Monday, February 28, 2005

Oh my golf

It's so funny having a visitor come to see me in Aberdeen. All of a sudden, I'm excited about everything again: the pubs, the clubs, the beach, the university, the pop culture, the crazy foods... I suppose I'm always super thrilled with the pop culture and crazy foods, but the city itself becomes something to be excited about again when I have someone to show around. Josh and I have been having lots of fun since he got here, and it's nice that he's here for two weeks so we can take our time doing it.

I've missed a lot of class since the new semester started, but I think I'm going to be fine because when I actually do show up for class it occurs to me that I still don't learn anything because my professor is a mumbly eccentric. Also, when it comes to my essays I feel unusually confident that I have something to say, so my grades shouldn't suffer to much.

Josh and I embarked on a day trip to St. Andrews yesterday, a couple hours south of Aberdeen. In case you didn't know, St. Andrews is "The Home of Golf." Apparently, golf was invented in St. Andrews and the links there are practically holy land for golf enthusiasts. I don't know if Josh is so much of one, but his dad is and he insisted we check it out. Josh insisted, not his dad. Josh's dad doesn't tell me what to do. And if he tried, I'd be like, "Whatever, I do what I want. I grew up on the streets." I didn't grow up on the streets, but Josh's dad doesn't know that. (Unless he reads this blog.)

St. Andrews was as pretty as it is small. To clarify, it was really small. And really pretty. The weather was classically Scottish, which means there were four seasons in a single day. At one point it hailed in my mouth. Then the sun came out. We spent some time around the famous golf course, visited St. Andrews castle and cathedral, walked around the town, and headed home. It was a very short day trip. I don't know how people who live there fill the time, frankly. There's a university in town, so maybe they're all in the library studying. Hey, doesn't Prince William go to St. Andrews University? If so, Josh and I didn't see him.

Also, isn't "Oh my golf" like the best title I've EVER come up with?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Remaining Spain pictures

I wanted to post a few more pictures from my trip, if for no other reason than I took the time to resize them and transfer them to Rosie's crap computer. And besides, who doesn't like looking at pictures? They take less time to read than big words, I can tell you that much!

On the way to Cádiz from Málaga, Jen and I stopped at La Linea to walk over and check out Gibraltar. I'm not exactly sure what the deal is with Gibraltar, but somehow it's British because there were British flags and establishments and crosswalk signals and everything was in English. So that was bizarre, to go to Spain and be able to cross a street (and a border crossing) and be somewhere British, except that that somewhere is only the size of a small town. I loved this sign.

This is the Rock of Gibraltar as seen from Spain, just after we got off the bus. As you may be able to tell, the weather was not the friendliest. We so didn't get a chance to explore Gibraltar properly. And after I'd read so much about the monkeys and dolphins! I'll definitely be going back there in summer sometime soon.

This is a typical Cádiz street in the evening. Actually, it's only typical in one half of town -- Cádiz is divided into "new" and "old" sections, which look radically different from each other. The city, being like 3,000 years old, had to expand at some point so the new section is a more modern extension.

Does Nun-Clown live in Cádiz?

Pictures just don't get more self-explanatory than this one.

Jen wanted to take my picture next to a "pretty" and "friendly" horse in Seville despite my lifelong crippling phobia of being eaten by one. This picture was taken just before Mr. Ed here knocked me over with one of its forelegs and tore out my throat.

This is me looking soulfully up at the ceiling in one of the rooms in the Alcazar Palace. Look at that gorgeous tiling! More importantly, look how much I clearly appreciate that gorgeous tiling!

Orange trees are absolutely EVERYWHERE in Seville. They're pretty. I'm prettier.

Look how quaint and romantic this little restuarant is! Aaaaaahh! It's just sitting there in the middle of the most quaint and romantic neighborhood in Seville. Jen and I wanted to eat there really badly but certain factors I won't get into in detail prevented us from doing so.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

From sun to snow

So now I'm back in Aberdeen. My brief encounter with Spain is over, but I hope it's only the first of many. I even picked up a little Español (that's "Spanish" for you non-speakers out there)! (Please do not ask Jen to confirm this, as she will only feed you lies about how it never got through to me that me llamo bien does not mean "I am fine, thanks!")

I spent last night in the airport at Málaga. 12 hours I spent in that terminal. This followed a bus ride all the way from Cádiz, and preceeded a 5-hour layover in the airport at London. It didn't even faze me all that much, this time around. I read a lot, wrote a lot, and slept not a lot. It really doesn't matter how exhausted you are, those fucking chairs were specifically designed to combat sleep or rest in any shape or form.

It's so surreal, being in an airport for that long. Eventually you get really philosophical and start thinking about how being there is really like being nowhere, or between wheres, because the place is full of people but nobody is either where they came from or where they're going. And you're not supposed to be there for longer than it takes to arrive or depart, but after you're done watching people doing both of these things for hours and hours and hours and the place is absolutely deserted and you have nowhere to go and nowhere to be, you start to feel like you don't exist. Yeah, thoughts like that kept me pretty occupied.

Not last night but the night before, my last night in Cádiz, Jen and I went out on this big walkway to watch the sunset. When we had finally gone out as far as we could go, we prepared ourselves for the sunset of a lifetime but the whole damn thing was obscured by a bunch of clouds. Luckily, I snapped a picture just before that happened. We didn't go out that night, but we did walk around town a little bit and I was shocked at how silent and empty the city was, considering how happening it had been the night before. While partying is something Cádiz does very long and very hard, it's also something Cádiz keeps to the weekend.

Yesterday, before I caught the last bus to Málaga, Jen took me on a quick final tour of the city, which I hadn't had nearly enough time to fully experience. We walked along the water and saw the Cádiz cathedral, and I got to see another beach different from the one we'd been hanging out at. And here are few more random pictures from a park near Jen's house (which is right by the pretty, pretty water).

I realized when I arrived in Málaga the first time that this is the first time I've left the UK since moving here in September. How weird is that? God, I just love being somewhere else. Getting off the plane in Spain gave me the feeling in my stomach you get when you're going down the first hill of a rollercoaster. Well, maybe not that intense, because I didn't scream or vomit or anything like that. But I'm so close to so much adventure, yo.

It was snowing like crazy when I got back to Aberdeen, and it made me so happy to be back I couldn't stop smiling the whole bus ride into town. It's like, I should have been sad because I had been in the sun just the day before, but to me it was the perfect welcome back from the city I've really and truly come to think of as home.

I have some more pictures I want to put up, but I'm so tired right now and I have to get up in the morning to pick up my friend Josh from the airport.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Night and day

Wow. When I told you Spanish partying was more hardcore than anything I’ve seen before, I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about. Last night was insane. Not because I got really drunk or stayed out particularly late. Their way of partying is on a whole new level because it seems to involve THE ENTIRE CITY.

Last night Jen and I definitively decided not to go clubbing because we were just too tired. At 2:30 AM, we decided maybe we would just go out and see what her friends were up to. Keep in mind this was still leaving the house early for the night. Another interesting bit of information: in Spain (or maybe it’s just Cádiz, I can’t remember what Jen told me) it’s legal to drink on the street. So there’s no reason to keep the party confined to the bars or clubs -- it migrates into the streets AND FILLS IT. The first time I went out, I thought the nightlife establishments seemed a little small, and now I understand why.

Seriously, I was speechless -- we had to cross one of the main squares to get where we were going and it was like trying to navigate through a mosh pit, it was so crowded. Just people standing and talking and drinking, the sound of animated chattering obliterating every last trace of the stillness or quiet we usually tend to associate with nighttime. It was by far much louder and more crowded than anything I’d seen during the daytime in Cádiz. You know on nature programs when they show all the penguins gathering on an island somewhere, and there’s just penguins packed together like sardines as far as the eye can see, and they’re all making a racket because they’re trying to find their mate, because in case you didn’t know, penguins mate for life? And you just can’t believe there are so many fucking penguins talking at the same time and drinking in public? That’s what it reminded me of.

Ultimately, Jen and I ended up not on the street, but in the gay bar. The gay bar, which was approximately the size of my sitting room at home. However, Jen and I took that as a challenge to get the party started. And we totally did get it started, because we are like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat and just show up out of nowhere and make everyone want to dance because they think, “Who are those people? Where did they come from? They don't seem to have any inhibitions. I am inspired and would like to share a dance floor with them.” That’s how it happens in my mind, anyway.

So that was last night. Today it all about the beach, baby. We just laid on the beach all damn day. It was sweet. The sun comes out once in a while in Aberdeen, but it sure as fuck doesn’t provide any warmth. Cádiz is so much closer to the equator and the sunlight is much more direct. It took ages for my eyes to get used to it. When they finally did adjust, I proceeded to die of shame because I was suddenly able to see that my legs are actually paler than Jen’s. Jen, a white girl. Made me look white. I’m a bad, bad Asian.

Even with my ethnic shame, I’m still so freakin’ happy to walk around with so much of me uncovered. Not that I’m walking around naked or anything (the police put a stop to that), but it surprised me how wonderful it felt to feel air against my arms and legs just walking down the street again. And it’s only February -- this is nowhere near “hot” in Spanish terms. But I’m just bopping around the city with a big stupid smile on my face because the world is bright again. Looks like I’m not so opposed to a little sunshine after all.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My day in Seville

Okay, remember when I said I was going to have a torrid affair with Edinburgh because it’s so gorgeous and amazing, even though I’m committed to Aberdeen? Well, I’ve decided I’m going to marry Spain and start a second family with it and not tell Aberdeen a damn thing. I LOVE IT HERE.

How did I get here? I’ve never even thought about going to Spain. I think I’m really scared of language barriers because Germany is always at the top of my list when I daydream about visiting a European country. (The UK doesn’t count because they don’t like to consider themselves part of Europe for some reason. I’m just going with it.) This year is pretty special because I have several friends studying abroad in different countries and this makes it easier to get out there and visit them with someone who knows what they’re doing.

Anyway, for some reason I never thought I’d go to Spain, but then Jen moved there and we love Jen so we go visit Jen. It’s only February, but it’s absolutely gorgeous here already. It’s not too hot, but the sun is...existent, which is an improvement on Aberdeen. (I shouldn’t say “improvement” because I’m such a fan of cold weather and do snow dances every day, but you know what I mean.) Cádiz is the oldest city in Europe (maybe in the world? I forgot), and has the longest stretch of urban beach in Europe. When I heard “urban beach,” I thought it was one of those fun facts they use in the tourist guides to make you want to go there but when you get there it’s all polluted and unswimmable because it’s an urban beach but the factoid is technically true. But no, IT’S AMAZING.

I didn’t even spend today in Cádiz. Last night Jen took me out to meet some of her friends and we had a really good night out. I didn’t get home until 5 AM, but if you ask any of Jen’s friends they would tell you we went home early because the nightlife in Spain (but especially Cádiz) is notorious for literally going until the break of dawn. Around 3 or 4 in the morning, some of Jen’s friends were just arriving at the club. We were the party poopers for leaving at 4:30 in the morning.

Today we hopped on a bus to Seville and spent the day there. We got kind of a late start due to the intensity with which we got the party started the night before, but Seville is only an hour and a half away by bus. We spent the first part of the afternoon exploring the Reales Alcázares -- Alcazar Palace -- and its courtyards, which were so beautiful it was unreal. This is where I ought to be able to quote some fun facts or history, but all I know is it was built in the 14th century and it’s really, really pretty. I read somewhere that the King and Queen stay there when they come to Seville, but is there still a King and Queen of Spain? Am I really stupid for not knowing that?

Next we visited the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla), which was also pretty incredible, though in a creepier way than the Alcazar Palace because of all the religious imagery. Cathedrals like that are obviously beautiful and massive and architecturally mind-blowing, but I when I walk through them my amazement is always mixed with a feeling of uneasiness that something like organized religion could result in such an awesome thing. Eek.

The Seville Cathedral is the biggest Gothic structure in Europe, and the third biggest Cathedral in the world. The main hall is really something to see. After taking that in, since we didn’t have that much time before the place closed for the day, Jen and I headed for La Giralda (the tower adjoining the Cathedral) for a spectacularly panoramic view of Seville. We spent the last half hour in a room Jen had heard about which is supposed to have great acoustics, and kept waiting for people to leave us alone in there so she could sing. After a few rounds of “Amazing Grace,” she asked me for some suggestions of what else she could sing, but she rudely rejected my request that she belt out “Respect” or “Dirrty.” I submit that Jesus is probably tired of “Amazing Grace” and wouldn’t mind a little respect when you come home, or perhaps sweating until his clothes come off.

Our last three hours in Seville were spent exploring the city on foot and going out for Mexican food, an experience which was enhanced by the realization that we had no idea how to get back to the bus station and the last bus to Cádiz was in half an hour. Luckily, we made it on time by taking a taxi. That story was so much more thrilling when it was happening in real life.

Now I’m back home with my host family having a rest before we embark on another night out. I don’t know if that’s going to work out, though, because Jen and I are both exhausted and I still haven’t had a proper night of sleep since before I left Aberdeen. But I guess I didn’t come here to sleep, did I?

Friday, February 18, 2005

36 hours of transit

I’m writing this entry on paper with the hope that I’ll be able to type it up and post it tomorrow since Jen has the internet at her house, but apparently its pretty unreliable so we’ll see what happens.

I finally made it to Spain. It took a long time. Like, longer than it would have taken to get there from America. The flight from Aberdeen to London wasn’t too bad. I slept the whole way, seeing as I stayed up pretty much all night last night. Was that last night? It was the night before last night. I am all messed up right now. Let me tell you why. I spent 10 hours in the airport in London between flights. That was fun because chairs made of metal are really comfortable to sit in for stretches of time in which you could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then I flew to Málaga and arrived there around midnight, reuniting with Jen and having happy fun times until I remembered we had to spend the night in the airport because we were a 5-hour bus ride away from where Jen lives, in Cádiz.

So we spent the night in the airport, catching a grand total of one hour of sleep. Hooray. Caught the first bus to Cádiz at 10:15 in the morning (which was this morning), stopping by Gibraltar for a few hours because it was on the way and how often is Gibraltar on the way to where I’m going?

Jen and I arrived in Cádiz early in the evening and she introduced me to my host family, with whom I’ll be staying for the next few days. She had given me a fun warning beforehand that they didn’t speak a word of English, but luckily that turned out not to be the case and my host dad is happy to have someone to practice his English on, I think. In any case, they’re nice people with a nice house and oh my god I’m going to sleep on an actual bed tonight.

Overall impressions of Spain will have to wait because I’m practically hallucinating at the moment and need to take a nap because Jen picks me up to take me out...where? Who knows.

I’m in Spain! Woo!

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Hey, how is it already the night before I leave for Spain? Last time I checked, I was a good little blogger, making all sorts of observations about Britishness, then all of a sudden I hadn’t posted in over a week and it’s 3 AM and I have to get up in 3 hours to get on an airplane to Málaga.

It hasn’t been the most exciting week, but stability is actually pretty nice at this point. Eric wakes up every morning -- okay, every day -- and goes to class, Eric comes home and eats some food and tries to work on some creative projects before going to bed. I’m writing down so many random inspirations and imaginary dialogues, I can’t imagine what kind of fucked-up whole they’re going to add up to. Or if they all belong in different wholes and I have to figure out what goes where and which ideas to flesh out. But all this is a good thing.

Today I had one of those experiences that made me frightened of my own department: for our first written exercise in my European Cinema course, the professor showed us a three-minute clip from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and told us to write 800-1,000 words analyzing it. “This shouldn’t be too hard, it’s a pretty meaty clip,” he commented. Personally, I did not find it particularly meaty. I wish I could look at something like this and see oodles of meaning and thematic complexity, but I can’t see the meat. I see nothing resembling meat no matter how hard I try. Meat, meat, meat. I’m hungry.

I’ve been hungry a lot lately because I’m saving my money to have a good time getting my travel on over the next several months. I talked to someone yesterday about some stuff I was working on, and naturally pointing out the insanity of the fact that I am not the recipient of worship and extravagant paychecks, and I was going to say, “It’s like I’m a starving artist, except for the starving,” then I realized that’s not entirely true. I’m totally hungry!

I’m going to be more hungry tomorrow because I’m spending 9 hours at the airport in London between flights because easyJet sucks my balls. I’m going in armed with sandwiches, pork pies, some clementines, and half a loaf of French bread. Also, books. I hope this doesn’t suck as much as it sounds like it’s going to.

Speaking of getting my travel on, I bought more plane tickets! I’m going to Germany this April. I’m flying into Frankfurt, despite the fact that I don’t know anyone who lives there and it isn’t anywhere near where either Josh or Kristina live, but on the other hand the tickets only cost £0.74 each. Not really, of course, because they add all the taxes and fees, but still an amazing deal at £23 round trip. Woo! Much better than the tickets I’m using tomorrow, which cost £98.

Oh man, I need to get some sleep before my big day of doing nothing but not having anywhere to sleep tomorrow. By this time tomorrow…let the foreign-language adventures begin!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

On Britishness

I did a very British thing this last Sunday: I sat in a pub with a bunch of guys and watched the big rugby game while having a pint. (Perhaps it would take away from this comfortable image to tell you I was having a pint of squash, not beer. So I won’t tell you.) In a totally unexpected development, I actually found the game itself entertaining apart from being enthralled by the sight of so many hot bodies running around in those wee uniforms. I don’t know what this means exactly, but I was also eating fish and chips at the time and it couldn’t have been more British if I was playing cricket or hanging out with the Queen or something.

“Britishness” has been a topic of conversation lately because I’m starting to see more distinct differences when it comes to certain issues, mostly because a boatload of North American exchange students just arrived for the new semester, although I will concede that some of them may have arrived by plane and not a boat. Many of these North Americans (as many from Canada as the States) have infiltrated my new classes and contrasts are making themselves evident.

It’s so weird that I haven’t really met any Americans in the five months since I’ve moved here. Apart from Thanksgiving, which was a lot of fun, it’s mostly been in clubs where people will drag someone up to me and be like, “Hey! This one’s American too! Talk amongst yourselves!” and I talk about how much better it is living in the UK than in America and they don’t like that very much.

A lot of things I’ve really started to notice about “Britishness” revolve around two things: apologies and compliments. The British (commence wild generalizations) seem to love the former and hate the latter. When I ask Rosie to pass me something like the salt or the remote control, she says “sorry” as she hands it over as if she had been hoarding it like a pirate. Everyone here is sorry about everything! It doesn’t seem to mean much really, it just comes out of everyone’s mouths all the time. Kind of like the word “fuck.” Which is awesome. (British people also love to curse, and do it much more entertainingly than we do.)

Compliments, on the other hand, are not a happy occasion. People tend to deflect them in an almost hostile fashion. Last week, I witnessed a compliment stand-off where Marianne and her friend utilized raised voices and swear words in order to redirect every compliment in the direction of each other. It’s like modesty taken to the next level. Whereas Americans take compliments by cooing, “Awww, you’re so sweeeeeet! Come here, give me a hug!” The most common description of Americans I’ve heard from people here is “emotional.” (I’ve also heard some nastier ones, but whatever.)

I’ve heard over and over from British people that Americans don’t “have” sarcasm, but I don’t see where that comes from. I just think we’re more obvious about it and tend to make it clearer that we’re joking. British humor is totally different from American humor, but I think the main difference is subtlety. When I’ve heard the term “British comedy” used before moving here, it was mainly used to refer to Monty Python because that’s all a lot of people know about it. But just judging from the comedy programs I’ve seen on TV here, British comedy is so much quieter. There’s a lot more comedies without laugh tracks, which I think is a lot better. And there’s so much funny based on awkwardness, or having people react completely normally to surreal or extreme situations. It’s going to be so sad going back to American television.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Pictures from Edinburgh

Here are a few pictures taken while wandering the city for the day.

One of the shops we checked out was a big hat store (big store, not big hats -- at least not exclusively) where we enjoyed recreating a wacky montage from a bad comedy where we try on lots of crazy hats and make crazy faces because all we need is each other to have a laugh, and also because we haven't learned the hard way that life is a cruel and savage mistress.

These bright red phone booths, or "phone boxes," are among the major visual signifiers I've always associated with the cartoon version of Britain in my head, like double decker buses and everyone drinking tea all the time. But these things are real!

Here are a few pictures of Edinburgh Castle. It was gorgeous -- I dream of the day I can afford to take the tour of the inside.

Becca made a special friend on the Royal Mile.

These are the two flags of Scotland whose origins the shop owner so kindly and theatrically explained to me. Here's what I remember: when Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603 without an heir, King James VI of Scotland, her closest living relative, took over the English throne. So the two countries were joined together and Great Britain was created. So Scotland has two flags, one for Scotland as the nation it was before the Union of the Crowns (the blue and white saltire cross of St. Andrew), and one for Scotland as a member of Great Britain (the Rampant Lion). Then, of course, there's the Union Jack most of us have seen, which is the flag for the UK as a whole. (Sorry if I've gotten any of this wrong! I'm just trying to remember what the guy told me...)

Here is Laura spitting on this heart-shaped design outside St. Giles' Cathedral. The girls were saying how everyone who walks by it is supposed to spit on it for good luck or something, so we all stood around spitting on it, which was kind of odd. Then I looked it up on the internet and read the following:

The heart-shaped design of the cobble stones near St. Giles' Cathedral marks where the entrance to the Tolbooth used to be located. The Tolbooth was originally set up in 1561, as the name implies, to collect tolls but also became used as a prison after 1640. There was also a scaffold for hanging criminals (and others) and the heads of the more famous victims would be displayed on spikes in the face of the building. The Tolbooth was demolished in 1817. Perhaps as a sign of disrespect to the town council, it became common for passsers-by to spit on the cobble stone design. While this is not encouraged these days, it is wise to give the emblem a wide berth when walking past - just in case!

This is the sign for the ghost tour we went on. There were lots of different ghost tours to choose from, so I guess Edinburgh is a pretty haunted city.

UNRELATED LINK: Eva pointed me in the direction of this article which may have had something to do with the stupid bitch who randomly punched me in the face a few months ago. I get even madder than I already do thinking back on it and imagining someone playing a video of what happened and laughing over it. ARRRRGH.

Monday, February 07, 2005

5 months

As of today it's been exactly 5 months since I left my house in Redmond. Every 7th of the month I think about how long I've been away from home and how the idea of being out of the country for more than a few weeks used to blow my mind. And in the back of my mind, I'm always a little excited that I'm this close to being here longer than Laura spent in Germany back in high school. (If we were being fair, we would make adjustments to account for the fact that she was a thousand times braver for going when she was 16 years old and living in a foreign-language country. But we're not.)

I forgot to mention one other thing about my weekend in Edinburgh: rugby. Rugby is supposed to be what manly men are into, isn't it? Do these manly men not realize that rugby is in fact gay porn? You should have seen me when I walked in on the girls watching it at the hotel. I almost fell over. These men had some prize-winning bottoms, yo. And they make a living by wearing tiny little shorts and getting on top of each other. Consider me henceforth a rugby enthusiast.

Speaking of sex, I had a conversation with Becca this weekend that summed up the sheer openness of British television: "I was watching this program on swingers the other night--" "Oh! I watched the same one!" "Really? The one with the old people?" "No, the one I saw had lots of fetish-wear." "I think the old people in my program were into that." "I saw a different one about people who were into fetish stuff, but they weren't old." Last night Rosie and I watched a really interesting documentary series about the sex industry and learned about straight guys who make gay porn because it pays about a hundred times more. I am going to be so, so sad when I have to go back to American TV.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

30 hours in Edinburgh

Well, I'm back from Edinburgh -- I thought maybe I'd be able to post something while I was still there, but with just over a day and night to spend there an internet cafe didn't make its way onto the itinerary. I had an awesome time though, and it was ridiculously cheap to take the bus there so I foresee many future weekends spent in Scotland's capital city.

Edinburgh is really, really pretty. In contrast, Aberdeen is really, really ugly. It has a nice personality, though. You just have to get to know it. See, I know where my loyalties lie. But still, Edinburgh is totally sexy. I was so amazed to see actual variations in elevation! And tall buildings! And more than one street where things actually happen! I was the country mouse visiting the big city, marveling over and over at how big it was. Times have changed since I moved away from Seattle, yo.

We didn't have a clear idea what we wanted to do in Edinburgh -- we spent most of yesterday just wandering and taking everything in. We checked out Princes Street, the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and St. Giles' Cathedral. We also visited a coffee shop called the Elephant's Sufficiency where J.K. Rowling was supposed to have written some of the Harry Potter books, but I just googled "elephant's sufficiency"+"rowling" and came up with zero results so maybe that's just an urban legend.

Louis was originally supposed to come down to Edinburgh to celebrate for Becca's birthday with me, but he was running low on money so I ended up getting a fairly large hotel room to myself. I just assumed we'd be staying in a youth hostel because we're none of us burdened by a surplus of cash, but Becca arranged everything and to tell the truth, it's been so long since I've slept in a real bed that was wider than my actual body it was worth the £30. Not only was it wider than my actual body, it was wider than several actual bodies. It was king size, bitch. Hell yeah.

Last night we went on a "ghost tour" of Edinburgh, where a tour guide led us around to visit several places in the city that were meant to be extremely haunted. It was pretty creepy, but I'm always torn over things like this: I have such a hard time buying tales of the supernatural because I'm a natural skeptic, but I really, really, really want them to be true because I like thinking there's still magic in the world and that that magic enjoys strangling innocent tourists. I love being scared, but my bullshit detector never goes on standby. I don't know how "real" the tour was, but it was good fun and we did spend some time in the tomb of a murderer with the lights out for a little while. That was fun.

Also, we met the guy from Little Britain! The Scottish hotel manager who says everything in magical folktale-speak! It wasn't actually David Walliams, but we stopped by a gift shop run by the exact same type and it was kind of scary to see it for real. I just wanted to know why there are two Scottish flags, and he jumped right in and regaled us with the energetic, theatrical version, which I alternatively like to call "the version that takes longer." I don't know how many of you have seen Little Britain, but if you have, let me tell you, this guy had everything but the flute and the midgets. But it was all good. Neat and cultural and informative. I just get a little nervous when someone is talking to me and I realize I'm their audience.

The clubbing scene in Edinburgh was a slight disappointment, but I suspect that's largely because we didn't know where to go. We wanted to go gay for the night, but C.C. Bloom's, the gay bar in Edinburgh I'd actually heard of, was a skanky crack den that made me feel like taking a shower after popping in just to take a look around. We had drinks for a few hours at a bar called Planet Out, which was actually very nice and played AWESOME music but didn't have a dance floor. Ultimately, we ended up paying £7 (!) to get into a straight place called Faith (yet another converted church) that was horribly crowded but suitably hoppin'. I had a dance-off with Becca (which I won) and a couple of gay guys kept hugging me. All in all, a decent night out.

Today Becca and her friends got on a train back to Derbyshire relatively early while Laura and I spent the rest of the day seeing more of the city. I feel like I've been gone for a lot longer than 30 hours, though interestingly I only spent 4 of those hours asleep. What a great city. I love Aberdeen, but now I've decided to have a torrid affair with Edinburgh.

I should have visited Sarah while I was in the neighborhood, but she was off on her own little weekend trip somewhere else. Well, I guess I'll just have to go back next week...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Insomnia and birthdays

I have to get up early tomorrow morning to get on a bus to Edinburgh, but I keep finding new ways to put off going to bed, like folding a shitload of laundry (I do my laundry on a fairly regular basis, but once I get my clean clothes back to my room I can't be bothered to fold them, so I arrange them in a large fresh-smelling mountain from which I extract clothes to wear every day until times like now), watching trailers on the internet, or arranging everything on my bookshelf according to size (and then going back and putting them out of order so it looks attractively messy, like I take books off the shelf all the time and don't have time to put them back in order because I'm so eager to get my hands on another book because my thirst for knowledge is simply unquenchable).

I hate going to bed. Lots of people love it. Luke loved it for reasons which had nothing to do with the fact that it was usually with me. He just liked going to sleep. He could be out like a light in 5 minutes and I would just watch him sleep every night with a big frown on my face because I would love to be able to fall asleep in less than an hour. I was like, "What's wrong with you? Wake up. I hope you're having nightmares." Also, mornings are just awful. So every night I look for any excuse to avoid going to bed. The net result, I think, is that the hours between 10 PM and 4 AM have become the period when I'm at my most alert, creative, and clear-headed.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. I'm trying not to go to bed! But I suppose I should because my bus leaves at 8:35 AM. I'm just spending a day and night in Edinburgh because Laura's sister Becca has come all the way up from Derbyshire to celebrate her birthday. Happy birthday, Becca! This is a birthday-heavy time of year. Since the new year, it's been Jo's birthday, my birthday, and Pip's birthday. It was Becca's actual birthday a few days ago, and on Monday it's Marianne's birthday. Then some other people were born the next week (I don't personally know of any but probability points to yes), so it's all of their birthdays. In fact, that could very well be true of every day! Holy shit, that's a lot of birthdays!

My first week of class went pretty smoothly. I'll tell you all about it when I get back on Sunday, because right now I need to get some sleep!

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