Friday, December 31, 2004

Christmas Eve: A Photo-Essay in 9 Parts

So, below there are nine pictures taken on Christmas Eve. (Yes, I do have broadband in my house, finally!) The idea of holding the camera at arm's length and pointing it at my face came from Evan, who does it when he visits a place to prove he was there. I mean, it's not like he came up with the idea, but doing it in lieu of traditional tourists photos seemed like a good idea -- after all, if it's a famous sight someone else has already taken a better picture of it than you can, so why not preserve the important thing, that is, the fact that you were there.

Anyway, I left the house around 1 pm, and ended up taking a taxi home about 4:30. It was a good night. The streets, and espcially the walkway along the Thames, was absolutely deserted in the middle of the night. I took more pictures, both of myself and others, but these are probably the best ones. In fact, around 3 I started taking really loopy pictures of random things that I thought were interesting at the time, but in fact are just random.

Anyway, enjoy.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 1

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
2:30 pm. Not knowing what else to do, since absolutely everything was closed, I decided to walk around. This is Buckingham Palace. It was cold and gloomy and rainy.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 2

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
3:00 pm. The "Queen Elizabeth Gate" in Hyde Park. The gate is in this hideous faux-naif style which amuses me. Also, I have discovered that when I take a picture of myself, I have a tendancy to make a face that looks unnervingly like my father. (Note to potential boyfriends: this bodes ill.)

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 3

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
As some of you may know, the Princess Diana Memorial fountain has, in past year, put a bunch of tourists in the hospital, because it is so slippery that tourists slip and crack their heads open. This warning sign tells you not to walk on the stone of the fountain, which is especially, um, striking because the "interpretive" sign right next to this informs us that the fountain, among other things, symbolizes the openness and accessiblility of "The People's Princess." This openness is now penned in by plastic fencing. Make of this what you will, I suppose.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 4

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
3:30 pm. The Prince Albert Memorial. I am really pleased with this picture, with the focus and the light and all. Hooray for my camera!

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 5

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
4:00 pm. Note the foreboding sky. It was raining intermittently.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 6

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
Self-explanitory, perhaps, but be aware that I walked a very long way to get here, and that I would then walk even further, to Putney, before taking the Tube to midnight mass at Westminster Cathedral. (which was wonderful, by the way.)

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 7

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
2:00 am. Me and "The London Eye." I am rather tired.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 8

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
3:10 am. Me and "The Gherkin." I am very very tired.

Christmas Eve Adventure, episode 9

Originally uploaded by gwdexter.
My attempt to go to a Shoreditch house of ill repute was thwarted -- although, I discovered later, the establishment was open all night the day after (that is, Chirstmas day) for some reason. I then remembered reading something about an all night bakery in Shoreditch in a weird guide book, and, sure enough, around 4 I found the Beigel [sic] Bake [sic], which was, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite busy at 4 in the morning of the 25th...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I was on TV, apparently

So, I get an email from a good friend with whom I'm having lunch tomorrow, and she says, "I'm looking forward to seeing you. I think I saw you on the local TV news." When I talked to her, she said I was wearing Converse (my only shoes) and a black leather jacket (my only jacket) and walking on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, my image was not used to accompany a story about "the hippest looks for spring" or "hairstyles that say 'now! now! now!'" -- I was used to illustrate a story about a rash of stabbings in my quaint village. (Don't tell my mom!) One crazy guy drove around stabbing random people in Harrigey, then an Albanian was stabbed to death in a barroom brawl in Wood Green, then an Indian shop keeper in Wood Green was stabbed to death during a robbery in which the robbers got away with two bottles of whiskey and no cash. It's just like living in Oakland, except without guns, and with different ethnicities.

But let's focus on what's important: I was on TV! I'm totally famous!

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Okay, so I had quite an adventure for Christmas, which I really want to relate by way of a photo-essay using pictures I took from my snazzy new camera. So I will wait until I get the goddamn broadband set up. Here's a sneak preview: An American sitting behind me makes a cell phone call during midnight mass! The Princess Di fountain is funny! A bathhouse is closed on Christmas eve! An all-night beigel [sic] bakery is open! At 4:30 am, I make a joke to a cab driver about anal rape, and he stops talking to me!

Christmas day I spent watching TV. There were many revelations about British culture to be drawn from "The Best 100 Christmas Television Moments of All Time" as well as from "The Top of the Pops" year-end review. It turns out that there is a successful pop act here called "3 of a Kind", which consists of: a fat white guy, a black guy, and a female midget. I am so not kidding. Google it if you don't believe me. The hit single is called "Babycakes". What is wrong with this nation?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My Chirstmas List

Oh I forgot... I was going to list my Christmas wish list.

1. iPAL radio by Henry Kloss

2. Swag from the store

3. Cool old books

4. A Mondaine wristwatch

5. Ash's (faux?) antique desk/table thing

6. Dyptique scented candles, particularly the black one in Ash's place.

7. Heck, I want all of Ash's apartment, except the sofa and the carpeting.

8. Nice, non-touristy but still nostalgic posters of San Francsico to hang in my room. Perhaps film stills from Vertigo.

9. Original pen-and-ink artwork by Katie Ann Gorman.

10. Actually, I'd like some indication that Katie Ann Gorman is still alive. Why won't you reply to my letters? Write to me!

11. A visit from Bryon Fry

12. A visit from any of my friends, really. There's a comfy bed in the living room! But especially Bryon.

13. Just knowing that I have friends who haven't forgotten me yet...

many things

Okay, so it's been a few days since I gave an update here. Some things have happened, but it still feels like I'm not doing that much. Or, sort of, that everything I'm doing seems preliminary. BUT, I have been making progress on the damn article that should have been done months ago, and that I promised promised would be done a week ago. Two more passages to revise, and it'll be ready to send out, so various people can tear it apart and I can start the whole process over.

In other news, my room is now very very close to being the pleasant-yet-functional, comfortable-yet-uncluttered environment that I need it to be. And for those of you who know how long my ol' Fell Street pad remained a work-in-progress, you'll probably all be surprised that it's only taken four weeks. To be completed, it still lacks: (1) a funky yet comfortable reading chair, to be purchased on the cheap in a thrift-types store, and (2) a folding screen. Yes, really. I said a fucking folding screen. My life WILL contain a room divider of the far-eastern persuasion. A collapsable barrier from the Morning Lands.

Tonight, I have been drinking port, in the very wonderful Gordon's Wine Bar, unfortunately located immediately across from the entrance to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. (I fear there may have been some Ephs in the bar, but not my kind of Ephs...)* As I'm fond of saying, the crowd needs a lot of work, but the space is fantastic: like an ancient basement with ads from the 20s and 30s on the walls, connected to what can only be described as catacombs. And you can drink port there.

Harsh and I went there after seeing Margaret Cho. It was just like being in San Francisco! She hasn't quite figured out what of her material doesn't work for a British audience; I kept having to lean over and explain things to Harsh (e.g. "Crisco," "The Rug Doctor," "Punk'd," the verb "to read" in drag queen patois). She also recycled a lot of old material, much of which was good, but still felt a little like cheating. She even closed with the "Ass-Master" routine! Isn't that, like, ten years old!? But, some of the new stuff was great, including a bit about Bjork that was a definite highlight.

In other news: I seem to find myself in a position startingly similar to one of my SF friends. (You know who you are.) We both seem to be entering into, let's call them "situations," in which boys like us way more than we like them. I had a second date with the Spaniard, and, while he is really really nice and we have a lot in common and we can talk and talk for hours... I really don't want to sleep with him again. Ever. My track record in these situations is decidedly mixed: sometimes I can nudge the relationship into a friendship, sometimes it ends disastrously. ( I'm sure some of you in SF can recall names from both categories...) The thing is, though, that I really sorta need the Spaniard as a friend, since he is one of the very few, and the very very few who are also musicologically stimulating. And he has a friend in the Covent Garden box office. I mean, I guess I could just put out for comps, but I prefer not to.

Finally, looking ahead, I think that I'm just going to do nothing for Christmas, but only because I'm lazy and tired and can't be bothered to set something up. I mean, spending Christmas with strangers would be, like, work. Not just making the arrangements, but the being charming and friendly and sociable. Right now I just don't feel up to it. My sister has pointed out, however, that the entire country shuts down for Christmas, so I really might end up holed up in my apartement. But I can console myself that it won't be as bad as last New Year's Eve, which I spend unable to move in bed with the flu.

I just got my Christmas/birthday present from my folk in the mail, though, which is a snazzy digital camera, so maybe I'll just ander around and take pictures of typically English things to post here...

I will have broadband in my house December 29th.

[*Readers for whom this parenthesis is meaningless should disregard.]

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A sunny day

So, it's been a dark few days. Big apologies to those of you who have received creepy depressive emails this week. I think it's sort of like this: I've been in the house too long to pretend that I'm still "just moving in," but at the same time I'm still very unsettled, my room is not the pleasant place to work that I need it to be, and I haven't come close to falling into the comfortable routines that make for satisfying work.

Or maybe it's just that it's so very gloomy here... Today, finally, the sun came out in the morning, after a rainshower overnight. Not coincidentally, I wrote three good pages of the article, and got half a dozen house tasks planned out (broadband really soon! I think!). Maybe I need one of those Seasonal Affective Disorder lightboxes or something. G's suggestion of "full-spectrum" light bulbs has been hard to carry out, since I cannot find them. But I'm going to a better Home Depot-type store tonight, so we'll see.

Today's tidbit of local color: the buttons on my bags attract way too much attention here. I mean, it's natural to want to look at them, I suppose, but no one in SF ever stared intently at my "pieces of flair" the way that everyone seems to here. H says that this is because people just don't put buttons on their bags here. It just isn't done. Fair enough.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The party was good

I bought a desk; the party was good; I've gotten some work done.

The big news, though, is that I discovered my housemate is a published author. [warning: you might not want to click on that link while at work.] Note that he reviews himself on amazon, which I think is pretty classy. He's a little embarrassed about the whole thing -- he claims the whole thing was written according to a rigidly-imposed system of rules, and that it's meant to be read three pages at a time. But still, it's pretty cool.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

lack and excess

It is Friday and I'm still forced to be in this dreary internet cafe. At least I've managed to find the one that is very very quiet. I still don't have a desk either. I'm going to give in and go to Ikea today (they're open until 10!) and buy probably the exact same desk that I had in San Francisco. I would really prefer to find a reliable thrift store to lurk about in until I find the perfect little writing desk. I imagine the kind of desk you could picture Emily Dickinson sitting at. Oh, Community Thrift on 19th and Valencia, I miss you so! But time is running out, especially since I promised a certain someone I'd have a new version of the article to send out by Monday. So Ikea it shall be.

Tomorrow night, my house is throwing a Christmas party, so last night J decided to try out different cocktail recipes. The cocktails were horrible, but we ended up very drunk very fast. The it was late, and we all thought it would be a grand idea to go to karaoke night at the local tragic gay bar, where we drank more (no, I did not sing). On the way back, J endeared himself to me by going on a drunken rant about how much he dislikes deaf people. I woke up around 1 pm with a very very bad hangover.

So, in summary, there has been an EXCESS of: alcohol, sleeping, hangover. There has been a LACK of: desk, internet connection, work, self-control. Buying a desk this evening will be a good start, right?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Cambridge; Elijah

Two days after I left, I went back to Cambridge to meet with a professor. We had lunch in a fifteenth-century hall.

That evening, an old friend from college get me free tickets to hear Anthony Dean Griffey (yay!) and Willard White (double yay!) sing Mendelsohn's Elijah (umm... er...). White was phenomenal as expected, Griffey displayed a big wobble which was not at all expected, and godDAMN that is one boring piece.

Today, I shall buy a lamp.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Home sweet home

Well, I'm moved in. I've already purchased a set of sheets (cotton jersey sheets -- will I grow to regret this decision?), towels, a "duvet" (read: comforter), pillows, and a little food. Before it get too much later I need to call about an internet connection. The internet cafe, from whence I write, will, I imagine, loose its charm quickly.

The moving in was painless, and last night my new housemate threw a full-fledged dinner for me! Roast chicken, asparagus, a vegetable medley, Yorkshire pudding (read: fried batter), stuffing, and baked bananas with caramel and ice cream for dessert. And a lot of wine. I was overwhelmed! After dinner, we played the game I call "celebrity" (they had some other name for it). Oddly this game, which involves putting the names of celebrities on little pieces of paper, and then drawing them out and describing them for your teammates, is inextricably bound in my mind to not one but two ex-boyfriends (one of whom reads this blog, and will, I imagine, recall those Spruce-Haven evenings well). Of course, this game is harder when your cultural frame of reference diverges from your teammates', but I still managed to do okay. For the record: British people don't know who Julia Child is, Tim Vincent is the host of a children's TV show, and Tom Baker once played Doctor Who on TV. Now we know.

Did I mention that two of the housemates are Welsh? The two that aren't Malaysian, that is. After the round of celebrity (and after many, many glasses of wine), they took me out to the Wood Green gay bar for a celebratory drink. I felt very, very welcomed, even though the bar itself is rather tragic. (Although some of you know my personal weakness for rather tragic gay bars, I suppose.)

Sunday, December 05, 2004


So, I'm running incredibly late -- the taxi that will drive me and my stuff to Wood Green will be here in hour. But I thought I'd try one more post before leaving Cambridge, especially since I'm not sure when I'll be able to get online again. Hopefully soon. We shall see.

Last night I met up for drinks with a friend of a friend, J, and American who does not have a job, or really any direction in his life whatsoever. He's just in London to live with his aunt for free and, y'know, hang out. I'm not sure how I feel about this. He convinced me to go to a club, and I proceded to miss the last train back to Cambridge, and slept on his couch. Well, his aunt's couch, I guess. We spent much of the night sharing our ambivalence about the British, in contrast to an old Williams friend in London that I spoke to on the phone, who appears to be a full-fledged anglophile. Those anglophiles... a little scary.

Okay, I have to take a shower. And pack. In the next 45 minutes.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A very good two days!

Okay, so I have an apartment! With the dancers! Thank you to all of you who voted; your input was much appreciated.

So that's the big news. On Tuesday, I actually did see the semi-illegal loft space, and I will wonder for the rest of my life what my life might have been like if I had moved into 900 square feet of open space, with concrete floors and a toilet in the corner. After the loft I was supposed to go to the musicology colloquium in Oxford, but I showed up at the loft late, and the meeting with the loft girl took forever, and the bus trip to Oxford took significantly longer than I expected, so I showed up to Oxford something like two hours late. I basically arrrived in time to run to the Oxford theater to catch the Glyndbourne touring company's production of The Magic Flute, which an Oxford graduate student had got free tickets to. I then slept with the graduate student. Hooray!

Unfortuately, both of us had to sleep in a single bed, which was not very comfortable, so I limped to my breakfast meeting with R, an old Berkeley compatriot who now has an amazing little apartment and a generous JRF at Oxford. I then took the bus back to London, where I was to meet one of the new flatmates and pay my deposit. (On the bus I revised my job application letter -- it's fantastic how sex and the prospect of having a real bed to sleep in can make you feel so productive!) That done, I took the train back to Cambridge where I supposed to attend the Cambridge musicology colloquium, but I showed up twenty minutes late. (I do hate being late. I do.) Oddly, the colloquium was being given by the ex-girlfriend of the very same R with whom I had just had coffee.

After the colloquium I had dinner with all the grad students and professors and what not. Roger Parker drank, and was funny. Oopsie, I mean: RP drank...