So, I'm really trying not to bore everyone by talking about London non-stop in my daily conversations. Instead, I'm going to bore you in my blog. Treating this Leaky Cauldron like the personal diary it is not, I'm just going to ramble a bit about the thoughts floating around in my head today. Sorry if they're not coherent.

I'm jealous of a certain roommate and close friend. I know it's petty of me to compare, but why don't I feel as changed as they do? I mean, studying abroad is supposed to radically alter your thinking, broaden your horizons about political structures and social constructs, right? And yet I'm just not feeling it. I wanted London to be...I don't know...a turning point in my life? I wanted come back to people saying, "Wow! You look so worldly!" or "Did you leave a little America behind in exchange for all the Great Britain you brought back?" And yet all people notice are the shoes. (Which I love, by the way.) Maybe I just changed in my fashion outlook. I mean, I do own a pair of knee-high brown "leather" boots now, and I know the difference between Louis Vuitton and Burberry. But that's just seems so superficial, compared to all that stretched Megan this past semester in Singapore and all that is still stretching Sarah as she gallivants across the whole of the European continent by herself. I'm sure it'll take a while for me to really realize all that affected me in my four months gone. To tell you the truth, though, I almost feel the same way I would leaving camp after the summer. You know, all wistful about the memories and the friendships I'd made. Somehow the fact that I can equate four months of Europe to a couple weeks of mid-Missouri's outdoors (beautiful as they are) just makes me feel like I didn't give the continent my all.

trying to be positive
Maybe I need to make a list of ways in which I feel changed. That might help my outlook. Here's my feeble attempt at trying to feel transformed:
-I want to travel more. That's a given. Maybe I'll travel to Singapore. :)
-I like the BBC.
-And tea.
Those two make me feel snooty. You know, only arrogant dorks in America like the Beeb and tea. (At least I don't drink it with my pinky in the air, like some people I know *coughMegCl0hertycough*) :)
-I know the difference between the Guardian, the Sun and the Daily Mail...and what stereotypes an author implies when he portrays a character reading one of those newspapers.
-My newly acquired fashion knowledge. I guess there's a certain positive in knowing brand names if you're going to be working in a business that promotes brand names.
-I like wine. But that was bound to happen over here after my 21st anyways. At least I can say I learned to like wine in Rome.
-I have a greater appreciation for all things Renaissance and Impressionistic. I knew about art before; now, after seeing ART, I love it.
-I have re-acquired my love of reading. Commuting to work on the Tube every day, twenty minutes there, twenty minutes back, plus countless train, coach and plane rides, gave me ample time to devour books. And they weren't text books! Fortunately, I have time and a hammock this summer to indulge my voracious appetite for books.
-I know I want to work in magazines. My internship secured that. I can't pass a magazine rack at Schnucks or Dillons without being drawn, magnetized, really, toward it. Before I left, I thought I wanted to do journalism. I was pretty sure I wanted to design. But my months at Wedding and Home convinced me of it. I got excited watching Sally hang up the test covers. And I'd wistfully watch Caroline piece together department pages.
Maybe that's the most important way in which I've changed. I know that the direction I'm heading is the best one for doing what I want to do.

And I know I had a good time. Isn't that a bit important, too?


i want to dance on stage again!
Last night I went to Jenn and Lynn's dance recital at Jesse Aud. It was hard to sit there in the audience and watch my favorite stress-reliever, knowing that I hadn't really danced in over two years. And I probably won't ever again. Dancing for AX is a stress-multiplier and I just am not going to deal with that again.

brush that dust off those memories
I had a really good conversation with an old friend last night. We hadn't really talked for many many many months and haven't seen each other for nearly two years. And yet the conversation just flowed. The best conversations are the ones where you should really go to bed but just can't stop talking. I hope you have someone like that.


jack the mac is back
I'm now logged on here at 1321 Paris Road, Columbia, MO. And here's something new for me: We have two cats. I've never lived with animals before so this is interesting. One, Alley, is just that, an alley cat. But she's great, everso friendly and sweet. The other, Cassie is an indoor kitty. And neurotic. No joke. Ask Pat. She likes to attack you just as you think you've won her over. And for some reason, she likes my room. (Which means she leaves her long, white hair all over the place.) We'll see how this living with felines goes this summer.

the flat, como style
My room is the attic. It's nearly as big as the flat I had to share with five other girls last semester. Pretty sweet. I'm subleasing for Chri$tin@ W@t$*n, who is a dear for letting me take over her room for the summer. I'm trying to figure out the balance between respecting her things while (temporarily) giving the room a bit of my personality. I still have many boxes to unpack.

missing you
London. Trying to keep myself in check. I'm busy with settling in and trying to figure out how this house runs (do i buy my own milk or is it communal?), so that's keeping me from thinking about the fact that a month ago I was having the time of my life in another country. I'm caught in this dichotomy between falling right back into my Manhattan/Columbia groove which makes London a far distant memory, and thinking about it constantly...to the point where I have to restrain myself from making London the dominant topic in any conversation of which I am a part. At least I have Meg@n Retk@ here. She was in Singapore this semester and we've already shared our re-adjustment griefs.


i have an intense desire to see the new lizzie maguire movie
...not because I watched the show for the first time today while babysitting and felt a certain connection with the pre-teen drama (ha!) of trying to be named the best dressed girl in the class. No, because the movie is set in Rome...and they have a scene all about eating gelato. mmm....

p.s. Sarah, I'm watching Annie on the Disney channel. 'Who cares what you're wearing / on Main Street or Saville ROW...' :) (changed to please you, Protz) ;)


a visit to CoMo
My trip to Columbia was good. Most of my friends were loaded with tests to prepare for but it turned out to be a good situation. It meant that no one could spend too much time with me, thus letting me see more people. Many thanks to Cassie and Megan for letting me crash at their apartment. Ellen's birthday was fun and I'm glad I was able to spend it with her. After spending time in pubs surrounded by businessmen, it's odd to go to a college bar where everyone is my age.

in the bond
Monday night I went to chapter meeting at Alpha Chi to see Senior Wills (the chance for the graduating seniors to say their farewells). I barely said hello to Becky before we had to start the meeting, but she was able to get me bawling during her talk.

my favorite dawg
Speaking of people that I can be away from for so long and yet that connection is still there...
I had coffee with Tuttle Tuesday morning before leaving town. It was just as usual: me arriving at Osama's 15 minutes late to see Erin relaxing outside with a book, finding a table for two upstairs and falling into conversation so comfortable that it seems impossible that an ocean separated us for the past nine months. Erin was the first person I met at Mizzou and so many of my favorite MU memories involve her.
Here's a tribute of reminiscences, Erin:

~Pestering Madelyn with questions by the Warm Little Pond during Summer Welcome
~A U2 roadtrip
~Sitting in Phil's van, heading to DCC '01, you reading Harry Potter book 4, me learning the magic of Harry Potter book 1
~Planning sleepovers with Dane and Sterling
~Camping out for Harry Potter movie tickets
(superfans = us)
~Bible study with S@r@h M@gill when you knew how to steer the conversation to exactly what I was struggling with
~Sitting at a table with you, Kate and Eggers at Sarah's wedding, glasses of champagne in front of us, the Rev. D@ve C*ver and Charles, the Crusade director behind us (gasp!)
~Watching you wrestle with Chickens
~Walking back to FARC from RagTag, arm in arm with you, Clark and Kate after being scared out of our wits by Requiem for a Dream
~Two words: John Nash (he's everywhere!!!!!)
~Talks of parallels between HP and the Bible. (We should write a book: The Gospel According to Harry Potter)
~A rainy night playing in the sprinklers on the Quad and stealthily (ha!) taking a dip in the fountain by Brady
~Talks of crushes on your Mountain Men and 'Jesus'
~Watching you fill out forms to study in London and realizing that maybe I could leave Mizzou for a semester, too.

E-Dawg, much love to you and many more cups of coffee at Osama's this summer.
for my loyal readers
I know that you are all in tears because I am no longer going to be posting since I'm back in the States. So I thought you might fill the time you had set aside for blog readings by checking out a couple of papers I wrote during the semester.

why can't the english, learn to speak english?
English is English is English. Or so I thought. Last semester, my roommate gave me a British phrasebook for Christmas. I joked with everyone that I was going to return to the States speaking fluent English. With English being the closest thing to a global language, it was easy to assume that everyone that with whom I spoke in London would understand me, and I them. According to Lonely Planet’s British Phrasebook, English is ‘the first language of around 400 million people and the second of perhaps 400 million more and is the official or semi-official language in more than 60 countries . . . In international scope, no other language comes near it and, in a shrinking and increasingly homogeneous world, English seems destined to be the glue that holds the whole thing together’ (31, 33).

Knowing that so many people speak and understand English, it is just as easy to forget that the English I speak might not be the same English that everyone else speaks. British English always seemed to me an amusing accent, adorable when spoken by Hugh Grant or little Daniel Radcliffe in the movies. A Southern or Boston accent is just as amusing and perfectly understandable. The ‘fluent English’ I expected to learn to imitate was a flamboyant accent, not another language; however, as Alex Seago lectured the first week we were here, London is an international city in which nearly 3,050 different languages are spoken every day. Combine those foreign tongues speaking heavily accented English with the many regional and neighbourhood dialects from around Britain and London and the universal English I thought I knew so well becomes confounded and confusing. It has become apparent to me that British English is more than an amusing accent.

In the musical My Fair Lady, Professor Higgins, a self-proclaimed linguist bemoans the slaughter of the English language by the vernacular of various boroughs and suburbs surrounding London. ‘Why can’t the English / Learn to speak English?’ he sings, claiming that the Americans stopped speaking what he considers ‘true’ English long ago. He analyses Eliza Doolittle’s parlance, noting that she drops her ‘h’s in words like ‘Hartford’ and ‘happens,’ making them sound like ‘’artford’ and ‘’appens.’ In Eliza’s tongue, Professor Higgins’ name sounds like ‘’enry ’iggins.’ A student of dialects, Professor Higgins can tell a man’s home neighbourhood from a short conversation and repeatedly astounds the on-lookers with demonstration after demonstration.

It may sound like a far-fetched trick, but Professor Higgins has a well-founded point. There are 14 indigenous languages in Britain (British Phrasebook 183). In London alone there are three main dialects: Cockney, Estuary English and Received Pronunciation. Cockney originated in London’s East End and is associated with the working-class (187). One of the most noticeable aspects of the Cockney accent is the ‘glottal t’ which makes ‘Britain’ sound like ‘Bri-in.’ This ‘glottal t’ carries through to Estuary English as well. A hybrid tongue, Estuary English is the fastest growing form of British English and is a hybrid, combining many other dialects but mostly Cockney and RP; it is an example of Britain’s constantly evolving language (30). According to the British Phrasebook, other chief features of Estuary English are a rising inflection and the prominence of ‘innit,’ making common statements sound like question (30). Received Pronunciation (RP) is the ‘elevated,’ high-class English spoken by the educated. Considered by the elite to be the ‘best,’ RP is heard in the media, especially on the BBC. Hugh Grant’s film characters speak RP (187). Much to the chagrin of the posh, however, RP usage is declining as Estuary English gains popularity. Tony Blair even uses Estuary English in his speeches.

Outside London, even more dialects add to the diversity of the English language in Great Britain. At work, I walked into a conversation about regional dialects, specifically the pronunciation of ‘no’ in three different areas of England. One of the women was from Hull, in Yorkshire and said that she pronounces it ‘ nouh.’ Her boyfriend, educated at Cambridge, teases her about her pronunciation. His ‘no’ sounds like ‘noh.’ The other woman in the conversation was from south of London; her ‘no’ sounds like ‘noa-wh.’ Within a distance of 600 kilometres, that single syllable wakes many forms; it is an example of the linguistic diversity within Britain.

On top of the several local and many regional dialects and accents, London’s global population complicates the language even further. The thousands of international tongues in the city stumble through the language. Communication is confounded as a foreign American tries to speak with a resident of London from another country, for they speak British English with a foreign accent. The employees at Nando’s, a chain restaurant, are not native English speakers and ordering food is an experience for the American visitor. Specifically, it was difficult for me to understand an employee asking me if I wanted a sideline with my chicken pita. I did not even have a guess for what she said; it sounded like she had marbles in her mouth.

In my own experience at my internship, I have found communication more difficult than I originally expected. Conversations on the phone are especially challenging and I find myself asking callers to repeat themselves several times. When a co-worker asks me to do a job, I repeat their request ask to them imply to ensure that I understand their directions. Not only is pronunciation different, there are different words and phrases that are completely foreign to me. One of the ladies in the office asked me to go get her a ‘jack-eh puhtato.’ I neither understand her pronunciation of ‘jacket’ nor that a ‘jecket potato’ was what I knew as a baked potato. The confusion works both ways. When I told the women that my roommates were going to Edinburough for the weekend, they were confused, thinking that I had said my friends were going to a club called ‘Amber’ for the weekend.

As this is the era of globalisation, it is easy to demand that one speaks in the closest thing to a global tongue. Professor Higgins is not alone in his some-what bigoted notion that there is only one ‘proper’ way to speak English. Others may not voice it, but their frustration voices an inner desire for others to speak in one’s own accent. Language, however, is fluid and changes in the ebb of time and international interaction. As global communication increases, it is true that hundreds of countries and millions of people will likely absorb English as the common tongue. It is not likely, however, that English will ever become a completely homogeneous language. The many differences between American English and British English exemplify this. Fluency in English is conditional to the specific regional dialect. In this sense, my joke about returning to the States with the ability to speak fluent English was not a joke, but a reality. I will return with a broader understanding of another form of the language that I speak. It is not a matter of the English ‘learning to speak English’ but is, instead, a matter of opening the mind to a willingness to listen to the many forms of English.