September 20, 2008

In the Life Span of a Human Eyelash

It’s been a while. Okay, so it’s been five months – the lifespan of a human eyelash (Don’t ask me how I know that) – since I’ve last written here. I stopped because it was becoming redundant for me, writing similar, albeit less-detailed, stories here and in my other personal blog. I’m starting again for a few reasons, but I won’t get into all of that.

So, where has my life taken me over the past five months? The short story: S and I broke up in April; I had a two month summer fling with an American guy who turned up in London for the summer and though we still talk regularly, we decided not to make it a long distance relationship (I will refer to him as ‘B’); Got two new flatmates in exchange for two others – one who moved to Dubai for tax-free living and the other who is crashing on our couch for a few weeks before moving to Botswana or Zimbabwe; I did London-y things all summer – went to Brighton, drank Pimms in small gardens of quaint little pubs, sat in the park when the sun decided to peek out of the clouds for a few hours, drank tea around the firepit, had house parties with people from 16 different countries gathered in our back garden and oozing out of the kitchen, etc; I went to Ireland and then Northern Ireland on a whim in August with B the weekend before he went back to NY; and, I just got back from two weeks of relaxing in NY myself with the family and a few friends. Came back yesterday to unpack, unwind and find that we had gotten a new fridge, new TV and a warped kitchen floor.

In other news:
I’ve booked my Eurostar tickets to Paris, where I will be going not long from now for a few days to visit a friend. I just finished an inspiring book called Expat which is a series of short stories written by American women who have lived abroad. I’m starting to build a website for my Traveling Mag Project which I hope to re-launch with the new site next month. My book collection has grown to nearly 200 since I moved to London in January 2007. Not quite sure what happens when I want to move. I had a two page article with four pictures published in Art of England this month. Read This, the Vancouver-based magazine I’ve been editing the Arts and Culture Section of, has decided to add a travel section for me to play with which excites me.

My newest aspirations are as follows:
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Take a TEFL course and learn to teach English as a foreign language so I can…
* Go live in South East Asia teaching English for a few months and travel as much as possible around the region, through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, etc.
* In the meantime, save up some cash for a trip to Mongolia which will likely include travel through Russia and China. I found something to consider called the Vodkatrain that takes you through all three and hooks you up with local guides. Alternatively, there is a program where you can become a journalist in Mongolia with your own English speaking column. For some reason, I’ve developed an infatuation with Mongolia that probably won’t be quelled until I’ve gone.
* I’d still like to study for my MA, but that seems to be kept on the back burner due to my undying curiosity about the world and my insatiable need to spend all of my money on plane/train tickets.
* I would also like to learn another language; however, with so many to choose from, I’m not sure which would be the best bet as far as most useful. Maybe French, since I’ve already got the basics. Maybe an Asian language…
* The re-launch of the Traveling Mag Project.

Now that we’re up to speed…I suppose I should give you the (very very short) photo version. And very short means a very select few because I’ve taken over 2,000 photos since February.
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This is Agnes, the mother fox who lives in our backyard. Farley lives with her and they had three baby foxes - Jasper, Willa and Rufus - in April.
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This photo more or less sums up most of June, besides meeting B who wasn't there this day. Long days in parks - in this case, Holland Park, followed by ice cream, cards and bonfires.
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My housemate, G, from South Africa and AJ from Sudan bonding over their 'African-ness' at our house party in June.

Besides the company of friends and fellow expats in London who represented 16 different countries, we had about 20 American students from my old university in New York who were here studying for a few weeks. In this picture, I'm with two of my lecturers who were leading the group.
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video

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This video was shot at the end of this party when those of us left standing were hanging out in the kitchen at 4am. When Oasis came on the radio, everyone started singing, which I thought was quite incredible seeing as, for most of the people in that room, English is a second language. Oasis was our common connection even though the people singing are from America, England, Sudan, South Africa, Zambia, Turkey, Australia, etc.
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July brought more sunny walks through London parks, trips to the Tattershall Castle - the boat pub on Embankment, the discovery of The Castle - a London gem for anyone who loves rock climbing, and also the discovery of an awesome Wednesday night open mic at Flask in Hampstead - something that became a tradition that I will write about more later.

This month also meant nights at The Island, a going away party for two awesome flatmates who are well missed, and more barbeques than I ever thought possible.

Plus, a trip to good old Brighton to play in the freezing English Channel, waste all of our 20p coins in the arcade and sit on the sidewalks listening to street bands. Not to mention the obligatory fish and chips wrapped in paper, eaten with a wooden fork on the stony beach whilst trying to deter the seagulls from dive bombing and wrapping up tight against the chilly wind. On the train back home, we saw a rainbow out of one window and a sunset on the other side.
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In August, we saw break dancers on the south bank, among other amusing acts.
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We found the strange juxtaposition of cows at Mudchute Farm near Canary Wharf.
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We walked through the Leake Street tunnel near Waterloo again to find the second Cans Festival - awesome graffiti by talented artists - still open to the public for free.
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Then, of course, there was the infamous Notting Hill Carnival carnage (yes, that's a dildo in her chocolate-smeared cleavage).

Followed shortly after by the closing ceremonies of the olympics in which London became the next host city for 2012. The Red Arrows flew over St. James Park during the festivities.
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Then there was the weekend trip to Dublin and Belfast that created a lot of good, music-filled memories.
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The next weekend, there was a sad but beautiful ending to one of the best summers I've ever had.
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And then, after all of the lovely London summer days, it was time for a little trip home to relax and reconnect with my home town in the suburbs of Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY.
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These were taken at the local market on a Saturday morning.

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And this one was from a camping trip for a Mai Tai weekend.
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The trip was a great escape full of family, friends, shopping on the dollar, great food and drinks, a game of Scrabble, a 50th birthday party, the camping trip and a whole lot of other things in between.
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Now, hopefully, I won't have any more eyelashes falling out before my next entry!

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