Friday, June 27, 2003

i have a few more pictures i've been meaning to post and have just discovered while cleaning out stuff here at work. behold the leftover shots of brussels:

the flags of the european union

it tastes even better than it looks.

mussels from brussels

and a leftover pix from my belfast trip:

belfast castle

that's all the photos i have available for posting. i will definitely create a proper photo album off my website when i return to LA and get situated. i've got close to 300 shots already stored on the digital, so it'll be an intense slideshow. i'm also worried i won't be able to post any photos while i'm traveling, unless the internet cafes i happen upon in europe come equiped with firewire cables, which i highly doubt. i will give it a shot, though. but for now, this appears to be the end of the photo portion of our program. the photo caption contests will also have to be suspended. boo-hoo.
well, today is my last day at VOA London. it's a bittersweet occasion. i've learned oodles here that i can apply elsewhere, and i've produced some much-needed clips that i can show to potential bosses and say: "see, i am a journalist. i've done reporting and stuff." i've really liked the people at the office, especially my boss, Al, who's been a wonderful and patient teacher.

BUT, i must say i'm fairly stoked to be entering the next phase of my summer in europe. and i hope all of you will stay with me as we mix up the programming here at The Milla Times and begin our broadcast of "12 cities, 10 countries, 21 days." here is the list of cities we will be visiting on our journey: paris, brussels, amsterdam, cologne, berlin, prague, budapest, vienna, venice, barcelona, seville, albufeira (last one's in portugal). now, if you have friends i can rent in these cities or have sound advice on where to go, and where definitely NOT to go in these cities (especially on the cheap), please email me. i hope i can still do plenty of updating here, but i'm guessing that my posts will likely be less frequent and more hurried while i'm on the road.

all this wonderfulness will begin july 4, american independence day (and i think france's bastille day, which should make stop 1 in paris fun). i will be spending next week in cromer, england, a tiny coastal town in the northeast, where i have a hot date with the 5th harry potter book. this is on my parents' time share exchange. it'll be a much-needed week of R&R for me, considering the hectic year i've had, and i hope to squeeze in a day trip to edinburgh too.

so yesterday was my birthday. i turned 21, thank you very much, and thanks to all who sent kind e-greetings. my adoring boyfriend -- who i shall refer to from here on out as pablo, pabs, sugarbear or jackass, depending on my mood and his behavior -- came into town on the 25th, so he was able to join in on last night's festivities, which saw myself and my friends here getting drunk. good fun was had by all. we began the night at 7pm with the class' last meeting (yes, even though i've been working, i've been earning units and attending a weekly class). so i got to say goodbye to my great professor (bye judith!) and all the other people on my program, and then headed to a moroccan bar in the soho area, where we drank mint tea and took a few tokes off a hookah. then to another pub for a few more glasses of wine and loud conversation and then home. many thanks to my four kind roomies who surprised me with gifts that included: thong underwear, chocolate-flavored rolling papers and an ashtray, a book i really wanted, and a wooden frog from prague. speaking of my kind roomies, here's a picture of them i've been meaning to post. unfortunately, tania's not in this one. she likely became annoyed with us and splintered away from the group when this picture was taken, as she often does. but here are the rest of the bitches.

from left to right: ya-lei, me, melissa, als

Thursday, June 26, 2003

today's photo essay should have probably been published yesterday since timeliness is a central tenet of this whole news business, but i didn't have my photos ready for posting (thanks for putting them up, juancho!), so you'll have to accept my apologies for the delay.

tuesday saw the arrival of the man with the master plan, vladik putin, big cheese of mother russia, who came to britain for tea and crumpets with the queenie meanie. he's actually staying at buckingham palace and is here to only do touristy stuff, like visit edinburgh castle and shit. when he arrived at heathrow airport, he was met by prince chucky and stuffed into a horse-drawn carriage alongside the queen for a royal procession down the "mall," a main street cutting through st. james' park and leading into buckingham palace. my fellow VOA intern and USC classmate, melissa m., was covering the story for VOA, so i tagged along with my trusty digital camera and snapped some shots of the festivities. here's what i got.

the mall

the royal procession begins with beefeaters on horseback doing some salute.

bunch of beefeaters standing around and comparing hats.

closer shot of the beefies.

the procession was too quick for my camera so i didn't get a clear shot of putin or the queenie, just some second-tier royal i can't identify.

the public turnout to see this event was quite weak, i must say. but it was especially cool for me to see because it served to bridge the two very different worlds i am a product of: the anglo-rooted american and the soviet-era refugee. pop culture progressivism mixed with old-world sensibility. i'm a communistic capitalist -- free markets for all that result in a single class with a very high standard of living. it must be possible! i'll begin work on my manifesto immediately.

we were happy to be there. can ya tell?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

i've been wanting to do this little pros and cons list of london living for a while. every time i visit europe, it makes me want to move here permanently, if not for the next 30 or so years until retirement. i thought i'd instantly fall for london and only return home to pack up my stuff, dog and boyfriend and make my way back here. (well, there's also that little issue of finishing my second and final year of graduate school.) but i haven't been as wowed and wooed as i had expected to be by this city. it's good and all, just not great. here's what sucks about it:

(is the word "con" short for anything, or is it just a standalone thing? email me if you know.)
  • anyhow, the thing that bugs me most about this fucking place is the pollution. it's really unbearable, and it may single-handedly disqualify london entirely from my "cities to live in" list. people on bikes wear surgical masks, the buildings need a serious scrubbing from all the black exhaust stuck on them, and the one subway car responsible for cleaning out the tube has been broken for six months. i pull soot out of my nose daily. i'm always sneezing, dirt and dust particles often fly into my eyes, i cough when i take a deep breath, i've even had a few minor nosebleeds.

  • the nightlife blows. bars close at 11 pm. i mean, really, what the hell is that all about? there are clubs that are open past 11, but by law they're required to charge a cover. plus, the big thing here is grabbing a few drinks after work. pubs overflow with patrons come 5, 6 pm, many of them spilling into the streets with their brews in hand. but if you're like me and prefer returning home to change, have a bite and freshen up before beginning your evening out, you're shit out of luck. come 9 pm, the pubs are near empty, a few stragglers left in the corners with their brews in hand, looking to get laid.

  • did i ever mention how much the food sucks? granted, it has gotten better and will likely continue to improve in the future, but on the whole, finding a good meal is still dependent on luck. ok, the indian food can be pretty spectacular, but there's only so much chicken tikka masala you can eat before the aromatic yet overbearing scents of turmeric, cumin and cardamom sink into each pore of your body and every fiber of your clothing until you can hardly stand to be around yourself. i almost bit into my arm once thinking it was a piece of tandoori chicken. and the coffee is pretty bad too. they mostly use instant granules. grrr.

  • in six weeks, i've found the brits to live the stereotype of a stuffy, reserved society that keeps to itself. (though this isn't so different from LA's denizens who are generally shallow, self-absorbed people who keep to themselves.) i haven't met a single british person who i will keep in touch with once i leave. but in britain's defense, i haven't put on my most approachable, people-person face and searched for new buddies either.

  • although this summer has been fairly temperate, i know the weather here can be quite disagreeable, with rain pissing down for weeks on end in the winter and a heavy london fog creeping in from the murky, green waters of the thames river. again, coming from LA, there's really no comparison.

  • besides the posh and trendy west side, most of london is a dump. it's filled with nasty, unkempt neighborhoods, its streets packed with all sorts of trash.

  • there's that whole antiquated monarchy thing going on, which is really a joke, even for most londoners, but it's still strange to think that people here are essentially at the mercy of the crown.

  • the whole city shuts down each sunday: pubs, restaurants, stores, markets -- everything really does stop, which would make it hard to take care of errands on weekends. only things left open are the indian restaurants.

  • it's prohibitively expensive. costs here are higher and salaries are lower. i'm not sure how people make it. london was ranked the 7th most expensive city in the world, ahead of new york and paris.

(was "pro" also shortened from some other word? just wondering.)
  • culture vultures adore this place for its seemingly endless supply of theatre, live music, museums, annual events, open markets, historical monuments, etc. that energy is palpable and neccessary for urban snobs like me who get bored and restless in the countryside and the suburbs.

  • public transport rocks! sure, it's got its fair share of delays, and being packed like sardines in a subway car during rush hour can increase the stench of BO to dizzying heights, often inducing nausea, but it beats monthly insurance payments, weekly gas purchases and having to look for parking.

  • a diversity of cultures doubles the stock of any city in my book. nothing is more boring than homogenous towns like portland and tokyo, where foreign faces raise eyebrows and generate whispers. it's nice to walk around and see nice brown faces and hear strange, exotic accents from all corners of the globe.

  • it's pretty safe to walk the streets at night, even in somewhat shady areas. guns are outlawed, so violent crime is infrequent, but there is a greater risk of being mugged. and all the walking has done wonders for my fat ass, which has shrunk considerably in the past six weeks.

  • besides the fact that london is a mostly fabulous european city on its own (well, kinda, even though many here consider themselves british and not european), it also provides the perfect springboard for impromptu weekend jaunts to prague, budapest and other fabulous places all over europe. the location is key.

  • aesthetically, it's not too hard on the eyes. there are plenty of old, well-preserved, gorgeous buildings that just seem to pop up out of nowhere. a nice reminder that you're someplace historically important where a ton of shit once went down. i don't know why, but i like that feeling.

  • shopping for clothes here really cannot be beat. good styles, prices, selection.

  • they serve my mostest favoritest beer in the world: caffreys. even though they don't serve it at every pub like i had hoped, i can still find it if i really want to. plus, they sell caffreys in four-packs at all the supermarkets.

so that's 9 cons, 8 pros. hmm...maybe not the right city for me? i don't know. perhaps i need more time here, though six weeks in a city, especially working in the city, should give you a good idea of its vices and virtues. for now, i'll keep it on my short list. (not that i'm in a position to seriously consider a move and have so many options to choose from, but it's fun to dream.)

stay tuned tomorrow for another photo essay. and if you're my good friend, you should know that tomorrow, june 26, is my friggin birthday and you should know that i love my birthday and make a big deal out of it. and if you're not a good friend and have somehow stumbled upon this blog, send me a greeting anyway so we may one day become good friends. send kind regards to

Monday, June 23, 2003

funny stuff: i'm sitting here at work working on my script for my story on homoness and the anglican church, and for some reason i keep typing "evangenital" for "evangelical." just thought i'd share...

Sunday, June 22, 2003

it's my last weekend in london and all i feel like doing is shopping for cute clothes. there are a ton of museums, tours, shows and other assorted cultural goodies to take advantage of and all i want to see is the inside of my new favorite stores: h&m, mango, zara. i bought a ton of stuff yesterday. i've tried to justify it to myself by saying that i needed more light clothes to wear during the rest of my stay in europe, but i caved in and bought this jacket i've been eyeing, a jacket i'll likely have to wait months to wear since LA stays pretty temperate throughout the fall. and i still need to dish out dough for gifts. but shopping here is great, much better than in LA. there's so much variety, the prices are affordable, and the clothes are super hip. i'm coming back with a lot of great finds.

but i wanted to announce the winner of last week's photo caption contest (scroll down to see june 17 photo). and the winner is none other than my fellow classmate, VOA coworker and friend, melissa milios, whose winning caption was: Maybe with this disguise, the archbishop will forget the charges and let me back into the church!

(audience applauds) thanks for playing, y'all. and speaking of churches, the story i'm currently working on involves the 80-million people strong anglican church, which is headquarted in england. i'm focusing on the church's treatment of homosexuals, both in the clergy and the laity, which has been in the headlines lately. fun stuff -- nothing like a little sex and religion to really offend people! i've conducted all my interviews already. the coolest part was when i got a few "no comments" from the people i spoke to. it made me feel like i was asking the right questions, and, i'm happy to report, for the first time in my life it made me feel like a journalist. expect the story sometime next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

so the story isn't all that pro-american upon reread. luckily, the editing desk in DC removed a reference to tony blair as a "leader of the anti-saddam hussein coalition" that my editor here in london slipped in. that's probably the phrase i had most trouble with. a couple other things were switched around (i.e. "weapons helped justify the war" to "alleged weapons were used as a justification for the war"), so it didn't come out sounding like a proclamation of support for a baseless war i never supported and an administration i can hardly stomach. but that's a soapbox i'll jump on another day.

today i wanted to go over the details of my trip to lovely belfast, northern ireland. you know, that place once engulfed in a protracted and bloody civil war that had the notorious irish republican army (IRA), who were largely catholic, and their counterparts in cruelty, the mostly protestant ulster defense association, planting bombs aplenty throughout the region. together, they blew up and assassinated about 3,500 people -- most of them hapless civilians -- in about 30 years. the protestants/unionists want british rule to prevail in the area, and it does, while the catholics/republicans want to throw the brits out altogether and reunite with their ruddy-faced brothers in ireland. so don't confuse the two irelands. they hate that shit.

you know, it really baffles me that two super similar bible-based religions can get so low down and dirty over the details. ok, israelis and palestinians i can understand, but these guys share one book. it seems that the people hate each other out of habit than because of any fundamental difference in lifestyle. in the wise words of rodney king, "can't we all just get along?" and speaking of mr. king, belfast really reminds me of an irish version of south central los angeles, where people are still dying daily from gang violence (and more so in recent months), though no one seems to be making a fuss over that. the neighborhoods of both areas are segregated, and crossing into foreign turf could cost you your life. but instead of bloods and crips, northern ireland has its "prods" (protestants) and "finnions" (catholics). and while the denizens here are sucking in their irish ales, their LA gang counterparts are downing their "40s." what's more, all the fighting that's going on is essentially between members of the same race. yet the US authorities, both federal and local, have done little to solve the conflict, which is taking place on american soil. i wonder why.

anyhow, in 1997, the consummate diplomat bill clinton came in and urged all to lay down their weapons and sign the Good Friday Peace Agreement, which basically established a power-sharing assembly that forced the leaders of both camps to sit down in the same room together and write laws for the region. but considering their long history of animosity, accusations of spying and all kinds of shady dealings soon followed, prompting our friend tony blair to dismiss the assembly and cancel the next round of elections. so things are pretty tense, and the divisions in the populace are just as real today as they ever were. rogue paramilitaries still set off the odd bomb and religion-driven murders are still commonplace. so i'll admit that entering this area did make me feel a bit uneasy, which was worsened by the fact that the class was staying at the europa hotel, a fancy hotel in the center of town owned by the british and bombed continuously by the IRA during the civil war's heyday.

the integrated school: the principle of this school should really get a medal for what he's doing. he and a few other forward-thinking teachers got together about 10 years ago and decided to mix schoolchildren of both religions, so future generations could unlearn this cycle of hate. now the school has about 800 students, but, sadly, integrated schools (there are several in northern ireland, and more popping up) only draw about five percent of the country's schoolchildren. he spoke to us very eloquently about the joys and sorrows of running such a school, and let us in on a very fascinating secret: the members, even leaders, of some of the warring paramilitary organizations send their kids to that school, sometimes covertly so they don't attract the fire of their jingoistic communities.

sinn fein in the membrane: sinn fein means "ourselves" in gaelic, and the organization (pronounced SHIN FEIGN) is the political and very popular arm of the IRA. its party members have been gaining power steadily, which makes the british government and their irish minions quite nervous. we met with a representative, owen o'bryn, who's rumored to be the successor of gerry adams, sinn fein's current head. o'bryn was charismatic, funny, articulate, intelligent, diplomatic -- all the good things that will one day make him an able leader. these are also things that make him a skilled dodger capable of talking his way around any issue, as he did with the class' inquiries into the scandals surrounding his organization, most notably the whole stakeknife affair.

why do all government buildings have to look like this? the stormont building: another architectural throwback to the holy roman empire.

stormont: unfortunately, some kind of scheduling conflict prevented us from getting the unionist side of the argument, so we parted with our kind sinn feiner and made our way to stormont, the building that houses (or housed, considering it's been dissolved), the northern irish assembly. there we met a tour guide who showed us around the immense joint and took questions. the most interesting thing i learned from that experience was that the lecterns where house leaders must stand to give their statements contain a bunch of religious books: bible, torah, book of mormon, even a copy of the koran. (as if that would really keep politicians from lying.)

friday night fright: what else could a bunch of american girls in belfast do on a friday night if not go out and drink? and who better than the locals to drink with? for starters, the people i met in belfast are a million times freer and funner than the stuffy english. and even though the area's a bit poorer, no one hesitated to buy you a drink -- a rarity in london. the people also seemed a bit more intense, often somber, in the way people who've survived something tragic gain new insight into life. the people in belfast definitely carried that kind of air.

neil (or maybe neal?), pictured above, had that air. he was a catholic, irish republican who made no secret of his contempt for the unionists. he told us stories of "his best mates" being shot dead by the unionists, and how he thought the republicans should keep fighting until they drive out the british entirely. he became more passionate about this point as the night (and his blood alcohol level) progressed. some of the girls and i hung out with him and his friend, eventually making our way to the pub's upstairs nightclub, where we all danced to disco. for a minute there, i forgot i was in belfast.

at the end of the night, neil got into a bloody fight with some goon who was trying to hit on all the girls in the club, including us. i'm not sure whether it was also related to religion or party politics; all i know is that when i made my way to the street to see what happened, blood spotted the sidewalk, and neil was giving a statement to the cops while a guy whom i think was the goon (or maybe his friend) was getting his arm bandaged by paramedics. i ran inside to get the girls and by the time i came back out neil was gone.

the peace wall: on saturday, the class boarded a bus for a tour of belfast. we saw all the divided neighborhoods and communities, which identified their allegiance by flying either the union jack or irish flag on each lamppost. we saw the areas hardest hit by the violence; some buildings remained bombed-out and charred. the tour guide told us gruesome stories of assassinations and bombings that left so much carnage in their wake. it was a mind-blowing, moving experience. we drove the length of the miles-long shankill/falls road wall (the republicans call it "falls road," the unionists "shankill road"), otherwise known as the "peace wall," which keeps the communities segregated. the wall is covered in murals and written messages on both sides, most of them kind, but some not so kind.

a mural on the peace wall

it's crazy to see how near each other these divided communities live. sometimes simply crossing the street can put one in enemy territory. most of these neighborhoods featured working-class, if not a bit scuzzy, homes. we then toured the integrated neighborhoods, where flying patriotic flags is prohibited. that was uplifting, a reminder that there's still hope for this area, though full-fledged integration seems a long ways away. it's kind of like the civil-rights movement in the states. those first five years after the south desegregated were fragile times indeed, but now some 40 years later, relations between all races have improved and should only continue to improve in the future. once warring groups are less divided and more united. well, maybe not in south central.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

it's here! behold the beauty that is my first VOA story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

with just under two weeks left of my internship in london, i feel as if i've given my two weeks notice and have allowed my brain to drift into the realm of what comes next. and what comes next is so, so very appealing: a week of doing virtually nothing (besides becoming reacquianted with my boyfriend after a six-week separation, if you catch my drift -- wink, wink) at a sleepy town in northeast england, courtesy of my parents' timeshare; then comes some traveling through europe for three weeks with eurail passes and a "europe on a shoestring" guide; and then the final week with pablo's parents at their getaway in the south of portugal. ah. it's all very jet set. you can understand why my mind is wandering.

anyhow, bossman al returned from his vacay yesterday and finally edited my first BIG story. we sat down together and went through it line by line. it was an interesting experience, certainly beneficial and somewhat disheartening. plenty of it was rewritten. i know that this shouldn't surprise or upset me much -- it's a normal part of newsroom procedures, especially with new writers and old editors. i guess i just wanted to be on the mark, to nail it right away. all the biggies were ok: structure, transitions and soundbytes were largely left intact. it's in the nuances, the often overlooked subtleties of language that work their covert magic. anyone who takes care in his own writing knows where the hell i'm coming from. when all was said and done, it didn't resemble my writing, and i prefer that anything with my name attached sound like it came from me. we split some hairs and i tried to pick my battles carefully, and sometimes my view won out, though most of the time it didn't.

i guess what disturbs me most is how his rewrite slanted the story toward the american position. this sounds really stupid considering that i'm working for the VOA, the voice of fucking america, and i don't know what made me think that my left-of-center leanings would win out over his obligation to the US government, but it irked me all the same. it's not that bad, it's not nearly as pro-american as foxnews; it's more like cnn. and in fairness, he did leave in soundbytes that were extremely critical of the current administration. i shouldn't be complaining. i like my internship and my boss. and i know that someday i'll be able to do all the slanting i want when i'm the bigshot at some media organization (though this blog is probably the closest i'll ever get to enjoying that kind of freedom). besides, most of the people on my program aren't even doing any writing or reporting. hopefully, the editing of my next story will run more smoothly, but given the topic, i doubt it. and what would that topic be? if all works in my favor, it will deal with an issue very near and dear to my heart: homosexuality.

i'll put a link up to my first story in the next day or two. i just need to wait until my boss lays down the voice track (i still haven't received clearance for my own voice to be broadcast!), then i'll do the technical edit, and bang: the thing will be broadcast on shortwave radios all over the world to hungry, third-world dwellers who don't understand a lick of english.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

melissa finally succumbs to my charms.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

look how europe has changed me!

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

i was in europe last weekend, like real europe. the brits hardly consider themselves european and the feeling seems mutual on the european side. that little channel that separates the two may as well be an ocean, they're so different. and it leads back to the age-old question that's often been at the very heart of the british debate: should britain be an atlanticist nation with even closer ties to the US, which binds them with a common language, history and culture, or should it emulate its european neighbors and begin brewing better coffee and enjoying lazy siestas?

the city was a stunner

in any case, brussels truly felt like europe, with old, gorgeous buildings and good food. so much happened, i'm not even sure where to begin, so i'll just provide a rundown of the major points of the weekend.

NATO schmato: the trip began on friday with a morning visit to the headquarters of NATO, you know that almost defunct organization created by the US to counter the once bulging muscles of the soviets. we spent the morning being lectured to by NATO employees on how very strong and important NATO still is, despite all evidence to the contrary. some of the speakers were all too happy to take cheap shots at the media, who have been guilty of dismissing NATO as a has-been.
cheap shot at NATO -- security was super duper tight at the headquarters. we couldn't take our cameras in and had our bags x-rayed. we then endured the lectures in a scorching hot boardroom with faulty air-conditioning. one of the speakers conceded that the building was old and there had been talk of an upgrade for years. "well, you know, it's government funded," she smiled.

European Union HQ: the contrast between the two was striking -- and laughable. the EU building had very light security, it's doors opening onto a busy street (whereas at the NATO HQ, one had to pass through a series of checkpoints before even getting near the building). the EU liaison scheduled to meet us was about a half hour late. when we did finally get situated, we had two lecturers. the first was a british dude just oozing anti-americanism and incredible wit. he was in charge of the "USA unit" of the EU, so i'm sure he had plenty to be bitter about. the second was some other foreign dude who explained the complicated structure of the EU. i still don't think i understood it all.

Beautiful Brussels: after friday's day of visiting the HQs of acronyms, we pretty much had saturday and sunday free to explore brussels.
the mood in the food is good -- i feel like the rest of my time there was spent eating seafood, waffles, cheese and chocolate (oooh, the chocolate). i can't describe it. if you've never tasted a belgian chocolate before, it's an experience that rivals having an orgasm. i saw many of my classmates' eyes roll up to the heavens after plopping a piece into their mouths, causing them to walk around with a silly grin afterward. personally, i've never been the biggest fan of the substance, but i converted for the weekend.
fear of rejection can be your friend -- catcalls, nasty propositions, following women down the street, even grabbing them -- all part of the mating game in belgium, apparently. i remember this being a fixture in france as well, but a modernized western country should not make a habit of treating its women like meat slabs to be poked, prodded and surveyed, cultural norms be damned. walking through the streets enraged me and often made me feel unsafe. their mothers should be ashamed of themselves and the disgusting sons they produced.

brugge, tranquil and scenic

don't brood, brugge! -- saturday saw a side trip about an hour outside of brussels to brugge (pronounced BREWGE), a charming medieval city made up of canals. unfortunately, i spent much of my brugge time at the local H&M shopping for cute clothes (they were a hell of a lot cheaper there than in london). another chunk of time was occupied by my classmates and i discussing how rude some of the peeps in customer service were to us. i'm guessing it's because most of the european public is still pissed off over the iraqi war, and here come the american tourists with their special requests. ("we wanna split the meal, so can you bring us two plates?" "can i get ice cream instead of whip cream on that waffle?") most served us through gritted teeth, but one downright bitchy lady asked us to leave, so we left.
i like the nightlife, i like to boogie -- back in brussels, foul men aside, night time was really the right time -- that place goes off. tons of people meander the streets, even at 4 a.m. there's a center plaza that people just sit down in while they sip their high-alcohol belgian beers. the side streets leading into the plaza are full of seafood restaurants, where you can start your meal at midnight. for a nocturnal being like myself, it felt right.

what'd i tell ya?

i know what you're thinking: what can top all of this? perhaps another class trip, this one to belfast -- in the cards for this weekend.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

not much time for updating today. i'm dashing out of work right now to make a yoga class by 6:30 pm. not much happened between the last post and this one. i made pizza for my roomies last night and transcribed all of my interviews today at work. otherwise, i've still been trying to nail this voice audition for voa. you don't know how hard it is to read news well, i didn't know until i tried it. to get the tone, intonation, stress and pace just right in a news piece is really a challenge. i've done plenty of practicing and bossman still sits down with me after every recorded attempt, offers his critique, and then says, 'ok, now do it again.' i feel like he's my mom teaching me algebra all over again. he even had me do some training on an ad from a magazine, which i had to read in a way that would convince him to buy the product. i don't think i convinced him.

more training continues tomorrow. until then.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

i saw this really incredibly hilarious play last night, The Madness of George Dubya. it was a spoof on the iraqi war and began with a hyper-retarded dubya, clad in superman PJs and clinging to a teddy bear, waking from a nightmare which helps him realizes that he needs to embark on a war on "tourism." aided by his pals "colin, dick and donald duck," he dreams that "weapons of mass distraction" exist in "iraqistan," which is run by the evil "saddama bin laden." he's very concerned about things like the "coyote treaty" and what's happening in "guacamole bay," but can't get a grip on his presidency because of the bullying by his aides. add to the mix a bumbling tony blair, two crossdressing soldiers, one nuclear bomb, some very funny songs and you get laughs aplenty. it was a truly special show. i hope it comes to the states soon, because i'd like to see it again.

today at work i spoke with two MPs, that's right, two bonafide members of britain's parliament, which is tantamount to speaking with u.s. senators. one was head of britain's foreign affairs committee and could speak on all these important international things. i'm not usually one to become impressed by surface stuff like status and titles, but i'll admit that it was neat to interview these people on their level. i was a bit nervous, which i'm sure was reflected in my stuttering through the questions i had prepared. on the whole, i made no major blunders, except when i idiotically referred to tony blair's "prime ministership." at the time, i had been frantically searching for the british equivalent of "presidency" and that's what my nervous head produced. the exceedingly polite MP gently reminded me that it's known here as a "premiership" and the interview continued unscathed. i also interviewed the nice cambridge professor i mentioned before and he was without question the greatest interview one could ask for. he took every question i asked and ran with it, giving me more information than i had bargained for. he was beyond helpful, offering me new insights i had never even considered. he even said i could call him back for clarification before i had the chance to ask. as them brits would say, it was "simply brilliant!" so research on my first story is going quite well. i hope to have the whole thing done by early next week, though bossman al is going out of town and won't be able to give it a proper edit.

on sunday night, i had an indian dinner with a very dear friend whom i hadn't seen in close to four years. it was exceptionally lovely to meet again and stroll down memory lane together. it was like meeting a best friend or an old lover, one of those people who has a special key that can only be used in conjunction with your own to unlock parts of your past and parts of yourself that are reserved only for them. we parted reluctantly and promised that another four years wouldn't pass before we met again.

the rain returned to london with a vengeance today. the sun hasn't made a single appearance and there's a renewed chill in the air. i'm off to brussels this weekend for a class trip.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

it's weird to not have to be paying rent on the first of the month. it's june, hooray! june truly is the funnest month of the year. it's when the weather improves, when school ends and it's the month of my birth. nothing but good days ahead in june. and i take back what i said about the weather being nice in london. i've just ducked into an internet cafe because rain came pissing down on the city without warning. i, of course, am without an umbrella and wearing a tank top because it's been so damn humid today. i only hope the paper towels i bought for my flat don't get soaked. i don't have much to report since yesterday. spent a calm evening out in a pub last night with the roomies and the strange finnish boy again.

so i've decided to post what i promised to put on here earlier: the rundown of my roomies. this log will probably be of most interest to my roomies, whom i know have been secretly wishing i would write it already so they can see what i truly think of them. (don't lie, bitches, i know you've been checking out my web shit.) ok, here's goes.

THE SETUP: five girls in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom flat. you can imagine how difficult coordinating bathroom time is in the mornings. i'm in the 3-person bedroom and in the 3-person bathroom (bit unfair, eh?). we've got three broadcast journalism majors, two print ones. (i'm print.) we've also got a little mouse running around the flat, checking out the garbage. i saw him last night and could swear that he gave me the finger as he ran up the cupboard. we've named him "mickey." so of us five girls, there are three alpha bitches who generally insist on having things their way. surprisingly, they have made the necessary compromises to ensure that household relations remain harmonious.

Melissa G
nicknames: meli gonzo, smelly meli, gonzo face, spicy spice, spanish spice, booty, hootchie
attributes: 27-year-old meli is a sensitive virgo alpha bitch broadcast major who serves as the epicenter of almost everything that goes down in the house. she's full of spanish pride and talks nonstop. she's convinced that all british men are ugly and will argue this point into the ground. meli's traveling wardrobe is immense, so she is under strict house orders to never wear a single garment of clothing twice, though she cheats by repeating "basics." she can often be found lounging around the house in pajamas with cherries on them.
sayings: "let's discuss this," "i think he likes me," "whaaaat?" "are you from spain?"

Alice S
nicknames: als, alsi, als pals, posh spice, chinese girl
attributes: 23-year-old als is a leo alpha bitch broadcast major with a bad attitude that belies her kind korean face. her and meli must have already visited half the clubs in london in search of men to buy them drinks (though alsi doesn't drink). she's looking to marry a british rock star with good teeth, nice shoes, nice hands and a nice watch. she can often be found arguing with meli over where to go, what to do and the attractiveness of british men.
sayings: "i'm not chinese," "it was sick," "whatever"

Ya-Lei Y
nicknames: baby spice, hawaiian blossom, girlie girl
attributes: 25-year-old ya-lei is an easygoing broadcast major with a wonderful boyfriend who surprised her by showing up saturday morning to scoop her away to a london hotel for a romantic getaway weekend, complete with massages. she's known for eating a lot of fruit and being compulsively clean, which means showering up to four times a day and washing her sheets if she finds a hair on them she suspects is not hers.
sayings: "ewww, he touched my back," "i could live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," "i'm hungry"

Tania V
nicknames: scary spice, queen T
attributes: 26-year-old tania is a cultured yalie who generally likes to take her time doing and saying things, though she can get ready in about five minutes. she's a foodie who likes to cook, take weekend trips and practice foreign languages. she's probably the most quiet and shrewd member in the household and acts as a balancing force to the rest of us yappers.
sayings: "shut up"

nicknames: mama, mama milla, china doll, ginger spice, mills, millhouse
attributes: anyone who knows me can rest assured that i'm still a 26-year-old alpha bitch who provides a cynical running commentary on everything that's going on around me. i have a tendency to believe that i'm pretty damn funny, so i crack jokes when i can and they sometimes get laughs. i'm probably the messiest person in the house, so i try to make up for it by cooking my roomies meals and glorifying them on my blog.
sayings: "to know me is to love me"

signing off. the rain's finally letting up.