Sunday, December 13, 2009

I’m sitting in the lounge at King’s Cross St. Pancras, right down the road from my dorm. Since it’s another hour until my train leaves, I guess technically I could go back to my dorm and sleep for about a half hour until my train actually leaves, but I don’t want to risk falling into so deep a sleep that I don’t even remember getting up to turn off my alarm, like what happened this morning.

I had an eleven pound ticket for the 6:37 train into York, so my alarm was set for 5. I was so tired, I don’t even remember getting up, but apparently I did, because when I went to sleep my phone (which I use for an alarm) was on my desk and when I woke up at 9:00 I found it under my back on the bed.

It’s OK though. Instead of paying 83 pounds to travel anytime, I paid 35 pounds at the station for the 11:27 train. (Note to future travelers: it is cheaper to book in advance. So much cheaper.) So now I’m waiting in the lounge with about forty other people, most of them as old as my grandparents, some twenty-something backpackers, and several middle-aged couples. I have a medium latte and a bacon and cheese croissant to keep me company (it’s amazing all the things they can find to do with a croissant), plus all the essays that I have to finish before next Friday, so I’m all set for the next hour.

For once it’s sunny outside. It’s so sunny that there are hardly any clouds in the sky, and those that are out are white and fluffy, friendly-looking clouds that promise they won’t rain on anybody’s parade. For the past few weeks there’s been a cloud cover so thick I was beginning to think the sun was a myth that didn’t really exist. “Sun? What sun? You mean that big yellow thing in the sky? Nah, that’s one of those things that died out, like an extinct species.” Luckily for me, and 8 million other Londoners, I was wrong. The sun is still here! And it’s shining! I think that’s what’s stopping me from being too upset. Just knowing that it’s going to be a beautiful ride to York is comforting.

A note on traveling: when you go to a foreign country, you tend to look for little interesting things that are distinctly “British,” or distinctly Portuguese, so that you can compare the differences between the States and elsewhere. When I come back home, I think I might be looking for the little interesting things that make the United States different from everywhere else. Things like signs for the bathroom, the way people dress, how friendly people are, what’s available for breakfast, how people address each other, little stuff like that.

People can find the strangest places to sleep. If it doesn’t move and there’s a blanket (or even if there isn’t one), they’ll sleep there. I guess we’re very adaptable creatures. On the way to the station this morning I passed someone sleeping outside my building. I can’t tell you if it was a male or female, or how old the person was, because he (or she) was wrapped up so completely in a thick-looking sleeping bag. I can’t even imagine how cold they must have been; I walked out the door wearing a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, and a jacket, and here was this person sleeping under the stars under only a sleeping bag. And I thought it was too cold just leaving the windows open a crack! Here in the lounge, a man is folded in half on top of one of the knee-high black tables available for probably that purpose. As industrial as these chairs look, I have to say they’re some of the most comfortable I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in. They’re rounded and the backs of them lean back slightly, with the armrests sloping downward. There are no cushions (those would probably be too difficult to clean) so the chairs are just make of a light gray plastic.

Yesterday I finally got to a museum on Euston Road called the Wellcome Collection. Apparently a scientist (named Wellcome) left a lot of money to some other people and they started a museum with it. I was only able to stay there for an hour, but I’m definitely going back. Their special exhibit until January is one on identity that features 8 different rooms describing different people and what they have to do with people defining who they are in this big wide world. People included Fiona Shaw (better known as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films), a set of twins, born three years apart due to IVF, one of the forerunners of identification in the Victorian era, Samuel Pepys, and others. The thing I love about museums is that, at least for this one, they can take tiny little parts of our lives and piece them together like a puzzle to create a coherent message. They can also open up our minds and consciousness to something we hadn’t known before. For instance, in the room about Fiona Shaw, demonstrating the identities of actors and actresses, there was a film playing of her reciting T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” that was aired on the BBC in the 1990s. It made me want to see the rest of the show, since she really brought it to life, and made it that much easier to understand, like a Shakespeare play that’s easier to understand once you see it as opposed to reading it.

Another of the rooms was one about diaries. There was a giant collection of people’s diaries, from people like Samuel Pepys and Samuel Taylor Coleridge to your average Tom Dick or Harry that lived in the 1920s. It was a little disturbing, to be honest. Diaries are meant to be private, something the exhibit makes clear to mention, so why are we reading them now? Then again, blogs are just public diaries. You've got to be careful what goes into blogs, though, because you never know who could be reading them....dun dun dun!!!

My work for the next two days includes finishing a writing portfolio and writing three 2,000-word essays, so I'm off to go try to do as much work as I can tonight so I have the rest of the week to do what I please.


1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh golly gee this makes me SO NOSTALGIC for London.

    I would like to visit for a bit again. Not live there, but...visit.

    Though I am never attending london met again! :D