Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend wanderings!

Friday I worked 10 to 1 and then hopped over to Trafalgar square to sketch with Zoe for 3 hours. The sun even made an appearance for part of the time! I was sketched out and kind of disappointed with how my drawings were going by the end. I went back to work. Natalia took me (through the secret tunnel!) to see the progress on the Richter show, it opens next Tuesday. I finished my shelf talkers (what does that even mean?) or rather price signs for the shop and sent them off to be okayed. I started work on a contest/ questionnaire project for Natalia. I feel like I have learned that when you are designing something it doesn't have to be artsy or edgy, well sometimes it can be, but it really just has to be clear, thoughtfully organized and to the point. Simple is better. After work Natalia, Maht and Ian took me to the pub across the street. Then we went on an adventure to Farrington with their friend Steve. It was silly and involved a bar that turned your skin purple and your teeth blue full of high class advertisers. Steve gave me a picture of Alice in Wonderland and advised me to think of 6 impossible things before breakfast everyday. Creative people rock. Rock on Steve. I left soon there after.

Saturday I woke up semi early and went to Camden Market! The first 1/2 mile was mostly off color joke screen printed tshirts, drug paraphernalia, platform leather boots with flames and piercing shops, but after we crossed the bridge I felt ten times more comfortable. We spent a good 2 hours going through the handcraft section looking at scarves and jewelry. We stopped along the river to get lunch and then spent another two hours going through the 2nd hand flea market area. It was crazy fun! I wanted to buy everything. Oh and the most notable store, and for sure in the top ten of the most uncomfortable places I've ever been was this store called Cyber dog. Anne and I had to catch our breath from laughing so hard all the way through. It's like if Zennon: girl of the 21st century, you know the disney movie, had a costume designer who started a clothes line. The store was like a rave/ shopping center for mohawk, tatooed and pierced everywhere, space people! check it out yourself! In the picture I'm holding gellato and yes I am wearing CP's coat that I stole from J-term... er uh, I promise to give it back!

I met a whole bunch of AHA kids at Ben Crouch's Tavern for Kim's 21st birthday extravaganza (which I kept calling the Bend and Snap, oh Legally Blonde). We had a ridiculous amount of fun playing hopscotch-soccer, telling people we work at Disneyland as various disney characters, talking our way into a sailor themed dance club, finding night buses, eating way too much McDonalds and Krispie Kreme and walking in cirlces looking for Trafalgar square. It was a good time.

Today was a sleep in day. I did some homework in the morning then I decided to force myself to understand Finchly and Woodside Park. So Wilby (my ipod) and I went for a run. I was gone for about 3 hours. It was so fun! I was very lost for a while but I just kept running and ended up recognizing the bus station we take from the grocery store. On my way I even stumbled into a nursing home (mistaking it for a hotel) where I got a little mini tour, awesome. I met a pickles dog named Henry, he was wearing a sweater and you bet I tried to snuggle him right in the middle of the street (*7 octaves up *... piiiiiiickles!). Ros made us soup and now I am exhausted but so excited for this week! WE ARE GOING TO SCOTLAND!

Consider the following:
"Essex girls" are equivilant to like an OC girl in the states. You know fake tan, mini skirt in winter, bleach blonde girls with reputations. Anyway there is a different part of London called Sussex (distinctly different from Essex) which has no such connotations. Please imagine me trying to talk my way out of my confusion ..."No, no I didn't mean to just call your girlfriend a slut!" Anyhow...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Design Work

Now don't go printing this off and trying to use it. Actually more power to you if you want to try to use it, just notify me when you are in London! This is not the final but try number 71 on the Constable voucher, the marketing people are insane with the number of corrections they want to make! Jonathan sent me 4 emails and called me twice today! "What do you think about tiling it on A4 to make it easier for the printer?" or "Did you know the 14th is a Sunday we can't have it open on a Sunday" and "The sponsor wants the words 'sponsored by' one point bigger and above the logo to the left a little." The guys in the office were being silly and said Jonathan was just looking for an excuse to talk to me. They made a story that involved me getting a permanent visa and becoming Mrs. whatever his last name is. Ha! Jonathan then told me my National Gallery Richter poster was landscape and his sign holder was portrait. Jude bought him a 70p plastic frame and said Nicole is NOT redoing it. I think I am learning how things are done around here. Jude reassured me that it wasn't that my design was bad it's just not easy to create exactly what people have in mind, obey sponsor politics and of course people always want to change their copy. But if you are in Foyle's book store in the next few weeks look for my 2 for 1 double sided voucher! It is finally going to print tomorrow! I am working on the Gala banners with Maht now. Today Ian told me they looked like crap, in a few more words. So I redid them. They have sooo much text on them. So Maht told me to make it look as crammed as possible and send it to the Gala ladies so they are forced to cut some of the text. I made a price sign for the shop real quick like A4 and A6 versions. I went into the Gallery and saw my Family Activity Book sign up at the Information Desk! I stood in front of it for a minute. I wanted to take a picture, but I don't think that's allowed.

Today I was doing drawings on the tube of this sleeping man. He was the most perfect live model because he moved around in his sleep about every five minutes! Ok I told my drawing prof I had 12 sketches and I only have nine. It's time to get out the reference shots!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Did you know:
Cheers can be used in any part of any sentence meaning any number of things. Today a man ran into me in the tube station and said cheers. Cheers is the common phone ending word as in have a good day, but can also be used as hello. Cheers can mean like good job too. Cheers = your welcome: I thanked Ian for a biscuit he gave me and he said cheers. Cheers = thank you: Lucy took a coupon flyer from a vender woman, more cheers! Don’t people know that buddy the elf says, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear”? London has enough cheer, Christmas or otherwise to go around. Singing isnt even necessary.

Highlights of my life:
This weekend was way fun! For Valentine’s Day a whole bunch of us girls went pub-crawling with Maggie’s daughter Lucy down the Northern Line. I left at 12:30 to catch the last tube home, the other girls weren’t so lucky and a 2 hour bus ride and a 40 pound cab later found their way home just as the sun was rising. Sunday Anne and I went to Westminster Abbey for church! Mostly because we didn’t want to pay 12 quid a piece. But also how cool is it that we got to worship where people have been worshipping for over a thousand years. Many of the churches I have been in (and believe me I have been in a lot in the past two months!) don’t really feel like churches anymore. They are places Rick Steves calls “a must see” so tourists flock to them taking pictures a mile a minute. Don’t get me wrong I totally think that tourism is a good thing I mean it is essential for maintenance and up keep of the church. Westminster is beautiful and I think everyone should be able to appreciate it and experience it. But experiencing Westminster Abbey the way it is supposed to be experienced: as a holy place of worship built for the glory of God. The service was like a step back in time though. Anne and I were led to the “choir seats” which were beautifully carved benches with kneeling benches covered in red velvet and little personal lamps which I could just imagine were candles many years ago. The organ was playing as we walked in. Anne and I, who are both tour guides at PLU, compared what we consistently note as one of PLU’s epic highlights: our organ in MBR, to the thirty five times more magnificent organ in Westminster. When the choir started singing in the foyer we couldn’t see them, but they sounded amazing in the huge open space. Then they filed in still singing to take their places in the benches next to ours wearing frilly gowns. The amazing thing was that the high voices were not women, but young boys. They were seriously like 8! Interesting. A comment on traditional patriarchal positions held in the church still today? Hmm. Then the ministers and other important people filed in wearing similar robes with less frills. The process was very choreographed and has probably been done the same way since the Anglican church started! All I could think was, “holy cow this is totally a scene from Harry Potter!” Ok, ok enough about the church.

Work is going awesome, amazing, wonderful, fantastic! Can you believe it: I work for the National Portrait Gallery (small print: as an unpaid intern)! School has been kind of secondary. Monday I had no class but a meeting oh and the most fantastic mango chicken rice salad from Sainsburys. Then I rode the bus to work. I finished a sign that goes in the National Gallery advertising for the NPG Richter show (which opens next weeeeek!) It was so funny because Maht was designing something very, very similar. So it became a competition. Maht, Ian and Natalia showed me where the best Tesco (cheap grocery store, but some are better than others) is in Covent Garden and they bought me “the best” English candies. They asked if I have ever heard of this crunchy chocolate bar called a kit-kat. I laughed, some things are very much the same. We went to Pauls. Pauls is a bread shop, we frequented it in Paris. Then we went for quite a long walk to the best coffee shop in town. We got the prettiest little cappuccinos for a pound. We got back to the office and it was work time. I worked on a voucher, A7 which is titchy (that means very small in British). Did I mention paper sizing being strange here. First of all everything is in mm. You can’t get anything done when people are talking about 750 mm by 450 mm! And paper is in A, B, C sizes. A4 is standard 8.5x11 or is it A5? It confuses me so much! Anyway so this 2 for 1 voucher will be in books sold at Foyles bookstore in London. Yeah I’m pretty much legit! Confession: sometimes I dance on the tube. Not full out dancing, but you know more than head bopping. Dinner was Shepard’s Pie. It would be though. I haven’t encountered many things I don’t like.

Tuesday I had the worst tube ride of my life. I had to get to Pilmco or something down by the river for 10 am class at the Tate. So I thought ok I’ll go Kings Cross to the Victoria line. One transfer easy peasy. BUT the Victoria line was off and on running and so 6 transfers later I finally made it to the correct station. I was only 7 minutes late and over half the class was later. After class I wanted to take the bus to work since the 87 runs parallel to the river. But it never came so I walked. I realized that I could have gotten off at Westminster and just walked to the Tate. Everything is connected but you would never know it riding the tube. I got a tuna, cucumber, carrot, pepper and lemon juice bagel for lunch. It was very British and very good. I made it to work by half 12. I started working on one of Maht’s projects to create 3 banners for the Portrait Gala, a fundraising event for rich people. I am still working on this project. I stayed until 6:30 hoping to miss the tube traffic. It was just worse. Reading the paper with every other Londoners packed like sardines in a tube car is impossible. We had burgers for dinner with toMAWto and fried poTAYtos. Ros said we could only have more if we could say it right. Button ice cream for dessert!

And then there’s today… It just keeps getting better! AM work. I had a meeting at 10:30 with the gift shop lady Denise. Ian and Maht came with me to lead me through the secret tunnel. They gave me all the pass codes to the doors and I wrote them on my hand and Ian advised me to keep an eye on my hand and not get kidnapped. But my meeting went well… I am going to be designing a product line for the shop I am going to refer to it as “the quote project”. But I am super excited about it! It is basically bold contemporary colors with simple typographic art – the quotes. There are 5 famous people with 5 quotes. It is going to be on mugs, notebooks, canvas bags, tea towel (a tea towel is like a dish rag) greeting cards and postcards. How exciting is it that people are going to be buying my art! AH! And I found out I get 30% off at the gift shop! Yay! I came back and did some more work on my vouchers and banners. The office had a discussion about Sherbet. My fellow Americans Sherbet is ice cream right?! Here it is like fun dip but with licorice. I googled it for them to prove that other people understand sherbet as ice cream. They tried to convince me it was actually crack and illegal. Jude and Ian took me to the candy store and bought me a “sherbet fountain” at lunch. It tastes like chalk. We were silly for a while and had biscuit and tea time. But then it was work time. I didn’t want to leave at 1:30. I cut through Covent Garden to get to school. Class was terrible. History and I don’t get along. And a low budget history movie plus a warm, dark room puts me out faster than a whole bottle of Nyquil could. We field tripped it to some place or another and saw Rubens paintings on the ceiling where someone or other was executed. I want so badly to care about this history. But I honestly don’t. All of the kids in the Shakespeare class ran off to the theater after class. I ran to McDonalds. I was walking to Charring Cross tube station and a man stopped me to ask directions to Buckingham Palace. He was from New York and I felt very much like a local. Look at me!

Consider the following: WAGs (as featured in one of my favorite songs, American Boy, “but I still talk that ca-a-ash cuz all the WAGs wanna hear it”) stands for Wives And Girlfriends specifically of football stars. The free daily papers talk about them allll the time. I feel like Posh and I are good friends because everyday I read about where she is and with who. I am fascinated by the news here. Have you guys heard about the 13 year old boy dad scandal? It has been front page here for a week! These papers also have a section called Love Connection and they are text messages like: “Guy in the tweed pants with curly brown hair riding bakerloo at 7 on Tuesday who asked what I was reading. Drink?” –Girl with black hat. And they always have horoscopes. I rip it out and put it in my journal when it is right.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bath week

My first day of work went as follows: From AHA I picked up the number 91 bus to Charing Cross and ran through the rain and Trafalgar square to orange street minutes before my two o’clock appointment with Melanie from personnel. They printed my name badge and a woman showed me up to the office. I was asked about my criminal background (which is extensive, so this took like 20 minutes to list off ☺) and we went over emergency procedures. Basically they told me to not download viruses into their email network, not be drunk at work (exhibit openings are ok though), refer to your line manger for questions and oh you are really, really lucky to be here so DON’T take it for granted. She then asked to see my CV. I blankly stared at her and said, “my what?” CV is curriculum vitae or resume. Duly noted.

And ta da my first day of work started… Jude had put my first project, my email set up info, a laptop, the newest London design magazine, a pad of paper and a chocolate bar on my desk. Ian and Natalia were put in charge of me as Jude had to run off to a meeting soon after I got there. Well so let me back up. The design department at NPG (national portrait gallery) is just one large room with 4.5 desks in the NPG office building on orange street parallel to the gallery. Jude is the head of design and my go to person/ supervisor/ intern wrangler. Second in line is Ian as a designer and then Natalia is the assistant designer and then Maht who is half time designer. And then me the intern! So like I said 4 desks and me with my little half desk. The office is crazy, borderline out of control. It is obvious artists totally live there! I love it! I mentioned I was a little messy and Ian said well as you can see everything has its right place here and proceeded to shove everything off his desk onto the floor to demonstrate. My first impression of the office and its inhabitants were all very positive. Natalia made me tea when I got there (in the Barbie mug per Deanna’s request) and Jude made me more later. They told me stories about Deanna and made me tell stories about her! Oh for those of you who don’t know, Deanna is from PLU and did the same internship last spring, she’s pretty awesome. Melanie called me back because I forgot the check the box that I had no criminal record. They are just trying to get me to confess to something I think! Anyway, it will be interesting to see how my first impressions change as we go through. Jude signed me up for several design related classes the first of which is this Wednesday. There are also little workshops offered by the gallery from different departments ie) learn how to do gilding on frames from the Frame Conservation department. So those will be fun! I finished my tea and “pushed off” for the evening around 5. Sometimes I don’t understand what they are staying to me or to each other. But they are really good about explaining British phrases when I ask. But I have to be careful not to blog about anything top secret. So I guess I can’t tell you any more! But on the way home it was raining so hard and I had movie moment at the roundabout near my house. I was standing in the median waiting for a car to go by and it splashed through a huge puddle and sprayed me with a huge wave of water. I forgot my key so I stood in the rain soaking wet and when Ros opened the door I could see she almost didn’t want to let me in! Pizza, coleslaw and rock cake for dinner.

Consider the following:
-A biscuit by definition gets soft when it is stale.
- A cake by definition gets hard when it is stale.

Tuesday – I had a rough tube ride, mostly because it was really, really packed and I had to stand packed like cattle with more people than any fire code would ever allow. I think I got motion sickness and had to dismount at Camden Town to get sick in the tube station. I felt much better and decided since I was closer to town than to home so I pulled myself together and got back on the tube. British Masters class at 10 at the National Gallery. La ti da. Not a deal but I take art history in the National Gallery. Haha! We examined and talked about Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode series in depth and tacked on some Gainsborough and Turner pieces near the end. It’s like an art history power point but BETTER because you just walk ten feet and the piece is actually in front of you. Ah! I headed off to work next door after picking up lunch at Pret (what I thought was peanut butter and jelly turned out to be butter and jelly… it was odd.) Work was good. Ian bought me a box of Earl Gray Tea with a funny little man on the front whose head popped off when you opened next to which he wrote something like “very British indeed”. We are going to try a new tea every week until we try all the teas of the world. Jude set me up with my new email and I filled in my diary (which is what they call like a daily schedule). I sent my first email to follow up with an unclear project I was given. Then Jude taught me how to use character styles and refreshed me on master pages in indesign. I used a template she set up for me to whip through about 50 signs with various messages such as “Use lift to second floor” (lift means elevator) and “No food past this point”. I was done by the time she came back from her meeting. Ian asked me to laminate “refill this postcard” cards for the shop (it’s not gift shop here, it’s just shop. I keep imagining some sort of wood working place every time they say shop). So I got to use the laminater ooo! Then I did a project for Natalia where I took paper captions roughly cut them, put them in the sticky backer machine, peeled, sticked them to foam board and cut them out. Except I was scared to screw up the cutting out part, my exacto skills leave something to be desired. I thought of Jp getting out the pica ruler for each one of these captions. Luckily it was time for me to go before I had to cut. Oh one thing I didn’t mention: the 8 missed calls from Martin, the headmaster, on my phone. Apparently Martin wanted to meet with me about my registration on Wednesday. Right on, really though 8 calls? I went to KFC (I know, I know but I had 15 minutes to grab a quick dinner!) and got on the tube at Leister Square. I went to the Hampstead Theater to see Private Lives (I had a really funny conversation with Maht and Natalia when they asked what I was seeing and where and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of the show or the theater and Maht said, “it’s ok you can tell us we won’t follow you” I am still laughing about it). Patricia (the Virginia Wolf teacher) had my ticket and she was super late getting to the theater so I waited outside planning my way home when she ran up. We made it in right before the doors closed. The show was so freaking funny, your classic romantic comedy. I have decided to never get married or really ever be in love. From a close look into these people’s private lives love just looks painful and confusing. The basic synopsis: A divorced couple unexpectedly honeymoon at the same place with their new spouses. At the end of the first act the divorced couple has run off and their new spouses just find out and share the most awkward, “what the heck I am having a cocktail and cigarette with my new spouse’s exspouse’s new spouse on my honeymoon!” It was awkward even for me in the audience. Definitely pantwettingly funny!

Wednesday was great. Work at 9:30. I rode in with Anne and Sara who got off at Tottenham Court Road and I continued on to Leister Square. I asked Jude and Maht questions about my British History reading. Jude gave me a quick British History lesson using the portrait gallery book to show pictures. It made so much more sense with the pictures! Then Jude took me to my training in the gallery. We got to go through the secret tunnel from Orange street to the main gallery. I was so cool to me! We passed through framing and education and the front of house staff locker rooms and popped up in the gallery! Ah! I met two British women in my class and we chatted until we realized that no one was coming to train us. So we left. I went back to design and finished my cutting. Jude and Ian then left for the day and I got to work at Jude’s desk on her huge mac! Mmm. I worked on a sign for these new Family Activity Cards the gallery is doing. I had to match pantone colors off of the actual cards for my sign. It was pretty simple. I made two versions and sent in my proof. I called the woman I emailed before and she came by to meet with me. She was very chatty and kept mentioning people I didn’t know. She came up with a slogan that she wants me to make a logo for. It was a play on the common British bumper sticker: “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”.,-not-just-for-Christmas

I left at 1:20 for my meeting with Martin at 1:30. I tried to find the number 91 bus stop. I ended up walking so far that I realized I was actually really close to school. So I just kept walking and made it to AHA by 1:48. Martin basically told me I needed to drop Shakespeare. 4 classes and work is too much. I told him I would consider it. For class at 2 we all (all 34 of us that is) got on a bus to see two churches. I couldn’t tell you the names. The first was kind of ugly. It was medieval, but redone with Victorian and everything in between. I sat and tried to sketch but was so uninspired by the ordinariness of it that I ended up just zoning for half an hour. Church two was exponentially cooler. It was one of the only Catholic churches that remained under Elizabeth or Mary’s reign or something. It was beautiful. I learned about the stations of the cross as well as how all of the stain glass had been redone. The bishops back in medieval times were crazy powerful and owned their own little kingdoms with the church as the center. We walked more and went past the oldest pub in London. We walked down jewelry road. We walked back to school just before it started to rain. We sat in class for another 2 hours and the room got so warm that I started to fall asleep. At 5 we were dismissed and pretty much all 34 of us walked in the rain to catch the 38 bus to the theater for Othello at 7:30! Once there we divided and found food. We pubbed it up. The show didn’t start until like 8. There was a sign outside the door that warned us about nudity and gunshots. They had a deaf people reader board with the lines which was so helpful because Othello had such a thick African accent I could barely make out his lines. The play was soooo long. Unfortunately neither the seats nor the gunshots were not conducive to sleeping. It ended past 11. It was a good play. I enjoyed Midsummer’s Night Dream much more. I really hate killing and deceiving so it makes sense that I would enjoy the comedy over the tragedy. We had to take the overground to the underground to get home. We didn’t get home until 12:30. Let me tell you there are some characters on the tube late in the night. The commute is so freaking long! And the walk home in the dark is just painful.

Thursday: No work. I dropped Shakespeare so no Shakespeare either. I was exhausted though so I slept until 11. Walking through the park I met another Ellie dog and it made me so happy! I went in to AHA for class at 2. I wrote some emails at AHA and then went for a walk. It began to rain so I hopped on a bus. I ended up at Kings Cross. Which is confusingly huge, I got mixed up and ended up in the train part and not the underground part. It was dark by the time I made it to the northern line. I read the paper on my way home. My horoscope was right on so I ripped it out and taped it in my sketchbook. Dinner was twice baked potatoes and broccoli and cake. Mmm.

Friday: BATH! We had to get up at like 6:30 in the morning uuh. I was making toast 5 minutes to my desired time of departure when Anne came down wondering what a 38.4 on the thermometer meant. So I called and woke up Maggie and we determined that 37 is normal meaning Anne was very sick. Sara and I left her to sleep and had to literally run to the tube. We made it to the train station at Paddington with enough time to get Krispy Kreme. The train ride to bath was about 2 hours. We stuck it to the train men and sneakily changed the reserved seats to be sitting next to other empty reserved seats. Alice, Kim, Karen and I talked and laughed the whole way. Once in Bath we did our little 34 person long Madeline walk into Bath Abby with Martin as our nun. It was beautiful! I gave Alice my camera to help me get some touristy pictures. I sat in a choir pew and sketched a dragon carving (because I’m really into dragons … well not really, a dear friend of mine is though). I ran around the crypt at light speed before I found my friends and we went to lunch. I met some American girls from Minnesota at a funky sandwich restaurant. Guess what Gleadle family I tried to order sausage rolls! But they didn’t have any. It was the first time I’ve seen them here! After lunch we went into the Roman Bath Museum. We got audio guides. I could not for the life of me stop typing in the numbers for the children’s audio program. So for half I was getting legit and interesting facts and the other half I was listening to Hercules speak slowly about bubbles. It was fun though. No the baths are no used today. But the water was way warm and steaming in the cold air. At the top they had water from the baths that you could drink. I decided against. However my sickness is still kind of holding on so maybe I would have cured me! I did some sketching while I was waiting for everyone to gift shop it up. Martin then took us on a Georgian Bath walk. He showed us a square and a circle and an oval courtyard. I asked when the triangle one was and he looked really confused and offered that he once was in an octagon room. We saw the crescent on the hill. The sun had just come out as we came over the hill. The crescent is 100 columns and I think apartments, but it just a huge building built on half an oval with a huge park of a front yard and amazing view! We walked more and went to the tea room at the fashion museum. We ballroom danced in the ballroom too. On the way back to the Abby Patricia and I were talking crew and we were almost hit by a car. The driver stopped to yell at us. I almost expected her to yell back. Oops. Martin then took us into some sort of old government building. Martin then took the train home and many of us stayed in Bath. We shopped for a while and I found the coolest pantone mug. I wanted it so bad. I should have bought it, but I found it online so I can always buy it for myself when I have more dollars. We went to O’Neils for drinks and stayed for dinner. We caught the train back to London at 7:43. Sara and I found out we were on the same train and were so glad to have someone to walk home with. We got home around 11. I was exhausted from so much walking, I fell into my bed. Long week.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Photos from London!

12 Cissbury Ring ... Hey look this is my house just after it snowed! It is a lot bigger than it looks. Mostly because it is really long. It's a duplex and some nights we can hear the little boy next door practice piano. The small window above the front door is my room!

And this is my room. Three words to best describe it are as follows: cozy, (the nice word for small that is. Not the same word used to describe a fire because the next word is....) freezing and uh well kind of a mess. Please note the hanging cords over the bed... I was yelled at for that. Also note that I have seventeen blankets on my bed. My new favorite thing is hot water bottles. It's like having Pickles to snuggle with minus the snoring! I want the snow on the roof to melt so my room isn't so freezing!

Friends! Anne and Alice at O'something or other Irish pub eating cake and ice cream! The food is so cheap at pubs! We had BLTs, chips and salad for less than 3 pounds and it was so good! The thing is you don't have to drink in a pub you can just have dinner and enjoy the fun atmosphere. It's like a less family friendly red robin! We witnessed our first (mini) bar fight at this O'something place though! There was some silverware clankage and some storming out and crying and a man's head hit the bar really loudly. It was exhilerating to watch from a safe distance. haha!

And this is me looking rather wind blown next to the London eye. I promise I'm really here! Now
it is photo documented! Look most of the snow is gone now!

Ok it is Othello reading time, I guess, if I have to. I have class til 1 and then my first official day of work tomorrow!!! Wish me luck! Scheduled this week: Theater Wednesday Night Othello, Thursday Night Theater a play tba (maybe) and Friday we have a day trip to Bath! But yay I made it through a week in London! I've officially been gone for 5 weeks now. Miss me yet? Haha!

PS Some people have said my skype name isn't searchable. I changed my skype so now you should be able to search for me. If you still can't find me it's ngleadle or use my email I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, February 6, 2009

One busy week...

Woke up to more snow.
Toast with peanut butter on the go.
Britain today lecture - 10-11:30
British Museum - 11:42-12:20
#21 bus to Orange Street, changed into heels
1-2:30 lunch with my new boss, Jude. Everyone is chill, enjoys jeans and trainers (tennis shoes) likes to snack and gets design jokes!
Art class - 3:00 Met Zoe at the National Gallery and we sketched fabric folds on Mary Magdalene for 2 hours. At the NG they have little chairs you can rent to sit in front of paintings to sketch. Genius. Louvre take notes! It is funny to me how if you pick the sillyest most insignificant painting to sketch in front of it becomes instantly more popular. Silly, herd mentality. I brushed up on my british painters after Zoe left. Oh hey! Zoe got me those pens I was talking about! And a sketchbook, watercolor paper and a set of pencils! I can't wait to use them! I love having Zoe though. It is forcing me to continue good sketchbook habits. And it is just fun to hang out with an artist and getting her input on my work. I'll post more sketches soon.

I left the NG and melted into a puddle of migrane.
Took the tube home and read the newspaper.
Bought soup, cherry coke and chocolate at the market and tried to pay with a ten euro note. Oops.
I closed the door a little too hard (it is a heavy door) and Ros came out to tell me off. She got after me for leaving my room unlocked and my computer on my bed too. I unwillingly started crying. I didn't mean to make Ros feel bad and I could tell I did. She tried to cheer me up and kept asking me questions about my day and hugging me and feeding me pie and all that. But all I wanted to do was go to my room. I think I am just overwehlmed with the day and the week and my whole experience. Being sick and exhausted doesn't help either. My friends called to hang out in Harrow. I declined, preferring One Tree Hill and skype in my bed to dancing tonight. I think I may be a little homesick.

Sigh. There is so much to look forward to and so much to look back on. But right now I am allowing myself to just be tired and sick and melancholy . All i can say is tgif! Night!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And we're off!

I just got back from the theatre (someone pinch me? Or slap me... I'm such a snob!) It is about midnight and I'm exhausted so let's make this quick.

First of all I just saw Hillary and Danielle's beautiful faces! Ah! Hey everyone get skype! It is the best thing ever! Today was busy, busy, busy. It started with a signal failure at Woodside Park. So I finagled a bus route and somehow got us to class less than an hour late! 2 hour commute is an adventure but not something I'd like to do daily. We made the end of our Shakespeare class to meet our eccentric and totally wierd prof. She handed out Othello and told us to read it by next week and finish Midsummer's Night Dream before 7:15pm (when the play starts). We had a longish break so some of us tried to get to the Tate Modern. I made it to the door of the Tate and realized it took us over an hour to get there so I turned back. A least I got tube practice and a great sandwich! I hung out in the student lounge and ate my lunch trying rather unsuccessfully to finish midsummer's night dream. My studio art class started and it turns out I am the only one in the class (which is normal apparently? dear everyone, art is fantastic why the heck wouldn't you do it?!). So basically I have an art tutor who will encourage me to keep up my sketchbook. Awesome! British Masters, my art history class was fun. I am one of two art majors in it. The other art major and I took turns answering every question in class. Oops. This class is going to be a breeze, it's very basic. I walked to ryman's and bought school supplies. I saw Alice in the window at Nero's the coffee shop down the road on my way home. So I got the most beautiful mocha I've ever seen and sat with her to read my shakespeare. We met the rest of the group and walked downtown. I pretended to carry the tour guide flower as we tried to march 15 people through the busy London streets at 5 o'clock. We found the theater and split up to find food. Our group went to delicious and quite fancy italian for less than 7 quid each! Holla! I swtiched with Gary to get a front row (still nose bleed) seat at the theater. The show was so freaking funny! I could have peed my pants several times! I have to say that "the chink in the wall" was my favorite character!!! And it was so much easier to watch than it is to read! There were some creepy doll things happening though that might inspire nightmares. The stage was so cool it was like a mirror on the back wall. At half time (oops I mean intermission) they sold icecream. Kim and I wanted icecream so bad, mostly because we wanted to talk to the man selling it :) The play ended and Sara, Anne and I found our way back to the Northern Line. I almost fell asleep on the way home. We talked in silly British accents as we skidded around in the slush on our way home. Note we did not take the short cut through the dark park. Overall good day! I met quite a few potential new friends today! We all gel quite nicely. I realized how much I miss art major's though after spending a month with them. Theater and English majors are cool too, I guess. Ah tomorrow we have class at the British Museum at 10 and then I meet my new boss for lunch at 39-40 Orange street (what does that even mean?!?! maybe it's like platform nine and three quarters? which is it 39 or 40?) I am terrified. Mostly about picking what shoes I'm going to wear. Then I meet Zoe (my art teacher) at the gallery for art class. And perhaps we will do something fun, scratch that, there will be fun to be had tomorrow night! I really want to go to Maggie's house up in Harrow. I heard it is bomb diggety, mostly because it is a hobbit house with unlimited supply of cookies and blockbuster retals. But everyone else lives in Harrow (NW London as opposited to straight up North) so it seems like the place to be.

Oh hey I was on dreary lane today! No I did not see the muffin man's residence, believe me I looked! This weekend I need to go to Oxford street to find a european payless or tjmax to get boots. Oops I mean wellies (spelling?). Mine were sadly left at the airport in Paris, with holes in the heel and salt stained from the rain. I hope a homeless traveler finds them and is loving them right now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Day of School

Yesterday there was no school. Breakfast was determined the night before as being, “between 9 and 10” so I rolled out of bed around 9:50 and ran downstairs. Typical. I found that I enjoy marmalade with chunky peanut butter on my toast. Ros gave Anne and I each a key to the house (it’s like we live here or something ah!). On the way to the tube I met an ellie dog named cookie in the park!!! Naturally, I accosted it. We headed to AHA (the school) to check it out. We knocked and Martin the headmaster exclaimed, “The students have come!” He was so excited to see us. From the front the AHA building is skinny; one doorway in a line of them on this street. But the place is huge. Martin led us back to the secret annex (Anne Frank anyone?!) well it’s not really secret, but it is an annex on the back which has a library and computers and printing. We kept going though doors and up and down stairs finding more classrooms and lounges. Such a cool place, I’m excited to study there! We then headed to Trafalgar square and down through to Big Ben and the Parliament buildings and Westminster Abbey and the little church next to it by way of the park in front of Buckingham Palace (unbeknownst to us at the time, but with careful observation of our photos we can’t believe we missed it!). I stepped in a lake of a puddle crossing the street illegally. I know I’m going to be hit by a bus before this adventure is through. But my socks got soaked so I ran around Parliament to see the Thames for the first time. I bought sticky tack for hanging my photos at the art store. Less than one pound. But there are these pens I think I need. They are shades of gray with brush tip and then a superfine, fine and medium tip black. They are on clearance for 5 pounds. But the art store is right next to my work so I decided I have enough will power to hold off for now. Um yeah… the rest of the day. La la um I wrote an epic poem to C-line back at home. Oh I stopped to get buttons and jelly babies. It was like Christmas, literally! Nana always gets us little English candies for our stockings. Black current is my new favorite flavor. I dare say if they offered it at the dentist for a toothpaste flavor I would disregard a lifetime of loyalty to the bubblegum flavor paste. Dinner was amazing! I am still thinking about it! Ahhhh, maybe I was just starving. We the best stir fry I have ever tasted! Oh my gosh. It was the perfect amount of spice and had the oddest like salad mix of vegetables. And carrot cake for dessert. Ros feeds us so good! I was third in line for showers which at first I thought I had the short straw, but then I realized I could use the rest of the hot water the first two girls didn’t take. My room was so cold, I coughed all night and I was anxious about starting school so I slept fitfully. I did finish my murder mystery book “Nora”! Who knew it was the sheriff killing his lover to protect his family! But you should know the main character found out she wasn’t crazy and the mysterious sexy writer (who got away with only one bullet wound in his arm) all but proposed. Such closure!

Today was the first day of school! I am getting really sleepy (due to lack of sleep last night) so I will recap it as quickly as I can. 8 breakfast. We left at 8:50 and barely made it to class on time at 10. We met Martin the headmaster again, Leah the office assistant, Patricia a professor of Latin Literature at Willamette, oh and the infamous Maggie the housing coordinator. They led us through much of our orientation stuff. Schedule. Safety. Bombing emergency procedure. You know the regular stuff. We got our Oyster cards (like a Navigo in Paris) it is basically a tube swiper inner. We had lunch and met some of the other kids. 11 from PLU and the other 23 from UPS, UP and Willamette. I don’t know, they are interesting I guess. It will be interesting to see personalities change and friendships form as the semester goes on. We talked about stereotypes of British people. Recycling is big here! Bigger than PLU (it is possible!) It was so funny to hear about less than pleasurable experiences with homestays. My friend Joel is living with what we like to call the “host dude”. He is a single man who likes TV dinners and beer. Last night the host dude left with a bottle of wine and didn’t come back. Another girl is weirded out by the amount of meat mounds her family makes her eat. Another girl is living with an eccentric cat lady. I say that I lucked out with my family. Ed Inch the dean of arts and communications at PLU stopped by after we all went out on a walk with Martin. Ed took us to The Lamb, a pub near school. He bought us all fish and chips and our first round of beverage of choice. He told us everything we need to know about London. Did you know that London was built by the romans and the city is not a grid like most American cities, but is a circle. So I live in the postal code N12 which means I am north and 12 zones away from central London. So if you are at SE2 you are really close to the center of London and south east. Funny! Anyway, I went with some new people to Chinatown before heading back to the Northern Line to get home. As I was coming off the escalator someone grabbed my elbow and I kind of freaked out. But it was Ros’s daughter Sarah coming home from work so we rode home together. She taught me some secrets of riding the tube and introduced me to one of her friends from college. Ros picked us up at West Finchly (remember in Narnia when they talk about coming from Finchly?!?). Yay we didn’t have to walk in the dark! Dinner was a jacket potato with cheese, coleslaw and homemade vegetable soup. I picked out the onion from my salad and Ros said, “young lady if you pick out any more of those I’ll make you eat them all!” Sounds like home! Tomorrow is class for real. I have to Midsummer’s Night Dream before tomorrow. But I will probably do it on the tube. We are going to the Royal Shakespeare Company performance at Novello Theatre tomorrow night! Friday have class in the British Museum and then is going on a boat ride and then going to the Tower of London. I am having lunch with my new boss at the National Portrait Gallery at the same time so I can’t go to the boat half. There is a special Dali and Picasso exhibition at the Tate that I want to go to before it leaves. Psh but I’ve already been to the official museums of both: Dali in Spain and Picasso in Paris. Look at me. What a snob! Ok I have to go read!

PS I’ll post photos soon. Oops I haven’t taken any. Well the other two girls are taking enough for the population of a small country. It’s almost, scratch that, IS embarrassing. You might as well put on a straw hat and Hawaiian shirt! Haha oh well… what ever floats you boat.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Record Snow in London!

I got into Stansted around 10pm and took to train into the city. I called Ros and she met me at the West Finchly tube station(I keep calling it the metro, no no that’s Paris, silly!) around midnight. She was so sweet and showed me my little room and the bathroom and told me the basics. She had even put a hot water bottle in my bed so it was warm when I arrived. I went straight to bed, exhausted from my adventure that day. In the morning Ros made me toast and cereal and advised me to go into London to see the Chinese New Year festivities in Trafalgar square. So I did just that. Of course it is snowing here. I walked to Woodside Park in the snow and bought a day pass. I rode the metro into the city and first did a dry run to the AHA center (my school) so I know how to get there for class. Then I headed to the National Portrait Gallery to experience it at least once before I see it from the inside. It is much different than I made it out to be in my mind. The Chinese New Year celebration was intense. So many people in such a small area! I grabbed some lunch and some groceries and headed back home as it got dark and even colder. I found it hard to cross the streets here. I am so confused because they say look left or look right and I am so confused. The left on red is an odd concept that keeps tricking me too. I will probably be hit by a car here. Also getting in Ros’s car the first night threw me for a loop too. Wait you mean I get in the driver’s door? Oh but back to the National Portrait Gallery. Such a cool place! There were tons of people though and it was hard to really enjoy it. I loved the photography and contemporary portraits on the ground level. Ah! I just wish I knew more British culture and history to understand who some of these people are. On my way out I took one of every brochure in the rack so I can study them before I have start work. I was all trembly and nervous when I went in. I am so excited and secretly terrified!

On the way home I stopped to talk to a “chemist” as Ros called it, that is a pharmacist. He asked if I had a tickly throat. I laughed and he pulled out a box that said “for a tickly cough” on it. I wanted to buy it just to have it. Seriously who says tickly cough? There is some terminology here that I love! Just looking at the metro map, tube map that is, you can’t help but laugh at the names! Honestly can a grown man say he is going to be taking the Bakerloo line home? And I’m not sure if Piccadilly is something I could say with a straight face. Oh London, how silly you are! At the airport the loudspeaker recording woman told us to “hold tightly” as we waited for our train to come to a complete stop. Haha!

Well anyway I finally made it back to 12 Cissbury. I took a shower (have you ever heard of a motorized shower? Well they are real and loud and quite silly). While I was gone Ros did some of my laundry and hung it to dry on all the radiators around the house since they don’t have a dryer. Haha! Maggie called me about my oyster card and some other logics. Ros made vegetable soup and spaghetti for dinner around 8. As I finished my homemade sweetbread with black currents for dessert, Sarah and Anne (the two other PLU girls staying here) showed up! Yay! It was good to see a familiar face. We hugged. They looked rather disheveled from a long day of traveling. We gave our gifts to Ros and she loved them. I snuggled with the kitties, Lucy and Sam before heading up for bed with my hot water bottle.

This morning we woke up to 6 inches of snow and a shut down city. So no school for us today! Ros told us to go back to bed. The poor girls straight from the states were up at 4 am and it was like torture to tell them to go back to sleep! I slept easily til noon. Mmm. We watched the weather and I snuggled with Sam until lunch was ready. Apparently there hasn’t been this much snow in London for 18 years! We had scrambled eggs with bagels and baked beans. Ros gave me something warm to drink for my throat. Hey Bug you know Buttons that we get in our stockings every year? We had them! I am kind of sad we didn’t have class today. But glad that I get this day to just rest and get rid of my sickness. We bundled up and I showed Anne and Sara the way to the Woodside Park tube station and the grocery store. We walked around the park and I played with a cute dog (I would though… piiiickles!). We took off our wet clothes and I sat by the fire to read as Anne played piano. Now I am resting until the girls wake up from their nap. Dinner is in an hour. Ros cooks mostly vegetarian and asks us what we like. I love it since I’m kind of a picky meat eater anyway(hey and hot dogs and chicken nuggets don’t count!). Oh and something cool. My friends from Jterm and Cline, Hill and Dani know that Twlight and Edward have been my recent infatuation. (Whatever call me a 13 year old girl!) But the actor who plays Edward is a client of the acting agency that Sarah (Ros’s daughter) works for! So he is in her office all the time! Little known fact: he reads all his fan mail!

Anwyay tomorrow is a new day and I hope there is less snow and more school! I am so excited to start this London adventure!

PS I have wireless internet at school, work and home now so I can be a lot more connected. Please facebook me or email me if you want to set up a time we can skype or aim or talk on the phone! Just remember I am 8 hours ahead, so afternoon/ evening your time is best for my schedule!
PSS Postsecret is my new favorite thing! If you havent heard about it google it.

Last few days in Spain

Following our schedule Thursday was beach day! But we didn’t make it out of bed until noon and it was kind of cloudy. It swiftly became KFC-geese church-finish final paper day. Mackenzie and I tried to see Revolutionary Road Imax, but it was in Catalan. Dane went to the Barcelona soccer game. 50 euro a ticket was a little steep for the less than diehard fans. So we drank cold, to die for, hot chocolate and irish cream baileys out of Mac’s nalgene and mingled with the prostitutes and pot dealers on La Ramblas. Don’t worry, in actuality there was no mingling, just avoiding. Dane got home late from the soccer game to find Mac and I snuggled into what I like to call “the pocket bed” (two twins pushed together to make a queen, thus creating two pockets) with our trashy mystery novels. It felt good to be done with my paper and to just relax for a day.

This is us being silly outside the Dali museum!

Friday was Dali day! We had a quick FIAP reminiscent breakfast of croissants and coffee and got out of the hotel before 10! Hooray! We rode the metro to the train and hopped on illegally. The conductor caught us and made us pay about half way to Figures. Two hours later we made it to Figures and to a cute little kabobs shop for lunch. The woman sent us to a small room upstairs to wait for our food. We read Rick (our handy, yet embarrassingly tourist Rick Steves book) and had a delicious lunch for 4 euro! We got into the Dali museum for 8 euro after flashing our student id. We popped in our ipods and went our separate ways to tackle this huge house built especially for Dali’s work. I found Modest Mouse to be the best music selection to interpreting Dali. It was bizarre in every sense, yet totally fascinating. I have to speculate that drugs and some antisocial tendencies might have influenced Dali. I can’t even begin to describe a fraction of the pieces that captured me. I particularly fell in love with the pieces that were segmented but came back together to make whole images (hmm that doesn’t explain it that well… uh just go there and see it). The ceiling painting with the huge feet was so funny to me. Ahh if there was one thing I took away from this museum it was: just create. Just do it and it may be wrong and it may be bizarre and weird, but just make it. This was probably one of my favorite art museums yet. I can’t say I understood it. But that’s just it. Art isn’t about understanding or getting it. It’s about showing the world how you see the same world they see and evoking some sort of emotion even if it’s a big “huh?” I wish that I could be as confident in my creativity as Dali was. I think his most telling portrait is the one of him holding the starfish up to his eye with his silly mustache, I mean look at him. Ahhh. No words can describe it. It’s just art. And it is true.

Friday night we shopped, unsuccessfully which is probably good. I had a run in with the gargoyle Ramblas statue guy. Dane and Mac gave me money to go stand with him for a picture and so I got as close as I thought was safe. They said I was like 20 feet away but I was close enough to hear him hissing and his fingernails were gnarly and beckoning me. It was a rush. See picture. I am about to pee my pants. We had paella and tapas for dinner. Mackenzie made me eat deep fried squid rings. Mmm the food here is ten thousand times better than the FIAP! We packed and showered and I read Nora (my murder mystery) until I fell asleep. All in all it was a good trip!Mmm delicious paella!

In the morning Mac and Dane left around 7. I got up and got breakfast and checked out around 11. At 11:30 I was in the internet café checking my flight time. It was very much 6:20 that morning. I had a mini meltdown and called home. I’m sorry Ma and Pa I think the worst thing ever as a parent is to get a call in the middle of the night from your hysterical daughter in Europe saying she missed her flight. Oops. But its like Mackenzie said. When you are traveling by yourself you have no one to apologize to. So you just deal with it and move on. It was probably one of the most stressful, but also one of the things I learned the most from this trip. I broke down in the internet café and then I pulled myself together and did what I needed to do. I got myself on the bus to the airport to catch the next flight to London. I met three engineers from Birmingham on the bus to the airport who helped keep my mind off the mess and then helped me figure things out with ryan air and sat with me until they had to catch their flight. Now I have three phone numbers of three young, good-looking British guys! So it wasn’t all a loss. And I will never EVER forget military time for as long as I live.