Well, you can all relax…

It was a long, fraught battle, but Fran Healy of Travis stepped over the corpses of Rachel Stevens, Keane, and the Sugababes to lay claim to the “woo” part of Band Aid 20: the song that makes you realise that Sonia and Bother Beyond weren’t that bad after all…

currently playing: New Order — Shellshock

The Great Coathanger Famine And Other Stories

[Portions of this entry brought to you by Lacuna, Inc]

Time to update you on the events of the previous week, from 35,000ft in the air. I feel all business-like, as if I’m one of those strange hacker guys in a science-fiction film who you just know will save the day by interfacing an Apple Mac and an alien spacecraft.

Anyway, after my class last Monday, I went shopping. And boy, did I go shopping. Excuse me while the plane encounters turbulence. I bought a few Christmas presents, raided Barnes & Noble, took advantage of a JC Penney sale, and generally acted like a mad consumer. One thing I do like about Southpoint Mal is that they seem to have one tape of 80s hits which they’ve been playing for the past two years now. However, it does lead to treats like hearing Haircut 100’s Love Plus One over the speakers (there’s another copy of the song in the Triangle, I know, but I imagine it’s rather rare, considering how it’s almost forgotten in Britain). I got a ride home with Leigh and Joe. Before we left for the mall, Joe was complaining about his car stereo. When Leigh phoned Joe after work, he said he was coming from Durham. Somehow we both knew what that meant; Joe turned up with a brand-spanking-new stereo system, complete with a huge remote control.

It’s still very bumpy.

That night, we went off to the Nightlight Exchange, to take part in their trivia night. Unfortunately, it looked like somebody had died during the first round; it was very quiet, and people didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves. So we went next door to Fuse (neé Henry’s), which was almost completely deserted, and proceeded to scare the bar staff silly. I think everybody at some point ordered “the drink that the crazy girl got instead of Sex On The Beach” (Laura wasn’t even drunk at this point, it must be said, but you wouldn’t know it. Sample snippet of conversation: “have you ever heard the word ‘crunchy’?”). At this point, we consisted of Laura, Naomi, Rachel, Collin, and myself. But then! Stacie phoned up and said she would join us! It was felt that Stacie shouldn’t have to walk the distance from her car to the bar by herself, so the protection squad was sent: Collin and I Yes, well, as long as we didn’t come across anything more ferocious than a munchkin, Stacie would be in safe hands! Luckily, the only scare was a Bush / Cheney sticker in somebody’s window. Collin tried to save the day by peeling it off, but it was on the inside of the window (Collin, being Collin, didn’t give up straight away, though). Then, back to Fuse! And Stacie saw the torrid effects on alcohol on us all. We all failed to answer Collin’s “where will you be in seven years?” question, and I can’t remember who answered “which fictional character would you like to be, and which character do you think you most resemble?” question apart from myself, but then, I was quite drunk by this point.

Tuesday! And yet more shopping. It’s shameful, I know. Slightly better in that I went to the thrift store in Carrboro, and got two very nice pairs of trousers for the rather reasonable price of $6. After that success, I had to get a few things to decorate the house on Friday (Laura’s birthday, naturally. She had only mentioned it about, oooh, 502312 times by then. :-)), so I went off to the toy shop to get some bubble blowers; the suggested theme for the day was a return to childhood, so I thought balloons and bubbles and hats and streamers would be a good way to make the apartment look like a fun place to be. Er, not that it isn’t normally. More fun. (I think I almost got away with that save)

I forgot that Carrboro is a Special place. A community where people love things natural, peaceful, and environmentally-friendly. It’s a hippie haven, and it a wonderful place to hang out in. But it was a little weird to be asked, in the toy shop, whether I thought Club Nova (the thrift shop), had a good selection today. After I had got over the slight oddness (yes, I had to get her to repeat the question), I felt pleased I could actually answer it. Yes, I know, I’m silly. But it did make me smile when I was leaving with my horn of bubbles.

Then, to New Hope Commons, yet again, for more party things, and to pick up coathangers. Because mum asked me to. When asked by an interested Laura why I had to buy coathangers instead of mum getting them, I was at a loss to explain. An email later, and I had an answer: they’re cheaper here. But surely, they can’t be that cheaper? Is there a coathanger duty in Britain I’m not aware of? We need a campaign for cheap British coathangers! I hear Boris Johnson has some free time now, so we could draft him as a spokesman.

I came back to Chapel Hill, stopping by Kinko’s to pick up the banner I had made. I love Kinko’s. It’s amazing. You go in with an Illustrator file on CD, say “could you print this banner for me?” and they say “sure! you want holes to hang it with?” To borrow a phrase, awesome. Why don’t we have this back home, hmm?

Tuesday night was rather quiet. Rachel, Laura, and I watched the My So-Called Life bonus disc. We quickly discovered that it wasn’t worth the $100 or so I ended up spending to get hold of my copy. A long, meandering, and at times, downright scary (yes, the woman writer has issues with Clare Danes, we decided) interview with the show’s creators, plus a “Tour”, which was nothing more than a guy with a camera wandring around an office for five minutes. I am in half a mind to construct my own bonus disc, I felt so cheated. A pop-up video subtitle track, photo gallery, a map of the town (Bedford Falls?), showing where everybody lives, a game that involves you trying to meet up with Tino — it could be great! Much better than the professional effort, anyway. After that disappointment, we watched my Lego recreation of Troy. I think there are a few too many jokes in there which only really appeal to Bonnie and myself (I don’t think anybody is going to get the ‘comb your hair’ reference, to be honest), but the Marvin Gaye scene drew a lot of laughs. Ooh!! Did I mention to people that I now have a Kobe Bryant lego figure? I’m thinking of a way to use it that won’t get me sued to oblivion…

Wednesday! Um, I’m struggling. Nope, I really can’t remember. I think I went to Weaver Street Market for breakfast. I do remember Wednesday evening, thoguh, because Leigh took me out to Olive Garden! Heheh, her mum called as we were waiting for a table, saying “wait, an engaged woman is going out to dinner with a single man? what’s wrong with this picture, Leigh?” I can safely report that the Olive Garden will not kill you and throw you in the basement, unlike what Bonnie would have you believe. Oh, and I took a children’s menu and ctayons to take back home. But now I don’t think I packed them. Sorry, Bonnie! I did think of you, honest! Just not this morning. Laura went over to Collin’s to see if her head would be more in a writing frame of mind there rather than at her apartment, so I had the rest of the night to myself.

Then, (and we’re coming to the end now. Sorry if it has been a “then I did this, then I did that entry. I’m trying to pepper it with asides garnished with a sprinkle of wit — how are they working out for you?), Thursday! After attempting to wake Laura up at eleven (it worked, but then she went back to sleep again), I headed back into Carrboro. This time, I was returning to the Nightlight Exchange, now known as the Skylight Exchange (because it was during the day. Do you see?). For the benefit of British readers, the Exchange is like a friendlier Black Books; all sorts of things piled high, from dictionaries to an amusing selection of vinyl records (including Bomb The Bass! I was highly impressed). Also, copies of Playboy everywhere, and the Beatles Anthology playing on the tiny TV at the shop counter / serving area (oh, it was also a café as well). I had a delightful chocolate milkshake, and spent the first part of the afternoon soaking up the atmosphere and writing the liner notes for Laura’s birthday CD mix. After that, I spent a good half-hour looking at the books and cursing my limited luggage allowance (I can hear you laughing, Laura and Stacie). Resigned to not being able to take the whole back home, I bought a book, and found Leigh on Franklin Street. We scurried off to Durham to pick up the last parts of Laura’s birthday present.

I had asked Rachel if she wanted to help me put up Laura’s birthday decoarations, but she missed her bus from Duke, so wasn’t able to provide physical help. But, she did offer slightly inebriated moral support through the magic of IM. Ad,ittedly, the support was limited to “yayy! a rainbow!” but it was the thought that counted. It turned out that Rachel is really bad at keeping a secret when not in full control of her faculties, so Laura knew something was up, but I think even she wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of bubbles that greeted her when she came in. After getting ready, we headed out to Carrboro, to drink in Laura’s birthday (at this point, I feel, on begalf of all my friends in Chapel Hill, to point out that we’re not alcoholics. Honest. Mind you, I was accused of being a bad influence. I think it’s the first time anybody’s said that about me ;-)), and then went back to Collin’s apartment, where nice things were said about everyone. We weren’t even all that drunk, either. Well, okay, perhaps Collin.

Friday! Laura’s birthday! I have never seen a person giggle and bounce so much. We went out for a waffle celebration to begin the day, before heading off to pick up more balloons, and yes, well, more alcohol. Before we left, though, a kuttle extra excitement! Laura saw two men running behind the apartment, going into the trees. They apparently looked like the sort of people you wouldn’t invite in for a nice cup of tea, a suspicion confirmed when we returned and found police wandering behind the apartment. Still, let’s get back to the important things in life, i.e. balloons. There was more giggling, more bouncing, and a priceless look on Laura’s face when one poor ballloon met an untimely demise. For an instant, it really did seem like we were five again and we’d lost a balloon. But then we had the happiest car in the Triangle, so we didn’t mind if one didn’t make it. More bubbles followed, before we headed out for Laura’s surprise dinner.

As an aside, a piece of advice: as much as we love him, don’t depend on Collin to be able to keep a secret, even one of his own. The surprise dinner turned into a dinner with a surprise birthday cake, which he managed to give away by telling Laura not to buy any desert. But we love him anyway. Oh, and we were all in party hats, garnering very strange looks from everybody else.

Then, Hedwig And The Angry Inch! Not the film, but a cabaret performance. It was fantastic; the guy playing Hegwig was amazing, and I’m not sure, but I think my keyboard just sparked.. Which would be bad, But it could have just been a reflection of the light in the window. Hmm. Anyway, Hedwig. Yes, the lead was very funny. The best line was a crack about throwing a granola bar into an angry crowd of hippies at Weaver Street Market; of course, that was where we had just had dinner.

On Saturday, I went to see The Incredibles with Srav and Stacie. Wow. I was looking forward to it, but I had no idea it was going to be as touching and funny as it turned out. Jason Lee was great as Syndrome, and, considering it’s a Disney film, it’s darker than you’d initially suspect. Go. See. It. Back at the apartment, Laura and I spent the last night of my holiday watching Fargo, eating ice-cream, and falling asleep. A nice, gentle end to my stay.

Sunday was a mixture of packing, forgetting to pack certain things, like my camera data cable and my newly acquired flip-flops, having an early breakfast with Laura and Leigh (well, to us, early was 8:30am. Given that it was a miracle on most days for both of us to be up by 10am, I think we did quite well), saying goodbye to Srav, hanging out with Laura and Stacie, drinking tea through KitKats, and finally a lovely goodbye at the airport.

So, waving farewell to Chapel Hill once more. But! Some of them may be showing up in this country next year, for visits and things. Hurrah!

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners — Come On Eileen

Guess Who Got Balloons?

Sadly, this picture can’t convey the bouncing and giggling…

It's The Terrible Twenty-Twos!

Happy Birthday Laura!

currently playing: Altered Images — Happy Birthday


[Man at work, covering apartment in streamers]

currently playing: Pet Shop Boys — Heart

Still in mourning

Over a week later, and Chapel Hill hasn’t quite recovered from the calamity of November 2nd…


No, really. Surely, if you have a moral objection to contraception, the life of a pharmacist is not for you?

Yay for John Ashcroft leaving! Statues all over the country are breathing a sigh of relief. Also I hear he’s got a promising recording career ahead of him.

(Also, the work of his replacement. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss)

Also! 21-23% of self-identified gay people have some explaining to do. I can’t wrap my head around this…


currently playing: Pet Shop Boys — Liberation

Life As A Troll


"Yes, I Am Laura"

Courtesy of Laura, the greatest page on the Internet!

Just What Is A Roundabout?

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Like A Motorway

Bear Goes To School

I went to class today! Leigh invited me to sit in on her History lecture. Apparently, Friday’s lecture was all about 80s punk rock in America, but today it was about Feminism. It was quite fun, as far as university lectures go; the girl from Manchester who had a go at the Preacher a couple of weeks back was in the class, and she brought in a copy of that Daily Mirror cover for everybody to chuckle at. It was a friendly lecture, the kind that I always wished I had, but I did a science degree, and British universities don’t offer the same flexibility as American ones. A shame, really; I wanted to rectify that when I came here, but as a graduate student, I was locked into the same trap as I was in Manchester. Anyway, it was an interesting look at The Path Not Taken.

The final week! And I’ve already bought Christmas presents for Mum and Bonnie. Me: Ahead of the curve. Although I haven’t applied for that job yet, but I’ve been busy today. Perhaps tomorrow.

currently playing: Bob Dylan — Most of The Time