CHICKADEE: Tell me a bedtime story!
CLAIRE: ok. Many years in the future... The world is in chaos and ruin. It is a dark time for the human race. One brave man is sent back in time to a brighter time to change the course of history. He must save a woman who has the potential to save the world. However, he is followed by a terrible villain who wishes to kill -
CHICKADEE: Claire. I know the plot of Terminator.
CLAIRE: Damn. I thought I could get through it!
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I would explain going to the National Gallery and the Old Operating Theater activities... but Tuesday is just on my mind. I will tell you about Monday and today some other time, because those pictures are cool, too. :)
Tuesday, we went to the Harry Potter studio tour. Now, I've always thought that I was a fairly mild Potter fan... I have read the books, and I have seen all the movies. And yes, I have even made a movie with my friends about it. But I still maintain that I am not the best fan, since I have forgotten major chunks of it... I never really plotted out what my house was... nor do I know all the lore and fun facts (save those for when we get to Batman and StarWars ;)).
But this experience made me realize how big an impact Harry Potter really had on my childhood. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade when the first book came out, and my older, well read sister was among the first wave of fans. My mom liked it enough that she decided to read it aloud to me and my brother. I was astounded by the whimsy and magic. Everything about it was just so warmhearted and wonderful. Yes, I worked this universe into my own world of play as I ran around outside with my own personal fantasies. The images and colors the stories conjured up by these stories stick with me today. As the second and third books came out, I was a little more into reading too, so I was able to get through them on my own, as well as listening to Mom read them aloud. I loved it when she would do that. This is when the movies came out, and I had decided that I was going to be a writer. I loved what they did with the movies, and I loved how sweeping and epic they were. They fueled many of the stories I wrote, and I will admit that thinking back on it, I stole a lot of ideas from Rowling... (sorry, JK). I was affected in more ways than I realized. The books gave me a community and common ground with other kids around the playground. We had something that brought us all together. It was good. It was fun. You could play with the ideas and bend them to your own imagination.
As the hype grew, I was turned off from it. Be it an inherent hipster strain in my DNA, or the fact that I was entering puberty and decided to hate everything, I steered away from it. But I was never out of the Pottermania. I still knew all the details and saw the movies multiple times. I will even go as far as to say that I may have some Potter Merchandise still hanging around my house someplace. Hell, I wrote my own Fantasy Epic with a Potter Pen. I resisted it, but Harry Potter was an ever present, looming force in my world.
The culture of my time is completely tied to it, and I am one of the Potter generation. It created something big. Something that brought people together. It is in me, and I am part of it.
This is why I was so amazed at myself when I entered the World of Harry Potter. We went behind the scenes of the movies and got to check out the sets of many of the movies, and see some of the art, makeup, effects, animatronics, props... everything. I felt this deep excitement well up and take over me, as my inner child was released. The same excitement I felt when I was little and going to the midnight showing of the first movie grew inside me. My imagination ran wild, and I felt like I was at home. It was a Disneyland kind of feeling where you just can't help smiling. The rest of the group felt this way as well, seen in the fact that we couldn't speak in sentences. Rather, we made squeeing sounds and completely understood each other's sentiments. It was almost unreal to feel so excited. It was like going back to a part of childhood. It was like stepping through a door into someplace I know like a home... but have never been there. Especially when we were led into a room where the scale model of Hogwarts is housed, and the castle is just staring back at you like an old friend, I was hit by a warm feeling of joy. I'm not saying I cried. Nope. The little golden tan blondie of my past woke up and lived through me that day. I haven't felt that presence in a long time, and it was good to be a kid again.
Barry, one of our Professors, decided to join the group that went just to see what we were all flipping out about. He was curious to see all of these pretentious collegiate smart asses turn into kids for a day. He laughed saying that it was interesting to see how children's literature could affect our memories our senses and our lives so very much. We all knew what butterbeer tasted like before we even tried it there.
I was happy to see that this place wasn't just about the actors and the neat stuff of HP. The tour was basically a celebration of cinema and rejoiced in the process of film making. They cheered all the departments, and all the people it took to put this whole thing together. It made me hopeful to think that I could be one of these people. It is possible to be in the movie biz. It is a beautifully done operation and I am deeply grateful that I got to participate.
In this "wand shop" representation, each box has somebody's name who worked on or in the movie. There are thousands of boxes. Can you see the coolest man ever's name in this particular pic.
The group decided I would be in Slytherin because I am prone to violence and horror movies. So I bought a scarf and a wand. :D
- Current Mood: dorky
- Current Music:John Williams - Harry Potter Theme
So lots has happened this week. We hit up the V&A museum, where we were able to see some beautiful artwork, modern and classic, clothing kept from the Victorian times. So Cool! Chronicles of costumes of some of the London theaters. Even reproductions of living rooms from many different time periods. This was a very incredible and absolutely massive place.
Dad will be jealous to hear that we hit up Freud's house and took a tour of that museum on Tuesday. (Sorry no photos were allowed of this place). We got to see where the psychoanalysis magic happened. The house is in a beautiful part of town and the back yard is absolutely beautiful. I learned quite a bit about his patients like the Wolf Man, and got to understand his life and not simply his essays. The only drawback was that at the same time, they were exhibiting the art of a woman who chose to deal with her psychosis through art. It is the most terrifying artwork you will ever see. Death masks have been quilted out of butterfly fabrics, she has created a representation of her body which is this seven breasted vagina beast, dummies of children have been hacked apart by a butcher knife, and her "essays" have been put on display too. These are pages upon pages of her manic rants scribbled down in an illegible scrawl. what. You wouldn't help but feel bad for this lady. She really did have some serious problems. I felt really bad because I just had to laugh at some of these creations. The art majors were none too pleased at my lack of art appreciation.
Wednesday was our trip to Hampstead. First stop was Highgate Cemetery, where we saw the resting places of people like Marx, George Elliot, and even Douglas Adams. I have never seen a cemetery so big, and so full. It was spooky in a good kind of way.
We walked to Hampstead Heath after that, which is this massive, wild parks with wonderful places to swim and play. It is massive and gorgeous. I really like this part of town. And across the heath, we visited the Keats House where I got to learn quite a bit about one of my more favorite poets.
But all that wasn't even the biggest part of the week. No, siree. The biggest part was that four of us broke off from the big group and took a side trip down to Paris! It was hell getting there on a bus.... but once we made it, the experience was amazing. It was full of ups and downs and all sorts of in betweens. The first thing we found when we made it to Paris after a full 8 hours of bus time was that the Metro is a filthy, filthy place. Like. Awful. The air is full of cigarette, soot, and dirt. In fact, that is like 90% of the air content. There is nothing left to breathe after that. You don't want to touch anything because it is all coated in grime. sick sick grime. But we were not brought down by this. We found our Holiday Inn that turned out to be in more of the ghetto area of Paris rather than the any of the swanky pretty parts. This made getting dinner a difficult adventure in that we were in deep fear of getting killed on the streets, and then none of the people around us spoke English... so we had to sign and hope for the best. I never realize how tough language barriers can be until I am on the wrong side of one. Sleeping was a little tough too, because there was only one very small bed in the tiny room we got, and we all decided to sleep on it. Not the most comfy sleep I've ever had.
But Friday was, quite possibly, The Best Day Ever. We got up early and took a train out to Versailles, where we stayed for half the day, eating crepes in the gardens, taking pictures, taking tours. We also rented a boat and went rowing on the Grand Canal at the palace. The sun was shining and brilliant, and everything was absolutely perfect. I could have hung out at the castle all day and been happy. However, Leslie and Ananya wanted to see more sights since they have never been to Paris before. So, we took a train back to the Eiffel Tower and ate ice cream underneath. Leslie and Robert are afraid of heights so they didn't want to go up, and I was starting to get sick from the dirty, dirty Paris air (More fun with that to come!!), so we didn't end up climbing to the top. Our next stop on this perfect day was to snag some dinner at Notre Dame. We ate at a cafe just across the street and had a delightful view to eat dinner to. I also bought one of the best milkshakes ever. When we went inside, Mass was just finishing up, so we got to see the procession of the priests and hear the organ play. It was quite lovely.
The french were a little fed up by tourists. Instead of any nice note... they have the biggest note of exasperation with the idiots trying to exit.
Drew this as the priests were on the move.
The best day ever ended with Ananya and Leslie going out to see the Eiffel at night. Rob and I stayed in and read for class, as well as telling stories of our lives. It's fun to meet so many new people because you get to share all your goofy stories with people who haven't heard them a thousand times.
Saturday began with Hell and ended with Hell. We had made plans to go see the catacombs, since they are absolutely badass and 6 million bodies are buried there. However. I woke up with a cough that could kill a small grizzly bear. I knew if I didn't sleep a little bit more... I would probably die. so I had to opt out of the catacombs while Rob and Leslie went. :( So sad. When they came back, we were all ready to get out of dodge and back to London where the underground system is fairly clean. This was going to prove harder than we originally planned. We got to the bus station, and everything seemed like it was going to be well and good, but something went wrong in the computer systems between London and Paris, so they lost our tickets. We had one hour to find some wifi (that doesn't exist in Paris...) and reprint our tickets, wait in a line of doom and get on the bus. This was the plan at least. We couldn't find any internet anywhere. And there were fights between other travelers breaking out in the ticket and information line since there was only one window open. People would cut in line, and then get punched and yelled at by the other people in the queue. This caused the lady to shut the ticket and info window entirely for a while. I had gone off to find somebody else who could speak English to help us, since none of the employees did. I found this guy named Jareef who was from Africa and spoke English and French. He took it upon himself to help us and save our asses. His philosophy was that since he had had such a hard time going from Africa to London without being able to speak any English and had such a hard time, he now tries to help anybody who is having problems like that. Really nice guy. He helped us find the hidden internets, and print Rob's long lost tickets. We got everything squared away... but not before the bus up and left us. We were stranded in Paris until late at night when the next bus departed. All a little sick and tired, we found a place to camp, afraid that if we went back into the city to explore something would go wrong. Also, it is hard to get around with backpacks of luggage.
7.5 hours later, after a miserable stay in the train/bus station... our bus departed. We thought that we were out of the woods. But we were wrong. The bus. The bus that came from hell to take us to hell, which is why we dubbed it, "The Midnight Poop Train to Hell." People filed onto it quietly and we all settled in for a ride. 90% of the people had one last smoke before boarding so it smelled excellent... it didn't help my allergy cough at all. "Look on the bright side," Said Rob, "Every minute we sit on this bus... we are closer to home." He would soon find out that there was no bright side. The bus starts up and immediately, the smell of hot shit wafts through the air. Yes, the toilet on the bus was full. Yes it smelled like that for the entire 7 hour ride. Yes, there was no escaping it. Plus, during our trip... several people abused it. The smell got worse and made us all feel gross. You couldn't sleep because of this permeating odor. We knew it was in our hair, in our eyes.... everywhere. no good. My cough grew worse, and I didn't know what to do. There was no water to drink, and there was nothing good happening. The customs agents to get back into the UK were ornery and very mean and we all had to file out of the bus like 3 times to get our passports checked. In the chunnel, the snoring guy got worse. Everybody tried to sleep, and I absolutely couldn't. Instead, I channeled my anger and composed a list of things I hate. Batman style.
But we made it through. Rob tried to help my cough by giving me a back rub as I hacked black Parisian soot out of my lungs. We also made jokes about how our adventures reminded us of the horrors endured in the Lord of the Rings. Like Frodo, we could feel ourselves dying with every mile. The burden was far to heavy.
When the bus did make it in... it was 4 AM. And it took it until 5 to find a cab. But, by God, we made it back home. I will never be so happy to take a shower and fall into an uncomfortable, springy bed again. I washed my hair at least 4 times before I felt I was able to get out of the shower. I was exhausted. And melted into bed.
- Current Music:Hugo - 99 Problems
Thursday Jane England finagled our group into going to Kew Gardens. This is David Attenborough country. It is also one of the most amazing, most beautiful botanical gardens ever. It shows the vast reach of imperialism by having one of the most complete collections of plants from all over the world. There are tropical greenhouses, temperate greenhouses, and ongoing unbelievable grounds. I felt at home in the Desert room because I recognized a lot of the plants as my own home friends. It was interesting to think of The Desert from a point of view other than living there. From a moderate and fairly rainy clime... it is a stretch to think of such extreme heat and dryness. People at the gardens were enthralled by the yucca and all the cacti. Kew has the largest palm tree in captivity. :) It was pretty hard to wrangle that one up... since palm trees are known for their speed and agility. There is a castle on the grounds. Because it's not England if there isn't a castle everywhere you turn. You can't toss a cat without hitting a castle. Thank GOD the day was warm and fairly sunny for the gardens.
Cute kids on the tube.
Charlie and Ananya traveling
The three of us, Rob, me and Alex are big StarWars fans, so we wanted to get a picture of us being Ewoks in the canopy of the gardens.
Alex is our beautiful Wood Nymph. We made her get into a tree so that we could photograph her in her natural habitat.
Outside of the gardens, we lunched at the most incredible tea shop. They had delicious Lady Gray tea. yummmmm
Friday was spent in Oxford. The town is peaceful and less high octane as London. It is beautiful. Breathtaking and astounding. It is cute and small and a place I could see myself in. It was interesting to be among the Students of England as well. Lots of tweed suits with elbow patches. They do not give two shits about where they live. They have the "ABC Policy": Another Bloody Castle, or Another Bloody Cathedral, or Another Bloody College. Locals just breeze by these thousand year old buildings without a second thought, talking on their phones and ignoring the sights around them. No biggie. I've seen it all before. What do we not appreciate like this back in the states?
This chapel is 1000 years old at least. I am touching history.
We also got to take a tour of a castle/jail there. It was so much fun because our tour guide got so in to what he was talking about and was so pleased to be sharing it with us. He played the part of Isaac Darkin, one of the most well known prisoners of the castle. He was a gorgeous highwayman who was sentenced to death, but refused to be killed by the state, so he dressed up all debonaire, wore a kickass mask, placed the noose around his own neck and jumped into the crowd. Like a boss. The prison was in use up until 1996. It was strange to think of people locked up so recently in a castle without running water or any real amenities in the rooms.
Some say these underground dungeons are haunted.
When we got home, there was a gathering in one of the dorm rooms. We have great impromptu parties. I took my hair out of its classic up look and everybody was amazed with how long and curly it is. Charlie asked me if he could straighten it. I said yes, and he cooked it hardcore, but had a ton of fun. We laughed saying that he could now be truly gay since he can do a lady's hair.
Yesterday was more of a chill day. I got to sleep in and rest up. My legs are feeling better, and I feel stronger. :) There was a big Football game going on, and I woke to the sound of men chanting and cheering in the streets. The day was complete chaos. 9AM and people were already hammered. Go figure.
Later in the day, a few of us found our way to Portibello Road which is super famous for the antiques and street fair atmosphere it has. Chickadee and I found some killer jewelry there. We also had the greatest impromptu dance party with a bunch of Londoners and out of towners. "I'm Walking on Sunshine" started playing from one of the kiosks, and Chickadee ans I started to sing along. One of the salesmen started to sing with us, then his friend came over to dance. We all began to jam out starting a big dance wave through the crowd that lasted until the song ended. Moments like that lift my spirits for days. :)
Today I woke Mom up at like 5 her time to talk. It was nice to connect. :) And we have made plans to hit up one of the more recommended Indian restaurants to see what all the hubbub is about.
- Current Mood: cheerful
- Current Music:The Beatles - Baby, It's You
Today we hit up the Tate museum after class. More modern art was seen. Picasso... Pollack... And much more!
This sketch is boss. It is all about how America is gaining its freedom and taking it away from Europe. Done during the revolution. It is strange to get the other side of the story that feels really sad from the British perspective.
Michael Caine will always be cooler than you.
Quiz question: Who painted this one?
After that, the girls decided to go see Hyde park and then go shopping at Oxford street. We visited the Marble arch. Then hit up Harrods. This mall is GINORMOUS! It's like 6 floors of stuff that nobody will ever be able to afford ever. It is BEAUTIFUL. Next after that, we hit up the British version of Ross. Primark. It is a madhouse for savings. We all bought new coats and sweaters since it is fucking freezing in this land. :)
This crown is made of chocolate.
I don't understand their crazy window displays.
- Current Mood: bouncy
- Current Music:Ian Holm - The Woman In White
Today we tackled the British Museum and the John Soane House. The house is this personal collection of the architect who designed the Bank of London. Like a boss. The mansion is chock full of artifacts and exceptional pieces that he collected over the years like a fucking hoarder. The house is layer upon layer of labyrinth like rooms that are brim high with old pieces ages old. The basement even has a sarcophagus that he outbid the British Museum for. What. There was so much stuff in this tiny space that you are not even allowed to bring your handbag in there. Upon his death, he willed this vast collection to the people of London, so it is free to get in there. I think my mom would hate it because this place is pretty much full of "clutter" - something she strives to keep at a dull roar. You know you have a problem if you can't move around in your own house...
Outside. Charlie's face cracks me up.
After that, we walked to the big museum. Big museum. It brought back delightful memories of my previous trip to Europe that was spent blasting through the Louvre. This was more of a whirlwind in which Jane England showed us her favorite top 10 must see items. The Rosetta Stone... the first platypus... artifacts... mummies... museum-y stuff. I would love love to go back one of these days to just be there an entire day.
"I wish they thought about building a giant pillar out in front of this museum..." - Rob
Just as cool as the pyramid in the Louvre.
Ok. Ok. So the first platypus they brought back DOES look seriously fake. :) Sorry about the poor quality pic.
Mummified cat next to a mummified snake. Y'know. Like you do to your late pets...
What. So spooky.
The dude who found this one tried to keep it :)
The chess set in Harry Potter was based off these guys.
Borimir would be proud
Jane England with her favorite piece.
- Current Mood: drained
- Current Music:The Beatles - Her Magesty
Today was more like the weather I usually imagine for London: rainy and overcast. I haven't been able to see the famous London Fog yet... but it was a good rainy day. The locals all had their fancy pantsy umbrellas out, and were bustling about as usual. I felt like I really fit in since I had my fire engine red trench coat out and I was ready for the rain. I still have yet to get a really beautiful umbrella...
After class, we broke for lunch and a nap with instructions to convene at the Barbican station to visit the British Museum. However, Chickadee and I had got it into our heads that we were going to the Museum of London. This ended in a wild goose chase all over the tubes, trying to figure out where we were and where the rest of the group was. We blasted through downtown and all around the city chillin on the trains waiting to hear calls from one of our London Leaders, Jane England. Thank god for this cheap phone!
Once we made it to the right place, everything felt a little better. The museum was fabulous, and documented the entire history of Britain from the uncivilized ages up through modern times. It was SO interesting. I love me some good museum action. Hardcore. I got stuck in the section that documented WWII. It is so nuts to hear the story that I have known from an American point of view posed by a country that was in it through the beginning and experienced the horrors of war first hand. They had interviews with people who had seen the bombings, and who had family go to war. Having a grandmother who was one of the first 40 nurses to enlist in the war, I feel very close to this bit of history, and I find it fascinating. The museum also presented it in a thoughtful and beautiful way.
THE FIRST ONE! EEEEEE!!!!!
Chickadee and I stayed there until closing. After that, we went shopping.... just so that we could say that we did. Shopping in London is a grand experience, and I can see much of this happening in our near future!
Also found out that the pub on campus is an excellent place to stop for a drink. The group bonded over some drinks and sharing our favorite movie pics. I kinda surprised everybody by telling them that I was big into the horror flicks. They all had me pegged as a romcom girl. ;)
- Current Mood: giddy
- Current Music:The Beatles - Oh Darling
After a full 36 hour day of airplanes airplanes and, in fact, more airplanes, I landed in London. The travel was just how you would expect travel to be, and once we got going, everything turned out pretty painless. First flight was canceled, so we rerouted just once - quite fortuitous since we met another guy from our group who had the same flight. Plus, it broke up our travel time into fairly perfect sets of flying and layovers. Other than that... you know the whole plane business. You know discomfort and helpless boredom. We didn't sleep much, and with the time difference, we all were a little loopy by the end.
As exhausted as Chickadee and I were though, we had a great first day! With the help of Rob we traversed the deep, dark train system of London, and found our way to Baker St. The biggest hitch was having to learn really, really fast how the money here works. I still don't understand all the coins too well....
The search for our school was a little harder, since we were tossed into this giant city chock full of fast walkers. Even though we consulted our maps, it took the three of us around (and I am speaking in no uncertain terms) 9 million years to find the place. Regent's College is located in the middle of Regent's Park. And is an impregnable fortress surrounded by a spike fence.... and a fucking duck moat. After locating the park (by following the runners) we could not find an entrance. And once we did that, it still took us a good amount of time to see that one of the bridges to the school is out... you need a key card to get in through the back gate... and you need to walk down a totally goofy street to get to the front of the school. But we made it, and got all checked in. The dorm room is cute, and the bathrooms are really clean. Though we are on the top floor of the building and there is no lift here. The school lies to us by telling us we are on the 3rd floor, when really it is the 4th. Turns out ground floor (or main floor) is not counted. It is a beautiful area. Everything about the school is fancy. The bricks are covered in ivy, there are courtyards and hallways to get lost in. The whole nine yards. And yesterday, the sun was shining, and the flowers were out in full. It is interesting to hear different birds calling in the parks rather than the ones I'm used to.
Once semi-settled, we ate lunch-dinner meal (it didn't matter which, since our schedule was so thrown off by the time switch) at a pub just down Baker St. called the Globe. It was there that I learned that Americans sound like complete hicks around here. The pub was quiet, people were talking in lower tones... and then we three were loud and yucking it up in the corner over our fish and chips. I know why Americans are not taken seriously and treated like barbarians now. "Yeehaw! I'll take fish an' some a them French Friiies, plz thar, Pardner?" "Who is that Lady on these greenbacks?"
Orientation happened, where the rest of the jetlagged group gathered together and tried to listen to a presentation and tour of the school. Chickadee and I had to bail early, because Aspen had bought some tickets beforehand to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant. I didn't realize that it was going down the DAY we got there. But we went like sports. The three of us dressed up to go in some gorgeous dresses and trained it out to Windsor Castle. (I love that I can say that). Upon getting there, we found out that this is an outdoor event, and that it gets really, really cold outside at night. So... like dumb Americans, we sat in the stadium ready for the pageantry. Turns out this was nothing like I expected. It was a horse show! Where people from all over the countries Queen Elizabeth II has traveled to put on performances of the cavalries. People came from Chile, New Zealand, all over Africa, Asia, India, America (The Big Country as they called it) and many more places to show off their expert horsemanship. There was dancing, choirs, English Celebs, and, of course, Royalty. The whole affair was beautifully done. Like an English fancy Rodeo!
Good for us to fix the jet lag... the affair kept us up until late in the night. We were exhausted and groggy so falling into bed was the perfect end to the perfect first day. Though... I learned that I hate HATE these beds. My neck is not liking me today. Hardest part of this adventure will be sleeping in that thing.
Today, we slept in late... did errands... looked around the whole campus and areas close by, nearly got hit by buses because they are on the WRONG SIDE of the road, and took a long walk to see some of the hot spots we will be taking tours of, and that we could chill out on our days off.
For dinner... the cafeteria (or refectory) decided to make us cheeseburgers. One thing about London that has not amazed me is their ability to make up a good burger. America will always win on grillin' up some slabs of meat. yeehaw. Otherwise... everything is incredible.
- Current Mood: sleepy