Expectation vs. Reality

I have a plan for everything. I’m talkin’ a 3 months in advance, hour-by-hour kind of plan. I’m genetically predisposed to this sort of dysfunction. I also have very little patience. Like hand-eye coordination, I was born without it. I am always at step 3 in my mind, before step 1 is even over.

Job Search

So when my master’s programme was wrapping up (actually, about 5 months before it was wrapping up), I already had a plan. My plan was to hand in my thesis, spend about a week recuperating, then send out my CV like somebody’s payin’ me for it. I would then have a few interviews, which in my mind, would go something like this:

I walk into a state of the art research centre and shake hands with my interviewer, they take a look at my CV and, with wide eyes they gape at me, “So you’re the one who’s completed a master’s programme?! Look at all of the experience you have! You must have been working your a$$ off for years!!” And I would nod my head, and humbly accept the corner office.

Or something along those lines. The modest version was to (quickly) land an above-entry-level-job with a steady salary and paid holiday time, get a new visa, buy a new wardrobe, book some holidays and commence life.

The reality of this glorious job searching experience has been starkly different. It has involved applying to jobs like it’s my job, but for some reason, all of these companies have decided to reinvent the wheel. I took classes on how to write a CV, attended seminars, met with career counselors, had it checked by supervisors. And what does every application say?! ‘We do not accept CV’s.’ Instead, they provide nice little boxes asking all of the questions that are answered on my CV, so that you can copy and paste/rewrite alllllll of that information on there for them. WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?! I can now recite my entire CV top to bottom. I see it in my sleep. I am thinking about learning how to translate it into a new language just to mix things up a little.

It is hard not to fall into a deep dark pit of squalor in this process of slaving away over (what seems like) thousands of insignificant applications and sending them out into the oblivion, knowing that a response of any kind is unlikely. You see, I think that going into this process, I had really (and still do) underestimate just how many people there are in this city. There are over 40 universities in London. That’s so many thousands of recent grads job searching that I couldn’t even begin to count. Regardless, there is easily a few hundred people going out for every job that I am. Did I make good grades? Yes. Do I have experience? Yes. Do these other people? Probably.

BUT I have not given up. I’m still slaving away. But I’m going to have to change somethin’ up in my schedule because right now the time that I’m waking up every morning is creeping closer and closer towards the time I woke up on the weekends when I was a teenager and didn’t have bills to pay. And, as predicted, I am rewarding myself with far too many episodes of Private Practice (I finished Grey’s Anatomy and am now watching episodes as they are released like a peasant), and I am getting far too attached to these characters. I need human interaction. And a reason to put some makeup on in the morning. But at the same time…yoga pants are so good. And why go out when you can’t spend money?! I can only sit in a cafe for so long and mooch off their “Free Wifi” without feeling obligated to buy multiple lattes. It’s just not feasible.

It’s really only been a month since I’ve been slaving away. Something is bound to turn up. I refuse to admit that I live in a world where hard work does not pay off. I’m too young for that kind of cynicism.

The Millenials’ Fast

I am proud to say that I have survived three weeks with no Internet at home, or as I like to think of it, our generation’s fasting. Living without internet is like fasting in so many ways: it develops the mind, clears the head, you can do it both as a personal challenge or when forced in times of famine or religious obligation…but if carried out for too long, or in unsafe conditions, it could kill you.

A couple of weeks ago, our terrible, horrible flatmates moved out of our old flat. And because they are terrible and horrible, they took the Internet with them. And we were given no warning that this was happening. We had no time to prepare. Cold turkey. We were right in the middle of watching a TV series, as well! AND then come to find out we weren’t going to be able to get Internet until a week after we moved into our new place!! I allowed myself a period of grief to let this reality settle.

The first weekend was rough because, in addition to having no internet, we also had no money because we had just put down our Texas-sized deposit on our London-sized flat, and so we couldn’t really afford to do anything fun. So we bought a puzzle. A 1000 piece SOB that nearly drove us to insanity.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a bunch of puzzle pieces strewn around the sidewalk near our flat…

Raining Puzzles

I thought it was strange then, but I now understand why the puzzle thrower threw that puzzle. Because after staring at the same pieces for so long and not seeing any way that there is any kind of distinction between the 300 white pieces like you see in the picture, or because you’ve TRIED ALL OF THESE PIECES, WHERE THE &#^% IS IT?!?!

But we finished it.

We also got some library books, which was great for me. I got through most of Sophie’s Choice, one of my new favourites by the way. I’ve found a few of those since my thesis work has been winding down. I’ve been makin’ it through an unwritten list of mine-a sort of combination of Rory Gilmore’s reading list, every Buzzfeed article that mentions “books you have to read”, and any book which has a title or author that sounds familiar or that someone somewhere considers a Classic.

Another fun little internet-less activity of ours was to rediscover the dark and dangerous place that is the iTunes library post-Spotify. Who needs to delve into your angsty teenage stage when you can stream to your heart’s desire?! Listen to something different every day? Well, we went there. With the deal that whoever’s playlist was on, the other could act as DJ and skip whenever necessary. Because, let’s face it, I was not going to sit through any screamo, and he wasn’t going to listen to any N’Sync. It would not have made us any more patient with each other during this trying time.

It is somewhat miraculous that somehow we forgot that Candy Crush doesn’t require internet…that is definitely for the best. Both Louis and I have both gotten to a point of Crush addiction, in the past year, when you see the candies when you close your eyes. The game haunts you when you try to go to sleep at night. It’s just what happens when you play that during your daily commute (and then anytime that you have full lives after that).


As much as we were simplifying our life, there are just some things that require the Internet (like ordering groceries-because we’re not haulin’ anything that can be delivered to our door). For these, we had to meet at a café with (miserably slow) wifi and go through it all after work. Super frustrating.

But this internet-less existence was not the worst thing. As I am now in the full-time job searching position, if I did not have an explicit reason to leave the house everyday, it is possible that I could fall into a dismal kind of existence of only leaving the house to go to the gym. And how easy would it be to reward myself with an episode (or four…) of Grey’s Anatomy after each section of job application? It would happen and then I would have to do the applications at night. Which I don’t want to do.

My narrowly escaped fate.

Not to mention that with so much time on our hands, we had time to bake cookies. So I can’t complain tooooo much.

Now we have internet (and no terrible, horrible flatmates), and I am happily making up for lost time with all mobile devices going: I’m watching Private Practice on my laptop-because I caught up on Grey’s, Instagramming on my iPhone, job searching on my iPad, with Spotify pulled up and ready to go with any musical choice that strikes my fancy.

Life is better with Internet. It should be a fundamental human right, and I will never again take it for granted.


Movin’ On Up

We moved last weekend, and it was an adventure. It also took a few days to recover physically, partially because, in my infamous wisdom, I must have thought to myself, “What could make this move more fun? I know! Let’s do it hungover! AND after leg day!!” And so a task that was already guaranteed to be tiring and trying was magnified.

We learned that we have much more stuff than we thought. Doesn’t it always happen that way; you underestimate the amount of stuff that can possibly fit in your home? We thought that because we moved to London a year ago with 5 suitcases (stuffed to the brim), it couldn’t be toooooo much more. But we seriously miscalculated our (…my) ability to accumulate stuff. We now have sheets and towels (big space-takers), more shoes, dishes, food (mostly potatoes and canned goods. You know…the light stuff), a TV and books (SO MANY BOOKS!). That led to us requiring much more than the few boxes we thought we would need (and unfortunately the amount of boxes that we told the moving van guy we had). I mean really…we had our heads in the clouds.

Our Stuff

But thank goodness that, due to a combination of being a military kid, a child of divorce and having a consistent history of crazy roommates which required me to move at least once a year during all four years of college, I am practically a professional mover. I applied my methodical love of planning to tackle this project (in one night). Louis, on the other hand, ran around like a chicken with his head was cut off for a little while, acting as if we were about to be evicted and had to grab what we could as fast as possible. But, in the end we got it all sorted.

On Saturday morning we also learned something about England that we haven’t had to up until now: England’s version of a moving van. When we ordered a van, I pictured…well, a van.

A moving van.

America’s version of a moving van

As we waited downstairs with all of our stuff, with throbbing heads and empty stomachs at 9 in the morning, and THIS pulled through our gate, I almost cried.

A "moving van"

Our “moving van”

Our “moving van” driver, who was probably the most stereotypical Londoner you’ve ever seen, stepped out of this Tonka truck and, between cigarette puffs, noted that this was “quite a bit more than you said you had”. Which was when Louis saw fit to throw me under the bus: “yeah, my girlfriend has a lot more stuff than I thought.”

By some miracle, we got it all in there, and began our 30-minute journey across town (we moved from SouthEast London to NorthWest). And, because it’s London, we got rained on, but thankfully only at the end of this process. When we got it all to the lobby of our building (as the “moving van” sat parked illegally on a double red line in the middle of the high street), I realised two things:

  1. Although there is a lift, it is decidedly London-sized (i.e. teeny tiny), and has a sign posted outside that explicitly states it is only for “transporting people”…no heavy objects allowed; and
  2. That there were no stairs. Apparently the door to the stairs is down the road and around the corner. And since we weren’t about to move all of this stuff through the rain again, we made it a super speedy process: loading the heavy objects into the teeny tiny lift, trying not to be paranoid that it has a noticeable jolt every time you put a box inside, Louis running it to the flat while I make sure we don’t get robbed.

Ahh…the city life!

Overall, this was still way less painful than our move last year! Minimal lugging of suitcases through busy streets (Although we didn’t really have a choice about that because the cobblestone ate the wheels of our suitcase on that trip!).

So now we have our charming little abode that is just ours; no terrible, horrible flatmates to share it with! It is little, but it is all that we need. There is space to walk around the bed, there’s a kitchen, but you CAN’T open the oven from the bed, the shower AND ceilings are big enough for Louis to fit in. What more could we ask for?! (For those who think I am being facetious, you should see the calibre of the flats we looked at…London’s housing crisis is a real problem). We also have an (obstructed) skyline view! AND we have our own little balcony! You have to climb over the kitchen sink and out a small-ish window to get to it…but it’s ours! And it’s in the best location. Close to everything we want (pubs, shops, cafes, pubs with live music, restaurants, transportation, pubs that show the football games, a canal, our gym, pubs).

And so we have been happily settling in, and getting used to all of our little abode’s quirks (e.g. the smoke detector that screams if you look at it wrong, and which door slams if you leave which window open), and celebrating the little things (like finding where we put “that damn” x, y, z, and only taking 5 minutes to figure out what degree to turn the shower faucet to avoid being scalded or frozen).

And then we ran into the building’s caretaker. A delightful man (sarcastic tone indicated) who asked if we were renting through the letting agency nearby, I replied, yes. And he, in the most sinister way possible, responded “good luck with that.” With no further explanation except that “they’re $#!*…especially about giving the deposit back”. Well if that isn’t exactly what a cheerful new tenant wants to hear! And so now I will try not to spend the next 12 months musing over how I can make sure that I get my deposit back. Can’t do anything about it now!

At least we don’t have flatmates.


Yupp. We’ve lived in London for a year. Time flies. And now, for the first time in twenty years, I will not be starting school this month, but finishing it. This is very strange for me as I do not know how to not be a student.

But, I have submitted my thesis. My time as a student is indeed over (for now). As I stand back and assess how this year has gone, I can’t help but think of all of the London that I’ve missed out on because of our “student budget”, and the sheer amount of time I have had to spend in the library. I keep thinking of it as a year wasted, but that’s really no way to look at it. At the end of this I will have a Master’s degree, and hopefully a Distinction on my thesis, a publication, and a  job. But I’ve also learned a loooooooooOOOOOOooooooooot about myself this year.


I’ve learned that no matter how far away you move, your flaws and insecurities move with you. Moving to London did not magically make me a girl who has any desire to do more to my hair than dry it, my texting-back skills have not improved, nor has my ability to hold my alcohol, I still engage in Netflix binging, and I doubt myself on a regular basis. But I think that, maybe, it’s possible that I’ve gained some confidence. Despite getting into this (amazing) school, receiving a (huge) scholarship, and surviving (gargantuan) exams, I have been endlessly anxious about my writing skills in my thesis. The realization that I should be confident in myself came during my meeting to discuss my  “First Draft” with my supervisor (actually saved in my computer as ‘newNEW_THESIS_EDITEDfinal-NEWfinal-reallyfinal.docx’ or something to that extent). I sat in his office, preparing myself for a long night of revising ahead; but he told me that there was very little to comment on, that I am a ‘very good writer’, and that my thesis was in a publishable state. When I was thinking over (and over and over…) how that meeting would go, that was definitely nowhere in my realm of possibilities. But I should be confident! I got into the programme, and I’ve been dominating since day 1. It’s almost time to sit back and revel in my accomplishments.

I learned that you know that it’s a special kind of love that can survive a big (giant) move away from all friends and family, on top of one person completing a seriously strenuous master’s programme, and the other working a very time consuming job.

I think that Lou deserves a degree for taking a crash course, with no syllabus, and only pop quizzes in ‘How to Deal with Caroline In All Her Forms‘. He laughed off my only-half-joking screaming fits at my computer while I cursed its inability to perform tasks at the pace I wanted; he calmed me down and reassured me when I got caught in my downward spiral of thoughts concerning my bleak and uncertain future; he got on board with (most) of my self-development projects which were a weak attempt to procrastinate; and when the exhaustion from writing until there was no words left to write left me in a state that made the bed seem like the only place I wanted to be, he fed me a sippy cup of wine and suggested a walk outside, along the river, among the other people.

Before I moved here, people kept telling me that this move will “make or break” our relationship, and considering that I could not have possibly done this without him, and we’re stronger than ever, I’d say it made it.

Above all, this year has taught me that much more is possible than we let ourselves believe. I thought that getting into a Master’s programme here was impossible; that moving to London was impossible; that running a 10k was impossible; that finishing a thesis in 4 months was impossible; but I’ve done it all. It’s good to acknowledge this now, because the next steps (finding a job, and re-learning how to socialise without discussing my thesis) seem pretty impossible right now.

There are so many quotes that are fitting for this time of my life. But I think that the words of someone who I admire for many things, not the least being the ability to persevere in the face of adversity, fit best:

“Success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not”  -Eminem

So I’ve submitted my 100 page thesis (and then slept for about 18 hours…which is the best kind of celebration, if you ask me), in a week I will give a presentation on it. But now…I begin the job hunt. Oh, and we’re moving to a new flat. No time for rest and relaxation over here.

More to come!

10 Things That I Have Learned Lately…

  1. There is such a thing as stupid questions! I have known this for a while, but I have learned THE funniest of them all: “How do you feel about a baby in the apartment?” BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. For a question such as this, a response such as “How do you feel about me slitting your throat? Probably about the same…” is fitting. I have done everything that a responsible modern woman has to do to avoid an unwanted situation. So I am not going to live with the consequences, no matter how amazing the apartment is. (Read: I’M NOT MOVING!!!…but somebody is….)



  2. As the sunrise gets earlier and earlier, so too does the birds’ peak time of conversation and mating. 4 am is now a time when birds choose to gather outside of my bedroom window and, seemingly, mate. It’s either that or feral cats getting it on at a second story level. Either way it is a LOAD of noise. At 4 am. 4 nights in a row. Who needs sleep?…no. I do. I need sleep. Hence, #teamnobabies
  3. Apparently summer is a time that makes men in London feel extra entitled. I have made it nearly 10 months in this giant city without being groped on the tube. And then June hits and BAM! Two cases of sexual harassment in two weeks. First, a man flipped my skirt up when I was standing on the escalator. Then, while on the last stretch of a 40 minute run, I was hit by a motorcyclists’ outstretched arm. My a$$ is now bruised. I was also standing with a friend who bent over to lock her bike outside of a pub when a man felt the need to let her know that she had “some grass on her a$$”…and then felt that it was a good idea to brush it off for her. It was not ok. NOT OK!! #everydaysexism
  4. Summer is also when the lack of air conditioning in London becomes exceedingly noticeable. And intolerable. How is this not a thing in every developed country?? I want to send the people in charge to the Deep South during June and see if they don’t want to adopt that gorgeous burst of frigid air as any door, anywhere opens.

    This image proves that

    This image proves that “AirCon” is not a new invention…therefore I do not see the hesitation in accepting it fully as a needed aspect of a society tormented by global warming…

  5. One of the best feelings in the world may very well be quitting a job that had been sucking the life out of you with its’ pointless nature and total dominance over all possibility of weekend fun. I am now at an interesting point in my life. Up ’til this point I have worked nothing but meagre jobs which I mostly hated, because I had to have a job. My next job will be something important. Something related to my field. Something that will actually further my career. That’s exciting.                                    quitting
  6. It is necessary to have an area of life that separates you from what you ‘do’. Throughout most of my master’s course I have been supplementing my lessons by reading books related to the field (aka scientific books) in my spare time. This can only last so long until I lost my mind. I require a creative outlet. And spending 95% of waking hours writing a thesis does not leave me with much brain power to write blogs (unfortunately). BUT getting back to reading literature soothes my soul. Must remember this for future scientific endeavours…
  7. In times of absurdly important projects (such as a master’s thesis), it is important to prioritize the areas in which I am working my a$$ off. For example, it is not sustainable to work my a$$ off at school, on multiple projects (including my thesis), while also maintaining a killer workout schedule and strict diet regime (all the while berating myself for any slips). Something’s gotta give. And thesis trumps all. So it’s a good thing that I’ve realized my body’s ability to bounce back relatively quickly, cuz if I’m staring at a screen, wracking my brain for words and I want a cookie, I’m eatin’ a cookie. diet
  8. Technically I already knew this, but my Facebook feed does not change just because I can no longer form a stream of words that make any sense when deep in the thesis-writing process.
  9. Likewise, more coffee does not make words come. It only makes the non-words come at a more voracious pace.        coffee
  10. Last but not least, I have learned that when studying alcohol all day (and I mean ALLLLLLLLLLL day); reading articles about it, writing a thesis about it, having international conference calls about it…it really makes you want to drink it. TGFW (Thank God For Wine)


My lack of posts lately has been due to my need to channel all of my writing energy into scientific forms. I probably won’t be back to my once-a-week goal until September, but stay tuned because things aren’t getting any less interesting on this side of the pond…

Let’s Talk About Something Important

We’re right in the midst of the UK election season, which officially lasts 38 days. That’s roughly a month of campaigning. While I cannot vote in this election, I am keeping up with the parties’ stances, so that I can persuade my boyfriend, who can vote (for the first time!), to vote with a purpose, rather than to vote for whoever is ‘probably gonna lose’. The two issues that I have a vested interest in are drug policy reform (let’s use some sense and invoke some leniency here, people) and immigration laws, for obvious reasons (Say No to Xenophobia!!!).

Meanwhile, back in the good ole USofA, election season has also kicked off…20 months early. So while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the seemingly dozens of presidential candidates’ campaigns (I mean really, is every person who has ever held public office running for president??), I feel like I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that many important issues will be ignored.

I predict that the two main issues no one will be able to shut up about are 1.The Economy and 2. Health Care

And while those are unarguably very important issues, they are not the issues that are plaguing the country.

The United States criminal justice system needs to be reformed. Badly. Quickly. There is an institutional racism that lies just under the surface, barely out of plain sight, throughout the entire system (police, courts, prison). This selective enforcement, discrimination and harassment has its’ roots in the “War on Drugs“. For anyone interested in the detailed and documented history of this, I can suggest some wonderful books, but I am not here to provide a history lesson today. I am here to make a lesson of the present.


Last week, my boyfriend and I were scrolling through YouTube’s most watched videos and happened upon the video posted by Fox News of the shooting of a black man by a white police officer in Muskogee County, Oklahoma. Just so there is no confusion (because there have been a few shootings of black men by white police officers in Oklahoma recently…), this was not a case of an ‘unarmed black man’. The man did have a gun. I will argue, however, that the cop used this man for target practice. He shot with excessive force (as if shooting in and of itself is not excessive force…). He shot this man five times. In the back. He then kept the gun pointed at the (obviously dead) man for the next few minutes, and refused to let a friend check on him. There was an utter lack of compassion. It was completely un-human.

The video made me physically sick. I cannot understand that kind of flippancy for another human’s life. I do understand that the job of a police officer comes with many challenges, and that there is a need to deal with the challenges in a way that laypeople cannot sympathize with (I studied criminal justice, and so my ‘understanding’ is from an academic perspective. I do not purport to fully grasp the ins and outs of police work). Additionally, I am not suggesting that there are no good cops. Policing is a necessary part of every society, and many are doing their part to keep our country safer.


What I am suggesting, is that there is a cancer that has been spreading throughout the system. Black men have been killed by cops without reason throughout America’s history. But we haven’t had access to smart phones, which can video anything and everything and then be disseminated to everyone, everywhere, throughout America’s history (or in this case, wearable body cameras). The point that I am trying to make is that this is not a phenomenon. And it is not an issue that can be solved by firing a few ‘bad apples’.

Something needs to change.

And someone needs to make it their issue in this upcoming election season. No more baseless murders protected by a failing institution need to happen before someone in power gets upset enough to demand an overhaul. Due to the complexity of the issues America is suffering, one policy change ain’t gonna cut it.

There needs to be drug policy reform. It’s all well and good if people choose to persistently and ignorantly assume that all black men are engaging in illicit drug use, everyone has the right to their opinion in America, after all. But their ignorance should not impact an entire group of people in the paramount way that it does now.

There needs to be gun law reform. Contrary to the ideas of many Texans and Alabamians whom I have spoken to, this would not consist of Obama showin’ up at your front door and takin’ your guns. But there needs to be fewer guns. Less access to guns. Guns need to be harder to get! Because it’s too easy to kill people right now. And that’s not cool.

There needs to be police reform. The entire training for police needs to be reconsidered. The culture of the boys in blue needs therapy. Hey, how about some actual therapy?! Police go through some struggles that civilians don’t. It might help to talk about it. Going to Afghanistan isn’t the only cause of PTSD. And there’s plenty of other psychological phenomena that occur from the amount of stress from this job…

So we’ve got new laws, new training, and addressing mental health. Now let’s get the people who don’t deserve to wield this power out of their current positions, and let’s move some new recruits in. I really have no suggestion on how to do this, but I’m sure someone out there does. Or could come up with one if they decide that this is an issue worthy of a brainstorming session.


This was a comment made by a fellow cop to the cop who killed an unarmed black man in South Carolina. He laughed and said his adrenaline was pumping…

I think that this is the most pressing domestic issue facing the United States of America at this time. The longer we wait to demand reform, the more black men (and black women, and hispanic men and women, and people with mental health issues…), some armed, some unarmed, will be killed across the country. Some of these stories will make national headlines. Many won’t.

This issue may not affect you directly. That’s all the more reason why you should care. People in power have a habit of not really listening to the plight of the people who it does affect. Say something. Make it an issue worth talking about. Make your local politicians and your presidential candidate of choice know that you think it’s an issue.

I will hold my breath for this reform. #ICantBreathe

Union Square protests

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The Gasp Test


You know those moments when you think something terrible is happening, and you instinctively make a sound that would make clutching your pearls or seeing your life flash before your eyes seem fitting?

If you don’t, lucky you!!

If you do know the feeling that I’m talking about, how often does it occur?

For me, I’ve realized that it is a good day if I only have that gasp 3 times. THREE!! That’s too many times per day to feel like something terrible is about to happen. Let me clarify, these three times that I gasp and see my life flash before my eyes is NOT when I accidentally look the wrong way before crossing the street and almost get run over by a speeding double-decker bus (that rarely happens anymore…).

These gasps repeatedly occur on a few occasions:

  1. When a pigeon flies towards me. And they do. Daily. I hate birds. I have recently realized that this is worse in springtime. You know what’s more terrifying than a pigeon? A sexually frustrated pigeon. Yayyyy mating season.
  2. When I’m walking somewhere and think that I’ve lost/left my phone/Oyster card/keys somewhere. Usually what has happened is that the almost-forever-lost item was a few centimeters away from where my hand initially entered the pocket that my hand was already in. Yet in that quarter of a second, I have planned who I need to call or what I need to do to get wherever I need to get. It is a miserably stressful quarter of a second!
  3. When I almost drop my phone. This has become a bit less stressful now that the worst has happened (I recently shattered my previously unblemished screen).
  4. When I almost make the train that I had just convinced myself I didn’t neeeeed to make, because hey, I’m in no big rush. But, oh the doors are still open. Ah I can make it! Speed up a smidgey. *BEEP BEEP BEEP* Doors nearly close on the tip of my nose. (Due to childhood trauma, I have a thing with automatically closing doors. I’m skittish.)
  5. When I almost drop food. I love food.

Are these overreactions? Probably. But I prefer to associate them with an unusually high stress level. Better to be crazy than dramatic, no? Or maybe they are one in the same.

How do you measure your daily stress level?


Bizarre Experiences in Public Transportation

If you’ve been reading my blog since I moved to London, you know that I enjoy blogging about public transportation. This is probably because it’s so different from the norm in America, which is driving around with a bunch of crazy people and getting psycho-level road rage. (Ok, that’s probably not the norm. But that’s how I drive.)

I have become aware that I have had an oddly high amount of bizarre experiences. My boyfriend travels mostly during rush hours, not a whole lot of crazy people riding the tube or bus then. Well, at least they’re crazy people who are keeping their crazy toned down. I, on the other hand, travel at strange hours. Usually between the hours of 10-4. I foolishly thought that would be a rather tame time of day, not so!

Everyone in London has their fair share of weird people they’ve encountered; if you’ve lived here for more than a week, you’ve been too close for comfort with a couple making out, and been on the unfortunate side of someone who slumps in their sleep. I am talking about things that are worse than this. And so here I will rank the top 5  most bizarre experiences that I have experienced in public transportation!

Brace yourselves.

5. Nail polishing: Something about the tube gives some people the same level of comfort that is provided by their own bathroom. One particularly heinous habit is applying nail polish on public transportation. You are kidding yourself if you think those tiny bottles don’t unleash a whole heap of fumes. If you’d just take a gander at the warning labels on that little bottle, you would likely see an advisement to only use in ‘well-ventilated areas’…a crowded underground train does not fall into that category. Yet this is a fairly frequent occurrence, and it seems totally crazy to me. However, a personal rule of mine is never to apply cosmetics in public if I can avoid it. (Never let ’em see you sweat, ya know?)

4. Child climbing on me: I have mentioned my general agitation about children in previous blog posts, and so it should not be news that I try to avoid close encounters (for reasons of both the desire for a bit of peace and to not interact with the “superspreaders). However, quite a few parents of young children fall into one of two categories when on public transportation: the parents who are as easily distracted by technology as children are purported to be, and so spend the entire commute with their nose in their smartphone OR the parents who think their little darling’s frenzied sound-barrier-breaking-babble or attempts to turn the carriage into a jungle gym are equally as entertaining to other passengers as to the people who have witnessed their progression through all sorts of developmental landmarks. (Rant almost over…) The worst instance of this was a woman who let her (probably) 4 year old ACTUALLY climb on me. As in, he crawled over the arm rest, put his hands on my legs, face close to my face, and she just sat there. What is the best way to approach that situation? Gently push the kid off and then sanitize hands? Try to get the attention of the mother? Eh…I just slipped out of the seat, got off at the next stop and switched carriages….and then sanitized hands. (Better safe than sorry.)

3. Banana eating: This was an exceptional occurrence that has yet to be repeated, although on days when I could use a laugh, sometimes I wish it was. After one particular night out, my boyfriend and I got onto one of the last trains of the evening, and sat down in a nearly full carriage (him across from me). The man sitting to the right of me proceeded to take a banana out of his bag. He peeled it (nothing unusual so far…), leaned as far left as the restraints of the seat would allow, and then he leaned a little bit further. He is now essentially in my lap, his rear raised off of his seat just enough to be noticeable. He then proceeded to eat his banana, in large, brazen bites, with his head turned ever-so-slightly in the direction of my face. I was so appalled, and so unable to escape his lewd masticating that I burst into laughter. I couldn’t contain myself. But my amusement at the situation did not stop him. He stretched that banana to last three whole stops. Amazingly, we got off at the same station. When he stood up, I was even more amused to find that he was over 6 inches shorter than me. The banana-eating must be some kind of manifestation of little-man syndrome.

2. Lotion on feet: Remarkably, this happened with a woman who had already exhibited #5 on the list. After she had applied a second layer of nail polish to her fingernails, she reached into her bag and pulled out a bottle of lotion. She kicked her shoes off, crossed one foot over her knee and began to generously apply lotion to her calloused feet. There’s really no need to delve deeper into this one. It was appalling. So I got the hell out of there.

1. Toe nail clipping: This is truly the most unfathomable activity I have witnessed in public before. And I have seen this on multiple occasions. The first, and most surprising instance, was a weekday at about 10 am on the Jubilee line. A woman got on the train with her two kids (I would guesstimate 6 and 9 years old?) She plops the younger one onto the bench, pulls out an unidentified device from her pocket, takes his shoes off, AND STARTS CUTTING HIS TOENAILS!!! Fingernails next. Oooh gotta clip the other one’s fingernails too. Periodically brushing the nail clippings onto the floor. OMG my jaw hit the floor. I kept looking around at other people to see if they found this as weird as I did. If they did, they were hiding their feelings better than I was. Not sure if this is a common thing, or if there are just a higher concentration of gross people in big cities, but I have not only seen people cut their nails on public transportation, I have also seen people do it in pubs. WTF.

Does anyone else notice people doing crazy things in public? Is this just my reward after years of people-watching boring people? Do I have an affinity for locating the crazies? I can’t be sure. But for some reason, I am lucky enough to have close encounters with people of this caliber.

Lucky me.

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Starting with Step 4

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that my boyfriend and I have a sense of adventure that often complements each other.

Let me add to this that our sense of frugality and planning also complements each other. Which is why, for the past few months we have been pondering and researching over where we should take a holiday. He has nearly a month paid vacation days, and I have a burning desire to see many places in Europe. However, our ideas of perfect vacations are quite different, and our 2-person student budget does not make anything easier. And so we have compiled lists of the top cities we would like to visit, what we would like to do there, when the best time to travel is, how much it would cost to get there and stay there, etc.

We have reached ‘final’ decisions multiple times, only to be reversed when we find a new deal on Groupon or a new budget travel website.

But we work well under pressure, and tend to be impulsive at inopportune moments. And so on Friday morning, when we realized there is very little going on in the city of London over  Easter weekend, one of us said “Wanna go to Paris for one night?” and the other said “Sure, that sounds like a good idea.”

From there, a series of very stupid decisions were made.

1. We decided to start at Step 4 and book a non-refundable room in a hostel FIRST (before even looking at travel options). Allow me to mention here that the Flexible Booking option was £2 more, but one of us said, “Why do that? We’re definitely going.”…You know the feeling of instant regret after you’ve clicked something? That was the exact feeling I had.

Then we pulled up train, bus and flight tickets, and realized…there were none (under about £400…which is not budget-able).

2. So after a mild panic attack (my boyfriend would argue about the use of ‘mild’ here) about having lost money, we moved on to the only logical next step: rent a car.

That’s right! Neither of us have driven a vehicle in over 8 months, and neither of us have EVER driven on the other side of the road, or abided by kilometres per hour…but a road trip could be fun. That is, I’ve been told, the most American way to travel.

But obviously there were some speed bumps with the rental (both of us being under 25, having American drivers licenses, taking the car across borders, etc.). You know those moments when, at the time you say ‘some day we’ll look back on this and laugh’? It’s strange to know with such certainty that moments like that are less than 24 hours away.

Essentially, we were going to get the first big European adventure out of the way in a BIG way!

3. But then we realised that in order to get to the car that we have rented, we have to buy train tickets…an added expense that took money away from the budget-able money to be spent in Paris. Not ideal, but okay.

4. BUT THEN we realised that you have to book a time to cross the Chunnel…the only time slots available on this very long weekend would have given us a total of about 10 hours in the city. Not ideal for our first trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Oh, and you have to pay for that too.

And so our little weekend getaway got postponed, which may be a good thing because we will have some more time to explore the city. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that we lost some money on that hostel. Can’t be too sure because I’ve been afraid to look at my bank account since Saturday.

On the bright side, we can just chock this up to a lesson learned, for a relatively small amount. I mean, we could have paid for something much more expensive than a hostel in this learning process. Oh well. To live is to learn.

And our road trip to Paris will be happening in the next couple of months. So stay tuned for tales of that misadventure.

Road Trip!

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My Perfect Cheat Day

Today marks the end of my spring term! Which that I am officially done with classes! It also means that many students are going home for a month. This is a bit weird for me because I am not going back to the States. However, it did lead to an interesting conversation between Lou and I about what we would eat if/when we go back to Texas. And so, because I couldn’t stop thinking about all of that glorious southern food, I’ve created the perfect day of Texas foods and general American foods that I can’t or won’t include in my current diet. And so here it goes! Prepare to be hungry.

Breakfast: Let’s start with my favourite meal of the day, at a place that, if you forget that calories exist, can be a kind of heaven: IHOP. That’s right. The International House of Pancakes is my first stop back in America. I’m craving some Face Pancakes (that is, pancakes the size of your face) topped with partially still-frozen fruit and ways too much butter and syrup (I know that I paint an intriguing picture, but the heart wants what it wants).

That's some good old fashioned Face Pancakes right there

That’s some good old fashioned Face Pancakes right there

And my heart wants a plate of REAL bacon. That’s right, Brits. I said it. Your bacon is an imposter.

REAL Bacon

REAL Bacon

I’m also gonna start this day off right with a big glass of SWEET, ICED tea and an instruction for my waiter to fill it up whenever it gets low. I’m setting myself up for a sugar coma by the end of the day, but it will be worth it.

Sweet. Iced. Tea. Sweet mother of God I want some so bad.

Sweet. Iced. Tea. Sweet mother of God I want some so bad.

Now, although IHOP has, in the past, been a place I’ve only gone at a time of night when the only other option is Taco Bell…I would make a proper breakfast out of this. You would think that a carb-filled meal like this would take all day to recover from…but I’ve got more planned.

Lunch: Moving on to the meal that is usually just a time to have something to tide you over between the actually important meals of the day, but this one will be epic. For lunch on my perfect cheat day, I’m craving some Mexican food (because there is NONE in London. Indian food is delicious, but does not equate to a replacement). Now I could really go to any Mexican restaurant (there are probably 20 in my small town…30 if you count taco trucks that come round gas stations), but I can’t get Rosa’s out of my head.

Rosa's: glorious Texas tradition of in house tortilla making and all around deliciousness

Rosa’s: glorious Texas tradition of in house tortilla making and all around deliciousness

Rosa’s is a ‘tortilla factory’…they make the tortillas in house. So they’re guaranteed to be delicious. My lunch is going to consist of one of every kind of taco. That means beef, chicken, brisket, soft and crunchy.

I want one of every kind of taco

I want one of every kind of taco

I’m also gonna need some Mexican rice, refried beans and let’s go with 3 orders of guacamole because I’m gonna smother that glorious green manna on everything. If I run out of things to put it on, I will eat it with a spoon. I like guacamole.

I could eat this with a spoon.

I could eat this with a spoon.

But of course I can’t forget a fish bowl margarita…not sure if they have these at Rosa’s, but I’m going to need one. Once you’ve had tacos and margaritas, they cannot be consumed separately. But obviously, I’ve now had a taste of sweet tea for the first time in about a year, and so I’m gonna have one of those as well. Probably just a pitcher with a straw in it.

I am no stranger to the fishbowl margaritas

I am no stranger to the fishbowl margaritas

Dinner: After allowing for a semi-adequate amount of time to digest, let’s move on to dinner. Any trip to Texas would not be complete without barbeque. I’m quite picky about barbeque; Tuscaloosa was meant to be the best place for barbeque in Alabama, but I never found anything worth that title. Texas barbeque is where it’s at. I want to go to a place where my meal is served to me by a man who looks like this…

The only barbeque places worth going to are the ones where a man who looks like this serves your food.

The only barbeque places worth going to are the ones where a man who looks like this serves your food.

And where this is the menu…

...And where this is the menu. Point and it shall be yours.

Point and it shall be yours.

And that means Hard Eight Barbeque.


My dinner is going to consist of brisket and sausage. And lots of it. Oh, with a side of bacon wrapped jalapenos. Let’s add on an ice cold beer. And some more sweet tea. And then finish it off with some peach cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream.

Peach cobbler and blue bell ice cream: a match made in heaven

Peach cobbler and blue bell ice cream: a match made in Texas heaven

And that is my perfect American/Southern/Texan cheat day. If you are in a location where you are able to go and get any of those things right now, I envy you. Because my stomach is grumbling.

What would your perfect cheat day consist of? Leave me a comment below!

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