Let's Be Honest, Here.

I'm a little scatter-brained. Closet fan-girl of all things BBC and Jane Austen. Totally tech savvy. Photographer. Art History student. Entrepreneur-minded. Gramatically incorrect. Dramatically and overly sarcastic, amongst a bunch of other things.

Tacos for the Scottish…and Football for the American things (Jan 3rd-4th)

January 3rd
After a long and awesome day with C, and accidentally setting off an alarm in Hunter House right before meeting the head pastor of P and M’s church (hi nice to meet you, have an emergency alarm go off, courtesy of, The American), we took one last trip to ASDA before going back to P’s so I could cook them dinner. I decided that they both needed a proper Mexican meal, and what better way to do that than tacos?!

I’m glad that I can say that I have cooked Mexican food in Scotland, but I wish I would have brought my own ingredients! Haha. Everything here is almost anti-Mexican as far as food ingredients go. ;) The corn tortillas here are so yellow and grainy, as if they were pieces of corn bread flattened into crepes. When I went to open my canned “plum tomatoes” (which appeared to be diced tomatoes), they were pureed, so that wasn’t good for making red rice. HMM. It was a good thing we had bought some fresh tomatoes beforehand for some guacamole. I just put those and a lot of taco seasoning in the rice….although I was skeptical about that too, because…taco seasoning in Scotland? Too good to be true. I also had an awful discovery when I found out that chicken stock here is NOT sold in a liquid state, you have to but these little pudding gel-packs and boil it to get it to become liquid. except my chicken stock wouldn’t boil and there were chunks of stock floating around and it was GROSS.Image

Scottish Chicken “Stock” (chicken stock was for the rice).

P doesn’t have a ton of stuff in her flat, so I made pinto beans in a wok, mixed guacamole with a hand-blender, and flipped tacos with a spatuala (They all broke open). There was a lot of stuff that I could improvise, however just as I was getting ready to fry the tacos, I realized I had NO CHEESE. DEVASTATION. That was one thing that I could not improvise. How did I forget to buy cheese? On second thought, who doesn’t buy cheese as a grocery item? Cheese is such a staple in my house! As soon as I realized it I told P and M and they both just said “Oh, that’s alright! No worries! Don’t need it!” I must have dropped my jaw. “Yes, you need cheese. For tacos. YES.“Oh, alright, so block cheese is ok? You can just grate it?” I was ready to have a mini-fit. Grate block cheese for tacos? You do know that they sell shredded cheese, right? Wait, do they sell shredded cheese in Scotland?  I can’t comprehend that cheese is so far and few between for the normal fridge in Scotland.

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The beginning stages of tacos

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“Tortilla chips” here=plain salted Doritos.

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Cooking the tacos…it was a one-taco pan.

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The finished products! I made tacos, red rice, pinto beans, and some guacamole.

Overall I think that they liked dinner very much. I was disappointed it wasn’t ‘just like home’, but considering how different my ingredients were and the improvising that I did, I think it went well. The rest of the night was pleasant visiting and just getting to know M and spending time with P and I’m so grateful that they let me spend time with them before begin their journey together as man and wife. They have made me feel so well taken care of and welcomed, and I am so grateful. What a unique experience.

Jan 4th
Saturday was the day of my first Scottish premier league game! We were going to go and see Motherwell FC vs. some other team. Like I mentioned in the last post, the rain here has been really bad, even for Scotland. So unfortunately the game was cancelled because the pitch got waterlogged. I’m not going to lie, I was super bummed when P told me. However, never the ones to disappoint, P and M already had a plan ‘B’ in place, and after some re-arranging of the day’s schedule, we decided to go to a game in the next town over (no cities here, just town and villages. Also, everyone here knows the history of their town or village, which is totally bizarre. “yes i studied the history of Lakewood in primary school, of course”). We made plans for the Hamilton Accies (ack-ees) game later that afternoon, and then plans to go and watch the Arsenal v. Tottenham game at P’s brother’s house and watch Arsenal v. Tottenham live on itv English.

Since the time of the match and location had changed, P and I decided to get some errands done in the meantime. We were all set to go when I opened the door and there just so happened to be a man standing there. It made me jump a mile! Apparently he (A) was coming to the football match and the time of the new Hamilton match had never been communicated to him. After the confusion was settled and a good laugh was had, P and I headed out and ran some errands. Not too much to report on that note. It was fun to run around and see where P would normally go to the store and sort of have a “locals only” experience. We went into a couple of pound shops too and I got some candy! I got flying saucers, which have “sherbet” inside of them….except sherbet is not like the American ice cream, but rather more like a sour, sugary salt thing like the inside of a pixie stick. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. I also got Rainbow puffs, which I haven’t tried yet, but they look like fruity pebbles but in the form of a cheese puff, Mars Bars, and Wham Bars (my favorite out of the ones I bought). Wham Bars are like air heads, except they have pop rocks candy inside of them. I was getting hungry after errands so P got me a sausage roll, which is a sausage inside of a warm pastry/biscuit. Very cheap and sooooooooo so so so yummy!!

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Flying Saucers with sherbet inside of them (I’m bringing these home).

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“Jazzies” or “jazzie-drops”, found at the American Candy Co. shop. We call these hamster treats, but of course they would be called Jazzies. ;)

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A Wham bar. I’m bringing home a bunch of these, they’re super yummy. :)

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Eating a Wham.

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A Sausage and roll, from Greggs.

Afterwards it was off to the game.  With my cami, long-sleeved shirt, my  sweatshirt, my wind-breaker, and THEN my coat, a beanie, and leggings under my jeans, I was warm enough for the game. The game was so fantastic. We were at a first division game, so a division or two below the Premiership (pros), but the atmosphere was still really great. The opposing team had their own entrance and stands in the arena, and everyone was buzzing with competition.

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Go Accies!

The  first thing we did when we got in was get a bovril from the stands. A bovril is a steeping cup of super liquified gravy. Almost like drinking chicken stock…except it’s gravy. It’s not as terrible tasting as it sounds, just tastes meat-flavored and supremely salty. I drank mine slowly because it was so hot but I still burned my tongue. However, I didn’t finish it, it was just too much. For the most part, the game was not very exciting to me. I enjoyed the atmosphere more than the actual game, but I would go again in a hot second. I think it’s because I had no emotional attachment to either of the teams. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly loud the opposing fans were. There were only a few hundred people in those stands, filling maybe a fourth of the seats up. I actually asked if the stands had a microphone connected to them because the fans were so loud! Apparently the roof over the top of the stands causes the noise to bounce out very well. I wonder if they did that on purpose?

I found myself incredibly curious and tickled by a lot of my surroundings. The singing crew of fans in the upper left corner made my laugh loads, you always hear the fans cheering on the “telly”, but to hear them in person is quite the experience, they’re very disorganized and just very silly. And this group in particular was just a bunch of teenage boys. They must come every Saturday just for the comradery! The fans did a lot of jeering at one another, just pointing at the opposing team’s fans, yelling nonsense at one another. It’s pretty comical when you consider how unimportant this game and this team were.

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Our view of the pitch.

The game went on and I chatted away and then A about lots of different topics, then the Accies scored, and the crowd went bizerk! Everyone roared and cheered as if they had won the premiership!! As more goals were scored and the loudness of the crowd shifted between the fans of the team that had scored most recently. During half-time it began to get cold and we got more goodies. I wasn’t going to have another bovril (broth-rill), but I did have a Scotch meat pie, and that was pretty yummy.

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Scotch Meat Pie

The game ended with a 3-1 win for the Accies, which was nice, and after that we drove to a different town to watch Arsenal v. Tottenham. Another win! The final score was 2-1. A good game played by the Gunners, but unfortunately Theo Walcott injured himself during the match. As it turns out, he will be out for 6 months, having torn some ligaments in his knee when he fell. That means that he will miss the rest of the season, as well as probably the world cup in Brazil this summer. That’s not a good outcome for Arsenal fans.
The night ended with some delicious dinner at P’s mom and dad’s house. It was really great to meet them after having heard of them for so long. I feel like it was just like meeting a good friend that you haven’t seen in a long time. It was great to see P with her mom and dad as well, to see how she’s like both of them in different ways, and how excited everyone is for the wedding. :)

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Hamilton Accies Football Club stadium

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The view, every day. Anti-sunny.

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The view from my bedroom, it’s not raining in this pictures, but everything’s still wet and will continue to stay wet as the rain picked back up again right after this.

I’ll write more soon, but Sunday and Monday don’t have too much to report.

The rest of Jan 2nd and Jan 3rd

When I finally got through customs Pauline and Mark were right there waiting for me. It was such a sweet reunion. It was only about 11am there, and despite having been mostly awake for the past 20ish hours or so,  they were both determined that I stay awake throughout the rest of the day to avoid jet lag. So we packed my luggage in Mark’s car (they call his car a giant hearse, but it’s really just a Volkswagen with a hatchback!!! But all of the cars here are small. I’ve seen two mini-vans and two small trucks with turtle-shell covers over the truck beds since I’ve been here. Everything else is  a fiat, a puegot, a mini-cooper, or a nissan versa), and went off to Loch Lomond for breakfast. I suggested a cup of coffee on our way to Loch Lomond, just because I knew that would help me stay up, so we went to a place called Costa Coffee, which is probably the equivalent to our coffee bean and tea leaf. It was cute and quaint, and comfortable. Conversation was easy and it was just like continuing a Skype conversation from a few days earlier with Pauline. Soooo much happy :) When we were coming out of Costa Coffee I noticed a large yellow stocked on a car that said Arnold Clark on it and asked “who’s that?”. Pauline had a good laugh because it’s not a “he”, it’s a place. Arnold Clark is the largest new and used car sales chain in the UK. Sort of like our Worthington Ford but more on a national scale. I thought that was kind of funny.

Afterwards we took the drive up to the Loch and just sort of searched out for a place for a “proper Scottish breakfast”. But since it was the day after New Years everything was closed because it’s a Scottish bank holiday! Can you imagine? Not only is everybody off on Boxing Day, the day following Christmas, but the day after New Years as well! In fact, Pauline said that most people take off two weeks of work during Christmas and don’t come back until January 6th when most schools go back on! That’s nuts. I can’t imagine having that much time off work until you asked for it months in advance and only for some very rare and special occasion! (example: the time I got off to do this trip).

We drove around to several different pubs and hotels in search of food but literally everything was closed and locked shut! They apologized a ton but it was more of an adventure to me than anything, and I think I was still buzzing with adrenaline so I wasn’t too incredibly hungry. The weather here has been some of the worst rain and wind storms in five years so the loch was unfortunately covered in garbage and debris. It looked like a small hurricane had pulled through there, it was like a mini disaster zone. But everywhere we drove was like driving in big bear. Even on their “motor ways” (freeway), they have trees all over the place! Lots of green, fields, plants are not at a loss here! I actually kind of liked it. I told them that it was kind of like driving through a national park, we don’t have all of the trees that they do. The roadways here are very narrow! Mark went to make a u-turn and his car turned off as we were mid-turn and we were stuck blocking both ways of the highway. It was pretty funny, I felt like I was back in my jeep! Haha.

We ended up driving around the entire loch in what M called our “quest for the food”. Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland, and yes, it was huge. Big Bear and Lake Gregory combined don’t have anything on Loch Lomond. The loch’s water was a very dark blue though, unlike our green water. When we finally found a place that was open to eat at, we ended back up near Costa, at a Carvery (still not quite sure what that means..). All three of us ate a Carvery Plat which is a standard Scottish plate of food, I guess. You get either three different meats or you can choose to have more of one or the other, but it’s usually turkey, pork, and gammon (ham…jamon((Spanish))….jammon((French))…ha). A carver cuts it up for you and from there it’s sort of all you can eat buffets style. I had some sweeties(I think that’s what they were called). I never got a clear answer on what exactly they are but I think it’s like a squash “they’re good for ye, that’s all ye need to know,” M concluded after my third “yes but what is it??” I also got a Yorkshire pudding which is NOT actual pudding but more of a crisp pastry….like a pastry in the form of a bowl or a donut in the form of a bowl without any glaze on it. They were yummy (but it’s not pudding), and I had some gravy in it. Lunch was really nice, more chatting and visiting. I didn’t realIze how slow I eat until I was still trying to finish my plate ten or fifteen minutes after both P and M had finished! After the carvery we sort of drove back towards East Kilbride, where Calderwood, their church is, and where Mark’s parent’s live. On the way to E.K. we drove across some large bridge that I forgot the name of, but there were very larger barriers on either side of it because a couple of summers ago a few girls jumped off and took their lives. I thought it was interesting that they (the Scottish) took action against preventing future “jumpers” from harming themselves because the barriers made the bridge quiet ugly. In contrast we’ve got the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and other very architectural/artsy bridges and people jump off of them as well but the barriers are lacking, and instead there’s just a phone number to call. Interesting. Maybe I’m overthinking.

We arrived in East Kilbride and passed a place called The Salmon Leap. It’s in giant font on the side of a building that’s off a main road, with a giant Salmon painted about the letters in mid-leap. It really stuck out to me, but apparent the place is just no-big-deal because nobody seemed impressed that I found it intriguing, haha.  As we drove through East Kilbrid (kill-bry-d). We drove past Calderwood, the church, and Hunter House. Hunter house used to be a museum and is located next door to the church. The church bought it and converted it into a coffee-house which is run by church volunteers. I think that’s really awesome, because instead of having a coffee cafe directly inside of the church for patrons, this coffee cafe is open to the public and the community see’s the church witness through its volunteers. So that’s really cool!!

After the mini-tour we were off to the Morris’. Everyone is so inviting and welcoming here. As soon as we sat down to visit I was shown a giant map of the 50 States. Dad you were right I should have brushed up on my American history!! I was quizzed on locations, state flags, and ended up locating Lusk Nebraska and several other places that Dad’s family was from/located in. They were so interested. However, I unfortunately I didn’t know what the grizzly bear on the state flag meant. It’s just there because it’s the state animal, right?

Anyway, when that was done we just headed back up to Pauline’s and went to ASDA’s on the way home. ASDA is one of their main grocery stores that is connected with Walmart so they’ve got a lot of American candies and such. But I thought it was more like Food4Less. It’s funny though because the register attendants don’t stand up and don’t bag your goods, they’re all sitting down in rolling office chairs! It looks so funny! So I purchased my groceries and the attendant never said anything about my accent but she was very proud of me for getting the right change and stuff for her “yes good, that’s right” (insert big and curious smile). I can definitely tell when people are staring because of my accent. I have to remind myself to speak softly like those that I’m with. I don’t always think I’m speaking incredibly loud and P and M say I’m not, but it feels like I’m yelling when I speak here because everyone around me (the ‘local’ Scots) gets really quiet to hear what I’m saying when we’re out in public, so I’m super self-conscious about that. I guess that’s how Pauline felt for 3 months in CA!

After ASDA’s we went to Pauline’s place and I put everything away and settled my stuff into my room. Then she turned on a game show that quizzed contestant about British culture, but the contestant did very poorly because he was American! Haha. Sucker. Both of us ended up falling asleep for about a half hour (getting up was brutal, I could have slept the whole night through right then!), but after our nap we had some pasta with sauce and veggies for dinner. That’s when I got my second wind and I knew all hoe was lost for getting to sleep early. After a game of trickster scrabble (Mom you would reallllyyyy like it!), I ended up crashing around midnight.

January 3rd

When I woke up it was around 8 am but I looked out the window and it was still so dark it looked like it could be five or six am!! But sure enough people were out at the bus stop and driving about. It didn’t start getting lighter till past nine am. I had some instant oatmeal…or I THOUGHT it was instant oatmeal till I was finished warming it up in the microwave. Turns out it was porridge. So sticky and thick! But enough like oatmeal to enjoy and it didn’t need sugar either so that was nice. After breakfast P had her last day of work so she took me over to spend the day with Carly. She was going to take me to Glasgow and give me a tour. The weather has been very severe, but we decided to go into Glasgow, anyway. It’s now or never, right? I saw a bit of the news on the “telly”, and BBC 1 said that there were 38 flooding warnings in the UK and 20 severe weather warnings in Scotland. The wind sounded so vicious and mean! Even though the rain was a torrential downpour, it doesn’t seem to slow anyone down while they are driving. But I’m sure that they are used to driving in the rain. Oh, and every car here is stick-shift. They use both feet when driving stick, which I didn’t know. Ha! No wonder everyone here has to take 8 months of driving lessons before getting their license. Two feet.

C had an entire day planned out for us in Glasgow, which started in the Buchannon Galleries (which is not a gallery, but a mall!). Even though the weather was bad outside we still had to walk the streets quite a bit. C said that the weather for Jan was very mild, and she was in leggings (meanwhile I had leggings beneath my jeans! She got a good laugh out of that). We tried using an umbrella, but the wind was very strong so we gave up that pretty quickly. Our next stop was at the Gallery of Modern Art. Out in front of the gallery is this giant monument/statue of a man named Wellington on a horse. It’s an old statue, but it’s got a giant orange traffic cone on top of it’s head. It looked almost as though the statue had been disrespected with the cone up there, but C said that it’s a real “thing” here in Glasgow and people fight to keep it up there. I mildly believed her until we got into the museum gift shop and they had everything from magnet to cards to figurines of Wellington with the cone on his head! I got a magnet because it’s such a Scottish thing. How quirky.

 

Wellington: “get that corn(cone) out of my face!”

The rain had (thankfully) stopped by the time we were out of the gallery and it was just cold and windy. We walked across the street to at a place I think called Prince George’s square and they had an ice rink, some rides, and a giant (REAL) Christmas tree! Kind of like a makeshift winter fair/Irvine spectrum sort of area. It was dead when we walked through as it was still early, but C said it’s a fun place to come on a nice night during the wintertime.

We continued walking down the Z Bend of streets and passed a few places that I recognized from London: Pret A Manger, EAT, Marks and Spencer, and blessed Cafe Nero! I even saw a Primark, Neu, and of course, a Topshop. But they also had places from home like HM, gap, and others. I even saw a few store that you would really like, Mom; they had a Poundland, and a Pound Place, which is basically just a dollar tree/ 99cent store!

Our next destination was the Willow tea rooms for lunch. This tea room was designed by Charles Renni Mackintosh, a Scottish artist/designer/architecture. Everything from the building, to the waitresses uniforms was designed by him. It wasn’t until we sat down that I recognized the chair. Then it hit me! Of course, Mackintosh! He’s an art deco artist that I learned about in my 3D Design class last semester. I even used the chair  that I was sitting in as the required ‘inspiration’ for my final project in the class. I think I may have even written an essay on it. Can you imagine? What are the chances!? It was totally nuts and all I could do to contain myself! I should have bought the key chain of the chair that we saw in the gift shop, it was too cool! Lunch again was very nice, I had a jacket (baked) potato and some black coffee (white coffee=too much milk, not enough coffee here).  We had a good, long chat about life family friends church etc! I really enjoyed Carly’s company. I asked her what would “throw” me that was absolutely Scottish, as everything seems pretty familiar so far to me. At lunch C described a few Scottish foods to me. She described black pudding (dried pigs blood in the shape of a meat party), a potato pancake, and a roll in a square, which is square sausage (just a square meat patty). I hope I get to try them all (except I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I didn’t get to try Black Pudding). I really enjoyed speaking with C and just getting to know her, I’m very grateful to her for spending the day with me!

After lunch we sort of just wandered through the Z Bend of streets and I found a “body vest” or a “gilet” (pronounced jee-lee), which is just a puffer vest. I kept accidentally calling it a bodysuit, and that had everyone laughing. Regardless, I just wanted something to keep me warm at the football match on Saturday. My jacket is fine, but the with the amount of rain that there is here, it’s going to stay wet if I wear it out every day, so I wanted something different to wear on opposite days to stay warm. That was the end of my day in Glasgow, we took a pleasant train ride home from Grand Central station and I got to meet Mark’s brother Craig, Carly’s husband once we got back to C’s place, and from there P picked me up and we went to Hunter House and then home.

 

There’s more, but time for me to go. I’ll write more later. Ps, sorry for the lack of photos, they’re on my camera. Too lazy to upload immediately.

To Get There: Jan 1-2nd

Jan 1st:

New Year’s began at 3:00 am for me….and my parents (sorry!) this year. The drive to the airport was extremely foggy (you could only see maybe 30 yards ahead, )and I saw a large dead dog with blood all over it on the way, making the morning feel a little eerie. We also passed three “train” stations on our way to the airport and each station had people at them. At 3:30 am! Again, eerie. LAX was basically dead upon arrival, but I managed to get everything checked in with mom and dad and I’m pretty sure Frontier airlines did not charge me for either of my luggages. Nice? No? I can’t decide. I didn’t really have any issues getting through security, although I did forget to take my laptop out of my carry on and place it in a separate bin. That was a hassle, won’t be forgetting that detail again anytime soon. But anyway, I made it to my gate with plenty of time so I grabbed a ‘Bucks and a piece of banana bread and tried to stay awake until I boarded the first flight.

 

After flying with Frontier airlines, I’m not quite sure I would choose them again. The flight attendant team was grumpy (it was early so hey, I would be too), and I’ve never seen a male flight attendant before but if you’ve ever wondered where they are hiding, Frontier airline has several. However, the entire host/ess team lacked communication skills. Every time that they spoke over the PA, they A) did not complete their phrase or sentence (“hello everyone we would like to welcome you to today’s….we’ll arrive in Denver sooner that you….”), or B) they would awkwardly pause, as if they were choking and needed a moment. Like when you are praying and you take a thoughtful pregnant pause to consider your next thought. Except they were speaking over a PA, to a bunch of groggy passenger. Regardless, the flight was smoothe until right when we landed in Denver. I got the “coveted” window seat, and spent most of the two hour flight just enjoying the sunrise and watching the scenery. The plane was pretty small, and the couple I was next to was nice, but they were more interested in talking to one another than conversing. That’s fine, but it made it difficult when I needed to use the restroom, since the man at the aisle seat had crutches. Soooooo, I guess I’ll just hold it. But! It was snowing a load (well to me it was a load) when we got to Denver! That was so neat, I loved it! By the time I was able to get out of my seat, my window have been covered halfway with little snow flurries. That was so exciting and pretty!

My window just as it began to snow. So many pretty white flurries swirling around outside!

 

 

Once I got inside the airport I kind of wandered. I had to get a cart to walk around with all of my luggage and I felt like a real snob lugging it all around and bashing into everything with my cart, so I checked it in to my next flight as soon as I could. The TSA line at Denver looks like one massive, disorganized Disneyland ride line, but everything works like clockwork, apparently! I ended up sleeping while I waited for an old friend to catch up and have coffee with. It was such a pleasure to see her again and just chat and catch up and go back memory lane! It also definitely helped me to pass the time.

Denver TSA. This was after the line had really slowed down a bit.

Coffee with Ariel, my oldest childhood, “BFF”. Such a sweet reunion!!! :)

There were a few things at Denver that I noticed: everyone…EVERYONE was wearing Broncos gear (rightly so!!), there were so many Europeans that you could spot as ski-resortits a mile away, the Mid-Westerners also stood out very sorely to me (half cowboy, half hill-billy?), and there were so many dogs! Just walking around, on their leashes, with their owners, just being their doggy-selves. That really surprised me. I saw a dachshund, two King Charles Spaniels, a former professional frisbee dog with a spinal injury that lost the use of it’s back two legs so it was in some wicked two-wheeled contraption, and a handful of others…a few were even in the security line, which I thought was weird, but I guess makes sense? Colorado equals nature, which also translates to extremely animal friendly? Maybe it’s just something I never noticed before.

 

I made it through the security line pretty quickly once again for my next flight, found my gate, and sort of just wandered more, I was antsy for the flight to come, and needed to change into something more comfortable than jeans. I grabbed a sandwich from some place called Schotzy’s where I got smart with the register kid because he was being rude (does that make me rude? Probably), and the sandwich was pretty bad so I picked it apart and only ate what I could stand. I figured I was going to get a meal on my next flight….I hoped.

 

Waiting for my flight on Icelandair it was super easy to pick out who was going home and who was going to visit. At least I thought it was until an American couple asked me if I was from Iceland. Ha! I am definitely was the Flom child with more Norwegian blood than Mexican blood, I think. ;) Anyway, as I was waiting in a small crowd of the extended family of Of Monsters and Men, meanwhile outside its pitch white, and you can barely make out the plane. Ok, so, awesome to look at, not so awesome to think about when you consider trusting that plane to fly you across the Atlantic. The flight ended up boarding on time, but we spent an extra thirty minute or so getting sprayed down by some mechanical arm that defrosted everything took the ice away. That was comforting. Until you began to smell the chemicals….And until the chemicals started leaking through the ceiling. Then it was just a bother.

 

 

Somewhere in here it becomes Jan 2nd:

For my long flight I reallllyyy wanted an aisle seat. I had decided that after my first flight. Well, God answers prayers, and I got the aisle seat. I was almost certain I had the entire row to myself, until I was joined at the last minute by another American. He sat at the window seat until he started to get dripped on by the mysterious ice-melting chemical, and then he temporarily moved to the middle seat to stay dry. I was grateful when he moved back. The empty chair in between was good for my psyche ;). I got it! Icelandair is much nicer than Frontier, and much nicer than I was expecting. The entire crew speaks in Icelandic, and all of the seats are covered with pillows that have an Icelandic poem on them to help you fall asleep. The head rests have fun facts on them about Icelandic words and culture, as do the overhead compartment doors. My aisle seat was almost at the very back of the plane, which means I’m with all of the families: there were three perfectly blonde little Icelandic girls sitting to my right, across the aisle, and one couple with the plane’s resident screaming infant directly behind them. Yes, screaming. Trade-offs, am I right? The flight ended up being 7 hours instead of the 12 or so that I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise, but man it was so uncomfortable and L  O  N  G. I had a lot of trouble falling asleep, and even with my earplugs in and my melatonin I could not sleep with the screaming infant. Once I did fall asleep,the American in the same row as me decided to wake me up from my pill-induced slumber so he could pee. I almost fell asleep standing up against my chair waiting for him to come back. He said he was sorry for waking me up, but let’s be honest here, is there anyway to handle that graciously as you’re half asleep?! 

Icelandair airplane seats. Everything is in Icelandic!

 

There was also another thing that I noticed: people who travel Icelandair (or maybe this also applies to those that travel trans-atlantic flights?) must do it often enough to feel comfortable in their slippers, or just without shoes in general, because allllll the Icelanders on this flight our shoeless. Is that a thing? I guess. The father/man traveling with the three adorable Icelandic girls to my right has been in the back area chatting up on of the airline hostesses for about an hour, now. That’s weird, since she was decidedly keen on gaining the attention of the second man/father (?) traveling with these girls. I thought certainly she must know the girls/men the way the girls spoke to her and how close she got to the man when she spoke to him, but now I think they were all just happy to speak to another in their own language?! WHO KNOWS.

 

–UPDATE–

I’m convinced the airline hostess was their mother because of the amount of times that she went up to the girls just to stroke their heads. She had to be related to them!

When I finally landed, it was 7 am local time, and as dark as it was at 3:30 am on my way to LAX the morning before. Totally creepy. There were no surrounding city lights, nothing! I had wanted to spend a little bit of time exploring the airport, but our plane landed later than expected and instead of having a half hour to relax for a bit, I had five minutes to get to my next and final flight, which left at 7:05 am. 

 
 

 

A little worried in Iceland because nobody speaks English and I may/may not be late for my flight.

 

As it turns out, my next flight was delayed by an hour, and I was able to relax briefly. I got some “Nordic” food (sandwich was gross, not surprised), and some. I didn’t get to fill up my bottle before my previous flight and didn’t get any water on that flight so I was feeling extremely dehydrated. I walked around the shop area, and got a few goodies, including some candy (disgusting). Iceland likes a lot of pickled things. Also, mayonnaise in Iceland isn’t mayonnaise, it’s MUSTARD. On the long flight over to Keflavic airport, I watched a couple of Iceland shows/films with subtitles. I know that Iceland has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and it’s certainly translated in their country’s media as well. The first show that I turned on was about a lawyer, his former friend had recently committed suicide. Then I tried to watch a film but the first five minute consisted of a man trying to commit suicide so I stopped immediately. The last film was very interesting and portrayed a very different side of the Icelandic culture (the main character was albino), but the film ended with the main character committing suicide (it was implied, but clear). That’s really upsetting to me. These people need so much love and so much Jesus! After seeing how dark it was when I landed in Reyjavik though, I guess their suicide rate shouldn’t be that surprising. It was so dark and so somber. The airport was silent. Nobody interacted with one another, nobody spoke, and certainly nobody smiled. I went to the bathroom to change into a different sweater before my last flight, and despite their suicide statistics, Iceland must have very high interior design statistics as well. Just going into the bathroom stall was like walking into a studio apartment made out of perfectly clean and white products! It was not a stall, it was an entire room, with a toilet, a sink, four walls and a 6-ft high door. Everything was sparkling white. Nothing was dirty. It was so modern and minimalistic. They didn’t even have a  trash can or paper towels for your hand. There was no need. The sink spout was in the shape of a cross: put your hands up the center and it turns on. Once you finish washing your hands move them out to the branches on either side; those dry your hand. Crazy! Oh, and where’s the handle to flush the toilet? Nope, don’t need that either, just pull the toilet seat cover towards you, that will trigger the flush. Haha!

Icelandic bathroom, + ugly black luggage.

 

Turns out I stayed a little too enamored with the bathroom for too long, I was one of the last people to check in for my flight. Keflavic airport is very small though, so I didn’t realize that I needed my jacket until I checked in, and they walked us out onto the tarmac to get to the plane. Yup! No boarding bridge, just go on ahead folks, right out into their blistering cold wind. I had just put on chap stick too, so the wind made my hair stick all over my face. I was a sight. It was 8 am by this time, and still dark. Crazy, right?! The plane ride there was ridiculous, too. I was in the center seat this time (I got to try all three seats this trip), and Iceland was pitch black even up in the air. It almost was too dark. There was really no light, just a small spot where Reyjavik must have been. Eventually as we got farther away, there was a sort of break between the blackness below and the midnight blue that was the sky. It made the Ice-land below all the more eerie and dreary. I would love to go back and visit Iceland one day…when there’s light of course. However I feel like one would really only need a weekend, five days tops to explore all that Iceland has to offer. Would be interesting to see, though! 

 

The rest of the flight to Glasgow was pretty uncomfortable. My knees were starting to get stiff from all of the sitting, my feet were uncomfortable having spent the last 24 hours in converse, and I was fighting sleep but trying to sleep at the same time. I was hot, still dehydrated, fidgety, ready to be done. Once we prepared to land though, I started to get more excited. Seeing Scotland from above was everything you might think it would be: but mostly, it was green. You could tell it was wet, and then frost started to appear on the airplane window so then you knew it was cold, but it was so UK. I love it! It has a very British feel to it, but it is also very small-town. Like every scene in an BBC America Austen/Dickens miniseries. The houses are all very similar in shape and size and color, and so are the rest of it’s building. Everything is very plain and matching and stuffed together. But I like it. It’s cozy and almost as though they lack an architecture program at any of their “Unis”, but so, so, standard and by-the-book. Not too creative, not too ‘fun’, but all the same that’s what’s comfortable for their culture and that’s just the way things are done. When we landed I found my luggage pretty easily, and after a thorough grilling at customs, I finally made it through to Pauline and Mark.    

 

But it’s late, so more on that tomorrow.

 

Here are a few more shots:

Nasty Icelandic candy. I thought it was chocolate. More like pickled black licorice bites. Mom, I’m saving them for you.

 

 

The happiest man in Iceland (also the darkest).

My gate. 

 

 

 

Children’s Books Re-Named for College Students

Children’s Books Re-Named for College Students

Also, this week in hilarious links on the web (because guaranteed none of you visit Buzfeed as much as I do).

 

I enjoyed every. single. one. of. them.

NYC Taxi Drivers Calendar

I love a good photo series. I love ironic humor. I love creativity.

 

Enjoy! And let’s be honest here, this is pretty funny:

nyctaxi1

 

You can find the rest of the series here.

 

 

 

If Not Now, Then When?

 PROCRASTINATE!!! Like everyone else on this planet, I have a keen gift of procrastination. Most recently, I have been procrastinating  on going ‘live’ with my second blog alllll semester long. It’s a sort of street-photography style blog, of all of the riders that I see when I am with my youngest brother at the skatepark. He does a lot of this:

Now during the semester, when I was working two jobs combined with excessive amounts of homework and projects, I had the excellent excuse of absolutely, positively, NO TIME. However, now that it’s winter break, I am  struggling to find the gumption and confidence within myself to go ‘live’ with it now….So many doubts and personal critiques racing through my brain, I can always find a reason not to go ‘live’. And then last week as I was surfing through my twitter feed, I stumbled upon Jeet Banerjee’s TedX talk…and now I have this little voice in my head repeatedly reminding myself…If not now, then WHEN?! I am my own worst critic. My mental voice is certainly not doing me any good right now, and I believe that I’ve done enough thinking and it’s time to do some action. Ah!

 

 

 

 

Let’s see if listening to Banerjee’s TedX talk again can pump me up….

 

 

Distress at Downton

This is a piece I put together pretty quickly today for some Photoshop homework. It’s supposed to be a sort of “two-page layout”…So imagine that there’s a crease going down the middle of this. Also, if I didn’t mention yesterday, Downton Abbey is my third subject of choice when it comes to creating layouts for my Photoshop homework (sooo, reacp: Sherlock, Freestyle Scooters, then Downton in order of cheesy photoshop 1 homework subjects).

Eeeenjjooyyyy a cuppa, and this mamma-drama Downton piece:

DART_55_Flom

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