling me how this guy came up to the counter and kept asking for something and Sharaz, for the life of him, had no idea what the man was talking about. Turns out, all the guy wanted was some OISE. So I take that as proof that I’m really not all that retarded at living in England. Yes, you could point out that English is my first language and it’s not Sharaz’s and therefore I have no excuse. But you’re not going to, because we’re all awesome here, and we’ll just write off the whole “oise” scenario under the same category as the soup story.

We sell a variety of soups at my work, depending on the day. This particular day, we were serving Tomato & Basil soup. I regularly get ridiculed by my managers as to how I pronounce this certain kind of soup (toe-may-toe and bay-zil), because according to the English, I say it ten kinds of wrong. You’re supposed to say,  “toe-mah-toe and ba-zil”.  Which I never say. And has never been a problem.

Cue ridiculous English lady.

“Excuse me, what kind of soup are you serving today?”

“Toe-may-toe and bay-zil, ma’am.”

“What was that?”

“Toe-may-toe and bay-zil.”

“Pardon, what are you saying?”

“Toe-may-toe and bay-zil…” Still getting a blank look. You have GOT to be kidding me. FINE, I’ll say it:

“Toe-mah-toe and ba-zil…?

“Ahh, yes, thank you!”

At this point, all of my co-workers were listening and watching from the back, busting out laughing. Because what’s funnier than watching me be forced to speak English-English as if American-English were incomprehensible? Apparently, not much.

So there you have it, two accounts of me still being blatantly American, in all of their over-written glory. Totally could’ve reeled off those stories in two sentences…but hey, as a certain Lindsay Ransom and I believe, what is a good story if you tell it too quickly?

Speaking of Lindsay, I have her to thank for my recent return to the land of jukebox classics like Stay by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. God, I love that song. And playlist.com, for letting me play it and all the other classics I don’t have on itunes to death. I’d say I’m just waiting for someone to come complain about my Happy Days overplaying, but halls are basically empty due to our current month-long spring break.

Yes, UEA for some reason has a whole month off for spring break. And can I just say quickly how much I hate using the term spring break now thanks to Sam Wilson? Every time I use that term in his presence, he drops his voice an octave and shouts “SPRING BREAK” in his best MTV spring-breaker impersonation voice. Because apparently spring break is less of a widely-used term here, and more of an Americanized concept of what kids go do during Easter holidays.

EASTER! I can’t believe that it’s this Sunday already! This is where I’m supposed to tell you that I’ve been an amazing Lent-er, and kept up with all of my dietary promises of a few entries ago. Sad to say, I survived a good…hmm, let’s be honest here…a good six days before I lost it. Accidentally, mind you – but I just as easily could have gone back to the Lenten diet after I realized I’d broken it. Instead, I continued HORFing down my deep-fried tortilla slathered in guacamole and sour cream and decided to be a bad person. So much fail, I know. I’ll blame my over-extended Ash Wednesday ambition for that one.

My Easter plans, if all works out for the best, include visiting the awesome-sauce Zach Coventry at his home in Kent. Kent! Does it get more English sounding than that? Well, I guess it could, if you lived there, and your last name was Coventry, and your middle name was Westwood. All of the above of which apply to Zach. So that makes Zach one of THE most English-sounding people on the planet. Brings to mind a certain picnic filled with Mr. Wheatsworth and some large-leaf lettuce leaves…oh, amazing times.

[Just hit 1111 words! Make a wish!]

If you’re wondering where the name of this post came from, you can thank Alex Davis and his literary, word-phrasing genius. And if you’re wondering if I intended on making this the most name-drop-tastic post I’ve ever written, the answer would be no. But that hasn’t stopped it from certainly becoming such.

In other news, life is a bizarre breed of amazing right now. I’m looking forward to summer, not really believing that we’re already a week into April. How the hell I’ve been living in another country for nearly eight months is beyond me. I watched the film Amélie the other day, and it solidified my need to go see Becks in France. Granted, the film is a bit on the quirky side, but I love it, and it does a fantastic job of capturing the whimsically happy feeling of everything being alright.

I admit I got a little screencap happy there for a second, but seriously. I love looking at anything from that movie…it is one of the most visually engaging films I’ve seen in a long time!

And in hopefully my last segue of this beastly post – speaking of films. I watched Elizabeth the other day as well, and might just have re-fallen in love with Vincent Cassel. Most of you likely won’t recognize the name, so I’m going to be awesome and jog your memory, starting with this gem:

Voice of Monsieur Hood? Yeah. Vincent fuckin’ awesome Cassel. He plays himself a badass Russian mafia guy in Eastern Promises, (okay, so Nikolai could probably kick Kirill’s ass, but come on, Nikolai is theoretically Aragorn, so whose ass couldn’t he kick?) and is part of the super classy, unfairly attractive cast of both Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13. Here’s a sample or two, if you have a few minutes to spare:

So much win! Okay, I’m done with the clips and the pictures and the segues, I promise. Just go watch Amélie, or something with Vincent Cassel in it. That’s all I ask!

Besides that – that being the ridiculous 1456 word post I just threw at you – life is strepless, class-less, and definitely still amazing. Even better? Home in two months. Home, and summer.

And as we all know, there’s nothing better than a lazy summer with the crazy kids of El Do.  ♥

Two chickens, four pies, and 16 people.

Thanks to Prue, Maggie, the amazing I-owe-her-hugely awesome Rachel, and the other 14 people that participated in Thursday’s American revelries, Thanksgiving was AMAZING.

I shall photo-collage a bit for the few of you that haven’t seen the Facebook proof.

Basically, because I haven’t said it enough, it was wonderful and awesome and amazing. There’s lots to be thankful for, that’s for damn sure!

Now it’s time to dive back into that which is the, oh, 4,000 or so words of coursework I have due at various points during the next two weeks. Yeah, wish me luck with that – top five things I’m NOT thankful for.

Then again…HOME IN FIFTEEN DAYS.

=]


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photo cred to myself and Maggie J. Moxie