Friday, February 23, 2007

They got the "foggy" part right.

I don't know if it's me, or large metropolises in general, but after 2 days in London, I am totally confident that I could move here tomorrow and be totally fine. This is my feeling with most big English-speaking cities I meet (unlike small communities, ie Nantucket or Middletown, where after a few weeks/days/hours I get that, "uhhh, this was fun but its time to go back to the real world" feeling).

There would be some adjustments though, namely the weather. It really is grey all the effin time here. R says that this causes her to be uber-depressed most of the time and really has a detrimental effect on her work/social life. After 5 months in Chicago, I'm pretty excited about the fact that I've worn flip flops the entire time I've been here (my toes have been kinda cold and wet, but they haven't fallen off yet which is what would happen if I tried to pull that kind of stunt in Chi-town).

Other than the weather, everything seems to be very similar to any other large city...the streets are complicated (no grid system whatsoever), but you write down directions until you figure out... the tube is fine, the buses are amazing (you know those sweet signs they have in DC that tell you when the next train is coming? They have those for the buses here! Well played, London. Well played).

Tonight, R stayed in to study and get rid of a massive headache and I went out to explore and do some shopping, I found myself completely confident walking down the street-- and realized I've never NOT felt confident (with the exception of Capetown, but that was such a sensory overload it was to be expected-- and even after a week or so, I walked down long street or the waterfront with complete ease -- although I never attempted public transportation, so that was probably a false confidence on my part).

I love that I'm a city person. I love that after 24 hours in a strange place, in a strange country I have the mental capacity to say, "Nah, I'll just wander around until I find something to do."

Tomorrow is Oxford. Then Sunday and Monday are more exploring. 5 days is almost perfect for visiting London, incase any of you were planning a trek. Although, I have to warn you-- the vintage-y red phone booths that show up in every single movie that's set in London are practically wallpapered in flyers for phone sex operators and hookers!! I was shocked and appalled at this, and rather disappointed that none of my mates who have been here warned me about this crushing blow to my childhood dreams.

Also, most of the parks look really similar, so its probably not the smartest thing to blurt out, "That was the park in the Parent Trap!" while walking by the first park you see.

Photos and other helpful hints to come once I'm back on the other side of the pond.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Lovely Wednesday

Yesterday many people celebrated Valentine's Day, I celebrated the fact that it was wednesday and I'm in a great place in my life.

I woke up in Aimee's apartment (I got snowed in the night before) so I got to hang out in her gorgeous apartment, use her super awesome shower, try on all her cute clothes, and have a piece of delicious Mounds Bar cake for breakfast.

On my way to work I found a five dollar bill on the street.

Work was medium busy. I had enough to do so I wasn't bored/feeling worthless, but not so much that I didn't have time to stalk people on the internet and read Gawker and Gofugyourself. Plus I got to snoop around my boss's townhouse, which is always fun.

Two of my absolute most favorite people in the entire universe sent me facebook gifts.

B and I decided to be platonic Valentine's (this worked out a little better for me than her...)

C and I made a pact that the first person WITH an actual-for-realz Valentine owes the other one dinner, theatre tickets, and a night of drinks... posting this pact on my blog is the equivelent of signing something in blood, btw.

My boss's wife bought us cookies that were shaped like corsets and boustieres, making them adorable and delicious.

Circus class! My handstands are improving like crazy which is great. My "bad" side cartwheels are just as good as most people's "good" side. We got to play with poi (those strings that people swing around that are occasionally on fire). My teacher said I had beautiful form on the silk knot and let me try all sorts of fun tricks (Sylvia rarely ever gives any sort of comment beyond "good" or "nice").

I started a new book that, 20 pages in, I already love on the train ride home.

When I got back to my apartment there was a Valentine's day box from Cougar that had conversation hearts, strawberry peeps, a light-up princess necklace, cute black tights and Amy Sedaris's new book in it.

I got laundry done (this is a huge accomplishment)!

I got to go to bed at 10 (see above)!

Today hasn't been as wonderful (in fact, its kind of sucked so far), but that's to be expected because it isn't a holiday.

I love everyone...Happy (belated) Lovely Wednesday to you all.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Let it...whatever

As we're watching the snow falling and accumulating outside the window in the kitchen in my office:

Me: When do you think it's going to stop?
Mary: April.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You're the pride and joy of Illinois...

If you had asked me 3 months ago who played in the Superbowl last year, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you. If you had asked me to name 3 quarterbacks in the NFL, I would maybe be able to come up with two (psych. I'd be lucky if I could get one). If you had said to me last year at this time, "Rachel, in 365 days time you will really, deeply care about a football team to the point of making shirts and fighting with people about their chances come Superbowl Sunday." I probably would have told you to pass the crack pipe.

Times change, people.

It hasn't slipped my attention (mostly because no one will really let it) that my current obsession with the pigskin is downright bizarre. My parents never cared much about the sport (I think mostly because they wouldn't be caught dead cheering for anything that a)came from Baltimore or b)was called the Redskins) and the last time (before this winter) I can remember watching a whole game start to finish was probably junior year of High School when I only did it because it was social suicide not to be seen at a football game--especially if some guy let you wear his jersey.

Sports to me have always been kind of boring, the exception that proves the rule to this is soccer. Watching soccer games has always been a passion in my family, but we're Italian, so that's kind of to be expected. But besides "real football" and girly stuff like ice skating and dancing, sports were always something I could take or leave-- but would really rather just leave and go to a play or something.

This changed sometime in November when Flopsy asked if I wanted to watch the Bears game with her. I said no, leaving out the fact that it had be a solid half-decade since I'd watched more than 16 seconds of a game. I relayed the conversation to A&K who explained that football is kind of a big deal in this town, not that they watched it, but it was. The next time Flopsy asked, I went along, mostly because at this point I had few-to-no friends and so any sort of social interaction was pounced upon by me.

I don't remember who played in the first game we watched, just that we were at Ditkas (I know, could I GET anymore cliche?) and it was probably the most fun I've ever had at a sports bar or perhaps on any Sunday morning.

*note: Why trying to turn people on to the game of football, it should probably be mentioned that watching football is an excellent excuse to get drunk on Sunday mornings, just incase you're looking for one.

After that one game I was hooked. Kind of. I still didn't really understand the nuances of the game. So I did what I do whenever I get obsessed with anything: read as much as I possibly could (see?! I am a total bookworm-geek at heart, all this macho football stuff is just for show). I learned the names of the players, and what exactly a "down" was, useless Bears trivia -- pretty much anything the internet had to offer I ate up with a spoon. For about seventeen seconds one Monday Funday (an excuse to get drunk on Monday night: yet another reason football is the sport for me) I decided I wanted to be a Bears Cheerleader, only to discover they don't have cheerleaders. So I decided I'm going to bring them back...once I'm done, ya know, everything else I want to accomplish.

Is it possible that I wouldn't have gotten this hooked if the Bears didn't have an increadible season? Yeah, its possible. But I doubt it. The games they lost (which were few and far between) crushed my soul a little bit (most notably the one on New Years). And it isn't really the sport that I'm into as the feeling you get when watching it.

I've never lived in a place that was really all about football. When I was a kid, I didn't really care and then I went off to college, and New York just isn't a football town so I never got a chance to experience it the way I have here. The energy of Chicago is so addictive. Most of my favorite moments have been in a bar, watching a game. Even T-bone, who said she didn't give two poops about how the Bears did got caught up in the excitement of the game and when Gould (who will be getting his own blog me) kicked the field goal in overtime? She went nuts just like the rest of us.

I like that football gives me a sense of belonging here. On every street corner there is a sign or a guy wearing a hat that says "Go Bears." The Art Institute, the fuddy-duddiest joint in town is even going Bears crazy! I can't imagine Giants Helmets on the Lions out front of the NY Public Library. Even the Christian Book Store across the street from my office has a sign saying "Daaaa Bears" in the window. Like my boss said, "If Jesus is cheering for the Bears, the Colts might have a problem." Which lead to:
"If Jesus and the apostles were playing the Bears in the Superbowl, who would win?"
"Depends, is Jesus qb?"

I love that knowing about The Bears and cheering for the Bears makes me feel closer to the people in this town that I'm really, quite quickly totally falling in love with.

Superbowl Sunday promises to be totally nuts. Of course I want The Bears to win, but even if they don't, there's next season!! We get to do this all over again! I could not be more excited.

So no, I can't really explain what came over me...

Perhaps it was the notion of something new and totally different to get excited about (we all need things to get excited about otherwise why get up in the morning?) or a way of bonding with complete strangers or a reason to drink at ungodly hours. Whatever the reason, I'm a Bears fan. I've learned the song and everything.

She's pint-sized and amazing.