Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dream Castles

They're always so far away, the castles. I can never get to them. It's always night, and I can only just see their spires outlined against the stars. Or it's day, but there's fog all around me and when the wind picks up I catch a glimpse of towers silhouetted against the whiteness, far away. Or maybe I simply can't see that far; it's like a video game, when mountains in the distance seem to be a solid purple-grey, just shapes against the sky. Just purple-grey towers, so far away that I can barely make them out. That's how they appear to me in my dreams.

As soon as I see it, so far away I can never reach it but just close enough that I need to try, I'm filled with this inexplicable longing. It tugs at my heart and I can hardly breathe, because I need to go there. I need to be where the spires are, far away, where it's beautiful -- I know it's beautiful. I need to go there but it's so far away, and there are forests and valleys and mountains in between. It's such a long way to go.

When I wake up I feel cheated, I feel loss. I never find them, and I try, I try so hard. I remember standing on the shore of a still dark lake, fireflies dancing above me, and I saw the city rising on the other side of the water, a black bristling creature. And right at the top of it, tall and buttressed, waiting for me, was the castle. Lights were on inside. Tiny golden pin-pricks in the night, the castle and its city, so far across that lake. How could I ever make it there? I wanted so badly to go inside, to gaze up at the tall stained glass windows, to hear my voice echo in its grand halls.

But I never will. I never do. I see them so often, the faraway castles, but I never find my way to them. They're never within reach. And every time it hurts just as much as the first.

(image sources: 1, 2)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rooftop Sky

I was heating up some instant rice in the kitchen, and noticed that the sky was really pretty. I've been meaning to take some photos from out on the roof, our weird little balcony deck that we've got going on outside our kitchen (it's basically a roof), so I figured today was the day. They're nothing too exciting, but I love the kind of gross, grungy look of my neighborhood. I live in Walthamstow, which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in East London. It's more Northeast than anything, but the postcode says East, so whatever.

I kind of wish I smoked, just so I'd have an excuse to regularly go out on the roof and listen to the doves. There's a really loud dove that lives outside my window, or near some kind of vent opening, because I hear it really clearly and it is cooing all the time. I have a love/hate relationship with that dove, but I think I'd be sad if it went away.

So yeah, this is where I live. I'll try to post some better photos of my room soon, and maybe soon I'll take the camera 'round to the Walthamstow market, which I hear is all right.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Bed

So this is where I spend about 95% of my time, i.e. my bed. And the bedside table. I mean I don't spend time on the bedside table, but it's included in the whole ensemble. Notice all the healthy snacks and empty Diet Coke bottle going on there. I am not a neat person, nor am I very healthy. Let's just get that out of the way. I sit in bed, drink diet soda, and eat cookies and cheese biscuits all day long. While watching Sherlock and Doctor Who. It's glorious and sad.

Anyway I'm a bit tipsy, I've had 2 pints of Strongbow and was intoxicated enough to eat a chicken quesadilla even though it was spicy, but I was super hungry okay? And yes, 2 pints of anything will get me loose and happy. I'm that small, and I don't eat a lot. Stop judging me!

I don't know why I thought I needed to update right now, as it's 1:23 in the AM, but here you go. Enjoy. I have Doctor Who pictures on my wall.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Edinburgh Part 2

And here is your Scottish bagpiper, everyone! I'm super stoked about him. I took a bunch of photos of him that turned out to be really awful except this one, and then I emptied my coin purse into his case. Yeah, I'm a total BAMF, emptying coin purses into bagpipers' cases all over the place. I like to support the busking industry. It really stimulates the economy. In all seriousness though, if you see a street performer who actually entertains you or makes you smile, even if it's just for a second, you should probably give them some of your pocket change, if not more. I completely admire talented buskers, not only for their courage in going out there to play for the masses, but also because of their talent -- which is clearly going unappreciated if they have to busk to make money. Just saying. What a dreadfully boring paragraph.

So these photos are all from my second day in Edinburgh, most of which was spent at the Royal Botanical Gardens. I really, really enjoyed the Botanical Gardens. If you've never been to such a thing, I suggest you try it! They're really calming and beautiful, plus you learn about crazy plants from all over the world. Win/win situation right there. My favorite bit was the glass houses, but my favorite room, the rain foresty one, was so warm and moist that it fogged up my camera lens and I wasn't able to get any decent photos in there. Boo! You'll just have to imagine lots of thick hanging moss, curling ferns, and the slow drip-drip of condensation falling from the tips of leaves to the mossy floor. I liked it.

And finally, I'd like to draw your attention to some pretty cool cars I saw on our walk back to the city center from the Botanical Gardens. I saw two minis parked near each other and I had no choice but to photograph them, because if you combine the two cars pictured, you get my dream car. Retro mini, British racing green. Bam. Then we saw this badass grey hulking thing, lookin' all retro and stuff. So I had to photograph its beautiful visage.

I didn't used to give half a shit about cars, but ever since I became hopelessly addicted to Top Gear, I've grown fond of the gas-guzzling, environment-destroying things. This is probably due to some strange subconscious and Anglophilia-related need to please Clarkson, May, and Hammond, but until a therapist tells me to stop, I'm gonna love them up like the hilarious assholes that they are. Who else loves Top Gear? You know you do. I feel like everybody in the UK feels nothing but searing hatred towards Jeremy Clarkson and his minions, but in America we don't care about political correctness, common decency, or the planet. So the boys are totally welcome in the States any time they'd like to have a visit. We don't care.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Edinburgh Part 1

"Yes! Finally! Photos from Edinburgh!" said my readers, in my mind. Yep, it's that time again, time for pictures I took while traveling somewhere. Lots of old buildings involved. Will I ever get tired of taking pictures of old buildings, looming above me? No. Nope. Never.

I talked about it on twitter, but since my twitter has become more and more of a cesspool where my thoughts go to die, I can understand why you would stay as far away from that place as possible. So I'd better just update everyone: I went to Edinburgh for Christmas. It was pretty awesome. I met up with my friend Lily and her partner in crime Angus, and stayed in a really cool flat right below the Edinburgh Castle (the view from outside our building pictured above). Lily had been working up in Orkney over the fall, and then she and Angus trekked around Europe for a few weeks before ending their adventure in Edinburgh with me. I was super glad that they invited me to spend Christmas with them, because otherwise I probably would have spent the holiday all alone in my dimly lit room, eating beans and sobbing.

Here's a neat story. The morning I arrived, Lily and I planned to meet at a Starbucks near Princes Street in the Edinburgh city center. Lily didn't have a working mobile at the time (what primeval world is she living in) so she sent a facebook message before she left the flat, saying to meet at the Starbucks on George and Castle. So I got off the bus at George and Castle, went into the Starbucks, bought a latte, and waited. And waited. And waited. After a while I decided Lily must have gone to the wrong Starbucks, so I went down the road to another nearby Starbucks. She wasn't there. I think I must have gone back and forth between those two Starbucks like three times, tweeting and facebooking forlorn messages as I went, finally just sitting outside the original Starbucks full of despair.

After a while of sitting there convinced I was going to die alone on the streets of Edinburgh, Lily finally showed up all panicked. Apparently, you guys, there is a third Starbucks in that vicinity in Edinburgh, to which Lily had initially gone. So while I had been wandering back and forth between two Starbucks on George Street, she had been going back and forth between the Starbucks on George and Castle, and the one on Princes Street. Jesus Christ Edinburgh, talk about confusing. Maybe, before erecting three Starbucks locations in one small area, consider the sad mobile-less Americans who might be trying to find one another, lost and alone and scared, on the cold streets of your city. Maybe think about that one next time.

Despite the harrowing first hour, Edinburgh turned out to be pretty amazing all told. If you've never been, you should go. People kept asking me what I was doing for Christmas, and every single person, when told I was going to Edinburgh, exploded with, "Oh my god you are going to love it, it is so beautiful and amazing, narrow streets, cool shops, so quaint, castle, oh god Meg you will love that Scottish shit." They weren't wrong. I loved that Scottish shit.

I even tried haggis, which I was convinced would be disgusting (because who doesn't have a horrible idea in their mind about what haggis is all about), but turned out to be pretty okay. I couldn't eat more than a bite because the idea of it freaks me way out, but it tasted okay. I did like those tatties and neeps, though. Mmmm tatties and neeps.

My favorite thing about Edinburgh, and I imagine Scotland in general, if I'm honest, was the ever-present and often eerily distant wailing of bagpipes. I felt like, no matter where I was or what I was doing, the whole time I was in Edinburgh, there was bagpipe music in the background. Sometimes it was far away, those melancholic strains drifting through Old Town, and other times it was blasting loudly from a speaker in some kitschy Scotland Gift Shop. The best, though, was the man standing outside a church or some old building or other, playing actual bagpipes. Now, bagpipes are no new thing for me, having grown up like three blocks away from Rose Park in Missoula, where apparently every bagpiper in the city goes to practice for hours at a time, but there's no doubt about it: bagpipes are way better when experienced in Scotland. God, I love bagpipes. (Bagpipe man will be featured in the next post of pictures from Edinburgh.)

Well guys, I guess that about does it for my first post about Edinburgh. I really liked the city, and I could totally see myself living there, unlike in London, which is a terrifying prison of concrete and pigeons. (Not really; I love London, but if I had to live here for years on end I fear my soul would whither and die. Unless I lived in Hampstead, though; I think I could manage Hampstead.) I'd love to go back to Scotland later in the year and visit the highlands, and Orkney, and basically everywhere cool that doesn't involve being in a city.