Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We were talking about Mushrooms.

Today was my first day of my senior year of college. I am sitting on the stone steps of an old looking building, eating a donut hole and drinking an orange vitamin water (both of which were handed out in red square for free), surrounded by people who are already studying (what could they possibly be studying already?) or texting or eating muffins. The sun is shining down deceivingly as a breeze wafts by and warns me that it's probably time to start wearing warmer jackets.

I had History of Japanese Americans, in which my short, animated professor encouraged us to smell a handful of button mushrooms without explanation. Eventually it became relevant as he segued into a lecture about the Matsutake mushroom and how elusive it is to find and harvest and how secretive the Japanese and Japanese Americans tend to be about their location. He then passed around a Matsutake mushroom, which smelled significantly weirder and stronger. Apparently he paid $49.99 a pound for this mushroom, as well, and told us his wife demanded he bring it home after class to make soup.

So that was my morning.
So far I have learned that Matsutake smell weird.

I also made friends with an international student named Brandon who came in to class late and probably wondered for a good thirty minutes why there was a pile of mushrooms on his desk because he missed the smelling exercise. I leaned over after awhile and said "we were talking about mushrooms." He just kind of looked at me for a minute and then he laughed and said "oh", as if my explanation made it any less weird.

I had Consumerism in America next.
I walked into the class with my fingers crossed that it wouldn't just be another horrible econ class, because those bore me to tears, but the professor walked in looking like a hippie and started asking us if we could think of anything that wasn't a commodity. We spent a good half an hour listing things ("Love?" "A gift made of entirely raw materials?" "Experiences?" "Tickets to a sporting event when you go for social reasons and not for the sport itself?") and I was geeking out the whole time. I love this stuff. We're going to be talking about consumer society and the evolution of advertising and all sorts of great stuff, and I am actually really excited about it.

I am a person who is passionate about many things, but rarely do I find those topics within school. So the fact that I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 90 minute lecture was very promising for me.

Tomorrow I have my focus group for my major thesis, which should be interesting.

After class today, Justin came and picked up Eia and I so we could drive downtown and renew our parking passes. There isn't much significant to say about this experience aside from the fact that there was a globe hand sanitizer dispenser inside that auto-dispenses the sanitizer right into your cupped hands, and while Eia assures me that these things are everywhere all of a sudden, this was the first I have seen and it was exciting. Also, Justin's horoscope said he's going to meet a new girl today who is going to change his life so all afternoon we kept nudging each other and saying "maybe it's her," or "do you think it might be her?" No luck yet though.

Um. Then I had a chili dog. Why is my life not more interesting?
I need to go back to traveling around the globe. xD

Okay, no, I remember what else I was going to write about. In the last week, I have received FIVE phone calls of varying stupidity, including "Hello Miss Horner, we are calling to inform you that your auto loan has been approved and we just need your signature to put it through," or "Miss Horner, yes, we just wanted to let you know that the credit card sweepstakes you entered into online has been processed and we just wanted to verify your information," or "Greetings Miss Horner, we're calling on behalf of the information you requested online for our internet courses in the business degree here at so and so college," and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHO PUT MY PHONE NUMBER OUT IN THE WORLD because I have no idea what any of these people are talking about and I am getting increasingly sick of it.

I don't want to change my phone number but if I keep getting these stupid calls at the rate they're coming in, I'm going to throw my phone out the window or bury it deep, deep underground.

Okay. I am going to go film a video and then I'm going to watch Glee. Oh, and the verdict on Glee is that I find it to be enjoyable, I like the chemistry between the main teacher and the red-headed teacher, but overall I don't think it's quite as amazing as everyone is saying on twitter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Zombies, Gangsters, and Pretty Pretty Princesses.

My welcome home present from the state of Washington has thus far been a stuffy nose and a congested brain. Thanks, home.

My return to Seattle has been fun, and busy, and kind of non-stop. Which is good. I haven't had time to slow down and think about how much I miss certain people really. I've already made some new friends here. I've bonded more with my roommates Ben and Justin in these 4 days here at home than I ever did before I left for London.

The last two days have been completely occupied with Zombie stuff. I was on crew for this big two-day shoot in downtown Seattle for Night Zero, which essentially means I got to wear a red t-shirt that said "CREW" on it and hand out colorful pieces of paper to the extras to color code them into their places for the shoot. And when everyone was registered and checked in, there wasn't much left for me to do so I basically ended up talking to this guy named Josh… all day. We pretended to be busy by taking still production photos for awhile, but eventually we just gave up and went to Top Pot so I could re-experience real Seattle donuts.

Highlights of the day included my good deed of the month, when I helped a rather large elderly lady into a honey bucket, and what had to have been some sort of subliminal message experience when on the drive home, Justin, Josh, another girl named Kelly and I all NEEDED Taco Bell. It was bizarre. Or maybe I have just been watching Josie and the Pussycats. xD
Which, coincedentally, is how I spent Saturday evening with Justin. Every time Tyler walks into the living room, Justin and I are in the exact same spots watching something on our big screen tv. I think it's just funny timing, but Tyler is starting to think there is something wrong with us.

Day two at the Zombie shoot was much like Day one, except that Josh was given a real job doing lights so I lost my conversational buddy. Instead I was still on the registration table, and I spent most of the day chatting with Katherine, who is incidentally one of the girls I met up in Edinburgh when I visited Eia. So that was fun. I have really enjoyed this whirlwind superfast way I have just thrown myself back into life in Seattle. Justin used to invite me to things back before I went to London but a lot of times I just turned them down, because I had videos to film or a British boy to talk to on skype or something.. I'm not going to do that this year. I was telling Katherine this - I have lived in Seattle for a year now without actually living in it. I don't have many friends here, I rarely go out, and if I were to show someone around the coolest places in Seattle, I'd have no idea where to start. So I'm going to make an effort to change that this year.

In fact I have spent the last three years of my life kind of just ... anticipating the next trip I was going on. Conferences, wrockstock, impromptu journeys to LA, visits from Alex, YouTube gatherings, etc. It wasn't really a problem until I realized the time I spent at home between these events was kind of just grey space. I don't want to live like that anymore. I want the best of both worlds, to quote everyone's favorite Disney popstar. I want to be involved with things and like it here too.

After the zombie shoot ended we went home to change our clothes and take brief naps and buy $1.99 10-piece chicken nuggets and things, but then I went with Justin to his friends Alexander and Tara's apartment down by the stadiums, and we had the best games night ever. I was starting to get a cold and my head was all congested, but it didn't matter because I was having a blast. First we played this game called Space Alert, which is the most complicated game I've ever been taught how to play. Basically you have 10 minutes to have all six players run the ship together, face enemy attacks, and not blow yourself up. Each game we played added more complications.. including broken parts of the ship, having to wiggle a computer mouse during each phase, and a synchronized light/fog machine/strobe-light that they'd set up specifically for making the game ever more stressful and exciting.

Then we played Cash and Guns, which is a game where you're a gangster and you point these orange foam guns at other people in the game and depending on what cards you play, you either kill or get killed for whatever amount of money is in the middle. And the game progressed to have undercover cops and superpowers for the players, which just made it way more hilarious.

The last game we played was probably really only enjoyable for the girls… we played Pretty Pretty Princess in teams. There were 6 of us, so each girl was paired with a boy and the girls played the game but the boys wore the jewelry. I don't understand why this isn't the way the game is ALWAYS played, because it was so much more fun.

Now it is Monday, and I have woken up with my cold now a million times worse and I don't think I am getting out of bed for awhile. I think I will watch the pilot of Glee finally, despite Kayley's protests.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Early riser.

I am SO exhausted right now, but as it's only 9:30 pm, I need to keep myself awake a bit longer so I don't keep falling asleep early in the evening and waking up at 6 am like I have been since I got home. Normal humans my age don't sleep from 9pm to 6am. I want to be normaaaal.

Let's see. Wednesday I spent with my family; my mom made all my favorite foods for dinner, I did my laundry in their nice fancy washer and dryer, and I gave them all their gifts and souvenirs I bought for them. That night I took a bath (because lying in warm sudsy bubbles sounded a lot easier than standing) and ended up falling asleep twice, and I can assure you that there is nothing weirder than waking up in a bath tub. Except maybe waking up in a bathtub again.

The next day everyone in the Horner household was at work or school, so I headed out around 1 or so to finally go back to my own house in Seattle.

Oh forget it. I am way too tired for this. I'll stay on my stupid sleeping schedule another day, I suppose.

..aaaaand it's 6:30 am. Why is this my life?

Okay, moving on.

It was so nice to get back to my Seattle house. I pulled up beside the curb and had to make like 5 trips in to get all my stuff inside, and carrying my heavy bags up the stairs was not very fun. Walking into my room for the first time felt amazing. It was all clean too, which surprised me! I must have known I'd want to come home to a clean bedroom. I considered starting to unpack my things but then I decided not even I am that productive, so I just kind of flopped down on my rainbow comforter and relished in being home. My new housemate PJ popped her head in my room (she looks so much like my online friend Daniela that I know from that it's creepy) to say hello (we hadn't met yet) and then I heard Justin's thundering footsteps coming up the stairs and his gasp of disbelief at the sight of my door being open.

Needless to say, he and Ben and I decided in honor of my homecoming, we were going to celebrate Arthur Guiness' 250th anniversary by checking out nearly every pub on the Ave. I'd never even BEEN into any of the pubs on our street because I always thought they all looked shady, but after 2 months in England, I felt completely at home in these various darkened establishments. Ha.

There was a point at our 4th pub where we made friends with these two guys, one of which was British, and I looked around at where I was standing, at the Irish Car Bomb in my hand, and I exclaimed "I didn't actually come home, did I? I'm still in London."

Everyone was cracking up and then I realized I couldn't help pay for anything because all I had in my wallet was pounds and the British guy was like "Ooh can I see them? Please?"

So that was fun. We walked home, tried to watch Speed Racer, realized it was way too bright and confusing for our current state, and I somehow ended up back in my room, still in my dress and my tights, on top of the covers at about 10 pm. I am the coolest person you know.

Justin was worse off; he somehow fell asleep in PJ's bed. PJ wasn't even home, so why this happened at all, I couldn't tell you. I woke him up at 6:30 am and we went and got a McDonald's breakfast (I am actually sick of McDonald's after my time in London) and then I had to scramble to record two videos before I met up with Kayley and Denis at the mall. There is no rest for the weary.

It was so nice seeing Kayley. It's funny, because I was so busy having fun in London and spending time with my friends there… you kind of forget how much you like the people you have at home, which is what I have been experiencing ever since I got back. Kayley and I had so much fun shopping at Forever21 (shopping in America was weird; all the styles are completely different. Hardly anyone wears anything colorful in London, but Forever21 had a whole section of brightly colored floral prints. It totally threw me off), and we ate at Chipotle (FINALLY) and I gave her some British candy I know she loves, and then we wandered around Barnes and Noble for awhile. We found this book called Geektastic that John Green submitted a short story to, and the main characters are Kayley and Lauren and they go to Hoover highschool. I made a crack on twitter about how I was offended there wasn't any "Kristina" or "Horner" in the story, but John replied this morning saying, "It got cut in page proofs due to an oversight. I'll make it up to you!" That was unexpected. xD

I was supposed to go up to Bellingham to see Liz last night, and I feel terrible about this, but I cancelled on her. I was standing in my room trying to pack a bag (since I was staying overnight) and everything about putting clothes in a bag felt horrible. I just got HOME. I haven't unpacked my other bags yet. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my house again so soon. So I ended up actually watching Speed Racer last night instead (okay that's a lie, I just slept through it. But that's to be expected from me, really).

Today I am leaving early to be on crew for this Zombie thing in Seattle! I am doing everything I can to throw myself back into life here at home and so far it's working.
Also, I need to get out of the house because Eia's smoke alarm is beeping and I kind of hate her for it. Haha.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It tastes like grass.

Being home is WEIRD.

Well, I actually haven't gone home yet. I am still at my parents' house and plan to go to my house later today, when I have finished doing my laundry and pulled myself out of bed.

Last night I fell asleep at 9 pm and today I woke up at 6 am. Jet lag is annoying.

Where did i leave off in my blogging.. hmm..

Right, so Monday morning I woke up in Johnny's hotel room in Camden, with Emma already long gone to get to her classes on time. Johnny and I headed over to the Marylebone station around noon so I could meet with Alex Hinksman, who is a friend of mine that I met through Luke Conard, since Alex helped out quite a bit with ALL CAPS and Spattergroit and is pretty much just a great person in general. We all then went to Barbican where we met Emma again for her lunch break and I got to experience Pizza Express.

Emma had to return to school and the two boys and I decided the adventure for the day would be Madame Tussaud's wax museum. We were bothered right away by how expensive it was (even using these 2-for-1 coupons I had!) but literally 5 minutes inside the doors we decided it was completely worth it. The wax sculptures were AMAZING. We spent all day taking photos with "celebrities", we got to sit inside the Big Brother interview room and talk to a voice who asked us questions and gave us challenges, and waited in line for the more "popular" celebrities, like Zac Efron, Michael Jackson, and Obama. xD

There was this scary part where we had to walk through a haunted house of sorts where real actors were inside jumping and snarling at us.. I warned the guys that am really, really wimpy and can't even walk through the Haunted Houses they make around Halloween time (the ones here sponsored by radio stations and stuff), but they were like "Kristina come on, it won't be that bad!"

…it was that bad.

I distinctly remember hearing both Johnny and Alex saying "This is really horrible. This is actually terrible," as we made our way through; I sandwiched myself between them and remember linking arms with Johnny and holding on to Alex's hand with a death grip. It was so, so scary. I can't even - WHY would they build that? Why would people walk through it? Never again. Traumatized. I'm not exaggerating.

Then the museum ended with an actual ride, in cars on a track like the ones at Disneyland for Peter Pan and Pinnochio and stuff. We sat in cars shaped like London taxis and got a history of Great Britain, about the plague and the Victorian era and everything, and since it was nearing my last day in the UK and I was trying to seep up as much British culture as I could before returning home, I really enjoyed it.

Then we met with Emma again, had dinner at an all you can eat Chinese buffet, and at this point Johnny left us to go work on Hat Trick things. The three of us remaining headed in to Covent Gardens to hang out in a pub and meet up with Chloe from "A Basilisk in Your Pasta". She was so fun! We had drinks and chatted for awhile, took a few pictures… it's always fun to meet someone from a fellow Wizard Rock band, especially one from another country!

That night I went back to Rosi's, where we watched 5-6 episodes of Gossip Girl from last season and chatted and I was able to have a casual, relaxing last evening in London. It was nice, and incredibly bittersweet.

Tuesday morning I woke up early, I showered (well, Rosi's shower is broken so I kind of shoved my head under the bath faucet and did the best I could) and then she took me to Kingston where I did some last minute shopping at Primark and Topshop and my other favorite store, Miso (or maybe it's called Republic, I can't remember now). I bought about 20 pounds worth of British candy (and Millennium shortbread, thank you blog readers for tipping me off about that!) to take home and either share with people or hoard all to myself, I haven't decided yet.

Then we went back to Rosi's town, meet up with Emma, and had the most fun at Vodka Revolutions that we possibly could have. We had 2-for-1 vouchers so we bought cocktails and pitchers (and more cocktails and pitchers) and we had a very proper leaving celebration (for me, but Rosi leaves for Exeter soon and Emma just started at Conti, so we're all starting new chapters of our lives). I am going to miss those two girls so much.

Emma took the bus with me over to Heathrow where we were going to just stay up until my flight the next morning (6:30 am) but we ended up sleeping in Starbucks for about 2 hours. Emma and I had a weepy and teary goodbye, and I started my journey home.

I barely remember even going to Amsterdam Schipol, but I hardly slept on the direct flight from there to Seattle. I had the little individual screen to watch movies (thank goodness) so I watched Adventureland (weird movie) and part of Monsters vs. Aliens (until I got bored) and then I watched a pretty good movie called Sunshine Cleaning or something about two sisters who clean up after crime scenes.

I cried when I saw my mom and dad. it was so overwhelming, being back at SeaTac, having someone to carry my bags for me for once, them taking me immediately to Denny's and buying me whatever I wanted, giving me the hugs I know they've been dying to give me for over a month now… it was so good to see them. My mom took me to Jamba Juice on the way home too.

I secretly made fun of the woman in front of us for ordering a wheatgrass shot to my mom… so when we got up to order and I said my usual "I'll have a Peach Pleasure", my mom threw in, "and a wheatgrass shot, please."

She drank it, looked at me and said, "It tastes like grass."

"I don't really know what you were expecting," I replied.

I'll continue on later. Being home so far has been fun. Weird and disorienting, but a lot more comfortable and a lot less lonely than I anticipated.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bittersweet end of trip things

I haven't written a blog post in awhile and I feel weird about it.

There have been things happening in my life (yes, again) that I haven't been able to get past, and it's been stopping me from saying anything really, on this blog. Sometimes it hits me how much of my soul is bared for the world to see and I just have to reel it in a little bit.

I left off on Tuesday morning of last week.

I installed Snow Leopard the other day, and it keeps autocorrecting my spelling errors on textedit, which it never did before. It's freaking me out.
(I type my blog posts up on textedit before putting them in blogger. Habit. I don't even give myself the chance of accidentally losing an entire blog entry by accidentally clicking back or forward on the page or something, after how many times that's happened in the past).

Anyway, Tuesday. I endured a long day of walking through the rain, waiting for people's phone calls, being grumpy and eventually spending a relatively awkward night at Alex's with him and Charlie. On our laptops. So that was eventful.

I did finally get a copy of Catching Fire though, which I have been trying to savor so I have something really good and exciting to do on the plane home tomorrow.

So the Alex time was weird and a blur, and the next morning I got up, packed up a few of my things, and went back to Heathrow. I had one more trip to Dublin planned, to do more filming with RTE for ApartmentRed stuff. I had an absolute blast, again. Spending time with Adam (whataboutadam, to clarify) has been one of my favorite parts of this trip, and filming with the rest of the cast was just as fun as the first time. I had more lines this time, and filmed a scene inside a cardboard box with Stephen, and just all around enjoyed all of my second venture up to Ireland. I got to know the rest of the cast a lot better as well, and I am sad I wont get to work with Damon, Dermot and Esther on a regular basis after this. I hate that Seattle is so far from Ireland!

Wednesday night Adam and I went out for Indian food with Aaron (the guy in charge of ApartmentRed) and Dermot, which was naturally a highlight for me. Thursday night Stephen took us to see Jimmy Carr with his friend Barry, which was exciting. I thought he was a bit too vulgar for my taste, but I wont deny he had me laughing at some points. Plus we had front row seats. During the intermission we went to a little shop and I tried to buy the most non-American food I could (since my time here is growing shorter), so I bought Lucozade and a Sausage Roll. Adam also got this candy bar called "Yorkie" and made me try it, even though I felt strange doing so, as it said "NOT FOR GIRLS" plainly on the side. Weirdo candy bars. Also, the Lucozade exploded all over me. Fun times.
Friday was pretty uneventful, but Adam and I had lunch with Orlagh, who is the new Red employee who oversees the actors I suppose, and she was nice. We talked about doing interesting Media things in college and she offered to send me her Thesis. Haha. I made my way into a few gift shops as well, since I'm a tourist and silly.

Friday night I got back to London and I was supposed to go back to Alex's, but due to… unforeseen circumstances, that didn't end up happening. So I carted myself over to Rosi's house (without any of my luggage) to stay at her place.

Saturday morning I went into London to hang out with Emma and Claire, and we went shopping and I got to experience Wagamama, and then we sat in a Starbucks for awhile. I savored the chocolate and caramel shortbread bar I purchased, because I don't think they have them in America and I LOVE them. How I will survive without the chocolate and caramel shortbread bar, I haven't grappled with yet.
Claire went home and Emma and I headed over to j0ames's house, where we did the aforementioned (previous blog post) Derren Brown chair sticking activities. I was so glad I got to see him again before I left.

I could go on, I suppose, but I am tired of typing things and I need to start packing because my flight leaves tomorrow and I have stuff all over Rosi's guestroom and I have another full day planned today in London. I am feeling so bittersweet about leaving, it's insane. I want to go home SO BADLY, and get the heck away from London and everything that's happened here. I need a "then" and "now" version of my life and I need to stuff all of these horrible and confusing feelings into the "then" category.
But on the other hand.. the support group I have had here, and the friends I have gotten so close to, and just the ridiculous amount of fun times I DID have… I'm not ready to leave that behind.

The idea of not seeing Rosi, or my new friend Claire, or Johnny or James or Liam or Jerry or even the people I didn't get to see as much like Tom and Ashlee and Anna and Cheeky Gary and Alex Hinksman … two months is a long time to be here and feel like you're becoming part of a different world, and to know that I am walking away from all of it to go home, far away from this life and these people, tomorrow morning, is scary. I honestly have more friends in London than I do in Seattle. The people I miss at home, in general, are scattered out across the whole of America and I don't know when I will see them next either. :/

I really.. started to feel like I lived here, even though I was house hopping and never sure where I was going to be on a particular day. But I have gotten used to the tube. I have gotten used to these people; these friends. I have gotten used to London and GBP and not driving and knowing I have plenty of people I could call if I need anything here.

And Emma. I don't know HOW I am going to say goodbye to Emma. I don't know what we would have done this summer without each other.

I'm afraid I'm going to feel MORE lonely at home than I did here.

School starts soon. Maybe everything will be different. Maybe I'll be busy and meet new people and.. I don't know. I have been handed a fresh start and I suppose it's time to take it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last minute London adventures

I have not been updating my blog, and I'm sure it feels as weird for you to not be getting daily updates as it feels for me to not be MAKING daily updates.

I'm going to do a wrap up of my last week here in the UK soon, but right now I just wanted to write a short entry to assure everyone that I haven't died and that I am doing just fine.

Saturday Emma and I spent the night at j0ames's house (neither of us had any of our stuff, I never do that xD) and spent the entire night watching Derren Brown's film over and over where he tries to stick you to your chair. Emma was really skeptical and kept laughing during the film, but James and I were totally into it..... it didnt work on us, but Emma was CEMENTED into her seat. We tried again and then Emma couldn't BLINK. We kept clapping in front of her eyes and she wasn't blinking... you can't FAKE that!
It was actually a little scary, and James and I had to help her out of her seat when she started freaking out... but then we made her do it 6 more times because we're jerks and we were enjoying ourselves way too much.

We were trying all different ways of watching it to see if it would work on James and I, and finally on the 5th try we did it with the lights on and I got stuck as well. It was the weirdest sensation. I think James got this try on film too, so that might show up in a video on youtube. xD

Then we went into London to meet Johnny for his birthday, went with him, Tom Milsom, Eddplant, Cheeky Gary and Ashlee to a hardcore show, which had me cracking up because if my little brother knew I was at a gig listening to the kind of music I make FUN of him for listening to....

Anyway, after that, I was supposed to go back to Richmond to Rosi's and Emma was supposed to go home because she had school this morning, but it's among my last nights in London so we threw caution to the wind, and stayed in a hotel with Johnny. Again without ANY of my stuff. Who AM I? So I am wearing the same clothes over again, I used shampoo but no conditioner, I bought a toothbrush and a hairbrush at Sainsburys for about 3 pounds, and I'm loving my last few days here.

Who knows what adventures I'll end up having today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ha, Ha, Ha, Clunk!

Today has been a weird day. I had ordeals at the Paris CDG airport, but I don't even care to write about them because they just involve annoying things like train tickets being invalid, possibly getting ripped off by a fruit vendor, thinking I was going to miss my flight and later the mean flight staff making me show them my boarding pass 3 different times in a matter of 5 minutes while I boarded the plane, and while I assure you these are all riveting and blog-worthy stories, I am just too tired to care. Enter generic "travel woe" experiences here.

As much as I enjoyed a week away from all the things I had let get me down for the last month had a really great mental vacation, I am feeling ready to go home. I feel like I never stop moving and lugging around suitcases and distracting myself. Rome and Paris were great, and it was wonderful to spend the time with Eia. I enjoyed nearly every bit of it.
Now I am back in London and it's weird, because what I have tried so hard to forget this last week is right in front of me. I'm staying at a hotel with Johnny and Charlie and.. Alex. He's being really nice, but I still don't really know how to feel around him, and it's emotionally draining.
I had my own room, though, thank goodness.

I have just stopped writing this blog post to have a long overdue skype chat with the one and only HayleyGHoover. I will resume typing blog like things in the morning.

It's morning! I had a really strange dream that I was back at SITC and Liam and various other people were going on this strange ride and had an extra spot so they invited me along. I did, and in the end it was this big huge obstacle course where you had to navigate your way to the "elephant room" at the top without getting hit by any of the roaming laser beams, in which case you die. I think this dream was a product of reading the Hunger Games all day yesterday. xD

I finished the book in the evening when the boys went to the grocery store, and now all I can think of is getting my hands on the sequel. I haven't had this sort of "inhale the book as fast as you can" experience since I first read the initial three Twilight books, and before that it wasn't since Harry Potter. Finding books like this is my favorite experience in the world. Alex and I had a chat actually about what makes a book so GRIPPING like this but it's hard to say. With the Hunger Games, it's perfectly executed suspense, but that's not the case with the other two.

I can't even remember what I was going to blog about last night, but basically there are 8 more days of this trip ahead of me and I am yet again exhausted. I'm staying in Camden right now, which is fun, but I have to cart all my luggage around with me so that puts a bit of a damper on poking around in shops and things while I wait for the boys to be done filming with Hat Trick.

I can't wait to go back to Dublin on Wednesday for more ApartmentRed filming, but right now the idea of boarding another flight sounds honestly terrible. xD

Okay. I have just found out check out time for this hotel is one hour earlier than I anticipated, so that's fun. Um. Maybe I should go shower or something.

This is the most boring blog post I have ever written. I'm not sure how to spice it up.

Here you go, here is a cheesy joke I found by typing "jokes" into google and clicking the first link, which is a Yahoo! Kids site. Don't expect much.

Q -What goes "Ha, ha, ha, clunk"?

A -People laughing their heads off!

Sigh. This is my life. Reading cheesy popsicle stick jokes alone in a hotel room at ten in the morning.

Days until I leave: 8

Monday, September 14, 2009

The EuroDisney Experience.

Sunday was one of the most fun days I've ever had. Well, maybe not ever, but definitely one of the most fun days on this two-month-monster-of-a-trip.

My alarm went off at 7:45; I took a shower in record time, dried my hair, ran downstairs for breakfast, and by 9 am Eia and I were heading to the Metro. Us leaving the hostel by 9 was a huge deal, as we usually intend to start our days early and never seem to get out of bed. Like today, for instance; it's quarter past nine and we haven't budged.

Anyway, yesterday was amazing. It took us about an hour to get out to where the Disneyland Paris park is located by the RER train. We got there, had our bags searched, and stepped out into the park in all its Disneyland glory.

I am going to start by saying that yes, it is mostly similar to the park in California. A bit smaller, missing a few attractions, but for the most part, the parks are really alike. But the experience of walking around, having Goofy rap in French during "Mickey's Magical Party Time", hearing Buzz Lightyear first as Tim Allen and then with this deep scary French accent, and riding Star Tours with the recorded stuff being the normal American lines but the robots all speaking in French was just hilarious. Eia and I were having a blast making comparisons all day, and have even concluded that some of the rides were better than the ones in the original park.

The first ride we went on (aside from the general climb-around-on-things Wild West attraction in Frontier Land) was the Haunted Mansion. I think it was called the Phantom House or something here. The pictures in the elevator were all different, though the ride started the same. But then they added all these new rooms and made the entire experience so much better! And scarier!
So it was a good start to our EuroDisney experience. The first ride we went on was already superior to that of the ride we know and love back home (I say "home" - haha. Eia's the one who lived in LA, not me. But I have been to Disney enough times to call the California park home I suppose).

We literally rode just about every ride, so I am having trouble remembering which ones we went on in what order, but I will say that the one ride that disappointed us was the Indiana Jones ride. This is a favorite in LA, but here in Paris it was a completely different ride altogether. Instead of having a cool line area where you walk through caves and dare your friends to try out the "booby-traps", it was just a normal roped-off line to a basic outdoor roller coaster, the kind with overhead restraints that hurt the sides of your head as it knocks you around. Fail, Paris. Needless to say, we only rode that one once.

The BEST ride was Thunder Mountain Railroad. In LA, the appeal of this one is just that it's a rickety old wooden roller coaster. Here it was AMAZING. It took you hurtling through pitch blackness, then brought you outside, looped you around and around, and then sent you flying through the dark again. Eia and I were stunned at how good it was. We made sure to ride this one twice.

We spent a lot of the day wandering around, hitting up the little kid rides we always skip over in LA (like Snow White, Pinnochio, and Peter Pan - all of which were actually kind of scary! Aside from Peter Pan; that ride is just sweet) and browsing through gift shops and the rides that aren't actually rides but more just attractions you walk through (like Alice in Wonderland's Labyrinth and the Aladdin one). We also spent a portion of the day getting pictures with Disney characters; my favorite being the Genie, but also with Lilo and Mary Poppins and a bunch of others I can't remember because they're on Eia's camera. We wanted a picture with Woody, but the line was too long, and we also got completely snubbed by Chip and Dale. Stupid chipmunks.

I think my favorite part of the day (well, one of them) was when we rode "It's a Small World". Usually I don't really give a crap about this ride, because the song gets stuck in your head something fierce and there are things like Splash Mountain you could be riding on instead, but Eia and I really, really enjoyed it this time around. I actually felt a little emotional as our boat passed by all the places we've been in the last few months. Eia took pictures of England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France to signify all the places we've stayed, and then we snapped a bunch of America pictures because despite how much fun this last week has been, I think we're both a little homesick.

I realized how little I knew about other cultures before this trip, and was really impressed with myself at being able to point out different countries based on iconic landmarks and clothing and everything that I had no idea about before all of this traveling, but I also realized how many more places I have yet to go to truly appreciate the whole of the ride. So there you go! Deep, touching moments at Disneyland for the WIN!

Space Mountain. Was. Amazing.
We didn't think it would measure up, because the Space Mountain in LA, after being remodeled for years, is the best ride in the park, but the Space Mountain (Misson: 2!) here was somehow even better. We rode it three times. Two of those times were back to back in a 30 minute period. I cannot even explain to you what a sci-fi nerd I feel like sometimes and being given the opportunity to zoom around in space doing loops through the stars and super novas pretty much sums up everything that is right in the world. God I love that ride.

The Buzz Lightyear ride is awesome too, even though the lasers are hard to aim. I got a high score though! I always do crappily on that ride, but I must have unknowingly hit some awesome target or something.

The day was fun, and tiring, and even though Eia and I probably SHOULD have spent the day perusing the Louvre, I remember saying to her at one point, "I'd choose Mickey Mouse over the Mona Lisa any day."

I really do appreciate history and art and knowledge, and have experienced my fair share of all of that in the last week here, but I also appreciate letting my inner child out and reliving all of my favorite stories with my best friend in a foreign country. We do not regret our day at Disneyland Paris. It was worth every penny.

The train ride home that night was long and tiring, and when we finally lugged ourselves up to the 6th floor of our hostel, ready to collapse... there were boys sleeping in our beds. Um.

The four of us went downstairs and apparently the OTHER girls in our room were supposed to have checked out the day before, but since Eia and I are tidy people, the cleaning staff thought we must have left (even though our bags were still in our room and stuff). Anyway, the poor tired boys had to lug themselves and their stuff to a different room on the 3rd floor, and Eia and I finally, finally got to call it quits in our own beds. We were going to have some chips and salsa before bed, but neither of us could get the cap off the salsa, and we were both SO tired that the whole experience was hilarious. I threw the food on a chair and said "FORGET IT!" We went to bed.

This morning I woke up and finished Part 1 of the Hunger Games (heart-wrenching cliffhanger!) and decided to write a Disney blog before I continued on reading.

I fly back to London today! I'm not ready to leave... I really love Paris.
French airport all by myself, wish me luck. :/

Days until I leave: 9

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I had to google all the French place names.

Today was my second day in Paris!

Eia and I woke up super early and decided to power through the tourist things we wanted to see. We even made a list. It was serious.

We had our free croissants and jam courtesy of the hostel, grabbed our purses, and jumped on the Metro. We got out at the stop for the Eiffel Tower, and had to meander our way through the men jingling metal Eiffel Tower key chains at us and other men with string trying to distract us long enough with compliments to start tying a bracelet on our wrists. No. Thank. You.

Finally finally we got to the Eiffel Tower! The tower itself was actually a lot prettier than I expected it to be, and we spent a long time trying to find the best angles to take pictures of it from. We had to keep walking backwards because it's so tall, and after awhile, we realized we were probably a quarter mile back from where we started, near this big fancy fountain. We were finally able to get a picture that had the ENTIRE tower in it, and then we started playing around with our Polaroid cameras because where ELSE would you want to use film that is obsolete and more than $1 per picture?

Near the top, the fountain was flooding all over what was supposed to be a nice place to stand and look at the tower I suppose, but it quickly became mine and Eia's personal wave pool as we kicked off our shoes and ran around in the water. Eventually loads of other people seemed to think we had the right idea, and tons of barefoot tourists were playing in the flooded faux-pond. It was fun. :) We never actually made it to the beach in Rome, so this was our substitute.

After this, we let our feet dry in the sun and headed over to the Arc de Triomphe, where within seconds, two guys fro Israel tried to get us to spend the day with them. Cute or not, we declined, and rushed off in the direction of the Champs Elysées without even bothering how to figure out how to actually get TO the Arch without playing an extreme game of Frogger in the giant roundabout. But not before the guys had us take pictures with them. They're probably going to go back home and tell all their friends and family about all the wild and crazy fun they had with these two American girls, which is a laugh, because we literally talked to them for about a grand total of 4 minutes. Or so.

Our stroll down the Champs Elysées was fun; we saw Louis Vuitton and lots of other stores we can't afford to even look at for an extended period of time. We ducked into a bookshop and bought copies of Harry Potter in french (Eia bought me Sorcerer's Stone in Italian a few years ago, so I've decided to compile a collection of the entire set in different languages of places I've been; so I now own the french edition of Chamber of Secrets). The covers are so cute here!
I was looking for other cool covers of well-loved books, but the only ones I recognized were Twilight and Uglies, and both had the standard covers.

I'm having a hard time remembering what we did next, since we crammed so much into today. We were going to go to the Louvre, but we decided to save that until Monday. Right, so we were going to hit the Paris Hard Rock, but had a terrible time getting directions (3 different people told us 3 different Metro stops) and then, much to our dismay, we took the yellow line all the way to transfer at Nation, which was CLOSED, so we wasted about an hour riding a line all the way to the end and all the way back. We finally found the Hard Rock, got to add it to our list, and then walked in circles looking for the big Opera house. I have no idea how it took us so long to find it, but we did, and didn't end up going inside because it cost money and we're nearing the end of a VERY LONG European adventure, so funds are low.

After all of this, we headed back to our hostel, took a bit of a break where Eia napped and I fit in a bit more time reading the Hunger Games (I LOVE IT) and we generally just let our feet and bodies rest after so many days of constantly being on the go.

We had plans to check out the Moulin Rouge and the Eiffel Tower at night, but instead I got a phone call from these two French girls who'd been trying to meet up with me since I got here, and Eia and I decided to go with them out for crepes. We had a lovely time chatting with them about funny language barrier problems and the Internet, and not to mention, it was nice having translators for once and the best part was being able to be sure about what was going to be in my food when I ordered it. They advised us to get this yummy dessert crepe with alcohol in it because they lit it on fire when they brought it to us. That was awesome.
They also gave us these French caramel sweets with jokes on the inside that are known for being terrible (the jokes, not the candy) and we had a bit of fun while they tried to translate the jokes over to us and it just... didn't.. work.

The girl's were lovely and I'm glad we met with them. It was nice to "know someone" in Paris. Haha. They were still complete strangers I suppose, just... complete strangers who happened to know a lot about me. xD

So we decided to pass on any more night activities after getting back around 10:45, because we want to be up BRIGHT AND EARLY tomorrow for Disneyland. Oh god I can't wait. :D

Also, I'm sad because I am the only 5AG who didn't make a video this week. It's been SO LONG since I made a video.. in fact, the last Monday video was made by ALEX and that's not really okay with me. I don't know if I'll have time this week. I miss it. :/

In other news, my best friend from middle school just told me she was singing "Mrs. Nerimon" at her color guard practice the other day, and another girl on the team was like, "Oh, you know about Kristina too?"
Heather said, "You have NO IDEA."

Okay. That's all for today. Goodnight, blog.

Days until I leave: 11

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cover your shoulders, miss.

Keeping a running mental list of all the things I want to blog about on this trip is so hard! I've actually hard to start jotting things down on the notes feature of my iPod Touch to keep from forgetting what's happened.

Speaking of my iPod, I had a terrifyingly frantic 5 minutes on the train this morning when I thought I'd lost it. It wasn't in my purse, it wasn't in any of my other bags, and we were slowing down as the train approached Paris Bercy, our station... but I'd remembered checking on my villagers on the iPod about an hour earlier (I am completely addicted to Virtual Villagers 2) so I knew it couldn't have gone far. Of course, ever the pessimist, I worried for a moment that our previous cabin mate (who'd left by then) had taken it with her, but eventually I found it hidden in the folds of my blanket. Stupid. I'd never been so happy to see its pink rubber casing.

Anyway, yesterday was our last day in Rome! Eia and I woke up at a pretty early hour, for us at least. By 9:30 we were watching Phil of the Future in Italian (whatever happened to that show? He was cute xD) and by 10 we were out the door on our way to the Vatican.

We took the Metro over to San Pietro (now that I have learned the London Underground, the metro system in every European country we visit is a total breeze) and made our way up to the Vatican. We waited in the sweltering heat in line, put our bags through the security screening, and finally headed up to the entrance, where a serious guy in sunglasses abruptly told me to "cover your shoulders, Miss".

"Um," I said, timid and confused.

"Put on your jacket."

"I don't have a jacket sir. It's hot."

"Then go buy a scarf."

SIGH. So Eia and I had to go all the way back out to the square, where I bought an ugly touristy Roman scarf, and waited in the long line a second time. As I passed seriousguy the next time around, he winked at me and the stupid scarf covering my shoulders. He must do this every day to stupid girls in tank tops who don't know how to read signs. *I* thought the picture looked like a bathing suit. No bathing suits at the Vatican; that's a rule I can stand behind.

So then we spent a good deal of time walking through the tombs and the church. I was too chicken to go into one of the confessionals, even though I had my first reconciliation as a child and would totally be eligible to do so. I felt like if I came all the way to the Vatican to confess my sins, I better have done something really bad. I have no such sins to confess, so I kept it to myself.

I made Eia take a picture of me doing the sign of the cross with the holy water so I can send it to my grandma (pretend to be a good little Catholic girl, even though I haven't gone to church in years) and we went on our merry way.

At this point, we realized we needed to keep with an ongoing tradition we have, and set off in search of a Hard Rock Café. It didn't take us very long to navigate our way to the Rome chapter of our favorite restaurant, and I made a joke about our day being two parts church, one part rock and roll. I think Eia was feeling a little too churched up, because she ordered herself a "sinful sundae".

Then we had to head back to the apartment, because our train for Paris left at 6:40 pm, and we had to pack up our things. A bit later we said our goodbyes to the place (I particularly took a moment to say goodbye to the Rhino and the deer heads; I felt a special connection with them after my night alone in the apartment where I tiptoed by them multiple times in the dark on my way to the kitchen saying aloud, "Please don't come to life, please don't come to life, please don't come to life.")

The night train to Paris was an experience. We shared our cabin with one French lady, and an Asian man later that we never really saw because we were already asleep by the time he joined us. Eia and I watched the last episode of Season 1 of Weeds and the first episode of Dollhouse on my laptop, meandered down to the food coach to buy ourselves a snack, and dozed off into a fitful, crappy night's sleep around 10pm. I woke up and started on "The Hunger Games" this morning, and if I weren't in PARIS right now, I would probably still be reading it.

Our hostel is amazing, and I would say the name but I have no idea how many blog readers live in Paris and would just, like, turn up here, so I will tell you all the name on Monday when I leave. But for my first hostel experience, I am impressed.

Today Eia and I had wonderful nutella and banana crepes that we couldn't finish, toured through Notre Dame, walked along the Seine, and ordered toasted ham and cheese sandwiches with a fried egg, which was literally a toasted ham and cheese sandwich... with a fried egg on top. Not between the bread, but situated right on top in all its eggy glory. It was amazing.

I am not sure what we're doing tonight, but we have decided that this weekend, we're going to have one intense day of generic Paris sightseeing, and one day entirely devoted to Disneyland Paris. I DON'T CARE WHO IS JUDGING US. We love Disneyland, and the option to go to one of the parks we've never set foot in is too great to pass up. Plus I think our hostel can get us a special deal or something.

I am loving it here. France is awesome, and so far everyone we've talked to has been really nice.

Days until I leave: 12

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Colosseum is Old.

I don't know why blogging is so much harder in Italy.

Maybe it's because I haven't been on my computer all week so I feel a little out of practice. Or maybe because the things I have been doing are so different than my regular daily routines that blogging about it just feels a little strange because I'm still processing where I am and what I have been doing.

Either way, I've had another two eventful days since I last wrote. After our McDonald's Internet excursion yesterday, Eia and I set off to see the Colosseum. We took our time getting there, because it was a pretty long walk from where we're staying. We ducked in to a few little shops (one in particular where a nice lady kept giving us samples of this "fruit cream" drink that she failed to mention was alcoholic until after we'd tried three kinds xD), and of course hit a few more gelato places.

We've been seeing how many different gelato flavors we can try while we're here.. so far I've had Caramel, Peach, and mixed berry with Vanilla. I think we'd need to extend our trip another two weeks to try them all.

On our walk we stopped at this pretty building with lots of steps of which I can't remember the name (there are a lot of buildings like this in Rome! I'm sorry!) and I saw a smooth, shiny rock on the ground. Kayley sent me a worry stone in her care package she sent for me, so I thought I'd pick it up and take it home for her, to replace the one she gave to me. I bent over and grasped it between my thumb and forefinger; turned it over, examining it... and freaked out. I threw it back on the ground and rubbed my hands against my pants. Turns out it was a cough drop. Sick.

We stopped at the Termini to buy our train tickets to Paris (we leave tomorrow evening). We're taking the night train, which takes a total of about 14 hours, and while that may sound horrible to anyone else, we couldn't be more excited. Plus, one less night we have to pay for a hostel in France.

We eventually made our way down to the Colosseum, and I stopped a few moments to take it all in. I mean, it was pretty touristy, with people in colorful fanny packs and visors milling about on the grounds and up in the open windows and everything, but if I squinted my eyes just the tiniest bit, it was so easy to imagine this place existing thousands of years ago. Basically, it was old, it was breathtaking, and despite the tourists and the cheesy men dressed as gladiators, I really got a sense of just how much history there is out there. This isn't like... a monument or a statue or an homage to the past like we have in America - this IS the past. A very well preserved, constantly under renovation, tourist attracting version of the past, but people WALKED on those streets, well before the Internet was invented or Converse shoes or Chipotle or, you know, electric plumbing.

We were going to stroll through the Roman Forum as well, but there was all sorts of construction happening, which kind of detracted from the impact, so Eia and I instead sat in the shadow of the Colosseum for nearly an hour, just taking it all in and chatting. It was really hot and dusty there as well, so we were feeling a bit sluggish. I'm sure not walking through the Forum is something I'll probably regret forever, but I was there. I saw it through bars. I ate some more gelato. I took a picture for a family from some random country.

The gladiators were desperate to earn a euro, and were demanding of pretty woman that they let them take their picture. One particular gladiator man didn't quite have the lingo down - I laughed for about five minutes after I heard him yell after a woman, "No picture? But - but you're a sex machine!" How that's going to make her turn around, I have no idea.

After another half hour or so of laughing at all the high-heels wearing people tripping their way along the cobblestone, Eia and I headed home for the night, where we made ourselves some wonderful Gnocchi and watched most of Season 1 of Weeds on my laptop. ANOTHER GRAND DAY IN ITALY.

Today we slept in again (couldn't help it) and spent the morning wandering the streets nearer to where our apartment is. We ended up eating some ham, mushroom and pea tortellini in a little café and bought a chocolate pie in a bakery that we're saving for tonight when we drink wine and finish Weeds. :)

Right now Eia and her grandma are at her cousin's wedding that I ended up not being able to go to because of strict catering numbers, and they feel a little guilty but I really don't mind. I am going to read my book (I'm finishing up "Extras" by Scott Westerfeld and then I am jumping headfirst into "The Hunger Games") and maybe wander a bit in town on my own.

Tomorrow was going to be beach day (god have we been looking forward to having a beach day) but I think we are going to the Vatican and then having drinks at Rome's Hard Rock Café, since our train leaves a bit too early in the evening to make it to the beach and back and not be stressed out about it. Oh well.

Times I've had Indian food: 12
Times I've had gelato: 3
Days until I leave: 14

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hello from Rome.

I am in sunny, sweltering Rome.

I didn't anticipate not having any Internet when I came here, but it really hasn't been that much of an issue. I'm staying in a rather large apartment with Eia and her grandmother, and I'm typing this blog on mine and Eia's shared Queen size bed in between episodes of Weeds, while Eia is brushing her teeth.

Two days ago I left London with my bag packed too tightly and a long journey to Heathrow ahead of me. I'd stayed the night at my friend Claire's house, and she took me as far as the Piccadilly line before saying goodbye and running off to go on the London Eye (something I probably wont ever end up doing because it's so expensive). I proceeded to the airport, where I was two hours early. I spent those two hours perusing WHSmith, the bookstore, where I finally ended up buying a Danny Wallace book because I realized if I finished my current book while in Rome.. well, I'd be out of luck. I don't speak Italian. xD

The flights were uneventful. I had to connect in Amsterdam, where they threw away my shaving cream, toothpaste, hair product and facewash right in front of me, even though no one at the Heathrow or Dublin airports seemed to think the containers were too big. So that was annoying. I've been borrowing Eia's stuff all week.

I got to Rome around 8:10, where I had to take a train to the Termini station. That took about a half hour. Wearing jeans and a warm jacket, I stepped off the train into 80 degree heat. Eia and her grandma were waiting there for me, and I was so relieved to see them. As much as I love and appreciate everybody I've spent time with in London this past month, it was really nice to run into the arms of my best friend.

I peeled my jacket off, shoved it into my bag (I had to sit on it to make it close) and followed them to the bus that would take us to the apartment I mentioned earlier.

This house belongs to a friend of the family, and it's hilarious. There is a nice terrace to sit on, lots of big spacious rooms, wall-sized mirrors -- and taxidermy animals on every wall. And no, not just regular old deer and things. In the living room, in all its glory, is a giant, grey, scary rhinoceros head. I promise I will make a video of this. A rhinoceros! On the WALL. And it was ALIVE at one point.

Monday we woke up, lazed around a bit, and then set off onto the streets of Rome. Eia and I were determined to hit as many of the tourist places as possible in one day. We barely got out the door before we stopped at a gelato place (I said to Eia, "why does anyone even bother with ice cream when there is gelato in the world?" We mused on this while we ate our respective caramel and vanilla-with-chocolate-flakes).

She took me to a lot of places, like the Fontana di Trevi, the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon ... aside from the Pantheon, I had to keep asking Eia what all the places were called just to write this, haha. I don't remember much historically about each of the places we saw, but there a lot of beautiful fountains and a lot of fun little Piazzas.

Walking passed the Pantheon was kind of a mind trip. There is absolutely NOTHING that old in America. And while there were a lot of old things that I experienced in London, nothing seemed quite as crumbly and ancient as the outside of the Pantheon. Eia and I walked inside and sat in the pews for awhile, inadvertently getting caught up in a deep conversation about life.
As we left I did the sign of the cross with the holy water near the door, and showed Eia the correct way to do it. I may not go to church or be a practicing Catholic anymore, but you don't attend mass for 15 or so years of your life and skip out on a chance to get some holy water in the Pantheon. In Rome. We're going to Vatican later this week as well, which is exciting.

We had lunch at a cute little cafe where we sat at tables outside in a narrow alleyway. Eia had to translate everything on the menu (I'm so glad she speaks a tiny bit of Italian) aside from the obvious things like Spaghetti and Penne and Funghi. Haha.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around, looking at adorable children playing near the fountains, dreaming of going to the beach (we're not going until Thursday), and wandering around in gift shops. My favorite part of this one gift shop was that while the floor was made of marble, every once in a while a particular bit of floor was removed and replaced with glass so you could see the remains of "ancient Rome" below. There were really old sewage systems and all sorts of ruins... it felt strange just walking over them while looking at keychains and bags of uncooked pasta.

At the Fontana di Trevi, I emptied my wallet of every 1 and 2p coin I had leftover from London, and Eia and I took turns throwing about 50p worth of change backwards over our shoulder into the glistening blue water. It got to the point where I was having trouble thinking of new wishes for each coin. Whoever the fountain wish gods are are going to think I am incredibly greedy when they see the long list of things I asked for whist getting rid of all my change. I'm not, really! I just had a lot of pennies!
I threw a wish in there for world peace, and for puppy-sized elephants, just to prove I am selfless and stuff.

Eia introduced me to the wonder that is Suppli on our walk home, and then, completely exhausted, we decided to call it a night. We spent the rest of our evening right here, relaxing on our bed, watching the first three episodes of Weeds. This morning we trek the half hour it takes to get to McDonalds so we can check our email, find out the bus route we have to take to get to the beach, buy our train tickets to take us down to Paris later this week, and post this blog online. :D

I've realized now that this was a really mundane account of the life of a tourist in Rome, but that's how I have spent my last two days. xD Not every part of my life is full of crazy anecdotes, I suppose. Sometimes I just look at old buildings and eat pasta.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Oh, the Internet.

I have realized that one problem with not just making a video on YouTube saying "Alex broke up with me and that's why I am sad in London and miss things like Poptarts and home," is that a lot of people (naturally) don't know what's going on.
When I made my video about missing my comfort foods from home, I got a lot of really bitchy comments from people who thought I just was some closed-minded American who doesn't like all the new things I am experiencing over here telling me to "go back to America if I hate it so much".

I don't really know what to do about these comments. I hate when people assume they understand a situation when they are so far off base, and I know there is nothing I can really do to fix it, given the nature of the situation and my life and the Internet.

Especially because in actuality, I LOVE England. I adore so much about the UK; I fell in love with Edinburgh, I'm coming around to a lot of the food here, I've met so many great and amazing people, I'm really impressed with the tube system - most of my "complaining" is just because I had my heart broken for the very first time here, in a foreign place, and had nothing familiar to me at all to distract or comfort me. I missed things like Jamba Juice and Poptarts and, you know, my mom, because I wanted to feel comfortable - and nothing about this country felt comfortable because it was all equated to the one person who was making me upset.
So, yes. I am tired of seeing red buses because I remember riding on them with him. I am tired of walking past Big Ben because my mind flashes back to the picture I had on my desktop for 4 months of us in front of it. It's unfair to equate these emotions to an entire city, but right now that's just the way it is for me.

Okay. So some people don't think I deserve to win a trip to Antarctica. That's fine. I never said anyone HAD to vote for me. By all means, vote for whoever you think deserves to win.
But don't tell me I shouldn't even apply because "maybe the guy who is currently winning will not have any other chance to travel" or something stupid. It's a CONTEST.

And maybe I don't write as well as Hayley. But while the Quark Expedition is a contest, blogging is not. I write to express myself. I write to record the things I do and see and experience. And especially lately, I write because I am dealing with a lot of things, and this blog is one of the only things that feels familiar. I don't write to be the best at it.

I'm staying with my friend Claire tonight, who is currently making us dinner, and tomorrow I leave for Rome. Never a dull moment over here.

Edit: I've just been informed on twitter that I am in 8th place out of 566 applicants. IN ONE DAY. Clearly a whole lot more of you think I should go than the few who don't. :D

Days until I leave: 19
Times I've had Indian Food: 12

This blog post is important.

Okay, here is my really exciting awesome big news.

A little over a month ago, someone commented on my blog telling me about this contest where someone will get picked to go on a Quark Expedition to Antarctica on the basis of being a blogger.

It sounds insane, right? Well it's totally 100% legit and I have just spent this lovely morning in London writing my blog application thing. I am now in the running to win a chance to go to freaking ANTARCTICA and to BLOG ABOUT IT. The top contestant currently only has 5,800-ish votes... I could totally take him. If I could get 1/5 of my subscribers to vote for me, I've already won.

They're picking the winner on votes alone so I really feel like I have a shot at this.

I just need... your help.

I need as many people as possible to go to this site:

To vote for me.

And like I said on twitter.. I'm assuming most of you like me because you take the time to read my blog, but even if you have a conflict of interest and just want to see me get eaten by a group of hungry penguins... well this is a win-win situation for you.

After the moderately crappy letdown of a trip this England adventure has been, I relish in the idea of putting that all behind me and going to freaking ANTARCTICA. Who needs Big Ben? Forget red buses. I want a hot date with a whole bunch of penguins. (A cold date?)

So, take the take to vote if you could
. It would mean a whole, whole lot to me. I know I get a lot of crazy experiences in my life, but I honestly feel this one would take the cake, and probably change my life completely.

Thank you to the person who showed me the competition in the first place.. I have forgotten who you are now, but I am still grateful for your comment.

I had a blast my second day in Dublin, by the way, but I will write about it later. I have a frozen island to get to right now.

Edit: Just had this exchange with Eia..

Me: I just entered a contest to win a trip to Antarctica.
Eia: I saw. You're insane. I'm trying to picture you in 24/7 below freezing're crazy.
Me: You're coming if I win. I get to bring a friend.
Eia: Shit.

Days until I leave: 19
Times I've had Indian food: 12

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ah, Little Cushion.

Everything about this experience in Dublin has been really intense.

Yesterday right after I wrote the blog post prior to this one, I got a phone call from Adam, who ran to meet me in my hotel room as soon as he got in. We chatted for awhile, until Aaron (our contact at RTE) called us and told us he was waiting in the lobby. We headed downstairs to meet him, and went out to dinner at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen where we inhaled an insane amount of food while talking about ApartmentRed, the Internet, and YouTube in general. Aaron's girlfriend met us a bit later, and was lovely as well. American, too.

We wandered in the rain a bit while everyone made fun of me for only bringing a tiny sweater (wishful thinking again I'm afraid) before we ducked in a pub for drinks and more chatting. We got back to the hotel at 11:30 or so, and even though we were both completely shattered, Adam and I ended up accidentally staying up until 1 in the morning just hanging out and reading over the scripts and wondering what the first day in the studio would be like.

When my alarm went off this morning at 7 am, I remember thinking "this is a JOKE."
I was so, so tired. It took me 15 minutes to drag myself out of bed and then I got showered and ready in record time. I met Adam downstairs for breakfast, and when we were through, we set out on the 15 minute walk to the studio.

The first thing that happened upon arriving was that we were taken up for "makeup". I was not expecting this at ALL. I mean, it obviously makes sense... we were being filmed on real cameras in a real studio with a real production team, of course we're going to need professional makeup. I've just never never had another human being put mascara on me, so it was odd.

My makeup guy was named Javier, and he asked me what my name was.
I said, "Kristina".
"Ah, Cushina?"
I figured it was close enough so I nodded.
"Cushina," he mused. "Little cushion."

He proceeded to call me "little cushion" for the rest of my foundation, eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick application.

Once I was loaded up with more makeup than I have ever worn on a normal day out, we headed out to meet the rest of the cast and see the sound room and the set of the Apartment. I didn't actually get to film anything IN the Apartment set today. My two scenes were in the hallway first, and the best one, which was an awkward scene between me and Stephen (3sixty5days) inside a makeshift storage closet.

The first scene only had 2 lines from my character, but the second scene was a back and forth between Stephen and I that spanned 2 pages in the script. I was so, so, so nervous. The only real acting I have done was in high school, when I did stage productions, where I had months to learn my lines and develop my character. I learned these lines today in about 40 minutes.

I realized in the middle of it all that I knew nothing about being filmed in a studio or anything. I was getting all sweaty palmed and heart-thuddy while I was waiting for my first scene, because while we waited we got to sit in the control room watching the other people run their takes on all the little monitors. I didn't know any sort of cues or code words or how to act or when to start or where to look, but it all ended up working out pretty well. It wasn't very scary it turns out, and acting opposite Stephen especially was relatively easy.

I found out I have to wear the same outfit again tomorrow that I wore today, since the things we're filming happen in the same day (in the context of the show) so I'm glad I wore the better outfit today, haha. I only brought 2 outfits since I knew my trip up here was short.

Anyway, Dublin has been fun, and busy, and distracting. This feels like some completely removed from my own life - I can hardly believe I am here, doing this. I finally got in touch with Eia yesterday... some plans are kind of still up in the air but nothing life-threateningly bad or frustrating is happening at the present moment.

So my plans for the rest of the day are to go out and see a bit of Dublin with Adam and Stephen, and then come back to my hotel, bask in my awesome double bed, try to learn my lines tonight to make tomorrow a little easier for myself, and then go to bed early. I kind of can't wait to do this all again tomorrow. I could see myself doing something like this, maybe. In the future, I mean. :) Depends on if I can act, I suppose. Aaron said things went great today, but I have no idea how I actually did. Last time I acted I was 18 and played Gertrude McFuzz, the bird with a one feather tail. This is a bit different. xD

By the way, I will post links and twitter information on when these episodes will be posted online for the public viewing pleasure. :)

Days until I leave: 20
Times I've had Indian food: 11

Better times.

Okay. I am sitting in my hotel in Dublin and here's how things are going.
My flight was delayed and I was really confused where to go; I found the Information center and they sent me down this scary labyrinth of walkways and tunnels until I got to my gate, the flight was bumpy (probably the bumpiest flight I have ever been on - I kept picturing myself stranded on a magical island with the people on the flight with me) but I finally arrived in Dublin. I did have to go through customs.. here's how it went:

*heart pounding* *hands over passport*
*passport officer looks down his nose at me*
" 'ow long ya 'ere for?"
"Until Friday."
*stamps passport*
*I wait for more questions*
"Go on."
"Oh," I said, fumbling, "that's it? THANK you, sir!"
*runs away from desk*

I found an ATM, no problem. Got 40 euros.
I found a taxi cab no problem.
The cab driver was incredibly nice and chatty and told me all sorts of fun stories.
The cab fare was 39 euros (jesus. that was lucky).
I checked in to my hotel.
I called my contact at Red, he was excited to hear from me, and is coming to meet me and Adam (when he gets here) soon.

The best part? Not only are the outlets here the UK outlets, but there is also a US OUTLET HERE BY MY DESK. I missed that little outlet shape, and it's even labeled "110 V". I could plug things from home in and not blow myself up! This is the greatest hotel I have ever been in. I don't even have anything US to plug into it, but seeing that there is so, so comforting.

So I am feeling a lot better. I suppose I could have just deleted my whole blog entry from earlier today, but I want to remember how those moments felt. I'm a writer, what can I say. I like to collect emotions so I can use them in my writing later. And, you know, learn from mistakes and stuff.

WHAT. I just got a knock on my door, and thinking it was someone from RTE I jumped up and threw the door open.. it was just the doorman, bringing me a PRESENT. From the HOTEL. They brought me a box of chocolates and a letter signed by the general manager of the hotel thanking me for staying here and a voucher for a free drink down at the bar downstairs. I LOVE Ireland.

The chocolates say "Purveyors of Happiness". Aw. It's like they knew exactly what I needed.

Bad times.

Okay. Well. I'm unhappy.

This morning I was all ready to walk out the door to head to the airport; to fly to Dublin, meet Eia, and have a really fun three days.

That's not exactly the way it's happening now.

I checked my phone before putting it in my bag, and saw I had two missed texts from Eia. Turns out she went to get on her flight to Dublin and they tried to charge her an extra 180 pounds for some reason or another and now she's stranded in Edinburgh. So she won't be meeting me in Dublin because she didn't get on her flight, because 180 pounds in extra fees is ridiculous. I had no time to even sort anything out with her; I feel awful because she's just sitting in Scotland without a plan, and the worst part is, she might not be able to afford to go to Paris now.

I already booked my ticket to Paris.
And even if I just cut my losses and skip Paris; come back to London from Rome early, I don't really have anywhere to stay for a few days because Emma is moving.

I was already nervous to be going to Dublin, and with these added problems, I just kind of had a break down in the passenger seat of Emma's car on the way to Heathrow. I called my parents, even though it was 3 in the morning for them, and cried to them about how much I hate this trip and how sick I am of all the plans I make falling apart. Especially since most of the plans were made as an attempt to try to turn this trip around into a good experience instead of a painful one.

I don't know if I can do this anymore. I really have appreciated everyone telling me how strong I am and how great it is that I am persevering or whatever, but I feel pretty fucking weak right now. Maybe it's just the way I write that makes me sound like I am handling things really well, but I don't feel like I deserve the praise. I want to go home.

But I know how shitty it feels to be left on your own in this country when you were counting on someone, so I can't just abandon Eia. I'm going to Dublin today. I'm getting on my flight in an hour and a half. I'm sorting out a taxi when I get there. I'm going to the RTE studio. I'll return to London on Friday and work things out so I can see her in Rome, or London, or wherever we end up working out a way to meet up.

Also, just as an aside, I also completely forgot Dublin uses Euros, so I wont have any money when I get there until I find an ATM, and I don't know if they use the UK outlets or the European ones so I don't know if I can charge anything electronic without spending MORE money on converters that I already have, sitting in a suitcase back in London. I also didn't bring any of my paperwork about flights and things so customs will be fun. Do you even do customs between London and Dublin? WHY AM I NOT MORE PREPARED?

The worst part of all of this, in this very moment I suppose, is that I am HUNGRY. And I am so sick of sandwiches. I walked around this entire terminal; Pret, Café Nero, the bookstore - all these places sell are stupid pre-packed sandwiches. I just want a bagel or something warm. I went into a pub and ordered Macaroni and Cheese off the kids menu, because everything else was too expensive, thinking it would come with chips or a drink or SOMETHING - no. Literally just watery butter noodles. Enough for a 5 year old. That cost me $7, awesome.

This blog has become the most depressing thing I can even imagine and I apologize to those of you still even reading it. I really thought this would be my great summer traveling adventure -- turns out it just sucks.

Days until I leave: NOT SOON ENOUGH.
Times I've had - oh who cares.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I just opened up blogger to catch the world up on my travels, but I am once again so exhausted that I doubt this will be a very long update.

The last 2 days of my trip have been the first two days that I actually just stopped moving for a little while. Monday Emma and I woke up, lazed around, had computer time, filmed a video, did some laundry, moved ourselves and our stuff over to her Dad's apartment (since we currently have it to ourselves) and have since eaten more junk food than I can even feel good about typing up.

This morning we decided to watch Jeremy Kyle (the British Jerry Springer basically, for all my American readers) and about 5 minutes in we had to shut it off. "This is revolting," Emma said with a click of the remote control. We proceeded to watch more Friends. xD

She then took me to Bluewater, which is a MASSIVE shopping center.

...I almost just typed "centre". What. That was weeeird.

Anyway, we had a good time getting Krispy Kreme donuts and sugary candy from the sweetshop (PopTarts there were 5.95 pounds.... even worse than CyberCandy) and I bought a pair of pants that I am still feeling a bit skeptical about... the jeans/leggings crossover that are either actually called Jeggings, or that's just a clever name Molly came up with, because she's the first person I heard use it and I'm actually not sure now.


Everything up there was written last night at about 2 in the morning before I gave up and crashed for the night. Now it is the morning of September 2nd and I intended to finish writing a witty and insightful blog post, but now I have just spent my entire free hour talking to whataboutadam about our simultaneous trips to Dublin this afternoon, and Michael Aranda about various things because it's been awhile since we chatted. So that was my morning.

I woke up with a dead weight in my stomach, and I realized it's because I am really nervous about flying to Dublin today. I like traveling a lot, but I am not good at doing new things alone. Alex was supposed to be coming with me on this trip, so that knowledge is making it a bit harder as well. Also, I'm filming with Red in their studio and I have never done anything like that before. What if I'm terrible? What if they regret choosing me? What if I can't memorize my lines? What if I wrote down the wrong flight confirmation number because I have FIVE in my inbox?

I know it will all be fine; I'll probably have a blast up in Ireland and I'm worrying for nothing, but it's all a little bit scary. The minutes are ticking away to when I need to be showered and headed out to Heathrow, but I just... have... to finish... blogging..

Last night Emma had to work (she works in a Cinema) and since it was only a 4 hour shift, I didn't bother making other plans (even though I feel really bad; I was supposed to see Johnny). I just tagged along. She got me in to see a film for free, and then I spent the rest of the evening reading the Red script on my iPod Touch.

I saw the Time Traveler's Wife. A lot of people warned me that they just bawled their eyes out when they saw it, and I was nervous about that prospect in my current emotional state. I thought it might be good for me to cry over someone else's problems for a change though, haha. But the film was about an hour and forty-five minutes long and my eyes only welled up a few times for Claire and Henry.

I liked the movie, and I'm glad I chose to see it over "Funny People", but I was a little let down. I'm not sure, and I can't pinpoint exactly why, but I didn't feel like I walked away from it having learned anything. The film didn't really make a statement on human life, or tell you to appreciate the fleeting moments you have with people, or say anything about enduring love.... which were all things it could have easily done given the plot. At the end of the movie, I just thought, "Alright. Well that's a really sad thing that happened to those people."

I know movies don't HAVE to have a moral, but I like when at the end of a book or a song or a movie you can ask yourself "So what?", and you have a new little piece of information to go out into the world with. Like Harry Potter teaches you to do what's right, even if it's not what's easy. And Peter Pan teaches you that everybody has to grow up at some point and that's it's not all bad. And White Teeth taught me that you should actually read the books you're assigned for school lest you embarrass yourself in the class discussion.

So anyway, I leave for Dublin in a little over an hour, I get to meet and hang out with all sorts of great people, and Eia is meeting me at the airport. I miss her a lot.

Fingers crossed that this whole experience can make me feel as good as being in Edinburgh did.

Days until I go leave: 21
Times I've had Indian food: 11