Thursday, March 31, 2005

Now I'm really angry

So the events from Sunday night are coming a bit more into focus. It seems that both The Roving Alcoholic and I were dosed with some type of drug at the party we attended. I don't know what they slipped in our drink (or who did it), but the evidence seems clear enough.

Neither The Roving Alcoholic nor I had enough booze to be falling down drunk. That's the first clue. In fact, I've seen him drink at least five times the amount of booze in one night and he never even came close to falling over drunk. Not only that, he drinks Vodka-Red Bull which, as some may be aware, contains the most caffeine of any beverage on the market and routinely causes my mate to run around like he's on coke. This time, he was sitting on the ground at one point virtually passing out (which was when I grabbed him and we left). He also told me that he kept passing out in the cab on the way home and couldn't get out of bed the next day although he was not hungover.

My experience is similar, although I was not falling down drunk. Instead, there are portions of the night I simply do not remember. And that is a total anomaly. See, even when I get really pissed and don't remember the full details of a night out, I will remember when someone says, "Who was that girl you were dancing with?" This time, I have zero memory of dancing with anyone, there are portions of the night that are extremely hazy (how exactly did I get to my bus?), and I did things that were completely uncharacteristic (getting lost in Soho, locking myself out of my room), all dead give aways for getting drugged. Not only that, on Monday, I was definitely not hungover, but was just completely out of it and feeling horrible. I had periods of intense sweating, followed by intense cooling, also clear signs of being doped.

So, in the end, it appears that some f*ckstick slipped something in our drinks, probably a date rape drug, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I'm really quite angry about this, especially since I'm normally very careful with watching my drinks when I go out (because I know this kind of thing happens). But I never in a million years expected something like that to happen at a quasi-office party that seemed filled with decent people. Of course, all of this leads me to suspect Captain Ass Grabber and if I ever see him again, I will be forced to beat his lilly white ass. Either that, or turn him into the cops. Because unless it was a bartender (I've been told that it is a possibility), he's the only guy I think it could have been.

Fortunately, there are no long term side effects to being doped by a date rape drug (GHB, Rhohypnol, or Ketamine). Of course, the downside is that they pass out of your system so quickly that they're untraceable after a short period of time (72 hours for Ketamine, 12 or less for the other two), so it's too late to get verification of what exactly happened. But, I don't think further verification is actually necessary. From what I've read and heard, some clown doped me up in the hopes that it would lower my inhibitions so that he could take advantage of me. Little did he know that I was more likely to get violent than inhibited.

Anyway, I called out of work sick yesterday. Not only could I not be bothered with work, I had a presentation to do in last night's class and I wanted to spend more time preparing. It helped that I have a bit of a cold and I sounded terrible when I woke up. The office administrator had no problem with me calling out, especially since all the partners are away on holiday meaning there's virtually no work to do at all. The presentation went well and I'm enjoying this class. It's international law and it requires a good bit of work, but it's pretty interesting. Law in any terms is a pretty complicated subject.

Today I've been taking it easy. I think I'm going out with the Roving Alcoholic and a gaggle of British nurses tonight. He's dating one and she has several single friends and who am I to turn down a night with cute nurses? I have a good bit of schoolwork to do, so I think this will probably be my one night out for the weekend, although I will try to see the Colombian girl this weekend if I can.

Now I'm Angry

So the events from Sunday night are coming a bit more into focus. It seems that both The Roving Alcoholic and I were dosed with some type of drug at the party we attended. I don't know what they slipped in our drink (or who did it), but the evidence seems clear enough.

Neither The Roving Alcoholic nor I had enough booze to be falling down drunk. That's the first clue. In fact, I've seen him drink at least five times the amount of booze in one night and he never even came close to falling over drunk. Not only that, he drinks Vodka-Red Bull which, as some may be aware, contains the most caffeine of any beverage on the market and routinely causes my mate to run around like he's on coke. This time, he was sitting on the ground at one point virtually passing out (which was when I grabbed him and we left). He also told me that he kept passing out in the cab on the way home and couldn't get out of bed the next day although he was not hungover.

My experience is similar, although I was not falling down drunk. Instead, there are portions of the night I simply do not remember. And that is a total anomaly. See, even when I get really pissed and don't remember the full details of a night out, I will remember when someone says, "Who was that girl you were dancing with?" This time, I have zero memory of dancing with anyone, there are portions of the night that are extremely hazy (how exactly did I get to my bus?), and I did things that were completely uncharacteristic (getting lost in Soho, locking myself out of my room), both dead give aways for getting drugged. Not only that, on Monday, I was definitely not hungover, but was just completely out of it and feeling horrible. I had periods of intense sweating, followed by intense cooling, also clear signs of being doped.

So, in the end, it appears that some f*ckstick slipped something in our drinks, probably a date rape drug, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I'm really quite angry about this, especially since I'm normally very careful with watching my drinks when I go out (because I know this kind of thing happens). But I never in a million years expected something like that to happen at a quasi-office party that seemed filled with decent people. Of course, all of this leads me to suspect Captain Ass Grabber and if I ever see him again, I will be forced to beat his lilly white ass. Either that, or turn him into the cops. Because unless it was a bartender (I've been told that it is a possibility), he's the only guy I think it could have been.

Someone at school suggested I go to a doctor and get checked out, but I think that would be a waste of time. The reason why these drugs are so appealing to would be rapist *ssholes is because they're virtually untraceable and pass through your system between 12-72 hours. If I had realized what was up on Monday and gone in then, I could have gotten some tests done. But now, it essentially too late and there don't appear to be any long term effects that I need to worry about (from what I've been told by several people who have had similar experiences). Several governmental and media sources confirm that there are no long term effects.

Anyway, I called out of work sick yesterday. Not only could I not be bothered with work, I had a presentation to do in last night's class and I wanted to spend more time preparing. It helped that I have a bit of a cold and I sounded terrible when I woke up. The office administrator had no problem with me calling out, especially since all the partners are away on holiday meaning there's virtually no work to do at all. The presentation went well and I'm enjoying this class. It's international law and it requires a good bit of work, but it's pretty interesting. Law in any terms is a pretty complicated subject.

Today I've been taking it easy. I think I'm going out with the Roving Alcoholic and a gaggle of British nurses tonight. He's dating one and she has several single friends and who am I to turn down a night with cute nurses? I have a good bit of schoolwork to do, so I think this will probably be my one night out for the weekend, although I will try to see the Colombian girl this weekend if I can.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Night to Remember

Last night was bizarrely humorous. It was a night in which I had my ass grabbed not once, not twice, but three a guy; a night which I secured the number of the only single, attractive, and heterosexual woman in the five minutes; a night in which I met some random Americans on the street who asked me to go clubbing with them...and I declined; a night in which I somehow managed to lock myself out of my room at 3 am...and then had to wake someone up to get the master key. Yes, definitely a night to remember.

Easter Sunday is not exactly my pick of a club night or the perfect night to throw a big party. It wasn't my choice, however, so I made the best of it. One of the partners at the law firm is leaving to open an office in Moscow and he threw this giant gala (200+ people) at this gay nightclub. They rented out the whole club, so it wasn't like it was a free for all or anything. No, instead, it was 200 of he and his partner's closest friends. (I don't even think I know 200 people!) At any rate, as you would imagine, the crowd was about 75-80% gay. My mate the Roving Alcoholic and I played it fairly low key to start the evening, although things got rowdier later.

There's this thing about single gay men that are trying to pick up guys that I've observed previously and it seems to be universal over here. Whenever you're in a mixed crowd, you must first find out if the person you are interested in is gay or straight. So, there are various clues, but for those that simply aren't good at reading body language, the next step is to stand or sit near them. If they're interested, then I suppose it's game on. Anyway, as a straight man, I've experienced this sit near you strategy previously and there's really only one solution: talk loudly about girls. Case in point, last night, an obviously gay man came over unasked and sat at our table. My mate and I had been talking about girls anyway, so we just kept up our conversation. Moments later, he sensibly bolted.

Alternatively, however, there are some (usually pissed drunk) that can't seem to take a f*cking hint and need to have the stuffing knocked out of them. Later, when I was at the bar (there were free drinks for like 3 hours), another very obviously inebriated gay man introduced himself with a handshake. Now, I'm the gentlemanly type, so I said, "Hi, I'm Stephen, nice to meet you," as I quickly reclaimed my hand. Keep it cordial, don't shake too long, don't make too much eye contact - send signals that I'm happy to chat, but I'm not the droid you seek. Apparently, a knee to the groin would have been most appropriate. His response: "Oh, I'm [some name I forgot] and it's VERY nice to meet you..." Scoop drinks, turn, retreat to table.

Later, while standing near the bar (we got tired of sitting and wanted to mingle with some folks), I feel a hand grab my ass. I turn and it's that same guy. Now, I'm a handsome man, but I've already had a crossdressing burlesque singing wanna-be showgirl say, and I quote, "There's nothing gay about you." So I have it on fairly high authority that I don't give off a "gay vibe" or anything like that. But, Captain Ass Grabber couldn't see the picture. The first time, I gave a look of shock. The second time (a little while later), I gave a look of anger. Much later, he came back again. And this is when it dawned on me. I was responding like a girl. Not only should I have caused him some form of physical pain, I should have humiliated him for being a drunk f*ckbag trying to pick up a straight guy in a club FULL of single gay men, many of whom were more attractive than I am. And no, I wasn't flattered (well maybe a little bit but that was before this ass clown started playing a one-sided game of ass tag). Anyway, I saw him coming over so I moved to the other side of the group and avoided him. But he was a persistent little bugger and before I knew it I felt him grabbing my ass again. At this point, I had two options: Kick his ass or tell him to "F*ck Off". But because I'm not much of a jerk, no matter how much I wanted to be, I chose a third option. I turned, got right in his face and said, "That is so inappropriate. I'm not interested. Go away." Once again, I responded like a girl. But it worked and that's all that matters.

Just before we were leaving, I seized an opportunity to sit next to a pretty lady. Well, seized is probably the wrong term. In fact, that whole description makes it sound like I had this bold plan. To be truthful, I had been standing and talking for quite a bit of time and I was a little bit drunk. I saw this seat, I put my ass in it. Seconds later I realized there was this very pretty woman sitting directly in front of me, no more than 1 foot away (and probably less). I've always claimed to be an opportunist, so within moments we were chatting away. She's in her 30's, is a lawyer, has lived here for years, from Canada. Now, I'm not that interested (that isn't exactly a winning formula for me really), but she seemed nice and I might call her. Either way, I got the number within five minutes and that made me feel pretty good because I usually don't have that kind of game (unless their from the Far East or a former Soviet republic - don't ask).

When I left the club, my mate was just falling down drunk. That was so unusual because I've never seen him like that. I know he got home safe, but I don't know how. I turned around at one point and he was just gone. He probably got a taxi or something, but it was pretty damn funny to be in mid-conversation, turn, and see that you've been talking to yourself for at least a minute or two. No worries, Soho is a pretty safe (in a dodgy sort of way) neighborhood and I know my way around fairly well...when sober, that is. Really, I just turned the wrong way and ended up at Oxford Street which is where I met some Americans. I wanted to go home but one of them was really cute - in that American shortie kind of way (there is something quite pleasing about cute American girls - they make me hum without realizing it). But, she was very much interested in some other guy they had met at a previous club they were at and that was that. I wasn't going clubbing if she wasn't interested.

My memories of getting home are a bit foggy in that "I know how I did it, but don't remember the details" kind of way. I basically just put it into autopilot, found my bus, got as close as it would take me (I didn't want to wait for the 97), and walked the rest of the way home. When I got home, I immediately emptied my pockets as I was preparing to pass out. But then I decided I needed to pee, so I left my room, did business, and, there it is - no keys. Fortunately, there's a guy in the house who has a master key and doesn't mind much if you wake him at 3 am.

So, what did I learn from last night? Gay men like me. I don't like Ass Tag with gay men. If you just don't give a damn, pulling a girl is easy as hell, and never, ever leave your room without your keys. And finally, gay or straight, some guys just need the stuffing beat out of them on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Vivà la Colombia

I have to confess, I love Latin culture. The Columbians in particular are some of the best people I've ever met. Such a warm and friendly group.

I went to a party last night that Smooth Like Butta's sort-of girlfriend was throwing at her place. Good time. There was a various mix of Columbians, Spanish, and British with a few oddballs like an American, an Argentine, an Italian, two South Africans and a Frog. Good people all round - most were part of the underground alternative artsy scene here in London - but a few had proper jobs (not that it matters - just an FYI). I really like Smooth Like Butta's quasi-girlfriend. Not only is she totally hot (think Trinity minus all the bondage gear), but she's smart and incredibly nice. If he doesn't commit to her, he's making a mistake. (Or, alternatively, she might not be the one for him, who knows.)

At any rate, one thing is 100% certain to happen when you hang out with a bunch of Columbians - salsa dancing. The night may not start that way, but it will get there, and no matter if you can or can't, you will dance and you will have fun. In fact, I'd have to say that I had so much fun that I want to take proper salsa lessons (as well as Spanish), or at least get the Columbian girl here at the house to teach me. Speaking of Columbian girls, I met a really nice one last night that I shall see again. She danced with me and taught me how and was patient, all very kind. But she's nice and I think I like her. That's the difference, of course, between meeting someone at a party and meeting someone in a club. We had a real conversation instead of a shouting match that exchanged no information other than name and country of origin.

One of Smooth Like Butta's mates from Columbia (Juan Pablo) is a totally hilarious guy. I've hung out with him before and he's great. Last week we were riding the same bus home from the club and he started chatting up these two Thai girls (ok, I admit, I started it but more on his behalf than anything). He was so focused on them that he missed his stop and when it was my stop, I told him I was getting off and that he should too, but he didn't. He told me last night that he had no idea where he was when it hit the end of the line and it took him an extra hour to get home from there. Anyway, he started calling me Pablo Escobar last night because I'm a nice guy on one hand, but I left him on that bus so I must have a mean streak. It was pretty damn funny at the time.

I didn't get home from the party until 7 am. Not exactly my plan, but I'm not complaining. We lost an hour with the time switch and I would have left much earlier except I was chatting up the cute Columbian girl and then spent about an hour trying to get Juan Pablo out of there since it was obvious that we needed to leave. All in all a good night. I didn't get drunk, I salsa danced, I met a cute girl, and I have no complaints. Well, a few more hours of sleep wouldn't be so bad. Speaking of which...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Getting older

Well, it finally happened - the inevitable, the inescapable. I turned 30 yesterday. It's an interesting thing to turn 30. When you're younger, you have grandiose notions that when you're 30 you'll have many things in your life sorted out - spouse, house, and all that. And, by any objective evaluation, I pretty much have little, if anything sorted out. Still, unlike some people, I can't say I'm depressed about it. I mean, there are certainly things in my life that are completely dissatisfying, but turning 30 has not been a contributor to that dissatisfaction.

No, instead, turning 30 has marked a period of transition and reflection from within. I've spent the last couple weeks really partying hard. I've been dodging central issues for quite some time (months? years?) and I no longer have the interest to avoid asking myself the tough questions: Am I happy? What do I want in life? In a mate? Who am I?

I don't have answers to these questions, well, not complete answers, I should say. None of us do, really. But more important than having answers is the quest, the search for answers. And that's what I've been dodging; that's what I can no longer dodge. I'm actually pretty excited about this little mini-transition. I want to feel like I'm pursuing answers to the big questions that have always dogged me. This comes with the very stark realization that the lifestyle I have been leading is definitively not bringing me comfort and is directly contributing to an inner sense of dissatisfaction.

In some ways, my life is an oddity. For years, I felt like I had certain things sorted out, my life got upended unexpectedly, and I went about my business trying to put myself together in some capacity while obsessing about my career (or lack thereof). Now I've reached a point where I have enough confidence in myself and my chosen path that I really don't fret (much) about my career, I just know that I will be a success in whatever I chose. On the other hand, I have less confidence that I'm going to meet the right person and things are just going to happen. Well, that's not 100% accurate. I have less emotional confidence, my intellectual confidence suggests that I worry too much and I should just relax about the whole issue.

At any rate, after discussing this extensively with my best friend, thinking and writing about it extensively on my own, I've decided that this is time for me to focus on the self. I need to get my house in order. Thirty is a point of departure for me. I can no longer "live like a refugee". Unless, of course, living like a refugee was how I wanted to live. And that's the central point. It's time to start making more concrete choices about how I want to live and act on those ideas. Right now I feel like Neo when Trinity says, "You've been down that road, Neo. You know where it leads..."

Anyway, I'm not going to dwell on that much right now. It's just noteworthy that I've made a little transition away from destructive tendencies and back toward personal growth which is really what this whole venture across the pond is supposed to be about in the first place.

My celebratory night was eventful. We had class until 730, but hit the pub after. The good thing about having a birthday is you never buy any drinks. The bad thing about having a birthday is you never buy any drinks. The night started with a tequila shot and things went downhill from there. We eventually went to this club I kind of like called The Loop. It was packed. Today is a holiday in the UK, so last night was like Friday night except there was no cover charge. We danced for awhile and had a good time (it was a big group too - about 12 of us), but eventually I had to go home. My friend Justin took me home, but I'd sobered up enough at that point that I went to my neighbors for an hour. I love those guys. They slipped a birthday card into my room without my knowledge. Such nice people.

Today I'm taking it easy. I'm going to dinner with The Prototype later and maybe some drinks after, but it won't be a late night. That's part of the Contract With Stephen (hey - the GOP can have a contract with America, so I can have a Contract with Stephen!). I'm not going out till 5 am on a regular basis anymore. I will still go out to clubs from time to time because I like to get my dance on, but I'm not going totally nuts anymore. That's part of the lifestyle that's been taking an extensive physical toll on my wellbeing and must stop. Tomorrow I may have a house warming party to go to as well as a work event/party on Sunday. Aside from that, I plan to spend much of this weekend enjoying the relatively good weather and doing schoolwork. One week into the term and I have a ton to do already.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Politics, et. al.

I'm not a doctor. I don't know jack about medicine and I generally try to stay away from all types of medical care unless absolutely necessary. That being said, I'm smart enough to know that this whole Terry Schiavo business is bunk.

It's not about euthanasia. It's not about vegetable/no vegetable. It's not even about parents rights vs. spouses rights. No, those issues were decided long ago. This latest ploy by the Pro-Life Movement is about politics. As a friend astutely put it, Bush sold himself to that constituency (as did most of the GOP) and now he has to pay the bill. That's all this is really about - kowtowing to a political minority to gain some points that will carry over to the next election.

That part doesn't bother me too severely. I mean, it is disgusting. It's really little more than pandering in oh so transparent ways, so of course it bothers me. But that's politics. It happens all the time, every single day, but usually in less vile ways. You usually don't see GOP leaders "diagnosing" a persons mental/medical condition based on a 20 minute viewing of a 4-year old video, for instance. And you don't usually see the righteousness of passing a meaningless bill "to save a life" that we've seen from the likes of Tom Delay (a true fascist if there ever was one), unless Ashcroft is involved.

What really bothers me, however, is that this case saw 7 years of appeal in the Florida courts, the judicial process was followed to the letter, and at the end of the day, when the Federal Government ultimately disagreed with the decision, they swooped in and tried to force Florida to do things differently. To me, that's the most objectionable element of all this nonsense. The American system is founded on a loosely held concept of devolution and decentralization. I hate the term "federalism", but it is the central issue. If the federal government can just intervene in state affairs any time they feel like it, then the system has no value. This, like so many other issues, used to be a GOP concern. But once again, the GOP is demonstrating their truly gutless nature by violating long held principles that, in part, form the basis of their "philosophy". I mean, seriously, the Contract With America was only 10 years ago.

Thusly, I was quite pleased with the Federal Circuit judge and the Court of Appeals when they ruled they had no jurisdiction in this case. That's the right answer. And I have a sneaking feeling that behind all the rhetoric and pandering, the GOP is pleased that it worked out that way. Fortunately, while even judgeships are political by nature, there are a few judges left that do what they're tasked to do and that's read the law and make a decision not based on politics.

I have no idea if Terry Schiavo is alive or dead inside. I have no idea if this is the right course of action. But I do know that the process was followed (exhausted, I'd say), a decision was made, and now it needs to be lived with. To attempt a last second change in Florida law (which is the next step for the family) seems desperate and inappropriate at this time. You live in a certain system, with certain rules that most of us follow. When things don't go your way, you shouldn't just be able to up and head to Tallahassee and change the law so that things all of a sudden do go your way.

That may seem callous. People in the extreme religious minority that appear to be running the US right now would scream in my face, "this is a life here, not a parking ticket!" That is cause to pause. But not to bring the whole show down. The stakes are always high. Bush's proposed Medicare cuts, for example, threaten to shorten the lives of thousands if not millions of elderly Americans simply because they're no longer going to be able to afford the medicine's they need.

The real point is, no matter how loud you shout, no matter how many candlelight vigils you hold, no matter how many palms you press or chits you call in, none of us, and I mean none, have any idea if it is a life or isn't. I'm sure it was a tough decision by the husband, by the doctors, and by the courts. I have enough confidence in people to believe that they didn't just up and decide to pull the plug without thinking about it long and hard. These late hour show stoppers that the press are foaming over are late in the day and frankly offensive to the people that did have to make tough decisions. Where was all this passion, prayer vigils, tears, etc. seven years ago when this process began? Call me a pessimist, but the whole thing stinks of politics and pandering.

Next up, the Terry Schiavo movie or Terry's Law or who knows what else. It's all about capitalizing on the stories of the day apparently. Thank God I don't have to sit there and watch it unfold. Ah, the benefits of not living in a country that appears to be totally insane.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Where's Waldo

I don't know and I wouldn't tell you if I did. Go ask a toddler.

I haven't posted here in quite a bit of time, so I have some updating to do. Instead of a chronology, I'm gonna just roll by the issues.

The New Hotness (aka 'Charlie', aka 'No Dice')

So I went out with the Vietnamese girl on Friday night. She and her friend and Smooth Like Butta' actually. We went to a pub and then back to my place (what a joke that was) for a bit. It wasn't a late night, which was good. Once again, she was all over me and I was willing. I was beginning to have strong reservations at this time, however, because she really had little ability to interest my mind in conversation (or hold a conversation at all for that matter). She wanted me to go out with her again on Saturday, but I wasn't having that. More on that later.

Anyway, we got together on Sunday and my worst fears were confirmed. She's vacant. Or if not vacant, she's just not the type of person I would want to spend time with. We went to a movie (more on that later as well) and she just doesn't interest me. That's the short of it. When I ask about what someone thinks about something and they reply, "oh, I don't know - you know more about that sort of stuff anyway...", well, we're going to have problems. Is it too much to ask that a woman has an opinion about something? There are a whole host of other things as well, but I won't belabor the details. Bottom line: nice girl, not for me.

That being said, it's a bit sticky right now. I hope I haven't led her on or anything because I know that she likes me a good bit. I'm not sure if I should call her and just tell her that I'm not really interested in seeing her again (my gut suggest yes - that's the standup thing to do) or if I just let things slide. She may call me if I don't call her, so the question may be moot. Either way, I don't want to hurt her feelings or anything, I just feel absolutely nothing when I'm with her (and actively think about what I'm going to do when she's gone).

Real World

I really wish I could videotape every interaction of Real World's life (except when she's naked or having sex - vomit). She's a case study on how not to lead a life and ultimately finds new ways to disturb me and everyone around her. I mentioned previously that she broke up with her boyfriend. What I didn't know, and found out Saturday when I spent the day with her being the good friend, was that she totally went off the deep end - and by that I mean TOTALLY.

First, she hacked into her ex's email account. It wasn't hard, he uses like one password for everything and she figured it out quickly. She did this because she "wanted to know why" he left her. Doing that, however, revealed that he hooked up with someone else after their big fight - something she sees as cheating, even though they were probably already broken up. Getting increasingly incensed, she sees that he's emailed people suggesting that she was too clingy (she is) and that she was putting pressure on him and he wasn't ready for that (all true - although he started that). But, then, in some form of ego protection, he claimed she was stalking him (possible but unverifiable). Now, I'm not an expert or anything, but when two people break up, and one of them doesn't want it to end, and the other lies about why, well, it's pretty natural to send a few emails asking why, especially when you get dumped via a text message. So he shouldn't have said "stalking", but then again, he's an utter jackass, so there's no surprise there.

At any rate, Real World lost it. Completely. She email EVERYONE in his address book - including two places that he had interviewed at recently - the email where he describes "cheating" on her. When he finds out, he flips (as he should) and sends her a string of nasty messages. She cuts and pastes those and then emails that out to ALL of his friends with the line "see what kind of guy he is". Now they've been having a pissing match via email, she's regretting it all, but now is feeling harassed. And yes, she went to the police station and filed a report last night with all of his "harassing" emails in hand as evidence. I have yet to hear the full story about how that went.

I can't even go into the rest of the story. Because it gets worse and I just won't go there in public.

Don't Move

So the movie I saw on Sunday (Don't Move) which was quite excellent in a really demented sort of way. The reviews have been up and down (rottentomatoes gave it about a 50%) but that doesn't mean jack. In fact, I'm hope I'm not reading into the movie because everything I've seen describes it as a simple love story which, to me, is like describing a burrito as a simple sandwich wrap. Anyway, the acting is fantastic, the drama is poignant, and there is a bigger message that is perhaps too subtle causing some people (reviewers) to miss it, but I think is the more important message. Oh, there's also a lot of sex, although not much nudity. This isn't the kind of movie you take a teenager to either.


School is underway again. I'm taking three courses this term which will be a lot of work. But I'm up for it. Going out all the time and living it up, while fun for a bit, isn't really fulfilling and I'm tired of that lifestyle. I have a simple theory about meeting people at clubs (STAMPAC) and this latest bout has born that out - you don't meet people you would want to be with at a club, even if they are there. And frankly, I'm tired of going to dodgy shite-holes, talking to whatever girl walks by, trying to pull numbers, all the while getting pissed on cheap beer or alcohol on a routine basis. That ain't a life - at least not for me.

So, I'm pulling back from that. It's become a waste of time and money and I'm just not there right now. Even though I like to dance, I won't be doing any of that for awhile unless I'm doing it with someone I really like. Instead, I'm going to hang out with my mates, focus on school and work, hopefully do a little traveling (Dublin next week it looks like), and not worry about trying to meet girls. Hopefully I'll get to see the Prototype as well because she's been absent from my life for the most part of three weeks and that's unacceptable. She's the best friend I have here and I'm ignoring her. I feel like a jackass.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Beautiful Day

It is absolutely gorgeous outside today. I mean, unbelievable 60 degree weather with a warm sun and gentle breezes. If this is what the Spring is going to be like here, then I'm about to fall in love with this country all over again.

Backtracking to Tuesday will involve a sordid tale in which I spent 3 of 48 hours sleeping, 13 of 48 hours working, and the rest either getting drunk or reveling in drunkenness. Fortunately, my 2-day bender is over and I'm mostly recovered (kudos to my German/Irish heritage).

I had no plan to go out on Tuesday. But, after a particularly long and busy day, my mate the Roving Alcoholic asked if I wanted to hit a pub for a few drinks with one of his mates. His mate is a good guy so I gladly accepted. Little did I realize that I was not to return home until 430 in the morning. The way it works over here is that people buy rounds - it goes around the group. So when we got their, immediately someone purchased a "jug" of Vodka-Redbulls. Which meant that we were now going to have 3 pitchers because you can't have one person buying drinks all night, you have to pay them back, so to speak. Fast forward 4 hours (with several repeats) and now there's a proposition to go to a club called Zoo Bar.

Now, Zoo Bar, I must say is a dodgy little shitehole, louder than reasonable, and, surprisingly, is always packed. My mates go there a lot, so they didn't charge us a cover because they were regulars. Now, the Roving Alcoholic and his friend are true Brits - they drink a ton and can hold their liquor. I feel like I've been in training camp, but I must have passed the test because we drank inordinate amounts of alcohol and I didn't pass out or puke or even come close, so I must be doing ok.

I met a nice Dutch girl there, a med student I believe. But, after the third time I asked her what her name was, she stormed away pissed. I would have remembered her name except that is was so loud in there I literally could never get more than "Ma-" I think it was Mary Anne or Mary Ellen or something like that, which was also utterly confusing because I wouldn't have expected such a name from someone from Rotterdam.

Also, it would not have been a night out to a dodgy shitehole if there hadn't been a fight, a bouncer manhandling this bloke, an arrest, and a bunch of people laughing their ass off at the dude who somehow managed to start a fight and get arrested. Lovely country.

I will neither confirm nor deny claims that I was dancing on top of the bar with two random girls at some point during the night.

At about 330 or so, they kicked us out. Well, they kicked me out, because who knows what happened to my friends. Not that any of us were concerned. Guys have an unwritten understanding that if you go to the club and you lose your mates, you don't have to track them down or see if they're ok (unless you know they're total lightweights and you think that maybe they passed out in a dark corner somewhere and are on the cusp of getting tossed out by an angry bouncer who just wants to get some of his stress out on a pliable and unresisting near-corpse). So, after realizing they were long gone or somewhere in the deep recesses of the nether regions of the club, I got my coat and bolted. I was ready to sleep. It took awhile to get home, but I finally did and promptly passed out.

My 7:50 wake up time angrily announced itself with several loud, foghorn style blares. Shockingly, getting up wasn't a problem. Well, awakening wasn't a problem. I did have to sit on the bed for a few minutes to gather myself before hopping in the shower. I think I was still drunk.

I really don't know how I survived the rest of the day. And this is something that I truly don't understand. I was a MUCH better employee on Wednesday when I basically came to work drunk than I was on Tuesday when I was relatively well rested. I got stuff done, I stayed late to make sure that some things were completed the right way, and I didn't do much more than check my email on the internet (thus no post yesterday). Not only that, I didn't have a lick of caffeine, I didn't come close to falling asleep, and I was pretty much alert all day. I have no theory to explain this one.

After work, I went and got my Halal-wich, truly the best sandwich this side of the pond, if not of all time. I forgot to mention last week that I finally have become a regular. It takes different lengths of time to become a regular because proprietors don't want to anoint someone with regular status if they just show up a couple times - they want to see you again and again. Well, last week, I think I passed the threshold because I didn't even have to order what I wanted. They just knew. I'm finally getting places in this country. And yes, succulence has been achieved - not once, but TWICE. I'm in shock and awe of this little shop's devastating success rate. Their competitors should be very scared.

Anyway, I met up with Real World later. It was really nice out, so I had it in mind to walk along the Thames for a bit, which was awesome. So instead of going home and passing out, as was the plan, I ended up meeting Real World at a pub around 4 with one of our other classmates whom I have yet to find the perfect nickname for. I thought this girl, initially, was a moron because she doesn't talk in class much and she passes notes with Real World incessantly. But after hanging out with her last night, I think she's ok. She definitely knows how to have a good time.

Real World, as I may have mentioned, just broke up with her boyfriend and she had it in her to get pissed drunk last night and go clubbing. The initial presentation of the idea garnered staunch opposition from the likes of me. I was not interested in going clubbing again last night. But, my defenses were worn down by the lure of cheap alcohol, cute girls, and an unending desire to get my dance on. We ended up at O'Neill's - a place I haven't been to since last October or November. It's not the greatest joint or anything, but it's not too bad and it has the required elements. Last night, they also had U2 cover band as well, which was pretty cool. Both of the girls I was with were lightweights though, so I had to be in a constant caretaker mode - which was fine, better me than the guy who kept trying to take advantage of two girls that are obviously a bit too drunk. It did, however, inhibit my ability to meet girls...

We left a bit early - it couldn't have been much later than 2. I finally got to go home and pass out. I think I need to detox myself for a couple days.

My date with the New Hotness was postponed until Friday, which enabled this sordid ridiculousness to happen. I have many admin type things I need to do between now and then, starting with my laundry and ending with finding an extra 915 pounds so I can pay for this extra class I want to take starting next week. But all I really want to do is go to Kensington Gardens and bask in the warm sunlight.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March Madness

So I have to confess. I didn't post yesterday because I spent most of my day working on my NCAA Tourney picks. It wasn't like I had any work to do, and since I've watched exactly zero college hoops games this year, well, let's just say this is probably my best chance to win ever.

Anyway, I went out with the Prototype on Sunday night. Dinner and a movie. Was this a date? I have no idea whatsoever. I do, however, have to take inner pleasure in the fact that we watched "Hitch", a very enjoyable film about a man (Will Smith) who hitches people up together when they can't seem to do it on their own - which is just a metaphor for his own love failings. Aside from one scene where they couldn't decide between humor and sentiment and ended with neither and the very end in which Will Smith tried to give a Jerry Miguire type speech and instead gave a Jerry Falwell speech (long, incoherent, and only losely affiliated with the topic at hand), I'd say that's a damn funny movie. ANYWAY, it's also damn ironic to be sitting next to a woman that you've labeled the "prototype" and who has been doing nothing but playing with your emotions for the last couple months when the subject of the movie is basically about failed connections - something that is an enduring reality of our relationship. She confuses me.

So I talked to the New Hotness last night. I'm still not sure if I like her, but she did make me laugh a lot, so that's something. We're going out on Wednesday. She's quite playfull (as in she likes to fuck with people) which is...amusing. And she has the most curious sort of accent, imagine Vietnamese accent with British flavour. Very curious. Anyway, I have nothing to lose here, so hopefully we'll have fun.

Real World and her boyfriend broke up. He turned out to be just as nuts as she is. Of course, that's why I thought they were a natural pair, but apparently, too many nuts don't make a gallery - they make bad bar treats. The short of it is, after promising to help her move, he went out and got drunk, then cursed her out and shouted at her for making him do stuff when he didn't want to. Really classy. Then, because that wasn't enough, after she borrowed a duffel bag to get her stuff out of his place, he sent her a text message saying he was going to report her to the police. I guess love is fleeting (aka "chalk it up to bad karma").

Finally, I have to recount a couple tales from the club the other night. After being there an hour, I went to the bar to refresh mine and Smooth Like Butta's drinks. And there at the bar, looking almost exactly the same as in October, was the Dead End (I think that's what I labeled her). She didn't see me and I got the hell out of there. Nothing like running into someone you hooked up with before, only to go out on a proper date with them, to find out that they're dead weight, so you spend the rest of the date looking for the early exit without trying to be rude, but feeling an increasingly strident urge to smack a ho', something that you would never do and forces your hand to get up and go.

Also, when I met the New Hotness, she was with her friend, who Smooth Like Butta' tried to pick up. This is the first time in history I think that I've been successful while he has not. Not only did he crash and burn, but I've since heard that she found him "boring". But it gets better. At one point, the New Hotness (all new girls that I meet will be known as the "new hotness" until an appropriate nickname can be established) went to the toilet and told me to wait with my friends. Smooth Like Butta' told me he would "suck his own d***" if she came back. I guess it just wasn't his night. Good times.

So, in conclusion, if you're a modestly able dancer and you go to the club, always remember, foreigners don't know how to dance worth shit, so they'll always think that you're ready for prime time when you kick it, even though you know full well that if they turned the lights on, you'd barely be adequate to be an American Bandstand fluffer. And that's the beauty of living in a foreign land. Er'body foreign to me.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"Why did you say that twice? I didn't."

One pound to whomever can place the above quote, people from Leesburg, Virginia excluded from competitition as explicitly outlined in "entry rules". Payment of £1 only transferable in UK.

I had a very specific plan as to how I wanted to finish out this term. I needed to finish both papers and ace my exam on Saturday so that I could go out Saturday night. My motivation was high, my energy level was juiced up on giant cups of caffeine, my attitude was right. Needless to say, mission accomplished.

I have to confess, I went out with the Prototype on Friday night. It was not part of the "plan", but she wanted to hang and we hadn't hung out in awhile so I was game. We ended up sharing a bottle of wine, which was also not part of the plan, but my Brit-tough liver sustained me and I was able to get work done after I came home from the pub. She had the utmost of confidence in me, so she told me not to worry about losing 4 hours of study time hanging with her. Still, I followed my preperation plan, went to sleep, got up early on Saturday, finished up my studying, whipped that exam into order, and then hit the pub.

I also have to confess that at the pub, I was in a great state of self-pleasedness. Part of that is that when you set goals for yourself, no matter how sophisticated or mundane, there is a natural euphoric feeling of fullfilling those goals (kind of like how George Bush did a war with Iraq and then was able to put that big banner up on that Navy Boat "mission accomplished". George must have felt really warm inside on that day). But, there was another feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing that you scored. I'll give an example. If you play football and you give your all out effort and your team wins, you feel awesome. But if you're the one that scores the goal and gets to run around like crazy, ripping your shirt off and getting the crowd insenced...well, that just takes it to a whole 'nuther level. And that's what I did to that exam.

Anyway, Eurotrash was very complementary at the pub. He basically told me not to worry about jobs and things like that because I'm the top student in the program, I'm going to graduate number one, and I'll write a kick ass thesis that will mean I can write my own ticket. I had not thought of it like that and it was a VERY nice thing to say (and especially meaningful from someone who knows me well and whom I respect). It is an unusual feeling to be in that position. I remember knowing the top student at Emory (bigger pond, I know) and I always wondered what that was like.

So after the pub, I went home, took a 30 minute nap (entirely necessary), and met up with Smooth Like Butta' for some clubbing. We went to a wanna-be posh club called Tiger Tiger in Picadilly Circus. It's not the greatest place but it has two things that every man wanted last night: alcohol and women. And there are LOTS of cute to hot girls at that place. I ended up meeting some Vietnamese girl who was all over me, all night and danced with her for like 4 hours. Yeah, I'm beat down today. Of course, the good thing about it was that when you pick up a random woman and dance with her, you really don't have time to get a drink at the bar, so I didn't actually drink very much which was good for me head, me liver, and me wallet. We left at 3:30 when the place closed. I got her number and gave her mine, figuring I would call her tonight. She texted me this morning. I think that she likes me. Hehe. Now, I don't know if I like her because I don't know much about her aside from the basics. But she is hot, so that's saying somethig.

Today, within 30 minutes of waking, my entire day was booked solid. I knew I had to do laundry, so that was task one. Then Real World called and wanted to get some coffee (and borrow £100 until Thursday when she gets paid - she's moved into a new flat and needs the money to cover the security deposit), which she is now en route to Earl's Court. And, the Prototype called and wants to get an early dinner and see a movie if we have time.

I am not complaining. I like being sociable. Plus, I'm in a jolly good mood right now and I want to do more than clean my mess of a room. Cheerio!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Last day of the term

It's 6:50 in the morning and I'm up and working on school. Something is terribly wrong here.

I've been working my ass off the last couple days and things seem to be falling into place. I'm on target to finish everything by this afternoon (if this stupid fucking internet would allow me to open an email and print my paper, that is) which means I get to go out tonight and do some hell raising. There is much rejoicing.

I still have yet to make a decision as to how to proceed, but after talking to the Prototype last night, I think that I'm probably going to try to finish this program in July. Instead of pushing things off, it seems to make more sense to try to finish it early because then I would have more options:

1. Stay and work
2. Backpack Europe
3. Go to the US
4. Go elsewhere

Assuming I can pull it off, I think this is what I shall do. Of course, now it means scrambling to get things organized next week, but hey, what's wrong with the last minute?

Ok, 7 hours and counting to exam time. Must study more.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Say What?

I'll be honest here. I haven't had enough time lately to keep on top of the US sports scene. The last two weeks have been totally nuts with work and school. Going out on Friday night was probably a bad idea time wise, but I found it central to maintaining my sanity. Everyone needs some time off from the books, even if you have two papers and an exam due in three days.

So when I booted up the Washington Post the other day, my reaction to seeing that the Giants had signed Antonio Pierce was a lot like Jerry when Cush told him he was switching agents. Maintain your dignity, get off the phone, throw a tantrum. Then we lost Fred Smoot to the Vikings. I'd say my reaction was more like Ed Norton when he realized Tyler Durden was himself. Add that to losing our top wideout to the Jets (in exchange for the NFL's 'mighty mouse') coupled with all the TRULY nasty things that Dan Snyder said (read today's Washington Post - what an evil fuckstain) and I think my beloved Redskins franchise resembles Kevin Costner's acting career - pridefully, arrogantly, inexorably, spinning out of control. I did not expect this. Franchise's are supposed to build on success, not throw it down the drain. But I suppose that Snyder's penchant to throw around money like a bachelor at a stag party meant that someday, the piper had to be paid. This appears to be the day.

Now, instead of drafting a greatly needed defensive lineman, the Redskins are poised to draft a replacement cornerback (Rolle from Miami - just you watch) - assuming that big, dumb, and slow Mike Williams is off the board (taken by Minnesota - wait for that). (And yes, he is dumb. He gambled his college career on a hope and a prayer that a court would rule him eligible to be drafted last season - and lost. What a dolt.) Anyway, I sadly see the continual demise of the Redskins franchise. Seeing San Diego's success does make one wonder what could have been had the impetuous Napoleanite in power not axed Coach Marty and given it a couple years. Worst of all, Coach Gibbs' reputation is likely to be tarnished in the process which, combined with the re-realization of his rampant and evangelical Christianity is enough to sour the stomach on Redskins football forever. (Not that that could ever happen - I mean, it's the REDSKINS.)

On top of all that, the entire sports world seems to be going nuts. Today on ESPN, there's not one, but TWO feature articles on a role-playing rebounder from Seattle that averages less than 25 minutes a game, a review about a new poker book, a feature article about cricket, and a new Page 2 columnist who thinks there should be a women's sports network. I'll repeat what Ripley asked when being queried about her decision to destroy the Nostromo, "Have IQs suddenly dropped while I was away?"

All I'm asking for is an Ash Williams, "Give me some sugar baby" kind of moment and instead I'm getting is a Dark Helmet, "It's gone from suck to blow!" kind of moment.

Ok, sports rant over.

Yesterday I did a big favor for a mate of mine and researched UK landlord-tenant law so that a friend of his can get out of a lease he signed. In repayment, he wanted to take me out for some drinks last night. I went along, even though I probably should have gone home. He drinks Vodka-Redbull, which isn't a bad tasting combination, but it leads to you blowing Redbull flavored wind both North and South. Plus, it has the added effect of being the most caffeinated beverage this side of an IV drip which means after a few, you're going to be up most of the night no matter how much Vodka was involved (and in this case, not much). As a final icing on the cake, combining an upper (redbull) and a downer (vodka) risks sending your heart into a continual flutter, which makes it truly shocking that no one has reportedly died of a heart attack from this noxious concoction since they drink it like it's Georgia sweet tea.

Needless to say, I don't normally drink this stuff because all of the above is distinctly unpleasant. But I did last night. And, guess what, I was up most of the night. Refusing to waste the time, however, I got up at 1 and worked on this paper for a couple hours. I finally went back to sleep at about 4. Good to be rested. Fortunately, I'm actually not that tired today (adrenaline no doubt) and I think I'll be able to finish the Food Aid paper tonight (due Friday) which would only leave me to finish the Camp David paper by Monday (although I want to turn it in on Saturday so I can be done with the quarter).

So, long story short: Washington area sports falling to pieces, school term rapidly concluding, frequently breaking redbull flavored wind.

George Bush quote of the day: "It should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the wave of the future; it is the last gasp of a discredited past." He's a poet and didn't know it.

The cover of the new economist: George Bush, right arm raised in a quasi-Hitler salute with the words, "Merci, ya'll!" next to it. I can't tell you how funny the Brits think it is when I say that in a deep Texan accent.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Early Rising is overrated

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, 5 am with no more sleep coming. Of course, I was too stubborn to just get up, so I laid in bed until I finally roused myself at 7. Usually, four hours of sleep would leave me falling over tired, but I'm actually fairly alert. I spent some time working on my presentation for class today (switched from Wednesday) and listening to rap music as I ate my toast.

People often ask, "What do you miss most about the States?" Aside from family and friends, it's a fairly easy question. I had a dream the other night that sums it up best. For some reason I was in Miami (where I've never been) and I ran into Kobe Bryant (who I'm not even a fan of). We went to get burritos. I presume this needs no further explanation.

Another common thing that occurs is people saying, "I don't normally like Americans..." This happened just the other night at the "party". One of the people that lives in that house is a German woman. After talking to her for a bit, she pulled out that line. Now, you can interpret it in one of two ways. Either, "I don't normally like Americans, but in your case, I'll make an exception," or, "I don't normally like Americans and I don't like you." I didn't like her much, so I didn't bother to find out what she was thinking. Yesterday, however, I realized I've been dealing with that statement all wrong. So now I have a new policy. When someone says, "I normally don't like Americans..." I'll reply with, "I don't normally like people from [insert country of origin]." If they ask why, I'll make them answer first, hear all the stereotypical comments, and then reply, "I don't normally like people from [X] because they tend to stereotype Americans like you just did." Adversarial? Yes. But I'm tired of being castigated or prejudged simply because I originate from the finest nation on Earth. I'm not the ugly American. I know more about the world than where Texas is. So piss off if you go down that road, I say.

[All Brits are excluded from the above. I have never had a Brit utter those words and it will be shocking if they ever do. Mainland Europeans are a different story.]

[All cute girls are excluded from the above as well. I have the right to be arbitrary.]

As I'm in full study mode, I've been living like a refugee of late. Well, that and it's been cold as a brick out. I'm, of course, talking about food. I simply have not wanted to waste the time going to the real grocery store or risk greater frigidity in my extremities, so I've been grabbing whatever I can to eat (usually dodgy food that is probably doing absolutely horrible things to my innards). I decided to stop doing that, however, so I had proper meals yesterday (salmon, homemade salsa, salad, etc.). Today I get to go to the totally sweet Mediterranean spot and hook up a Halal style sandwich wrap dealio. I'm pretty excited to not be eating ass-tastic food.

I talked to the Prototype for awhile last night. She's flipflopping on how long to stay in this country (again). I feel for her because the whole career after grad school thing is a bit tricky and she definitely wants her career to get going. At the same time, though, my interest in her is waning. She's a quality woman but I think she's so consumed with her own internal struggle that she really can't give anyone anything at this point. Live in the moment or don't live at all, I say.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"You don't have to live like a refugee"

Yesterday was a quite a day. Class was pretty boring on the whole. I'm just not so into humanitarian concerns, at least not on the "let's get out and help some people" micro level. I'm into goverments and organizations.

Anyway, I had some tasty and delicious Thai food at The Hobgoblin which is a conveinant 10 minute walk from campus. There was snow on the ground in the morning which I attempted to photograph, but my rechargeable batteries are failing me consistently, so I had no juice. I agreed to meet up with Real World for a "party" at her boyfriend's house in the evening, so I took the afternoon easy - a nap and some Madden on the pc sufficed.

Real World's boyfriend lives out in the middle of nowhere, west London, Ealing Broadway. It's the last stop and then there's at least a 10 minute bus ride to his house. But I wanted to go because: a) he's british, b) he may know british girls, and c) there will probably be girls at the party. It was an enjoyable evening on the whole. It wasn't what I would term a "party" because 8 guys and 3 girls sitting around drinking beer and whine just doesn't come close to my idea of what a party should be. (And yes, I spelled that the way I wanted it.)

At any rate, aside from the cute Spanish girl, there were no other girls of interest. (And, I'm sort of kicking myself because I could have gone out in Earl's Court with some friends and had a decent chance to deploy "the system" on random strange and interesting women. Then again, knowing Justin, he probably would have wanted to go to a gay club.) I left about 1 am. I wanted to get home relatively early because I had planned on hitting the British Library today. HOWEVER, I was not prepared for how difficult and impossible the task would prove to be.

The only bus from this location heads East, but doesn't go anywhere I need to go. So the key is to change at the right place. Only problem is THERE IS NO RIGHT PLACE. The closest I could get was Shepard's Bush (hehe, I said "bush") which is quite a trek. The connecting bus does take you to Holland Park, but it drops you off at the north side of the park, which is essentially as far as just walking from Shepard's Bush. So, using the meager amount of logic remaining in my beer addled brain, I embarked on a daring mission to navigate home. It was a VERY long walk. But that wasn't my downfall. No, my downfall was when I turned the wrong way and ended up walking ALL THE WAY BACK from whence I came (although much farther south). My shame, humiliation, and utter contempt for myself knows no bounds. Being too stubborn to catch a cab, I managed to find a bus that would take me Kensington High Street which is about 10-15 minutes walking from my house. So, long story short, I left at 1 am, I rode buses for about an hour, walked for 2, and stumbled in at 4 irate, angry, and sober.

When I woke up this morning, two things were clear: I was not going to the Library and I was in trouble because the weak UK headache medicine was not going to be sufficient to alleviate my pain. It's not that I had a ton to drink either. I only had 5 beers over the course of 5 hours. No, it's that I was drinking Stella Artois, a truly foul and generic substitute that often leaves one with a nasty headache. Compounding the problem was the aching pain stretching from my feet to my back. I have good shoes and all, but they're not made for that type of hiking.

At any rate, there was obviously only one solution: Greasy Fried Chicken and Dirty Black Coffee. Fortunately, Earl's Court can provide these commodities in spades. Mixing in a couple weak pain killers and a bottle of water helped. Plus, the giant coffee that I consumed "gave me wings" meaning that I've been quite productive on this paper that I am working on. I consider today's work a major victory for my German-Irish constitution (with kudos to Coffee Republic and KFC).

Tonight, I think I'll stay in and work on these papers. I have it in me to finish these suckers this weekend, a dubious proposition, but a solid goal, if I say so myself.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Sea Change

Yesterday was a curious sort of day that had results I did not expect and can not really explain. But I will do my best.

Over the past several weeks, I have been in a foul mood evidenced by extended irritability, short temper, and sullen disposition. Unlike other moody periods, this was extended and prolonged. While it is certainly more complicated than I will explain here, suffice it to say that the continued nothingness that is my relationship with the Prototype had something to do with it. Yesterday, however, the dark clouds obscuring my normally upbeat perspective were lifted; change comes when you least expect it.

Oddly, I can pinpoint the exact moment that my internal compass righted itself. I was on the tube people watching (as always) and I saw this 30ish couple get on the train. They were standing right in front of me and after a few minutes I wanted to shout, “Get a room!” They were all over each other. At that moment, one thing struck me that I had known, but never really accepted. I will never have that type of intimacy with the Prototype. As fantastic as I find her, as much as I would like it to be, I believe the writing is on the wall and for the first time, I’m accepting it instead of just knowing it.

But something else struck me as well. I can’t remember the last time I went out “on the pull,” as they say here. Sure, I’ve gone out in the last couple months and met some women, but I was never truly interested in them because I had unspeakably committed myself to the idea of the Prototype, even if that idea was little more than a fantasy of my mind and heart (albeit one that she played a direct and continued role in creating). I also have not been having much fun recently (in general) as my “going out” time has involved either the Uni pub, a truly destitute environment that is fun for no man, and dancing with the Prototype, which, as already discussed, was never going to get me what I wanted (aside from satisfying the dancing jones within me).

When I think back to when I first arrived in the UK, those were happy times. I was going out, meeting people, just having too much fun. It’s time for the fun to start again. This doesn’t mean I need to go out until 5 am every Saturday after getting blitzed or anything like that. It simply speaks to my desire to go out, have fun, and most importantly, meet British girls. So that’s the plan. The Prototype and I shall remain friends and if the near zero event occurs where she actually acts like a normal human being and expresses some sort of concrete desire, then I will welcome that, but I am no longer so interested in that with her. In fact, I would be hesitant to engage with her at this point because of her prolonged history of stop/start and because I like romance and I’m not convinced she’s capable of any. That may be a damning statement of someone who I’ve only known for a few months and it may be inaccurate, but I think it has its grain of truth. I’m somewhat of a sentimentalist. I like to know when we had our first date. I like to believe that there is something unique about our connection. And I like to suggest that our story is an interesting story. (These desires are for me and X, as in, whoever I date in the future.) I don’t get the sense that those types of things are interesting to her. Maybe she’s just too jaded at this point to believe in the dream; I don’t know. But I do know that I’m not. I’m an optimist and a romantic at heart and I will not let a continued string of missed connections obscure that fact.

At any rate, I was on the tube because I was going to a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, or Chatham House, as it is now known. I have a student membership there which is one of the perks of going to Webster. It’s the only university in the UK to have student memberships to Chatham House, a perk we enjoy because the head of the IR program is a fellow or something like that there. The speech was titled “The Future of the WTO” and it was very interesting. In fact, it was so interesting that I may have just landed on my thesis. Finding an appropriate thesis is the ultimate quest of every graduate student (after funding, girls, and beer, that is) and I’ve been wavering over several ideas for the past couple months but the WTO issue seems to fit. I like that it’s complicated and diverse, meaning that I’m unlikely to get bored in researching it and that there are a variety of perspectives from which to draw on. More on this at a later date.

After the speech, I went back home to edit an essay that’s due today. Real World had invited me to meet her and her man up at this pub with live music in the evening and I had accepted. I’m quite pleased I got all that negative energy that I had directed toward her out of my system earlier in the day. And I think I have a better vantage point to describe my feeling toward her. When we are in school, she offends every sensibility in my body and often leaves me apoplectic. But when we are outside that environment, she’s a lot of fun. So the key is, keep her away from discussions of Israel and Palestine, and I’ll be ok.

Anyway, the pub was only 10 minutes walking away from my house, which I must say, was totally sweet. And it only cost 5 pounds to get in, which is a pretty nice price to see 4 semi-professional bands. The music did not disappoint either. I missed the first 1.5 bands, but the last two were quite good. In fact, I’d be shocked if the last band did not have a deal by the summer. They were fantastic. The place we were at is a relatively small venue, but apparently is known around London as the place for up and coming bands. They’ve had 5 bands in the last two years play multiple sets at this venue only to get signed to record deals in short order. In fact, last night, we observed some rich dude go up to the lead singer of the first band (whom I was told was not actually that good), talk to him for a few minutes, and then hand him a wad of cash. We’re talking thousands here. Now, there’s always the chance that someone was dealing some coke, but usually those transactions involve money going one way and coke going the other way, so I’ll rest on my laurels that someone has a wealthy sponsor for their musical journey (much like CWebb got cars and money when he was at UMich). What I want to know is, where’s my wealth sponsor? Or, more accurately, where’s my money, bitch!

All in all, yesterday was entirely satisfactory. Today, I have class and then Real World invited me to go to a house warming party at her boyfriend’s new place. I am interested in putting myself into situations where I am one of the only Americans, so I will probably go. The only sticking point is that he lives FAR away and I don’t want to be stuck out there all night if I can’t figure out how to take the bus home. So I’ll look into that before I make a decision, because, at the end of a long night of stiff drinks, I hate nothing more than passing out on someone’s floor only to wake up six hours later, disoriented and feeling disgusting only to realize that I have to pick my ass up, brave the cold, and march myself home before I can truly recuperate. Plus I need to go to the library tomorrow.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Shadows and Dust

I may have mentioned this previously (and if I did, then this replay speaks to a personal, undeniable, depravity), but there is a new study out that unequivocally states that eating dark chocolate is the most effective way to combat a cough. The scientists isolated an enzyme found in dark chocolate (and to a lesser, diluted extent in milk chocolate as well) that is upwards of 100 times as effective in remedying a cough than codeine. Like I needed another excuse...

Yesterday's presentations were fairly embarrassing. The Kuwaiti Royalty girl was pretty solid and the professor merely suggested that she reorganize her paper, but the following 3 were downright awful. Well, awful is too strong for the Guy from Ghana and The Nigerian. Both of theirs contained solid info but were ultimately unfocused. The prof sorted them out. Real World, however, was another story.

I feel that I must explain something that is probably obvious about this character, yet should be spelled out. She's in it for the little guy. Right or wrong. So, in an Israeli-Arab conflict class, guess who she thinks is 100% wrong and 100% right. Her outright defiance to even listen to arguments from Israel's perspective demonstrates a clear lack of academic integrity, not to mention intelligence, but also does a disservice to "her" cause. See, Real World's presentation and paper topic was on torture. She wanted to discuss the Intifada (1987-1993), what the causes were, and what tactics Israel used to get information from prisoners - namely torture. So, her explanation of this to the class was overly generic and vague on all points except the torture point, where she had found several Arab sites with statistics on torture that NO ONE else in the world agrees with (not even Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch). And really, there's nothing like getting bombarded with spirited propaganda from the least credible sources.

Our professor, being the astute and experienced veteran that he is, gently informed her that while she cares a lot about the issue and that is laudable, she would simply not be able to substantiate the claim because there is no evidence for torture. He then instructed her to focus on the cause of the Intifada and gave her pointers. What really was bothering me (and I wisely swallowed this one) is that there was NO ARGUMENT in her "paper". I mean, a 15 page one-off FYI about some torture that may or may not have happened a good paper does not make. The whole point is to write an explanation to a series of events, not to pontificate and castigate one side because you think they're the devil. I wouldn't have been bothered by this much (because normally that's PAR with this character) except that we had several conversations about this prior to yesterday and we exchanged several emails in which I gave her very specific comments (which were very similar to what our professor said). But, once again, she completely ignored me. Why do I even try, I wonder.

Dogma, such as it is, I think is entirely unhealthy. To give yet another example, Real World explained to me the other day that the Intifada was caused because the Palestinians wanted to get revenge on the Israelis for everything they had done to them. That statement was so bad that I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Not only that though, she claims to have read the entire textbook for the class, so when she told me that, I asked her directly if she read the chapter on the Intifada. She said yes. At this point, I lost my cool a little bit and very sardonically said, "Then how could you possibly think that the Intifada was caused by a desire to get revenge? Did you NOT read the part about frustration and about how the PLO used that frustration to generate violence as part of a specific political strategy?" Her response was muted at best.

Lest ye think that I abhor this woman or spent most of my time castigating her, be it known that without this forum to vent this frustration, I would probably go postal on her. I am optimistic about her future, I just wish she would untie herself from certain habits. Case in point, the story I related yesterday. But there is also an identity politics issue that is so fucking obnoxious that I really have trouble listening to her at times. Everything with her is about race. She identifies with the Palestinians because she's a "black woman used to having to fight for what [she] get[s]." Which is a total lie. Previous generations certainly fought for equality, but Real World sure as hell didn't. No, instead she spent her youth imbibing large quantities of alcohol and drugs, divorcing her parents, sleeping around, and ignoring the glaring hole inside herself that she could never fill up with those types of exploits. Do I have no sympathy to her nervosa? Of course not. (That's a double negative, meaning that of course I have sympathy.) But that sympathy does not extend to the point that she can deploy the race card as the ultimate trump to any and every argument. It does not mean that she gets to say disparaging things about "those Jews". And it sure as hell doesn't mean she has ANY idea whatsoever what it's like to be a Palestinian.

So, as you can imagine, I don't spend a ton of time hanging out with her because it's just too frustrating.

Anyway, I was supposed to go to the British Library today but I ended up not having enough time. Between paying rent, filing some financial aid forms, and other unpleasantness, the narrow window that closes at 5 pm (when I have to go to this speech on the future of the WTO) became too narrow to be of use. Instead, I'll go on Saturday. I have to give my paper presentation on Monday. I would have been well prepared anyway (because that's just what I do), but after seeing the flaws in yesterday's presentation, I have some specific ideas about how to avoid some of the pitfalls. I'm sure he'll still have guidance for me (which I appreciate), but I don't want to look like a fool. Two out of four presenters yesterday requested that I not ask questions. Four out of four presenters were forced to answer questions from me. So, I'll be ready to be grilled (bring that shit on).

Today I have yet another dull, ringing headache. I believe this is the 3rd day in a row. Normally it wouldn't be a problem. One or two Excedrin Migraine's later and you're rolling pain free. But these cheap British drugs are virtually useless. I went to Boots yesterday and bought some "migraine" medicine, which is really ibuprofen. In fact, I looked at every package of headache medicine and it was ALL ibuprofen. I'm going to have to find another drug store...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Cold Rain is my favorite

That's right, cold, nasty, dreary rain. Yes, this is why I live in London. I'm slowly becoming used to being in some state of cold and/or wet all the time. In fact, the only times that I'm actually warm (and dry) are when I pump the space heater in my room up to high. Aside from that, I'm pretty much cold all the time. Oh Spring, where are ye?

I didn't have to go to work today. I ended up working late on Monday - a 14 hour day. So I topped out at 20 hours yesterday. All things being equal, I would rather have worked today and made some money because "I'm ballin' on a budget" if you know what I mean. Still, I got the nice perk of dinner and a cab ride home on Monday night paid for by the firm, so at least I got something for my effort. This, of course, is lock step with the Temp Rules. We are allocated 15 pounds for dinner which means that we ordered 15 pounds each - or, to put it more clearly, my mate and I both had two dinners. Temp Rules require such action. (There can be no argument on this point.)

Anyway, yesterday at work was long and painful. I was totally exhausted. When you get home from work after 11 pm, you can't just go to bed right away. So Monday night I ended up going to bed at 2 which meant back-to-back 6 hours of sleep with a 14 hour work day sandwiched in between. Yeah, I was hurting yesterday.

I still have a bunch of school work to do. Tonight I have class (stay tuned: Real World's presentation is tonight) and tomorrow I have to go to the British Library to do some research. Our research facilities at school are piss poor at best. I haven't gotten much done since Sunday for obvious reasons, but I did manage to do a bit of research yesterday at work (it was really slow).

Yesterday at lunch I was chatting with Real World and she said that she's going to start toning it down a bit in public conversation. Apparently, her boyfriend has trouble with her putting out extremely inappropriate items for public consumption as well. I used this opportunity to explain my theory about why she does it. My argument is that she craves attention and when she's in a group setting, she never gets any because she rarely says anything intelligent (I didn't tell her that part). So, her solution is to say wildly personal and inappropriate things because people will pay attention, even if they are shocked and appalled. Surprisingly, she took it in stride when I told her that. Maybe it will make a difference, because I'm quite tired of hearing about her sex life, her gay ex-boyfriend, etc., etc., etc.

I went and got a haircut today. Sadly, I have yet to find anyone in this country that cuts a decent head of hair. Now, I wasn't complaining too much because nobody really minds a smoking hot Lithuanian girl, but then I got home. Wow did she butcher my head. She also had the sideburns at two different lengths, something I had to correct at home. This is my fourth haircut from the fourth different person and they've all been shite cuts. I guess I shouldn't be that surprised because the service industry isn't exactly one of the Brit strong suits, but still. You'd think you could get a decent cut somewhere in this city (that doesn't cost you 50 quid).

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