Thursday, September 29, 2005

Play of the week

**I have been writing my posts in my room and carrying them to the library on my thumb drive, so until further notice, when I say "today" I mean "yesterday"

Also, please disregard the stupid "visit my website to cure your ills" comments that people have been posting. Lame, lame, lame. I know all of my friends and family can do much better. Cheers.**

If I needed any reminding that I am now a grad student and therefore have to achieve much higher goals, I got that today with my first reading assignment. First week: four short one-act plays, discussion to follow. Week two: Hamlet. Now I love Hamlet, don’t get me wrong, but the whole thing in one week? Guess I’ll be burning the midnight oil. (which reminds me: buy lamp) I finally got to meet my fellow playwrights and the “convener” (chair) for my department, John Ginman, the same man who interviewed me a year and a half ago. He even (dimly) remembered me! It looks like a good group of people—not only are there playwrights, but dramaturges, people who do research and work with directors and playwrights to develop the work and convey ideas to the audience. So I’ll be taking a dramaturg class in addition to writing, about how to research and discuss plays. We’re going to be reading at least a play a week, most of which I have never heard of, much to my delight. We also have the option of reading one of them in it’s original French. Sorry, I’m gonna have to take a pass… I’m very excited to be embarking on the “academic” part of studying here at last, but a little worried as well. One of my projects later this year is going to involve multimedia, and I have no experience with video and sound, so it is going to be another total learning experience. A small part of me was whining for awhile that “Ahhh, we write plays about people standing around in kitchens talking to one another, we don’t need video…” and was promptly shouted down by the rest of the voices in my head. Also, my schedule of classes leaves me with Wednesday and Friday totally free…not to go to Ireland, as some have suggested, but to work on my writing and reading. Yeah. Two whole days for homework. *shudder* Anyway, it’s been a very exciting day, culminating in fried potato for dinner.

Also, while I was in the library earlier being reflective, I found a webpage with an article about Sweeney Todd complete with pictures of Michael Cerveris and (jealous) Patti Lu Pone. I was promptly rendered so excited that I had to go outside for some air

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Thinking quietly to myself

Here I am, back at the library again after going to a welcome lecture for international students. I skipped out on the bit about banking and finding your way around since I've done that already. Nothing like trial by fire in the big city. I'm sure many of you have heard me complain at one point or another about how New York City is too tall, or it has no history, and that's why I don't like it. So it's funny that a song about NYC also perfectly describes London -- that song being Sondheim's "Another Hundred People" which has the lyrics "It's a city of strangers/Some come to work, some to play/It's a city of strangers/Some come to stare and some to stay..." which is so true of London. There are thousands and thousands of people here, and even though everytime I get on the bus I people watch for all I'm worth, I feel like I could never see half of them. I guess the only option is to become wildly famous and have my face put up on the side of a bus. :) I don't know how there could ever be racial or ethnic tension in a city like this where no one looks like anyone else, and everyone is in the same boat trying to shop for food, or find a place to watch a movie or make your mark on the world. Maybe I'm sounding ignorant, coming from a small town where everyone looks the same, but then again, maybe I'm just lucky to be able to see everyone as different--AND the same.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mammoth post

23 September 2005

The clock on my computer says it’s 8:06 Central time, which means I’ve been up for, oh, roughly 25 hours. As can be expected, I’m dead on my feet. It’s two PM here, and I’ve only just arrived at my hostel. The flight…well, I’ve often said I like flying, but this flight was the flight from hell. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t find a Dean Koontz in the airport and had to settle for “Angels & Demons” (so far—mildly interesting) but then the flight was delayed for two and a half hours AFTER WE HAD GOT ON THE PLANE. This was just long enough for them to serve drinks and for me to watch the entire movie “Crash.” (quick review: “Crash” was brilliant. See it if you like thinking about racial issues and enjoy a thinking movie with intelligent dialogue and real people. “Crash” has the potential for a happy ending, and in some ways it does, but it definitely leaves you interpreting) After we got off the ground there was just enough turbulence to keep me awake (and prayin’!) “beef” that was more stringy fat over rice, and a real hottie to my left who hogged the armrest. Which is probably why my right arm is numb, from having them crossed for ten hours. Getting into Heathrow was fine, I’m getting old hat at this, and happy to see that, after six years, the renovation to the international terminal may just be ready in time for my graduation. At the airport I met a pair of nice British women who were there to welcome students and show them how to get into the city and who gave me a brilliant pamphlet on living here. On the tube I met a couple Canadian women who hadn’t seen each other in seven years and were joyfully reunioning…how do I know this, you ask? Trust me, by the time we got into London proper EVERYBODY on the Tube knew. A nice man helped me muscle my embarrassingly huge pile of luggage out of Kensington South station after I had forgotten that people walk on the left here and started up the right of the stairs, which was nice of him. But now I’m tired, I’m dirty, and England decides to welcome me in true British style and start raining. I’m standing on the kerb (it’s British!) trying to hail a cab, nobody’s stopping, I can’t get to my umbrella, and how would I hold it anyway? I’m more resigned than anything, but I just want to get to my hostel and remove my shoes. Finally I get a cab, get over to the Rosedene, which is in Victoria, and…all of a sudden, everything’s…OK. A very nice young man helped me with my hernia-inducing luggage, checked me in and then…oh my God, was I a smart cookie to book a room by myself. This room…well, it’s a hostel, and this is the presidential suite. Give you an idea, I walk in the door, I see the TV, I go “ahhh,” I see the sink and mirror in the corner so I don’t have to brush in the company of strangers and I go, “ahhhh!” I see the electric teakettle and I give a little moan of pure delight. I’m so thirsty! (after the initial round of drinks it was a very dry flight, if you get my drift…) so now I’m sitting here, after having removed my shoes (along with a few other articles of clothing) writing up an entry before I take a nap, enjoying some hot tea, and some Australian soap opera. You know, it’s funny. I’ve been freaking out, stressing out about SCHOOL. GETTING THERE. LUGGAGE. VISA. FINANCIAL AID. TEA. And I’ve, silly me, I’ve completely forgotten that all this time I was heading toward my favourite city in the world! London! It’s good to be back!

24 September 2005

Today was dedicated entirely to getting to my dorm, going back to Victoria for my suitcase and getting some bedding. Now, if that sounds like it shouldn’t take eight hours, you’re right. But once you take the wrong bus…twice…it begins to add up. I am utterly exhausted and enjoying a quiet evening at home. I have to admit that today was a little discouraging. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of the buses—they’re great fillers for the Underground, especially here in Lewisham—but you need to know where you’re going to ring the driver so he’ll let you off, and that’s hard when everything looks the same to American eyes and you’re moving so fast that you’re in danger of being thrown out of your seat. You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding.

But, I am nothing if not resourceful. I had a huge bowl of oatmeal this morning, which was a good thing, because I didn’t eat dinner. Roseby’s is a little store nearby (“nearby” meaning a 10 minute bus ride away) where I managed to find some sheets and a duvet, and a pillow out of it’s packaging for 2 pounds. I ran through Iceland’s (grocery store) and got the basics—the problem is that I’m unfamiliar with the brands here, so I need time to look at everything—arriving back in time to go to a welcome party downstairs. I met a few nice people, including one who has the same major as me, but they all bunked off to go out and I was like, “yeah, gonna go upstairs and break out the sheets. ‘Night.” So now I have food, but no kitchen things, and my stomach is like, “See that right arm? EAT IT!” and I’m thinking I’m going to have to eat the bread I have with nothing on it but cheese. (which I was smart enough to buy pre-sliced) When all of a sudden I remember my Leatherman. Like I said, nothing if not resourceful. So I had bread with cheese, yes, but also butter and sliced up tomato and a couple eggs I nicked from the hostel this morning. The Leatherman, I would like to report, was more than sharp enough to slice tomatoes, should the need ever arise. And I had some tea, even though one of the guys I talked to downstairs says no one drinks tea in Britain anymore, they all drink Evian. I bet he’d be horrified if he found out I used tap water for tea. ☺ So I’m much better now, which is why I decided to wait until now to write today’s update, because today was rough. Knew it would be, but I still tried my patience to the limit. Doing much better now though. At least I have my sense of humor.

Oh, and for all you who laughed at me earlier—turns out it’s a good thing I saw “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” the last time we were here because it CLOSED, so there.

Oh, geez and I totally didn’t even describe my room. Oh well. Tomorrow.

1: Number of duvets Nicki has
0: Number of duvet covers Nicki has
484: the bus route one takes to get to Lewisham Center
30: Minutes spent riding the wrong way on the 484
75: number in pounds of Nicki’s big suitcase
34: number of pounds Nicki lost lugging her suitcase around

25 September 2005

I know you’re wondering why I haven’t updated in so long, and the short answer is that I don’t have internet access in my room. So I am keeping a log day by day and will upload it to my blog as soon as possible.

Today was also tiring, but not as much as yesterday. I went back to Lewisham and found a Woolworth’s and a £-Savr! store which is kind of like a Family Dollar. So now I have kitchen utensils, including the world’s smallest teaspoon. Somehow I don’t think that is going to reach down to the bottom of my bucket-sized coffee mug. I’ll probably have to keep on using my knitting needle. But I did make the round trip as a round trip and not a sightseeing tour, so I’m feeling better. Tired, but tired because I’m tired and not because I was walking all over London.

So, the accommodations. Welcome to my room, which is on the third floor, I think. You get in the elevator (yes!) and push the number two button and when you get out, snake out around to your right. When you open the door you see a thin little mattress on top of a wooden box to the right of the window, which overlooks a private garden. Under the window is a narrow shelf/desk, which continues around into a larger desk. Above that are two shelves, beneath it are three drawers. Then there’s a closet, and that’s pretty much it for storage space, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t bring every last article of clothing I owned. The best part of the whole room though is the ensuite bathroom, which is literally a water closet. There’s a tiny little sink, a toilet and a shower, but the whole thing is tucked into a fiberglass closet, like on an RV. So if you go to the bathroom right after you shower, you have to remember not to wear your socks or they’ll get wet, and mind that shower curtain stays closed or your TP will get soggy. ☺ A very nice arrangement, if I may say so myself. I haven’t really explored the rest of campus yet, since it is 15 minutes away, but the area I’m staying in is more residential and therefore, quieter and more condusive to writing. Not that I’ve been very creative yet, but soon, I’m sure.

The good news is the spending frenzy that was arriving here and getting settled in is over, and I’m actually “on budget” for this week, which means that I might even be able to live more cheaply than I thought I would. Next week I’m going to get myself a little radio and a lamp so I can listen to the BBC and I don’t have to get out from under my duvet to turn the light off. (I also got a duvet cover today, trying not to think of “Fight Club” too much) I also met another American briefly while I was washing up my new dishes (one spoon, one fork, one plate, one cup, etc) and she sounds just a homesick as I am, which makes me feel better. She bought a cell phone with a plan to America and told me all about it, so I think tomorrow, or perhaps next week, I too will once again succumb to the lure of the cell and get one too. Tomorrow is going to be another big day, it’s the day I get to try and open a British checking account. By the time you’re reading this, “tomorrow” will probably be “today,” and I’ll be uploading this letter, so I’ll let you all know how it goes.

26 September 2005

If there’s one thing the British have down to a science, it’s red tape. I went to the Fees and Awards office in the main building of the college today to get my loan checks, only to find out they were closed. Closed? During the busiest week of the school year? I retreated to figure out a new plan of attack and buy coffee. If I couldn’t get my loans, I couldn’t pay my tuition and they wouldn’t let me enroll and I wouldn’t be able to use the library and I am ALMOST DONE WITH “Angels and Demons.” (review soon!) So you can see this is very serious. Looking for help I wander into the Great Hall and discover that the fees and award office has temporarily set up shop in there. I managed to get my checks, and sign one over to the college to pay my tuition. Thinking that was suspiciously easy, I move on to getting a checking account, which proves much more difficult. They need about five hundred different documents (okay, three) so I trekked over to the housing authority to get a letter stating I live at Raymont Hall. The housing people sent me to the International Office, where I finally got to talk with Brent Hicks, the gentleman I’ve been emailing for a year and a half now, and imagine my surprise when I find out he’s actually a resident adviser in my hall. Long story short I get my letter, get my checking account--but of course, I won’t be able to get any checks (or for that matter, put any money in it) until a week from now when the paperwork is done. Sigh. At least I got everything checked off my list for today, so I spent the afternoon in my room, resting my feet and legs. I also found a different way to campus today…not a shorter way, just different. I’m not saying the hill I went down was steep, but I did pass a couple mountain goats…

27 September

This mammoth post above is a record of the days past. Today, surprisingly, went fairly smoothly. I am officially enrolled in Goldsmiths College, althought I don't sign up for classes on Thursday. And, hallelujah, I have a library card so now I can check out some books. I'm wearing my flip flops today since every pair of shoes I own (all of which are new) have given me blisters, and on different parts of my feet. I'm letting them rest for awhile. I forgot how much walking London means, but, hopefully, my legs and feet will stop hurting soon. :) I'm off now to explore the "fiction" section of the library. Much love to you all.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I am here!

London, thy name is busier than I remember. The fabulous post I wrote to put here will have to wait, but just know that I'm here and I'm safe.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thunderbolts and lightning

Tonight is the night that I was going to send out the URL to you all, and write a nice long message welcoming everybody to nickilovesdrama, but it is starting to storm outside and I'm paranoid about having my computer plugged in. And, of course, I'm behind on my packing, so I best keep this short.

I have spent all of today packing, buying those last few essentials (somehow I remembered slippers, but not a spare printer cartridge), and having last meaningful phone calls with family and friends. I enjoy pointing out to people that I'll only be gone since Christmas After dinner I spoke with Sam tonight and she was nice enough to say I sounded "mellow" which I took as a compliment. I must admit that the nerves are beginning to set in. I have traveled overseas before of course, to London even, but never with this much luggage. Heleas pauvre Yorrick! The complete works of Shakespeare will be left behind in favour of socks and other unmentionables. I even contemplated stuffing a few unmentionables into the empty cavity of my printer (the printer will go underneath, the printer cartridges fly coach) but decided that a few inches of empty space were an even trade for buying a new printer in pounds.

My parents were good enough to take me to Pasquale's one last time, ostensibly to buy a new shirt: "Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the chefs Italian, and it's all organised by the Swiss, hell is where the chefs are British, the lovers Swiss, the police are German and it's all organised by the Italians." I think I screwed that up, but in my defence Pasquale's also does offer over 200 beers from 19 countries. :) When I've told people that I was leaving for London, their reaction was inevitably "wow, that's going to be so...exciting" and I came to really dislike that word. "Exciting." What's that? A band-aid word that covers "wow, you're really going to live on British cuisine for a year" and "wow, you're really going to give up your car and become a poor starving student again?" all in one word. But now...well, yes, it is exciting isn't it? I mean, these butterflies that keep agitating down there aren't doing it because we're going to Chicago for pizza tomorrow. It is exciting. And I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nice work if you can get it

So I am taking a short break from packing to a) finish "Gone With the Wind" and b) try and figure out how to make my blog a little more interesting before I send the URL to everybody. Packing is going well, actually. Luckily my parents bought me the "Black Hole" model of Samsonite luggage, so everything I put in there is not decreasing the space available to pack. I suspect that will change once I throw in the complete works of Shakespeare. Yes, I'm bringing Shakespeare to England, just in case they don't have any copies. (I'm also bringing tea, but that's another story) One book I'm not bringing though is "Gone With the Wind" which is why I have to hurry up and finish it by tomorrow. I'm nearly done--Scarlett is on her second husband already. Last year at this time, when I read "GWTW" out in Boston, I simply went to the library and checked out a copy. It's comforting to know that no matter where I am, there will always be "Gone With the Wind."

but not shakespeare. shakespeare is a specialty item.

This blogging is more difficult than I thought it would be, and I haven't even done anything interesting yet. One question you may have is why I decided to call this "nickilovesdrama" and the simple answer would be it's right there in the title. I do love drama, in all its varied forms. Theater, yes, but also the little moments that make life more interesting. Takes this afternoon, for example, when I went to the bank and had some money exchanged. Watching my dollars be turned into pounds, now that was Greek tragedy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Good evening everyone, and welcome to my new blog. I'm just getting set up here, so sorry that it's a little sparse so far. Eventually I hope to have some of my plays and works up here, as well as photographs. In a couple days I'll be leaving for London, so I'm sure that my blog will be a lot more interesting very soon.

cheers, Nicki