A 66¢ Toothbrush, and THE GIANT KEY!

Thursday night then. Pizza and Friends with Leigh, Joe, and Laura. Plus lots of sweets and chocolate and crisps (including the Crisp of Champions, Pickled Onion Monster Munch. Unfortunately, Leigh and Laura were not impressed. Joe, on the other hand, wants me to set up an import business so he can have a steady supply). Then Stacie came by, and her, myself and Laura went off to Durham so meet up with Stacie’s friends, Audrey and Tracey.

It was the first time I'd ever been on the Duke campus; I didn't really mean to have the UNC t-shirt on, it just happened that way. Laura informs me that it was lucky that I had my shirt buttoned up, or there could have been trouble.

Anyway, we met up with Stacie's friends, and headed off into downtown Durham to go to a bar. But wait! First, we had to go to the Center (just this once) for Documentary Studies, as Laura is applying for a position there over the summer. And the deadline was Friday morning, so it had to be delivered that night.

Unfortunately, we didn't know exactly where that was. Tracey did her best to give us directions, but we disappeared down many dark alleys and eventually had to resort to calling one of Tracey's friends and getting directions from them. Interesting conversations in the car, including finding out what a British accent is good for in America via a funny slip of the tongue.

After we had dropped off Laura's application, we went off to the bar, and stayed there for a couple of hours (a bit beyond Stacie's initial estimate of half-an-hour so she could get back and finish her paper). The tripping and pushing that occurred on the way in should have been a sign of things to come, but no-one pays attention to these warning signs until it's too late. We left around midnight.

Then Laura jumped on the bonnet.

Admittedly, the car wasn't moving at the time. That time at least.

So, we were going home. Until Laura remembered that I hadn't been to a Waffle House yet. And that the best time to go to a Waffle House was late at night. Stacie phoned Srav, who wanted to come. Srav also wanted to bring somebody else, and went off to find him. We drove around Chapel Hill until we heard back from her.

There's a Scottish castle in Chapel Hill. Not exactly sure why, but I've seen it. It's a castle, and it's made of imported Scottish stone. We may have been squinting our eyes to create interesting patterns on our retinas at this point as well. The sad thing is, none of us were drunk…

I remembered the House With The Giant Key. We went off in search, driving around dimly-lit country roads, looking like we were casing the area. As we went further and further, the lights became fewer and fewer, until we were driving around in darkness.

As we turned a corner, Stacie mentioned to Laura that this looked like a creepy street, and Laura agreed. And then, from the back of the car:


I didn't mean to shout quite so hard; I was just pleased to find it. I scared the life out of Stacie and Laura 8-)., and we spent five minutes outside the house just cracking up.

We picked up Srav, and after some more bonnet action (this time with movement), we took her to see the Giant Key. She was impressed. Well, okay, to be more truthful, she was scared for her life, as the three of us were still acting particularly nutty (traffic lights are really cool for that sort of thing. Especially LCD ones). And then! The Waffle House!

Waffles are like pancakes, but they have dents in them. They taste good with maple syrup, as you'd might expect. Waffle House jukeboxes have special Waffle-themed songs, several of which we played, to the consternation of the rest of the people in the restaurant. We laughed at the strange personal ads in the alternative newspaper, and were warned to drive home safely by our waitress, who was convinced that we had been using substances of some sort before coming in (lies!).

It was now about 3:28am. We know this because Laura called Collin, waking him up, to tell him about the Giant Key. And insisting she was sober. We went back to Chapel Hill, but Kavi was asleep (as you'd might expect, really), and at the time, I didn't have a key to the apartment. Oh dear. Laura let me sleep on her surprisingly comfortable couch (it was probably comfortable last night as well, but I don't remember, to be honest).

The next morning - new problems! Still nobody answering at Kavi's apartment. So I couldn't change my clothes. Or have a shower. Or brush my teeth. It was a bit of a disaster. Laura dropped me off in Carrboro on her way into college, and I bought a travel-sized portion of toothpaste along with a toothbrush, and brushed my teeth in the Carr Mill toilets. Oh yes. There is more to Friday. But really, I need to find out more details before I go on. My memory is sadly faulty in certain areas…

currently playing: Joe Henry — Stop

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

I haven’t gone anywhere. But I’ll probably update the events of the past 48 hours tomorrow. I think it desrves a little extra effort. In the meantime, squint your eyes…

currently playing: Nick Cave — Love Letter

And I Don't Even Like Coffee…

I like to think that the reason that I’ve spent so much time in coffee shops the past few days is because I feel guilty about not using them while I was here. The guilty feeling will also help to explain why I bought another chapstick last night, because I didn’t have any change for the homeless man outside.

So, erm, once again, not too much to talk about. Went to New Hope Commons, a disastrous lunch in Miami Subs (arrg! mushrooms!), and then I met up with Kavi at the Pit. Then Stacie came by, and we had a chat with her. She'd just come from eating dinner with Laura, who came by a little later on (she had a friend with her, but I can't remember her name. I suck). Then Sona turned up, and then Shatil. A mini-UNITAS reunion!

Tea…was weird. There's an awful lot of tension going on between some of my friends, so I was quite happy to spend most of the evening advising Shatil whereabouts he should visit when in Britain later this year (I suggested Manchester, which, now that I think about it, doesn't have too much going for it that you wouldn't find, say, in London, but oh well).

But hark! I shall leave you with another picture with nobody in it!

currently playing: Camera Obscura — Eighties Fan

And lo, there was yet more walking

The weather report lied. But the sunshine blazing through the window when I woke up suggested that it might be a good day after all, so I dressed accordingly.

Breakfast at Caribou Coffee, because I’d never been there before (I think I’m down to one last coffee shop that I haven’t been in - the Open Eye in Carrboro), and then walking around campus trying to find somewhere to write. I settled on a patch of grass near Morehead Planetarium. I spent a while attempting to write, but all that would come out was gibberish and backwards text, to I went walking again, spending an hour going around the arboretum (for those of you who know the place, erm, yes, but there was a reason, honest).

Then, off to the comic shop to get hold of the third Animal Man book. Except they didn’t have any copies left. But the owner said that they were expecting some more either today (Wednesday) or Thursday, and if I left my phone number, they’d give me a ring when it came in. Did I mention how much I like that shop? I bought the cheap reprint of Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers, which was a great heist story and well worth the $10.

After lunch, I went to the graveyard in the middle of the university (yes, I’m still not sure what it says about this place), found the Centre for Dramatic Arts, and got lost in the woods next door. Eventually, I found my way back to civilisation, and flopped into one of the new comfy chairs at the rebuilt union building (it’s very cosy).

As the evening drew on, Laura called, comfirming that she could make it to the cinema tonight, so I wandered around the town for a few more hours, getting something to eat, and bumping into Leigh and Jo along the way.

Laura and Stacie met me outside the Carolina Theatre, and we headed off to see “Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind”. Go. See. It. Carrey turns in a performance that’s even better than The Truman Show, the film is interesting and intriguing, it’s visually stunning (borrowing ideas from Animal Man, funnily enough - and directed by the guy who did the Smirnoff cinema adverts from a few years ago - the one with the couple being chased by an army), and, not forgetting: Kate Winslet with blue hair.

The ending provoked some discussion over the nature of relationships, pessimistic versus optimistic outlooks on life, and resulted in two of us being pushed into the road ;-). Laura then suggested that we go back to her place to eat some ice-cream (Stacie fought long and hard over whether she should do her paper instead. A two minute knock-out performance). We picked up Stacie’s friend Srav (that’s not her whole name, but I fear I will mangle it beyond any resemblance if I attempt to go beyond that), and we had a great couple of hours talking about lemmings, strange things to do in a forest, delayed reactions, and the wild and varied acting career of Saddam Hussein. A fun night, although I hope we didn’t keep Rebecca awake upstairs…

currently playing: Bob Dylan - Visions of Johanna

Pictures of A Town

currently playing: The Divine Comedy — Come Home Billy Bird

Sunday afternoon can’t last forever

Day 4: In Which The Writer Gets Bored Of This Silly Device And Resolves Not To Use It Tomorrow.

Aptly, today was a day of rest. The rest of the house got back around 4am, but soon went to sleep after a hard night's drinking. I managed to get an impressive amount of rest, eventually waking up at 10am. After I'd been up for an hour or so, the others began to stir. Slowly. Everybody was a little worse for wear, so it took quite a considerable time for people to get up and dressed.

We all traipsed off to Franklin Street for breakfast/okay-if-we-were-being-honest-it-was-lunch, and well, that's been about it for the day. Bought a staple gun. Worked out how to use it. Stood around the back of the Chrysler Garage like an idiot for about half-an-hour while freezing (the sun disappeared and all the warmth went away).

And this evening, home-made nachos with Kavi, Michelle, and Kavi's old roommate Cat, whereupon I explained the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. Then, an hour and a half attempting to blow up an air mattress with a hairdryer. It looks okay, but it sags in the middle a little…

currently playing: Sister Hazel — Your Winter


Day 3: The Idiot forgets about the sun.

Trapped In A World He Never Made!

Day 2: In Which Our Hero Is An Idiot.

I was going to be good, and get the magazine that Bonnie wanted at Southpoint Mall. So I hopped on the bus in the morning, and headed off. It was only when I stepped off the bus at the mall itself that I remembered that they changed the schedules last year, so that there were no more buses until mid-afternoon; just after three.

It was 10am. I was stuck there for five hours.

I wandered. Bought Bonnie's things. Wandered. Went into the Apple Store and pulled myself away from the shiny things. Wandered. Had lunch. Wandered. Wandered some more. Cursed myself for being an idiot.

At around two o'clock, Laura phoned, wanting to know if I wanted to watch Friends with her and Leigh. I explained my little predicament, and they came to pick me up. We then went around the mall a little more; Leigh showed me where she worked (where they have nice samples), and Laura decided that she would try out all the massage chairs in the Innovations-like shop. Leigh and I actually had to pull her out when it was time to leave, she was that relaxed. And I still think there's something disturbing about the bear skins in the Build-A-Bear shop.

We watched Friends and then took Leigh back to the mall so she could meet Joe after he finished work. On the way back, Laura and I took a left when we should have gone right, (or right when left), and ended up taking a nice tour through North Carolina's countryside. We were not lost. Never.

Laura dropped me off at Kavi's house, as she was going to take a nap before going out to the 80s Dance at the Cat's Cradle. I went up the steps and knocked on the door.

No answer.

Knocked again. Still no answer.

Oh dear. I phoned Kavi to see if she was around anywhere, but the number I had for her lead to somebody else's voicemail. I wasn't panicking just yet. I rang Sona, and he gave me Kavi's new number, which I then rang, but there was no answer. Just then, one of the people staying in her apartment turned up, and he had a key. So I was saved. Except that when we got there, it turned out that Anita was in; she just hadn't heard my knocking.

The hours wore on; everybody else had left for Sangam night, and I got ready for going out with Laura, Stacie, and some others. Only I was the sole person in the house. And I didn't have a key. How was I going to lock the door? I phoned Kavi again, who said there was a deadlock on the door. It didn't look like a deadlock, so I thought I'd experiment.

I am the dumbest person on the planet.

Amazingly, I had all I needed for going out, but I was locked outside. Now, any sensible person at this point would have, say, called someone (especially since Laura had rang about ten minutes ago), but no. I spent an hour walking around the complex in the quite chilly evening until Laura, Stacie and Mike turned up.

"You look cold," said Laura when they arrived. I explained, and was quite rightly told off for not phoning them up and telling them. We had a brief stop at Collin's house, where I met Collin and had a pre-dance drink, before setting off the 80s Dance.

That was quite fun; lots of songs that were much bigger in America than they were in Britain, so it was interesting to see which songs were common to both sets of people (that would be "Wake Me Up Before You Go-go", "Don't You Want Me", and yes, "Come On Eileen"). There may have been some dancing involved. But of course, I went back into my infuriating impression of a lamp-post for much of the non-dancing bits, which was annoying. Fun was still had, however.

Then back to Kavi's apartment; the first night had gone well, and she was looking forward to the point tomorrow when she didn't have to worry about going to dance practice any more. We talked for an hour about various things, then off to bed.

So, children, the moral of the story: talking can be useful. And the next time you find yourself stranded somewhere, for goodness sake tell somebody…

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — 14 Days


Day 1: In Which Our Hapless Hero Is Harangued And Hassled

Things are getting really bad when even the check-in assistants mock your packing skills. "That's an awful lot for two weeks," he said. Ho ho ho. I've never been able to master the fine act of packing lightly. To be fair my trolley bag is quite a bit smaller on the inside than it looks on the outside, and there's a few bulky items which take up a lot of space, hence the need for the second bag. Coupled with the confusion over my visa (which didn't seem to be a problem last September), I raise enough attention to get my bag searched.

No problem. Except there's a very suspicious looking parcel right in the middle. It's only full of sweets, but looks like either a box of drugs or a bomb. I'm not looking forward to explaining that. The inspector performs the search right in front of me — and doesn't find the parcel. I am at once releived and terrified/ I'm pleased not to have to go through explanations, but I'm now concerned about blowing up somewhere across the mid-Atlantic.

I continue to make a fool of myself in the duty free shopping area, throwing money all over The Body Shop, fumbling for my boarding pass, and other general clownish behaviour. I'm convinced that my arms and hands have an evil sentience. When I try to do something normal, like open a wallet, they interpret this as "flail limbs wildly and hit shop assistant in the face with a penny."

At the gate, my visa once again flags me for special attention; a search of my backpack and a pat down. I've come to look forward to the question "Do you have any electrical items today, sir?" I just reel them off, stopping short of throwing my arms into the air and screaming: "I worship at the altar of Electricity! Tesla and Edison are prophets of a new dawm!" One day, I'm going to crack. You'll no doubt hear about a crazed Englishman threatening to take the world on with his electric toothbrush and copious MP3s.

When you start recognising waitresses, you know you've been on the same flight a little too much. That was weird. The flight itself wasn't too bad, just long. I slept a little, read "The Man Who Was Thursday, tried to go back to sleep again, and listened to music. Much the same as ever.

The immigration at RDU was also annoyed that I had a visa. But he helpfully cancelled it when I explain, so it shouldn't be a problem in the future. Then it was off to the "take all your clothes off and walk through the scanner" bit. I like to think that the airport-wide alarm that went off when my bag went through the scanner was a simple coincidence.

Kavi met me at the airport, and took me back to her house to get settled in. Then, back to campus! She had to practice for the Sangam dance today and tomorrow, so I amused myself by walking to Carrboro and back, ending up back at the computer building. Thankfully, I wasn't there too long; Laura offered to rescue me. I helpfully suggested to meet at the union, forgetting that it probably has the most entrances and exits of any building on campus. I'm practical. Oh yes.

Eventually we met up, and found Stacie a little while later. There then followed the "what are we going to do?" period, which ended up with us going back to Laura's, bumping into Rebecca, and hanging around there for a while. We watched Laura's re-enactment of a scene in "Boys Don't Cry" that she did for a class, guest starring Leigh, Rebecca and the important role of Natalie Teague, and certain individuals revealed embarrassing details about their inability to spell or say their name. We managed to decide on a course of action (okay, a course of action was suggested, and I said "sure"), and headed off to the Irish pub W.B. Yeats on Franklin Street. I then gave a shameful trivia performance, not even managing to to get a question right for ten rounds. There was some mocking involved over that…

currently playing: New Order — Fine Time

Leaving On A Jet Plane III

Back soon…

currently playing: The Stranglers - Golden Brown