Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Well, you've seen Bad Influence Joyce, so here's Graduation Joyce. Get the whole set, while you can.

LSE Graduation


Well, I guess I'm graduated (or at least "presented") now. :-) I'll put up some photos of Joyce in ye olde academic dress at some point.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Going home?

I have a wittle bit of a cold. Booooo. Actually, it is much better after I spent yesterday in bed guzzling water and cough drops (and biscuits!) and marathoning the entire second season of the Amazing Race. The worst moment came from the tummy pain of too many biscuits (followed by the day before's pain of too many Jaffa Cakes).

As I was falling asleep, I was thinking about all the things that will be weird when I get to the US- at least things that I used to think were entirely normal until I got used to living here. Yes, knowing which way the traffic was coming from is a big one. I'm so used to looking right now. But, the best advice is always to look both ways before you cross Sesame Street. And shopping. Can I buy two carrots and five mushrooms at a time in Indiana? I know I'm probably screwed on the half loaves of bread.... And is everything going to be uber-uber salty to someone who's gotten used to a 1) a boy whose mother NEVER cooked with salt and who complains and refuses to finish my chips if I've salted them and 2) just a much higher awareness of the implications of a low-salt diet and foods that tend to contain a lot less than their American counterparts? Where on earth am I going to Walk? I don't think there's a grocery store within walking distance of my house, which makes me sad. And no buses! This is a travesty. How will I read? And, how on earth is someone with a really strict self-imposed prohibition on ANY drinking and driving going to participate in adult social activities? (Really, I hardly drink, but am worried that people will be offended if I tell them no.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited to go home to my second family and all my wonderful friends, some of which I haven't seen since I left home (or before)! But, I'm worried about all the things that are going to bug me about the US. Will I end up regretting my decision to stay away for as long as possible? Will I be counting the days until I get back here? And how on earth am I going to cope with everyone around me having American accents...dude, they've started sounding strange on tv and in movies.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And another note: ECMUN!!!! :-)
You know how Studio 60 kind of sucks and I can't figure out why I'm still watching it? (Other than some really weird belief that it can't be as bad as I think it is and that it's going to get better when it stops being about Sorkin.) Anyway, I would like the executives at NBS that I would TOTALLY watch Nations, the ficticious show about the UN whose pick-up is the ongoing example of why the new network president is kinda dumb. I can see why it's not likely to be a commercial blockbuster, but I keep wishing it were going to be real! Might even be up there with that Sally Field show about the Supreme Court that I loved and no one else in the country understoood. My life is hard.

Speaking of interesting tv, 30 Days was on last night, it's a series about various Americans who go and do something different for 30 days and originally on Fox, I think. Last night an IT guy whose job was outsourced to India went to Bangalore to live with a family who have outsourced jobs and work in one of those jobs himself. It was really interesting and I was sort of shocked at how well he came off from it and his really balanced observations about the ways that outsourcing is affecting Indians and Indian society. A little heavy on the cheesey jokes and cartoon graphics, but I'll let that pass.

Went to an amazing Outside Royalty show last Saturday, which I think should be noted. Kat's band (minus Kat, my friend from high school) has gotten more and more awesome as they've gotten used to London and Saturday was especially great because the room was really loud and crowded. It felt a whole lot less like the 7pm, Monday night gigs that they started with! I really hope this works out for them!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Coram Boy 2

Well, I'm a sad little puppy who just had to be in the audience last night for this year's first preview of Coram Boy. Honestly, though, I wouldn't have been quite so early if I hadn't been forced to get out of bed. I've never been so early in the NT line and it was all a bit frightening. Please skip this if you're completely uninterested in my opinions about a show you probably haven't seen!

So, a few notes, altough I think it's worth noting that this is still a wonderful, wonderful show and that everyone who can should go and see it. I guess this was my fifth time (ack) and I still get chills, especially supplemented by the choir and the Messiah music that accompanies really dramatic moments. I think the choir sounded even better this year and was highly amused by the person whose robe was too short and revealed his scroggy jeans when the drum revolved at the end. Heh.

Alright, so I don't have a program in front of me so I'll fill in actor's names later. First off, new Otis was fantastic. He wasn't as cartoonishly skeezy as Paul Ritter, but much more subtle. I don't know if he inspired the same sort of terror in my heart, but he was creepier because he seemed so much more likeable (also kinder, which might be a problem). I liked how different this interpretation was and how well it worked for the character. New Meshack/ His seizures were really well done, but the actor's choice was obviously to portray him more like...someone with Down's? Which was fine, of course, but I didn't find him as intellectually interesting as I did last year. Last year I would fixate on Mish and his complications; this year I sort of realized how little of the story really is about Mish, if that makes any sense. These new choices helped him fade into the background and I don't think the new actor was as commanding.

I do think it's worth remembering that this was only the first preview and that I'm sure that all of the actors in new roles will keep improving throughout the run of the show! Hmmmm, new Alexander/Aaron was last year's younger brother and understudy for the part. Her voice sounded nervous and I'm not sure that she's got the best handle on Alexander, yet. Aaron was fantastic (love the new wig, btw) and both she and Toby were great in the second act. New Toby was reaaly good. Very sweet and childish and I liked some of the new directoral choices that put him in compromising situations, more like the book.

I also loved seeing some of the same actors, all of whom seem fresh again. Both Thomas' are still great, yay!, and grown up Alexander is still quite cute. Ahem. Melissa has made some changes in the way that she delivers lines that make them less annoying (even if I still HATE that stupid blue PVC corset). Oh, and Handel, EVEN Funnier! And I think that Lord Ashbrook has improved with the break, too. Right. I think I've said the things that I wanted to say. I also don't think I need to go repeatedly this year, but I did have a long moment last night standing on Waterloo Bridge waiting for the bus and starting at the NT, thinking to myself, "how can I ever leave this place?" It made me sad.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


After three attempts to make it to my borough's main library in Peckham, I finally got there during opening hours. I was surprised at how many people were using it and especially by the number of adults studying and the people using the wireless network. Anyway, I'd say that when it comes to selection, we're still talkin' dinkier than the Nora Library, which was, in fairness, one of IMCPL's best libraries. Still, I love that feeling that you have when you walk out the door with a stack of books and can't actually decide where you want to start, because they're all appealing! And for free! (Minus the inevitable overdue charges that I consider my part of general library upkeep.) It makes you go all squishy inside!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

London has been lovely, as of late. Not so much in a literal sense, as we're moving toward that time of year when everything's a bit grey, a bit dreary, and more than a bit damp. On the other hand, it hasn't been so cold yet and the leaves are STILL mostly on the trees.

Nevertheless, I feel like the city is being good to me right now. Boy continues to be lovely, although currently fighting off a flu or cold thing and I've been spending my days (or afternoons, at least) with the Liberal Democrats, doing printing and data entry and other such tasks. I really like having a place to go, my "day centre", I call it. I also had lunch with a RPCV (Burkina) who is one of my LSE friend's good friend and it was lovely to talk about the application process and how she's been readjusting to the real world post Peace Corps.

As far as my application goes, I've been nominated and am working on medical now. I'm planning to do a TEFL course in February to improve my prospects for changing my region. I also have a short-term internship coming up that I'm very excited about. I'm going to be helping a human rights organization write a document about why they do the things that they do, basically why they bother helping protect people's human rights. It should be fantastic and I think I really got the position because of my backround in communications and the way that I've always tried to write unpreteniously. I've always figured that if you can't write so that people can understand, then you probably shouldn't bother. Also, my summers working for Governor O'Bannon and IDEM really taught me to dumb down my words and not that ideas that I was trying to express. It should be great!

I've also made two trips to Peckham, trying to get to the library and have missed it by a few minutes. Grrr. I really want the next Discworld books! But, I also popped into one of the Polish-emphasis corner shops and remembered how much Eastern Europeans like their juice! Hurrah! Let's add that to the long list of reasons why I want to go there!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Niger (finally!)

My trip to Niger was the most wonderful experience I could have asked for. I was blessed to spend so much time with my dear friend, Juliet, who I'd only seen for a few days since graduation (when she visited me in London) and who I have no idea when we'll next see each other in person. I also felt privileged to share her Peace Corps life for a couple of weeks, meeting the fantastic other volunteers and spending time with her Nigerien friends. After my trip to Kenya & Tanzania, I was so frustrated because we never had a chance to spend any real time with any regular people who weren't somehow involved in the tourist industry. Here, the two of us spent time chilling with Juliet's friends, visiting their houses, playing cards, trying to teach each other languages, eating, and "talking." We also used regular transportation instead of BIG WHITE TANK BUS OF DOOOOOOM, which was alternatively hysterical, hot, uncomfortable, exciting, dusty, scenic, and fun. I do think Jules was making up the giraffes, though, to get me to look out the window (which was happily not the one that fell into the bus)! In all, it was the best trip I could have imagined and I'm so glad that I went! Put Niger on your must-travel list, everyone!

I started writing about the trip for my e-mail list, but realized that people weren't going to get a very good sense of what we did and what it was really like from a day by day regurgitate of my trip. I think snapshots might be better, paired with actual photos, as I've uploaded my favorites already. I need to post some more, like the ones that will give people a glimpse of Juliet's lifestyle in Guidimouni (her town), but this will be a good start.

First of all, Niger is beautiful or at least it was now, just at the end of the rainy season. It was sort of red toward Niamey and sandier in Guidimouni. Generally, there were lots of scrubby bushes and little trees (although Guidimouni has a lake and gardens, and they're like a little tropical forest in the middle of everything). Here are two sunset photos (with which I am particularly pleased):

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Juliet's friends, both Nigerien and American are fantastic. The PCVs made me laugh so, so hard with their stories about their lives in the villages, their attempts to do projects, and adventures in Hausa. The Nigeriens I met were so welcoming and friendly and never stopped encouraging me to learn Hausa. Proudly, I picked up a little, some from a bunch of random guys while waiting for Juliet to get back to the autogare for our bush taxi ride out to Guidimouni. The other thing that amazed me about Niger was how safe I felt at all times. I shouldn't generalize, of course, but I felt like I needed to be on my guard most of the time when I was in Kenya & Tanzania and it always felt like things were a little bit shady. Niger, especially when we were outside of Niamey, just didn't seem that way.

We spent four days (I think) in Zinder, her regional hub that's 12-14 hours east of Niamey (Niger's capital). Highlights include adventures in riding on the back of a kabu-kabu (motorcycle taxis), power outages (me: Jules, why is the sky so cloudy? Jules: Because, dear, that's the milky way. me: NO WAY! YOU CAN SEE IT?!?), watching movies at the hostel, shopping for our amazing matching panya outfits in the market and having them made, hearing the almost continuous prayers from the loudspeakers at the mosques all over the city, sleeping outside where it was cold enough to need a blanket at night, making ice cream and just some general exploring. It was also a chance for me to get used to the weather. Here are my favorite photos of Zinder (note the kabu-kabus):

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After Zinder, it was time to take the 2ish hour bush taxi ride to her town. We were there for a week, the first day of which was both market day and Sallah...the end of Ramadan. Everyone was dressed up and wearing new panyas when we wandered around the market. There were political panyas and used Western clothes for sale, people fixing radios and exchanging money, all kinds of street food, some fruits and vegetable and cookware, and a big animal market. We had to scoot out of the way of a cow cart race at one point. And five other volunteers had come to the market, including two of Jules' really close friends whom I was delighted to meet. And once again, I spent the whole afternoon laughing. Everyone called Juliet a hajia (a woman who's gone on Hajj and is, therefore, rich) because of the number of bags that she'd brought back from Zinder!

I have to say that my favorite thing about Guidimouni was spending so much quality time with Jules. We just talked and talked and talked and it was such a relief for both of us to be able to discuss things with someone who knew us really, really well. We both have close friends in London or Niger, but it isn't the same when you haven't spent four years together. I met Juliet's best friend in the village, the Nigelec representative and he arranged for us to ride a horse (when asked what I liked best so far, I quickly answered "the camels!" and I think it was only because camels were harder and our protests that we didn't end up doing that, too). You know, to small Nigerien children, anasarias (white girls) on a horse is just as funny as snakes on a plane. You really couldn't take yourself too seriously and survive in that country. Another day we went boating on Lake Guidimouni and explored the gardens that are the byproduct of the lake; we spent a morning at the middle school where Jules works (I took lots of books for the library she's building) and it was neat to see and meet her director; and we rode bikes to her friend's village 7k away where we met some of her friends, I pounded millet (for, you know, 2 minutes), hiked up a tiny hill, talked, and watched the Nigeriens drawing water (which is unusual, because they're usually staring at the white people). And, one night, Jules got out her telescope and we looked at the sky. The moon was incredible and we could just barely see the Andromeda Galaxy, which made Jules really excited!

It was hard to take pictures in Guidimouni, because of the inevitable kids & mobs, but here are a few from our time there:

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That's the two of us at the town's sign, my one shot of the village, everyone dressed in their new panyas on market day, and a very cute little girl who is the daughter of the PCV we visited's best friend in her village.

We spent the last two days of the trip in Niamey, the capital. See, Jules' plan was that when I came in from London, Niamey wouldn't seem so great. After a week in the bush, it was far more impressive. We stayed with a Persian Baha'i family who run a private school and ate the most amazing Persian food. They even had internet, air conditioning, AND a full sized fridge (after a year in England, these things are impressive) was mindblowing. We spent quite a lot of time wandering around Niamey's two main markets, the Grande & Petit Marches. I really wanted to get some more clothing made, so we shopped for cloth and bought more panya. I love panya shopping almost as much as I love panya spotting (me: "Jules! Look! Spraypaint panya! Alka-seltzer panya!" Because these things are far funnier when people are actually wearing them). We also went back to Score, the country's ONE western style grocery store and bought decadent ice lollys. Mmmmm, Magnum bars. I have to say, I also loved taking cabs everywhere. They cost 15p/30cents and I felt so decadent. Here are some photos of the petit marche and a panya store (although most of the time these are sold at stalls, not proper stores, but it was really hard to take photos...again):

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Then, at midnight, I flew home, but Niger had one last surprise. We noticed lots of police along the street as we drove there (Juliet's friend took us) and wondered why. While I checked in, they found out that it was because the President of Niger was also flying out that night. Now, whether he was on our flight or his own plane, I'm not sure, but it was still pretty cool.

It was sad to say goodbye to Jules, but it was also the most wonderful trip. I have such a better idea of what her life is like in the Peace Corps and what I want for my own Peace Corps experience. And there's nothing like seeing one of your closest friends who you've barely been able to e-mail for a year! I was really lucky. And, hey, I've got the shots for almost anywhere that PC wants to send me!

Oh, and as always, if you want the rest of the photos that I've gotten online, go visit my Flickr account!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm pleased, of course, with the election results and acutally happy about the retaking of the Indiana House (NO MORE ICKY SPEAKER BOSMA!!! WOOOOOOT!!!). But, I'm not as excited as I would have thought. For some reason, I'm very...meh about it. Which is not what I would have expected, knowing me. I'm almost a little disappointed, knowing that I'm now going to get upset with Congressional Democrats (probably) for stomping on the things that I believe in, rather than the Republicans who I never expected anything else from in the first place. I think that my lack of enthusiasm is probably evidence of my general disappointment with the US political system in general; I was a whole lot more pumped with the outcome of the Brent Council elections and I don't even live in the borough!

I am really, really proud of my friends who went and volunteered yesterday, though! Go you guys! And thanks Eli for the heads up about the good day in Louisville (KY-3) long before the great results started coming in!

Yesterday's outcome still doesn't make me want to move back any more than I did on Monday. Which is odd.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Went leafleting yesterday in Brent and was reminded, via the weather, of being back home. It felt like one of those days, crisp and clear, when you go out right before the elections doing the last minute stuff for your candidate. Because late October, early November makes for some great politicking weather. The weather, more than anything else, is reminding me of Indiana politics, which is a little weird. It's also reminding me of my mom.

I'm planning to stay up all night tomorrow waiting for results! The time difference was so much more convenient when I was in the US and waiting for UK results.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Apologies for my lack of saying things for...a long time. Eeeps!

The main purpose of this post is to alert everyone that I'm going to be quiet for quite awhile. I'm leaving for Niger to visit my favorite Peace Corps volunteer in a matter of hours. And, as those of you who have been struggling to stay in touch with her know, the telecommunications infrastructure is...bleak. I'm very, very excited. And nervous and kicking myself because I should have thought of the pit toilets before I booked the ticket! j/k, of course! Still, I can't wait to see how Jules has been living, what she's been doing, what her village is like, what Niger is like, etc., etc., etc., so on and so forth! My backpack has a few clothes, a few toiletries, and an absolute shitload of chocolate, salad dressing, sprinkles, granola bars, and other Jules foods. There's also a load of books in French and English, DVDs (Lost?), magazines and an atlas of which I am awfully proud (because G-town's marked in it!). In other words, I am a pack mule. :-)

Right, but I'll be back on Nov. 1st. And, then, Joyce's plan for milking the most out of London goes into overdrive. If you've got something that I cannot miss, lemme know. My current list includes the Sir John Sloane Museum, the changing of the guard (I know.), the lord mayor's parade, Remembrance Sunday, PMQs, the Coram Museum, Caroline or Change, the National Gallery's Velasquez exhibit, and the synagogue at 19 Princelet Street. Suggestions welcome!

Friday, October 06, 2006

This is another one of those, I had several unrelated things to say, posts where things get put into lists.

1) I may or may not have already expressed my love for the senior Senator from Indiana. Sen. Lugar, you've been bowing a bit too much to the administration lately for my tastes, but you are a Republican, so I may just have to deal! Still, he's been a stauch internationalist for years and I admire that tremendously. Anyway, he's up for reelection this year, for a fifth term in the Senate. He's running unopposed (I was going to vote for him anyway). And I've only ever voted in Democratic primaries (rather faithfully, mind you). And, yet, I got a letter in the mail from the "Friends of Dick Lugar" reminding me to send in my absentee application and with one enclosed. Mind you, I'm perfectly capable of finding that stuff for myself (and, in fact, had), but I'm really impressed. Unopposed! I'm as card-carrying of a D as you can get (based on participation in primaries and these things are both known and investigated by the parties)! Am very, very impressed! Sen. still rock, in my book.

2) I've spent a good deal of time & money this week doing shopping for Niger. I was sent a list of stuff to bring and Jules suggested that I get kids books in French for her school if I wanted to bring something for the village (which I do). One of the things was an atlas and it has the fairly typical "all of West Africa" map...with Guidimouni marked on it! That's her village. Keep in mind that GOOGLE has a hard time finding it and you'll be able to imagine how amazingly cool it is that her random village is marked on this random French atlas map that I'm taking there! AWWWWWESOME!

3) Went to see the new production of Cabaret yesterday. I'm worried, as although the dancing was amazing, the whole thing seemed to lack a whole lot of energy and that's such a bad sign in a show that isn't even out of previews yet. Still, Sally was incredible, even more amazing when you realize that she's actually someone else in the cast who had to fill in for a sick star and they don't seem to have understudies (indeed, it was quite obvious that the chorus was missing its promoted member). Her "Cabaret"...well, 'tis supposed to be the showstopper and it was. The Emcee was horrid. I just wanted him to go away and he had the charisma of a box of onions. The old couple were cute as buttons and thankfully their Cliff was actually American, so I didn't have to suffer through a crappy accent! I was being really critical, which I prolly shouldn't have been. Still, I trust my judgement on theatre and I wouldn't be surprised if the reviews aren't great.

4) Tomorrow's the fast stream civil service ball. So that should be fun.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

You know that phrase? Yeah. That one. I give you:

Things that are like riding a bike:
Skating. Hello lutz-loop, where have you been hiding? Oh, Foxtrot, I so remember you! Ow, yeah, I remember my legs hurting like this.

Things that are not like riding a bike:
Riding a bike. Not a skill I've retained from childhood at all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Rare Political Rant

Ryan was right. Google Analytics is fun! Also, free (at least for now). There's more information and it's not so disorganized. For example, if I want to know what search terms are bringing people to the blog, then I just find out, rather than clicking random links to see what the searches were. Oh, that's articulate. Still, 'tis cool.

I've been spot-checking the Washington Post this morning and reading about the Detainee Interrogation Law. I've got mixed feelings. On the one hand, Congress finally stood up to the President and made him compromise. On the other hand, is a bill that's such an affront to basic civil liberties and human rights something that I can even remotely consider a "victory?" On the one hand, I'm glad that the administration is going to have to make its interpretation of the Geneva Conventions public and won't be allowed to use the Torture Memos definition: "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death (which basically means that anything that doesn't cause organ failure or death is "a-okay" under the GC)." Under the new law, we're lowering the cap on what is allowed to "serious and non-transitory mental harm, which need not be prolonged." Gah! How can it ever be ok to do serious and non-transitory mental harm (also, how on earth do you determine when one has suffered non or transitory mental harm?)!

And, then, there's habeas corpus. I quote the Post: House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said terrorism suspects have enough rights without habeas corpus, including the right to a lawyer, to be presumed innocent, to cross-examine witnesses and to collect evidence. I don't even know how to react to such comments. I'm not the one to call something un-American, because, well, and because in a country as huge, as diverse, and as encompassing as the US, I don't think there's anything that can possibly be left outside the scope of "American." Stealing cars is American. Saluting the flag is American. Carrying guns is American. Going to baseball games is American. Sex (of any kind) is American.

Oh, right. I was on habeas corpus, wasn't I? ARRRGH! BILL OF RIGHTS!!! CONSTITUTION!!! ICCPR!!! Basic fundamentals of Western judicial systems!!! I've been reduced to stuttering out the names of the documents and ideals which define my core beliefs about society, justice, and rights. Dude, these things are holy! Saying someone has "enough" rights is like flushing my bible down the toilet. I don't know how else to express how big a deal civil liberties are to me and why I'm so not ready to come "home."

Also, it's still not a war. :-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wheeee! Two days of skating in a row! In fairness, it's about an hour on the bus each way and I don't know that I'd be doing it if I weren't a total bum, but I'm not complaining. I also love that the public "session" on weekdays is from 11am to 3:30pm. I am not insane enough to go for that entire length (also, I have little desire to KILL my feet as they are getting reused to my skates), but still! On Monday I had the rink to myself for awhile and a couple showed up later. Yesterday, there was just one other skater. She had gorgeous posture and extension.

Right, so I'm using the dance diagrams that my old coach gave me before I left to relearn the dances. They're coming back fairly quickly, although there are some sloppy control issues where I don't have the control that I once did. I suspect that'll come. Plus, it's not as though I haven't been exercizing at all; the running just seems to work different muscles! Like, not my quads. Am also back on MIF, but I can't seem to find any patterns online. Le sigh.

Sorry for the boring post about skating stuff. In other news, there were Nazis on tv! Ok, so it was a docudrama on Nuremburg, so you can be sure that I was watching! Hurrah!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Studio 60

Ok, so after the pilot, I was sorta goin' "Meh. I miss West Wing." This week, I still miss West Wing, but I rather enjoyed myself. It made me laugh and it made me look at the Quicktime time bar and go, awwww, I wish it were longer...just like I used to do with West Wing, back in the good days. It's still a Sorkin show and he's got thing thing for pissing off the Christian Right on his shows and making them look stupid (um, is that hard? don't hurt me!), but I think Josh and Chandler are a good couple and funny (ok, I can deal with calling Matthew Perry "Matt", but Bradley Whitford is probably always going to be Josh in my head). And I still <3 Danny ('cause how could you not)? I'm definitely more attached to the people who were on West Wing, but then I've been watching them for the past 7 years (well, 6. I wasn't a believer first season.) and I have to say that I think D.L. Hughley is a great piece of casting, as well. He makes the whole sketch comedy show thing work, because I instantly knew who he was and that he was a comedian of some stature, just the way that the SNL cast become minor (or major) celebrities in thier own right.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Just a few unrelated notes, arranged in a list so that I don't have to figure out ways in which they are related or use stupid transitions.

1) Rugby Right. I went to a rugby match yesterday. I had been studying my Rubgy Union for Dummies and roughly understood what was happening during actual play, but was flummoxed by anything the referee did. This is especially disconcerting because the calls that the referee makes are the things to which the crowd responds most loudly, whether by yelling or clapping. I confused! Still, I was rather amused by the big piles of people on the ground out of which a ball would come flying sooner or later. I liked that things kept going and moving, rather than the way that a tackle is the end of a play in American football. And none of that wussy stopping the clock. It was fast paced and fun. Just wish they'd won, so there wouldn't be grumpiness. Er....Go Quins.

2) Jane Eyre Watched the first episode of the BBC's adaptation tonight and rather enjoyed it. Americans, I'm sure it'll be on Masterpiece Theatre next year. Also, Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia (the recent one) was young Jane and very adorable. I'm a dork and have to admit that I've not read the book (and I promise that I will!), so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next!

3) Leg & no 10K I think I'm not doing my 10K this weekend. My left quadricep continues to be annoying. This isn't new, but lately it has been reacting with more and more hurtiness, even after a long break and lots of ice and attention. I think it's more important that I figure it out (shoes?) than that I do the race. I haven't been able to train properly because of the muscle and I know that I would be likely to do something rather bad to it if I did the whole race. I did an exploratory short run yesterday and stopped when it started being bothersome. While I could still walk yesterday, it was pretty hurty last night. My other idea is to do lots of skating while I'm waiting for it to be better before running again, since strengthening it should help. 'Course, then I'll have blisters! Wheeee! Exercise is fun! Let's go shopping!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Party conference and other musings (with photos!)

I'm no longer a party conference virgin. Well, not really, anyway. Finding myself unemployed, footloose, and fancy free, I ventured down to Brighton on Tuesday on the advice of one Ryan, blogger extrordinaire, who seems to rather enjoy introducing me as "his intern." As I was, once upon a time. It was lovely to see Ryan and his fiancee Heather again, as well as some of the Brent crowd and to meet some new Lib Dems. Silly me probably should have gone for the whole time, but I haven't been getting my party mail (I've changed the address now) and honestly was too busy with my dissertation to think about it!

One thing that struck me, both while I was at conference (and to be honest the only thing I really sat in on in formal session was Charles' speech) and watching the proceedings on BBC Parliament (yes, dear, I am a sad ass) is how different the whole thing was in tone from conventions in the States. I've obviously gleaned most of my convention knowledge from watching the RNC and DNC ones on tv, but went to an Indiana Democratic convention back in the day as well and have been to my share of campaign speeches and rallies. All in all, the US stuff is very populist and very mean. Saying things about how evil your opponents are gets people worked up and excited and makes them feel like the cool kids in the class, but it doesn't do anything at all for real political progress and dialogue. And, sure, the Lib Dems were nasty at times (and I've seen downright giddy party members figuring out how to stick it to 'em), but they never really seemed to mean it. The speakers were sort of "well, guess I'd better say something about how Labour screwed up in Iraq or how David Cameron's all flash and no substance," but the audience also didn't react with the howls of laughter and self-righteousness that they would have had this been the DNC. All in all, I was touched by how much of the public stuff at conference was about us, our policies (and conference is, after all, technically all about making policy), our vision, what we have to offer the people of Britain, and not so much about how the other guys cocked it all up. I hate negative politicking, although I'm not naive and I recognize it's effectiveness, and it was yet another reminder of why this is my political party. Go Lib Dems!

It was also a nice change to see Brighton in the off-season. Very different than before, that's for sure! Still went for a sit on the pebbles, but it was much colder. Had time for a few fringes, one on refugees (why do questions on statelessness make people stutter?) where I had a chance to chat with the very cool UNHCR representative (from Ghana) in the UK and one on something that was more or less "WTF, 5 Yrs. after 9/11." They were awfully pessimistic, although Paddy Ashdown had some very interesting stuff to say. Ponder the concept of "global space," wouldja? Also ponder the fact that I have met exactly two people from Ghana in my life: the UNHCR rep. and one of my lovely coursemates. Both of them, upon mention of the Peace Corps, have immediately mentioned a volunteer who worked at their school, sometime during their childhoods. That's pretty cool.

And, because I'm an absolute sucker for free stuff, I rather enjoyed the stalls. Best bits: chocolates and a great book of postcards depicting letterboxes from the Royal Mail (yes, I'm planning to send the cards to Indiana, but ate the chocolates) and a Puppy! See, I'm always a bit jealous of Duchie because her parents have this fantastic tradition of giving both girls new stuffed animals on Christmas Eve and they're always ADORABLE. Seriously, I think they spend months looking for the cutest possible puppies and kittens. And, then they're soft and cute and I want one! But, there's something really a bit strange about buying cute stuffed animals for yourself. It's a bit desperate. So, I was absolutely delighted when the prize for taking part in the blind person organization game show was a seeing eye dog-type puppy! Golden retriever! Awwww! Juliana's going to hurl me across the room the next time I mention the puppy, I'm sure! However, I am an idiot and forgot Denmark on the EDLR quiz in which you had to name and label all the EU countries. I could do all of Europe, but I'd forgotten which ones were EU. Boooo. Still, at least it wasn't Poland. Poor Poland!


gratuitous shot of the Gherkin from last weekend's bimble 'round the City. Hee. She said Gherkin.

And, this one's for Juliana and all you government nerds (I know you're out there! Come on, you know/love me and it's probably because we have something in common.
Yes. 'Tis a chocolate Reichstag. Someone knows me very well.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

London, Year One

Gosh. I was getting my passport ready to mail to the Niger Embassy and realized that today marks the one-year anniversary of my arrival in the UK. Which means that as of yesterday it had been a year since I left the States and last saw my godparents. Wow. It's all sort of weird. I do miss that sense of wild-eyed enthusiasm that I had for everything when I first got here, comparing the things that were different, were improvements or were the same. I have to say that every day is not as full of excitement as it was a year ago, but I guess that's normal. It means that I have to try harder to find new things in London that are new, interesting, different. They're still there. Because getting tired of London is the one thing that I firmly resolve never to do. 'Cause, you know, that means that you're tired of life!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm #55!

Woo! This just in! I am apparently #55 on the Top 100 Liberal Democrat Blogs list published in Iain Dale's Guide to Poltical Blogging in the UK. 'Tis available here (rather large PDF download, so beware).

Hurrah! Does this mean I have to talk about the party and not just about myself?

I did forget to mention that I called the Niger consulate in Paris and it was scary. Oh language barrier, how I love thee. Also, the phone line was dodgy. Niger, I get that the infrastructure's a bit dodgy (Jules always says that it's held together by Nigerien children and string), but Paris? Argh. France. C'est la vie.

Today's long e-mail update

I've been getting some pokes from people asking what I've been up to. The basic answer is "a whole lot of nothing," although I've been putting in some applications and it's been nice to spend time with friends. My plan for the moment is to submit my oh-so-close to finished Peace Corps application (I would love to be posted to Eastern Europe/Central Asia) and hopefully find some sort of internship here in London to do while that processes. I do plan to be home for Christmas, but probably as a trip, rather than permanent resettlement. Everything's very up in the air and I'm completely open to suggestions! The only trip currently scheduled is to see Juliet in Niger at the end of October. I'm so excited (and, I'll admit, a little nervous)!

I haven't been very good at sending these e-mails, so there's probably a lot to catch up on. I guess the most recent thing that I hinted at last time was the trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival (well, really festivals). It was the most wonderful experience! I am, for the record, bad at choosing things. I think that all of my solo choices were absolute flops and we had much better luck when things were decided upon mutually. I don't know if I can even describe the excitement and vibrancy of the EFF. There are posters EVERYWHERE and I loved walking the pedestrianized part of the Royal Mile where performers do snippets of their pieces and pass out post-card sized flyers to anyone who makes eye contact (and others who don't). Usually, I'm the first person to give flyer-ers a no thank you and shake my head, but at Edinburgh it becomes sort of a game to collect as many as you can, then sit down to plan what your days are going to be like. Well, with the help of the small town telephone book-sized (Richmond would be just about right) program. We booked some stuff in advance, picked up others at the door, and made several choices based on what was available at the half-price ticket booth (stuff which turned out to be our favorites). Then there's the fun of reading reviews and overhearing conversations to get recommendations. But, still, there are roughly 1800 performances every day on the Fringe and in the end it comes down to luck and a total crapshoot. Hurrah!

You wind up running all around the city, trying to get from show to show, even though they may be on opposite ends of the earth. Oh, and grabbing sandwiches on the way, because that's all there's time for. It becomes sort of odd that you can sit through something very intense or very funny and walk out, talk about it for five minutes (while walking) and then be ready to face the next thing with a clear mind. I think it helps that performances are short. There's also none of the anticipation involved with going to a normal production, in Edinburgh, you stand in line until five minutes before the scheduled start, file in, and as soon as everyone's seated, the performance starts. And I love the ingenuity with which places are turned into theatres and performance spaces. We saw things in pubs, church halls, railway arches, a giant upside-down inflated purple cow, gymnasiums, and a Quaker meetinghouse (yay! Friends!) fitted with bleachers. We went to the Assembly Rooms for both the Amnesty comedy benefit and Muppet improv (seriously! It was great, apart from some hilarious culture gaps…the cast was all from the US). I'd last been there in 2000 with my parents for First Minister Question Time, when it was serving as the temporary home of the Scottish Parliament. I loved the irony. Also, my parents would have been really amused.

Speaking of the Scottish Parliament, I can't say that I loved or hated the building (which was the subject of great controversy, both because of its cost and design). I do think that it will look dated in 20 years time, one of those great "what were they thinking back then!" buildings. On the other hand, it was exciting to climb Arthur's Seat, the great craggy rock pile that sort of sits in the middle of Edinburgh and at the base of the Royal Mile. It was my only tourist goal and luckily we went on the one day that it was really sunny and clear. There are wonderful views from up there and it was actually a pretty short climb, if fairly steep. But, then, not everyone had a mountain goal in tow, like I did. And, there's very little theatre that starts before 11am, because the point of Edinburgh is apparently to play late and sleep late.

In the end we managed 17 shows (theatre and comedy) in the four days, impressive, but probably amateurish by Edinburgh standards. I have to say that my favorites, by far and away, were the original pieces. One was just a pair of guys talking, trapped in an off-license by the apocalypse. Things only really got bad when the Pringles ran out. Then, there was the piece for which the Holocaust rule was broken, which really spoke to me because it refused to ignore the Roma genocide, too. It came just as I was in the depth of my Roma research for the dissertation and was broiling mad at how much they were ignored as victims (then and now). The one-man play about the life of Robert Maxwell (the publisher) was AMAZING, as was "My Name is Rachel Corrie," which has been unable to find backers to allow it to be produced in the States. It's based on Corrie's diaries and e-mails, leading up to her murder by an Israeli bulldozer while in Palestine as part of the solidarity movement. Also, I saw SNAPE (ok, Alan Rickman)! Eeeeee! Granted, he was the director, so it was a coincidence or anything, but I was still really excited! I definitely spent the rest of the festival, once back in London, wishing that I was still there (well, when I wasn't writing my dissertation, of course)!

London continues to be London. Summer officially ended at the end of August, with the last of the summer bank holidays and the weather conceded the point as well. It's turned cooler and we're getting a lot more rain. More and more friends are moving out or moving home and that's sort of sad. Next week, a new crop of MSc students will move in to the LSE and take our spots. I'm taking German again at King's this fall and am sort of planning to sneak into one of classes that I couldn't take last year to my great disappointment (because the professor was on sabbatical for Michaelmas Term). Luckily, our student IDs don't expire until the end of October, so I can keep getting discounts on the rare occasion that I'm not at one of the subsidized theatres already. Once the dissertation was over, the theatre-going started up again, but never at the crazy pace of 2003. My best friend's little sister is over for study abroad and I'm keeping a rather distant eye on her, as well. My friend Kat from high school, who moved over with her band, went home to start grad school and although I miss her, the band's still fun to go and see. And, we've had a string of MSc birthdays to celebrate, too. This all sounds sort of mundane, but I guess that's what the real world is supposed to be like. ☺

In the next week I'm going to: go to Lib Dem conference in Brighton for the day, maybe go and see The Outside Royalty tomorrow, attend my first rugby game (for which I must study the copy of Rugby Union for Dummies that I was handed in preparation, and complete some more internship applications. I've also almost got a plan for Christmas.

Friday, September 08, 2006


"I've finished my dissertation and now I'm going to Disneyworld Niger! Oct. 17-Nov. 1 to visit my beloved Julesapunk. OMG!

Done...and now a bum.

I can't believe that a week ago at this time, I was going to the LSE to do one last check, print, bind, and turn in my dissertation ('An Outlaw by Definition': Re-understanding the Relationship Between the State and the Stateless). In the end, I was really proud of it, a rather far cry from that piece of shite that I turned in at Earlham a year ago. So, yeah, I hope that the graders like it as much as I do and I hope that I was able to make some slightly interesting points.

One of the professors warned us that by the end we would be questioning whether what we said was in any way original because we had spent so much time with it. I know what he meant, but I just had to keep the panic attacks under control, try to sleep and eat and get through it. That last week was pretty darn intense and I wrote the conclusion last Friday morning. Still, I love the personalness of it; it says all the things that I think are wrong with the way we deal with human rights and what I would like to see done differently. There's a real sense of me and whether that's good or bad, it's there.

A Proud Joyce!

Hannah Arendt wrote that the stateless person “was ‘an anomaly for whom there is no appropriate niche in the framework of the general law’ – an outlaw by definition. (Arendt 1966, p.283)” Her use of the word “outlaw” helps to illustrate why statelessness is such a complicated problem and why states and activists have had a very difficult time working together to solve it. States understand that anomalous nature and feel threatened by it, as they would by the presence of any outlaw. Human rights activists and international lawyers are perplexed by the animosity that states exhibit, because their understanding of the nature of statelessness arises out of the principles of international law and the human rights violations that are inflicted upon the stateless. It would be nice to write that states and activists each need to understand the perspective of the other, but that is simply not true. Within the context of the Westphalian world order, only the state matters and it is the activist who must be forced to adapt.
It should not sound as though the human rights person needs to abandon all the principles of the regime, the principles which have shaped the post-World War world for the better. Human rights needs more supporters, not deserters. Instead, lawyers and activists must use their re-understanding of the state’s statelessness phobia to become more effective advocates for change. As with any advocacy, those who want to help the stateless will be far more valuable if they can find ways to combat statelessness that directly address the reasons why states are reluctant to act. The goal is to find solutions that do not frighten or threaten the state or seem to undermine its legitimacy.
Sadly, this is more difficult than it would seem, since fear and perceived threats are fundamental elements in the state-stateless relationship. This is especially true in cases of denationalization, the way in which the vast, vast majority of people are rendered stateless. Denationalization is no accident, caused by a gap between domestic legal systems the way that original or marital statelessness are, but the result of a deliberate decision. Some factor prompted the state to act and, although the specifics of the case may differ, they are all rooted in fear. Sometimes this is fear of a political threat, whether from reorganized émigrés, majority political power, or old civil war enemies. At other times, it comes from a fear of the Other, the religious, ethnic, and cultural groups, who, instead of enriching a diverse society, are expelled precisely because of their differences.
Not only must activists learn to address statelessness in ways that alleviate the threat faced by individual states, but they must also learn to work with (and not against) the community of states. For many human rights people, this is a difficult prospect, since it is often so much easier to imagine a world in which human rights were the only ideal, than it is to learn to adapt to a confusing and frustrating world in which sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of action are the principles upon which order is based. Statelessness threatens this order, as a whole, too, by creating an entire class of people who exist in the dangerous, and theoretically non-existent, no-man’s land between states. The creation of better international law (or the enforcement of the already existing law) depends upon state cooperation, while at the same time threatening their sovereignty. Voluntary renunciation of citizenship presents a conflict between the individual’s right to change their nationality and protest the acts of their state, while adding to the number of “scary” stateless people and undermining that state’s legitimacy as a member of the international community.
Fear, unfortunately, exerts a massive amount of influence upon the acts of both the state and the community of states. This is not a new war on terror paradigm, but one which has shaped state behavior for centuries. The stateless person, like other outlaws (including pirates and terrorists), “serve the state by signaling who will not be entitled to its protection, and throwing fear into the rest of us. (Kerber 2004, p.745)” Human rights activists are perfectly positioned to help citizens understand that stateless people are victims, not outlaws, and should continue to do so, but must go further and do work that helps convince states of this very same fact.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Still a long way to go...

Printed first draft, sans conclusion (figured it would be easier to write once I'd gone through the paper as a whole). My tummy feels funny. And proud. :-)

Also, Behar is my hero for writing some beautiful statements regarding his statelessness, nationality, and being a Kosovar. It also made writing his section really hard, because I struggled to find a way to incorporate his thoughts, do justice to them and make it work within the framework of the paper as a whole.

Off to edit now.... Also, the text looks really big after how small it's been on my computer for ages!

I'm also nearly a thousand words over, despite not even having a conclusion. On the other hand, some careful editing will be a good thing, I'm sure.

And I still need a title. :-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm not dead. Just busy.

So much to do! Will finish draft today. So, in order to break the radio silence, here's a narcessistic blog update, mostly comprised of photos of me and Edinburgh (in overlapping subsets).

Birthday Joyce. With the crown that Duchie sent...along with a factory's worth of glitter!

Me, atop Arthur's Seat, which is in the middle of Edinburgh.

Poster hanging on the Fringe.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, me! Happy Birthday, Fidel! Happy Birthday, Madhur Jaffrey, author of my beloved World Vegetarian (fate, it was fate)!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

So many things have happened lately, almost all of them related to my dissertation, so they aren't particularly interesting.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I've got a serious tuna problem (that's not a euphamism of any sort) along with my current carrot and nectarine obsessions. Ana gave me a jar of her dad's tuna back in the winter sometime. He apparently buys the fresh tuna from the fishermen, cuts it up, cooks it and jars it in oil himself. And this is seriously the best stuff EVER. I had two things sitting next to me during dinner and reading about the Roma Holocaust (see first sentence, re: dissertation), ice cream and the jar of tuna. Guess which one I had seconds from? And thirds? And am tempted to raid again now? Hint: not the ice cream.

SO, fresh, home tinned tuna = love. Unless your boy's a veggie. More for me. :-)

Friday, August 04, 2006

"I <3 the IRS," she says, ironically.

A couple of weeks ago I was really confused to get a refund check from the IRS, because I hadn't qualified for one and had actually paid them a chunk. So, I'd been walking around with a check in my bag, too afraid to do anything with it because I was convinced that they'd made some mistake and would be demanding it's return. Well, I finally got another letter from them yesterday and was heartened to learn that I'd misfigured my taxes and they were nice enough to send back the extra money. Yay! If only I could be bothered to go to the bank....

The dissertation is proceeding at a reasonable, if not ambitious pace, which is worrisome when my goal is to have the first draft done a week from tomorrow- the day before my birthday and two days before we go to the Edinburgh Festival. I think that totals about 1,000 words a day, which will be frantic now that I've realized that I've spent the vast majority of my time on the general theory of my statelessness ideas and very little time on my examples which will show that theory in action. Ack. I played with some very complicated ideas yesterday and I think was able to put them on paper. I haven't reread it and don't think I will for a few days, but I was glad to have overcome that hurdle, at least.

Nevertheless, it has been a good couple of weeks, as I've made it a point to be doing social stuff with friends in the evenings, as a girl can't be cooped up at school or home alone every day and still function properly. We went to The Life of Galileo at the National, which was fantastic, and Kat's dragged me to Brighton and, last night, Antony & Cleopatra at Shakespeare's Globe. Three hours is a long time to stand, but I think you don't realize how far drawn in to the play you become because of it. I was strangely moved by Cleo's suicide...far more than I had expected. Tonight is her next to last show with the band, so I'll be supporting The Outside Royalty tonight and tomorrow night. Yay! Might post some of those Brighton photos at some point, but need to write just a bit about nationality and allegiance at the moment before heading to the eeeevil library.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yay and some Warren fun

Yay! j00jie fixed my blog!!! (that being said, if it still looks like crap after you press ye olde refresh button, please leave a holla' in the comments section)

In her honor, I give you j00j, my big damn hero:

I'm going to Brighton in the morning and have been reading and writing on my dissertation. I read a couple of USSC things this evening (a dissent and an opinion) and have determined that CJ Warren is my new statelessness hero. I love what he says: "What is this Government, whose power is here being asserted? And what is the source of that power? The answers are the foundation of our Republic. To secure the inalienable rights of the individual, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." I do not believe the passage of time has lessened the truth of this proposition. It is basic to our form of government. This Government was born of its citizens, it maintains itself in a continuing relationship with them, and, in my judgment, it is without power to sever the relationship that gives rise to its existence. I cannot believe that a government conceived in the spirit of ours was established with power to take from the people their most basic right." (Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44)

Also, statelessness is cruel and unusual, yo! (Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86...yes, those are back to back cases, argued a day apart and decisions handed down on the same day) Still, it's moments like these when I remember how much fun it can be to do regular old US Constitutional law. I like having binding law some of the time, you know?

Yes, I do still want to go to law school. Just not yet. *waves at WCL*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Uf, a somewhat successful day. Not perfect, because that would have involved me doing work on my dissertation. I think I'm going to spend all day reading tomorrow.

I did, however continue with my room redecorations, this time measuring, cutting and hanging the new panel curtain that I bought on Thursday night's dreadful trip to IKEA. I had only a little trouble with the mounts (in that one of the old ones had been so badly painted on top of that there was no way to take out the screws and I just had to leave it) and used my new little saw to cut down the pipe. Still, it looks fantastic, as my main goal was to switch from red (v. bad for mood) to a nice, cheery aqua (which matches the blue tones in my new sheets...that was another project). And I've got one of those cords that winds it up and down, so my "winding" mechanism is no longer me climbing on a chair! Hurrah!

I also finished the first week of my new running training plan. I registered for a 10K on October 1. Which may have been silly, but I'm one of those people who needs a goal in order to stay motivated. I clearly think that I'm going to always have to have a race on the horizon, because it's too easy to think "I'll just run tomorrow" without a tangible goal to work for. "I'll be fit!" doesn't really do it for me, sadly, as that's a bit harder to measure, at least in the short term. My roommate's going to sign up, too, so we can train together! Yay! It's another one of the Cancer Research races and will be on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace (CR's all about the slightly gimicky races, so the fall 10K series happens at stately homes and palaces around the country).

Finally, I got a great decorated letter from Niger in the post today. She'd combined stickers to give me PIRATE TELETUBBIES! OMFG! Can you think of something more fun than Laa Laa with a sword and eyepatch? I'm only sad that I didn't get the original envelope, which was returned to her from my old address. I might just have to have her send them another letter at good ol' Butler's Wharf, just for the postal history! *is sad*

Right, this lil' pirate is off to bed. Cheers!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Made my potato/green bean curry again and it was very nice, even if I did forget the lime juice this time. And had a long run. I didn't realize how much more fun it can be when you do a different route, even if it's just the North side of the Thames instead of the South side. I was bound and determined to make it to St. Paul's/Millenium footbridge and I did, going longer than I had even planned. Which never happens. :-)

Also went for a bimble up to Hampstead. Great word, that.

Finally, my fingers and toes are crossed for the safety of everyone in the Middle East, particularly my friend Joy and the people and places who are important and sacred to Juliet, in Haifa.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In much sadder news, I just got word that my godsister died this morning, 13 and a half months after being dianosed with stage IV metatastic melanoma.

Goodbye, Tricia.

Bulgaria & Germany

I really ought to let everyone know that I am alive and well over here in London. Photos have been uploaded and start here:

To be honest, I've hardly been in London (it seems) since finishing exams. I had a week of sort of puttering around and doing some of the things that had been put on hold by exams (one of which was reuniting with a friend from high school who has moved to London for the summer to play with her rock band before heading to grad school in the fall. We sat next to each other at graduation and that might be the last time we were in the same place...after soooo many years in Spanish classes together).

It has also been World Cup season, something which lost a fair amount of it's shininess after England broke the country's hearts in a penalty kick loss to Portugal. Actually, I was back in the game as soon as Portugal was kicked out by France, but I'll admit that I had the most fun during the opening group matches when it was less serious and you got to see the fans from countries that didn't have a prayer all dancing, cheering and hoping for a miracle. Still, I had fun being an England fan...especially for the match against Ecuador when some Earlham friends and I paraded with a flag through the streets of Burgas, Bulgaria after the win. Oh, if you were wondering, Come on England! I wasn't much for supporting the US team, even if the Bulgarian Peace Corp volunteers declared that I was a traitor. Contrary to their request, I did not relinquish my passport, but took advantage of an embassy connection to insert extra pages in it.

Which leads me to my first post-exam adventure: Bulgaria. I only went because two of my friends from Earlham Model UN were there for the summer. Dan's dad works for the State Department there and our mutual friend Laura decided to tag along. Both of them are interning at an NGO and Dan's also interning at the US embassy in Sofia. It was a bit of an adventure getting there, but I am so glad that I did, in the end. After visiting other countries on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain, I'd been expecting a bit of grey, a bit of shabby, a bit of dreary, but I absolutely could not have been more surprised. I don't think it was all the weather's doing, but Bulgaria turned out to be more Balkan than post-Soviet. It was sunny, clean, littered with red tile roofs, Byzantine, well restored or maintained, beautiful...I'm not entirely sure how to describe my time there in ways that don't come off as completely hokey. Take my word for it; when I think of Bulgaria, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. Best of all, hardly any tourists! As Dan's fond of quoting (me): "Bulgaria! Who knew?"

Dan and I spent an afternoon and evening wandering around Sofia, including stops at the amazing and huge Aleksandur Nevski church. On the edge of it's gigantic plaza, there was a lace market, where I found some amazing pieces for my grandma's upcoming birthday and for presents. That evening, we met up with Laura & Dan's dad for a concert and dinner afterwards. That night, as at other times while in Bulgaria, I had the whole "so, this is what it's like not to be able to read! feeling." The Bulgarians use the Cyrillic alphabet, so there's a alphabet and language barrier for extra fun, although the only time that it really, really mattered was on menus. We were on the verge of choosing things at random when the owner just asked us what we'd like instead; the result was the most wonderful platter of mixed veggies and meats all sauteed or stirfried or something. I was excited and intrigued that normal Bulgarian cooking seems to involve a whole lot more veggies than other Central/Eastern European food. Another food highlight were the Shopka salads: sometimes lettace, always loads of cucumber, sweet peppers, and that tangy goat cheese.

The next morning, the three of us caught a bus to Burgas, the smaller and more southern of Bulgaria's two population centers on the Black Sea Coast. We had a weekend of football watching, exploring and beaching, which was absolutely relaxing and the perfect way to finally forget finals and have a great time with friends. In addition to wandering around Burgas, it's beaches, huge prominades, and packed nighttime cafes in the park, we also took a bus to a different coastal
spot each day. The first day we went to Nesebur, a tiny chunk of land that's just barely attached to the mainland and is (yay!) a World Heritage City. Although most of the shops have been converted to tourist things, the old town has maintained the feeling of a tiny fishing center, with narrow streets, old homes, and a sprinkling of ruins of Byzantine churches (and one that's still in use and is newly painted with the most amazing frescos). We had a great time exploring, taking photos and scrambling around the churches, and the fact that the sky was bright blue was a massive bonus. The next day, we went south to Sozopol, this time spending a lot more of our time on the beach than the day before. The Black Sea isn't the Indian Ocean, but it was still beautiful and wonderful for swimming (and ranks above both the Atlantic and Lake Michigan in my book). The beach also fulfilled all of my stereotypes of European beaches: lots of scary speedos and toplessness and I think the only people wearing one-piece suits were the Westerners. We stayed late in Burgas to watch the England game (I wore my England jersey and Dan insisted on wearing the St. George's flag like a cape through the streets afterwards, to Laura's horror) and caught the sleeper train back to Sofia that night (buying tickets required the time honored trick of copying seemingly random symbols out of the Rough Guide and flashing them at the clerk). It was fine, except that you couldn't turn out the lights. Next time: eye mask!

I took the next day to read in the flat (finished Eichmann in Jerusalem on the trip) and Dan's dad took us to dinner. And on my last morning, I got downtown all by myself and managed to find the old baths that are being restored and converted into a new city museum (I can't wait to see them finished, because the in-process building is already amazing), the not-very-interesting central market and the Sofia synagogue. It has elements of both the one in Vienna and Budapest, although hasn't seen the same effort put into its restoration. But, I still got the shivers when I walked in. Then, off to the airport, dinner with Ian and watching more football before going to bed in order to get grandma bright and early the next morning!

I had been telling Ian that every time I went to Gatwick, people's flights had gotten in so early that they had beaten me there. Well, no more. Grandma didn't come out of the tunnel until nearly three hours after the scheduled arrival; apparently their plane had been delayed in Philly for quite some time. We dropped her bags off at the hotel and went to have lunch because the rooms weren't ready. After which, we went to my flat for a few minutes and my 89-year-old grandmother decided that she'd rather climb the five flights of stairs than pay for the hotel. If you know her, this makes perfect sense, but I'm still amazed. Who knows what her cardiologist is going to say at her appointment this week. *crosses fingers and hopes for lots of good genes*

We had quite a whirlwind adventure. For her birthday we went to Kensington Palace and had tea at the Orangerie. Oh, lovely cucumber sandwiches! It was perfect, as was the weather. You have to remember that this also required a walk all the way across Hyde Park, in two legs. Then, it was off to the National Gallery for an hour or so, Chinatown for dinner, and a concert at St. Martin's in the Field. And it just kept on like this. We spent a day going on the boat from Westminster to Greenwich and climbed up to the Royal Observatory in order to take photos at the Prime Meridian, then went to LSE to watch the (heartbreaking) England-Portugal match. The day before we went to Borough Market to get picnic supplies and had a wonderful birthday lunch with the daughter of Grandma's neighbor at her retirement community. And on Sunday we went to St. Paul's for services (orchestral mass!) and she was both amazed and a bit grossed out at the number of people to whom they gave communion. Apparently, at her church they have little plastic cups, rather than having everyone drinking out of the same goblets. I think the smart people were the ones who dunked their wafer. And after that, we went to a Boot sale in Battersea, which I discovered are great places to buy books for really cheap prices!

Monday morning, we left at stupid-o'clock (ok, 3:45 am) to get to the airport for our flight to Salzburg, where my cousin Kelly met us. Kelly is my grandfather's brother's granddaughter, so I'm not entirely sure what relation that makes us, but cousin works for me. She's a civilian who's been working for the army in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for 15 years. We flew into Salzburg because it was only days before the semi-final match in Munich and flights were expensive and I had a feeling that things could have been a bit crazy. It was wonderful to see Salzburg again, this time as a sunny, mountain town. You could see more mountains than in December and everything was so cheery and friendly. I loved the mystery of winter, but summer's pretty nice, too. We spent the night and had plenty of time to sort of wander around and feed grandma ice cream. I had cake. What? It's Austria! Of course I had cake!

Then we drove to Garmisch (although Kelly actually lives in Partenkirchen, I'm not typing the whole name every's too long!) with a stop to take a boat to the island where one of crazy Kind Ludwig II's palaces lies. Schloss Herrenchiemsee was never finished and only occupied for about a week, but the "public" rooms, exterior, and gardens were created as a replica/representation of Versailles (the one in Paris, not Indiana) and a memorial to absolute monarchy. Let me tell you, it was weird to not need a coat, hat, mittens, and a scarf to visit Versailles, but I could find the spot where we build Pierre Escargot the snowman last November. For me, the highlight was the Hall of Mirrors, always the thing that's been the biggest disappointment at Versailles itself because of the renovation works. But, it gave me the shivers, that's how amazing it looked. They might not have actually signed the Treaty of Versailles at Herrenchiemsee, but I'm glad that I finally know what it looked like when they did.

Garmisch itself is a charming place. It's in a valley, surrounded by mountains and has all those really cute Bavarian homes, many of which are painted and actually flats. From Kelly's garden/porch thing you can see mountains, which is soooo cool. I took one afternoon to explore and do a bit of climbing. I visited one church which was built up the side of a hill and where the covered walkways were lined with handcarved wooden plaques, most of them with photos and flowers, put up by the families of soldiers who died during World War II. Obviously, they were fighting for the Third Reich, but they were also my age, just like the Americans and the British and everyone else. It gave me pause and I took some moments of silence to think. I climbed up to about 1000m (there was a lot of EEEEEEE! I'm hiking in the Alps! going on), but the impeding thunderstorms worried me enough to come down, went shoe shopping, ambled home amongst the haymeadows in the middle of town and worried grandma by being back later than I'd thought. (One side effect of leaving my phone in London is that I didn't have a clock.)

The next day, Grandma and I spent the morning going up the Wank (yes, that's funny and pronounced Vaaahnk) in the lift. There were amazing views of the town and the mountains that surround it. I went to Munich in the afternoon/evening to see the art museum (which wasn't open as late as Rough Guide had told me...booo), which was excellent, and to do a bit of wandering/shopping/Joyce time. Bought a few World Cup postcards, but not much else. We went to the base commissary the next morning and I spent $55 on macaroni & cheese (Kraft!), Jiffy mix, Bush's baked beans, lemonade mix, Stovetop stuffing, BBQ sauce, face wash and MY VERY OWN COPIES OF US AND PEOPLE MAGAZINE. *sniff* It's been so long. Seriously, I think I bought 8 boxes of both mac & cheese and Jiffy mix. I would also note that American grocery stores smell different. After a spot of second hand shopping, we drove back to Salzburg, had dinner, flew home, and finally got a cab that got us home around 2am. Sheesh. Grandma flew home to Philly on Sunday and now it's time for Joyce to buckle down on the dissertation.

Germany was fantastic. I could really see myself spending more time there, which I always meant to do anyway, since my favorite German expert has already written the Joyce Guide to Berlin, following on the heels of the uber-successful Joyce Guide to Vienna. My 10 weeks of German were enough to do the occasional thing (like ask for size 39 shoes), which is all I could ask. But, then again, everyone under a certain age speaks English. I've probably picked up some new words and by the end of the week, I was a bit better at distinguishing words in spoken sentences. I'm looking forward to more lessons in the fall, but I'm going to have to sort out some Spanish for this summer, otherwise spending time with Ana and her family in Spain could be awkward!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hurrah! As of Monday, I was finished with exams. So, the first one was great, the second and third were just okish. It probably has a lot to do with the amount of study time allocated to each one. I also had a fun, near heart attack, when I mixed up the starting times for my third exam. It also involved a sprint across Waterloo Bridge and to the other side of the Aldwych, but I was lucky and only just missed the 15 minutes reading period. Still, I finished just a few minutes early and I don't think the time really mattered. But, yeah, English exams are so very IB. I might not have figured out the ideal study schedule, but I don't think that I was unprepared to write the exams themselves. I was also thinking about Mr. Ball, who I'm still going to credit with my ability to write an essay, back in AP US History, sophomore year.

So, I've been a bit lrazy since then. I've got some stuff to take care of, a haircut scheduled for Monday, decisions to make about language classes and Bulgaria to get ready for in less than a week. Also, WORLD CUP! WOOOOOT! This has been so much fun! Come on England! (Although, in a very inconsistant way, I'm secondarily rooting for Mexico and Germany. The US is not on my list; their sucking is only the least of my reasons. A country that cares deserves to win.) And, there's an exciting new personal development that just makes me giggle. :-)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ooooh, multiple choice!

One of the BBC commentators referred to Serbia & Montenegro as S&M during the halftime commentary.

a) wrong
b) hysterical
c) all of the above


I wonder if there are Milosovic football jerseys....
Can I refer to the Serbia & Montenegro v. Holland game as the ICTY grudge match? Please? late.

And Good God! Those Dutch fans put the English, the ENGLISH to shame! I'm a quarter Dutch, you know. Probably explains why I'm so demonstrative over sporting events. ;-)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Come on England!

This World Cup thing is fun!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Race for Life!

All I have to say is w000000t!!! I finished Race for Life and I RAN the WHOLE way! It feels amazing to have started on this in January and to finally have done the race is just so cool! :-)

I didn't know it was possible to have goosebumps for 35 minutes straight, but the start was basically at the front entrance to St. Paul's and the bells were tolling as we crossing the start line. I love that church and there's nothing like knowing that the bells are ringing for you (well and 9,000 of your closest female friends!). The first 1K was so easy, I couldn't even believe it when I saw the sign and 2K was pretty easy, too. I didn't realize how much time you spend weaving in and out around people, particularly because I was at the back of the herd toward the start line. Silly me thought it was at noon, not 11. So we got there just as the first people were starting. No big deal, really, because there were so many people. It was a really, bright, sunny day in London (my weather widget is saying 72F) and I was so glad for wearing my hat and for when we ran between buildings so there was shade. For someone who usually runs at night because it's cooler and there are fewer tourists, it was a bit of a shock. :-) Still! AWESOME! I still can't believe it, even though I knew I was fully capable of the 5K.

I was also amazed when we passed the 3K mark, because I knew it was more than half over. I sort of went, huh? That was quick! I think it was a little harder after that, partially because of the heat and partially because the adrenaline makes you run faster than you would normally. But, I also knew that I was closer to done than I was to the start and that I couldn't give up! It was a funny feeling, realizing that I'd run down some of those streets before, around the Barbican, trying to make sure I wasn't late for the LSATs! I couldn't decide whether to wave or make rude gestures at Ironmonger's Hall, where I've taken the LSATs twice, but didn't do anything in the end. It was cool, though. I could run past and go "neener! I don't need a test to tell me how awesome I am! Look at Joyce run!" And, trust me, I was doing that in my head!

The finish was amazing and a bit of a blur, then I found Libby and had to go back for my medal (which I'm, um, still wearing). Libby, my awesome running buddy was so amazing back when we started in January, kicking my butt out of bed for those morning runs. It's been hard since Kenya, because of illness and stress and school and other commitments, but it meant a lot to have her there supporting me and playing photographer. Libby, you so rock and we'll go running just as soon as we kick these exams in the rear!

So, thank you to Jenni, Welling, Christi & Phil, Ken, Juliana & the Perrys, Patty, Deena, Valerie & Jed, Dave, Bob & Diane, Linda & Harry, Baaaaahar, and Irma (& Barry!) for your donations. And thank you to everyone else who encouraged me, believed I could do it, wished me luck, or just asked how my running was going! You guys mean so much to me and, really, to everyone who had the name(s) of someone they loved on their backs over the 5Ks today. I was thinking of how proud my parents would have been today and every time I saw a head of long, blond hair, I thought of Tricia. So, yay for Races and Relays for Life. Because, as Tricia says, there's always hope.

Joyce :-)


Big w00t!

and w00t again!
The I just crossed the finish line w00t! (the other one was taken after I got my medal & stuff)

back signs
My back sign. Everyone had one and they were both tough to read and inspirational as heck.

My time!
My time. Clearly, I'd been done for a bit...check out that pulse. :-)

The Finish Line
The finish line...9,000 women!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sooooooooooda Bread!

That is all. :-)

I'm a legend!

Yestereday was a sort of poopy day. I spent all of it trying to redo my resume and defrosting the freezer (while FREAKING out when I couldn't get the fridge to come back on). But, I think the CV is now done and the fridge came back on its own accord (mysteriously right after I decided to eat a Magnum...that's vanilla ice cream with a hard chocolate shell on a stick), so I feel better. Today, starts the new round of revisions.

I did have some luck when I finally managed to set up GoogleChat in iChat, so now I can use it at home and not just at school (Irma, are you paying attention). Consequently, I found my Muppet and talked to him in the first time since...France? Eeeks. He happily informed me that I have become a Model UN legend for the stunt that I pulled at the Lake Eire conference (LEIMUN) two years ago. Basically, the US was being a punk, out of character and completely unwilling to cooperate. (This was a 1991 simulation, in case anyone was wondering why uncooperativeness would be out of character for the US on the Security Council.) He was also planning to veto our resolution on the end of Gulf War (the heck?), so when he took too long on a smoke break and didn't come back after unmoderated caucus, I moved that we enter voting procedures and essentially locked him out of the room (LEIMUN rules were really strict about would could enter or leave the room once voting procedures had one but staff could come or go). We got in a bit of trouble over it and he was even worse than before, but the resolution passed. :-) Ahhh, the power of being able to use the rules.

Anyway, at Toronto this year, another delegate told Muppet this story (with some exaggeration, apparently) about some conference in Ohio and some girl from a Quaker college in Indiana locking the US out of a vote. He and his school hadn't been at LEIMUN, so apparently, it's been going 'round the North American grape vine. How awesome is that?!? *Feels smug*

Two days until Race for Life!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One down!

I had my international criminal law exam today and I secretly (or not so secretly now) sort of enjoyed it. I answered questions on state v. individual responsibility, show trials, sovereign immunity/universal jurisdiction/Pinochet/Arrest Warrant and whether international criminal can really be considered international (ans.: not so much). I'm relieved to be one down. On to SO424 and LL423! Ack!

The Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert was great and went all too quickly! And now I'm drinking a glass of wine and watching downloaded tv. Studying and finishing my USAID application will have to wait until morning. :-)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

w00t! I'm going to Bulgaria at the end of the month!

Poll. If bookstore is running a 3 for the price of 2 special on travel books and I definitely need Germany and Bulgaria, what should be my third one? Nothing else is planned for which I don't already own the book. West Africa? (there's no Rough Guide Niger, sorry Jules! Oh, wait, there's a Bradt guide forthcoming.) Ok, Niger? Russia? St. Petersburg? Amsterdam? the Netherlands? Someplace else? User poll! Lemme know where you think I need to be dreaming of visiting!

Edinburgh festival=w000000t! :-)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ok, I know the blog looks like crap, but I'm not going to try and fix it between now and my exam. And it might even be awhile after that, because there are two more to come. Trust me when I tell you that it looks great on a Mac. I might even post a screenshot, in case people don't believe me, but thank you for all the comments.

I went for a late run tonight (race for life is on Sunday) and as I was running up to Millenium Bridge, they started setting off fireworks. It was magical and I must have looked silly, jogging along with this huge smile on my face! Took forever to get home, though, since I obviously couldn't turn around until they were done. :-) Felt like someone was glad I'd decided to go for that run.

If you'd like to donate, I'd still really appreciate it and the link's here:

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What a great race! My hands were and still are a bit shakey, ever since that last restart. I was yelling at the computer to shut up about Michael Andretti's chance to win. He's an Andretti! And so's his 12-year-old 19-year-old son!

I'm not ashamed. I wanted Micheal to finally pull out the win. And I'm sad that he didn't. And urgh. I really am not a Penske fan. Call it a grudge, but ever since he snubbed the IRL at the very beginning.... Didn't turn out how I wanted, but this was a race that was exciting enough for me to be clutching Cory the raccoon and standing beside my bed for the last few laps. Good job, Indy. :-)

And, sorry, for everyone who doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about! I'm from a racing family...sort of. Did I tell you about my dad's radio work being in the Smithsonian? ;-)

Happy Race Day!!!!

w00t! It's Indy's biggest day of the year!

I've gotten some ham and green pepper so I can have the traditional ham and green pepper sandwich, just like we used to pack for my dad every year. It's his special day and will always be the day of the year that I think about him the most. Every running of the Indianapolis 500's like a memorial service to me.

And, yeah, I'm going to be a mess, especially when Jim Nabors sings and when they give the command to start engines. I was last year, just thinking about how I wouldn't be in Indy for the race this year. It's only the second time I haven't been at home, but I've got WIBC and the Speedway Radio Network, so it honestly won't be all that different than usual. Thank god for the internets.

Also awesome? That last night's Doctor Who episode was set (theoretically) in Muswell Hill! :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Can someone who's using a PC please, please let me know whether this looks awful in your browser or not? It did on the school computers, but I'm sort of hoping that that was an LSE fluke. If it wasn't, then I need to do some serious work. So sorry!

In other news, we have a new TV! Our old one had to go back to the person from whom it was being borrowed and we made a joint decision to go ahead and purchase a new one (heck, when you already have the license, you might as would be much more of a pain to try and pursuade the license people that you don't have one anymore). So, Argos is still great, even though I'd never been there, and we found something quite large for only a third of our budget. Of course, I'm supposed to go back and get the freeview box, since we'd decided to get one after finding out about tv prices, but needed to check to make sure we could get reception. Woot!

Right, I'm off soon for a day of study fun. Less than a week to go. I'm not panicking as long as I stay away from school and friends from school. And, of course, I feel guilty about feeling so relaxed! My life is a vicious cycle.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hurrah for Joyce!

Yes, I know I'm bragging. Sorry.

I did the 40 minute run yesterday that is part of the training plan for my 5K in two weeks time and it wasn't hard at all (except for the part where I had to dodge tourists and puddles)! Google maps tells me that it was 3.25ish miles and I went from part of the way up Tower Bridge Road, then along the Thames to Lambeth Bridge. I concentrated on finishing, so I didn't push at all and just sort of settled into a nice, easy pace. And, it was a bit fun, for all that it was cold and wet. But, yeah, I had an awfully big smile when I got to Lambeth and finished. I know I've been keeping my LiveJournal updated with running times and distances, but this one seems important enough to boast about publicly. :-)

I'd still love sponsors for the Race for Life, so if you're feeling generous, please visit: Thanks so much! This should be fun.

In other news, I went up to Brent yesterday for the post-election thank you afternoon tea with curry and ate quite a lot. Free curry! Ran a long distance! Meringues...who knew they were supposed to be soft and squidgy? Sooooo good! It was lovely to hang out with the Lib Dems, as always. Tip: some accents = adorable. My accent = not funny!

And, Eurovision the night before. How I love thee. And I made a curry. It's been a currytastic weekend, but my green bean curry turned out very nicely (I was able to find curry leaves at Borough Market), if perhaps a bit on the coconut milky side. I did not approve of the Finns at all. Horrible song, not that that matters, it's Eurovision, but rather liked the Lithuanians. It got to the point where I was having to root for the Russian with the mullet to win, simply because he was the only one with a chance of beating Finland. Oh, and Ireland...*melts*. Gorgeous song. And Terry Wogan, the BBC's snark-tastic commentator was always. Spain, courtesy of my flatmate, says "Lo siento," back!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Argh. I managed to wake up this morning with a hangover. Not because I've been drinking (geez, I can't really even think of the last time that I did that. Oh, wait. Before the elections in Brent, when we were all sitting in the office stuffing envelopes), but because I didn't drink enough water last night after my run. I'm such a doofus sometimes. Happily, though, I managed more than three miles (it turns out) in 36 minutes of running and three of walking in the middle. And I'm enjoying the fact that my legs are just an itty-bit more there today than they were yesterday.

I've also been smiling to myself lately, when I realize that there are things in my daily life that have been making me happy. For no good reason, they are:

1) Realizing that I like avacados.

2) The talking elevator in the LSE library that can't talk properly. Think Marlee Matalin and you've got the right idea. The elevator for blind people sounds deaf. I love it! And, only one of the two does this. The other one has excellent language skillz.

3) Google maps pedometer. And the fact that the google satellite maps are really, really detailed for my area. There's my house!

4) British melons! I know all the Hoosiers will protest that I can't have found cantelope and honeydew better than is available at home, but OMG, they haven't been eating melons from Tesco! They have different names, which I can't remember, but there's nothing like cutting into some strange melon (that even looks different) and going: "OOOOOh. I know what this is! We have these at home!" Better yet, they're small. Like the size of a big grapefruit or a softball, which means that you actually can eat the whole thing as one person in about two servings! And you don't lose anything at all on taste.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ok, ok. I (sometimes) try not to be one of those Mac users. You know, the smug ones? I may be the last person in the universe to discover them, but how wonderful and hilarious are the new ads? Clickety: Hi, I'm a Mac....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I am such a laaaazy Joyce when it comes to these exams. For some reason I can't find the motivation to get through them and I know that that's really, really bad. I should be the one who wants to excel academically. Instead, I find myself sort of envying the people who just want to pass. I'd also like Tadic to go away, because I've been stuck on trying to sort through the opinions of the trial chamber and the appeals chamber for two days (not that I've put all that many hours in, but still!). Tomorrow's going to have to be a National Theatre day, because I simply don't want the internet as a distraction and I'm really, truly better off if I don't see other people from LSE. My ICL study group, in particular, is starting to freak me out.

Sorry for the aaaaaangst. I did go running this weekend, sort of managing to meet up with a friend and a few others in Regent's Park on Saturday. Lesson 1: Joyce is such a nighttime runner. I wanted to curl up in my bed afterwards. I'm just so relaxed afterwards, not so much with the "toooo much adrenaline, I must go and read 1,000 pages while standing on my head" reactions. :-)

Which reminds me, if you'd like to donate to the Race for Life, I'd really appreciate it. Recap: me + 5K = less exam stress + money for cancer research.

Another exciting thing: Fun Fruit & Veg stamps, part II! I've been putting off the post office for a month now, but I've got a really, really good reason to go tomorrow! wOOt! Mr. Potato Head + valid postage = hours of fun! But, why the equations tonight?

Finally, elephants!
Sorry. I've just been in an elephant mood all week. No idea what that means. But, I certainly haven't turned Republican.