Entertaining myself

Movies I brought with me:
-Ratatouille
-I ❤ Huckabees
-Fitzcarraldo
-Cobra Verde
-Waking the Dead
-Crimes and Misdemeanors
-The Science of Sleep

Yeah, I guess I’m pretty cool.

…ICH WILL MEIN OPERNHAUS.

http://klausisworried.ytmnd.com/

…OR my favorite:
http://thor.ytmnd.com/

indestructible fairy tale

On Monday night, I was accosted by a man in an unbuttoned red flamenco shirt with a cascading jabot of epic proportions. It initially was one of those weird life experiences I enjoy collecting and telling later, until he overstepped the line of tastefulness and said things I wouldn’t repeat to my mother.
Thus, in an attempt to avoid future disturbances related to being a “ginger bird“, I dyed my hair. The box said “brown”, which means my hair is black right now.
I don’t like having dark hair.

Taco Tuesday is now Delicious Leftovers in my Belly Wednesday, and I am sitting in a room-turned-jungle by the multitudinous wet dangling wardrobe accoutrements. To be frank, the on-campus laundry is a waste of time and money. I waited on queue until 2 washers were open, coughed up £1,60 each, and then didn’t have an open dryer in sight afterward. I hauled it back to my room and used thumbtacks/belts/all manner of interesting improvised lines/gravity to hang up the wet stuff. This will not be a weekly event.

ADVENTURES IN DELICIOUS. We proposed having a Seafood Sunday. Also during Taco Tuesday, we all brought something. Kelly brought two liters of soda that only I’ve been drinking. Andy supplied two bottles of Hot Sauce that’s even hotter than the Dinosaur/Devil hot sauce Liz and I eat at home. My dad dubbed that “the shit sauce”; this stuff is OUTRAGEOUS. I hope I can bring some home, because it literally made me tear up. It’s callled Encona West Indian Original Hot Pepper Sauce.
Encona hot pepper sauce

Anyway, on a broader and more travelogue-like note, Westminster– the West End– is the heart of London. Besides actually being in the center, it takes more than latitude and longitude to get to the very essence of a foreign city, if not the entire country. In this case, it more or less represents an entire empire.

Mostly, our neighborhood is an area of really unfortunate-looking people and kebab stores. It’s fun, it’s quirky, but it’s relatively new.
(Side note: Every time I pass a doner kebab place, I get Flight of the Conchord’s “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” stuck in my head.
I draw you near, let’s get out of here.
Let’s get in a cab, I’ll  shot you a kebab.
I can’t believe I’m sharing a kebab
With the most beautiful girl I have ever seen with a kebab
.
So this happens often.)

Choose your own adventure: as soon as you leave the Lambeth neighborhood via the bus–our favorite mode of transportation– you go over the Thames and everything’s laid out in front of you. I’ve felt the same reverse-wistfulness by taking the NEC south and hitting the lights on the bridge over Highland Park, pulling into New Brunswick. That, but a million times stronger because the lights are off the London Eye and the National Gallery and it actually looks like Europe.

Over the Thames

Westminster is overwhelmingly rich with history and memories and ghosts. On the bus home, we mentioned that we thought we were getting tired of Big Ben. Until we drove by it and it was incredible all over again. I think we only got tired of the idea of it.
DeLillo wrote fictionally about how people kept taking pictures of the Most Photographed Barn in America. When people took photos, it added to the aura around it, the “accumulation of nameless energies.” People stopped seeing the barn. Do you know what I mean, in relation to Westminster? Taking pictures of taking pictures. Submitting to the collective perception. This is the religion of tourism, and Westminster is a concentrate of the legacy of the former British empire.

Westminster

I think that we’ve already accepted that we’re here in the span of eleven days, and so things have lost their sharp edges, bright smells, fascinating colors. It’s not boredom, but it’s retreating back from the bulging eyes and swivelling head. I don’t want it, I want to be a child (a precocious one, nonetheless, who doesn’t need to be led by the hand.) Today, I’d noticed I’d been putting on my New York City subway face in order to be untouchable to the strange people on the streets of this marvelously ill-engineered city.
On submission: I thought I could be someone new here, a leader of a group maybe. I tried it out and it was fun for a short time, but I can’t absorb everything AND remember everything for me and you AND calculate the fastest route to where WE want to go against rush hour traffic AND impress what I want to do on a group of other free-thinking people.
Sometimes I walk up front, because I have a weird ability to know what cardinal direction I’m going in. Mostly I find myself naturally trailing in the wake. There’s more room for me to turn around and gape at things there, even if people in my party readily attach my face with a long-cultivated social retardation.
Parents: I tried. Expressing your concern for me as a follower is admirable, but if I don’t like what I’m doing, I leave. It doesn’t matter what country I’m in.

Returning to le quotidien:
Everyone is going out to Club Sandwich soon, but it’s not my thing. Similarly, post-Taco Tuesday’s destination was Sports Cafe, on Haymarket Street. I left after five minutes max with Chris and Andy because it was filled with beer-pong playin’, ‘YOU WOT MATE’-yellin’, Beyonce-dancin’ pimps and hoes.
The three of us walked around a lot, having conversations in really terrible French; we popped into a casino where we collectively won £12 (high rollers) and then lost it while we watched Asians play a furious game of blackjack with £100 chips and a £500 max bet; and then somehow, Chris got us into this place Oxygen for free. It was nice. They had a real fireplace, which we sat in front of and swapped gross childhood stories (re: Brian Scott puking on my arm in 2nd grade, etc.)

I feel guilty for sitting in my room. My only consolation is that I know if I went out, it costs more money. (Even though I figured out a system for using the bus without paying 3/4 of the time.) I COULD theoretically go sight-see at St Paul’s Cathedral or Tower Bridge or Canary Wharf (not that I know what’s there.) Now’s not the time for Abbey Road or the London Eye, but it’s a thought . . .
Until you remember how effortlessly I attract trouble.

I probably should’ve split this up into several posts.

additional hyperbolic mews news

Here’s the word on the street: highlights in the last 4 days.


THURSDAY
Shopping in Catford with Chris, O’Neills when I smashed the pint glasses with my foot, live band, etc. Yadda yadda.


FRIDAY
I didn’t do too much, other than sleep through the Fresher’s Fayre when all the clubs draw you in and make you cough up money. I should join things regardless. Yes. I walked to Karen’s house in the evening and we waited forever for the bus to take us to the THEATRE. We were on Drury Lane, seeing Oliver! in London. How crazy is that. It was the best production of ANYTHING I have seen. There was also a little boy I wanted to steal and raise as my son. Hmmm. The Theatre Royal is gorgeous and we sat right under the royal box, seven rows in from the stage. No big deal.
I stopped by the pub when I got back in order to see what everyone else did during the day. I left after five minutes because people were going CRAZY. Pat, Joe and Andy had a mini-brawl over a New Jersey joke while Kelly almost knocked some bitchez block off in the bathroom.
America.


SATURDAY
We journeyed back into Central London to take the State Room tour of Buckingham Palace. Everything was so intricate and gorgeous. Many of the rooms were designed by John Nash, who seemed to be something of a Renaissance man. I’ve learned about him in economics classes– he invented the Game Theory.
But I wonder what the Palace is worth in terms of gold? Every surface was gilded and faceted and ornamented. A chest of drawers struck me dead, since the front of it was encrusted with gems the size of my fist (but managed to remain tasteful, in any century’s idea of taste.) It was magnificently impressive, just as it has been designed to appear.
It was refreshing to step out into the garden, though. Even though the palace was constructed with all intentions of airiness, there’s something oppressive about the age of the place and its opulence. Here’s to IKEA furniture, y’all.
For dinner, we stopped at Bumble’s because Bag o’ Nails didn’t have enough dining room for us. It’s just as well– we had a 3 course meal for £10. For future reference: fennel/pear/rocket salad, fish & chips, vanilla ice cream. BANGIN’.
Our teams split up after Daria went to see Wicked with Karen, so I wandered around the West End in the sunset with Emily, Andrew, and Chris. Photo moments in front of Westminster Abbey.


SUNDAY
I woke up around 6:15am to make breakfast/take my time getting ready for the CEA trip to Oxford. I spent the whole day sick as all heck: sneezy, leaky, congested, feverish, etc.
Side note: Just spilt tea over the most expensive things in my possession. Ruined 2 towels, but all is working properly! I screamed. I don’t know how it happened.
We took the bus to Paddington station at 730am. We thought we were going to die from the cold, yo. When you can see your breath is when it starts getting srs. We met our CEA guide, Sarah, and got on the train to Oxford. I spent the train ride looking at the countryside, pretending it was the Hogwarts Express, and brooding to my sleep playlist. I was ready to burst into tears to American Football. Dweeb factor.
Christ's Church


We visited several chapels, as well as Mertan and Christ’s Church Colleges, land of men in bowler hats and Lewis Carroll and temporarily: 17 prime ministers, C.S. Lewis, Michael Palin, etc. WE STOPPED AT A HARRY POTTER LANDMARK.
Psh, forget about Alice in Wonderland; I stood where Daniel Radcliffe and Maggie Smith were during the pre-Sorting Hat scene in The Sorceror’s Stone on that stone staircase. Nearly peed myself.
Words cannot express how much I adored Oxford. Check out my flickr for pictures, so you get an idea.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/knarkiewicz


Last night, I was sitting outside the gentlemens’ new Amersham house with Paul/Dave/Matt/Lew/some extraneous bitches. I couldn’t quit my horrible British accent. It started when I accidentally said “I told my mom I et a pasty yesterday.” I could not get over myself. ET.
I ET DIS PAHSTEE ANIH WUZZA GOODUN, YUM YUM.
Seriously. This is AFTER debating the finer points of Welsh grammar with Lewis while Matt had a laugh. (Fine? Welsh? Get your incredulity out now.)


I wish I could post this video for you to check out this guy we found in Oxford yesterday. He totally skewered a version of “Hallelujah” but then broke out into a bit of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” right after that. He healed our hurts.


Tea and paracetamol, Joanna Newsom and a nap.
Okay, not much has changed.

news in the mews

Fun facts: I’m tired, ill and running out of clean clothes.

I had to drop Old English this morning and almost cried in the stairwell. I ought to’ve checked during the week, but I spent so much time being a tourist that I neglected my studies. (Without even starting! New record!) But basically I noticed that Old English clashed with a course I ABSOLUTELY must take, because it’s counting for credits at home. FML too, because Old English was the only class I was looking forward to.
I had just skimmed through the course guide for Old English and noticed that the class today was going to discuss litotes. This used to be some sort of unfunny inside joke during Creative Writing, because we thought it sounded hilarious.
LIH-TOE-DEEZ.
I went to get it sorted out several hours before any classes started, and then hit a brick wall of bureaucracy. The woman in the English department said that course clashes were “not uncommon”. I seriously almost kicked her in the chin. I do believe she almost litote’d at me. Let it be known that Merryl Jones is actually a hobbit. She sent me on what turned out to be a wild goose chase up and down 7 flights of stairs, and I was ready to yell at her:
“I SET FOOT IN YOUR COUNTRY AND VOMITED.”

In other news, politics here are . . . mind-boggling. I had my first seminar for a what I anticipated to be a either drag or a doddle of a class: UK & EU Comparative Governance & Politics. It’s a mouthful, right? Instead, I was thrust into a world where even this chavette girl from Manchester knew more than me. That is to say, I couldn’t open my mouth and contribute more than 3 words to their conversation.
I know nothing about their politics, other than things like how they have two houses in Parliament and Gordon Brown is the PM right now. They were tossing around acronyms like it ain’t no thang and I’m twiddling my damn thumbs. It was horrible and fascinating. I won’t drop it. 

The rest of today in Political Economy was uneventful, except I enjoy the Doctor. The subject, not so much, but the Doctor George Menz (pron: “Geyorgh Mens”) says words like amalgam, prescient, and phenotypes as “AH-mahl-gam”, “pray-SEE-unt”, and “FEE-no-tyups” respectively. So I pay attention to him.

Y’know, we really haven’t adjusted to the time here. We thought we all had jet lag, but really it’s just being a college student. Go to bed at 4 and wake up at noon. Students: wan and ill-fed.

OOH. I praise God above for the ChexMix I brought with me last week. I haven’t bothered even looking for it yet, because They’d probably call it Wonky Crisp Bitties or something to that extent.
The other day in Daria’s kitchen, I said I wished we could play Twister, but They probably call it The Funny Blanket Game. Someone refuted it and said They do, in fact, have Twister. But it is not a cool game to play. Right.

I still have Shakespeare’s London on Friday, as well as the course I’m transferring to tomorrow morning, which is likely to be Public Administration. LOL.

Reinvention is a lot more difficult and soul-crushing than I anticipated.

“The 453 to… Narnia.”

Was woken up by one peal from fire alarm this morning and nearly peed my bed because of it. Now I’m drinking tea and half-heartedly stalking people on Facebook. Enon’s “Natural Disasters” shuffled on and something about it brought to mind the live bands from last night. Here I am, documenting everything.

We went back to the Irish pub that I mentioned in the previous post. It’s called O’Neills and it’s in London’s Chinatown and it’s probably my favorite place. Ever.
Well, not really. But it was fun and funny “to the nth degree”, as my father might say.

They have live bands (every night, I guess?) but we arrived during the set of an Irish band and then stayed for two sets of a brilliant cover band. (Probably the same one we encountered the other night!)
Band #1 was distorted into stomping along to fiddles and shouting, but the banjoist struck up a riff that I think I recognized from Flogging Molly… Maybe “Salty Dog”? YAY, CELTIC PUNK.
Anyway, the locals were fist-pumping, sloshing their Guinness (barf?) onto our heads and shouting “BANJO BANJO BANJO”.  That was basically the highlight of their set, as witnessed by our eternally-shifting party of 12.

Note: I got the set lists from both bands to save forever.
When I glanced at the first setlist, Andrew (“AnDAY”) and I noticed that we arrived too late to hear them play The Pogues’ “Star of the County Down” and we were PISSED.

The second band made up for any lost awesomeness, as they only played covers, and mostly of American music. I knew maybe 2/3s of the songs but it was fun. I was front and center.
Note: in between sets, I accidentally crushed three beer glasses with my foot. It was completely an accident and it was breathtakingly awesome. In the midst of being stunned by strobe lights and lazers, I failed to see them on the 6-inch ledge. This doesn’t even count as a faux pas.

During their cover of Kaiser Chiefs’ “I Predict a Riot”, someone legitimately tried to start a riot. The person is question was either a very ugly woman or a very unfortunate man; I find I’m still unsure in the morning light. “It”– the Gothic Shim– also tried to start a moshpit and I got pushed onto the stage from the backlash. It got fussy and tried to pick a fight with an unfortunate couple in It’s path. I was 100% ready to land a fist in It’s face, if not for making me fall down sideways into the glass I smashed, then for bothering these two innocent kids. Such is my honor.

Let it be said sincerely, from me to the internet: I have given You every chance in the past five days to prove me wrong, but British people do not know how to dance. It consists of jumping up and down and pointing at things/people excitedly.

I left the pub with Sara, Taryn, and Vaughn. They left the navigating up to me, and I more-or-less successfully got us on the bus home. We had some complications because of Vaughn, so I’m not 100% sure he made it home at all. I’d rather not get into it, because it had nothing to do with me. I will say that the bus driver threatened to slit his throat.

My sense of direction here is fortunate. I don’t know how these people survive without paying attention. What if I wasn’t there to get them on the night bus?
night bus

I just remembered that when  I was standing outside of TopShop the other day, I was approached about modelling. I lol’ed.

I have never been so consecutively happy in all of my life. That’s not to say that my days at Home were lacking necessarily, but every day here is different. I have to keep my eyes open and my brain at top-speed or I’m at risk of being hit by a bus, etc.
I sound like my brother.

So let me leave on this note: the cover band last night played three Kings of Leon songs during their two sets. One song for every one glass I smashed with my foot in my Kmart shoes. My face could’ve split in half from smiling. Neat. (I’ll save my rant on Kings of Leon for later.)

“I am Germannn. I have to gooo.”

Yesterday, Tuesday:

Had a fun impromptu photoshoot session at Daria’s with the CEA kids/our gang now.
Most of the CEA gang
Me, Daria, Joe, Kelly, Chris, Emily and Andy.

We hopped on the train for Picadilly Circus (without paying train fare.)  Chris and I bought THE BEST PASTIES EVER in Charing Cross station. They were so good and they were only 2.80 quid. (Soon I’ll figure out how to insert the pound symbol.)
Pasties, if you don’t know, are croissant-like pot pies. Portable pot pies in a flaky baked crust. We were contemplating getting the lamb and mint one, but Chris got chicken basti and I devoured a chicken and mushroom. HUHHHHHHH so good. But I kept burping up pasty all night FYI. I’d love to have one from Cornwall. They’re supposed to be the best.
pasty
People here eat beans for breakfast.

Wandered into– get this– an Irish pub in Chinatown. In London, duh. After we got over ourselves, we went upstairs to volunteer for karaoke. As it turns out, it was just a live band doing covers of a weird mix: Queen and Katy Perry and Kings of Leon and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Could’ve sworn they sang an Erasure song.
We left after a bit, because people were getting antsy. I didn’t want to leave. Wah wah.

We went down the street to a club called On Anon, which really wasn’t that bad, but everyone had to pay a cover charge. Even the ladies. And they charged me 40p for a paper towel in the bathroom. I was so mad.
Some old lewdy in a blazer sidled up to me and screamed in my ear: “YOU HAVE RED HAIR. HOW CAN I GET THAT? YOU HAVE RED HAIR, YOU HAVE RED HAIR.”
So I yelled back at him “But it’s not real” in what I thought was passable British.

It’s getting better each day, because I listen to what people say and then repeat it in my head. Some Americans here are not so good at this. Yay, polyglotting! (I like to eavesdrop on French people talking on the bus.)
Nothing really became of the weird bloke after my group circled in on me. I stabbed Joe in the back with my nails to initiate the block-out-this-weirdo sequence.
“Bloke” here almost sounds like “block”.

Already, all of us ask questions with the lilt of the locals. I forget what this is called. Yes, it signals an interrogative sentence but I feel like it has its own fancy name.

In more awkward news, my face keeps breaking out because the water is different.
I wish we had our heat on.

elvis costello

WE ARE NOT PERFECT BUT WE SURE TRY.

“PELICAN. PELLY-CUN.”

The amazing bathroom: if you were so inclined, you could brush your teeth, use the toilet, and shower at THE SAME TIME.

But seriously, had two excellent nights out in a row. The Hobgoblin is a very fine establishment, and cider is delightful. Paul Bacon (yes.) and Lew were there; Lew bought us a couple game rounds of the Pub Quiz, which made me want to rip my hair out sheerly from the agony of losing in public. The questions revolved around British acting, music, historical figures, locations, history, and sports. Science is science, so I didn’t suck at the category or in the “pot luck” round. Lots of tricky questions about The Smiths as well. What a nightmare. I would’ve spent 10 quid just playing that game. Actually, we probably did. . .

But the beer garden in the back of the pub is gorgeous, if a bit odd. Unfortunately, Daria’s room is directly above the pub’s garden so she has an interesting view, but loads of noise pollution. The entire hall does, but mine consists chiefly of trains and exceptionally loud flatmates (all American. Kill me.)

Lots of adventuring done yesterday and today, but here’s a funny one: Getting picked up by chavs all about town because I wore decorative tights under shorts. The group I was with formed a protective circle around me at one point. Brilliant. We look out for each other.

Someone like this is a chav.
chav

More stories about our walking tour yesterday, at a later date. Preferably some time that isn’t 1:30am when I have to get up in 6 hours.

The area is very quirky but quite safe. It’s nice.
Lots of cafes and Greenwich Park is maybe a  15 minute walk away. I’d like to play football but I think only Lew has one. I don’t want to buy one. Plus, our legs are so incredibly sore that Kelly and I stretched them out in the streets like doofs.
Pictures soon, I swear.