Friday, June 30, 2006 


This will be my last post before I head to Athens for two weeks. I'm being sent on a school conference, some EU deal called Socrates, where a bunch of pharmaceutical PhDs are treated to lectures by the EU's best pharmacy professors.

Sounds pretty cool, huh? I was really excited at first but now am feeling extremely anxious for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. Might as well list them out, and have all you readers laugh at them/reassure me.

1. Two weeks is a long time.
2. A really long time to be in Athens for a vegetarian.
3. I only get one day off, with 12 days on. Not exactly a holiday.
4. My lodging is 3.87 euros a night, yes I'm sleeping in the University of Athens dorms.
5. Anything that's 3.87/night probably doesn't have A/C or decent beds.
6. I am going with someone I work with, but I don't like her very much (and probably vice versa.) She's a perfectly nice person but we just don't get on.
7. She's extremely negative about the trip and I feel her emotions infecting me.
8. It appears to be very poorly organized (i.e. introduction welcome dinner being pushed back to another night, leaving us on our own the first night.)
9. This is the farthest east I've ever been in my life.
10. Worried about reading street signs, etc in a non-Romance language, yikes!
11. The current temperature is 90F with 50% humidity, after living two years in London, that scares me.
12. My professor and I got in a huge row about it. It has not been a good few weeks at work.
13. People have been telling me that Athens is loud and dirty and not very nice at all.
14. Once I'm out of the country, England will probably win the World Cup and I'll miss it all.
15. I'll be spending my 29th birthday completely alone (or at best, hopefully with some nice strangers...)

Alright, I'm done whinging about it (excellent British word: whinging.) I imagine that it's just a fear of the unknown and I'll be settled once I'm there.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 24, 2006 


My life seems to be slowly but surely falling apart. Nothing is working out for me, and I am trying my very hardest to keep it together. One of the things that has been bothering me for a while, and I alluded to two posts ago, was that I missed Americans. The thought of this came to me last month, when I went out to Chelsea to meet a work mate's girlfriend, who is Australian, and her friends, who were all Australian. In fact they all grew up in Adelaide, and were now all here together; this most amazing network of support and social companionship for each other. And that made me realize that all nationalities seem to be represented here, all except Americans. Sometimes I feel like The Last Unicorn.

So imagine my surprise today when I run into one in the halls elevator while moving (they make us move rooms during the summer for no specific reason.) He was already in when I boarded and put on a great big smile and dove straight into moving small talk. His accent took me back, so I asked where he was from.

Him: Washington, D.C. actually.
Me: No way! You're never going to guess were I'm from!
Him: D.C.! That's cool!
Me: Yea I grew up in Bowie, Maryland.
Him: Ahaha! I live in Bowie, Maryland!
Me: No way!
Him: Yes! I have a house in Pointer Ridge!
Me: Guess which part of Bowie I'm from!
Him: Pointer Ridge!!
Me: My folks live in the Tall Oaks neighborhood!
Him: Oh man! My name's Tim, let's hang out!

So how funny is that. I never would have dreamed to be in the UK and meet some one from the P-section of Bowie. So I may potentially have an American mate after all. I think that might be so nice.

The thing I've learned about living abroad is that homesickness never really seems to go away. It might ebb or take other forms, but it always manages to loom somehow. It's particularly acute right now, and I hate it.

Monday, June 12, 2006 


Ah, another person to add to the Strangers Who Are Assholes for No Reason List.

This weekend I was patiently waiting in line to buy a train ticket at Richmond station...

A woman suddenly barges in front of me and starts screaming at the man at the ticket window, "YOU MORON YOU NEVER SAID THE DISTRICT LINE WAS DOWN I'VE WASTED THIRTY MINUTES OF MY DAY WAITING FOR THIS TRAIN I DEMAND A REFUND" and started thundering on the glass partition. Everyone in the station has stopped and turned to stare at this monster.... "I HAVE TWO LITTLE ONES TO LOOK AFTER, I DON'T HAVE TIME TO READ SIGNS, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME" and rants on and on about how being a parent means she doesn't have time for these shenanigans.

While waiting for the man to give her her money back, she turns to me as I appear to be someone she could commiserate with. She even has the nerve to say to me, "I have two little ones, I don't have the time to read signs like these" and jerks her thumb at the very large sign posted IN the window that states the situation. Several responses are running through my head:

Obviously you've seen the sign, retard.
There's always a replacement bus, why don't you get on that and get the hell out of my face?
Since you didn't notice the eight highly noticeable signs between the front door and the train track like I did, perhaps you did notice that you were the only moron waiting for a train?
Yes that's true. Why shouldn't you have screaming children bothering normal people trying to enjoy a meal in a restaurant? Why shouldn't you repeatedly clip the people in the ankles with your strollers that equal the size and complexity of a M1 Abrams tank? Why should you have to read the same signs as everyone else? You're an absolute Queen by the mere default that you managed to reproduce, why shouldn't you and your kin be treated as such? I think I speak for everyone here when I say not only is your idiotic presence a treat but we are all looking forward for the genetically-linked, equally-idiotic children you're about to unleash on us in about 15 years.

I'm not totally cold hearted; of course I like children. But parents are a different beast. I blame the invention of Baby Gap. Once you start accessorizing your four month old your brain becomes completely warped into thinking it's okay to behave like an utter ass in the name of The Almighty Childhood, and once that's justified then the feeling of empowerment is never ending.

Thursday, June 08, 2006 


Wow, check out the dates on the right, I've now been blogging for two years!

So in honor of that, today I thought I would talk a little bit about me because ever since I put that email address up I've been getting a lot of questions that I thought were explained by the sidebar on the right but apparently not. Here are answers to the top four queries:

1. I'm a student and therefore I am here on a student visa. It's the easiest and most practical way to get to this country, short of marrying someone it seems the only way.

2. Yes, London is absurdly expensive; yes I struggle to live here. As a post-grad student this year I am sponsored by a pharmaceutical company who allow me a stipend. While I appreciate not going into anymore tuition fee debt, the stipend is, in fact, about 1/5 of what I was making in the States at my proper job. To compensate I live in student housing which I find massively embarrassing at my age (29 years next month). Fire drills aside, it's very convenient as I pay 100 quid a week and have no travel expenses because I am a one minute walk from work.

3. No, I don't hate America. We were having a turbulent relationship when I left, sure. But 20 months of space have helped me realize all the great things about it, daft presidents, religious extremism, and SUVs aside.

4. Yes I do miss Americans. Definitely not always mind you but every once in a while I long for a loud, pushy, obnoxious, take-no-prisoners type of attitude; sometimes politeness and tippy-toeing just doesn’t get it done.

There you go. Please do continue to read and write to this goofy little blog.

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