Sunday, December 26, 2004

England pictures, part 2

Today is my very first Boxing Day! Cheers!

Laura’s sister Becca holding up a chocolate bar she’s about to crumble for topping while I whip some cream for the dessert trifle. We’re very, very useful in the kitchen, contrary to anything Laura’s mother might tell you.

Making mulled wine with Laura and her brother. In case you have no idea what that is (I didn’t), mulled wine involves red wine, orange juice, water, brandy, and mulled wine spices, and chopped fruit. It’s really, really tasty.

I really, really miss having a cat. Laura’s cat is a little supermodel who loves having his picture taken. He does a different pose every time you take a picture, I swear. These few pictures are only the tip of iceberg with this little hussy.

Here is the beginning of my White Christmas! It snowed really hard for the rest of the day and part of the night, but since it gets dark at like 3:30 PM, it was hard to take pictures of Wetton at its snowiest.

The next day Laura and Becca and I went on a walk around the village, which I have been told is not even a village at all, but a hamlet, which is just a cluster of houses in the middle of nowhere. Wetton is fairly big for a hamlet, but it still only took 15 minutes to walk entirely around. We did take a little shortcut through the cemetery, though.

This is what Wetton looks like in the summer, or some other time when it isn’t dark and wet all the time. Laura sent me these photos before I came down here to give me some idea of what I was in for.

Apparently, Santa has a thing for girls with facial hair, because Laura and Becca both found fake moustache kits in their stockings this year. I snatched up the one labelled “The Sheriff” and Becca chose “The Weasel.” Laura’s kit only had moustache, but it did come with eyebrows, sideburns, and a “swingin’ soul patch,” so she’s saving hers for a special occasion, like a drag king convention.

This is an evil, evil, evil snowman creature that appeared in the house, but I don’t know who gave it to who or if it’s meant to strike fear into the deepest pits of your soul or if that’s just an unintended side effect. It has sharp, pointy feet at the end of long, thin legs, and if you squeeze it, the legs kick around and it sings a Christmas carol, which if I remember correctly is entitled “All I Want For Christmas Is To Kill You Horribly.” I can’t be the only one who thinks this sounds just a little bit sinister.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

On Christmas Day in the morning


Why am I awake at this ungody hour, you might ask? Well, "Santa" came and visited the Heeley household last night and the kids wanted to raid their stockings as soon as possible. So we're aaaaaaaaall awake to witness their joy! Hooray!

Yeah. I almost gave away the Santa thing and shattered Laura's cousin Harry's illusions the other day. Her parents were talking about Santa in front of him and I was like, "Santa! Oh yeah, we still believe in Santa Claus. Of course he's not a cruel lie perpetuated by parents all over the world" and Laura was gave me a look that was like, "NO." I had totally forgotten that for a period of time, kids actually believe in Santa instead of cackling in the face of those too foolish to realize what a sham he is.

Laura's family has been so good to me, and completely welcomed me into their home for the holidays. I got my own stocking and everything. Yay!

Also, I realized that two of my biggest Christmas wishes have come true: (1) I'm going to be with Luke the day after tomorrow, and (2) IT'S SNOWING! A LOT! I'm getting a white Christmas! After all these years! Sometimes I wonder if these things are worked out beforehand. I've been hoping to have a white Christmas ever since I found out I was coming here, and right on Christmas Day, the snow just starts dumping out of the sky. (I wish there was a better word to use here than "dumping.") Oh, it's so beautiful, especially all the way out here in the countryside.

I do worry about those animals who live in the fields, though. I guess sheep have those big wool coats to keep them warm, but still, the snow is just falling on them. They can't be very happy. What if it snows so much they're buried alive? Does anyone take precautions for this kind of situation? Also, there is a random chicken running around Laura's backyard, and I don't know how it's handling all this. For that matter, I don't know where it lives or where it was running to because Laura's backyard isn't all that big. Oh well.

I'll post lots of pictures very soon. Until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE! Unless you don't celebrate Christmas, which I really shouldn't because I'm not religious, but have a great day anyway!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Berry Christbas

I’m very, very sick right now, and I blame Louis’s couch. It gave me fleas, after all. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you: my upper body has been dotted with fleabites since I started sleeping on Louis’s couch. Who knows what else was living on that thing? Ick. So now I can’t stop coughing and my sinuses are producing horrible things. Next time I stay with Louis, I’m taking the damn bed.

Laura is meeting a friend for lunch and the rest of her family has gone out to do something fun, so I’m going to spend the day lying down and drinking (water). Also, I seem to be perpetually one day behind on these entries, so let me catch you up on yesterday.

Laura lives in village called Wetton, but it really is just a handful of houses and a pub sitting smack dab in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town with actual shops and businesses and more than 10 people is called Ashbourne, which I got to see a bit of yesterday. There’s a river running through the middle of town, and Laura says every year they have a townwide football game along the whole main street with people born on one side of the river playing against people born on the other side of the river. That’s what kind of town this is. An actual community.

Exhibit B: Some rich guy just moved into the village and to celebrate and meet everyone he rented out the local pub for a night and put £4,000 behind the bar, so food and drinks were free for everybody. That was last night. When we got there the pub was absolutely packed, and EVERYONE knew Laura and greeted her personally and asked her how university was going, etc. I realized these people must have watched her grow up and everything, and Laura has known them her whole life. COMMUNITY. Sometimes I wish I grew up in a small town. But only sometimes.

I spent some time with Laura’s family: her brother and sister, her parents, her grandmother, her aunt and uncle, and their two kids. One of them is only a year old and started crying every time Laura looked at her, which I found extremely funny, although the two of them must have come to some sort of agreement because later the baby seemed very pleased with her.

Okay, I have to cough up some Christmas phlegm now. More later.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Welcome to Christmas

Yesterday Louis and I made the drive from Norfolk to Derbyshire, where Laura lives in a tiny little village called Wetton. It was a three or four hour car ride, but that was nothing compared to the nine hour drive down from Aberdeen so we didn’t sweat it. We spent quite a bit of time sweating it before we actually left, though. First of all, we didn’t hit the road until a few hours after Laura was expecting us to arrive at her place. That was just plain laziness on our part, which is kind of strange considering how eager we were to get away from the hellhole wasteland of nothingness that was Marham.

When we finally got the car all packed and set off, the car started making noises that convinced Louis it was going to break down before we made it as far as the petrol station. When we did reach the petrol station, we discovered that neither of us had any money and we couldn’t afford any more petrol than it would take just to get us back to Louis’s hellhole. What were we going to do? No way in hell were we going back to that place. We would get to Laura’s house if I had to give 7,000 blowjobs in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Unfortunately, it didn’t come to that. In the emerging tradition of me being blindsided by shitty situations that proceed to work out due to bizarre strokes of luck or good timing, the refund for my cancelled train ticket suddenly appeared in my bank account and we were able to buy the petrol and get to Laura’s. The writing staff for my life must have been previously employed by a bad soap opera, for the amount of cliffhangers with stupid solutions I keep finding myself involved in.

The drive wasn’t so bad in terms of time, but the motorways here are really, really confusing and I was just about the worst navigator Britain has ever seen. There are billions of these stupid roundabouts, which you approach as though driving to the center of a bicycle wheel using one of the spokes, then you get to the center and drive around in a circle and get off using another spoke. And there are so many routes with all sorts of numbers and signposted for different destinations and I’m sure it’s really easy if you’re used to them, but shit.

We got to Laura’s around 11 PM last night. Laura also lives in the middle of nowhere, but it doesn’t look like a bomb went off there and nothing survived the blast except for one house, like Louis’s does. There are rolling hills and other houses and cute villageness abound, and Laura’s house is Christmas spirit embodied. Warm, cozy, relentlessly but tastefully decorated, TWO CHRISTMAS TREES. It was like Christmas came over to visit, and it exploded, and pieces of it landed all over the place. (This image is much less off-putting if you remember that Christmas is an abstract concept and not an actual person.) Louis and I almost started weeping. Plates of warm, home-cooked food brought us even closer to the edge. It was beautiful.

Laura didn’t really know what to make of us. We just sort of arrived, marveled at her home with apparently way too much enthusiasm, and lovingly ate our food as if it was our last supper. Or our first one. We had only spent four days at Louis’s house, but it was almost devoid of money, real food, human contact except each other, or change of scenery. Ah, Laura’s house. It is good.

Monday, December 20, 2004

England pictures, part 1

Here are some pictures from the drive down from Aberdeen. This one shows the sign telling us we're entering England, but it's too dark to make it out clearly. Still, I entered England. Woo!

The first day I was here Louis took me to "downtown" King's Lynn. It was...extraordinary. I didn't know that downtown anywhere could be so absolutely silent. It was totally dark by about 3:20 PM that day, it was raining, and the town was just...purgatory. Time does not exist here. It's totally chilling.

This is Louis's cat, Ray. Louis said to me about this feeder thing, "I think it must be broken because it keeps on releasing all the food at once instead of a normal amount at a time, and now Ray's gotten all fat." Then he told me they bought it in America, and I told him I didn't think it was broken.

I don't play the piano. We took this picture to try and fool you into thinking we had something to do for at least part of the last few days. But it didn't work because I just told you it's a lie.

This morning, Louis and I were trying to think of something -- ANYTHING -- to do today, and then Louis asked me, "Want to go see a castle?" He said it the same way I might say to you, "Want to go see a Safeway?" Of course I wanted to see a Safeway! I mean, a castle. I came to this country to see castles, but the only one I've seen so far was off in the distance when I was in Edinburgh. It was a really, really nice one though, and as if to make up for this, the castle we visited today wasn't actually a castle at all but the remains of one. Not exactly the same thing, but still very cool to me.

I still can't get my head around how long everything around me has been around. I'm not just talking about the elderly people who take their sweet ass time walking down crowded streets directly in front of me. I'm also talking about buildings that have been around longer than my country has existed. I've been amazed by the differences in ages of structures just traveling from the west coast to the east coast of America, but castles? Real ones? They're like sheep to me: I've only seen them in picture books.

And I reacted to this newfound respect by doing this.

They had to cover this old well with a grate because people could fall in and it's a very, very, very long way down. Louis tells me that when the castle was still in use, they used to throw people down there for punishment. Shudder.

Louis's and my castle adventure only lasted about 15 minutes before we drove back to his house to sit around and moan about our situation. We're driving out to Laura's house in Wetton tomorrow, so we'll actually be interacting with people besides each other and eating real food for the first time since leaving Aberdeen.

Two things I have to clarify about the last few days I've spent with Louis in Marham: (1) It really is that bad. Believe me, even if Louis suggested the lamest possible thing you could ever do to get us out of the house, I would have made us do and I probably would have loved it because everything is awesome to me right now. (2) It really hasn't been that bad because the alone time is really giving me a chance to catch up on sleeping and thinking and settling down after a solid month of partying. Sure, we've moaned, and I'm looking forward to leaving, but being totally and utterly cut off from the rest of the world has also been genuinely nice in a weird way.

Louis and his pet snake, whom he kisses and cuddles. A lot.

Me wearing The Hat against the Red Wall of Sex in Louis's bedroom.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Beyonce is the new Shakespeare

I've just spent the entire day reading "Soul Survivors: The Official Autobiography of Destiny's Child, by Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and the other one. There is that little to do all the way out here. Though to be fair, it is quite the page-turner. Listen to this gem from Beyonce as she explains the cultural impact her song "Independent Women Part 1" had in Japan: "Until that song became a hit, young girls and teenagers there thought it wasn't cool to buy their own stuff. The thing to do was get a boyfriend and have him buy everything. Then after 'Independent Women Part 1' came out, all those girls were like, 'You know what? I'm going to pay my own bills. I'm going to get my own phone. I'm going to buy my own jewelry.' The youth culture changed -- for the better, I think -- all because of one song. A song I wrote."

Then, she talks about the impact her song "Survivor" had on sick kids: "That song makes them realize they have a chance. I have met hundreds of children who are suffering from cancer and they always sing it to me...They may not have hair, but they have beautiful smiles."

They should call her Saint Beyonce. Shit.

Also, there's a whole chapter dedicated to how everything in the group is perfectly equal and Beyonce isn't just stepping on her friends to get to the top and Kelly and Michelle are every bit as talented and important as she is and really she doesn't hog the microphone or the spotlight. It should be noted, however, that at no point in this lengthy section does Beyonce let Kelly and Michelle speak for themselves on the matter.

A few more amazing quotes from the book:
"I have learned to think with my mind and not with my heart. That's why it's called thinking." (Beyonce)
"Even Cher had a hard time breaking into movies, and she's Cher!" (Beyonce)
"If you're a singer, people just don't want to give you a chance to prove that you can do anything else. Take Mariah, for example. She delivered a wonderful performance in her movie Glitter, but people don't want to give her props." (Beyonce)
"When I was working on [my solo album], God spoke to me. He said, 'Girl, you will be fine. What are you worried about?'" (Michelle)

I would like to say that I just took a passing glance through the book for a yuk or two but I literally read it to the very end. Those ladies, they tell it like it is. Oh god, I can't believe that's the only thing I did today.

Stir crazy

Last night was crazy. Louis and I met up with a bunch of his friends and we took a train to Cambridge to go to some club for it's monthly Gay Night. One of the remarkable things about Louis's friends is that they are ALL LESBIANS. I know, like, one lesbian in Seattle. I know two lesbians in Aberdeen. I didn't know what to do with a train full of lesbians. It's amazing how different I feel around gay women than around gay men, because in theory I guess I tend to lump us all into the category of "homos," but if you think about it there's really no reason to think the experiences would be remotely similar.

Louis and I spent the night at his friend Ruth's house when we got back from Cambridge last night. I slept in Ruth's brother's room, which was located in what I'm assuming was the attic because the door was a hole in the ceiling and the only way to get up there was a ladder. It was a nice room (and a nice ladder), but I only mention it because there was a kitty up there and I wondered if anyone realized it was still up there and how long it had been since it had been fed or had a chance to go the bathroom. I don't know where Ruth's brother was, but I hope he knows that kitties generally find it very difficult to get down ladders on their own.

This kitty was very, very affectionate and would climb all over my body and sleep on different parts of me, even when I tried to kick it off the bed because it was putting my leg to sleep. I also remember being half asleep and becoming totally convinced that the kitty was going to poop in my mouth because it had been in the attic without a litterbox for so long it had gotten in the habit of just doing it anywhere. Then I woke up with a horrible, horrible cramp in my calf -- it was so painful and I was so sleepy and disoriented that I blamed the kitty just because it was there and it must have had something to do with it. Who knows what really caused the cramp (it still hurts) but when I woke up in the morning I was still totally pissed at the kitty because I had spent the rest of the night dreaming about how evil it was.

Today, Louis and I have just been sitting around in his house listening to Lindsay Lohan's album Speak over and over. We've actually been doing that for a few days now, partly because there's nothing else to do but mostly because Lindsay Lohan is AMAZING. I remember watching the video for "Rumors" a month ago and realizing that she was the most talented human being on the planet. I initially suspected this all the way back when she was in The Parent Trap, and I became more confident in my theories when she was AMAZING in Freaky Friday and then Mean Girls. Now...all is confirmed. Oh, Lindsay! Please don't throw it all away by becoming the next Tara Reid.

In case I haven't mentioned it already, I'm in the middle of nowhere. Oh my god. There is literally nothing around for miles. Not just nothing interesting -- NOTHING. When I look out the window, I see some trees, lots of fields, and my crying reflection in the glass. But don't get me wrong, I'm having a good time (really!) because I'm with Louis and this is another new experience in a new place that makes me glad I'm here even though I'm equally glad that I didn't spend 13 years living here like Louis did. I thought there was nothing to do in Redmond. I didn't know shit. It was exactly the same when Luke took me to Ithaca for the first time.

On the drive down from Aberdeen I saw so many fields full of sheep. I realized I'm not sure I've ever seen a sheep in real life except maybe in a petting zoo when I was 5 or something. Isn't that bizarre? Louis was like, "I don't believe that you haven't seen a sheep before!" But when would I have seen one? Isn't that weird?

What else do I need to catch you up on? I stayed up all night packing the night before Louis and I left Aberdeen. It was really strange choosing stuff to pack out of the stuff I had chosen to pack out of everything I owned only a few months ago in Seattle. This still doesn't even come close to explaining why I had to stay up all night doing it, though. Eventually, it got so late and I had to get up so early for lecture the next morning that with every minute that passed it became less worth it to get a few hours sleep when it would be so horrible to have to wake up again. I thought maybe I would be able to catch up on the sleep during the car ride down to England, but...yeah. That didn't happen. If you're wondering why, maybe you should ask Louis about it.

I'm rambling because Louis and I are so bored that we're actually starting to go insane. We just wave our arms around and make noises to amuse ourselves now. I've lost that internal filter that tells you what to say and what not to say so this entry is just going to get infinitely longer and longer if I keep sitting here. I have to go. I have things to do. When I figure out what they are, I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Road trippin'

So far, my British road trip has been very different than I was expecting. I’m writing this from Louis’s house in Norfolk, England. He just laughed at me because I thought Norfolk was a city instead of a county, but it’s okay because I get to laugh every time someone here tells me they thought Seattle was on the east coast because they know it’s in Washington and they didn’t know there was a difference between Washington state and Washington, D.C. That kind of thing makes it slightly less appalling that I came here under the impression that England and Britain were synonymous.

It felt as bizarre as I thought it might to leave Aberdeen yesterday. We just got in Louis’s car and starting driving away from the city and I thought, Shit, there are roads leading away from Aberdeen? Obviously, there are lots of them. Louis and I spent the following nine hours on several of them as we headed south all the way to...Marham. See, since I had heard of Norfolk before, I just assumed it was a big city and Louis would live in a massive penthouse on top of a skyscraper or whatever. Instead, the nearest town is called King’s Lynn. It is a place where the term “skyscraper” applies to any building more than two stories tall. I don’t know what to call the actual area where Louis’s house is. I was thinking “village,” but just plain “house” is most accurate, I think.

The drive down wasn’t all that bad for a nine-hour car ride. I had stayed up all night the night before, so I spent a good portion of it dozing off, but unfortunately I didn’t get a whole lot of actual sleep because every time Louis saw that I had fallen asleep he would scream “HELLO ERIC WHAT’S GOING ON” in my ear and I would spend five minutes looking around trying to sort out what was real and what I had been dreaming about. Let me tell you something, nine times out of ten, the cake and strippers were nothing more than figments of my imagination.

To be continued, as Louis is urging me out the door so we can hop on a train to spend the evening doing something or other in Cambridge. More as soon as I get home!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas horrors

That Christmas feeling is still sort of eluding me but there are plenty of things helping to get me there. A can of fake snow appeared in our flat last night and I immediately did this. After that I could almost feel the Christmas spirit standing behind me with a large knife.

So here is the scary thing about the nun-clown on the window. Every time I open my curtains, her massive form is looming over me and it still shocks me every time. But do you know what would be much more shocking? IF SHE WASN'T THERE. And it would be even scarier if we could see her on the window of the flat across the way and everyone who lived there was dead.

Thoughts such as these warm my heart during this festive time of year. We all decorated the sitting room the other day, which really means we threw pieces of tinsel all over EVERYTHING, especially the Mexican hat inexplicably hanging on the wall behind the couch. Why a Mexican hat? Rosie isn't Mexican. None of us are Mexican. Whose Mexican hat is it? Questions such as these warm my heart during this festive time of year.

I wish we had gotten a Christmas tree, but it would have been much more trouble than it's worth since this is a pretty busy time of year for students and I'm leaving town in a few days anyway. This month has been flying by, so much so that it was already 14th when I remembered to pay my rent. It's been flying by even though Luke is coming to visit at the end of the month and I would have expected that to make every minute feel like an hour. As it is, every minute without him still kind of sucks, but I can't believe I'm going to see him again in just 12 days.

By the way, I haaaaate the rail system here, and not just because it won't let me come home on Boxing Day anymore, although that's still so annoying it's not even funny. What about people who don't believe in boxes? Or whatever? What is Boxing Day? Is everyone supposed to fight each other? A quick internet search could probably help me out right now, but instead I'm going to count on Morris to leave a nice comment explaining the meaning of Boxing Day. It will mean more coming from a British person.

Anyway, I hate the rail system. I had bought my train ticket from Nottingham to Aberdeen, which was a good thing even though it involved two transfers (haaaaate), and they were going to mail me my ticket a few days before the 27th. Unfortunately, I was dumb enough to enter my Aberdeen address as the delivery address instead of Laura's house in Wetton. So I called up customer service and asked if I could change the delivery address. I didn't think this was such an unreasonable thing to ask considering the ticket didn't even exist yet and wouldn't be posted for another couple of weeks. However, I was told this was "impossible." To change the delivery address, I had to cancel my current ticket, pay a £10 cancellation fee, and buy a new ticket with the different delivery address.

Have you noticed that since I've been here a lot of things seem to go wrong for really stupid reasons?

The real problem here was that my money for the first ticket (minus £10, haaaaate) won't appear back in my bank account for several weeks. And without that money, I couldn't afford to buy a new ticket. So all of a sudden I had no money, no train ticket, and seats were going fast. THANK YOU BRITISH RAIL. I had to ask Rosie's older brother, who I've only met a few times and just happened to be in the flat to drop something off, to put my ticket on his credit card and promise to pay him back when I got back from England. Talk about your awkwardness. It was not fun. If Rob ever reads this, THANK YOU. (For real, though -- not like when I thanked British rail back there.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Crazy talk

Just throwing this out there: It's 10:30 AM, I just got out of my first lecture, and I'm pretty sure the sun hasn't come up. Even if I'm wrong and it came up hours ago, think about what that says about the kind of clouds we get up here.

Only a few more days until Louis and I head down to England. I'm pretty sure his car is going to break down because on top of the fact that his car is already on its last legs, we're going to push the car as fast as it will go so we can make it in time for [something or other Louis wants to go to]. I didn't mean literally "push" just then, but I'll let you know if it comes to that. In fact, I'll probably take pictures and the whole ordeal will turn into a photo shoot, knowing us. It will be fun and hilarious until we start to get hungry, and nobody wants to help us because they've been watching the news and heard about these killer rent boys who pretend to be broken down on the freeway, then seduce and murder their rescuers, except we're not them and we really need help with our broken-down car, but everyone is like, "No way, I ain't stopping for no killer rent boys," and the police will drive up and say, "Are you them killer rent boys?" and we'll say, "No!" and they'll say, "Then why were you posing on the hood of the car?" and we'll say, "Because we look good."

But that's not going to happen until Friday. We wanted to go down on Thursday, but I am a really, really good student and refused to skip my Friday morning English lecture. Anyone who doesn't believe that I am a good student can just shut up because I am a really, really good student. If my advisor asks me why I failed my Viking history class, I'll say "SHUT UP" and leave the room. Or even better, I'll throw something on the ground that fills the room with smoke, and when it clears I'll be GONE. He won't fuck with me after that because he'll think I am skilled in the Dark Arts.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Getting out

Sometimes I have experiences that remind me that by deciding to come live here, I did not just sign on to improve my own life -- I have been given the opportunity to help other people as well. This has never been more evident than tonight, when I have just discovered The Phantom of the Opera doesn't open in America until the 22nd. You see, over here it opened yesterday. And it's no shocker that I've been looking forward to it, albeit with apprehension due to the fact that Joel Schumacher is Well, for all of you in America, let me tell you the film BLOWS. Also, it also blows for an hour too long. I can watch a bad movie if it's pretty. This one ranks very high on the pretty scale and I still wanted a chandelier to fall on my head after about half an hour. Shit.

I have really exciting plans for Christmas break! Louis is driving me down to England so I can stay at his house in Norfolk for a few days, then I'll go to Laura's house in Wetton for Christmas. Wetton is this tiny little village in the middle of rural England, so that should be an adventure. Even more of an adventure was trying to figure out how to get back up to Aberdeen in time to pick up Luke from the airport. He's flying in at 4 PM on the 27th. Ideally, I would take a train back to Aberdeen on the 26th and everything would be lovely, but due to something called Boxing Day there are no train services that day. I asked Rosie what people did on Boxing Day. "They sit around and eat lots of food and watch television," she told me. Yes, that sounds like a great reason not to let me go home in time to pick up my boyfriend from the airport.

After searching high and low for a train that would get me back to Aberdeen before 4 PM on the 27th, but I had to settle for getting there a few hours after Luke. Rosie will have to pick him up from the airport and hang out with him for a while, which is going to be such a weird situation for them that I kind of wish I was going to be there. You know, in addition to how badly I wish I was going to be there anyway, because I love him and all.

I'm so excited for my British road trip. I realize I actually haven't left Aberdeen since I got here, so I'll be glad to get out and see more of the country. All the other people I know studying abroad this year seem to have done some serious getting around, but I haven't really had the time or money to do that yet. In a way, this may have prevented it from really sinking in that I live in Europe, because I still feel so removed from the rest of it. Life is so contained in Aberdeen. Sometimes I imagine if I walked to the city limits, I would encounter an impenetrable wall of fog, perfectly matching the gray color scheme of the city, of course. I need to get out, yo!

Friday, December 10, 2004

It's over...for now

Today I finished my last essay for the semester and theoretically the last essay I will ever have to write about something I don't care about. Yes, it was another one of those "start writing the night before" deals. I just can't do it any other way. I finished writing at 9:30 AM, walked all the way to uni, turned it in, and got halfway home before realizing that I had forgotten to turn in my library books before 10:30 AM. So I walked back, returned my books, was charged a fine, walked home, went to sleep. Woke up. Felt yucky. Still do. I've pretty much stopped asking myself why I always do this.

Actually, let's go over what I did. I didn't just put this off until the day before. Yesterday was the day before, and after waking up and walking Jen to the bus station, I went back to bed until mid-afternoon. Then I woke up and rolled around on Rosie's bed for a couple of hours, moaning about what a travesty it was that I had completely missed out on daylight for the day. Then I spent a few hours on the internet trying to figure out how to get home from Wetton, England in time to pick up Luke from the airport on the 27th. I will explain more about this in a minute. By then it was 5 PM and I was going over the facts in my head: No research. No sources. No motivatation. An hour away from the library. Due tomorrow. This is doable, right?

So I walked all the way to the library. I could have taken the bus and gotten there in 10 minutes, but maybe this should tell you something about how hard I was trying hard to put this off as long as possible. At the library, I checked out two books related to my topic and found I was totally offended that this act wasn't enough to earn me a stellar grade. I mean it. I was so annoyed. After all, I was holding in my hands all the information I would put in my paper. All I had to do was read the facts and arrange them in a slightly different order. Was that last step really so necessary? Yeah. I'm really good at this. Procrastinating, I mean.

Since I was feeling so entitled and proud of myself after going through all the effort of checking out my two books, I decided I had earned the extra hour I could procrastinate if I walked home and "worked" there instead of just doing it at the library.

And then, well, I ran into Louis. He was on his way to Oh Henry's. Obviously, I had to go with him. Everyone else we knew was at some sort of dinner and he didn't want to sit around by himself until they made it out. The bottom line is, I left Oh Henry's around midnight. I think the more outrageous my procrastination became, the less it bothered me because it didn't seem real. How did it happen, exactly, that I was sitting in a bar eating candy -- they gave us candy -- at 11 PM the night before an essential essay was due?

It gets worse. See, I have this thing about writing essays. I have such a hard time that I find it necessary to reward myself throughout the process in order to keep myself from perishing instantly. 9 times out of 10, this reward takes the form of food. Last essay I wrote, I went crazy until I bought two huge multipacks of crisps and ate them all in one sitting. Then I felt so bad about myself that I found sufficient motivation to finish writing. Maybe that's why I do this to myself. God, how sad and gross. Why am I writing about this on the internet?

Anyway, it gets worse. So I went to the 24-hour to buy some crisps because they are my secret weapon for academic productivity, but I only had my bank card, and I had to spend a minimum amount, and the bottom line is I got a lot of crisps. A LOT. So when I got home, Rosie and Jo were watching music videos on some of the new channels we just got. Obviously, I had to have a seat and watch one or two videos. I looooooooove music videos. I used to keep up with them back home but I'm totally out of the loop now. Britney, Gwen, Beyonce (she's hanging out with those other losers again but I don't buy it for a second), Kylie... Mountains of crisps...

Anyway, then it was 3:30 AM. I thought maybe it was time to commit to either writing this thing or now. Since I had already decided to fail my other class, I decided not to be a total disgrace and write this one.

That's the story of how I faced adversity but came through triumphant in the end. I learned a lot about myself along the way, such as the fact that I am a lazy fuck and a fat pig. I will carry these lessons with me as I waddle (slowly) down the road of life.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Picture time!

Jo, Rosie, and Marianne at Rosie's birthday party. I think Rosie is under the impression that they're doing the Charlie's Angels pose. Or maybe she just gets aggressive when she's had a few drinks. Frankly, it could be either one.

Look, I'm not even ashamed that I'm finishing off my second pizza. Wait, now I am.

Above our flat is a big scary loft full of evil and dead people. I am not ruling out evil dead people as a possibility as well. These pictures were taken in pitch darkness even though the flash makes it look like it was well lit. The only way we could tell where we were going was to take a flash picture and then look at it on the camera to see what was in front of us. It was nice that we just saw The Grudge the other week. Then Rosie said, "Wouldn't it be weird if we took a picture and looked at it and saw there was someone standing right in front of us?" Then I said, "'Weird' isn't the word I would use," between my screams.

Me with Louis and Ballal. They are my friends. They are my bitches. I love them.

We love Louis's hat! We don't love the fact that he willingly paid £50 for it, but we looooooove the hat!

These are the big Christmas lights they've put up all along Union Street. Pretty! I've definitely been feeling the Christmas vibes from this city, there are lights up everywhere. It hasn't snowed since the one time, but the cold and the abbreviated days make it constantly feel like it's just about to start.

Me showing Jen around Aberdeen ended up being me showing myself around Aberdeen since there are lots of places I've wanted to explore but never had an actual reason. Like this spot at the top of a massive hill, where we could look out over the sea, and turn around to see the sun setting on the city (this picture was taken around 2:30 PM).

Another interesting side effect of showing Jen around was that it gave me the opportunity to be a booty ho on the beach. No, that's all I have to say.

When Ballal isn't working the catwalks of Milan with me, he is also an incredibly successful rock star that nobody knows about. Ballal sings that gay rock that frat guys listen to in order to show chicks they are sensitive before they try to have sex with them. He is good friends with Dave Matthews.

This is an actual speed limit sign in Aberdeen. I don't know if they do this all over Britain or if they just like being cutesy because it's a small city. If I was driving over here I would feel like I was in a LEGO town. I can't imagine what it would be like getting pulled over for speeding.

Officer: Excuse me, do you know how fast you were going?
Eric: About 30 miles per hour.
Officer [grave]: Are you unaware that twenty is, in fact, plenty?
Eric: Actually, I'm illiterate.
Officer: I'm going to have to ask you to put your hands in the air and come with me.

I don't know if I've told you this, but for several weeks now Ballal and I have been convinced that we are supermodels nobody knows about yet. Later, we roped Louis into our delusion and now everywhere we go the three of us take hundreds of model shots, usually involving being unnaturally aroused by our surroundings. Here are a couple of less objectionable shots (the only less objectionable ones, actually) from a photo shoot we did in the toilet at the ice rink. IS NOWHERE SAFE?

Here is an actual candid shot from our little ice skating outing.

Here are some pictures of people having fun with my box! It was, like, worth the cost of the television just to get something that has provided this many hours of entertainment. Besides the television, I guess.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

My first visit

Someone visiting me, that is. My friend Jen from Seattle flew in to Aberdeen this morning, from Cadiz, Spain. She's studying abroad for a year too, and since you can get flights between cities all over Europe for like £5 it would have been silly for us to come this far and not hang out. It's just so random because even though we went to UW together for years we somehow never managed to find time to hang out more than a few times. The last time I saw her must have been at the study abroad orientation back in May. And now we're hanging out in Scotland!

I took the bus to the airport, which I've never been to. It's tiny. Jen's been living with a host family in Spain for three months so she's really excited to have an opportunity to speak English again. She's also going ape shit over seeing menus, newspapers, and food wrappers in English, which is pretty amusing to watch. I knew I took one of the easier routes by choosing to study abroad in an English-speaking country, but now more than ever I can't imagine what it must be like to immerse yourself so suddenly in a society you literally don't understand.

It was really interesting to show Jen around the city of Aberdeen because it was like I was seeing the city again for the first time. I noticed so many things I don't really think about because I encounter them every day, but as I pointed them out to Jen I was struck once again by how different it is over here than back home, and yet it didn't make me feel removed or disoriented. I remember being the one shown around and asking all the questions, and today I was the one answering them. As this occurred to me while walking down the street with Jen, I screamed in her face, "LOOKS LIKE THE TABLES HAVE TURNED, BITCH!" She didn't say much to me after that but I feel she knew what I meant.

Anyway, that last part never happened. But it was fun watching someone else's amazement at all the church-clubs and strange foods and horrendous exchange rate. Especially the church-clubs. Marianne and I took Jen on a quick lap through one of the nicer church-pubs, where you can enjoy a drink or three beneath the watchful eyes of Jesus being crucified on the stained-glass windows. When we exited the place I looked at Jen and it appeared as though her eyes were going to pop out of her head. Mission accomplished.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

By failing, I succeed...discuss

I can't believe December is here already. I mean, I knew it came after November and all that, but how can it be so close to the end of the year already? I kinda thought November would never end, because I had all these huge essays to write and I had to sort out those issues with my Celtic class and I had money troubles, and on top of that we're all looking forward to Christmas and everyone knows the more you look forward to something the longer it takes to arrive. Now all of a sudden it's December!

Even though I missed the first 7 weeks of my Celtic class, I actually find it much easier to get into and want to learn more about than my wretched Viking history class. While I've caught up sufficiently in my Celtic class, I've decided to take the plunge and just fail my Viking history class. It goes against every "good student" instinct in my body, but it's just not worth it. Since leaving high school, I've developed other instincts that tell me it's stupid to suffer so much for something so pointless. For once, that's not a dig at the history department -- it's just that none of the classes I'm taking this semester have any relevance to my degree.

I know how this sounds, and it's not good. But it's not that I refuse to put any effort into something that doesn't immediately and directly benefit me. For months, I really went for it, thinking even if I'd never studied these subjects before, I could get a top grade if I just worked hard enough. But it just wasn't realistic -- for one thing, it's just a cultural difference that students here don't freak out if they don't get a perfect score like they do in America. Grading is strict, and people are satisfied if they get the average mark. But I don't think you see many American students feeling great about getting a C+ on a major assignment.

Anyway, I am still putting time and effort into getting something out of these courses. Like I said, I still do my best not to miss any lectures or tutorials, and I do use my brain while I'm there. I'm just putting limits on how miserable I'm willing to make myself for the sake of a good grade. What that means right now is that I've written two essays for Celtic and English, but I passed on turning in the massive research paper that counts for 30% of my Viking history grade. Killing myself over school isn't the reason I came here, and even though it may look like I'm just wasting time over here, to me it's more meaningful to spend time meeting new people, learning about them, learning about this country and its culture, and letting the creative energy flow. You know, all that gay stuff.

I remember starting to realize a lot of these things a few weeks ago, when I was having a panic attack over this English essay, and I freaked out to Marianne, "I'm so useless! Why did I waste so much time writing that fucking screenplay instead of starting this essay earlier?" I quickly realized the insanity of that question and decided it would be best to go clubbing every night for three weeks straight. Oh wait, those revelations were separate. What I'm trying to say is, I'm not an alcoholic. Half the time when I go out I don't drink at all, okay? I'm just a dance machine!

Anyway. I'm going to try and post more often. I seem to have fallen into the trap of dismissing everyday life as too trivial to write about and I end up writing entries like this over and over. In fact, I'm sure all of you want to hear every detail about how Rosie bought a huge new television and after she set it up I crawled inside the empty box and took a nap. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'm back, baby, too

It's all starting to catch up with me. For the last three weeks, I've been out clubbing five nights a week. At the same time, my "good student" instincts forbid me from missing any (or many) of my lectures, so almost every day I wake up before sunrise and get my ass into those classrooms to experience the "joy" of "learning." What that really means is that my professors take attendance and I'll be reported and deported if I don't sign in.

We all make fun of Oh Henry's because it's kind of small and crappy and their playlist is like 5 years old, but I've come to terms with the fact that I love it. It's our headquarters. I can walk in there any night of the week and see all the familiar faces. I don't necessarily like all of these faces, but it's comforting nonetheless. It's a regular cast of characters. Oh Henry's is like Cheers, but with more anal sex. Don't you want to go where everyone knows your name, or other intimate details about you?

What I'm trying to say is, going out five nights a week isn't just about drinking, or dancing, or objectifying beautiful men who would never speak to me. I'm having such a good time with my new peeps, there just aren't enough hours in the day to be with them as much as I want to. I don't really know why I thought that that would be interesting for any of you to read about, but that and the school thing should kind of explain why I haven't posted anything for over a week.

The only really, really, really big news I have right now is that just a few days ago Luke spent a ridiculous amount of money on a PLANE TICKET TO COME SEE ME! At the end of December! That's just crazy! He loooooooooooooves me! We've been going out of our minds missing each other, but I never expected anything like this. (I secretly fantasized about it, but still.) I can't even get my head around how amazing he is for doing something like this for me. Love love love. I know he doesn't have this kind of money to spare. But he's coming anyway. Wow. Yay!

Interestingly enough, I'll have to cut this entry short because I'm about to go clubbing...again. But I'm absolutely fucking exhausted and I think I'm going to take a few nights off after this.


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