Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Hippoween!

I'm being BEAR PATROL!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Zen I cut off zeir heads---it won't hurt, 'cause zey're dead! And I luff leetle feeshies, don't you?"




Je n'ai pas les mots!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Muskrat Love

So Mandy and I are walking in the park, enjoying a leisurely stroll in some of the most schizophrenic weather I have ever experienced. Suddenly, we are approached with some urgency by a couple wielding rollerblades.

What, they desperately want to know, do we think about English gentlemen?

The obvious answer would be "We don't." I've been here for a little more than a month now and it really has not occurred to me to devote much thought to the subject of English gentlemen. But these people (one from Poland, one from Lebanon) are furious about the decline of gentlemanly manners. Only foreigners give up their seats on the tube! they exclaim. The men here are rude and vulgar! Apparently Lebanon is the last outpost for decency and virtue.

Now you know.

Mandy's visit was absolutely vunderbar. She explored a bit on her own on Friday, then we met up with her friend from childhood and what could have been a very awkward night ended up being really fun (this is a hallmark of knowing Mandy: she manages to turn potentially weird situations into great ones.) Here I am with my flatmate Sarah, refusing directions from this British giant, but insisting he take a picture with us:

On Saturday we went to the Tate (not as great as I'd heard, and I like modern art enough) and met Alena for lunch. I dragged her to tea and then we saw "The Producers." I took a picture that makes me look like Mandy's creepy stalker, so here it is:

And in conclusion, Stephen Colbert was the NU homecoming marshal this year. The ONE YEAR NU does something cool, I'm in stupid, boring Europe. My life is so hard.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Summary

Queen Mary is...
1. EXTRAORDINARILY diverse. I cannot overemphasize this.
2. Averse to technology. Approximate last update of Queen Mary technology: 1548.
3. Charging highway-robbery prices for laundry. 2 pounds for one load of laundry! Bollocks!
4. A purveyor of only semi-skimmed milk. Totally straight from a cow aka gross.
5. (flat-specific) A dirty kitchen.

In other news, Jeffrey should not have won Project Runway.

In further news, this was the Moment of Today:
(I got designated DJ so my iTunes were playing)
Me: I hope that the next song isn't embarassing.
(Cue the opening strains of "Cheeseburger in Paradise.")

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Person Can Develop La Grippe

I'm writing from my sickbed to give a brief update on my fairly phenomenal weekend, which was followed by contracting some strain of mononucleosis or meningitis or possibly malaria.

Friday was crazy. I had a delicious vegetarian home-cooked meal in Regent's Park with Alena, Melissa, and two of Alena's friends. Then I dashed off to Leicester Square to see my flatmate's band, The Razzle, perform a very surprising set of songs:

Following that I came back to Queen Mary, where I got a call from Michelle telling me that she was on campus with some of our mutual friend Melissa's friends from college, so I got a chance to meet all of them and witness my first Beirut tournament on this side of the Atlantic. But I guess you can't call it Beirut because that doesn't exist anymore. Suggestions for renaming welcome.

Then we went to Cambridge! THIS is how much I liked Cambridge:

It's freakishly old and full of history and information and people with funny coats. If I had the tendency to work hard enough to improve my grades, I almost certainly would have gone there.

Sunday was a day of amazing markets and seeing friends. I got these beautiful flowers at a crowded flower market where people kept calling me "Luv" and the men "Guv'na". They are brightening my room and making it smell like Hawaii in here, even though the mess and the gray might indicate otherwise. (Also, please observe my ghetto vase)

That night was Chinatown with Caroline(in from Ireland), Melissa (in from Paris) and Alena (in London already)...I cannot believe that I can see my high school friends in Europe. It seems so surreal.

I leave you with this quote from my flatmate, Pontus, who is from Sweden and also says really hilarious things:

(While discussing the difference in our Christmas traditions) "Santa lives in Sweden. Actually, he lives in my apartment building. He's ALWAYS doing his laundry!"

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Someone asked me for directions! AND I KNEW THE ANSWER!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Two Things Never To Forget In London

1. Umbrella
2. Camera
(2.5 The location of the last tube stop you saw, because otherwise you could wander aimlessly for quite a while.)

I learned #2 the hard way today...I went to the National Gallery in a pouring thunderstorm and left the camera at home, fearing I'd drop it in a puddle or something. When I left the National Gallery, the sky was glowing (in a heavenly, non-radioactive way), and I saw the most beautiful buildings as I walked from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square. On the way, I stopped in a little park for tea, and it was all rain-fresh and the leaves are was lovely. THIS was the kind of day I envisioned yesterday, when I went down to Liverpool Street to wander around, got lost, didn't find anything interesting, and went into one of my "Why Am I Abroad" angry moods. But today, it was wonderful, and I would have been able to take some really great pictures.

An interesting aside: As I walked through the National Gallery today, I saw this portrait by Ingres:

And could not figure out for the life of me why it looked so familiar. I like art, but I'm certainly no expert, and my knowledge of Ingres works is pretty limited.

Then, in the best exhibit of Impressionism I've seen (called Manet to Picasso, it's on until next March so if you're randomly in London I highly recommend it), I saw this painting:

and the sense of deja vu was just too much to shake. I had never been to this museum before, so why did these paintings seem so familiar to me?

In the gift shop, I happened upon this book:

and it came to me---Katie's Picture Show was one of my favorite childhood books, and it takes place in the National Gallery! She got to go inside the pictures though...I had to observe using only the knowledge I got from my terrible art history class last quarter.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Adventures of Franimal and Her Constant Companion, Kenneth

When the Vikings invaded Scotland and Ireland in 1668, they not only plundered their villages and made away with their women, but they also committed the terrible act of stealing all the J's and H's from their alphabets. This is how we derived (from the English names John and James), Sean and Seamus for the Irish, and Ian and Hamish for the Scottish.

Why is this important, you might inquire?

Meet Hamish:
Hamish is a yak; he is also my one true love. He is the reason I went to Scotland. Yaks cover about 95% of Scotland's arable land. They are Scotland's key export and have healing powers. So maybe I didn't learn anything real while I was in Scotland, but I saw a bunch of really amazing stuff. For instance:

Yes, tuxedoed men in kilts abounded, as did historical churches and castles, sheep, and men dressed as either medieval warriors or beer bottles. I traveled to Edinburgh with three lovely ladies who would appreciate these sights: Alena (from New Trier), Michelle (from Oneka), and Michelle's friend Brittany. We explored Edinburgh on day one, and then that night saw (deep breath) Megan, a counselor from Oneka who lives in Aberdeen but came down to see us; Colin, the Irish boyfriend of a friend from New Trier who met him while he was studying abroad; and Katie, the cousin of another New Trier friend who also knows Colin was quite a conglomeration of people in one random city. The night was so confusing, in fact, that somehow I got conned into taking a drink that was labeled "Egg Cream":

It was exactly as I had expected.

But what was not as I expected was Edinburgh and Scotland itself; the city was beautiful, and even more stunning were the Highlands---we got to see Loch Ness and some beautiful scenery, and best of all, our guide was this adorable little old lady with a heart of sass. I like Scotland, and you should go there.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Simple Kind of Lovely

Look how beautiful it was yesterday.

That's Hyde Park (or Kensington Gardens?); those little white silhouettes are swans. A low, full moon on a cold, clear was gorgeous. Yet another experience that makes it seem impossible that a year ago to these days I was getting my pretty views from the Northwestern lakefill; as I had tea and cake with Daniel, Sarah Kate and Sarah Kate's mother in a fancy little restaurant overlooking the gardens, it was hard to believe that, in my alternate world, I should be eating stir fry in the Alpha Phi basement.

It's nights like those, and days like today, that make me gradually less apprehensive about my stay here. I resented going into town to run my errands, but I took the opportunity to stop in a secondhand shop to get a volume of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories. I brought the book to a fabulous little patisserie in Soho and had a profiterole and tea at a table perfect for watching people, struggling with their umbrellas, passing in shades of London greys and navys. It's cold here, and rainy, but there are these perfect moments. I think I can do this for the next few months.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Last night I went to a bar well-known for its student specials. Since these are the only drinks Americans can afford, the populations of students abroad was, shall we say, exceedingly high.

So high, in fact, that within the course of an hour, I ran into an acquaintance from Northwestern, then someone from New Trier whom I hadn't seen since graduation, then someone from Conestoga whom I had never met but who had heard of me from my friends there and hugged me with glee. This same girl also knows Michelle, one of my best friends from camp; I ran into her while she was walking in a group with a guy from NU that I know.

Big city, small world!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Eire We There Yet?


is very beautiful.


is also very wet.

But mostly Ireland (well, Dublin and the surrounding areas) is touristy, clean, full of green stuff and, above all, an adventure to get to.

Here is a picture of me and my friends getting on to a ferry:

This picture doesn't properly convey the amount of crazy that was going on at that moment. Because it was 3 a.m., we'd been traveling since 6 p.m. the day before, and we had just spent three long hours in a Welsh ferryport that was soaked and full of cuddling rugby players.

The ferry actually was glorious though...not that we would know from firsthand experience because we immediately stretched out on the lovely vinyl dining room couches and fell asleep.

Three glorious hours later, we arrived in Dublin only to find out that we couldn't check into our hostel until 11. That gave us a lot of time to wander and be cranky. But it ended up being kind of nice, because it gave us a chance to see things like this:

on one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen, anywhere. We explored the city, went to the Guinness factory, found a beautiful park and indulged in some retail therapy to soothe our exhausted nerves. 38 hours of wackiness later, we all crashed at the hostel. With Australians.

The next day was raining leprechauns and shamrocks. We had a bus tour planned to the Wicklow mountains, and some of the sights were spoiled due to the torrential downpour. Ignoring the fact that our pants were soaked up to our knees (the absolute worst, according to Sarah Kate,) we trekked onwards and upwards and saw gorgeous green mountains and trees. I have so many pretty pictures which I'd be happy to share, but I don't know how bored people get of scenery shots so I'll spare you for the moment. Make sure you avoid me when I come back, because I might corner you and make you look at them.

Oh, okay. Just ONE:

Amazing, right? The countryside was lovely; I can't believe how much history is in all of these countries. I also can't believe how being here reduces one to a toddler all over again...speaking loudly and clearly, asking everyone you meet for help, sometimes feeling utterly incapable of doing anything. But approximately 235 hours of travel later, I think we're all getting the hang of it.

PS. Lucky Charms are NOT the official food of Ireland, so don't ask for them in pubs.