Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh, England

My blogging has been woefully inadequate, and for that I must apologize. Life has been insane leading up to spring break, and I am getting on a plane to Italy tomorrow morning. I had a fantastic weekend in the countryside with my dear old dad last week... I want to blog about it more when I have more time. It was stunning, overwhelming, and somehow familiar all at once. The culture shock is also much more overwhelming in the countryside than in the city.

This is a photo I took from the top of Cadbury "castle" (old hill fortress that has been speculatively linked to Camelot). You are looking at Corton Ridge, and behind it is the village of Corton Denham... the village my family used to live in before they moved to Canada in the 1800s. The entire weekend was a trip back into family history, myth, and all the literature I loved growing up. I felt that I was taking a tromp through the Shire. Rolling fields, tiny villages, 19th century famrhouses, old gravestones with my family surname, a roaring fire in the pub... it is all a happy glow in my memory. I am blocking out the moments of terror I felt in the rental car my father was driving to get us there... barreling through the English countryside with no real idea of where you are going can be quite unnerving. After this past weekend, I also have to agree with Bill Bryson when he says that the British seem to take a quiet, intense, and ornery pride in doing everything differently than the whole rest of the world.

Now, my classes are to be set aside for a week as I spend my spring break in Tuscany. I am nervous and excited. I have traveled by myself before, but never to another country. On the other hand, I can't stop thinking about Italian food, Italian countryside, Italian architecture, and history... I've been waiting for this for a long time, and it's finally happening.

It will be grand. I'll update when I can, but I do not intend to take my laptop with me. I think it will be good for me to go without it for a week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spotted Dick Pudding

Dun-Dun! Spotted Dick Pudding in a can! It's basically a cake/bread like substance, in a can, that you boil. You boil the can in water. Very strange. You're supposed to put custard on top, but I forgot that part. It has raisins, hence the "spotted." Still not sure why it's called "dick" pudding, except that maybe God wanted me to giggle a little while I was here.

All in all, it wasn't bad. Not as bad as it looks. It was sweet and cinnamony, and I do like raisins. I don't know if anyone actually even eats the stuff over here, and I don't know if I'd buy it again. However, it was an entertaining thing to do on a chilly evening.

What's next? Bangers and mash? If I am feeling ambitious, it might happen. I've been very busy between writing an article for the student newspaper back home, and writing my first short story for my creative writing class. Things are not slowing down, either. This week I have a trip to Al Jazeera, and (gulp) my interview for my internship. Oh, and my 21st birthday. The my dad is coming to visit. Not long after, I will be in Italy. I booked a hotel room in Siena all by myself for a good price, and felt very grown up. I feel good, if overwhelmed.

P.S. Happy Valentines Day. I wasn't thrilled to have my sweetie in another country, but then I was reminded how lucky I am to have him at all... So, that's that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Missing You

He has come and he has gone again. The past few days have been overwhelming and wonderful; my boyfriend of nearly two years (our anniversary is this month, in fact) came to visit me here in London. He came from Germany, where he is studying abroad for the semester and stayed for four blissful days. It was magical visit, from stumbling into Sunday morning service at St Paul's Cathedral together, to eating lunch in China Town, to buying tea at Twinings (still in the original location from the 18th century). We said goodbye this morning at 4am on a cold street corner next to a bus stop.

Over his visit, we had many long conversations about topics that just can't be covered over the phone, and I realized that those conversations are perhaps what I miss the most. This trip has made me think a lot about what it means to share your life with someone. Back home, we share a city, we share friends, we share our days, our joys and our frustrations (even when we were deeply frustrated with each other, as we sometimes are). I didn't think much of it until we came to Europe, where we have such different and separate lives. I miss that kind of being together; at the same time I am savoring my independence and the experience of something so totally new. I am grateful and happy that we are where we are, grateful we can share even part of this experience with each other. I also cried bitterly off and on all day today because every time it gets harder to say goodbye.

It's all very mixed up... I am full of so many different emotions. I suppose this experience would not be what it is without that. I was quite touched when, in the middle of his visit, David told me that after seeing the city he can tell that London is where I need to be. I smiled when he said it because I know he is right, and I am grateful that he can see it. I have no doubts that he is in the right place too. I do not doubt that this is making us both stronger, wiser people (at least, I really, really hope it is).

In the end, I am always grateful just to have him in my life, because my life is just better with him in it. It's that simple, really.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Observation: many British boys are a lot like many American boys. They drink a lot, joke crudely with one another, and fail to understand the concept of subtle flirtation. I find it amusing until someone tries to feel me up, and then the once charming, hour long relationship ends. Then the boy in question moves on to some other girls with whom is more likely to "get lucky" with. I take satisfaction in the fact, as a writer, I can observe and record for my own amusement and everyone else never knows that they are fodder for my pen... (On a less lofty note, I took satisfaction in the fact that my boyfriend is much, much more attractive and charming than any of the silly boys I met last night.) I am also amused and bemused by the sudden heart-to-heart conversations that arise after a few drinks, and surprised at how the British girls I met got excited over Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" when we were dancing. So much American TV and music over here, but I finally got to dance like crazy with my girlfriends, and that was what I really wanted.

Anyway, no more drinking and dancing tonight. Just homework. Earlier this afternoon I spent about 10 minutes starting at the portrait of Jane Austen in the National Portrait Gallery. I was also very excited to see the portrait of Lord Byron in a turban, William Wordsworth looking pensive, and other Romantic types that I've spent semesters studying. Now I am staying in to relax and write, despite protest.

My boy is coming this weekend. Words cannot describe my excitement (well, they might but it would be unbearably sappy I am sure, so I'll spare you). S

So life continues in London, fun, confusing, occasionally awkward... at least I never get bored.

P.S. I have not forgotten about the Spotted Dick, by the way. Next post, I swear.