Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Yesterday I moved forward on my quest to be Yankeefied.

I know my cholesterol level.

Who in Britain, apart from those who are told by their doctors they need to be aware that it's high, knows their cholesterol level? The actual numbers and so forth?

Still... Apparently I have good HDL, good LDL and good triglycerides - seriously. So I am in good shape. I feel so proud. Blood pressure, incidentally, appears to be back to normal after the blip, in fact, better than it has been for ages.

I'll be watching NASCAR before you know it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You're It!

I'm it, apparently... I've been tagged and I have to come up with FIVE WHOLE interesting things about myself, apparently. I don't know why my prodigious blogging doesn't do that anyway but... here we go:

1) I am the bionic woman. I have titanium implants in my mouth and in my legs, and only 28 of my own teeth (no wisdoms, either).

2) I used to be allergic to washing up. No, seriously. I got rashes all over my lower legs and got very hot, red knees that were stinging and painful. Sadly, that seems to have passed. I occasionally get it with handwashing...

3) I am, in some form, a ruminant. By that I do not actually mean that I provide the cud, but that I have more than one stomach. In fact, I have four, just like the cattle. Mine are for: 1) nuts; 2) chips (and by that I mean proper chips, fish & chips chips, not crisps or, even to some extent, french fries); 3) cheese and 4) all other forms of food.

4) In complete diametric contrast to my dear friend Dr A, there is not a sport about which I cannot find myself overexcited. If you could see my internal workings, you would be terrified about my preparations for the Superbowl. I am truly going to give myself a stroke through the excitement. And that's only until March Madness starts. Which is until the start of the cricket season. And the Cricket World Cup. And the FA Cup. And then the baseball... ye gods.*

5) My biggest fear... well, I occasionally get panic attacks about all sorts of ridiculous things - the advent of the age of robots taking over, given the size of the new ipod shuffle - but my biggest fear, on a regular basis, is falling over. I don't know if it's due to falls that have hurt members of the family, or because I have somewhat vulnerable (fake teeth, no dental insurance...). But what really terrifies me is falling over. I am seriously thinking about getting walking poles for snowy weather. Also, like Samantha in SATC, falling into the basement storage things that shops have here - terrified!

Right, that's enough embarrassment... you're IT now Banana, Portax, Bob, and maybe even the brust and my dearest beloved - about time you started up again!

* Of course, things involving cars do not count as sport, in my (and any right-thinking person's) mind.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Last night the rather extraordinarily fabulous Helen Mirren won yet another award for The Queen. I adore Helen Mirren, and also rate Stephen Frears highly... yet have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see that movie. It's hard to explain to non-Brits why exactly I would have no interest in it... but then a friend realised that, having lived through 9/11, she had no motivation or desire to see any of the movies about it, and sort of got my point. I think. Anyway, it will be yet another year when I won't have seen all the Oscar-nominated movies. However, I am going to try to view in the next three weeks the following which are also up for Mr O: Volver, Pan's Labyrinth, and Children of Men - who can, after all, resist Clive Owen?

I also think I was unnecessarily harsh on Regular Lovers yesterday. It was not a stunning movie, or one I hugely enjoyed, but it has been thought-provoking, particularly regarding my capacity to enjoy non-conventional, loose narrative film-making. It again is one of those questions of admiration and respect for artistic form and technique, versus emotional reaction and enjoyment, or otherwise. I think it's also important to be taken out of your comfort zone when it comes to viewing, and that is definitely what the film did for me.

I have fallen horribly behind with my reading of non-school words... must catch up, having been at a lovely brunch yesterday which made me realise how horribly ill-read I am. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Critical Eye...

This is a remarkable week of cultural learning and awareness for yours truly. I was going to devote probably a post each to a couple of these, then realised that would be boring ramblings. This will keep me down to a minimum.

First up, on Tuesday we saw The Departed. It was very, very good. However, I think with the hype, the Oscar nominations, I was expecting a little more. More what, you may yell? Leonardo di Caprio was astonishing, absolutely amazing; Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg also incredible (I am becoming huge fans of both of them), and Matt Damon played an unsympathetic (in my opinion) character well. Matt Damon's character is one of my biggest grumbles, though - how can we have a 2.5hr film with so little character development? Maybe that was intentional - despite his being undercover, anonymous, non-existent, we find out most about di Caprio's Billy Costigan. Nonetheless, I felt cheated - clearly there were ambitions that Sullivan had, hence needing to always see the State House - why don't we know about that? What he was aiming for? There were hints but not anything more than that... Again, maybe deliberate. Still... It was very, very good. These are grumbles - it was fabulous. PLUS the best thing about it was this notice to remind you to turn off your mobile phone to avoid ruining the movie. Thanks to whoever recorded it on their phone!

On Friday, we then had the unexpected pleasure of going to see Bebop Lives! at Jazz at Lincoln Center. We have friends who work there, and have been meaning to go for yonks, but finally did it. I am not a jazz fan, in general: I tend to admire the technical skills, but it leaves me emotionally unmoved. Therefore I was apprehensive, but I felt it was a real turning point for me, for several reasons. First, I really started to appreciate it as a form of dance music - you could genuinely get up and shake your thing to it! Second, the trumpet - it's an amazing, amazing thing and the guy who played was remarkably good. Third, the singing - there was an incredible Italian woman singing and I started to understand that scat, in jazz, is a way of playing, messing around with the music and was in fact funny. Weird. I'm not saying I'm going to get myself a rollneck, black beret and start smoking gauloises... but more amenable to it, definitely.

Then yesterday, we went to see what can be described as a rather long film on the 1968 Paris Revolution. Regular Lovers was, as my beloved put it, a great 1.5hr film trapped in a 3hr rather pretentious body. In places it was extraordinarily funny, and the stillness, inaction and inertia of the people supposedly on fire for the revolution was telling. Nonetheless, I think Garrel could have told us that in under two hours, to be honest. Still, everyone was very pretty (apart from one poor unfortunate guy whose forehead was roughly the size of Mars) and it looked incredible. Phillip French described it as a rather tiresome affair . . . redeemed only by veteran cinematographer William Lubtchansky's outstanding high-contrast black-and-white images. I think there were moments of ingenuity, but IT WAS JUST TOO LONG. And I've seen Atarnajuat.

Still, it was a great opportunity to hang out with wonderful friends and ponder the various questions the movie raised - not least what period the allegories in strange 18th/19th costume were referring to - and eat moules afterwards. That was great. I love me some moules. It also brought about some blitz spirit, particularly for those who realised they needed a bathroom trip early on... and had to wait. And wait. And wait. Some people left, they couldn't stick it out. Not us. Not us. We stay to the end - no matter what.

Friday, January 26, 2007


...-riday and -reezing.

Today is a GLORIOUS day if you look out the window at South Ferry. The sky is blue, the sun is shining - it's one of those days that should make you feel glad to be alive, and want to share the joy with someone else. The only slight problem is that it is, with wind chill, -6F (which, for my European friends, is -20C). Therefore, to face the outside world I am wearing: socks; fat face socks (which are the warmest, softest and nicest socks in the world); boots; silk long johns (thanks Mum!); trousers; thermal t-shirt (Carolyn, thanks to you!); woollen jumper; second woollen jumper; wool coat; silk thermal glove liners (again, Mum you rock); and, cashmere-lined leather gloves (my favourite Christmas present from my beloved).

However, this weather is the type of weather that brings out the midwestern/upstater in EVERY New Yorker.

"This is nothing - I used to live in Iowa/Illinois/Indiana and that was cold. This is NOTHING."

"I went to school in Buffalo/Rochester/Des Moines and school/work/outdoor swimming was NEVER cancelled for snow."

"It was ILLEGAL for us to leave the house some days because it was so cold."

You get the idea. I personally have never lived anywhere this cold and don't intend to do so for the rest of my life. Incidentally, it's currently 51F in Barcelona, 81F in San Jose and even 41F in London. Everywhere else I have lived understands CIVILISED temperatures.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Spare a moment...

... for the poor, humble New York firm-based lawyer. As of next year, they will be, at most of the big firms, paid $160,000 base salary. That obviously doesn't include the bonus...

Those poor, poor folks.

Anyway, this is a pledge that if my firm follows, and then offers me a full-time job, and I accept (many ifs there, but you get the idea) I will give that extra cash to charity / debt repayment (on top of my already hefty repayments, not instead of) only. No shoes, nothing. It'll be split equally.

There are some who think that, given the hours and debt law students are in (average graduate of FLS = $98k) that this is fair recompense. On the other hand, given the average NYC family has an income of around $30k, and that $145k (the previous base) puts you in the top 0.36% of the world in the global wealth calculator (160k in the 0.27%), I think it's fair to see this as a windfall that could be spread around some of NYC's more deserving communities. So it'll go to a local charity.

Justice at work, friends.

Monday, January 22, 2007

And she's gone, Daddy gone...

I think I may be beyond hope. When the Colts scored their winning touchdown last night, I jumped up and down with excitement. I love gridiron. This is disturbing. I'm becoming completely yankified... help me!

Still, this is NOT going to be happening any time soon... not even for cricket. And the least that couple could have done is named their kid Rex after the winning QB...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Today has not been a good day. I had a fabulous Saturday, but Sundays... not so hot. I have had stomachache since waking up, I had to footnote (a good article, on denial of asylum to unmarried partners of victims of forced sterilization or abortion in China, but I hate footnoting), we lost at football and I had to read what is possibly one of the worst things I have ever read. Not worst as in quality, but as in disturbing, appalling and infuriating. If you feel, at any point in your life, as if things couldn't get worse, that your life is dreadful, I suggest reading Policy Paralysis by HRW.

Preachy stuff over. Watch this instead (as Mr C pointed out, "the most genius 3 seconds of television ever").

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I am so tired this week that my eyelids feel heavy, constantly . This week I have been a bad partner - grumpy, home later than advised twice - and a crappy student - underprepared, missing class - and a bad intern - shocking memo written. All in all, it's not been the best of grace.

I have, however, hopefully, learned how to use my webcam. I have also tried very hard not to grumble about the sudden cold that has swept across New York, although as I'll be at South Ferry tomorrow which is at least 10F colder than the rest of the island (in my opinion, anyway) and windy, that may change. I have also paid all outstanding bills and spoken to friends in Costa Rica. And tonight I shall make txatka... yummy! (although, admittedly, it sounds utterly, utterly gross)

Have I mentioned how the German Chocolate Buttercup Bake Shop Cupcake is THE PERFECT CUPCAKE?

Well, it is.

Monday, January 15, 2007


someone remove the maltesers from the fridge.


they're TAUNTING me.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Running and Passing

This week has truly flown by. I have to force myself to recollect that this time last week I was on a plane between London and NYC. It's been extraordinarily busy. I started interning (doing amazing research); I started classes; I somewhere in-between managed to celebrate, several times, my dearly beloved's birthday (who, by the way, says hello). I only managed to do my knee exercises a couple of times but, as TOH says, we start the serious living - financial and cholesterol frugality - starts post-birthday celebrations. So here we go...

In other news, this week I have:

1) Got annoyed but also amused at the ridiculousness of this man - it really is utterly unsurprising that someone associated with this Administration would not only want to deny the Gitmo detainees any legal process, but decent representation. I bloody well hope this backfires. Not sure how, but still.

2) Been astounded at the high level of coverage David Beckham's move to the US has received here. It is extraordinary... he was on the front of almost every paper I saw... bizarre. Very bizarre.

3) Barely watched any tv. It's so strange. So strange.

4) Seriously enjoyed my SI subscription. It's such a well-written magazine, although its football coverage reminds me of how... "wrong" the U.S. sports vernacular sounds to my ears when it comes to footie. It's just not a head-goal, you don't kick a goal...

5) Spoken Spanish, seriously, for the first time in ages with a very patient friend.

6) Not slept enough.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

You don't know how lucky you are, boy

Back, in one piece.

Just about.

Pluses: Am now utterly obsessed with the TV programme Extras, which, it turns out, is genius. Who knew? Seattle just beat Dallas, huzzah. Apparently have a Glamour subscription. Fabulous! Plus new Sports Illustrated to read. Yummy.

Minuses: Headache. Jetlag weirdness. Had to lug the luggage (see where that comes from eh? Etymology is BRILL) up the stairs. No kittens.

No kittens.

It's just wrong.

Friday, January 05, 2007

the long goodbye

It's Friday night and having just cooked up a storm, I'm faced with the rather daunting task of packing all my rubbish up and heading back to the US of A.

This is always a bittersweet occasion for me. I'm looking forward to so much about this semester--new internship, courses I'm genuinely excited about taking, seeing my friends, having more fun than last semester... and yet, and yet... I don't want to have to do it. I'm back in my split mind and heart again... which does indeed provoke many ellipses. It's not been an easy trip in that I've not really got much rest and I had to work for the first few days of it; nor have I seen everyone with whom I wanted to spend my time, which leaves me feeling guilty and sorrowful. Yet my time home has been excellent--not enough but lots of time with my mum, my dad, my kittens!!!! Lots of time spent reading, learning how to knit (yeah baby windupbird THAT'S the shizzle!) and, today, shopping on the high street. Oh, high street, how I have missed you so. Hence NYR 11: I seem to have fallen short on the old "going out top" option and therefore need to get my low-cutness and sparkles on. New Look, I salute you!

So here's hoping to finishing before midnight and to being up bright and early tomorrow and NOT fighting with my mum because I'm tired and grumpy about going, and to a quick passage through immigration... and to fireworks and bonfires, the evidence of which you can see here from our 2nd January shenanigans...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Never Can Say Goodbye

This holiday home has shown the two sides to nostalgia. One, indicating that going back to something is a really, really, really, really, REALLY bad idea and it should never be done because you cannot regain the glories of the past. The other showing that what is genuine class cannot be lost and in fact should be revisited.

What rubbish am I spouting forth? I watched two old tv shows that particularly brought this to mind. First, on my return to London I watched (too much of) Robin of Sherwood, the old itv series. The first two episodes of the Jason Connery era. Holy macaroni they were DREADFUL. DREADFUL. Despite the presence of the everlovely Clive Mantle and everyone's favourite cockney psychopath Ray Winstone.* IT WAS BLOODY AWFUL.

Fear was in my heart for my second viewing. This Life was, as I may have mentioned, somewhat pivotal in my teenage years. I watched This Life +10 and it was fantastic. Anna was still Anna--quick-tongued and witty, infuriating, spiteful, impetuous--my total heroine, still. Miles, despite his TRULY OFFENSIVE HAIR** was utterly glorious--snide, cocky, with a lovely voice and buckets of sex appeal. I was reminded of just how bloody awful Egg was; I never understood why people liked Egg. He was awful: selfish, philandering, unpleasant... ugh. It was not perfect, of course, but the original show wasn't. Instead it was as the original--quick, realistic, uncomfortable. I thought it was excellent. Goes to show that sometimes it is worth going back...***

*Who, incidentally, is apparently unrecognisable and wonderful in Cold Mountain. That may actually be a reason to see it, but I remain unconvinced as of yet.

**You should all count yourselves bloody lucky that I couldn't find a photo of it. Instead you get him from Pirates II, where he's all dirty.

***NB this does NOT apply to Pump Up The Volume which may be the WORST MOVIE EVER MADE.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And I'm Feeling Good...

Unsurprisingly, this is going to be a self-indulgent post about my NYR. Because I can, that's why.

I resolve many things, some of which are unsuitable for publication, but here are mein others:

1) Get thee to a cinema! My cinematic trips have been somewhat scarce in the past year, but I plan to go more often. And, while there, resist the popcorn. It does disgusting things to your arteries and it makes what is a fairly expensive night (given it tends to involve my beloved and moi) more so.

2) Control my televisual watching. Not that I plan to watch less--not with Doctor Who's second series about to come to a climax on U.S. tv, or the final ever series of Scrubs about, but perhaps to watch less Trinny and Susannah and maybe less... ahem... Charmed. Although we all need guilty pleasures. Maybe I should choose slightly less... crap ones.

3) Do my knee exercises! I finally saw a doctor about my ongoing problems with the knee, and what am I doing about it? Sweet FA. Of course. Hence exercising.


5) Knit. This ties in with 2) because I am going to make myself scarves while watching tv that I actually like. Mark is threatening to start whittling wood. As long as it doesn't stop me hearing the irritating pointless self-indulgent crap that passes for conversation between Meredith and Derek in Grey's... oh no, wait, that would be grand. As long as it's not while Christina's on the screen. Or Alex. I have a new-found love for Alex. I hope he and Izzie end up together again.

6) Walk from 96th to school, and the return trip, at least once a week. Sounds easy, non? Seeing as I failed ONCE to walk in the park at lunchtime, with my school all of two blocks away, I'm not counting on this being easy.

7) Eat meat only when I truly want to and, preferably, when it's good, nice, free range meat. I am feeling newly carnivorous guilt, plus hefty and sleepy after meals. I also feel limited and held back, bizarrely, by eating meat; it's as if I'm lazier with food choices now I have a wider range of things I can eat.

8) Cook more. I'm an ok-ish cook, in that I can follow a recipe jolly well indeed. I know my limits. But I am darned good at recipe-following and I should do so. My dad started cooking one new recipe a week, and I think that's what, hopefully, my household will be doing next year.

9) Find an American radio station I like (for music) or, if I can't manage that, at least listen to British ones for a while every week so that I am not completely musically ignorant. 2006 was a very dry year for me after the glut of tunes from 2005. Must get back...

10) Get to bed before midnight several nights a week instead of none. And manage to keep up with the Daily Show while I do it. Hmm. Now we're all caught up with Scrubs that might be easier...

huzzah. NYR purged. Updates (ahem) will flow forth, no doubt...

After that self-promotion, here is a pic of the fab lights at Newstead Road, Lee, South London, which every year gives donations from the public to charity. It is impossible to capture the splendour of the lights, but here's a taster.

Finally, here are the kittens with the ginge, our other cat. I cannot express, tragically enough, just how much joy they have created for our family this Christmas. They are glorious. I love them so. Leaving them is going to be a true wrench.