Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Both people living here now are Environmental Studies majors and both drive SUVs.

Also, I saw a cop car parked outside a Dunkin' Donuts today while one of them ran in for donuts.


No Longer Homeless!

So, as of today I have signed a lease and have a home. Hope it works out. I am sharing with Dustin (from rural Iowa and so far very sweet) and Captain Wilson, a wire-haired fox terrier. Like Snowy! Unlike Snowy, he doesn't bark (not even Wooah). There is also a super-hyper Corgi running around at the moment. He is supposed to be moving out on Friday with the people I'm subletting from. Captain Wilson is like a robot dog. He doesn't say anything and doesn't shed, just comes and hangs out. Five minutes after I moved in, sitting on the floor booting up the laptop, he wandered in and unexpected sat down on my lap. I think Captain Wilson and I will get along just fine.

We have the main floor of a house, two bedrooms, sharing with Dustin and one yet-to-be-encountered housemate (both guys). The house is in a nice quiet neighbourhood (kinda far from work, but there are FREE shuttles). I talked the outgoing housemate into leaving me the bed/furniture, so should be quite comfortable here. It's not the cheapest place I looked at, but I had a good feeling about Dustin and Wilson so fingers crossed it was the right choice.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

at the airport

At Pearson Airport, making use of their free wireless! Awesome. So I'm on my way down to Connecticut to do an Ivy League practicum. Crazy stuff. I got hammered HARD with baggage fees at stupid Gatwick (didn't have my luggage scale, bad call) on Friday, so have managed to pack for six months in the States using only one checked bag and one carry-on (plus the allowed laptop bag and "small purse"). I had it exact to the pound this time around, and of course they never even weighed anything. However, travelling light has its own rewards in terms of actually being able to move everything by yourself without dying. The old couple in the Redcar on the way to the airport had three bags EACH. The woman told me, "Well, it's difficult, dear, when you're going away for two months." I almost one-upped her by mentioning that I'm going for six, but stopped myself in time. Nobody wants to get into a travelling-light oneupsmanship contest at four in the morning.

That's right, Air Canada bumped my flight twice, from a nice 2pm flight to an 11.30am flight to a stupid 7.55 am flight. I am TIRED. I am also wearing a million layers because I was worried about luggage weight. I've got a dress over jeans and a long-sleeved top, plus boots, plus two belts, one scarf and one jacket. I also got to try out the new US body scanners. Anticlimactic. Also got through customs just fine, which is a big relief. They sent me my visa paperwork, but I was worried I had missed something or they would grill me. But nope, all is apparently well.

I'm also not sure what to expect when I get there. Spent yesterday running around like a mad thing when I realised that my bank "can't guarantee" I can access my money from the States. Tried getting travellers cheques at CIBC, but they were incredibly slow and couldn't debit my account. They sent me a travel money place down the road, but they could only take $1000 by debit and needed a cheque for the rest. So I ended up calling and BEGGING my housemate to bring my chequebook along on his way to the gym, so I could pick it up, so I could run for six blocks and get to the place before it closed. (I also didn't have a bus pass - they didn't give me one this semester, so this was all on foot in -20C). I also found out at 4.30 pm that there is a form I was supposed to fill out for the university, which of course had to be signed by seventeen people. I think it's all good now - but if not, I'll be trying to sort it out by email from Yale.

Yikes, the next few days will be crazy. This time last week I was in the UK, chilling at Del's house. Next week, with any luck I will once again have a fixed address...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Zooming Around the UK

Having a lovely time in the UK. I am now in a place called Upper Tadmarton, which makes me laugh every time I hear it. It has been a super busy week. Flight went fine, no major delays, and Del was waiting for me at the airport. Drove straight up to Edinburgh and spent Hogmanay there, although we didn't do much since everxyone but me seemed to be suffering from a stomach bug. We went up to Calton Hill to watch the fireworks, but then everyone else had to go home and lie down, so I soldiered on alone and went out to a house party with a friend I knew from living in Edinburgh. Much drama ensued, but made it home all right in the end.

Spent a few days in the city, staying at a furnished apartment type thing (staying on Del's friends' floor was getting to be a bit much after a few nights). Saw Matthew and Jen, went to a lot of gorgeous pubs and generally had a nice time. I cooked Del's friends butter chicken using the recipe Judith put on the Badgers' Grub wiki and it went over extremely well! Then we drove down to Liverpool to visit Del's friends Pauline and Gary and their little girl, Chloe. She is nearly two and took a huge shine to me for some reason. By the end she was howling every time I left the room, which was a bit awkward! I got a big tear-stained farewell when we left.

It was snowing when we left Liverpool, but pushed on to Bangor to visit my former supervisor and my friends Ralph and Thandi. R and T are both doing their PhDs and it was great to catch up. We stayed with Ralph, who was the soul of hospitality and brought cups of tea in bed in the morning! We stopped by to see Thandi's house in the morning, which is miles away in Porthmadog, making it the first time I've ever driven 30 miles for a cup of tea! She has a lovely house with amazing views, but I really can't imagine doing that commute every day.

The tea stop meant we had to drive through Snowdonia to get to Oxford, which was insanely gorgeous but pretty tough on poor Del. All those tiny windy hairpin turn-filled B roads were pretty icy near the top of the pass, so fairly unpleasant driving. I had a great time looking at the scenery, however! Made it safe to Oxford in time to go out dancing and have an amazing night out with my friends Jo, Roxie and Aonghus, and have now collapsed in Upper Tadmarton for a much-needed rest!