I demonstrated with another guy in my office today, all day. And at the end of the day we go back up to our office where the following takes place:
He's gay and Asian, but from Northern England and has a cross between a Welsh and Irish accent (which really puzzles my American self when he talks, to see an Asian talk like that it's astounding. In a good way!) and he says something to the Irish gay guy who also sits in our office.
Irish Gay Guy: What did you just say?
Asian Welsh Gay Guy: Oh! Right! I've got a bit of American in there, didn't I?
Irish Gay Guy: You did! You really did just sound like an American there!
Asian Welsh Gay Guy: It's because I've been with Monica all day!
I then had the following thoughts:
1. Never thought I'd write a transcript such as that in my whole life.
2. I sit in the most diverse office..... EVER.
3. It's funny that their accents influence me, but I never thought of mine ever influencing them....
I'm starting to feel a bit run down, probably from the huge change in my routine and the fact that I haven't really started my project yet because I have to run all over the whole damn city trying to get everything set up. It's all a nightmare from getting keycard access to work and dorm, financial confusion, getting in the NHS, getting paid for all the work I did today, getting a bank account, it's all a total waste of time and energy, yet I have to go through it (and not just once for each line item, nooooo repeatedly!) And because I can't get paid, I can't afford to take the bus, so I'm straight up exhausted from hiking all over with all my stuff.
I know, whine whine whine. When it comes down to it, I just really miss my friends and being able to talk to them, that's all. I am getting very lonely here.
But a friend did cheer me up with this:
I feel as if I've been running around like a 2 quid whore on quid night.
Strange Thing #7: The keyboards here are totally different.
And not just there's a £ where the $ should be. The keyboard is totally f'ed up here, I'm messing up all my typing. The £ is over the 3, and the " is over the 2, the @ is where the " was and then the # is to the right of the @ so the enter button is pushed farther back so I keep getting # instead of a new paragraph. Frustrating! and the shift button's also moved, so I keep getting
other stuff instead of my capital letters. So bizarro. I'm really quite the stickler for capital letter and correct spellings, but I until I learn this I'm just going to have to do without.
I'm a really fast typer and don't look when I type so... Maybe I should offer to type theses for money or something once I get my American keyboard back!
For all those awful thingsI said yesterday, I'm sorry. No sooner did I walk out of the computer lab and decide to head over to Borough St just to make sure nothing was open did I find a 24 hour shop, not twenty yards away, where I not only bought my caramel Cadbury's (yum!) but also some tea and a phone card!
You exceeds my expectations and I never should have judged you so harshly, London.
It's just hard for me, try to understand. It's just like having a crush on someone for years and then all of a sudden they turn round and ask you out and you start dating them! And everything's really great at first and you're just loving it, but in the back of your mind you just know it's too good to be true and so you're waiting... waiting for something to go wrong. Either he'll suddenly confess to being a Yankees fan despite never having lived in New York or think it's okay to smack your ass in front of your father or vote republican or something. I'm sorry London that I've been subconsciously waiting for you to fuck things up for me. You really have been delightful so far and I should check things out thoroughly before I judge you again.
This morning at the bank however, now that was a different story.....
.... I could say I've not written all weekend because I was too busy out having fun, but that is not the case. It was a really slow weekend actually, and now I'm feeling a bit homesick and I forgot to buy a phone card today so I can't call anyone in America now. I can't buy one now because every single place of business in the entire country is closed, as it probably has been for much of Sunday. So bizarre. In America, shopping is done weekends so places will be open Sundays because they figure that's when you'd like to shop. They close early, an ancient religious relic from the times families would like to eat dinner together on Sunday nights, but they'd be open most of the day.
Everything's been closed all day! In America, if a shop has the slightest inclination that they'd make just one sale, they'd stay open all night. We're so entrepreneurial and capitalist that we'd do anything to get ahead, even if it meant losing money in the short term.
American shopkeeper to self: Huh. Every other place is closed. If I were to stay open, and an American girl wanted a phone card to call home, and she found me and bought it here, then she might remember that next time and come here first..... Okay! We're staying open!
Nope, nothing like that. I might get angry and snap at the first person who complains about poverty in this country though. Sure, I'd love to sit at home all Sunday and be rich too, but it doesn't work that way.
I'm mostly pissed that I don't have access to my lab through the electronic locks yet, and I've left all my books and papers there, so I can't even study to pass the boredom. Instead I'm "watching" Jeff Garcia suck it up on ESPN's GameCast.
I don't even think damn pubs are open!!!
To be fair, I had quite a good time Friday night. A bunch of the other postgrads took me out, first to a traditional pub by the school, then across the river to a bar in Covent Garden. That was really a good time, I think I am going to get along with all of them. They were very nice and bought me ales, although the beer here is quite disgusting. I thought I would like it since I like Bass Ale, but I think the Bass here is different, it's not carbonated. Yikes! Wasn't prepared for that one. I'm sure I'll get used to it though.
They were very good about giving me the scoop on all the people in the dept and telling me what to do and how to conduct myself to get ahead. Quite groovy. They told me they would take me out more and even take me dancing and do all that. Hurrah! Nothing beats making friends.
Damn, I really wish I had a phone card. A phone card and a Cadbury's.
I think I've learned more in the past two days than I did the whole last year at my job. It was a little tedious at first, but it is getting interesting and I am getting used to reading texts and articles again. Great deal of fun for a big dork like me.
I made myself lunch yesterday and reheated it just now and man! was it awful! The tomato sauce was just no good! It was really bitter and pasty, I don't know if that was the brand I used or if that's how British tomato sauce tastes but if that's true we are in a mess of trouble. I ate it, but I wasn't happy about it. Which brings me to something I noticed straight away but haven't mentioned since I was waiting for it to be disproved...
Strange Thing #5: There are no obese people here.
Don't get me wrong, there's people of all shapes and sizes, rail-thin model type girls and hefty guys with beer guts, but I have yet to see a single really obese person, the kind that have trouble just walking around and need help getting out of chairs. You see people like that in droves and droves in America. That might have something to do with being in a big city where you have to walk all the time and are generally much more mobile than in the suburbs. But I suspect that it might have something else to do with the fact that I've been here five days and only seen one McDonald's. One! I walk over a mile from dorm to lab and if I did that in the states I'd pass at least three. It's weird that I noticed that right away, how that's such a part of American landscape that it's one of the first things I picked up on.
I wrote this earlier in an email to Steve (shout out, shout out!) and thought it was rather funny so I'm putting it here as well:
1. approach street
2. subconsciously look left
3. step towards curb
4. realize that is wrong as I am nearly swiped out of existence by
5. scream at self in head, "look right! look right! look right!
come on Monica, it's been (X number of) days!"
6. look to right
7. hustle to median
8. look right
9. realize that is wrong as I am nearly swiped out of existence by
10. look left
12. hustle to other side of the street
If and when I master this I think I will just move here permantly, because my tiny brain won't be able to handle switching back.
Like, the fruit has been squished, or rather squashed, to get the liquid out? That is most hysterical! My friend Rob told me about "juicy bits" (instead of calling it pulp) but this was even better.
Strange Thing #4: It is super money being a vegetarian here!
At least so far, at least in Tesco. Everything has all these labels on it, and appropriate food were clearly marked with this big V for vegetarian. In some parts of America vegetarians are treated like lepers, but not here. Not so far at least. All my dorm mates didn't even say anything about it when I told them. Sweet.
Alright, have to go get some coffee and then head up to the lab. You'd think walking a mile would wake one up, but no, doesn't seem to be the case......
Not too sure which episode that is, but I believe it might have something to do with high water pants..... ahh, I do miss the Simpsons.
That being said, I swear to GOD I was made for this place. All these little syncronicites, like my apartment number and my dorm number being the same, the fact I've been here three days and it hasn't rained yet, and the fact that my lab is freaking awesome!!! They use the same LCs and software as S Inc did. Kismet or not? You decide!
My advisors were very cool and easy to talk to, and also seemed extremely organized and on top of things. And smart, did I mention smart?? Yay! The lab is quite cool, and get this! I get my own desk! I can also bring my laptop in and get internet access there, right at my desk. The best part was my main advisor, Dr. B, has opened a business at the school and it now operates right there in the same building as the college. He told me that since my work is overlapping what they do, and they can use it, I might get paid for it! So they'll try to work something out to knock off some of my tutition, and MedPharm will sponser me some! Isn't that fabolous! People really are so damn nice here it is insane.....
I heard the Southwark church bells just now as I walked down here. Really made me feel like I was in Europe just then....
Two guys called me "sweetie" and "sweetheart" today. Is that a British version of flirting? I think it might be so subtle that I might not be picking up on it, because so far flashing my big white smile doesn't seem to work on these people.....
I think tomorrow the rest of the postgrads will invite me out for some drinks. I just realized that I haven't been to a pub yet! Everyone in the dept seems cool so far, even the guy who gave me candy made from Whiskey. It was revolting, but at least he warned me first!
Alright, time running out on the computer. Just wanted to let everyone know how incredibly happy I am right now!
Made it safe and sound! Actually the flight and aftermath couldn't have gone any better. I am a huge virgin atlantic fan, I got three whole seats to myself and they had a selection of 50 movies that you could watch, stop, and start whenever you felt. And some money vegetarian food. Customs was a breeze, they didn't even bat an eye at me (or ask to see my transcripts, which is good because I forgot to order more!) and then the tube was actually not too bad with all my luggage because people kept helping me which leads me to
Stange Thing #1: People here are so nice it's almost scary!
As an American I was nervous they were going to steal my luggage!! But of course they didn't. My room is really small and sad looking, but it has an amazing view of the city and it's the same number as my apartment, 813! Kismet if ever there was any. Love love love my dorm mates, they are all jems. More incredibly nice people. Jen, my new best friend, gave me bed sheets! And Slyv (think Sllll-vh)gave me a couple glasses of wine last night which was very nice because I was getting homsick and wanting to cry. There's only one phone on the whole floor, is this England or the year 1955??? It took nearly a whole day to figure out how to use it, but I took charge and mastered it. Today I went to Tesco, super Tesco! They sold clothes and liquor! I took a lot of pictures, but can't upload them until my computer's fixed or I have internet access at school, which is about two weeks away probably.
Strange Thing #2: You have to rent your shopping cart for a pound, but you get it back after you're done.
Stolen shopping carts that big a deal?? Got tons of groceries and stuggled on the bus home, but was with Jen and an American named Michelle, so it was a fun adventure for all of us.
I am still homesick but can tell I'm going to love it here! Hurrah! Okay, out of time on the internet, off I go!
This is in no way meant to be disrespectful to my new culture, just some interesting items I've come across since being here.
Strange Thing #1: People here are so nice it's almost scary!
Strange Thing #2: You have to rent your shopping cart for a pound, but you get it back after you're done.
Strange Thing #3: They call "juice," "squash!"
Strange Thing #4: It is super money being a vegetarian here!
Strange Thing #5: There are no obese people here.
Strange Thing #6: They drink Aftershock.
Strange Thing #7: The keyboards here are totally different.
Strange Thing #8: Every single slightly disparaging comment I have about London/England/British Empire, no matter what it is, is greeted each time with the following comment: Yea, but in America you're allowed to shoot each other.
Strange Thing #9: You can curse on the radio.
Strange Thing #10: There are two types of light bulbs here. And if you are unaware of this fact, and try to fit the wrong bulb in, you will short circuit your brand new lamp and cause the fuse to blow.
Strange Thing #10a: All electrical appliances have fuses, because there is enough voltage running through these old wires to kill a horse.
Strange Thing #11: Text messages in this country are the primary mode of communication.
Strange Thing #12: Men here are not afraid to admit they like sappy movies.
Strange Thing #13: The Jerry Springer Opera.
Strange Thing #14: British get far more fired up about American politics and September 11th than Americans do.
Strange Thing #15: These stamps:
Strange Thing #16: French Toast is "eggy bread." Hee hee hee. I think that's so cute it makes me giggle!
Strange Thing #17: Cops get to drive BMW cop cars!
Strange Thing #18 : The Cockney rhyming game. Goes like, "[Adjective or noun] *pause* [related noun] *pause* [unrelated noun, yet rhymes with last noun]!"
Strange Thing #19: Traffic lights go in the following order: Green, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Green, etc. This is different from American traffic lights which go: Green, Yellow, Red, Green.
Strange Thing #20: The wide range of available flavors of crisps (a.k.a. potato chips.)
Strange Thing #21: Christmas Dinners.
Strange Thing #22: They don't have dryer sheets. (Actually they do, but they are damn hard to come across.)
Strange Thing #23: I've just discovered they have a Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the British Cabinet.
Strange Thing #24: No Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Strange Thing #25: Serious lack of decent Mexican food.
Strange Thing #26: Fee-less ATMs (or cashpoints or hole-in-the-walls as they are called here.)
Strange Thing #27: The worthless strip of tape that holds bread bags "closed."
Strange Thing #28: It's not "How are you?" when greeting someone, it's "You alright?"
Strange Thing #29: You are allowed to drink outside. There appears to be no public drinking laws whatsoever.
Strange Thing #30: Department meetings come fully equipped with alcohol.
Strange Thing #31: The popularity of Robbie Williams.
#32: Brown Sauce.
#33: Mother's Day is the last Sunday of Lent in the UK (falls in March) but it's the second Sunday of May in the US. But Father's Day is the third Sunday in June for both.
#35: It's not scotch tape, it's "cello" tape.
#36: Cafes in church Crypts.
#37: The variation in daylight
#38: Occasionally the weather woman on BBC-insert-number-here announces tomorrow will be "fresher." What on Earth does this mean? Cooler? Less humid? More breezy? A tinge of yummy citrus flavor in the air? What?
#39: Different names for the same vegetables.
#40: Richard and Judy
#41: It’s not a “costume party”; they call it a “fancy dress party”!
#42: Complete and utter lack of buttermilk. (However I now know that something resembling American buttermilk is sold at Waitrose and larger Tescos. It is not exactly the same however.)
#43: British celebs are famous only in the UK
#45: The kind of schools where only the very rich attend due to the astronomical tuition and boarding fees are called "public schools."
#45: Happy Christmas! (Instead of "merry")
#46: Televised Dart Competitions
#47: Pancake Day!
#48: Big Brother popularity
#49: Ant and Dec
#51: "Zed" instead of "zee"
#52: They love Friends.
#53: Their love of this childhood show:
#54: The television watershed with the illicit and scandalous shows that follow soon after.
#55: Two different definitions for the word, "billion"!
#56: The Eurovision Song Contest.
#57: Insistence on using the word 'autumn' and refusal to recognize my use of the word 'fall'.
Have been running around like mad all day because I know that if I stop of one second reality will hit me and I'll have a heart attack. So no grandiose speeches for now, just good bye and the next time I write it will be on British soil!
My last full day in America. Felt like it would never come for so many days. This days has heady significance, although in reality is it a day like any other.
I got up early and am (re)packing and doing laundry and then I think me and sis are off to buy more stuff for me. And as the older I get and the more I learn about myself the more I realize the thing that makes me happiest is "getting things done." Ticking off a list is so satisfying for me that it's no wonder I am off to do a PhD, the mother of checking off myriads of steps towards an ultimate goal. I'll be like a pig in shit.
I am so disoriented because I have strayed from my set schedule which is very upsetting for me. I am also a schedule person. It's unnerving at the moment but it is also the reason I am doing this: Hello children! SO good to see you! Now gather around to hear Grandma recount her wild and crazy tales of making lunch the night before and her commutes to work....
Much as it may disagree with me, I need to make more of my life.
And I'll have a new schedule soon enough!
It has been a nice week at home however; one forgets how great being at home with the family can really be. I've also taken to the TV where my parents have that comcast cable with 500 channels. Ahhh, TV. The proverbial teat from which all Americans suckle. I've been basking in it's warm electric glow for days now. Getting my fill before we are permanently parted, which I'll freely admit is one of the hardest things I have to leave. Who will take care of me when I get home late and my brain needs a vacation? Who will distract me after a horrible break up? How the hell will I know what's going on in the world in a matter of minutes? WHERE WILL I GET THOSE DAMNED INFOMERCIALS FROM????
Off tomorrow I go. I will watch the Skins crush New York and then drive over to Dulles Airport. Man..... that is nuts. Still in denial that this is happening......
"It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy everyone would do it. It's the 'hard' that makes it great."
Tom Hanks told me that last night in A League of Their Own. And he's right.
Although the hard part for now seems over. Quitting my job was scary but my last day was great! Hectic as hell though. My visa looks really bizarre but also very official and it makes me very excited. I start in my new lab on Wednesday! What time do you ask? No, not at 8:00 in the morning, but at 2 pm. Man, I already love it there!
Think all my ducks are in a row so hopefully I can just cruise into London from here. Because that's where it will get hard all over again.
Yes! After letting the phone ring for FIFTEEN MINUTES a very nice Irish woman answered and told me
- the visa has been approved!
- it will be printed today!
- my passport goes "in the post" tonight!
- I should have it in two days!!
I'm actually going to London!! The countdown is back on! 6 days and 3 hours....
I guess my main concern is how will I be able to get a job. Can't I get a job that is at night? After the lab? I will definitely need a job, surely I can find and schedule one.
Secondly (and far less worrisome) since Americans drive on the right side of the road we inadvertently walk on the right side of the hallway. In England, do people walk on the right or left side? I don't want to be the bumbling idiot in everyone's way. Well, no more than I can help anyways.
I am too tired to write much but I will update. I moved out of my apartment today, which was super emotionally draining and physically exhausting obviously. But it's all over at least.
Each step that I must perform is unbelievably tough and hard to deal with it, but I do get a spike of joy when it's at least over. So while I was heart broken towards the end of my goodbye party, at least it feels good to have it out of the way and gotten over with. Saying good bye is definitely the worst part.
I've got some good pics from the goodbye party I'll share but something's wrong with my computer so that will come later I hope.
Still no word from the British Consulate. I sure hope I can get through to them tomorrow. But if I'm being 100% honest right now, I don't really want to go to London anymore. I'm at that inevitable low point in the preparations where this is all just too hard and I'm so wiped out and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel or the forest through the trees. Like, why am I giving up my great life? What am I throwing this all away for? I won't be reminded until I get there and that seems so far away. So if the BC really does F things up and I get to spend another week with my family and friends, that doesn't sound so bad right now.
PS Life's definitely not all bad... The Redskins won today!! And both the Giants and the Cowboys had their asses handed to them. Today was a good day.
- Get in touch with British Consulate re: visa
- Email again about dorm (seems I am back in the Wolfson dorm. Maybe I can get internet service for myself in my room?)
- Check for British internet service
- Meeting with S Inc. lawyer
- Call Sallie Mae re: still unapproved loan
- Good bye lunch with department (at least that's free)
- Coat tablets
- Find and purchase bubble wrap
- Attend goodbye party in my honor after work
- Go home and pack and try to get sleep and not get all emotional re: Sept 11th anniversary/leaving homeland
Last night at the Proms, directed by Leonard Slatkin, Live from London? What kind of magical ad was this I just heard on NPR? Guess summer is over either way, I thought the proms took place outside, although I could be totally wrong about that.
Whatever came of Beckam and Posh and his sleeping around? That story just seemed to die out on this side of the pond, Hello! doesn't really mention it anymore. Did he do it? Did she just forgive him just like that?
Couldn't get in touch with accommodation Office today, the phones were busy. Guess they are pretty tied up right now, a week before everyone starts moving in and they can't send the right forms to students, I imagine that would be a lot of work to catch up on. Competency, that's all I ask for, competency. I never expect brilliance, just being plain old competent will do the job, thank you.
Woo hoo! Just broke into my personal email, which S Inc blocks us from accessing. No reply to my email to the accommodation office. Of course.
Email from VISA people though, they've received my application and will process within 10 working days. THE HELL THEY WILL. Funny, how it went from one day on the website to 10 days in real life. I LEAVE IN TEN DAYS.
Now I have to call these bastards and yell at them. And the loan people too. Lots of yelling is needed if you want to switch up countries. Well, if your American and want things done right anyway!
This stupid website lost ANOTHER blog posting and then I got home and my mom had called to say there was a message from KCL on her answering machine. I got the number but can't call until tomorrow. When I checked my gmail account, turns out they sent me the wrong paperwork for my dorm and want to put me back in Wolfson House instead of Great Dover St. I'd rather be in Dover but at this point a place to go after I get off the plane would be most appreciated.
I'm the biggest fan of NASA there is, but I'll be damned if they didn't fuck up again..... Why aren't we doing better in space? I know it's the hardest thing mankind's ever had to do, but it seems like we should be doing better.
I'm so glad I don't have cable TV and that I've been too busy to watch any kind of TV lately. Everytime I think about that siege in Belsan I feel sick; if I had easy access to the images of that horror I probably wouldn't be able to sleep. Well, any more than I'm already not sleeping anyway.
Most of my anxious feelings have been replaced by excited ones. Quitting my job was fun, and my prof and I decided I'll be working with transdermal drug delivery so that has me very excited. I think I can handle anything that's thrown at me, it's the unknown that I have trouble dealing with and the more I know about what's coming up, the better I feel. Having a project feels great. Money is the only thing I really worry about now.
Transdermal means through the skin, so think of stuff like Nicotine patches to help quit smoking and birth control patches that stop you from being pregnant. Also ointments and lotions that you rub into the skin and then the medication seeps though and gets into the body. It's hard to get stuff through the skin, it's one giant protecting organ after all. So learning how to overcome nature and defeat the skin sounds like a lot of fun!
I don't actually remember what made me want to be a scientist when I was little. I just always wanted to since I could remember. Maybe countless hours of watching these two on Sesame Street laid the subconscious groundwork??
I noticed there was no Professor Frink on the list, which has me greatly concerned about the popularity of The Simpsons in England, but maybe he wasn't on there because he's not referred to as "Dr. Frink."
Frink: You've got to listen to me. Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.
Scientist: How much time do we have professor?
Frink: Well according to my calculations, the robots won't go berserk for at least 24 hours.
(The robots go berserk.)
Frink: Oh, I forgot to er, carry the one.
Anyhooooo, back from a wonderful weekend in North Carolina. Good times, bopping around there one last time. Also gave the fish tank away to my best friend's mother, so feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Emotionally and physically I guess!
Guys want you way more when you're leaving the country, or so it seems. I don't have any other explaintions for the bizarre occourances in my love life that seem to be happening lately. I didn't expect to encounter this, but if I had such foresight I would have used it to my advantage way sooner than two weeks until launch!!!!
Moving overseas might not be for you: after taking your fish to a pet store to be donated so that they can find new homes, the guy working there just snatches the bucket and takes them to the back before you can say "goodbye" you suddenly burst into tears!
It was all so irrational, I mean, how do you say "goodbye" to a fish anyway? Talk to it? Hug it one last time? Shake its hand? I guess it all just happened so fast and I was rushing all day and then I rushed in there and he just took the bucket! But really, what else was he supposed to do? I stood there in the middle of the store with tears streaming down my face, so pathetic.
A mom says to her kid, "Oh, that lady's sad because she had to give away her fish." And the kid gives me a look that clearly states, "What .... the..... fuck....." Even he knew I was a nutjob.
I sniffled my way back to the back room and barged in to see them and they had put them in a different bucket and were admiring them, so that was cool.
I went back the next day to drop off some other stuff and checked for my fish in the store tanks and found some so that made me feel better, to see them swimming around again. Then I saw my tri-color shark was on sale for $50!! Damn! A guy working there told me he'd never seen one that big in his whole life. Those little bastards were valuable the whole time and I had no idea! Should have sold them... oh well, as long as they are okay I don't really care.
My dad is so cute and proud of his daughters. He hung up these clocks in the kitchen and set them up like those clocks in newspaper offices and TV news sets, with multiple clocks set to the different time zones and labeled as such. So the three in the kitchen are labeled, "Ashland" (where my sister will be attending Southern Oregon in a few weeks) "Bowie," (where they live) and "London." The picture's a little fuzzy, but it's so good. I laughed my ass off, but it also makes me sad to see the whole family getting split up into thirds and so far apart at that.