Friday, September 30, 2005

Fashion here, as I think I’ve said before, is a really strange thing. One of the bigger trends now is patterned tights. Stockings. Whatever you want to call them. But they have lacy patterns on them, generally, and a lot of women wear them. I’m not totally against it – it’s a clever new twist on a very old clothing staple (though why they’re needed in the first place is beyond me, though given how far north we are I’m guessing it’s warmth). However, the patterned thing concerns me a bit, because very often at first glance it looks like the wearer has a deeply unfortunate skin disease.

Moving on.

What a delightfully enlightened country this is. I went to the clinic this morning, leaving at 7:45 for the hour walk there. I wasn’t too put off by the early wakeup-and-walk as this gave me solid motivation to see what mornings are like in Edinburgh (conclusion: gray). Turned out that the walk was more like 35 minutes, so I tried to kill time by wandering around. I finally stopped into a Gregg’s, which is a local chain bakery. The smells that waft out of these bakeries is enough to stop even the most stringent anti-refined sugar activist to start salivating profusely. I got a chocolate doughnut. It was fine, heartier than Krispy Kreme’s melt-in-your-mouth-and-drip-onto-your-trousers doughnuts. But it was a nice way to start the morning.

And to everyone who thinks a brisk walk in the morning is a good way to start the day, I say with deepest respect, HAH.

At the clinic (still 10 minutes early) I got to fill out a standard form, and then sat in the waiting room. It was chock full of all sorts of quality magazines with thought provoking articles (“Surgery left me with no top lip!”)(seriously), and I got to peruse pictures of Courtney Cox-Arquette. And lo, I have a whole host of new and completely useless information about celebrities. Great.

Other people came and went, including one woman who left the waiting room when someone said “Oofgweih,” over the loudspeaker. At which point I had a jolt of terror that they’d call my name and I wouldn’t understand what they were saying and have to come get me and I’d be embarrassed. These are the things I think at 9am.

As I was contemplating taking a nap in my chair they called me upstairs (I did understand them when they called me, thank you for asking). I walked into the office and saw the examination table. Oh lordy. I promised the remainder of my karma points to whoever takes care of these things if it meant I wouldn’t have to have another damn poke-and-prod session. I just had one of those a month ago! So I wouldn’t have to have one here! Come on!

The doctor sat me down and asked me the standard questions, including how long I was staying here and what kind of prescription I had. She took my blood pressure and asked if three months’ worth would be okay. I calculated how many months I had before going home – and I’m not proud of this but blame, um, the celebrity tabloid, yes, that’ll work – by counting on my fingers. The answer was three. And I said three months’ worth was fine, thank you.

And she brought me three months’ worth! For free! Everything for free!

Guys, this is a great country.

When I asked about payments they said there wasn’t any fee, but they suggested making a donation. Thinking they would ask for it at the desk at the end I had my wallet at the ready, thinking £10 is a solid amount, even though it took out about half of my daily budget (see: free, and also following deep appreciation). But all they had was a ceramic pig on the desk into which donations were made, so I gave £2, which was half of the change I had (so I was a little cheap at the last minute – shut up) and was praised to the hills by New Front Desk Lady for my generosity.

Walked back home (again with the walking)(as though I’m going to wake up one day with keys to a car or similar) and felt like hell. I’d woken up at 7, left at 7:45, and gotten back at 10. The appointment itself was about 15 minutes long. I was tired. And I crashed, even though it was already late-ish morning. Woke up again at noon and felt like lead. It was exceptionally difficult to move. I wondered if I didn’t somehow manage to catch the flu from some infected passer-by who happened to open my window, sneeze on me, and then close the window again. Taking note of the rationale behind those thoughts, I went back to sleep.

Woke again at 12:45 still feeling like a sack of potatoes (which are, as we all know, very similar to lead) and, being the sensible woman that I am, decided to go out.

See, the thing is that I feel like any day here where I don’t do Something is a day wasted. And I’m only here four three months, so I have to utilize all the time I have and I can’t spend a day indoors, taking care of myself! Carpe Scotland!

Also, I saw this hat that I really kind of liked and so I had myself almost completely convinced that I should buy it. As I wandered up to Prince’s street and back I bounced between two modes of thought:

1. I feel okay! I can keep going! There are, after all, other things I could use! I will just find them and then I can go home and watch a movie or something. Perfect!
2. I wonder if people would mind if I just sit down in the middle of this department store/sidewalk/escalator/street for a while.

I did end up finding what I was looking for (do you know how hard it is to find chalk around here? Really hard), went home, and sat around in my pajamas for a while.

I’d run into Theatre Royal Pub Manager Zoë on the way back from the clinic and said I might stop by that evening. She said she was going to be there until 6, so I should show up before then. Naturally, right before I left I got a phone call and ended up missing her. I didn’t feel up to walking all the way to the ‘net pub, but packed up my computer anyway, figuring I’d grab some dinner at the TR pub and, if I felt totally motivated, would then go to the ‘net pub.

When you don’t work you tend to forget things like days of the week. It’s Friday, for those of you who might be unaware, or reading this at a later date. Both pubs – and most others – were packed with urban professionals celebrating the beginning of the weekend. I wasn’t totally keen on dealing with them – eating alone is one thing when the place is near-empty, but it’s mighty awkward when you’re alone amidst a laughing, semi-drunk crowd. And that’s assuming you can find a table. Or place to sit. So I opted to head home.

Bought food and beer, and am rather confident that I made the right choice. Which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t readily encourage other options, but… I don’t really have… hanging-out-style friends here yet. I texted Rita the other day but I haven’t heard back from her. It’ll happen, I’m sure, but for now… this was about it.

I feel sometimes like I’m missing out on being here. I enjoy hanging out by myself; I’ve always been keen on solitude. But I feel like there’s more that could be happening and isn’t. Chatting with more people, planning things – having friends. When I’m at swing dances people are really kind. I can go up and start talking to someone, and more than one person made sure I was in the loop on seeing a big band play next weekend. But outside the dances – well, Alan said he’d call, but that’s different. It’s one of those things that comes with time, but that doesn’t really help now.

Though even if I had the option tonight I’d likely stay in. I’m still pretty knackered. Still. The option would be nice…

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well. Well, well, well, well, well. Hm.

I went to the Women’s Clinic and have myself a free appointment for Friday, thank you very much, Dr. Full Of Himself. Unfortunately it’s at 8:50am (damn it!) because I thought there would be the possibility that I’d be going to see Jamie and Hans that day, so I wanted to leave myself enough time. Stupid. Well, at the time it wasn’t, but now it is.

Anyway. This would be… Tuesday? That I made the appointment. The only way I know what day of the week it is is if there’s dancing (Tuesday or Thursday) or if everything’s closed except a few pubs which are open because what else is there to do when everything’s closed (or when everything’s open, because people drink constantly here) (and that would be Sunday, by the way).

Right. Then I went over to the train station so as to see about getting tickets to go off and see Jamie and Hans. There was a line 20 people long to get advance tickets, and so I waited. Luckily they’re clever to the point of having you take a number and then letting you sit down. Otherwise I think they’d have people sitting in a very organized line on the floor in front of the ticket counter.

It wasn’t too bad as I knew someone in the waiting area. Sulayman is the husband of one of my flatmates. He’s visiting her for a few weeks while on holiday from his studies in Greece. One of my other flatmates – the contra dancer – his wife is also not living in this country. She’s in the states. But there are plans for her to move here.

If I were less open minded I might make some kind of inadvertently crass observation about the curiosity of married people living so far apart, but I’m not, so I won’t.

Yes. So Sulayman is in a similar position that I am, in that he’s here with no real schedule. We catch each other around the house on occasion and end up chatting for a while as neither of us really has anything more pressing to do. Generally. I figured that we would eventually end up wandering around the city together, but it didn’t happen until I saw him at the train station.

He was planning to head south and was checking prices and possibilities. I got myself a return ticket to Inverness for the 2nd. The great thing about train tickets here is that you can use them any time (except Fridays) in the month after you purchase them. So I could go any day (except Fridays) and stay as long as I want. If I’m out there and decide I want more than one night then by golly, I don’t have to worry about getting a new ticket. And I can stop anywhere along the way, tool around for a while, and then jump back on the train and not have to pay any more money. Full of awesome.

And so it was that we wandered around town together for an hour or two.

Then home again, and then out for – oh yes indeed – swing dancing! Finally!

The swing dancers here seem to be much friendlier than those in the states. There are a lot of cliques in swing dancing circles there, but it didn’t strike me as being that way here. But then again, if you have a decent idea as to what you’re doing then people tend to be a lot more welcoming.

I chatted with people and danced a bunch, as I do. They do the shim-sham here, but it’s to a different song and in a circle rather than in lines. They also do a completely silly dance to some Squirrel Nut Zippers song that I need to learn.

I talked to Jacqi who seems to be involved in the community there somehow and she wants me to teach a blues dancing class which is very exciting and also highly terrifying. Which is silly because I’ve taught blues dancing before. But I really want to impress these people, and since my dancing was a little rusty I felt I really needed to work on that. Plus teaching on my own, plus teaching a large group. On my own. Eek.

I danced a number of times with Alan, who, you may recall, is the gentleman who walked up and introduced himself in an unprovoked manner. We dance rather well together and had a good time talking. He’s, in many ways, a quintessential Brit (being from England, firstly). He’s tall, slim, quiet, and seems exceptionally sober. I’m surprised every time he smiles.

He’s going away on holiday but asked if I want to hang out when he comes back, maybe grab a cup of coffee. I cut him off while agreeing that that would be great. I’m thrilled, but I’m starting to wish I could meet people that really did just want to hang out.

Also, I start to feel awkward when more than one person asks me out at a time (or in a few days).

They had a steal jam for two Aussies who were visiting. Their steal jams are so polite! At Guilford we shove people out of the way. Here they just walk up and wait near the dancing couple and then one person steps out. Wild. They announced hellos to them, and later announced one to me! Over the loudspeaker! They’d never do that in the US.

On Wednesday… very little. Grocery store. Looked at clothing. The same pairs of trousers and same shirts are getting a little old. I harbor this delusion that I look good in hats and so tried a number on, but was already well over budget for the day and so passed. They have the weirdest taste in clothes here. It’s exceptionally eclectic, going from 80’s punk to Victorian ruffles and stumbling drunkenly everywhere in between.

And so I found a sweater dress that was blue and gray striped and, needing a laugh, tried it on. Over my jeans, thank you. I’m not completely crazy.

And damned if it didn’t look good on me. But I didn’t want to drop £40 on it, so I passed.

Today I decided I was finally going to do something Cultural, so I went off to Holyrood Palace. Palace of Holyrood. Holyrooditude. What the hell is it called? Hang on. Palace of Holyrood. Okay. It’s where the queen stays when she’s in Edinburgh, which I gleaned wasn’t all that often.

You get a free audio tour, and while I usually eschew those things it was free, and as we all know, it’s all about the free. I followed and was followed by a camera crew that was going through the tour. A striking and oft-blinking man was interviewing another gentleman about the place. My favorite part was in the dining room, where the audio tour said that this is where the Queen eats when she’s here, and then overheard the interviewee telling Blinky that actually she wouldn’t usually eat there while visiting. Ha. Oops.

I thought it was pretty boring. I’m sure it’s exciting for people who, you know, care about royalty, but I actively seek to avoid any information on them as, let’s be honest here, they’re completely insufferable.

The ruined abbey and the gardens were much better. I wonder, though, that they covered the floor of the abbey with gravel. One would think that with all the people walking around and with the stones it would ruin the gravestones, which lie flat on the ground and aren’t protected. But hey, what do I know?

I was feeling fine upon leaving, and so on a whim decided to climb Salisbury Crags – cliffs that run a smidge of the eastern edge of town. I hadn’t had lunch yet but I had chocolate with me, so I figured I’d be okay. The first section is incredibly steep, and there’s sheer cliff on the left and a grass-covered drop off to the right. Despite the five-foot wide path I could feel my ABSOLUTE TERROR OF HEIGHTS make my legs a little shaky. But it also could’ve been the thinner air and the climb up there in the first place.

Lovely (fairly short) walk. Great city views. Four stars.

What killed me were the people who looked as though they were just on a brief jaunt up the calf-exploding incline, for which my knees will never forgive me. I especially liked the grandmotherly-looking woman who was making her way along the path as though it was nothing. And the men in suits!

Could I really be that out of shape?

Anyway. Walked to the peak, saw there wasn’t much reason to go farther, then headed back. Stopped for battered sausage and chips, and managed to gain back every calorie I’ve ever worked off in my life. And then some. It was right tasty though.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Must remember to pay rent tomorrow. Bleah. Paying rent.

It was incredibly windy today. It was the kind of wind that you get at the seaside, which I suppose Edinburgh is. Blustery enough that it made you seriously reconsider the direction in which you were traveling. It was fantastically helpful when it was pushing you from behind, however, especially when you were going uphill. More than once I nearly fell because when I lifted my foot to walk the wind would nearly sweet it out from under me.

Dusty roads were a nightmare.

I walked a solid two and a half hours today. Had set out at about noon to find BP Plus – a medical centre – so I could get a prescription rewritten. Seems they won’t accept American prescriptions here – you need a doctor from the UK to write it. I don’t know what that’s about. Wacky Scots.

Right! So I walked and walked and walked because that’s just what I do these days because I refuse to learn the bus system. Bus systems in America are… well, they’re creepy. There’s something that is just sketchy about them, and no amount of new busses or cleaning is going to change that. And so I carry my Healthy American Bias card with me on my giant foot-powered treks across town.

Finally I found myself at BP Plus and managed to find the door (cleverly placed at the side of the building and lacking any signs saying “door at the side, not the front, which is where someone clever would put the front door”, which leads me to believe it is some kind of test to be able to see a doctor) (I saw it by peering through the window) and waited and waited for the nice young lady with the fun accent at the front desk to get off the phone or at least make some kind of motion that says “Hey! I see you and will be with you in a second! I am so sorry for holding you up after you have walked most of the way across town and not for your health, thank you very much!”

I used that time to read the handy payment chart that was on the desk that said a consultation with Dr. Full Of Himself was £75 and every 5 minutes subsequent was £25, and blanched because holy god that is a large amount of money. And I noticed that consultations with other doctors were a bargain price of £70/consultation and £20/5 minutes thereafter.


Surely, though, birth control is such an easy procedure that I won’t have to pay such a ridiculous sum and they charge you £10 to refill prescriptions?! What is wrong with this country?

I expressed my reason for the visit to Front Desk Lady and she said that an appointment would be with Dr. Full Of Himself and would cost the ridiculous amount described above (for fifteen minutes!). At which point I choked on bitter, terrified laughter and asked if there were any other options. Well, she said, I could walk down the road to Stockbridge medical centre, which really is right down the road and on the left, she thinks. But they’re really busy, she said, and I might not be able to get an appointment today. But they’re close! I promise!

If it saves me £75 then I’ll take it.

I walked. Down a charming little back street and down an ankle-breakingly steep road which dead-ended into a road full of shops that I’d not before had the privilege to walk by before. But the road veered to the left so I thought that I should continue in that direction, having not seen the medical place yet. She said left, I went left.

And I walked and walked (sensing a trend here?), fending off schoolchildren who were loud and boisterous and impeccably dressed in snappy uniforms (what the hell? Where were attractive uniforms when I had to wear them?). They took up sidewalks and crammed into pastry shops. All this at 1pm. Why aren’t they in school? I continue to be confused.

After walking five years off my knees I did the sensible thing and stopped and asked for directions. I learned, of course, that when I veered left what I should’ve done was to turn right and go up the next street. Of course. Damn you, Front Desk Lady.

Back I went, through all the swarms of children, through the stoplights and over the bridge, outwitting the troll as I crossed.

Up the stairs and into what looked like a reception area, and into a line, where I got to wait. Finally I got to explain my case to the new Front Desk Lady, who then went off to check Something. Wait, wait, wait. She came back and told me that I live too far outside of their range, and they can’t help me. But I did get a number that I can call to find a place that can help me!


I trudged back up the mountain secretly disguised as a street, defeated in my quest. And, frankly, grouchy. It’d been two hours at this point of walking and being disappointed. So I went into Lush and bought myself some bath things and came home. I love you, consumer therapy!

It didn’t take me too long to get antsy at home, so I packed up my laptop and headed out to the internet pub. While I found a list of local places that have been rumored to have Free Wi-Fi I don’t know how “local” they actually are, and the pub is – well, I can find it and I know there’s free internet. Plus food and/or beer!

This pub has a bunch of smaller tables, and then at the front of the bar has a long table that is suitable for a party of 8ish or a couple of strangers to sit together. I’ve done it before and it’s rather nice – a good excuse to butt into someone’s conversation and pretend that you’ve made a friend. Hello! All the small tables were taken up and there was only one person at the larger, communal-style table, so I asked if I could sit down.

He was rather attractive and seemed to be quite content, just sitting there staring off into space. I wondered if maybe he was, um, sampling some of the finer powdered drugs the area has to offer or if he was just keen on… well, just sitting.

I did my usual internet work, emailing and seeing if any of my usual sites were updated in an interesting way (not really). And then the young gentleman started to chat with me a bit. There was a little small talk and then I would get back to my computer. We did this a number of times and eventually got into a highly enjoyable conversation. We talked about the other people in the bar, making up stories about them (“Oh him? In a cult. Definitely.” “They eat kittens. And use their skins to make clothes. But they’re so small that they need a lot.” “Yeah, but he’s really good at knitting because of it”). I learned that he’s in a band, has an office job, and works in a pub. And he was there because he left work early with the flu (that might explain the aforementioned zoned out look) and decided to go out and get drunk before going home and going to sleep.

We told a lot of stories during our conversation so I’m not entirely sure how much of what he said was true. As I said to him, if I had the flu I wouldn’t be totally keen on getting drunk, but I’m not him. I sent him this link so he might be reading this. If so,

Hi! I’ve forgotten your name already. I apologize. I remember that it started with an A, though.

He invited me to his band’s gig and bought me a drink. I thoroughly enjoyed his company.

Ducked out to catch a phone call, said goodbye to A (it’d be so nice if I could remember names ever) and went home. I’m a party animal.

I debated for a while whether or not I wanted to go out to the Theatre Royal Bar, which is where I met Dallas and Chris and spent time hanging out with the people who work there. Did end up going, and definitely made the right choice.

I saw, um, Australian lip-ring’d woman, and chatted with her a bit. Told her about my ordeal trying to find a place to get my birth control done and she gave me the name of a woman’s clinic in Stockbridge (damnit, I was just in that area today!) that will give me free birth control (hurray!). And my ovaries sighed in relief. So tomorrow I get to walk all over hell and gone again. But that’s cool if it works.

And she bought me a drink! She’s so groovy. Since the bar was so empty she was just hanging out with some other Aussies and invited me to sit with them. I love this culture of buying people drinks. I should start doing that. In America there are all these Connotations when you buy someone a drink. I much prefer it here. I enjoy drinking for free!

I spent some time chatting with her and with the bartenders (Graham and, um, what’s her name). By “some time” I actually mean “three hours or so.” What’s her name offered me a hot chocolate as she was making herself some sort of coffee-style beverage and then didn’t charge me for it. We discussed musicians (a loose usage of the term because the music videos being shown generally involved pop-schlock bands.

And now I’m camped out on my bed. Which is a good place to be.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


London Wetland Centre

More Wetland Centre

Train ride to Edinburgh (TREES!)

Nothing terribly interesting.

Yesterday I headed out to the grocery store only to get stopped by opera music eminating from the front of St. James Centre (a mall, for the curious). Turned out to be Bohème, a five-man man band, as they called themselves. They were doing sidewalk concerts to raise money for Save the Children. They did a combination of classical/operatic music as well as songs from movies like Band of Brothers. Lots of heal-the-world, end-wars, why-can't-we-all-just-get-along music. It was a great diversion from going to the store.

They had a filmographer with them who filmed the crowd and took interviews. He interviewed me because I'd been standing there for a while, and managed to not embarrass myself like the last time I got interviewed on-camera. Last time I was giggly and said dumb things. I was much cooler this time.

I pried myself away when they were getting into another pop song (I was hoping for more opera).

This world, as you have often been told but which I have just been reminded, is really freaking small. The gentleman who lives across the hall from me -- my flatmate -- used to be a contra dancer. When he lived in Massachusetts. He knows people I know.

That's just weird.

Walked to a new part of town today. Mostly residential, but with a gorgeous view.

Need to figure out where I'm going to travel to first. Jamie and Hans are coming soon, maybe I'll go out and see them.

Told you it wasn't anything interesting.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Now that I have a place to live my life has drastically achieved a startling amount of stagnancy. My big outing for the day was to go to the Gaughan exhibit at the Royal Scotland Gallery, or whatever it is they call it. Perfectly reasonable way to spend part of the day, except that I turned around when I saw it was £6.50 to get in. I am far too cheap at the moment to pay $13 to walk around a large building and look at paintings that I could easily find online.

Negative 1000 culture points for me. I hope you’re keeping track.

I could’ve gone to the Nicholas and Alexandra (the Russian czar and czarina, made interesting by my well-missed high school history teacher) exhibit at another museum, but didn’t feel like walking so far.

Instead I walked all the way down Prince’s street (a decent hike from my place of residence) with a goal of finding the rumored Sainsbury’s – reputably a nice large supermarket. Or hypermarket, as they French call it, which is, I think, a way better name. Instead I found a… Sainfield. Sunfield. Sludgefield. I don’t remember, some supermarket that started with an S that worked well enough for my needs. However, having bought food yesterday this is just a point of note for me. It’s a haul to get there, but there’s plenty of good-seeming food.

And I went to Waterstone’s and bought a couple of books, having finished the two I brought with me. I got a student discount card (10% off, oh yes). Fear my student ID! I fully believe it is the source of all my power. I probably shouldn’t let too many people know that. Don’t tell anyone, okay?

In lieu of spending £6.50 on a museum I instead spent almost twice that on books. But I’m fine with that.

And I came home and read and now I’m experiencing the pinnacle of traveling life: laundry. Until I can go out to the same old internet bar, have a beer and post this entry. Then come home, read more, and – hold onto your hats – go to bed.

I do still have anecdotes to share, though.

It would be... Tuesday when I went into the Royal Theatre Pub – it’s next to a theatre and the walls are covered with signed posters from various shows and bands that apparently appeared locally. I’d been there once before and had a rather good pasta dish. I sat at a table for a while, not being served (they really need a steadfast rule about whether or not you should order at the bar), before realizing that their kitchen might be closed.

It was. The bartender, an attractive Scot, mentioned a place that would be serving good food and gave me directions. I instantly forgot the name of the place (which I do anyway, but the accents usually ensure that I don’t know the name in the first place) but found Baroque, where I’ve spent the past few nights, basking in the free-ness of their wireless internet.

The bartender, Graham, told me to come back and let him know if I liked the food. I did, and ordered a beer. I sat down at a table, thinking I’d just have my beer, do my own thing, and then head out. I chatted with Graham when he would pass my table, and then got invited over to the table next to me. It was occupied by two Texans, Dallas (really) and Chris[tine] who were on vacation together. We spent the next four hours chatting and making friends with Graham, Zoë the manager, and um… the other bartender who is from Australia. They would come sit with us when they had breaks. And I’m realizing that for as much fun as we had I don’t have much to say about it. We talked about mass media and Scotland – where we’d been and where we wanted to go.

Dallas’ outgoing nature led us to be invited to hang out and drink after the pub closed. We stayed until 2am, and then promised to come back the next day.

And Wednesday evening I found myself back at the bar. I got there before the Texans and sat with Graham, who was on his dinner break, and the cook who had finished his workday. The cook, whose name I have, of course, forgotten, bought me a beer and I talked with them a while. Dallas and Chris showed up and we retreated to the same table from the evening before. We were all tired and the impulsive buzz from the night before had worn off. We still had a good time, and it was good to be able to have a familiar chat with familiar people.

Chris and Dallas left this morning, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. Thus the problem with being friends with travelers. I stopped in front of the pub last night, seeing Graham in the window. He saw me and winked as I waved, and I headed home.

I managed to rig up an ingenious fastening device to the shade for the bare bulb in my room (I found a twist-tie and used that to secure the lantern to the cord)(without falling on my face). Then I went out to the community centre down the road where swing dancing was presumed to take place. Déjà vu, anyone?

I tried to not get my hopes up, but had a hard time when I saw that there were actually lights on this time. I walked in and there were a gaggle of people learning the 20’s Charleston.

Oh, life was good. I chatted with the few people sitting out, and tried to figure out why there wasn’t anyone there the last time I’d been there.

I think what happened, and oh, if this is the case it’s kind of embarrassing, is that my watch lied to me. My watch, when I change the time, will occasionally confuse noon and midnight, which then means that the date will change at the wrong time. I think it might’ve been the 15th or 17th when I thought it was the 16th.


But there was going to be a half hour of free dancing and then they would go into the intermediate class. I put on my shoes and when the beginner’s lesson ended I walked into the jumbling mess of people, hoping that someone would ask me to dance because I was completely shy. They all seemed to know each other and I didn’t know anyone and it was awkward. For me.

A song or two in, someone asked me to dance. We ended up dancing three times because we kept talking and when a song is playing and no one else has asked you to dance it’s silly not to start yourself. Then someone else asked me to dance, and he was rather good. I was getting back into the swing of the dance (har!) no, I can’t write that groove of dancing and was feeling better.

People circled up for the intermediate class and I decided to stay. A gentleman who reminded me distractingly of Paul walked up and stood next to me, introducing himself. Allen. I was surprised and pleased at his un-self-conscious introduction, because I certainly wasn’t feeling that confident.

The lesson was fun. An older crowd than I usually see in North Carolina and even Pennsylvania, but they had the same joking manners that we do in the state. Well, not totally the same; we’re a little saucier than they were. They seemed kind and I’m thrilled at the prospect of having a place to go where I’ll know people and they’ll know me. And dancing! It feels so good.

Turns out there’s a Tuesday night swing dance here. It’s seeming that Tuesday will be my perpetual dance night. It’s a little ways from here – walkable, though – but only a pound for three hours of dancing. And there are workshops coming up that I’d like to attend. I’m really glad to have something consistent to do and look forward to.

Other things of note:

1. The shower here is far easier to understand. No knob to fuss with, just a power button (a power button?) and two dials. On is temperature, but the slightest touch to the left makes the water freezing regardless of whether it’s pointing to red or blue. The other is low/medium/high. I don’t really understand what it means, but medium seems to work for me.

2. You cannot escape bagpipe music here. If it’s not coming from a street performer (they seem to constantly be adjusting the pipes, not that I can tell any difference in the music when they do that) then it’s coming from one of the kilt/Scottish paraphernalia stores, of which there is at least one every three stores, all of which blare bagpipe music constantly. They also sell whisky, which I imagine is why they still have people working there. It makes me smile every time because Hans hates bagpipe music and will be here (that is, Scotland) in a week.

3. This weather is ridiculous. Walking down the street there are people in t-shirts and others in jacket, scarf, and hat. I personally go through any of those things walking to any of the local food-gathering places. It’s rather pleasant until there’s a breeze and then I’m pulling out my jacket. Or pulling it off if I’m going up a hill, of which there are too damn many. Fucking hills.

4. There are no glasses in this house that I actively want to drink out of. They’re all permanently cloudy, and that makes me a little nervous. I think I might need to buy one of my own. But my room is so clean, not that that’s related! This might have something to do with the fact that I don’t have much of anything in the manner of clothes but do have two dressers. I think I could keep one piece of clothing in its own drawer or shelf.

5. I’m off to the pub.

6. These people really will think I'm crazy. I'm at the pub and since there was no seating inside I had to sit outside to use my computer and fucking hell it's so cold. Even the guinness doesn't quite help. I'm glad I wrote this post in my room.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

There are so many things about this place that I just don't understand. The weather report, for instance. Apparently there's going to be a big influx of arrows over the weekend. A swarm of white arrows flying over the UK. And still the top story is Kate Moss and how she's apologizing for doing cocaine.

Where has the world been? Of course she does cocaine. How do you think she keeps her weight down, aside from the bulemia? Also, have you just looked at her? Cocaine chic is not done completely by makeup.

I hate the news. It means I have to form an opinion about stupid stories like that.

I don't understand telephone numbers here. Some are seven digits, some are as many as eleven. My own number is somewhere in the 15 to 20 digit range. And sometimes you need to add digits if you're calling from a mobile phone. Why?!

And the roads? I just don't get it. Sometimes there are zig zag lines, sometimes they're one way roads but have no apparent signs, the road signs are on the buildings but you can't really see cross streets until you actually make the turn. I'm not convinced I could ever actually drive here. There's too much that people seem to know without any sort of signage.

Well. I got together with Rita today. Rita, you may remember, used to be at Guilford but is now spending a year in Edinburgh to live and work. She and I never really talked much while in NC together. We seemed to be pretty shy around each other, talking only about the prospect of hanging out in Scotland. I figured that our get together would likely go just fine -- we would find things to talk about and feel a strong connection based on mutual situations.

And I was right. We skipped towards each other and caught in a giant hug -- both things we'd never done before. We had a grand time at lunch and chatted about our various experiences. Apparently her hostel is much friendlier than mine was. I still would rather have my own room, I have to say. Anyway. We had lunch and went grocery shopping and had a lovely time. There are grand plans in the works to take yoga together and hang out being awesome.

I must look quite the sight. I'm sitting in the internet-pub with my headphones talking to my computer. You see, with iChat you can do audio chatting. And I am. And so people can hear me talk but can't hear the other person talking. I bet it looks awesome. And since I'll likely be coming in here often I'll get to be the crazy American who talks to her computer.

Speaking of being the crazy American, I went to the Mary King's Cross tour, which is a historical tour about -- well, anyway, aat one point the tour encouraged us all to bow to the "queen" -- a silhouette. I leaned over and said I would, but I'm American.

HA! I am so funny.

My new place is good. Dirty, outside (and, frankly, inside) my room. I haven't met half of my roommates still, but I had a long conversation with the husband of the one roommate I've met, and I rather enjoy him. He's friendly and verbose, and offered me room to stay if I ever end up in Greece, where he's currently studying. Apparently there's another new roommate, but no one's met him yet.

I exchanged my lightbulbs (I'm surprised they took them back, what with the package being opened and me not having a receipt. But it all worked out and if things go well then I'll actually have some kind of decent light tonight.

That's about all for now, what with my computer being close to being out of power. I have an address, and should you be interested then drop me a line and I'll send it to you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Upon my return to Edinburgh I went to the tourist centre and got myself checked into a lovely hotel where, it turns out, the owners also have rooms for rent.


I checked out two of them. The first was small but decent. The house itself was pretty cramped and gross, but it was £240/month including utilities which is cheap enough for me to overlook the cramped and gross aspect.

The second place had a big kitchen (mmm) and a much bigger room, but then Landlord Michael realized he'd promised that room to someone else already, but I could have her room which was also tiny. But the place itself was nice, full of people about my age and they seemed social. But I couldn't move in there until the end of the month. Slight problem.

I decided to keep looking until I left the hotel -- I was spending two nights there (luxury!), and my deal was that if I didn't find somewhere by the time I left the hotel then I'd have to stay in a hostel until I did. That was my motivation. And it worked.

I checked out another place this morning. I called the landlady yesterday... If you've seen Bend It Like Beckham think of the sister, how she spoke quickly and ended all her sentences with "you know," or "all right" or similar, and then make her talk twice as fast and lose any ability to read her lips (what with the phone and all) and you have a sense of this woman. I didn't understand much of anything she said (something about people moving out because of some bad thing but one person's staying and I didn't really understand, but it sounded bad), but managed to grasp that I could see the place today at 11am.

And I went. I met the one person who's staying and I really liked her. She's friendly and cool and funny. And then I met the landlady and ooh I didn't like her. My interview lasted all of three minutes and when I said it was more than I wanted to spend (£300/month plus £300 deposit) she kicked me out. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to the other woman. Sheesh. The place was in a kind of seedy neighborhood.

I thought for a long time on the way back, but I really only had one option if I wanted to move in today, so I took the first apartment.

And it's nice. And he even knocked £10 off the rent. Landlord Michael rules. My room is nice but the rest of the place continues to be a sty. I've met one other person living there, and she... seems a little standoffish. She has internet, though, so I'm hopeful. I really enjoy her husband, who is vacationing here for a few weeks. He's hilarious.

I went out to get things for my room -- bedding, mostly, since all I had on my bed was a gross pink fitted sheet and two pillows that are, by definition, pillows, but not, by definition, bed pillows. One's a throw pillow and one's a cushion. Came back with a shade for the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, a lamp, lighbulbs for said lamp, a package containing a duvet, pillow, mattress protector and pillow protector (?), a fitted sheet and a pillowcase, and flowers. I couldn't find a duvet cover for under £15, and couldn't find a non-stained one for under £20.

So. I can't get the shade on the bulb because it's too high, the bulbs are wrong for the lamp (even though the workers told me they were right), the mattress protector was not, in fact, the mattress pad I was expecting, I managed to spill the flower water all over my dresser, and then my computer screen wouldn't work.

And I laughed. Until I started crying.

I got my computer to work, but everything else is in mild shambles. Hopefully tomorrow's food-gathering session will go better than the room-gathering of today.

Now off to a different bar where I will hopefully catch up with the Texans and bartenders I hung out with last night. More on that later.

P.S. I love this bar. They have free wireless internet. Ahhh.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Well. Going to the library and starting to update was a good idea at the time. But now I’m without internet and can’t finish. So I’ll have to do it here and then see if I can’t get myself back up sometime soon.

Well. So as I recall I was saying that I was not at all keen at the hostel. And the word was that I would run down the ridiculously long driveway to try and catch the 1pm bus back to Perth, and if I missed it then I’d come back up to the farm and hang out until the 3pm bus.

I missed the bus. And I really didn’t want to be around enthusiastic people. I didn’t want to be around anyone, frankly. Two hours isn’t that long, I thought. I’ll hang out until the bus comes. It was sunny and fairly warm so I had no qualms about it.

Warm, yes, until the sun went behind the clouds. And this being Scotland it happened fairly quickly. I did more Sudoku (again…) and finished reading Notes From A Small Island and still had more time than I cared to think about to spare. I walked over to the local sheep field to see if they were friendly, and also to kill a full forty five seconds. One gave me a funny look before ducking over to two other sheep for protection. When they walked off First Sheep gave me a terrified look and then ran four steps before having the following brain pattern:

“Dude, that thing is freaking me out. I’m getting the hell away from – hey, grass! I love this stuff!”

I pulled out my music and grooved to some Celtic fiddling until the bus finally (finally) showed up. I decided, on the bus, that I was much happier just doing my own thing. I didn’t like having to work by someone else’s schedule, about having to compromise the things I wanted to do, running around was exhausting me, and I – well. You get the idea.

And I decided that I was going to stay in a hotel in Perth. Somewhere halfway decent.

When I got into Perth I stopped into a few hotels to ask prices, and holy crap they were expensive. When I walked into the next I decided that if they were less than the first two I’d been in then I’d stay. Since the first two were £70 this wasn’t a terribly high standard. It was £60. Fucking expensive, but fine. I got my bathtub (a nice big one, too), a big soft bed, a television, and solitude.

Remember my incident with the shower in that one hotel, how I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on? I had a similar experience, this time with a restaurant. I walked around Perth seeing about low prices for meals. Couldn’t find anything great, so I went back to the hotel where I could get a tomato, basil, mozzarella tart for £5.

In the hotel I followed the one sign for Arts restaurant. Up a flight and a half of stairs, down a hallway, around a corner to what was, ambiguously, the restaurant. Hard to say, what with a lack of signs.

I walked up to a set of closed double doors that showed, through the window, tables with plates that had rolls and glasses and silverware. It being 6:30 I was pretty convinced they’d be open. I pulled on the door and it was locked. I saw a waiter – or someone cleverly disguised as such – walk by. I was sure he noticed me but the door didn’t open, so I walked away.

Went outside, and saw the sign for Arts, plus windows into the restaurant where I saw people sitting at a table, presumably having some kind of dinner-style meeting. Being the clever young woman I am, I went up to those doors, which were locked.

Tactic number three. I went back into the hotel to see if I had the right restaurant entrance. I found the same double doors again, leading into the same room with the same dinner settings, and this time it had people in it, and some waiting by the door. Optimism soars!

A gentleman approached me. “Yoo wi’ the toouuor?” Oh, no, I’m not with the tour.

“Yoo’re wi’ the toouuor?” No, not with the tour. I’m looking for the restaurant? He sent me down the stairs and to the left. There was a set of stairs right by where we were standing. Those stairs? Or the ones that lead to my room that also go downstairs? I went back to those, went downstairs, and found myself at the reception desk. Just to be sure I looked left and found a dead end. And back again to the stairs by the toouor and downstairs and Hallelujah, food!

Up to the only waiter who asked if I had a reservation. I was startled, of course, since the couple I’d seen in the window was at the only occupied table. No, no reservation. “Well,” he said, “I think we can fit you in somewhere.” I looked around, making sure I wasn’t confused about the number of people in the restaurant. Because I really wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not.

I had a fine meal and decided to pass on booze and grab something in the bar after food was eaten. So I did. And ended up chatting with Graham, a tour bus driver, and Stephanie, the bartender. We had a great time chatting and joking around! It was fantastic!

I never would’ve done that if I’d hung out with Stephanie and Sarah.

And then Graham started chatting me up (ah, I use the lingo). He was doing the little(ish) things like touching my arm and making little allusions and OH it was so obvious. He stood up to go to the bathroom – I was sitting back in my chair, vaguely drunk at this point, since he’d bought me a second beer – and stood next to my chair, clearly having an internal debate. And then he leaned over and kissed me.

When he came back, of course, it was totally awkward. While we’d been chatting easily before he left it was now long periods of silence, followed by halfhearted attempts at reviving the conversation. He asked me up for coffee (who else thought of Eddie Izzard at this? Cause I sure did, and had to work at not laughing), and I declined. I was scheduled to get a phone call at 9 and honestly didn’t feel like anonymous fooling around/sex. So I spent the next half hour rebuffing his attempts at convincing me that it would just be coffee. By the end he told me his room number and asked for mine.

Go to bed, Graham.
What’s the number?
Go to bed.
What’s the number?
Go to bed.
What’s the number?
Go to bed.
Good night then.

We kissed again and he was off.

And so it was that I spent the night in a deliciously big bed with loads of television featuring the last half of several lower-end-of-mediocre movies (Bedazzled -- or whatever, the one with, um, the guy from Encino Man and what’s her name from Austin Powers 1 -- Legally Blond…). And I slept and all was well.

I woke for breakfast, ate, then went back to bed. The hotel had the decadent hour of noon for checkout and I was planning to take advantage of that. I had this notion that since Edinburgh should be a fairly popular destination from Perth (when I asked Graham and Stephanie what there was to do in Perth they said “In Perth?…” and furrowed their brows, frowning) there would be plenty of trains. No dice. I got there at noon and the next train was quarter of three.

And I’ll write more tomorrow because it’s nearly 2am and I need to seek places to live tomorrow. Oh yes. Live.
Today's entry is called My Stumble Over Perth, or How I Came To Be Sitting On The Side Of The Road For Two Hours.

We got up early yesterday and caught the train to Perth. I wasn't totally impressed by the landscape that we passed. From London to Edinburgh it was bright and cheerful. Yesterday the colors were dull and worn. Everything looked perpetually windblown (likely because it is) and all in need of an electric blanket and a good cup of tea.

Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Stopped in Perth and it turned out that the hostel wasn't there, but some ways outside of the city. Oookay... We waited for a bus and then drove half an hour to this hostel that -- well, it's in the middle of that farmland up north. The one with the sheep? You know the place.

It's lovely, it really is. An old farmhouse, big fields, barns, views all over the place because there is nothing there but grass and sheep and crows and general farmland. It seemed a more family-oriented place, with kids running around, and people were kind and helpful...

And I was having none of it. I was in no mood to be in some hippie-go-lucky farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. I wanted a bathtub, internet, a tv, my own room, and people who were nice to me throughout our exhange and then left me the hell alone.

If this were movies I'd be in a silk dressing gown, my hair would be long and lustrous and piled atop my head, I'd be sitting at a small, round table with a vase with a flower in it and a glass of bourbon. I'd have a cigarette in a long cigarette holder and I'd look moodily at the camera and say, "I vant to be alone."

But instead I sat on the concrete, in the wind and varying sun and shade and plenty of sheep.

And since I'm getting kicked off this computer I'll have to update more later. Damn you, unreliable internet!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

So, my conclusion following my first night in a hostel:

Why, aside from money, would anyone ever choose to stay in one of these places? What a pain in the ass. People are loud and sceptical, the bed was uncomfortable, people (both in the hostel and the street) are drunk and noisy, the floorboards creak, the beds shake and squeak, the lights are bright -- gross. I'm on a top bunk which gave me the perfect height to smack my lower-bunk neighbor on the head when he 1. left the doors open, allowing lots of light in, 2. kept coming in and leaving, 3. sat on his bed every time he came in which shook mine. Unfortunately I didn't actually smack him, but it would've felt really good.

The best thing I can say is that the people who work here are friendly and it's relatively inexpensive, but I'm thinking it's worth it to spend the extra £8 so I can, oh, I don't know, sleep.

I saw 3:30am. That is not okay.

And so I got up this morning, waited for Sarah and Stephanie to get ready, and we went out for breakfast. Then we went and toured through a graveyard which was interesting. I got to chatting with the older gentleman at the gift shop and he told me great stories about the place. Then off to Edinburgh Castle which is stupid expensive but offers delightful views of the city. It's bitterly cold, gray, and windy today, which was appropriate for the graveyard but less nice for the castle.

Then we bought train tickets for Perth -- we leave tomorrow. I got a return ticket because... well. I'm exhausted. And the thought of traveling with two days in each place and running around trying to fit as much in as possible -- as Stephanie and Sarah are doing -- makes me want to sit down and not move. I get these incredible urges to turn into a five-year-old, sitting and pouting and refusing to get up.

The thing is... I'm really thinking I prefer to travel alone. Or with family. Or maybe just with one person, but in context, I'd rather be alone. I get a strong feeling like I'm either waiting for them to catch up or I'm racing to keep up with them. I have to compromise and work with their schedule which is drastically different from mine. I have to deal with their grouchy moods and tendencies towards Hippie-style healthiness (I had these visions of carousing around Scotland with Stephanie, touring through pubs, but she's off substances now, and so that kills that plan).

And I'm getting left out. I really have to work to be able to give input on plans, and that makes me feel like I'm being rude (which is ridiculous, I know, but that's the feeling I get). I get left out of conversations, when we went to the travel desk to ask questions, of little challenges with each other... I feel like I'm barely here.

So I think I'm going to part ways with them fairly soon.

I'm exhausted to the point where I'm thinking about settling down sooner. Finding a flat/bedsit and taking mid-week trips up north and to the west and wherever else. I don't know if I can afford to have a place AND travel, though. I'm starting to think it'd be worth it, though. Or maybe an extended-stay bed and breakfast? I'm not sure. But being in one place for a bit would be really lovely.

But for now, off to Perth. Tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I have to make this brief because, in spite of the hostel's free internet, there is only one computer and there are people waiting.

I moved into the hostel this morning. It's £13.50/night, which isn't terrible, but not nearly as good as all the stories I've heard made them out to be (I guess Europe on $20/day is long over). Wandered around town for far too long today, and I'm starting to fear that my knees will never forgive me.

Caught up with Stephanie and Sarah late this afternoon. We went out for food and meandered around a while. They're rather jet lagged. They have lots of grand plans, which is good because it gets me out and about, but on the other hand I feel pretty exhausted when I think about all the things they want to do. I feel that at the rate I'm currently going and at the rate they want to go I'll be worn out quickly. I like my days where I don't do much of anything. I'm starting to miss them.

S&S went on a historical tour this evening about the city beneath Edinburgh (Mary King's Close, the tour and possibly also the city was/were called), and I declined to go swing dancing. I spent 50 minutes which included:

1. Finding the damn place
2. Realizing there was no one there
3. Walking back.

Should've gone on the tour, but it was very clearly stated on the Edinburgh Swing dance website that there were classes tonight. There were two lit windows and no open doors. Sheesh.

And now, relaxing until bed. Tomorrow... there's word about picnicing by the castle and perhaps going to a museum. And a good long nap. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.
Out of the hotel and into a hostel.

I like that they have "Frasier" on at 9am. It's a good way to start the day.

Nothing else going on at the moment. Beautiful day -- surprisingly bright and warm, unless there's a breeze, at which point it's freezing.

I somehow managed, in a train ride, to go from a warm fall to a sudden early winter. All this in just five hours! I am amazing.

Presumably Stephanie gets in soon. I have no idea what's happening, say, tomorrow. That's a little strange and unnerving, but it's an easily distracted strange-and-unerved feeling. I really enjoy my brain sometimes.

Off I go!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I wish I could write about all the wonderfully fantastic, culturally enriching, envy-inspiring things I've done today, but I can't.

I really didn't do much of anything today. I had breakfast (these people eat way too much in the morning), took a shower, packed, checked email, checked out, laughed at the woman stationed at the other hotel I stopped in when she said she could get me a room for £50, went to the visitor's center, was genuflectingly (I know you like that word) grateful to the woman who found me another hotel for £25 a night (no internet, but en suite and almost half the price of the place I stayed in last night), checked in (that was not a fifteen minute walk to the hotel, thank you very much -- more like 30), dropped my stuff, walked around, bought too much stuff, came back to my room, went out to dinner, and now I'm here, paying an absurd amount for internet. This will, I warn you, be brief (4p/minute? Are you people insane?!).

Of Edinburgh I have this to say so far: the people are phenomenally kind, this city is irrationally lovely (castle in the middle of the city? Why haven't we done this in the US?), it's expensive, and I keep getting overlooked somehow.

I will explain. Everyone is very kind in that people have offered me directions when I was very clearly staring cross-eyed at a map with all my luggage, lost beyond belief. And the people at the Information... um... Place were enthusiastic and completely cool about my picky nature regarding hotels. Same went for the stores I stopped in -- everyone's just nice. And I keep getting overlooked... well, I don't know why, but when I was on the train the ticket... person... missed me when they went around punching tickets the second time, and dinner took me an hour because the waitress took forever coming over and then following up. I finally went up to the bar and asked if I should order there.

A sidenote here: Bill Bryson has screwed me up. He made passing observation in Notes from a Small Island that in bars you order at the bar (food too), and in a cafe you order at your table. Not true. Almost every pub I've been into has sent a waitress to the table. But now I'm all cautious and prove myself the tourist (because they sure couldn't tell by my accent) by asking, when I come in, where I should order from. That jerk. I should write him a nasty note.

Anyway. I watched people come and go, and was pleased that I brought my Sudoku book (Sudoku is frustratingly addicting. I blame it for the reason I didn't get out much today). Then teetered out of the bar (I love the beer here...) and am now here.

Stephanie presumably gets in tomorrow with her friend(s?). I don't know what's happening after that. Will update more later. Naturally.
Photos! Some of them! Finally!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Day 7: Edinburgh
Well now. My week in London has ended and I have arrived in Scotland.

The past few days in London were lovely. Monday night I forwent swing dancing and went out to dinner with John instead. This was mostly in the interest of my feet who are entirely displeased that I should suddenly choose to start using them far more often.

On Tuesday I took an extended trip out to the London Wetland Centre. On the way I stopped in Leicster Square to see about maybe getting theatre tickets, because being in London and not seeing a show = -10,000 culture points. I managed to snag the very last ticket for As You Like It. It was cheap -- £15 – and it was getting wild reviews. Alas, having such a ticket meant I was set in the very back of the theatre – past the nosebleed section and into the back corner of the rafters. But hell, a ticket! For a show! For cheaper than most other shows!

I then found the train, got on the Bakerloo line, went to Waterloo, and took the National Rail to Barnes. Luckily enough for me there were plenty of signs as to how to get to the Wetland Centre, but inexplicably seemed to lead through the woods. I followed a lovely path through meadows and trees – I picked a fine day to go traveling. Through streets and behind houses I finally managed to find the place, at which point I stopped at a Starbucks (I’m so ashamed) and got a fruit-style beverage and chocolate croissant (mmm, breakfast AND lunch).

I got asked for directions while I was on my walk. And I am inclined to say that this means I have been mistaken for a native, to which I say HA! As that is, to me, a mark of long-term travel success.

The Wetland Centre is beautiful. It’s interconnecting ponds and creeks that lead around 105 acres. There are paths all through it, splitting into numerous directions towards some imitation environment – islands (no telling which ones, though), wetlands (naturally), Siberia, North America (ooh, look, a pigeon!), and the like. And it seems, with the gates into each section and the signs painted with native animals and birds that they would have, say, penguins or mongooses in various cadges somewhere. Mais non. Lots of bird varieties, all of them native.

But a delightful walk none the less. And the walk home somehow managed to seem shorter than the walk there. A vast improvement since my feet, as I said before, were not totally keen on this whose “being used” thing.

Made it home then dashed out quickly for the play. Misjudged how long it would take, but got showed in despite my three-or-four minute tardiness. The usher told me to find a seat when I could see, but I couldn't see anything free. Finally I found what may or may not have been a seat. It was cushioned and no one shooed me away during intermission so I figured I was okay.

The show was fantastic, by the way. But it's London theatre, so of course it was.

Woke up early this morning with the plan to go out to breakfast with John. We didn't end up having enough time so we threw down some coffee/tea and dashed out. I had plenty of time to kill at the station so I did. Bought some food and waited in line. Then hopped on the train.

I had these grand plans for writing while on the train. Get another entry in so I could update when I found some internet. I found that I had absolutely no desire to do that, though, when the time came to it. Decided instead to do some Sudoku, the puzzle craze that, apparently, is sweeping the nation. According, of course, to all the Sudoku books. I had my doubts when Brendan told me about it, but it's actually rather fun. As fun as math gets, anyway.

The trip was irrationally gorgeous. The countryside was bright and fresh, and the farmhouses were all old and romantic. If you've flown over farmland then you know what it looks like, but it's very different when you're speeding along next to it. You can still see the mosaic patterns of green, gold, turquoise and striped variations interspersed with deep green trees and red and white buildings. Just glorious.

And my jaw dropped when I saw the ocean. Fields leading up to rocky cliffs dropping into deep blue water.

I wanted to take pictures of all this, mind you. Documentation of all the beauty that I really don't have words for, but alas, my camera hates me. Or possibly the landscape, but I'm betting the former.

You see, it takes a good second in between hitting the shutter and the camera taking the picture. This means that whatever you meant to take a picture of could be long gone before the camera decides it's going to do something about it. For me it meant that every single time I tried to take a photo some trees would jump in front of the camera and shout "SURPRISE!"

And so I would put the camera away, resigned to not being able to get a good shot. But then something incredible would come up and I'd have to catch it, and I'd be all ready and then TREES and the shot would be ruined.

I got a few photos, but haven't looked at them yet, so don't get your hopes up.

I liked being on the train. It meant I could be In Europe and not have to be Doing Something. I feel like if I'm going to be here then any moment not doing Something Culturally Satisfying is a moment wasted. I know full well that's ridiculous and I need time to myself, but still! I hate when someone asks, after learning that you were in London, whether you went to Buckingham Palace, and isn't it the most glorious place and did you see the jewels??

That isn't a fair example because I could spend a year in London and happily avoid anything involving the Royals. But you know what I mean -- the aghast, piteous looks when you reveal that you didn't end up getting to go to Tate Modern or the Globe Theatre. I am happy with the things I did and saw, though, so no big worries there.

I got into Edinburgh and found my hotel. Called my parents and let them know where I was and that I am still, indeed, safe. Called Stephanie, who promised to send me out her information. And I decided to take a shower. Sensible, easy, relaxing, yes? Ho ho ho, I say.

First I spent ten minutes trying to find out how to turn on the towel warmer, because hello warm towels and also dry underwear after I wash it. I have to say, the towel warmer is one of the more brilliant inventions. I put it up there with penicillan and the oven mitt. Finally I found the switch, which is on the outside of the bathroom, about a foot off the floor.

Chuh, duh, Emily.

Then I tried to turn the shower on. Turned the knob. Nothing. Turned it the other way. Nothing. Turned the temperature knob. Nothing. Looked around. No ideas. I started searching for a switch, a pull cord, something. John's shower requires a pull cord, maybe this was the same. Nothing. I checked in the closet. Nothing. Flicked switches. Nothing. Turned the lights off (maybe you can only have so much electricity going to your room at one time?). Nothing. Turned the knobs again. Nothing. Turned them the other way. Nothing. Moved the shower curtain and turned the knobs. Nothing. Flushed the toilet. There was indeed water coming to the room. Turned the knobs. Nothing. Flicked the light switch over the sink (it has a pull cord AND a switch). Nothing.

I did all of those things at least twice before putting my clothes back on and asking at the front desk. It's a little stiff, she said, turn the knob a little harder. I would've sworn I did that, but thanked her anyway. She said she'd send someone over just in case.

Went back. Turned the knob hard enough to give me an instant bout of tennis elbow, and it worked.

Stupid shower.

Got dressed (all of a sudden it's gone from mid-fall to early winter) and went off to find dinner. Stopped in a nice-looking pub not far from my hotel and got a Guinness and some penne pasta with garlic-cream sauce and veggies. Mmm. Would've gotten dessert, too, but by the time I tried to order they'd closed the kitchen.

What's with the closing of everything so early? After 8pm you can go clubbing or drinking or you can go home. There's just nothing else open. Silly Scots.

I thought I'd go for a little walk, maybe find some dessert, but went for ten minutes and decided I didn't care that much so came back to my room. I'd asked about internet, and there is wireless internet at this hotel, I just have to be in the lobby to access it. I grabbed my computer and started fussing about the internet until my power was mostly gone, so have returned to my room to finish up.

Stephanie said she was getting in on the 15th (tomorrow, for those of you following along), but I feel like she might be lying. I think what she meant to say was that she's getting in on the 16th, because she leaves on the 15th and it doesn't make sense for her to get here in the morning. What with time differences and all. So I think I'll book another hotel room for tomorrow night (the longer I can put off hostels the happier I think I'll be) and then meet Stephanie and her friends when they get here.

And now I'm going to get a drink from the hotel bar and hang out a bit. Adios! I mean, och aye.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I found an internet cafe where I can get an hour of internet for the price of a half hour at the other place.

Oh, ha ha ha.

In other news, hotels are too damn expensive and I am way too slow in getting out today.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Y'all, this computer thing is going to die.

I was happily clicking away with amusing (or at least not-depressing) little tales of my days and I had all this time in which to write, and then TA DA! The computer gave me not the blue screen of death, but rather the login screen. And the owner or whatever came over and said (with his eyes, mind you), "huh! That is strange! I will reboot the computer."

And my beautiful post was gone.

Not even the Recover Post button brought it back.

I went to three museums today -- well, three and a gift shop. National Gallery (fancy paintings by famous people, +100 culture points), National Portraits Gallery Gift Shop (I figured the postcards would give me the general idea, -20 culture points for not actually going into the museum), Natural Science Museum (what's up, motion detecting t-rex! + 75 culture points), and the Science Museum (lots of gorgeous, futuristic blue-and-white style lighting, but wasn't all that keen to read the plaques or stop at most of the exhibits, so +50 culture points).

See, the thing is that the Science Museum had a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy exhibition, which contained stuff from the movie -- how they did the effects, some of the props and puppets, etc. But they wanted an extra £8 for it, and even if I was going to pay such a ridiculous price I'd already missed the last showing. I don't know why they were having showings and wouldn't let me just walk through, but whatever. Bitches.

I dragged my sorry, sore-footed self back, and now I'm at the internet cafe where I just lost a substantial post. Bleah.

Tomorrow I think I'll hit the Wetlands Centre, long commute and all. On Wednesday, to Scotland. Still don't know where I'm meeting Stephanie.

I have 2 mins. I'm updating now. Man, I need me a wireless connection.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

6 minutes. Damn!


Up at 11, breakfast, then off to V&A museum. I wasn't all that impressed with what we saw. Lots of plaster casts of artwork. It's like seeing a poster of the Mona Lisa.

Even though I know I've remarked on a number of occasions that most art looks just like every picture one has ever seen of it. It's just not the same to see a recreation.

Then to the Natural History museum where they have lots of amazing fossils. We had to zip through to get to his friend's performance (evensong at... St. Pauls?), so I have grand plans to go back.

Off to the church for the service (I didn't agree to the actual service!) where they often spoke in drab monotone about god and peace (woo peace) then there was singing and it was lovely and OH two minutes, damn it all.

Off to a pub with the singers where I had nothing to contribute to the conversations. Bought a train ticket to Scotland for Wednesday and golly I spend too much money.

At any rate, hope to update more later. Once John goes back to work.
6 minutes. Damn!


Up at 11, breakfast, then off to V&A museum. I wasn't all that impressed with what we saw. Lots of plaster casts of artwork. It's like seeing a poster of the Mona Lisa.

Even though I know I've remarked on a number of occasions that most art looks just like every picture one has ever seen of it. It's just not the same to see a recreation.

Then to the Natural History museum where they have lots of amazing fossils. We had to zip through to get to his friend's performance (evensong at... St. Pauls?), so I have grand plans to go back.

Off to the church for the service (I didn't agree to the actual service!) where they often spoke in drab monotone about god and peace (woo peace) then there was singing and it was lovely and OH two minutes, damn it all.

Off to a pub with the singers where I had nothing to contribute to the conversations. Bought a train ticket to Scotland for Wednesday and golly I spend too much money.

At any rate, hope to update more later. Once John goes back to work.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

8 minutes. Okay.

Roller disco: MOST HILARIOUS THING EVER. Okay. Here's how it goes.

There are five kinds of people there:
1. People who are good and have clearly done this before. They're usually the ones who are employed by the club to keep people from getting run over when they fall on their ass. Fancy moves and, in one case, a terrifying outfit (white lycra shorts and tank top with a black hip pack -- ew). But they've clearly been doing this for years, and this is their moment in the sun.

(I just got another half hour on the internet).

2. People who are decent enough skaters that they can sort of dance to the music, but often flail out with an arm or leg in a desperate bid to keep from falling on their ass.

3. People who aren't terribly good and settle on just skating (often holding on to another person in the same category) and don't worry about the music.

4. People who don't skate at all, but paid the money in order to laugh at the fact that they're drinking beer while wearing skates. They feel all trendy, since this is the New Thing.

5. The people who go there to just drink but not wear skates.

I was pretty well in the second and third categories. I grooved a little, and then would smack someone in a desperate bid to not fall on my ass, and eventually just skated around. They had three rooms (and three bars -- drinking and skating? that's a dumb idea) with different types of music. One room was presumably 70's, one was funk(ish), and one was garage/indy. I recognized all of two songs.

And I realized that the only way to really meet someone at these places, unless you're at the bar, is to skate into them "by accident" and hope to strike up a conversation. Or help them up when they've fallen on their ass. Swell.

But it was fun. One guy skated into the back of a couch to stop himself, leaned on it, realized it was going to fall, almost steadied himself, and then fell, taking the couch down with him. It was hilarious.

I really do not remember, it hurting that much to skate so long (oh, my hips!). I am not getting old. You shut up.

AND it ate the rest of my post. I have four minutes. DAMN.

Went to the British museum (rock!). Walked around Trafalger Square and Picadilly and other similarly amusingly named places (expensive stuff there). Walked too much and now my feet hurt and so tonight we're staying in with a movie and wine and bread and cheese. I loved going to the grocery store because it was all new and shiny and they have great packaging -- simple and modern. Sexy.

Two minutes!

Plans to go to the National Gallery during the week. Should've bought a ticket to Scotland today. Want to go swing dancing.

Have to run. Damn.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Note about money:

Aside from rent it seems remarkably cheap to live in London. If you take things as a 1:1 conversion (which is about right since an office worker doing something slightly more advanced than data entry could earn about £7/hour) then food is slightly cheaper (especially bottled water, hello, 70p/litre!) and clothes are WAY cheaper, especially if you buy conseignment. £3 for shirts/blouses, £15-30 for sweaters, £15 for shoes, £10ish for pants trousers, £5 for dresses...

As John rightly once said, earn in pounds and spend in dollars. Clever man.

I would like to note that he cleared out a drawer for me. How delicious is that? I have keys and a drawer. It's like I live here. Which I kind of do, just very briefly. Still! Delicious. I have awesome friends.
Twenty minutes. This thing is making me concise and a wicked fast typist. And less distracted! All good things, I think.

I spent most of yesterday evening in bed reading and knitting and having some more beer. John came home around midnight and we spent an hour and a half swapping music on our computers. We finally crashed near 2am, and I couldn't sleep. It was warm and I'm still a little jet lagged. Or something, because my brain wouldn't hush.

Up in the morning (slowly for me), coffee for me, and tea for John. Showers, then walking around the neighborhood to where some of the nicer shops are. Yesterday I was in what could crassly be called the ghetto shopping section. This batch of stores today had stuff that fit! Highly exciting.

We had lunch at a nice looking pub which turned out to be American-themed. Lame. I had a cheese-and-pineapple burger which would've been better had the burger not contained some kind of taco spices (including lots of onion -- ick).

And I have a cell phone! So if y'all feel the need to call me internationally then give me a shout and I'll send along the number.

We hit this fantastic vintage store with masses of shirts and skirts and pants and dresses for cheap (even with the pound/dollar conversion) and OH they're so fifties/sixties/seventies! I tried on a fabulously glam top (halter-style with sequins and feathers!) but John made the point that it would be dangerous to wear to the roller disco (not something that would be good to be untied... either by accident or not) and I likely wouldn't wear it elsewhere. There was also a very nice velveteen blazer. Lush deep green and only £7. And a courdory jacket, near-knee length, for £15. They both fit like a glove (as did the sequined halter, by the by), but after spending £50 for the phone (granted, it has £20 worth of minutes on it which should last a good two months) and £9 on lunch (ack!) I wasn't totally keen to spend more. So they're waiting for me if I want them.

Then some more walking and talking about what to do. We stopped at home so I could drop my bag off and ended up taking off our shoes, having a snack, reading, and then it's possible I dozed off on the bed. I woke to a text message on my Fancy New Phone and hauled myself up to check it.

And now I'm back at the internet cafe. When I'm done John and I will find something to do, and then either Roller Disco tonight (hot! But £10...) or go to some 80'sish style club (free before 11). The thing being that I'm not going to want to be out late, I think. We'll see. I mean, roller disco...
But £10...

Anyway. Hm. Not a whole lot else going on. I found my card reader for my camera so one day I might be able to post pictures. Maybe. If I can find wireless internet again. I have to say, though, that I haven't taken pictures of much. What's there to take? The roads look like London roads. And I don't want to be too grossly tourist. But I would do that if there were more interesting things to photograph.

Hmm. Hopefully more interesting stuff later.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I have 16 minutes so this'll be quick.

John is out to dinner with a former professor. They offered to let me join, but it would be a night of recollecting places I've never been to, people I don't know, and situations at which I was not present. So I passed in order to have a quieter evening by myself.

And so I ventured forth to find a nice little pub or restaurant where I could get a beer and a burger.

And I did, a large pub named the 12 Pins (or something) named such, I imagine, for the bowling alley/dance club (yeah, explain that one to me) that was situated nearby and likely had a fair amount of crossover traffic. Do you read Get Fuzzy, the comic strip? Do you remember when Satchel had his dog convention and then Bucky walked in accidentally and his tail poofed out and he said something akin to "Okay, no trouble. You guys just keep doing your doggy thing and I'll back out of here"? That's how I felt when I walked into the pub.

I was the only. woman. there. Except the bartenders. Bu man alive, I thought maybe I'd inadvertently walked into some kind of all-male club or gay pub. Hiding my terror at maybe having done something dumb (like missed a giant ALL MEN sign) I sat at the bar and ordered a burger and Guinness.

A few minutes in Rory came and sat next to me. Asked twice if the cricket match was on. I said I didn't know. And I smiled as I watched him out of the corner of my eye, trying to think of something to say. Finally he asked me where I was from, which began a grand conversation consisting of these points, from his POV:

1. You just got in yesterday?
2. Philadelphia. Is that a state? I should go to America!
3. I'm a carpenter and cut my finger today.
4. I'm a little drunk.
5. I'm not chatting you up.
6. This pub is disgusting, let me take you somewhere else.
7. But I'm not chatting you up.
8. When did you get in? Yesterday?
9. Do you want my phone number? Do you have a mobile? I'm not chatting you up, I mean in case you want to go have a drink.
10. I'm chatting you up.

He was kind and non-threatening, so we chatted a bit. Toward the end of his beer (he'd been drinking since noon, which was not long after he cut his finger) he was even more drunk, and had commenced putting his hand on my arm to make the occasional point. When he left he gave me his number, kissed my cheek, and staggered off.

I realized as I was talking to him that I could've told him anything. And I think next time I will. Meanwhile I have three minutes and I don't want to lose this post so ZOOM!
Day 2: London: John's flat (actually, an internet cafe)

After a loud night's sleep -- curse you, busy road! -- I got up, fought with the hotel's wireless internet that showed full reception but gave no information.

I had to give up after not too long, what with having to be out by 11am. Packed my things (how do I still have so much crap?) amd checked out.

Trekked over to John's place -- look at me being all public transportation-savvy! -- and took a long nap.

I didn't mean to. I started out looking at all the stuff to do in London and checking to see if it was in any kind of close proximity to me (yes, but that doesn't mean I can get there, transportation-savvy or not). And it was quiet and kind of dark and surely a little nap will help with jet lag, right?

Well, I feel better now, so I'm guessing the answer is yes.

I still don't know how to find, say, the aquarium, so I don't know what I'm going to do until John gets home. I do know that internet will be involved sometime soon (ta da!).

Right now I'm in what I thought was just a general pub/grill by John's. I wanted coffee and maybe a snack. Turned out to be Lebanese food and I didn't recognize anything on the menu. Well, the voffee (and eeven that's Lebanese -- I don't know what that means, exactly, but it's just like American-style) works for me. Mmm, caffeine.

I like that they're much less subtle here about cigarettes. None of that namby-pamby "Surgeon General recommends you do not do the s-word because SOMEone and we're not naming names here says it might make you cough at some point in your lives but don't quote us on that" nonsense for them. Oh no. Theirs say "SMOKING KILLS."

Can't be much clearer than that. It didn't occur to me -- and this is a real "duh" moment here -- until the waitress gave me a funny look that people might have a hard time understanding my accent.

Say it with me now, people: "Duh."

I have learned something important, though.

Disclaimer1: This may not be true for everyone, but I have found it to be true for me so don't go whining if it doesn't work for you.

Homesickness = I need sleep.

My bouts of homesickness (and oh it was strong last night -- there was crying involved) have been fairly well cured by a good night's sleep. And then a nap.

If this was "Arrested Development" then last night I would've turned to the camera and said "I've made a huge mistake."

Today I'm feeling more "Huh. Well then."

If I had to use one word to describe hair here it would be "sleek." Women especially. Not a frizz in sight. (Of course, now that I've said that a woman walked by with frizzy hair -- yes the world does revolve around me, thank you).

My own hair? A short mass of curls. Naturally.

1 American to the core, baby! Form power of: disclaimer!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So I finally tore myself out of bed to look around this London place I've somehow found myself in.

Despite my notoriously bad sense of direction I just headed out, starting towards the station so I'd have some kind of reference point. And OH I found a sign for a swing dance! Except it's on Tuesday nights and today is definitely Wednesday! So, damn!

I wandered and saw a bunch of restaurants but not so much anywhere to stop in. And then I saw the British Library. O-kay! Stopped in, perused their printing display and learned stuff about printing presses. There was a large Hans Christian Andersen display. I don't know if we were allowed to take pictures, but I took one anyway. And oh dear. I left my card reader at home. So, um, no pictures for you guys right now. Dang.

The British Library had a section with a bunch of audio samples. I was standing in front of a small Beatles display, listening to their 1963 Christmas album (for their fan club subscribers) when two gentlemen -- I think they were on the reconstruction crew for King's Cross -- stopped to look. We started chatting about Beatles, comparable bands, New Orleans and the state of crime in other cities. They suggested places to go, the only one I remembered being Ireland. I detected a hint of an Irish accent when the younger, quieter gentleman suggested it.

I stopped by a quick food shop on the way home, being that I was really hungry. I bought a loaf of french bread. Would've gotten something smaller, but I couldn't see any bags to put the rolls in, and did I just put it in my hand? Juggle them up to the register? Sounded like too much work, so I just grabbed the pre-bagged loaf and a coke.

And now it's 40 minutes until John gets here. He'll show me around his place and I imagine there might be some food happening. And I'm sleepy. Maybe I'll just lie down for a little...
Day 2: London

I made it! Not that it was really suspect, but it's a nice thing to confirm. As I sat in the terminal I brought out my knitting. Some women came by, one sitting next to me. She commented on my knitting and we got into a ten minute yap about knitting and where we were going and for how long and talking kind of fast cause I was a little nervous that she might think I was a total geek (the bad kind) though I don't know why that would matter.

Also I wanted to share all my knitting tips and tricks. Make your own needles! Salvage yarn from old sweaters! Go to this website! I somehow managed to restrain myself a bit though. They were very nice, these women who I'm guessing were sisters. They were flying to Amsterdam, staying a few days and then heading to Germany to see family for a week and a half. Far cleverer than I, they only sat at the gate for about ten minutes before boarding. But they were wearing skirts. How silly! Planes are no longer places for fashion statements. They're for the comfiest of clothing because you will inevitably 1. freeze, and 2. roast at any given time on your flight.

I sat and knit and people-watched and talked on the phone until boarding time when I discovered a Miracle.

I'd asked the guy at the counter, you see, for an isle seat. And it turned out that -- well, I'll let you read what I wrote on the plane:

Clearly I'm getting some glorious karmic payback -- that or I should go kiss the man who gave me my seat. I got the only fully empty row on the plane. The armrest is broken for the other two seats and so they blocked them off. A nice flight attendant crouched next to me and said why no one would be sitting there -- I said I saw, "Isn't that great?"

"It's fantastic," he replied, clearly indicating that that was about $600 (or so) worth of seats that could be going in part toward his paycheck.


But! I can lie down so long as I have a seatbelt on!

This is even better than sitting with the Very Attractive Brit in front of me! And almost makes me forget that I suddenly feel really lonely!

I did indeed get to lie down after watching some of That movie with that guy from 'Friends' and Ben Stiller and what's her name who's -- oh, Jada Pinkett -- with the New York zoo animals who get stuck on an island or whatever. I'm not sure if I slept, but I did rest, and that's the important thing, according to British Airways. Oh, and also the free wine. Hello, free wine. Turning Leaf chardonnay, yum.

A man in the row in front of me turned and asked if anyone was sitting in my row. I explained the arm rest thing, and said he could ask, but I didn't think they were seating people there. And silently pleaded that he wouldn't be able to sit with me. And I guess he couldn't, cause when he came back he went back to his middle-of-the-row seat. All those things to work on while on the plane and I just ended up crashing.

We reached London early, and then had to circle around a while before landing on time. And then -- prepare to be jealous -- the passport control line! Yes! Ew! I stood behind a Canadian couple with whom I ended up having a very lovely repor. Her name was Karen, and I didn't catch his name. But after the passport line they helped me figure out how to get to King's Cross Station (answer: ask at the train ticket desk). I highly enjoyed them, even though I thought them mildly obnoxious when I was first listening in on their conversation.

I paid far too much in order to have a faster trip to King's Cross. Took the Heathrow Express (yeah, expensive, but three times faster and also, I = tired) to Paddington Station (did you know that "Paddington" comes from the words "Paddy" and "ton" which eventually points out that the station was built on the farm of Paddy? Now you do! Because everyone needs more useless information), where an older gentleman noticed that I was a tourist (he saw me at the airport asking for directions) and pointed me in the proper direction. I wasn't actually lost at that time, but was ogling the Paddington Station. Pretty! And also dirty! I hopped the circle line and got off at King's Cross Station.

Went straight to the Tourist information shop and asked where Swinton St was. Got some directions that didn't actively make sense once I stepped outside, but managed to find my hotel anyway. It was really close, thankfully, what with my aggressively large and heavy bag (where did all that stuff COME from?).

They let me check in even though it was 11am, I have a bathroom, and there's FREE WIRELESS INTERNET oh yes there is! Granted, it blinks in and out and seems to only be consistent when I sit in the tiny hallway that leads from my door into my tiny room, but INTERNET! I have no reason to leave the room now.

Ha ha! I kid. There's beer outside of the room. I will go out to find beer, at some point.

But first I'm just going to lie down for a second.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Day 1: Philadelphia

So. The rules of driving to the airport were followed, and since we left with plenty of time we arrived, oh, three hours early. And continuing with the rules I sailed through security with no problem.

Even got myself an isle seat. I prefer window seats, but my dad made a fair point: I’m not going to want to crawl over two sleeping people just to get to the bathroom. So they switched me out no problem. Now if I can just get a whole isle to myself…

Being slightly hungry and also bored I stopped into Ye Olde Philadelphia Airport Brew Pub thinking I’d get a beer (hot damn I’m wild and crazy!) and then reconsidered when I saw it was minimum $5 for a beer. That, plus food = more than I’d care to spend, ‘kay thanks. No huge surprise there.

And hoo-ee I have enough adrenaline to swim over to the UK. It’s not as bad as it was before leaving the house (the continued packing debate spurred some concern and anxiety) when I actually considered going for a jog before we left.

Dad told me on the way over how proud he is of me for doing this trip. When he dropped me off he said, “You go, girl!” ...That’s my dad.

And now here I am by my gate (A10, for the curious) with an hour and a half before departure. Excellent. And I still don’t know if there’s a meal on my flight. I should find that out so I can grab a $5 bagel before getting on.

All is well and I’m a little nervous.


I hate me some packing. I've gotten to the point where I've decided that if it isn't in my bag already, I don't need it. Besides, it probably won't fit into my bag which holy hell how did it get so full? But things are in there. And I can't really think of anything else I really need to do. Have my passport and my wallet... Have stuff to do on the plane. Have my flight info and John's info and hotel info and recommendations from Annie as to places to go.

I should shower. That would be clever, pre-flight.

I wanted you all to know something:

I was totally right about my dad being wrong about the cell phone! Ha! Except Damn!, because his deal sounded really good. Any call made or received involving my cell phone in Europe will have the 99¢/minute fee. Period.

So I have a calling card and plans to get a cell phone over there.

It's a little weird. I haven't been on a cross-ocean flight for about three years. It's only six hours which, to me, feels like nothing since I'm all used to 8+ hour drives. And this time I'll get to knit (assuming my wooden needles are okay to take on board -- you know how many planes get hijacked with knitting needles) or sew or read or sleep (hah). And get drooled on by fellow sleeping passengers. And that's nice.

I'm also supposed to be cleaning off my floor, but I don't feel like doing that. I've hit the point of not giving a damn. If I have all my stuff, swell, if I don't, it's just that much less I have to carry. Know what I mean?

Off to try and not be crazy. Whee!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

News, news, news.

Item 1: Mark will not be able to hang out in our undecided place because he is Lame. My attitude about this: Whatever.

Item 2: Stephanie, who had expressed interest in going to Scotland with me but who wasn't positive about whether or not it was actually going to happen, is totally going to be there! Highly exciting y'all. Highly! Stephanie, if you don't know, is full of fabulous. And she's arriving in Scotland right when I am! She's only staying for a month, but that's still a month of the Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle, Scotland-style! And then after she goes is around when Jamie and Hans will be trooping around Scotland, so I might get to mooch around with them.

If that's true than I'll be around people I know most or all of the first two months I'll be there. A real growing experience! Yay independence!

Item 3: I leave in two days. Oh man.

One of the strange things about leaving is that I left NC, where I was happy and things were really rather good to go off to some unknown place that just might suck. But that's life and blah blah blah exploring myself and blah blah blah.

I had more to say but suddenly it's gone. Two days. Yow.

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