Sunday, March 14, 2010

Famous People, Free Beer, and The Crispy Duck

It's been a full week. Although it started out on a horrendous foot (Warhorse. See previous post.) it's been very full and not too shabby. I had to get more TA hours in than usual because we leave for Paris tomorrow. I also hit the British Library pretty hard and FINALLY found the article I need. And then some.

Tuesday morning I got ready early and headed to Whiteley's for some shopping. That's right, shopping. Later that night I was to meet Robert Pinsky (my soon-to-be poetry professor at Boston) at a reception before a reading he was giving here in London. Monday night I had explained to a few of my fellow students that I planned on wearing my new shoes, some nice jeans, and a polo. I was quickly informed (reprimanded?) that such would be a huge mistake and that I should be dressed up. For me, a polo and nice jeans IS dressed up, so I fought the power but the power was persuasive. So I went to Whiteley's to look at preppy clothes so that I could be a tool. I was told that a sweater would be the least I could do. So I checked three stores and decided on a baby blue and white striped sweater to wear over my white collared shirt along with some khaki pants and church shoes (barf). I was not a big fan of the whole setup, but at least I didn't have to wear a tie. And, I'll admit it, I looked good.

The reception was to be held at the American School in London. I had sent an email to the girl in charge of Pinsky's schedule (a former student of his named Meghan, who is single and attractive) so I had directions. I found it just fine and had made it a point of being fashionably late, because (1) I was flying solo at a reception and didn't feel like making friends, (2) Pinsky is famous and I knew he'd be surrounded, and (3) I didn't want to miss dinner. I got there with about fifteen minutes left, bought one of his books so I could get it signed and use it as a thank you present to Dr. Howe at the end of the semester, and got a feel for my surroundings. The reception was pretty informal, and I found Pinsky right off the bat (I had checked his picture on Wikipedia). He was surrounded for a minute but then there seemed to be a lull so I waltzed up, shook his hand, and introduced myself. Dr. Pinsky was very happy to see me and told the guys he was talking to, "Give me just a second to shmooz and introduce this young man." So I shook some hands, made some polite don't-know-/-don't-care-who-you-are handshakes, and stole Dr. Pinsky for a few minutes. It wasn't much, he was just happy to meet me (feeling was mutual). He explained a bit of my poetry to his friends and then chatted with me for a few more minutes. After not too long it was time to head into the reading. The American School in London is a legit place. It's more of a high school setting than anything, but they've got some great funding from somewhere. The auditorium was stadium seating and state-of-the-art in its technology. Pinsky decided that instead of a read-then-ask-questions format he would have more of a discussion. So he opened the floor for questions and poem requests and basically flew by the seat of his pants. You need to hear him (or at least read him) to know it, but the man has a gift. His poetry is beautiful, and he talked a lot about the processes he goes through and his own poetic theory. It was very interesting and very insightful. I recommend "Samurai Song" if you can find it online. After the hour was over my thoughts were essentially, "Yep. Forget Texas and their money. Boston it is." Good thing I thought that because a few days later Chad informed me that Texas rejected me. After the reception I talked to Meghan for a few minutes, got my book signed, told Pinsky to count me in and expect an official email acceptance in the next few days, and went on my merry way. He emailed me back yesterday and answered a question I had in a way better than I was hoping for. I asked about working for Agni (BU's highly-acclaimed literary journal) and he told me that I've already got a spot as an intern with my name on it. So, basically, everything I could have dreamed up and more has happened in my blessing/chance of going to grad school.

Wednesday was a program day trip. First stop: Stourhead. Stourhead is an estate that was designed by Henry the Magnificent in the 1740s. Basically he wanted a gorgeous place where he could build replicas of classical buildings, such as the Pantheon and Temple of Apollo. All I really knew about it is that the Temple of Apollo is the site where Mr. Darcy proclaims his love for Elizabeth in the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Before the beginning of the trip, Sister Macfarlane explained that all of the girls would probably want a boy to stand in as Mr. Darcy while they took pictures. So as we got to Stourhead I shot a little prayer up to Apollo to save me. And he did! The Temple of Apollo was fenced off and partly covered in scaffolding. So some of the girls were bummed and Calvin was secretly rejoicing and trying to find a duck to sacrifice or something. Stourhead is gorgeous, though. The Pantheon replica was legit. And there were lots of ducks to feed. I chose my favorite duck and got her to eat out of my hand, then I held up the croissant pieces higher and higher and eventually got her to jump and flap her wings in order to grab it. Coolest duck ever. So we walked around Stourhead, I marched around behind Daniel who had informed me that I had been promoted to 'top commander' and that Kira and Brittany were my sub-commanders, and back on the coach.

Next stop Wednesday was Jane Austen's house. It's a nice little place, but there's not much to it. I watched a little movie that put me to sleep, walked around taking pictures with Alyssa, played a few notes on Jane's piano, and headed out. Austen was a great writer and I've read almost all of her books, but there's not much to say about her house as a tourist spot. Back on the coach and on to Winchester. The city looked a lot like other cities, but the cathedral was pretty sweet. I added Austen to the list of famous persons whose graves I have moonwalked over in Great Britain. The little choir was practicing and so the atmosphere was added to in a new way that I enjoyed. Generally the candles you can light in the cathedrals are small, but I found some big ones in the chapel and couldn't help lighting one for kicks. I put it down a little bit crooked, so if Winchester cathedral has burned down in the past few days it wasn't me. I was most excited to see the famous library that I had heard about, but it was closed. So Cam and I went and got apple pies at McDonalds instead. So, yeah, that was Wednesday.

Oh wait! Wednesday night was awesome. We got back to the Centre around 7pm, and Katie Bruce reminded me that we had a soccer game to go watch. A week or three ago she had found that if you sign up for AC Milan's fan club you get free VIP tickets to go eat and watch the game against Manchester United. For those of you that aren't soccer fans, AC Milan and Man U are two of the best clubs in existence. Katie, Cam, and I got two tickets each, so Brit and Caitlin came with us. We were a little late getting to the aptly named Sports Cafe, but we didn't miss kickoff. There was a line of people outside, but we had VIP tickets (fool) so we got to jump the line and headed upstairs. I got a wristband to prove I was VIP and a free beer. I realize I probably should have declined, but if free beer is on the menu I'll carry it to my table and then not touch it again. The atmosphere was awesome, the play-by-play was in Italian, and the nachos SUCKED. I'm all about AC Milan because they have one of my man-crushes, David Beckham, and my Brazilian homeboy Ronaldinho on their team. Beckham is on reserves because he's technically still on LA's team roster, so he didn't play much. And Ronaldinho didn't get any good passes, so AC went scoreless. Man U is an awesome team as well, and they came out with their freaking pants on fire. Rooney (who is awesome and earned a spot on my favorites roster by stepping on a guys crotch in the last World Cup) had two goals himself, Park had one, and some dude I don't know had one. And on two of the TVs I got to watch another Brazilian soccer god, Kaka, playing with Real Madrid. If the nachos had been good it would have been perfect, but I can't complain.

Man I write a lot. Thursday. I spent most of Thursday reading. Right after breakfast I read/watched Antony and Cleopatra so that I could write the quiz for the Shakespeare class. After that was classes, then lunch, then I read and read and read from Wuthering Heights (which SUCKS) so that I could have the first half done by Friday morning to write the Brit Lit quiz. Then it was time for dinner and my own classes with Dr. Howe. Then...I don't really recall what I did Thursday. Meh. Friday I spent most of my day at the British Library and I am very happy to announce that I finally found the article that I need to write my massive semester-end research paper. It's called History and Ideas of the Mormons and it was edited (and possibly written) by George Eliot. I haven't read it yet, but it's going to save me lots of BSing as I start to finish my semester's work. Friday night Cam and I wanted to go see Jerusalem which has been getting fantastic reviews, looks hilarious, is even Dr. Howe recommended. But they were sold out and they don't do student prices, so we may end up not seeing it ever. Instead we hit the Tube to go see the area around Big Ben all lit up at night. It was great, we took some good pics on Cam's camera, and headed home for some more reading.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a day of resting my brain a bit and just getting out. I slept in, went to Borough Market to eat my favorite animals (Kangaroo and Ostrich), sat around enjoying how stressed everyone is about the religion and Brit Lit tests (speaking of which...I should probably take that religion test), then went to the London Eye with Rachel, Christina, and Mary. The London Eye is basically a huge, slow-moving, glass-encased ferris wheel that lets you overlook the city. Before getting on we had the chance to go to the '4D experience' which was basically a 3-D movie where they sprayed you with water, dropped confetti and fake snow, etc. It was pretty fun itself and Mary screamed three times (at the fire-breather, the Chinese dragon, and the first water spraying) so it was a blast. Then we got on the London Eye itself. It is quite the experience. There were 15 or so people in our bubble (?) with us. The view was fantastic and it was nice to overlook this wonderful city and point out places we had been. The best views were of Big Ben/parliament building/Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's cathedral. Good times. After it was through Mary and Christina headed for home and Rachel and I went in search of dinner. We were supposed to go to this Mexican restaurant called Tortilla, but we had forgotten to look up directions. So eventually I suggested we go to China Town at Picadilly Circus and see what looked good. I judge my Chinese restaurants by their names, so The Crispy Duck made the final cut. I got fried noodles with roast duck. Excellent choice. Came home, did an hour of reading, and hit the sack a little bit early.

Today has been pretty relaxed despite being full. My laundry is almost done, Church is in an hour or so, then a religion exam, then a fireside with Cless (Dr. Howe's husband, who got here Friday), then packing for PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

K, bye.


caitlin said...

You are secretly ecstatic that you wore that sweater and looked so nice.

M'kynzi Elise said...

Ok, I stumbled across your blog and am addicted after one post. It gives me my London fix. I know you're headed to Paris, but if you're going back to London, please make a stop (for me!) at Nando's for some delicious frozen yogurt and peri peri. Also, make time for fish and chips at the Tower of London. They even have fry sauce! Get them while you can because, trust me, Utah has no good fish and chips places!

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