Friday, February 29, 2008

Love's Not a Competition (but I'm Winning)

Today is the 29th of February, a day which only comes around once every four years. Traditionally in England, this is the day when women can ask for a man's hand in marriage.

I find myself strangely optimistic . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shaken, not stirred . . .

If you were trying to get a hold of me around 1:00am last night, I'm sorry, but I was busy surviving an earthquake.

Don't worry, I'm ok.

See, an earthquake - for those who are unfamiliar with the concept - is when the ground decides to move violently even if you are trying to go to sleep. For example: Last night I was trying to sleep when my bed began vibrating back and forth (the long way) as if I had put or quarter (or perhaps 25 pence) in a vibrating bed of a cheep motel room. If I was in a cheep motel room and had actually put 25p in the bed I would have thought it was broken by not moving, but since the ground was moving they probably would have canceled each other out.

The odd movements disturbed my very core as if my soul were trying to escape from my chest. So many thoughts raced through my head:

"Is my room haunted?"
"Is the 1989 film "Little Monsters" starting Fred Savage not an entertaining piece of cinema, but Fred's warning that monsters actually do come out from under your bed at night?"
"Is this God punishing me for sleeping in the buff?"

It turns out that it wasn't my soul drifting from my body, but two plate tectonics were drifting apart (or maybe together) right below me, deep beneath the English soil. The quake registered 5.2 on the Richter scale which is an exponential scale. This means that my night was exponentially more scary than your night.

Up until 5 minutes ago I didn't even know what had happened, but my colleague, Sabina, from New Zealand, where apparently earthquakes are "no big deal," told me what danger I had survived. I now remain shaken (quite literally) but not stirred. If my room is haunted, if Fred Savage is hiding under my bed, or if God wants me to sleep in trousers; I can take it. After all, I am an earthquake survivor.

You know you've lived in Britain when . . .

Yesterday I watched these video's on YouTube, and I can't tell if I think they are funny because I've been living in England or because they are actually funny. You decide.

I'm never bovvered when I work with chav girls like this.

The top celeb couple in Britain.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For Sumit . . .

Today I found out that my best friend from freshman year of college has passed away. Of course something like this makes you think a lot about life and friendships and all of that, and I realize that anyone who reads this blog his probably never met Sumit Mallik, but I'm still going to share my top Sumit moments because I know Sumit would have done the same for me except that he would have done it better than I will.

I met Sumit after my first few weeks at Purdue and he was the first person who I knew I would be friends with for years to come. If you watch The Muppet Movie, Ganzo sings a line in the song, "I'm Going to Go Back there Someday" that says "There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met." Now I realize that this line is coming from a Muppet, but this is what it was like when Sumit and I met. In our first meeting Sumit and I only talked briefly, but it was understood that we would meet up the next night to trudge to the dining hall for dinner, and we would probably repeat this routine week in and week out - which we did.

We spent a good deal of time in the first month watching the Mets vs. the Yankees in the World Series. I could care less about that, but Sumit supported the Mets so I'm glad he got to see it.

For some reason Sumit wanted people to think he was an asshole, but he was not. In my exhaustion of trying to figure out college I would often fall asleep on his couch (usually during the Mets/Yankees series), and I'd wake up the next morning to find that I was covered with a blanket and somehow obtained a pillow in my sleep. If other people were around, I would still wake up with a pillow and blanket, but I'd find out the next day that Sumit would have led a charge to take incriminating photos of me passed out on the couch surrounded by lotion, Victoria's Secret catalogs, and (strangely) blocks of wood. Like I said, he wanted to appear to be an asshole.

A few months into college I bought a computer, and when I got it Sumit told me to bring it over so I could set it up. Now, it takes a real friend to realize that when an 18-year-old guy gets a new toy like this one all he wants to do it play with it and not hang out with his friends. Sumit, both realizing this and being an IT guy, made me a big list of all the programs that I'd need (such as WinAmp and Snood) so I could have the computer that every college freshman in the year 2000 should have and then left me alone to play.

One time in second term Sumit wanted me to come with him on an impromptu road trip to see his friends at Thee Ohio State University. I had a scholarship application that I needed to finish, but this served as no excuse for Sumit. He went off and wrote my scholarship essay for me (which was probably better than I would have done myself) and then dragged me to Ohio. (Now, neither of us promotes cheating but I think we both knew I had no chance of actually getting this scholarship.) Needless to say, X-hours later we arrived at OSU, met his friends, went to a crappy house party, and had a relatively miserable time. Sumit, however, refused to let a night end badly. So at 2:00am we stop off at Steak and Shake. Now because this was Steak and Shake at 2:00am, it took about 3 hours to get our food. The food couldn't have been better than mediocre, and I don't remember what we talked about, but by the time we wandered back to his friend's dorm room it was a pretty good night. I think you are always in a debt of gratitude to the person who takes you on your first unplanned college road trip.

Sumit decided that he was going to transfer out of Purdue (a good choice for him bad news for me) and when it got near the end we decided to spend one night taking pictures around campus. Me, Sumit, and a few other people got together, put on stupid clothes, and wend all round campus taking photos near all the statues and landmarks that all colleges seem to have. I can't explain why, but this ranks as one of my top 10 nights of college.

And finally . . . I always thought it was awkward to tell people it was my birthday in college - this goes double for freshman year. My birthday (April 30) was during finals week and everyone was busy enough. On my birthday freshman year I had taken couple of finals, and I only had one test left so I was studying for it at Sumit's apartment while watching TV. I don't know what we were watching, but on the show it was one of the character's birthdays. I say, "It's my birthday today." Sumit doesn't believe me and after a few minutes of arguing (most things with Sumit were an argument) he checks my driver's license to which he replies, "Holy shit, why didn't you tell me it was your birthday!" I was happy just to concretely win an argument with Sumit, and it seemed like it wouldn't come up again.

A few days later, I go with Sumit to his house in Ohio to hang out for a few days, kick off summer, and to catch a U2 concert in Columbus. (Our original idea was that we would always get together at the beginning of summer to catch a concert but, sadly, that trip never happened again.) The first night I'm at Sumit's house his mom cooked us a nice, traditional Indian meal, and we were all just chatting and having a good time. All of the sudden, at 9:00 sharp, the front door opens and a whole ton of people come pouring in shouting "SURPRISE" and "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Sumit disappears into the kitchen and comes back with a birthday cake. He says, "I know you don't know any of these people, but they are my friends from high school and they've heard about you. I told you you should have told me it was your birthday." It was truly a surprise party.

Thinking about it now, I only spent one good year with Sumit. After freshman year he came back to Purdue a few times, and I made a few road trips to Michigan. He came to see me at ND, and I would spend a few days with him whenever I was passing through Chicago. We'd talk on the phone to catch up a few times a year, but we never got to spend time together like we did that one year. It was only one year, but it doesn't matter. We won't be catching up on the phone anymore and I guess the second U2 concert really isn't going to happen, and "there's not a word yet for old friends who've just met" but there is a word for old friends who won't be forgotten - memories.

Thank you Sumit for all the memories, you are missed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Your Pockets Did Bleed on St. Valentines

I spent all of last week at a posh all girls school called Farnborough Hill, and in hind sight, it may be the finest finishing school in all of Britain. The school building looked like the mansion from Beauty and the Beast - the live people one from the 80's not the Disney one from the 90's - and all the girls are all forced to dress like tall leprachauns who are trying to camoflague themselves with green deck chairs.

Anyway, all the girls were all lovely and musical and polite and I would expect me to have an interesting Valentines Day story to tell after spending the dreaded V-day as one of a handful of males amongst hundredes of females. I, however, do not.

The only interesting thing to happen to me on Valentines was that I was in Tesco (think super Target) at about 7:00 on Valentines. I walk into the store to find that the entire Valentines card section is swarming with guys, most of whom appear to be on the way home from work, desperately searching for a Valentines card in the 11th hour. And while I neither gave nor received a card, all these scrambling blokes made me laugh. I realized that it sucks to have no one on Valentines day, and it kinda sucks to be with someone and have the pressure of Valentines Day, but it sucks the most to kind of have someone and decide at 7:00pm on Valentines Day that they are actually worth buying a card for and that you will get no better offers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What It Would Be Like If You Called Me

You: "So what's new?"

Me: "Well, I watched the Superbowl the other day and I'm super happy that the Giants won - actually I'm just happy that the Patriots lost - but here in England the game was on BBC2 which is owned by the government, paid for by taxes, and therefore has no commercial breaks. It was like only watching half the game."

You: "So what'd they do during the commercial breaks?"

Me: "They cut to some British announcers sitting in the nose bleed seats of the stadium who would explain American football. And then they'd just replay what just happened. You really notice how much downtime in football there is when there's no commercials."

You: "That kinda sucks, but at least the Pats lost."

Me: "True."

You: "Hey how's the leg?"

Me: "It's alright. Turns out I don't have gout, but now my doctors trying to get me in to see some kind of 'aches and pains' specialist."

You: "Aren't all doctors aches and pains specialists? Isn't that the point of a doctor."

Me: "You'd think so, but apparently you have to have a letter of recommendation to see this guy."

You: "You're kinda bitter."

Me: "I can't be bitter . . . it's Pancake Day."

You: "What the hell is Pancake Day?"

Me: "It's what the English call Fat Tuesday. You make pancakes and put all the stuff on them that you need to clear out of your cupboard because you can't eat it over Lent."

You: "What, like butter and syrup?"

Me: "Naw, like Nutella and ice cream."

You: "That's stupid. Hey man, I gotta go. Later."

Me: "Later."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

XLII - All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight

Today is Superbowl Sunday, and I can't wait until Monday. For me, most of the Superbowl will take place on Monday. I will get to start the mayhem of New York vs. New England in Old Arizona at about 11:00pm Sunday night, and, assuming there is no overtime, the game will finish just before 3:00am Monday morning.

I will probably stay up to watch the whole game, and I hope The Giants crush The Patriots in the same manor that actual giants would crush actual Patriots in an Ultimate Cage Fighting Superbowl. I hope I can rope a few friends here to watching the big game with me, although I'm sure the Superbowl is as exciting to Brits as the Rugby World Cup finals were to me. I can try to explain the "funny commercials," but I have a feeling that Pepsi, FedEx, and Budweiser become less funny at 2:00am. On the plus side, if I do get my British friends to watch the big game I figure it will be natural for the English to root against The Patriots.

As if you don't hate The Patriots already, here are 16 more reasons: