Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've recently been missing my Miami friends a lot. I mean, I always miss them, but for whatever reason, I miss them so much this week it almost makes me want to drop out of school and move back there just so I don't have to miss them anymore. I'd imagine the homesickness is so intense of late because it's Easter week, and pretty much all of my London friends went home for the holiday, resulting in a pretty lonely Easter for me.

But the point of this entry isn't to bitch and moan and try to earn pity. On the contrary; I hardly deserve pity if I'm lucky enough to have developed such close meaningful relationships with people that after 9 months I'm still affected this strongly by the distance. My point is, I can now see why some people think it's better to just not get close to people in the first place. I personally am not one of those people, but I see the logic. I lived in Miami for 6 years, which is a pretty significant amount of time-certainly long enough to build relationships that go beyond mere friendship. Arianne, Lucy, Manny C, Nick, Shana, Kevin, Monica, Manny (especially Manny)-these people were my family. Still are. But it's hard to separate from that kind of network. I naiively thought that maybe it would get easier over time, that we would grow apart, that after almost a year I wouldn't still want to call them every time something significant happens in my life-but that's not the case. I wouldn't trade these relationships for the world, but I am starting to understand how a less optimistic person than myself would choose to not build them in the first place so that when they inevitably separate they won't have to feel the pain.

Please don't misunderstand me-I would take a lot more pain than this as long as I got to keep those relationships. And my life is infinitely better for having them. And I'm not going to shy away from building those kinds of relationships here in London. But the pain I feel right now does give me pause-I don't intend to leave London anytime soon, but chances are it will happen eventually. Even if things do go as planned and I do my PhD here, what about after that? Academic jobs are so hard to find, it's almost definite that I'll have to move back to the US to find work. And by then, I will have been here 5 years. And I'll have to go through this separation all over again. I know most people fear starting out in a new place. They fear lonliness. They fear completely starting their life over from scratch. None of that scares me. What scares me is having to repeat this pain all over again with a whole new set of people, all the while still missing the old set no less than I did the week after I moved.

Like I said, it's not enough to make me shy away from getting close to people. But it's certainly no picnic, either.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dictionary for Americans

It has recently come to my attention that I've started to pick up so many British-isms that I don't even notice anymore. This is good for me, as I am now starting to fit in, at least as far as my vocabulary and slang are concerned. However, as most of my readers are American, I figure I should probably put up a vocabulary list so that you can decipher my musings. Enjoy!

Tube (n): Metro
Trainers (n pl): Sneakers (they can be any kind, not just running shoes. For example, my Converse sneakers are called trainers as are my exercise shoes)
Flat (n): Apartment, though flats can be as large as a townhouse, or even a duplex. Basically, it's anything that's not a free-standing house (which doesn't exist in London, anyway)
Top-Up (v): To put money on something, i.e. your tube card or mobile.
Mobile (n): Cell phone. Most people do pay-as-you-go, forcing them to top up whenever they run out of credit.
Pub (n): Anywhere with a walk-up bar that serves beer and food. If they only serve alchohol and not food, it's a bar, not a pub.
Mate (n): Friend. Only used among men. If a guy calls you his mate, and you're a girl, there's something wrong with either you or him. Probably you.
Snog (v): Make out.
Lovely (adj): Same meaning as in the US; however, it can be used by the general public as opposed to just by pretentious assholes. Is often used to describe a person's character, as in "Oh, he's lovely!" (N.B.: this does not imply that he's gay)
N.B.(?): Note well, look here, read this, etc.
Loo Roll (n): Toilet paper
Pants (n pl): Underwear. Never, I repeat, NEVER describes trousers (see below)
Trousers (n pl): Anything Americans would call "pants". Slacks, jeans, sweats, whatever.
Trakkies (n pl): Sweatsuit, work-out clothes.
Chav (n): The English version of white trash.
Hot Cross Buns (n pl): A breakfast food. Very good when they have chocolate chips in them.
Bit: Singular (adv): little, as in, "I like him a bit", or "I'd only like a bit of sugar"
Plural (n): 1) Orange juice pulp ("OJ with bits")
2) Chocolate chips ("chocolate bits")
Chips (n pl): Fries
Crisps (n pl): Chips
American (n or adj): An obnoxiously loud probably overweight tourist who wears a bumbag (see below)
Bumbag (n): Fanny-pack. Do not ever call it a fanny-pack.
Fanny(n): A rude word for the female genetalia.
Cheers (?): 1) The same as in the US, when toasting with drinks
2) Thanks ("Cheers for the pint, mate!"
Let's Go For a Pint: Let's Go Get Shitfaced. Does not necessarily mean you have to drink pints of beer. You can go for a pint and drink a bottle of wine if you so choose.
Bully (adj): Good, as in "Bully for you!"
Buggered (adj): Fucked (in the bad way)
Shagged (v, adj): Fucked (in the good way)
Knackered (adj): Tired
Gutted (adj): Exhausted to the point of feeling sick
Kings (n): Kings College London, aka The Most Evil Place in the Universe.
Uni (n): College (can also mean "campus", as in "I'll be at uni all day")
College (n): Last 2 years of high school
A-Levels (n pl): AP exams, except everyone has to take them
Well (adj): Very, way, as in "I'm well excited about this weekend!"
Fit (adj): Hot. Can also mean physically in-shape, but usually just means very attractive.
Society (n): Club, i.e. Drama Society, Chess Society
Professor (n): the head of the department
Lecturer (n): Everyone else who teaches at Uni
You all right?: How are you?
Fancy Dress Party: Costume party
Kebab (n): a pita-type thing filled with meat

So, with this guide, you should be able to successfully translate the following exercise (Picture a guy on the phone):
"Hey, you all right? I just took the tube down to Uni to have a pint with my mates, and I saw this really fit girl out at the pub with her friends. They were having a fancy dress party, so she was dressed as a Chav. I think it was a party for the dance society. All her friends were well fit! I'm a bit buggered right now as I need to top up my mobile, but if you're not completely gutted after meeting with your lecturers all day, then we should totally go meet up with them. Just put on some nice trousers and come meet me; there's a kebab-and-chips shop right near where we're going, so we can stop there on the way back to the flat. You should be fine to just wear your trainers. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get to snog one of them, or even shag them! Don't worry, I don't think any of her friends were Americans or Kings students-I think they're all from our uni. Right, see you in a bit. Cheers, bye!"

Once you can translate that passage successfully, you are officially competent in the art of British slang. Congratulations!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

French Frolicking

So my friend Alicia had this crazy idea that for her 21st birthday, a group of us should go to a villa in France for a week this June. I thought it sounded like fun, but a little far-fetched. But, lo and behold, due to her massive type-A organisational skills and bargain-hunting abilities, we're going! From June 13-20, 13 friends and I are staying in this lovely villa for only £105 per person:

Sometimes I love my life.

Another exciting aspect of the trip-I get to drive! I drove a tiny bit at Christmas, but otherwise, I haven't driven since August, which is very sad. I love driving. Unfortunately, me and my groups of passengers have to rent a car, due to the fact that everyone in the group who has a car drives a manual transmission and I don't know how, and nobody else is willing to drive on the right side of the road for 6 hours. (Silly British people thinking you're supposed to drive on the left side of the road....). I am a little wary of that whole driving-2-hours-on-the-left-side-of-the-road-to-get-to-Dover thing, as well as the whole concept of driving on the opposite side of the car. But I'll manage. It should be great fun-road trips are one of my favourite things ever.

I am well excited. (And judging my the structure of that sentance, am also picking up more British-speak than I thought I was...).