Friday, August 27, 2010

‘From the Depths’

I'm in a bakery right now, the kind that will probably lead to my eventual death by pastries. These places are EVERYWHERE and I just want to sit in all of them and eat everything. It's been raining the last three days nonstop therefore today I had to get out of the house. So here I am, in Queens Bakery on Windmill Road, using the internet and about to get serious about a few things.

What am I getting serious about? Nicole's book. She will be here in about two weeks for our trip to Wales, so I need to finish reading it. I'm about halfway through it, but I had to put it aside for a few days. Every time I read this book (all two times) I just end up getting jealous that I did not think of it first. It's such a great story, just wait world. You will all get a chance to read it one day. I'm 100% sure of it.

Dragon guarding the city

What else am I getting serious about? Planning Nicole's trip. Not that I was not serious about it before (and about reading her book), I've just been sort of rainy-day lazy if you know what I mean. But today is beautiful, so things are happening. A friend and I decided this morning that today was going to be amazing, and so it has.
Something I want. bad.

So I've been here three weeks now. The longest I've ever been out of the country. It doesn't seem like I've been gone that long at all. I guess because when you are on vacation you are always running around like a crazy person trying to fit in everything you want to see and do while right now I know I have time, so I've been taking it easy. That and I'm waiting for my Brookes ID to get discounts and special things, which I still won't get for weeks. My Mountaineer ID will only get me so far. Thank you WVU for not putting expiration dates on student IDs!

Wall art in my bedroom.

Completely unrelated topic; I saw a guy who looked just like Gerard Depardieu the other day. Rose and I have been working on this mega craft project for the last few weeks and we needed some supplies. More on the mega craft project at a later date, like if we ever finish. Anyway, she took me to this place that is essentially a junk shop, but more organized. It's an art major's dream in there, scraps of fabric, rolls of paper, random containers, free books (mostly in other languages), balls of yarn, old calendars, scraps of just about everything you would ever need for any project. We were there for paint. The best part about this place is that you get tons of stuff for very little money. We got two cans of paint, a bunch of old calendars, a stack of books and some other little things for two pounds.

Our clothes line.

So anyway, in the paint section there was this guy. Really the only thing that was in any way Gerard Depardieu about him was his nose. It was the exact same weird shaped nose. I went through a major Depardieu phase in college, so I know it well. I swear they could have been related. This guy did not talk much, was definitely not French and had curly black hair. But I'm telling you, he had the exact same nose. I'm not sure why I would think that anyone would care about this, but that's ok. It's my blog, so you will just have to deal with my ramblings.

One night's activities.

Speaking of famous people, I did see a real famous person on Monday. Jen told me that Rupert Grint, or I should say Ron Weasley, was going to be talking about a new movie at the apple store in London. SO I hopped on a bus to the city with one of Jen's friends in OX and away we went! It was pretty cool, we were all sitting around this little stage and he answered questions from the interviewer and the crowed. It was all recorded for a pod cast, so I'll probably be on that. COOL. He is so adorable.


Last exciting thing; Mockingjay came out on Wednesday! The last book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I ran down to the city to Blackwells on Wednesday, beating the rain on the way down only to find that Blackwells, THE famous Blackwells bookstore, had not gotten their shipment in yet. The guy told me to come back later in the day and they would probably have it. LATER IN THE DAY??? That's like a store not having Harry Potter at midnight and telling the line of people to come back the next day! Not happening. So you know what I did Blackwells?? I went down the street to Waterstone and got it there. How's that feel?

So at that point it had started to rain, but I was so happy about having my book that it did not even matter. I read the first three chapters in a coffee shop to wait out the rain, but when it was apparent it was not going to stop I went home and read 100 pages. It rained the next day, ALL day, so I literally sat in my room from about 11am to 5 reading and finished it with enough time left in the day to go downstairs and draw self portraits with my house mates. So needless to say, yesterday was a good day.

Looks just like me!

So anyway, Mockingjay was really intense and a major downer. But the ending was beautiful. Those books really opened things up to me, things I never thought you could put in YA stories. I'm sure those books are banned somewhere, probably in the USA, but that's how you know it's good. I won't say much else about the story because I don't want to ruin it for everyone. Beautiful can be good and bad, so don't try to tell me I gave anything away. Because trust me, I haven't.

Anything else? Well I saw someone wearing an Eastern Michigan t-shirt just a second ago out the window, and the other day I saw some little boy wearing a Rutgers shirt. That's sort of weird. I guess I better crack out my WVU garb.

So that's about it. For now.


POST SCRIPT: I found an old copy of De Profundis by Oscar Wilde, a 50,000 word letter he wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas while he was in prison. It's all about his imprisonment and what it was doing to him mentally and physically. Great find. I would recommend telling yourself every morning that your day is going to be amazing. It works.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The track 'Samwise the Brave' on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack always makes me sad. But not sad-sad, more like happy-sad or nostalgic-sad or something. It came on my i-pod the other day while I was on my way to Brookes to meet Jen and I was suddenly walking down my trashy alley on the way to class in Morgantown instead of here. Except it's about 69 degrees here and about to rain and looks like fall half the time. If I really had been walking in Morgantown in August I'd be wearing as little as I could get away with, hating life with at least three, million page anthologies stuffed into my bag. Well, I guess not in August, but whatever. That's not the point. The point is that it's in the 90s back in Virginia and I love Oxford August.

Still have not figured out how I feel. I guess it does not really matter in the long run. Things are going to happen no matter how I feel. I wandered around the city the other day on my own. It was perfect. I kept getting lost, but right before I could be concerned about it I would turn a corner and find something else awesome and interesting and not even care where I was. I am going to totally own this city before long. Just watch.

I'm sitting in the main buildings right now (or I was when I originally wrote this mess) on campus, waiting for the rain to stop and scribbling in my falling apart moleskin (should really break out the new one soon). Everyone who passes by has one pant leg tucked into their socks. By everyone I mean like three people. I miss my bike. Once I stop being a big chicken about the roads being backward, I'm so buying one.

If anyone has been wondering what I've been doing, the answer would be nothing (which seems to be what this blog is about as well). I've walked a lot, taken lots of pictures and watched Friends with my house mates. Rose has a box set of all the seasons. I've also contemplated learning to cook so I can fit into my household. Rose is super sweet and has cooked for me (I've helped) and I want to eventually return the favor. Can't be that hard can it? Just put a bunch of stuff in a pan and stir it around, see if it tastes good. Easy.

Yesterday I wandered around on my own again. I was on a buy-some-boots mission, but I failed. There were just too many distractions. When I had not even gotten off my own road a hearse drove by with huge windows on the side so you could clearly see the flower covered coffin inside. It took me by surprise for some reason. It also sort of set the tone for the day, but not in as negative way as you would think. I don't know what is more creepy, the fact that I love cemeteries so much or how easily I tend to stumble upon them without meaning to. I just kept finding them yesterday, which was just fine by me. In one there was this black and white cat that gave me the evilest look I've ever received from a cat. I know cats are supposedly the guardians of the dead and all, but I was not even doing anything. I was just walking. I think I need to make some friends.

What is the point of all this you ask? There is one, I swear. The point is that although I'm still amazed to be here, the unrealness has worn off. This is a place just like home was a place. All these things I've been doing are in many ways the exact same things I did at home. I feel like I've adapted to this move really well. Besides the fact that my phone has stopped ringing and all my friends in the world but one are only accessible through my computer, I could be anywhere. This is not really coming out the way it sounds in my head, and by that I mean it makes no sense. Let me try again. Everything here is really easy. It's easy to get around, easy to find things, easy to figure things out. The move has been relatively easy, except for the heavy bags. But all in all, no problem. So either the UK is just an easy place to live or I just rule at this game. I think it's a little of both. That being said, I'll probably mess something up soon. Stay tuned for Maria's massive mess up. Should be pretty funny.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My body hurts.

(side note; this was all more relevant last week, I'm just now getting to write about it. Also, the events in this blog are probably out of order. Hope you don't mind.)

My arms are sore: Never go to the airport without knowing how much your bags weigh. I did that. It was a bad idea. My suit case was seventeen pounds over the limit and my other one was 2 pounds over. They were going to make me pay $400 to check my overweight bags, and I almost did it. However, lucky for me (in a way) the lady checking me in did not want me to pay that much. She left and came back with this formless black bag and told me to repack, weigh them again and just pay for a third bag. So instead of paying $400 I only had to pay $200 (only) for checking two extra bags on an international flight. So here's why my arms hurt. The entire reason I tried to only bring two suitcases and a backpack is that I cannot carry three suitcases and a backpack on my own. And this bag, the new bag I had to buy to save me from that outrageous fee, is the worst bag in creation. The bag that God forgot. I can't even call it a duffle because duffle bags are incredibly useful and this bag was the opposite of useful. Jen picked me up from the airport in London and even with her help it was a struggle getting my stupid bag to her flat. I felt like my arms were being ripped from their sockets as I pulled my wheelie suitcase behind me with the stupid bag teetering on top. And by teetering I mean falling off every five seconds and capsizing the entire caravan.

My toes hurt: Another thing you should never do is to wear brand new shoes to the airport. What's wrong with me? I've only flown about 70 million times; I think I should know by now how to dress. But that was the problem, I was wearing a dress. I decided for some reason that this time, I wanted to dress nice for the plane instead of wearing my usual sweat pants (which I can't say here because 'pants' mean 'underwear.' Problem) and some sort of worn in clogs. I wanted to greet England looking nice, even though I knew I would be getting in super late and no one but Jen would be seeing me anyway. So, I wore these nice black shoes that I had never worn before, and they hurt. All the way to Jen's they were just sore, but then I decided it was a good idea to wear them without any sort of socks later the next day when we went in search of a pub. Within about ten minutes the tops of one toe on each foot had a gaping hole in it. They went right past blister to hole. So now I've got these holes to deal with which is really cramping my style.

My legs both hate and love me: I have walked more in the last week than I've walked in the past year of my life. I spent two and a half days with Jen in London and all we did was walk. I've been to London before, so I've seen all the major things. We walked places I've never been, places with less tourists and more real Londoners. We walked and talked, no agenda, nowhere we needed to be or wanted to get to. It was fantastic. That's the sort of thing I can usually only do on my own, but Jen gets it. At first my legs hated me, but then they remembered how much they like walking. All I ever did last year was drive to work and then drive back. Sure, I was on my feet all day long at work, but that's not the same. This was real walking. I love walking.

My feelings were hurt at the airport: Ok, so that's a bit of a stretch. I'm trying really hard to keep with the theme of this blog, but I think I'm just about out of things that hurt. To say that my feelings were hurt is not accurate; it takes more than rudeness to hurt my feelings. I worked at a beer joint for a year; my rudeness tolerance is way above average. So anyway, I got in the student visa line, because that's where I was told to be, but it turns out that was wrong as well. Now, I knew I was getting to the UK early, but for some reason I did not think it would be a problem. My student visa kicks in on the 18th of August and I got there on the 3rd. So when I got up to the guy with the stamp I so desperately wanted, he looks at my visa and says "how do you expect me to stamp this?" and gives me the meanest look. There is always a nice way to say things, and that was just not it. He went on to explain that he would have to stamp my visa with a visitor stamp (he broke it down as if he were talking to a child, showing me both stamps and saying 'now this is the one I'm giving you, and this is the one you need. Unnecessary) and told me that in order to activate my student visa, I am going to have to leave the UK and come back after the 18th. At first I freaked out thinking that I had to go all the way home and come back, but not so, I just have to leave the UK. So sometime this month I'm going to have to go somewhere, anywhere, except England, Wales or Scotland, and then come back. If anyone has any recommendations for a good place to spend a day that won't cost me a ton of money, I'm all ears.

My throat hurts: At first this was because of the talking. A handful of my loyal readers know about this problem I have. In general I'm a pretty quite person, soft spoken till you get to know me. Not to say that I don't have things to say, I just tend to do more listening than talking most of the time. So anytime I see someone I have not seen in a while, I usually talk so much that it makes my throat hurt. It used to always happen on the car ride form Morgantown to Lovettsville when my parents had to come pick me up from school for breaks and then happen again when I saw my friends. Talking makes my throat hurt. Weird, I know. So anyway, my first night in London, after getting to Jen's flat around midnight, we stayed up till five am talking about everything and anything. I have not seen her since New Years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Then we spent the next four days doing the same thing, talking all day and into the wee hours of the morning. So first my throat hurt from all the talking. Then I got a cold. I was not going to mention the cold because I did not want my parents or grandparents to get all worried about poor sick Maria in a foreign country, but I feel tons better now, so it's all good. It's a lot colder here than it was at home, I went from 90 degree summer to this weird place where it can go from the 70s and sunny to 50s and downpour in a matter of hours. When it's nice, it's NICE, but when it's bad weather, it's awful. So my first few days in Oxford were spent sick. Once Jen left me on Sunday I lost all motivation to leave the house and just wanted to sleep all day. I have ventured out with my flat mates a bit to buy food and such, but not properly explored my neighborhood on my own yet. Today may be that day. So in response to everyone who wants to know what I've been up to, the answer is nothing much. At least the last few days anyway.

Ok, so I'm out of things that hurt. I've almost hit the one thousand fifty word mark on this blog, so for those of you still with me, thanks bud. Overall impression of Oxford; unreal. I have already partied at a club in the City Centre, had drinks in an old church with gigantic columns out front, hung out in The Eagle and the Child, the pub where C.S. Lewis and Tolkien used to hang out and swap work, had a mini tour of Brookes's English department and Art department, been asked if I was in a Sorority in college since the movies make it seem like all American's are in Frats and the like, attended a Barbeque at my own house while listening to The Beatles and drank wine in a close vicinity to Phillip Pullman. No, did not talk to him, but he was there, and at one point he was standing right behind me. It was a book release party in THE Blackwells Bookstore for a graphic novel published by David Fickling Books (my new favorite publishing house, David Fickling is the coolest guy ever) who published Pullman's 'Once Upon a Time in the North.' Ironically that is the book I bought in Blackwells last summer when I was in Oxford for a day with the family. So last summer I was in Blackwells freaking out to be in Oxford for a day and now here I am, living in Oxford, attending the same event as Phillip Pullman. Did I mention he is a fellow of the Brookes Creative Writing department? I think I may have.

So there, I've finally blogged. I've officially been here a week. It does not seem like it. I've having a hard time figuring out how I feel about being here as well. I kept trying to explain it to Jen, but I would only get out one poorly worded and nonsensical sentence before I gave up. So I guess more about that later. If I ever figure it out that is.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

20 things I learned whilst being out of school.

1. How to use the word ‘whilst’ in a sentence. Even though I know how, I think the title of this blog sounds rather awkward. I’ll work on it.

2. Some battles are not worth fighting. Analyze that however you want.

3. The smell of warm tazikie sauce fresh out of the dishwasher is vomit inducing.

4. Children = cheerios, raisns and goldfish. Three reasons you should never take them to a restaurant if they are too young to behave, and three reasons I don’t want any. Children that is. I love me some goldfish.

5. How to talk to people. I can do it now. Still not very well, but much better than this time last year. I can talk to strangers with ease (although I know when not to, mother. I saw ‘Taken’), keep up with small talk that I hate so much and even sometimes, when the spirit moves me, enjoy it a little.

6. That being said, I also learned that I have ‘shy’ written all over my face. I was told this by a table full of psychiatrists, so I’m inclined to believe it. However the one man of the group also told me that he could get any women he wanted, be it a 23 year old or a 40 year old (he was about 50 I’d say), so maybe not. I sweetly told him that I’m 23 and he can’t have me, but I think he was either too drunk or full of himself to notice I was being perfectly serious and possibly a little rude.

7. Stephen King is rad. Like for real, he’s totally rad. I’ve only read one and a half of his books, and I think I’m a fan already. Not only is he an extremely eloquent writer even when talking on the subject of blood suckers in the night, but he seems like a truly interesting person. I’m also told that he is the cool kind of millionaire who builds libraries and funds youth sports teams. That’s the type I’m looking forward to being one day. In my dreams anyway.

8. Germans are close talkers. This is not necessarily a bad thing per say, just something I noticed.

9. Useless German phrases. I can say ‘sweetheart’, ‘what’s up’ and ‘you are so boring’ in German, but not much else. Oh, also such every day sayings as ‘cheers’ and ‘you are so mean.’ I would type them out to prove I learned these things, but let’s face it, if I can’t spell in English, do you really think I can spell in German? Our sources say definitely not.

10. How to spell ‘definitely.’ For years I would write ‘defiantly’ instead of ‘definitely’ but I think I have it figured out at last. Look out GREs! Here I come! OH wait, that’s about definitions, my bad.

11. Managing a restaurant is hard. It really is. And what I was doing was not nearly as stressful as what other people around me were doing, I had it easy. I will never eat at a restaurant again without thinking about if they are running their dishwasher the proper amount of times per hour or where they get their sanitizer solution or if the Asian places in the Mall food court really check their meat temperatures or if they just cook it till it looks done.

12. Girls are better than boys. Don’t bother arguing with me, I know I’m right and I have lots of evidence to back it up. Also don’t get me wrong, I still love the boys, I’ve just learned where their minds usually are and suddenly years of not understanding their behavior just fell into place.

13. I have the best grandparents ever. I did not actually learn this; I’ve always known it, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

14. I’m braver than I thought I was. I’ve stood up for myself more this year than I ever wanted to, and it actually feels good. So long pushover Maria!

15. I’ve not seen a truly good movie in a long time, then came ‘Inception.’ I guess the thing I learned here was that I had lowered my standards of what a good movie was in my mind. But the blinders are off! No-gravity fight scenes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Heath Ledger smile and dreams inside of dreams have cleared my vision and upped my standards once more! Down with ‘Avitar,’ long live Christopher Nolan.

16. The fates hate me. I hope they are kinder in the future.

17. Online dating is weird. There, I admit it, I tried it out. Please don’t judge me, I was curious. A lot of my close friends have had a lot of fun with it, so I gave it a try. I think the only way to accurately sum it up is that it’s weird. It’s not good or bad for me, just strange. I know a few people who have actually found the loves of their lives on and Okcupid, so who am I to discount it completely? Whatever works for you is fine by me.

18. Packing for a year in another country is near impossible. In case you were wondering.

19. Doing NanoWrimo in November is really hard when I do not live in the same house as Nicole Bartow. This will be remedied when I get back from my European adventure.

20. School is better than working. SO much better. One of my favorite teachers in college warned me that taking a year and then going back to school would make me really miss having money, but I don’t see that happening. I got a booklet from my new English department in the mail today with classes I can take and details about my program and I nearly laughed out loud with excitement. I love love love love love love school.

This year has been strange to say the least. I’ve meet a million (give or take) interesting new people, learned far more than 20 things about life in general, vastly improved my ability to write shortly and sweetly (which does not in any way apply to this blog) and had a great time. I went to the German Army Oktoberfest, got to see the DC 101 building and watch Eliot in the Morning happen, discovered many fun wineries in the area and developed a taste for red wine, saw a stretch limo parallel park, had a Wisconsin adventure, watched all of Firefly and Serenity in a matter of three days, ate my weight in French fries and falafel, bought my first and only pair of high heels, co-founded my own production company (see Catfish Productions on facebook for more information) and dyed my hair pink during the snow storm of the century. I saw Star Wars in Concert, snow drifts as tall as houses and a tree fall on a car during a bad storm. My job destroyed four pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, one of my favorite skirts and three pairs of tennis shoes. To top it all off, this week I got to see my brother’s band Hold Tight! play a show in Richmond, went on the tallest roller coasters in Kings Dominion with my cousins and smoked a Cuban cigar with a new friend at my going away party. Things have been interesting.

Tomorrow at the crack of crack I’m hopping on a plane to take me to London, England where I will be picked up by my amazing friend Jen and shown the sights before heading to my new home in Oxford. I’m not going to get all sappy and talk about all the amazing new friends I made this year and how, along with all the old consistent ones, I’m going to miss them like I’ll miss ice water and one dollar bills. I’m just not. I’ll be back in 4.5 months anyway for Christmas, no need to be sad at all.

So long USA, it’s been swell. See ya on the flip side,


ps. sorry about the spacing and the unreadability of this blog post. That's another thing I learned, blogger is annoying to use.