Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the ubiquitous Christmas curfuffle

It's been a weird week. On Saturday it snowed and snowed and snowed. The airport couldn't handle it so it shut down and people have been stranded at Heathrow ever since. I've been obsessed with the weather because I'm supposed to fly to Germany on Friday morning, which means I haven't really done much on my essay that's due after the break. To be honest I haven't really done much of anything.

Everything feels odd right now, right on the cusp of Christmas. There's a lot of stress in the air, especially by the British Library, which is right next to the main international train station. There's a queue wrapped around the block, people waiting to get on a train to get home for Christmas. There's also people stressing over the holiday in general. People trying to get to parties, trying to buy gifts, trying to stay happy. There isn't really a lighthearted Christmas cheer in the air, but there is a quiet perseverance, a stubborn resolve to stay cheerful for the holidays. That's admirable, really. Maybe that's what the true meaning if Christmas is: a stubborn resolve to make it through to the New Year.

It's an amazingly difficult time of year. The weather is at its worst right when most people want to travel. Everyone is sick (including me. I've had this stupid annoying cough since Saturday). No one has any money, and yet we're all expected to buy gifts for the people we love. People who are alone feel especially lonely. And yet we're supposed to try our very hardest to stay Christmassy. In an article for the Observer, David Mitchell, one of my favorite comedy actors/writers, comments on this issue I think rather astutely:

Santa knows I'm not the first person to say this but the problem with the mass-produced goodwill of the modern Christmas, where we're constantly wished happiness by carrier bags, receipts, coffee cups and TV channel idents, is that it can feel like a denial of all the things we're fed up or angry about. Charities exhort us to "think of those less fortunate than ourselves" while corporations rub our noses in goodies only affordable by those more fortunate. We're expected to endure stressful family gatherings and gruelling catering tribulations and count ourselves lucky in the process.
It's a tricky thing to do, and I'm not sure why yet we do it. Well, I'm trying my damnedest to stay Christmassy and cheerful, even though I'm freaking out about my trip falling through, not seeing my best friend, and losing all the money I've put into it. Saturday and Sunday were Part A and Part B of a nice Christmas party. We got full, had loads of leftovers on Saturday and so decided to come back on Sunday and finish it all up. The only downside to the weekend was that horrible storm on Saturday. I was out in the snow for 2 hours, not wearing enough clothes, not having an umbrella and getting completely soaked through. Someone smacked me in the face with their umbrella, I got lost, the plans I had made for the afternoon fell through. All of that was pretty stressful and I don't think I was able to flip my mood around and be super happy the rest of the evening.

I remember at one point, however, when I was finally on the homestretch to my friend's apartment, trudging through the snow, I thought "This what Christmas has always been about: trudging through the snow, being cold and miserable, on the way to a warm house full of friendly faces. People have been doing this for hundreds of years, I can do it now."

Another attempt to stay cheery may have worked a little better. I got the last two tickets to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play a Christmas concert last night, and it was just delightful. The music was lovely, the company was lovely, the dinner before hand was super tasty. I finally got to see Harrods all lit up and pretty and I got to see a part of town I haven't seen yet. The concert was really fun, and it was partly a sing-a-long which I just love. It ended up being a really nice, Christmassy evening.

The next few days are probably not going to be so cheery. Fortunately, it looks as if the airports and airlines are finally getting back on track. Lufthansa Flight 921, the same one I'll be taking on Friday, was not cancelled today and actually arrived before schedule in Frankfurt. It looks as if all the Lufthansa flights are going, so that's very promising. The one thing I am worried about now is that the flight leaves at 6:20, and the earliest I can get to the airport by train is 5:00 am, which I think would have been enough time if there weren't 60,000 stranded people milling about the place like zombies. So, if my flight is confirmed, I think the best thing would be to take the tube out there on Thursday night. This is going to suck really bad, but I have to give myself plenty of time to get through the whole mess. The crappiest part of that plan is that I'm getting sick and have already not been sleeping much the last few nights because of a cough. Well, I guess today I'll be cold medicine shopping.

As far as doing anything else today, I don't think I will. I'll just carry on as if I'm flying on Friday and get all packed and ready to go. If I do decided to take the tube out tomorrow night and I'm all ready, I have a ticket for a screening of Scott Pilgrim with a Q&A with Edgar Wright. That's in Brixton at 8, and it might be good to have something distracting and fun for a couple of hours. I can do that, come home and get my stuff and head to the airport.

So there you have it. The ubiquitous Christmas curfuffle. I noticed last night some of the original lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" were interesting: "Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." And so that's what I wish for all of you, may you muddle through this Holiday Season with as much stubborn resolve as possible. We'll get through it, it will be over soon. I promise.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I still believe in Santa Claus, even if no one else does.

Well, it's been a few weeks since I last blogged, but that's ok because it was a bit of a dark and slightly unhappy little moment in my life. But I think things are turning around, more or less, and so I've decided to blog about the last few interesting days of my life.

First I'll sum up the last few weeks by quoting a tweet from British comedian Bill Bailey (taking my own twist on it). Into week 10 of studying in London "thru protests, riots, tube strikes, perishing cold, Camilla prodding -yet I will not submit!" There, that sums it up! Well, I guess I can say that in the middle of all this perishing cold and riots I've been struggling with my research, I've been sad and homesick and worried about my future. It hasn't been pretty.

Anyhoo. In contrast, the last few days have been SUPER. First, I got really high marks and kind feedback on my first essay of the term. This restored faith in my research abilities. My professors loved my topic (I wrote about the Ice Palace as a liminal space in a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Kubrick's The Shining) and they praised how I balanced the historical and cultural aspects of the topic. It was broad, but also very well contained and focused. My specialty. Secondly, during my feedback session I got a little bit of hope in staying here to finish the PhD. It seems that they want to keep people in the program and they might help me find a way to pay for the next couple of years. I need to go talk with the director at the start of next term, and he said we'd figure something out.

The highlight of the week was definitely seeing The Boy Least Likely To live last night. In fact, that is what I'd like to really focus on writing about tonight. I've blogged about them before when their second album came out, and I've loved them for a long time, ever since the first album was released some 6 years ago. I knew they were a small band from a small town in England and being from a small town in Utah I never ever thought I'd actually get to see them. So last night ended up being extremely special for me.
I don't think I'll take the time to explain what TBLLT are all about. A recent review of their new Christmas album (which is awesome) does a great job of that. I'll just get to the show for now: I was surprised at the small venue, and not being a drinker and being from Utah I was also surprised by how badly the bar smelled like piss and vomit. (After asking around I've found out that this is how most bars smell. guess that makes sense.) I also got there way too early because the tickets just said 8:00and I didn't know if that was when the doors opened or when the first band went on. I was a bit annoyed with myself at first for getting there at 7 when the band wouldn't be on to 9:45, but I forced myself to stick around and fortunately Jof was there selling his own merch. I was really pleased to talk to him and have him sign a Christmas card for me, and he was very nice and gave me a couple of buttons to go with the tote I bought. I loved how when I asked if they were actually not going on until almost 10 Jof's eyes widened and he asked "Is that going to be a problem?" Haha, no, I thought, I'm just an old lady who likes to go to bed early. After buying my tote and talking to Jof I still had another hour and a half before the opening band went on so I just stood around and waited. I went in to the venue when it opened at 8 and realized I had my camera with me and should have got a picture with Jof. I knew he was sitting outside and I knew I had loads of time to kill so i thought, why not, and I went out and asked him for a photo. It ended up being a really awkward photo, which is ok, but I also got to talk to him for a little bit and that was nice. I'm actually proud of myself for asking since I'm usually really shy and reserved in those sort of situations.

The show itself was fantastic. The band had loads of energy and Jof was pretty adorable dancing around on the stage. They played all of their best songs, and I kept feeling a little sad every time they started one because I knew it would end soon and I wished they would play them a couple of times in a row just like how I listen to them on my ipod. The only things that kept it from being a perfect show is: 1) I wish they hadn't had so many long pauses when they played their cover of Faith. I love that cover; nothing makes me happier than to listen to it and dance around my room. The song has always been my #1 guilty pleasure, and when I found out they had covered it I about died. They were cute when they paused in the song and bantered a little bit about it, I have to admit that, but still I wish they'd played it all the way through. 2) I wish they had played more songs from the Christmas album. It's odd, people usually hate it when bands play too many songs from their new album, but this is the only thing I've been listening to the last three weeks. It's got me through that little bit of dark time I mentioned before, and I would have loved to hear them play The Wassail Song, Jingle My Bells, Christmas Isn't Christmas Without You, and The First Snowflake. What better time and place to play such awesome Christmas songs? Well, as I said before, if it were up to me I'd have them play all their songs in their discography and twice over.

The crowd was small, which made my wild dancing right at the front feel kind of conspicuous, but I ended up not caring. That's how I do concerts, and I make no apologies for it. Nothing beats the restorative properties of dancing to fantastic live music. I came away from that show feeling like a new person. My head was cleared of this terrible cloudy feeling I've been carrying around all week, and I felt deliciously sore from dancing and standing around for hours. And happy. Oh I just felt so light and happy, and it's carried through today.

I think things are starting to turn around for me here in London. I was worried before that I had no place here, that nothing I do was going to matter and that I'd come back with nothing to show for my time spent but a massive load of debt. But maybe not. Maybe I do have a place here, maybe I can create some good work, and maybe there are going to be the opportunities I've hoped for. I'm feeling really optimistic. I hope nothing comes along and destroys it all...

Oh, I nearly forgot. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

now that's Brighton, not Bath

This last week my friend Sara and I decided to go to Bath to see a play done by her favorite theatre company. She was busy during the day on Saturday so we left around 2pm. It took 2 hours to get there and by the time we did all of the things to do and see in the city were closed. I didn't get to go into the abbey church, which was one of my favorite buildings to study when I did gothic stuff, we didn't get to go into the Roman baths or any of the museums or anything. Fortunately we could do a tour of the bell tower of the church and there was a Christmas market going on in the church square that we could hang out and walk around in before the play at 8pm.

So I asked Sara if she knew where the theatre was yet, and she said she hadn't looked it up and figured we could ask someone. So she pulled out the tickets and they said, "Brighton Ballroom, Brighton UK". "uhhhh..." I said. "Are we in the wrong city?" Indeed we were in the wrong city. We ran to the nearest internet cafe we could find and discovered that Brighton would be a 4 hour train ride away from Bath and we would miss the whole play altogether. So we tried to make the most of it. We at dinner and walked around the little city like 6 times, tried to do a little shopping at the Christmas market, and finally found a carousel, which isn't the worst thing to find on a cold winters night. The lights were cheering, and it was fun.

We eventually got on a train around 9pm and got home just after 11, and even though I was cold and tired I didn't get to bed until 2:30. I don't really want to blog about it, but I should note that I had a conversation that night that probably changed my whole future. Isn't it interesting when you want something so much, and you pray for it and hope and work for it, and imagine just what life will be like when you get it, and then when you don't get it you're entirely relieved? That's happened to me twice this week, and I've really never felt so unfettered and hopeful in my whole life. Even though I lost something and that makes me sad, something better is going to come along, and I know that in my heart.

I also realized a very important thing last week: I am in a research program. I should be doing more research. Stupid realisation, I know, but it might just make everything different. I struggled so much with my last paper because I felt like I hadn't got enough from my course, but really I just hadn't done enough research. One of my professors said the other day that it's not what you know, but how well you can find what you need to know. I need to take that to heart. So today I'm going to try to get entirely caught up with my course reading so that I can start getting ideas and move out to do the research that will lead me to an excellent paper.

Monday, November 22, 2010

mission: accomplished

I've had such a good productive day so far that I thought I would blog about it. First I got up early and actually got some exercise in before breakfast, then I finished planning all my travel arrangements for my trip to Germany this Christmas. I made sure all the hotels and hostels were booked, bought German rail passes, and figured out how much the whole thing is going to cost us. I'm pretty proud of myself. The most we pay per night for a hotel is 30 Euro. After that I studied for German for an hour, then I went out and got some cash and lunch, then went to the Student Union and got my National Union of Students card, filled out an application for a National Rail Pass and walked over to the train station nearby and got the Pass. Easy peasy. Then I went to the British Library and got my Reader Pass so I can go in there and study and do research when I want. I'll order all my books and they'll be waiting for me tomorrow to start reading. I'm so proud of myself for getting all those errands done in 2 hours. It was only my third try getting the Reader Pass and just my second try getting the Rail Pass. I also now have a bank card, my loan money in the bank, and all my fees and housing paid.

My collection of cards since I got to London:
3 Student ID cards
4 Library cards
1 Oyster Card
2 Rail Pass cards
1 Bank card

Hopefully I'm done with the cards for a while. This will be an exciting week. I have an interview at the British Library for a PhD Studentship and I'm super nervous about it. I am terrible at interviews and I want the studentship really bad. Then on Thursday we're going to have a little Thanksgiving dinner and on Saturday I'm going to Bath to watch what sounds like will be an incredibly awesome play.

Now, even though I'm proud of myself for all I accomplished, it's only 3 and I have made a goal of doing at least 3 hours of research reading a I better get on that!

Monday, November 15, 2010

a new friend

This is my new plant. It's a gardenia and I love her. I always thought it was dumb when people got "pet plants" because I'd much rather have a cat or a dog, but when you can't even have a little mouse or a fish, a plant just has to suffice. I can't think of a name for her yet (again because I've always thought it stupid to name things that don't cuddle with me and so I'm out of practice), but I do have some ideas.

I just love this plant. Gardenias have always been one of my favorite flowers. I love the way they smell, I love their thick hearty petals and dark heavy leaves. It just makes my room that much more livable to be able to look at her in my window sill.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Go and dance yourself clean

It's been a slightly eventful week. I didn't have any classes so it was technically a vacation week and I managed to get some fun stuff worked in there. On Wednesday my Only London Friend (or OLF) and I went to see LCD Soundsystem. It actually turned into quite a little adventure, and it was my first time out of my Zone on the Tube (and I did it wrong so it cost me like 8 pounds in fees). OLF had class until 6 and the show started at 7 and so I met up with her at her school, then we got some delicious Chinese take out (I got the roasted duck on rice, of course) and headed to Crouch End and the Alexandra Palace. When we got there, there was seriously a mile long queue. I have never seen a line so long in my life. I decided to walk to the front to see if I could find a different line for picking up my tickets and I walked and walked and walked, leaving poor OLF behind. (Ha, ok, I'm sorry Sara, if you're reading this, I'll stop calling you OLF. I just thought it was really funny. It's probably not.) Anyway, FINALLY we got in, right in the middle of Hot Chip's set. Sara and I immediately started dancing and didn't stop until the end of LCD Soundsystem's set, but we decided to leave before the encores since there were probably 20,000 people there and we wanted to make sure we got on the bus before everyone else decided to go. I figured since this was my third time seeing them that I'd live, and I did.

I really loved it and I will see them again if I ever get the chance. I love how much fun everyone has at their shows and how much you can dance and totally lose yourself. I love how their songs have a proper amount of tension leading up to a fantastic moment of release. It's euphoric, and I'm totally addicted. I think I liked this show better than the one in New York. They played all my favorite songs, and I was in GREAT company (instead of totally alone like the NY show). Sara seriously is the funnest person.

Also, I have a total crush on this guy. He is adorable in concert.

So the next day on Thursday I went to see a taping of the Graham Norton Show. It was supposed to be the highlight of my life and it turned out to be rather meh. No one makes me laugh like Graham Norton, and so even though the guests sucked, I thought I'd still have fun. I just found out that Stephen Fry and Bette Midler will be on next weeks show and it broke my heart. I LOVE Stephen Fry like no one else. Instead I got stuck with Colin Ferrall (who told nothing but the most boring stories. He has no personality at all), Daniel Radcliffe (who was late and then really annoying, and just ugh) and then a comedian I've never heard of and then Rihanna, who was cute and everything, but I just genuinely don't care about her music. Also I had to stand outside in the freezing wind, and those who keep up with my Twitter area already familiar with the fact that I was not wearing the proper clothing for such an event. It was really really horrible. It hasn't been that cold or windy in London since I've been here. I honestly don't know if it was worth it.

Anyway, on my way to the show I saw this poster in the train station. It made me laugh, because it obviously does not work.

I don't think it does a very effective job of pushing polite behaviour because the Tube is still full of fools who refuse to budge from their convenient spot right next to the door and impede anyone from coming in or out of the train. In New York I seriously got yelled at for doing that one day when I wasn't paying attention. The poster is just too polite, and I think this one will work much better.

Fortunately at the Graham Norton show I was able to fight my way to the front of what had been a very long queue and had turned into a throng of people rushing the door, and I got the best of the worst seats!

HA! The suckers I had to push over to get to the door didn't get to be on the telly at all, but I DID!

So, since Wednesday and Thursday were exhausting I decided to stay in and work on my paper on Friday, and it didn't turn out well. Friday will be one of those days to forget forever.

Moving on, today I took my FIRST real train ride out of the city! I went with my ward to the London Temple. We took the train from Victoria Station to Lingfield and then a short taxi from the station to the temple. I mention this because it was also my FIRST time in a British taxi! And the first time ever driving on the wrong side of the road, and yes, it is the wrong side. Seriously, driving on the left side is totally counterintuitive, and it's the one cultural difference I'm having a hard time getting past, especially since I've almost got hit crossing the street several times because of it.

Anyway, the temple was lovely and I got to talk to more people from my ward, and hopefully made a couple of friends. I enjoyed myself immensely. Here's a picture of me and Sara in front of the temple. We stood a bit too far from the camera, so you can't really see us well, but that's ok because I didn't get a chance to shower this morning and was a bit of a mess.

And that's it for my week off of school! I start back up again on Tuesday and I'll be killing myself trying to get this paper done. I think i might have made some headway in brainstorming with my sister for a bit, but we'll see!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jasie's Guide to Navigating Bureaucracy in the UK

Dear Reader,
I was going to impart my wisdom on how to do Banking in the UK, but I realized that these steps will work for basically anything you need to do in order to survive as a student. Receiving loans, applying for privileges to read at the library (yes you have to apply for that), registering for classes, enrolling (which I think is different from registering), opening bank accounts, closing bank accounts, doing any kind of banking at all, etc, etc. I hope if you find yourself trying to live in London these tips may come in handy:

  1. Banks and other institutions open at an obscenely late time in the day, so don't attempt any type of bureaucratic adventuring before work or an early class. Wait for a day off, go ahead and sleep in, grab your umbrella and head out (it's always raining on days you need to get forms signed).
  2. Queue up! Queuing (or standing in a line) and drinking are the national past-times here, and so it is expected that you quietly take your place in the queue and not bother the 5 nice people who are working hard or chatting at their open stations. They're not open, please join the queue.
  3. Make an appointment to come back later. Of course, after the queue you're not likely to actually talk to anyone who can help you, but you might talk to someone who can write your name down so that you can come back later and join the lunchtime queue.
  4. You'll never have the right documents, so bring everything. Load up that satchel with every proof you have of your existence. Did the bank send you a letter to your house and so will obviously not demand that you bring a some proof of residence (like a letter from a bank to your house)? No chance! Make sure you bring an additional 5 letters, plus your passport, plus the proof of your address at home, plus your passport, plus your birth certificate, and driving license (fun fact! they don't call it a drivers license here and will likely correct you if you do).
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4, ad infinitum. Like I said in the last step, you're not likely to have the right documents on the first try, or even the second or third. But keep trying! That's how the British developed their plucky spirits and won two world wars.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

a message in a bottle

I told my one friend in London last week that I wouldn't blog anymore, that blogging was just an exercise in vanity. Why would anyone want to read my blog? and yet, what's the point of blogging if no one is reading it? Well, I guess I don't know the answers to those questions. I don't think many do read it, and I wouldn't know why if they did. But perhaps it is healthy to write even for a pretend audience, especially if I intend to write academically for the rest of my life, which I do.

That pretend audience may have noticed that I haven't been uploading photos every day like I said I would. This is because uploading photos has been taking up too much data and I have a limited amount allocated to me on the school network, which sucks. I went over last week and they punished me by reconnecting me with a 1999 modem speed connection for a week, so I learned my lesson.

The whole month of October everything has been green, and now things are finally starting to change. The weather has basically been the same every day since I got here. Temperature from 50 to 60 degrees, cloudy, a little rainy and really lovely bouts of sunshine. It's so humid that I sweat all the time no matter what and my hair is a big frizzy mess. I don't even know what to do with it.

I've had quite the time getting adjusted. Well, most things haven't been a problem, but the libraries here drive me crazy. I've had to shift my whole style of research, and research I have been doing, or trying to anyway. I'm applying for a PhD Studentship at the Open University and the British Library and I've been freaking out about it for a week. I'm in a fairly good mood now because I think it is mostly done and I just have to print the proposal, the cover letter and writing example out and send it in tomorrow. I have been struggling though, thinking and feeling like i know nothing and have nothing to say, and then magically it all came together this afternoon while I was in class. I was lucky actually because we were talking about argument and we had to try to present an argument to a partner, and since this is what i've been working on all week I attempted to explain to him what my argument is. Here I realized I never had an argument, and that is probably why I've been struggling so much this week. So talking about it was helpful and I finally formulated something and then finished up my proposal. It feels good.

I like my classes. The professors are wonderful. One them is someone whose work I was already familiar with and his classes are just a delight. He is a delightful and kind person and I really must go and talk to him in office hours sometime because I'd like him to be my friend. I have to write a paper soon for one of my classes and of course everything we talk about makes me think of horror movies. So I'm writing about coldness in films like the Shining and Dead Snow which create a world outside of time and space whereupon the horror can be acted out. It should be fun.

I'm skipping out on a student led discussion class thing because the last time i went the instructor did nothing but confuse me more about philosophy. It's hard enough to get Kant and Hegel, and when the person trying to teach you is just as confused as you are it's useless. So I've decided tonight to stay in, study German and finish up this application. I've been pretty good with my German studying. I do an hour a day every day, and I'm thinking of pushing it to 2 hours.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

20-23 October 2010

Wednesday 20 October
Wednesday was my "day off" after the trauma of Tuesday running errands in the rain. I didn't do anything except walk to the store and back. Therefore the only photo I took was this weird one of my foot. The reason I took it was because I w
as trying to see if I could document the weirdest injury of my life. On Tuesday I noticed this piece of hair stuck on my foot. I couldn't brush it off. It was a hair from my head, possibly from when I cut my hair the other day. I grabbed it and pulled and it was stuck IN MY FOOT. Like it had somehow been there long enough for the skin to grow over it. It was disgusting. I pulled it out and it left a little open wound that has since scab
bed up. So so gross. My only guess is that it was stuck in my sock or something when I had worn shoes for the whole of Monday. Who knows?

Thursday 21 October
I decided to be a little tourist on Thursday and go see the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This is the Cenotaph on Whitehall, the World War One memorial. I didn't realize that I would find this hear, so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me.

Friday 22 October
I did a little bit of walking around Bloomsbury on Friday and snapped this photo on one of the side streets.

Saturday 23 October
Today is the Bloomsbury Fair and this morning I went on a walking tour of one of the local cemeteries-turned park. It's actually what the Victorians called an "outdoors sitting room," for the poor I suppose who don't have sitting rooms in their houses? As many already know, I LOVE cemeteries. Oh I love them. They are my favorite places to go next to parks, and since this one is now a park I was in heaven. Our tour guide was charming and informative and I learned a lot about the history of the place. It is an early 18th century cemetery, the very first one used by Anglicans in London that was not a church yard. It took a few years for people to start using it because it wasn't next to a church, but from 1715 to about 1850 over 50,000 people were buried in the 3 acre plot. I loved to see the rotting tombstones, so very gothic. It was my first English cemetery, the first of many I hope.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

15-19 October

I was having internet/body issues the last few days so I didn't upload anything, but I still took some pictures! I'm feeling better now and so is my internet so I thought I'd put up the photos I did take.

Friday 15 October 2010
This is the copy of the book that Simon Pegg signed for me! I'm happy he didn't spelled my name wrong because for Haley and Lindy's copy he wrote "Linda & Hayly"

Saturday 16 October 2010
This is the very first real life Jenny Saville painting I've ever seen. It was at the Freize Art Fair in Regent's Park.

The sky was also remarkably blue that day. Every time I see the sun and blue sky here I am just blown away. I have a feeling it's not something I'll be seeing a lot of this winter.

Sunday 17 October 2010
After church I went for a walk in Hyde Park. I really liked this giant raven perched on the fountain of Diana.

18 Monday 2010
I spent most of the day in futile search for shoes, internet, and offices, so here is a picture of me on the go, looking for things I can't find.

Tuesday 19 October 2010
Yesterday I got caught in the rain and it was kind of a mess so I never pulled out my camera until I got home. I decided to take a panoramic view of my room.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

14 October 2010

Let it go down in history that today the 14th of October, the year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten, I met Simon Pegg, shook his hand, got his autograph and made an ass out of myself.

Simon's book Nerd Do Well is officially released tomorrow and today he had a book signing in London. The signing was at 5:30, and I left around 1:30 so that I could run some errands before finding Waterstone's off of Piccadilly Circus. After I bought a phone I found myself slightly off my intended course, but I suppose this is bound to happen when I don't use a map and make my way around London based only on my instincts and keen sense of direction. Instead of being on the street where I would find my beloved Birkenstock store, I found myself in Soho surrounded by sex shops, walking down seedy looking little alleys where I'm sure prostitutes must have worked probably not too long ago. But I pushed on and finally saw Piccadilly Circus, what I suppose is London's answer to Times Square. It was not yet 2:30 and I was three hours early to the signing, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to wait since I didn't have anything else planned. So I found the line, which was only 4 people long at that point and queued up, as the Brits like to say. I immediately met a very nice young man, Sam, who was quite friendly and talkative. We were joined by a girl who was quite mad and extremely talkative. She was first in the queue, having got there at 9 in the morning. It was cold, smelled of urine, and a pain to wait for three hours, but the time went by quickly as I was surrounded by amusing geeky British people. And here we are!

Sam and I hung out a little bit after the signing and now we're Facebook and Twitter friends! My first British friend!

So finally we were moved upstairs to spend the last hour waiting indoors, which was welcome but the stench of urine followed us up. At that point I overheard one of the old guys in line, which was hard to help since he was shouting, go on and on about all the celebrities he's met. He collects autographs, apparently, and has 600 signed books. It's interesting because the lady who was second in line was telling us about how she's seen him at several book signings (she also is apparently a bit of a collector) and she thinks he's mad. Which was obvious, of course, but she told us stories about how rude he is to celebrities while in pursuit of their signature. The man himself even told a story about one celebrity who didn't sign her name quite to this man's apparently rigid specifications and he tore the card up and said "if you arent going to bother with a proper signature, you might as well not bother at all" and walked away. I'm sure the celebrity was crushed.

Anyway, finally the moment came to meet Simon and I was trembling. He signed my books. "Are you Linder?" He asked, "No, I'm this one. Jasie" I said pointing to my signed copy. (Incidentally he spelled both of my sisters' names wrong on their copy: Linda and Hayly). "I wanted to tell you I wrote my master's thesis on Shaun of the Dead" I said, "Oh really?" he asked. "Yes, they let me! I'm even publishing an article on it" "Oh, what aspect did you write about?" I wanted to tell him. I desperately wanted to say "spiritual transcendence" but the words were lost. Instead I said, "I cant think of words right now. I'm very excited. I'm very happy to meet you" "Oh" he said, "that's ok." and I shook his hand. As I walked away, feeling also very stupid he said, "Let me know when that gets published, somehow. Twitter me!" "Ok," I nodded eagerly and walked away. What a sweet man. I just love him.

So that was it. It was pretty incredible and I'm very happy. It's honestly one of the highlights of my life. Well, that and @MrsStephenFry on twitter retweeted one of my comments I sent to her. I think that might rank highly on my list of achievements. I've gained 6 new followers since that! What a day!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

13 October 2010

I decided to spend most of the day in today since I overdid it a little yesterday and I'm still a bit jetlagged. So I decided to take a picture of my bathroom. It is very yellow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

12 October 2010

I got lost in the Gordon Square building looking for my class room and entered this very interesting hallway. I kind of love it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

11 October 2010

I made it to London in one piece, and this is the view of Cartwright Gardens from my bedroom window. London so far is just too adorable. It's killing me.

10 October 2010

Tara T. Cat loves to sleep on my luggage, so I left it in Salt Lake for her.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

9 October 2010

I'm posting more than one picture today, and the first one was taken probably 5 or so years ago. I am fortunate to have a very tightly knit group of friends who have been consistently blessing my life for years now. Amazingly, we have all managed to stay in Utah for the most part, and have continued to spend time with each other whenever we had the chance. On Saturday we all spent one last time together before I left for London, celebrating Brittany's birthday. It was a really special couple of hours for me, and I'm so glad I made it down to Provo.

(So the boy in the middle was Amanda's boyfriend, and the girl on the top right was a roommate we never really kept up with. The core 5 of us haven't changed that much. We're just old now.)

8 October 2010

View from my mom's back door.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

4 October 2010

I'm at my mom's house right now, and while there is a gorgeous view outside the back window and lovely flowers in the yard, there is also a crazy little dog named Jackie and when I was outside taking pictures she shoved her nose in the camera. I liked that one best.

3 October 2010

On Sunday after General Conference Igor and I went to Ensign Peak just above the capitol building in Salt Lake. The view was stunning.

October 2

I went to a little Greek restaurant on Saturday with Darci on State Street in Salt Lake. The food was good, the owner was crazy (he's been in close vicinity of 9 people dying, and he gave us lots of free food), and the view from the terrace was lovely as the sun went down.

October 1

I've been thinking about doing a photo a day thing on my blog for a while now, and I decided I would start on the first of October when I got to London. Well, I'm not in London yet, but I decided to start it up anyway. I couldn't put the photos on my computer until today, so i'm starting late, but I'm still going to do a separate post for each photo. For October 1 all I have is this blurry walking photo of my friend Amanda. I was trying my hand at kinnearing, a surreptitious style of taking photos of celebrities to avoid them noticing. It's a real word, coined by Yarn Harlot after she took a bunch of photos of Greg Kinnear's feet at an airport in Canada.

Monday, September 27, 2010

any day now...

I was hoping to wake up this morning to an email informing me that my visa has been approved and is on its way to my house. Alas it wasn't there and my stress level increased by about four points. It's making me think about patience. What the heck is patience anyway? Am I waiting patiently when I know I can do nothing and so I try to distract myself while my stomach grows increasingly queasy and I want to chew off my own hand? Is patience the ability to pretend that you are not waiting for something or that someone is not actually driving you crazy? Is it an innate internal stability and calmness when everything around you is completely out of your control? A couple of weeks ago when I was waiting for the last important document I needed before I could apply for the visa I made myself sick, imagining all the things that could have gone wrong and what I could possibly do to fix it, and it was so bad that when I did get the letter I didn't actually feel any better and a capillary burst in my eye making it blood red for two weeks. This time around the waiting is far worse and I'm wondering what will burst.

Maybe I just need to be more positive. I will get the visa, I will get to London. I might miss the first week of school, all of the orientation meetings and the graduate party in the Tate Modern, but that can be ok. I'll just have to let them know that I'm coming a little late because of the visa issue. Worse things could happen.

On another positive note, I got an amazing new little toy. This year has been the year for gadgets for me. I got an ipod and a new little computer and now my friends chipped in to get me a kindle for a going away present. I love it. I think it's the best thing that has ever happened to books. I already have 200 books on there and it still only weighs a few ounces! I can do searches, I can make bookmarks and notes and now I have books that I thought about reading but never wanted to buy or try to find at the library. It also works well for my scattered brain to switch from book to book without having to pack 3 or 4 around with me all the time. I might even start reading for fun.

Ok, so no worries. Everything is going to work out fine. I will get there, and it will be soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

still not in England yet...

I'm spending one of my last few nights in Provo tonight, and I'm doing it with mixed feelings. A few months ago when I decided to go to New York for the summer I felt especially anxious, and when I was there I couldn't shake that anxious feeling, so I came back home. This time I'm going to London, and part of me fears that I feel the same as I did in New York: anxious, homesick and ultimately not too happy. But, there is a dramatic difference this time around. I'm excited and more or less at peace with the decision I've made. I'm also committed. I can't just come home when I start feeling lonely. When I went to New York I was running away. Now that I'm going to London I am simply starting a new chapter in my life, one that needs to begin.

Last week I went to see a band I've loved for several years now, Casiotone For the Painfully Alone. It's basically one guy who writes and performs beautifully sad music that has been the soundtrack for most of the anxty moments of my early 20s. This is his last tour under that name and he said that when he's done he'll put the songs away and never play them again, expect when he's feeling sad. I could kind of relate to him. This is a time of change, to put away the past and move forward with a new perspective on life. Maybe I should also put those songs away, those songs that remind me of lonely wanderings through Provo.

I've enjoyed myself the last few weeks in Utah. It's been perfect, and I feel as if I'll have no unfinished business or regrets when I leave. I've focused on spending time with the people I love, going on adventures, and I think have spent my time well saying goodbye to this place.
So now I just wait. I sent out all my documents to the UK Border Agency and they sent me an email last monday saying they received them and that it would take 5 to 15 working days for me to get my visa back. So far it's been 7 working days, and I'm praying that I will get it within the next five so that I have time to buy my plane ticket and get out there before classes start. So unless there's some big hitch I will be in London sometime during the first week of October. It's too bad I still haven't bought a plane ticket and it still seems like a dream.

Monday, September 6, 2010

waiting and crashing

I should be moving to London in 20 days, but it certainly does not yet feel like it's going to happen. The main reason is because I haven't got my visa yet and so have not bought a plane ticket. Everything else is set up. I put my deposit down on my room, enrolled in classes, bought new luggage and new clothes, and still I don't feel like I'm going. As long as I don't have something as definite and sure as a plane ticket, I can't really get too excited.

I have, however, been watching a great deal of British television, and if the place is anything like its tv I think I will be a happy person in a month from now.

Gah. My first class is on October 4th. I sure hope I can get there before then.

The last few months have been good and bad, as I wait and wait with a significant lack of patience I can't seem to bring myself to do much. My job right now is to wait, and so what's the point of reading or knitting or embroidering or writing or anything but sitting and thinking about how I have to wait for documents? I have to wait for emails. I have to wait for things to go through. I know it's ridiculous, but the waiting is incredibly distracting. The document I am waiting for now is the final key to the visa, and it was sent from England 11 days ago. Who knows how long it will take to get here, but I'm hoping I'll receive it tomorrow or in the next few days.

Although my life has been pretty much the most boring thing imaginable, I do have a story. Today was a really lovely day. It's starting to feel like autumn; there was a cool breeze all day, but the sun was nice and warm. A friend of mine came to visit me at my mom's house and he and I went shopping for some clothes and shoes, and since it was Labor Day the roads in Park City were particularly busy. I managed fine until on the way home I made a left hand turn at the end of an offramp from the freeway just as a guy was running a red light from the right side of my car. I didn't see him until he smashed in to me. It was scary, but it didn't feel like it did much damage, and when I pulled over and got out I saw that the guy was ok and that he only had a flat tire, and my car just had a scratch on the right front. Apparently, the corner of my car hit his tire and caused it to explode. We were both driving fairly fast, and I feel extremely lucky that his car didnt plow in the side of mine like it easily could have. There wasnt even a dent in my car, just tire marks and a little scratch. I love my big monster of a car, and I'm really glad the little incident wasn't any worse.

So tomorrow I need to do more than just wait around for the mail. It'll be difficult, but I have things that need to be done, and I need to just do them. I'm going to take the dogs for a walk in the morning and then start working on figuring out which clothes to pack and take with me and which things I'll be forced to leave behind. Then I guess I should figure out some other productive things that need to be done and just do them. I know the next few weeks are going to go by super fast but right now time is killing me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

a little favor.

I'm blogging specifically tonight to try to help a friend out who is participating in a competition done by Logitech. His name is Austin Craig, he's awesome, and if he wins he gets to live in a swanky apartment in LA for a couple of months and host parties to show off cool techy stuff. It's a dream job, and he is perfect for it. The voting ends tomorrow night and he's going for the final push, so go check out the link and click on the little VOTE button. It's very easy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

so close

A friend of mine reminded me tonight that the anxiety I feel over going to graduate school in London is not that far removed from the anxiety I felt over staying at BYU for my Master's degree. I constantly questioned whether or not I made the right decision, and in the end it became one of the best times of my life that I would never trade for anything. I had forgotten this, but I'm glad I recall it now. I always second guess the decisions that I make, and I am always wondering if I could have made a better choice, and yet overall I'm not that dissatisfied with my life. It is full of people and experiences and everything I could ever want or need. Why do I spend so much time regretting the choices that I make?

Some good news for today: I got 2 important emails. One was the housing office offering me a place to live, and the other was the enrollment office sending me an official notice about my acceptance. I am now one step closer to going to London than I was yesterday. It's a good feeling. Now, I have 2 more important emails to receive before the end of next week if I want to get my student visa on time. I'm not going to get too excited or too anxious, and if things work out then they work out.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

blogging instead of playing spider solitaire.

Hi, I'm going to tell you a little about how my life is going right now. Not that you asked.

I'm in limbo again. Actually, I've been stuck in limbo for a pretty significant amount of time. Neither here nor there, waiting for this or that to finally happen. Recently I've been waiting for news on whether or not I'll be getting a very important scholarship for the program in London, and it makes me anxious. I've been back from New York for a month now and time is flying, but I'm finding myself growing bored again. The excitement of the last two weeks of my trip, coming back and visiting with family and friends in Salt Lake, Kamas and Provo were exhausting and I was totally grateful for the chance to chill out and babysit a kitty in a cute apartment and have time again to think. Well, it's been a week and I'm bored.

I watch a lot of tv these days, and I noticed tonight when I was spending some time with friends that television is all I talk about. While I watch tv I knit. I just finished a hat that is much smaller than I was expecting to be, so maybe I'll try to sell it as a children's hat. Today I started a shawl with some $20 golden yarn that I bought in New York and I worry it won't be as pretty as I had hoped. Yesterday my little sister came over and I took some gorgeous pictures of her modeling some recent projects.

Guys, my sister is beautiful.

I've also been baking pies. After watching the entire 2 seasons of Pushing Daisies in the last week I have an uncontrollable desire to bake delicious pies. So far they have been perfection. Perfect crust, perfect filling. I'm in love with my pies. So far I've only made banana cream and a berry pie, but I plan on getting some more fruit and experimenting.

Not to brag, but I make a perfectly tender and flaky crust. And this berry pie was a divine conglomeration of three distinct berry flavors, all tied together with a little sugar on the flaky crust. Those were my sister's words, not mine.

Let's see... Oh, I also recently finished editing a 90 page thesis and got paid a little for it. I wish I could get more jobs like that. Anyone need an editor?

On another note, I've been feeling a little lonely lately, missing my Provo peeps and the new friendships I made in New York that never had the chance to develop to their full potential. I miss Alexis and Liz and Andy. I hope I can be friends with them again some day. I was lonely when I was in New York, and these people totally made my time there worth it. Tonight I spent time with three of my most favorite people, and I realize what joy friends bring me in my life, and I love the thought that I have no idea how many wonderful people I am set to encounter in my lifetime and how they will change and shape me and my existence on this earth.

Well, I think that is all for the night. Thanks, Internet, for listening. You're great.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

summer reading

I have a bit of a habit of marking up books when I read them, probably from the 20 years of schooling and 2 Humanities degrees under my belt. It is always handy when writing a paper on a novel to go back and find interesting passages already marked up. The problem, however, comes when I am borrowing a novel and my fingers just itch to write all over it and I can't. And so then I usually type out the passages that interest me to look at later if I need to. Now, the problem with this is that I rarely go through and open random word documents to look at, especially when I always seem to misplace the important documents I have (I have no idea how this happens, but I can't tell you how many times important things have just disappeared from my computer). Solution? I will blog my favorite passages as I work through my summer reading list. This may prove helpful for me, and possibly entertaining for anyone (or any two or three) who actually read this blog.

I'm currently working my way through On the Road by Jack Kerouac and I am thoroughly enjoying what for many is the American dream: cross country road tripping. My Brazilian friend is also reading the book and said that he would love to hitchhike across the United States but would never dream of doing something like that in Brazil. Of course, I said. This sort of travel is an American institution. Who doesn't want to see this continent, from sea to shining sea? I know that the need to travel across this place is an itch I someday hope to scratch, and I have always wanted to read this book and the adventures outlined here. And at this point in my life, I feel like I can relate to Sal Paradise as he abandons his day to day life and sets out to see the country. I'm at the point now where he makes it from New York to San Francisco, has run out of money and has to find a job, and when he gets into trouble for not doing exactly what he should on the job he thinks, "he was right; but all i wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country" (60).
Me too, Sal, me too.

I love how getting a job to make ends meet for a time becomes part of the adventure, as it has been for me this summer as I take on odd jobs and move about the country, sleeping on couches and just trying to get by until the next chapter of my life begins.

And so, here are some passages I enjoyed tonight as I continued reading On the Road, and expect more to follow as I finish up the book.

"I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was--I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that's why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon" (15).

"I spun around till I was dizzy; i thought I'd fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. Oh where is the girl I love? I though, and looked everywhere, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below. And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded--at least that's what I thought then" (71).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

London calling

It's coming on a month since I blogged last, and even though this last month has probably been the craziest and most eventful in months, I haven't felt stable enough to sit down and write a blog. Or maybe I should say I haven't felt like I could give my full attention to such a task. Until right at this moment: the first time in nearly a month that I have been totally and completely by myself.

I had 2 goals I needed to accomplish this summer. The first was to live in New York and the second was to not pay rent for at least two months. New York: check. Being homeless: so far so good. Since I wrote last I have spent part of a week in a hostel in Boston, a night in a friends apartment in New York, part of a week in a lovely home in Maryland, a night in my old apartment in New York, a few nights on my sister's couch in Salt Lake, a couple of couches in Provo, a bed and a couch in Kamas, another few nights back in Salt Lake and now I am house sitting for a nice girl with a lovely cat while she enjoys a cruise. I'll be here for 2 weeks and then I'm back to couch surfing.

I kind of really don't mind this lifestyle. I don't mind living out of a suitcase and I don't mind sleeping on couches. The best part is that I haven't paid rent for a month now, and I'm getting paid to stay at this girl's house for the next two weeks. Sweet deal, yeah?

After the summer is over I'll hopefully be starting one of my biggest adventures yet: moving to London to do a PhD at the London Consortium (part of Birkbeck College) in Humanities and Cultural Studies. If I can find the money to go it will be a dream come true. Last week I had an interview over the phone with the professor I would be working with and they emailed me two hours later telling me of my acceptance. I honestly couldn't believe it. I was slightly worried about the interview because I could hardly understand the British accents over a speakerphone, and I was uncertain of a few of their questions, even though I tried to answer as if I did understand what they said. Thank goodness for the last 15 years of my life watching Beatles movies, Monty Python and Doctor Who, or I may have been completely lost in that interview.

Guys, I'm moving to LONDON!

Well, maybe. I hope. It depends on a lot of things that I'm working on right now. My goal is to get all the paper work figured out this weekend and send it all in on Monday.

I was looking at the courses I'll be taking this fall and I got all giddy and light headed just thinking about them. Here are some of the course titles: "Coldness: Toward a Political Thermodynamics of Culture", "Down: Meloncholy, Depression and Regeneration", and "Scratches, Traces, Spacings". Does that sound awesome or what?? Ok, maybe I shouldn't get too ahead of myself. I still have to raise thousands of dollars to go.

I was just thinking the other day that I didn't want to wait a year to go back to school and now I may not have to. It feels good to think that I don't have to put my goals on hold. I'm excited.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

goodbye new york

Today is my last full day in New York City. Tomorrow I'm going to Boston for a few days, then I come back on Wednesday and leave again early the next morning for Baltimore. I get back from Baltimore on Monday and then fly home Tuesday morning. It's sure to be quite the week, especially with the 22 hours of travel time I'm set to endure.

So how did I spend my last day in New York City? I refused to leave my apartment. I watched a World Cup game, did laundry, packed, ate, and watched episodes of Merlin and the new Doctor Who. I might go out in a little while to get ice cream and say goodbye to this city, but who knows. I feel no remorse for staying in today. I rather enjoyed my time alone, and I had a hell of a time sleeping last night so I just wasn't feeling up for the fight that is going out into the city.

Yesterday was the perfect way to end my time here. I spent most of the day laying out in the sun at the beach, then I went and saw a CocoRosie concert that was pretty amazing. I seriously had to recover from it all today before I go to Boston. I have some great pictures from those two activities, but I seem to have lost my camera cord and so I can't upload them right now, but I will when I get back to Utah.

I'm not sad about leaving, but I feel bad that I don't feel more sad. Granted, I only spent about two months in New York, but that love/hate relationship with this place has stayed pretty balanced, and I'm excited to go back home. I think I have a better understanding of what home means now, and I'm glad that I have been fortunate enough to grow up attached to a certain piece of land called Utah, to have roots in a place. I recently finished reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, a thoroughly depressing novel, and one that left me weeping, but there was one passage near the end that struck me and made me feel extremely grateful that I have a home to go back to.
That was the feeling that possessed her now--the feeling of being something rootless and ephemeral, mere spendthrift on the whirling surface of existence, without anything to which the poor little tentacles of self could cling before the awful flood submerged them. And as she looked back she saw that there had never been a time when she had had any real relation to life. Her parents too had been rootless, blown hither and thither on ever wind of fashion, without any personal existence to shelter them from its shifting gusts. She herself had grown up without any one spot of earth being dearer to her than another: there was no centre of early pieties, of grave endearing traditions, to which her heart could revert and from which it could draw strength for itself and tenderness for others.
This I felt was the saddest moment of the book, and where I started weeping. Unlike Lily Bart, I had grown up with a spot of earth being dearer to me than another. I have roots, and I plan on establishing a place where my children feel that they have roots. This is a point I have actually thought about for years, since I read Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of American: Culture and Agriculture where he talked about the importance of being tied to the land, and how our American nomadism is actually harmful to us. I think there can be a balance. I love to travel and to see different places and sometimes I wish one place or another could be my home, but it's not. As dumb as people might think it is, I am pulled back to Utah because it houses my dearest memories, it was the "centre of early pieties, of grave endearing traditions to which [my] heart could revert and from which it could draw strength for itself and tenderness for others." It's true, and I don't think many people deeply understand this principle unless they had a very special piece of land which they could call home. I know that my experiences growing up on a ranch shaped who I am, living so closely to a beautiful piece of earth gave me balance and established my moral center.

And so I'm excited to go back to my homeland, and I'm extremely happy that I've been able to spend this time here. I needed it. And I plan on coming back soon because I've met amazing people and established what could be long lasting friendships. I guess in a weird way I've set down roots here to which I can return. I've become acquainted with a remarkable city, and I'm lucky I had the opportunity to do so.

So, goodbye to you New York and your trash, your loud and obnoxious people, awful smells, and oppressive heat. And goodbye to your wonderful food, your museums, the beautiful Central Park, and the kind and remarkable people who call you home. This was fun, but I gotta go back home now. I have family, friends, pets, mountain thunderstorms, sunsets, fishing, swimming at Mona, my car, and cheap delicious Mexican food waiting for me back in Utah.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

if we wait until the weekend, we could miss the best things to do.

So 95% of my interactions with people yesterday were with men. Seriously, it was very weird. I talked briefly to one woman the whole day. I went out with an old friend for lunch and he and I walked around the Upper West Side for a few hours. We went to Ulysses Grant's tomb, which was very cool, then I went to my knitting class which was taught by a man. After that I went to a concert and on my way home I ran into a guy I met a few weeks ago and hung out with a few times. He wrote a book and gave me a copy and I've read and it was the weirdest run in with a person. I was getting off the train and there were only men surrounding me. I didn't see one woman, and I thought "this is really odd" and I started looking around to see if there were men behind me as well and I turned and this kid was walking right next to me. We were both a little shocked, especially since those sort of run ins don't happen often. So we took the same train home and we talked the whole way and set up a time to hang out next week. Then when I got home I talked to 2 more guys before I went to bed. Weird.

So I was thinking of blogging about today because I had another awesome day, but then I realized how boring these posts must be about me listing the stuff I do. I decided to make my perfect day into a walking tour so that if any of you find yourselves in New York you can retrace my steps and perhaps find yourself having a perfect day.

I call this The Lazy Hot Day in New York Tour:

The next time you find yourself jobless in New York City with a lot of time on your hands, a couple of nice people to hang out with and weather that is less agreeable on the temperature side (preferably 90 degrees or more) there are plenty of relaxing and low impact activities. A nice picnic in the park is the perfect way to start.

1. Take a three hour picnic in the shade in Central Park. Start at the corner of 96th Street and Central Park West entrance to the park. Walk about 20 feet into the park and find a nice shady spot on the nearby hill. It's hot out there. You don't need to be doing any trekking any further when a perfectly shady hill is available right next to the entrance. Set yourself down and talk and eat with the couple of nice people you brought with you for the next two to three to four hours.

2. After snoozing in the shade, lazily stroll down Central Park West until you find yourself a refreshing drink. If you are lucky enough to be with someone who lives in the Upper West Side you can stop by their house, use their bathroom and freshen up with some cool water from their kitchen sink (it's free!)

3. Without exerting too much effort, ramble down Amsterdam and stop in Pretty Angel Nail & Spa (between 81 and 82nd) for a $24 mani/pedi. Super cheap and they also have great massage chairs.

4. After your mani/pedi hop on the train and head down to Chinatown. On Mott St. there are a number of places to get a cold tapioca drink. I got a passion fruit with little bits of coconut jellies floating in it. So refreshing. I got it at a place that was also a bakery where I bought a 98 cent piece of chocolate torte. 98 cents!!

5. Around the corner at 68 Bayard St. is a little place called "Nice Green Bo Restaraunt". They have delicious dumplings. You can share 3 orders between 4 people and only pay $5 each to get filled up with yummy food. Across the street is the Ice Cream Factory where they have an impressive array of flavors such as avacado and red bean. I got the lychee flavor, and it was delicious. Only, be aware that you can only sample 2 flavors of ice cream.

6. After dessert walk east down Canal Street (towards the East River) where you might just be lucky enough to run into some sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who sit outside the high school with big signs in Chinese offering free Book of Mormons and English lessons and try to talk to passers by. They're adorable girls and speak excellent Chinese, and if you crowd around them people will get interested and actually come up and talk to them.

7. Continue down Canal Street until you get to Allen Street. Cross the street and turn right. Just before you reach Division Street is a genuine Bansky painting on a wall. It's been tagged with silver paint, but what can you expect? Stand there and admire the piece of art which, if it had been done on a canvas would be worth thousands of dollars.

8. Walk down Allen Street towards the river until you pass under the Manhattan Bridge and actually get to the East River. The best time to go is at evening with a full moon when it's still 90 degrees and a cool breeze blows off of the river. You get a spectacular view of the Manhattan and the Brooklyn bridges and of Brooklyn and the Financial District.

9. Now if you're doing this walking tour right you'll be with someone who actually lives in a high rise luxury apartment in the Financial District. If you don't, well then you can't really finish the tour, so enjoy the view and then go home to your crumby little room that isn't actually a room at all in Harlem. Otherwise walk along the river towards the Financial District, try to navigate its charming crooked streets until you get to Two Gold St, advertised as "Downtown Manhattan's most amenity rich luxury resident rental". Take the elevator to the roof and enjoy the view of the river and of downtown Manhattan, or you can hang out in the club house with several private lounge areas and pool tables, or you can go for a swim in the pool or do laundry in one of the TWO on site laundry facilities. Two. On site. Not down the street, but in the same building. Unheard of. Or you could just hang out in a sweet apartment and watch tv on the giant flat screen.

This is where your adventure ends, but you'll find an A train near by that will take you to your (still 90 degree hot) room that isn't really a room in Harlem. From Central Park to the Upper West Side to China Town to the Financial District, you've seen a lot today and you deserve a nice cool shower.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

an imitation from New York, you're made in Japan from cheese and chalk

I've been sick since Tuesday night after I went out into the rain to see the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop which was thoroughly enjoyable, fun to watch, thought provoking and kind of awesome. I couldn't help feel like someone was messing with me, which really only made me enjoy it more. I don't feel like giving a plot summary or review, but there are plenty out there to read. I like how the NY Times calls it "a film that looks like a documentary but feels like a monumental con."

So while the beginning of the week was fun, the middle was a little annoying since I wanted to try to get better quickly so that I could resume my rock 'n' roll lifestyle in the Big Apple. So I stayed home, sniffly and miserable. On Thursday I went to the Whitney Biennial, an exhibition they do every other year of up and coming artists. I thought a couple hours there would not be too taxing on my virus infested body, but I didn't realize that my brain had ceased functioning until I found myself lost in Central Park. I had been meaning to simply walk across, to get from West 72nd street (on 8th Ave) to East 72 street (on 5th Ave), and I was little alarmed when I exited the Park at 59th Street and 6th Ave. If you don't feel like trying to picture the geography of this mistake, I made a map to give you an idea:

The black line is my intended route and the red marks my actual trek through the Park.

So I effectively walked a mile out of my way, which is no big deal, but because I was sick and it was a really hot day I thought that I was going to die by the time I made it to the museum. Plus I was also disturbed by the fact that I thought I was walking in one direction the whole way and I was so totally off track and I didn't know until I came out of the park.

As fun as that all was, and the Biennial was actually pretty great, Saturday was my really interesting day of the week. I was scheduled, or thought I was, to work at Coney Island at noon, so I decided to leave a little early and go to the temple to do some work. I had a very lovely experience there, and because I had been trying to write the talk that I gave in church today, I felt that my mind was in the right place to allow myself the kind of spiritual learning that can occur there. I left feeling very good and not concerned at all that I might be late to my job. I'm glad I didn't worry because when I got there my boss was surprised. "You're not on the schedule," she told me. Now, the fact that I was only scheduled to work twice in the whole month made me feel pretty sure that I was on the schedule, but I guess not on hers. I'm a little annoyed since her boss scheduled me and called her (while I was in the room) when she was out of town and told her when I was supposed to work. I told her not to worry about it and that I would go home and not come back, but that if she needed extra help in the next couple of weeks she could call me. I really just wanted to get out of there, especially because I was sick and had other plans for my Saturday. So I left and it took me an hour and a half to get home. I left for Coney Island at 10:30 and was back in my apartment by 2:30. It was a fantastic waste of time, and on the way back I sat next to a little old asian man on the train who proceeded to clip his very very long fingernails and leave the clippings on the floor. Lovely.

When I got home I rested and finished writing my talk and then I went to the LCD Soundsystem show, which I was very excited about. Needless to say, I had an awesome time. The only thing that bugged me was the crowd, especially the people near me, who refused to dance. One girl was positively frowning. It totally killed my concert buzz. Here is a video of the last song from the show that I went to, and if you look closely you can see me!! (I'm in the lower left hand side right in front of the two bongo-like drums)

I seriously had so much fun. I was exhausted by the time I got home but it felt good to dance and let myself go a little.

Well, that's it for now, but I have more to write about this week which has been far more enjoyable.