First, I tried to do a Best/Worst of 2008, but honest to goodness, I couldn’t think of anything for the Worst part. Either there isn’t anything major, or I’m just blocking it out – regardless, I’m not going to think on it too much further because it ultimately means I had a pretty good 2008. The best of the best for 2008 are definitely:
*A summer in London and a month in California.
*Last Saturday night: Seven solid hours of eating really good food, laughing til I cried, holding precious baby boys in santa suits, playing Harry Potter Clue, Partini, Guitar Hero and MonkeyBall, and generally being boisterous with my best friends until the wee hours of the morning. You know you have the right group of friends when seven hours feels like one.
*This Christmas. It was a really great one.
*Getting my masters. I think back to a little over a year ago when I was still working, and it feels like a totally different life. And I like this one much better. So even if the very next job I get isn’t exactly what I want, it still means that grad school was the right decision, and that makes me very proud of/happy for myself.
Next up, some family shenanigans. I know I talk a lot about wanting to move out… and I do. But it should be known that I do laugh a lot with my parents. Here are a couple of stories:
*If you’ve spent any considerable amount of time with me, chances are you’ve heard me recall the occasion when my dad was trying to build a fire and something wasn’t going to his liking, so he grumbled to himself “Oh, balls”. And then I laughed for about half an hour. And I’m laughing right now as I’m typing this. I’m pretty sure this incident was about two years ago and I still laugh my ass off every time I think about it… Well, it turns out this little incident has a Benson family history. Apparently the phrase originated with my grandfather, who crafted it in an effort to stop cursing (because he thought it would be a bad influence on the boys). My dad said that the first time his dad used it, he had the exact same reaction I did. I’m glad to see the sense of humor runs in the family. I hope the guy I marry is willing to carry on this phrase. It might be a dealbreaker otherwise. Also, I joke that sometimes I have the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy and turns out, it’s actually true.
*My mother may be one of the sweetest women on the planet. She is so nice and polite and accomodating..and then you have my dad and I. Our favorite game is to tease her and joke around and try and get her to stoop to our mean, crass level...and then when she does, turn on her and act all sad and accuse her of being the mean one in the family. We pretend to comfort each other because we live in a house that is ruled by a tyrannical woman. I don’t know why she still talks to us.
*From the previous stories you can see that my dad and I are quite often in cahoots and guilty of ganging up on my mom, it’s true. She even gets the short end of the stick, even when we don’t mean to. The morning of Thanksgiving, I woke up and came downstairs, made myself a bagel and sat down on the couch in between Parker and my Mom…and then accidentally spilled my plate onto the floor. I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that I went by the five second rule – I inspected it for any major damage, which it had none, and then put it back down and started to watch the Macys Day Parade. After a few minutes I pick up the bagel, take a bite, and then, thinking I’m being a sweet, loving daughter, ask my mom if she wants any. She says yes thank you, and as I hand it to her she takes a comedically perfect pause and says, with just the right amount of sarcastic skepticism and timid emotion, “…is this the half that fell on the floor?”
Finally, I was bored out of my mind and was trying to continue the trend of Laura-izing pop-culture things you already know. So you’re going to suffer through my version of iTunes’ Celebrity Playlist. For the record, if I was a celebrity, I would be dating John Krasinski (or Seth Meyers, the guy from Chuck, or Demitri Martin).
Narcolepsy – Third Eye Blind: Yes, go ahead and laugh. This album just reminds me of the 90s and freshman year of high school, and I don’t know, I find it catchy. And the lead singer is hot. Also remember on Road Rules when they had to do a PSA for suicide and they used the song “Jumper”, and they showed it at a Third Eye Blind concert? How deliciously 90s. I miss those RR/RW days.
Love Soon – John Mayer: Old School JM, and it’s sweet and it reminds me of freshman year of college when I first started listening to him. I saw him twice that year, once at Roanoke College with KK and Matt, and again at WVU when Nikki and I got his autograph after the show…and we stayed wth Brian Haas. You gotta love it.
Say It To Me Now - Glen Hansard: (from the Once soundtrack) Moving away from the nostalgia trend, the way Hansard sings this is hearbreakingly wonderful. The whole soundtrack is great, but this one easily stands out as my favorite. I was watching the movie and upon hearing it, I immediately made a mental note to find it and download it, and couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the film.
Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi: Do I have to explain this one? I don’t think I should have to. If this song doesn’t instantly make you happy, you have some issues my friend.
Good Lovin’ – The Rascals: If I didn’t have my own personal ban on karaoke, I think this would be my song of choice.
Just Watch The Fireworks – Jimmy Eat World: One of my favorite bands, this is off their Clarity album, which many would agree is their best. I’ve seen Jimmy Eat World once before, and it was amazing but it was right when they were promoting their Futures album so there wasn’t a lot of room for songs from Clarity. They are actually playing Clarity in its entirety at 930 Club next year sometime, and it’s already sold out. I want to go so very badly.
OK, It’s Alright With Me – Eric Hutchinson: A new favorite! Great voice with a little edge to it. The whole album (Sounds Like This) is great, but this is a standout. This one and Rock & Roll, I recommend highly!
And anything by Huey Lewis. I don't know why I love him so much. But I really, really do.
So there you have it, my thoughts. Long and generally lacking substance. That's what she said?
So, I saw roughly three hundred movies this week. Or five. But still! Five! Three of them being new ones, and the other two being Michael Clayton and P.S. Bonus for me, almost all of them had cute boys: Paul Rudd, Daniel Craig (the body and the accent, not so much the face..sorry Daniel), George Clooney and Topher Grace!? Love it. Doubt...didn’t so much have the hotness factor, but that’s okay. My reviews other than the (shallow) latter? Of course, no need to ask!
1: Role Models. Hilarious. I have a gigantic crush on Paul Rudd, so I obviously enjoyed it. Plus he co-wrote it, so it increased said crush. Swooning over here. Um, anyway, putting aside my teeny bopper review, the movie was a great balance of heart and humor (regular and R-rated). I’d definitely see it again.
2: Quantom of Solace. It was…good. I dunno, I definitely liked Casino Royale better. But it wasn’t bad or anything. I just wasn’t ready to move to Britain and start kicking ass and taking names, like I was after Casino Royale.
3: Doubt. First of all, slightly annoyed that it apparently isn’t being released nationwide? So we (Tara and I) went to DC, specifically the E street theater in NW, to see it. But we made a whole day of it* so it was fun. Anyway, the movie. I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away. I was expecting to be emotionally bombarded with these heavy themes and tense scenes and it would be gripping and thrilling and all of that, and…I dunno, I didn’t feel all of that. There were actually funny moments. Didn’t expect that. I think it the movie could have been better…BUT the cast was really great. In that way, it was worth seeing.
Aaaand I’m not going to talk about Michael Clayton and P.S. because they both came out eight million years ago.
Finally, I am excited that Burn After Reading came out on DVD today. I wanted to see it in the theater but never did…thank goodness for Netflix, eh?
*Went to the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum and ate at the new Busboys and Poets on 5th & K. Good times!
PS: This post has no point. Also, can't wait to see the out-of-town CC loves soon!!!!!
Amalah = child-having shenanigans. Um, since I don’t have any to speak of, I can talk about the last time I was at Kelley’s. I was feeding Jack and was clearly not paying attention closely enough because all of a sudden Jack said “Auntie Laura, this formula that you think goes IN my mouth, actually goes all over my own face and your sweatshirt – let me show you!” and proceeded to regurgitate forumula in old-faithful-geyser-like proportions everywhere. My first baby-related stains, awwwww! Totally gonna tell him that story when he grows up, and he’ll be all like “Aunt Laura, you’ve told me this story like twenty seven times” (how funny that Jack will talk just like me) and I’ll say “I know but it’s just so cute and I remember when you were sooooooooooooo little” and then I’ll realize I’ve become my parents’ generation.
This one works for Cute Overload, too.
I'd like to give positivity a try, and push those other entries further down the page, so here is a post filled with happy things that make me (and maybe then you?) happy:
+When you grow up (only a little bit, it's still me, after all) you realize the things that really shaped you and mattered...I definitely think Girl Scouts was one of them. Maybe I could help lead a troop or volunteer in some other capacity...in any case, I think it'd be really fun to get back into working with them.
+These crazy kids:
They very much make me happy. Get to see them in two weeks. To be honest, events from the past three years** have kind of put a dark cloud over Christmas for me and I have NOT been looking forward to any of it...but I'm slowly coming around to being more excited, and it's completely because of those kids in the picture and their parents (The Parnham family, if you didn't already know that). We've been celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas together for about 15 years now and they are always the highlight.
+Tomrrow, I am turning in my final assignment as a graduate student. As soon as grades are posted...I will have a Master of Arts in Arts Management.
+Tara's boyfriend Brian is making Tara and I fancy food tomorrow to celebrate our completion of our MA program...we will eat said fancy food while watching The Office and 30 Rock and it will be glorious.
+Watched Iron Man tonight. Hadn't seen it before...thoroughly enjoyed it.
+Am so excited for/proud of Rosa. She got a totally cool and kickass job in NYC. Did exactly what she set out to do. Way to be.
+I've been spending almost all day everyday out of the house, because I can't get work done at home. So whenever I finally roll in at night and greet Parker, he gets kind of emotional and vocal about it....and then runs and gets a toy and acts all tough to compensate. It's adorable.
That's all for now....hopefully my positivity will translate to the rest of the world and good things will come my way and then I can inform you of (brag about??) them.
**not to ruin this upbeat post, but....last year: my maternal grandmother died and we spent Christmas and almost new years in the hospital, and it was our first Christmas without my fraternal grandmother (who passed in August of 07). The year before that my uncle died. The year before that my fraternal grandmother was in rare form and made me cry on Christmas Eve. AWESOME CHRISTMAS MEMORIES.
“Finding a job sucks! You know what I don't like? How everyone says, 'What you get your degree in really doesn't matter, it's the college education that counts.' Okay..but...that doesn't necessarily work when you're trying to find something right after graduation. You need EXPERIENCE in the field you're working in!! ... How can I get experience if I can't even get my foot in the door b/c my resume may not have all the qualifications they're looking for. I think I have them anyway! I'm a quick learner,and probably have one of the strongest work ethic's of people my age … Grrr! Oh well...we'll see what happens, I guess. But I don't think this is going to be an easy process for me.”
Same shit, different day.
In the meantime, check out this web site, We Feel Fine. You can pull up any country, city, state, town (you can look up Reston, even) and it pulls out things people are posting on the world wide web from that location, and gives you a reading of that location's "mood". Little snapshots of people's lives add up to a feeling (or two, or a million). I'm not sure I'm explaining it well...but it's a cool site to look around. Neat idea and a really nice design. http://www.wefeelfine.org/ Check it out.
PS I added more pictures to my Flickr! Pics from Thanksgiving (stolen from Taylor!) and Heather's wedding (stolen from a variety of places) can be enjoyed.
I probably worry too much about this, but I get nervous when I think about how we’re all taking different paths and to be REAL honest for the six people that read this, I sometimes feel like I’m stuck in neutral and it’s going to take a toll on the friendships. (begin psych note: being the youngest is a theme in my life and it bothers me and gets to me sometimes. End psych note.)
But then you have a day like yesterday and breath a sigh of relief. Rosa, Josh and I went out to Mike and Kelley’s. We all held Ryan and Jack for a long time, and talked about them and then moved into the kitchen to watch and help Kelley bake a cake for Mike’s birthday. We were standing in the kitchen and I realized, nothing was different other than the fact that there were babies in our arms. That’s obviously a huge and wonderful difference, but what I mean is the laughter and the conversation and the ease of friendship were all still there. Just like always.
“This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope.”
I really liked those parts, plus the whole thing.
Moving on, Questions and Answers:
Where have you been!? I know, I know. In addition to classes, work, and GAMS shenanigans, I’ve been busy! Monday night was the Skins game with Franklin, and we met up with none other than Lesley Longest! Tuesday, Lesley and her friend Casie wanted to sightsee, and I never turn down an opportunity to spend time in the city so I went with them. We went to Spices for lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon at the zoo! Wednesday, Tara and I skipped class and had a lovely dinner/bitchfest. I met up with the NEWLYWEDS Kevin and Sarai after work on Thursday for a little dinner and Grey’s Anatomy. Friday, I got to visit Kelley, Ryan, and Jack and HOLD RYAN (eeeeeeeee so tiny and precious), and then later helped host a student forum for my masters program, and tonight I’m going to a fellow student’s play on opening night.
You know who can sing well? Ray Lamontagne. Loving his new album.
Remember when I had that job that sucked? WELL LOOKY HERE, all my “hard” work finally paid off. That’s right. I’m listed as a Major Contributor for a government publication on transportation that approximately 25 people will ever look at. Jealous?!
What am I obsessed with? Nando’s Peri-Peri. New restaurant in Gallery Place. DELICIOUS.
You know what I need to stop doing? 1. Spending money. I have none. 2. I need to stop not having a job. 3. Saving pictures and things I work on to my desktop. I’ve got the picture of the CC on the stairs from Jean’s vow renewal, and all my icons cover up the faces of Meghan, Josh, and Dan. It’s not right.
What did I do two Friday’s ago? Quite a specific question, but thanks for asking! I went on a DC Ghost Tour with Tara and Brian. Oooooh! A fun, out-of-the-box evening. Also we had dinner at Nando’s Peri-Peri. GO THERE. NOW. So effing delicious.
This weekend turned out to be a crazy one, no? Friday afternoon your Aunt Meredith calls me and I’m expecting to hear some news about the baby shower we were throwing for your mom…which, technically, I did get. It was cancelled because, we got YOU instead!! Even though you were nine weeks early, it turned out to be such a good thing for so many reasons. Call it fate, a higher power, luck, science, nature, whatever….whoever or whatever was in control of the events this weekend brought their A-game, is what I’m saying.
Since a few more of your fake aunts and uncles were in town, we got to have a little reunion yesterday, which was oh so fun. It was the usual tomfoolery, which is to say: talking loudly and laughing even louder. You guys will soon experience this for yourselves, though not for a while. We’re gonna be on our best behavior around you two for a little bit.
Today I got to meet you guys! I have to say, you are unbelievably tiny and adorable and precious and perfect. Jack, I introduced myself to you and told you that I was the one that was going to give you and your brother all of the noisy toys, for which your parents will not like me very much. Ryan, I wanted to eat your little feet, that’s how cute they were. Tiny little baby finger and toenails AGH! Your cuteness is enough to drive a person mad, I think. Also, with your Redskins and VT blankets, you were by far the coolest babies in the NICU.
Anyway guys, we’re so glad to have you here. You have no idea how loved you are already. Also, get ready for a lifetime of your mom and dad’s friends doting on you.
LOTS of love,
(fake) Aunt Laura
I picked up this information from EW's Popwatch blog. First I would like to know from the ladies, did you have these dolls? I never really liked Samantha, because I thought she was spoiled, aka I was jealous. Of a fictional being. I had Molly and Felicity.
On a non-American girl related note, I (not so) secretly (anymore) want to be best friends with Michael Slezak and Annie Barrett. Is that okay with you? Anyway, EW also has their Must List, for which they are currently taking suggestions.
I can always tell when I'm getting in a bit of a funk because I will start wanting to consume. EVERYTHING. If I'm sad, my go-to-fix-it is consumption - namely, food and anything sold at Target. I'm at the point that I realize it and when I find myself itching and twitching for knick-knacks and candy, I do my best to dust myself off and pick myself up and other such sunshine-y cliches.
Rosa helped this past Saturday. After her peer pressuring/encouragement we resumed our butt-early-on-a-Saturday walks with Reston Runners. Firstly, can I say how ridiculous I feel everytime I mention that we do walks with Reston Runners? Obviously not ridiculous enough to start doing the running with them, but it always makes me feel a little bit lame even though it's still good for me. Anyhoodle. So we did our 3 mile walk in the bright sunshine that accompanied our 8am walk through North Reston, and it was lovely. The way my legs felt on Sunday was not so lovely, but ultimately it was still great and considerably picked up my spirits.
A few days later and any trace of motivation or confidence or lack-of-a-funk is gone. I can't seem to really throw myself out of whatever state it is I seem to have allowed myself to be in. What is so frustrating is that I KNOW I'm in one, I KNOW what it takes to get out of it, I KNOW how to do it....and yet, that's what I'm left with. What exactly is my problem that I can't get over whatever invisible hurdle is in front of me?
I believe it's this invisible hurdle I try to break down with manicure accessories, cheap sunglasses and gigantic fake leather bags. It doesn't work and here I am with an overflowing closet. Literally. If you could see my room right now it looks like Mt. Vesuvius erupted with Xhiliration.
What was I talking about? Oh, right. So anyway, I thought I should take a cue from fake best friends at EW and take a minute to ponder my own Must List (but less pop-culture-y than EW's). What I've always needed thus far and maybe what I need to keep moving forward.
2. A clean room. (Just because I know I need it doesn't mean I do it all the time...)
3. You know who you are.
4. Good music.
5. Fresh air.
What's on yours?
So. Last week. Last Saturday was Arts by George, a fundraising event thrown by CVPA. A bunch of us volunteered and had a pretty good time! Apparently MAM did well on the fundraising side, which is good to hear. Anytime an arts organization successfully raises money…it makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Especially if its an organization I’m involved in? Yes.
Tara and I were supposed to go to Crafty Bastards in Adams Morgan on Sunday, but we bailed due to weather concerns. I think it ended up being really nice, but I got to sleep in for a few more hours so I’m not too upset about it. Tara and I ended up having dinner at Vapiano Monday night, which was delish. Plus they have pretty decent happy hour so maybe we’ll try and make that a semi-regular thing.
Thursday night was…NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!!!! Missy and I met up and had some Five Guys for dinner then watched some kid as the pre-opening act, then Natasha Beddingfield as the opening act. NB was pretty good, I have to say. Great voice. Seems cool. Then came….NKOTB! Before the concert started I was sort of mocking the other girls who were already launching into the eardrum-shattering screams; but once the lights went out and the intro started…I became one of them. The whole thing was done so well. The guys were GREAT. They have definitely gotten better with age. They did all the classics, of course, and rocked their new stuff. Everybody in that arena was on their feet, dancing and singing along. And screaming. I went to bed with my ears ringing and a huge smile on my face.
Friday night I went to a networking event that GAMS set up with the arts management students at AU – held at the Jazz in the Sculpture Garden event. We had perfect weather and I was really happy with the turnout. The only bad part was there could have been more AU/MAM mingling, in my opinion. I understand though, and I’m a part of it too, because the girls that were there from our group hadn’t seen each other in a while so it was kinda nice to be able to catch up with each other. We’ll be establishing a good relationship with AU though, and so for our first event, I would absolutely consider it a success.
In other news, how the HELL is it already October?! Can someone tell me how that happened so quickly? I have been telling everyone that November is when I will start my serious job hunting…I can’t believe that that means NEXT MONTH. Especially since what I really want to find is an organization that promotes the usage of arts for development (cultural, global, social, economic, etc) and I haven’t really found too many of them. Development non-profits are easily found but I haven’t seen too many that use the arts. Except for CuDC. And they aren’t hiring right now. Maybe next month? Anybody have any ideas on this? As far as I can tell right now my options are 1) work for a different type of arts group or 2) work for a development nonprofit and forget about the arts part of it. I don’t want to choose between the two; I guess a third option would be to start something myself, but that’s a lot to consider for someone who has NO IDEA what they're doing. I wouldn't know where or how to start. YEESH.
Wedding #1 (or should I say vow renewal) was for Jean, so I got to reunite with some of the College Crew loves. The ceremony was great, highlighted by a superfantastic speech from Jean’s mom. The reception was fun, got to sit with the Greenspans at dinner, and then had a great time dancing and hanging out with everyone. Spent the rest of our time in Napa with Rich and Patti, our super-old-school-family friends. They have literally known me since I was born. My parents drove them to the airport about five minutes after my mom went into labor with me. (They had already promised to give them a ride, who were they to go back on their word?)
Once we got to Palo Alto to stay with the Scouffas fam (my godparents and fam), the fun didn’t stop! Lots of joking and laughing; just like old times…except I’m not six years old. Which, coincidentally, many people discovered during Heather’s wedding weekend. It’s kind of a weird dynamic. Everyone that I saw was still an adult, just as I perceived when I was little. But it’s different for everyone looking at me – there’s a big difference between six and 25. I know I don’t feel like I’m six anymore, but I don’t think I have any life experience to speak of that would qualify me as an adult, either. It’s a strange grey area. Regardless, I had an excellent time. I was glad KK and Dan could spend some time with them too. I like bringing the really important people in my life together. It’s more fun that way!
The wedding itself was amazing. I have never ever cried at a wedding, and I teared up five different times. During Shawn’s vows, during Heather’s, during the MOH’s speech, and then again during the “Best Man’s” speech (in quotes seeing as the Best Man didn’t deliver it, the other groomsman did). I don’t know what my problem was! But it really was a beautiful ceremony and then a really fun reception! Sadly the tambourine was not brought out – Heather had thought about bringing it but changed her mind. But that didn’t stop the fun! We danced until midnight then went back to the hotel for an after party that my godbrother Rick had set up as a surprise for Heather. I didn’t go to bed until 2:45am.
It’s all about your chosen families, people. It was so great to see the College Crew, who are the friends that we’ve been growing and nurturing since high school, middle school, and in some cases, elementary school. The godparents and their extended family are essentially my parents’ college crew, though they all started their friendships IN college. I really hope we all stay close and make the effort to stay friends because it’s definitely worth it, judging from my experience with my parents and my godparents. My two sets of parents can just sit around and not really do a whole lot but fill the time with talking, and LOTS of laughing about ridiculous things. Sound like any other group of friends you know??
*What 540 number called me at 4am last night?! Who are you?!
*Coming up: ARTS by George volunteering, Crafty Bastards with Tara, NKOTB! and more
The last two weeks: Work? Great. I really love it. I like working in Arlington and I get to play with office supplies. Classes? Meh, they’re classes. I’m going through grad school senioritis. I hear three weeks in California is a remedy for this. Friends? Got ‘em. Dinner and a movie with Kelley, dinner and a play at Woolly Mammoth with Tara, movie with Kevin and Sarai, dinner and football and movies with Jess and Franklin. Parker? Still defines cute.
Back in three. Weeks.
“I eat candy bars in sections. For example when I eat a Milky Way I first eat off the chocolate, then I eat the nougat and lastly I eat the caramel. My husband makes fun of me for this, but I think that it tastes better in sections.” (I have a weird way to eat most sweets. I try and stay away from them in general, but I do this with Twix, Kit Kat, or any of the various Little Debbie things. Of course I also eat Skittles and M&Ms in order of least to favorite colors. Skittles = Yellow, Orange, Purple, Green, Red. M&Ms = Brown, Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green. I also have to eat cupcakes or muffins by eating the bottom stem part first, then the top section. )
“I can’t open Pillsbury Pop n Fresh crescent rolls without holding it at arms length and turning my head squinting my eyes. With all that preparation, I still jump when it pops.” (Additionally, I am terrified of champagne bottle corks hitting me. I will not open champagne bottles, and I shield my eyes/head when someone opens one. Luckily I don’t have champagne in my life that often.)
“I have to have the programs running on my computer open in a certain order. If a program has to shut down for some reason and restarting it will put it in the wrong spot, I’ll close down the other programs to put it in the right order. I also do this with the tabs in my internet browser, certain sites have to be open in a certain order. If they are out of order I rearrange them to be correct." (I didn’t realize I did this one – but my Outlook has to be on the far left, then iTunes if it’s open, then my internet browser. I don’t care about the tabbed part of this one, though.)
“When I pause something on tv and someone’s face is on the screen, I have to make sure that they are wearing an attractive facial expression. If their face is all scrunched up or their eyes or closed or something, I have to play, pause, play, pause until they look nice.” (Haha, this one made me laugh – I do this too, I feel bad for the actor that I would leave them looking goofy)
“I am completely freaked out by lots of small holes in things. Like for example a tree trunk full of small holes all grouped together, or say lots of small holes across a lawn. Makes my skin crawl, and I can’t stop itching for ages afterwards.”
AGH THAT LAST ONE IS THE WORST.
Anywho. I love learning about other people's little quirks so this web site is endless amounts of fun - the comments section is also pretty entertaining.
PS - I would love to be in the car with this person: "While driving I must scream at the top of my lungs when any driver passes me on the right. " aaahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha
2. Went to the Skins v. Bills preseason game last Saturday with Chris and Dana who were nice enough to offer me an extra ticket. Of course I'm happy we won, but I was happier to finally spend some post-wedding time with Chris and Dana - I hadn't seen them since April at their wedding! Yeesh!
3. Since Monday marked the beginning of DC Restaurant week, Tara and I went to La Tasca (in Old Town) on Tuesday, and took advantage of their RW-Unlimited Tapas. YES. We were there for 2 glorious hours, it was fantastic.
4. Today...I got a phone call from none other than ROSA LEE!! She is back in the US of A! HOORAY!!!!! And I will get to see her and all of the glorious CC in 3 weeks. Cannot wait.
5. I got a job! It all came about because yesterday I had a meeting with Lori, the University Life coordinator at Mason's Arlington Campus. I've been meeting with her a lot since last semester, working with GAMS and what not. So as it turns out, they had an opening in their office for a student to come in about 10 hours a week for help with administrative stuff, event planning, etc, that kind of student activity-ish stuff. I'm gonna do it! I start next week!
6. Just because:
I got up on Thursday, had some coffee and read the sports section of the Post (full of Redskins info! LOVE IT!!!) then went to the gym for an hour. It actually felt really good to be back. I know, I can’t believe it either. We’ll see how long that feeling lasts. After the gym I came home and enjoyed a FANTASTIC shower in my own bathroom. It was nice to not have the water temp fluctuating about 20 degrees every 5 seconds (not really exaggerating here).
After a shower with one water temperature of my own choosing, I had some lunch and then snuggled into my bed to watch Anchorman. Since we spent the entire summer quoting it, it was great to finally be able to watch it again. After the majesty that is Ron Burgundy, I took a two hour nap. It was glorious.
Frank Benson made his incredible grilled salmon for dinner, and all was right with the world.
Friday I had every intention of going to the gym again – but lunch and a nap won out. Oh well. Friday night Meghan, Matt, Jess and I met up in Dupont for dinner and drinks. We went to La Tomate for dinner then headed down to Vapiano for a drink. Then we went back to Ben’s house (where Jess is staying for the summer) and met up with Franklin to watch Tivo’d SYTYCD episodes and have a few more drinks. An excellent evening all around.
Saturday I had a meeting with my GAMS officers, and was named President of GAMS! WOO! For those that don’t know, GAMS stands for Graduate Arts Management Society – it’s the official association of our degree program. So that was unexpected and exciting. It felt good to start making plans for the semester too, and talking about familiar things and people and all that.
That night my parents and I watched the Hall of Fame induction ceremony which, as a Redskins fan, was amazing. Not only for the honors that Darrell Green and Art Monk received, but also for the overwhelming boos that the crowd (mostly made up of Skins fans) gave Michael Irvin. HA! There’s no place or time or situation where we won’t show our hatred for that stupid team. I love it.
Sunday my parents and I went to Dulles Town Center to do a little shopping and I got 3 pairs of flats at Payless to replace the ones that got completely wrecked in London. I am in love with that city, but I wouldn’t call it clean. Anywho, spent the evening cheering on the Redskins as we watched the Hall of Fame game against the Colts. Honest to goodness, I really had that “first day of school” feeling watching the game; seeing all the familiar faces on the sidelines and on the field, and of course learning new names and numbers. And get this – WE WON THE GAME! HAIL!
Monday night I went to dinner with Tara and Mandy at the jazzy-fancy Panera in Fairfax and caught up with them. Today, my dad and I went to the Dominion Brew Pub for lunch, which is one of my favorite places to go. And tonight I had dinner with none other than our favorite mom-to-be, Kelley! It was lovely to see her, she looks amazing and I am so excited for those boys to come into the world.
Other little highlights of the week include: watching Arrested Development DVDs, not converting the time into 17 other time zones, not doubling the price of something to get the real price, and having Cherry Coke Zero back in my life. See, I said little.
I’ve been home for all of 14 hours, and slept for 8 of them. I came home, played with Parker for a while, talked to Frank and Blue, then went to bed. Of course I’m still on London time, so I woke up at 6:40am today. Yeesh. Can’t wait til that gets out of my system.
Little pleasures so far: Sleeping in my own big bed. Being connected to the internet ALL THE TIME – No more Pogolink!!!!!!!!! Using my cell phone. American dial tones. AIR CONDITIONING.
Today, Frank, Blue and I are going to Costco – jeebus, how much more American can you get than that, on my first full day back!? I love it. Then tonight, the one and only Sarah Nicole Lussier is coming over for dinner. We’re grilling out and eating dinner out on the back deck (if it cools down enough) – I am so excited.
Going back a few days: Monday was a pretty low-key day. I spent the morning and afternoon packing and doing laundry. Then I had lunch and watched two weeks worth of Daily Show episodes online. Liz and Laura came back in the late afternoon, so we caught up on their Irish adventures. At 7 we went and got dinner from Wagamama (yes, the third time in a week) and then saw the Dark Knight! It was so good! All kinds of intense, it was. It wasn’t a crazy night but it was fun to spend it with the girls, one last night of it at least for a while. We had fun and didn’t go to bed until at least 1:30am or so.
I’ve had to stop myself from calling London “home” a couple of times already. I think that’s just out of habit though – I obviously know Reston is home. London was just so good to me! I do miss it already. I was just getting to the point where I was comfortable there. I have been entertaining the idea of going back for a few months after I finish at Mason…but that would take a lot of planning and a lot of luck. It’s just something fun to think about, but for right now…I’m going to enjoy buying massively-sized food and household items in a giant warehouse and then eating steak and corn on the cob on a summer night with my family and one of my very best friends.
First, a couple other food related things I forgot to mention: We went back to Wagamama on Wednesday before we saw Wall-E (Apparently it was a W-theme night) and it was all kinds of delicious once again. I got chicken chili men and gyozo dumplings. On Thursday I got lunch from the little café that is right next door to our office, Café Pomodoro. Chicken pesto salad on toasted ciabatta. So good.
Continuing on the food theme….Portobello Market, part 2! First let me just say how much I love this market. And going on Fridays is the way to go – it is not crowded at all, but all the stands and shops are open and fully stocked. You have time to leisurely stroll and talk to the vendors and take your time deciding between all the jewelry, fresh produce, breads, antiques, and every other wonderful option. The food is so good but it’s also just visually pleasing. All the colors of the produce and the way the breads are laid out, and….agh. This place makes me so happy.
My breakfast and lunch (or lunch 1 and 2, either way) on Friday were, in a word, amazing. Jenna and I went back to the crepe stand. I got ham and cheese, she got nutella, but then we cut them in half and switched. SO GOOD. We walked all the way down the market, making mental notes of the stuff we were going to buy on the walk back. And oh, did we. I bought marinated artichoke hearts and we both got this incredibly good looking (and tasting!) feta salad. Then, we went to a bread/pastry stand and I bought an olive focaccia loaf, and Jenna bought a rosemary, sea salt and olive oil focaccia loaf. We then went to a fruit and vegetable stand – Jenna bought nectarines and sweet corn, and I got more cherries.
After I got home I just kind of laid around for a while, ate my cherries and watched some Family Guy episodes on my computer. I had my focaccia and feta salad for dinner, then I met up with Jenna and her friend at the Arc for a drink.
Went to Borough Market with Jenna and Sharon. Silly little me thought Portobello was good. No, no, no. I mean, it is...but Borough is way better in terms of food selection. And they give samples. It’s like Costco but on crack. We had such an indulgent morning, it was insane. One of the stands was selling glasses of Prosecco, so we each bought a glass and sipped it as we walked around. We wandered around trying different kinds of cheeses, brownies, jams, caramel spreads, mustards, meat, oils, and balsamic syrups (one blended with forest fruits was so incredibly good) and finally we broke down and started buying stuff. I bought a brownie, a roasted garlic and honey focaccia loaf, and some brie. Then came lunch. They had a stand where they made Raclettes and toasted cheese sandwiches. I got a sandwich and Jenna and Sharon shared a Raclette (which I had a little bit of) and they were so rich and amazing and I choose to not think about how unhealthy they were.
Dinner was the roasted garlic and honey focaccia loaf topped with brie and raspberry jam, then toasted. I don’t think I have to tell you that it was delicious. Spent the rest of the evening drinking cider and watching more Family Guy with Sharon. All in all, a lazy but very pleasing day.
I had originally planned to go to a church service at Westminster Abbey this morning, but instead chose to sleep until 10am. I’m not feeling particularly guilty about it, either. After a relaxing morning of drinking tea (with milk and sugar!) and reading, I ventured out with Jenna and Sharon to Brick Lane. We wanted to get Indian food but each ended up getting something completely different but good nonetheless. We walked back home and stopped at the Offside and had a beer outside. It was the perfect combination of a cold drink and warm sunshine.
We bummed around the apartment for an hour and a half, then Jenna and I made our way to the Embankment tube stop in the hopes of doing a Harry Potter walking tour that started at 5…we got there at 5:10. Oops. Determined to enjoy the rest of the day and evening, we walked through the Embankment Gardens, stopped to listen to a Bluepeace concert performance, then walked across the bridge, and down towards the Tate/Globe/Milennium Bridge area. It was a beautiful walk with lots of cute little places to eat, sit, and people watch. We stopped at the Thameside Inn and got a Magners, then hopped on the tube back home. Aaaand that brings us to right now!
Tomorrow is my last full day in London…yeesh. And sadly, I’ll have to spend it packing and doing laundry. WAH WAHHHHHHH. But Billy, Liz, and Laura will return in the afternoon and then I’m sure we’ll get into some last and final shenanigans in the area :-P
The rest of Wednesday and yesterday were both stellar. We did, in fact, enjoy our final Orange Wednesday, and we saw WALL-E!!! It was SO cute…I may or may not have teared up at the end. I mean, no. I didn’t. It was just raining on my face. I had something in both my eyes. Shutup.
Yesterday was great, which was both a good and a bad thing. I finished up my work, I had a good time goofing around with Greg, Shelley and Neena, and I had a really nice little debriefing meeting with Shelley and Louise. They had some really nice things to say about me and my time here. Super emo. Then we had about a 30 minute break where we had some tea and cake and ended up talking about various pet stories (oddly enough, most of them deaths) that had me wanting to cry I was laughing so much. It was ridiculously funny.
Then around 6 Greg, Shelley, Neena, Valerie and I went down the street to have a couple of drinks. I had such a good time – enter the good/bad dilemma. It was a wonderful way to spend my last work day…and an awful way to spend my last day because I’m going to miss it/them so very much. I absolutely adore the people I work with. Everyone always seems to have an endless supply of stories that never fail to make me laugh, to say nothing of how much I love their accents. It was just kind of a bittersweet day – I had so much fun with everyone, which is a perfect way to go out but at the same time…it makes it really hard to leave. I feel like I just started getting to know everyone’s personalities and I wish I had more time with them.
Shelley is a theater/drama person, so she is always animated, and very clever. She is one of those people that can have a very serious conversation about the most absurd topic, which I love to do. For example, our little joke is about creating a web site featuring nothing but dogs in hats. Well, and with larger sections dealing with other accessories. Obviously.
Neena is so unique and has a wide variety of interests and hobbies that I find quite inspiring at times – and she is so generous and caring and intelligent. Sadly she was on holiday for two weeks during my time so I didn’t get to talk to her as much as I would have liked, both in and out of the office. She seems very passionate about what she does (not just at work), and I think she’ll make a pretty big impact in this world.
Valerie only worked Thursdays and Fridays, so I didn’t have a lot of time with her, unfortunately. But she and I got along quite well, when we did have time to talk. Actually, I think she is one of those people that can have a conversation with anyone – she has done so many interesting things in her life (for only being 25), she always has a story or an experience that can relate to everyone else. Plus she’s German so you all know I loved that. She was from Bayern though (Bavaria, for all you non German speaking people), not our home away from home, Bad Oldesloe :-)
Greg is…Greg. I just had the biggest crush on him because he is just adorable in every sense of the word. Also because he was the only guy in the office. But he seems to have that balance of being a kid at heart, but then a very professional, well spoken individual. He also received the majority of my American slang, and I don’t think he quite knew what to do with it. Not that anyone does in America, either. I think he and I had a lot of little, weird things in common (both live with our families about 30 mins outside of the city, we’re both nearsighted) and I would have liked more time to talk to him.
Filiz was the other NCA intern but she left mid-June, so I haven’t talked about her that much because it feels like she’s been gone forever. But she was the first person to befriend me, and tell me all the little things about the NCA. She is such a caring, genuine person and I just adore her. Plus I think she and I had a connection being that we’re both foreigners, and having someone else feeling like “the outside looking in” was kind of comforting. She really was just one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.
Louise, the director, is also just wonderful. She struck the balance of being fun and cool, but a great boss too. I think it’s rare that you have a boss where you can fully take direction from them, but then want to turn around and ask what they did over the weekend. She was obviously helpful to me and my work experience, but just in general too – as a person that I got to know a little bit. And…wait for it…I wish I could have had more time with her too.
I mean, we have facebook to keep in touch (with all but Greg), and I gave them my gmail address, and told them (in all seriousness) that they better get in touch with me if they ever visit the dc metro area but…I can stay in denial all I want, but I most likely won’t see them again. Which makes me really sad because I want to shrink them and put them in my pocket and take them to DC with me. So I had myself a mini-pity party at the end of the night…which leads us to: going to the Arc for 2-for-1 drinks! Haha. I’m glad I spent my final Thursday in London at our home away from home, the Arc. I maybe had too much fun, but remarkably, I don’t feel that bad right now. **KNOCK ON WOOD**
The only plan for today is Portobello Market – Jenna just got here and we are off! Definitely going to get a crepe (I’m thinking nutella this time….dream big) and maybe some fruit/veggies for dinner tonight. Gah I’m drooling over here.
And, I’ll leave you with that. A sad little girl, missing her dear coworkers already…drooling.
Yesterday was my last full Tuesday in London! I walked to AND from work, and the weather was beautiful. Work was fine – just continued plugging away at my last/main assignment. I showed my true colors a little bit yesterday, much to everyone’s amusement. Greg had made coffee/tea for everyone, and as he set mine down, without thinking I said “Thanks, yo” and he kind of laughed and said “thanks, WHAT?!?!?” and then the rest of the office kind of caught on and were quite amused/confused by it as well. That kind of reaction makes me want to say even more ridiculous things. I've also called him "homeslice" a couple of times and I don't think he knows quite how to take it.
Left a little early (ish…5:15) and met up with Sharon at the British Library. Finally! I had been meaning to go for the last 3 weeks and it never worked out, until yesterday. It didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. The building is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside. We only went through the Treasures and Ramayana exhibits; they were both interesting and really cool. The Treasures had the Magna Carta (one of them), music compositions written by Mozart, Handel, Beethoven and even had his tuning fork. They had a ton of religious texts, manuscripts from Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles…what up Ms. Zylka!?!?!), Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and others. They had Lewis Carroll’s diary, an application letter from Lenin to the British Library, and notebooks and writings from Da Vinci and Galileo. This is only some of the stuff they have there. Anyway, it might be my favorite “museum” here.
Today is my last Wednesday in London! Walked to work again today, but it was really muggy and not as nice as yesterday morning’s walk. Work has been good so far – they’re doing interviews today so I’ve been on my own for the most part. One of the interviewees was American and she had her GPA listed on her resume– before she got there Shelley had to confirm with me what GPA stood for and then asked if her particular GPA was good. I enjoyed that. Finally I can bring some knowledge here! Of course it's on my second to last day.
Don’t know what’s on for tonight – maybe our last Orange Wednesday? (Meghan, Orange Wednesdays is this promotion put on by our mobile phone network – Orange. On Wednesdays you get a text with a voucher number that allows you to get a 2-for-1 price at the movie theatre...plus we get student rates so it’s crazy cheap) There’s talk of using our last OW to see Mamma Mia again and…I don’t think I’m up for that redonkulousness again. I mean, it was humorous the first time, but one viewing is enough. Too bad the Dark Knight preview is all sold out.
Finally, because I seem to be taking a break from working…here is a small sampling of things I am excited for come next Tuesday:
*PARKER!!!!! (look at that face!!!!)
*My room (my bed, having my own space, not living out of a suitcase)
*Seeing the sun more often (though I fully realize I will get sick of the weather in approximately 2.4 days)
*Being back in the land of the Redskins
And let’s not forget…
*The closer I get to Tuesday….THE CLOSER I GET TO BEING IN CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!
I had been considering going to Oxford on Friday, but the weather was kind of weird so I stayed in the city. Traci, Ellen and I went to Chinatown for lunch and had some excellent food. Since Chinatown is right next to Leicester Square, we went and bought tickets for Les Mis that night!! Ellen, Billy, Liz, Laura, Traci and I went and it was, of course, really really good.
Saturday we got up and made it to St. Pancras and were off to Paris! Jenna, Laura, Ellen, Traci, Liz and I took the Eurostar/Chunnel, and it took about 2 hours to get there. You’re actually only underwater for 20 minutes. And oddly enough, my ears barely popped…they popped a lot more when we went under regular tunnels. Weird. Any ideas as to why that is? Chunnel experts out there?
So we got into Paris (Gare du Nord) around 11:30 and went across the street to a café for lunch! After some pizza and water and map-studying, we walked to the Sacre Coeur. We were accosted by the dudes trying to sell you friendship bracelets and steal your stuff, as is tradition, then walked up allllllll those stairs and took in our first views of the city. It was really pretty. After we walked down we navigated the metro and found our hotel!
We stayed at the Best Western Etoile Friedland Champs-Elysees, which was the same place that I stayed with my parents when we came for Thanksgiving my senior year of high school! It was a really great little place. We threw our bags down and walked up the road to the Arc De Triumph, took some pictures, then walked the entire length of the Champs Elysees, through the Tuillerie Gardens and spent some time in the Louvre! We saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and of course lots of other beautiful pieces of art! After the Louvre, we got back on the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower.
The line took a really long time to get through, but finally we were on our way up. You have to change elevators on the 2nd level, so we got off and took some pictures there. That level is roughly 400 feet up. Then we got in another line to go to the very top, which was about 900 feet up! The elevator ride was the only part that got to me…it’s the same feeling you get when you’re going up those theme park rides…which I suppose isn’t the feeling you want. It was a bit unsettling but exciting at the same time. Once we got up though and walked around I forgot all about how high up we were. The views were absolutely amazing, and I was able to spot all the things I had visited that day, and then all the things we were doing the next day!
After we got back down on the ground we walked to this really nice Italian place for dinner. It was kind of expensive, but it was really nice to sit, order a bottle of wine to share, eat some deliciously decadent pasta and just relax after a long day of traveling and walking. After dinner we walked back to the Eiffel Tower – along the way we passed by the (unofficial) Princess Diana memorial, which is over the tunnel where the accident happened. The flame statue was actually a memorial to symbolize the French-American friendship – it is supposed to be the replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty. But since the accident happened right underneath it, people started leaving flowers and other things there, so it has become the unofficial memorial for Diana. I remember seeing it last time, and this time was still just as moving. It was just so crazy to think that we were standing in the spot where this insanely awful thing had happened.
We walked back along the Seine towards the Tower and it was dusk by the time we got underneath it again, so we got to see it light up and sparkle. Apparently French people don’t like that, but we being tourists loved it! We got some soft serve and just stood and gazed up at the blue-lit Eiffel Tower for a while. We walked back to our hotel and crashed! It was such a long day filled with excellent tourism, and it definitely wore us out.
Since Ellen and Traci had a different hotel, we met up at a neutral metro stop Sunday morning. We went to a café and had crepes and café au lait. Very French and VERY delicious. After breakfast we rounded the corner…and went to a pastry shop and got more French deliciousness. I got an almond chocolate croissant and it was possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten. After our two breakfasts we hopped in line to go visit the Catacombs! They were pretty cool, and as you can see from the pictures…kind of eerie! (Side note: it was fun to think that in our weekend, we had been to the very top of Paris, and the very bottom!) After the catacombs we took the metro again over to Notre Dame! We walked around inside then did a little touristy shopping, then ate lunch at a little café nearby. We got Croque Monsieurs and frites, it was SO GOOD. After lunch we had to head back to the train station to head home, unfortunately.
It was a really great trip but I was definitely happy to be back in London. I know approximately 5 words and 2 phrases in French, so I felt a little lost – even though we were only there for two days. But Paris is an incredibly beautiful city and I would love to go again. After I learn some French.
As if this blog post isn't long enough...tonight was a lot of fun too. Ellen, Liz, Jenna, Laura, Sharon, Traci and I went out to Wagamama for dinner because Ellen has to leave tomorrow to go home early to be with her dad when he has surgery. So we had dinner, then went to Sainsbury's and got more candy and ice cream than anyone should ever eat. We took it back to the apartment and all hung out in our room and watched Dodgeball and Family Guy. It was a really fun night.
And now, I'm tired as all get out. But I'm trying to not think about it too much because I want to make sure I squeeze the life out of every minute of this week, as it's my last one!
Dinner on Monday with Mr. Thomas was a lot of fun! We went to a pub around the corner from his hotel (which was only a 10 minute walk from my office, down Oxford Street) and had some drinks and dinner and lovely conversation! It was really great to see a familiar face and talk about familiar people and places. He is one of my favorite people to joke around with so we had lots of fun. Of course we got into everyone’s favorite topic of conversation – our group of friends! Seriously, why are we so lucky?!!? Just when I think I can’t be in love with us any more than I already am…
Tuesday was a really good work day. I was really productive - I got in at 8:50am and didn’t leave until 7pm. I got some excellent feedback on a position paper/response I wrote, and took care of this mailing thing that had me up around the office. I like when I have to move around a little instead of just doing stuff that requires staring at the screen for an endless number of hours.
I also felt like I got along better with the staff. Of course this only comes when I have 4 days of work left. Neena has been out for the past two weeks on holiday so it has just been Shelley, Greg and I (and Louise, the director). ***BACKSTORY: when I went to dinner with Mr. Thomas on Monday, he was surprised to learn that I have been fairly quiet at work. In fact, a lot of times I seem to impose a “don’t speak unless spoken to” rule on myself. It’s just that when on my own, it takes me a little time to feel people out and see if I can be my loud, stupid self around them. This is the case especially at work, when I feel the need to try and be professional. Since it takes every ounce of effort I have in my body to be anything remotely close to professional, it’s easier just to be quiet. END BACKSTORY*** Tuesday felt better in this respect; I think I was a little more talkative, smiled more, and had more interaction with Shelley and Greg. I know it’s kind of sad to be excited over something as simple as talking more, but that’s how it is. I really like Shelley and Greg a lot. I wish I had more time to get to know them and see them outside of the office. They are so funny and I love the little moments when I can get in on it too.
MOVING ON. Yesterday we took advantage of our “Orange Wednesdays” and saw Mamma Mia…the movie, not the stage version. Um, I liked it, but it was kind of absurd. I think it definitely works better on stage because it’s so silly and fun and “jazz hands”, and that kind of theatrics is better reserved for the stage where you expect that level of…whatever. So the beginning of the movie had me wanting to roll my eyes, even though I’ve seen the stage version twice and loved it. I just wasn’t used to having my movies so cheesy. But then I realized that cheesy comes with the territory of Mamma Mia (and Abba, really), and you have to be ready for it no matter what the artistic medium. Then I enjoyed it and laughed a lot. And how can you not get into it when they do Dancing Queen and Waterloo?
The best/weirdest part was Pierce Brosnan singing…he wasn’t….bad….but it was just…odd. Every time he started singing our entire audience burst out laughing. Only at him, too – everyone accepted the premise for Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, even Colin Firth….but not Pierce. Apparently no one could handle 007 singing showtunes.
Fun things ahead for the weekend. You’ll hear about it Sunday or Monday. Can you handle the suspense??????
We begin our journey on Saturday at 4am. Yes, FOUR am. I got up (miraculously) and took a shower, packed, and managed to make myself look socially acceptable by the time Jenna appeared at my door at 5:15. We walked to Angel tube station…which wasn’t even open yet. Luckily it’s only a mile walk to King’s Cross, which is where our train was going to leaving. London at 5am (at least our area) is quite interesting – lots of people leftover from the night before…and a few more crazies than normal, I think. But we made it to King’s Cross, bought some coffee and breakfast, and got on a train that would last 20 minutes and take us to Stevenage. Then we got on a coach for an hour which took us to Peterborough. THEN we got back on a train for 4 hours which would take us to Edinburgh! All in all it was about a 6 hour journey, but the scenery was beautiful so it wasn’t painful. Also, we got to see snapshots of other cities in England as well, as we had to make stops in other stations along the way. I particularly liked the way Durham and Newcastle looked.
Once we arrived in Edinburgh we met up with Ellen and Laura (who had left Friday morning), dropped off our stuff in our hotel, then hopped on a bus tour that took us around the city. Yay tourism! Ellen and Laura ended up doing their own thing, so Jenna and I stayed on the bus for a while then went and toured the Edinburgh Castle. It was pretty cool, and worth going in for the views alone. SO beautiful. And windy. But still beautiful.
After the castle we met up again with Laura and Ellen for some dinner. Had some food and some drinks, told creepy/scary stories (some real, some fake) then walked to Ellen and Laura’s hotel for a minute of downtime. After about 45 minutes or so we went back out to a tapas/wine bar around the corner (I know, not exactly a native Scottish place) for some drinks and shared a piece of cake. The cake was butterscotch, it was amazing. It put Chockywockydoodah (from our trip to Brighton, for those just tuning in) to shame. After a couple hours we called it quits and made plans to meet up again in the morning. Considering I had gotten up at 4am, I was pretty impressed with myself that it was 11:30 at night and I was still functioning.
Sunday morning Jenna and I had breakfast then went and met up with Ellen and Laura at a Starbucks down the street from us. Before you go all anti-globalization on me, you will have to look at the pictures (once I post them!) of the view from this particular coffee shop. It was on the second level looking straight out at Edinburgh Castle. It was so beautiful. Definitely a place to spend a morning, even if it is Starbucks.
After breakfast we walked down to the Queen’s residence to take some pictures. Scotland’s Parliament is right next door. It’s the weirdest architecture I have EVER seen. Seriously weird. We got back on our touristy bus and took it up the hill to this Whisky Experience thing. You pay for the tour and get some Scotch whisky (and you get to keep the glass, so, bonus) and then they teach you about Scottish whisky, etc, and you go on this super cheesy Disneyland-esque ride that apparently tells you about the history of Scottish whisky. I say apparently because we weren’t listening; instead, taking goofy pictures of each other with the creepy wax figures. I don’t know if the whole Whisky Experience was worth it, but I got a little liquid warmth in the afternoon, hilarious pictures, and a cool glass out of it….so I’d consider it a success.
After our boozetastic tour we got some lunch in the grassmarket area then walked through the park along Princes Street. We got some ice cream and sat in the park for a while until it was time for Jenna and I to get back on the train!
The train ride home was the same, filled with gorgeous scenery (I saw bunnies!) and a relaxing, comfortable seat by the window. We got home at midnight. I’m a little bit tired today, but that was to be expected. Besides, Ellen and Laura took the sleeper train and got in at 6am this morning, so I am definitely not complaining about my lack of sleep!
So we packed in as much as we could for the 28 hours we were in Scotland. I’m happy with the amount of touristy things we did, but for me, just walking around and exploring is a fun part of visiting a new place. We did as much of that as we could given our time constraints, but I do want to go back to see more of the city, and surrounding areas. I definitely want a second visit!
In other news, I forgot my water bottle at home today. I feel so alone.
In other other, happier news, I am going to dinner tonight with Mr. Thomas! Reston goes international...stay tuned to see if the world can handle it.
Normally I’d just do a full weekend post on Sunday, but I think there’s too much going on so I’m going to break it up. Plus I’ve added some pictures in the last 2 days so we can cover those now! Also…I’m not really doing much at the moment – I have an early wake up call tomorrow (more on that later) morning so I’m taking it easy tonight.
SO…the ones after the zoo are various things that entertain me on my walk home. It was a nice day so I thought I’d take the time to photograph some things. The highlights:
(on Oxford Street)
*A little place called Belgian Food Company – they sell ice cream, and (obviously) waffles with various sweet toppings. This place smells like heaven. Depending on which way the breeze is blowing, I can smell this place at least a block away. I’ve never been there, and now I’m afraid it won’t live up to how good it smells. I might just let it stay up on that pedestal.
(Tottenham Court Road)
*This store called Confetti – the entire store is just party decorations and party favors, with what seems like a fairly girly perspective – it’s like a super upscale party store, times a million. I LOVE this place and I think I slow down a little bit as I walk by everyday. Seriously, my love for party decorations is almost as strong as my love for office supplies.
*The British Library. It’s a cool structure and it means I’m almost at King’s Cross!
When I walk the whole way home, after King’s Cross I veer onto Pentonville Rd…there’s a pub there called The Long Hope. I really just enjoy the name.
The pictures you see first are from my day today! You can probably guess where I went. First let me say, I walked a bajillion miles today. Actually I think it’s probably closer to 6, but still.
I woke up around 9 after an excellent night’s sleep, and leisurely showered, had a couple cups of coffee, got dressed and figured out my plans for the day. It was very peaceful and quiet and relaxed. Certainly a good start to the day!
So then I walked from my apartment down to the Tate Modern. I enjoyed a lot of the stuff. Obviously it’s super cool to see Picasso, Pollack, Warhol, Matisse, and I was able to familiarize myself more with artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and many others…those in “the know” of the visual art world already know these people, but I did not. Anyway, I was there for about an hour and a half, then took the tube up to Oxford Circus and walked up to Regent’s Park.
I found a nice bench in the Avenue Gardens section of the park, and ate the lunch I packed…an apple and chicken/naan sandwich, if you were wondering. After that I kept walking north through the park until I got to the London Zoo! I love zoos, so I ponied (ha, ‘cause it’s an animal…but they didn’t have those in the zoo..) up the money to check it out. Glad I did! It was fun and I got some good pictures. I guess animals are animals anywhere, but it was still a fun way to spend an afternoon.
After a few hours at the zoo I walked to the Camden Town tube station – on the way I got to see a little bit more of the Primrose Hill area (hi, you have a lot of money) and of course a little bit more of Camden, but only to the tube b/c it was kind of raining and I was tired after walking 234 miles. Or 5.5, at that point...whatever.
Got home and just sat down for a little while! Called Frank Benson, talked to him for a little while, uploaded my pictures, made some dinner (vegetable stir fry, and had some naan and tzatziki sauce) and tried to watch cricket on TV but that seriously lasted about 4 minutes. It only made me think of that one Sports Night episode…heh.
Now I’m just enjoying the apartment to myself, and getting ready to go to Edinburgh tomorrow! Tomorrow is another 12 on 12 but I can guarantee I’ll have more than 12 pictures to post when I get home Sunday night.
Talk to you in a few!
PS - Is it just me, or did anyone else have "Mambo Number Five" stuck in their head after looking at the title of my last post? No? Just me? I didn't even make the connection, as it literally was the 5th weekend being here....and now I find myself trying to come up with lyrics to match.
One, two, three four five,
Everybody in the tube so come on let's riiide to the..
off license around the corner
the chap said I want some tea and crumpets but I really don't wanna
Pimmsbust like I had last week
I must have tea 'cause talk is cheap
I like Elizabeth, Victoria, Gordon, and Elizabeth II,
and as I continue you know they're going to be monarchs and PMs (HAHA I CAN'T RHYME AT 7:30AM)
So what can I do I really beg you my Queen
to me punting is just so keeen, anything fly
it's all good let me go out and meet you at Heathrow
A LITTLE BIT OF LONDON EYE IN MY LIFE
A LITTLE BIT OF WIMBLEDON BY MY SIDE
A LITTLE BIT OF PRIMROSE ALL I NEED
A LITTLE BIT OF ISLINGTON ALL I SEE
A LITTLE BIT OF HYDE PARK IN THE SUN
A LITTLE BIT OF PICADILLY ALL NIGHT LONG
A LITTLE BIT OF BUCKINGHAM HERE I AM
A LITTLE BIT OF YOU MAKES ME WANT YOUR ACCENT.
Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.
Friday morning, Laura and I went to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. It was pretty cool, and it was my second time seeing it! Around noon we walked to Victoria Station to eat some lunch and pick up Liz’s friend Katie. We had pizza and beer at a place at the station, which was really good. I like to think that since I couldn’t be in America for the 4th, that having pizza and beer for lunch was one way of paying tribute. I suppose all that was missing was a football game. And I do mean FOOTBALL, not soccer! Ah, I can’t wait until football season.
Anyway, after lunch we went back to the apartment and hung out for a few hours, then started getting ready for the boat cruise that night. BUNAC, the company that handles our work cards, put together what was essentially a booze cruise on the Thames for the 4th of July. Yes, we used England’s river to celebrate our independence from them. It’s just too good. We should have thrown tea overboard too. Taxation without representation, whaaaaat!? So anyway, we definitely had a lot of fun as you can see from the pictures on Flickr. Also, nobody here had seen me dance yet, and honestly, they were a little taken aback. Haha :-P Anyway, it was a good time, but I was definitely craving bbq, beer, and fireworks!
Saturday morning I took a quick shower and threw on a skirt (because I think sunny days deserve skirts) and went to Knotting Hill/Portobello Road and Market with Traci, Jenna and Laura. We walked around a few stores, and leisurely made our way down the road and ended up at a crepe stand for lunch. Laura and I got ham and cheese, Traci got chocolate and strawberries, and Jenna got nutella and banana. They were quite good. We continued walking, and stumbled upon a few stands full of pastries; needless to say, Jenna and I split a donut. Not as good as the one I had from Camden Market, but that’s alright. The afternoon was really nice and perfect for walking around outdoors, so that’s just what we did! Looking at all the produce, flowers, antiques, clothing, allll that good stuff. On our way back Jenna bought some sweet corn and strawberries, and Laura and I bought some cherries. They are perfect.
We came home to catch the last bit of the Williams/Williams Women’s Wimbledon (ha, alliteration) final, and then I took a nap for about an hour and a half. I was planning to go out to O’Neill’s with Liz, Laura, Jenna and Katie, but I backed out at the last second like the McSketcherton that I am. I think I just needed a break. Two nights in a row of partying is enough for me. I talked to the ‘rents and just had a quiet night.
This morning Liz, Katie and I went on the London Eye, and then walked around Harrod’s. I watched a few episodes of the Office on my computer since our internet wasn't working, and then we've spent pretty much the whole rest of the day watching the men’s final at Wimbledon. Super intense!!!!! By the end of it we had like 10 people in our apartment shouting at the TV, it was fun. I’m glad I’m expanding my horizons in terms of sports that I watch – I have tended to be strictly football – since I’ve been here I’ve been watching the Euro Cup (though watching soccer isn’t that much of a stretch for me) and then tennis, which I don’t think I’ve ever watched before. I’m growing as a person, you guys.
Next comes the peeling though, and that will be unfortunate. Leprosy, anyone?
So now to pick up where we left off – Sunday! It was a chill day. I managed to sleep until 10am, which I was happy about. I was quite lethargic out all day, which I’m sure was leftover from Saturday’s festivities. Anyway, I went grocery shopping Sunday afternoon, and around 6ish Laura, Liz, Billy, Traci and I left to go to meet up with Ellen at her flat. Then we went to Earl’s Court to get dinner and watch the EuroCup final at a pub. We went to the Prince of Teck for dinner and the first half, then over to Earl’s Court Tavern for the second half. I was rooting for Germany, but that didn’t really work out to well for me. I kept it under wraps because almost everyone in both places was very pro-Spain. I didn’t want to get stabbed. Speaking of which, knives are a HUGE problem over here, I had no idea.
*Fun thing about Monday: I saw John Oliver, the British correspondent on the Daily Show! It was right outside of Oxford Circus tube station, by my work. He was just casually walking, wearing a hoodie (and the rest of an outfit, obviously) and carrying a messenger bag. I didn’t say anything; just stared at him, open-mouthed, as we passed each other. I’m pretty smooth. But the sighting was enough; it made me smile for the rest of the day. I heart him.
Not much else to report, so I will go through with you my routine day. See, that way, we can just do this post once so you know what I’m doing (or not doing) between weekends and return to posts with decent content!
*6:30-7am – Wake up, grumble.
*7-7:45am – Check computer, make tea or coffee, make lunch for the day, eat breakfast
*7:45-8am – Realize I goofed off all morning, say “Agh, shit” and jump in the shower and start getting ready.
*8-8:30am – Make my hair/face/outfit look presentable, pack work bag which will inevitably weigh 300 pounds. (This morning, Traci asked me if I was going somewhere after work because it looked like I was packing for an overnight trip. Sigh.)
*8:30am – Put on my tennis shoes and we’re out the door! Walk to Angel station (about .5 mile)
*9-9:30am – Arrive at work after a somewhat hellish and sauna-tastic tube ride!
*9:30am-5:30/6pm – Work! I do the little stuff like getting the mail, occasionally make coffee/tea for everyone (if you get some for yourself the general rule of kindness is to ask everyone else in the office if they want some. You might not think about this, but there is a LOT of pressure for an American to prepare a British person’s tea. Just saying) checking government web sites for news, and I also work on various writing assignments. I get an hour for lunch which I usually try and take later in the day, around 1:30 or so. Sometimes I’ll walk up to Regent’s Park, or just walk a different direction that I haven’t gone yet, or sometimes I’ll just sit on the couch in the back of the office. And you never know how long work will go, it depends on what you get done, or what time I decide to give up.
*5:30/6pm-6:30/7 pm – Walk from work to the King’s Cross stop (it’s about 2 miles), take tube from King’s Cross to Angel. Walk the .5 mile home. Sometimes, like today, I’ll walk the whole way home. That brings the total walk home tally to 3.5 miles.
*6:30/7pm to 10-11pm – Check computer, make dinner, sing 80s and 90s songs with Laura, Ellen, Liz and Traci, maybe write in personal journal, get ready for bed! And PS at 10pm, it’s still somewhat light out.
Shoutout to Ro: if you’ve been keeping count of the miles I walk, it’s roughly 3 (sometimes 4) a day. So I have a constant reminder of you and our Saturday morning walks – 3 miles in London is pretty cool, but it’s no 3 miles butt-early on a Saturday morning with you and Helen :-) Just saying.
Aaaaaand that’s my day! My super thrilling day. Sometimes we’ll do stuff after work, but I’m usually worn out. Though last night I did go over to the Offside (pub across the street from our apt) and met up with Laura and Liz for a bit. Tonight they’re going to a movie, but I don’t think I can justify spending the money, nor does the activity seem London-ish enough for me to really commit to. Though arguably, neither is sitting at your computer. I hate when I call myself out.
After this week, I’ll only have 3 weeks left. Where did the time go!?!!?!!??!?!?!!!?!??!?!
Friday was a fun day – Liz and I went to the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery, which were both right by Trafalgar Sq. I liked the National Gallery more than I thought I would, and I liked the Portrait Gallery less than I thought I would. The National Gallery’s impressionist rooms were amazing and I could stand in those for a considerable amount of time. I don’t have a detailed or sophisticated eye for visual art by any means, but for my money, Monet was pretty much on top of his game. Just saying. I thought the Portrait Gallery was cool for the earlier centuries, but once you got into the second half of the 20th century I didn’t like the portraits as much. Though the Andy Warhols of Queen Elizabeth II were pretty sweet, I liked those a lot.
After our cultured morning, we walked over to Leicester Sq and got Subway for lunch. I know I said that I was trying not to eat things I could get in the states, but…you can’t always do everything right. Besides, it was really good and I could consider it somewhat healthy? Maybe? Excuses? Anyway, we ate it in that same park where we had gelato and watched the Hancock dancers practice last week. The park was back to normal, except for the fact that they had just put down new mulch and it smelled like a zoo. GROSS.
We came back home and hung out in our apartment for a few hours. Around 5 I headed to Oxford Circus (where my work is) to have drinks with Valerie and Neena (girls from work). We went to a place off of Carnaby Street. It was fun to finally hang out with them outside of work. We were there for a couple of hours then I headed over to South Kensington to meet Liz, Laura, Ellen and Billy at a pub for a bit. Liz and I got home and watched most of Nelson Mandela’s birthday extravaganza on TV. I suppose we could have stopped by the actual festivities (to watch from the outside, obviously) but…well, we just didn’t. Besides, we probably had a better view watching the TV than we would have had being in the area!
And yesterday we had…HARD ROCK CALLING!!! First, the morning of. Okay, so Liz and I had the apartment to ourselves, as Traci and Sharon are on excursions for the weekend and Ellen is at the other flat with her boyfriend. We didn’t have to leave for the festival until 11 or so, so both of us expected to sleep in, enjoy our quiet morning….NO. We were rudely woken up around 8:15 (I was sadly already up, I can’t seem to sleep past 8:30am here. I guess that has its good and bad points…) by incredibly loud steel drum banging like crazy. Outside our window was ANOTHER film crew…doing whatever they were doing? I don’t know. I took a picture. What the hell?? Laura came over shortly after because she also woke up to the dulcet tones of loud banging drums. Since we were up, we walked up to the main drag to get money for the bank, lunch for the afternoon, and COFFEE. So even though it was kind of unfortunate that we didn’t get our lazy sleep filled morning, I think it was pretty good anyway; productive, involved coffee with friends, and a little walking too.
Random tangent: Friday afternoon Liz and I were talking about how we never just roll out of our apartment dressed down – there is always makeup, hair styling, and presentable clothing involved. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but sometimes that whole process gets tiresome. So the morning of Hard Rock Calling when we went to run errands in town, we totally rolled out in our pajamas and hoodies. I took a great amount of pleasure in that.
So…the concert! Let me first say, I just uploaded all the pictures I took…a lot of them are off center, but you can just deal with my lack of composition skills. And there are roughly 100 of them - pages 1-4 on Flickr are all from the concert. Sorry about that. I just got camera-happy. We got there an hour before the gates even opened, so we had a great view! We had some beers, ate our lunches, and just chilled out for a while. The first band up was the Steve Boyce Band – they were some contest winners from some group that tries to get old school bands back together, I think similar to that bands reunited show on VH1 from a while ago. Anyway, they were fun. The highlight was really this woman standing next to us that came there specifically for them, because she knew them in primary school. So cute.
After Steve Boyce came Robert Randolph and the Family Band. They can rock, but unfortunately only played 3 or 4 songs. He was a lot of fun to dance to and a great performer. I would definitely see him again. After RR came my lover Jason Mraz. Honestly, I think I was most excited to see him. He has an incredible live voice. He played a number of songs, a lot of which were from his newest album. But he opened with Remedy which was fantastic, and then he played I’m Yours, which was SO GOOD. There’s a video of it. God bless my camera, that’s all I can say. Between the zoom for pictures, and the video function (and zoom there too) I have really good footage. So after Mraz, all hell broke loose and everyone pretty much squished in towards the stage, for…JOHN MAYER! He started with Waiting on the World to Change, then played I Don’t Trust Myself with Loving You, Gravity, (SO GOOOOOOD) and Vultures. He was obviously really good. I mean, come on.
After John Mayer came Sheryl Crow! I was really impressed with her; I haven’t really thought that she has a great voice in the past, but she sounded great live. I was also happy that she played all her old school stuff – All I Wanna Do, A Change Would Do You Good, Soak Up the Sun, First Cut is the Deepest, If It Makes You Happy, etc. She was great.
Okay, by this time in the day it was PACKED and we had been standing for like 8 hours, and we just reached our limit. We left the crowds and got some food (my first fish and chips since being here!) and sat farther back for Clapton. I regret it a little bit, but I still think it was a good decision because we could just chill out and listen, and we still had really good sound from where we were. I got some videos of him playing Layla and You Look Wonderful Tonight. So after Clapton finished we knew good stuff was ahead so we booked it back towards the stage to make it closer in time for Clapton, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Robert Randolph to jam out on stage. Definitely great way to end the concert and the day!
I have deep, intense red coloring all over my arms and shoulders, and it kind of feels awful. But it’s totally worth it.
*I am currently in love with Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. My hands get really dry here and BBLBCC really helps. Plus it smells like heaven. Warning: you may want to eat it, that’s how good it smells.
* I loved everything about yesterday. The weather was beautiful, I ate really healthfully, walked a lot including a lunchtime trek up to Regent’s Park (which I’ll probably do again today), got a lot done at work, and had a silly-fun evening at home with the girls involving dancing and belting songs from the 80s and 90s...and maybe some video recording. It was a happy, fun, productive, sunny day.
*Sunday was also a fun day. More great weather, and Billy, Laura, Gareth, Jenna, Ellen, Traci and I ventured out to Camden Market. It’s a crazy mix of punk, hippy, goth, antique, girly, 80s, cool vintage and more. Plus the food was amaaaaaaaazing. I haven’t put it on flickr yet, but they had this donut cart…it was incredible. I took a picture. They were huge and we all got different ones. We also had lunch there, and we got everything from Mexican to Indian to Chinese…and that doesn’t include the Moroccan, Indonesian, Italian, Thai, Japanese, and many many others that were offered as well. Ugh, I shouldn’t be writing this so close to lunchtime. Anyway, Camden Market gets an A. I definitely want to go back before I leave.
*Work is still good. For every 10 Downing Street moment, there’s an equally trivial, intern-ish moment. They are currently trusting me to write two analysis-type documents that require research, critical thinking, and just generally a lot of brainpower. Also, I have to put stamps on 800 envelopes (200 down, 600 to go). I appreciate that balance and find it kind of amusing...I think mostly because the idea of 800 envelopes just seems so absurd to me – like it’s some crazy exaggeration I dreamed up and there are really only 15 envelopes, but no…I really have to stamp 800 envelopes…with the old-school, non-sticker stamps. I don’t know why I find it hilarious. Though to be honest, doing the trivial stuff is a nice way to switch your brain off but still be productive.
*The Minister of the Department of Children, Schools and Families is named Ed Balls. I laugh every time.
*I’m trying to stay focused on my time in London, but I’m already finding my mind wandering to September! I cannot wait to see the college crew and the Scouffi and fam. I’ve been saying this for the past year, I think, but now we’re only two and a half months out! I bet August is going to go by so slowly. Though August will be fun too – it includes a trip to Ocean City NJ, and the start of my last semester at school!