Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Small Favors

I'm not sure what exactly to write about that doesn't start with the phrase I'm on the edge and thinking too hard makes my already sinus-stuffed head feel like it's going to implode.

So I'll start this by saying I spent two and a half hours of my life with Sir Ian McKellen on the other side of the woman next to me at the play Deathtrap, which was quite good, too. The man nearly stepped on my toes when he got up for intermission. And no, I didn't ask for a photo or an autograph or anything, because the man was more or less just there to see a show with a friend, and I wasn't about to interrupt that. They have lives, too.

On that note, the others ran (almost literally) into Hugh Laurie on Monday. Apparently he lives around where our hotel is. Again, no photographs or autographs.

I'm sitting in a hotel room in central London, trying to find the words to adequately describe what exactly is going on this head of mine. Or, what feels like a swollen melon sitting on top of my shoulders, truthfully. Particularly my forehead and under my eyes. Oh well. It just needs to sit there a bit more.

There's what we want and then there's reality. Ultimately, we have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes they aren't going to match up. I'd like to be home for Christmas, but depending on the weather - something completely outside of my control - that might not happen. You have the optimist on one side, and the realist on the other, and they might not play nice. The saying is best laid plans of mice and men or something to that effect, and it's completely true. I'll recognize there's a big different being stuck in London and stuck someplace completely away from it all. Hell, I even know what it's like to be stuck in the airport for days on end, and I'll tell you, I was pretty damn ripe by the time I got to where I'm currently at on Monday.

Like I said previously, I know both sides now.

It's in no way what I want, but it's what I've got, and what I have to deal with.

A month and a half from now we'll look back at this, look at the pictures, sort through the recent Underground tickets, and we'll laugh. It'll make a great story, when it's not so raw. We'll laugh, we'll make Tom Hanks references, and we'll joke about it as best we know how. That's how, eventually, it will be seen. It's an experience. That much I can't deny. But it's not one that many people willingly choose, honestly.

I would like, very simply, to go home. That is all I ask.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I told you I had an odd sense of humor. As in the title of this post, and the fact that I've now moved from Heathrow to a hotel not far from the Bond Street Underground station in the borough of Westminster.

And believe me, it's a nicer hotel than I would have chosen had I been the one to choose originally. Namely, this one would have been classified as a little out of my price range.

The last time you heard from me, I was sitting on the fun side of security at Heathrow, waiting to get on a flight to JFK. As I'm not posting the joys of being home, it's safe to assume that I'm still in London. That assumption would be correct.

It's been an interesting few days, to say the least. If you've been following me on Twitter, you'll see some of what I've been posting [including the one from the reporter at CNN who wants me to email him, and I still need to do that, too] and the responses.

Despite all the good thoughts, karma, prayers and whatnot, if it continues to snow - and stick - there is the possibility that we won't fly out on Wednesday and we'll be spending Christmas in London has an HWS family.

An HWS family in which they're happy to have me back.

I'd been "Tom Hanks-ing" it from Friday until late this afternoon, sleeping on the second floor of Virgin Atlantic departures since then. Except for Saturday night on the floor by some exchange bureau near check-in point F or G. I woke up during the night, mostly because I was really freaking cold, and sat up, looked around, and thought why are there so many people covered in tin foil? Then figured that if I was having that thought, oddly reminding me of when my sister was sleeping in the tent with the dog at the lake and saw my aunt in her nightdress, wandering around, I needed to lay back down and go to sleep. Which I did.

It was really difficult to keep track of days, because, eventually, they blended together. It didn't so much happen that first morning, but Sunday into Monday it really started to.

Saturday was the day I fought with the airline to get my bags back. I had checked my backpack - not only was it too large, apparently, to be in the cabin, but it was too heavy, too - and there was also my suitcase, too. The suitcase wasn't an issue. The backpack was the issue because it had my meds in it. Not the Align, the important one, but the other stuff that I needed to supplement it. And the longer I go without my meds, the more things get....interesting.

It took multiple trips to Arrivals (where the baggage was supposed to be, as it was still on the plane at the time) and upon the fourth trip downstairs to try and find out when my bags were coming off the plane, only then did the Virgin Atlantic representative actually ask if there was anything she could do for me, if there was anything she could get me. I told her no, I just needed my bags (because, yeah, making my own dosages with something that wasn't even close to being the UK equivalent was not going to happen) and she actually was the first one all day to take my bag information off from my passport, and also my mobile number in hopes that when she knew when the plane was being unloaded, she would let me know. I assumed this was going to be true.

Despite having my mobile number, they didn't call me. However, the moment I hit the departures floor, she immediately remembered me, pulled aside another rep, and sent me with her to Arrivals to fetch my bag. The suitcase was on a trolley, and the backpack was on top of that. First thing I did after returning to my spot in the second floor of Departures, was to crack open my bag, ingest my meds, and then check to make sure the breakable stuff I had wrapped in clothes and in the bottom hadn't broken. It was intact, but the entire right side of the bag was wet. Like it had been dropped in snow.

Not a big deal, but, well....makes things in there not smell great.

So, now it was Sunday and after some phoning home, we decided that it would be best for me to stay at the airport and maybe hope to get on a standby list. Then the news came in that there was a rescheduled flight that we had seats on for Wednesday. I have a printed e-ticket, and a guaranteed ticket on this flight. But we wanted to see if maybe there was a way for me to get something earlier.

Which, ultimately, didn't work. So I wound up spending another night on the floor of the airport.

And, as there is a mirror above the desk, I'm looking at the circles under my eyes that somehow keep growing. Not great.

Monday turned out to be a bust, and then information trickled in from the homefront that it was best for me to find the hotel everyone had been living at while I had been living at Heathrow, and it was made that I was to find that and check myself in.

Feeling like a bag lady, I trotted down the elevator and then out into the cold, slightly snowy London air and headed for Arrivals. That would take me down to the Heathrow Express - the train that gets you to London Paddington in fifteen minutes. And they weren't charging for it because of all the snow had done to travelers. From Paddington it was down to the Underground and then, one transfer later, I was at the corner of Bond Street and Oxford Street (I think) and wondering where exactly to go next. After a bit of wandering (which is more or less what I'm famous for, really) I found the hotel.

Not too long later I was in a room with an actual bed, a shower, and thinking that it was proverbial heaven, truthfully.

It's weird. I have internet access (free, too!), a bed to sleep in tonight as opposed to the floor, and I was able to take a shower and find some different clothes to wear. Though what I'm going to wear to bed tonight is a completely different story as most of the rest of my clothes are packed in space bags with the air sucked out. And unless someone wants me to give myself a slight hernia by sucking that much air through a straw, I'm not opening them.

The most important part of this is that I've seen both sides to this story. I've seen the I don't have anywhere to go, and the airport is now home until they figure out how to get me to where I need to go and I've also seen the I have the opportunity to get out of this place for a while, get a shower, sleep in a bed, and generally wander around London until we're supposed to fly. I know which side most would prefer - it's the side I'm currently on. But I've seen both. Done both. And that's been one of those experiences most people should really have.

It's truly how the other half lives.

I'm in London until Wednesday, at the earliest. I'm back with the rest of my student cohorts, and we're planning on seeing a show tomorrow night. Something to pass the time. To keep ourselves occupied and see some of London that we haven't seen before.

And I just found something to sleep in, which just made my night, really. It's the little things right now, like being connected to the internet and being able to call back home. It's things like that right now that make a difference. A big difference, really.

I understand that I'm lucky. I'm in a hotel when I could be spending another night at Heathrow under a blanket on a foam mat on the floor in some corner with my luggage. As it is, I'm going to crawl into a bed and sleep like I'm dead, probably, and hope the bags under my eyes don't get any larger or I'm going to be giving a raccoon a run for his money.

I would love to be home right now, layin' on the couch with the dog or curled up in my own icebox of a room (backside of the house, gets a little chilly in the winter) and wondering if I'm going to be making Christmas cookies with the Smidget, but I'm not. I'm in London - Borough of Westminster, to be exact - and if things go right-side up, I'm leaving on Wednesday to actually head home. If they go pear-shaped, then we're looking at spending Christmas on this side of the Atlantic with some of the alums that we can find in this country.

Bright side of life. Make the most of what you've got when you've got it. Right now, while this might not be ideal, it's better than what it had been, and better than what some still have. That's always a good thing to keep in mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

At Home in Heathrow

[I wrote this Friday night (I think) and it was the first time that I was, well, more or less aware that I was going to be living in an airport for a couple of days. Now that I have internet access, be prepared for, well, a series tentatively titled At Home in Heathrow. I have a sick sense of humor, don't I? So, this was actually written Saturday before I was supposed to get on the plane to come home. My how plans have changed.]

I know the time stamp on this sucker is going to read something different, but I’m currently sitting on the fun side of airport security waiting until I can board my flight home.

So, yes, I’ve been living at Heathrow since yesterday at about six-thirty at night. It’s been….real.

Let me back up. Yesterday morning I get a call at about nine-something (woke me up, I’ll be honest, I was sleeping in) and it’s the International Officer asking me if I’ve looked outside. Out the window there’s at least a good couple inches of snow on the ground. Not much by New York standards, but definitely more than the UK can handle. She then proceeds to tell me that because of the weather, the bus company isn’t sure if they can successfully get us there on time if we leave in the morning. So there’s going to be a bus leaving at one in the afternoon.

Cue Louise’s temporary panic because there’s nothing in my room that’s packed. There’s part of my desk done, but other than that? Nadda.

Anyway, she tells me she’s going to call back when she finds out what time the bus is leaving and then she’ll want to know if I’m going to be on it.

Holy. Shit.

This is not how I wanted to leave the country in a state of semi-panic.

So, I get up, get around and take a shower, and then start to power pack my room. She calls me back around ten and tells me the bus is going to leave at two, and if I’m going to be on it. There might not, because of the snow, be another way to get to London if I’m not on this bus.

Hence, Louise needs to be on the bus.

Do not ask me how I managed to pack an entire room in the time available, including the three bags I had with me, and they are all stuffed. It’s ridiculous.

This was, however, not how I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to be rushing around and leaving like this. I wanted to take my time packing, saying goodbye, and maybe having a snowball fight with Jess and Jen before I had to leave. It didn’t happen. I didn’t get to hug Math, or say goodbye to some of the other internationals because they weren’t available, and I was in a time crunch. It wasn’t ideal. But what can you do? They were the circumstances presented, and, quite honestly, I want to go home.

Looking at pictures on my camera of the people I’ve left behind is not the right thing to do at the moment. Though the ones we have when we found a space to claim as ours for the night in the airport? Those are priceless. And Heathrow provided blankets, too. So I have this horribly ugly brown fleece blanket with me that someone gave me at about one-something this morning, along with a bottle of water that I didn’t drink.

Luggage was an issue. Not only was my suitcase overweight (power-packing in three hours? Yeah, that’s gonna happen) and, apparently, my backpack that I took with me on the plane in the cabin was too large and too heavy. Therefore, I had to check that.

That did not make me a happy camper. Especially because I have my Newcastle Brown Ale glass from the Rose and Crown Hotel in that backpack and the stuff that Jess and Jen gave me for my birthday, all breakable. And I was going to have that with me to, well, not break it, and now it’s in with the rest of the luggage. However, I was a good person and wrapped it in clothes before putting it in there, so it should be okay.


On the bright side of that, when I did self-service check-in, I changed my seat. Was supposed to be in the middle on the side, but now I’ve got a window seat. Which makes things better. Not great, but better.

I won’t tell you how much I’ve shelled out to be able to get my overweight suitcase and extra bag on that plane, but it can’t very well sit in Heathrow, can it? And I can’t really repack it because, well, where the hell am I gonna put that stuff? Exactly. At this point, I will do what I need to in order to get home.

Now I’m currently sitting outside a T.G.I. Friday’s and a Jo Malone, listening to Nate play his guitar and thinking that I might have been in this airport too damn long.

There are some truly hilarious pictures from last night, sleeping on the second floor of departures, and, honestly, I slept really well for about five hours on the floor. I will be submitting that photo to This Week in Photos on the colleges website because, well, it’s priceless. Come study abroad and get stuck in airports! Spend the night with your fellow students in a public, co-ed sleepover experience!

Bright side of life, here, people. Bright side of life.

I’m still torn. On the one hand, I want to go home because I haven’t seen my mother in weeks and my sister, father, and Smidget in months. I wanna have filter coffee in my kitchen with my sister, and I want to wake up in the morning because Mads is standing by the side of the bed just staring at me, maybe poking me to see if I’m real and I’ll move over and crawl into bed with me. I’ve missed that. I’ve missed her and her three-foot tall barely containable endless energy.

And if I have to listen to one more security announcement, I’m going to freak out and curse in languages I don’t even know.

What’s making this more bearable? The venti-sized Starbucks peppermint mocha that I’m consuming while I’m writing this and the fact that, yeah, I’ve gotten really used to running on not a lot of sleep over the past couple of weeks. That, and I’m predicting when I get on the plane, I’m going to be asleep before we’re even off the ground.

Shit. The pack of gum I bought specifically to help my ears pop? That’s in my backpack which is now a checked bag. Damn it. I’m going to need to bum some gum off someone if I’m going to make it through take-off without a ton of pain. Sometimes my ears won’t pop.

Again, bright side – I figured out my calling card last night. I couldn’t call the 800 number straight away, I had to call the international connection (for free) and then have them connect me through to AT&T, then I could use the card. Simple once you figure it out, a little complicated and a hell of a lot of frustration when you don’t know what you’re doing.

My laptop sports a Mind the Gap sticker from London on the lid. Perched at a jaunty, angle, of course, and hopefully a conversation starter if I’m in the library and someone’s wondering.

I should probably start thinking about articles to submit to the study abroad journal back home, but I think I have other things to worry about at the moment.

My teeth feel incredibly fuzzy. Brush my teeth, you suggest? The toothbrush and toothpaste are in the backpack, along with most of the pills. It’s been absolutely lovely. What can you do, though?

Yup. I’m going to get on that plane and probably be asleep before we even take off. Me and my window seat that I changed when I checked in. Still makes me smile when I think about that. I like window seats. Not only do I get to look, I get something to lean against.

Let’s talk about re-entry. As in, re-entry to America and American society. It’s going to be an issue. I’ve spent three months getting used to this system, this way of life (and driving on the left side of the road, thank you very much) and maybe it’s a good thing I’m not going to be able to drive until roughly next week because my license expired. Dad has to take me down to DMV sometime next week so I can renew it, and then I’ll be able to drive. Hopefully, I will have assimilated enough to be comfortable driving again and not feel like I’m going the wrong way.

Right. I’m almost out of battery on my laptop and I don’t feel like digging out my plug and my adapter, and…I will see you on the other side of the Atlantic.

Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Softly, Sweetly

I'm not quite sure how many of you actually follow my Twitter, but I said something the other day that there was nothing to calm me down quite like good classical music. My tune of choice? Pachelbel's Canon in D. A couple minutes of scouring YouTube (and time to listen, of course) had me with this absolutely beautiful six minutes and change. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things Louise is Tired Of

Self-explanatory title. I'm a little....peeved, at the moment.

- Dealing with people. Specifically the ones I live with.

- Feeling like a foreigner.

- Being told it's just British humor and to get over it. [It's not - in some cases, it's incredibly offensive, you asshat]

- Hearing the phrase This isn't America, or This is my country, or Things are different here. [No shit, Sherlock, but cut me some slack, I've done damn well to adapt]

- Dishes. And people who don't do them, and expect other people to do exactly as they are told in relation to said dishes.

- The double standard that seems to have cropped up from the previous.

- Having it insinuated every time I'm shaving my legs with my electric razor I'm doing something else [Get. Over. Yourself. It wasn't funny the first time, it's still not funny three months later.]

- Painfully thin walls.

- Being the bigger, better person because that's how my parents raised me [they did it amazingly, too, because 9.8 times out of 10 I'll be the bigger person.]

- Feeling hurt that my ex got married. Really, I'm sick of feeling this way.

- This damn country. Love it, but I'm ready to go home. Now.

- Being proverbially stuck.

- Not having a car.

- Things not staying open past seven. [Seriously. WTF?]

- Trying to make nice when no one else seems to want to.

- Trying to blend in.

- Crying and itching because I'm so frustrated I could scream.

- Having nowhere to go when things get too much.

- Being left out when other people take people to the store or town.

- Feeling bad when I ask but, well, nobody asks me.

- Listening to someone have a conversation in Welsh when I only speak English.

- Being left out in general.

- Feeling this shitty because I can't win with these people.

- Having every conversation I have with a certain someone end up incredibly sarcastic two exchanges in.

- Not wanting to go into the kitchen or another communal space because I don't want to have to make nice with people because I'm still hurting or they're still pissed off.

- Missing things; home, family, etc.

- Fighting with my toilet to flush and dealing with a shower that doesn't drain, filling nearly to the door in a little under three minutes.

- Being disrespected.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Murphy and Me XXXII

[Happy Tuesday, Heather Ann.]

Hot water over sore muscles? Absolutely heavenly. Even on the forming bruises. And there were plenty, too. A couple on the sides of my calves, a few on my biceps, and one hell of a blob on my right quad. That sucker was little over softball-size, complete with hexagons. It's what happens when you stuff someone's on-goal shot at the top of the eighteen. Which was also on par for playing U of R. They were tough. They had probably called us every name in the locker at half time that we'd called them. And weren't nice.

Collegiate soccer isn't pleasant. We take no prisoners. It's how we made it to the Final Four last year.

And it's the type of mentality that we need to make it there again.

If the body took a beating for the cause, well, hot showers and ice did the trick. Usually.

I turned the water off, reaching through the gap in the curtain for the towel and thought of nothing. Well, maybe not nothing. More like went over the conversation from dinner at Friendly's with my parents again.

Namely, I'd bucked up and told Dad about Murph. It went better than expected - there were no Irish jokes or anything that made me instantly red. Nothing at all, really, except "How old is he?" and "Is he a nice boy?" The last one was more from my mother, but I told them the important stuff: history major, sweet guy, football player.

Under no circumstances did I even hint at our first ER visit or that we'd slept in the same bed multiple times. Also that he'd seen me with no shirt on.

Some things, really, are better left unsaid.

I wrapped the towel around my almost nonexistent boobs, dumped my face wash and all-in-one shampoo bottles into the shower basket on the sink, grabbed that, and squelched down the hall. The communal shower flops were left outside the room; I opened the door and stepped onto the indoor/outdoor rug, automatically bopping along with the DMB song coming through the open laptop.

My after-shower routine was solid muscle memory at this point. Comb out the hair (now almost even with the bottom of my shoulder blades), clean out ears, and find something comfortable to wear if the shower comes at the end of the day (whereas real clothes are required for start of day ones).

What wasn't routine was the knocking on the door.

As long as the towel covered the important bits, I could care less who was on the other side of the door.

Unless, of course, it was tall, dark, and Irish with the name of Murphy.

"Hey, Ol - You need me to come back when you're...not so naked?"

I gave him props - the hazel eyes never went further south than my nose. "Murph," I said, clutching the towel for safety reasons, "you've seen me more naked than clothes could ever show."

He turned a very pretty shade of red. "Ollie...."

"It's true."

Murph chuckled. "So...have an interesting day?"

"Quite." I leaned against the edge of the door. "Let me put some clothes on and clear off the bed, yeah?"

He shrugged, backing away from the door frame. "Or you could clear off the bed and skip the clothes part, but I'm good either way, really."

Cue flaming cheeks. "Murphy," I laughed. He grinned, sinking into the armchair in the pseudo-lounge as the door swung shut. For as sweet, funny, and overall wonderful as Murph was, this was proof he was, somewhere deep down, still a guy. One who enjoyed looking at his girlfriend in a towel.

There was no need to get fancy with Murph; a pair of sleep shorts from Wally World's men's department and a tank would be just fine. The towel went in the basket under the bed - along with the clothes on the comforter - and for the hell of it, I left my hair down.

He was staring at the wall when I opened the door. "Hey."

"Hi." Murph came through the door like he owned it, nudged it shut with his foot and cupped my head under my hair with both hands so he could commence kissing me like this was the last he'd see of me.

"You are a force, you know that?" he said against my cheek before he made himself comfortable against my pillows, his sneakers in the bottom of my closet and Edgar in his lap.

"What? How?" I vaulted onto the bed after putting the laptop on a reasonable volume, back against the dresser.

"You blocked a rocket of a shot, got up, organized the troops, and then slide-tackled some chick like it was your job."

Technically it was. "Yeah, and I have the bruises to prove it, too."

He shrugged. "They'll fade." He hiked up the side of his long-sleeved shirt - there was a massive bruise on the left side of his chest.

"Don't you have pads?"

"That's not from football."

I ogled appropriately. "What did you do to your brother?"

Murph turned sheepish. "Accidentally gave him a black eye." I stared. "Not as good as yours, but enough that he got a free hit before practice."

This might be why Izzy and I are thirteen years apart.

"I take it you were at the game." I wrapped my lower legs around his calf.

"Yup. Yours and the boys'." He nudged the inside of my thigh with his toes (striped socks today). "Ma likes you."

My chest stuttered. "What?"

"She likes you." He smiled. "You don't take any shit."

There was more to it than that. "I - "

"She asked us if you carried yourself the same way off the field that you do on." He leaned forward, handed me Edgar, and coaxed me forward against his chest. "Liam and I said yes."

Oh, Murph. I didn't carry that central defender confidence with me all the time. Physics would be a prime example. "I still get freaked out."

"Yeah, but you handle it."

Like hell. I turned, resting my back against his right thigh and the wall. "No, I don't. I freak out completely."

"But not the point where it compromises your grades," he said softly, twirling a damn curl around his finger. "I think I know which ones were your parents."

Abrupt topic change much? As this was heading into better territory, I jumped on the bandwagon. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. Your dad is a little taller than you, a good-sized man." He bit his lip. "He had a camo jacket with him. He hunts, doesn't he?"

Time to come clean with that. "Yeah."

"Multiple shotguns?"

"And a muzzleloader."

Murph winced. "Right."

I yanked his outside leg into my lap and tapped his kneecap gently. "What about your dad? What does he like to do?"

"He's a glassblower, but he's done odd jobs here and there to help pay the bills. He doesn't have his own studio or anything, but he makes all kinds of stuff outta glass."

"Why Lake Placid, though? Why not Corning?" There was a huge museum of glass there, and Corning's nickname was the Crystal City. Pyrex had also been spawned there.

Murph shrugged. "I have no idea."

Couldn't argue with that. "What does your mom do?"

"She works in an insurance office - All-State, I think - as a secretary." He smiled softly. "What about yours?"

"My dad makes asphalt and my mom's a treasurer. My sister's in marketing and I'm a waitress over the summer." That was me and my family in a very fairly small nutshell. "Did you - ?"

"Nope." He leaned back against the wall. "Neither Liam nor I inherited our Da's talent with glass." He blushed. "Neither of us are creative, really."


He raised an eyebrow in a very Spock-like manner. "Da thought it would be a good idea for Liam and I to make Ma an ornament or something for Mother's Day. Well, we blew the bubble of hot glass on the end of the stick to pieces. We haven't been allowed in the studio since."

I fought not to giggle. "How old were you?"


It was like Napoleon at Waterloo; I broke into giggles. The situation was not improved when Murph started tickling me in retaliation.

And if one of us rolled off the bed in he commotion, well, we just laughed harder. After he'd confirmed I hadn't broken myself, of course.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Just Like Guinevere"

This is kind of a companion post to the one below titled Dear Baby Binsk. Not to mention, I just love this song.

Dear Baby Binsk

[This is a letter to my younger self from me now.]

Hey Binsk,

It's me. Sorta all grown up. We just turned twenty-one a little over a week ago, on Turkey Day. Yeah. You, me, our cartilege piercing, and our tattoo we've more or less named Otis. He's still rockin' the tan line from this summer, still lookin' for that horizon. Much like us, really.

Anyway, there's something that I need to tell you. Or rather, we need to talk about.

It's about Al*. I know you're going to have a hell of a time believing me on this one, but, Al got married yesterday. Before you freak out that I've somehow estranged us from the family and eloped in Mexico or anything, we're still single. We've got crazy curly long hair (though, I kept chopping it all off at one point, and now I'm letting it grow back) and, well, I'm currently in Wales. Yeah. You'll enjoy that, trust me.

Anyway. Yeah, Al got married yesterday. Don't look at me like that, all wide-eyed and whatnot. I remember just as clearly as you do freaking out in the kitchen when he came to the back door looking to drop off a can collection bag for Scouts and we thought he was there to see us and we freaked, royally, because we didn't want Mom or Dad to see him because we hadn't told them. I remember him and his dad and his friend turning up in the driveway during Italian Festival one summer, wanting to know if I wanted to go with them while I sat writing The Crossing from composition book to Word. I also remember being smooshed in the backseat, too, with the cake we'd made for Saint Mary's.

I remember all of that, just like you do. Just like I remember the way I felt junior year when I put on the dress I'd worn at Heather's wedding to go to my first prom. Eventually we'll be able to look at those pictures - and the ones from senior year - without tearing up quite as badly. For now, we'll leave them in the picture box in the living room with the ones from Music Club trips to NYC and other places we've been.

We're quite the wanderers, you and I. But that doesn't really hit us until we get to college and start blogging. Originally, we're Confessions of a College Coffee Addict but being a Wandering Sagittarius is what we are, so we change it.

I know it hurts, Binsk. I know it just tears at you to let him go that last time because you don't want to hurt him when you go away to college, and that's fine. I understand that. We don't regret that. We just thought he would wait for us. Can't really blame him for finding someone else, even if we think things moved a bit fast for them. And we were suitably stunned when we found out he was engaged.

Yesterday was their big day and you're over three thousand miles away living a very, very different life.

There's nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to regret. I know it's hard. Really hard. But you've done great things. You've got, at this point, 1,994 pages of composition book filled with a novel; you've got thirty parts on a blogging series that's more or less turned into a book called Murphy and Me; you've recently celebrated a birthday and can legally drink the US now; and you've turned out to be one strong, confident, bluntly honest person who, at all times, remembers to be herself before anything else. Because that's all we can do. Just be us. Even if it hurts.

I thought of how I was going to tackle this particular subject, wondered if there was a line I was going to cross that I shouldn't cross, and then decided, like with a lot of things, to screw it. Life is about crossing lines and this? This is hella personal, but at the same time, it's not. Don't ask me to explain that more fully because, well, I probably can't.

We're a little bitter, some days, I won't lie. We wonder how we can write such a wonderful romance between fictional characters, but can't live it in our own life. Our sister tells us to be patient, that God won't give us more than we can handle. But boy, it does seem like a lot sometime, if not in physical things, than especially with emotional.

Of course, this comes roughly two weeks before we head back to the US from spending three months in a foreign country. Because, well, if we didn't have bad luck we wouldn't have any luck at all. Coincidentally, that was the inspiration for Murphy and Me. And we haven't stopped writing since.

That, Binsk, is the biggest thing. We haven't stopped writing, living, breathing, loving, and wandering. We haven't stopped being us because of this fiasco. And it is a fiasco. It threw us for a loop when we got that random friend request, and it threw us for a loop to realize yesterday they got married. What we can do, though, is to recognize it, and not let it be more than a fading thing.

We can also sit back with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and wait for the wedding photos to crop up and crack up (in more than one way, probably) but that's a normal reaction.

The other normal reaction for us to write him into whatever we're working on, and we have. In little ways, we have. We'll listen to music, cry a little, and keep writing.

This will, eventually, be just another day to us. Another Saturday because, honestly, it doesn't have specific meaning to us. It's not our wedding day, not our anniversary (or one that we should be keeping track of, at any rate) and it's really not important to us. Mean? Slightly. Truthful? Definitely. And that's one thing we refuse to do, is lie to ourselves. Not when it counts the most.

We've come along way. And you've come further yet to get here. We've got more to go, too. More wandering, loving, writing, and most importantly, living. Live it up, kid, cause this life? It's the only one we've got. And to spend it freaking out about a path we didn't take? Not worth it, no matter what we thought he was worth to us back then because there's a Murphy out there for us somewhere. We've just gotta run into a few cars to find him, first.


Murphy and Me XXXI

"Quite a few of you seemed to struggle with this. As far as first exams go, well, those of you that didn't do as well as you'd have liked have three more to work toward." Pat was impressive as ever in his yellow cardigan, the stack of papers on the table at the front daunting and innocent. "Right, I'll just hand them back. The answer key is posted in the hall, and any questions - or if I added wrong - come see me after or in office hours." With that, he started handing back exams.

I left mine face down as long as I dared before finally flipping it when I was sure I wasn't going to lose my breakfast.


Could've been better, could have been worse. Not great, but it wasn't an F. Bottom line for me? I'll take it and run. Preferably without looking back.

I filed it in my folder with my other papers and cracked open my notebook, red and black pens at the ready. Bright side of life, bright side of life, bright side -

Holy hell, Pat, is that even English?

Problem sets are an absolute joy. Stuff that makes perfect sense when the man is at the front of the room but gets absolutely ridiculous when figuring it out alone in the confines of a dorm building.

Hence the books and papers over the entire table yet again. Thankfully I worked in pencil with stuff like this. And had one of those big erasers.

Mostly though, it was to double check things. Some of the old stuff from last semester and a little of the new. A nice respite before plunging into the unknown and being totally confused.

Reminds me of doing my calculus II homework in the second floor lounge, papers all over the place and swearing under my breath. Which I used to do in algebra in eighth grade. The swearing part. Very quietly. And I hated graphing with a passion.

Resonance forms haven't reached that level, but give it time.

There was a thump on the other side of the wall; Jo came around the corner a moment later. "Hey."

"Hi." I ruffled through some papers. Couldn't find the one I wanted.

"Orgo givin' you hell?" She flopped in the beat-to-shit armchair.

"When does it not?"

"True." She rested her elbows on her knees. "Did you find out the physics?"

"C plus." Found the paper and held it up. "See? This is what you get to look forward to next semester." Jo was a year behind me in terms of of her chem courses. This was my second semester of organic and she was in intro. We'd already agreed she'd use my books (she currently had my copy of Molecules That Matter) and would also inherit my physics brick. The only that sort of annoyed her was that I used highlighter when I read. It helped me hang onto the important parts better.

"Goody." She sighed. "You parents coming up for this weekend?"

"Yeah. We have a game Saturday." Honestly, I was tryin' not to think about that too much. Mostly because Murph and I hadn't talked about how we were going to handle that. My dad didn't know about my boyfriend, my mom was probably going to want details, and Murph hadn't told his mom yet. It was, really, best left alone for the moment in terms of having our parents meet.

Course, I had yet to talk to Murph about it.

"You and Murph gonna do the whole meet the parents thing?"

Damn her. "I dunno. Probably not, but I need to talk to him about it."


Eloquent as ever, Jo. No wonder neither of us were into public speaking as a pseudo-elective. Maybe that was the reason we were both scientists. Would explain a lot, too.

"Yeah." I fished for my phone. This whole Parents Weekend thing needed to be crossed off the To-Do List. Preferably yesterday.

And yes, I had a legit To-Do List to cross things off of. Made me feel like I'd accomplished something, even when I'd most likely done nothing remotely close to productive.

Of all the ways college students had thought to lie to themselves, this was possibly the best.

"You should talk to him."

Thank you, again, Jo. I know. "Preferably before the weekend, yeah, I know." Checked the time on the phone when I found it - early enough by collegiate standards and late enough for him to be home.

She waited while I typed and then said, "He gonna come up?"

"Don't even know if he's back." I checked my problem set against my notebook, was satisfied it was correct, and shuffled every paper into a pile and stuffed it back in the folder. Should really do some reading for T-S Britain.

Could, should, probably wouldn't.

On that note -

"Hey, ladies."

I stacked the folder on the ottoman to my right and then swiveled to look at Murph, lounging carelessly against the wall. "You should know me well enough to know I'm no lady."

Murph pushed off from the wall, moved my folders from the ottoman, and straddled it. "That's right." We were damn close to lookin' each other in the eye. "You're a heathen, aren't you?"

"Filthy little," I smirked, looking at Jo.

"Savages, savages, demons to the core," she said, rolling her eyes with a grin.

How we'd gone from saying hello to a half-assed Pocahontas sing-along, I'd never know. Nor would I care to. It was damn obvious Murph had a movie-lover for a girlfriend.

"What are you doing for Parents Weekend, Jo?" Murph asked.

"Going home." She shifted in the chair, drawing her legs up. "I'm leaving Friday."

As she had a six-hour drive, yeah, I can see why she'd leave on Friday.

Murph nudged my leg with is foot. "And what are you doin' this weekend?"

"Playing U of R on Saturday."

He winced. "Bloodbath?"

"You betcha." University of Rochester was always good, so it was always a close game. They were a team that if we didn't win, we tied. "Do do you play on Sunday?"

"Carnegie-Mellon." He looked at the folders he was still hanging onto.

"What are we doing about our parents?"

Murph literally growled at himself. "I still haven't told Ma. Haven't found a way to bring it up yet."

Which was the current status of the conversation with my dad. "Yup. I know the feeling."

He snorted.

"This is why I'm single," Jo added.

I turned and stared. "I thought you were single because you're a scientist and there's just no time for a man?"

She mumbled something that sounded vaguely like stuff it. I grinned.

"Do you want us to stop by and check it out on Saturday?" he asked.

I turned in the chair, hooking an ankle under his. "I don't want to - I just." How I'd ever passed English in high school I'll never know. "It wouldn't be fair to you if you guys came on Saturday and we didn't on Sunday."

He moved his right leg to the same side of the ottoman as the other, caging my striped-clad feet between his beat Pumas. Jo was still very much there, though, she wasn't. She was there but we weren't very much aware of her at the moment.

"You know that doesn't matter to me," he said, flopping the folders on the table.

"It matters to me." I didn't want him to give more than I could. For us to be uneven in any way.

He wrapped a hand around my calf. "It's not a competition, Ol." He shrugged. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it's okay."

Good God, how did I find this boy? And how did he end up with me?

"I - "

"I know." His thumb stroked my shin through a layer of denim. "Remember, though, I'm gonna do what I wanna do. And what's possible."

That he was. I couldn't ask him not to, and to ask him to not come if he wanted to would hurt him. And the last thing I wanted to do was hurt Murph.


"Yeah," I whispered.

It was going to be an interesting weekend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things to Know: International Edition VII

- Things to Know is a series that can be chalked up to disconnected moments of randomosity from the darkest recesses of my noggin.

- Or it can just be good fun, it's really your call.

- I love YouTube.

- I watched Cats last night on previously mentioned YouTube and have come to a few conclusions, first and foremost being that I'm in love with Munkustrap's thighs. The actor who plays him - quite well, I might add - spends most of his time in a crouch position instead of upright.

- Oh, those thighs.

- I'll be honest, that's probably about the depth of my shallowness, watching Cats clips repeatedly to see men in spandex.

- The costuming though? Absolutely amazing.

- All this talk of cats and Cats has probably freaked out my sister by this point, after her #DamnCats fiasco last weekend.

- I got home in fifteen days. By home, I mean New York.

- I found my plane ticket stub from when I came over here, and I started to cry.

- For as much as I want to go home, I'm going to have a difficult time leaving this place.

- I'm that (un)fortunate soul who makes home wherever she goes.

- I'm not entirely sure what I should do the packed but not sucked space bags currently occupying my bed.

- On the bright side, I can get the pillow out from one of them and sleep on that one more night.

- My flat mate, the one who has the vacuum, went home rather unexpectedly this morning out of fear of having to drive through a ridiculous amount of snow.

- They've canceled trains and such because of the weather - impending in places - and dumping snow in others.

- I'm hoping for snow.

- My hair's gotten longer, and this is fairly important as I've missed the amount of hair I used to rock my senior year of high school.

- It's a royal pain in the ass to straighten, but hey, every now and then is fine.

- This is going to sound a little odd, but, I think I've hit the point where wearing my incredibly curly, slightly afro-like hair down makes me feel....kind of pretty.

- Just found the missing plate.

- Said missing plate is sitting on my windowsill, with the empty Oreo wrapper on it.

- I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs and I really don't care.

- I might pack the shaver and send that home through the mail.

- My Twitter is a goldmine tonight. An absolute goldmine.

- Louise needs to go to bed.

- Once she figures out where to put the vacuum bags.

- I figured this out a while ago, but, I think there's a ghost that lives in my bathroom.

- No idea why he lives in my bathroom of all places. One would expect the wardrobe.

- Every night after I crawl in bed, he pokes his head around the corner, and then wanders back into the bathroom.

- No big deal; both houses in New York are haunted.

- I think I'm ready to go home.

-Might have to get back to you on that last one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Icicle Man [Scene IV]

The Icicle Man (Scene IV)

Lights come up on a workshop – icicles and large snowflakes hang from the ceiling; various scissors and shears hang from the walls. Two elves are seated next to each other at a work table.

Leanna: Why is it that every time he needs supporting elves, we never get called? We’ve sat here how many millennia making snowflakes? I think we could use a bit of a holiday.

Matthias: That’s not our course. He’s got a grand scheme of things, he knows what’s best. And why would you want to spend time with the humans? Nasty, the lot of them. Always feeling, and doing, and loving. Enough to make you sick. How Jack’s done it all these years….the sprite should be a saint.

Leanna: Don’t let him hear you say that, he’ll be unbearable for the next thousand years.

Matthias: But it’s true. Admit it. If you had his power and his talent, you’d have done more humans in than Death – and he’s a nasty one, he is. Makes me glad I’m not mortal.

Leanna: And why, of all the things to have, Matthias, would you even contemplate being mortal to begin with?

Jack enters quietly through the shop door, across from their bench.

Matthias: (Embarrassed) I think it would be fun.

Jack: What would be fun?

Leanna: Jokul! How nice to see you. What do you want? (Glances at Matthias)

Jack: I need to speak to him. And what’s fun, Matty?

Matthias: Nothing.

Jack: (Looks between Leanna and Matthias) Right. You, Matthias, still need to grow a spine and, Leanna dear, let your cousin have his own opinions. He has a brain, you know.

Leanna: Wouldn’t think it for what comes out of his mouth.

Matthias: All I said/

Leanna: Shut it, Matthias!

Jack: Silence! (Flatly) I really don’t have time for a family squabble, entertaining as they are, and really do have more pressing things to attend to. However, because I’m in a good mood, I’d like to hear your idea, Matty.

Matthias: Thank you, Jack. As I was saying/

Leanna: Don’t be stupid.

Jack: (Leans across the table into Leanna’s face) I have not had the most pleasant of days, Leanna, and simply to make myself feel better I may take your favorite pair of shears, freeze them, and find a stone to smash them on. And then where would Father Winter’s favorite snowflake maker be? Or, if you’d rather, I’ll freeze you to the bench. (Leans further in and gently touches his lips to hers) Or maybe I’ll freeze your lips together for a few thousand years and Matty can have some silence. (Stands up) Don’t tempt me.

Leanna: You’re a horrible fairy, Jokul Frosti.

Jack: You’re pushing me, Leanna. Back off.

Matthias: Right. I said I thought it would be fun to be mortal.

Leanna drops her head to the work table; Jack cocks his to the side, contemplating.

Jack: Really.

Leanna: He is a fool, Jokul. A flaming fool.

Jack: How many times must I tell you I hate that name, Leanna? Say it again and I’ll freeze your shears.

Matthias: Why doesn’t it work when I threaten her?

Leanna: Because you’re not ruthless enough to go through with what you threaten.

Matthias: And he is?

Jack: Most definitely. I do not suffer fools.

Matthias: How have you put up with Leanna for so long?

Jack: Practice.

Leanna: Funny, Jack. Very funny. Why are you here?

Jack: To see Father Winter.

Leanna: About?

Jack: Nothing that concerns you.

Leanna: What you do concerns us all, Jack. It’s probably something foolish. (Jack looks away) It is. It’s something foolish.

Jack: Why does it matter to you, Leanna? It’s not as though you can leave the workshop. Not as though you have any other purpose than to make middling snow flurries.

Matthias: He’s right.

Leanna: Shut up.

Jack: Now, if you are quite done/

Leanna: He’s not here.

Jack: He’s always here.

Leanna: He’s not/

Jack: Not here here, but around. He is always around.

Leanna: Jokul/

Jack: When did you become his mouthpiece? And do not call me that, Leanna, or I will/

Matthias: Shut up, both of you. (At Jack) He’s here and he’s expecting you. Mother is with him, too.

Jack: (At Leanna) I would hide your shears unless you want to fashion a new pair.

Father Winter: (From offstage) Play nice, Jack.

Jack: You’ve been telling me that for years/

Father Winter: And you still haven’t grasped the concept. Don’t apologize; you’ll just keep on doing what you’ve been doing for millennia. Ah, but chin up. If you had suddenly been nice, I’d have thought the humans had finally done the trick.

Jack: That is what I wish to speak to you about.

Father Winter, Matthias, Leanna: Humans?

Jack: Yes. Father, I met a human/

Father Winter: This one is alive still, I hope.

Jack: Yes. And, well, she made a wager with me. A challenge.

Father Winter: Go on.

Jack: She challenged me that I couldn’t be human.

Leanna, Matthias: She?

Jack: And I wish to prove her wrong. (Looking at the ceiling, where he thinks Father Winter’s voice is coming from)

Father Winter: And how do you wish to do this? I assume you have an idea, Jack.

Jack: (Nervous) I do. I do, Father. I – IwishtobecomehumanforatimesothatImightwin. (Silence) Father?

Father Winter: You…You wish/

Leanna: You disgrace! You – You sorry excuse for a pixie! You’re a/ (Screams behind lips that are frozen together)

Matthias: He did warn you.

Father Winter: Are you sure, Jokul? You will need everything a human does – a home, a living, money. You will need to do everything as a human would. You must leave nothing out.

Jack: Yes, I know, I/

Mother Summer: Jokul.

Jack: (Winces) Mother.

Mother Summer: Are you sure, dear? Being human is not easy. It is quite painful, truthfully.

Jack: I know. (Ignoring Leanna’s outraged, muffled protest) I mean, Mother, that I have witnessed it. I have seen birth, death, and much in between. I have witnessed joy and sadness. I wish to experience this. I wish to win this challenge.

Mother Summer: This human girl has insulted this with you.

Jack: I wish to show her she is wrong. I wish to win.

Mother Summer: Be wary of being too focused on your goal. Being human is more than simply emotion.

Jack: Yes, Mother.

Father Winter: Converse with Matthias while your Mother and I discuss what you have asked.

Jack: (Easing down next to Matthias) Well, at least it’s quieter now.

Matthias: Yes, it is. (Turns to Leanna) Stab me with those and I’ll cut off your hair in your sleep.

Jack: (Chuckling) You are almost as bad as I am, cousin.

Matthias: You don’t live with her. You don’t have to put up with it.

Jack: I think I would go mad. Absolutely mad.

Matthias: Well, yes/

Father Winter: Jokul.

Jack: Yes, Father?

Father Winter: Your Mother and I have decided to grant you your wish. You will be human until the first of the nymphs appears bearing your Mother’s early tidings. Then you and your human challenger will decide who has won.

Jack: Yes, Father.

Father Winter: And you will abide by whatever rules you have set for this challenge, including the correct consequences to the outcome.

Jack: Yes, Father.

Mother Summer: Remember, Jokul. You wished for this.

Jack: Y-Yes, Mother.

Mother Summer: There’s a good boy, Jokul. And as you’re bound to be in some pain in a few moments, you may want to wander back to where you’ve left Mari.

Matthias: Mari/

Jack: Mother – Oh. Ah – Ow. (Quickly exits through the shop door)

Mother Summer: Oh, my dear. You are in for a treat.

Matthias: Mother? Do I/

Mother Summer: She’ll be fine until Jokul is finished with this challenge. Then we’ll let them sort it in their own way.

Matthias: Yes, Mother.

Mother Summer: Be of assistance, Matthias. Leanna will need your help.

Matthias: Yes, Mother. (Turns to Leanna) If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. (Gets up and walks out of the shop door)

Leanna screams behind her frozen lips, pounding the workbench in frustration as the lights fade to black.

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz