Thursday, November 3, 2011

thank you for your cooperation. you may now resume blogging.

I apologize profusely, my dear readers. Apparently October was much busier than anticipated and every time I sat down with the specific plan to blog, I would get distracted by Tumblr, my new internet obsession. It's possibly the worst thing to happen to my productivity in a long time. I post little things on there, most of them inappropriate, so I will not be leaving the link here.

So! October! The places and people I saw!

London was amazing! Lynda and I had a grand ol' time in the Queen's city. We flew into the city in the evening, taking the train from the airport, then the tube from the train, finally walking acrosst the street to our hostel. The hostel was very strange. Firstly, the rooms had triple-bunk beds. While it's not the first time I've seen or slept on a triple-bunk bed, I hadn't intended to do it ever again. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Lynda got the bottom bunk and I got the middle. All three nights we were there the person on the upper-most bunk was a mover in their sleep. Shoot me now, please. Secondly, the hostel had creepy/racist, cartoonish pictures painted EVERYWHERE. The only cute one was a kiwi bird farting. Yeah, that's about the level of the paintings. Thirdly, they blasted music in the bathroom every morning. I just wanted to brush my teeth in silence. Apparently, that would be too much to ask for.

As I've just said that London was fantastic and then promptly complained about the hostel, I should probably talk about how amazing London actually was. On Friday, Lynda and I went into the city and walked around Westmister, looking at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. We toured Westmister Abbey, which was gorgeous. Many famous people were buried there and/or have plaques dedicated to them, like Shakespeare and the Bronte sisters.

After Westminster, we waited in the Westminster Underground station for our Harry Potter walking tour! It was so cool! We walked around London as our tour guide showed us a bunch of places where the Harry Potter films were shot. Some of them were recognizable by specific landmarks, but with the magic of moviemaking, there was a lot that was either changed or added to make the location look different in the movie. As it turns out in a two block radius, they filmed several scenes for different movies. Nice work, location managers! We got to see where they filmed the Knight Bus scenes as well as the Leaky Cauldron (it moved!) and Knockturn Alley. Finally, our tour landed us at the infamous Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. The trolley going into the wall isn't actually on the platform as something like that does not exist in the real world. Instead, it's outside where you don't have to buy a ticket to get on the platform for a picture. Naturally, Lynda and I took lots of pictures of the platform. (Why wouldn't we?)

After the tour, we went shopping for Harry Potter stuff. I purchased Luna Lovegood's wand and it just sits perfectly in my hand. I must truly be a Ravenclaw. We were so exhausted (well, Lynda was anyway) that we went back to the hostel, had dinner, and slept. There was an early start for the next day for the Doctor Who Experience!

The Doctor Who Experience was so fucking cool. It started off in a small lobby with some of the costumes and props from the show. There were signs posted everywhere that when we entered the experience that no photography was allowed. Bummer. The Experience was super cool! You and everyone else in the group was part of a mission while the Doctor was trapped in the Pandorica again. We got to fly the TARDIS, get commanded by Daleks, and walk through a hall of Weeping Angels. So cool! Once the Experience was over, it turns out there was so much more that I wasn't expecting! And we could take pictures! Lynda and I went nuts, taking pictures of EVERYTHING. We got one of the green screen pictures of us hanging off the TARDIS. So awesome! Of course we ended in the gift shop and frankly, we didn't mind. As Lynda's a new Doctor Who fan, she capitalized on the merchandise. I only got a couple t-shirts and buttons.

After the Experience, we headed out to Picadilly Circus and found the Forbidden Planet in London! For those who don't know, Forbidden Planet is a small chain of stores in the UK that sell nerd things. All sorts of nerd things. I didn't get very much there, but of course, Lynda went nuts and bought the whole store. After Forbidden Planet, we walked down Charing Cross where all the bookstores are. We made it to Leicester Square, but not without the feeling our arms were going to fall off. So, we went in search of a duffel bag of sorts to put our things in. There was no way all of this was going to fit in our backpacks and we were going to have to check a bag anyway.

For some reason, the first place I thought we should go into for a bag was M&M's World. And yes, it is exactly what it seems like: a three-story store entirely devoted to the candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand. Once again, for some reason when asked if we needed help, I asked if they had a large duffel bag. Sure enough, the girl comes out from the back with an M&M's duffel bag. We purchased it and went off to a corner to redistribute and consolidate. It was weird, but we were so tired we didn't care. We left M&M's World, but not without Lynda realizing she lost her wallet. I sat outside listening to some homeless man calling people hyenas and jackyls while Lynda had an excursion finding her wallet in M&M's World. Luckily, she had left it at the counter and not on the floor where we thought. Yay!

We ventured back up to the hostel to drop off our things and came back into the city centre to catch a ride on the London Eye! It was nighttime and I couldn't imagine a better time to go. The city was lit up and it was gorgeous. I wish we could have gone again, but it was kind of expensive and the Eye was closing as we were getting off. Still amazing.

Sunday was our day to leave, but not without more adventures. We took a tour of The Globe, where Shakespeare's company performed. Despite not being a fan of Shakespeare, I would definitely reconsider my position if I could see a show in there. I bet it's a completely different atmosphere than in an indoor theatre. So cool. We went to a small museum about The Clink Prison which was creepy as all get out. We saw Buckingham Palace. I took a tour of the Royal Mews (where they keep the carriages and horses).

In the end, London was exhausting, but so worth it. I definitely plan to return again in the future. (Fun fact: I originally wanted to study abroad in London! Thankfully, I didn't because the pound (£) is brutal.)

Parental Visit
My parents came to visit! They literally landed in London the day after I left, but they came into Cork that following weekend to spend time with me! The first evening was spent touring them around Cork, including showing them 7 North Mall (where I live). They got to meet a couple of my friends and roommates. We had dinner and hung out.

Saturday was Blarney Castle! Though I had already been there, my parents wanted to go and I was not going to pass up an opportunity to go to the Rock Close again. We explored the Castle as well as the grounds and Rock Close. Still so gorgeous even on a not-so-nice day. We went back to Cork and did a little shopping as well as dinner and chilling. Sunday we toured UCC, ate at Lennox's, and grabbed a pint in the evening with Lynda. It was a brief weekend and it was nice to see them just for a couple of days.

In case you missed it, I'm a member of UCC's WARPS (Wargaming And Role-Playing Society). We go to conventions. This weekend was one of those conventions. If you know me, you know I love conventions so naturally, this was awesome.

I left Cork with James and Lynda on the bus to Dublin. We got there early, so we trolled around Dublin for a little bit before heading to the hotel where we were staying with all the other WARPS kids. We ended up staying up late drinking, playing Ascension, and talking. In that first night, I made new friends: Killian, Ronan, Mark, and became better friends with Stephanie. They are all super amazing and very funny individuals.

The next day was the first day of the convention! It flooded in Dublin, so the con had to be moved, as well as canceling events on Friday. I didn't mind because the rest of the con was still amazing. My first RPG (role-play game) was at 2pm, called 'Doing It For Themselves', based in the Discworld universe. I made friends with Dave who was sitting next to me at the table as our characters became friends. How cool is that? My next game was at 6pm, called 'Beneath the Ice', based in the World of Darkness universe. Once again, awesome game and my character ended up achieving her overall goal and not dying! Yay!

Once that game ended, Mark and I were immediately wisked away to Ray's game in the Fog o' War Universe. It was set on a submarine and the group of 16 was split into two groups, Command and Engineering, and placed in two different rooms. I chose Engineering which was definitely fun. Our group was mostly WARPS kids, but that didn't matter. Engineering nearly declared mutiny and almost fired a missile into the bay. We're classy like that. It was so much fun that we all, both Command and Engineering, couldn't stop talking about it afterward. (Later, we discovered that Ray's game won the 'Best Scenario' award. He definitely deserved it!)

We went to the pub for a little bit, but Fog o' War was exhausting and Mark needed food. We headed into town, grabbed a sandwich for Mark, and went back to the hotel only to stay up late again. Whatever. I went back to the room only to discover a drunk Hugh. Lynda and I were giggling like mad at him. He was just being ridiculous. Oh, Hugh.

Sunday morning was another game-filled day! Played in Ronan's 'Shadowrun' scenario which was awesome becaus I got to essentially be the character that's just called in to kill everyone. Those are my favourites. Sadly, I was so tired for the first part of the game that I just wanted to sleep. It was nothing against Ronan but if I could have played the game from my dreams, I totally would have. After Shadowrun, James, Dave, and I went into the city for lunch and to find me a piece of luggage. Both missions were successful and I got to spend time with James and Dave, so I was pretty happy. That evening, I played in a game called 'Rain', based in the Call of Cthulu universe, in which I straight up yelled in character at the scientist in our game. Let's just say I got way too into my role. Several tables turned and just looked at us when I did and my GM Sandra applauded me. Oh boy. So fun! Afterward, I went over to the pub for the charity auction where I won against a mysterious bidder who I discovered later was Dave. (The room was split in the middle by a wall in the pub. We couldn't see each other at all and it wasn't until Noirin told me that I knew it was him!)

I luckily got more sleep on Monday and was awake for the morning. Unfortunately, I didn't sign up for an RPG in the morning. I talked with Ronan briefly and since their RPG hadn't started yet, I signed up. I had no idea what it was about and jumped in with zero prior knowledge. It was from the Legend of the 5 Rings universe, a system set in feudal Japanese society with some mythos. It was interesting because it was so polite and gracious while being creepy. The whole time I had no idea what was going on, but I still had fun.

At these types of cons, they award players who impress the GM in one way or another. Each RPG has a winner amongst all of the tables. A single RPG scenario may have up to 4 tables (20 players). I'm only telling you this because I won 3 of my 6 RPGs and almost won a 4th! I won 'Rain', 'Fog o' War' for the Engineers, and 'Legend of the 5 Rings'. (I almost won 'Shadowrun', but Mark won that one. I'm still happy I essentially came in second!) I understood why I won 'Rain'. Yelling at the scientist definitely won me brownie points. 'Legend of the 5 Rings' made no sense to me at first, but I impressed Stephanie so much by not knowing a thing about it that morning but trying my hardest to be polite and work in the scenario as my character. I still have no idea why I won 'Fog o' War' for the Engineers. I didn't get to talk to Ray about it. Maybe sometime I'll get to ask him. But to be a winner in the game with the 'Best Scenario' feels pretty awesome.

We took the bus back home, but not without some hiccups. I thought I lost my wallet, but it turns out it was in the bag I didn't get to thoroughly check. We lost Mark because he fell asleep while walking to the bus. It was an adventure. Nonetheless, we got back to Cork safely. The next day, I slept until 1pm.

I've been seeing someone! A boy! His name is Mark (not the Mark mentioned above) and yes, he's Irish. This fulfills half of Mikey and David's prediction of my trip to Ireland. (The half they got wrong was that his name is not Seamus and he doesn't want me to stay and marry him.) He's currently working on his thesis for his Masters in astrophysics. In other words, he's way smarter than me. I'm okay with it. I'll live. I spend nearly every evening at his house, just hanging out. It started off innocently watching British comedies, but now it's nearly a full relationship. We're staying away from labels because we're hoping it'll make my leave a bit easier. (It probably won't, but we're staying hopeful.) He's pretty much the best.

I love my Irish class. I love my Mabinogi class. I love my Sexuality & Society class. I dropped my Lit & Culture class. I loathe my Family Policy class. I'm so checked out of school. After spending 17 years in school, I'm so done.

But good news, my friends! I am 100% graduating this semester! I have 126 credits at the University of Iowa and will be completing two degrees, Theatre Arts and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies, in 3.5 years. What a champ.

Real Life
I'm currently looking for a job in Los Angeles and a place to live. It's proving to be a challenge as I don't want to apply too early, but I definitely need to start brainstorming places to apply as well as working on a personal statement and fix my resume. It'll be great though. I can't wait to get back to LA and see all my friends. (And sadly, I really miss the beach and the sunshine.)

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this update since I was a lazy ass when it came to writing it. Figured I should also write a blog before I go to Berlin for the weekend! Every day in Irish, my brain immediately goes into German, so I hope that helps me in Germany. I'm going by myself for 5 days and staying in a relatively nice hostel. I'm pretty stoked. I will definitely blog from there. I promise it won't be a month off.

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