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Backlogged Blogging: London Log

WEDNESDAY

I’m sitting in New Cross, in a hip little pub/music venue enjoying a pint of Stella and killing time ntil the meeting for the Creative & Life writing talk happens. It is official. I really want to go to Goldsmith’s. The part of town is hip. The school is repruputable. The staff is friendly. I mean it’s the art college of London University! I’m going to have to serious step up my game when I get home. Talk about the holiday being over. I think I might rewrite my essay to include place and the life writing element to incorporate my visit. Because if I forget all about the practical hurtles ahead of me (visa, loans, scratching up living expenses, etc) I can TOTALLY see myself living here. They said I should give various writing samples like 5-8 so I really need to work on that when I get home. I’m so excited about this school WANT! I’n not even that sure I should apply to Kingston anymore. I felt so “meh” about it—not, contrasted with how I feel about this school, it might bot be worth the effort. I don’t think I’ll be as happy there and I don’t think I’ll get nearly as good as good an education. Since Aberdeen and Goldsmith’s are better schools perhaps I should focus all effort on them and make my application kick-ass! So really having made that decision, this trip just paid for itself. It could have saved me around $20,000 or more. Say I got accepted at Kingston only, gone there and been miserable (I don’t know hot ‘miserable’ I’d be as I’d still be in the UK at least but I still wasn’t a big fan of the school or area) and not getting the best education at that. It’s still too much of a technical school for my taste (even with the proper university acredidation) which is not mu cup of tea. Whereas Goldsmith’s is the artsy-fartsy liberal arts school, where I thrive in, or at least prefer. Yeah. This just turned out to be the best decision ever in terms of deciding my future. It’s too bad I can’t visit Aberdeen but at least I met with them and I’m confident about the school the only question is the city. As it stands now, Goldsmiths and Aberdeen are neck and neck and Kingston has dropped out of the race. I think my main hurtle for getting is overcoming my ambiguity. That is, I remember Cumberland asking me to describe my writing and I wasn’t capable. I’m still having problems answering that question even after over a year’s time to work it out.

Later…

Back from the Creative Writing info session. I am really going to have to step up my game. They only accept 30 of about 130 applicants and it fills up as it goes. I have to completely rethink my essay I’ve decided. I’ve got to sell myself a bit more. They said they want a writer with passion and potential. I know I’ve got the passion and I think I’ve got potential. I hope. Suddenly I want to go back to the hotel and edit my stories but there’s time for that when I get home. I’ll be a hermit for a while but it’s for good reason. I want this so much.

Anyway, at a pub across the street from the school, it’s got an interesting mix of students and local old guys. The barmaid is one of those hard-life barmaid clichés it’s wonderful.

Latter…

Apparently I’m spending my evening just sitting around in pubs writing. Not a bad thing. This is my third pub in New Cross. I’m slowly working my way to the train station. This place is called the Hobgoblin. Love it. I saw it when I stepped out of the station and immediately said aloud “Oh I am so going there.” I should eat if I’m going to continue drinking and I thought I would get some pub grub here but it’s all Thai food, which struck me as odd given the name. There’s a bit of a disconnect there. Nothing against Thai food it’s just not what I want at the moment. I could go for some traditional pub grub or maybe a pizza with my beer, ya know? Ah well. So to get all meditative, I was a the other pub just looking around and just in awe of where I was and I had the thought…how did I get here? I thought about the series of events that brought me to that particular pub. When I thought about it, it’s not even so much a series of events, its more like a web. The root reason I’m here is I was in town to visit grad schools. Why did I decided to go to grad school in the UK? Well partially because I’m obsessed with the culture and want to get a masters anyway. However the decision came to make a change in my life when Andrew dumped me back in ’08 (seems so long ago now) and I’ve been aiming for this ever since. It’s taken me some time (to save money and strife with the essays) but here I am…for, when I look back on it, a silly reason. Then the thought of the dumping bringing me here, I have to think about the meeting and going out that lead to the dumping. All that because I met at Shannon’s Birthday party in Ballard. If I hadn’t decided to go to that little event would I be here now, or still mucking about. Or to go back further, had Shannon and I not met, that takes me all the way back to like 7th grade. So you get what I’m saying. I guess you could get even really heavy and think about the decisions that were not even mine like my parents moving to Washington. I think I could say that if I grew up in Colorado I probably wouldn’t be here at the Hobgoblin right now. (I love the name of this pub so much!) I also take into account my frist travel experience to Paris as a round about contributing factor. That trip taught me not only that I love international travel but also that I can do it and it’s not as hard or expensively untouchable as it seems. That in and of itself is a HUGE deal and honestly, enriches one’s like twofold. For one, the traveler has more confidence in the world. This rock we all share, it seems both bigger and smaller once traveled. Smaller in that you see similarities in people, places, flaura, fauna. Bt it also seems Bigger once one realized how small a space of this huge globe you’re actually going to get around to see. Secondly the traveler has more confidence in him or herself. You get so stuck in the routine of daily life, walking the same streets in the same city. (Honestly I don’t miss Pike Street one bit right now) that the prospect of breaking that routine (though alluring) is a bit scary. I was a bit scared about going alone. There’s lots of fear involved with traveling, you’re so alone, outside of your element and so many things can go wrong. That’s part of feeling alive! That’s what we miss in our routine. Then if anything interrupts our routine it’s an annoying inconvience, how odd.
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I’ve really gotten behind on writing since I last wrote here, I was in New Cross at the Hobgoblin last I wrote. I’ve failed to update because I actually ended up talking to people! I was at the Hobgoblin and I heard a North American accent in the smoking garden and I thought that could be my in. I was so sick of sitting by myself and not talking to anyone. It’s clear that people won’t invite me to the conversation, I’d have to be assertive and jump in. I worked up the courage and approached the table and asked if I could join them and they let me have a seat. There were three Canadians and one Brit from South London (two ladies and two gents). Three of them worked at Goldsmiths whilst the other had just completed his MFA in Fine Art. They were very friendly and in fact, New Cross has been the most friendly area of London I’ve been so far. It was so nice to have some conversation. We talked about loads of stuff. I mostly enjoyed talking about likenesses/differences in US & UK with the British fellow. It was a good experience. It made me want to go to Goldsmith’s even more, actually.

Thursday I got kind of a late start, not getting ot of the hotel until about eleven in the morning. I walked through a bit of Hyde Park and saw Royal Albert Hall. Then I headed over to Trafalger Squareto go to the National Gallery & the National Portrait Gallery. The collection at the National Gallery was good. I obviously enjoyed the impressionist stuff more than the earlier religious, or romantic paintings. I saw some famous paintings, too. Cezanne’s Bathers (!) and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I also saw many paintings that I grew up with in my history books, including the Skull Painting, which was is quite cool. The old religious middle ages through renaissance paintings tended to bore me. It’s the same thing over and over again, Jesus as a Babe in the Madonna’s arms or Jesus dead and turning blue. It’s as if there was no middle bit of importance to that story. The imagery lead me further to believe that Christianity is just weird. To idolize your savior as a baby is just weird to me and kind of sick, really. Ah well. The National Portrait Gallery was all right. I didn’t see all of it. I went to the special exhibition “Beatles to Bowie” which was all ‘60’s rock starts looking young and adorable, from wee Bowie to a wee Mick & Kieth. I also saw the Twiggy room and stumbled into the Dylan room.

After a full afternoon of looking at pictures, I went up to meet Travis (ttmooney) at his place of work in at the Goodge street area. He’s a friend of a friend who very kindly volunteered to take me out after work to take me off the beaten path a bit. We and his girlfriend went to a little underground French wine bar, where he was friendly with the owner. The next place we went was a little adoirble mom and pop Italian restaurant that I in no way would have found on my own in a million years. It was my single Anthony Bourdain experience of the trip, I even tried a few new things for the first time. My little pizza with spinach and tomatoes had the egg in the middle. I’m not a big egg person but I take it in selective foods (like in French Toast I go mad with the egg and try to make it as eggy as possible, same with fried rice.) I’ve come to the conclusion that I love the white bit but not so much the yolk. I liked the pizza with the egg, it was delicious (sans the yolk). I wonder if I can doctor up home made pizzas in sch a way at home, it’s good. I had the sweetest desert I’ve had in my like. It was a liqueur with a creamy foamy thing definitely with almeretto in there as well. I don’t know what it was called, it started with a zed though. It was good but it pushed the line of my sweet tooth as far as it will go and I cold only eat half of it. (Which is all the more unbelievable since I’m in the eat-a-pint-of-Ben-n-Jerrys-time-of-month if you know what.) Then the night was topped off with a shot of some strong Italian liqeure. Again, Travis knew the staff there and there was a very friendly, family like atmosphere. I think I needed that to give me a bit of hope about living here. Traveling alone makes one feel a bit isolated and being in places where tourists are keeps one at an arms length from meeting real Londerns. That’s two nights of social interaction. Much needed and greatly appreciated.
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Day…Idonno. Friday. One week in. My trip is drawing to a close but I still have the weekend. I’m getting that pre-emptive remorse about having to leave soon. It’s Friday night and I’m bar hopping in Camden. At the moment I’m at World’s End on the quiet pub side. I fear I might disappoint the folks at home because I’m not exactly “tearing it p” here. It’s really hard to actually, because I’m a solo traveler, a bit of a shy one at that, and particularly because I can’t get pissed at bars here. I’ve switched to double jack’n’Cokes but they’re the equivilant to a single at home. I try to drink beer but even lighter beers like stella fill me p too easily to drink one pint after another from bar to bar (this is my 6th or 7th bar in Camden). Also bars closing at 11 is a bit of a hindrance. So once I get the alcohol in me, I want more so I get something at Tesco and end p taking it back to the hotel. I thought I would do an after hours clubbing thing but I don’t have the cash for a cab back if I do, so I might take the tube and go back to the hotel. I guess traveling alone doesn’t really open up opportunity to “tearing it up” when you’re a person like me. This has been more of an introspective trip, really. That’s fine. That’s good especially as this trip is not just a holiday. It’s not just about visiting schools. It’s primarily a test. It’s a test to see if I have it in me to make it here on my own in such a busy city. The prospect is frightening. I’m so glad I did this, I think it’s really important, well worth the expence. I mean I understand as a student it will be a bit different bt I have a better idea of what it is I’m in for.

As for today, I’d like to get caught up on my “what I did over my fall vacation” log. So today I went up to North London to see the “Spaced” house. I found it fairly easily with one mis-direction. I felt weird taking pictures as it is someone’s actual but they knew what they were getting into. That show is 10 years old now, they ought to be used to it. Afterward I walked to Regent’s Park. The fall is just too gorgeous a season to not enjoy a park. After that I went to the St. Johns Wood area to try to find Abby road but I didn’t find it. I can find the Spaced House but not Abby Road, how ridiculous is that? Though, to be fair, the notes on the direction to Abby road were a bit crude and my map didn’t go that far. I actually google mapped the Spaced house address, makes it a bit easier. I got annoyed and hopped on the first tube when I found a station. I went down to South London and got off at Elephant & Castle but ended up finding myself walking North to London Bridge and stumbling upon the Burough Market where I looked around and lusted after fancy cheeses and delectable sea food. Then I did the South bank walk to Tower Bridge which I crossed back to the north side. I got back on the tube at Tower Hill and was in the need to find something to eat but decided that I wanted to go to someplace I hadn’t been yet to eat. I was craving a cheeseburger but, you know, a proper one not Burger King or anything like that. I hit up Kensington and just off the tube station found a little rib joint that had burgers and what burgers! Idon’t know what the sauce was on it but it was delicious. I was well satisfied and just needed to go home to change for a night out in Camden.

All dressed up and with somewhere to go, I got back on the tube. I kind of felt like a local, browsing the Evening Standard on the train and very naturally making my connections, not really needing to look at the tube map to get to Camden any longer. I read about the shooting in Texas (what an odd story that was). I went to a handful of bars in Camden the Elephant’s Head and the Oxford Arms on the High Street, also The Good Mixer, the Worlds end, to name the ones I could remember. I didn’t really end up talking to anybody. Well in the smoking section of the Good Mixer (liked that bar, actually) this one guy asked me for a light and sort of talked to me me but I could tell he was fucking with me and was an areshole so I just decided to ignore him. Too bad because his friend was cut and I woldn’t have minded talking to him but it wasn’t worth taking shit from the dickhead. Eventually I gave up and I bought a pink of Jack to take home after bar closing. There was a goth girl on the tube who was absolutely hammered and I just had to wonder…how does this happen? There must be some major pre-funking going on that I’m missing or these people are spending a shit-ton of money or are all lightweights. Probably a combination of the three.


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