Posts Tagged 'travel'

And here we go!

I’m sitting cross-legged in cozy pajamas watching Sharaz play a ridiculous motorcycle and fire-pit filled game called Trials HD and I’ve decided that while I meant to write a post yesterday, now is as good a time as any. I’m going to pretend that I haven’t ignored this blog for the past year and just throw you into my life at the moment.

Lots of things are going on so I feel thrown in about a million places at once. For one, this time last week my mom was visiting from California; she arrived on Monday and stayed until Sunday morning, and it was beyond the word amazing to be able to see her. If she hadn’t been able to make the trip out, by the time I see my parents at graduation it would have been nearly a full year since I’d seen them, and that idea (which still stands for both my dad and my sisters) blows my mind. Missing someone becomes normal after a while, and you begin to forget you miss them – not in an impolite or unloving way, but in the way you get used to anything that nags you, like a small cut or a bug bite. It’s not until somebody points it out that you realize how painful it is, and now that my mom’s left, that’s how I feel. Two weeks ago I missed her inactively but now everytime I have chips or walk to Chapelfield mall I think of her. All the same, though, it was wonderful seeing her, and I wouldn’t trade her visit for the world!

That fact may or may not also have to do with the many fantastic trips we took. We spent an entire day wandering Norwich (the weather did a rather half-assed job of cooperating, but we had coats and as such survived): going through the Lanes, touring the cathedral, stopping for lunch in Tombland, & other Norwich activities. For my actual birthday, our family friends from Norwich were nice enough to drive us all out thirty minutes away to Blickling Hall, where Anne Boleyn was born. I may not have been posting on here very often, but I promise you, you have missed little-to-no travelling on my part, so that makes Blickling Hall one of the first English National Trust buildings I’ve seen, and it was fantastic! Again, the weather left a bit to be desired, but I must admit it gave the grounds a thoroughly English backdrop (mist, a bit of rain, ludicrously green fields, all against red brick and leaded glass). I shall show you a picture for effect!

Last Thursday we spent all day in Cambridge and luckily enough the sun finally pulled its thumb out and gave us a bit of blue sky and sunshine. We literally must have walked over five miles, wandering from the train station upon arrival to Kings College, across the street from our breakfast cafe, and then down to St. John’s (where we later had tea and scones!) and eventually the River Cam for a good old bit of punting.

Punting, for those that don’t know, is the Cambridge version of gondola-ing (not a verb, I know). It’s apparently a tourist must when visiting Cambridge, and seeing as we’d magically avoided the rain-showers and overcast skies of every other day that week, we shelled out the required £15 for the forty-five minute tour. Though the day got chillier as it progressed, it was all in all a wonderful day, and was especially appreciated once we saw the weather for our day of wandering in London.

London, I am quite sure at this point, hates me. I have NEVER been to London when it hasn’t rained. Every. Single. Time. Gray skies and rain. Sadly, besides a beautiful sunny ride home on the train Sunday morning, AFTER having dropped my mom at Heathrow, the weather was rainy. It rained on and off for the majority of the day, but my mom and I were fantastically determined to not let this affect our touristy agenda, and after girding ourselves with hot coffee and Krispy Kremes (which I insisted on getting as they, and any other decent semblance of a donut, are unavailable in Norwich) we hopped on the first round of our double-decker bus sight-seeing tour. After one stop of standing on the over-crowd, overly-humid first floor, we snagged a pair of seats in the coveted covered portion of the second floor and enjoyed the next hour and a half seeing all of the things you’re meant to see in London: Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, & etc. It sounds boring, but in my (rain-soaked) previous travels to London I’d never been able to see much of any of the above, so I had an amazing time. Besides, I was sitting next to my mom (who is one of the most amazing people on the planet) the entire time, so there was no way it was going to be a bad time!

We listened to the crisply-accented tour-guide for just over an hour and a half before getting off at Green Park, ready to make our way to Harrod’s for a bit of walking and copious amounts of window-shopping. We eventually made our way there (though not before being told by a French-accented man at the Ritz that we couldn’t take a peak at the famous tea room because I was wearing jeans) and quickly found ourselves lost among runway fashions, an endless gourmet food department, and the massive Egyptian Escalator (because even escalators get the fancy treatment at a place like Harrod’s). My mom and I decided most of the restaurants were a bit ridiculous in the price department, but we found a middle-ground cafe that suited perfectly and had lunch there. My mom had an iced coffee that, I swear, tasted of absolute roasted perfection. I would give my left hand to wake up to one of those iced coffees every morning.

After lunch we did a bit more Harrod’s-ing (you could literally spent a week in Harrod’s and still not know your way around) and then left off for Picadilly Circus so we could find the Comedy Theatre, where we had tickets booked to see The Children’s Hour. This particular play, which is by no means light-hearted, I picked for its cast: Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Moss, and Tobias Menzies (Brutus in Rome!!). If I’d been thinking at all I’d have picked something much happier for my mom’s last night in town, but alas, I was a bit starstruck and booked The Children’s Hour anyway. The play itself was amazing, though there was a young girl starring in it that acted a bit like a psychopath (so much so that by the end you certainly wanted her to get what she deserved, so I guess she did a good job!). I would definitely recommend it, as long as you don’t have plans the next morning to drop your mom off at the airport and then spend the next four hours alone on a journey home reading Never Let Me Go, yet another hardly uplifting story. But I highly doubt any of you would find yourself in such circumstances.

Weather, lack of sleep, and over-spending included, it was such an amazing six days that I can’t believe it’s already over and that now I have to wait another four months before I can see my mom again. But! It made me realize not for the first time how lucky I am to both have such an amazing, happy, generous, and loving mother and that she is not only all of those things, but also so in love with England that somehow it resulted in me living here!

On the note of living here, you might be wondering how much longer that’ll be going on for. Well, unless the government says no, I plan on living here for at least another year. I might be getting an MA at UEA (either in Creative Writing or Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures – I won’t be hearing back for another month or so probably), or I might be working – who knows. Either way, I think it’s fair to say that my near future is definitely Norwich-bound!

Sharaz has at this point moved on to Black Ops, so I think I might head off to bed. But I do feel that much better about myself having thrown 1300 words out into the ‘net, so I hope you enjoy!

Pirate keys and pounds – yes, I still live in England.

When Lindsay and I were in high school, not only were we dorkily awesome, but we epitomized our dorky awesomeness in a book creatively titled The Book. Somewhere around junior year The Book and its relevancy petered out and retired to Lindsay’s house, but from its birth sophomore until that untimely end it was incredibly entertaining. Now, unlike some capital B books in high school dramas, our Book had nothing to do with our peers, and everything to do with ignoring our existence in high school in El Do and looking forward to how amazing the rest of our lives would be. The night before I left to come back to England, Lindsay unearthed The Book from some corner of her ridiculously organized room and brought it to my house for some much-needed reminiscing. It certainly served its purpose, because looking back through it, we found a page titled “A Day in the Life”.

The gist of this particular exercise was to imagine what, in an ideal future, a day in our lives years from then would be like. I like to think that I was a fairly normal teenager, and that as such I had the fairly normal desire to skip high school and go straight to college. That said, my “Day in the Life” had me stationed knee-deep in university, having the time of my life, not in America, but – where do you know it – in England.

Now I’m not going to pretend I’m psychic or prophetic, but I’m also not going to pretend that I didn’t find the whole thing incredible. It sounds cheesy, and corny, and any other ill-chosen food word used to describe general triteness, but my dream pretty much came true to a transatlantic T (minus the degree in Archaeology I apparently had planned [???]). This thought occurred to me not only as Linds and I paged through The Book, but also today as I walked through the little gate to my rowhouse and unlocked the front door with my pirate keys. My life is pretty awesome, and I am incredibly lucky to have it so.

And yes, I totally just said pirate keys.

How awesome is that? I’d post pictures of my house as well, but Reggie and my gimpy camera are somewhat fail at the moment and make doing so really past any level of motivation I currently possess. I will, however, give you the following one-sentence summary: four bedroom, one bathroom, three boys, and a galley kitchen. Those seem to be the most life-affecting highlights I’ve discovered so far. Oh yes, and no drier…which seems to be a general English thing, rather than a students-are-complete-cheap-asses-and-can’t-afford-one thing.

On that note, I ventured out into our small backyard the other day to, for the first time, put out my laundry to dry on a laundry line. Sharaz had already done so a few days ago, and partly because he doesn’t need the clothes but mostly because he’s a lazy ass, he’d left a few bits of his laundry out. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem…but when a few extra days outside means SPIDERS BUILD WEBS AROUND YOUR CLOTHING, it means I, as a fellow lazy person, suddenly have no desire whatsoever to dry my clothes outside. So I substituted a laundry line for my kitchen counter.

Besides indoor chores like laundry and feminizing the otherwise plain and boring kitchen, I have work at the pasty cafe to keep me busy until school starts on the twenty-first. Oh! And I have one other, newly acquired activity! You are now reading the blog of UEA’s Student Ambassador for America. I don’t know how long the job goes for, but I do know that I love UEA, I love England, and that I could probably sell the idea to anyone and their mother that’s interested. The job entails, as far as I know at the moment, an hour’s worth the work at uni each week, and emailing/contacting prospective American students that are interested in the general transatlantic business, specifically in the East Anglian direction. I’m really excited, because not only does it sound like resume material – it sounds like something I’ll be sincerely interested in. And will get paid for!

Now that I live in a house, I feel ridiculously adult. I paid my first rent yesterday with my own money, and due to the gloriousness that is the student loan system (no, we don’t talk about future crippling debt on this blog), I will be entirely financially independent this year. It’s a very strange feeling, but I feel like it’s a huge achievement, and, debt-that-I’m-invariably-ignoring aside, I’m really excited and proud of myself. Yes, this has turned into a bit of a narcissistic post, but hey – since you’ve made it this far, I promise to stop talking about how awesome I am.

Instead, and as an exciting bit to leave you with, I’ll talk about how FANTASTIC!!! it is that this year, both in the fall and spring, I’ll be seeing fellow Californians doing the abroad thing! Jaime and her roommate from SDSU will be in Granada for the spring semester, and Wes is au pairing in Munich. Bharath is even in London, so hopefully I’ll get to see him to. That said, anybody heading in this general direction – let me know! You have a free place to stay, and I’d love to have you. You’ll just have to ignore the pigsty that is my room and the size of the couch you’ll be using as a bed. Other than that, good times, I promise you.

So at the mo, such is life. Back to the queen’s currency – which I am unashamedly a fan of – and to swashbuckling keys. That’s what happens when you call Narrich home.

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.  ♥

‘Sup jig? Life with strep.

Monday morning, I experienced the previously unknown pleasure of waking up with strep throat.

OH MY GOSH FAIL.

Four days, endless penicillin/ibuprofen/paracetamol, and about fifty status updates later, I can kind of swallow in a relatively painless fashion. And I no longer look like my throat is covered in cottage cheese. Oh, I know you appreciate that visual. Just be glad you don’t have Zach Coventry living two doors down to commentate on it further…it’s not pretty. On that note, do your I know-you’re-mature-enough best to not take my streptococcal whining out of context.

So, as I was saying, I’ve never had strep throat before and I have to say I don’t think I ever realized how lucky I was. It is, seriously, the most disgusting and painful oral ordeal I have EVER suffered. And pretty much nobody over here had heard of it…let alone seen the disgusting manifestation of it (which, duh, I showed everybody. I thought we already covered the part where I’m awesome?). Go Google image some pictures of it. Shit is NASTY — and I have yet to find a picture that was as bad as mine. Oh yes, I know you wanted to know that. Otherwise, why would have already read a good 205 words on me and my strepness?

Anyway – while you’re on Google checking out the sickness that they should just rename CCT (cottage cheese throat), you should check this out. This, by the by, would be a link to the amazingness that is Google street view. And guess where that link will plop you right in front of? I’m thinking it might be in front of the little red-doored house I’ll be living in next year. WIN!

Google street view, like the whole concept of living independently next year, is literally ten kinds of amazing. There is something absolutely incredible about being able to basically walk up and down a street that you’ve never even been within 1,000 miles of. So yeah, if you click there, you can have a look around the neighborhood I’ll be living in next year. I feel slightly self-important posting that, but then again if you’re reading this, you’ve likely been reading (and hopefully clicking…?) ridiculous things on this blog for a while now, aaaand so I don’t really feel all that bad. Okay, done rambling.

A few weeks ago, kudos Laura Wells, I discovered the whole DVD-renting bit of the UEA Library. Besides only being able to rent movies overnight (due back by 10.15 the next morning = FAIL), it’s really handy. Recently I’ve gotten into the habbit of picking up a few movies on the way home from work, and yesterday I rented Enchanted. And if you haven’t seen Enchanted, oh my gosh. GISELLE! No, no, wait for it, wait for it…

Wow, AMAZING. Ahahaha….yes, I stole that picture straight off of a Facebook flair…but come on. James Marsden and his expression in that are just plain win. And yes, the entire point of that movie-renting tangent was to post that picture from Enchanted.

Unrelated to all of that silliness, we have how potentially awesome my month-long spring break could be. If everything works out, I’ll be heading up to York (Harrowgate, specifically) to visit Eleanor for about a week. And for those of you that don’t know, York is one of the primary locations for the fantastic novel that is The Sunne in Splendour, which is my favorite novel EVER. So that would be really, really, REALLY great. And then, even better, would be to jet from there to Paris to stay with Becks in her flat, a few blocks from Ladurée. Ladurée, by the by, is the confection/bakery that did all of the food for Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Example:

Aaaaan Becks wins.

Last thing I want to mention is that pretty soon here I get to sign up for classes for next term. I’m STOKED beyond STOKED because as of that end of this term, I’m done with all of my compulsory modules and now I get free range to choose from loads of really interesting courses that I want to take! As in, endless and endless amounts of creative writing! And, almost as good, a Shakespeare class with Peter Womack, who is an absolute legend, as a lecturer. Oh my goodness, all of that combined with independence might make me die a little.

Viva la awesome life!

Reggie, Manfred Mann, and other reasons not to complain.

I have been here for nearly six months and today, for the first time, I attended church at Norwich Cathedral. It was long overdue, I know…but as they say, better late than never.

The service was amazing. It took a little longer to walk there than I thought, so I was about ten minutes late. Thus, when I entered from the small door in the back the choir was in the middle of singing a hymn. I can sit here and try to tell you how amazing it is hearing a monstrously huge pipe organ and the incredibly talented Norwich Choir harmonize in a 900 year old cathedral, or you can just trust me when I say that it gave me goosebumps. I still can’t get over the fact that people regularly attend church in such an awe-inspiring, spectacular place.

Among other religious firsts, I’ll note that this was the first sermon I ever heard where it was preached that part of the listeners’ Christian duty, in terms of achieving world peace, is to help put a stop to climate change. I’ve grown up in a pretty conservative church environment, so needless to say, pro-environmentalism (if you decide to call a simple decision to live sustainably an environmentalist attitude, rather than a simply logical one) was never really a sermon theme. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my church growing up, and it was hardly preached to drive a Hummer and never recycle. In the same vein, though, I highly doubt many members of the LCMS church find themselves voting on the left side of the ballot. It was, simply put, interesting to see church from a visibly more traditional view (900 year old building, traditional liturgy, etc.) while hearing a slightly less traditional sermon.

When I got up for Communion, I was advised by the woman sitting nearest me that I should bring my bag with me to the front of the church, as sadly before people have come in during service and “nicked” the bags of Communion-goers. Seriously. How much of a conscience do you lack if you steal purses from women while they Commune? Things like that in the world make me pray that my faith in karma is not misplaced. Anyway, the reason I mention it is because after service the same lady spoke to me and chatted with me for five or ten minutes, asking me if I was visiting, or if I attend church at home, etc. It was just really nice that in such a huge, intimidating church setting the members are still incredibly personable and, well, nice. I really, really enjoyed myself, and now that I have myself a bus pass, I’ll try and go every Sunday.

Last weekend was spent in utter relaxation, sleeping 10+ hours both Friday and Saturday night, wearing pajamas for most of both Saturday and Sunday, and curling up in bed eating take-out fish and chips and finishing Devil’s Brood (Sharon Kay Penman = HISTORICAL FICTION LOVE).

This weekend has been 48 hours of compensatory productiveness. I woke up and left for town at the unheard of hour of 9:00 AM with a certain Laura Wells and then proceeded to pick up my paycheck, do some much-needed exploration of hole-in-the-wall Norwich shops off of Haymarket, and pick up a week or two’s worth the groceries at Iceland. It was pretty awesome when I arrived back at the flat at 12 and only found one or two people awake. Since it was a particularly gorgeous (albeit FREEZING) day, I brought a blanket out next to the lake and laid down in the sun. Within half an hour enough clouds had showed up to block out the sun, so that was the end of that. Still though…it was absolutely fantastic. Even more so because I made myself a bacon sandwich when I got inside.

One of my amazing finds yesterday, among other things, was a perfect little record shop near Haymarket. It’s just one small room overstuffed with vinyl, with brown-and-honey-colored speakers that remind me of my grandparent’s house hooked up amidst framed album covers and blasting Manfred Mann. I picked myself up a vinyl Cat Stevens album, partly because it was Cat Stevens and vinyl, and partly because it came with an original poster of shirtless, lei-bearing Cat Stevens playing acoustic at some unnamed blue-walled venue. It’s on my wall being epic as I type…I am in love.

Sadly, I have no academic misadventures to report or to amuse you with. That’s doubly disappointing since I seem to fail at constancy these days…you’d think I would have embarrassed myself tenfold since I last wrote.

I can, though, report that I nearly have my housing situation worked out for next year. That, combined with my realization that in terms of rent and bills I will be financially independent next year, AND with the fact that on the twenty-third I turn 20, makes me feel very, very strange. And adult. You’d think that the whole living in a foreign country bit would go a little farther in acquainting me with feeling strange…but alas, the feeling is just as bizarre now as it was a year ago.

Wish me luck though, guys. No matter how the current numerous roommates situation works out, I’ll be living with three boys. Having no brotherly experience, I’m sure this will be quite an adventure…though, if nothing else, the material I’ll get over the next two years will be boundless, and unavoidably amusing.

Speaking of the other gender, I have a new man in my life, and his name is Reggie. He’s not actually a man in any way, shape, or form. He’s my anthropomorphized phone, and he fucking OWNS. I can now skype anyone at any time via Reggie, and in what is bound to cause my death, I have unlimited access to Facebook as well. Because skype is awesome, I was finally able to get one of my epic friends from my old church on the phone the other night to play six months of conversational catch-up. Communication can at times be a bitch, but skype goes quite far in terms of making it simple. I’ll be doubly making use of that now, as Prue, one of my best friends here that hails from Australia, has left England and after six months of being abroad, returned to her half of the globe. FAIL.

None of you can see (that is, none of you that are reading this and are not one of the ten people I live with), but MY ROOM IS CLEAN. This is absolutely unheard of, as I usually live in a state of general explosion, where the only clean surface is my sink…and that’s only on Wednesdays, when I have to move everything off of it so that Paula, the cleaner, can wash it off.

That, plus the fact that my new tongue-piercing has officially healed and I have the new, much shorter bar in, makes life quite nice at the moment. I can say, temporarily, that I have no complaints!

Let’s try and keep this going, shall we?


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photo cred to myself and Maggie J. Moxie