Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Soak it In- SOAAAAAK!"

Yesterday was probably one of the best days I've had here- and that's saying something, since I've had few bad ones.

Usually I have Wednesdays completely free, but our group performance for Adaptations is not so much creeping as barrelling closer and we really have to buckle down. Yesterday, we decided to meet up at 11 am and work until we were ready to present what we needed for this morning. It was a slow start- people were really late and there are huge issues with reserving rooms (even if you do, other people don't care... seems to be a pattern in drama departments across the world), so we had to find a place to work. We first ended up in a cafe on campus, and an hour or two later moved to one member's kitchen.
We "worked" for about three hours- I say "worked" because while we did do what we needed to do, we would have been done much sooner if we didn't keep getting sidetracked by just talking about life. And while, yes, getting done sooner might have been lovely, it was just as nice to hang out with my group. I really like all of them and I think the fact that we get along so well really helps our presentations because we're much more in synch than a group that only talks classwork might be. It's interesting because though we were obviously raised in different countries, even our childood interests were similar- I was really into the British band S Club 7 when I was younger and so were they. And then of course, there's the Spice Girls :p We had just as much fun during class and in the rehearsal period afterwards today, and I think our performance is going to be pretty good. We have to be ready to tech in a week- ahhh! (Speaking of tech... I think I'm going to be roped into teching the other group's performance. They made me do sound today and it was terrifying... and I was just using iTunes!)

Between the two rehearsal locations yesterday, I ran into my friend Lauren, who, as I mentioned an entry or two ago, is visiting from her own studies in Italy. She's staying in my friend Deanna's room with their friend Casey, who's spring breaking here. We rejoiced in our reunion and then discussed getting tickets for a show we thought we'd see- the theatre was being difficult and claiming that concessions (a.k.a. student) tickets were not available, which meant we'd have to pay almost twenty pounds extra. In the end, we decided not to see the show, but I told them to call me from Camden Market if they wanted to do dinner.
Even though we had been planning to do dinner since before Lauren got here, I kind of doubted it was going to happen- I screwed up Monday by getting late news on the Arcadia dinner and opted out of going to the bar with them on Tuesday (bars, I figured, are not exactly places to catch up- and I didn't want to go to a bar.) And when six thirty came around and there was still no word, I started making some dinner for myself. Twenty minutes in, I got a text from Deanna saying that they were going to a pub- did I want to meet them in Camden Market?

I almost said no. The news came later than I had anticipated, I was in the middle of making a meal, and I didn't want to be out late because of my 9 a.m. class this morning. But I decided to ignore all of that- I wanted to see Lauren before she went back to Italy today. I pulled my half-done dinner out of the oven and wrapped it up, grabbed my stuff, and left for Camden Market.

I'm so glad I went. It was so much fun. I'm not really a person to do things on a whim- I like my days to be planned out for the most part. But everything we did that night was spontaneous and all the better for it. The girls came to get me outside of the Camden tube station and we stood there trying to figure out what we wanted to eat. They said the pub had been more expensive than they'd anticipated- did I have anything else in mind? I said no. A man with a "Buffet, 3.50!" sign heard us talking an pointedly came to stand right next to us. "Hey, look guys," Lauren said. "There's a cheap Chinese vegetarian buffet!"
We decided to go there (the power of suggestion works well on us) and found ourselves in a very small but nice Chinese/Thai place. I had been a little worried that it would be sketchy, but it wasn't at all. However, the 3.50 price was only for take-away; no sitting down in the restaurant for that price. So we got small plastic containers, filled them to the brim, then walked to a Costa (which is a coffee shop chain here), where I bought a water so we could sit there and eat inside, as it was rather cold outdoors. The food was really good, which was lucky because I've never had Thai food and though I like vegetarian food, I don't really seek it out. The only thing I didn't like was the tofu; the soy beef was delicious.

Delicious buffet!

We got kicked out of the Costa after only fifteen minutes because it's London and everything closes by 7:30. Deanna had been told about a club that was playing some sort of cool music for free and we started walking in that direction, still eating our food out of the containers. When we got to the club, we found out that there was a charge to get in, and Deanna and Casey didn't have any money, so we ended up sitting on some very cold benches next to cast iron statues of nineteenth century horses and workmen while we finished our food. We sat there for a long time, swapping "crazy things that have happened to me abroad" stories (I'm very happy I'm going to Venice and not Sicily) and ignoring the cold.

Something I haven't mentioned is that Lauren is in the theatre department at Arcadia. Though most of the junior year theatre kids are abroad this semester, none of them go to Queen Mary, so when things happen in the department back home, I have no one with whom to discuss them. Adrienne, Laura, my mother, and friends from home tolerate me using them as sounding boards, but there's only so much they can say back about a deparment they have no knowledge of. I didn't realise how much I missed discussing theatre with someone who actually knows what I'm talking about without having to give what seems like centuries of background information. I became aware that I was talking very fast and a lot because I had so much I had wanted to say for so long, but no one to tell, and Lauren was the same way. It was actually an incredible relief, which sounds weird, but sometimes those touches of home are just what you need.

We sat on those benches for a long time- some buskers had been playing when we sat down and had left soon after. Later, they came back, saw us and said, "Wow... you're still here?" We moved on soon after that, but not before we saw a mime run past us (that is not a figure of speech. A mime- black clothes, white face, beret, all of it- ran down the sidewalk next to us.)

We were headed back to the tube station when Casey said that she wanted to see Parliament and Big Ben at night. We said okay, because we can. Westminster was many many tube stops away, but why not? We wanted to go somewhere, and we went. This is why London is amazing.

The best part of that particular bit of the excursion was Lauren and Casey's infectious excitement. I've seen Big Ben and Parliament at least four times this trip. It's cool- it will never stop being cool- but I don't run back to see it all the time. But Lauren and Casey were so excited to see it that it made Deanna and me just as happy. When we discovered that the tube stairs were literally right next to the lit-up Parliament building, I was the first to go, "LOOK HOW CLOSE WE ARE, GUYS!" Lauren, with a mixture of excitement and the freezing breeze blowing in our face, looked like she was about to cry- and she's been to London before! Traveling with those two made me rerealise the amazingness of this city. I've gotten to the point where I take it for granted sometimes, but when we stood on the south bank end of Westminster Bridge, gazing at Big Ben and listening to it chime 11 p.m, I fell even more deeply in love with London.

It only kept getting colder, but we stood on the bridge for a long time, just appreciating... London and all of its London-ness. This was when one of the two non-London girls told the other to "Soak it in- soaaaaaak!" because they are headed back to their respective schools today. Casey said, "It doesn't even feel like we're here right now- it feels like what we're seeing of Parliament is just a backdrop. I can't even take this in." And that's how I feel most of the time when I'm walking around the city- I can't possibly be lucky enough to actually be here, can I?
Eventually, we had to go back because the tubes close at midnight. Lauren and I shared some British chocolate on the tube, they picked up some wine on the way home, and then we said goodbye at my flat.

I can't even describe how wonderful last night was. I kind of detest the "giggly group of girls" stereotype, but that's how we were all night because we were so exhilarated just by our location and each other's company. And to think I almost didn't go!

Now, however, it's back to the grindstone. As I said, assignment due dates are racing toward me. I've barred myself from recreational reading until April so I can complete some sources for my history essay, and I just can't wait 'til they're over and done with. The next two weeks are going to be filled to the breaking point with writing and rehearsals.

Quotes of... Recent Times:

"Who's Nick?" "Just the guy who's caught Adina's eye." "He didn't catch my eye... he just sort of got in there and now he won't get out." "Like an eyelash?"

"This is life juice."

"I think our kids would be beautiful, as long as they looked like me."


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