Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's the end of the world as we know it...

We have entered the final week of term, and suddenly the campus grounds have lost their students! Like cicadas in reverse, they seem to spend 7 weeks migrating from one all-night dance party to another, only to burrow into the ground for a week writing all of those papers they were meant to write months ago.

When the clock strikes midnight on Thursday here (Thursday being the first day of the school week, and just try getting used to that), students suddenly peel off the uber-miniskirts (we're talkin' shorter than undergarments sometimes), fling the bangles and hair gel aside, and rush out to find the articles on their reading lists. Then they clog the arteries of the library until the hallways become impassable clots of books and bodies. If you are a mildly disgruntled graduate student who's seen more of the library than of her own room in the last three months, this can be a source of great frustration that may cause you to boot the arse of the next inebriated slacker you encounter.

Suddenly, one's favorite study spot has become THE study spot -- but these undergraduates know how to have the best of both worlds. A vast quantity of them seem to study while hung over (or possibly still intoxicated, depending upon their level of commitment). It's become common for me to enter my favorite cafe with an armful of books, only to find sickly pale couples draped across the couches in various stages of dress. Most of them look quite distressed, perhaps because the only hangover food here consists of local delicacies like egg mayonnaise and Marmite (a vile, molasses-like brown substance that tastes like a salt lick and smells like fermented yeast). These students generally don't respond to requests that they crack open their books or leave to die somewhere away from my tea and biscuit; instead, they languish in the room groaning about how behind they've fallen, and texting friends to find out when the next pub crawl begins.

It's sort of like Greek Row, only far more professional. I'm pretty sure that most students here actually pass their exams, although rumor has it that you technically could fail everything and still graduate. Your liver may not survive past 24, but at least you'd have some sort of degree. But the drinking...I'm an amateur here, as I've mentioned before: a few pints and I'm apparently telling stories to friends that leave them longing to make me drink more often. I don't know how anyone develops such an astounding tolerance, but it's a considerable disadvantage for those of us from stodgy countries who don't let 18 year-olds near alcohol.

Alas, it's late and I must go. If I get up early enough, I've noticed that I can still snag the couch before the late-night crowd staggers in for coffee. I think I actually preferred it when they didn't feel obliged to work and just spent all day in bed.

Uppity women of the universe, unite!

Shakespeare's Sister already won my heart, but this lovely lady may hold the key to my wry, feminist, avowedly political writer's soul.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lost in translation

In two weeks, I'll be home - a cause for both joy and panic, as I have far too much to accomplish before then...Consequently, the quality of the posts may drop for a bit - I just discovered that the world's bloody "best" university doesn't have a single periodical I need. But hey, the University of Northern Arizona does! Fantastic! I just have to hop a quick flight to...whatever's in northern Arizona...I'm sure the officials here will understand when I submit my expenses.

Big changes are on the horizon; I learned about them on Friday and am slowly but comfortably letting them settle in for the winter.

We had our pseudo-Thanksgiving on Saturday. Originally, the plan involved grabbing fresh, authentic sushi (a rare treasure here) and going to see Harry Potter. However, for a town typically comatose by 4pm on Sundays, Cambridge is a happenin' place come Saturday nights. The sushi joint was full, and our second choice couldn't offer a table until 10:30pm (a lovely Italian restaurant nestled onto the quaintest of British back streets). So, off we went for a pint and a platter of fish and chips at the nearby pub, aka, the World's Most Representative British Pub. Want mimeographs of long-dead British lords? Check. Want a crackling fire and a hearth lined with old plates and candlesticks? Check.

Pub food is fantastic and completely underrated. For about six quid a head, you purchase vast quantities of lightly breaded fish, chips saturated with malt vinegar (I recommend at least 1/3 of a bottle), and Britain's best dessert: sticky toffee pudding. The temptation to forego silverware and dive in with both hands is almost too strong to resist, especially when they bring out the pudding, drenched in custard and just oozing sticky, chewy goodness...It's warm, moist and the best thing you could imagine on a night when the windowpanes are edged with frost. throw in a Cider and Black (hard cider with blackcurrant flavoring), or a pint of Explorer, and you're set for the night. If any of you ever come out this way, I'll be sure to take you along for a pub visit.

I even managed to pass for British - in typical me fashion, I managed to knock into a few local patrons as I maneuvered my drink upstairs to the loft. Whenever you do anything here that could cause offense and doesn't, "cheers" is the standard response to an entire gamut, from cutting someone off on the sidewalk to accidentally running them through with sharp implements). Okay, now try saying it the British way: "Chairs" -- except swallow your "r" and drag the "ai" part out, so it's half-Boston, half-British. If you feel like you're swallowing your tongue and talking through your nose at the same time, you're on the right track.

Anyway, everyone uses "cheers" here...except Americans, because we sound like absolute idiots either way we say it. If you say "cheers" like the television show, you just sound like an ignorant twat. If you say it the British way, you sound even dumber because everything else you say is twattish. Try saying "water" here sometime, and watch your friends roll in the streets.

Thus, the only way to use "cheers" is in a context where you don't have to say anything else at all -- like when you knock into someone with a glass of Cider and Black, which is fuschia colored and not the nicest thing to spill. If you manage to avoid splashing their shoes, and they avoid walloping you, smile quickly and slip in an apologetic "cheers." In this case, "cheers" translates into: "I'm sorry that I'm a daft bloody bugger who traipses into your local pub, orders the girliest drink on the menu, and promptly sends half of it onto your person. If you don't kill me when I turn my back, I'll be eternally grateful and will ensure that our paths never cross again."

English: the universal language...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The room, it spins...

Oh dear lord, what time is it??? What time do I have to meet my supervisor tomorrow??? How many "cider and blacks" have I had???

Augh! Happy blurry Thanksgiving, everyone, from an American who's learned to love the British system, drunks and all...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Counting those blessings

(Freewrite here, so sorry if it's a bit long-winded.)

It’s growing colder here and the last leaves on the trees are finally turning brittle and drifting down to the ground. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which, coincidentally, also marks the start of the final week of the term here.

The last 8 weeks have flown, possibly even faster than the time preceding our departure. I’ve lost track of the whens and whos; it’s become a blur of flash photos snapped in a dark room, frozen images of dwindling afternoons in libraries, of late-night port sessions with flatmates, of jarring shifts between highs and lows. This term precipitated more soul-searching than I ever thought possible. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve actually managed to step outside myself; I’m changing, and if I could only identify in what way, I’d know how to feel about it.

They say that women hit a quarter-life crisis sometimes, and that’s probably the case for me. I don’t really mind, although it does lead to more than its share of illogical panic attacks when you’re perched at the edge of your chair frantically typing a report only to realize that you don’t really know why you’re writing it.

The thankful list is extensive this year, and again, it’s all images. I wish I’d had a camera with me documenting every moment of the year, from dress fitting to scholarship interviews to that long carriage ride when we took nothing with us but our present selves. So, I’m thankful that I have a best friend who could cry on my shoulder as we walked out of that cramped dressing room together before the ceremony began. I’m thankful for the friends who remain close despite the miles from here to Seattle, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Stanford and Boston. I’m thankful for having the bravest, steadfast, compassionate husband I could have conjured up, the one who reminds me that I’ll have company on every wayward step of this journey I’m taking. I’m grateful beyond words for my quirky, irreverent, occasionally embarrassing and always loyal family. They above all made me what I am, and I can’t imagine being able to repay the debt.

I’m even thankful for graduate school, for the unexpected lessons it is teaching me about who I am and what matters enough to be worth scrapping and clawing for.

There’s a gorgeous lyric to a Bright Eyes song that I’ve quoted before, but it’s worth mentioning again…”I’m saying nothing in the past or future ever will feel like today.” Today may not always feel good, but it will always be different, unexpected, and beautiful in its raw, unfinished presentation. That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Writing junkie

Just spent two hours on my biosensor story, after an hour or so last night...I can't believe how happy I am. It's really fascinating to take on the challenge of writing something intelligible about an incredibly complex scientific program. I rather enjoy it, although I have to say that having a smart, scientifically savvy husband around to clarify technical terms helps.

There's a science-specific journal here that comes out each term. I'm hoping to have a piece in it, as long as I can figure out what to write! Too much going on here to keep your finger on the collective pulse...but hey, even though I just burned three hours of potential thesis time, I'm pretty content. Once again, clearly there is something wrong with me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Couldn't have put it better

I'm cribbing from someone else's humor tonight - I have to write a news article on biosensor research! This should be interesting, as I have no idea what the word "biosensor" means! Perhaps if I puncutate every sentence in the article with an exclamation point, people will be too excited to care!

In an episode of sheer masochism, I've badgered the student papers to let me write for them. I must say, it's a bit of a different world here. I've been admonished not to succomb to "feature writing," which they apparently equate to the piddling drivel that comes out of the Sun and the Daily Mirror. Here's how they view features:

Features writing is entirely different from news, and can sometimes allow more creativity. It can be tempting, especially as students, to show off our literary flair. However, reporters in news must resist this temptation – a flair for news can be achieved in other ways!

“We’ve all done it – you’re close to an essay deadline, and Ask Jeeves has the perfect solution. A quick download and you’ve found out exactly what caused the French Revolution. But your copying days might be numbered.”

Instead, what would be more suitable would be, “A new report published this week has urged universities to crack down on plagiarists.”

It can be tempting, especially as journalists, not to BORE our readers to death. Maybe that's a watered-down, American preference. Actually, given the food and the weather here, I'm starting to suspect that British people take undue delight in personal suffering.

Seriously, though. How are you supposed to simplify an article that involves the phrases "peptide aptamers" and "polycrystalline silicon thin film transistors"? I really wanted the story about digging up long-dead champion racehorses to analyze their DNA, but I had to settle for the table scraps that remained after all the veteran reporters gobbled the rest.

Oh, yes, the humor to which I said I'd refer you. Here it is! Anyone who's lived in England will really appreciate it, particularly the bits about roundabouts, brusque waitresses and "zed," which is the letter z. I'm not kidding. It is not called "z" here; it is called zed, and if you make the mistake of calling it z, you will be the subject of much eye-rolling and half-muttered, "Americans." The same thing happens when you ask for the check at dinner. Trust me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

This just in

See? The Catholic Church really isn't just a bunch of geriatric nutcases. Some of us still understand that evolution isn't just a silly idea concocted to indoctrinate us all into the Dark Arts. Please, click the link and read the article -- it will make me feel slightly happier about my religion's reputation.

If they'd just let Jesuits take over the Vatican, I'm pretty sure the world would be a better place.

Can't see the forest for the trees

I have this post about UK traffic percolating in the back of my mind, but I can't write now because I am 2500 words into a 4000 word paper about neoliberalism, sustainable development and forest management in Mexico and Latin America...and I must adhere to the word limit, but I have about 3000 more words to write. As a result, my brain currently is consumed by a steady stream of consciousness: "Stop writing. Stop writing. STOP! Damn it, you weren't going to take that tangent! Remember how you crossed it off the outline? So stop writing about it! I don't care if your argument hinges on it! No, don't just throw out one of your case studies! The supervisor isn't going to like that..."

And on and on it goes.

It's 11:30 over here, and I've been steadily writing since about 4pm. Think I'll take a break, go to bed, then get up to revise the last 1/3 of my outline. With any luck, I'll have a draft completed by tomorrow evening...or I'll be trying to finish my paper during my dressage lesson, which I think would only serve to confuse the horse more than I already do.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Maybe all that port eradicated my brain cells

Or maybe I've just smacked into the glass ceiling of my IQ. One of my new buds here had a "Fellini Fest" tonight. We watched 8 1/2, which she described as one of his most "accessible" films. As someone who considers herself an Epicurean of arty, semi-intelligible films -- I have a nasty reputation for being a complete movie snob, which I admit I enjoy -- I thought I'd probably muddle through it and come out enlightened.

Five minutes into it, as nuns with parasols paraded onscreen with sanitarium patients and some creepy Botoxed-type woman in a dead mink, I knew I was screwed. I felt like that one kid in English class, you know, the one who sits through Shakespeare and just keeps saying, "But what does 'doth' mean??"

"I love it!" one girl gushed as said nuns winked beguilingly at the camera. "It's a film about making a film!" She'd never seen it before, she claimed. Yeah, I bet she didn't. I bet she didn't go read the summaries online so she could come up with some innocently insightful remark like that.

Actually, she was probably telling the truth. After all, I was in a room full of Ivy League classicists, none of whom spoke less than three languages (my friend speaks seven). They probably watched Fellini while the rest of us giggled at Sesame Street. So, of course, I tried to flub through a few comments of my own. Judging by the silence, I failed. By the end, I think I'd managed to understand about 37 seconds of the entire film. The rest seemed like a chaotic jumble of weird Freudian incest issues -- although by then, I was well into my third Kir Royale, desperately hoping the fizziness would unlock parts of my brain. Alas, the film ended and the discussion began. I decided to hide on the bed and voraciously consume cheese, in the assumption that no one wants to hear from the blue-cheese breath girl.

I think I need a PBR and a Simpsons episode right about now...my little hick brain's all tuckered out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The perils of flatmates

I love my flatmates. One is probably my best UK bud (and is completely blameless for the tirade I am about to unleash); I get on well with all of them. Nevertheless, I am slowly remembering why I elected to live alone for three years of college, and I need to curb the mounting desire to post my reasons on the kitchen wall:

1. If you wait for the compost box to evolve into a sentient, bipedal creature that can walk itself to the bins outside, the smell will bloody well kill us all. I realize that you don't live next to the kitchen -- that, of course, would be my unfortunate lot in life -- but can't you hear the mold spores plotting their takeover at night?? Any day now, they're going to start an assault on the front hallway. Once that advance starts, we're doomed.

I'd continue to chuck your eggshells, pork chops, teabags and miscellaneous green fuzzy things myself, but I'd have to have my sense of smell removed first. Wanna pay for the surgery? Then we can talk about it. In the meantime, don't strike a righteous, hand-on-hip pose in front of the sink and complain about how the box stinks up the house at night. Is it not your food stinking it up? You are a student at one of the world's top universities. You are capable of picking up a small box of food scraps and carting it nine freaking feet to the door.

2. You, upstairs, the one who feels the urge to do calisthentics at 11:45 pm (and I know you have a boyfriend and that's all I want to know so for god's sake oil the damn bedsprings)...someday I am going to snap, probably during April's Hell Week when all of my papers are due on the same day, and then I'll charge upstairs at 3am with a large wooden mallet and smack the wall next to your bed until I can hear you cowering underneath the armoire. If you're going to have guests over after 11:00, they'd better learn how to levitate in midair.

Oh, and your speakers? Those new special bass boosting ones? THEY ARE EVIL INCARNATE. Please actually do something about them when I complain, instead of explaining blithely for the thousandth time that you used to have these terrible computer speakers, and now you have better ones and it's probably the bass. I KNOW IT'S THE FREAKING BASS. It permeates earplugs that are supposed to silence chainsaws cutting old-growth cedar! If your speakers "accidentally" plunge from the second story window someday, you'd better not purchase replacements.

3. One of grad school's perks is the absence of a regular daily schedule. Some of us, however, didn't receive this perk in our entry packets and have to get out of bed before the sun sets. So stop clattering about in the kitchen at 2am! Hungry? Should have thought of that before you decided not to eat a normal dinner, shouldn't you? At least suppress the urge to start blending things and mixing things and getting out giant metal cookware that you manage to knock into every blessed piece of cutlery in the room. I know some of that food in the fridge is a bit old, but if you have to throw pots and pans across the kitchen to keep it from skittering across the floor to bite your ankles, perhaps you should throw it in the bin outside. Oh, wait! No one does that, either!

4. About that fridge. It, too, has developed a...scent. This scent is now assuming a physical shape and may start demanding a bedroom of its own before too long. I have my own fridge, and my food is behaving as food should: like quiet, inanimate objects. Once again, the girl near the kitchen pleads for you to find and destroy the offending materials. Better yet, just throw out the whole fridge at this point and purchase a replacement. It will probably be easier.

5. If anyone else's boyfriend or mother (!) spits in or near the bloody sink, I am going to make the perpetrator lick it up with the sheer power of my murderous glare. Bigger men -- and mums -- than yours have quailed before it, lassies.

6. If you throw a house dinner and don't tell anyone, we won't come. If you sulk about it afterwards, we probably won't come next time, either.

And they wonder why I spend so much time hiding in my room...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Big city beauty

Just returned from an evening in London - my god, to be in a city again! I feel like I'm in Pullman here, what with the cows roaming through the college grounds and all...I just about cried when we found shops open later than 5pm. London, beautiful, mobbed, psychotic, loud, over-the-top London...The Tube trains were littered with wine bottles in paper bags, we were accosted by street hawkers selling everything from magazines to seizure-inducing sparkly necklaces, and I couldn't have been happier. I think I'm sick.

More later. For now, yet another new search leads to my blog: "stepped on a sea slug." What kind of sick person are you?? On behalf of the slugs, I must now wreak vengeance upon you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Okay. All you Northwest folks who complain because Mr. Sun disappears before 5pm? Shut up. RIGHT NOW.

Do you know what time it gets dark here? Huh?? I came out of class at 3pm and thought the cloud cover had grown thicker...but by the time I pedaled home at 3:30, I realized the sun was fricking setting. It's almost pitch-black at 4:30 now.

AUGH!! Think you have trouble keeping a tan in Seattle?

Time to curl up in a little ball on the bed and pretend that I enjoy having 16 hours of darkness every day from November until god-only-knows-when. Yep, nothin' like spending a full day in the library and never seeing the sun! Heh heh...*sob*

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ahh, fame

Here are search terms people have used to find my blog in the past week:
  • "king county bestiality" (Perversely proud to note that I'm one of only two who come up on Google for this exact phrase)
  • "balliol bop" (Oops. Not the kind of PR they want.)
  • "how to stop slugs coming in my kitchen" (And my blog is relevant because I apparently used the words "stop" "coming" and "kitchen" somewhere in the last 205 posts?)
  • "american conversation ettiquette" (Boy, I bet I messed that person up.)
  • "crapped in the hallway" (I really hope they were searching for the quote from the FEMA manager...)
Search engines. You can't always get what you want...

Puttin' the smack down

It's been a long time coming, but Snohomish County's own Jeff Sax is finally getting the boot. I haven't been this happy about a political outcome in years.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike all Republicans. I think some are incredibly intelligent, respectful people who operate with as much integrity as politicans can, even though I may disagree with everything they do. Sax, however, has been the bane of many a Snohomish County resident for too long. He's made too many questionable moves, pushed too hard for special interests at the expense of his own constituents. He paid lip service to saving farmlands but always pushed for high-growth sprawl that threatened to shove local ways of life to the curb. You know it's bad when your own fairly conservative county paper endorses the liberal candidate. Now, we finally get a breath of (semi) fresh air from the man he once defeated.

Here's hoping Dave Somers' second round proves better than his first. He seems to have learned some lessons from the past, like being sure to balance the interests of local communities against environmental regulations. I may be as green as Kermit, but even I know that you can't enact major conservation efforts without getting citizens on board or compensating them for lost land. Fingers crossed...The people have spoken -- and the electoral process is alive and well!

Monday, November 07, 2005

All at sea

In the interest of keeping this blog honest, I'm determined to post when things aren't going well, either -- at least to the extent that I can, as I'd rather not annoy any of the academic powers that be.

So, things aren't going well this week. I'm sick and my back seems to have gone out (I feel like there's something stuck in my throat, except there's not. It's lovely after a full day). Anybody know a good cure for sudden-onset exhaustion and an upset stomach? I'm pretty sure it's a virus and not psychosomatic, as I was completely fine until yesterday afternoon. I'm also feeling completely adrift personally and academically. It's official: the mid-term first-year blues have arrived with a vengeance, and I'm having trouble doing much beside sitting at my computer reading the news. I feel completely befuddled and behind, like I'm on a treadmill that never advances closer to the goal. I've been playing the Jamie Cullum song that gives this post its name, and I just keep dreaming about setting sail and leaving all of this uncertainty and frustration behind...but then reality kicks in, and I realize I'm no clearer about my future than I am about my present, and suddenly I just start to feel like a big, once-promising failure.

Hm. That's really all I can write publically, which is unfortunate. As soon as I'm in a better mood, I'll regale you with tales of Guy Fawkes Day (fun but frightening). Right now, I just keep alternating between wanting to curl up in a ball and wanting to get on the next plane to Seattle. Sigh...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Social skills R'Us

About two weeks ago, I ordered some bedding from Argos, the UK's answer to big box stores. The fabulous thing about Argos, however, is that it's more like a small box with infinite capacity: you walk into the store and stand in front of small kiosk; inside the kiosk is a catalog so bloated it could crush an elephant. You can order anything on the planet from them: pots and pans, sofas, DVD players...I'm sure that somewhere in its 1000+ pages, one can find spouses, employment and puppies. However, all I wanted were sheets and a duvet -- and there's no cheaper place to shop than Argos, apart from the nearest dumpster.

I ordered my things and paid a few extra pounds to have them shipped by the weekend so CB and I wouldn't have to huddle together under the college's lousy rented sheets. (Look, I wasn't going to pack sheets when I had to choose between them and my computer, okay? If the college rented clothing, I might have considered that, too.)

Saturday rolled around, but the sheets were MIA. On Monday, I sent Argos a nasty email, and thus began a 10-day string of back and forths:

"Dear Argos: You haven't sent my sheets yet!"
"Dear Ms.: Yes, we have."
"Dear Argos: Oh yes, you mean the invisible ones filling up my pigeonhole? How could I have missed them??"

Finally, Argos found the shipping record and let me know that one of my college's dear old porters signed for them on that first Saturday. Being sans sheets, I grew increasingly confused -- and cold, as the reason for ordering a warm duvet stemmed from the condition of my kitchen window: ajar. By "ajar," I mean gaping open about an inch at the top, thus allowing rain, spiders and strange floating clouds of fumes from the street to waft into my flat. Hence, I'm freezing all the time and terrified most of the time. (England has some BIG spiders. Big enough to wander boldly down the sidewalk in broad daylight daring you to cross their paths. They'll just keep coming straight at you until you dance sideways in a panic, causing normal people to stare at you as they wonder why you didn't just squish the little beggars. BECAUSE THEY WOULD LEAP UP MY LEG AND KILL ME, THAT'S WHY!!! It's less perilous to yield the right-of-way to the swaggering arachnids. Unlike the States, these bastards refuse to curl up and die when it gets cold. I think they just get bigger and meaner to survive the winter.)

I did ask the maintenance crew to take a look at it, and they fixed the problem by smashing it until it moved a half inch higher. Now, only the medium sized spiders can colonize my kitchen.

But I digress. The sheets, the sheets -- well, turns out that the porters did receive my parcels. They left a pick-up notice in the pigeonhole of another girl who shares my last name. Now, I've received things for her before, and the normal procedure is to walk seven feet to her cubby, place the items in it and leave. However, her normal procedure apparently is to take the slip, pick up my packages and sequester them in her room for TEN DAYS.

Upon discovering this, I became a bit irate and may have uttered a few foul phrases in front of the exceedingly good-willed, if somewhat befuddled, porters. They promised to get the parcels back by leaving her a note to request their return, but I don't trust anyone who keeps someone else's things for over a week. I promptly returned home, looked up her email and sent a cuttingly polite email asking for my unopened sheets or the 50 quid I spent on them, since I didn't buy new bedding for someone else to use!

About an hour later, it seems, a confused-looking undergraduate showed up at the porter's office with three large packages. According to my porter buddies, the exchange went as follows:

PORTER: "Can I help you?"
PORTER: "Are they yours?"
OEGWDNDTBMN: "Well...I don't think so." Looks strangely perturbed.
PORTER: "Well, did you order anything from Argos?"
PORTER: Gratingly polite. "Well, is your name on the packages?"
PORTER: "So they aren't yours, then."
BLITHERING IDIOT: "Well, I opened up the boxes to see what's in them...They're sheets." Looks at porter expectantly, as though awaiting an explanation.

By this time, the porters had grown a bit exasperated, snatched the boxes away and returned them to their rightful owner. I'm now sitting in my room with a nice duvet set on the bed. The Other Girl has yet to return my email.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Things I never anticipated doing:

Leaning out the kitchen door in my pj's and blue slippers with little sheep on them, screaming, "Do you WANT me to kick your asses?!?!" to a group of sniggering college boys who'd just plastered the side of our house with eggs. Do you know how loud it is inside when an egg smashes onto a window? DO YOU???

Gotta love Halloween. We had our weekly Formal Hall tonight (yep, you guessed it: food -- but most people come for the free port and wine). A few of us even stuck with the Halloween theme: here I am as a Desperate Housewife, complete with fire-singed mixing cup. By the way, it's probably just worth it to sacrifice your mixing cup, unless you really want to spend half an hour melting and rubbing butter along the inside, then grinding black pepper until your wrist cramps...and, of course, when that doesn't work, you dig into your precious Earl Grey and sacrifice perfectly good crushed leaves by sticking them into the butter....

Of course, no one bloody understood my costume, even after one of my Housewives-obssessed flatmates made it sound like every British person on the planet would sacrifice their firstborn rather than miss an episode. No, instead I'm told I'm not dressed for Halloween because I'm not scary. Like you need to be scary? I'll tell you what's scary: TERI HATCHER. And that's who I was, so don't give me any crap about not being scary! Bloody Brits...