Monday, September 19, 2011

Bath, England

Hello again!! I know you missed me. Or at least missed my sarcastic comments.

Don't lie. I know you’re all just looking for a break from work. Lazies.

Let’s dive right in to topic numero uno, shall we? Thom Is An Asshole. That pretty much sums it up. He offered to take me to Bristol to see some sites, but when the appointed time came (Friday, Sept 9th, 10am), he was a no-show. I texted him. He texted back that his car wouldn’t start, which was believable because it almost didn’t start when we did a pub crawl the first time we got together, so I said okay and busied myself around the B&B.

I texted him again around noon. He said that he had cycled up to the mechanic, purchased some parts, was then trying to fix his car, and that it shouldn’t take too long. I said “Ouch. Good luck!” and that was the last I heard from Thom. I refused to text him for updates anymore. He never texted or e-mailed me back. Therefore, he’s an asshole.

So I never went to Bristol, but I’m contacting a couchsurfing host in Bristol for Sep 30th to try and get a whirlwind tour before I get back on the Ireland-bound plane on Oct 1st. I’ll try and at least get a picture of a real-life Banksy street art piece, and then I’ll send it to a certain someone and be like “HAH, SUCKER! Jealous?!?” He knows who he is - though he probably doesn’t read this blog, actually. That’ll just make it all the sweeter. Teehee.

Topic Two: I Am Officially (in a very unofficial way) An Enchilada Ambassador. I know I can make some damn tasty enchiladas, so every time a host asks for an authentic Texan meal I make enchiladas and call them tex-mex amazingness. Both hosts have adopted the recipe and freaking love them. They’re all “Oh-em-gee-this-is-so-good-is-this-Mexican-please-teach-me-goddess-of-food!!” Right. Just like that. I’m working on the third host now.

Maybe I’ll branch out to something else next time. I love enchiladas and all that, but I should probably learn how to cook other things. You know, things not considered “college bum food”.

Moving on. Brits can’t believe my name isn’t short for something. Seriously, every Brit I come into contact with is like, “So, what’s Misty short for?”

I look at them blankly, “What?”

They begin to look uncomfortable, “Isn’t your name short for something?”

I usually arch my brow in that very patronizing way. You know the look. It disciplines small children and has absolutely no effect on idiots. “What would it be short for?”

They usually say, “I don’t know.”

I end with. “Me neither. My name’s just Misty.”

I know, I’m such a jerk. It’s just too funny to pass up though. Apparently my name is very, very uncommon in Britain. Except for dogs and horses. Which reminds me of a memory from third grade where we had an assignment to see who/what we were named after and I had to tell the class I was named after my grandfather’s horse. I later learned that the horse just happened to be named Misty too, but Dad thought it would be funny to tell me I was named after a horse. I still remember the humiliation . . . *Sigh* Thanks MOM AND DAD.

Anyway. For the last week of my stay with the Barnard-Weston’s, I primarily hung out with Kari, Rob, Finn, Felix, and Claudia. Arun (my age) disappeared as often as she could, and Anna was busy with her own life. They were both very nice and polite, but Arun already had other plans and Anna just wasn’t interested in hanging out with me. It’s cool. I get it.

Kari and I became really close. Or at least I like to think so. She’s a fantastic woman and I’m happy I had the chance to spend time with her. Her meticulous ways, alternative ideas, and exceptional people skills really impressed me. Besides being intelligent and fun, she’s a wonderful mother. She believes in arming her kids with a powerful weapon – knowledge. All of her children are far more mature and independent than other children their age that I know.

Rob became my temporary mentor. He aided me in figuring out what kind of career I want. I’m not saying I figured it out, but he gave me a lot of security and a lot of things to think about. There’s no way you can keep your mind closed to new ideas and ways of thinking while talking to him. He’s brimming with possibilities. If you ever feel completely apathetic toward life, just talk to Rob. He’ll get you excited about something. Honestly, I can’t thank him enough. Besides being an incredible (and ridiculously intelligent) person, he’s also an excellent adviser.

Finn became my best British buddy while I was there. We spent a lot of time chatting. He helped me make enchiladas and tried to teach me the rules of Cricket (a pointless task. Poor guy.) He also taught me an alternative way of throwing a tennis ball via a snapping motion – yeah, it’s fucking weird. But neat. I advised him on the correct pronunciation of words and introduced him to some badass American movies like Lucky Number Sleven and Snatch. Overall we had a great time hanging out. Except for when I had to threaten to beat him down. Eventually I’ll actually do it.

He still mispronounces words. These Brits are hopeless, I swear.

I really feel like I gained a second family. Kari got angry at Thom on my behalf. She also became my surrogate mother when I was wounded. I’ll tell you about that later. Felix tried to pick out men for me to date once he learned that I’m single. Thankfully he’s a badass sportsman, because he’s worthless as a matchmaker. Claudia is freaking adorable. I’m pretty sure she’s going to grow up to have men trailing behind her like lost puppies. She already has a boyfriend wrapped around her little finger and she’s 11. Obviously she has things well in hand.

I’ll stop gushing. On to topic 5: When Misty Stabbed Herself With A Knife Like A Dumbass.

This was during my Enchiladas Take Two excursion. Finn was helping while Felix and Claudia were pretending to help while actually just hanging out. About three quarters of the way through I was cutting avocados to make guacamole. I stabbed the knife into the pit of an avocado and pulled, but the knife popped out sans pit. Felix said, “Let me try!” and walked behind me to get a knife. I said, “Nah, I’ve got it” and stabbed the pit again. It didn’t work. I tried one more time. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Felix reach for the avocado in my hand. Reflexively I turned away so he didn’t get stabbed with the knife. The knife hit the avocado pit, slipped, and went STRAIGHT into my hand. Fail.

I removed the intruding knife and looked at my palm. It immediately started gushing blood. I said, “Oh.” Then I calmly put the knife down, turned, and walked to the sink to begin running water over my wound and grab a wad of paper towels. Felix was busy with the other avocado. Finn is more observant. He said, “What just happened?” I looked over my shoulder, smiled, and said, “Oh, nothing, just a cut.”

Finn walked up and I held up my hand for him to see. Then I realized that blood is all over my hand and arm like some kind of terrible 80s horror movie where vampires and vampire hunters are having a holy battle and a vampire grabs a human and rips some flesh off and . . .

Ok, so it wasn’t that crazy looking, but it was pretty crazy.

Felix noticed and started freaking out. Not really freaking out like he’s afraid or anything, but freaking out because there’s so much blood. Finn helped me collect paper towels, Felix is all “Oh my god oh my god oh my god” and I’m not sure what Claudia was doing. I was smiling and laughing at Felix and trying to calm everyone down.

Kari must have had some kind of supernatural Mommy sense tingling or something because she walked through the kitchen door right then. Between me, Finn, and Kari we got it taken care of. Eventually it stopped bleeding. I wrapped it up tight and carried on with cooking, with the help of Kari and Finn. You know, because I’m a badass. Later Kari wrapped it up in gauze and stuff to keep the pressure on (but mostly to help me remember that my hand was injured and I probably shouldn’t slam it down on door handles to open doors like a dumb blond). Every time someone asked me about it I told them a different story about how I was a street boxer or how I got into an epic knife fight. Awesome conversation starter? Yes.

THE WOUND. After an hour of holding paper towels on it. Yes, it doesn't look like much, but it's deeper than it looks. Promise.

Topic Six: After Being Stuck In Captivity For Days With Brits, A Phone Call Saves My Accent.

Finn, Felix, Claudia, and I were running around the grocery store looking for cooking ingredients. I don’t know why Kari kept letting me go out with them as their “supervisor”, because I really had absolutely no authority in those situations. More often than not we came back with junk food and tiramisu along with the requisite items. Maybe she’s just gearing me up for childbearing.

And yes, I had a lot of tiramisu at their place. And yes, I’m a fatass. You’ll be happy to know that I’m taking steps to reverse this . . . phenomenon.

Anyway, so we were running around the store. Or rather, I was alternating between staring at the ingredients list and looking down aisles like a confused tourist, Finn was asking me what needed to be done, Claudia was grabbing things, asking me if she can have them, and putting them in the basket regardless, and Felix was just grabbing shit and putting it in the basket. Suddenly my phone rang. This is an unusual occurrence. I’m pretty sure I only carry it around so I can say that I have a phone and I’m not completely out of the loop.

I picked up the phone. It was Alicia. She said, “Hi!” and I stopped paying attention to everything else around me. Finn intruded once or twice with questions, but I shoved the grocery list at him and told him to find things. Then I happily trailed along behind him and alternated between excitedly talking to Alicia and asking Finn if I sounded more American now. He said I did. He was probably lying. Salvation in the form of my cousin: I was in my happy place. Eventually I had to get off the phone and take charge again because it was getting late, but I was completely stoked that I had talked to her.

The rest of the week went by pretty quickly. I helped Kari out during the day, went into Bath a few times to meet people and see things, and hung out with the kids at night usually. At one point I met a Polish guy and we went out for drinks and to talk about our travels. He told me to avoid Italy because the Italians are assholes. Nevermind the sites, apparently, because the Italians don’t deserve your tourism. I didn’t tell him that my ancestors were Italian. He also taught me how to say hello and toast in Polish. That’s really all I need to learn, right?

What else to report? I was invited to come back to the Bloomfield House B&B later on in the year. I feel very special – I’ll be the first workawayer to return! I’m going back November 15th – December 1st. I’m pretty excited. I think next time I’ll take some day excursions and visit London and Bristol and the surrounding countryside now that I’ve gotten into comfortably using couchsurfing.

I’ve also realized exactly how much I overpacked and thankfully Kari and Rob let me leave my big bag and extra stuff at their place and gave me a smaller luggage case to bring along on my travels. It really made a difference. My back isn’t screaming in pain anymore.

I left their house satisfied, confident, and a little sad. I’ll miss them, but I have the travel itch again and I want to see more things. Next is the cheesemaker’s. All that will be in the next post.

I'll leave you with some pictures:

The Pig and Fiddle. Cool? Yes.

This journey would not be complete without me making EVEN MORE kitty friends.

My watch on Finn's wrist next to his watch. This shows you that Brits wear fucking huge watches.

Finn holding Claudia up so she can touch the lamp. No, God is NOT anointing Finn with his divine light. That's just a lamp. And a cool camera happenstance.

Here's a typical Bath, England street. Yes, it's way cooler than our streets.

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