Monday, October 31, 2005 


Will someone please please please tell me why this sack of potatoes is "ideal for Halloween"? Black cat? Yes. Candy? Yes. Witch's hat? Yes. Pumpkins? Yes. Potatoes? Uhh..... I turned half of these potatoes into a soup last night, there seemed to be nothing evil or scary about them at all.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 


Today I arrived at Tesco's in Covent Garden before it opened (damn you, daylight savings time) and therefore had some time to kill. I popped round to St. Paul's (the Church, not the Cathedral mind you) that I've thought always has the cutest looking courtyard but I've never actually entered. So I did. I was pretty surprised at what I saw....

"Huh," I mused. "Maybe this has to do with the proximity of the church to the West End and all the theatres here. Bizarre concept, but still neat...."

Many other thoughts came to mind as I strolled along....

"Tom Jones? Wait, Robbie Williams? What is with these people and their Robbie Williams?? He's not even an actor!"

"Elizabeth Taylor's a Dame?"

"Peter O'Toole isn't even an O.B.E.?? Jeez, what's a fella gotta do to get a piece of that action?"

"OH MY GOD." I'm so happy that out there, somewhere on this planet, there is a church with the words "The Sex Pistols" emblazoned in front of it. So happy.

Friday, October 28, 2005 


As many of my regular readers probably know, I sit in an office of mostly gay men. This, we all admit, is statistically improbable yet continues despite the reshuffling of students moving in and out of the office.

I confess to being a bit of a bitch lately as my stress levels have been roaring off the charts, what with work being so Hellish and all. Normally one should be quite thrilled with repeated interruptions of "Seriously though, did I tell you how hot the guys in Sweden really were? So tall and blonde, just amazing. Really fit. It was the best holiday ever, I can't wait to go back," but me being so edgy I think I might not have been as welcome to this information the fourteenth time as I was the first.

In a way of apologizing without really saying it, I presented to them this:

The Abercrombie and Fitch website. This and the catalogue are the essentially nothing more than all-American, mainstream, hot, fraternity-endorsed, gay porn.

They were thrilled and invited me out tomorrow night. Bonds of friendship renewed, I can't wait to hear all about Nordic men for four hours straight.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 


A day of victories today, on this date:

1415- Henry V is victorious at the Battle of Agincourt

1869- John Heisman is born, thus spawning an award in his name given to young men showing great capacity for victory in football

1917- The Bolsheviks begin phase two of their revolution, victors against the czars

1922- The Irish victoriously secede from the British, and gain their "freedom to achieve freedom"

2005- Rosa Parks is remembered and the victory she ultimately gave all of us is emphasized again

2005- Plucky young postgrad Monica gives her first PhD presentation to rave reviews! Victory!

Hurrah! This reign of terror the university has had me on since August is finally finished. The viva is done, two massive papers have been finished, and my presentation is completed. I did a solid twenty minutes, didn't really forget anything, and got some excellent questions from the crowd. Afterwards, I was greeted by the other postgrads who all said I did very well, especially the three other newly-minted-second year students of my ilk (yea, gee, thanks for the compliments, all you chickens who refused to go first.)

My supervisor said, "That was a very good presentation, Monica." Trust me, from that man, that is glowing praise.

Monday, October 24, 2005 


Another thing I’ll be getting when that money comes through is a good, healthy haircut. It’s been a few months and I am most definitely due.

Usually I try to avoid giving advance notice of a haircut. When I mention this to people the reaction I get is often hysterical. "Ohhhhh nooooooo!" they wail impassionedly. "Not... Not... Your hair!!” as they reach out to me from the depths of their despair.

I hit back with, "Sorry but it’s gotta go. I’ve got split ends the length of raccoon tails up there, it’s time." I flounce off and lose a few inches and no one even notices. So dramatic.

This time, seriously, I could stand to lose about half a foot. It's just too damn long.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 


Today I had to head up to Oxford St in search of a new lamp for my work desk (old one exploded, broken glass and plastic all over my desk, quite a scene.) After emerging from Tottenham Court Rd tube stop (they've replaced the normal billboard ads that run diagonally along the escalators with computer screens, repeatedly showing mini-movies of Robbie Williams and his new album; undoubtedly the biggest waste of money I've seen in some time) I noticed the air was crisp and cool and most definitely autumn-ish.

"Hurrah!" I thought. I've been looking forward to this for some time. Summer is my favorite season by far, but I've really really been eager for fall to appear. Summer in London was odd in a few ways. Maybe it was how the city population was pushed to the breaking point by the millions of tourists who quite literally take over the city. Maybe it was how the complete lack of air-conditioning made 70F (21C) feel like 100F (38C). Maybe it was the bombings. I don't know.

Bundled up in a jacket and scarf, I was struck by the way smells hit you when it's colder outside. Cooking smells from the pasty shop, women's cologne, the emanation of marijuana from the cellar vents underneath the TopShop.....

Having purchased the new lamp, I decided to get back to the tube by walking on a street that runs parallel to Oxford to avoid the crowds. That's where I noticed this very cool building:

"What is that on the facade?" I pondered. Gaelic? Welsh? What?

It just looks so familiar. I got home and googled it, but nothing. It's definitely Welsh, but I still can't figure out what it is or where I recognize it from..... Hrm....

Thursday, October 20, 2005 


Lovely news, dear readers. As the deadline for tuition payment approaches, this year it is a date I am not concerned with. Because this year, a pharmaceutical company has agreed to fund me. Meaning not only will they pay my outrageously expensive overseas fees, but have also decided to give me a stipend. Money. Finally, money. Sure, I love what I do; sure, money's not important. But when you actually get some, it's damn nice.

And the first order of business for me when that check comes in (hopefully before the end of the month) is the dentist. It's been over a year now since my last visit and I can see, I swear see with my own eyes, three separate cavities. Nightmare. Not quite sure how to go about getting one (my GP is at the uni and they don't do dentistry and when I ask other friends they shrug halfheartedly, thus confirming every American's worst fear about British teeth) but I was hoping the blogging universe could help with that.

Monday, October 17, 2005 


I haven't posted lately because I've been so boring I've just had nothing to go on about (boring not bored; been working my ass off but I imagine that's no so exciting for you to read about). So I thought I'd just reiterate my favorite conversation of the week, amazingly enough not brought about by the current events involving Daniel Craig.

Me: (reading about Pakistani earthquake in the office) Have we pissed God off recently or something?
Gay Mark: Why do you ask?
Me: Well, just tsunamis and hurricanes and now this earthquake.
GM: It's all our fault.
Me: (thinking of global warming) I mean, hurricanes maybe, but we can't cause earthquakes...
GM: Sure we can, haven't you seen all those Bond films?

Sunday, October 16, 2005 


CousinDan said...
So, I keep seeing a girl at OSU that looks exactly like you... well, as best I can remember, I haven't seen you in a while. Anyway, you be the judge... separated at birth?

Err, I'm not so sure about that, Danny. There is one actress girl out there who a few people have sworn up and down that I look exactly like, probably most vehemently my own mother. She used to be on Guiding Light or something. I got stopped in a computer lab at NC State nearly a decade ago by a person who insisted that I was this same girl. Right, because when soap stars aren't busy cranking out daily hours of televised crap they hid out in North Carolina campus computers, sweating through Calculus III labs. And since I'll probably never post a photo of myself, I present Ms. Bethany Joy. We actually have the same hair now, so it's a little weird.

Hum, I don't know. She's gotten a lot prettier and ... glossier over the past few years. I'll let the people who've met me dis/agree here. Mum?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 

Damn Yankees

In honor of the Yankees getting brutally kicked out of the MLB postseason last night, I present a photo that was taken in my office not too long ago:

Me, walking into office and dropping something: Christopher!!
Chris: Wha??
Me: What on EARTH are you wearing?
Chris: Wha?? Huh?
Me: Seriously, where did you get that shirt?
Chris: Oh, this. Someone brought it back for me from Canada or something.
Me: Doesn't explain why you're wearing it! Do you even know who Jeter is?
Chris: Haven't a clue. Baseball, right? Is he a batter or a thrower?
Me (laughing): ahaha, he's a .... batter I guess. Everyone has to do a bit of throwing in baseball, but he's not a pitcher, who's the main thrower. He plays second base. But why, Chris, why him?
Chris: Why? Is he bad?
Me: Ohhhh, I hate that guy. No more Yankees shirts, not in my presence!

I actually toyed with the idea of starting a different blog where I would walk up to strangers wearing Yankees clothing (and UNC, the Yankees of university) and take their picture (if they'd allow it) and ask them to name one Yankees player, assuming they couldn't. But then I thought I might sound crazy, which I probably am. You just see so many of those shirts and hats here. I guess it has nothing to do with the team itself, but is more of an iconic American symbol, practically fashion if you will but.... Why them? I hate those guys!

Monday, October 10, 2005 


I see the logo for "The Daily Show" flash among the promos for the new Channel Four Adult Entertainment channel (ironically not on the fourth channel.) I don't know if it's been shown before in the UK, but I highly recommend it if it hasn't; it's been, by far, the funniest and smartest show in America for several years now. I've been getting my fix from for thirteen months now.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 


I'm not sure why this cracks me up so much, but it does:

From the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

I can just picture the conversation now....

Overworked, exhausted graduate student whose done all the work but gets little of the credit: Hey, professor, have you got a second?
Professor whose done none of the work but gets most of the credit: Look, I'm really swamped today.
Student: I just need a few minutes, that article is due to JPS today.
Prof: I'm sure you've got it under control. Be gone from my sight.
Student: (under breath) We'll just see about that.

It's not really that bad, but sometimes it feels that bad, know what I mean?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 


Bit of a jolt this morning as I was rolling over to hit "snooze" for the umpteenth time, the DJ is crying out upcoming news or something, "[blah blah] South London, arrest made in Bali bombings, and Jane Goodall questioned for shoplifting."

It took my brain about three seconds to snap into focus, "ahhh, he probably said 'Jane Goody'...." One of these women is one of the world's most successful and beloved scientists while the other is known for showing her "kebab" on British Big Brother.

I love love love British celebrities. Because there's so many of them that are famous for nothing, a higher proportion of famous unemployed than even in the States I think. And while American celebrities are famous everywhere, British celebs are famous only in Britain. Americans know who Kate Moss is but not Sadie Frost, Becks but not Rebecca Loos, and if anyone had ever heard of Jordan I think I'd fall out of my chair. But it's so cute how hard they try and think they matter. I love it! (In fact, #43: British celebs are famous only in the UK.)

Monday, October 03, 2005 


#42: Complete and utter lack of buttermilk.

Look, I respect all the cultural differences and adore all of you and blah blah blah. However, if you are going to deny me certain foods, then at least have the decency to provide the general public with the ingredients (i.e. there's little in the way of Mexican food, but I can buy black beans at Borough Market and tortillas, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream dip, etc and make my own Mexican food.) If you people are going to insist that a "biscuit" is, in fact, a "cookie," that's fine by me. I'm down. But then at least allow me to make my own biscuits, which I can't do, because I can't obtain buttermilk (and unlike peanut butter, can't have it imported.)

I've had this conversation at least four times in the last month:

Me: Hey, do you have any idea where I could get some buttermilk?
Hapless Local: Some what?
Me: Buttermilk.
HL: I don't even know what that is, let alone where you could get it. What is it, like.... Butter in milk?
Me: I actually have no idea.
HL: No wonder you Americans are all so fat.
Me: It's not actually butter in milk, I don't know what it is. It's gross, I'd never drink it.
HL: Then...
Me: No, I need it for this recipe. I have this awesome recipe for buttermilk biscuits.
HL: You can buy biscuits...
Me: No no, American biscuits. Big, soft, bread-y, dough-y things. For breakfast, with butter and jam, that sort of thing.
HL: Oh! You mean scones!!

No, not scones. Scones are sweet, scones are afternoon tea. I've hit a wall. They don't even sell biscuits at McDonald's here! And I thought all Mickey D's were about the same, give or take. Lesson learned. I'm willing to bet that the McDonald's home in Maryland isn't selling a McCurry Chicken sandwich, either.

Cool chick

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