24 April 2010

Hi-Viz Drunk

It seems that finally, work is following me. Last week in church I was thinking about all the times I had gone to churches at work. One morning I visited three in a row! Not twenty minutes later I noticed a curfuffle in front of me as a guy fainted and was using the person next to him as a prop. A guy behind me (a doctor) noticed a second before I did and got their first. As the sermon started, the patient was telling us he was fine and didn't want to go to the hospital, and there isn't much I can do with that. The doc had taken the seat next to him and was checking him over and feeling his pulse in a satisfactory way so I went back to my seat. The whole rest of the service I watched this guy. I think he enjoyed making us nervous as he insisted on standing at all the right times and going up for communion. Nothing else happened, but I had one glorious moment of excitement.
Then, today on my way to the gym I noticed a guy laying on the ground. Oh, no I thought. He was wearing a new hi-vis coat and we were near a construction site, so maybe he was a worker taking a siesta? The guy walking in front of me stopped and in the ten seconds it took for me to get there had already dialed 999. I walked up to this guy, and immediately knew he was drunk. It's a universal look. I dug my knuckles into his chest while asking him to wake up. He mumbled a few things before rolling back over. Good times. I insisted he get up and asked him if there was anything actually wrong. At this point he asked me if I was a yank.
If you can figure that much out, then you need to not be laying here. By then, a few people had gathered and when they looked at me I put my hand to my mouth like a glass, and tipped it up. They were all duely unimpressed and moved on. The guy calling the ambulance actually told them to cancel! I love that guy!
So, we got the drunk man sitting up and he was totally fine. 'You're a yank!' 'Yes, now get up. You can't sleep here, people are going to keep calling ambulances for you.' 'Okay, Okay.' Then he had the nerve to ask us for spare change. No, but luckily spare time to look after you.
This whole exchange really made my day. I'm serious!

Then on the way back to the gym I arrived at the same time as an ambulance for a lady at a bus stop who had fallen and broken her ankle. Now I was weirded out. Work was finding me. I observed this crew not give this crying patient entonox and put her on their bulky but lift free stretcher.
I can't wait to go back to work.

22 April 2010

Noncation

A hostel can be a great place to meet other people from all over the world and be annoyed by their personal habits and noisemaking. But that only happens if other people are in your room. Normally, I would be thrilled to be alone in a hostel, but the other night, it echoed my disappointment.
But, it did make for a quiet night and I used all the pillows I wanted. In the morning, renewed by the unseasonable weather, I continued in my quest to discover new places in the city.
I love markets, which makes England a great place for me because every town has a market going on all the time. I especially love the ones that sell beautiful looking vegetables and on the other end of the market spectrum, the ones that sell weird-ass stuff. I was advised to visit Camden to see their market. Camden market/lock area make all other markets I've seen look like boring. None have so much color, flavor, and culture.
Foods from almost every continent were fresh at lunch time. New, delicious smells enticed me around every corner. And the stuff for sale. From the practical to the ridiculous. Everything you could think of, clothes, jewlery, candles, furniture, carousel figures. And I don't know what it is about Camden, but I've never seen so many bongs for sale. I kind of thought they were illegal, but I guess they are for 'tobacco.'
I didn't spot the crackie of camden but I did see part of the funeral procession for Malcolm McLaren which was interesting. The old school punks were out to pay their respects.
From there I visited more museums. For the first time in five years I went back to the British Museum and was overwhelmed again. I took a free tour of one room, which may be the way to go. Take these free tours, one at a time, and then after 8-10 years you may have a good handle on the museum. It is enormous to say the least with millions of objects to see from all over the world spanning the entire age of man. Rushing through to get to my tour felt so wrong, repeating in my head was 'appreciate, appreciate, appreciate' but to appreciate every item there would be impossible. For example. they have a mummified body from Egypt that was buried over 5000 years ago. And there it is, in a glass case in England, for all the world to see. I bet he never expected that when he died.
On the way back to get my bag from the hostel I stopped in the Tate Britain which has a special place in my heart. I eavesdropped on a very good tour for a while and then visited the 'new' Turner collection.

I made some dinner and then headed for the train station, fully back in love with London. I don't know if I love it because it's great or because it's the first place where I was free to explore on my own. It wasn't my first European experience but the city left quite an impression on me. Overhearing some hostel conversations brought me to this line of thinking. A girl was there with her friend and they were discussing what to do for dinner. And she suddenly said, 'We can go wherever we want. It's so weird to be...making decisions.' And in that moment she realized the awesome power of being away from home by yourself. That feeling that has gripped so many others, and will never let go.
As you can see, waiting in the train station is just as boring as waiting anywhere else; the mind wanders. After loitering in the WHSmith, reading magazines I had no intention of buying I had nothing else to do other than watch people and think. Two of my favorite past times.

21 April 2010

The pearls in my oyster

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has been looking out for me in the last couple of days. I feel truly blessed. Not to mention my parents whom I will see soon! (there are always cargo freighters, right?)

Today I enjoyed a hearty included breakfast and set off to the Imperial War Museum, as suggested to me by a classmate. Wow. I have at best a passing interest in wars, yet spent an easy four hours in there. Yeah, four. It is massive and strangely fascinating. It starts with World War I and II which of course garnered huge areas of the place. In the WWI area they have a trench experience that was very cool, and in the WWII area they have a 'blitz experience' where they shake the floor and have rubble and other destroyed stuff much to the delight and horror of patrons. I knew it would be good when exiting school groups exclaimed “That was cooool!” and “That was scary!” (boys and girls, respectively). From there they had displays from almost every conflict that occurred after WWII, and also a very moving holocaust exhibit.

I had a packed lunch in the surrounding garden and then went to South Kensington to the Victoria and Albert. This, I always thought was a museum of clothing and textiles, which it is to a point. But that is certainly not all they have to offer. As I was recently told 'they have everything!' Truly from 12th century religious icons, a crazy collection of iron works, altarpieces, ceramics, weapons, and indeed clothing and textiles. At any given moment I couldn't find the room I was in on the map which made it one of the most confusing museums I'd been in and I'm pretty sure that I only saw a fraction of it all. Relieved to find an exit, I took it and briefly visited the natural history museum before they closed. It was with renewed interest that I observed their volcano exhibit.

I do put some effort into not looking like a tourist. Having been to London more than once I feel I've earned the right to not be lumped in the tourist category. They should make a different category: the um, I've been here before so don't hassle me category. Anyway, with my backpack buckled around my waist and my A to Z map book peeking out of my pocket, I pretty much fail at not looking like a tourist. Not to mention the occasional fits of picture taking. Thank goodness I have the elitist headphones to help me fit in, though I'm sure the Cov Uni hoodie isn't fooling anyone. But yesterday I got my very own oyster card which makes me feel like a true Londoner.

One my walk back tonight I noticed something that there had been an obvious lack of until now. Planes. Freaking Planes. One after the other, landing safely and taunting me in my loneliness.

The best laid plans...

Can be easier to undo than to make.
I thought I'd live somewhere far more exotic than England to have a volcano interrupt my holiday making. This morning, my parents were due to join me in London to embark on a UK adventure for two weeks. A UK adventure that I had spent hours researching and booking (not to rub it in). I had planned to go to London to meet them, and since I had bought the ticket decided to go hoping that some miracle would bring them to me. Sadly, that was not the case, which left me last night apologetically cancelling reservations. All were understanding save one, so I guess that's not too bad.

I spent yesterday fretting about air travel and volcanoes but I didn't let it stop me from enjoying the greatest city on Earth. Determined to make the most of my non-vacation, I booked an extra night at the hostel and a late train home on Thursday. Though I was feeling sad, the usual sights didn't fail to lift my spirits; gleaming Westminster Abbey and parliament, ever-active Trafalgar square, and the great eye.
I wanted to go places I've never been so I headed for the first time into the national portrait gallery, which was what I expected it to be. Portraits. Some were interesting, Jane Austen, and two of the only known paintings of Shakespeare, but outside of that it was an entire museum of the rooms that I would normally fast forward through. From there I wandered to Covent Garden and was unimpressed by their market (sorry, blame it on my mood). But, I did enjoy the gift shop of the London transport museum, although surprisingly didn't buy anything. The museum itself costs too much. A nearby outdoor store had an indoor ice climbing wall which was pretty sweet, and then I basically wandered back to the hostel enjoying the signs of spring.
In the evening I officially knew my parents weren't coming and was feeling embarrassingly sorry for myself. Luckily, I brought some chocolate.

19 April 2010

Elitist Headphones

About two months ago my headphones broke. Not a tragedy, but then a few weeks ago my mp3 player broke. I don't know why, like many of this company's products (which I happily endorse) it decided to stop working (cough-micro-cough-soft!) Oh, that doesn't work as well on paper. Their support was worthless as it actually suggested I mail it to them for 'diagnostics' to the tune of $159. You must be kidding me.
So, I thought long and hard about a replacement. I could buy some crap that would hopefully last me until I got home, or the simpler solution: upgrade. 2/3 of the zunes that I know about broke unexpectedly so I was hesitant to jump back on that bandwagon. Plus, now you can only get the HD version which is not as super awesome as I hoped. Since their inception I have been anti-ipod, simply because everyone had one. That annoyed me. Every other person walking down the street had their blazing white headphones in, mocking the rest of us non-mac minions.
So it was with great eye rolling and sighs that I entered the apple store in Coventry (yeah, we have one!) and passed over the nano, the shuffle, the icrap, the classic, and went straight for the throat: the ipod touch. Within five minutes I was completely impressed. I HATE to admit it, the touch is freaking cool. Internet, games, apps, other superfluous stuff, and it plays music too, lest we forget the actual purpose of the purchase.
I went home to contemplate what I'd seen, and after reading a million reviews and comparisons, and finding it for the cheapest price in North America, I ordered one. I was a more than a little enticed by the union jack cover I got for it. For the last two weeks I have enjoyed my ipod, surfed its tiny internet, and worn my elitist headphones around town feeling very conspicuous. I will be able to afford different ones in a few years.

But seriously, they are the most annoying headphones ever produced by man. It's amazing to think everyone on earth is fooling themselves into thinking that these headphones are practical when all damn day they are falling out of their ears. They're great as long as you are sitting still and perfectly upright. The moment I turn my head one falls out, when I breathe one falls out, when I think one falls out! It's damn annoying, but no one will admit it. Not to mention that those bright white earphones are a dead give away that there is an expensive electronic device in your pocket.

04 April 2010

Eastertide

It has been a strange holy week for me. At one point I nearly quit lent altogether out of frustration with God, but that's someone elses story (sorry to be cryptic). On Wednesday, my Bible study group had an infomal Seder meal, which I hadn't done in many years. It was fun, and I ate a radish!
Last night I watched Chocolat, my favorite lenten movie. Yes, because it's about chocolate, and yes, because Johnny Depp plays an Irish gypsy.
Today I got up at 5 for the sunrise service, in the hopes that it would renew me. It was not at all what I expected, as more than five people showed up. In actuality almost 300 people were there before dawn in the cathedral ruins to celebrate Easter. The service was also not what I expected, as it lasted more than five minutes. In fact, it was about two hours later when we finished, and I was filled with shock and horror to learn that it was still only 7:30 in the morning. The service was very elaborate, and included incense, playing with fire, party poppers, baptism, confirmation, and communion! Whew! At one point we were encouraged to cheer, clap, set off our party poppers and celebrate the resurection "without restraint."
All in all it was a very nice service and very much not what I expected. There was even a post-church cooked breakfast that was more than welcome.
When I got home, I realized it was still only 10am, and despite the coffee, I still feel in need of a nap. I opened my package from E. Bunny, filled with the joys of an American Easter: Mary Sue Easter eggs (which I think is just a Maryland thing) Marshmallow Peeps, jelly bellys, and other easter staples. Oh! and orange flavored Cadbury cream eggs which I have not even seen for sale here. As for the rest of the day, I think a nap may be in order, and then I have no reason not to continue writing my paper.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some stale peeps to eat. Happy Easter.