Friday, February 27, 2009

Live Forever

I've done it! 28 posts in 28 days (27 days to be more exact, but that's because I had to write in advance to make up for days I'd be gone - like tomorrow).

I'm pretty proud of myself - even for something so small - but the point is I finished something I started, and that makes me feel good. This just means I can start the month of March with a feeling of being on a clean slate.

The funny thing is, today is actually a sunny day in London - which is something I haven't really seen since last September. I was walking around the neighborhood this morning with nothing more than 1 set of clothes and a hoodie. It was fantastic.

So I'm good to go. I just picked up a few new boxes of contacts, I'm all packed, and in an hour I'll be on my way to Heathrow for my flight to Barcelona. I feel good enough to even bring book 4 of Twilight to re-read on the tube and plane. This weekend is going to be awesome.


I want a ukelele. So I can do this:

I'm leaving for Barcelona tomorrow - and I still haven't finished packing yet. I've been much too distracted making various fun playlists of musical goodness. Which is why I'm late posting. I also spent two hours on skype talking to Becky about nothing and everything in particular.

So yeah, I was in the middle of putting outfits together to bring to Spain... when I remembered I had to make an entry... and I'm now realizing that I just don't have enough cute clothing. A shopping trip is necessary. Ah, if I only had the proper amount of funds.

Okay, this is getting really pointless. And now I think I'm just rambling to take up space. So, on that note, adieu.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tomorrow Never Knows

I hate how youtube greatly reduces the quality of the videos I upload. Oh well.

I didn't have class today. Hence, my newest nostalgic concoction:

What's in a name?

This makes me feel a little juvenile... but I think it's funny so whatever.

YOUR REAL NAME: Darleen Lizbeth Principe

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (Mother and Father's middle names)
Maria Santos

3. STAR WARS NAME: (The first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (Favorite color, favorite animal)
Red Monkey ... (haha sounds Asian)

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (Middle name, town where you were born)
Lizbeth Culver

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (Second favorite color, favorite drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Pink Oasis (p.s. Oasis sounded better than Vodka Cranberry)

7. FLY NAME: (First 2 letters of your first name, last 2 letters of your last name)

8. STREET NAME: (Favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Mint Chip White Chocolate Chip Macadamia ... wow that's a mouthful, and doesn't really work.

9. SKANK NAME: (First pet's name, street you grew up on)
Poochie Bigelow... BEST SKANK NAME EVER.

10. GANGSTA NAME: (First 3 letters of first name plus 'izzle')
Darlizzle (it sounds better with the L)

11. YOUR GOTH NAME: (Black, and the name of one of your pets)
Black Penny

12. STRIPPER NAME: (Name of your favorite perfume/cologne, Favorite candy)
Pink Kit Kat - hah.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Banana Pancakes

Silly Brits and their goofy holidays.

Courtesy BBC:
"In the UK, there is a much-loved tradition of making and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which falls between February 2 and March 9 each year, depending on the date for Easter. In 2009, Shrove Tuesday falls on 24 February. Shrove Tuesday ('shrove' stems from old English word 'shrive', meaning 'confess all sins') is the day before Lent.

According to Christian beliefs, Lent commemorates Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness, and observant Christians mark this period by fasting. So Shrove Tuesday was cleverly invented to use up the ingredients that were given up for Lent - milk, butter and, particularly, eggs - which may not be eaten again until Easter."

This explains why every bloody Brit and their mom asked me if I ate pancakes today. Nobody mentioned Lent at all until I actually got home to look it up. No offense to anybody, but this whole thing is just goofy and weird.

The day is almost over, and I still haven't had a single pancake. Why? Because I'm not giving up milk, butter OR eggs for Lent. What can I say, I'm a bad Catholic.

Happy Pancake Day!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Simple Kind of Life

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be satisfied. I like to think that all people live their lives trying to move in a steady forward-direction. But I can only really speak for myself when I say my primary goal in life is to continually be better.

But "better" is completely subjective. I've learned from knowing other people that being "better" might simply mean settling for what's comfortable and familiar. In other cases, "better" might just mean earning a lot of money, being mom of the year or becoming the foremost expert in some random academic field. Maybe "better" is numbing yourself with drugs until you've reached insanity or complaining about everything you DON'T have until everyone in the world can hear you. Maybe "better" is just losing 10 pounds. Like I said, it's completely subjective.

"Better" for me has become much less quantifiable in recent months. As a kid, it's so much easier to see everything in the short term - to set easily attainable goals like earning a place on the dean's list or saving enough allowance to buy a new gameboy.

Adults have it much harder - especially living in a culture like this one, where virtually everything is measured by financial wealth... and the constant accumulation of new material desires just gives way to a parallel accumulation of new frustrations.
We go to school longer to get better jobs, to get paid more money, to have the ability to consume more - whether it be for a new wardrobe, a new house, or new "comforts" for our children. It doesn't matter what it is - in the end, everything that motivates us these days can be broken down to a distorted view of happiness and reality.

I've been thinking about my life experiences a lot lately. And I'm starting to wonder if all these things that I do - my constant need to excel and my continual desire for experiencing NEW things - are nothing but cultural abstractions. And if that's the case, is there anything really WRONG with that? Or is it just a fact of life to be accepted? Is my goal to be "better" just a way for me to run away from reality?

I don't really where all of this is coming from. Maybe it's just a part of growing older. I don't know what I'm going to want when this whole London thing is over, because this WAS precisely what I've wanted for years. And now that I'm living it, I'm starting to feel another existential crisis coming on. Not right now... but soon, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Warmth

I just found out that a friend of mine from back home overdosed on heroin three days ago. He's not dead, but he's in a coma. I know he's got a history of depression, but people I've spoken to say it was an accidental OD. "His body just wasn't used to that dosage anymore," they say.

Still, a person doesn't OD on drugs unless they've got something heavy to suppress - something that needed to be numbed in the first place. I only hope, that somewhere in his quiet mind he's still fighting to hold on. Because he's a good guy and has a lot going for him. He just needs to find the strength...

My love goes out to you, R. Be well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Past and Pending

Some people might not know this about me, but I spent about 4 years of my adolescence performing with a cultural Filipino dance troupe called Fil-Am. Come to think of it, I was a pretty active teenager with lots of extra-curricular activities to pass the time: choir, drama, speech & debate, volunteering with children & the homeless, and of course, the filipino dancing (just to name a few). It was a really great time in my life - fun and full of purpose, always with the goal of being exceptional at whatever I attempted.

The dancing was a great life lesson for me, because it gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my roots - a connection that was virtually missing, from living in a mostly-white suburban town in California. So I learned how to dance with fans and tambourines, how to roll on the floor gracefully while balancing glasses on my head that were filled halfway with wine, how to avoid getting my ankles caught between sticks of bamboo while hopping around to the ringing sound of 14-string bandurrias.

I got a lot of practice speaking tagalog, and even learned some of the traditional songs (one of which I actually earned a solo for during our shows). I wore the traditional dresses of my ancestors, learned about the different regions of the Philippines, and discovered an honest sense of pride for where I came from.

This experience also led me to my first real trip abroad- when our troupe was invited to an international cultural dance festival in Marseilles, France. It was 1997, and that was the trip that changed my life... it gave me a small taste of the outside and showed me a world full of amazing cultures. I met so many people during that festival: cultural dancers from France, Turkey, Laos, Brazil, Scotland, Germany, the Ivory Coast, and so many others I know I'm leaving out.

Recently, with the help of facebook, I've gotten back in touch with some of the old dancers from my troupe. Many of them are married with children now - which is a strange reality to face when I think back on all our teenage shenanigans. I remember all of us being so excited about being able to drink wine in France... without our parents there to forbid us.

And now we're all grown up, but we all collectively share this period of time where we grew closer to each other and to our heritage. Its weird to think now about the real, tangible impact this period of my life made on me. Up until that point, I think I struggled a bit with my identity. I was always different from my friends... I had a darker skin-tone and hair-color, ate weird food, had a strange language and practiced traditions that were alien to everyone else.

But after that time, I understood my uniqueness and learned how to embrace it. And when I really think about it, it gave me a significant foundation for who I am today. It makes perfect sense that I have a passion for travel, a knack for understanding peoples' differences, a genuine love for people and the consistent desire for the extraordinary.

The past is a funny thing when it actually becomes "the past". Because while you're in the middle of a life-changing experience, you're never quite sure how it will impact you in the long run. And then suddenly, perhaps 10 years or more down the line, you start to understand how it's shaped you.

I don't know about you, but it always seems to be the good things about the past that find their way back out in my memories - the experiences that make me better and take me closer to my ideal. So I wonder... I know that being here in London is something very heavy. It's impact on me might not manifest itself right away - but I can only hope that it'll take me further in the right direction.


I'm late, I know.. but I just got in after being out ALL day.

The good news is I've officially passed all of my first semester classes with distinction. Let's see if I can keep it up for the second semester. (*_*)
Hence, being out to celebrate at the Founder's Arms in Southbank.

I don't really have too much to write about now... I'm pretty tired AND I've been drinking. Which means I don't have the brainergy to find a music video to put up either.

I'm going to a German Carnival party at the Bavarian Beerhouse tomorrow night (where one of my housemates works) so hopefully, I'll remember to post before I go out. The only thing left to do at this point is to get a costume for the party. I wonder what I should dress up as!?!??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Such Great Heights

I inhaled uneasily as I flipped open the latch to the black leather case he’d left on my bed. My hands trembled nervously. It took all of my control to keep from throwing the entire thing out of my second-story window, surely shattering everything inside. But I knew I would never be able to destroy the only thing I had left to remind me of him. The only tangible thing beyond my memories that proved we ever existed.

I lifted the lid as slowly as I could, while a part of me hoped that there would be some clue as to where he might’ve gone. But there was nothing new inside. Just the worn cardboard sleeves filled with old records- the same ones we'd listened to night after night for months in the basement of his house, while smoking spliffs or making love on the couch.

I took another deep breath and held it in, as if it would keep all of the emotion inside my body. As if that would keep it from spilling out like a broken dam. But I forced myself to replay the scene in my head over and over again, to maybe figure out what had gone wrong.

"They're coming in to change the carpet in the basement tomorrow morning," he had said to me last night. "I wanted to make sure nothing happened to the records."
"Oh, okay!" I thought nothing of it.
"I'm just gonna' put them in your room," he said, smiling.

At that moment, I had returned to the kitchen to finish up the risotto. It wasn't often that I had the flat to myself, but my sister had gone out of town for the weekend so I asked Alistair to stay over. I wanted to do something special for him, for once.

It was a perfect night. I was proud of how well my mushroom risotto turned out. We shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio over dinner, while Iron & Wine played in the background. We never even made it to the bedroom after that.

But when I woke up this morning, something was different. I shifted on the couch drowsily and was surprised when I didn't feel him next to me. A few moments later, I saw that he was standing over me, fully dressed with a sad expression in his big brown eyes.

"Where are you going?" I mumbled, confused.
"I'm sorry, Daphne."
"What happened? What's wrong?"
"I can't do this anymore," his voice was suddenly angry. "I have to go."
"Wha... what!? Why? What's going on?" I was becoming frantic.
"I DON'T LOVE YOU!" His face was bright red, beads of sweat forming at the top of his forehead.

Before I even had time to react, Alistar was rushing towards the door.


Was this really happening? I didn't understand. I ran to follow him outside, the fleece blanket falling off my still naked body as I jumped off the couch. He stopped quickly and turned around to grasp my shoulders and he bore his eyes into mine with such intensity that it was frightening.

"DON'T... FOLLOW... ME...!"

The anger in his voice shocked me. I had never heard anything like that come out of his mouth before. I was utterly stunned. And then he slammed the door behind him, and he was gone. All I could do was stand there, paralyzed. I heard a door slam and listened as the unknown car sped away. I didn't even look out the window to see if he had gone in a taxi or if someone I knew came to pick him up. Either way, he had been planning this.

And now, an hour later, I stood at the edge of my bed, gazing at the familiar box of records that had suddenly turned into a relic. Was this some kind of joke? Would Alistair come knocking at my door any minute to tell me that everything is okay? That he just had a momentary lapse of insanity? A part of me hoped it was nothing to be worried about, that he would be back any minute to tell me he had made a mistake. But the more intuitive part of me knew that this was the end. And I didn't know why.

I was afraid that if I eased up enough to accept his absence, I would never be able to pick myself back up again. Against my better judgment, I fought harder to hold on. I pulled the first record out of the box. Carefully, I took the vinyl disc out of its sleeve and walked over to the record player near my window. I lifted the needle, and with two nervous, but steady hands, I placed the record slowly onto the turntable.

I replaced the needle at the exact spot I wanted, and collapsed onto my bed in the wrong direction. The familiar electronic beat of the song drummed into my ears, and I knew I had made a mistake. I had opened the floodgates. But maybe this is what I needed. Maybe, wherever he was, he would hear me playing this record - and maybe he would turn around and come back.

I called out to him in my head, as the tears began to fall down my cheeks. Ben Gibbard's soft voice came ringing out through the speakers...

I am thinking it's a sign... that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned...

I exhaled...

To be continued.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I'm still a little sick. Consequently, I didn't really accomplish much outside of the house today, even though I really should have been at the library taking out ethnography books for my dissertation. Oh well.

Instead, I spent most of the day inside my room (the only exception being when I was in the kitchen for meals). Still.. I got a lot of little things done:
- scoured the Internet for recipe variations of wild mushroom risotto
- watched 4 episodes of Shameless back-to-back (this is my pre-game for seeing James McAvoy in Three Days of Rain here in London soon)
- did laundry
- cleaned my room... I love having a clean carpet.
- spent hours on Facebook looking for people from my old Filipino dancing days
- played guitar
- read a little bit of Society of the Spectacle
- paid my rent, resulting in Mr. Mak once again declaring his undying admiration for me. He even brought me another box of Ferrero Rocher truffles, along with the usual 6-pack of Coke. I still haven't even finished the first box of truffles... LOL, bless him.

Hopefully life will go back to normal tomorrow - since I have class at 10 a.m. and I haven't been out of the house in 2 days. I don't like feeling unwell - it ruins my mojo.

p.s. I want some mushroom risotto.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Miss Misery

I'm sick and aching today. I think maybe all the fun and lack of sleep over the past weekend finally caught up to me this morning. When I woke up for class, I got woozy... so I laid down for just a couple more minutes. But then, I passed out immediately and didn't wake up again for another hour and a half. Which means that I missed class. Damn. I really didn't want to do that.

So... I've been very unproductive all day long. And there's nothing worse than that to make me feel completely hopeless about nothing and everything all at once. Sometimes I just feel utterly unoriginal and absolutely un-extraordinary. This is one of those days. I hate it when that happens... it turns me into a full-blown Miss Misery.

Sometimes I feel wrong inside my own head... as if every excited feeling I've ever had has been completely imaginary. And then I just end up thinking myself in circles - not really coming into any coherent solutions about anything. Then after thinking that way, my mind feels totally blank and useless. It's all very confusing, and I don't even know how to properly put it in words.

I'm not sad at all. On the contrary, I think I'm kind of happy. But then again, I can't really be sure. It's just weird. The only thing I want to do right now is something, anything, to work the creative muscles... but I don't know what. I don't feel like playing guitar. I don't have a piano. I don't have a brilliant idea for a piece of creative writing. I can't draw to save my life. I don't want to go to sleep. I'm fully caught-up on LOST (which normally gets my imagination running). And if I start reading Twilight again, I'll be done for. There is nothing that I have enough motivation for to do at this moment except rant on my blog - and even then, I'll be done very very soon.

This is quite a conundrum.

Monday, February 16, 2009

XXIII: Weekend

Switzerland is a silly country. Aside from all of its obvious, kitsch characteristics... like Swiss army knives, cuckoo-clocks, cheese, chocolate and that one place where they collide atoms in Geneva (CERN for all you Dan Brown fans) - my favorite is probably the fact that the people there are lacking any REAL type of national identity.

This last weekend, I've learned in great detail and experience that the country is split into three very distinct regions (which shows that I've always been shite at geography) - French Suisse, German Suisse and Italian Suisse. And these three regions all speak their own languages.. you guessed them: Swiss French, Swiss German and Swiss Italian. Although the languages are very similar to their basic counterparts, the answer to why France, Germany and Italy didn't just claim their respective pieces of Switzerland and make it their own is beyond my immediate knowledge - but in any case, I find it kind of funny.

Why don't they just speak plain Swiss? Wouldn't that make it easier for the natives? And that stupidly long acronym for the national train station, CBB CFF FFS, could probably then be shortened to just ONE set of three letters. But wait, that would just be too easy. And perhaps this confusion is what keeps them from taking anybody's side and refusing to become part of the EU. But yeah, "just plain Swiss" doesn't exist. Maybe the whole country is designed to be the most confusing tourist spot in the world. Who knows?!?

Anyway, Allison and I made it out to Switzerland (aka Confoederatio Helvetica... yeah, I don't know how they got "Switzerland" from this name) over the weekend for a Valentine's Day weekend ski-trip, and it was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. But it was also a bit ridiculous.

We left the "comforts" of London around 5 a.m. on Friday morning to catch our 8:05 Easy Jet flight to Geneva. But before I could even get to the airport, I was lucky enough to have my American debit card sucked into an ATM machine, never to be seen again, because apparently the bank was having technical difficulties. It wasn't my fault... but that still left me without my normal debit card. And I probably won't get another one for 2 more weeks. How convenient. It seems that all the forces are constantly working against me being here in Europe - but whatever, I'm finally starting to get used to these unfortunate situations. Thank God for credit cards.

Geneva was pretty. That's probably the only word I have to describe the place, because there's really not much more to it than that... except for maybe the super-expensive food and the unfriendly train station staff.

At least they have a geyser in the middle of a lake. It's called Jet d'Eau (Jet of Water... how clever).

After figuring out how to take a train, we ended up about an hour away from Geneva to meet up with Chris in Neuchatel. He and his flat-mate Jason were nice enough to let us stay with them and be our hosts for the weekend. They took fabulous care of us.

Neuchatel was cute. What else am I supposed to say about a little Swiss French town with a population of 50,000? We didn't stay within city limits long enough to really get a feel for it. And since Allison and I don't speak French, we let Chris take care of EVERYTHING. It was kind of nice getting to be the follower...

On Saturday, we took a day-trip to Lausanne, which was pretty much the epitome of adorable because of its snow-covered rooftops, cobblestone streets and giant cathedral on top of a hill.

But the absolute BEST part of Lausanne was this toilet I found in a random cafe:

It looks like any other toilet, I know. BUT here's the crazy part- instead of a lever, it has a twist-knob that you use to flush it. As you can tell, I enjoy the small things in life. Moving on....

Sunday was nothing special - just snowboarding in the Swiss Alps and a traditional fondue feast. SLAAAAASH the most perfect Swiss Day EVER.

That's the Eiger in the background (a.k.a. the mountain of glorious death):

No, we didn't ski that. Instead, we opted for a nicely steep and amazing mountain called Mannlichen (not to be confused with Man Lickin'). It just doesn't get better than that...

Actually, I lied. The fondue was the cherry on top of it all. Or should I say "cheese..." I was only a few congealed-emmental forkfuls away from OD'ing on the best meal of my life.

Luckily, Allison and I made it back home to London all right. We even got back in time to make it to our night class today. Not to sound pretentious or anything, but it still boggles my mind how easy it is to jump over the pond for a weekend getaway to Switzerland. Oh yeah, did I mention I went snowboarding in THE SWISS ALPS!?!?! Man, life is good.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stupid Hands

Happy Valentine's Day from all of us in the Neuch!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I have no discipline when it comes to certain things.

I should be sleeping by now, since I have to wake my ass up at 4:30... to be out of the house by 5... to get to gatwick by 6:30... so I can catch my 8:05 a.m. flight to Geneva. Sigh.

But no, instead I'm still awake writing this blog and contemplating whether or not I should watch the new episode of LOST. At least I'm all packed. And besides, if I go to bed now, chances are I won't actually go to sleep that quickly. What's another 45 minutes?

Exactly. LOST, it is.

Goodnight everyone.

p.s. Happy early Valentine's Day! <33

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Around the World

I'm going out of town this weekend on a Valentine's ski/snowboard trip to the Alps, and to visit Chris in Neuchatel. I have to leave my house at 5 am on Friday... which means I'm excusing myself from posting entries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Unless of course I have some easy Internet access and then I'll do what I can.

But still, I've committed to 28 posts in 28 days, and seeing as this post already puts me two entries ahead, I know I won't mess that up. I will make them up as I see fit before the end of the month if I have to. And I have to admit, I'm liking this whole habit of posting something each day. I really thought it would be much harder than it is - but it's turning out to be pretty good. I find myself having to put more thought into what I do on a daily basis- always looking for possible subjects to write about. It's good observational practice, at least.

So I figured I'd take this opportunity to brag about my travels. One of the best things about living in London is that it's so close to everywhere else in Europe, relatively cheap even, to go to. Looks like my goal of filling up my passport with stamps before it expires in 2016 is going to be a cinch.

I went to Philippines and Thailand last July. Then since I've been living here, I've been to Edinburgh (Scotland), Amsterdam (Holland), Brugge (Belgium), Calais and Paris (France) and a few cities in England - Brighton, Salisbury, Liverpool.

As for upcoming planned trips:
Geneva and Neuchatel (Switzerland) this weekend
Barcelona (Spain) at the end of the month

And the tentative trips:
Dublin (Ireland) in March
Rome or Tuscany (Italy) in May
Transylvania (Romania) in May
Athens (Greece) in June
Cardiff (Wales) in June

And depending on whether or not I go home for good in June, I want to try and squeeze in Berlin, Prague and Lisbon. I wonder if it'll work out.. That would be awesome.

So many places to go... so little time.


People crack me up.

I was in a Starbucks in Covent Garden earlier, doing some academic reading over a white mocha, when this crazy blonde British woman asked if she could take a seat across from me. It wasn't really a big deal to begin with - because sharing tables with strangers is quite a normal phenomenon here in London - so I thought nothing of it. She was nice enough, a little quirky with the greeting, but nothing too scary.

So she sat down, and I went back to reading The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin. But my critical thought processes shut down after about 5 minutes, when the blonde woman decided to call a friend of hers (whom she referred to as "my little darling") and started talking about this "awesome gig" she sang at last night and how her faith in guitarists has been restored because of a lovely ("bless, him") little man called Duncan.

I tried to tune her out, really I did, but it was all to no avail. She was cackling so loud that I don't think anyone in the entire cafe could even hear their own thoughts. And the funny thing is that she had her phone on the table, while talking through some ugly mouthpiece with attached headphones.

She was holding the mouthpiece in front of her pouty lips, but couldn't just pick up the damn phone off the table. Why do people do that???? We're in London.. you're not driving or even walking! Take the stupid headphones off and pick up the phone!!!! Seriously!!! This annoyed me... EXTREMELY. Anyway, I managed to sneak a picture of her with my cell phone.

It took about another 5 minutes before I just gave up on my reading completely and headed out of there.

And THEN... on my way home, I was standing on the escalator going up out of Manor House tube station, when I noticed that the girl in front of me had these ugly poop-colored Uggs on. Wait, this isn't the annoying part.

I dug my phone out of my pocket as quick as I could to take a picture, but only managed to get one of her stepping off the escalator. You can only really see one foot here, BUT... she was wearing the Uggs like a retarded fat-footed person. She wasn't even fat - but she was stepping on the sides of her boots instead of the actual bottoms, as if her stupid feet were too wide for her stupid boots. Oh. My. God! Pull them up before you start walking... is it so hard???

I'm telling you, people are crazy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'll Be Here A While

I am such a SUCKER.

I don't know how you do it. Maybe it's the big brown eyes, with those ridiculously deep stares that make me feel slightly violated... in a good way, of course. Or the fact that you always seem to appear out of nowhere, completely matching me nonetheless, and smiling that annoyingly smug smile that you always have. Or the way you seem to always say the right thing just when I've reached the edge of confusion... usually in the most argumentative, but extremely attractive way.

I don't know... but it weakens my resolve. And all I can do is sigh. I keep finding myself in the same, awkward position... never really moving away. But maybe this is where I belong. Because you turn me into a walking contradiction. Because you keep it exciting... no matter what I keep telling myself.

And the saga continues...

Monday, February 9, 2009

XXII: I'd Rather Dance With You

I can't dance to save my life. Which is probably why I would rather stay home and read a book than go out to the clubs, if I can help it. But sometimes... just sometimes... it's necessary to hit the town - especially when there's something extraordinarily fun going on. And besides, it's much easier to get on the dance floor when there's a healthy level of intoxication involved.

I went to a 1940's-themed Blitz Party on Saturday night with a few girlfriends. I was a little nervous at first, because I haven't gotten over my people anxiety enough to be fully comfortable going to an organized party with a bunch of strangers like this. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had, considering my lack of bootie-shaking abilities.

At least I got to dress up - I'm kind of a sucker for costume parties. We had a bit of a problem busting out the victory rolls (how in the world did women in the 40s do their hair every day so perfectly?) but we made do with our vintage dresses and shoes. And don't forget the fake lashes...


(L-R: Ashley, me and Allison)

(L-R: Hannah, Ashley, Megan and me)

And it was great because the party took place in this abandoned community center in Shoreditch which had about six different rooms with low ceilings, separated by old brick arches - a perfect representation of an old wartime bunker. Big band music filled the rooms, while hundreds of costumed-guests slammed against each other with their boogie and swing moves. It really WAS like being in another era.

It was kind of nice getting out of the day-to-day monotony, which has slowly been creeping up on me since winter vacation ended. Between my painful obsession with Twilight and the extra research of putting together a dissertation proposal, it's been hard to get out and experience more of London. Exactly what I was afraid of... getting too comfortable and feeling too at-home that I was beginning to get lazy with my social interaction.

Fortunately, the girls administered just the right amount of peer pressure... and I got my lazy ass to commit to buying the ticket. And I'm glad I did. We met some wonderful new people... some of whom were dashing young PhD's who were kind enough to buy us some drinks. I honestly never thought I'd ever be in that situation (usually because I keep myself out of it) but it turns out that having lots of girlfriends and maintaining a constantly welcoming smile attracts this kind of thing. Who would've known? Hah.

(L-R: James, me, John, Megan and Ashley)

Which brings me to an interesting conclusion about myself. I think I have a bit of a self-confidence problem... and I don't think I smile nearly enough. I've had a sort of epiphany. I'm completely confident when it comes to school, work, professional and familiar relationships and that sort of thing. But I'm completely clueless when it comes to interacting casually with strangers.

I think I can trace it back as far as kindergarten - when the first friend I ever made was because a little blonde-haired girl named Ariana came running up to me to ask if I wanted to go play on the swings with her. Even then, I wasn't the one putting in the initial effort. The same holds to this day. It usually takes some extraordinary magnetic force for me to put myself out there and strike up conversation with a complete stranger. But I need to stop that. Because I'm missing out.

And since Saturday, I've caught myself in the tube or walking down the street with a leave-me-alone scowl broadcasted over my face. That needs to stop too. Because I know deep down inside, I can be a pretty friendly person... and what do I really have to fear? Embarrassment? Rejection? Just a few petty things that I can get over pretty easily. And I've come to realize that most people don't mind the conversation - in fact, they might welcome it - if for nothing else than breaking the monotony of day-to-day life.

From this point on, I'm resolving to break down the protective barriers a little bit and be a more confident and approachable person.

In the words of that one girl from Waking Life: "I don't want to be an ant."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

She's So Heavy

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

"Why won't you leave me alone?"
Believe me, I wanted to say. I've tried.
Oh, and also, I'm wretchedly in love with you.
Keep it light.

Oh, Edward.

Curse you, Stephenie Meyer.

And, by the way, I adore you... in frightening, dangerous ways.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Flourescent Adolescent

Let's be honest. This game is awful and ridiculous. Hide and seek is a silly sport, and I just don't have the time nor patience to play because I have a shit ton of other things to worry about... a potential Transylvanian adventure, for one. Hah.

It was fun at first. But I'm starting to get bored with this. And the chase can only last so long- until one of us either gets caught or stops running. So here it is. I've decided to skid to an abrupt halt. I still kinda' like you, but I'm not so sure it's worth all the confusion anymore. You want something from me? Just say so...

Get yourself together already. Stop slagging off. Give up the random, pointless excuses to talk to me and think of something REAL to say. It might actually work to your benefit. Please!
For both our sakes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

One More Cup of Coffee

I'm looking for an interesting place to have dinner tonight with the girls before we hit the cinema. So, I've turned to Time Out- best city-guide ever - to come up with some ideas. However, I just keep finding OTHER places that are not exactly suitable for tonight (because they're cafes/bakeries) that I REALLY want to check out in the future. So I'm putting some up here... and if you wanna' join me, please let me know!

Again, lists make things more official:

London Review Cake Shop
"A sun-filled space that uses Monmouth beans and sources cakes from small, independent producers. Books, newspapers and magazines are strewn about the room, and the communal table is perfect for literary chin-wagging."
14-16 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL
Tube: Holborn
Hours: M-Sat 10-6, Sun 12:30-5:30

Nordic Bakery
"The Scandinavian warehouse design is a change from the nu-jazz soundtracks and overstuffed sofas that threaten to eat you up elsewhere. Cappuccino here is strong and sturdy, much like the Ikea-esque cup it’s served in – and the cocoa dusted on top is smooth and bitter instead of Nestlé-sweet. You won’t find sugar on the table, nor will a sachet be presented on your serving tray: it’s a hint at coffee purism."
14 Golden Square, W1F 9JF
Tube: Picadilly Circus
Hours: M-F 8-8, Sat 11-7, Sun 11-6

Le Peche Mignon
"Frenchmen squeezed behind a tiny counter groove to disco beats as they make coffee and serve sandwiches, salades composées and baskets of pastries. There’s a modest communal table, plus a bit of garden furniture out back. If you come just for coffee at lunchtime, you may have to make way for dining customers. Still, this is an entertaining spot.">
6 Ronalds Rd, N5 1XH
Tube: Holloway Road
Hours: M-F 8-7, Sat 9-6, Sun 9-5

Climpson and Sons
"This minimal café gets mightily crowded at weekends thanks to the team’s well-made gibraltars, piccolos and ristrettos. Their quest for self-improvement is continuous, in the form of new latte art, or the investment in naked La Marzocco portafilters (which allow baristas to see whether or not they’re pulling the perfect shot). Such coffee geekiness is charming."
67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Tube: Bethnal Green
Hours: M-F 8-5, Sat 8:30-5, Sun 10-4

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Flightless Bird, American Mouth

My love for Iron & Wine has recently been rekindled.

I have to admit, I'm a bit guilty of letting bands that I love fall out of regular rotation whenever I'm in a specific state of mind... I was REALLY into Iron & Wine a few years ago, during an emotionally turbulent time when I craved either slow melodies and folky lyrics OR the fast I'm-angry-because-I'm-better-than-you stuff.

But I've been so stable lately that I just can't get enough of catchy pop tunes (like American Boy by Estelle.. OMG!) and my usual iPod staples like the Beatles, Oasis and Death Cab - my tried-and-true-good-for-any-mood music. Unfortunately, whenever this happens, nothing else seems to get past the sunshine radiating from my speakers... and beloved bands with abstract lyrics like Iron & Wine fall out of context.

But thanks to Twilight, (yeah, I know), I've recently remembered why Iron & Wine is so amazing. It's not just this song, and it's not just because of the story, but when I downloaded The Shepherd's Dog and listened to it intently while chain-smoking out my window, I was blown away by what is perhaps Iron & Wine's best album yet.

Sam Beam's voice is angelic... as usual. And the songs on here put folk classics like Simon & Garfunkel to shame. Turns out I've been missing out, because this album actually falls perfectly into my current context. To describe it in a few adjectives, I would use: hopeful, honest, artistic, tortured but optimistic, contemporary but traditional, beautiful and painful, all at the same time. Which means, I'm either projecting... or my theory about discovering the right music at the right time really does hold up.

I'm not a professional music critic, but I know what I like... and I ADORE this album. And so I've been listening to it non-stop. It's amazing... GET IT!!!

p.s. While you're at it, go see TWILIGHT!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Digital Love

I just about forgot to blog today. I was so distracted with internship applications and filing my taxes... that remembering to post an entry would have completely fallen through the cracks. Good looking out, Kimi! Thanks for the reminder. :)

But because I'm not done with my taxes (which I really SHOULD finish now since I'm so close), I'm going to do that first before I finish writing this. It's not cheating if I haven't actually gone to bed yet. On that note...


EDIT: 12:27 a.m.

Okay I'm back. Man, I LOVE the Internet. It's times like this when I just marvel at the convenience the digital age has brought to the world. I realize now how HUGELY and RIDICULOUSLY dependent I am on it, especially while living abroad.

If not for the Internet, how would I possibly have been able to file my taxes in less than an hour from the UK? How would I be able to search for American and British internships from the convenience of my bedroom, not to mention submit my applications, cover letters and resumes?

How would I be able to talk to my friends and family for FREE, as well as see their lovely faces in nearly real-time accuracy? How could I browse through a book store's entire collection whilst lying in my bed?

How would I possibly keep up to date with important news from all over the world, acquire new music instantly, do research, watch TV, BLOG, search for recipes, check the weather, confirm travel directions, book plane tickets and hotels, share photographs, manage my finances, order pizza, make restaurant reservations or ask my housemate if he's got any spare sugar without having to go knock on his door? It's absolutely amazing how many every-day things I do that are directly dependent on the availability of the Internet...

It might seem a little lame, but I've got a huge respect for it. Kudos to you, World Wide Web!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cold Hands (Warm Heart)

I am freezing. It seems Mr. Mak has made some type of mistake with the heaters. He was supposed to add hours, not take them away. This kind of neglect is just cruel... especially on snowy days when I'm actually feeling good about doing school work. I wish I had a space heater. Better yet, I wish I had a fireplace!

I've spent the last few hours trying to write and re-write cover letters to send with my CV for internships. But it's hard to concentrate when your hands are too cold to type without shivering. Brrrrrr. I've resorted to making a hot cup of tea every 30 minutes so I can keep the juices flowing.

So here I am, in my room, frozen to the core - despite the thermals, sweats, socks and fuggs. I think I might have to call it an early night, just so I can wrap myself in blankets. I swear it's like 40 degrees in here..

Oh well. Here's hoping for another Vampire Bond dream...

Monday, February 2, 2009

XXI: Angel in the Snow

I woke up this morning around 9 a.m. to the obnoxious sound of my phone ringing. Dammit. I was having a good dream. I was a Bond girl and my personal 007 was a vampire that looked kind of like Eddie. But he wasn't Eddie. He was Edward Cullen. But he was also James Bond. And we had just finished ridding the world of the EVIL French terrorist Michel - who had long blonde hair and a penguin tuxedo. He was trying to bomb Parliament and somehow, Bond and I outsmarted him and found ourselves going on a speedboat chase along the River Thames, where I pulled out my super-sleek handgun and lodged a bullet in his head. It was awesome.

Vampire Bond and I were walking through the lobby of Parliament (which I have no REAL idea what it looks like), and we were gazing out the window into a snowy evening. I was still wearing my long silver gown and stiletto heels (again, proof that it was a dream because I could NEVER pull that off in real life), him in a dashing pin-stripe suit. The image looked like the ending scene of a real Bond movie, the feeling of victory and heroism dominating the atmosphere. He had just put his arm around me and we were about to make our way home so he could change me into a vampire... when the thin cell phone in my silver clutch began to ring. Then I realized, it was my REAL cell phone that was ringing.

So I shook myself out of the dreamscape to answer the phone number that I didn't recognize. It was Simon from Specsavers and he was calling to let me know that the store would be closed today and that I would have to reschedule my 11:30 eye appointment. He said that the weather conditions were too bad for them to open the store today. Huh?

So I hung up with Simon, and stumbled to my bedroom window. I opened the curtain, and voila! A thick blanket of snow covered the street, houses and cars before me. GORGEOUS. My first instinct was to pile on the layers and go outside to play. But I thought it might be better to check the news first to see how London transport was going to deal with this craziness (since I technically had a class to attend tonight).

I was a little bit worried about going out in this flurry (the snow is STILL falling now as I type). But my anxieties were alleviated when I saw an e-mail from the professor David Cunningham.. the subject line read: "Class Cancelled: Monday 2nd February." Turns out my professor lives in an area of London where the buses were cancelled so there was no way for him to get to campus. A couple minutes later, I get another e-mail from the University that says ALL classes are cancelled and that even the library was going to be closed. This day just keeps getting better and better.

I watched the news for a while, and discovered that London has NO CLUE how to deal with this - they closed down most of the buses and some of the tube lines (I don't know why, because they're underground) and pretty much... the city was forced to come to a semi-stand-still because nobody knew how to get anywhere. My German housemate Anika thought it was pretty funny.. she's used to having snow in Berlin and was amused that the entire city of London didn't know how to deal with it.

"In Berlin, nobody would understand what all the fuss is about," she said...

Either way, I think it's pretty cool - because I've never lived in a city where school actually got CANCELLED because of snow. In fact, I bet everyone is at home sweating in the wind right now in Simi Valley.

And since all of London decided that today was going to be a full-fledged snow day, I figured I might as well spend it doing irresponsible things.. in other words, no school-related reading allowed.

I put on my thermals, my jeans, 3 pairs of socks, leather boots, 3 shirts, a black hoodie, a coat, a scarf and a hat... and headed out the front door with my camera to take a little walk. I didn't get very far though... because I found my other housemate Reza at the corner with his 6 full grocery bags placed carefully on the sidewalk, standing in concerned confusion as some hacidic Jews were trying to get their car to move. I asked him what was going on... and he said he wanted to help them.

See... Muslims and Jews can be friends! He DID help them, actually, and he even got the driver to smile at him - I don't think I've ever seen that before. Then... our other housemate Kim came walking down the street with grocery bags too... so we stopped there a while to enjoy the scenery. I helped them carry some bags back to the house...

Since school was cancelled for ALL of us, we figured we'd go out to our garden to play. So we created a new housemate... the androgynous snowman Charlie Mak:

All the news people say that things will be back to normal tomorrow... but at the rate the snow is coming down (like huge chunks of foam), I don't know how true that will be. Maybe I'll get lucky again and my Tuesday class will be cancelled too. It's just too beautiful outside to want to do anything productive...


EDIT 7:17 p.m.
How embarrassing... London should've been more prepared for this.

Wrapped Up In Books

Words are my favorite. If I wasn't so damn practical, I probably would've pursued a literature degree. I know I can write... it's just the brilliant idea hasn't manifested itself in my imagination yet. I have plenty of concepts for what I want my debut novel to be about, but it's going to take some time before it's exactly right. So while I continue to work on that life goal, I figure I might as well enjoy immersing myself in other peoples' brilliant ideas.

Maybe it's Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series that put me in this mood. Please reserve your guffaw for later... because I acknowledge that she's not the best writer, but she's a fantastic storyteller and the queen of beloved archetypes. And after finishing all four books in the course of two amazing weeks (I had to pace myself), I've again remembered why its so important to keep the imagination running.

Reading for pleasure keeps me sane... moreso than movies or television.. and almost as much as a good piece of music. Having said that, I don't think it's too lofty of a goal to read at least one new book each month for the rest of the year. And if I can squeeze in even more, then that's wonderful.

So I've compiled a list of books I would like to read before the end of the year. Of course, this is the basic list... because I come across new books I want to read all the time. But at least I have some I can start with:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
When I Was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten
Learning to Love You More by Miranda July
Naive. Super by Erlend Loe

Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman
The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau

Books to finish
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (last 50-something pages... but maybe I should start over... oh geez)

Books I want to re-read
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
1984 by George Orwell (I just can't get enough)

Lists make things more official. Here goes nothing...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself

I'm not the best when it comes to stamina. Some aspects of life are much easier to endure for the long-term than others..

Friendships, for example, come naturally to me because I thoroughly enjoy surrounding myself with good people. Being close to family is similar. So that kind of commitment is easy enough. Romantic relationships, although they are much more difficult to keep up with (because that type of need is still something I'm trying to work on), are also not THAT big of a commitment problem once I'm already in it. But the point is, for the most part, committing to other people seems to be much easier than committing to myself.

When it comes to other things... things that only require me to answer to myself... that's the hard part. Because who's gonna' be mad at me when I slip up? Nobody but myself, which maybe counter-intuitively, makes it less important than everything else.

But, there are things about me that annoy me, even if nobody else would care... Some examples?

The way I start reading some books and give up halfway through. I don't always do that. In fact, I get really really obsessed with some books. BUT, I'm talking about the ones that I always mean to read... but end up letting them collect dust on my shelf. Then years will go by... and I just end up re-reading Harry Potter five or six more times instead of ever trying to finish. At this point, I'll probably end up re-reading the entire Twilight series again before I ever finish the last 50 pages of Atlas Shrugged.

Then, there's the way I let random things just pile up in my drawers.. because that's much easier than continually sorting through what can be thrown away.

There's also my severe procrastination in doing things to enhance my resume. I guess my work experience is good enough to get me a good-enough job. But I should be more proactive with my future. I think I'm using school as an excuse to be lazy, so I can press pause on the real world once again. There's a reason it took me 8 years to get my b.a., and it's not just because I'm a single mom.

Basically, my main problem is about NOT finishing things I've started.
I started taking jazz piano lessons once... and never followed through again.
I can't keep a job for more than a year on average without getting severely bored. Becky likes to call it serial-jobbing.
I take up hobbies that I NEVER become an expert at... i.e., photography, culinary arts, web zines, knitting & crocheting, painting, song-writing, sewing, scrap-booking, etc. (Jack of all trades but a master of none)
I joined a gym... but could never bring myself to go regularly except for short periods of 2 or 3 months at most when I'm feeling fat. Not so much unhealthy, but fat.
I decide to move to London for a year... but will probably end up coming back 3 months early because loneliness is my most debilitating disease.

I desire a lot... but usually don't endure enough to get what I want completely. So I find myself in an interesting predicament. I'm here to get my master's degree - and I know I'll get it (because I'm not doing it solely for myself). But since I'm basically resolving to be a better person, I want to learn how to endure... not just for other people, but for myself.

Which brings me to one little thing that I've committed myself to doing. I copied Liana by joining National Blog Posting Month- otherwise known as NaBloPoMo (which she did for November of 2008), except I'm doing it for the month of February. I have to post a blog entry every day for the entire month. Coincidentally, the theme for February 2009 is "want."

Sounds simple enough... this will be my personal goal for starting a life of endurance. One small step towards better habits... I already know it'll be a bit of a challenge (since I'll be away from my computer for the entirety of Valentine's Day weekend), but I'll figure out how to deal with that when I get to it.

And so it begins...