Monday, November 17, 2008

An Update Long Overdue, part 4

Sunday, Nov. 9- I was so knackered from the previous week, all the late nights, excitement, and traveling, that I didn't do much of anything. I think I might have worked on my Shakespeare paper, which was due the following Wednesday. In the evening I went to Circus, but it was just me, Matthieu, and Alex. Alex left early to go to his Sunday pub quiz, so Matt and I went back to my flat for a cup of tea. We drank our tea and talked for a while, then I we both got tired, he went home, and I went to bed.

Monday, Nov. 10- I woke up early, did some homework and speed-read through Antony and Cleopatra, which I was supposed to have read for my Shakespeare seminar. Then I went to class from 11 to 1. Our 3PM session was cancelled, but since I was in a group that was presenting for the next week's class, I had to meet with my group and Prof. Womack to discuss what exactly we were going to say. Alan and I went to the Hive for lunch, but he had a lot of work to do, too, so we decided that we'd keep this lunch conversation short. For some reason, Alan and I can talk forever. Well, we tried, but by the time I decided to check the time it was 3 exactly, so we scrambled out of the Hive and went to our respective engagements. I met with my group and Womack and then the four group members went off to the library to grab relevent books. Then I headed back to the Village to do more work on my Shakespeare paper.

Tuesday, Nov. 11- I woke up early and worked all day on my Shakespeare paper. Around 1 I decided I needed a break, so Chad and I went down to the Hive, where LitSoc was selling society sweatshirts and advance tickets to the best LCR of the year, Skool Daze. There was a Christmas craft fair going on in the LCR (which is used for that sort of thing during the day), so Chad and I looked around for a while. One table was selling Indian food, so I got lunch, Chad got a snack, and we sat on the stage and talked while we ate. Then we went back to the Village, back to my paper. I skipped my Medieval Writing lecture, which has been really useless and boring ever since we started reading Hoccleve, so I didn't feel so bad about it. I hadn't even done the reading, and I figured I could just do it for the Thursday seminar and be just as well off. I was going to go to Circus around 8, but just as I was getting ready to leave, I got a text from Matt saying that it had been cancelled, so I invited him over to watch a movie instead. We never actually got to watch a movie, but we did talk for a long time. Then to bed, once again.

Wednesday, Nov. 12- I woke up early once again in order to polish my paper, print it, and turn it in before I had to head out to Norwich Cathedral for a tour with the Dickinson folk. It's a very nice cathedral, interesting because the majority of it is in the original Norman romanesque style and not the later gothic, but it's not as nice as Ely. Anyway, we had a tour and then a question-and-answer session with one of the Canons, which mostly consisted of him talking and us trying not to nod off or look too bored. Not that he was boring. I think most of us were just tired. A bunch of people opted to go to the Adam and Eve pub afterward, but I was tired, so I walked back to the bus stop with Abby and Sarah, stopping for some chips along the way.
In the evening, Chad and I went down to The Wild Man pub for LitSoc Games Night. I brought along Jungle Speed and Apples to Apples. Chad, Siobhan, and I played Jungle Speed until Alan and Max showed up. I felt like Matt must have felt when he taught me Jungle Speed, always accused of making up rules. After a while people got bored, so we played a "guess who I am" game where you each have the name of a historical or fictional figure on your head and you ask questions to try and find out who you are. Chad made me some character from Far From the Madding Crowd, which I've never read and know nothing about other than it was written by Thomas Hardy and it's Chad's favorite book. Chad was the Gruffalo, who is apparently some sort of British children's book character that we would have never known. Siobhan was Al Gore, Alan was Barack Obama, and Max was Mephistopheles (curse you, Marlowe, and your influence!) , which, after much toil, he actually guessed. Sam and his friend Will showed up eventually and watched.
We had gone to The Wild Man because, normally on Wednesday nights, it hosts a game night, but for some reason it wasn't on, so we decided to move to the Bell Hotel, which was cheeper. We got a booth in the back. I went to the loo, and when I got back there was a game of Apples to Apples in full swing. To all Apples to Apples fans, we've successfully converted UEA LitSoc. Everyone loved it, and it was a great game.
It was getting late, so Chad, Alan, and I bid our adieus and walked out to the bus stop. Alan was kind enough to wait with us until the bus showed up, even though it was freezing cold, but Chad was standing kind of far off, acting a bit moody. So the bus came, and Chad and I talked out his moodiness all the way back to the Village.

Thursday, Nov. 13- At 10:30 I met with my Shakespeare group to write up our notes for our presentation, which was fun since we'd broken the group into pairs arguing two sides of our issue, so we had a bit of a debate going on. Then I'm pretty sure I went to the Village to do some reading before my 4PM Medieval seminar. I finished the reading and went back to campus, where I ran into Pawel and Stephen, whom I hadn't seen in ages. We talked for a little while, but then I left to go to class...which was cancelled. So much for that. I went back to the Village.
Around 8 my flatmates and I (except for Corie, who was at home) took Adam down to the Queen of Iceni for his birthday, since it was Wetherspoon's Curry Night. It was really nice to be out as a flat again, and I had a really good time. Also, £5.50 for a decent-sized curry meal and a pint? Not bad at all. We wasted about 4 quid on the quiz machine game, but it was a lot of fun. Around 10:30 we headed back to campus, but I said I'd meet Matt later that night, so I left them at campus while they walked back home, and Matt and I went back to his house to watch a movie.

Friday, Nov. 14- I woke up later than normal, which was nice. Around 12:30 I met Chad at The Blend and we had a long, very long talk. Around 5 I realized that I hadn't eaten anything but a small thing of potato wedges, so we parted ways and I went to make dinner. Then I took it easy the rest of the night. I found out late that, via text message from Chad, that our friend Chris Eiswerth's brother had been in a serious car accident, and that Chris was, obviously, distraught.

Saturday, Nov. 15- Chris had asked Chad to go down to the cathedral to light a candle for his brother, so Chad and I spent the afternoon in town. We first went to Norwich Cathedral to light a candle and say a prayer, then looked around some of the places we hadn't been able to see on our tour. It hit us only after we'd gotten there that Chris is Catholic, and maybe we should have gone to the Catholic cathedral, not the Anglican one. Oh well. It all goes to the same God.
We made our way back up to St. Stephen's Street. I had told Chad that I had to do a bit of clothes shopping, and that I might take a brief stop in a few shops while we were in town. I'm sure he regrets agreeing to it now, since I must have stopped in four shoe stores looking for boots. The ones I bought from Primark a while ago are falling apart. That's what you get for £15. And I've lost so much weight here that none of my jeans fit anymore, not even the ones I bought when I first got to Norwich. So I'll have to get new jeans, too.
Anyway, after shopping, we went back home. I talked to my parents on Skype for three hours, and then went over to Alex's flat to hang out and play video games with him and Matt. We eventually went back to his room and watched a couple episodes of Bottom, which is this hillarious and very odd, very British, 80s comedy. It got to be around 4AM when we were finally too tired to stay, so we said goodbye to Alex, and Matt walked me back to the Village.

Sunday, Nov. 16- I slept in very late yesterday. And then, for some reason I continued to be tired all day. In the afternoon I made myself some Ramen-type noodles and tried to do my reading, but I kept dozing off. Around 7 I was supposed to head out to Circus, but I was so tired that I decided not to go. I miss it, though. It's been so long since my four boys and I have been at Circus together, then gone out to the pub like we used to. Hopefully we'll be able to do that come Tuesday, but I was just too tired to be bothered. I made myself some tea, ate a bunch of chocolate cookies, and eventually finished reading Triolus and Cressida for Shakespeare. I talked online to Chad about Chris for a while, and we both expressed our frustration that there's nothing we can do to help. Then I went to bed around 11.

Monday, Nov. 17- I woke up this morning around 8:30, but I had to pry myself out of bed. Maybe I should stop the late nights. I did some work, checked my email, and then headed out for Shakespeare. I had lunch with Samantha, which was nice because we haven't talked in a while, and then went back for another hour of Shakespeare, where I managed to get Prof. Womack off topic (only slightly off topic) for a good ten minutes. After class I stopped by the Lit Office to see Rebecca (my Medieval Writing seminar instructor) and get back my paper. I got a 68, which equates roughly to an A- and, judging by the wink she gave me as she handed it back, was one of the highest grades in the class. So, I went home rather "chuffed," as the Brits say. It's not a good paper by Dickinson or personal standards, and I know I can do better, but, still, it was nice. I'll just work harder on the next one. I've spent the last couple of hours catching up on this blog, and now, finally, I'm all set.

Tomorrow there's a LitSoc Discussion meeting, which may or may not go well, depending on what we read. Then there's Circus where, hopefully, I'll see all my boys reunited. We're also starting Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in my Medieval Writing lecture, so that will be a welcome change from boring Hoccleve.

An Update Long Overdue, part 3 [French edition]

At 5AM on Thursday, Nov 6, I woke up, dressed, and went down to campus to catch the 5:45 bus to the rail station. Not surprisingly, I was the only person on the bus. I caught a 6:33 train to Cambridge, switched at Cambridge, and went on to London Stanstead Airport. I waited there for around two hours, exhausted. Then, at around a quarter to 11, I boarded my little RyanAir flight and took off around a half hour later. It took an hour to get to Tours, less time than it took me to get from Norwich to London. I landed around 1:15 in the smallest airport I've ever seen. I think it might have been smaller than my house. And, as far as I can tell, it only supports two flights: the one coming in from Stanstead, and the one that left for Stanstead forty minutes later. I had told Nicole to pick me up around 1:30, but since my plane had gotten in early, I waited...and waited...and waited. I waited for over an hour, and the entire time such panic was going through my head that she had forgotten, or something had happened to her. Nicole doesn't have a cell phone, and I (stupidly) didn't ask for her host family's address. I only knew that her house was somewhere near the train station. I knew we had to get a bus to get to town, but I couldn't see a bus stop anywhere near the airport. Maybe I should just try and find a taxi to take me to town, then either wait around in front of the train station until I saw Nicole, or just get a hotel and wander around on my own, I thought.
Luckily, around 2:30, I did finally see Nicole walking across the parking lot. She had had an exam that morning, after which her professor said, "All right! Now we're going to have a lab..." forcing her into an extra hour of class. Anyway, she came and we walked to the bus stop. Thank God she showed up because I would have never found the bus stop on my own. It's about a mile away, across two roundabouts and around the corner from a high school. Anyway, we took the bus down to La Place Jean Jures, which is one of the main squares in Tours and about five minutes away from the train station. Then we walked another five minutes to Nicole's host family's house, which is very nice and surprisingly big for a European city house. I dropped my stuff off in Nicole's room and rested for a while. Eventually I met Laura, the other American student living in the house. She had gone to Bucknell and had stayed with the same family when she studied abroad in Tours. Now she's working in the Assistant program teaching English in a local elementary school, and she asked to stay with the same family, since they had gotten along so well. We talked for a while, and then Nicole offered to take me out on a tour of Tours, since she was getting to know it so well through her classes and, obviously, by living there for the past two months. We walked around the majority of the city centre and Nicole took me to La Musee des Beaux Arts to see Fritz, a beloved circus elephant who died in Tours while touring France and who was stuffed and given as a gift to the city. She also took me to La Cathedrale Saint-Gatien, the ruins of the 5th century Basilique Saint-Martin, the 19th century Basilique Saint-Martin, to Les Halles (food market), and La Place Plume, another main square known for its architecture, and, more locally, for its restaurants, bars, and night clubs. She took me down a creepy 16th century alley...creepy because the buildings are leaning up against each other. We also stopped by one of what seemed like a hundred game shops so that I could buy my own copy of Jungle Speed!It was getting late and Nicole had told her host mother that we'd be eating out that night, so we looked around for a restaurant that wasn't too pricey. Unfortunately, France isn't terribly vegetarian-friendly. We finally stumbled upon one of many kebab places and I got a cheese panini. Then we went back to her house, I briefly met her host mother and the twins, Flore and Augustin, who were trying to fix their Wii.
We talked for a long time, then went to bed.

Friday, Nov 7- Nicole had to wake up early for class and, since I don't have a key and can't lock the door on my way out, I had to leave with her. Well, she managed to leave the door propped open so it would lock when I shut it, so I actually left an hour after she did, but once I was out I was out until we met up later in the afternoon. Luckily, the family's oldest son, Aurthur, who lives elsewhere in Tours but comes home often, came home and offered to lock it after me. So, with Nicole's map in hand, I set out on my own to spend a day in Tours. My first stop was the Briocherie next to the train station, where I bought myself a large chocolate chip brioche, which was delicious. Then I mostly wandered around and tried to waste time window-shopping. I went into the Galleries Lafayette (A posh department store. I've been to the enormous one in Paris. I wasn't impressed with either) and the Gallerie Nationale (another mall). At the Gallerie Nationale I stopped for an orange juice at a cafe, then went to the second floor to browse the CD selection. Eventually I got bored and hungry, so I decided to try and find my way to Les Halles to buy some fresh cheese or something. No luck. Even with all the signs, I somehow couldn't find my way. I did, however, end up near the Basilique, so I decided to stop in for a while and just relax. Like I've said, I love cathedrals. Around 2:30 I left and headed back to the train station, stopping briefly at the used CD store nearby, where I bought a Dan Ar Braz CD in honor of Prof. Laurent. Nicole and I had agreed to meet at le Jardin Leonardo da Vinci, a "garden" in front of the train station frequented by drug dealers, but which was pretty convenient for our purposes. Around 3 she showed up and we went home for her to drop off her stuff. We had planned to go out again that afternoon, since it was the only real afternoon we'd have together, but I feel asleep! I must have been very, very tired, since I normally don't nap. Anyway, I didn't wake up until 6. We talked some more for a while. Eric was supposed to be visiting from Toulouse, but since there was a railworkers' strike going on, we didn't know if he'd be able to get a train. We had decided to just stop by the train station when his train should have gotten in, and if he wasn't there, we'd assume that he wasn't coming. So, at 7 Nicole and I popped by the train station...and by 7:20 we'd figured that Eric wasn't coming, which was confirmed when we saw Eric online once we got home. At 8 we were called down to dinner with the family, which was crepes, to accomodate my vegetarian needs. It was delicious, and a great dinner overall. I'd say I understood around 80% of what was being said, and I probably contributed more to the dinner conversation than I ever have at Dickinson French Table. Augustin would periodically make fun of my vegetarianism, at which point I would quip back, and then we would all make fun of his English, which isn't at its best. Laura told stories about how her 8 year-old students were asking surprisingly informed questions about Obama's election, the Martin Luther King and JFK assassinations, and the KKK. I spent a good five minutes explaining the translation for "couverts," which is "cutlery" in British English, but "silverware" in American English. But I had to explain how, although "silverware" is used broadly, it technically only applies to cutlery made of silver, and everything else is "flatware." This, strangely enough, was a very interesting conversation. Then we had dessert crepes and cleaned up. Nicole and I went back to her room to, what else? talk some more. Eventually I fell asleep again.

Saturday, Nov. 8 - I woke up early with Nicole again, who had to meet her Bucknell group for another tour. I had to be at the airport around noon, so I packed up my backpack, said goodbye and thank you to her host parents, and walked Nicole over to the Basilique, where she was meeting her program. We said goodbye and I walked back over to see the Saturday flower market, which was beautiful. I walked back down to La Place Jean Jures, bought a chocolate panini (which Nicole said I HAD to have before I left), and did some more window shopping in the vicinity. Then, around 11:15, I got on a bus and went to the airport...rather, the high school near the airport. Then I had to walk the mile to the airport (which wasn't bad at all, but I was grateful for the map Nicole had drawn me). I got lunch at the tiny little cafe in the tiny little airport and waited around. At 1:30, I borded my plane and headed back to Stanstead. My train from Stanstead to Cambridge was cancelled, so I had to take the Stanstead Express train one stop to some other station, then get a train to Cambridge from there. I waited at Cambridge for about fifteen minutes, then got on a train to Norwich. I was exhausted when I got back to Norwich, but Morissons is right near the station, so I figured I should do some grocery shopping before I went back. I shopped, caught the bus, walked back to the Village, and collapsed. Matthieu offered to come over and make me dinner, since I was so tired. So we made some tortellini, ate, and talked for a while until he went home and I went to bed, dreaming in Franglish.

I really enjoyed my short stay in France, but I wish I had had some more time. I think, even in a week, my spoken French would have improved just from being surrounded by French and being forced to speak it. And I was just starting to know my way around the city by the time I left, so a few more days I would have been able to find Les Halles! Oh well. I'll just have to go back.

An Update Long Overdue, part 2

Monday, Nov. 3- I can't say I remember what happened during the day. Usually my Mondays are taken up with my Shakespeare seminar, which runs from 11 to 1, then a two hour break, and then another hour. Since it takes twenty minutes to get from the Village to my classroom, it's not worth it to go home during the break, so I usually get lunch with either this other American girl named Samantha or my friend Alan. Whatever I did, it obviously wasn't interesting enough to be remembered.
That evening, however, the Dickinson students were invited to the Dickinson/UEA 20th Anniversary Dinner at the Sainsburys Centre, the university's posh art gallery. It was a bit daunting, since we had to dress up and hobnob with UEA executives, Deans, the Vice Chancellor, etc. There was a slideshow running pictures of Dickinson Norwich students from years past, but most of the pictures were of us and, I assume, generously provided by Prof. Rudalevidge. We got to drink wine and stand around looking awkward until we were invited to sit down at our assigned tables. I was at a table with Prof. Key (the director of the Dickinson Science program), his wife, the UEA Dean of Science, a boy from the Science program named Ryan, my friend Phil (also from the Science program), and the student representative from the School of American Studies name Meghan, who was very nice. Mostly we talked about how we liked England, travel plans, and, of course, the upcoming election. Meghan and I were both vegetarians, so it was nice to have someone else with me when we awkwardly had to tell the waiters, "Sorry, but I was supposed to have the vegetarian meal..." In any case, the food was delicious. For the second time in two days I had halloumi, the main dish was this vegetable pie with mashed potatoes and a wine gravy, and then an amazing chocolate pudding for dessert. It was really nice not to have to cook for myself, and to have good food for once, too.
Prof. Rudy, Prof. Key, a representative from the Dickinson Office of Global Education, and the UEA Vice Chancellor gave speeches about the continuing relationship between the two institutions, and how the growth of the Dickinson program shows a real American encouragement to go abroad and learn about other cultures (despite the stereotype). After dinner I hung around with Chad for a while talking to this woman Betsy who was a Dickinson alumni from a few years back who had been working at Dartmouth University Press and had come to UEA for her MA. Obviously I was excited, and we talked at length about publishing, university presses, and the Writing Center (where she had worked during her time at Dickinson). Anyway, Betsy is also living in the Village, so she, Chad, and I all walked back together.

Tuesday, Nov. 4- Again, I'm not entirely sure what I did during the day. I'm sure that I went to my Medieval Writing lecture at 4, as I normally do, but it has been so boring lately that I can't for the life of me remember what was talked about. Anyway, around 8 I went to Circus as I normally do. Pawel and Stephen didn't feel like going to the pub or anything afterward, so they went home. Matthieu had been in London taking his sister to the train station and hadn't gotten back to Norwich yet. So Alex and I went back to his flat for more Greek food and to play GameCube. Matthieu eventually showed up, but I left around 11 to go to Prof. Rudy's to watch the election. I got there just before the first polls closed, got some food, and sat down with everyone else to watch the action unfold. CNN must have been channelling George Lucas for all the halograms and strange special effects they were using. Everyone got very excited when they used a halogram. In any case, we were all very tired throughout the night, but would perk up each time there was a "Predicition Annoucement." Leah and I were tense all night waiting for CNN to make a call on Virginia, which at first looked as it it would go to McCain, but, finally went to Obama. We screamed, jumped up, and hugged each other. It as around 4AM when the west coast's polls closed, and Obama was pretty much a shoe-in, but when CNN announced that Obama was going to be the next president, the entire room (except poor Annie, who is our only Republican) expoded, jumped up, cheered, and started hugging each other. Annie has been a really good sport about everything, especially considering how pro-Obama England tends to be and how much they like to express that opinion to you. The next bus back to campus left around 4:30, so the majority of us left to wait for it. We were the only people on the bus and probably annoyed the hell out of the bus driver by singing American patriotic songs the entire way back to campus. Then we walked back to the Village, embodying the stereotype of the loud American, but we didn't care, we were all so excited.

I obviously slept in the next day, seeing as I didn't get to bed until 5AM. I spent all day working on my paper for Humanities 309, finished it, and that's about all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Update Long Overdue, part 1

My 4PM Medieval Writing seminar was cancelled, so I've been spending the past two hours goofing off online, and now I feel as if I should do something productive. It's been quite a while since I last posted, and a lot has happened.

All right, then. Let's see if I can remember it all.

Sunday, Nov 2- I woke up much earlier than I would have liked to on a Sunday to catch a coach out to Wicken Fen with the Dickinson group. We've been reading Waterland by Graham Swift, a novel that takes place in the Fens of western East Anglia and into the Eastern Midlands. Basically, when they started out, the Fens were an enormous stretch of flat, grey swamp land with the slightly raised town of Ely in the middle. Over time, Dutch engineers came in to drain the land so that it could be used for farming. This caused a rift between the new farmers and the "water people" who had lived in the Fens and for whom water was a way of life.
Most of the Fens have been converted to farmland, but in the 1899 some land was bought by the Natural Trust, and they have been pumping the water back into the land which makes up Wicken Fen in order to preserve the ecosystem as it was before the irrigation was put in.
The Fen was nice and it was a fairly nice day, but I think I would have appreciated it better if I wasn't so tired. We had a few minutes of spare time at the end of the tour, so Lauren Martin, Jen, Katie, and I went to the reserve's coffee shop and orderded tea and a scone. I love being in a country were tea and a scone is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to want to order.
Then we drove on to Ely, which was one of the last towns to hold out against William the Conqueror because it was so difficult to get to across the swamps. It's a very small city, but still likes to call itself a city because it's the biggest thing around. Once we got into town, Chad, Lauren Deitz, Leah, Duncan, Tristan, Dan, and I went to a pub and got the first decent meal I had had in a long time. The guy at the bar passed a few snide comments over the fact that "all these Americans" were in his establishment, and even came over to us at one point to warn us that our meals would be a bit late "because we don't use microwaves here." Thanks, man. That's really the only anti-American sentiment that I've heard so far, but I know that other people have heard worse. Oh well. It wasn't so bad so it didn't bother me that much.
After lunch we met up with the rest of the group to tour Oliver Cromwell's house and museum, which, to be honest, was a bit cheesy. The British have this love of animatronic puppets and staged scenes in their museums, and it's a bit off-putting at some points. I also think this museum was actually geared toward younger visitors, which sort of trivialized it at times. The running theme through all the plaques and posters throughout the museum was trying to help you establish whether you consider Cromwell a hero or a villain. You could tell that they wanted to have the appearence of being unbiased, but there was a definite bias toward the "hero" interpretation. I'm not too convinved.
From the Cromwell museum we walked across the lawn to Ely Cathedral, which was spared from the destruction of the Civil War because Cromwell had a special liking for it. Right away, I could tell why, although I can't explain it. I've realized that I really love cathedrals, that there's something amazingly majestic and calming about them, especially the ones that are not crowded by massive amounts of tourists. Ely is an absolutely beautiful cathedral, and is probably my favorite next to St. Paul's. Once we got on the inside, I walked around and admired the long nave, the beautiful painted ceilings, and then went into the Lady Chapel off to the side, which was rather bare but had very large white windows and a lot of light coming in, and intricate stone work that still had some of the original paint on it, which I love seeing.

There was a special evensong service that night for All Souls' Day, and so the choir was practicing while we were walking around. The music just filled the entire building as the light was flooding through the stained glass. The entire experience was perfect and I felt so at peace and happy, as if that was exactly the way you are supposed to experience a cathedral.

We were invited to stay for the service that evening or to walk around town. Originally I had planned to use that time to explore the town, but after hearing the choir practicing in the afternoon, I really wanted to stay for the service. We had gone to evensong at St. Paul's, but I suspect because it was All Saint's Day and that it was a Requiem Eucharist that this service was far more elaborate than the one at St. Paul's. There weren't that many people there, and the sun was going down just as the service began, so the candles were all lit. There was incense burning throughout the enitre service, and the choir was just wonderful. They were singing Maurice Duruflé's Requiem, I found out later, in case anyone wants to know. If I have the time I think I might go to evensong at Norwich Cathedral one of these days, just because it's always such a beautiful service.
After the service, those of us who had stayed met up with those who had walked around the city, and we got on the bus back to Norwich.

There will soon be another installment of "An Update Long Overdue" detailing everything else that has happened. I will update pictures on Photobucket one of these days, but in the meantime I leave you with three of my favorites from Ely Cathedral.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nicole and Erica's Excellent Adventure!

A blow by blow account of a weekend with Nicole and Erica, and the following week with Nicole!

Friday: Nicole got into Norwich around 5. Rather than go back to the Village, drop her stuff off, and then come back to the rail station at 8 to pick up Erica, we decided to head to the Queen of Iceni for a pub dinner (yay real food!), then walked around Norwich until it was time to get Erica. I can't tell you how excited I was to see them both. We caught the bus back to campus and walked to the Village. We dropped Erica's bags off in Leah's room, and then we went back to my room with Leah to hang out until we were too tired to go on.

Saturday: Erica, Nicole, and I spent the day walking around Norwich. We went shopping on St. Steven's St., I took them into Top Shop, Primark, and Accessorize. We walked through the Maddermarket area and through the covered market. At one point we stopped at the old St. Gregory's Church (one of 87 million old flint churches in Norwich) because it was having a rummage sale. At this sale, Nicole and I found the most entertaining thing ever. A romance novel entitled Virgin Slave, Barbarian King, which has provided us countless hours of amusement. If I ever laugh at the word "ellipsis," it's because of a conversation that stemmed from ths book. With romance novels, before the "plot" actually gets to the explicit sex, the author has to establish some sexual tension, so she will usually write something like "And Julia thought of what she wanted. She could feel his hands caressing her all over, his hot kisses consuming her as they fell into bed and..."

It always stops at the ellipsis, but obviously the thought is leading toward sex. So, Nicole and I wer reading this and she asked, "Where do babies come from?" Our answer: The ellipsis. It's funny. Trust me. (Now Chad and I have taken this even further to include the grammatical term of "bracketing an ellipsis" to also mean something sexual. The other day I shouted "Bracket your ellipsis, you skank!" and we bursts into fits of hysterical laughter.)

In the evening we hung out with my friends Matt and Alex. Alex entertained us with more puns and we played Jungle Speed in my kitchen for a while. Eventually we ended up in my room doing dramatic readings from Virgin Slave, Barbarian King and watching Labyrinth, which neither Matt nor Nicole had seen. I hope they both feel enlightened now. We also discovered that Alex is even more ticklish than Matt. Mwhaha.

Sunday: Nicole and Erica went into town while I wrote my Medieval Writing paper. I can't say that it's a paper I'm proud of, but I have a feeling it will be better than what many other people turn in. In the evening I went took them to Circus and taught them poi. They both caught on remarkably fast. Then I nearly died on a human pyramid because for some reason Jak decided it would be a fabulous idea to make a human pyramid out of a bunch of people who are either weaklings or living in a state of perpetual intoxication. And poor Sophie, a wonderful girl who is our self-proclaimed Circus cripple and the most fragile person I've ever met, was on the top of the pyramid and, when it inevitably came crashing down, twisted her ankle. After Circus, Nicole, Erica, Alex, Matt, and I went to the pub and got a drink, as we usually do. Then, also as usual, we migrated to Alex's flat to play Jungle Speed, but left rather early since Erica had to get up to catch her train in the morning.

Monday: I said good-bye to Erica and Nicole took her to the train station while I went to class. I was in my Shakespeare seminar pretty much all day while Nicole went to a cafe in town to do work. I'm sure something else happened, but I forget. This may have been the night we watched The Chipmunk Adventure on my computer.

Tuesday: Nicole and I slept in, did nothing. At 4 I went to my Medieval Writing lecture for an hour. We're reading The Regiment of Princes by Thomas Hoccleve, which is terribly boring, and the lecture made no sense, so that hour was completely wasted. After class I came back to my flat. Then Nicole and I went to the LitSoc discussion about literature and film...which didn't go as well as planned becuase too many uninterested people turned up and there wasn't nearly enough pizza. From there we went to Circus where Nicole finally got to meet the other half of my four Circus boys, Pawel and Stephen. After Circus, we went to the pub with my Circus boys. Stephan left because he had work in the morning, but the rest of us went back to my flat to watch a movie. For some reaon, I'd been a bit out of sorts all night, and it was when the five of us were crammed on my bed trying to watch Interview with the Vampire that I got really cranky, crankier than I've been in years. It was late, I was stressed and tired. My DVD wasn't working for some reason. I'm not sure exactly what happened to me, but my crankiness mounted until I snapped and told the boys to leave. Then Nicole and I went to bed. I was sort of scared, because I haven't felt that cranky in a really really long time, and I didn't know what was causing it.

Wednesday: Nicole and I woke up late, but we eventually got a train to Cromer, a shore town about 45 min away. We got proper Fish n' Chips, played DDR EuroMix at an arcade, walked around town, and then came back. It was nice to get out of Norwich for a few hours. Around 6pm, we made dinner, got dressed up and went to the LitSoc Halloween pub crawl. Being at the pubs is usually all right because you can actually talk to people. When we got to the club, though, it was just too many people to have a nice, intimate experience, so I started getting cranky again. Nicole wanted to stay out even after we got bored at the club so around midnight we called Pawel, who lives in town. We went to his house and just chatted for a while. His house is very cool beause he lives within the Cathedral Close (within the Cathedral yard walls). Anyway, it got to be around 3am and I wanted to go home, but Nicole and Pawel eventually convinced me that it was too cold to wait for a bus that (knowing Norwich buses) might not show up, so we slept over...well, they slept. Even with a heater on I was too cold and I wasn't able to sleep at all.

Thursday: Around 7:30 we left Pawel's. I came home and slept for four hours while Nicole did homework. Eventually, let's see...Around 2, Nicole and I met Chad at a coffee shop on campus and chatted. Then I went to class. That evening Nicole and I met my Circus boys down at the bar to hang out and meet Matt's sister Marie, who is visiting from France. It was Guitar Hero night at the pub, so we played Guitar Hero and hung out. This girl Sophie, from Cirucs Soc, showed up and invited us back to her flat for tea, so we went there and played Jungle Speed until she kicked us out around 1:30.

Friday: Woke up late, went to Alex's flat to make French toast. At 3, Nicole met Pawel at the pub and they went off to do some meditation, and I went back to my flat do some reading. Mostly I posted my pictures on Photobucket. Nicole and I were supposed to get a pub dinner together for her last night here, but I didn't hear from her until around 7:30, and then the bus ran late so it took her about an hour to get back from Pawel's. I hadn't eaten since the morning and I was starving, so I grabbed some left over veggies from the night before, and decided to make some mashed potatoes. Eventually Nicole got home and we just ate the mashed potatoes. Around 10 we went over to Matt's house to hang out with him and his sister, but Nicole decided to go straight from Matt's to Pawel's, because he lives close to the train station and she could just get up in the morning and walk, instead of having to get a 5AM bus downtown.

Saturday: Since Nicole left from Pawel's house, I didn't get to see her off. I woke up late, made myself probably the most complete meal I've had in a long, long time. I stayed inside pretty much all day trying to write my paper for Prof. Rudalevige. It was Sparks in the Park at Earlham Park, though, to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day (which isn't until the 5th, but is usually celebrated on the closest Saturday). I could see the higher fireworks from my window. Around 8 my flatmate James knocked on my door, pleading with me to go with him to see the big fireworks show. He's from a very small town and has never seen one this big before. I hadn't planned to leave the room, since it was cold, raining, and I could easily see the fireworks from my window, but no one else would go with James, so I grabbed my umbrella and we found a place to stand and watch.

So that is my account of my week with Nicole. Next up will be a post about the Dickinson Humanities trip to Wicken Fen and Ely, the Dickinson/UEA 20th Anniversary Dinner at the Sainsbury's Centre, and the Dickinson election party at Andy's Diner of Democracy. Stay tuned.