Saturday, October 27, 2007

'Da Bomb. Otherwise entitled: Why should Britain be any different?

So in true trying-to-be-casual-with-new-people-and-also-funny-fashion, I had one of many Alaska Yankee in King Arthur's Summer Home type blunders.

Scene: Outside The Porter, a pub in George Street (that's right, in George Street, not on)

Characters: Me (Jessi), Matt (new friend from the MA)

Awkward pause, like those common in pubs worldwide

Me: Did you know that every time there's a pause in the conversation, somebody's thinking about Abraham Lincoln?

Another awkward pause. This time it's my fault.

Matt: Yeah, are you quite sure that works over here?

Me (internally): Doh.

Why do I cling so to that joke? It's not even that funny in the States.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Residential Weekend

This past weekend I went with some of my fellow students to a retreat in the English countryside about an hour and a half (or two and a half hours, if you trust Bruce, the talking GPS) south of Bath.

It was sort of like my initiation week at my undergrad with fewer relays and more wine. Several of the tutors came and led workshops. We wrote haikus about our feelings. Two guest authors also came to give readings and pep talks. Mostly, though, it was just a get-to-know-you-and-eat sort of time.

In other words, my kind of weekend.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

The outside of one of the buildings. The main meeting/dining room was a converted barn.

These are the girls in my workshop - Hannah, Abby and Fran. We break each other's hearts every week with constructive criticism.

I went on a walk with some of the tutors. Here is Commander in Chief Richard Kerridge getting us unlost.

The Dorset cliffs.

Ollie (another student) and me and the Dorset cliffs.

Some cows. They're everywhere, and you know what that means. Tread carefully, my padawan.

I think this cow means to do Ollie a harm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Farmers and friends, but not friends who are farmers...yet.

This Saturday I walked over to the weekend farmer's market. I was expecting it to be the size of the Saturday market at home, but you know what happens when we assume.

The market was small - maybe about twenty booths, but there was plenty to look at and too much to buy. I ended up with some milk, butter and bread this time and plan to make it a weekly stop.

Later that same day, I went to Bristol with some friends (friends! huzzah!). Bristol is much larger than Bath and is a quick 10 minute train ride. It was so refreshing to hang out with living breathing people.

This is Hannah (front) and Abby (back). They're both Americans and are in one of my classes at Bath Spa.

You'll meet them when you come visit me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Kevin!

I am so sad that I missed Way to Go Kevin!'s first birthday. That's right, folks, a year ago on October 7, I brought this tiny, mewling little blog into existence and look how far it's come! We've worked our way through burp cloths and rice cereal and I can now watch proudly as it balances on its pudgy little digital feet and totters around the living room of my heart.

Certainly there have been times when I was afraid that it wasn't developing properly. I'd see other women's blogs at the park and wonder if maybe I was doing something wrong or missing some key that would emotionally stunt my blog for life.

Why hasn't my blog had any embedded videos? I would wonder. And what's all this about changing the template?

But I realize now that everyone's blog develops at a different rate and no blog is better than another.

Anyway, Way to Go Kevin! for having a birthday.

The birthday of my blog has caused me to reflect on my own year and the many changes therein:

My backyard in October 2006:

My backyard in October 2007:

A nice view in October 2006:

A nice view in October 2007:

My neighborhood in October 2006 (although this picture was actually taken in December):

My neighborhood in October 2007:

On an unrelated note, I'm experimenting with removable wallpaper ideas. Just so you know, spray starch works pretty well on dry fabric and not so well on wet fabric.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Yeah, could I get a melee over here? Thanks.

Once upon a time I was pretty into Halo. I had my brother’s game system at my house and I would come home from work, take off my trouser socks and spend a little quality time with Oreos and X-box. I could get through several levels, willing myself to forget that I was on little kid super easy mode. I liked having the small pterodactyl aliens and the big blue Aquaman aliens explode with a single shot from my shotgun. I got pretty good at maneuvering in the various all-terrain vehicles. I finally figured out which button I needed to push to switch weapons. Things were going pretty well.

But as fun as it was to play Halo poorly by myself, it was doubly fun to play Halo poorly in front of other people. Occasionally my brothers or some friends from work would organize a game of Halo that involved days of preparation. We would have to lay in stores: seven layer dip, Coke, Oreos (for me), several televisions and something called a hub. The hub always gave us problems. Nobody really knew who had the hub or if we had a hub. Once it was finally located in the back of someone’s car, there were several cooks in the kitchen of the hub, trying to hook it up to all the different X-boxes, trying to make everything talk to everything.

I just tried to stay out of the way. I know that I was only invited as a circus side-show freak Halo playing girl and wasn’t expected to participate in the set-up.

Eventually, the world was as it should be and everyone was on the right map and the right team and the game commenced. I was always put on the better team as a sort of sexist handicap. My job usually involved running for the hills and trying to snipe people from a safe distance, or drawing enemy fire as I got stuck in a corner or lost my bearings in the middle of the map.

I never was any good at Halo. If I played too long my contacts would dry out and I'd get a headache. One time I made the people I was playing with turn their controllers upside down to play, and I still didn’t win (although that was a pretty fun game for me).

I’m not going to psychoanalyze why I liked playing it so much. I think it’s got to be the camaraderie. Or the addiction to entertainment. Or the latent aggression.

Take your pick.

Well Worth the Eight Bucks

Oh you tiny little pint of wonder!
Did you come across the sea from Vermont
to fill my freezer with home?
A bowl of cookie dough ice cream and a cup of rooibus.
I could be in Aro Circle.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Settling in.

Well, so here I am in England! I've been spending my days wandering around the city and my nights studying the various denominations of the British pound so that I don't have to stare blankly at the change in my hand as I try to buy a cup of coffee.

I can move into my apartment (flat) on Tuesday. It's teeny tiny - it could easily fit into my bedroom at home - but it has everything that I need and it's close to the bus stop and the city center (centre). I've found a little coffee shop with wi-fi nearby.

People I've met:
Geraldine, the matronly B&B manager
Rupert, the hot letting agent
Su Ann, the friendly missionary
Jama, the amorous drifter

It's been an interesting week! Yesterday I went to a Church of England. The service was very close to what I'm used to: hymns and choruses, a sermon on Genesis 2, innumerable announcements, tea and coffee and fellowship. The people were great and I was excited to meet Su Ann, the missionary with the Christian Union that I emailed a few weeks ago. She came and picked me up from the B&B and took me to a student lunch afterward. It was so refreshing to just be able the hang out with other believers. The body of Christ really is universal.

Tonight I head over to the University for registration, meet and greet, and (fingers crossed) some awkward icebreakers.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. I still need to download them from my camera to my computer. It'll happen, though!