Fin in a Waste of Waters

"These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom....Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns....I note under 'F.,' therefore, 'Fin in a waste of waters.' I, who am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement, make this mark, waiting for some winter's evening." (from Woolf's THE WAVES)

29 August 2006

Still slightly nervous, but significantly less so

Today, I called my neurosurgeon to ask if he had any results to report from the MRI I had done last Thursday. First, I talked to his receptionist: he's out of the office for the WEEK. And when he gets back next Tuesday, he'll be in surgery. Glad I called: I would've waited, worrying, like a sucker this whole time. But of course, this knowledge (while helpful), still doesn't decrease the wait-time. Mercifully, the receptionist retrieves the Dr.'s new surgical assistant to have a quick look at the films I dropped off at the office and at the radiologist's findings:

So the radiologist at Carle reported finding "progression." My Dr.'s SA, though, found this to be completely unsubstantiated: he said that there was evidence of neither tumor growth nor any measurements. So he thinks that the Carle radiologist just worded it in a really bad way (REALLY glad I went to my guy before I called Carle: full panic would have set in if I had just had that report!), and that it's "nothing to lose sleep over." He will, of course, have my actual Dr. look at both the report and the films when he gets back in the office.

And this is where we're at now for at least a week. I do feel slightly better after the SA's explanation, but I have to say, even just having the word "progression" appear on any of my MRI reports is less than soothing.

(I have to add that it's been absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to work these last few days. Impossible. I did manage to scout around some more grad programs' websites, enough to even rule out one school, but that's it. I have zero concentration right now, with the exception of my inordinate attraction to anything salty & crunchy.)

24 August 2006

MRI tomorrow

Tomorrow, I have my annual MRI check-up. I think that it's been bothering me more than I've let on even to myself, that I've just been burying myself in work and running around having fun when I'm not doing least, this is what the entire bowl of popcorn, two pieces of string cheese, two slices of banana bread topped with cream cheese, glass of pink lemonade and then glass of milk all consumed within the space of two late-night episodes of Gilmore Girls tell me...ouch. It was more than the food, though: just going downstairs to the couch where my brother sprawled every night after work during the summer was nice - I think he spent so much time on it he left a little lil' bro' aura there. And as we all know (or will learn now), he is a v.chill guy, so this was a welcoming and welcomed sense.

But yeah, it bothers me. My MRI at the end of the summer I had the surgery didn't bother me: I figured if my surgeon didn't get it all, I would just go get the radiation. I would just do what I had to do. And I was fine. My first annual MRI in May '05 didn't bother me: I'd only had one seizure during the whole year at that point, so it was probably just a fluke, nothing to worry about. But by that summer, the seizures started rolling in hardcore, and they have been ever since. One neurologist ordered a scan last October because meds weren't controlling the attacks: this MRI made me worry a little. Clean. Thank God. Now the seizures are worse than they even were back in October (but since the Keppra, thank God a little better than they were just a couple of months ago). So I'm worried.

But what's worse: now, after two years, I feel like I've finally gotten myself back on track. That whole year unnamed seizures, I was a mess. My entire senior year I spent "making up" for the junior year I had wasted (regardless of people telling me I had nothing to make up, my [if cliche] motto was "work hard; play hard"). And my post-grad gap year, a mess, until the spring, when I finally moved out to London with Rasheed. Then, THEN things started to come together as I had been working to line them up for the last two years. London. The Fulbright. The Jack Kent Cooke. I set myself up for the fall, Sussex, for the PhD in the States to follow. I couldn't be in a better position. Except this little nagging health problem. It terrifies me. What if, after I've finally gotten everything back together again, what if -

It's hard to finish that sentence.

I know I'll be fine. I know that there's nothing I can do about it, so worry is wasteful. ...That almost makes it harder though, knowing that it's out of my control. But, that still doesn't stop a little part of me from wondering frantically: "Did I live my life as best I could this past year? Did I eat healthy enough? [Tonight being no example. NOR Burger King Thursdays in Wimbledon...ouch.] Exercise? Did I put myself under too much stress those months at Pages, or should I have taken a break/found a new job? [My dad believes that repressed stress/anger causes cancer, ironically, giving me one more thing about which to be paranoid/stressed.]"

I have to be fine, because what else could I be?

Tomorrow I go in at 12:45. Rasheed is coming. They'll probably have me loaded up into the machine by 1. Luckily, the machine itself has absolutely no effect on my mental state, nor the injections they shoot me up with halfway through the process. In fact, I've had so many of these damn things (seven, plus one CT scan in just over two years), I've been known to fall asleep in them! True story! Something about all of that banging around my head must soothe my twisted soul.

But I will be okay. Like my friend Kari wisely says: "Just think of it as going in and getting solid evidence that you're fine and all set to leave. You're already fine; now you'll just know for sure."

True 'dat.

17 August 2006

Lucky close siblings

Today my little brother left for school again, the long blue Buick ("behemoth," he says; "ghetto sled," our cousin Jon) nose-up and heavy-weighted in the trunk; the fridge emptied of all of the food and leftovers he took with him; the book I tried to lend him (Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes) left on the dining room table.

I did not want to let him go; I only just got here. What I hate to admit most is that I worry about him now: I worry about his driving to school alone; about his drinking; about his relationship (which he's not even sure how to define) with L., which has torn him up all spring. It is suddenly impossible to finish the spinach salad I had started.

I just felt such a strange (maybe not so strange) thick sadness settle into my chest and shoulders like a fog: I felt, watching the car pull down the drive, waving, as if I would never see him again. I felt it, too, when I said goodbye before flying off to London for the first time. Growing up, we've always been (roughly) in the same place, and we even went to the same university (he followed me there after he graduated from high school a couple of years after me). And now, we go our separate directions again.

(I'm going to visit him next week, but still, this feels like a severance, because next week, it is only a visit.)

I'm struck again by how lucky I am to be among those siblings of the world who count themselves as close.

16 August 2006

Profile Pic

15 August 2006

Personal statements

Currently, I am supposed to be working on a personal statement for one of my several grad school applications. I am procrastinating. I have been all morning, and did last night, too. I know I'm doing it, and why, and that it only makes it worse. I hate writing these things. I hate writing about myself like this. It is this kind of writing that makes me feel as if I've lost all ability to write, and as if I'll never write even any more fiction nor critical work again.

I think that most of my problems are organizational. I don't know how to include everything I've done that could be important to the application. So I cut things out. And then I don't know what to do with everything I've got left. I have too many interests.

I'm such a whiner.

Last night, I dreamt that giants were chasing me.

I think I'm going to go shave my legs for the first time in over two weeks. The conversation I had with Laurie about the differences between perceptions of European and American cleanliness has finally worn me down.

Ugh, I hate writing these things.

Maybe I'll go make a snack instead and stare at the computer screen a little more.

10 August 2006

Dreams, bodies, terror

Last night, I dreamt another of the "house" dreams; this time, the house was my childhood home, where I am staying right now with my parents (though the only room in the dream that was true to life was my dad's office, I knew it was this house); and again, the house was seized from me. Not only the house, but ultimately, implicitly, my body itself in the dream (usually, I only lose the house). I think that a lot of this dream is pretty self-explanatory: in a way, at least my room in the house in real life has been taken over in a way; it's completely different, and I don't feel as though I fit in it anymore. My autonomy here is threatened by my mom (which sounds terrible; I hate that I feel like this right now, as we normally, and still mostly, get along really well, but neither can I oppress it), who is incredibly controlling about everything (example: the photographer from the RR Star came to get a photo for the article yesterday, and she was telling him how to do his job, what to include in the picture and where to take it, and then after he left, she chastised me for even letting him in the house). Also, something I completely didn't expect, but which is happening, is that I'm experiencing culture shock coming back to the States. It's little things. Like the food. At first, in D.C., I just thought it was that they were serving buffet-style dorm food most days, and that's why I didn't want it. But I have absolutely no desire to eat most of what we have here at my house, either. I've only been legitimately hungry twice in the 3 and a half days since I've been back, and then, I start eating, and the appetite goes away. My dad was really helpful at first, and said I could put stuff on his grocery list that I wanted, but when I did, he got mostly different stuff (next time, I'll have to go with, I think). I don't know if it's the taste, but I think a big part of it is that it's harder to get organic food here. You can get organic everything in London. My environmental scientist friend Kari tells me that they're waaaaay ahead of the States in this respect. But I just don't want to eat. Breakfast, I'm good, but after that, it gets tricky. Maybe I'll just eat breakfast food all day.

But this dream. I don't remember too much of it, but perhaps as I write, more will come back. What I remember first is that Rasheed & I are at a bookstore in Champaign, just browsing. Then, for some reason, I start helping out, likely because I'm just used to working at bookstores. I start putting books back in order, and then clean up some trash that people have left around. Rasheed begins helping me. Then, apparently, I throw the wrong kind of trash - the core of an eaten plum - into the wrong basket, and the owner apprehends me: "Was that food-trash? Did you just throw food-trash into that can?" Annoyed because the man is so ungrateful for the gratis help, I say nothing, but jerk the trash bag out of the can: instead of just retrieving the fruit from this can and throwing it in another, I will replace the liner entirely. And then he says something along the lines of how he hates how rude people are in America and how he wishes he could move to London. And then, I drop the bag at my feet: I've been to London! We talk for a few minutes, just about London, I think, and the dream here becomes unclear...

Next I know, I'm bringing the trash to the back to throw it out. There is a truck delivering a shipment of books. There is snow on the ground. There is something sinister about the open back of the truck. I drop the trash on the warehouse floor - I will not go by the truck to take it to the dumpster - and bolt back into the store. Rasheed is gone. I go back to the warehouse. My friend Brian is there for some reason (in dream logic, I guess it makes sense, since I'll see him today when I go to Champaign, and he's taking me to visit some former fellow Pages comrades), and takes me home (I'm reminded of the "Berkeley Night" when he came to pick me up from Valente's office on campus - left work to come pick me up in the rain and then bring me home and wait with me until my brother arrived).

When we get to my home, though, we are only safe for so long. I'm not sure who they are, or why they want my house, but strangers begin infiltrating the upper floor. At first, Brian and I stick together to defend ourselves, though I cannot now remember how. Eventually, I run down to the basement, where I know my dad has the sheriff's phone number taped to the bookshelf mounted above his desk - I can visualize it, written in red-inked block capitals. I hesitate to call 911, as I'm not sure who these people are, and so if it constitutes a real emergency. Yet, I feel my personal safety distinctly threatened. I need the police there, or at least the promise of their imminent arrival. I cannot find the number. There are innumberable little white squares of paper taped along the length of the shelf, all roughly the same size and shape as the sheriff's number should be, but none with red ink. Until I see it! But it is too late -

The office is invaded. A couple of women. I run. At the bottom of the stairs (which suddenly resemble the real-life stairs), I am caught, this time by a man coming down them. He is blonde; he wears pressed kakhi shorts; there is a sinister smile curling his thin, ironic upper lip; his penetrating eyes gleam. I do not recognize him at first. He grabs my wrists and forces me to the floor on my back, his body between my legs. Only then do I recognize him - T.J. from JKC. When I recognize him, I cease to fight. I sense the betrayal this means to Brian, still fighting for my house upstairs; and somehow to Rasheed, though this assault is not my fault. But here is where the fighting stops, and here is where the dream ends.

And now. Now I have looked at the news. Oh God. Why aren't we all having dreams like these? The uncovering of the terrorist plot in Britain. Possibly Al-Q. The plan to explode 10 planes over the Atlantic, where there is nowhere to ground them. No target, such as the Pentagon or D.C. So the ultimate goal becomes the loss of those lives on the planes. Estimated it would have 3000. Thank God they caught it. They've raised the security alert to red for intl flights; orange for domestic. I am terrified. Rasheed flies back to the UK possibly in less than a week, possibly at the end of the month (they extended his thesis deadline, so he might stay longer) - I need for this to be cleared up before he gets on a plane. Then I fly over in just over a month. (The cynical/cope-through-bad-humor side of me says: maybe now the plane ticket that I haven't bought yet will now be cheaper.) I know that we'll probably both be fine, but I hate that we and so many are forced to travel in a world where we - no longer our goverments, but we, suddenly such small humans - have become the sole target. Not simply the tragic but unavoidable byproduct of war. When I visited the "Crimes Against Humanity" gallery at the War Museum in London, this is what I learned: at the beginning of the 20th century, the loss of life was 90% soldiers, 10% citizens. At the end of the century, that figure had reversed. It makes me sick with fear.

But here I am, writing about dreams. God I am self-centered.

08 August 2006

Androgynous artistry

So after a brief hiatus, I am back at work on the Joyce paper - queer desire vs. homophobia; masculine sexual passivity; finally resulting in androgynous artistic (pro)creation in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The idea of androgynous art is something that v.much preoccupied all of my modernist literary lights, not only Joyce, but Woolf of course in Room, and Jung and Freud (durr), etc. This is something that I thought has only come to occupy my mind very recently, but now, looking back through my writing, I think the impetus towards an androgynous artistry has always existed in me, and it is only now that I've become conscious of it, and only through my studies of these authors.

Right now, I'm reading an essay, "A Womb of His Own: Joyce's Sexual Aesthetics" (har har - womb/room...or HEY [!!] "oomb, allwombing tomb," the poem Stephen works on in the Proteus episode of Ulysses - womb - tomb - room - just like Stephen connects creation, death, and the poet in Portrait - "reproduction is the beginning of death," says Temple, "touch[ing] Stephen timidly at the elbow," and then asking "do you feel how profound that is because you are a poet?" - and then Cranly "points his long forefinger" - finger my ASS!! If that's not phallic I don't know what is...and while Joyce I think makes fun of Temple the connection is there, but anyway, about the essay) by David Weir, and this guy gets into androgynous art in the Shakespeare Theory in the Scylla and Charybdis ep of Ulysses (damn!! somebody always gets there first!! I thought I was original for making that deduction in Portrait, and then I come across it in this essay! But Weir doesn't think that there IS androgynous creation in Portrait, whereas I think there is evidence of it, so my argument will be rather a response to his work, and so still my own), going into Jung's theory of anima/animus (female fertilization of the male imagination and DAMMIT!! I've just started applying it to Breakfast at Tiffany's which you know is the ONLY book I only read for fun anymore again and again and again without analysing it but DAMMIT!! Holly and "Fred"!! Fred the writer! Holly fertilizing his imagination! I'm ruining myself!! My only "fun" book! No more of this now...), and of the male cultural appropriation of the female ability to reproduce (going all the way back to Genesis, with the creation of Eve out of Adam's body, and in literature, esp. in Paradise Lost as it retells Genesis), and thus of artistry as similar to female conception, gestation, birth.

But this guy Weir claims that while this theory is clear in Ulysses - not only in S & CH, but in Nausicaa, with Bloom & Gerty on the beach, and the "tumescent/detumescent" style, their male and female voices blending to argue for an androgynous art - "the means whereby Stephen arrives at this state of artistic androgyny is something of a mystery [in Portrait]." BUT. I think that there IS a clear moment of androgynous creation in Portrait, and it results from Stephen's own encounter with his own "beach girl," so thus the scenes are parallel and so reinforce each other, rather than the one retroactively explicating the earlier...though perhaps the earlier predicts the later. OOH! AND! Weir's brief summary of 19th century sexology may explain the "wild"-ness (with the allusion to the flamboyantly gay, fellow Irish author Wilde) of the beach scene in Portrait: that "the 'androgynous' homosexual was also more likely than almost any other type of person to be artistic." Weir spends only a paragraph on it, but he drops the names of a few books that will put me on the right track. But. Tell me this isn't sexual. Stephen sees the girl on the beach, and then pledges to "recreate life out of life!" and then (not unforcefully) quite rhythmically strides, pushing forward, "on and on and on and on!" down the beach, finally stopping only to fall into some sort of post-orgasmic "languor of sleep," when he dreams of a new world like "an opening flower...breaking in full crimson and unfolding and fading to palest rose...every flush deeper than the other": it's as if he's now incorporated, by his dream, this vaginal new world (the "new terminology" he demands in order to describe his art, the only thing missing from the philosophy he borrows from Aquinas?) into his psyche. This language is then completely repeated in the "rose-like glow" that washes over Stephen when he writes the villanelle - writes it "in the virgin womb of the imagination [where] the word was made flesh"!!!

And, quickly, back to the theory of Shakespeare and androgynous art in Ulysses. Woolf was working on A Room of One's Own in the few years after Hogarth Press published Ulysses, and she, too, comes back to the theory of the androgynous mind (though she cites Coleridge as her source). But she, too, uses the language of procreation: she says only when we have this fusion is the mind entirely "fertilised." So, too, does she use the example of Shakespeare, or rather, she invents the life of Shakespeare's sister, to examine the situation of the male/female artist. Quick detour, as promised.

As I'm reading this, though, I've just now (literally, the thought struck me and I sat down to write about it - it was a flash!) related these ideas to my own (of course inferior) writing. In my writing, I usually write from the perspective of a man, particularly in the last few years - it's somehow just become more comfortable for me. And before this, by the time I had started college, whenever I deviated and wrote from a woman's perspective, it was always with a strong undercurrent of same sex desire, partly between characters within the story, and partly between myself and the character. And this is a phenomenon just of my writing. In reality, I identify certainly as a woman; and though I've of course had desires for a few women (including H.K. of the "infamous characters" whom my imagination took over), and have acted on a few of them in my wilder years (mostly pre-surgery; but all pre-Rasheed), I've never been in a serious relationship with a woman, and so identify as mostly straight. So this is not a personal thing; this is a writing thing. However: the relationships I have with these "personas" I latch onto in my imagination and begin to mould into my own "characters" begin to feel quasi-sexual; I have no sexual desire for the person herself or himself, in some cases being actually quite averse to the possibility, but I strangely begin to desire the character I've created. This desire, then, draws me closer to my character, fuels my further conception, and thus my further creation of that character in a near-Oedipal (though from the parental side) birth of walking, talking fictional persons. And I look at the Staging Memory project, and I see that I've written that relationship with character there. Eilert has himself created the image of Hedda he thinks he desires, and the more he imposes on her, the more he wants to come near to her. It is only when she completely undermines his idea of her that he may withdraw, so to speak. So he, too, is an artist - and I had underestimated him...I thought only Hedda was the artist because she was the actress.

But back to Weir's essay. I mean just me. Reading. Bonus points to anyone who made it all the way through this entry, because it was completely me just flexing the muscles before I start the scholarly writing - my apologies.

07 August 2006

Washington D.C., home, etc

So now I am back in the States. More, I am back at my parents' house. In order:

I hit D.C. a few days ago, landing at about 10 pm Wednesday night. At first I didn't feel too much out of place (except for that whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing...anyone who wants to know how the traffic confused me - and I really didn't think it would - ask Tony of JKC how he saved me from getting hit by oncoming cars on our way to the Washington Monument), since 4 out of my 5 first interactions were with Indian people (two of whom didn't speak v. good English; my cab driver was actually from a neighboring state of Rasheed's father & spoke a variate of Tummel). But it was still...unnerving. Returning, I mean. The announcement at the airport: "And if you are a returning citizen, welcome back to the United States!" And D.C. at night was so...quiet. There was traffic on the street (when I went on my 7-11 adventure for a phone card), and the occasional pedestrian...but not the people in the streets I'd been used to. And over the next few days: a huge lack of languages. Everyone here speaks English. During the tourist season in London, I had unconsciously adjusted to hearing a multitude of languages.

Then, I had an email from my mom on Saturday: Steve died. Next-door, alcoholic, skeleton Steve. He'd fallen, getting into bed, hit his head - they don't know if the impact killed him, or a heart attack caused by the shock of the fall (apparently, the coroner has been particularly uncommunicative). My dad found him. I'm not sure how he's doing with it. Right now, he seems to be just be dealing with business, the funeral, Steve's family, the "estate" (or the run-down house that will need to be destroyed) etc. But this death - it feels more like exorcism. I think of that empty brown house (just right next door to me now) - it's seemed empty even in these last years of his life, as though he did not live in it, but haunted it. Ever since he and Cathy got rid of the horses, and the bulldogs; and then when Radar, Steve's dog expressly, died; and then when Cathy bolted for Florida (and another codependent, likely abusive, man); and when all of the remaining barn cats finally died, ferile and mangy even when alive; and when the pastures went wild and he let his lawn grow knee-deep...this is when it became empty. Even the big white Cadillac left undriven at the front of the house seemed a monument to a life that had already passed. But still, his presence persisted. And this, for some reason, makes his death more unsettling...the loss of this intangible emaciated spirit whom I remember last stumbling up the steps at the front of the house and pausing to look in my bedroom windows scaring the hell out of me but at the same time inspiring in my gut an almost agonizing pity for this man who had once been so large but still always smelling of beer and cigarettes and possibly something harder that I wouldn't have recognized as a kid. I hope I'm gone before they tear down the house.

And skipping ahead - coming home. My parents did pick me up at the airport, and it was great to see them (my mom cried; now I know at least she really didn't mind the drive). When we got home, though: they had rearranged my entire room. My bed now points feet-first out of my door, a Feng Shui faux pas I'm not entirely down with: this is how the Chinese traditionally carried their dead out of the door. And my mom had re-"organized" what I'd left behind. Everything is out of order, and it's not an out of order that I understand (at least my own "out of order" has its own intuitive system); that, and my mom has lost my mobile phone (thus, most of my phone numbers - if you read this, and I don't have your number, email or call or something) and a number of other of my things ("But I thought it was right here!"). But my music - all of my music, my CDs and vinyls - is here. I'd only taken a few "essentials" with me on my flight. The first I picked to listen to this morning as I work? The Big Boi disc from Outkast's Speakerboxxx. I can't believe I didn't take it with me.

And skipping back to D.C. I've run into another one of those characters who will inhabit my imagination for an indefinite amount of time. Only the fourth in my life, after Kat, H.K. (until I learned that what she had on those headphones was DMB), P.K., perhaps Elsie (though I feel like I know her story like I know my own; we are the same in that we are dancing souls). He is one of those people who gives away very little, and thus is fertile ground for my imagination to make what it will of him; on first meeting him in a group of scholars, he confessed that he wasn't very "interesting," which of course, tells me he is. He is not a performer like most of us (and especially me) were there at the weekend; unlike me, he has not been selling himself since he could talk/write/paint/photograph/dance. He relinquished just enough detail to give my hooks a hold; the full flesh will be my conception. He is like a little boy in man's clothes - a future lawyer, dressing in green-striped button-ups and pressed kakhi shorts with New Balance tennis shoes. His talk is affected - "Good evening, gentlemen..." - as if he is in constant rehearsal for his future lawyer-life, including smoky evenings at the club, world events over cigars, but his voice is still teenager-young, not in depth, but in self-assuredness. It was this (likely) perceived vulnerability (and his weak stomach: bread & applesauce) that intrigued me. He confessed on the last day (Sunday) that he was a preacher's boy, which explained the religious-resentment vibe I'd been getting all weekend: I had blindly (lazily, more like) guessed ex-Catholic guilt. Now I wonder if religion has let him down - if his church father, his father, has let him down (which now feeds into, perhaps will deepen my writing of Eilert), though I cannot speak for the Big Father. Suddenly I had an image of that same little boy in Sunday shirts and shorts - here he still was, thick blonde hair still too big for him...especially right behind his right ear, halfway to the back of his head...I wanted to touch it, get a sense of its texture (you know I am a tactile person), but again, just because I've invented this person in my head does not mean I know the real subject well enough to touch him. But his face is old; it is his age. Perhaps a little older. I'm not sure exactly how old he is, but I'd set him at mid/late-twenties...probably closer to late. 26, maybe. But there is a serious maturity (not aging, though - gravity) in his face that says 30s. He has very clear-cut, stone-clean (granite), potentially monumental features: the kind of features that I would have given anything to sit firmly down in the studio in front of a black drop and take high-contrast black & white photos of in medium format film (and likely large-format, if I had much experience with it). He has the lawyer-look: lean, slightly hungry but well-fed, sitting back in his chair but still pushing agressively forward with penetrating eyes hooded by low brows. And an ironic mouth, a thin upper-lip. Perhaps a potential for cynicism. But still, a vulnerability.

This will be the extent of my writing for the day. I've decided to give myself a few easy days - today, will work on Fulbright paperwok & entry clearance; perhaps some reading; tomorrow...don't know; day after, newspaper photo shoot & work; day after, doctors; day after, Rasheed's visit. And family, of course.

02 August 2006

And I call her "mother"

Tonight is my last night here in London. Rasheed just got a call from his little brother, so I'm chilling here for a few minutes. We just got in from one of our favorite neighborhood walks (down "millionaires' row" in Notting Hill, where we laugh about what must go on in all of those big houses; we don't even touch the embassies, though).

It's been a good last day, too. We went to the Tower of London & revelled in all the torture & murder & scheming there (special exhibit on the 1605 Gunpowder Plot). Crown jewels, though, very dull. But seeing them with Rasheed made it entertaining. Frankly, I think we were most impressed by the security, especially the vaulted doors they lock everything behind at night!

And then I call my mom to give her my flight info and let her know what time I'll be landing in Chicago on Sunday someone can come pick me up, or so I think. The only problem is that she and my dad will have just spent the weekend in St. Louis, and HE doesn't want to do any more driving and SHE doesn't want to brave the O'Hare traffic NOR does she want my little brother driving in to get me. So the verdict? "Take the bus," she says. And she's so excited to see me, but: "take the bus." The logical side of me says that this is not a big deal, that this is totally understandable, that yes, this is a pain-in-the-ass amount of driving, and it would be so much easier for them to just come get me in Rockford; but another part of me is whining, "But I will have just had an eight hour flight a few days ago, and then a flight from D.C. to Washington with a stopover in Pittsburgh & two time changes in just a few days whinewhinewhine..."; but then, this little pathetic part of me just wanted someone to BE there at the airport, happy to see me after I've just left Rasheed and spent a few days in a strange city (yes, it's exciting, but at the same time, I will have just left this city and this person I LOVE to go hang out with a bunch of people I don't know in a city with which I'm unfamiliar). I just wanted to be able to SEE someone there, to have someone to go to as soon as I got in, to do the whole cheesy arrivals gate thing, run and hug and, hell, maybe even do the emotional girl thing and cry a little. "Take the bus," she says. "Good thing I have overdraft coverage," I say. "Now I'm going to go enjoy the rest of my last night in London." And so I turned back into logical-girl and looked up bus times from O'Hare to Rockford: they leave every hour and tickets are less than twenty bucks one-way. This isn't so bad. Hell, I've shared a bus with just-released convicts (their scant belongings still in brown paper bags) from Champaign to Chicago for one of my interviews, and those guys were beyond charming (we shared my left-over Halloween candy). This should be nothing.

And as soon as Rasheed is done on the phone, I will (enjoy my last night, that is, not share more candy with non-present convicts). Cheryl, I just read your entry, and ice cream isn't sounding so bad right now - the shops here are open waaaay late at night - and I can't get enough of this neighborhood before I go!

Aaaaand I hear him saying good-bye...

So good-night to all and see most (if not all) of you soon!