Tuesday, May 31, 2005


In one of my first non-mandatory ventures outside the flat since becoming ill, 10 minutes ago I was standing in a liquor store in high heels.

There's not even an amusing story leading up to it. I couldn't find my shoes anywhere and I had to pick up some stuff for Natalie, who came over tonight to cook a massive dinner. I saw the high heels (left by David when he visited) and knew what I had to do. When I got there, I realized I didn't have my wallet so I had to wait for Rosie to bring me some money. In the meantime, the gay boy in high heels tried to make small talk with the staff at Victoria Wine.

"At least I brought my passport!" I offered.

"Yeah," replied the guy behind the counter, staring at my shoes.

"Last time I was here, they wanted to see my passport and I had to go all the way back home and get it," I explained. I even laughed to indicate that this information was supposed to be amusing.

"Okay," he mumbled.

"Whatever, bitch! You don't know what I've been through in these heels! I've killed a man!" I didn't say that. We stood there in silence for 100 years, which was actually like five minutes. We cleared our throats periodically. It was like that.

I didn't even get Natalie's stuff when Rosie got there. She didn't have enough money. So we ran out of the liquor store and made a break for the flat. Well, Rosie got out quite speedily, and I awkwardly limped out of the shop behind her. How do women do it?

Monday, May 30, 2005

I'll get out more soon

Today saw my one and only exam for the semester, and now it's actually all over. It was very anticlimactic. The first essay question was about defining art cinema, and for the second one I defend the statement that Three Colors: White is a comedy. I thought it was really easy, which it could have been because it's only a second-year course, or maybe I didn't answer the questions thoroughly enough. Either way is possible.

I'm still feeling like crap. My throat is killing me. Waking up at 7 AM for this exam was the hardest thing about it. I've spent all weekend lying on the couch recovering instead of at the library. Consequently I have spent far too much time watching Big Brother, not just the show but the live feed which is broadcast for six hours every day. I don't watch all six hours! But I watch some of them...is that really, really terrible? I think it might be.

I remember being really into The Real World and realizing that the fundamental flaw of the show is how little material it actually shows you. To fit anything interesting into 20 minutes a week, it has to be edited to death and that's why the title has always been a lie. Big Brother is the perfect solution! That is, if you happen to be fascinated by conversations between strangers who have been forced to live with each other, which I don't know why I am.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kids say the darndest things

An interesting thing happened to me today. Ballal and I were walking down the street, holding hands for some reason, and we crossed the street in front of this minivan with a couple of kids in the backseat. One of them was a little girl, she couldn't have been more than 10 years old, and when we passed by, she announced disgustedly, "Poofs!" (That's British for "fag.")(Incidentally, "fag" is British for "cigarette." But Ballal and I are not cigarettes -- we're homos.)

I actually couldn't believe it. I was going to make some joke about how funny it would be if this little girl said something like that when we walked by, and then she actually did! Ballal and I didn't stop walking, but he yelled back, "Fuck you, bitch!" It crossed my mind that that might have been a bit harsh, until I heard her high-pitched voice behind us screaming, "COME BACK HERE AND SAY THAT, YOU BASTARD! FUCKING POOFS!"

It's so wrong, but I couldn't help laughing. A lot. I shouldn't have, because that little girl has already become a nasty human being before reaching her teens, and it isn't her fault, really. It's chilling because it reminded me that kids really do just imitate the adults around them, and if those adults happen to suck, a kid has no idea it's being messed up. I mean, it's not like this little girl is in any way informed enough to have developed her own opinions about homosexual lifestyles. If anything, at her age, doesn't the idea of man-woman sex gross her out as much as a good swordfight between male lovers?

That little girl's mother was driving. How come she was okay with all this? Did she turn around in her seat and say anything to her daughter? "Well done, sweetheart! You really showed those fucking benders!"

Kids. You gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sick night

Rosie and I are watching a progam called Dolphin Murder Mystery. I was hoping it was like a Hercule Poirot type show but it's actually a documentary about these dolphins who attack their own babies and toss them around in the air. I saw something like that on the BBC's Blue Planet, where these killer whales were torturing a baby whale and tossing it around for fun. Well, I can only assume it was fun because they didn't even eat it afterward.

We also watched a show called Teenagers From Hell, a documentary program about out-of-control teens who set each other's hair on fire and drive buses into houses and things like that. It was actually pretty sad -- there was one kid (the one who had his friends set his hair on fire for fun, and videotape it) being interviewed with his mom, and they watched the video footage while his mom cried and yelled at him, "What's wrong with you? Why would you do something like this?" Then, to the camera: "Christ, he's so fucking stupid." The kid just sat there like a lump with his mouth hanging open and not saying anything. It was tragic. Not the cheeriest night of television ever.

Sitting here in the, er, sitting room, I'm not terribly cheerful either. I've come down with some sort of virus which is causing every muscle and joint in my body to scream with pain and my head hurts like a motherfucker and I keep feeling like I'm going to pass out and movement of any kind is just excruciating. Uggghhhh. Iain came over to go dancing with me, but now he's stuck watching TV with me for the night instead. Ha, ha, ha! At least I can drag someone else's night down with me! No, I'm kidding. It's nice to have company, though.

Now we're watching a program about the top 20 UK Big Brother contestants ever in honor of the new series starting this week. I've never seen Big Brother in America, but isn't it kind of a national joke how boring it is? Anyway, basically every celebrity in Britain came from Big Brother, so it's a different kind of thing over here.

As I'm watching all this "best of" footage, I can feel myself being sucked in. I'm also fantasizing about being selected for the new Big Brother, especially since it coincides exactly with the end of the school year. I could have applied, been selected, finished university as normal, then spent the summer in the Big Brother house! After all, my visa doesn't run out until October 31st. And my status as a gay American would virtually guarantee me a spot on the show! The producers would be fools to pass up such potential conflict. My underdog/fish-out-of-water situation would certainly lead to a win, and I would use my prize money to buy Martin Freeman and make him my personal love slave even though he looks like a Muppet.

It's this kind of daydreaming, or crying over my aching head!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Earl of Manwich

Today, Louis and I had a mission: he had read in Attitude that there was a gay sandwich shop somewhere in Aberdeen and we were determined to find it. I don’t know how a sandwich shop can be gay. Maybe they only serve sandwiches with salami in them. We just had to find out.

Louis didn’t have an actual copy of the magazine which might have helped us find out where it was located, but he remembered it was on Market Street somewhere. So that’s where we started looking. Market Street is pretty unremarkable sandwich shop-wise. The only specifically sandwich-oriented shop was a hole-in-the-wall called “The Earl of Sandwich.” Since there didn’t appear to be room for a dance floor inside, we figured it wasn’t possible it was what we were looking for.

We continued down Market Street keeping a sharp eye out for such colors as purple or pink. Each pub we passed, we peered inside looking for drag queens or leather daddies enjoying the best gay sandwiches in Aberdeen. But we had no luck. So we continued past the docks into a more industrial part of town. We were still hopeful because, after all, we all know that sailors love a bit of cock now and then. At least, this is something I’ve always prayed for believed.

Our search turned desperate as we began asking randoms on the street if they knew of any gay sandwich shops in the area. None of them did. We were forced to conclude that we had gone too far and passed it already.

We ended up giving the Earl of Sandwich a second chance. After all, as we noticed this time around, the guy working there was wearing a bright pink shirt.

“Do you have any sandwiches you would describe as...gay?” I thought it would be best to be as direct as possible. “What do you think is the gayest sandwich you have?”

To his credit, the guy didn’t seem fazed at all. “Well, there’s a lesbian who comes in here a lot, and she always orders one with salami on it. Funnily enough.”

“Are you aware that this establishment is listed in Attitude magazine as gay? You’re running a gay sandwich shop here, is that right?”

“I didn’t know that. We do have a lot of lesbians coming in here, though. Maybe we are gay.”

“Do you realize you’re wearing a pink shirt? Don’t you think that’s a little gay?”

He didn’t. But it was.

Louis and I talked to him for a little while as he made our gay sandwiches. I decided I would have whatever the lesbian was having. The guy had a question for us gays: “So, what’s the male equivalent of a faghag?”

Um...a fag?

“No, I mean I have a lot of lesbian friends. Like, A LOT. Do you know if there’s a name for someone like me?”
Though we failed in solving this man’s identity crisis, the sandwiches were yummy, and “coincidentally” quite phallic. They tasted pretty gay to me. The Earl of Sandwich was not the replacement for Oh Henry’s Louis and I were hoping for, but at least we know where all the lesbians in Aberdeen are getting their sandwiches.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dublin pictures

Laura and I brought the wacky to Dublin thanks to some handy props supplied by Dublinia at Christchurch.

Here is me being my usual supermmodel self outside Stephen's Green.

The original St. Patrick's Cathedral! When my family used to go to church, we went to St. Patrick's in Seattle. There's a bit of trivia for you in case you're ever on a game show and they have a round of questions about me.

Mmmmm, Guinness. Here are Laura's and my complimentary Guinnesses settling at the Gravity Bar. I liked my pint so much, I was inspired to do this.

The River Liffey, running through the middle of the city.

I stole this picture from Laura. I think she took it at like 5 AM when she was catching the bus to go to the airport. The Millennium Needle isn't the most innovative structure around, but it sure looks pretty here.

During my day on my own, I was cool enough to stand outside the building where the Book of Kells is. That's what I like to do when I visit a city: find the interesting stuff and stand outside the building.

Real live cricket!

The real reason I hung out in the National Gallery of Ireland for hours and hours.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I heart Eurovision


Moldova's drumming grandma was also even better the second time around.

Javine performed second and wasn't great. I didn't want to touch her vagina fire at all. And I'm pretty sure she forgot the words at one point. Does she world need a less curvy and more toothy version of Beyonce? I'm not convinced. I know I was sold a few days ago, but after seeing all these entries that incorporate aspects of their culture into their performance, Javine's floor-humping is a lot less impressive.

21:16. Here is another reason why Eurovision is the most amazing television event in human history: Bosnia-Herzegovina's entry is a girl group called Feminnem. I was hoping they would rap or something, but ABBA imitations are good too.

Spain's entry is pretty much "Las Ketchup: The Revenge."

23:32. Wow, we lost soooooo hard. The results portion of the show took forever but I was still glued to the screen. They went to live representatives from each of the 39 voting European countries and added up the points very, very slowly. Language barriers provided instant comedy, or rather everyone tried to speak English for some reason and that provided instant comedy. I asked Rosie, Jo, and Iain why the whole show is presented in English and they were like, "Because otherwise we would have to read subtitles!" It was an attitude that made me feel very at home.

Yeah, NOOOOOBODY voted for us. We had zero points for the longest time, and then we finally got a few votes from Ireland (though I can't imagine why). Battling for the top spot at various points were Malta, Romania, Switzerland, Latvia, and Greece (who actually ended up winning, yawn). I knew Javine sucked ass. Damn you, surnameless witch!

Javine totally disappeared after the show, and when the UK correspondent finally tracked her ass down she was bitching about how the vote was obviously political and she was going to start recording her album in a few days anyway: "It'll be nice to be doing something real," she diva-ed. HA, HA. Where has she been for the last hour? Getting hammered? Touching her fire? Voting for herself with a foreign mobile?

The Norwegian glam rockers were totally trashed by the post-show and started licking the interviewer's feet. They took her shoes off first, though. I don't know why that makes it better that they were violating her on national television, but she didn't seem to mind, so whatever.

I'm so sad I'm not going to be here for Eurovision 2006.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Welcome to Eurovision!

Oh my god. I have just discovered what may be the best thing about living in Europe, and it is called EUROVISION. I had heard about this phenomenon before coming here but I did not fully understand the implications. Imagine an entire continent coming together every year to compete in a pop song contest highlighting the very best shit pop music each country has to offer!

British Laura came over tonight and the Eurovision semi-finals happened to be on TV, so she and Rosie and I totally made an evening of it. Basically, each European country comes up with an original song entry, and they all come together somewhere (this year, Kiev) and battle it out! It’s kind of like a train wreck, except nobody gets seriously injured!

This year the UK is being represented by a Popstars reject called “Javine,” whose breasts fell out of her dress when she accepted the nomination. No, seriously. She is singing a song of her own composition entitled...wait for it...“Touch My Fire.” It’s really, really bad in a good sort of way, not unlike Tyra Banks’s non-smash “Move Your Body.” At least Tyra’s request that I move my body was somewhat straightforward. What exactly is this “fire” Javine wants me to touch? Is it her vagina? Or something more metaphorical? Perhaps the answers to such mysteries will be unveiled if she wins. Go, Javine! You have my vote, girlfriend!

Actually, she doesn’t have my vote. Eurovision prohibits voting for your own country, which is a pretty good idea. (Because integrity is such an essential element of this contest.) Did you know Celine Dion won Eurovision in 1988? I would like to know what country she was representing. Isn’t she Canadian? Just because she speaks French doesn’t make her European, you know.

We didn’t get to see Javine compete tonight because the UK, along with some other countries, automatically went through to the finals for some reason. Laura and Rosie didn’t know either, but I guess that means I’ll have no choice but to watch the finals on TV this Saturday. I guess I can live with that, by which I mean you will not be able to pry me from the television with a crowbar that night.

Tonight’s travesties of musical expression included entries from Portugal, Latvia, Belgium, and Estonia. Especially Estonia. Estonia’s entry was performed by a teen girl group called Suntribe, each of the five members standing in front of their own rainbow-colored turntable and pretended to spin a record back and forth with no apparent result once in a while like they were DJs or something. Likewise, the duo from Latvia pretended to play guitars for half a song, but cast them off to perform their lyrics in sign language while the guitar music mysteriously continued.

And oh my god Portugal was THE SUCK.

On the other hand, I was a big fan of Romania, Iceland, Moldova, and Norway. Moldova’s entry involved an old woman dancing around with a large drum, and as for Norway, well, I always knew glam rock wasn’t dead. Either that, or it just arrived there and the Norwegians thought they were being “hip.” Whatever, they rocked!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I'm boring now

It’s really weird not having any kind of structure dictating what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I got back pretty early on Monday, but slept most of the day because I stayed up all night at the Dublin hostel the night before. There wasn’t even a good reason for it, I just couldn’t sleep until 4:30 AM and then I decided it wasn’t worth it because I would have had to wake up to go to the airport at 5:30 AM anyway.

On Tuesday I watched That 70s Show for eight hours straight. Rosie bought the first season on DVD. Dear lord that was a good day, although I felt pretty useless afterward. Rosie remedied that by renting The Spongebob Squarepants Movie for us later in the evening.

Today I went to the library and watched The Sacrifice, which was absolute torture, and rented 12 Angry Men, Big, All the Real Girls, Broadway Danny Rose, and Live Flesh. They have an amazing selection of films in the library and I’m determined to watch a good number of them before I head home. There are so many great movies I can’t believe I haven’t seen. That’s mainly what I’m going to be up to for the next few weeks, I think.

I’m boring now.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Eric in Dublin

Oops, I was bad. Very, very bad. I said I would be visiting another member of the United Kingdom when I went to Dublin and that was wrong. I feel like it’s extra bad to make a mistake like that when there’s such turmoil surrounding the division between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The worst part is that I realized this just as I left the flat to go to the airport, and I thought, I am going to get some emails about this one.

Now that that’s out of the way, Dublin. It was awesome, of course. It’s a great city, albeit one that evidently does not believe in street signs or having streets names remain constant for more than a few blocks. This would normally have made the city a nightmare to navigate for visitors like me and American Laura (who met me there), but luckily the River Liffey runs right through the middle of the city so we could always use that to orientate ourselves.

Dublin, for some reason, was one of those cities that instantly made me think I would have enjoyed studying abroad there. I felt that way about Germany as a country, but none of the specific cities I visited there appealed to me in that way. Maybe I just really liked the Irish people. For a start, they were weirdly helpful and offered me and Laura directions whenever we looked lost or confused. And the barmaid at the Guinness Storehouse spontaneously offered to fill our water bottles. Hey, it’s the little things that count.

Speaking of which, the Guinness Storehouse! That was some fun. It was basically a museum/shrine devoted to Guinness. A seven-story museum/shrine, yo. And there’s a bar at the top with glass walls and a spectacular view of the city, where you can enjoy your complimentary pint of Guinness (if by “complimentary” you mean “included in the ticket price,” but still).

Laura and I tried to see most of the city on foot, and hit the major points of interest on the tourist map, such as Oscar Wilde’s house, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, St. Stephen’s Green, and Dublin Castle (although we didn’t actually go inside because we both hate guided tours and they wouldn’t let you walk around and see it on your own. Damn you, Dublin Castle!). Through it all, I couldn’t help noticing that Irish guys, and their accents, are super duper sexy. I’m just letting you know in case you’re a filthy, filthy whore like me.

Laura had arrived in Dublin a day earlier than me, and I stayed a day longer than her. Surprisingly, I spent my day solo at the National Gallery of Ireland, of all places. I wouldn’t really call myself an art lover mostly because the only sedative more powerful on me than an art gallery is church. But I spent about three hours in this one without feeling the urge to do something else. I also went to Trinity College and saw a cricket game, and the outside of the building where they keep the Book of Kells (I couldn’t afford the €6.50 entrance fee even if I wanted to -- in fact, I was so strapped for cash that I could only afford digestives to eat all day).

That night, instead of going out on the town by myself, I hung out in the hostel with a bunch of Australians. It reminded me that I actually do like meeting and getting to know new people no matter how convinced otherwise I am. They had been hanging out at the hostel for two weeks -- they were originally only going to spend a few nights there, but their wallets got stolen so now they couldn’t afford to do anything but kill time until their flight back to England (they were studying abroad as well).

In fact, there was something of an epidemic of thievery at this hostel. Laura and I had two jars of sauce and six cans of beer stolen from us, and everyone we talked to seemed to have a story about their valuables being stolen while staying at this hostel, an alarming number saying they had been sleeping with their valuables in bed with them at the time they were stolen. The night I hung out in the lobby with the Australians, a group of kids from Poland who had arrived that night were freaking out because their passports and wallets had been stolen by someone who snuck into the building. Scary stuff.

I was very fortunate and had nothing stolen from me during my stay in Dublin. The trip was a really nice way to reward myself for finishing up the semester as differently as possible from last semester (i.e. not failing my ass off), and of course I got to see my beloved Laura, so that was all good.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

School's out...forever?

Finally, I’ve completed and handed in my very last essay for the University of Aberdeen, and maybe my very last essay for any university anywhere. My advisor at UW tells me there’s a good chance this year will take care of my last remaining credits, despite the fact that I spent half of it tooling around with the history department. I’m not entirely convinced it’s going to work out that nicely, but it feels nice to have actually accomplished something for my degree while I’ve been over here.

I even made an effort not to torture myself during the process of cranking out this essay (“The Road to Maleville: Rediscovered Masculinity in Fight Club and Cast Away.” Yes, it’s another winner). Not only did I turn it in a day early, and not only did I not stay up all night the night before (though it was quite close), but I had made an effort to undermine my terrible eating habits last time I went to the grocery store so there was very little junk food to gorge myself on, as I traditionally do in an attempt to guilt myself into productivity. I still nipped off to the kitchen every 15 minutes to stuff my face, but it was on things like bananas, brussel sprouts, and whole grain bread.

It’s not like I turned my essay in a day early because I’m a really good student or anything. The bastard is actually due tomorrow, but in about 16 hours I’ll be on a flight to Dublin to meet up with American Laura and cross another member of the United Kingdom off my list. It’s looking doubtful that I’ll be able to make it to Wales before I leave, though. Still, Dublin! Yes!

So that’s nearly it for me and the University of Aberdeen. This is the final week of the semester, and my last class was on Tuesday. After a final exam for European Cinema on the 30th, well, school’s out. It’s just me and whatever I want to do for the next five weeks.

In one of my more bizarre attempts at putting off working on my essay, I decided to make Rosie instruct me on waxing and we removed the hair from part of my leg. That shit is painful. And now I have a stupid-looking bald patch on my calf.

Just in case you were sitting there wondering, “What is the weather like in Aberdeen this time of year?” I’m going to tell you. It’s hot. Seattle hot. Like not actually hot, but enough to remind me that warm weather makes me grumpy. Living in an arctic hellhole like Aberdeen occasionally fools me into thinking I’d looooove to live somewhere tropical and sunny. But it’s all a lie! Oh, and remember in the winter when the sun started going down at 2 PM? Now the opposite is starting to happen: the sun comes up freakishly early and doesn’t go down until fairly late at night. I disagree with this because it makes me feel like I should be productive for longer. But it’s nice because it reduces the chance of vampire attacks.

Also, David is going SIFFing without me and for this he shall pay with his life.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Straight dancin'

After talking on the phone with Luke, I went out dancing with Iain. It was Saturday night, but we were determined to have a totally sober and cost-free night if we could manage it. The gay bar charges an entrance fee on Saturday nights, so we knew we were going to a straight club. We found a good one on Union Street and hung out there for the night. It was one of the better nights I’ve had out in Aberdeen.

The thing is, Iain is very tall and intimidating. So I felt much less threatened than I usually do in heterosexual clubs. We just wanted to dance, dance, dance. And that’s what we did! We found a nice spot on the dance floor and boogied on down for three hours or so. The music was much better than the gay bar, which is true almost anywhere, but this place played “Superstitious” (Stevie Wonder!) and “Galvanize” (Chemical Brothers!) and that’s all that matters to me.

It sure isn’t all that mattered to anyone else -- news spread like wildfire among the straight folk that a couple of Gays had entered the building. I like how they know we fancy other men, but somehow also believe we are blind and/or stupid and don’t realize they’re totally talking about us. Someone would be staring, and then say something to their friend, who would “inconspicuously” look over their shoulder to get a look at us.

It was just funny, really. Nobody tried anything mean, they were just really obvious about the whole staring and telling a friend thing. I wonder what they were saying. “What? There’s...really? In here? Wait, let me look. I’ll just pretend to be looking around and... Oh my god, you’re right. What are we going to do? We could probably take the little Asian one, but the big one won’t go down without a fight.”

There was also a group of girls who drunkenly draped their bodies all over us and slurred, “I know you’re gay... That’s cool...” Then they seemed to get upset that Iain and I weren’t engaging in anal sex on the dance floor, and yelled, “YOU’RE NOT VERY PASSIONATE, ARE YOU?” Then they found some straight boys to freak and didn’t pay attention to us after that.

Apart from people generally behaving as though Iain and I were space aliens, it was a really, rea

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I love you so much I want to barf

I was hanging out with Ballal and Iain at my flat tonight when Luke called. Rosie answered and said it was for me, but I wasn’t expecting anything international or anything. It’s always nice to know someone on the other side of the planet was thinking of me.

Luke is in Seattle at the moment, visiting his family and mine. He’s been hanging out with David and they also spent some time at my parents’ house. Even more surreal, David had the opportunity to meet some of Luke’s siblings! That’s just the weirdest thing to me. There are some serious worlds colliding here. What’s going to happen when the Rogge and Wanagel family trees meet properly for the first time? Will the laws of physics still apply?

Anyway, that’s not the point. Luke was just telling me about all this fun he’d been having, talking about people and places I miss, and I totally felt like throwing up. I really wanted to be like, “Yeah! Cool! That sounds like fun! Wish I could have been there! You kids don’t have too much fun without me!” I tried saying those things but eventually I couldn’t say anything because my stomach had turned upside down. (Not literally, of course. Otherwise this entry would have been titled, “Surgery I had today.”)

It wasn’t jealousy that they were having fun without me. It was weirder than that -- I was hurt they were even existing without me. It hurt not to be there with them, I missed them so much. The thing is, a lot of the time the only way to wrap my mind around this year is to convince myself the rest of my life is on hold until I get back. Like it’s a film I spent 21 years watching, and paused so I could go to Scotland and make a sandwich. I think you know what I mean.

It just reminded me that everyone I know still exists and I realized that everyone must be so used to me being gone -- just like I got used to being away from them. But that’s starting to change, as I close in on my departure date and I’m torn between feelings of “hurry up!” and “slow down!” I miss my family, I miss Seattle, I miss UW, I miss sunlight that isn’t accompanied by hailstones. I miss Luke. I miss Luke so much I heard his voice and wanted to barf.

When we get married, I’m going to put that in my wedding vows.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Missing SIFF

Ahh! The 2005 Seattle International Film Festival is coming up and for the first time since 2001, I’m not going to be there! If this had occurred to me before I signed up to study abroad, I would have thought twice about the whole damn thing. (I still would have done it, but the important thing is that I would have thought about it twice.)

I know from Moviepie that the official SIFF ’05 schedule came out in the paper today, but I’m too disappointed to even take a peek at the website. SIFF is one of my favorite times of year -- about a month long, day after day of going to independent and/or foreign films. One, two, or even three movies a day sometimes. It’s heaven. It always takes place at the end of spring quarter, which is when I ought to be working the most, but I don’t care. I have priorities. SIFF is my lover. And this year I must leave her unfulfilled.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Who am I?

Living in the UK for almost eight months now, I’ve starting paying attention to the different ways and occasions I think of myself as either American or British. Case in point: Rosie and I were watching something called Welcome to Fatland on TV the other day. It was a documentary program about five obese Brits sent on vacation to a Mexican resort catering to overweight people: wider beds, bigger showers, reinforced furniture, fat staff, etc.

The first half of the program was just about how these people found the resort and the ways it differed from typical resorts. Then they introduced this woman named Marilyn something-or-other, an American woman who gives talks on acceptance and self-esteem to fat people. She was going to lead group sessions with the British people about learning to accept their bodies and love themselves the way they are. You know, blah blah blah.

Marilyn was really hard to watch. She was so...wait for it...AMERICAN. Even the accent sounds funny to me now when I’m not expecting it. But it wasn’t just that. She was like a cartoon of the American stereotype, so peppy, so enthusiastic, so energetic. And, of course, she was fat. The British people just didn’t get her at all. In the interviews, they were like, “I don’t think this workshop is something I would benefit from. She’s nothing like us. Her methods do nothing for me.” I was with the Brits -- I didn’t get her. But I recognized the type with a clarity that only made watching her more painful.

An example: Marilyn explained that she doesn’t believe in weighing herself, she believes in...wait for it again...YAY-ING HERSELF. She brought out a bright pink scale with the word “YAY!” painted on it, and she had each member of the group “YAY” themselves. Please believe me when I say I am not making this up: instead of the dial spinning around to a certain number, it spins around to a complimentary word, such as “sexy,” “wonderful,” or “fantastic.” So these Brits would get on the scale one at a time and Marilyn would be like, “See that? You’re beautiful! Way to go! Good job! Who’s next?” She spoke in a tone of voice I used to believe only came out of cheerleaders.

Then, at Marilyn's "Flirting Workshop," she announced that the first thing everyone would need to do if they were going to practice flirting was to be comfortable looking silly. So Marilyn put her hands upside down over her face (you know, with the eyeholes and everything) and sang a children's song in a funny voice. The Brits were absolutely stone-faced. "Did I look silly? Good! Now you try it!" At that point there was a little mutiny and the group told Marilyn she had totally lost them. Then Marilyn cried and talked about her feelings for like a year.

It was kind of like seeing yourself on video and thinking, Oh my god...THAT’S what I look like? Being removed from American culture for so long, I’m surprised at all the things I used to take for granted, like Marilyn, and fake politeness, and cheerleaders. Yes, cheerleaders are real! I have explained this many a time to an open-mouthed Rosie and her friends.

Sometimes I see American guests interviewed by British talk show hosts, and I go back and forth and back and forth identifying with the Americanness and Britishness on display. It’s also interesting because I can see where stereotypes (sometimes fair, sometimes unfair) of America and Americans are perpetuated by the aspects of it that reach Britain.

Eek, this is just too much to tackle in one blog entry. I’ll have to elaborate some other time! All I can tell you is, I am 100% sure I am American when I hear a British person pronounce “lieutenant.” That shit is just wrong, yo.

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