raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
Hullo, hullo. I am so tired that once I've finished posting this I'm going to take a bath and then I'm going to go to bed. At 9pm. On a Saturday night. I am the coolest person you know, admit it. But I just got back from New York! And it was amazing, and totally worth how rotten I feel now, because, omg, so amazing.

The five-hour bus-ride down was not quite so amazing - I got up at the crack of dawn and realised I had the wrong ticket, which was incredibly soothing to discover ten minutes before the bus left, yes - but I got there in the end and washed up at Port Authority feeling like a line from a Pogues song, you know, hand in hand on Broadway like the first men on the moon. I am such a tourist. I try not to look up at the buildings in case I get pickpocketed or whatever, but I want to. I wandered uptown and met [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat and [livejournal.com profile] macadamanaity, and it was a lovely warm afternoon, so we wandered. We wandered past people dressed as Elmo and the Cookie Monster - and took pictures with them, because again, so cool - and past lots of people dressed as footballers handing out chocolate. And eventually we wandered to a small Italian place, sat on the terrace amidst hanging baskets and drank wine and talked about Paul Gross and William Shatner. And climatic culture shock, and Doctor Who, and quite a few other things. Look, there was wine. This is a pertinent fact.

And then [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay arrived, and we drank quite a bit more wine - these things are not related - and when everything was starting to get dark and well-mellowed, set off to the theatre.

Angels in America, part II )

Afterwards we wandered into the night and into a cocktail bar, which was rosy-red and surprisingly comfortable - and may I say, yet again, how nice it is not to have to go to the bar for drinks! - and Leigh had her very first martini, and Sara and I drank the strongest-ever gin & tonics, and then we kind of sort of retreated into a vague drunken haze for the rest of the evening. (Meredith had been, by this point, awake for twenty-four hours. I was seriously impressed that she was still standing up.) This after realising with great and epic profundity that we've known each other nearly nine years, what is that about, and now I am sober and thinking about it, have done OMG in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Oxford, Berlin and now New York again. (This one's the Visit of ZOMG. No points for guessing why.)

I ended up sprawled on Sara's couch watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and drinking more gin (me) rum (Sara) and gin & rum (Leigh), and also Leigh had lent me The Invention of Love, warning me that a) it would make me homesick and b) it has a CORE OF UNSPOKEN ANGUISH, and I was in the sort of mood where reading said anguish out loud seems like a very good idea. (She also noted that she and Sara are the only two people in the world to have written The Invention of Love-derived fanfiction; my response was, "Why do I know both of you?") So I lay there and read aloud, and drank gin and ginger ale, and quite honestly that's the happiest I've been since I came to this country.

It may as well be noted that the main reason there is a collective memory of this is because Leigh wrote an LJ entry about it. It ends, literary-like, and entirely uncharacteristically, with me saying "nox est perpetua", and the party presumably retreating to find their better selves in bed. I really, really wish my brain would provide an explanation for this.

Nox non est perpetua, ohmygod. I mean, the sun came out. It was morning. Sara is a good human being and poured coffee in my general direction; I teased the cat until I was awake. And then we all woke up properly at the prospect of brunch, in a cute little place somewhere near Columbia, that did eggs benedict and vast quantities of chips before lunchtime. And then I had to go, and for all the five hours back alternately napped and read The Invention of Love and - Leigh, you were right - was entirely too delighted by jokes about Jowett, and changing trains at Didcot, and wait in delicious anticipation for the CORE OF UNSPOKEN ANGUISH.

I am so tired. I had a lovely time! Long past time for bed.
raven: (misc - pride)
So, there was Wednesday morning, almost late enough to be Wednesday afternoon, when I had spent most of the hours previously in bed and it was still raining outside because in Oxford it has done nothing but rain for the last five hundred years and then [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong rang to say results were up and there was a mixture of flailing and extreme do-not-want; and then there was an evening, sometime, in a café in the late-evening sunshine with a man in the background playing the glockenspiel, in San Francisco, and from my increasingly loopy perspective, this was all the same day.

Um. It took a very very long time for me to get here. I left Oxford at half three in the morning, having not really slept for quite a while - I had a couple of hours' worth of nap, and then [livejournal.com profile] shimgray came down with me to Gloucester Green, treating me to his crackpots-and-these-women face, special sleep-deprived Extended Edition, and then it was four o'clock and the sun wasn't quite rising and I was gone. Heathrow was an education. I was random-checked twice in a couple of hours - first by an army of beagles, and then when I was so close to actually getting on the plane I could see it, they stopped me a few steps away and made me turn out my bag. Hurrah. Etc.

In Detroit, I was fingerprinted prodigiously, and the immigration official asked me what I was doing in the States. Visiting a friend, I said. "How do you even know someone in San Francisco?" he asked.

Deep sigh, take a deep breath, do not say to the man from the US Department of Homeland Security (urgh), "The Internet."

"We were at Oxford together," I said, after a while. But, I don't know, why shouldn't I know someone in San Francisco? Why shouldn't I come and visit her? Nowhere, I think, is it more evident how politically strange this country is than the long queues at immigration. People are tired and miserable and cranky and children are crying and everyone is being barked at by officials to shut up and stand in straight lines, and then after they've done this for an hour, you are asked intrusive questions and treated as though you are a criminal. Maybe it's different for white people, I don't know, but I don't think so. It's all homogenous and strange. And then again, at customs, all over again.

And then the actual airport, once I got there, was quite spectacularly unexciting - for one thing, there was no food. One would think that an international airport would have, I don't know, eating establishments. (On the flight, they had served me plastic-inna-sauce and runner beans.) But, no. There were people selling food with beef in it, and places where you could go if you wanted to drown yourself in salad cream, but nowhere where I could buy something even remotely appetising. So I sat around and was sleep-deprived for three hours, and then onwards.

I am conditioned, I think, to believe that domestic flights are short hops. (Manchester to Heathrow, thirty-five minutes, for example.) This flight, however, was nearly five hours long. It was astonishingly bad - no food, no food - and I was something of a wreck by the time arrived. But [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay came running up to me in baggage claim and it was so utterly wonderful to see her. We retrieved my luggage and proceeded to fail at mass transit. It was just utterly great. And the sun was shining! There is sun! It's not actually hotter here than it would be on one of the hottest days at home, but I've been rained on for a week and it's just lovely, warm but not still with the air all laced with sea breezes and lovely, lovely. (I saw the Pacific for the first time in years on descent. It was a joy.) And yes, we failed at mass transit! And saw layers of fog with more sun underneath them descending as we came into the city. And geeked about Shakespeare and underground train systems. And then real food, and live music featuring a glockenspiel. And Leigh produced a bottle of champagne like well-aerated magic from the fridge and we toasted each other and how we have both, after all this time, survived higher education. And the sky stays bright late, but I had been awake for nearly thirty-six hours and oh, sleep, sleep is so good.

This morning, I have had breakfast, I have had a shower, I have slept for nearly twelve hours and thanks to the wonders of modern time zones, it isn't four o'clock in the afternoon! I look, feel and smell human again. Leigh has gone to work for today, and I have a familial duty to discharge; much as I am disinclined to spend much time around my family at the moment, I have an uncle I must see today because, well, I am here. It might well be fun, I should not be uncharitable. In the meantime I am pottering quietly about, marvelling at being six thousand miles from home and sitting next to a view for which the focal point is a rainbow flag. I made it! And Leigh and I have an entire week together in which to wreak glorious havoc on a third city.

Thank you all for the comments you left on my last post, they're very much appreciated. I'm probably a little difficult to contact this week, but should anybody want me for anything, email is fine.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (xf - you are here)
Yesterday, on a train from London Paddington into Oxford, I spotted a World War Two pillbox in a field. There are actually two of them; they were designed to be anti-tank defences by the railway line against potential advancing forces up the Thames valley, and after sixty years with no invasion, are getting a little mouldering and decrepit. One might quite reasonably ask why I know so much about one particular WW2 pillbox in one particular field, to which the answer is, well, I had lunch in it a couple of weeks ago. As in, perched on the edge of it, looked out over the field and ate red pesto with ham rolls. It was a strange and idyllic moment.

It's probably worth noting that usually, on a visit of OMG, I am in a foreign city where I barely/don't speak the language, having trouble with currency, public transport and my own shoelaces, and I wash up on a distant shore and [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 and/or [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat takes me gently by the hand and leads me to salvation, or at least saves me from liver as a foodstuff and thirty-foot inflatable Komodo dragons.[1]

For this reason - and also the reason wherein my visits of OMG are getting asymptotic, i.e., they seem to be going 1, 1.5. 1.75. 1.875, etc. - I am disinclined to actually call this one a Visit of OMG. [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat was visiting me in my home city, where I speak the vernacular, understand the peculiarities of the inhabitants and don't get lost on public transport. Instead, we ended up going on a twelve-mile walk across the Oxford countryside, armed with pesto, ginger cake and Three Men In A Boat. At the end of February, we went on an eight-mile walk to Abingdon down the Thames path, which was lovely - although, we did go, buy pick 'n' mix and get the bus back, which no one found strange - and this was the next leg of the journey down the Thames, from Abingdon to Clifton Hampden and back via Nuneham Courtenay. This is a journey well-documented in Three Men In A Boat, which is, for those unfortunates who have never been exposed to it, a minor Victorian travelogue about three men (and their dog, Montmorency) taking the journey up from London to Oxford in a skiff, meeting along the way with such disasters as locks, ukeleles, Hampton Court Maze, Montmorency getting into fourteen fights, and methylated spirit cake. It is possibly my most favourite book. So I took it along, and, sat on a bridge somewhere near Culham, read out the bits that pertained to the trip we were making - "Abingdon is a typical country town of the smaller order - quiet, eminently respectable, clean, and desperately dull" and we did indeed go to the pub recommended in Clifton Hampden, the Barley Mow.

("The heroine of a modern novel is always "divinely tall," and she is ever "drawing herself up to her full height." At the "Barley Mow" she would bump her head against the ceiling each time she did this." We tried this. I am short. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and [livejournal.com profile] luminometrice are not. It was fun.)

The book also approves of Nuneham Courtenay, and so did we, but I think when Jerome was writing, it was perhaps unlikely that a) the house was owned by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University or b) you had to walk three quarters of a mile down an A-road with no pavements to get there. Just a supposition. But still, it was a lovely day. It's very easy to forget, living where I do, that the English countryside is all laid out there and beautiful, but nicely tame with pubs along the way, and I've started to realise lately how important the river is. The Thames in Oxford is known as the Isis and is rarely deep enough to drown in - that is, it's not like the sea, it's not like the way the landscape defines every feature of where my parents live up north - but regardless, it shapes the way people live without their particularly noticing. There are, for example, only two bridges crossing the river in the centre of Oxford, which means you have to take significant detours whenever you want to go anywhere not in the vicinity of one of them, and it is extraordinary how you can just fall in to taking the landscape as an endogenous variable. I'm not sure how much sense that makes, but I'm very keen on this motif, in literature and real life, of people and their thought processes being made and constituted by their environment. It's interesting.

But I digress. The day was a lovely one, and we ended up crossing fields full of pylons and murderous bovines, and also singing "Jerusalem", because it seemed appropriate when observing our green and pleasant land from such close quarters. That said, after twelve miles, [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat and I spent the rest of her visit eating pizza and watching DVDs. My poor feet.

And so on, and so on. The next thing on the list - the list in my kitchen, "Things to do when freeeeee!", made while we were all doing Finals and fantasising about free time - was "go strawberry-picking at Stanton St. John!" So we did that. I borrowed [livejournal.com profile] magic_doors' bike, and had a wonderful time flitting around the city on a bicycle, because I've never done it here before, and then off we went on a glorious sunny morning to pick-your-own strawberries. I hadn't done it since I was very young; [livejournal.com profile] chiasmata had never done it; [livejournal.com profile] shimgray had done it as a small child picking raspberries. The three of us sat in the straw surrounded by the plants with a can of whipped cream and picked all the berries in sight. Idyllic, lovely, decadence, followed by stir-fry, Pimms and Doctor Who in the evening.

That was Saturday of eighth week, the last day of full term, my last day as an Oxford undergraduate. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and I went home in the very last of the daylight, so the sky was black at the zenith but fading down towards the edges, and it was about half past ten as we crossed Donnington Bridge. The water below was black and slow-moving but not still, and reflective, showing us the sunset and clouds, fluffy and underlit with red and pink and purple, and you could see the movement of the currents downsteam towards London. We stood there for a few minutes watching it get softer, darker, and down on the bank below I saw a solitary flash, probably another bicycle light, probably someone else, like us, on their way home.

And that was the beginning of the end. On Monday [livejournal.com profile] slasheuse went away, having spent the evening previously in G&D's making lists of musicals. Once we got to "Song of the South", we started making lists of things that are racist. "Apartheid. Sainsbury's "Ethnic Foods" section. White privilege. Flesh-coloured plasters. Ooh, racism, that's quite racist, isn't it?" And there was a lot of giggling, but a little sharp-edged, because it's the summer and everyone is going away.

So am I, pretty soon. I was in London with [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong and [livejournal.com profile] zed92uk a couple of days ago; we went book shopping (I am now the proud owner of an anthology entitled "Alien Sex", for which some of the rejected titles were "Interstellarcourse", "Love is a Many-Tentacled Thing", and "Really Fucking Weird"); then Victory Dildo shopping (also on the list in the kitchen, but only mentally; we went to Sh! in Shoreditch and looked at vibrators, and I didn't buy anything because I will be in San Francisco in three weeks); dropped in at Villa Straylight (where the inhabitants were very sweet and welcoming and approving of alien sex, and fed us tea, and [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet did an adorable doodle of me and my new hair) and, finally, went to see the Indelicates play in Islington. Which was great, great fun - I am a perfect child about live music, I love it with a kind of eyes-screwed-up intensity - and they played "Sixteen" and "Fun is for the Feeble-Minded" and "Our Daughters...", but not, alas, "...If Jeff Buckley Had Lived", which iTunes tells me I have now listened to ninety-two times. It was nice to be out of Oxford, actually - the first time I had been for about three months, barring twelve-mile walks across the countryside - and I am here again only for a couple of days, just for the St. John's Ball tonight, packing and Doctor Who tomorrow, and Sunday, home.

Last night, sitting in the kitchen, [livejournal.com profile] triptogenetica spotted two lights in the sky. I started thinking about UFO sightings, because really, they looked like nothing I'd ever seen, and I'd spent the day reading about aliens. But he figured it out: fire-balloons. Lightweight frames covered with paper and holding a flaming wick inside. As we watchd, one of them caught fire properly and combusted, dropping out of the sky above New College. Again, a small moment of unexpected beauty.

Speaking of beauty, I have a dress for tonight, and purple nail varnish, and many beautiful women wanting to come and get ready in my room, and I am happy but restless. Tomorrow is midsummer.



[1]In September 2006, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago was guarded by a thirty-foot inflatable Komodo dragon. I swear I am not making this up.
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
So, a Brit, an American and a Canadian walk into a Chicago Starbucks...

...and get charged ten dollars for a cup of coffee, and no, it’s not an episode of due South!

Which is my way of saying, into every life a little OMG must fall, and damn, I’m glad that it does. This was OMG 1.75, because as [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 assures me, we should only allow OMGs where all three members are present to bear integer values – which indicates that Chicago was, as is right and proper, OMG 1, New York (otherwise known was OMG: the Broadway Musical!) was 1.5 and this, therefore, was OMG 1.75.

As for whether another two-person OMG would be OMG 1.875, my powers for geeky rather expire at this point.

Anyway, before I bore you all to death, Berlin, oh, Berlin. I flew out from Liverpool on Friday morning, on easyJet, which are the worst airline I’ve ever travelled on with the sole exception of pre-perestroika Aeroflot, and was bumped through the sky for two hours to Berlin. I landed at Schonefeld only mildly disgruntled, because the sun was shining and the buildings were gleaming and everything looked full of promise. Right, I said to myself, this is where I go out into a country where I speak exactly three words of the language (ja, nein and zeitgeist, for the curious) and attempt to get myself from point A to point B without major disaster.

Point B was some unspecified point on the S-bahn, and I had a fistful of euros, a handful of maps with names on them I couldn’t pronounce, and pretty soon, a newfound appreciation for the Roman alphabet. Once I’d got the right platform, or thought I had, I figured I’d ask, and with the use of liberal hand gestures, managed to explain myself to an elderly German woman travelling with a group of friends. Before I knew what was quite happening, I’d been adopted. These four old ladies kept on an eye on me all the way in, assuring me I hadn’t missed my stop, feeding me sweets, telling me I’d love Berlin. I had no German, they didn’t have much English, it seemed to make no difference.

Actually, that was the defining feature of this trip – the many kindnesses of strangers. What a wonderful city.

gingerbread houses and pizza, and curling )

So pizza was had. And so was vast more quantities of conversation, and then I asked one too many questions about curling and we watched Men With Brooms. Oddly enough, [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 - who is, for those playing along at home, the third member of the OMG trio – told me to watch it a few days ago on the grounds it was like Slings & Arrows, “only with curling instead of theatre. And computer-generated beavers.”

Choking a bit on my coffee, I set out to get hold of it, but I’d only watched the first five minutes, so we went back to the beginning and watched it all, and heee. It’s lovely. Ridiculous and charming and it has Paul Gross in it. This is all I need from my entertainment.

This, though, led to a conversation about what would be required in the perfect television programme, at least from the fannish perspective, and our conclusions were, I think, probably spot-on due to the awesomeness that is OMG. wild and wacky adventures )

And, eventually, it was morning, except not, because I didn’t actually see the light of day till gone twelve. And then I opened my eyes and had a brief, disconcerting moment of oh my god where the hell am I, which resolved into oh, gingerbread house with chickens in Berlin, and then: omg.

OMG, indeed. Saturday was our day for actually seeing Berlin, and, well. I would like to point out for the record that one day we’ll do OMG in a city that one of us knows, and then we will not FAIL, but in the meantime it was the city of Berlin, its inhabitants and environs, versus me, Meredith and the good people at Lonely Planet, and we, understandably, came off worst. (All weekend, we went around with three books: the LP guide to Berlin, a pocket German-English dictionary and the Oxford Very Short Introduction to the Cold War. It seemed sufficient.)

But. We did not get lost on the U-Bahn, and we did not get poisoned by pastries, and I said I wanted to see Checkpoint Charlie and we got there. We went to the point itself at first, were somewhat wide-eyed at the sight of a Starbucks at the gateway to East Berlin and a bunch of guys selling fake Communist memorabilia (furry hats, anyone?), and then we went to the museum, which I loved. It’s like an attic in which they’ve just thrown everything possible to do with the division and the reunification of the city, and I actually found some bits of it really upsetting, particularly the sight of a tiny, size-of-my-outstretched-arms aircraft.

in which I talk about disused underground stations )

Anyway. I was very glad we went. And afterwards we escaped from the coming cold, retreated to a café and started plotting fic. I think we’d been idly plotting it from the beginning, ever since Meredith showed me a magazine detailing what Berlin has to offer in the way of experimental theatre, but that was the point she got out her notebook and we started in earnest to write Five Several Ways In Which Darren Nichols Failed At Berlin. Any resemblance said story may have to any way in which two people in particular failed at Berlin over the weekend of September 15th/16th is purely coincidental.

It was cold. Very cold, considering I’d blithely left the house on Friday in the same pair of sandals I’ve been wearing since April. But I didn’t mind exactly; it was bright and sunny as we wandered around Friedrichstrasse and Under den Linden and, at length, discovered an English-language bookshop where we proceeded to spend vast quantities of time bouncing books off each other. I very nearly bought Life of Pi, but didn’t, and Meredith did buy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen after some persuasion from yours truly. (If you haven’t read it, go and read it now. It’s the best book I’ve read this year. Briefly described, it’s about a dull, boring, vaguely unhappy fisheries scientist, a Yemeni sheikh who believes in fishing the way other people believe in God, a crisis of faith and yeah, a lot of fish. It’s ludicrous and beautiful and haunting.)

This was also the evening that we tried to find somewhere to eat, and mostly failed pretty spectacularly – we wandered round and around trying to find somewhere, mistranslating and getting confused and walking into a place only for them to close at the sight of us – and once we’d found somewhere, we then had the fun of translating our way through the menu. It was fun. No, it was! I ordered something described as “vegetable-mouth-pockets”, and they were in fact very tasty.

in which I avert a minor family disaster )

Speaking of Meredith’s landlady, it was about half eleven at this point and I was feeling horribly guilty for waking everyone up. Meredith let me in, and I shuffled contritely inside feeling like a juvenile delinquent. We went upstairs in the dark, with me still slightly bemused by the whole gingerbread-house thing, and suddenly I was aware it was my last night in Berlin. Meredith is teaching at a primary school, so she had an early start, and I was due to fly out around lunchtime, and this is always the problem, but the time is never enough. I mean, the first time we did this we were only all together for about eight hours, and from that perspective a three-day weekend is luxury, but – waaah. Not enough time, never enough time.

So we stayed up and talked some more. It was inevitable, really – this time we seemed to be talking about family, probably because of my fairly tense evening, and about school, and at length, I have no idea how, about how one swears in Canadian French. I found the whole topic hilarious, so Meredith showed me some scenes from a movie - Bon Cop, Bad Cop - in which one of the characters instructs another in just that. I giggled embarrassingly – apparently in Canada, French speakers swear on chalices and tabernacles – and realised all at once that I don’t know how to swear in Hindi. I feel very innocent and chaste now.

The closing thought, as we finally went to sleep at about three in the morning, was not something I can clearly remember, but I dreamed about the sea – the real ocean, the grey Atlantic you see from aircraft – so I think it must have been about OMG in general. How awesome is it that we can do this, you guys? How much my life has changed in five years, that I can set out to a place I’ve never been and have everything come out so right?

The morning was not fun. I don’t like goodbyes. It wasn’t a goodbye, of course, because we’re doing this again, but I’m having my comedown regardless. I loved Berlin so much, so there was leaving that, too, and on the world’s worst airline at that, and I arrived in Liverpool to find everything grey.

Today I borrowed Goodbye to Berlin from the bookshop. Summer’s over.
raven: (firefly - kaylee)
Sleeping in New York is like sleeping in Delhi. You're treated to couples having domestic disputes below your window in shouty, intimate fashion, as a kind of human counterpoint to the traffic noise and aeroplanes overhead. Usually it's three am, you're peering out at the proverbial fire-escape vista of a city that is currently all surrrealist stoplights as far as the eye can see, and you have a hangover. A really, really bad hangover. Possibly and inexplicably the worst one ever. (The Platonic Hangover, yes, I despair at myself too.)

Which should, I guess, be taken as evidence in favour of yesterday having been one of the best days I've ever had, really, ever. It was characterised by freezing cold weather, long walks through Central Park and a now-somewhat-embarrassing litany of Reasons Why Leigh and Iona Fail At Life, And Failing That, At Least At New York, and just... it was lovely. [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 actually arrived on Friday night, having had a protracted altercation with the MTA buses from La Guardia, as well as being sans luggage. Which is ridiculous when you're only gone for two days, but I get ahead of myself. I arrived in New York on Saturday morning with Shuhbra and Shweta, and we wandered around the South Seaport area and I was feeling weird and transitory and when they finally dropped me off in order to go smoke hookah return demurely to Connecticut, we all got a bit sniffly. This trip of mine has unconsciously mended a lot of family fences, more on which later, probably. They disappeared just as it was getting dark, and I went to buy toothpaste and hugged myself at the thought of being alone and loose on New York, and after a bit, I curled up in reception of the hostel I'm staying at and read The Bell Jar.

Well, I tried. I looked up every time someone came in, and accidentally freaked out a mild-mannered couple from Surrey, but I didn't move until Leigh arrived. And it was so good to see her. When we did Visit of OMG I back in September, we were getting emotional in the airport at the thought that it might actually be years till we saw each other again, so I reckon seven months is quite impressive. And there should be more OMGs. We decided this at a bagel place across the street, where I ploughed slowly through a quite extraordinary amount of cream cheese - by the way, the American idea of whipped cream cheese? Best thing ever - and we talked about nothing in particular, about fandom and airlines and why I am dead by [livejournal.com profile] remixredux, and I was still feeling so much glee, and because that is what fangirls do, Leigh pimped television. She made me watch Slings and Arrows, which is not about Canadian investment bankers, but rather about a guy who went crazy playing Hamlet.

I was sold. And having watched the show, I really was sold; it's so much fun, and ohhh Paul Gross, and once again there is not time to watch all the television in the universe. On Saturday morning our roommates cleared out at ridiculous o'clock, and we emerged at a quite sensible time and wandered down Broadway in search of food. We found a diner that looked identical in every detail to Eddie Rocket's in Liverpool - in fact, it's not actually a myth that there are a lot of similarities between Liverpool and New York. They were opposite ends of the shipping route, I guess. This is not to say there was some sort of historical diner significance. What there was was a cinnamon Danish the size of my head. Honestly. It was bloody enormous. Too big to actually eat. I wasn't able to concentrate on the conversation - by this time we were talking about the relative merits of Opus Dei and bovine veterinary science - because I kept being distracted by the breakfast that would have fed the masses. Oh, my.

The plan for Saturday was to have the Panfandom Lunch somewhere in the city, but in the meantime we went to the Strand bookshop downtown and this is where it started to get a little silly. First of all, the Strand goes in my top ten list of bookshops; it's sort of like an eccentric indie bookshop for all it's enormous, and I kept on finding books I'd never heard of and finding the blurb fascinating, reminding myself of my limited budget, putting them back on the shelf and starting over. And while we were there, Leigh was trying to organise the Panfandom Lunch O'Doom and actually, I think I should make the list of Why We Failed At New York:

-I'm scared of the subway and compare it disparagingly to the Underground;
-Ditto Leigh, but for "Underground" read "DC Metro";
-She got lost on the way from the airport;
-I got lost at Columbia the day before;
-We got out of the subway at the Strand and proceeded to not, actually, find the Strand, despite the fact it's right there;
-Later that day we walked twenty blocks and across Central Park without finding anything we wanted to eat;
-After we did find something we wanted to eat, we got the subway to Union Square and went uptown instead of downtown and somehow ended up at 96th and Broadway (at that point I just said, resignedly, "Leigh, we went the wrong way");
-Once we made it to Union Square, Leigh accidentally told Tory we were in Chicago;
-etc. There's more, but I get ahead of myself.

So we made it to the Panfandom Lunch (we didn't know the name of the restaurant, but we knew it had a) a brown awning and b) was in New York) and met [livejournal.com profile] furies and [livejournal.com profile] tobiascharity and ate very spicy Thai food and were gossipy. ([livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt: I delivered a manly shoulder pat, as promised.) Following which, Tory, Leigh and I went to the Met, which was complicated, because we were stopping to misguide tourists, and because we spent most of the time in the Met looking for a painting of Washington crossing Delaware. (I should point out here that I don't believe Delaware exists.) We didn't find it (thus confirming that it doesn't exist), but we did find Egyptian tombs, four-poster beds, sculpture gardens, gilt armour for horses, all kinds of wonderful things. And eventually Tory disappeared to have dinner with her parents - who had been convinced that we all met at, er, Interlochen - and Leigh and I immediately got lost, because we Fail. And we continued to fail, walking out in the dying light across Central Park headed for nowhere in particular, but that was the lovely sort of walk, talking and talking until it really got too cold to stay out.

The initial plan was to go to Union Square with Tory after dinner and mooch round bars, but what with one thing and another (basically, Tory and I are underage, wooooe) we decided the best thing in the world would be to go to Tory's dorm room at NYU, drink gin and watch QI on the laptop. I still think this is the best idea anyone has ever had, ever. Tory can't measure out gin. I am unable to bring myself to consider this as a character flaw. And in fact my memory gets a little blurry here, but basically, we got ridiculously hammered in an equally ridiculous amount of time. I sent a brief email to my parents - am alive, am drunk at NYU, am catcalling Stephen Fry - and sat back and felt as stupidly, simply happy as I have ever felt. Through the gin, we watched three (or maybe four) episodes of QI, got steadily more maternal towards Alan Davies, looked for poetry in the bathroom (Tory's room is LOVE; last night was the first time in five weeks I'd been in a room that was a real room and not just somewhere to stay, and it's all pretty and bright colours and full of interesting things on the walls), giggled and giggled and finally, at some hour of the morning that I don't recall, I think Leigh and I agreed that we fail at the subway when sober, and when drunk would probably end up in Massachusetts. ("The subway doesn't go to Massachusetts," complained Tory, an entirely irrelevant objection.) So we got a cab, and I think I probably grabbed a cigarette along the way and was still stupidly, perfectly happy blowing smoke into the freezing air.

The cab took us uptown, and I paid the driver in Hindi without realising until later, and by three am, was listening through the window to the domestic dispute and feeling very much like I had gin coming out of my pores. But the thing that actually hurt my head was Leigh leaving me this morning at eight o'clock. I was, and am, bereft. Yesterday was a perfect day in New York.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (xf - you are here)
Today, I meant to do an essay and didn't, meant to be productive and wasn't, but did pack up all my earthly belongings and get comically hammered off one glass of wine. I'm very tired, and I think I have, idiotically, acquired an ear infection - my ears are bunged up with some sort of pressure gradient, and I keep feeling like I want to fall over - and thus a little white wine with lunch had me in a ridiculous state of inebriation.

(We were in Bishop's Stortford today - my mum is here, too - and following lunch at Zizzi's, went to pick up bits and bobs from Waitrose. I was dizzily following Mani around and saying, "I feel very... what's the word? I feel very... very..."

"Drunk?"

"No! I feel very socioeconomic. Yes.")

I did! Waitrose is scarily southern and posh. Mani decided to buy a brownie with espresso in for sole purposes of sobering me up, but it didn't work and I went home and slept for three hours. I also bought a paperback copy of Fragile Things today, which I am so excited about reading.

Anyway, yes! I am back, slightly more sober, in a lot of pain from my ears - and I'm going to scream the plane down tomorrow, no doubt - and ready to leave the country. I'm going to New York! Yay! I won't be answering my phone, but probably will have internet. Fingers crossed.

[livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay and I are hosting a Panfandom Lunch O'Doom in New York City over Easter weekend, so, again, do let me know if you want to come along, it will be awesome. And now I must depart.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (firefly - river's dance)
I have this vague sense that I smell like plasticine. Surely this is not normal. But I can't shake it, which indicates I do, indeed, smell like plasticine. How bizarre.

Anyway. Before I go on, I'm contractually obliged to mention The Awakening - Keble O'Reilly, £5 for students, original by Kate Chopin, directed and adapted by Helen (my friend with no LJ), marketed by Pat (flatmate), website design by yours truly. Go and see it.

Ahem. Yes. I'm in a strange mood tonight. Basically, I really, really want to go home - normally I skip back up north on Saturday of eighth week, because much as I do love the place I get claustrophobic and antsy if I'm here too long in one stretch, but this time round, when I want to go home more than usual, I'm not going until Tuesday of ninth. Pedar is in India for a wedding and doesn't get back until Monday, and while I said I didn't mind staying longer, that was months ago and right now I really, really wish I hadn't agreed. I also really wish I hadn't agreed to a tute in ninth week. Urgh. Still having an essay to do when absolutely everyone else has either finished or is frantically revising is, frankly, driving me mad. I don't know what to do.

Last night I was feeling completely rubbish about the whole thing, and then got a series of excitedly drunken messages from [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne and [livejournal.com profile] foulds, demanding I come to the OULES cast party. I did initially say I'm not a member of the cast, but that hasn't stopped me from going to two other OULES cast parties, so I looked around my dull, messy, horrible room, clearly and distinctly thought "fuck this" and went. And I'm glad I did. I got drunk with frightening rapidity - in retrospect, it's because I forgot to eat dinner last night - and did, I think, end up pouring a lot of my woes on to a wonderfully patient [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, who is marvellous, because I don't say that enough. And also, also, I was asked by several people I'm sure I knew already but couldn't quite recall just at that moment what I wanted, what I wanted most in the world that would make me happy and stop me crying.

I said, "A flamingo on a stick."

[livejournal.com profile] wadiekin got me one. It's bright pink and inflatable and duct-taped to a big stick, left over from Alice. I clung to it for the rest of the night and only let people take it away to coo over or fence with if they promised to bring it back. Which they all did, and while I don't remember much of the night that followed I do remember having it safely home with me and waking up with a start at nine am to see it peering at me.

So I'm antsy because I have an essay and I'm antsy because I have claustrophobia and I'm antsy because I am a wee bit mad. But really, it's only a wee bit now. I had my Tutors' Handshaking this afternoon - with the PPE tradition of being sat in the middle of a circle of five armchairs filled with all my tutors - and it went astonishingly, surprisingly well. They think I'm a good philosopher! More specifically, they think I'm a first-class clear thinker, and a decent political scientist, who veers into first material when I get a topic I really like. (Apparently the week I spent banging on about Samuel Huntington was the one week when I stood out from the crowd.) And more relevant than this at the present[1] moment, they think my standard held up even through my bits of mentalness.

So, concerning the wee bit mad - it's okay. I need to do this essay. I've done the reading and I'm giving up now. I'll write the essay at the House of Joy on Sunday with [livejournal.com profile] lizziwig and [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong to keep me company. (And also, I will bring food. I keep eating your food and I do apologise.) And then I need to leave here before I can stop being claustrophobic and weird. My immediate reaction to said claustrophobia is that omg, I want to go home, I want to go home and be looked after, but realistically speaking that isn't a possibility. Pedar's away and my mum is in a place where she needs me to look after her, rather than vice versa, so perhaps it's better for me that I'm not going back for long.

Speaking of which, the Job of Joy and Wonder has been confirmed finally, and I now feel like I can talk about it without jinxing it. Basically, back in December I spent a very long time filling out internship after application form after internship form, and had been duly rejected from all of them. Until Monday of this week, when I got a call from a very nice lady offering me a job if I could only start this week. I said no, I couldn't, I was still at university, hence some swift negotiation and I'm starting Thursday of next week. The job is with BBC Current Affairs at White City, and it's for two and a half weeks, until March 31st. I am very excited, even though I don't know what I'm doing yet - if it's making tea, I honestly wouldn't mind - and neither am I getting paid! (Well, I'm getting paid enough to cover travel and food, but nothing else.) I don't care. It's the BBC. Hee.

I do have somewhere to stay now, but thank you all for your links, info and offers of help. I really appreciated them, especially at this short notice. But I have found a way, thankfully, of not imposing on anyone. My mum's got an old family friend who owes her a favour, and she lives in London and has agreed to put up with me for a while. I'm really and honestly grateful for this. I don't know what I mean exactly, but I think it will be nice to just... I don't know, escape. I have friends in London - [livejournal.com profile] shipperkitten and [livejournal.com profile] balthaser, and some transplanted Oxonians, and other LJ friends, and Sky and Ben, and as well as that Claire and other various and sundry will still be in Oxford, only a short distance away - but at the same time, I don't. At home my parents are there; here in Oxford, which is more my home, I live with five of my friends and am in walking distance of lots more. It won't be like that. I'm finding it oddly comforting that the family I'll be staying with don't know me, are unfamiliar, but are still a Hindi-speaking Indian family so are familiar enough. It'll be something new, and a really exciting job, and no one will want or need anything from me, and in this place where I know no-one and no-one knows me, I can be quiet and anonymous and just... disappear. It won't even matter that there's no one at home up north, because I won't be there.

And if I get short of company, I'll come to Oxford. Or I'll just come up and see Ben. During this term he's taken me to G&D's for ice-cream at least one night a week, just before midnight so we have to hurry, and he doesn't care when I don't talk and he doesn't try and get me to solve problems or be productive in any way; he just talks about physics, and travel, and nights of smoky jazz, and failing that, sings to me in the dark all the way across to Jericho.

On March 31st, I finish up in London. On April 1st, I'm leaving the country! I'm flying out of Heathrow into JFK - same day arrival, I think - where my favourite cousin, Munna, is going to come and get me, take me home with her to Connecticut and we are going to eat pizza and marshmallows for three days straight. Oh, yeah. She and her sister, Shweta, are some of my favourite people, and when I said, back in January, that I might be coming along to visit, they were gloriously excited and made a long list of stuff to do. (One of which is to take a picture of me here.)

Most excitingly, though, we're going to see Rent! Despite the fact they grew up in the Bronx, neither of them has seen a show on Broadway, and I've wanted to see Rent for years. There is much mass excitement about this whole trip, but that particularly. I'm going to be in Connecticut a few days, and in New York City for a few more, doing the Visit of OMG (Redux) with [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 and, hopefully, if circumstances allow it, [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat. (By the way, I know I have a few LJ friends in NYC, and so does [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 - anyone wants to meet up with us, I'm really all for it! We're definitely going to meet [livejournal.com profile] tobiascharity, who is seriously old-school, but there must be others. Let me know.

After that, another day or two in London - a law firm's open day, some time with Claire and Ben, who are fetching me from Heathrow - and then I'm going home for precisely three days before I need to be back in Oxford. So I'm fine. I'm really fine. I have nothing to complain about, lots of lovely things happening to me all at once, but I'm a little frazzled right now and in the mood to cease to function, which is of course the one thing I can't do. I kind of want it to like it was back when I was at school, you know? When sometimes you could go home again? Which I can't seem to do, and being rootless is never good.

But yes. I'm okay, just a wee bit mad, with this strange and morbid fear that secretly no-one, not even my own mother, loves me - oh, the emo, and I think I was drunkenly miserable all over [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong last night for precisely this reason - and a tiredness inside my bones. One of the nights walking to Jericho, Ben was telling me about New York, where he was for most of the summer. "One of my favourite things," he said, "is all the little churches you get even on the busy city streets. You know, there's so many people, sometimes you get tense and flustered, you know?"

I did know.

"So I used to go into one of these little churches, and pick up leaflets and look at the candles and admire the beautiful architecture, and it calmed me right down."

After that he went back to singing quietly to himself, and I was thinking about the future and getting quietly excited about seeing old people in new places. I'm looking forward to it. I got a postcard from New York this week - from [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat, thank you so much, it was lovely and cheered me up a lot - which took less than six days to get here. In less than six days from now, I'll be somewhere new.



[1] Freudian slip that made me smile: I originally wrote "pleasant".
raven: black and white photograph of Asian woman smiling and clasping her hands (misc - me)
I'm writing this outside (to type up later), in unseasonal heat, in a rocking chair a few hundred metres from an Indiana cornfield. And I have a cold. I have somehow acquired a banging headache, clogged-up sinuses and a distinct feeling that the earth is shifting under my feet, all since yesterday. And really, I don't care. I don't care about anything at all. Yesterday (er, two days ago now) was just marvellous, wonderful, I-run-out-of-adjectives fantastic. (I think that was why we were calling it the Visit of OMG - because only "OMG!111!!!" fully conveys the nuances of the emotion. OMG!) In fact, in some ways I don't want to write about it, because that means it's over. But I think I should.

Anyway, where was I? Yesterday, at quarter to seven in the morning my grandmother sat on my feet and inquired, in Hindi, if I were going to Chicago. I said no and went back to sleep. I'd been asleep about four hours. It was ridiculous. About ten minutes later I was running around the house in a ridiculous panic, making coffee with one hand and doing everything else with the other, and about ten minutes after that, Nupur woke up serenely and demanded to come to the airport if that meant there would be vanilla lattes all round.

In fact, let's skip neatly over the bit where my family are off their collective nut and on to the bit where I arrive in Chicago to the sight of [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay and [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat and a large banner with "O*M*G" on it, together with a small blobby depiction of a crabcake. Labelled, because as Leigh said, "it looks like excrement."

It did a bit. OMG. OMG. It was so exciting. We piled ourselves onto a subway train and it didn't stop being completely awesome and surreal. The surreal bit is how you make the switch between people you know online and those same people in the flesh. I mean, I've known Leigh and Meredith since the summer of 2002, and LJ is a peculiarly intimate medium; I suppose it doesn't have to be, but if you use your LJ like I do (and Leigh does) as an ongoing commentary on your own life, then four years is enough time to know each other very well, and it's also a very long time to be planning to meet some day. Hence the complete lack of coherence at explaining how undyingly awesome this trip was.

One conclusion I rapidly reached: we are all three very bad at actually planning things. And another: Leigh's apartment is clearly built over a Hellmouth or some other site of heat-producing demonic activity. It is INFERNALLY HOT. The rest of Chicago was wet and grey. Possibly to escape the heat, we decided to go to the aquarium. I'm not entirely sure about the logic behind this, especially as the last time I had a day to kill in a city with friends, Claire and I ended up on the South Bank, and yes, we went to the London Aquarium, but there was some logic.

Perhaps there wasn't logic behind the nice people at the Shedd Aquarium deciding to decorate their main entrance with a thirty-foot inflatable Komodo dragon. No, really. It contributed to the ever-increasing factor of awesome.

(Er, I don't use the word "awesome" as a general thing, because I can't pronounce it. But all of this was SO DAMN AWESOME that I find myself left with no other choice.)

On the way there, we decided that Snakes On A Plane is undoubtedly million-dollar crackfic, and that there is nothing wrong with this in the slightest. Also, Leigh managed to ask, "How's the bad sex scene?" out loud on public transport. For teh win, yes! I explained how bad it is - very! - and then we talked fandom, and exchanged writing woes. (I also had a bit of a go at explaining why DW fandom is batshit crazy, and it amuses me that exactly as I was saying this, the [livejournal.com profile] teh_commune wank was exploding many time zones to the east. Batshit crazy, yes. Also, I am intrigued by my mystery anonymous admirer, who uses every anon meme to complain about that insanely annoying bitch [livejournal.com profile] loneraven. I am not a BNF. You can do better than me. And, also, I hate [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col. Bloody annoying bitch with scary hair. This is the longest and most pointless digression ever.)

Talking of being a BNF, I was once. Back in M*A*S*H fandom, Leigh and Meredith and the other Meredith and Susan and about a dozen other people were the people to know. That is to say, we were the big fish in a small pond that didn't actually have any small fish. And OMG I got to talk about old-school M*A*S*H fandom on Chicago public transportation! And ditto OMG on the fic writing woes, because it dawned on me yesterday that barring [livejournal.com profile] amchau, I write fic very much solo. I have lots of close fannish friends, but very few close fic-writing friends, and there is a difference. Meredith was trying to explain the mechanics of pairing Remus Lupin with John Sheppard, and this is the sort of thing that deserves extensive consideration.

The aquarium, yes! It is amazingly fun, queuing underneath an inflatable Komodo dragon. My ophidiophobia does not kick in as long as things have legs - I don't mind lizards or eels but have trouble with snakes, worms and that specific species of lizard that is, er, legless - and we looked at lots of organisms that do, indeed, have legs, which was good. Also, sea otters. Sea otters are the cutest things in the entire world. They sort of peer at you and look all sad 'n' lonesome and then they somersault past you at a great rate of knots. I want one. I would call it Moony and keep it in Leigh's bathtub so I could come and visit it every so often.

There is something very, very disconcerting about seafood restaurants in the vicinity of an aquarium. We ended up avoiding that whole issue, and instead having lunch in a small place that looked like someone had tried to build a diner inside a hotel lobby. Food was good, though. In fact, Chicago in general is a lovely city. It was wet, but everything was green - there were trees and flowers and water features dotted around the usual urban details - and strangely for Labor Day, it was quiet. There wasn't much traffic, there weren't many people, walking through the city was almost like walking through a public park because of the hush. I really liked it. I'd been there before - about ten years ago, at Christmas, and my abiding memory of that time is its being so cold that I crossed the street with my hands over my face against the chill - but I hadn't remembered how nice it was. Which is not to say we couldn't have met anywhere at all and had a fabby time, but that was an unexpected bonus.

The afternoon was spent in Leigh's INFERNALLY HOT apartment, with lots of fans (aha, no pun intended), watching television. Well, sort of - I demanded to be shown Sports Night, because I'm loving TWW so much. (The only downside to this trip to the States is missing it on E4!) Last week I was on the way home from Liverpool with [livejournal.com profile] quackaquacka, who described it as "about sports, but in the same way as Charlie's Angels was about law enforcement." And it's ridiculously charming, especially as I was shown the slashiest episode ever. I don't think it's ever been shown in Britain, which is a real shame.

Also, we were celebrating Meredith's birthday early, with cupcakes and British chocolate and a blessed lack of singing. So then comes the bit where we just sort of lay on the floor and talked about cabbbages and kings - actually, about, er, the demon in the basement and William Shatner - and OMG, I have never wanted to leave a place less. One day wasn't enough, it really wasn't. And I've never enjoyed riding on subway trains before - I didn't notice the trains, I didn't notice that the three of us were squished into space meant for two, and I've never minded a flight delay less, either!

Well, there is a story behind that. Upon finding out the flight was delayed, I suggested we get some coffee and sit down somewhere with it. What follows is a clear indication that Starbucks are an evil corporation set to take over the world by fleecing tourists, because Meredith paid for her coffee with Canadian currency and somehow or other got charged eleven dollars for it. This, naturally, is Not On. The thing is, I don't like confrontation. All I know is how to be polite at people. Leigh said, "I don't have to be polite, I'm American." (I threatened to metaquote this.) We went back to the woman and demanded Meredith's money back. She was singularly unhelpful and flounced - well, waddled - off to talk to the manager. Who did not appear for a very, very long time, so we stood there and deliberately got in the way.

And the thing is, you can be American at people - i.e., demand your rights without worrying obessively that you're being some kind of social nuisance - and you can be British - i.e, icily, frostily, we-owned-you-damn-colonials polite - at people, but given the right people, you can do both at the same time. I was pretty sure that we could reduce this woman to a gibbering wreck beneath the tirade of courteous aggression. Which sounds dreadfully uncharitable, but a) you should have seen how much this woman hated us and b) eleven dollars for a cup of coffee. And I was almost disappointed when we never got to employ any of it. Someone stomped down, slapped the twenty Canadian dollars back on the counter without a scrap of apology. But we prevailed! I was terribly proud. The Canadian-British-American invasion of Chicago continues apace.

And my flight was delayed, so I hung around an hour longer than planned, and that was fab too. One day wasn't enough, it really wasn't. Half of it was spent getting over the initial awkward phase, and then there wasn't enough time to discuss everything in the universe and watch lots of television, but we did try. That said, I hugged Leigh and Meredith goodbye at the security check, went through and took off my shoes, as required. Turning around and waving at them before they left was the most depressing thing I have done in years. You guys, we must do this again, we must. Even if we have to commit federal crimes to do it. I miss you both so much right now.

...sigh. OMG. OMG it was so good. And now I am in Indiana, where it is too hot and there are too many cornfields. But. So. Good. OMG. I have carefully rolled up the banner and stowed it away safely. I think I'm going to hang it off my ceiling in Oxford. And every time I say "OMG" from now on, I shall say it wistfully. You guys made netspeak wistful. Such is your power for awesome.
raven: (hp - tonks puff)
Hello, all. I have made it over the pond. Internet access is not perfect, but not bad. Weather is not perfect, but not bad. Things are pretty much okay for the time being.

The journey, I should mention, was quite, quite awful. The airline, whom I am not going to name in the interests of protecting the guilty (except, it was Continental; I was lying a minute ago) were so many different varieties of complete crap I would bore you all to death detailing them all, but big fat urgh. And to be fair to them, it wasn't entirely their fault that flying over the Atlantic has become something that is not fun - and I maintain that flying, even and especially flying long haul, is fun - and rather something that makes your heart sink into your boots. After my brief, three-hour nap, we went to the airport for six in the morning, for a departure at half nine, and I swear, we were in check-in and security checks for two solid hours. We were grilled, X-rayed, I surrendered a bottle of water and another of moisturizer, my shoes were checked and searched twice, and after queueing for an hour at check-in we had to queue another hour at the standard security check, and we had a last check at the gate, which was fraying people's patience.

And then the flight itself was pretty damn horrendous, too. It was a full flight, so very uncomfortable, and the food had the approximate taste and consistency of thermosoftening plastic, and I kept on trying to sleep and being woken up by inane announcements, and everything, and I mean everything, was geared towards American passengers. Understandable, yes, that this was a States-bound flight. But I was told by a sanctimonious stewardess that I couldn't hang around in the aisle because "federal law prohibits it."

I was very polite, honest. I didn't say a word of what I had in mind, which is this: I am a citizen in a country of a unitary parliamentary democracy and I really, really don't care about the laws of a country I am not currently in.

But I didn't say it. I left the shouting to Pedar, who was getting quite good at it by this time, having been denied a vegetarian meal he had in fact ordered and was being very cutting about salad-related incompetence.

At Newark, I was fingerprinted at Customs underneath a sign saying "Welcome To The United States of America." The thing is, I've never been anywhere where I've been more sure they didn't want me there. And at Newark, we'd been travelling a very long time, so Pedar suggested we sit down somewhere and have a decent lunch. So we did. He asked my mother if she wanted a glass of wine. She said yes. He asked if I wanted one. I said, "Thanks, that'd be nice."

Oh, you can tell where this story's going already. Not two minutes afterwards, an old woman came waddling out from behind the bar and said, "I don't know where you come from, but in the United States..."

So there evolved a French farce, with all of us staring at this glass of wine, which I wanted but couldn't drink, my mother didn't want because she didn't want two and Pedar only drinks in a blue moon. We just sat and stared at it, whilst the woman behind the counter just sat and stared at us. Possibly the most painfully awkward five minutes ever later, there was a flight boarding announcement. We were all still staring. Pedar picked up the glass and handed it to me, I knocked it back and we ran. The woman behind us was clucking impressively but couldn't keep up, and we only skidded to a halt on the aircraft. It was great.

So now I am here, finally, in the deep depths of suburbia, and it's really rather beautiful. The relatives we're staying with have moved since we were here last, and their new house is set in a planned community that gives way to cornfields at the horizon. In the foreground, every house is perfect and painted, every blade of grass in place, there is no litter, no one walks on the pavements and you can sit outside for hours in cricket-buzzing silence. There aren't any white picket fences but there might as well be. I find it all surreal and a little bit sinister. My uncle, mowing the lawn, told me that there is a local residents' byelaw or some such thing that states that you have to keep your grass below a certain length. I was completely freaked out. Whatever happened to freedom of thought, speech and movement? What if I want overgrown grass, dammit!

Nobody, however, takes me seriously. I am not exactly surprised. Still, I am enjoying myself a bit. My Hindi is getting a lot better - I'm still having grammar-related meltdowns, but today I managed enough linguistic complexity to describe to my grandmother the difference between American and British higher education, and it all does come back, it's true. Last night, Nupur took me with her to some high-school party she was invited to, and I had a tolerable time, although it was of course very tame, dry, and over before half eleven. A few funny things did happen - my favourites, in reverse order, were the girl who came up to me and asked, "Is London in England?", the terribly sweet (and, upon observation, sadly not gay, although I probably shouldn't even dare think that round here) girl who, upon hearing me say, "The thing about Chaucer is that he's terribly rude,", hugged me and said, "Your accent is so cute I could just eat you up!" and, lastly, the well-meaning host, who asked, "Are you having a nice time over here with your big sister?"

Laughing, I said that no, Nupur is not my big sister. She said, "Oh my god, sorry, you're in high school?"

"Er... no."

It happened again today, when someone asked if I'm in middle school or high school. It's official: I look about fifteen.

Ah, well. I must disappear and be sociable, and sit out on the deck under a very big sky. I was interested to learn that it's at least a thousand miles to the sea from here. I'm a long way from home.

BUT. Tomorrow I will be by Lake Michigan, and OMG OMG OMG [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay and [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat OMG I am incredibly excited OMG!
raven: black and wite Kaylee, against the background of her parasol in colour (firefly - kaylee's parasol)
Okay! Time to go. I have to leave in five hours, so definitely time to go and take a nap, at least. And LJ tells me it's September 1st, so this is very exciting. I wanted to write up some reviews and do some memes and be a little bit fannish, but I've run out of time. So, I'll leave you with one thought on "Anasazi", which I finally got to see yesterday.

Anasazi... and why Mulder/Krycek is Of The Good )

Um, if I get distracted onto matters fannish, I will go on for hours and there goes my nap. So, er, goodbye all, behave yourselves, write lots of porn, don't do anything too exciting without me, and also OMG OMG OMG Monday is the Visit of OMG. (If you want me for anything, email is good; I just won't have very regular access. You can't call me but you can text me, weirdly enough. In fact, I positively enourage it.) And that's it! See you all on the far side.

...squee.

Jul. 11th, 2006 11:45 pm
raven: (hp - remus in light)
So, I just blew my entire week's wages in one go. Admittedly this is not as much money as it could be - I'm doing only three days this week, and that mostly sitting on the counter eating sandwiches - but it still represents a fairly hefty chunk of my current funds. But I don't care. I don't care at all. That is the best use I have ever put £71.50 to. It's gone on return flights from Indianapolis to Chicago on September 4th.

My parents have no idea why I wanted so desperately to go to Chicago for the day. (They said absolutely no way to Greyhound, I'm not entirely sure why, but flying is better than fine with me, naturally.) But I am losing sight of the point of all this which is OMG I AM GOING TO MEET [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay AND [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat. It's actually happening. It's actually happening! It's been the subject of idle daydreams for four years - wouldn't it be cool if we could meet, and we will some day - and some day's nearly here and I am so excited I can't think straight.

Just... omg. This is awesome. I haven't been so excited about anything in years. I have to get up in six and a half hours and I'm too wired to sleep.

Actually, given that I'm quivering with excitement here, I might as well use the energy for something productive. I'm wondering how easy it is for a non-US citizen to fly domestic - the last few times I've done it, I've been "random" searched - and what identification I'll need. I'll have my passport of course, but I'm tempted not to take it with me. Will my (EU) driving licence be acceptable? (No, I haven't passed my test, incidentally; I'm taking it in three weeks, and having failed it, will continue to hold a provisional driving licence.) Actually, one day I will sit and compose a long and impassioned rant about the sheer indignities I'm subjected to every time I step foot in the United States. But this is not the time. I'm too happy.

It'd be good to get some sleep, though. I haven't now for a long time, and it's beginning to show. It's partly the heat, and partly I-don't-know-what, but I can't sleep and can't be awake either, because I've come over incredibly agoraphobic and it's bizarre. I'm having trouble talking to people without panicking, I'm having trouble going past people on the street without panicking, I'm having trouble functioning through the constant headaches engendered by lack of sleep. I don't want to go anywhere where social interaction is a possibility, and it's making me cranky.

Today, I managed to get out of the house and go to work. Thankfully there weren't many customers, and I'm hoping to manage the rest of the week all right. Tomorrow I'll be in Oxford - hence getting up at the crack of dawn, hence sleep being a good thing - because I'm got a relative who wants to see it and needs a native travel guide, and I'm sort of looking forward to it because it's home, I'll feel safe there.

In fact, I think this is all a momentary mental blip. But it's why I haven't been around for a while, as there was a point where LJ comments were too much like interacting with other people. But yes, I didn't make this post to talk about the random misfiring of my brain. I made it to squee. SQUEE. September is too far away.

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