Woman Flu

The amount of sick I have been this week is inversely proportional to the variety of cold medicines offered in London shoppes.

That is, I am very sick, and across the whole city, London shoppes offer exactly 2 brands of cold medicine which, at this point, I am convinced are just empty plastic capsules (the night-time ones are definitely empty; I know that the day-time ones contain at least caffeine because they keep me awake during the day-despite my best efforts).

Also, I miss Wal-Mart. That holy ground of American variety. And I would be willing to pay someone to smuggle me in some NyQuil across the border.

I don’t understand why my body continues to rebel against me. Thanks to my handy dandy blog posts (or lack thereof), I have a general record of how many times I have been sick since moving here. The tally is 5 times since classes began in October. Because March has just begun, I don’t count it.  And so that’s a total of at least once a month for five months; although I’ve been in general good health since 2015 began, a couple of my illnesses prior to Christmas happened a blissful week apart from each other.

I treat my body so nicely. I give it tons of fruits and veggies and never eat anything that comes in an airtight package. I wash my hands constantly. I exercise and meditate on most days. Why is it not nice to me?

My boyfriend’s theory is that I’m too nice. If I were to dirty it up every once in a while, you know, be dangerous and not wash my hands before cooking, my immune system would get stronger. I can’t even pretend that that’s going to happen.

This whole illness (the full list of symptoms of which I will not go into here) is not made any better by my normally very sweet boyfriend being terrified of sitting next to me because he knows he’s going to get sick next. I can’t say that I blame him. This specific bout of plague hit me like a brick wall. I didn’t even have half a day of warning before it hit full steam. And it has reduced me to tears multiple times in the three days that I have been suffering. But still, a hug or a pat on the shoulder would be nice.

I like to think that I am usually strong against illness (this might not be the reality). However, I’m fairly certain that this scourge is a mutant of a different caliber. Because it was able to knock me on my ass as hard as it did, I deem it ‘Woman Flu’.

Some people experience sickness more in the mornings. It’s usually nighttime that’s worse for me. Especially because the night-time cold medicine capsules put me out for exactly 90 minutes. After which, I am up for hours. Unable to breathe. Contemplating life, and trying to move millimetre by millimetre to test the waters for my nasal passage to open up enough for me to breathe. I usually decide, ‘f&*% it, I’ll just breathe with my mouth open and deal with the consequences when I undoubtedly wake up in an hour’. When sleep still doesn’t come, I resign myself to sleep the whole next day.

But that didn’t happen!

Because my lovely upstairs neighbours (I say lovely with only a bit of sarcasm because they did win me over by offering a tray of very nice chocolates in preparation for this construction) are having both their kitchen and bathroom (right above our bedroom) completely gutted and redone. Fabulous timing! That means sawing, hammering and yelling from 8:30-5. No rest for me.

But the Woman Flu seems to be at the back end (knock on wood). Stay tuned for the Man Version, probably appearing in 12-24 hours.

Eye on the Prize

Eye on the Prize

I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life.

Aaaaaaaand I’m stressing out about it. I have tried to tell myself that no one really knows what they’re doing, but it does not make my situation any less stressful. I function much better if I know what my next step is. I am practically a to-do list addict (but that’s a different post). I don’t have a 5-year plan per se, but I do aim for at least a 6-month plan.

But I’ve got nothin’.

At this point, my main focus (besides doing well in school, which is priority numero uno) is trying to find a job or volunteer opportunity in the mental health field. You would think that in a huge city like London these opportunities would be easy to come by. But you would be wrong. All jobs posted are for full-time positions, which due to school and my visa restrictions, I cannot do. Or I can work for free…except that I like to eat food sometimes and unfortunately money is required for that.

And so what am I going to do next year after I graduate…with no connections or real experience? No clue. I could apply to a PhD programme and devote 3+ years of my life to something that I hopefully am willing to spend 3+ years on…which would require actual PhD programme shopping (not really the kind of shopping I would like to do in my very limited spare time…) I could apply to every research assistant position in the city and know full well that the good universities get upwards of 150 applications for each posting. I could try for an internship and hope that I can find one that pays so that I don’t have to work on top of that and could maybe see my boyfriend for more than a couple of hours each evening, maybe. I could accept defeat and go back to the States (only to go through the same struggles there).

But no! I will steadfastly stick to my resolution: Don’t Get Deported in 2015!! (Sorry, mom.)

I am an eye on the prize kinda girl, I am easily motivated by goals. My goal here seems so ambiguous. I feel like I can’t see it through the piles of scientific articles that I am wayyyy behind on reading…

And so I guess I’m just going to continue doin’ what I’m doin’ (procrastinating and playing Candy Crush). No. I shouldn’t do that. Oh but a nap sounds so tempting…

See what I mean?! Not having a goal is really messing with my normally ambitious self!

Meanwhile, I’ve started watching House of Cards (and I am obsessed), which is making me feel like I’m slacking off in every aspect of life. Those people don’t sleep! How?? I wish I didn’t need to sleep. But I do. I enjoy sleep. Sleeping and eating…these things are really holding me back in life.

Ugh. Is anyone else experiencing the quintessential 20-something crisis of not knowing what they want to be when they grow up? Please tell me it’s a 20-something thing. When do you figure out what to do with your life??

I’m waiting for a flashing neon sign.

Zombie Apocalypse Plan

I never understood the vampire phenomena. I never indulged in any books or movies about those fantastical creatures. But zombies…zombies I can get into. The thought of an undiscovered disease taking over the globe is fascinating. It’s scary to think about (but so is the size of our universe, and I spend a considerable amount of time pondering that).

I love The Walking Dead (although I am about a season behind at the moment…), but it gave me some crazy dreams. Not nightmares, just crazy zombie dreams. Living out the zombie apocalypse, even in my dreams, got me thinking “what the hell would I do?”

And so, because I am a plan-ahead kind of girl, my boyfriend and I formulated a Zombie Apocalypse Plan. Our first plan, when we were living in the States, was pretty straight forward. He was living in Nashville, TN and I was living in Tuscaloosa, AL. The two cities (well…one city, one village) are connected by a main highway. If I have learned anything from The Walking Dead, it is that the highways become chaos pretty  much immediately. Nonetheless, it was our only option. And so, upon hearing about the zombies, we planned to get in our cars and get on the highway ASAP. Drive until we meet in the middle, pillaging one of the manyyyyyy gun stores on the way. (It may be hard to believe, but we really had our pick of gun stores; a 3 hour drive and there had to have been 20+ just on the side of the main road. ‘Merica!) After that, we had less of a concrete plan, but the biggest obstacle was to get to each other.

1. Everyone trying to get OUT of the city 2. Highway=madness 3. The horse did not end up being a viable mode of transportation...

1. Everyone trying to get OUT of the city
2. Highway=madness
3. The horse did not end up being a viable mode of transportation…

Once we settled into our life in London, the time came to formulate Zombie Apocalypse Plan #2. Unfortunately, we have the same main obstacle in this giant city as we did in the country…get to each other. He works in Central London, we live in about 4 miles south (still Central London), I go to school about 4 miles south of that. So we’re talking about potentially 8 miles of zombie-filled city. The other thing that I have learned from The Walking Dead is that you don’t want to be in a major city! This was the one advantage of living in Alabama…

Rule number 1 of Zombie Apocalypse: get out of the city!

Rule number 1 of Zombie Apocalypse: get out of the city! 

And so obviously our second primary goal is to get the hell outta here! But we have to deal with goal numero uno. We hypothesise that cell towers will go down pretty quickly, but nonetheless, try to contact each other while multi-tasking is an option. We also hypothesise that public transportation will be more of a nightmare than interstate highways, and so, avoid at all costs!! That means a lot of running…which is easy for him, not so easy for me. Not only because my legs are about 2 feet shorter than his and thus my strides are minuscule, not only because my endurance is quite pathetic (which is why I prefer weight lifting to cardio), but because I was born without a sense of direction (and hand-eye coordination…). So this part will be a struggle.

Londoners celebrating World Zombie Day. The look on the bystanders' faces is reason enough to avoid public transportation when s*** hits the fan.

Londoners celebrating World Zombie Day. The look on the bystanders’ faces is reason enough to avoid public transportation when s*** hits the fan.

Assuming that I survive heaving miles through a city of 8 million potential zombies, we do have a specified meeting point. I’m not about to give away my meeting point because I think it’s a pretty good one and I don’t need anybody stealing’ it! But I will say that it involves more pillaging, although obviously not for guns because the gun stores are much less prevalent here. You can’t even find arrows with sharp points!…not that I’ve looked. (Ok I have looked. I take the Zombie Apocalypse Plan seriously! It is literally a life or death situation.) Relatedly, I have settled on my weapon of choice: a cricket bat. They are plentiful at sports stores here (not as plentiful as gun stores along a Southern US Interstate, but it’ll do). Just thinking about all of the zombies whose heads I could smash in relieves a bit of tension.

I'll take a survival rating of 4.5/5!

I’ll take a survival rating of 4.5/5!

So we potentially pillage for whatever is necessary to survival. That is, if the zombies hit here first. We assume that, because we live on a nice little island, it might take a bit of time for the zombies to descend. In the event that we get news of it happening in other areas, we stock up beforehand. For this reason, we have a bit of money stored away (interestingly, it is the same money that will be used to purchase a return ticket to the states if it becomes necessary in 11 months. Let’s call it the “Get the Hell Out of London Fund”).

After we stock up/pillage, comes the ‘get the hell out’ part. Conveniently, we live right on the river. Well, we live on a canal that leads to the river. We could potentially swim, but the water in the River Thames could kill you faster than zombies. And so we did a little research to find the major docks near us. Chances are we’ll be able to commandeer a sizeable boat and figure out how to work it. Sailing isn’t that hard, right? Either way it’s pretty much a straight shot outta here. Oh wait…

The not-so-straight River Thames

The not-so-straight River Thames

Eh…we’re smart kids. We’ll figure it out.

Then, once we’re out of London, we will put our Walking Dead survival skills into play and adapt to our new life of killing zombies with cricket bats. Or living on a teeny, wrecked boat in the middle of the river until the surely poisoned fish supply kills us slowly. But I choose to think positively!

What will YOU do when zombies attack?!

Valentine’s Day

I don’t want to make anyone feel that their Valentine’s Day was inadequate, but I do want to take a minute to brag about mine.

Let me preface by saying that my boyfriend and I don’t get to spend a lot of time together because he works Monday through Friday and I work on the weekends. And so when we have days together, we make the most of it. And also he has a history of preparing some really great Valentine’s Days.

He took off work Thursday and Friday. We woke up Thursday morning (after we prioritised sleeping a little later over doing an early gym session) and we had a list of London’s best (cheap) food, and so we set out to cross one off the list. We settled on a bagel shop in Shoreditch that sells salted beef bagels (for only £3, bonus!) (open 24 hours, double bonus!!) . You can get a bagel, roll or sandwich. As inexperienced salted beef consumers, we figured that we had to try all three. They were all delicious, but the roll took home the prize for me. Really, this meal set a pretty high standard for the rest of the day.

Salted Beef Roll

The Roll

Salted Beef Sandwich

The Sandwich (Bagel not pictured because it was eaten too quickly)

From there we trekked over to Greenwich (aka “The Place Where Time Begins”…because of Greenwich Mean Time), which had been an item on our list of adventures to complete over Christmas break and we never got to it. First thing on the list in Greenwich: the Emirates Air Line. A seemingly purposeless mode of transportation that takes you soaring in your own personal bubble over the River Thames…and also over the most unattractive parts of London. We got a birds eye view of construction sites, garbage dumps and a couple of trains!! But nonetheless, a cool thing to do if you’re in no particular rush to get anywhere, as it is definitely not the most efficient way to get across the river.

The Emirates Air Line from the ground

The Emirates Air Line from the ground

The view on the way up

The view on the way up


The O2 Arena...and some construction

The O2 Arena…and some construction

The O2, the river, and a garbage dump (I wasn't kidding!)

The O2, the river, and a garbage dump (I wasn’t kidding!)

One foot in the East, one foot in the West.

One foot in the East, one foot in the West.

Then we set out to find the Prime Meridian, you know, the thing that splits the globe in half? It runs through Greenwich, just a few stops away on the tube. I stood on two hemispheres at once, which made me feel a little bit like Jamie in A Walk to Remember (I don’t think that movies based on Nicholas Sparks books are not as widely known in the Uk…and so if you haven’t seen that movie you’ve gotta check that one out, and The Notebook…in the spirit of Valentine’s Day).

After we saw middle earth, we explored the Royal Observatory, and got a much better view of the city, it just required hiking up an extraordinarily steep hill. We took a while to walk around the city, instead of trying to rush off to accomplish another item.

The extraordinarily steep hill...you can't even see to the top.

The extraordinarily steep hill…you can’t even see to the top.

A slightly better view of the city, but it was a quintessential London day and so the view is still pretty obscured.

A slightly better view of the city, but it was a quintessential London day and so the view is still pretty obscured.

The Shard from afar-we went up to the tippy top!

The Shard from afar-we went up to the tippy top!

After our leisurely stroll, we started part 2 of the Valentine’s Day Extravaganza.We had plans to go to the top of the Shard, I equate this to going to the top of the Empire State Building in New York.

It was incredible. 70 stories above central London. The pictures we took do not do it justice at all. One of my favourite parts was the electronic binoculars that showed the current view, daytime view or historical views like the 18th century, and Medieval and Renaissance times. I know it’s obvious, with London’s population officially reaching its highest in 76 years of 8.6 million people recently, but it really made me think about how many people live here.

A view from the Shard...pictures really don't do it justice, but you can see the London Eye.

A view from the Shard…pictures really don’t do it justice, but you can see the London Eye.

The busses look so little!

The busses look so little!

Tower Bridge from the Shard

Tower Bridge from the Shard

And then after that, we had a delicious steak dinner, given to us by Lou’s parents for Christmas. Overall, it was a pretty amazing day in London. And a really amazing first Valentine’s Day in London.

Obviously, I got chocolates

Obviously, I got chocolates

Happy Valentine's Day to us!

Happy Valentine’s Day to us!

Have a great week, readers! Don’t forget to like and share my post if you’re enjoying my blog! And here’s some more pictures of our day in Greenwich…

Cutty Sark, another landmark in Greenwich

Cutty Sark, another landmark in Greenwich

The (electric) clock that started it all...

The (electric) clock that started it all…

A gorgeous Gothic church that we stumbled upon

A gorgeous Gothic church that we stumbled upon

If I Ruled London…

I’ve now lived in London for a little over 5 months. And in that time, I’ve had the occasional thought that I could run this place a little better. Here are some of my brilliant ideas to revamp this glorious city.

  1. Clocks should be everywhere!! Inside the tube, outside of tubes, back of busses, top of escalators, everywhere. There is no point during the day that I am not wondering what time it is.
  2. Hand sanitiser…why is it nowhere?! I really think that if it was in a few tube locations (maybe just the reallyyy busy ones…) it would be beneficial. I can’t be the only one who feels like I’m running a low fever after getting off of the tube!
  3. Speaking of public transportation, people who stand on the left side of the escalator when signs are CLEARLY posted to stand on the right, are especially infuriating to me. Thus, I think that the left side of escalators should act as an ejector. If the escalator senses weight remaining on one step for too long, it should eject the stander. I could understand if that is too extreme for policy makers, and so I have a Plan B. The steps could work on a pivot function so that they turn into a ramp and cause the person to trip only enough to get their attention and let them know they need to move it. It would also be worthwhile if upon entry into the country/city, customs officials start telling people, “Keep to the right on the escalators” as they stamp your passport.
  4. Another public transportation pet peeve of mine, people who refuse to relinquish their spot on hand rails on the tube. Not that I’m trying to steal the spot where their hand is resting…but there are times when I need to walk under someone. And although you would think it would be common courtesy to let go and step back for a moment…apparently it is not. And so, my solution is that when the train stops, the hand rails should emit a LIGHT shock. Again, only enough to let the people know that they have no need to hold on until the train is in motion again.
  5. Outdoor tube stops/Overground stops should have a few heaters. Nothing industrial, just like the nice cozy ones that restaurants put outside during the winter. Just scatter a few about. I think it could really make a difference.
  6. This is a problem that effects mostly women: the wind that is produced when a tube (especially at stations with glass barrier in front of the tracks)  pulls up or when going up certain escalators. The wind appears as if from nowhere! And it is forceful. If  you’ve been lucky enough to make it all the way to the tube station with your hair unscathed, this phenomena will swiftly change that. There must be a way to eradicate this! I am in need of engineers for this problem…
  7. Addresses need to be significantly clearer. I mentioned in one of my first posts in London that street signs are impossible to find. Every corner needs to have street signs. How does mail even get delivered here??
  8. A separate area of trains should exist for children to be quarantined. (Yes, I can be callous towards children.) Living in a city really reinforces my prior belief that if I didn’t produce it, I should not be inflicted by its crying, grubbiness or hyperactivity (that 83% of parents find amusing and adorable and assume that everyone else feels as fortunate to be in their presence as they do, OR are too distracted by their  mobile device to control! Phew…ok. That rant is over.)
  9. There should be a speed limit for walkways. If you can’t keep up, you should have to pull over. Also, people should not be allowed to STOP in the middle of the walkway. (That is possibly my biggest pet peeve of all time.) On that note, I think that police and civilians alike should be able to enforce these rules.
  10. And most importantly, the pigeon population needs to be eliminated. And it is not an impossible feat! I saw a documentary (Human Planet, you should check it out if you liked Planet Earth) that there is a man with trained hawks who keeps pigeons off of skyscrapers in Dubai. WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING PEOPLE LIKE THAT HERE?!?! The pigeons are a menace. And I think they might outnumber people in some areas. (And also, I hate them with a personal vengeance.) At the very least, there should be a national holiday to try to expunge pigeons. I’m talkin’ like one day a year where people are allowed to get rid of them however they see fit. Don’t call PETA on me…I just really hate birds.

So those are my top 10 suggestions for The City of London. And while we’re at it, let’s lower the cost of living in this city, am I right, Londoners??! 100 days until the UK election…hopefully someone in power will take my ideas into consideration. Do you have any suggestions to improve London or wherever you live? Leave me a comment below!


Refer to Number 3. These babies are posted on every escalator in the London tube system, yet they do not have a high compliance rate.

These are a special group of pigeons who I walk by everyday because they live next to my gym. None of them have pooped on me or pecked at me yet...but I know they have it in them.

These are a special group of pigeons who I walk by everyday (obviously I walk on the other side of the street) because they live next to my gym. None of them have pooped on me or pecked at me yet…but I know they have it in them.

Liebster Award!

Quite a few months back, Acrossthehogsback nominated me for a Liebster award! I’ve been working on this post for a while but have finally gotten around to finishing it!

A Bit About the Award:

“Liebster is a word with German origins meaning dearest, sweetest, kindest, and beloved. The Liebster Award exists only on the internet, and is an award given to bloggers by bloggers. The award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Award is to recognize and discover upcoming talent in the blogosphere through a Pay it Forward initiative.”

The Rules:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you (but cannot nominate them).
  • You must answer the 10 questions given to the nominee before you.
  • You must select a few blogs with under 200 followers to answer your 10 questions.

The Questions:

1. What is your spirit animal?

-Oooh starting out with a hard one. I’ve actually struggled with this question because I think my spirit animal is quite ironic. It is probably a bird, and I am terrified (read: fetal position terrified) of birds. The reasoning behind this choice, however, is because I am not a fan of staying in one place for too long. I have had itchy feet my whole life. I moved around a lot as a child and intend to do so during my adult years (at least until I find a place that feels like home).

2. What one item do you have to have with you every day?

-Besides the unfortunately obvious answer of my cell phone (modern dependence on technology is unendingly frustrating to me), I always, always have a book with me (which is part of the reason that I require such large handbags). During my master’s programme, my goal is to completely immerse myself in the world of drugs and addiction and so I’ve read lots of books on that topic. Currently I’m reading The New Jim Crowe by Michelle Alexander. Also, I have a perpetual fear that I will get stuck on a train with nothing to read…

3. What song makes you happy every single time you hear it, no matter the circumstance?

-That would be any song by Hozier. My boyfriend and I have never really had a song that we claim as ‘our song’, and we rarely agree on any music, but we’ve had Hozier’s LPs on repeat for the past few months. If we had a song it would have to be one of his, his voice and lyrics give me chills and I feel like it’s something so real and unlike most of the pop junk that’s churned out constantly.

4. If you could play anyone in a film or on stage, who would it be?

-This is a strange question for me because I have never dreamed of being an actress, I have a bit of stage fright unless in a group. But I am extremely interested in Joni Mitchell: the voice of a generation, a constantly evolving artist, a woman who does not allow anyone to pigeonhole her. She is an inspiration and I would love to emulate her. Also, she’s like THE hippie goddess, and I think that I would have loved to live in he 60’s.

5. What’s your least favorite word (in any language you choose)? Why?

I’ve never really considered this before. Most of my friends despise the word ‘moist’, and I see where they’re coming from, but to me it’s still just a word. I’d have to say ‘potty’ is my least favorite word. Mostly because my mom used it in public until both my sister and I were way too old to have to ‘go potty’…embarrassing.

6. How do you think a stranger who observed a day in your life would describe you?

A stranger would probably describe me as a little neurotic…I feel like I flit from one activity to another. I’m usually a little on edge these days, with mountains of To-Do’s piling up.

7. What place you’ve never visited do you think you’d enjoy the most? Why?

-This answer changes so frequently! Right now the place that I think I would enjoy the most is India, but not big city India. I would love to go on a yoga/meditation retreat at an ashram on the Ganges River. I think that the environment and the culture would be so fulfilling and could really help me to reset after living this busy city life!

8. What nickname would you give yourself?

-I’ve never really had a nickname. I would have to go with ‘Care’, because it’s simpler and less goofy than what my boyfriend has taken to calling me (Sea Lion…it started as C-Line, but he found that it’s much more entertaining to be able to call me like a sea lion in public).

9. If you could choose any famous building/monument to live in, which would it be?

-I must give a duplicitous answer for this question because I have two vastly different monument that I adore. The first is Petra in Jordan; beautiful, immaculate, and right in nature.


The other is ornate in a different way: Chateau du Chambord in France. It is the castle that Beast’s castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (my favorite Disney movie) is based on. What girl doesn’t want to live in a castle??

10. What’s your favorite late night snack?

-I wish that I had a very ornate answer to this question, but my paleo diet lifestyle doesn’t allow for many interesting munchies. My usual go-to is some kind of fruit, which is still pretty limited here due to the extravagant price of my all-time favourite: berries. My other go-to’s are a bit (read: half a bar) of dark chocolate or my leftover Chipotle burrito bowl.

So there ya go! A little bit about me.

And now for my questions…

  1. What has been your dream job since childhood that you still have hope for?
  2. What is one thing that terrifies you, but that you know you should do?
  3. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  4. If you could plan your perfect day, what would it include?
  5. Would you say that you have grown up to be more similar to your parents, or different?
  6. If you were having a terrible day, what one thing would cheer you up  immediately?
  7. Do you have any superstitions or supernatural beliefs?
  8. At this point in your life, would you rather have more money or more love in your life? Why?
  9. What one person (celebrity-living or dead, or someone in your life) has had the biggest influence on your life?
  10. Do you have any genius ideas that you think could change the world? (e.g. inventions)

And the bloggers who I nominate for Liebster Awards are….

Enjoy the challenge, bloggers!

Thanks again to Acrossthehogsback for nominating me!! And all of these blogs are great; if you’ve been enjoying mine, I encourage you to check them out!

New Intentions

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” -Aldous Huxley

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I avoid making New Years Resolutions because I believe that if you see something that needs to change in your life, you should change it then and not wait until a later date.

However, I did set some new intentions that happened to coincide with the holiday season.

Intention #1 has to do with my diet. I successfully completed 1 month of Paleo with only a few stumbling blocks. To be honest, the biggest stumbling block of all was when I took my (planned) break over Christmas. My body completely rebelled against me, which is not really so unusual for me (my medical history includes severe tendonitis in my hips, spine misalignment, and unexplained allergic reactions to almost everything). When I started eating grains and dairy (and loads of sweets, of course) I had awful abdomen pains and headaches, which, according to the internet, are normal and get worse the longer that you’re on a strict Paleo diet. And so, my initial intention was to go for 3 months on full Paleo…but I’m now in more of an unscientific carb cycling diet. Once a week I have something with wheat so that when I inevitably take another break, my body isn’t quite so surprised. So I guess Intention #1 is to maintain the Paleo diet 6 days a week.

Intention #2 is something oh so very generational: I aim to stop double-screening. I realised, or more accurately, my boyfriend realised for me, that I was spending a lot of time with my laptop up (probably reading a drug-related article of some kind), my iPad on (most likely watching Netflix or Pinterest-ing) AND my phone in my hands, (either Instagramming or Candy Crushing) attempting…nay, succeeding to do 3 things at once…usually while he was trying to talk to me. I see this as a forced habit of an extreme multi-tasker/over-achiever, but I may be a little biased. And so I am focusing on being on only one device at a time. Hopefully this will help to settle the ADD that I feel grad school is making me develop.

Intention #3…this is a big one. Don’t get deported!! This is the burden of all international students. Technically, my visa won’t expire until next January, but I have to work my butt off to try to find work/a PhD programme/internship before January. Things could get extra complicated with Ms. Theresa May’s plans to deport all international students at the end of their degree…what a great plan to counter immigration!! UK universities are investing time and money into students, and then the best plan is to send them back to their country with all of the information they’ve accumulated? Nah, I don’t think the scientific community is too hyped up about this idea. Nonetheless, “Don’t get deported in 2015” is a New Year’s Resolution if I’ve ever had one!

With that being said, at this time last year, living in the UK was barely an inkling of a thought. It’s very likely that in the next 11 months another life-changing opportunity will present itself and I may end up deporting myself. I’m open to all possibilities! (Do you hear that, Universe?? Bring me some possibilities!!)

Those are my main (new) intentions. Others include: practicing meditation and mindfulness more, doing more yoga to get some flexibility back and completely absorbing myself in my area of research (drugs)…meaning read lots about drugs, not do a lot of drugs haha. If anyone has any suggestions for new books, I would appreciate it!!

I would love to hear about your New Years Resolutions or intentions! Please leave me a comment below. You can also like this post or follow me at the bottom of this page.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

A Quick Recap

My month-long hiatus included a (teeny, tiny, eensy) bit more than just studying.

My boyfriend and I spent Christmas in Southampton with his family, which included all sorts of new traditions that I had no idea existed. Take for example, Christmas crackers. It is a sort of English tradition to have these little paper cylinders at everyone’s places at Christmas dinner. And then at some point after dinner, everyone crosses arms and pulls one end of theirs and one end of someone else’s cracker and they all crack open. Each cracker contains a paper crown, a joke and some little trinket. But of course, we had an ‘adult’ version which included mini bottles of liquor. Because why not?

Christmas Crackers

Then there’s the Christmas pudding! (For everyone in America, ‘pudding’ is a sort of cover-all term for ‘dessert’.) And so Christmas pudding is a big (alcohol soaked) chocolate cake…that has money in it. Does it get any better? The only challenge is finishing the cake after eating 5 different kinds of meat and 17 vegetables (Christmas dinner is HUGE!).

Christmas Puddin'

The day after Christmas (Boxing Day) was spent at the beach. That’s sort of a family tradition rather than an English tradition. Unfortunately for us, Boxing Day was the only day of the weekend that wasn’t mild and sunny. It was, instead frigid and rainy. But we set up camp on the rocky beach and had a cook-out different than any I’ve attended before. It included an array of canapés, scallops, steak and lots of wine. Not bad…but we did eventually give in to the rain and fled to warmth.

A rainy day spent on a rocky beach...how very English!

A rainy day spent on a rocky beach…how very English!

Other than that, there was lots of eating and watching football.

When we got back to London, my boyfriend had an entire week off of work, which is a BIG deal because usually he works Monday-Friday and I work Saturday and Sunday. Because we don’t get a lot of time together, we took advantage of these days and planned out little tourist-y things to do everyday.

  • On Monday, we went to go see ‘Art of the Brick': an entire art exhibit made from Legos. We had seen advertisements around the city for months and who doesn’t want to see giant Lego sculptures? Besides having to fight the inevitable crowd of grubby children, it was incredible.
For those of you who don't know my boyfriend, he's 6'5...which makes that a Big Pencil.

For those of you who don’t know my boyfriend, he’s 6’5…which makes that a Big Pencil.

I think this one was called 'Cracked'. I was so impressed by his ability to make spheres out of Legos!

I think this one was called ‘Cracked’. I was so impressed by his ability to make spheres out of Legos!

All of the sculptures were amazing, but this giant T-rex was one of the most impressive.

All of the sculptures were amazing, but this giant T-rex was one of the most impressive.

  • Tuesday consisted of a visit to the Imperial War Museum; we knew we wanted to go to a museum and I wasn’t going to drag him to the wedding dress exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum (which I really wanted to see) on his day off. We’re both very interested in WWII, and so the IWM seemed to be a perfect fit. It was an incredible museum, and like most of the museums in this city, you could easily spend multiple days there and not get through everything. It offered an interesting point of view on many wars that were not taught in my social studies classes in the US.
The cannons outside of the Imperial War Museum

The cannons outside of the Imperial War Museum

  • Wednesday, New Years Eve, we planned to go to the Tower Bridge exhibit. I wasn’t even aware that there was an exhibit on this bridge, despite walking across it many times in the past months. The exhibit is a bridge ABOVE the bridge…with a glass floor. We chose a beautiful day to go, and we got clear views of the city. And the glass didn’t break! (This wouldn’t be such big news except that it was shattered by a beer bottle about a month before…) It was around this time in the week that I had a near meltdown about the lack of studying that I had done, and so we spent the rest of the evening in, popped a bottle of champagne at midnight and watched the fireworks from all over the city right on our little balcony. It was pretty perfect; we didn’t have to be around millions of people, we didn’t have to pay £50 to have a drink, and when we got cold, we just went back inside.
A portion of the London skyline (featuring the 'walkie talkie' building, the Gherkin and the Tower of London)

A portion of the London skyline (featuring the ‘walkie talkie’ building, the Gherkin and the Tower of London)

Me and my hunnie very high above the Thames

Me and my hunnie very high above the Thames

Long way down

The River Thames

The River Thames

So high above the busses and boats!!

So high above the busses and boats!!

  • We knew that New Years Day was going to be busy around the city because of tourists, also very few places were open. However! The little cafe around the corner from us was open. We hadn’t had a chance to go there yet because of our previously mentioned schedules, and so we went there and had a delicious brunch and the most amazing almond latte I’ve ever had. And then, because I am such a good girlfriend (and because I knew it was unavoidable) I watched Lou’s favourite movies with him: Lord of the Rings. He had already gotten me to watch The Hobbit and the first of the trilogy. And so we started on the second. To be clear, I don’t dislike these movies, I just find them confusing. And long! So. Long. It didn’t help that the version we streamed online was the unedited uncut extra special features FOUR HOURS LONG MOVIE. It was brutal…but then we made paleo fudge and I survived.
  • On Friday we did a little something un-tourist-y: we went rock climbing! It was great to use some of the strength I’ve been building up for something functional rather than just “vanity lifting” as my boyfriend calls it. We were way out of our element compared with most of the climbers there, but we caught on and it was good fun. And then my whole body was sore for about four days haha!

After our week of fun, the rest of my break was miserably contained within the four walls of my apartment and the library. I studied for hours. And I was sick for weeks, evidently stress is not much of a healing factor. But alas! Finals are over.

If you’re enjoying my posts please ‘like’ them, leave me a comment, or repost them on Facebook! Thanks to all my readers, more catch-up posts to come soon!!

Exams State of Mind

“C”, a 22 year old post-grad expat presented to me on Tuesday December 30, 2014. She reported extreme bouts of anxiety about her impending exams. In addition to the anxiety (and associated heart palpitations and “all-over sweatiness”), she described

  • Having lost the ability to think in non-scientific terms

  • A feeling of “losing (her) words” at multiple times during the day; grasping and searching an overcrowded brain for words like “use” or “oven”

  • A deep desire to read ANYTHING unrelated to drugs and addiction (her area of study)

  • Really taking the scientist recommended 2 squares of dark chocolate per day thing to an extreme

  • Irrational anger, coupled with aggravated cursing, at absurd things (for example, pigeons and germs)

  • Prioritizing studying over hygiene; including forgetting to shower for days at a time, realizing that she had worn the same clothes for days in a row, forgoing laundry and all other aspects of normal life to study
  • An exorbitant use of online retail therapy to reward herself for minute achievements

  • Abruptly waking up at 3 or 4 am quizzing herself on prescription drug names and effects

  • An inability to enjoy any aspect of life, including holiday time with her boyfriend, because of the impending exams “hovering over her at all times”
  • Bouts of “leaking tears”

  • Forgetting what the outside of her apartment/the library looks like

  • Increasingly negative thoughts pertaining to her knowledge of the material
  • Questioning all life decisions that have led her to this point in life

Given the evidence, and her, for lack of a better word, rough appearance, I was able to easily diagnose C with an Exams State of Mind. I suggested a regimented study schedule, incorporating more study breaks spaced throughout the day to ease anxiety. Additionally, I recommended a loosening of discipline pertaining to other areas of life (namely, diet and exercise) while under the stress of exams.

I met with C again on Saturday the 17th of January 2015, after the conclusion of her exams. Her temperament, mood and appearance had returned to normal. As had her sleep schedules, self confidence and all around zest for life. Consistent with my earlier diagnosis, her hysteria subsided following the exams.

Yay!!! Exams are over. I apologize for my long absence; I have really missed writing, or doing anything creative/non-scientific for the past month. Despite my more than neurotic state, I have had lots of blog posts brewing in my over stuffed brain and with my return to a (more) normal schedule, I should be back to posting weekly! Happy Sunday :]

The True Mark of Adulthood

The worst has happened. I’m sick. A week before Christmas, and worse than that! During my month of studying (or “revising”) for my Term 1 exams.

As if that isn’t bad enough, I have already wasted 4 days (nearly an entire week!) using the excuse that I was giving myself a break before I started studying. I didn’t want to get “burned out”. Well, if I wasn’t going to get burned out before, I am now when I’m cramming in my hours of listening to lectures and taking notes and writing practice exams to make up for lost time. It may not seem like I have any need to stress (I do have a whole month…) but my boyfriend has off work for about half of that (British holiday time beats the hell out of America’s). And I don’t want to have to shut myself away in the library during that time! But I do need to study. The grades that I get on these exams encompass essentially 1/3 of my future career path (the other 2/3 being Term 2 exams and my thesis). Now I’ve lost a full day of studying AND my workout routine is off because I couldn’t get myself to the gym today. And I was on such a good streak! Although I did have my goal set pretty high for the weeks immediately preceding and following face stuffing days at grandma’s for Christmas. Even so, I can practically feel my muscles wasting away. I knew I was getting sick, too. I felt it on Monday and wrote it off as a “twinge”. WTF IS A TWINGE?! How often does ignoring illness work out well? I carried on drinking wine last night like it was no big deal. Evidently it was a big deal.

This is all nonsense of course; you can see I’ve put a bit of pressure on myself. As I lay in bed ALL DAY, I’ve had thoughts like that on a loop track. Just berating myself for succumbing to a plague that was probably unavoidable. I had a couple of options as to how the day could have played out.

  • After I was up all night, sniffing and blowing my nose (and consequently keeping my boyfriend up), I could have pulled myself together, taken a few Advil and studied from bed…I’ll give you a hint: that one didn’t happen.
  • I could have done the very American thing (and also what my mom suggested) and found an emergency clinic or scheduled a doctor’s appointment so that they could tell me that I do or do not have the flu. But that would have required a) putting on pants, which was less than ideal, b) weathering the cold and c) muddling through vast numbers of mucky public transportation people who I have emphatically avoided since the temperature dropped. (Yes, I am that person who gets up and moves when the person next to me sneezes or coughs…not every time, but if it sounds particularly phlegm-y or if, god forbid, they don’t cover it, I’m outta there. And I’m not afraid to make a scene about it either. I’ll get up while the train is moving. It’s about to stop? That’s okay too, I’d rather fall in front of public transportation people than join them in their incubator of disease.)
  • I could have at least roused myself from bed and gone down the street to the corner shop to pick up some cold medicine of some kind…but as mentioned, pants and cold were still pertinent issues. And so instead I waited in bed all day, sculpting a mountain range out of tissues around my bed, drinking quarts of orange juice, green tea and water in equal amounts, and asked my loving boyfriend to pick some up on his way home.

There is a part of me (admittedly, a very small part) that won’t allow myself to write today off as a complete failure because I did watch TED talks and documentaries on Netflix. I couldn’t rouse the effort to collect my laptop from across the room or stare at that screen while my professors discussed drugs and their pertinence to my immediate life, but I had no problem staring at my iPad while people of equal stature discussed similar things, albeit things that I am not likely to be asked to write a 5 page essays about in 3 weeks.

But I will give myself credit that I didn’t spend the entire day watching romantic comedies and dramas, which is my usual go-to (Netflix doesn’t have The Notebook, so, really, is there any point?). Now, I say that I didn’t spend the entire day doing that. I did spend part of the day doing that (I had never seen Chocolat before…).

I should have slept. But I’m fairly certain that the caffeine from the green tea was not about to allow that. So I’ll call what I did resting. And while I was resting, I realized that this is the true mark of adulthood. Some people define it as being able to buy candy whenever you want, or eat cold pizza for breakfast, but I’m Paleo (still goin’ strong!) and so neither of those apply to me. The true mark of adulthood is when you’re sick, but there’s no one holding you accountable for anything, and no one whose job it is to help you (i.e. your parents don’t make you a doctor’s appointment or pick up your prescription) and so you just lay in bed and hope that you don’t die. Ahhhhh. Adulthood.

Admittedly, I’ve been living this way for over four years, but during my undergrad I still had classes to attend or work to go to everyday. Now, I would probably be considered more adult if I had a 9-5 job or something equivalent to call into, but at the moment, I do not. And so I’ll sum up adulthood as prioritizing not putting pants on over having to interact with people.