|This should have been posted December 17th
||[Dec. 28th, 2005|12:12 pm]
|||||Simon and Garfunkel- Homeward Bound||]|
Jude Law and a Semester Abroad
In twelve hours, I will be on a plane headed for DC.
It feels like I'm just hopping on yet another plane for yet another European adventure. The difference is, this time I'm leaving London for God knows how long instead of just a couple of days. I guess it still hasn't hit me yet.
Oh, perhaps I should mention that I'm exhausted right now, so I apologize for any forthcoming errors in spelling and grammar. And get this: of all the weekends for my flat's lift to break, I pressed the button this morning and the darn thing DIDN'T COME. SHOOT. ME. IN. THE. FACE! So Christina and I came up with a "brilliant plan" for me to keep my packed bags in her flat tonight because she lives on the ground floor, which means I singlehandedly dragged my gargantuan suitcases down FIVE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. I live on the "fourth" floor, which in the UK (and I think the rest of Europe?) means the fifth floor because the ground floor is "zero". How silly! Anyway, my arms are shaking as I type. I could barely get my contacts out without gouging out my eyeballs! Let's just say I'm going to be hurting tomorrow.
And by the way, the subject line doesn't mean that I met Jude Law today. It's the title of a song that my AMAZING "SIS" LAURA PUT ON MY NEW FAVORITE CD. ;-) I LOVE YOU, LAURA!
Now what's something profound to say... I'll start off by telling you about my incredibly full last DAY in London. This morning, I woke up semi-early and met Christina and Nora to shop (for gifts) in Covent Garden. From there, we went to the gift shop of the Royal Opera House, then Nora left to go to the Christmas Carols Service at St. Paul's Cathedral while Christina and I hit up the gift shop at the National Gallery because I had to get a poster of this Monet painting of the Houses of Parliament and the Thames. (Is it bad that I'm beginning to amass this collection of artsy posters and photographs because I'm already planning my future home?) Then lunch at Pret (Lizzie, I thought of you!) and off to the Tate Britain because I STILL HADN'T GONE YET! We spent a number of hours there, which was fantastic. I really loved it. Then back to Mile End because by this time I had accumulated so much crap in my bags, I kept accidentally hitting myself in the face with my poster and it wasn't pretty. Then met up with Nora and her flatmate Kristen again to head to the Tate Modern, which was open until 10 tonight. We got off at St. Paul's, so I got to see it up close and personal in the moonlight. Now let me say one thing about the UK: they just don't know how to do Christmas trees. Their dinky little things look more like the wimpy tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas than the glorious monsters you see in the Capitol (which is now officially back to being a "Christmas" tree after those idiotic "War-On-Christmas" freaks made a big fuss) or Rockefeller Plaza. They sell these downright pathet ones at Sainsbury's for 20 POUNDS! That's like $40 for a twig. Bitch, please!
Aaaaanyway, we crossed the Millennium Bridge over the Thames, only to find the "Frost Fair", this little winter carnival! We happened to cross onto the South Bank as this huge crowd of Santas was singing! Then as we stepped off the bridge, these two guys dressed as angels with IMPRESSIVE wingspans zoomed by up the bridge on Segways! It was incredibly whimsical! Then the Santas (and other fair-goers) were sliding down this ICE SLIDE on inner tubes! It was hilarious! Then it was time to go inside and see the actual museum. :-) The Tate Modern itself was lovely; I've been there before. Unfortunately, the second floor was closed because they're rehanging things, so that was pretty much half of the collection that we couldn't see. Oh well. Something really interesting I saw today that now has new significance to me: I watched this short film based on Derek Walcott's Omeros, which I read part of for my Parallel Texts class this semester. It is a modern interpretation of Homer's Iliad that takes place in St. Lucia and centers around fishermen. You see, Omeros is Greek for "Homer". Fun, huh? Sort of like my whole take on the Iliad as a football game. Me and Walcott -- we know how to get it done. Now please forget that I even mentioned myself in the same sentence as Walcott because HE won a Nobel prize for literature... and my corpus consists of... a collection of crappy short stories for ENG404.
After the Tate Modern, I was ready to eat my left arm (and that's the one I write with!) so we dinnered it up at Pizza Express which took forever, but that was ok because there's nothing nicer than having a good meal with good people while you're sitting next to a plate glass window with a view of the North Bank of the Thames. Beautiful. We got one of the last trains back to Mile End and then I saw the lift STILL wasn't working... so I finished packing and dragged my bags down (hence, the shaky arms).
Aaaand now, I've been struck with a lightning bolt of brilliance (or maybe sleep-deprived delirium?): I will now sum up my semester abroad with a "soundtrack" of sorts.
1. All of Ben Lee's Awake is the New Sleep (Thank you, Caroline, wifey dear!) because I listened to that album pretty much all the time. "Begin" was pretty much my anthem... Being in a foreign country, being in a CITY, knowing that something amazing was about to BEGIN, waiting for a sign... just listen to the song and smile wistfully. Also, "Into The Dark" because well, that song puts a whole new urgency into your life when you know you have a limited amount of time, as I did here in London.
2. "From My Own True Love (Lost At Sea)" by The Decemberists. Ever since Ethan Tate told me that the new Decemberists CD was good, and then sent it to me, I've been in LOVE. Actually, that's a lie because I didn't get around to listening to it until this summer, but my GOD is it good. The first song that really touched my soul was "Eli, the Barrow Boy" when I was driving alone, because once I listened to the lyrics I realized how hauntingly touching it was. But "From My Own True Love" earns its place on the soundtrack because mail was my happy thought every day I opened my postbox to find something addressed to me! Thank you to everyone who sent me mail, you know who you are. Eric Sweigard, on the other hand... If we hadn't played so many rounds of Emotion Ball this summer, our friendship would be SO ov' because of your delinquency. I'm also letting it slide because you were so good about writing letters (AND decorating envelopes) in the early fall... so consider yourself spared from the Wrath of Hannah.
3. "Another Day" from the Rent soundtrack. I only got this song in mid-October, yet it has quickly found itself up in the ranks with such classics as "Born To Make You Happy" by Britney Spears and "If You Don't, Don't" by Jimmy Eat World, up in the Top 25 Most Played on iTunes. This song just makes me want to change my whole outlook on life and live in the moment and not overthink things and hestitate and all that rubbish I'm known for. Maybe I learned to live in the moment and be more spontaneous while I was here... I certainly did a lot of things for the first time, so you have to be at least a little proud of me. :-)
4. "Poses" by Rufus Wainwright, because if there's something Londoners know how to do, it's preserving greenery in a concrete jungle. The many parks of London with their thick, lush, vibrant grass can't even compare to the sparse blades between patches of dirt that try to survive in DC. You really don't find too many cities that take parks so seriously, but London doesn't mess around. No way.
5. "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion, because I think this song is what brought me and Nora together. Oh, I guess I have to give Sweigard props for sending it to me. OK, so I'm a dork. And I don't even LIKE Celine. But... well... this song is hilarious and it has CASTANETS in it. It totally deserves a place on the "Scream-a-long!" playlist.
6. "Paper, Rock, Scissors" by JamisonParker. In my humble opinion, this is the only good song on their newest album, Sleepwalker, but some may beg to differ. I enjoy it because I feel like I spent a lot of time writing letters home. The Royal Mail probably got the most significant sector of my expenditures in London, but I had fun making people's days happy. Who DOESN'T love mail, especially mail that reads like it's been written by a kindergartener who suffers from ADD?
7. "We Danced Anyway" by Deanna Carter. I know I'm only "Southern" when I'm spouting "Virginia is for Lovers," but oh, country music, how I love thee. I think this one earns its place because it's about being in a foreign town and just loving who you're with and loving everything even if you don't understand your surroundings. Plus, I guess country music reaffirms my American-ness, which I definitely rediscovered. I think I was all like, "Ew, America!" when I left because of the current state of well, everything, but I never had a basis for comparison. Let me just tell you guys, I am so glad for all the things I DO have in the States. Which isn't to say that I haven't loved London... I'm just saying that now I know what to appreciate.
8. "Bruised" by Jack's Mannequin, because I felt this way when I was leaving DC this September, and I feel this way again as I'm preparing to leave London. And maybe I feel a little like this because I've been jet-setting so much. I just feel like Andrew McMahon paints a very vivid portrait of the traveling lifestyle... airports, waiting, sleeping, etc.
9. "Takeoffs and Landings" by The Ataris. This is one of two Ataris songs on here. On the flight back to London from Paris, Makeda asked me what I wanted to listen to... and of course I said So Long, Astoria because this album is 1. CHOCK FULL OF TEEN GIRL SQUAD GOODNESS and 2. This song always reminds me of flying. I ALWAYS think of it when I'm a runway, because when I look out the window and see those blazing blue lights, I without fail think of that line, "The runway lights are the deepest blue / Like the colors of your eyes / So close them tight and kiss me one more time," -- even though I can't think of any blue-eyed guys I've dated. Just saying I like that line.
10. "Looking Back On Today" by The Ataris. I have to say it, guys. There's just something inside of me that makes my heart sing when I hear really good Ataris songs. This one really reminds me of traveling across Europe... I thought of it a lot when I was thinking of my friends back home who weren't with me, because I wish I could share all these experiences. Traveling with Makeda has really been an amazing bonding experience, and I'd love to travel with all of my friends (separately... or in small groups) one day. I think my favorite part of this song is the fact that it mentions a lot of places I've been: England (obviously), Italy ("Italy isn't the same without you here."), Paris ("I wrote our names on the observation deck of the the Eiffel Tower" ;-) ), etc.
11. "We Both Go Down Together" by The Decemberists. This just came on my iTunes on shuffle, and oh my goodness, I SWEAT this song. The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland reminded me of what I imagine the Cliffs of Dover (in the song) must be like. I couldn't get this song out of my head when I was in Eire. I just think it's terribly romantic and tragic and heart-wrenching. Mmm... Colin Meloy is a big, nerdy weirdo, but the English major in him weaves these deep, powerful narratives in the such a short space and I love it!
12. "High" by James Blunt. I discovered James Blunt early on while I was in London, and then he started blowin' up! I remember sending this to my friends and telling them how good this song is. OK, so maybe James Blunt can't sing a song without whining, "Beeeaaaaaauuuutiful" but I like this song and it makes me happy. Especially when I heard it for the first time in public the first time I visited Topshop!
13. "Push the Button" by Sugababes. Sugababes suck, big time, and this song is no exception. But it's ubiquity in Europe makes it an inevitable addition to the playlist. They are so so so skankho and ugly. Which makes it appropriate that their new single is "Ugly". Hahaha. Sugababes. Ew.
14. "Trippin'" by Robbie Williams. The first time I heard this song, I thought it was the worst song ever. I still feel that way... but I have to confess that a little part of me thinks that it's SO bad, it's good. It grew on me! So sue me! The baby in the video is CREEPSTA LIKE WHOA, and Robbie Williams is one hairy man to say the least... and I don't even know what he's singing in that god-awful falsetto of his... but this song screams London to me.
15. "A Little Respect" by Erasure. Another track on My New Favorite CD from my fake sis Laura. This was featured in an episode of "Scrubs" and it's pretty much the best song ever written. It's so catchy... yet the lyrics are actually quite gloomy. That's the beauty of Erasure. They make melodrama palatable with an infectious little beat thrown in there with a healthy dose of synth. And that is one recipe that leads to one happy Hannah.
So there you have it. Maybe this list isn't that thorough... but now it's 2:21 am and I'm waking up in about 4 hours to begin my long trek to Heathrow (My flight is at NOON!). Woohooooooooo for meeting Makeda on the Westbound platform at Earl's Court at 8 am! (We're airporting together because her flight is at 11 and it's always better when you have a friend with you.) If you've made it this far in the email, you get a gold star because I know it's long. Thanks for being my willing readership this semester. The homeland support has been amazing since I've been here, and I love you guys for it. And that's a wrap.