the cream of heartless England cheer, the carnival is over

To say that I was impaled by a Bulgarian woman’s 5 inch heels last night would be funnier if it were metaphorical; I think I need an X-ray. However, the pain has enabled me to snap out of whatever malaise or general reluctance to acknowledge my tour of the Bulgarian eastern coast.

Zhas and I accomplished a lot the day before, after we met with her Bulgarian friend Martina for lunch in St Katharine’s Docks. (Cool place.) I sort of credit myself with accidentally discovering that the chalga party was even happening (VODITSA.) but Marti pretty much got us there and everywhere last night. The place itself was this really weird lounge called Agenda, in the midst of what London might deem a business park. Lots of people smoking outside and not too many people inside, and the cover charge was still £20. Foreboding.

I won’t lie and say I don’t have social anxiety– usually I grin and bear it and suffer in silence. But. This was different. The dynamic of Bulgarians-in-London and Bulgarians-in-Bulgaria was mind-blowingly different. They were louder, flashier, and their outfits… It’s all about being conspicuous, except some of the clothes looked like my dot-com era dance costumes (i.e.- lycra dresses with vintage prints, anything with butterflies on it, one particularly offensive red polyester jumpsuit with rhinestone detail.) Like a groom approaching his wedding day, I knew immediately I could not face this with any sense of sobriety.

I made a beeline for the bar to be told multiple times that the guys were ordering a bottle of whiskey. So I drank their whiskey and wanted my own. The bartender remembered either my face or my incredible awkwardness, thereby allowing me to elbow my way through a bunch of guys in too-tight T-shirts. I ordered  a double Jameson and coke, which cost me MORE FUCKING MONEY THAN ANY DRINK I HAVE EVER BOUGHT. EVER. Did I stress that? EVER. TOO MUCH MONEY. I didn’t realize he said £12,20 or I would’ve told him to take it back. After that, I ordered two more jack-and-cokes, which I didn’t have enough money for by the end. I tried giving him my debit card, but it didn’t work because it doesn’t have the UK security chip to dip the card. He looks at me, looks at the bartender next to him, and shouts in my ear that I can pay him back later. I threw all my change I had on my person onto the bar (~£3,20) which he pocketed as I quickly retreated.
Any sober or sane person would’ve been like “Cool, just got a pass for a free drink because bank cards are utterly retarded.”
1) I wasn’t sober and
2) We were sitting next to the Bulgaria mafia.
Literally.

Our seats before the “show” were in the ‘upper lounge/diner’ area, whereas there were some serious-looking men waving their arms and carressing their oiled ponytails. I had thought them generally inoffensive– if a bit wealthy– since a lot of their buttcracks were hanging out on the leather couches. During the dancing/music, Zhas, Marti and I sort of creep-danced our way down the stairs into their territory… Until Zhas told me not to get too close because they were the mafia. Given what horrified look must’ve been on my face, she said “Well, they’re probably the owners of the place.”
“So… They’re the mafia. Same thing,” I said.
She shrugged in agreement.

All told, the three drinks came to the equivalent of $51. I AM FEELING MURDEROUS about my own laxity, but as a consolation prize, I didn’t get murdered by the mafia for short-changing.

Moving on, there was a REASON why we were at Agenda in the first place- one of the hottest chalga stars of Bulgaria, Preslava, was singing. Google her, and form your own judgements. The music party was actually fun, because she was standing 5ft away from me before wandering into the crowd to take awkward MySpace photos with her fans. From what I saw, it was more about hanging out with/touching Preslava, because it certainly wasn’t about hearing her lipsync all night. I didn’t know the songs, but it’s mostly about dancing with who you came with… Or not. It was at this point when a woman smashed her heel into my right foot. This strangely didn’t stop me from leading one of the chalga line-dances around the club. WEE.

After the club closed and we decided not to go the afterparty, I waited at the bus stop for the N21. I waited with a bursting bladder for over FORTY MINUTES, because the BUS FROM HELL didn’t arrive until 4:10am. It was very crowded, as it turns out, with dickhead racist chauvinists. This isn’t even me getting my feminist hackles up– there were literally four young black men terrorizing the women on the bus while a bunch of Arabic men watched. One of the Arabic men was nice enough to give me his seat, but I found myself at the disadvantage of being at crotch level with one of the dickheads eating his KFC out of a bag. And then, after enduring 45 minutes of incendiary sexist remarks, I proceeded to get in what I would call a bus fight, which I timed to end where I would get off.
One made a comment asking after who was worth having sex with on the bus. Another, wearing sunglasses at 5am, looked at me and the girls in front of me and said “Definitely no one here.”
It wasn’t even about the object or target of the remark. I stress that, but I’ll be damned if I get abused on a moving vehicle. This, plus an entire night of blowing all my money and being the most Michelin Man-looking woman at the club, I was PISSED.
As I stepped off, I enquired as to whether they felt that the size of their genitals might be affecting their chances of going home alone on a bus, gave them both versions of the finger, and walked away. Whether their proceeded to attack my character after I left is irrelevant– hopefully they at least had the decency to shut up first for 30 seconds. I didn’t feel threatened in terms of my personal safety, because the only things they’d be waving around were, forgive me, their dicks or their chicken fingers.  It wasn’t particularly clever, but I hardly expected any witty repartee and I felt better after saying something, anything.

Because this is London and not Bulgaria, all of this still seems like nothing compared to last Monday. Which you shall read about in an installment. I recognize that I have yet to write about Amsterdam as well, but maybe it’s for the best. Okay, actually it’s a little bit retarded because I never wrote about Amsterdam from two years ago BUT there are things that don’t need to be on the internet. However, I did take some notes to be shared later.

On another note, I just discovered that the door to my room does, in fact, lock with an old-lookin’ skeleton key.
So I can’t come out until I finish this or run out of Nescafe. Either one.

vindicta mihi!

I know I should get on about Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, seeing as it was over a week ago. (Well, not Paris. That was 4 days ago.) Other things have been happening.

As I said, I snagged a free ticket to see War Horse on Wednesday. On Thursday night, my Shakespeare’s London professor took us to see a production of Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy at the Arcola Theatre.
Disclaimer: if you are unfamiliar with The Spanish Tragedy, none of this will make sense to you. My review would’ve been different on Thursday night, but we talked about it during class yesterday morning. Thus, I’m stealing some opinions.

First off, the Arcola is a pain in the ass to get to. It’s on a side street in Dalston and you feel like you might be stabbed if you dawdle too long in the wrong direction. The Arcola did have a fantastic cafe in the box office, though.

The show was fantastically directed, but a little over-conceived on some accounts. I didn’t think it detracted from the show at all, but other people in my class did. I. Loved. It. Plus, it was flawlessly adapted AND I had a front row seat. (Not that it mattered much, for reasons to be discussed later.)

Revenge was manifested as an 11-year old girl swinging an axe in a pink dress and mary janes. The first dumb show put on my Hieronimo was a black box sketch that made me snort. (Overconception #1.) It ended by a character being dismembered, and it was one person per limb, which was impressive. Probably a waste of energy and rehearsal time, but great nonetheless.

I also really liked the director’s interpretation of the final spectacle, particularly during Lorenzo’s death. I didn’t think they’d ACTUALLY do the “play” in all four languages (Italian, French, Greek, and Latin) but they did.
Horatio’s death was insane. He was left hanging upside-down on stage for a good five minutes. Imagine how light-headed he must’ve felt when we got pulled down…
Hieronimo’s video montage of his son at the end was a little unsettling (Tidmarsh later told us they were “taking the piss out on Katie Mitchell” to which we said “they did who to what?”) Hieronimo’s madness in one of his extended monologues about “what it a son” was really moving– especially when he was staring right at me. When I referred back to the text later, I couldn’t find it. I guess it was added in. Unfortunate.

Unfortunate moments:
1) Joe and I had a wide glimpse of Isabella’s commando crotch during her great suicide scene. I guess the actress figured she could represent a loony mother best by wearing a slip (and only a slip.) She did the madness movingly, but she was flopping about a bit too much for my heterosexual taste.
2) Because the Viceroy of Portingale was standing in our way, we couldn’t get a clear view of Hieronimo’s suicide. We did, however, get an upfront view of Hieronimo biting out his own tongue and spitting it on the floor. (They left it laying on the floor after the show. It looked a bit like a pig tongue.)
3) The end scene had blood spilling off the desk and splashing onto the floor, which was a great effect. The sound effects were mostly subconscious but all brilliant. The fire alarm during Balthazar’s murder was a little too jarring. People were freaking out about whether it was “real” or not, and I was thoroughly convinced it was because Hieronimo grabbed a stage lackey by the neck and threw him. They would’ve legally had to stop the show and wait for fire trucks to come before they could resume. I didn’t realize this until later.

I give the actors credit because
1) they probably didn’t get paid and
2) it was a really difficult space to fill. Instead of a proscenium stage, they had to occupy a transverse. That is, a stage that splits the audience into two groups stretched along the walls, facing each other. Who am I kidding? It wasn’t a stage. We were in a black warehouse studio with a garage door and four fire exits.

Lots of blood and death, yet I loved it.
If it wasn’t in Dalston, I’d go back again and see it by myself.

my face
Fuh. I made crepes for class yesterday morning.
We talked about containment and Jung. AGAIN.
Set my thoughts a-rolling.

Emily invited me to go with her to the jazz festival happening in town tonight, but I think I’m getting sick. It’s that time of the year. Main brand chicken soup over here sucks. Makes me a little homesick.
Here’s the odd part . . . I know when I go home, I’m going to miss: PASTIES; treacle and pudding; Strongbow or Strongbow-with-black; the accessibility of things like fish & chips or Afro-Caribbean accoutrements (tamarind paste); EVERYTHING blackcurrant-flavoured (which has been outlawed in the US). I’ll have to make my own pasties and wish for the best.

ALSO last night, aside from ziti and the rugby team, we got suited up and went to Venue down the street to check it out. We got in free since it was before 11pm and we had the dance floor to ourselves, which was both awkward and cool. There was a Blondie cover band on the second floor. I waited for them to play “Heart of Glass”, but instead I left. I plan on going back to Venue on December 11th to hear their Smiths cover band. Until then, these cover bands are lined up for the rest of 2009: Queen, Kings of Leon (people go CRAZY over them here.), ABBA (will definitely NOT attend), Arctic Monkeys, Robbie Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spice Girls, Tina Turner, The Killers, the Blues Brothers, and Queen B. Whatever.

I bought a POUND of chocolate (450g) for £2,50 yesterday. That’s $4 of delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk. Another thing I’ll miss: Cadbury vending machines. But for now, I’m eating fishcakes and mushy peas, readin’ The Information.
Load of b-b-bull.
Eating mushy peas with a fork is like trying to pick your nose with your pinky finger. Interpret that as you will. I don’t even know if it’s true; I just felt it needed to be said.

"mushy peas" by Natalie Dee
I’m fat.

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”.

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.

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.

INCORRECT!!1!

If you think I’m being haughty, Bob Dylan said it first:
don’t criticise what you can’t understand.

For the most part, I genuinely like my 7 flatmates.
However, one of them just said this on Facebook:

“All i ever wanted, all i ever needed, is here in my arms….words are very uneccessary….” ♥ thank you Anberlin for making my life okay again

Ugh. There are at least four things seriously wrong with this.

doo doo doo dying is fine.

Someone has my favorite mug.

I’m itching for new music, but my usual music database doesn’t work over here. That makes me sad, but we were looking for gigs to go to around here soon.
I found tickets for Dan Black, Hot Chip, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Phoenix, Do Make Say Think, Decemberists, etc.
I’ll probably only go to Dan Black + Rodrigo y Gabriela, and then find a good live venue to hang out at. Apparently the New Cross Inn down the street isn’t too shabby, and The Barfly in Camden plays a lot of up-and-coming hipsters.

You aren’t interested in music so much, so…
Classes are bizarre. During my Political Economy class, everyone around me was doodling boredly. (Hey, arts college.) The kid in front of me drew the Doctor being eaten by an alien. I drew him as Frankenstein. It was funny. I didn’t learn anything in that class today because it was like taking Macro again. UK/Euro Governance is still a mind-shatterer, despite the 3 hours I set aside this morning for a crash course in British politics. 

My neighborhood, view from the 171 upper deck bus:
New Cross Gate

What happens because the laundry sucks:
laundry jungle, phase 1

The cutest:
Kyetty

Kelly and Kaycee are doing yoga at 8am tomorrow, so I’m ready for that. Tomorrow is also TACO TUESDAY again. Unbelievable how quickly time passes. It really is.
There’s so much left to do and see and photograph and eat and write about.