Friday, November 26, 2004

i'm back, baby!

hello, remember me? sorry i've not been posting, like, at all, but i've been pretty busy and well, if i'm honest, lazy too! i promised to inform you all about various cultural aspects of aberdeen and scotland in general. eric has been pretty good with it all, learning new words and experiencing new things like bonfire night and er, dog biscuits (we don't all eat dog biscuits and/or feed them to US exchange students, honestly!) and it's pretty cool how he's doing that in an open way while still remaining true to his roots by celebrating thanksgiving and things too. i'm very proud of him. (please infer a bucketload of mock-patronising onto those last few sentences). so, eric's info on scotland is bang-on so far but i thought i'd add my ten cents worth (eric says it's two cents- man, i'm still a FOB even back in scotland).

[the following is an extract from a lecture on scottish culture. you have been warned!]

if any of you know eric or myself, you know we love food and the simple pleasure that it brings us. mmmm...food. scotland has a lot to offer both in terms of its own cuisine and in terms of cuisines from around the world that are available. ok, aberdeen does not have sushi yet (you have to go to glasgow for that) but we have a lot of good indian restaurants and takeaways and chinese food is also widely available here. a new one to arrive since i left for america, though, is thai food- it has finally made it to aberdeen! which is good for me as that was my favorite in america. (come on, sushi, you can make it!) we have of course, italian food which is very popular with students and people eating at home as well as out, but the british nation's favorite food is the curry, chicken tikka masala to be exact. so there is diversity to be had, its not like this is a mono-cultural wasteland or anything (in case you were wondering). we don't have an international district yet by any means, but it's pretty good nonetheless.

but what of our own dishes, i hear you cry? (some people call it tintinus) well, we're no france by any means but we do have a nice if modest range of dishes, both sweet and savoury. those which are specifically scottish (as opposed to those british dishes we have in common with england, wales and so on like roast beef, crumble and custard) are either ridiculously sweet (we have a famously sweet tooth) or very bad for you (we are proud owners of the highest rate of heart disease, adult onset diabetes and every other bad food related disease in europe) or both sweet and bad for you (see the invention of the deep-fried mars bar). so, a lot of our favorite food is deep fried (fish and chips, chips, chips and chips). we love chips (not US chips which we call crisps, but more of a fatter freedom-fry), whether in the home, at the pub (with mayonnaise and cheese- a local delicacy much loved by myself and thousands of aberdonians), after a night out (accompanied by a kebab if you're male or enjoy food poisoning), or from the chip shop. eric and i live right next door to officially one of the best chippers (scottish slang) in the country which is quite a mixed blessing-it's nice and handy but temptingly so!!! chip-shop chips are traditonally served with fish (which is battered) and both are deep fried in beef dripping. it isn't exactly good for the figure but covered in salt, vinegar and slathered in ketchup it is divine! if you are ever in our capital, edinburgh, and go to a chippy (alternative scottish slang) you will asked if you would like "saut an sauce" or "salt [self-explanatory] and sauce". this "sauce" is unique to edinburgh and the surrounding area and is not to be missed if you get the chance. chippy sauce is hard to explain, unless you know what brown sauce (or "broon" or HP or daddy sauce - these are all pretty much interchangeable terms which i won't go into here) is. they have brown sauce throughout the uk and probably in canada too but what makes it chippy sauce is the additon of extra vinegar to make it runny enough to coat the chips. it is SO good, but you just have to trust me on that!!!

so many things here are also good to eat and worth trying but i won't go into detail here- you'll just have to try them when you come over, as there's no substitute for that! my mum taught me to cook quite a few of these growing up and i'm very grateful for that. much of our cuisine revolves around lamb mince and potatoes or "munce and tahtties" which is also a simple dish in itself and even appears in a popular children's song (the intrigingly titled "No, you cannae [cannot] shove your granny off a bus") . pretty much everyone here grew up eating it-a sort of scottish meat-loaf idea. so we like our food stodgy and hearty, no salads here. they arrived pretty late on, along with the other non-local food. in our defence, its not exactly like we can grow tomatoes in this climate or anything. potatoes, turnips and sheep if you're lucky and that's about your lot. so scottish food has come out of the cold, harsh climate, the need to get as many calories as cheaply as possible (thanks to that harsh climate) and our no-nonsense national temperament (probably ditto!). the sweet things, dear to our hearts for these very reasons, range from coconut ice (grated coconut and so much sugar you couldn't imagine, dyed pink), tablet (butter and sugar: like sugary fudge that's brittle and grainy as the sugar is not heated to such a high temperature and so doesn't bid as closely), macaroons and cinder toffee (or puff candy) to our national drink: irn bru. the explanantion of which i think i'll leave that til next time to keep you in suspense! (or so this thing is not the same length as my thesis, i just have so much to lecture you on, i mean share with you all...i didn't even get onto pies, chocolate bars or anything!!!)

til then, adieu...

[there will be a test on this material]

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanks

It's Thanksgiving today! This has always been one of my favorite holidays because it pretty much celebrates my #1 hobby, stuffing my face until I am in physical pain. There is also meant to be some sort of meaning involving the pilgrims and the “Indians” who taught them how to grow food or whatever, but they’re probably kicking themselves now for being so damn helpful.

So here I am, living in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving, but the holiday means so much more to me right now than it ever has in previous years. I especially remember this time last year, going through an all-time low in several areas of my life, finding it hard to be thankful for much. I look back on that period now and realize there was plenty to be thankful for. Moving back in with my parents was not just my only option -- it was the best thing I could have done to really get back in touch with my family. Being so cut off from Luke for those months, and how much it hurt, was something I would never go back and change because I learned so much in that time. And it’s the only thing that could have saved our relationship.

Now I’m here. I’m thankful for my parents unwavering love and support, especially when it came to something as crazy (and expensive) as living abroad for a year. I’m thankful for my whole family and how amazing they are. I’m thankful that Luke is still in my life, and that I know my family members are not the only ones who love me unconditionally. I’m thankful for my university for letting me come here, for my professors who wrote letters of recommendation (not so thankful for other professors who did not write letters of recommendation when perhaps they should have), for my friends at home and for the friends I’ve made here in Aberdeen. I’m thankful to everyone who’s been nice to me and has helped me not feel so lonely since moving so far away from home. I’m thankful that I’ve been given the chance to come here change my life, but I’m more thankful that I understand I have the ability to change my life without moving to the other side of the world. I’m thankful for all the good times, good food, and good clubbing.

Thank you, everyone who has been good to me and will continue to do so even when I screw up.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Homesick

Well, the snow is officially gone. We're back to the same old rain and gray we've had since I got here, which is okay because at least it's not sunshine, but now that we've crossed the line of first snowfall I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is look out the window to see if it's coming down again. So far, no luck.

A lot of American students are going back to their home universities pretty soon. I guess it's less common to choose to spend a whole year abroad than just a semester. I'm really glad I don't have to go home just now that I'm really getting used to the way things work over here, but in a way I'm jealous because I've really started missing my family. It happened when I was staring a silly movie poster in someone's flat, and I remembered taking my parents to cinema -- I say it like that because they have horrible taste in movies and I consider it a form of education to prevent them from paying money to see Gothika, which they did anyway, but you can't win them all -- and how much fun it is to talk about movies with them afterward, because my dad gets as excited as I do, and my mom asks me questions like, "Why does Hellboy like kitties so much?"

For some reason I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that it would be possible for me to just go home for Christmas, or for anything. It's as if here and there couldn't possibly exist at the same time -- leaving America was such a big step, how could it be undone just by sitting on an airplane for 9 hours? Crazy, I tell you.

I miss my city, too. Very, very much. But mostly I miss my family. It would be so nice to spend Christmas with them, but I'm also excited to experience a British Christmas for the first time. I keep talking to more and more American study abroad students who are going home for good in just a few weeks, and I'm glad I signed up to live here for 10 months instead of 3. Even if it means waiting until June to use the word "pants" again without getting funny looks.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

In which I don't shut the hell up about snow

Here are a few pictures of what Aberdeen looks like with a little bit of white snow covering up all that gray. It's quite an improvement, I have to say. The thing in the last picture is meant to be a snowman, but it was cold and dark and I don't think Pip and Ballal could be bothered to make him more than just a mound of snow with a few vegetables attached to the front. I don't know if he's meant to be nothing more than a head, or a really short person with no arms and no neck.

There isn't as much snow in the pictures as there was for some parts of the day, because when I told you the weather was schizophrenic, I really wasn't kidding. After the practical whiteout I made my way through on the way to school, the sun came out and shone for a few hours, then it started snowing again, except the sun was still out and I so can't handle seeing snow come down from a clear sunny sky. I spent my entire Celtic tutorial staring out the window, as the sky alternated between clear blue and snowing so hard you couldn't see the next building over several times over the course of a half hour. IT'S JUST CRAZY OVER HERE!

The pavement all over the city is like an ice rink. Ballal and I found it almost unnecessary to actually walk down the hill leading into town from Pip's flat, we just slid down because our shoes have no traction. I like how I'm talking about snow and ice like nobody has ever seen or been in close proximity with it ever. Like I have to tell you everything about it so you'll understand. People here are weirded out by how excited I am over all this, but I am foreign after all and I'm allowed to go wild over things like snow and 3:30 PM sunsets. Right?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Snow day!

It's snowing! It's snowing! Not so much now, but it was really coming down last night, and when I woke up this morning, and even more on the trek to uni. After that it stopped snowing. BUT THEN IT STARTED AGAIN! Could anything else have cheered me up while staying in all day yesterday writing an essay for my Celtic Civilizations class on a topic that causes most people fall asleep before I'm finished reading out the title? I don't think so!

Yesterday was absolutely no fun aside from weather-related excitement. Jo and I both had essays to write, so we decided to keep each other company all day. Unfortunately, for much of the day, this only served to make it easier for us to sit around screwing off instead of getting down to work. The thing is, I can't inspire more than a passing interest in any of the subjects I'm studying this term. I'm trying to read academic texts exploring Celtic connections past and present, and I feel like I'm looking at pictures of myself spending the rest of my life in a cubicle until I die, stupid and poor, and nobody comes to my funeral but Nun-Clown. And she doesn't even care, she just feels guilty because she probably had something to do with it.

I mean, I'm not stupid, but most of the time I feel like the stupidest person in the room because I would rather rip out my own fingernails with pliers than read an academic text entitled "Celtiberian Studies and Spanish Celtic Historiography in the Nineteenth Century." I am up to my ears in these kinds of texts this semester, and I would love to blame it on the fact that I'm taking courses outside my own department, but then I remember feeling the exact same way about film studies earlier this year. When I really think about it, I can't remember ever taking a film studies class that I actually wanted to put a reasonable amount of time and effort into. I did it anyway, but how come I didn't feel anything for it? How come I still don't?

My parents will love reading all this now that I'm in my 4th year at university. Don't worry, mom and dad, I'll work my ass off to finish this degree and I'll make sure it gets me somewhere. Wherever that is, I just hope it's a place where I write things and other people give me money for it so I can continue to write instead of getting a real job. When it comes down to it, the only things I have that are the product of true passion are my websites, my screenplay, and my short film. I have to cling to the hope that one of these things, or similar endeavors, will help me get where I want to go in life.

Anyway.

So it's not snowing anymore, but I'm sure it will again before the day is through. The weather is incredibly schizophrenic around here. I stayed up late writing my essay ("The history of the concept 'Celt' from classical antiquity to the present"), but it hadn't started properly snowing until after I went to sleep, because I woke up at 7 AM and the flakes coming down from the sky were practically the size of cottonballs. I don't know if I'll be able to get used to the idea of all this snow, because we never get it (or much of it) in Seattle and I've always wanted to be snowed in to the point where you couldn't leave the house, even if there was a killer in your home and the telephone wasn't working so you couldn't even call the police. A real White Christmas, you know? I don't know if I've ever had one of those. Everyone here told me it wouldn't snow in Aberdeen until January, but they were so very wrong. Hooray!

I don't know why water falling out of the sky should make me feel so different just because it's in the form of flakes instead of drops, but I really feel there's something magical about it. The whole world looks different after it's been snowed on. I told you it was snowing like crazy when I woke up this morning, and I still walked to uni instead of taking the bus for two reasons: (1) magic doesn't change the fact that I'm broke and can't afford the bus fare, and (2) as it is, I don't trust those double decker buses not to fall right the fuck over under ordinary conditions, let alone when there's snow and ice all over the place.

Walking down Union Street, the wind was causing the little flakes to dart around in every direction, looking like strange white insects. It was all very winter-wonderlandy, listening to Bjork's Vespertine as I crunched along. However, after I turned onto Broad Street, the wind and snow shifted violently into high gear and I had to lower my head and kind of swim through the horizontal onslaught. It stuck to me right away, so that my entire front was stark white just a few minutes later. I basically crawled the remaining mile to university, and the snow even managed to get underneath my clothes somehow. So maybe a small part of the fun died at that point. But it's still magical, dammit!

Monday, November 15, 2004

In the doghouse

Well, I emailed my Celtic Civilizations professor about this whole mess and although he sounds incredibly pissed off about it, I've been allowed one week to write a ginormous essay and it's up to me to study enough not to fail my exam at the end of the term. With this due at the end of this week and a twice-as-ginormous essay for Viking history due at the end of next week, resolving this issue has not been the huge relief I was hoping it might be.

On Saturday night, we celebrated Rosie's 23rd birthday by getting drunk and going clubbing. This was obviously a massive deviation from the other weekends I've spent here. Actually, it was special because Rosie's older brother and her friends from Aberdeen College came up to the flat, which never happens. A space was cleared in the sitting room and everyone attempted to have a mini-dance party. While they was doing that, I crept over to the snack table and gorged myself on sausage rolls and enough french bread to make me fluent in the language. I feel it's best to be yourself when meeting new people.

I didn't get all that drunk that night either, because we used vouchers to pay for our pitchers of vodka red bull at the bar and I'm pretty sure they got even with us by putting, like, no vodka in. My method of dealing with this was to just drink more of it. When I went to bed that night, I laid awake until 6:30 in the morning totally wired with caffeine and feeling like my eyeballs were going to vibrate out of my head.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day hanging out with my friend Louis at his place. We were watching The O.C. when he started eating some kind of crackery cookie-looking things out of a plastic cup. "Try some, they're delicious!" He shook them in front of me. I took one and turned it over in my hand. It was black, had an odd shape, and seemed a little hard, but I've eaten stale food before. What the hell? I took a bite.

Very quickly, I realized that something was wrong. After chewing for a (very) brief moment, I looked sharply at Louis and demanded loudly, "What the hell is this?" Between great heaves of suppressed laughter, he managed to squeak, "It's a dog biscuit!"

"IT'S WHAT?"

I had heard him correctly. I should have known better: have you noticed that snacks for humans, are never, ever, ever the color black? Now I understand this is because SOMETIMES DOG BISCUITS ARE BLACK AND YOU WOULDN'T WANT A PERSON TO ACCIDENTALLY EAT A DOG BISCUIT, WOULD YOU? Unless your name is Louis. Oh my god. The taste. The texture. It was against nature. I sprinted to the bathroom to wash it out of my mouth. It took a long time.

When I returned, I had more questions for Louis. For example, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" The truth, while unsettling, was at least better than if this was simply a practical joke designed to humiliate me: Louis just genuinely likes to eat dog biscuits. It's a bit questionable that he didn't tell me what they were before offering me one, but maybe he just wanted to perform a blind taste test to see if I would like them too. It's like when I hide assorted bits of meat in Marianne's food to see if maybe she's secretly not vegetarian. Just kidding...or am I?

Maybe this is what the student handbook was talking about when it said, "This is an opportunity to eat things you have never eaten and see places you've never seen!" I just never expected those things to be dog biscuits and a girl's fist in my face.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

What you don't know can get you deported

Sorry it's been a while. I was doing the thing where you set aside a week to write an essay, and suddenly it's the day before it's due and you haven't written a damn thing, and you promise yourself this isn't going to happen again but I think we all know it totally is.

This English essay, handed in yesterday morning, was the first assignment I've done since coming here. That's not nearly as bad as it sounds, since most courses only consist of an essay and an exam at the end of the term. But I was freaking out a little bit, because it's been almost six months since I've had to use my brain and I was starting to think I really couldn't live up to the academic standards here.

So it was the day before my paper was due that I made my first mistake. (Or what I thought was my first mistake.) I went to see my advisor to let him know I was struggling in my classes due to the fact that they were in departments I had no substantial background in. I don't know what I wanted him to say in response. Could he please switch me into some different classes that didn't require my effort or attention or attendance? Needless to say, he did not find this request as amusing as I did.

The real problem arose as I mentioned in passing my Celtic Civilizations class, which I understood to be starting halfway through the term. I would swear on my life -- or someone else's, that would probably be safer -- that my advisor told me this. Well, apparently, I understood wrong, because it is now week 7 or 8 and I was meant to have been attending this bastard class this whole time. Add this to the list of things my advisor was not finding amusing that day. Add me to the list of people who did not find this amusing either.

The worst part of all this is the fact that although I am registered for this Celtic Civilizations class, IT IS NOT ON MY OFFICIAL TIMETABLE. On the list of when and where I'm supposed to be each day of the week, this class nowhere to be found. Obviously, I've known all this time that I was signed up for this class, but I really believed it wasn't meant to start until the second half of the term. The timetable supported this. I've been totally oblivious. This is my defense.

Under ordinary circumstances, I would drop the class from my schedule entirely. But without it, I'm just short of officially being a full-time student. If I'm not a full-time student, I get shipped back to America. So now I have to make an appointment with the head of the department and beg him to let me into the class seven weeks late. If he rejects my appeal, I go home. My advisor's smug comment: "I wouldn't blame him if he didn't let you in." That's some good advising right there. Asshole.

I'm pretty sure my advisor thinks I did this on purpose. I kept trying to leave his office and he would repeat phrases like, "I think you really blew it, Eric" and "I can't believe you left it to the last minute like this," as if I hadn't found this out at the same time he did, and I wasn't just as horrified. Eventually, I did manage to escape, although when I checked my email he had sent me a message informing me, "The primary lesson to be learned here is that as an adult you must face up to your responsibilities." Because I'm 12, and the reason all this happened was because I'm lazy.

So I'll be meeting with the head of the Celtic department next week. Wish me luck, yo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Big dreams in little Scotland

Today I handed my screenplay over to my friend Pip and ordered her to sit down and read it start to finish. I went back to my flat and didn't come back to hers until she was finished. When I got back to her, Pip informed me enthusiastically that she was born to play Katrina, AKA Sister Mary-Katherine. Since Ballal was around, I had the two of them read a scene from the screenplay for me.

The thing is, I have a lot of love for this piece of work, but it never occurred to me that another human being might read it and say, "This is NOT the dumbest thing I've ever read." In fact, Pip feels so strongly about it that she's promised to learn an American accent so she can play Katrina in the actual film. (The one we all know will eventually exist and shatter world records by topping the box office for 174 consecutive weeks.)

As Pip and Ballal sat there reading out the lines I had written for these characters, Pip proving her acting capabilities as Sister Mary-Katherine, Ballal doing surprisingly well as the Mother Superior...I don't know. I was overwhelmed with emotion, all choked up and everything, people. Why? It wasn't a particularly moving scene they were doing. I felt so silly, but then again not at all. Can you imagine what I would be like on set? I would be a wreck. I would be all, "No, I just have something in my eye. It's so beautiful! Oh, just do it however you want! You're so amazing!"

Anyway, I thought I would post the scene acted out by Pip and Ballal. This scene takes place just at the beginning of the film. The Mother Superior tells off Sister Mary-Katherine for always getting her groove on in the convent...

MOTHER SUPERIOR
You may enter now, Sister Mary-Katherine!

Sister Mary-Katherine smooths her habit, takes a deep breath, and opens the door. We get our first glimpse of the Mother Superior.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Have a seat.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Thank you, Mother Superior.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Now. Sister Mary-Katherine. How is the bake sale going?

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Very well, Mother Superior. The hotcakes are selling like hotcakes.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Good.

The Mother Superior looks out the window and sees the bake sale going on outside.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
We’ve been meaning for years to replace those pay toilets, but I suppose restraint is the essence of piety. Until then, we must rely on these bake sales.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
If you don’t mind me saying, Mother Superior, there’s nothing pious about having to doody in a houseplant because you don’t have $1.50.

The Mother Superior looks sharply back at Sister Mary-Katherine, all business once again.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
I do mind you saying, Sister Mary-Katherine, and it is exactly this kind of disregard for decorum that brings you to my office today. Sister Mary-Katherine, you’ve been with the Order of St. Bernadette your entire life, isn’t that right?

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Yes, Mother Superior.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
I’ve always been especially fond of you due to the nature of your arrival here. You know I’ve always been up front about the fact that you were abandoned on our doorstep by your real parents.

Sister Mary-Katherine’s jaw drops.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
What? I was abandoned by my real parents?

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Of course you were. I’ve never kept that hidden from you.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
You said you were my mother! You said I was conceived through immaculate conception!

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Okay. Yes. That’s not true. You were abandoned here.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Where are my real parents? Do you know who they are?

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Not really, they kind of took off in a hurry. That’s kind of the idea of "abandoning" a child.

Sister Mary-Katherine finally looks away from the Mother Superior.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
(almost to herself)
I can’t believe this.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
All they left with you was this photograph.

The Mother Superior pulls a photograph out of her desk drawer and hands it to Sister Mary-Katherine. It shows a young Sister Mary-Katherine around the age she was abandoned. Half of it is missing.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Where’s the rest of it?

MOTHER SUPERIOR
How am I supposed to know?

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
(softly, to the photograph)
That’s me.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Now, if we can just get back to the issue at hand, Sister Mary-Katherine. Sister Mary-Katherine? Hello? It’s about your dancing.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
What dancing?

MOTHER SUPERIOR
You know what dancing.

Sister Mary-Katherine knows she has been caught and looks down.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Sister Mary-Katherine, this convent is not a "discotheque." It is a place for women who have devoted their lives to serving God.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Mother Superior, I am serving God when I dance.

MOTHER SUPERIOR
No, you are not. You are undermining this entire institution. Using your body as an instrument for your own pleasure is disrespectful and it will not be tolerated as long as I am in charge of this convent.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Mother Superior, isn’t it a form of serving God to be happy, to fully appreciate the gift of life He has given us, and express that happiness through dance?

MOTHER SUPERIOR
In this convent, we serve God by chanting things and eating a lot of cold mush. You are interfering with this mission. If you continue to do so, I fear your fellow sisters will start to get similar ideas that worshiping the Lord is some kind of "party."

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
But--

MOTHER SUPERIOR
There are no buts about it, Sister Mary-Katherine. You’re my daughter--

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Not your daughter!

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Whatever. You know I care about you as if you were my own daughter. But if I catch you so much as tapping your foot in rhythm one more time, I will have no choice but to have you transferred to the Order of St. Alcatraz, a remote convent located on the island of Alcatraz.

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
No!

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Do not make me do this, Sister Mary-Katherine. Improve your behavior around here and you may stay. Otherwise, pack your bags. It’s that simple. Am I understood?

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
I--

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Am I understood, Sister Mary-Katherine?

SISTER MARY-KATHERINE
Yes, Mother Superior.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Celebrations

I printed out the 149-page-long finished and revised screenplay for Sisters By Habit! Look! And look, and look. I'm so excited. So...what do I do now? Does anyone know people in high places? Since Rosie is studying film production at Aberdeen College, she has access to really nice equipment we could use to film a few scenes from Sisters By Habit. Then we could send them to all the major studios in Hollywood and they'll beg me to direct the feature-length version with a budget of $100 million. I have big dreams. Fuck off.

Also, I completely forgot to link you to the lovely Pam's photo recap of her night as Nun-Clown. She made us proud!

I also forgot to tell you about my first Guy Fawkes Night, AKA bonfire night. Apparently, Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but they caught him and hanged him. To celebrate the fact that he didn't succeed, every year people in Britain have big bonfires and burn figures that are supposed to be Guy Fawkes. It's all very exciting despite the fact that they didn't burn the real Guy Fawkes so it doesn't make that much sense. Also, fireworks! Woo!

So I went down to the beach with The Gays and we watched fireworks. They're supposed to have a huge bonfire on the beach, but I don't think they're allowed to do that anymore for some reason. It was still really exciting because basically everyone in Aberdeen was on the beach with us.

That was the night I got punched in the face. Now I know I'll never forget my first bonfire night!

As of yesterday, it's been two months since I left my home in Redmond. As of today, it's been two months since I arrived in the UK. As of tomorrow, it will have been two months since I arrived in Aberdeen. It's so hard to believe I've only been here for eight weeks. It feels like I've been here forever. But in the good way!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mean people suck

Something to add to my list of firsts since coming here: I was punched in the face last night.

There isn't even a proper story behind it. It was literally some random person on the street. Some random GIRL. She was a sturdy one, though. Don't get me wrong. Really big girl wearing ugly yeti boots that looked like they were stolen from a furry convention. I can say that now because SHE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE.

I was walking home from Oh Henry's. My friends lived in the opposite direction, so I was heading home on foot by myself. The streets were filled with people, as the clubs were just letting out. There was a group of kids walking toward me, presumably just one of hundreds of groups of kids I might pass on Union Street. Then the girl on the end made a beeline for me and punched me. My glasses flew off my face and I doubled over, hearing only the girl's voice calling, "Ha, ha!" and the sound of her friends' raucous laughter. I felt something running down my face. I touched it with my hand, and it came away covered in blood.

What do you do after that? In a movie, we would have cut to me cleaning myself up back at the flat. In real life, I walked half a mile home with blood running down my face. People stared. It was surreal.

In the end, it wasn't a very big deal -- just a lot of blood coming out of a small wound. I've never had to do this kind of thing, but I've seen a lot of movies where they put alcohol on cuts and stuff to disinfect them. We don't have a first aid kit at the flat, so I used vodka. Does anyone know if that was wrong?

The big deal here is just the fact that it happened. Stranger, on the street, for no reason. It makes me angry that someone can just do that to you. It's so bizarre, I've already started convincing myself it couldn't possibly have happened. But it did. That girl was a mean, mean bitch. That's the only moral to this story.

So that happened.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Putting the motion back in picture (now functional)

That's right, I bring you...ABERDEEN IN MOTION! But not in sound, because my camera is just not that hi-tech. But in addition to short video clips, my camera will put together animated GIFs, so that's also pretty cool. Look forward to regular installments of ABERDEEN IN MOTION! (I say it very loudly to make up for the gaping silence filling the soundtrack of the following clips.)

MPEGs (right-click and "Save Target As"):
Here we are arriving at the sea...
Here you can finally see the Hurricane Room for yourself!
This is a guided tour of the flat. I start outside on the street and then show you most of the flat. That's pretty much it for the "guided" part.
Here is a plush sheep in the process of being used up and discarded by Satan.
Here is the same plush sheep getting his groove on.

GIFs:
This is the first animation I made. IT'S LIKE IT'S DRINKING ITSELF.
Here is Marianne, happy and happier.
And here is me, um...yeah. Set this one as your desktop, I command it.

Cooler installments of ABERDEEN IN MOTION on the way! Seriously, they're not all going to involve plush sheep.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Picture this

Inexplicably, here in Britain, the word "squash" refers to juice concentrate. However, this is not the strangest thing about this product. See if you can put your finger on why I almost had a stroke when I saw this label!

The weather in Aberdeen just keeps getting colder and colder, and all of us here at the flat are spending more and more of our days bundled up in duvets.

This is my "sassy" face. Wow, I wish this wasn't the most exciting picture taken of me since the last picture post. But it is.

Here is Marianne playing around with the clown nose. What she obviously does not realize is that coulrophobia is not a joke to millions of people around the world.

After Jo left the flat to pick something up in town, Rosie and I dressed a stuffed animal in her clothes and held it hostage with a hair straightener. I forget why we did this. Have I mentioned that it's too cold to get out much?

While we tragically lacked supplies necessary to create a real nun-clown this Halloween, I wasn't going to get a habit in the mail from America and not wear it.

This is me and my friend Laura, who I love because she hangs out with me even if there isn't alcohol involved. You have no idea how hard it is to find someone like that here. Incidentally, we are drunk in this picture.

Depressing.

I cringe every time I see this because I don't know the answer.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Wrong Decision 2004

Fuck.

Election

With all this stripper-nun business and Halloween stuff, I completely forgot to write about mailing my absentee ballot last week. I had almost forgotten what was going on in my own country.

People I've met here have a lot of questions about America, and a lot of them are along the lines of, "Do people in your country really like George W. Bush?" The question is asked in the same tone you would use if you were asking someone if they really believed in Bigfoot. I have to explain to them that I've never personally met anybody who didn't think he was a huge wanker (British vocab word!), but I come from a very liberal city that is practically wallpapered with anti-Bush signs, posters, flyers, etc.

I'm very tempted to tell people that nobody in our country likes Bush either, but I remember traveling down to Georgia for a wedding over the summer, and I remember my dad's horror stories about being in Toledo, Ohio to visit his mother and seeing about a 50/50 political divide over there. Keeping in mind all that stuff about having respect for other people's beliefs and all that, I still get chills imagining that there are people out there who actually support Bush.

I get chills when Bush says things like "God bless" because I know he really, really means it. When I was talking to Ballal last week, I remember telling him I didn't know where I ultimately wanted to live, but I was pretty sure it wasn't America. I have such a problem with this big role religion has in how our country is run. I don't care if we have a religious man as our President, but it's really gross to me that it's okay for him to legislate morality based on his private beliefs.

Legalizing abortion or gay marriage doesn't force anyone to have an abortion or marry someone of the same sex. Supporting comprehensive sex education in public schools is not going to inspire teenagers to have sex BECAUSE THEY ALREADY DO IT. Things like that blow my mind. Why are we so fond of taking away freedoms to try and force everyone to have the same moral standards?

My country is a joke when it comes up in conversation here. It's instant comedy when the President of my nation appears on the television. Sometimes I can't help laughing, but it hurts, too. Not because everyone is laughing at my President, but because I don't blame them. I've gotten the impression that many people here have just written us off as insane. "We're not all like that!" I have to shout to anyone within hearing range whenever Bush comes up on the news surrounded by Americans cheering him on. "It's just that the ignorant crazies are more likely to get off their asses and vote. I learned that in my sociology class! It's true!"

Anyway. I'm just waiting on the edge of my seat for the verdict. Don't let me down, America. You're still my country and I really, really don't want to be so mad at you.

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