Stratford, etc.

We’ll wander off through the dead of night
Past wastelands of shattered souls<br /
Warmed by the firelight
I peer into the darkness alone
As the Indian summer of my remembrance
Settles on my bones
Cracked and weary
I ask for direction home
Let the words spill from my mouth
Love is everything I want
I’m one of many more to come
Love is everything I want

The dead of night – We haven’t been going out and drinking as much as we used to. There’s always that freshman phase of going out every weekend, but, relatively speaking, I feel like a senior now. But Michaela’s birthday party was an exception. It ended with us tripping over eachother to get to Mr. D’s fast food van, but that’s not how it started at all. That’s not it at all.
That day, I bought a card and blew up some balloons for Michaela. The balloons were the hardest because, as I have no sense of direcction, I had to ask about 3 clerks directions to PaperChase. Later that night, we went out to a semi-fancy restaurant called Martini’s, whereupon I ordered veal and a cosmopolitan martini. The color of the martini, a rather aggressive lime green, looked so picturesque that for nearly 15 minutes I couldn’t bring myself to take a sip. I feel the same way about a wrapped christmas gift; don’t you just want to admire the artistry for a minute or two? …No? )
Michaela saw the balloons, the cupcakes, and the cards. She opened up my card in which I drew a comic about of an inside joke. Uh oh! You’re ‘out of the loop’! Don’t worry, let’s travel back in time to a universe in which everything is cynical and paraphrased ūüôā
Setting: 18 Northampton (my house) 11ish pm. Michaela and I are the only ones in the house, or so we think.
Michaela: Did you hear that?
Joey: No, but let’s pretend that I did. It could be a murderer.
Michaela: What if it is?
Joey: It’s not, but let’s pretend that it is. He probably didn’t think anyone was home.
Michaela: I am growing increasingly worried. Why cannot you comfort me?
Joey: Because I cannot help being the cruel jester (life – comfort = joke ūüôā I live on the first floor. If he breaks into the house, you’ll hear my screams, which will give you some time to find an alternate exit.
Michaela: I hope you never have kids.

So her card was essentially a stick figure reenactment of the hypothetical murderer. Except the murderer in my comic was very polite (omg, irony!) and even took the liberty of trying ourOreo Orgasm. Delicious! After eating the cupcakes that I didn’t make, we played Kings (I had a vodka and soda) and then we went to Vodka Revolutions, to awkwardly stand around in loud, cramped spaces before heading to Club XL where we danced in loud, somewhat less cramped spaces. I scoured the dance floor to help Michaela find a missing earring. Turns out she had lost it back at Vodka Revolutions.
Needless to say (but essential because I’m determined to relate my experiences to semi-randomly chosen songs), we stumbled (some falling) out into the dead of night and headed for Mr. D’s. I got a bacon and mushroom burger and failed to make it to mass at the Abbey the next morning.

Warmed by the Firelight – We grilled hamburgers at 29 Northampton (across the street). I broke the buns in half, which was hard. It wasn’t one of those ‘I’ll start, you finish’ deals, the sure trademark of a more considerate, people-minded bun company. I had to bare-handedly make my own incision into six or so rolls. Since my job was so difficult, I certainly didn’t have any free-time to climb the garden wall and sit there watching my friends do their respective jobs. But, alas, my cooked hamburger fell onto the grass. All that work! What did I do? Well, what do you think? Exactly, and let me tell you why.
Once upon a time, Billy decided to rush to join a fraternity. Needless to say, he entered the cafeteria one day dressed in women’s clothing, reading excerpts from a Harlequin Romance novel. Everybody laughed. When he was finally inducted (by means of beers cans being shaken and sprayed directly into his face) Billy came to realize that the fraternity was superficial. What did he do? Well, what do you think? Exactly and let me tell you why.
After I finished my burger, I went down to the kitchen to wash my plate, and found Lauren. She was keen to once again remind me that, after about two months, I have still only read the introduction to and 30 pages of Jame’s Joyce’s Ulysses.

I’ve even quoted that first breakfast scene in my Mementos class to support my point about another text.

WAIT! I can’t mention Ulysses and not be reminded of my creative writing classes in Oxford (and you’d much rather read my blog if I skip from one thing to another. It makes me sound spastic and entertaining)

I ask for direction – At 9:00am every Wednesday, I meet Laura to walk down down to Bath’s train station. We buy tickets, wait, and get on the train. It sounds simple, but I have a very limited and slow sense of direction. Laura knows this and always lets me know when I’m going the wrong way or about to be hit by oncoming traffic. She walks very fast, and one day I compared equated having to catch up with her every few steps with Harry Potter trying to keep pace with Hagrid. Naturally, she was not pleased with my analogy.
On the train, we read eachother’s work and sometimes exchange ipods. Music exchanging is an important part of our relationship, but, especially in a paraphrased universe, it can go one of two ways.
Joey: I hate rap. Darned teenagers and their bling-bling hippy-hoppy.
Laura: I love rap. Especially this song about a boy’s love for his Mama.
Joey: But that actually sounds…
Laura: Touching? I know. It is. Here.
Joey: Thankyou, Laura, I enjoy this song. Perhaps our musical tastes are not so different after all.
Joey: Would you like to hear the Jesus song?
Laura: No.
Joey: …oh, ok.

Before class, we sometimes go to the pond to watch the ducks. One time, we tried to determine which ones were single and married, and concluded that at least one of them was gay. By ‘the pond,’ I of course mean the Thames River. Kieron (my tutor) couldn’t believe that after 13 weeks I didn’t know that his house bordered the longest river in Enland. Well, I could.
Laura and I always get ice-cream at D + G’s after class. The Dutch Super Chocolate is by far the best. Recently, however, we’ve also one to Ben’s Cookies and Moo Moo’s Milkshakes. By ‘and’ I mean we go to both in one day. Last week, we bought a Ben’s Cookie and asked the uy at Moo Moo’s Milkshakes if he could blend it into our drink. Delicious.
At Kieron’s, aside from our peices for that week, we talk about related books, art/philosophy, and etc. Etc. stands for anything and everything, which includes Speckled Hen, Modernism/Postmodernism, and listening to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time (and other times it is), but the best kind of intelligence consists of objective, open-minded discourse, guided by experience. It’s frusteratingly intangible at times (e.g. Kieron asking Laura to convert her prose from windowpane-glass to ‘stained-glass, but don’t get all churchy on me’). Ultimately his advice does make sense and is worthwhile.

He, by the way, is an avid athiest and will say things like “Laura, how do you DO it?” But he always makes us tea (with sugar and milk) every week, which I will perhaps miss most of all.

Stratford – I already wrote this part out, and then it got deleted. Therefore, I am going to limit my discussion of Stratford to two things.

1. I’m one of many more to come – Given Stratford’s obsession with the William Shakespeare (gift shops filled with fridge-magnet quotes, Macbeth finger puppets, and a giant, pink eraser that says “Out, damned spot!” ), Will is no doubt rolling over in his grave (which, along with his birth and deathplace, has become a tourist site). While I’m sure the hype brings in a lot of good money for Stratford’s infrastructure, it also undermines by focusing on anything BUT his creative mind. It’s like following a celebrity on Twitter, or something. THe only gift I bought was a 1.5′ x 2′ inch booklet containing Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. Admittedly, I bought it mostly for comic relief…
“Crap, I think we’re out of sodas.”
“Alas…*pulls out Mid-Summer Night’s Dream from back pocket*…Merry and tragical! Tedious and brief! That is, hot ice and wonderous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this discord?”

2. The Bear – We attended two shows whilst in Stratford. One was As You Like It which wasn’t too great save for the set that allowed actors to quickly enter from under the stage floor tiles. During intermission, I wanted the custodians to do the same, using their mops like the outlaws used their rifles in the play.
The second of two plays we saw on our last night in Straford, A Winter’s Tale, was infinitely better. Why? Because of Shakespeare’s curious and seemingly random character exit: ‘exits, followed by a bear.’ Well, the director of this play decided to block his exit with the bear. A creature with glowing yellow eyes, standing at about twenty feet tall, slowly emerged from darkened backstage. It’s fur was made of hundreds of sheets of paper and two invisible tech-working were swinging its massive arms. This was no bear. This was Ganon from the Legend of Zelda (see link below)
I still insist that an entire production be dedicated to the life and times of The Bear. Maybe how his eyes only glow when he feels loved, and how, for soothe, his great big hug smothered the very man who, by his presence alone, had broken the spell of his terrible lonliness. Come on, Stratford, there’s more money to be made!

Cracked and Weary – By the end of the night, my face paint was cracking. And it’s a lot of work to act like a monkey, especially when everyone wants a picture with Darwin Thornberry of The Wild Thornberry’s.
Yes, well, Linley house invited all the other houses to a cartoon character theme party. In my absence, some of the girls in my houses decided we should go as The Wild Thornberries and that I, without a doubt, was to be Darwin, the intelligent monkey (see below link).
Lauren gave me her blue shorts which, on me, ended at about mid thigh. I went costume shopping with Mel, Lauren, and Christina whereupon I bought a blue and white-striped shirt and TopShop and fake ears and grey face paint at a joke shop. Ok, it was a ‘shirt.’ It was actually a halter top that came down just over the blue shorts (see below link)
Also present were the other Thornberries, Poetry Smurf, Captain Hook, and Yogi Bear.

Let the words spill from my mouth — I performed in front of our program for Write Night at, everybody’s favorite pub, The Huntsman. The most stressful part of it all was coming back from Oxford with Laura to find that I had left my laptop cord at Kieron’s. Luckily, before my laptop died, I had just enough time to print out the story: Two Ways to Make a Costa Rican Cake (a.k.a. Love Affair with a Jewish Goat). Although I didn’t intend to offend anyone of the Hebrew persuasion, Jonathon told me that he heard an audible gasp at the line,
“One self-sacrificial snip, so that he could go and sin in the eyes of God with some horny Jewish girl.”
Well, If bestiality or the ramblings of a culturally ignorant protagonist offends you, then fine. Just understand that any writing peice should make you re-think what you ‘know’. And also that I am not necessarily a stand-in for the narrator. If she is ignorant, it doesn’t meant that I am. The end.
Jonathon also asked me to read a ‘humorous’ poem that he wrote about…Stratford: “Is this where Hamlet sipped warm beer? Did Desdemona die right here? Did Richard lose his horse and Kingdom, somewhere between here and Swindon?…” and on for about 5 long minutes. Delivery had to rescue the poem, and that’s what I tried to do. The night even ended with McDonald’s. All I missed was a certain poem about a hot air balloon…hmm…

Home – I have 4 more whole days here in Bath. I’m going to write one more entry this week to sum things up as best as possible. Although I can’t wait to finish playing Braid and to play my keyboard, I’m not quite ready to leave everyone. I’m not sure who I will see again and who I won’t. So I don’t have quite the enthusiasm that Billy Corgan has in his song.
FYI: I’m concerned about The Smashing Pumpkins, as Billy Corgan is the only remaining original member. He has recently said that he hasn’t felt so inspired since ’96 but that means Adore quality at best. Oh yeah, I can’t wait to mow my lawn while listening to Adore live.

Not Bath, part II

train load of fools –¬†¬†In the early morning, only several hours¬†after Oxford’s¬†commencement dinner and corresponding dance party (at which¬†Robyn and I danced¬†all of ‘Footloose‘ on a then-empty dance floor) Mel, Christina, Micheala, and I hopped on a 3.5 hour busride to Dublin.¬† Now:¬† There are four reasons that tourists¬†go to Dublin.¬† Either they are Irish, part-Irish,¬†desperate, or¬†equate the¬†Dublin with¬†their¬†elementary school’s St. Patricks¬†Day parties and/or¬†a box of Lucky Charms.¬† Am I biased? Maybe.¬† But let me tell you why.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

The Hostel – One of my roomates, Oscar (pronounced OH-scahr), told me that, given the many hostels he had encountered in his travels, our hostel was one of the best he’s ever stayed in.¬†¬†*Flash¬†to SNL’s ‘Really with Seth and Amy’*

“Really, Oscar?¬† Really?¬† So you enjoy feeling around in the dark¬†to find your¬†toiletries while everybody else¬†is sleeping?¬† Really?¬†¬†Do you¬†always take¬†showers in ten second time blocks, and agree with management that such measures must be taken to prevent mischievious youths from flooding the bathrooms?¬†¬†Really, Oscar, I¬†think they’ve over-estimated how¬†tempting it is to tell your¬†grandkids¬†how you used¬†to stay in cheap¬†hotels, turn on all the faucets, and giggle to yourself¬†in the locker rooms until¬†damage control returned¬†all the¬†shit¬†that you accidentally left in the bathroom.¬† But I guess you don’t mind¬†that¬†sort of logical fallacy?¬† Really, Oscar?¬†¬†You must have¬†laid in bed that night,¬†merrily humming along to the¬†obnoxious hip-hop blaring from the floor below. ¬†Oh, wait.¬† You actually did do that, Oscar.¬† That must have sucked for me.”

Cost – As if the¬†25 euro-per-night Hostel wasn’t enough, any Dublin meal costs¬†at least¬†8-10 euro, which includes Subway.¬† By ‘Dublin meal,’ I generally mean Irish food.¬† And by Irish food, I generally mean¬†‘blood sausage’¬†and English food.

What I LIKED about Dublin:

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Walking in the rain,¬†attempting a crash-tour of Dublin in¬†about 4 hours.¬† Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic.¬† Being with my friends, complaining about the rain together, and not really looking at anything but my feet was amusing and, ironically, memorable.¬† I didn’t even care that we only got to see¬†some church before checking out a shopping mall.¬† Besides, it was a very nice shopping mall, and much better than going back to the hostel.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Guiness Factory.¬† Yes,¬†moving along through six floors of a Guiness advertisement was kind of lame.¬† But we got some good pictures and made it to the top of the Guiness tower, which overlooks all of Dublin.¬† It was there that Mel, Zach, Micheala,¬†and I witnessed the rainbow.¬†¬†It only lasted for about ten minutes, so by the time the others¬†met us at the tower, it had gone.¬† There is perhaps nothing more Irish than seeing a rainbow at the top of the Guiness tower with a fresh stout in hand.¬† A stray leprechan would have been nice, but I’m¬†really not¬†complaining.¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬† While some of the other Northamptonites (people who live in my house or the one across the street) decided to stay in Guiness an extra day, I joined Christina, Mel, and Micheala on a day trip to Galway.¬† It wasn’t until after the 3.5 hour bus ride when I thought it might be a good time to ask what¬†there was to see in Galway.¬†¬†The ‘Cliffs of Moher’?¬† What are those?¬† (Mind you, I had been planning to go to Galway for weeks without realizing that our very trip was centered around the Cliffs of Moher.¬† See below.)¬†¬†

Field –¬† The Galway bus tour was¬†kind of like a¬†candle-lit¬†bubble bath, mostly because, in addition to the peaceful scenery (sheep, stone fences, rolling pastures,¬†a horse giving live birth), our¬†driver/guide played soothing celtic music from¬†his cd player.¬† We were sitting right up front, so not only did we have the side-windows but the¬†front windows as well. (think I-max theatre)¬† ¬†It was a ‘walking’ tour, so we got off the bus several times to¬†inspect the ruins of a castle tower here and there before arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.¬† At one point, I was standing about one foot from the¬†edge of a¬†drop about 1/30 that of Mt. Everest (1000 ft).¬† But the best part of the entire trip was learning the fine art of

The Epic Jumping Shot:¬†¬†Taking a picture of two or¬†more people¬†jumping in mid-air in front of an epic backdrop, i.e. The Cliffs of Moher.¬†¬†In one pic I look like an over-grown bird that still¬†can’t fly but tries anyway.¬†¬† Regardless, it was very fun, and I took an unfair amount of pride¬†something that depended very little on skill.¬† However, our walk around the¬†cliffs was somewhat rushed because Michaela and I were on a mission: find a claddagh ring.

A claddagh ring¬†¬†“is a traditional Irish ring given in friendship or worn as a wedding ring. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old walls of the city of Galway”¬† Micheala¬†wanted a claddagh ring, but you can’t buy yourself one, as that would defeat the purpose.¬† And she wasn’t looking for¬†a life-long partner¬†either.¬† She asked me if I would help her find a claddagh ring, whereupon¬†I would pay for it with her money.¬†¬†I offered to put one euro towards the cost, so that, technically, part of the ring would be from me to her.¬†¬†As¬†the claddagh rings in her price range were about 20 euro, that officially made me her life-long partner divided by 20, which is still a pretty intense bond.

Finding a ring, in Galway of all places, should have been easy, but it wasn’t.¬† ¬†You have to consider shape, size, color, and, most importantly, moment.¬† If only the gift shop at the Cliffs of Moher had the right size.¬† Upon finding one there, Micheala and I were planning to rush out to the cliffs edge and have someone take a picture of me on one knee proposing.¬† Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out.¬† But Micheala did find a ring once we returned to the “City of Galway” and we got a shot of me proposing to her (and Christina, whose ring I also ‘bought’) on the street outside of the jewelry shop.¬† ¬†

P.S.¬† Two things.¬† On the tourbus back to Galway, we were stopped by a herd of wandering cows that decided to cross the road.¬† They were being guided by a dog and a man waving his arms on a bicycle, but, in the end, it didn’t really help.¬† They dumbly weaved in front of us for about 5 minutes before finally making it to the other side of the road.¬† Also,¬†at the¬†Dublin airport¬†(which would take us to Bristol), quotes from great authors were posted on the gate-way walls.¬† Mel was the first to discover these, and pretty soon we were both running around trying to see them all.¬† I found it so refreshing to see these in place of advertisements.¬† It’s truly a landmark in the evolution of mankind.

Wow, so that concludes ‘Not Bath’ parts¬†I and II.¬† I’ve also been to Norwich, England, but I will have to forgo that post until I write at least one more about Bath.¬† You know, the place I’ve been for 8 weeks now.

Not Bath

I had a dream last night in which¬†I sang along to a very accurate recording of Bob Dylan’s Senor.¬† I remember hearing the guitar, drum, and voice parts accurately for at least¬†one verse:

      Well, the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Was a train load o’ fools bogged down in a magnetic field

      A gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Said, “Son, this ain’t a dream no more, it’s the real thing.”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Stripped – There was a stripping pole in the Oxford bar that ASE students (and some staff) visited after our¬†final dinner at University College.¬† Because¬†our program is¬†associated with Oxford, ASE spends one week of every semester at “Univ,” Oxford’s oldest college (1239?).¬†¬†One item is circled amidst the other notes/random words that I will select for the blog:

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‘March 26, 2009.¬† 2:02pm¬† I’m going to Thom Yorke’s house.’

¬†¬†Thom Yorke, the lead¬†member of alternative rock group, Radiohead,¬†is reputed to live¬†in pale yellow house at the intersection of St. John’s and Pusey Street, Oxford, England.¬† Of course, despite the frantic showers and bitter winds that afternoon, I had to make the trip.¬† But this was not my FIRST attempt.¬†¬†¬†

My first attempt began at 1:15 on a cloudless afternoon¬†when I saw the last of my¬†program’s punting boats¬†(ASE Punting: 1pm!) floating away on the Thame’s River.¬†¬†Having overslept my nap,¬†I had arrived just a few minutes too late to join¬†my friends in moving a boat along the water with a¬†long wooden stick.¬†¬†In an effort to¬†turn lemons into lemonade,¬†I decided to semi-lose myself in Oxford, walking down main and not-main streets alike in a completely arbitrary search for St. John’s street.¬† Needless to say, I never found it.¬† But I did stumble upon a beautiful park¬†(which was fenced in, so I couldn’t enter) and a Subway (which, despite¬†wanting to find something ‘authentic’ was delicious.¬† 12 inch chicken teriaki sub and a still water, please.¬†¬†

But, yes, Caroline and Lauren, ironically¬†two of the few people I had told of my stalkerish intentions, found me on my¬†SECOND attempt, leaving the great castle doors that separate Univ’s campus and students from the petty and possibly dangerous townsfolk that lurk outside its hallowed walls.¬†So we walked along High and Cornmarket Street (Oxford’s main streets), which are just as bustling and colorful as Bath’s (but perhaps with more chains like McDonald’s and Next), more city-like.¬† Alas, when we arrived, (just about a 15 minute walk from campus) I realized that

ALL of the houses at the intersection of St. John’s and Pusey Street have a ‘pale yellow tinge’

Damnit.¬† But the¬†weather had lightened up, and so, regardless of whether Thom Yorke actually lived in the general vicinity,¬†my friends and I¬†took some pictures of me in creepy stalkerish poses on the sidewalk (i.e. my facebook profile picture).¬† True, we didn’t actually ring¬†Thom’s doorbell dressed as girlscouts (like we said we would) and offer him cookies.¬† But I like to think that¬†his band wasn’t touring South America, that Mr. Yorke looked out from his window and laughed at the boy¬†in his black jacket and black umbrella,¬†dressed entirely inappropriately¬†for¬†bright sunny¬†day that¬†chose to arrive just when we did, at his maybe-hopefully-intersection/house/…doorstep?.

Kneeled– I attended mass at Christ Church.¬† It’s such a large cathedral that I deleted ‘church’ and typed in¬†‘cathedral.’¬† I’m pretty sure there are multiple altars, and that we were only in a specific section.¬†¬†The entire mass,¬†not being a full service, was just the liturgy of the word.¬† The chants and songs were sung, mostly in latin, by an excellent all-male choir.¬† The only let-down was the priest’s homily, which came as¬†the scripted, somewhat nervous voice¬†that¬†broke¬†the mass’s unrelenting authority¬†with a kind of thoughtless gossamer.¬† So, you’re saying that it is our duty to have children?¬† Ok…¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Certainly, Oxford had several other highlights which don’t necessarily correspond to Dylan’s song (which are also hard to¬†recall in favor of my ‘aromatic duck wrap, with plum and hoisin sauce.’¬† See?¬†Variety):

1.¬† A piano¬†room.¬† Finally, after nearly two months, I could make my favorite chords again.¬† I have already forgotten a few details in certain songs, even¬†the middle section in Radiohead’s Reckoner.¬† And I had no idea how thin the walls were.¬† Given that this is England: very, very thin.¬†¬†Still, it felt amazing.

2.¬† Meg, the wandering Oxford dog.¬† Well, not really.¬† She is the porter’s dog, but we would always see her wandering about the quad.¬† The porter said she gets all the attention that¬†homesick students wish they could give to their pets at home.¬† What a spoiled mut.

3.¬† The quad:¬† imagine a prison.¬†¬†Now imagine that hundreds of academic scholars pay thousands of dollars to willfully attend that prison.¬† And rightfully so.¬† Oxford colleges¬†were meant to keep¬†commoners OUT, and they still look that way.¬†¬†The good news is that everybody’s window faces out into the quad, and (if I was a choir director), I would¬†insist that my students invade every room, fling open the windows, and begin warm-ups.¬† Baritones would take the¬†first floor windows, tenors the second, and so on and so forth.¬† A suround sound of voices would drown out the damned Oxford bells which ring 5 minutes AHEAD of Greenwhich meantime.¬†¬†Like¬†A1 steaksauce, they are just that important.¬†

The Disco:¬†¬†Well, that’s what any englishperson over 40 apparently calls a ‘dance party.’¬† Staff and students mingled/danced at the disco party.¬† I learned that Jonothan (Mementos Professor) is a poolshark, that¬†Barbara (Dean) really did dance with David Bowie (she also reccomended that I grow my hair out which, at this point, I might as well do), and that Andy (Dean of Social Life) shares my taste of dance moves.¬† Yes.¬† For about 30 seconds, he and I were center stage dancing face to face with one another.¬†

Listening to Michael explain/reinact Shakespeare:¬†¬†In addition to the several conversations we shared on art, philosophy, religion, feminism, etc,¬†my friend Michael gave me a roughly unchronoligical¬†description/interpretation¬†of Othello’s major characters and plot points.¬† I probably know Othello better than the average highschool reader.¬† Although I can hardly spell “Iago,”¬†I¬†could tell you why he is the prime example of the villian who¬†is not.¬†¬† I can also tell you that if your conversations are compelling enough,¬†a random stranger is bound to join in.¬† Yep.¬†¬†Walking down¬†the streets of Oxford, a man overheard Michael and I talking about the secular vs. secular-christian views on religion.¬† He had been¬†walking along side us for quite some time, and I had noticed that his head was tilted slightly in our direction.¬† Finally he chimes¬†in:

“You know, having recently converted to Christianity, I’ve¬†found myself pondering the same questions…”

So we had this three way conversation¬†for about ten minutes which ended in¬†a general respect for eachother’s views and a handshake.¬† Michael said that this¬†kind of thing should happen more and I agree.

The Kebab Truck, Ben’s Cookies, C + G’s Icecream, The Mission (American equivalent: Chipotle):¬† Delicious.¬† Thankyou.

PART¬†II of¬†“NOT BATH”:¬† Ireland

Train load o’¬†fools – The morning after our last night in Oxford, my friends and I woke up to catch a bus, then a plane, then another bus to Iassac’s Hostel in Dublin, Ireland.¬† Unfortunately, I must continue this epic adventure in a Part II of my Not Bath blog.¬† I need to read Slaughterhouse 5, a couple of children’s books, and do some ‘creative writing.’

Preliminary reflections, Scotch Mist

Right now, I’m looking at a bunch of random words….‘Light bulb’, ‘Jamaican street-performer,’ ‘Guda cheese,’ ‘rooftop that says, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD,’ etc. It’s hard to know where to start in this now-almost six week experience in Bath. So I thought I would do some free association by means of Wilco’s ‘Jesus, etc.’ I swear, this will work. And besides, it’s much more fun than starting with ‘Once Upon a Time’ in Bath.

Jesus, don’t cry
You can rely on me, honey
You can combine anything you want
I’ll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

‘Sun’ Bath has plenty of sunshine. ‘Rainy England,’ despite geography and ocean winds, seems no more rainy than Carlisle/Danville. It’s already getting warmer and brighter. But for you, new reader, it’s still a cold and wintry Bath, England. So cold that you have to wear your gloves and sweatshirt to sleep to fight against the draft. And, go figure, the fireplace in your room doesn’t actually work. That’s right, it was hard times living in your million-dollar uptown apartment (I’m not kidding; location, location, location)
Maids: only come once a week, and, by that time, its already a total pigsty.
Maybe if you had 3 refigerators instead of two.
Maybe if it wasn’t too cold to go out into your walled english garden or walk 5 minutes to Victoria Park. (Even Nicolas Cage only vacations here on the Christmas Holiday).

To quote Cage, “I would probably come here more often if Bath wasn’t so packed with trendy shops, fancy restaurants, and small european cars that don’t signal. And the people!? Ugh! Fashioned-concious rich types and more street performers/simple beggars that I can count on my hand.” Actually, Cage did compare Bath to a “snowglobe, frozen in time.” But we are quite hip, too. I’ve seen people in the streets sing, play the flute (or guitar, drums, buckets, a giant wood-carved oboe, a violin while balanced with one foot on a string), a guy who rides a unicycle while juggling knives in a tutu, and the list goes on.
FYI: That last guy did an entire magic show and called on me to help him balance the unicycle so he could mount it. Of course, as his partner, I had to wear a tutu skirt as well.

And there IS a jamaican street performer, who sings Reggae. He looks is so completely out of place, yet is such an integral part of Bath culture at the same time. My favorite number of his goes a little something like this:
“Oh, I am freezin’. Yes, I am freezin’. Oh, Lord, I’m freezing from the bottom of my heart!” I make a point to give him some change when I see him (Note: I am not done yet talking about the Jamaican singer, as I am not done talking about most of these things. But, alas, I am straying from my song…)

‘Honey’ The food is better here. WHAT? …Yeah. The selection is amazing (vague!) Ok then: Prawn crisps, Apple and Mango Squash (concentrated juice), A sort of fetish for pre-made sandwiches, just two kinds beings english breakfast and salmon/cucumber. AND, ready? If I was an English businessman, I would introduce pasties to the Americans. Meat in a pastry; that’s it. Why haven’t we thought of it? Sure, it can be found in remote areas of Pennslyvania, but why isn’t there one in every town? That makes two products I would sell as a businessman: pasties, and scented candles that, if you so desired, you could eat.

I have to read 200 pages of 100 Years of Solitude for tomorrow, so I must stop. I have covered about .002% of my stay here. But no worries. Because I have jotted down so much more…Dr. Who, sushi, elderflower and lemon tea, an imposter peter pan…its going to take a while, but I’m going to try. But, for now, goodnight.