sing sang sung

My flatmates just told me that staying at Brown’s Hostel in Dublin was one of the greatest weekends of their lives!

I know that Friend’s Hostel isn’t in the best neighborhood of Paris, but I will be several minutes walk from Basilique du Sacre Coeur, maybe 15 minutes from Rue St Vincent, and due East from the Moulin Rouge. Yeah- we’re practically in Montmartre.

Who’s gonna listen to Yves Montand?
THIS KID.

Rectifying my freakout session with AIR.
lol “French electronica duo”.
More like “French electronilame”.

suitcase filled with stones

Just finished packing, and my backpack only weighs a little more than my Complete Works of Shakespeare tome. It is awe-inspiring how much stuff I just fit in there… with half of it still empty for souvenirs! Seriously, God bless the person who thought of space bags. (I’m bringing one that doesn’t require a vacuum and is essentially a glorified Ziploc bag.)
I fit about 4 outfits in the space bag so if I rewear some things + the layers I’m wearing onto the plane, I’ll have enough clothes for 6-8 days.
Once I saw I had so much extra space, I stuffed more socks and pantyhose on the bottom as cushioning for my DSLR. I’ll probably end up throwing things out by the time I get to Paris . . . Even if it means I dump things like my American Apparel thigh-highs that cost me $16.
They’re just clothes. (<– I don’t believe I said this.)

I found a good backpacking website called www.onebag.com that gave me new tips. The things I’ve learned over here strictly relating to doing laundry in the sink are amazingly useful.
So I’ll always remember:
-Wring clothes underwater
-Get grease stains out with Coke
-They dry fastest blown open vertically
-Fold them in a towel and roll it up

People on the internet refer to backpacking through Europe as a “rite of passage”.
In a literary sense, this is where I become a real adult and a better human being. I mean, in a pastoral, the character returns to nature in order to be ‘reborn’, in a sense. To find themselves or discover a profound truth, etc. and then return to real life and human complications.

Shakespeare’s London was fascinating again. I will never ever be bored there. I didn’t even read Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy or Seneca’s Phaedra all of the way through, but I can still have a real discussion with legitimate questions. It’s also fascinating that I can do this. My memory has oddly gotten better lately. Hooray, British education system and self-reliance!

The professor asked me why I was brooding so much today, although I didn’t think I’d been brooding anymore than I normally do. It had already been a busy morning. I woke up at 8am just to make a crepe breakfast for Chris, Joe, Kelly, and myself.
I am a tyrant in the kitchen, but that’s nothing new.
I have a method that I consider to be as efficient as I know how. This also came up last night when I essentially refused to let Daria make the cupcakes. This morning, I could’ve used a little help after I realized how much I am becoming my mom. (Hi, Mom!)

I like feeding people. I don’t care about sewing things for people. I wouldn’t mind washing their clothes (sans undies) while abroad. I have thoughts like “Never miss a chance to use the toilet” or “Everybody wants free food, but no one wants to help.” Even though Chris helped. The breakfast wasn’t a big deal in the long run, but the whole mom-thing is.

Examine: The main way to live a contented life is to put yourself first in your own story. Failing to do so leads to neurosis, yadda yadda.
Discuss: When you’re a mother, you cannot do this.
Such is my main qualm with progeny.

I may blog in Dublin, but for now,
it may be another twelve days!

Happy Thursday!

Sat at my kitchen table and read Hamlet in two hours.
I am a champion.

The Phoenix gig last night was cool.
Brixton has a nice-ish street of places to go, depending on what you want, but we didn’t see anywhere we REALLY wanted to go.
Mostly Brixton is just offensive-smelling halal butchers.
Walking past this one sidestreet for the 5th time, we spotted the SW9 Bar for dinner, where Andy tried an ostrich burger. I ordered, for the hell of it, a salmon fishcake that came with a poached egg. Didn’t really see the connection, but they tasted good together.
The place was packed. It must be the only happenin’ place to go at night in Brixton, so I’m glad we’d grabbed a table. The only truly awkward part about the place was that it sported an enormous painting of an orgy on the wall, which was also their bar logo. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of it on google, but it looked like it was painted by a retarded child in kindergarten. 

At least the O2 Academy wasn’t hard to find.
academy_brixton
The opening band, Chairlift, was cheesy indeed, but I liked them. Good dance music. I spent the majority of their set bopping up and down, gaping at the venue itself, and wondering how in hell the lead singer’s dress was held up. (Magic? Tape? Boning?)

Forgive my lack of architectural knowledge when it comes to the stage. It had this crazy proscenium arch that had to be almost 100 feet high, with this… Italian villa-like  protrusion. I know this is a terrible picture, but take a gander:
Academy Brixton stage  
You can’t even see the tiny little people on stage.

Phoenix had a crazy lightshow. There was a poster that basically warned epileptic people of strobes lights, but I was not prepared for this. I was initially afraid it would be boring, because the lead singer doesn’t play an instrument; I’ve seen some bands where they just stand there, mic in hand. (Cough, sometimes Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear.) But it was awe-inspiring how Phoenix could command a “bajillion” people to get on their feet and throw their hands up in the air, laughing. That’s another thing– they resort to really corny, old-school methods of crowd involvement, but they actually pull it off. Or maybe it’s just because I’m in Europe and Europeans know very little about our American horse sense of what is “lame” or our inbred masked shame when it comes to public comportment.

I drank my first pint of Guinness during the show, which apparently is the “dessert of beers”. It wasn’t as awful as I had figured it would be, seeing as my mouth does not like beer.

WOO, this trip. Is it terrible that I’m also repulsed by the idea of wearing the same clothes over and over again? We’ll see how it goes, since I’m only bringing solid color things. All my pictures are going to be weird.

The chances

More on the weird things I keep seeing that remind me of home:

I was in the library toilet reading the bathroom graffiti and someone wrote a Joyce Kilmer poem into the stall door. Scrawling “a poem as beautiful as a tree…” etc onto the door wasn’t enough, they had to physically etch it into the wood. Examine how weird this is: there are three stalls in that toilet, and three toilets in that library, and how many toilets in the other student buildings in the vicinity.
I chose that one.

People who went to Joyce Kilmer School wouldn’t even be able to recognise a Joyce Kilmer poem, but I chose that toilet and that graffiti chose me. Weird.
Sort of like how I saw some William Carlos Williams on the tube.

I missed the Seamus Heaney/Beowulf event yesterday, even though I found out Joe would’ve been willing to go with me. Sue me. He won’t die yet. I refuse to allow it.
Joe couldn’t have possibly gone anyway, because he was busy seeing THE WORST PRODUCTION of Annie, Get Your Gun EVER. Ever.

The nightlife isn’t the only thing I’m going to be severely missing when I come back to the States. What about our favorite store, Iceland? Where else can you get a day’s worth of food for 1 quid? Two ham & pineapple pizzas; a box of sage & onion turkey breast; two liters of assorted juice; a dozen eggs; a tub of ice cream; kilo bags of chips. All of these things are 1 quid. Gonna miss the Iceland pizzas.

Another thing I will sincerely miss is the quality of the cinema.
(Here comes my movie review, on top of my first British cinema experience.)
I hopped on the bus to Greenwich and promptly realized I didn’t know where I was going. Luckily, some intuition led me to the right stop for the Greenwich Picturehouse. It’s brilliant.
The ground floor had a tapas bar/full-blown restaurant, as well as a cafe bar-cum-box office. I paid 5,50 for a concession ticket… Not too outrageous, but those are Monday prices. The first floor had a nice bar, but I didn’t go into it.
The theatre I went into for Imaginarium was a good size, but it was assigned seating. The seats were incredibly comfortable, red plush, reclining. Some German couple had to sit directly next to me because it was assigned. They said they would move once the movie started, but they never did. To make it worse, she started laying all over him and looked like she was ready for a nap. I was trapped between them and a “veddy-veddy-British-don’tchoo-know” family, otherwise I wouldn’t moved too.

In America, you have 10-15 minutes of really horrible coming attractions. In Britain, you have liquor/auto ads. All of them were either for Tanqueray gin or for Volkswagen+Volkswagen sponsorships.
HOWEVER and oddly enough, Volkswagen sponsored a little short documentary on “Dudeism”. That is to say, it was all about The Big Lebowski. I was trying not to interrupt the European ambience by yelling “EIGHT YEAR OLDS, DUDE.” Thankfully I did not.
Okay, I’ll get on with it. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.

I think the negative reviewers haven’t taken several things into account. Chiefly, Heath Ledger died halfway during post-production, so they had to go back and salvage it by adding THREE new characters and a semi-alternative ending. Well done, I say.
Additionally, the critics have CLEARLY never seen a Terry Gilliam movie before. It’s very colorful or it’s very monochromatic. It’s what I imagine hard drugs to be like. Sometimes there are plotholes, but it never really matters. It’s sort of like the saying “It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about playing the game.” As much as I despise that, quod scripsi, scripsi.
I had low expectations for Lily Cole, because she’s seen as some public object rather than a human being, from time to time. The acting really was quite good. And you know what? I liked the ending. I went into the theatre knowing what would happen, but my friends who saw it the day before me complained that the movie needed to be two hours longer: one hour for more exposition and one for more denouement. Keep it simple, I say. The whole movie’s manipulated with a wonky Christopher Plummer-induced deus ex machina without being cheap.
Can I talk about Tom Waits? I think I should. He is SO GOOD at playing these sorts of characters. (I’m thinking of his own foil in Wristcutters, obviously.) I couldn’t imagine a better devil. When he danced a tango with Lily Cole, I thought I was going to lose my mind.
One important fact: When we initially walked into the theatre and the screen was black, the establishment was blaring Tom Waits’ carnival music. WHAT A GOOD IDEA, OKAY. The British woman was like “What IS this?!”

Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We’re just a million little gods causing rainstorms,
Turning every good thing to rust.

I’m so scared for this trip, which starts in three days. I’m not even concerned for my own safety as much as I’m worried about how I’m going to fit everything in my backpack. Whatever I’m going to bring. Three countries–or four, if you include the fact that we’ll be driving through Belgium– and eleven days.
Have to bring my good camera and the charger.
Have to bring my registration papers for my Ramapo courses.
Everything else is up for debate.
I know I made fun of it for months, but I’m glad I have my money belt.

old toast

French onion soup was totally what I wanted today.
I’m getting fat; I should just eat soup for a week.

Oy. Since I’m done with classes for the day, I think I’m going to head over to the Greenwich Picturehouse to finally see The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. It came out a week and a half ago and I have yet to see it, although the people I hang out with have seen it without me. Not their fault, just weird, since I talk about it every time we’re on the tube.

Imaginarium doesn’t come out at home until… Christmas? But it’s directed by Terry Gilliam, so I expect some serious wonders a la Brazil. (“Hi there. I’d like to talk to you about ducts.”)
I love Lily Cole. As much as one can love someone who sits around and looks striking, if not pretty. Her eyes are bonkers, but I wouldn’t mind being her one bit.
lily cole

And did I mention I LOVE when Tom Waits acts? Yes, he’s doing the heaven-or-hell thing again.
Also, Heath Ledger died halfways through the production, so this is me paying my final tributes with my 6 quid. He’s not the reason I’m going though.
Heck, I’m excited just to see the picturehouse. Apparently it’s assigned seating with fully-reclining chairs, a cafe-bar, and a Euro-centric tapas bar. Nutso. Good thing I’m going by myself- I reek of onions.

BTW at a Sainsbury’s in Brixton last night, I saw “roasted ham and mustard” flavoured crisps.
Hmmm.

I’ll let you know what I think on all of this later.

warm and sunny days

I hate how I spent all of today inside because it’s been so beautiful this week; but I woke up at 10, suffering from one of those migraines that Mom (hi!) and I get de temps en temps. Y’know, the kind where you want to put on an eyemask, curl in a ball, and try not to vomit on yourself.
I took a Sainsbury’s brand paracetamol (whatever that is) and went back to sleep around noon, but I woke up with half of the migraine and a fever. Can’t do nothin’ right.

A few of us are starting to crack the tinest bit because of culture shock, on top of updating our calendars. We see how close we are to coming home, but not too soon, really. After our abroad trip NEXT WEEKEND, we won’t have as much to look forward to. That’s not to say that we’re bored, no. And we’re sure as hell not cracking under pressure from the academics. Goldsmiths is a joke in its own unique way, and possible moreso than I ever thought was possible of Ramapo.
The British education system relies more on students reading up on things themselves and therefore seminars are more . . . dialectic? . . . But everything is graded on attendance and writing essays. Listen, their holistics are way tougher, but it’s nice to be free to do what I want and not having my hand held all the time like in the United States. In the US, professors assume kids won’t do anything unless under immediate pressure. Which is true, if unfortunate. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

Thursday, Andy and I took a trip up to Camden Town. You know that saying… something like “You can get out of Brooklyn but you can’t get Brooklyn out of you?” This was me in Camden. Camden Town in all of its glory is a jacked-up Williamsburg on a street fair day.
Okay, that’s not fair.
Basically, Camden Town is arguably the greatest place in London, and if I could live there in a little flat, all would be right in the world. The markets were sprawled into these tiny streets and everything smelled SO GOOD. I was tempted to sit down at a Morroccan-style lounge just because it looked like it could be in Africa.
We got mulled wine to try, so we walked around cradling these hot styrofoam cups and gaping at shops that sold everything you could never possibly need but would want anyway. We stopped outside of this bar/studio/venue-thing because I was like “WAIT. I NEED TO FLOAT IN THIS MOMENT. ANDREW BIRD IS PLAYING.”
Andrew Bird was whistling through the street PA, I was drinking mulled wine in a street market on a crisp Autumn day, and I am in Europe. One of those moments. If Adam really is coming to visit, I’m taking him to Camden. How could he possibly hate London in a place like that?
Anyway, I bought a dress made of bamboo fabric for 5 quid.
Andy almost bought a ukelele.

I needed to do my laundry so badly, so we left Camden early to go to the launderette. I realized it was only 2 quid more for the lady to do my laundry for me, so I left her with a garbage bag-sized pile of smelly clothes. It was uncomfortable knowing that some old nanny with the snaggliest teeth ever was pawing my knickers, but at least everything’s clean now.

Chris, Andy and I made our own hot wings for dinner while listening to Beirut and Fanfarlo. I had a good laugh. Ranch dressing was initially really difficult to acquire because only Sainsbury’s carries it.

During the hotwing dinner, Mark from the New Cross Inn texted us and invited us to his birthday party on Sunday. Tomorrow. We asked him if it was a fancy dress party, but he never answered. (Americans, “fancy dress” = “costumes.”) We’ll see how that goes, if we go at all.

Shakespeare’s London yesterday was how it always is. We crack open our book, he asks us to visual something difficult, and he digresses off into whatever Carl Jung would have to say. I didn’t realize I was speaking out loud at one point, and so he spent 3/4 of the class trying to change my opinion/prove me wrong. We didn’t even get to this week’s work because I was arguing with him. Whatever. He’s taking us to see The Spanish Tragedy and Othello plus we get a free daytrip to Stratford.

After class, Karen took Daria and me to Greenwich for lunch at her favorite pub. We sneaked on the DLR for free and took it up to Cutty Sark. Greenwich is a beautiful place too, but apparently they have no supermarket, which makes living a problem.
Lunch at The Gipsy Moth was quite good, as was the conversation. I haven’t seen Karen in a while. She totally put our lives in perspective, as much as one can in half an hour with a huge burger in your mouth.
We walked around the market for an hour afterward. This one vintage shop that my mom would love was playing 40’s style big band jazz, and then I realized I knew the songs. Basically, it was a cover band and they were playing an upbeat version of “Panic” by The Smiths. Needless to say I FREAKED OUT, even if it’s not a big deal “in real life.”

Oh hey, remember that “Gingerbird” episode that happened at the pub? Here’s Emily’s photographic evidence of how “on to me” that man was (while belting out Bon Jovi songs.) Note the awkward New Zealanders at the end of the bar, pretending they don’t know him.
a gingerbird, a gypsy, and a man

I feel like crap and I don’t really have a costume beyond a leopard-print scarf and a headband with cat ears on it. Lazy.

Postcards to home

Hi Mom.
York Minster