Bonjour, nouvelle année

It’s week 4 of 2014 and I came to the realization recently that this is the first year in a while that I do not already have vacation plans set. Last year when 2013 started I had a flight to London firmly booked and plans in motion for the Eurotrip I did last fall. In 2012, my girl friends and I were set to go to Costa Rica. In 2011, well, I was just fresh off studying abroad so I didn’t necessarily have plans per se going into the year, but I ended up going to the Philippines for half a month in the summer so that was something. But nope, this year I have nothing. (Mind you, a long time ago I set the goal of going to Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Alas, I fear I do not have the funds nor the traveling companions to do so, so I’ve unfortunately let the plan go.) Strangely enough, I feel completely fine about it. It’s kind of a relief to go into a year with nothing major planned. No trips, no weddings to stand up in, nothing. I feel I’m free to spend my money now however which way I want to (which I guess means thinking of more spontaneous trips to go on! LOL). Or, rather, I can now take the time to rein my spending in and really figure out what to do with my big-girl money, because it’s been three years since graduating college and I should probably slow down on the “I’m young wild and free” mentality. Right?

So what have I been doing with my time? For one thing, I’ve been slowly putting up grown up decor around my room to make it seem less like a 12-year-old’s (my boyfriend had been making fun of me for having a poster of the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney movie hanging on my wall). I’ve now got a couple of souvenir prints of Barcelona and Paris up, and a calendar from Paris also hanging. Funny how much in love with Paris I am now, and how much I don’t really admit it to people. Everyone knows me as the Anglophile and that London is sometimes my favorite city in the whole world (it alternates with Chicago, of course). And everyone knows that Anglophiles are not into the romantic French thing like most girls are. For most of my life London was my ideal city, not Paris. I did not like French food, pop culture, the language, the history. And then I went there and secretly fell madly, deeply in love. It just truly is a magical city! I loved London and all last year, it was exactly what I thought it would be, but man oh man Paris just felt more alive when I was there. I blame this wholeheartedly on the fact that the Seine > the Thames. That has to be it.

I’ve also been catching up on my reading. Finally started on Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I’m loving it so far. It’s really the first book I’ve read that truly intersects the multiple facets of race and immigration. It’s not just about black people and white people. There’s black Americans and blacks from the Caribbean and the “authentic” Africans. And it’s not just about immigrants in America. I love how it offers a comparison of immigrating to America versus to the U.K. All that good stuff.

Man, I should probably stop gushing and just finish reading the book.

London calling

In less than 24 hours, I will (hopefully, if there aren’t any pesky delays) be on a plane headed for London. All by myself.

I will venture onto the Tube and head to my hostel. All by myself.

I will wander around the city, look for food, do touristy things. All by myself.

My parents don’t really know this. I have a good friend who lives in England, but as she is a busy flight attendant I’m not sure she’d have time to come see me. So all in all, I will be by myself. I’m scared, terrified, excited, and so ready at the same time.

Some people understand and are excited for me. Some people don’t get it. Who knows.

But as is my nature, I have less than 24 hours to go until lift off. I’m barely packed, my hair is wet, and I am not as prepared as I’d like to be.

Fuck alla that. I’m going to bed!

Signs I am getting old

I went on a Groupon-searching spree tonight. I never had much interest in the site until recently, and today I went digging for…facial and massage services. I know, it’s not that big a deal, but as someone who’d always prided herself on NOT needing “that fancy crap” I’m slowly eating my words now. I haven’t bought any Groupons yet, but there’s a couple of nice $35 deals I have my eyes on that I will likely buy come Friday. I’m trying really hard to keep my body in better shape and condition (not just fitness-wise, but healthy-wise mentally and physically and all that jazz), so I’ll just have to suck it up and start going to these things like a normal grown woman should.

Other signs I’m getting old? Well today I started really planning out my London trip—namely, looking for places to stay. I found a nice chain of hostels and have been debating between staying in the more “party” hostel or the quieter female-only one. Oh, what the heck, I’m not really debating because I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with female-only hostel. It just sounds safer, and since I will likely be sojourning solo, safer sounds a lot better than more fun. Scary thing is, I know the me from 2.5 years ago would be like, “What are you THINKIN’?!” and the present me just wants to flick her off. I don’t want to end up like those girls in Taken-esque movies!

Sign #3 I’m getting old: I started browsing Macys.com for bridesmaids dresses. My cousin is getting married in a year, and she put me in semi-charge. So I did my duty tonight and started browsing. I’m practically salivating at the sight of so many pretty dresses. I hope more of my friends start getting married soon because this is fun!

London calling

Wow. No idea how it is I let more than a month slip by like that. Makes me feel like November was quite exciting when in fact, it was…well, maybe it was.

Thinking about it, I was stressed out a lot in October. So I drank a lot to counter it. Not a good thing, I know, but it was always with friends at least, and during social situations. Although the time I threw up in my kitchen after a girls’ night in my basement did make me really reconsider my consumption habits. But any rate, after Halloween I was determined to A.) Stop drinking so much, and B.) Stop wasting gas and money driving to the city all the time. And it worked…for about 3.5 weeks. During that time I finally read This Is How You Lose Her and re-watched all my favorite Colin Firth movies (mainly Bridget Jones and The King’s Speech—oh, and Girl With A Pearl Earring!). I also started on NW by Zadie Smith and did some housecleaning.

Perhaps the biggest news I have to share from November is that I’m finally, actually, really going to London! (Yes, that sentence warranted some serious bolding and italicizing.) The decision was, mainly, spontaneous. I was surfing travel websites as usual and came across some decent $824 round-trip fares in March. Thought, why the heck not? So I booked. Four nights in the city I have dreamt about going to (with a passion) since high school. At the moment I’m going completely alone, since I cannot seem to find friends who have the money and desire to go with me. They either don’t have the money and want to go, or do have the money but don’t want to go. What a dilemma. But I don’t mind going alone. I’m seeing this trip as a complete and total solo adventure.

I also haven’t told my parents about this trip yet. Pretty sure my father would have a heart attack if I told him I was going to a foreign city all by myself for a few days—for fun. It was different when I flew into Manchester for work. This time…I have no plan. Hence, I kind of do want to find a traveling companion. If only to alleviate the pain of the lectures I’m sure to get once I share the news with my parents.

Only…four more months! Aahhhhhhh.

No points for you, NBC!

So the 2012 Summer Olympics opened today in London, as I’m sure all the world knows. I’m sure that more than a billion people saw the whole thing live, as the Queen of England and James Bond parachuted out of a helicopter and J.K. Rowling read a passage from Peter Pan and Paul McCartney blared out my favorite Beatles song ever, “Hey Jude.”

I’m also sure that none of those people watching it live were American or in America. At least, not through legal means. And yes I’m staring at you, NBC.

I was a little miffed to learn today that NBC had refused to air (or even stream online) the opening ceremonies live because it wanted to monopolize the event for its primetime broadcast. I mean, why are you going to pretend this giant event is NOT happening at the same exact time, 6 hours across the pond, they are going on? It’s bad enough everyone else thinks Americans are ignorant, arrogant fools who don’t know anything about the world they live in. Now you have to make it actually seem true? Seriously, it amazes me how many people I talked to today legit thought the Olympics started at 7:30pm CT. At 3pm on the dot today I promptly scoured the Internet for update feeds on the opening ceremonies. I read every tweet as the show unfolded. When I shared its highlights with friends or co-workers, the response was largely the same: “WAIT, WHAT?? BUT I THOUGHT THAT WAS TONIGHT!!”

Really? You thought the 2012 Olympic Games in London were going to start at the time that NBC had designated for its American viewers? Never mind the fact that they operate in a completely different time zone?

As it was, I managed to find some live streams of the BBC coverage online when I came home from work. And then later tonight when NBC aired its edited, time-delayed version, I did some quick comparisons. There were a few things I found disturbing:

  • Because they obviously had had the chance to edit up the show before airing it, NBC’s coverage of the Parade of Nations was pitiful. They basically skipped over the marches of lesser known countries or cut quickly to commercials as they came out. In contrast, the BBC coverage was live (duh) and therefore didn’t cut short the appearances of smaller countries, and sufficient commentary was given for each delegation of athletes (or at least, as sufficient as it could be). Most of NBC’s airtime was given to the U.S. delegation, which is of course to be expected. No equality whatsoever. I understand that NBC covers the highly coveted U.S. market, but there needs to be a change in how they present the Olympics. There needs to be less “Hey, here’s another chance for us to bully the world around because we’re the U.S. and we can!” and more “Here’s a chance for us to be a part of this truly global event with our fellow nations!”
  • Saudi Arabia is sending female athletes for the very first time, and in the NBC show they mentioned it very briefly and then moved on. In contrast, on BBC they actually cut to closeup shots of the Saudi women. This very occasion, the fact that every national delegation is sending at least one female athlete to the Olympics for the very first time, is so momentous and yet NBC treats it as a sidenote.
  • When Sudan marched across, NBC again mentioned briefly of the known troubles the country has experienced in recent times. But absolutely no mention of South Sudan or the fact that the world’s newest country doesn’t have an Olympic committee yet so its only athlete is running independently since he refuses to run for Sudan. Granted, I wasn’t able to watch the entireties of either broadcast, so I could be wrong on NBC’s part, but they still didn’t mention anything of the sort when Sudan made its appearance.
  • Bob Costas trying to explain why Great Britain, a nation known for its obsession with the sport, was fielding a soccer team for the very first time in years was just pitiful. I don’t even remember what facts he garbled up; all I know is that NBC sucked even more by showing its ignorance of the world’s most popular sport. This is why I love ABC/ESPN so much more when it comes to sports broadcasting (for goodness sake, ESPN at least airs World Cup/Euro/insert-international-tournament-here matches in real time!!). It’s so simple: in international soccer (FIFA territory), the four countries of the U.K.—England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland—field separate national teams and always have. But in the Olympics, there is only one Great Britain Olympic committee and hence, team. Undoubtedly, there has never been a need to field a GB soccer team because soccer at the Olympics doesn’t even matter anyway (at least for men). In fact, the British team that’s come together for the Olympics was really only specially created for these London Games, and each country had to be assured that their independent associations were still valid for FIFA play. Take THAT, NBC.

I love the Olympics and look forward to watching it. Just not on NBC.