A Weekend in Liverpool

~LIVERPOOL, England: 28/11/09, 10:00pm.

[edit: I fail to mention that the first thing we see in Liverpool is a man covered in blood, walking down Leece Street like he has no idea why we’re staring at him. He looks at us, smiles, and says “Uh. Fuckin’ birds!” when a pigeon flies in Gam’s face. Another man across the street is screaming about chickens.]

Sitting in my hostel room with three French(?) girls and a German(?) dude who just surprised them by asking them if they were done with the bathroom in French. They had a mini conversation, like “Oh! How do you know French?” “sabuh-dah…” And then he had a serious conversational fail.
1) He said “Euh… et… le ‘same thing?’ ” LA MEME CHOSE.
2) He said “Et qu’est-ce que vous faites dans la nuit?”
Thus I revealed the extent of my French by nearly falling off of my bed, laughing. Instead of innocently asking them what they planned to go out and do that evening, it was basically the equivalent of asking them if they’re prostitutes for hire. The French girls knew what he meant, but they informed him of his grievous error in conduct.
What is it you do during the night? versus what are you doing tonight?

We got better acquainted and talked about Paris after I blew my poker face. When I told them I had stayed in Barbès-Rochechouart three weeks ago, their jaws dropped in amazement that I’m still alive. (I TOLD you Friends Hostel was a shithole!) And then the conversation was over and they switched to talking in Spanish.

Before that, I had walked into the room across the hall, which was filled with drunken Irish men who insisted I must be Danish because of my bone structure. Then they tried to offer me a billion drinks and I sprinted back to my room because a boy named Dave tried to stick his hand in my butt. (What is it with the Irish?! My first day in Dublin, a guy purposely shoved his umbrella into my buttcrack!) / (I’ve never met so many guys named Dave!) I doubt it’s any safer in here with my hostel-mates, but at least they won’t be sticking their hands anywhere.

John(?) from Cherry Hill/Pennsylvania, a biophysics major studying abroad in Leeds, sat down on the bed next to me and just taught me how to adjust the shutter speed on my DSLR. Interesting people you meet. He tried pretty hard to get me to go back out into the world with him and his mates (the German guy– Sebastian– and two Spaniards: Sergio and Alberto.) John left his Canon DSLR just sitting out on his bed. I told him that was a stupid idea, but he said he trusted all of us. Here I am, sleeping with my purse next to my face.

But anyway, I didn’t mean to start in medias res. I ended up alone for the evening in the hostel and denying 3+ separate opportunites to hang out with strangers because I felt like crapola. For a moment, I seriously thought I might’ve been developing swine flu. I even called my mom to check.

The run down: We woke up at 330am and left New Cross around 430am in order to get to Euston Rail Station for our 605am train. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but we were leaving so early, the tubes weren’t open yet. Gam and I both wrote down bus directions, but I forgot something and the buses were running so infrequently that we basically walked/ran from Tottenham Court Road to Warren Street Station. DUH. I was irritable at myself and everyone I was with.
The train to Stafford was alright, I guess. There was a man on the train who REALLY needed a tissue. I could hear him sucking up his mucus every 10 seconds even through my headphones.
We had less than 2 minutes to find the train from Stafford to Liverpool Lime Street and I wanted to murder everyone for being so American. I also wished Chris was there so I could make sourpuss faces at him.

Our first thought about Liverpool was “HOLY CHRIST AMONGST MEN, IT IS COLD.” The weather got worse throughout the day, as it tends to do when we’re out on vacation. We got there a little before 9am and walked to our hostel. We thought it was a nice place, until we saw the stains on the linen… Between blood, pee, and sweat, we half-expected the infamous Doodoo Bandit to show up and trash the place.

Daria, Andy, Gam, and I hung out for two hours alone in the room until noon, when we took a BEATLES TOUR. Called the “Fab Four Taxi Tour,” we had our own personal tour guide who was also our black cab driver. He took us to places like: John’s birthplace, his university, Ringo’s “soap opera” neighbourhood, Paul’s house and the caretaker who looks like him, George’s house, Eppy’s birthplace/party flat, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and this church that had Eleanor Rigby’s grave, etc. So cool. [edit: I’m pretty sure we had THE BEST cab driver out of the whole lot, now that I’ve looked at the whole list on their website.]
What was not cool was the incessant change in temperature: in the cab, out of the cab, minimal warmth, freezing wet toes, no gloves. Daria and I had to pee. I started feeling feverish by the time the tour ended at 330pm and I just deteriorated every hour.
Danny, the cab driver, dropped us off at The Cavern Club and we watched a live cover band of kids my age. The Grace: http://www.myspace.com/thegraceonline They had an… interesting… interpretation of The Beatles’ “Taxman”, but I really loved their cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”

Ah! Another two invitations to go out! The German guy, Sebastian, let me stay but a Spaniard (Sergio?) pulled me out of bed and dragged me to the door, despite my lack of shoes. When I feinted getting ready/looking for my shoes and he realised I wasn’t coming, he gave me what an American would interpret as the “I love you” symbol. Apparently it means something QUITE different in Spain. [edit: difficult to interpret, but I guess his gesture at me implied I am Satan’s whore.]

After Danny dropped us off at The Cavern Club with little idea how to get back, we wandered into some pub with INSANELY cheap food. It was next to the holiday skating rink, for future reference. I ate some crappy lasagne, even though I wasn’t hungry. I felt stupid, because when Andy and Gam asked me what was wrong, my voice quavered and I almost burst into tears. I wanted to crawl into my too-small bed in Spotswood and have my mom make chicken soup, listening to terrible TV shows in the kitchen while my dad yells at someone on the phone about gun parts.
To be funny, I ate all of Gam’s peas. The effect wasn’t very funny.

We wandered back to the hostel even though we felt like we were back in Amsterdam (a feeling I simply cannot describe.) All of us took an hour-long nap around 6 because we felt like death and we were all laughed-out over the “Doodoo Bandit” and his work on the duvets.
We went back out– after much effort and many complaints about the cold– to a pub at the corner of the street called The Flute. It was also a throwback to Amsterdam, with the lighting and couches and open space and circles of people doing their thing. I was delirious by the point. The bartendress told me bluntly she “didn’t have time for my questions,” which made her the ONLY person in the ENTIRETY of Liverpool who was less than cheerful and welcoming and fantastic.
We left The Flute around 10pm in search of more interesting pubs/night life, but I came back here and tried not to die. Here I am. It’s not 12:20am and no one in this room is content to leave me alone.

~LIVERPOOL, England: 29/11/09

I woke up, well-rested and alive, at 10am. We were downstairs by a little after 11am. Because we were lazy and the other three were in various states of their hangovers, we ate at the cafe attached to the hostel/hotel.
Something compelled me to order a vegetarian English breakfast, and now I’m seriously considering reverting back to vegetarianism for health reasons.
The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” was playing in the cafe and I nearly spit out my toast. I frenetically bobbed along to the music, paralleled by the cafe-worker, a bespectacled guy in plaid who looks like he could be from Williamsburg, or a member of Grizzly Bear, to be more accurate. We caught eyes mid-bop and exchanged a little courtesy nod in honour of Morrissey.

Sebastian wound up talking to me until 2am about everything and nothing. After initially offering me a cookie (IT WAS A TARWEBISCUIT!!!) we fell into discussions about different education systems and the class structure of Germany. He asked me about my honest traveller’s opinion of the world (London in particular) and he told me about his town in Germany. We also sat around and talked with the French girls, sabuh-dah, who were actually only 2/3 French. Cristina was from Spain, but Clemence and ____ were French, renting a flat in Paris.
(Funny story: They told me my French was really good. They were FASCINATED that I was American and that I was capable of speaking a different language. They admitted how mean that was, but it made me feel awesome. The three of them kept inviting me into the kitchen to share a bottle of wine with them, and they wouldn’t leave me alone until I told them off in French. MERCI, MAIS JE RESTERAI DANS MON LIT POUR LA NUIT. They applauded.)  

I said goodbye to Sebastian and his friends three separate times at this point. Before he left the room the first time, he chucked a packet of Trolli Sour Glowworms (from Germany!) at my head. Maybe that’s a token of dour German regard, where he comes from.
It got me to thinking about Tidmarsh’s lessons during Shakespeare’s London, which made me miss Chris again. Jung’s coniunctio and fusion between individuals and all that cal. It was bizarre and wordly and true.

After walking around Albert Dock, we saw them AGAIN. Sebastian, John, Sergio and Alberto were sitting in the window of a restaurant. So grand total, we said goodbye to them 5 separate times around Liverpool.
Our group shuffled into a giftshop on the docks to get out of the rain, and the radio played a “new” Death Cab for Cutie song. I felt so acutely uncomfortable for not knowing it, which led me to ponder on exactly how long I’ve been away from the United States.

Albert Dock is the perfect place to meditate on your sorrows, we think. We stood over the water and fell silent. That’s how sombre it is. We cheered up by paying 5 pounds to ride Liverpool’s ferris wheel. Much like London has the London Eye, Liverpool has The Big Wheel.
Everything about it was retarded, in the most accurate sense of the word.
It was so incredibly stupid that it was actually worthy of 5 quid.

Lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen was no big affair. (Home of the MOST GORGEOUS BURGER.) The waitress gave us horribly wrong directions to get to The Jacaranda, which is this pub that John and Paul used to work in, so we hopped in a cab. Love how cheap the cabs are.

Jacaranda was cool. Someone selected Morrissey’s “Panic” on the jukebox and I nearly crapped myself –> fulfilled one of my bucket list wishes.
Jacaranda is also where I got married.

Just as I was discussing with Andy about how all these guys spend their days by going to work, coming home, and farting around a pub to shout at each other, these four guys come over and start talking to us. It’s only 530pm and they’re completely pissed. We didn’t really get their names, but they got our first names and continually asked why in hell we Americans were in Liverpool. Did they forget about the tourist lure of the Beatles? Probably. Duh. One guy, the nicest and most gentle, looked like Dave Foley. Another looked like he could be George Lopez’s cousin gone to seed. One guy was as rowdy as a five-year old boy who just got a new action figure and kept giving people high fives. And then my FIANCE was a larger balding gent who stole a ring off of a girl’s finger in order to propose to me.
This was all so incredibly hilarious and unreal that I had to immortalise it by calling my parents. I’m POSITIVE they were alarmed by the voicemail they left, but I prefaced it with “Please don’t be offended.” I hoped they saved it, because I could barely what they were shouting into my phone.
The rowdy guy bonked Gam on the forehead once (hilarious) and kept up with the high fives after everything he said. He tried to shake my hand when I said something brilliant and instead, I did the swipe-my-hand-over-my-hair move like those cool people do, and it was like I had just invented it, by the response those guys gave me. I felt like a million cool bucks and a number ten on the cool scale.
The Dave Foley look-alike told me that my fiance, who’s name is something like Mark McCally, is actually proposing to his girlfriend on Christmas Day this year and he wanted to get in a bit of practice.
Mark got down on his knee in the middle of the bar and presented me with the gaudiest blue piece of costume crap I’ve ever seen, but I did my duty with a perfunctory knod and a squeak. Everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing to stare at us. You should see the pictures Daria took on my camera.
What I was not expecting was when he picked me up and twirled me around in the air. Touching was limited to that, thank goodness, or there would’ve been a serious problem between our two parties.
When we said goodbye to these fellows, the mood shifted from conviviality to sobriety in less within 15 seconds. They clapped us on the arms and gave us each a kiss on the cheek (I got enchanté kisses on my hand instead, like a proper lady.) They wished us a safe journey to wherever we call home, and hoped we’d remember them all fondly.

The train station was freezing cold again, so we spent the hour waiting in the only enclosed space in the vicinity, which was a pub. Naturally. Things of note about our time spent in the pub: 1) Another drunken Irishman tried to cozy up to us, but split when Andy came back from the ATM. 2) One of the bartenders selected Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?” on the jukebox and I literally did not know what to do with myself. This would’ve been on my bucket list if I could’ve even considered it as a possibility.
It was outrageous. I was so happy.

Train back to London Euston was boiling hot. Andy and Daria wrote the first two scenes of a play and performed it for us. I passed out. Getting back to New Cross is always really GLLAIGHT** when we come back from a trip. Hot showers and dry socks.

Overall, Liverpool is probably worth another trip, if I had a different group of people to go with (ie- my parents.) They’d love to see all of the Beatles junk, plus it’s a completely underrated tourist location. The people are all out-of-this-world friendly and it’s the cheapest city I’ve been to in Europe thus far.
Plus, the accents are the best. Since yesterday, we’ve been yelling “GREAT” at each other in the Liverpudlian accent (which has a Welsh twang to it), so our GREAT would phonetically be spelled as “G-L-L-A-I-G-H-T” **
The end every sentence with “yea?”
So now we end every sentence with “yea?”

Today I felt like crap again, and my politics seminars were made exceptionally difficult.
I somehow- somehow– thought this could be cured by eating Iceland fishcakes and Thai chilli pickles. I was wrong. There is NOTHING more masochistic than eating my Thai chilli pickles. I was actually crying and yelling when I made them last week, they’re so spicy. I could never get chillis like that at home, much less from a screaming Cockney vendor off of the street. Brilliant. Another thing to miss.



BELGIUM: Nov. 6th 2009, 2:45PM

I know this is skipping ahead of Dublin and Amsterdam . . . I just opened my notebook to rip out a clean sheet, and I remembered I wrote a bit of a mini-entry while on the bus to Paris. I drew little accompanying pictures as well.
(I can’t bear to go back yet and write everything down now.)
Forgive me.

At a stop in Rotterdam, FLANDERS. Karen “Ther” Bates just got off the Eurolines bus, ordered McDonald’s, and paid 30 cents to vomit. In Belgium. She is Tinkerbell.

Paris in 6 more hours, and the next stop is Brussels/Bruxelles. So basically, someone’s thrown up in almost every country. The Vomit World Tour.
England- me
Ireland- Gam
Nether./Belg.- Karen
France- ______???

This land is FLAT.
Listening to Beirut’s “Interior of a Dutch House”, driving through the Dutch countryside. I’ve seen things that some people will never see. I guess that makes them beautiful: constellations from the other side of the world; rows of wind turbines in a flat land; a lone basket of marmalades and “chocolade pastas”; an old couple sitting together silently in a park; a girl younger than me, selling herself in a window. You wonder what sort of sacrifices she makes.

Writers sometimes refer to a traveller as a purer form of being; DeLillo and Eggers come to mind, because they’re so obvious about it. Even though we’re doing a highly organised version of backpacking (that is, we made reservations and bought tickets beforehand rather than “going with the flow”…) it takes an enormous amount of your old self out. I have to learn how to be patient and forgiving to the people I’m with, deal with their idiosyncrasies and sometimes HUGE FAULTS while managing my own, having a 3-day purely natural crash course in the local culture or language.
(I know “enough” Dutch now. I can read commercials.)

The pure traveller should collect scenes and people and conversations and moments. All I’m collecting are little scraps of paper and mounting irritation at how self-perpetuating the stereotypes against Americans are. Basically the “What the hell IS THIS? How do you even pronounce that? Who speaks English here? I’m freaking out.”
So freak out.
Get on with your life and stop embarrassing the normal meshing/existence of people around you. Maybe they don’t have a common language with you, but getting progressively louder and shouting in their face will get you no where except kicked out.

I WISH I could go with the flow and travel as I like, but there are so many problems with this. A girl surrounded by strangers rarely bodes well, in the long run. You either need to have a lot of money or a complete lack of… shame? self-regard? You need to be willing to do what you have to do to get around. I’ve seen these people already, with their cardboard signs and offers of “barter.”

Okay. Donc.
-I notice I’ve been speaking [to our group] in terms of “we” and what “we’re” doing, etc.
-I’ve lapsed into a mix of English, French, Dutch, and Spanish. Chris has, as well. We are communicating in a messy language soup.
-Living entirely in the present somehow means I remember very little of what we do every day. (Busy absorbing foreign data rather than collecting and cataloging.) One advantage of living in the past: you remember things because of comparing them.

Antwerp, Belgium looks a lot like Troy, New York from the highway.

“Would you like to go out tonight?” Said Tristan to Iseult. We’ll be out in Paris tonight, which is très bizarre. Spent my entire life wanting this. It’s been 3 years since high school and wanting to “get out.” The past week has felt like a year. When this trip is over, we’ll have been in 5 different countries, which is mind-blowing.
I’m eating a “chocolade tarwebiscuit”, which brings me back to my days of Keebler’s Fudge Ring cookies. (Chocolade Tarwe biscuit–> “chocolate wheat cookie”)
We stop in Brussels soon, so I imagine we’ll be picking up a lot more passengers. Right now, everybody has their own double seat, with 2 extra left over on the coach (because they’re suspiciously damp?) So we all took a quick nap.

It’s just hard to accept that I’m driving through a chunk of Europe on a bus, listening to a carefully-constructed playlist I began way back in high school. More crowning achievements in my life.

Sitting on a park bench that’s older than my country.

Hydroplaning coach bus. Ok, full bus.
The outskirts of Mons, Belgium look like North Brunswick.

Come on home…

…The poppies all are grown knee-deep by now.

I got to see a free West End show tonight. Daria texted me that her class had 3 extra tickets for War Horse, so I grabbed one and we all got to the Drury Lane theatre on time.

Act one was exceptional. Character exposition was okay, but I was so impressed with the horse puppets. (Each puppet took three people to control, and you could ride on them too.) I can’t imagine how long it took to block the play or how many times they had to perfect the movements and tics of the horses.
One of the characters was blown off his horse by a “mortar shell” at the end of act one, and I loved the way it was done: a flash, blackout, and then you see him backflip off of the horse, aided by a four-person lift. 

For a minimalistic play, it was well done.

Act two had a bit of unnecessary drama in it, but I can understand why: to wrap up the “heartfelt story part” of the play and make trench warfare a little more realistic. It was mostly climax and then no denouement, which left the Goldsmiths kids feeling bored. To really appreciate the play, it had to be viewed on at least three different levels: historical, theatrical entertainment, and the technical employment of the puppets/body language of the characters. (You gradually forgot that the horses were being controlled by 3 people. Those guys deserve an award– they had the toughest job of anyone on stage.)

The stage itself was unusually wide, and all black with a large horizontal ripped screen of white paper, which projected the countryside on it. Alternately, it showed the war charges or other extraneous information. I guess you could say the ripped paper representated a pure thing that can never be made whole again. You could say that.
Horse puppets, I already talked about. Loved ’em. During one part of act two, they brought on their interpretation of a tank which must’ve taken at least 6 people to manipulate. Very cool.
war horse

It really made me appreciate WWI like nothing else ever has before. (History Channel, my father, history classes, etc.) WWII wasn’t the only war ever fought that was atrocious, you know. WWI’s where everything changed. Try picturing riding a horse into a wall of machine guns, tear gas, and mortar rounds, armed only with a sabre and 140 rounds on a shitty rifle. And those who didn’t die came back like ghosts. 

Someone in our party said they felt no emotional connexions to the characters; you really had to forge ahead and make your own rather than have it shoved in your face, particularly in act one. Act two had more opportunity to connect, but it might’ve been too comical to take seriously.
Music was okay although, again, someone said it was too dramatic. He compared it to Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings. I disagree. A lot of the music were war marches from WWI.
Also, it was neat that part of the play was in three different languages and I understand all of the French and German. Yeah, I’m proud. Deal with it.

People around me kept hacking and sneezing and it made me want to puke. Completely distracting when I’m trying to watch this play. Both of the girls next to me kept coughing wetly in my direction when they weren’t twirling their hair or talking about what they ate for lunch or how hot the room was.
It was distracting and it was rude. A large group of disinterested young people. They’re the ones who have to discuss the play in their class. I kind of want to go back and see it again.

Overall, I left the theatre feeling enlightened, alarmed and disturbed at the general lack of intelligence in my age group, and more than a little disgusted at how many germs were coating my body.
I was pissed off by how bored the girls next to me were, and everyone’s general agreement that it was “ok” and not “important.” Then I was pissed at myself for feeling the need to be the devil’s advocate for this play.

To make matters worse, I experienced trouble with my Oyster cards in Holborn, so I assumed people went on without me and I set out by myself, relieved. I understand I was being irritable, but I couldn’t take another minute of farting around with 1) people I’ve spent the last twelve days with or 2) the girls who kept coughing on me / being baselessly judgemental.

“Why are people partying more than usual today?”
“Oh, it’s that veterans day… What they were talking about in the theatre before.”

Idiots. Jesus Christ.

During the curtain call, all of the actors came out wearing their poppies in support of the British legion. This was a little disorienting, as I remembered the poppies from French Canada referring to secession.

I am so tired of being a part of a group.
I need serious alone time.
However, blogging about my Euro-trip is not on my agenda.

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.


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.

“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.
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