Wednesday, September 29, 2004

First days of class, or not

I’m very confused at the moment. It’s coming up on the fourth day of the term, and I’ve only been to one lecture. Fair enough, I didn’t have anything scheduled for Monday and my Celtic Civilizations class doesn’t start until halfway through the term, but yesterday, and again today, my history professor was a no-show. Due to the equally high volume of pubs and cemeteries in this city, I’m torn between worrying that something is seriously wrong and thinking he must be somewhere getting plastered.

There must be some kind of conspiracy here. This is the same thing that happened when I was trying to get my visa -- it was such a pain in the ass and it was dangled just out of my reach for so long that eventually, my nervousness about studying abroad was completely overshadowed by the feeling of "I'm going to be so pissed if I don't get to go. Get me on the freakin' plane already! Let's do this thing!" And now. I spent weeks stressing out about meeting people and making new friends, and now it's Wednesday and I haven't had any classes to meet any damn people in. Now I'm like, "Bring 'em on! Ready to socialize!" When I finally do attend a seminar, I'll probably be all up in people's faces, like "HI MY NAME IS ERIC HOW ARE YOU DOING?"

I guess this is a good thing. It feels a little manipulative, but I couldn't tell you who was behind it all. Probably Nun-Clown. She's always looking out for me, my Fairy Nun-Clown if you will. SHUDDER.

I came home from non-class and watched Murder, She Wrote with Rosie. Many people don't know that this is the most amazing show ever. Jessica Fletcher murders someone every damn week and manages to pin it on someone else! Isn't that incredible? I mean, please -- every week this old lady visits an old friend and someone "happens" to die. And she always knows waaaay too much about murdering people to account for it with the fact that she's writing a mystery novel. That shit is non-fiction, yo. "Today I killed again. Still no remorse. Will try again next week. After I pin this one on the young floozy with the drinking problem."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

See Eric study abroad

I finally figured out how to post my pictures on the internet!

This is my "paying a £60 excess baggage fee" face.
Eric and Marianne, reunited at long last!
This is where Marianne's "putting in a contact lens" face used to be. Alas, she requested it be taken down.
Aberdeen is very cultural. You can tell because they put up a sign showing three Japanese people.
This is Marishal College. I don't go there, but it sure is pretty.
King's College, a building on the University of Aberdeen campus. Undergoing renovations at the moment, but still beautiful.
Eric and Rosie, reunited for the very first time!
Here is some fun graffiti welcoming people to the city.
Here is a cemetery. One of millions here.
Coming up a rolling hill on the way to the sea...
These four pictures don't do it justice, but if you look, you can see the surfer I was talking about before.
A drive-thru Burger King! This takes me back to my homeland.
Ginormous ship in the distance. Looks microscopic in the picture. Pssh.
Marianne doing her famous impression of the girl with a pearl earring.
And when you take off the headdress, there's a new hair color underneath!
Rosie likes to carry boxes that are as big as she is.
And when she has to sprint to catch the bus, I take pictures instead of holding the bus for her.
Eric displays a piece of found art he has discovered. The rubber ducky represents oppression.
We had a party in my room drinking the champagne Marianne got for her last birthday.
Would you believe me if I told you this lewdness was unintentional?
Me neither.
My desk! Marianne made signs to greet me at the airport so I put them on my wall. They say, "Wilkommen Sie aus Schottland!" (if you're German you are probably crying right now), "Zardoz", and "Nun-Clown." On the left is the nun-clown calendar the lovely Pam sent me. So, think about this: What if Marianne had been holding up the Nun-Clown sign at the baggage claim...AND ONE CAME UP TO HER EXPECTING A RIDE? WHERE WOULD IT BE GOING? WHAT IS IT DOING ABROAD? HOW DID IT GET THROUGH CUSTOMS? These are the kinds of things I think about.
This is our living room. I've cleverly hidden Marianne somewhere in the frame -- can you find her?
Here is a picture of one of those church-clubs I told you about. The one with the crosses hanging from the ceiling. I had a drink at another church-bar yesterday and the walls were still adorned with stained glass depictions of Jesus being crucified. So wrong. So great.
These pictures really capture the overall color scheme of Aberdeen.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Queer factor

Three years ago today, I met Luke and thought we were boyfriends just because we made out a little. Luckily, he agreed with me. The last thing I would have guessed back then was that today we would be on opposite sides of the planet and still in love. Hi Luke, wherever you are! I love, love, love you. Everyone else who is vomiting right now can look forward to a new paragraph.

I thought today was going to be my first day of class, but my first lecture actually isn't until tomorrow. I am, of course, very nervous. The question is, what makes me more nervous: making new friends, or tackling my new classes? The ease with which I adjusted to the simple act of relocation suggests that these things won't be nearly as scary as I've built them up to be. Other things suggest that it might be.

Last week, Marianne and I attended a meeting of the Aberdeen University queer society. Marianne is not a lesbian, but as she stated in her defense, "I am a feminist!" We headed down to the pub where the group was supposed to meet. I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if Aberdeen was going any gay community to speak of, and seeing the state of the gay clubs didn't help any.

Now, I think the group should have been specific about where they were meeting. The reason for this is that Marianne and I arrived and saw groups of people all over the pub, realizing we had no way of knowing which was the one we were looking for. What I didn't want to do was approach a group of people and be wrong about who they were. "Excuse me…are you the gays?" "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

Luckily, it wasn't too long before the head lesbian spotted us looking around and thought we looked pretty faggy, so she introduced herself and offered us a seat. There was a moderately large group of people there, but in half an hour there would be twice as many.

I don't know. Sometimes I can do the social thing. Sometimes I know what to say to make people laugh, or at least pay attention. That night I couldn't do it. I sat there watching everyone chat away and thought, Who are these people? What are they all talking about? I must have loads of things in common with some of them. How did I end up with my own half of the table?

After sitting in the pub for a while, the group headed down to the gay club for some dancing. I talked to some really cool people, but who knows if I'll ever see them again. Marianne, on the other hand, was a big hit with everyone right from the start. I felt a bit like her suitcase by the end of the night. "Oh yeah, and this is my friend Eric..."

Like I said, culture shock has set in. I promise improvements in attitude in the weeks to come. Great things are about to happen, starting tomorrow. Stick with me, people.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Color me registered

It happened just like they said. After the initial euphoria, I think I've come down with a case of culture shock. Symptoms include: depression, bitchiness, and lack of motivation to do anything but consume any fried food foolish enough to enter my field of vision.

So instead of wallowing in all that, I thought I would catch you up on what's been happening over here. I'm in the computer lab at the university, which I'm now able to use because I've registered for classes and received a student ID card which I can swipe through something to gain entry into this building during off-hours and weekends. This makes me feel like a secret agent or at least someone with a real job. I don't know what that real job is, but you can rest assured it involves things not readily available to the public during off-hours and weekends.

Well, I suppose the most noticeable defining factor of this semester is the fact that I'm taking not three, not two, not even one, but ZERO film classes. That's right, they're only offering first- and fourth-year film studies classes until second semester. I would settle for first-year classes, but I've already taken the UW equivalents. And I can't settle for fourth-year classes because they're completely full.

I found this out when I met with my adviser (spelled with an "e" over here) last week. Unlike at UW, over here you choose your classes for the whole year just before the start of the term. And instead of doing it yourself over the internet, you meet with an adviser to do it. My adviser happened to a former Husky himself, originally from Spokane. This was absolutely delightful until he informed me that my ass wouldn't be sitting in a film class until next year. He didn't say it like that, though.

So what I had to do was choose an entirely different schedule on the spot. With countless people waiting to see my adviser after me, here's what I came up with:

CELTIC CIVILISATION: THE CONTINENTAL AND EARLY INSULAR CELTS
A study of the early history of the European peoples known to the Greeks as Celts, with discussion of the relationships between the various types of evidence, archaeological, artistic, linguistic and documentary. Topics under consideration include migration, the druids and pre-Christian religion, social organisation and increasingly violent contacts with the Roman world.

STATES OF MIND: CONTEMPORARY IRISH AND SCOTTISH WRITING
The past two decades in Scotland and Ireland have witnessed a remarkable literary renaissance, not only resistant to metropolitan literary and linguistic norms, but also to inherited notions of Scottish and Irish identity. New modes of urban writing, working-class writing and women’s writing have altered the landscapes of Scottish and Irish literature. The course will examine a range of Scottish and Irish texts, adopting a comparative framework where appropriate, and focusing on such issues as: the role of writing in the construction of national identity; the relationship between nationality and gender; the literary use of non-standard language (demotic and synthetic Scots, Hiberno-English); regional identity and the urban/rural division; narrative voice; literature and politics.

VIKINGS, GAELS AND NORMANS, c800-1200
In 802 the Vikings mercilessly sacked Iona. This course introduces students to a period of warfare and pillage, political turmoil and social transformation, but also economic expansion and cultural innovation. Scandinavian raiders fanned out from their homelands to most parts of northern Europe, the Mediterranean and America. Analysis of Viking incursions, particularly in the British Isles and Baltic world, will feature the gradual transformation of these pagan raiders into Christianised settlers. The emergence of the post-Viking kingdoms and the contribution of Vikings and Gaels to the emergence of clanship will be traced. So too will the predatory impact of the Normans, descendants of the Vikings, in Scotland, England, France, Southern Italy and the crusading states. The course concludes with, study of the collapse of the Angevin Empire, perhaps the most powerful political entity Western Europe had witnessed since the Roman Empire.

There's nothing wrong with any of these fascinating topics, but I'm a little disappointed. Hopefully, they'll keep me interested enough to make me forget that. After all, it wouldn't kill me to learn a bit more about the area of the world I've decided to inhabit for a year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Me Again!

OK, Eric is all excited for me to be contributing to the blog as well as him but he just stole my idea of writing about the wind (well, he didn't exactly steal it. We're pretty psychic these days which is not surprising because we are the SAME PERSON and we thought of it at the same time and he used it first. You heard it here first peeps...)

By the way, just to keep you updated a guy came to fix the window so we no longer have a feature room in the same way but at least "Ivan" and I are no longer on such close terms. Eric and I have been experiencing the joys of Fresher's week, orientation and registration. Also when you register yu get your ID card and that is called "matriculation" which makes all the freshers snigger, I guess because it sounds rude or something. Chuh. Freshers.

Eric has been very laid back about the whole process I think which is a credit to him except he's a bit pissed about having to take some history classes as there are not enough film classes in the first half session, so we will have to see how that new direction treats him... I'm trying to avoid talking about me(!)... after all this is not MY adventures in Scotland but Wee Eric's. The reason I'm posting here is because I am so much along on the ride with him we thought it'd be nice to proffer a different perspective on the general goings on. However as I mentioned above we are pretty much of one mind, when it comes down to it, and so a blog of me going "Yeah, like Eric said..." is not thrilling. Soooo... I thought from time to time I could provide info on Aberdeen and the lovely country that is Scotland so you can learn along with Eric, as it were. So there you go, keep posted as I slowly master this computer thingy and bring you bleeding edge comment from the Granite City.

Cheeri!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Windy city

I've mentioned that it's cold and gray here in Aberdeen. It's also incredibly windy. So windy that the women I've seen walking around today don't really have hairstyles so much as masses of hair sticking straight out from their head in one direction. I walked home from uni today plowing through the air, leaning forward at a 45-degree angle to keep from falling over, for god's sake. During most of the night and much of the day, gales of wind whip through the spaces between the granite fortresses that are Aberdeen, making a sound almost identical to thunder rolling in the distance.

This is all a little weird, but it's all right because the wind stays outside. Except in Marianne's case, because her window is broken and is only hanging on by one corner. So her bedroom is basically a wind tunnel, with things coming off the wall and having to raise your voice and shit. And it's not just scary hanging out in there. When I go to bed each night, I can hear the miniature hurricane rattling Marianne's door in its frame. If you stand outside her room, you can see it rattling, plus you get to feel the powerful winds blasting your feet from under the door. IT'S LIKE THE EXORCIST OVER HERE.

So we're trying to get someone to come over here and fix the damn thing. I am at a complete loss as to how Marianne manages to get any sleep in what has been dubbed the Hurricane Room. We imagine it as something like the Hot Chicks Room from The Upright Citizens Brigade. We like pretending to be realtors showing the flat and going, "...and over here is THE HURRICANE ROOM. THIS IS WHERE IT IS VERY, VERY WINDY... WHY IS THERE A HURRICANE ROOM? WELL, IF WE LET IT SPREAD THROUGH THE REST OF THE BUILDING IT WOULD CAUSE A GREAT DEAL OF DAMAGE, NOW WOULDN'T IT? DO YOU HAVE ANY more stupid questions?" (We have to raise our voices to be heard when the door to the Hurricane Room is open.)

My room, on the other hand, is the Bee Room. I had left my window slightly open for ventilation one day, and when I re-entered my room to go to bed that night, the place was full of bees. I stayed up until 6:30 AM killing them all, after attempts to shoo them out the window proved totally fruitless. In the end, I had to swat at them idiotically with my lint roller so they would stick to it. But that didn't actually kill them, so I had to roll it around on the ground to kill them all. It was all very gruesome. Rosie has since informed me that there is a large bee's nest right outside my bedroom. I haven't opened my window since.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Edge of Aberdeen

Every day, my impression of Aberdeen expands. For example, the past several days have brought nothing but gorgeous sunshine and blue skies to a city I was starting to think only read about these things in books. The sun lit up the city so I could finally see it clearly, and it was still gray, but still. The grass was actually green, at least. As for the rest of it, well, apparently every structure in Aberdeen but one is made of solid granite. On yet another walking tour yesterday, Marianne showed me the one Aberdonian building that is not made of granite, but brick instead. It stood out so dramatically from its surroundings that I had to take a picture.

Also, as I explore a larger and larger radius from the flat, I understand that there are, in fact, things other than pubs and clubs in Aberdeen. There are also some banks and a lot of houses. And there is the university, which I'll be visiting tomorrow morning for my orientation. I have butterflies in my stomach, but they're very small butterflies, because I'm finally starting to get the itch that comes this time every year: JOCK ITCH. No, just kidding. I'm talking about the itch for knowledge.

Aberdeen is right by the sea, something I never knew because I didn't do an ounce of research before leaving home and shame on me for that. We walked out to see it the other day and it was absolutely beautiful. It felt so different than seeing the ocean from (continental) America, where you grow up feeling this endlessness of land and it's easier not to be impressed. When I see the ocean back at home, it feels like a fair fight between the land and the sea. Yesterday, I felt dwarfed in a completely new and awe-inspiring way.

After taking this in for several minutes, watching these huge waves just pounding on the seawall, I realized there were a bunch of guys out there trying to surf. I can only assume they had a death wish, because even I, Mr. Seattle-Is-Death-Valley-To-Me, was bundled up and shivering on the shore. Marianne, on the other hand, didn't seem surprised at all. Note to self: people here are crazy.

By the way, you know what else there's a whole lot of here in Aberdeen? Cemeteries. We passed five of them my first day just walking to the University from the flat. I've already told you Marianne's bedroom overlooks another one. Is there something I should know about this town? Because I haven't seen a lot of old people around here. Perhaps it's all the clubbing.

Friday, September 17, 2004

hello there!

hello,

well, i am the evil marianne of the queuing fiasco. in my defence, it was because i felt sorry for the women with the strollers. yes we should make little queues. one day it may happen, i live in hope. you may say i'm a dreamer, but i'm not the only one...

also, i'd like to validate all of eric's tales so far. things are crazy expensive here. we don't eat out unless we have a good reason. i think the last time i had dinner out here was valentine's day in 2002. but we do have universal health care, ya da ya da ya...

there are so many pubs and clubs here that they have suspended the availability of new licenses. aberdeen has 20 000 people, 14 faiths, 60 languages and 40 clubs -- not pubs, just clubs -- (most of which are in the old churches eric mentioned, unless they are vodka bars!) the church-clubs have religious names: faith, soul, the priory, etc. i love going to them to piss my mum off -- she's a priest (it's like the mafia). we also have two gothic themed pubs which eric has yet to visit. stay tuned to hear more through the year (hopefully eric will not get run over. linda- i told him the look lots rule, and we also have crosswalks! hopefully he'll be ok.)

love to all of you who i know xxx

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Queue, you

From my YOUK pre-departure handbook for US students going to the UK:

"'Queuing' in the United Kingdom is the ancient art of standing in line. People almost always form 'queues' in shops, banks, at bus stops and movie theaters. Jumping the queue is considered extremely impolite. Your American genes may cause you to feel frustration at the local indifference to long lines. Our advice is to simply be patient and 'get in the queue.'"

Aside from my confusion at that last past being in quotes, this section of the guide seemed a little odd to me. It's not as if it's some kind of free-for-all in American banks. Is this supposed to me that people in the UK actually enjoy forming queues? Is it like sport to them? We have baseball. Do the British have queuing?

At the supermarket today, I think I experienced my first culture clash. Just like in America, there are lots of tills in a line, but instead of queuing up at individual tills, everyone was forming one giant queue that stretched halfway back into the store, the person at the front of the giant queue stepping up as various tills finished with other customers. So there was this huge empty space where the many little queues were meant to be, and hordes of people in a huge queue taking up the area where people were trying to do their shopping.

On top of this, looming over the giant queue was an almost billboard-sized sign saying, "PLEASE FORM QUEUES AT INDIVIDUAL TILLS."

Being the rule-abiding citizen I am, I stepped up right behind a person being helped at a till, making me second in that particular queue. Well, that's when all the moms with their strollers and groceries, standing in the huge queue that shouldn't have existed, started shaking their heads and grumbling quite obviously. Marianne motioned frantically for me to get in the back of the queue. I pointed to the enormous sign validating my actions, but it was clear nobody was having this.

Dozens of pairs of eyes watched me slink to the back of the big queue. Instead of having reminded everyone that they could be served a lot more efficiently, I felt like a student who had been caught cheating.

So this is my personal experience supporting the argument that British people totally get off on forming queues. The bigger the queue, the bigger the pleasure as far as I'm concerned. I should have heeded the ominous warning of the YOUK handbook: "Just be patient and get in the queue."

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Quiz!

I went to my first Quiz last night. I don't know if they capitalize it, but it's a popular type of event over here. Every week, the bar at the movie theater in Aberdeen holds a film-themed Quiz. People form teams and answer questions, the winner receiving a grand prize of "lots of alcohol," with a second prize of "slightly less alcohol."

So we totally rocked the shit out of this quiz. Well, maybe not in the kung-fu round, but I sure was on top of the musicals round. Shut up. Actually, we didn't do that great, but it was a lot of fun. I'm all over any opportunity to utilize the warehouse of useless information stored in my head. In particular, the film scores and Johnny Depp rounds allowed me to feel like these two obsessions of mine were actually useful.

Afterward, Marianne showed me the inside of one of those churches that had been converted into a dance club. There were crosses hanging from the ceiling and everything, dude. It was totally gross in a way that makes me want to go there all the time.

What other new things have I experienced? I'm eating my way through all the different kinds of chocolate they have over here. Even the kinds we have in America are infinitely tastier, like Snickers and Milky Way. Mmm, chocolate.

I don't have any real stories yet because school doesn't start for another week, and I'm basically on vacation right now. I've been watching oodles of British television, which is so quality I actually feel good about spending my time on it. It should be punishable by death to even think about making an American version of The Office, even if it does star Steve Carrell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Boogie wonderland

Early last school year, shortly after I met Marianne and had asked her to describe the city of Aberdeen to me, she told me it was made up entirely of clubs and pubs. Now, having spent the past 12 months getting to know her, I understand that Marianne is prone to exaggeration. This particular observation, however, was hardly an overstatement.

The day after arriving in Aberdeen, Marianne took me on a walking tour of Aberdeen. She's spent a few summers in the past as a tour guide in Edinburgh, so showing a newcomer around was no challenge for her. Especially when most of the narration consisted of, "There's a club...there's another one, that's a good one...that's a vodka bar, that means they just sell different mixed drinks with vodka in them...no, I'm not kidding...oh, there's another vodka bar right next to it...there's a church that's been converted into a dance club...no, I'm not kidding again...there's a bar with a really good dance floor...there's a church...there's a vodka bar right next to it...I think that's a bank...no, it's a pub..."

There are, in fact, so many clubs in Aberdeen that they're not allowed to build anymore. To cope with this, they've started converting old churches into dance clubs. Some of them even seem to be retaining the religious themes, which is kind of appalling and kind of too funny for words.

I've been out dancing every night since coming here. Since the drinking age is lower, it's actually legal for college-aged kids to enjoy the nightlife. It consistently floors me that American young adults are totally excluded from going out and having a drink or a good place to dance, because it's not like people between the ages of 18 and 21 have proven themselves unable to handle either of those things. It's American kids who end up going to underground parties and learn to equate "drinking" with "getting wasted." Gah.

Oh, and paying a cover to get into a club? Virtually unheard of here. ROCK ON.

Clubbing being taken seriously as a young adult pasttime has only one drawback, as I experienced my very first outing: you have to dress up a bit if you expect to be let in on a busy night. I was rejected three times for wearing tennis shoes ("trainers" over here), rather discouraging but almost understandable when I saw how nice the guys looked inside the first club that let me in. (Yeah, just the guys -- girls already get dressed up nice to go out dancing.)

Also, straight guys can dance here. They dance together when girls aren't paying attention to them. It's hot. So very hot.

Last night, Marianne and I went on a mission to aquaint ourselves with the Gays of Aberdeen, or at least where they like to hang out. Apparently there are only a few exclusively gay clubs, but they are pretty nice. Probably nicer when there are actually people in them. (It was Sunday night.) We made friends with a gay bartender who lamented the state of gay nightlife in Aberdeen, telling us how the former big gay club burned down. It was rebuilt, but never attained its former glory.

Again, there's so much more to say, but I'm hogging Rosie's internet. I'll be back as soon as I can with details about how I got the room that overlooks the courtyard and Marianne got the room that overlooks a cemetery.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Ch-ch-changes

I'm an American living in Scotland. Why doesn't this feel weirder?

It's different, of course. The night before I left, my mom asked me, "What are you going to miss the most about America?" I never thought my first answer was going to be water. Until our arrival at the flat, Sarah and I were mystified as to the utter lack of available water unless it came in a tiny little bottle and cost £1, which is almost $2. We took turns scouring the airport for drinking fountains and came up with nothing. When we ate dinner out, we had to order tap water, which was never refilled. Was this a continent suffering from massive dehydration? Were there secret watering holes hidden somewhere behind trick walls? Was hydration just another silly American obsession scoffed at by the rest of the world?

No, apparently their tap water is just really, really good. End of story.

If I had to describe Aberdeen in one word, it would be "gray." There's a blue sky outside my window at the moment, but when Marianne led me on a tour through the city, it felt like walking through a black and white photograph. Even the green on the trees looked drained. I saw a rosebush and felt like I was in Pleasantville. We trekked down to the river and the water was the same color as the sky, which I guess could also be true in the tropics but I think you know what I'm trying to say.

This might sound depressing to most of you. I find it absolutely fantastic. I don't give a shit what anybody says -- there may be toastier places on Earth than Seattle, but for most of the year the Pacific Northwest is still just too hot for me. I couldn’t be happier in a city whose weather forecasts oscillate randomly between "overcast," "raining," and "snowing." Oh hell yes.

The flat is much bigger than I expected. The same goes for my room. Our building is a few blocks from Union Street, the main street in Aberdeen, where all the shops, banks, pubs, and restaurants are located. It's bigger and more citylike than I was expecting. The money, of course, is different than any currency I've used before, but mostly in the way the exchange rate constantly bends me over and does me. It's so deceptive, because although a pound is worth almost two American dollars, everything is priced so it would look totally reasonable in USD.

Oh, that's another reason the trip here sucked. To fly my luggage from London to Edinburgh, I had to pay £60 (about $100) in excess baggage fee because my suitcase was too heavy. And it's not like it was a million tons over the weight limit, it just barely surpassed it. Okay, not just barely, but I should have called the cops because this was some robbery right here. There is no way I caused those mofos $100 worth of extra trouble. Assholes.

The hardest thing to get used to is the driving on the other side of the road. If I'm going to die overseas, this is how it's gonna happen. You don't even think about it, you just look the wrong way before crossing a one-way street and run out there. Sarah and I saw a man nearly decapitated by the side view mirror on a passing bus, but that didn't have anything to do with what I was talking about. It was just really chilling.

Correspondingly, you have to walk on the left side of the sidewalk instead of the right. There are no rules about this on either side of the pond, but you'd be surprised how steadfastly your mind resists this even as you're strolling right into oncoming foot traffic.

My time on the internet is limited, so this story is to be continued again.

Eric goes to Scotland

I'm finally here in Aberdeen, Scotland! And by finally, I mean so finally it's not even funny. The day and night in London we (Sarah and I) had planned only prolonged the misery of transit, but now I'm unpacked and settled in my new room, new apartment, new city, new country for at least the next ten months ("at least," because for some reason my visa doesn't expire until October 31st, 2005. Score!).

How can I explain what it was like being sleep-deprived and feeling shitty for three days straight? I probably don’t need to. Y'all have been on airplanes before. It's not that the flight was so long, but here's the thing: I would rather stay up all night than get up early in the morning. Also, my dad is always concocting brilliant theories on how you should alter your sleeping patterns in order to avoid jet lag entirely when traveling through time zones of any sort, including stuff like driving one state over. So I've been trained in this art as well.

So I figure, if the UK is eight hours ahead, and my big flight leaves in the early evening and arrives in London in the late morning, I should stay up all night so I'm tired enough to sleep through the entire 10-hour flight (I can't sleep a wink on an airplane, no matter what, almost). Then I'll wake up from a good night's sleep around mid-morning London time, allowing me to function normally during the day and go to sleep at a normal hour that night, negating the horrors of jet lag.

This is all just beautiful in theory, but what it really ensured was 48 hours of hallucination and drooping eyelids as I flew from Seattle to Vancouver, Vancouver to London, spent a miserable night in London, and flew from London to Edinburgh. One remarkable thing about the flight to London was the in-flight movie –- The Day After Tomorrow. Can they do that? I would never have guessed that a film detailing the eradication of a good portion of civilization would be the best thing to take people's minds off the fact that they are suspended miles above the surface of the planet in a machine weighing many, many tons.

Why did hanging out in London suck such large portions of ass? To cut down on the whining, let's just say no sleep, a year's worth of luggage, an apparent lack of belief in escalators leading to and from the subway, a shit hostel, and insufficient time to do anything but lug everything to the airport the next day. If Marianne hadn't met us at the airport in Edinburgh, which I realized I had never actually asked her to do, I'm sure one of us would have started stripping and crying.

Although Sarah will actually being going to school in Edinburgh, she tagged along with us on the train to Aberdeen to stay with us for a few days. I laid eyes for the first time on our beautiful flat. I met Rosie, Marianne’s friend and our roommate. I watched Shaun of the Dead with small spots swimming through my vision. I don’t remember much after that, but I know the story ends with me falling into bed and sleeping for 11 hours.

That was two days ago, and this story will be continued.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Eric in London

Hey everyone. Sarah and I are in London right now, and we're pretty wiped out from all the travelling but we still had time to eat a nice dinner before we go to bed. So far, we haven't done much, but I was hit on by a flight attendant, Sarah cut her finger open with the plastic knife he gave her, we realized that our hostel is surrounded by porn shops and XXX theaters, nobody will give us any water, especially our terrible waitress who was somehow able to run everywhere without lifting her feet off the ground, I'm not used to the keyboards here, and I can't believe how bad the exchange rate is. From where I'm standing, at least.

I'm at an internet cafe, so time is actually money, but we're here and we're safe and tomorrow we're going to fly to Edinburgh, where hopefully Marianne's open arms will be waiting to greet us, unless she forgot about us in which case we will take an expensive taxi and use it to run her over. Just kidding. So, so tired.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Shortest new feature ever

Well, I got my visa in the mail this morning! I officially have everything I need to infiltrate Marianne's (and Agnes's) mother country and assume a false identity so I will never have to leave again ever. (Note to immigration officers: Just kidding.) (Note to everyone else: Totally not kidding.)

FedEx actually tried to deliver my visa yesterday, but I "wasn't home," which really means that I was home but nobody answered the door, except that I was waiting by the door like a loser all day. I imagine they pitched a small rock at my door without stopping the car and deduced from my lack of response that I had stepped out of the house to pick up some milk or lube from the grocery store. In any case, I found a tag on my door informing me that my package was in Issaquah, a small crappy town (unless you live there, then it's great) which is half an hour away, and they would try to deliver it again tomorrow. Which is today. And I have it! Thrills!

Now that everything is finally in place, I can finish packing with no worries. Compared to the chaos of getting my ass there, starting a new life in a foreign country should be a snap.

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