Unfortunately there is no longer anything about me that is mysterious to the maintenance staff here at International Hall. In case you’re wondering how many times my neighbors have heard me answering the polite knocking at my door with the phrase, “Give me two minutes, I just need to put on some clothes.” the answer is three. Three times I have literally stepped out of the shower at the exact moment someone has arrived to fix the major things that have malfunctioned in my room. And because I’m so desperate to have electricity and Internet back in my life, I have gotten into the habit (apparently…) of hurriedly opening the door in a towel before they walk away from my door, never to be seen again. Each time I’ve been greeted by the same awkward, “Errr, uh, you, ummmm, don’t have Internet/electricity?” And each time I answer them in the same manner: mascara dripping down my face, eyes squinting extremely as I have yet to put my contacts in my eyes, and my hair dripping wildly all over the place while I ask for 2 minutes to replace my bath-towel with actual apparel. Class and decorum have flown out the window, folks.
It’s been awhile since I’ve ranted about my living situation, mainly because life in my little dorm room has been a nice little oasis. This past week, however, has made me realize how heavily dependent I’ve become on modern amenities. I’ve known for awhile that I can’t function without the Internet, but I didn’t realize how lonely and cut off from the outside world I would feel when I had it ripped from my beloved Mac for 4 days this week (this feeling was only exaggerated by my ‘smart phone’ deciding to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to connect to the Internet while simultaneously deleting all of my contacts…). My hall is attempting to upgrade their Internet network, so they are moving from floor to floor as they upgrade. My floor was first on the list for a ‘Monday morning upgrade’, which I thought was amazing. First in the building with Internet traveling at the speed of light? Sign me up, Coach! (I realize that is not the right way of visualizing/describing Internet speeds, but that’s the fastest thing I can imagine right now. I was going to say ‘as fast as a cheetah!’ but I am guessing that light is faster than a cheetah…) So you can imagine my disappointment/rage when I got home Monday evening from a day of researching and plopped down in front of my computer to watch all the new episodes of Sunday-night TV, only to find that my computer was Internetless. I chalked it up to the ‘schedule’, and reassured myself that I would wake up the next morning and watch ‘Dexter’ with my morning coffee. So when this dream didn’t come true, I dialed the number for IT on the slip of paper that Reception had tossed at me the evening before when I politely questioned them about my lack of Internet. This resulted in IT simply having me restart my computer twice, and followed by the announcement that someone else would call when that magically didn’t bring about any results. (If this whole ‘getting-a-job-in-my-field’ thing doesn’t work out, it looks like there’s a potential career available to me in the world of IT. I could combine my tech know-how of restarting devices with the meteorology I learned from Mario, and I could be rich!!) No one called on Tuesday, but Wednesday brought about a tech working in my room for over 3 hours, all the while scratching his head as mine was the only room in the entire building without Internet.
I think he might have been a little off his game at first, as he was the latest member of staff to have impeccable shower timing; describing our meet cute as ‘awkward’ is a bit of an understatement. He was probably also really distracted as he was fiddling with wires and laptops at the same time I was fiddling with concealer and eyeliner 4 feet away from him in an attempt to make a lunch date. Despite these girly and atypical distractions, I was fully confident in his ability to bring back my beloved World Wide Web, so I left him to it. Only to have Internet for a couple of hours when I returned home later that evening before it disappeared from my life again. Now all of this probably wouldn’t have been a giant problem (hahahahahahha, just kidding-me not having Internet is only slightly more upsetting than Bertha not working…I was missin’ a limb, peeps. Don’t act like you wouldn’t feel the same way…) if the hot water would have been working normally. In the past month, I have been without hot water a grand total of 8 days. Some of these days were scheduled ‘maintenance’ days, and some of them were horrible surprises (no, that’s not dandruff in my hair, it’s clumps of conditioner; it was either try and rock the hobo-look or hypothermia, and those foil-blankets are never a good look for me). So all of this resulted in me pulling an uncharacteristic move: I sent a bitchy email. Working in customer service in some way shape or form throughout undergad taught me not to shoot the messenger. More than likely, 98% of the time the person you first encounter while trying to fix a problem has no connection with the problem itself. So when you combine that with one of my mother’s favorite mottos “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar”, I try my hardest not to fly off the handle during phone calls and emails. Welp…I flew off the handle after Wednesday evening. Which resulted in lil’ IT guy switching my room back to the ‘old network’ after attempting 2 more hours on the issue. So, I started the week out thinking that I was going to be the first with cheetah-like Internet, only to end the week being the only one with the tortoise version instead.
So while it’s been agonizing not knowing what happened between Dexter and Deb last week, the more frustrating element of not having Internet is not being able to research my dissertation while wearing my beloved sweatpants in my cozy little dorm room. I’ve been listening to countless hours of Survivors’ testimonies and combing through online collections in the hopes that someone mentions the words ‘mental institution’ even once. I’m slowly but surely acquiring sources (both primary and secondary), and had a rather positive meeting with my professor on Friday. So I can finally take a deep breath and know that I won’t be running out of things to say by the end of my second page, which is kind of frowned upon in the world of handing out MAs.
Alright, moving on! Even though it was 10 days ago, let’s talk about the 4th of July, shall we?
Celebrating Independence Day in the country that George Washington broke away from is kind of awkward. It’s kind of like, “Woooo, glad you guys lost a major colony! Errr…please don’t deport me…” I’ve tried my hardest not to stand out blatantly as an American since I’ve been here, but I threw those rules out the window for this American holiday. That’s right-I went to an American diner and had no shame in burger-fry-and-onion-ringing it up. Jenn and I ordered root beer (which is a really rare treat, here), and were immediately faced with our waiter’s response of, ‘Ooooooh Americans. SOO stereotypical of you to order root beer on the 4th of July!!’ He wasn’t actually annoyed with us, though, because he had root beer floats sent over instead. And let’s face it-a root beer float always trumps root beer on its own.
This was the first time since coming back from Papa’s funeral that I have actually been homesick. The 4th of July has never really been one of my favorite holidays, but for some reason I was jonsing for some over-the-top American activities. Maybe it was the fond memories of watching fireworks on my grandparent’s deck (while wrapped in blankets, because July evenings in Wyoming can get a bit chilly) or maybe it was the fact that it was a blatant reminder that I wasn’t back home. So I consoled myself with some of the best Motown tunes blasting from speakers during a stereotypical diner experience, quickly followed up by a meeting of delightful Americans in Regents Park. And then I shed the homesickness and fully embraced the British culture by watching an evening performance of Pride and Prejudice live, outside, with real English accents. And then couldn’t stop smiling when the family of four sitting in front of me enjoyed their piping hot tea during intermission. It was a rollercoaster of international emotions kind of day.
Recent weeks have been a nice mix of homesickness and amazing Britishisms. (The amazing Britishisms were highly elevated when Andy Murray won Wimbledon last week…but that’s kind of a given, yeah?) I’m sure the homesickness will escalate, as my Mom and little brother will be over to visit next Monday!!! Yes, Adam’s been taller than me for years; and yes, he’s also been more mature than me for years, but calling him ‘little’ makes me feel better about myself. (Hence the ‘less mature’ part…) They’ll be my first visitors who will stay for an ‘extended’ period of time (1 week), but there will be a giant void upon their arrival. I have said time and again that my father was the most selfless person I know, and life right now is the biggest example of this man’s generosity. My dad has always been the kind of guy who will give up the tiny amount of free time he actually has to help anyone who needs him. Whether it’s one of his customer’s who can’t live without TV for one evening or his mother needing help putting his father to bed, he will drop everything he’s doing immediately without ever wondering what he could possibly get in return. He’s also the handiest little son of a gun there every was, but that’s a story for a different day. So while I am so happy that Mom and Adam will be here next week, I’m even happier that my father is giving up a vacation to ensure that his father suffering from Alzheimers’ has help. They say timing is everything, and now is just isn’t the right time for Dad to interrupt the routine that he has carefully cultivated to help his mom as much as he can. I’m not joking when I say that, if I could be half the person my parents are, I would be the luckiest person on the face of the earth. Which, according to the ridiculous rant posted above, looks like I have some work to do. So keep your fingers crossed that the job hunt will result in my finding a job here in London so that my dad can visit whenever the timing allows. Or, if I’m to follow my parents’ example, keep them crossed that the opposite will occur, so that I am closer to help out more than by supplying my grandparents with a regular email. I might not be getting to see my father this time around, but that’s why God invented FaceTime, right? 😉