Thursday, March 31, 2005

Been a nutty few days. I've had insomnia and I'm not sure if it is because of jetlag or if it because my apartment is in such a nice quiet neighborhood. I might be missing my helicopters and gunshots. I'm really loving it here though. Although I nearly melted my hair today. . . An important tip. Just because you have a converter, you need to make sure that the appliance can handle the extra voltage. My curling iron cannot handle the extra voltage. My flat smells like charred hair. . .

Monday, March 28, 2005

Around The Corner From Sherlock

I am actually here. My flat is a block from Baker Street. I have eaten fish & chips at a chippy that has been in business for 130 years. I've had a pint at a pub. I have walked along the south bank from the London Eye to The Tower. I have heard Big Ben chime. This is finally a real place and not a myth I've constructed in my head gleaned from books and far too many movies staring Hugh Grant. Photos will be posted soon. . .

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oy Gevalt!

Bite Me Can I just say that packing for three months is really rather difficult? Hoping to get the last main bulk of it completed tonight and I will clean tomorrow and then sit with Paul on the sofa and watch ten Daily Shows in a row. Flight is at 5pm Saturday so I will need to leave my apartment at 1 to get there three hours early so I can be strip searched for explosives and pointy objects. In this weeks episode of International Travel Drama, our heroine Nicole found that her ATM/Visa card had been disabled by Bank of America. It seems that someone had gotten the number and attempted such small transactions as $14,000, $5000 and $3,000. Our intrepid protagonist was a bit pissed considering that she needs her ATM/Visa card to pull cash to eat and more importantly drink while visiting the UK. Bank of America is FedExing a new card and it should arrive into Nicole's happy little hands on Friday. Chapter Two. Good News is I am not the victim of Identity Theft (because frankly no intelligent thief would attempt to steal my available funds and credit unless all they want is a dozen Dunkin Donuts). Bad News is the Rental Company managing my flat charged my card because somehow the fact that my company was wiring the money and that it would be there shortly was not made clear to someone who is responsible for such things. I was a bit snippy in my e-mail expressing my displeasure. While "You ignorant, fuck-wad cocksucker" was not implicitly used, it could be inferred in my subtext. Something that I have noticed with e-mail correspondence from the British is the use of the closing phrase "Best Regards". For me this feels rather intimate. I feel more comfortable with "Regards," but is that too intimate for the British? Agh, so much to learn. And I’ve been instructed to not use the word cheers instead of thank you. I am curious about the proper level of British phrases an American may Borg into their vocabulary. For example, “mate” seems pretentious, but “brilliant” sounds relatively normal. I also feel this way because I have been saying “brilliant” for years and it makes me happy and I don’t want to give it up, no matter how affected it makes me look.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Come back another day. . .

rain cloud Los Angeles has received 34.85 inches of rain since July. On average in the same time period, London receives 23.3 inches. Everyone has teased me to prepare for the rain but I almost feel like I will be escaping it. I lived in Seattle for two years so I will manage. I have been entertaining a simple romantic idea of getting lost on a London street. It’s raining and I pop into a bookshop. It’s a dusty maze of yellow paper full of that old book smell. There is an ancient blind cat that won’t let anyone pass without some affection. I linger for hours until after a while I leave to go get a cup of tea—because that is what you drink in England. I have also been entertaining fears that I will forget to mind the gap on the tube or that I will look to the left instead of the right and be hit by a double-decker bus. One constant in my life is a remarkable talent for finding ways to injure myself. I think we ought to take a poll. Everyone puts in a few dollars and whoever picks closest to the part of my body I injure or that requires amputation wins the pot.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together.

portman square …living room The visa is done and I will have all of my paperwork on Monday. My flight is arranged and I am scheduled to arrive at Heathrow at 1:10 pm on Easter Sunday. Janelle is meeting me and we are going to take a cab back to the fantastic digs (see picture) that the company has secured for me. If the flat looks half as good as the pictures, I ain't ever gonna wanna come back. I will be in Portman Square W1. It is a twenty-five minute walk to the office, and there are a ton of bus routes there as well. Now I just have to clean my apartment and do my laundry. It's been difficult fitting in the social things that I want to do-- seeing friends before I run away for three months when I should be dusting. I have been doing more socializing than cleaning. A wee bit more fun.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Recipe: How To Look Like A Weirdo.

1. Go to Target. 2. Wander around the pet supply aisle muttering to yourself and count on your fingers calculating the volume of food three cats will consume in three months and the volume of shit that will be produced from that consumption. 3. Load your cart with sixty pounds of cat food and two hundred pounds of Arm and Hammer clumping litter. 4. Try to pretend you don’t see people staring at you as you lean into the cart inching it toward checkout. Smile weakly at the security guards following you and the mother of the small child you almost kill. 5. Shout “Goddamit Goddamit! GODDAMIT!” in the parking garage when one of the 18-pound bags of cat food busts open and explodes ocean fish flavor pellets all over your back seat.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My Office Space Character

Pre-Hyptnotized Peter

What Office Space character are you?
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Thursday, March 10, 2005

On going to Casablanca for the water

Okay. I was misinformed. . . Looks like it is going to be even later before I'm leaving on a jet plane. This entire process has been frustrating and far too boring to go into the entire play by play. However, in the last round of my corner of International Travel Hell. . . 2/28/05-- The lawyers have in their happy little hands all the bits of information they need for the visa and I. . . because I am obviously-- stupid. . . assumed that it would be submitted fairly soon after. 3/9/05 I write a simpering, "if it isn't too much trouble could you tell me where we are at with the process and oh, yes thank you for all of your hard work. So appreciated. Yes. Thank you. Cheers." e-mail. It seems that it wasn't turned into the Government Paperwork Gods until yesterday which means I will be not be ready to go to the British Consulate for the next five to ten (business) days. And oh yeah, once I turn everything in there, it will be two (business) days before I am ready to run away. The upside to all this is the later I go, the warmer it will be. April in Paris and all that shit. It will all work out. I know, I know. I'm just tired of the hurrying up and waiting. I want to go-go-go!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Preparing to go

The spending of pre-trip preparation money must stop. Those who know me even slightly are aware that my spending habits make up a substantial portion of the United States Economic Health Index, but in getting ready for Europe, I certainly have been giving various retail locations an extra burst. In addition to items that I told myself I needed from Gap, JCrew and Banana Republic even though I already own something vaguely similar, I am the proud owner of three London travel guide books, (Fodor’s See It London, Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to London, and London For Dummies) as well as a London A to Z (basically a Thomas Guide) and Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography, two moleskine notebooks, a travel hair dryer, a travel clothes steamer, a travel umbrella, a stylish black wool knee-length coat, a pair of ridiculously comfortable Josef Seibel boots and electrical adapters so I don’t blow myself or others up. I’ve been looking at my suitcases and I have done the math of square footage against the volume of my dresses and shoes and pocketbooks and I am going to have to be very strict with myself. I’m not even so worried about going as much as I am coming back. One of the few things that has no added VAT charge is books. (Britain’s version of sales tax is called value-added tax and it is -–gulp-- 17.5%.) Sending me to one of the most literature rich cities in the world is dangerous and more than a little foolish. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Free to move about the world

I feel like George Bailey picking out his suitcase. My passport came today. I’ve been in Catch 22 bureaucracy hell. I can’t get my work visa without a passport. I couldn’t request an expedited passport without an itinerary. I can’t get a flight without a passport. But I have my passport now. This is happening. I will be leaving soon. I think there must be a special camera made for the government. A camera that creates photos where the subject looks as ridiculous as possible. My driver’s license photo is particularly awful not only because my hair is doing interesting things, but also because I am 200 pounds, (although I lied and claimed 180 on the paperwork). Now that I am much lighter, when some kind dear soul cards me, I can see a glint in their eyes. Their raised eyebrow subtext that says, “My. You have lost weight.” I’d wanted to be at my goal weight for my passport photo which is what I say is the reason I’ve delayed and not gotten it all this time even though I’ve wanted to travel. Truth is I am just lazy. Having the passport would mean no more excuses for not taking action. My punishment for my delay is the worse possible photograph that I will be living with for ten years. My head is lifted up in an attempt to hide the post Holiday and Hawaii vacation excess double chin. The flash caused me to squint so my eyes are Renee Zellweger squinty. I look like I just smoked a massive joint and my eyelids are too heavy for me to manage to keep open. I love this photo. I love this photo because it is in my passport. I can go anywhere. Well. Within reason. I may need to rethink Burundi and the Sudan.