I mean golly - you hop on a plane to London to start a grad program in the Fall and the next thing you know it's the last day of 2013. What the hell. And the real flip-out comes when you realize that your nephews aren't babies anymore. It's like no matter how much you will it, those adorable, kissable little persons just refuse to stop growing. How rude. (Also thank GOD for Skype.]
ANYWAY, to avoid too many more tangents (I make no promises) I'll get right to it. In an effort to make up for my lack of consistent rambling and filling all of you in on what's been happening (I know you've just been dying to know), I've decided to compile a list (aka the lazy blog post) of all of the wonderfulness that has been my time abroad thus far (or at least since we last spoke). And lucky for you I happen to specialize in list-making, so this will be great fun.
I felt particularly British in early November when I travelled south with the auntie and uncle to the town of Lewes for their annual Guy Fawkes Day festivities. You know - "Remember, remember the fifth of November?" It's okay, I wasn't super familiar with it myself, #butiamnow. In case you didn't know, Lewes hosts the largest Fifth of November celebration in the world. There's actually a more detailed history to it all that's worth reading a bit further on, but for the sake of shock value I'll just tell you that in this town of roughly 16,000 people there are 7 different bonfire societies, some with founding dates in the mid 1800s, and each with their very own archbishop. (This is me voluntarily passing over the slight political incorrectness of it all.) It's all very fun - the bonfire societies march around with lit torches and they throw bangers (stop giggling, they're just firecrackers) into crowds of unsuspecting bystanders, and they end the night at their respective bonfires and accompanying fireworks shows. I only lost my hearing for like one or two minutes a couple of times. Just in case you've gotten bored and are considering not reading any further, here are some pictures of things on fire (in Lewes, duh):
[The fire and me.]
[Don't they look like they're having so much fun?? All
of those little kids got the day off of school the next day, too…
[The giant bonfire the size of which can not be
comprehended through mere iPhone photos.]
Fajitas and Friends
The auntie and uncle were nice enough to let me host a dinner party for the friends I've made in my program. The work of community organizing is busy and hectic, and it was so much fun to have a night of merriment with my new friends. As much as she would contest my saying so, I merely assisted the auntie in her over-the-top wonderful execution of a fajita dinner for 11 (hungry) people. Some of them are still raving about the deliciousness that was that night. Two words: homemade queso (also known as "liquid cheese," lol). Ohmuhgawd. So good.
My mother blessed me with the ability to befriend people wherever I go, and I'm very grateful to have made such wonderful friends in the short time that I've been in London. And now, for more pictures (not necessarily fajita-night related):
[Ana, the Brazilian! <3]
[Megan & Alex]
My sweet Georgia/Texas friend, the one and only Caren, aka C-Dilts (and sometimes Vitamin C-Dilts) came to visit me! The woman was in the UK for a whopping 10 days and lemme tell ya - we killed it. We made our way through a long list of tourist attractions and local must-sees, had a very pinkies-up high tea with the auntie and even managed to hit up the Brick Lane Market in East London. Oh yea, and we went to SCOTLAND. Caren has some very lovely friends (and I guess I do too, now!) in Dunfermline (aka the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, aka where William Wallace was put to death) - a town about 30 minutes from Edinburgh by train. They were the loveliest of hosts, and a breath of fresh air and then some.
[Caren's first train ride!]
[Aberdour. It was cold, but that VIEW. Swoon.]
[CASTLE. Edinburgh Castle, that is.]
One discovery made while Caren was visiting was the unusual ability she has to attract strange occurrences. Nothing strange happened to her directly, but we witnessed quite a few (at least more than I'm used to witnessing) strange happenings while exploring the city. Here is a sub-list of the weird things we saw while Caren was here:
--> An adult female sucking her thumb while riding on the tube. #GERMS
--> An intoxicated man trying to get on the tube, and actually making it past a couple of London Underground employees and running into the side of a stopped train. It's okay he was escorted out, no one was harmed.
--> An elderly Irish man very kindly making friends on the bus and trying to give change to a small child despite his mother's protest. This was mostly strange because we were like 2 inches away from it all and the awkwardness was so strong you could almost smell it.
--> Two dogs chasing a squirrel just outside of Kensington palace, and one of the dogs catching the squirrel and violently flailing it about. Caren's immediate reaction: "Survival of the fittest." My immediate reaction: "What the hell, squirrel, you just passed by like 8 trees you could have shimmied up for safety!"
And stuff, and stuff...
And lastly, not necessarily actual events that have happened in the UK but things I wanted to include anyway because FEELINGS. Here is a mini-list (I told you, I'm serious about this list business) of things that make me cry, in a good way:
Receiving messages of all sorts. Texts. Calls. Emails. Letters in the post. I can't help it, I just love communication! I like to hear about funny things that have happened, accomplishments, hard times (so I can send happy thoughts and prayers in the necessary directions), to see photos and videos of people I love (aka BABIES), and the list goes on. Little messages and correspondence like these bring happy tears to my eyes and remind me I have feelings. Lots of them. It's surprising how close you can get to friends even though you're thousands of miles apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder (and snifflier) I suppose.
When my Mom pins things to the Pinterest board she made for me. You guys, I'm not kidding when I say that my Mother is the most adorable pinner there ever was. And I mean that in the most sincere and least patronizing way. She made separate Pinterest boards for both of my sisters and me, where she pins things that make her think of us. I should mention that if you think your mother doesn't know you, like really know you, you're probably wrong. Exhibit A. And B. And C. I could just be a painfully predictable person, but I'm gonna go the feel-good route with this one and say "you guys my Mommy loves me she really does!" Overall, it's just a really great feeling to know someone is thinking of you. The icing on the cake (or potentially freaky part?) is realizing someone else has you figured out way more than YOU have you figured out. Moms man…
Thanks to everyone who has loved and supported me in things both big and little in 2013. It's been a grand year indeed, and 2014 holds even more adventure and discovery, of the self and world variety alike. Here's to a great year.