Category Archives: London

Happy Opening Ceremonies Day From Me ‘N Brent’s Tramp Stamps!

(The moment Brent lifted his shirt, twirled around and yelled, “TWI-IINS!” is probably the hardest I’ve laughed in my entire life.)

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Filed under London, Picture Pages

F This January: Fitness and FIANCE (and Facial Swelling)

Just so I don’t let this thing drop off before I’ve started, January’s goal is to hire a personal trainer at my Y and/0r get Steve to finally burn me the P90X dvds he promised me. I’m pretty good at getting in shape on my own, but I have the feeling I could be using different machines and free weights. I’m sort of in a rut with those. I want to be semi-ripped by April.

I had my surgery this morning. Ooooh anesthesia. Ooooh gurl. Oooooh OOH. Now I understand what everyone was talking about! I mostly maintained my composure; the girl next to me collapsed into a clearly-never-high-before fit of giggles. (Not that I’ve ever been high before. Internet.)

So far the swelling and pain aren’t too bad (unless you are talking about how much my wallet hurts). The real ugly starts tomorrow, apparently.Justin is an amazingly great caretaker and even had a stuffed monkey waiting for me in the car when they walked me out.

I didn’t really have a panic attack before my surgery like I thought I would. Turns out the drugs are in the IV; I fell asleep waiting for the mask everyone told me about. I’m pretty grateful for that. I did get kinda emotional on the way there because this is my very first surgery, and everything about it reminded me about my Dad.

I haven’t really found the time to get into this on the blog, but I was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s from the last few years with my dad. I’ll go into it more some other time, but I’m still crying about him at least once a day. It’s usually less than a minute, but it’s not about grief or missing him. It’s flashbacks, anger, and just thinking about everything he went through. I can’t stop putting myself in his shoes and it’s painful, but I’m aware that what I witnessed was pretty traumatizing and this is a common reaction. I’ve gone back to awesome Dave and have some good books and techniques to work on, but going through my first surgery hit a little too close to home in that area.

And well, there was a little grief today. If anyone could have calmed me down and walked me through this, it would have been him. But I tried to imagine what he would have said, and that helped a lot. Getting to say, “My fiance” like 10 times when the nurses asked me about my driver helped, too.

Blah Blah Wedding Cakes:

My favorite photographer (Ben of the Beth Grant video awesomeness) is free on the date that I want! Biggest priority is booking a venue in the next few weeks. This is not a section about cakes; we already know we’re copying off my cousin for that because it was fucking delicious. (If you don’t know what “Blah Blah Cakes” is about, then you must be younger than me, at least where the Internet is concerned.)

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Filed under F This 2012, London, Sam I Am

Decade

Today everyone is posting about where they were and how they found out. I’m not sure why, like one person’s story is more important than another person’s story, but whatever. I’ll bite.

I was in London, sitting in one of the Queen’s many parks. Class was out for the day and I had the whole afternoon free. The school pub was planning on having a “Latin Fever” party in the school pub that night and we were all psyched for cheap tequila.

In hindsight, I saw the signs before I knew. A crying girl ran by me in the hallway, which I attributed to homesickness. I saw a group of rich EBS (European Business School) kids crowded around a TV in the library, and I shook my head in disgust because EBS kids were always talking on their cell phones and yelling and acting like assholes in the library.

While the rest of the world was watching everything unfold on live TV, I was–I shit you not–sitting under a willow tree, writing in my journal and feeding ducks. To my left? A Japanese garden. To my right? A waterfall. I swear to God, every 10 minutes a swan would glide by as I wrote about how much I was loving my new life in London.

This is why I won’t be posting where I was on Facebook.

When I got back, Yolanda frantically ran up to me, asking if I knew how to find the American Cafe where they play CNN. “Why? What’s wrong?” I asked. She waved her hand in front of my face. “Where have you been?” She asked, before adding, “We got bombed.”

The two TVs I had access to were on the other side of the campus, and I was standing next to a very remote payphone in the stairwell to my dorm room. From the look on Yolanda’s face, I knew every phone would be tied up soon. Jen ran by me in tears, which told me it was worse than I thought. So I called my dad.

My dad had a very unique way of sharing news. Small things were urgent, upsetting. “We’re out of Diet Coke! Oh no! What do we do?” Big things were delivered matter-of-factly, with a shrug. “Well, Grandpa died.”

My dad stayed at home all day listening to TV and the radio, so he was command central. “Well, there was this plane … and then this other plane … and they don’t know where this other plane is … could you hold on? My bacon is done.”

I called my boyfriend Tim, who had a stutter, and he was so upset that he couldn’t get any words out and had to hand the phone to his roommate.

I called my mom, and to this day I tear up when I remember the tearful, tired way she said, “Stephie?”

And I called my Grandma, who is from the Greatest Generation and said nothing would stop her from getting on a plane to Florida later that month.

THEN I went to the TV room, which was completely packed. We had one 15 minute BBC news reel that played over and over. Jen and I huddled together on the couch and we must have looked terrified, because the Dean of the school sat between us, put his arms around us, and told us it would be okay.

2-week-old friendships that were just starting to form immediately leapt into lifelong bonds. Darren, Steve, Frank, Ray, Kevin and of course Jen became some of my best friends that day.

I went outside to chain smoke with Ian and Gina, and we watched the planes circle overhead on their way back to Heathrow, because no one was allowed to be in the air anymore. Douchebag Max walked by with a half-finished bottle of tequila, muttering, “Let’s get drunk,” something my friends and I still quote til this day.

And of course, the roof, something that both I appreciate and makes me roll my eyes 10 years later.

There are like 10,000 other little images and moments, and a million observations about being in Europe at the time that I could make, but I didn’t have access to television the first time around. I’m soaking in all this archived footage and released tapes and memorial coverage and finally starting to understand what all of you went through the first time around. Clearly, your story is more important than mine.

I read this one every year on 9/11, and I suggest you do the same.

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Filed under London

Harry Potter World Premiere

When I was in London in 2001, I roomed with this awesome girl named Kacy. She suggested Harry Potter  to me any time I needed a new book, but English majors can be dickishly superior about popular books, so I would always turn her down. That is, until I flew to Rome for Fall Break. I read the first one on the flight over and was so hooked that by the time we landed, I shelled out about 50,000 lire for an English version of book 2. After we got back, I locked myself in our room for about a week and finished books 3 and 4.

So when Kacy asked me if I wanted to go to the World Premiere a few days later, I said sure. For some reason, I thought we were going to watch the movie. Little did I know that we were heading down to Piccadilly Circus at 10 in the morning to watch them set up and hopefully grab seats in the grandstands.

We ended up hanging out with this kid named Simon who was dressed like Harry. All the reporters wanted to interview him, so that day you could see Kacy and I grinning in the background like fools on channels all over the world, including Telemundo. We were there so long that we ended up flirting with the bobbies and got wristbands to the grandstands–second row, right in front of the door!

I actually took home one of the posters below and kept it in my room til the end of the semester. If I had known what I know now, I would have paid to ship it home. Ugh.

We had primo seats to watch all the celebrities pose for the paparazzi. We only knew half of them, though. The little girl in front of us thought she was the shit as she haughtily explained who the people were. “She’s on Footballer’s Wives. He plays for Arsenal. Do you even know what Arsenal is?”

I had my boyfriend Tim’s camera, which took pictures on “film” that you had to “develop”. Also, you had to look though this little hole to see, and it did not zoom. So below are pictures of celebrities, some amazing and some awful. Some celebrities that were there that I didn’t get pictures of included Helen Hunt, Jessica Simpson and Ben Stiller.

I could show you which face is Daniel Radcliffe if I had MS Paint on this thing.

Hermione!

Ron!

Hagrid! Robbie Coltrane was so awesome, the crowd ended up chanting, “Robbie! Robbie!” over and over, and the paparazzi took tons of pictures of us.

Fuzzy J.K. Rowling!

Madame Hooch!

Fuzzy Warwick Davis!

Fuzzy Fergie!

Baby Spice!

STING! AGH!

The highlight of the night was when Daniel Radcliffe started walking toward the front door. “Harry! Harry!” we all yelled, as his publicist shielded him from us. But just when he seemed like he was heading our way, we noticed something out of the corner of our eye. “Harry! Harry! Ha-CHER! OH MY GOD IT’S CHER!”

Cher looked as excited to see us as we were to see her. She looked amazing up close. She high-fived tons of people, INCLUDING ME, and then I got the most awesome picture of the day … so awesome that when William (the receptionist at Regents) saw it, he said, “You bitch.”

So that’s my story of the first Harry Potter. And last night I saw the last one with Jen, Ron and Justin. It was amazing, and not just because Neville Longbottom kicked ass.

I showed Justin all the previous films over the past month or two, and it was great reliving the whole thing and getting to experience the last one with him sitting next to me. (Good thing; I needed a shoulder to cry on and Jen was too busy crying on Ron’s.) This has been a huge part of my life for the last ten years, and even though I knew how it ended, it was touching to see it brought to life by these actors we’ve watched for the last 10 years, too. The fact that the entire cast was on board for eight films is pretty remarkable.

Oh, and SPOILER ALERT: Continue reading

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Filed under Almost Famous, London

Smartjohn

Erin’s comment the other day (and this recently-discovered AMAZING 1996 article about Mira Sorvino) reminded me of something hilarious that happened in London. One of my friends in the dorms was this guy that we called SmartJohn because he had the most intimidating vocabulary. (One time during a good-natured argument, Macie said, “Shut up John! Gimme that dictionary; I’m gonna look up some big words to yell at you.”)

SmartJohn also had a backpack full of gadgets before it was cool to have gadgets. He was the first person I knew with a GPS (and this was before the iPod even, so we were like WHAT). He had a palm pilot with a teeny tiny keyboard that you folded into thirds. During Big Friday, I heard him mumble something about getting a close-up just before he whipped this 2-foot camera lens out of thin air like David Blaine.

One night we were eating a late dinner, and we were all excited to have food from Festus.* John had this grilled chicken sandwich and fries. Sometimes dudes just look pumped to eat their food, you know? John was literally licking his lips. He even hyped himself up for a good minute before he decided to dig in.

As he chewed, his face instantly fell. He looked up, horrified. But rather than, “This is gross,” or “This tastes like shit,” he yelled out with an angry ptew:

“ITS APPEARANCE IS ENTIRELY DECEIVING!”

And I laughed. So hard. I chortled vigorously.

*Longest footnote ever: Festus was my main man. He had a special grill in the corner of the cafeteria, and people would line up for miles and wait forever to eat his burgers and pizzas.

The first night at the dorms, I noticed that he kept asking his boss for a quick break to grab water, and the boss was blatantly ignoring him. So I ran outside, bought him a bottled water, and secretly gave it to him when it was my turn.

For the rest of the semester, any time he spotted me at the end of the line, he would yell out in his musical, possibly-Haitian voice, “Ste-Pha-Nie! What will you have?” I’d yell out my order (almost always a pizza), and by the time I got to the front of the line, it would be ready.

After the Tooth Incident where I couldn’t eat solid food for a week, I insisted on making my first meal a Festus pizza. This segues perfectly into a story about this girl we called “Donkey Butt”, but I’ll save that for another day. God, I miss London.

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Filed under London

Big Friday

You would think that during the four months we spent in London, we would find time to make it to all the big touristy landmarks. Not so much. By the end of the semester, my friends and I were all lamenting that we only had a week and a half left and too many sites to see. That’s when we decided to do as much as possible during our last Friday in London. We called it Big Friday.

Perhaps the only one more excited about Big Friday than us was the bird that pooped on Steve:

We didn’t go into the Met on Big Friday but this was one of our usual spots. It had a women’s bathroom so fancy that the boys snuck in to take pictures of it. There was a condom machine with flavors like popcorn and birthday cake. Hilarious. There was also a curry-flavored one and because of that, “curry” immediately became our code word for “doing it.”

The stop closest to our school was on Baker Street, made famous by the Gerry Rafferty song, the first Apple (Beatles) store, and of course Sherlock Holmes. It was pretty normal to bump into an impersonator on the way to get groceries or whatever.

When I went back to London a year later to visit my then-boyfriend, I took some time to just wander around the Baker Street station while he was at work. I adored that place.

Was this the Jubilee line? There was one line that was 100 times nicer than the others. Also it was full of cute boys:

You would think that being surrounded by cute boys would automatically make me more attractive. But nope, here I am fuggin’ it up at Buckingham Palace:

Below is Ian being adorable at Abbey Road. Years later, I bought a bulletin board at Target with that exact graffiti-covered image. I still kick myself for not writing on that sign. I could have been on a bulletin board from Target.

My boyfriend back home was obsessed with The Beatles and got me really into them, so I was psyched to finally see it. However, Abbey Road is incredibly busy and it’s hard to get that famous shot without an exasperated driver honking at you. It took a while but we finally got it. I was so excited that I actually detached my arm from my body. Notice the barefoot Kevin:

This was a week or so after George Harrison died so there were flowers and cards everywhere. George was my favorite Beatle, so it was the perfect time to be there and pay my respects.

Gratuitous cuteness:

Look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!

Look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!

That joke never got old. Another thing that never got old was the “Humps for __ Yards” road signs:

Up next: Trafalgar Square!
Kevin and I chase pigeons, tourists look on in disapproval.

More gratuitous cuteness:

Below is an awesome picture of Kevin, and you can’t tell from the scan but it’s also the most gorgeous candid windblown picture of me ever taken. In London I had long hair for the first time in a decade, and after the Ireland Incident it was so nice to get a makeover and chop it off. I always knew when Kevin was doing laundry because he would wear that purple sweater with a pair of orange swimming trunks.

Did you know that if you go to an embassy, you’re technically in that country? Here’s Kevin and I enjoying Canada:

 

OMG it’s Jen! Hi Jen!

 

 

Gratuitous cuteness in Hyde Park:

“Whatcha doin guy?” “Oh, just hanging out with this bike on my head…”

After the Big Friday Tour, everyone went out for a pub crawl. This was right after I got back from Ireland, so I was suspicious of pub crawls and opted to stay home and drink red wine with Ian. Hours later, Jen and Ray slooowly led a friend of ours back up to the room. He puked in a trash can for 15 minutes, took the bag and straight up dropped it out of the second-story window before we could stop him. Big Friday ended with a bang, or rather a sploosh. Big Friday was the best.

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Filed under Adventures, London, Picture Pages

This Guy …

Can you believe this guy?

Just kidding; it’s his birthday. Happy birthday, Steve!

I just asked him if he was going to celebrate his “Super Sweet 27″ and he said:

“Oh totally. Omarion is performing.”

… which is probably the second funniest thing he’s ever said to me. I can’t get over it. Oh my god.

Have a great one, Steve. You are awesome.

(Photo – my favorite of these guys, hands down – appears courtesty of Jen, who took this the day we all went shopping in Camden Town. I love this pic so much. Fun times.)

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Filed under London