I’m very tired right now.

So forgive me if this isn’t through or articulate or funny. I just don’t want to fall behind in my blogging. Last I wrote it was Thursday night so let me bring you up to speed.

Friday morning I had to enroll (British style) and I had lowered my expectations to the point where I assumed I’d be there are all day. I got there at around 9:15 for my 9:30 slot and it took about 20 minutes from waiting on a line to walking out with my UCL ID card. Turns out immigration gave me the wrong visa, but that seems to be a common thing around here and all I had to do was sign a form that said that I promise I showed documents that proved I was a student. After I finished with that I tried connecting to the internet, which should have worked now that I had officially enrolled. But it didn’t. So I made my way to the IT help desk in the science library (I love maps!!) and got a new password and username. Still didn’t work. But the point of the story is that I found my way to the science library. Maps are a great way of feeling accomplished. I turned a corner. Yay small victory! I’ve had a lot of those lately.

I had a couple of hours before Slade orientation stuff began so I made plans to meet up with Yael, a friend from Ramaz. I had some time before she was ready so I sat on a bench in the main quad and knitted for a little while. One of former the UCL students who ran a session during orientation about adapting to life in London was directing students to the office where enrollment was taking place right next to where I was sitting. We ended up having a nice conversation until I went to get coffee with Yael. Another nice conversation! And it turns out she too had plans to eat at Chabad for dinner! After coffee, I made my way back to the Slade for the safety demo I was worried would interfere with Shabbos. Alan, the studio manager (who you can track down by his whistling) was incredibly understanding and said that we’d finish on time and if we didn’t for whatever reason I could leave early. Phew. The safety demo turned out to be a really dated film about the dangers of fire. It was from 1979 at least because it had footage from the Woolworth fire in Manchester. The movie was horrifying. People jumping out of windows to save themselves from the flames. And then they showed a close up of a person who jumped out of a window and we got to see his smashed in face. It was horrible. I’m used to seeing that when I know it’s make up for a movie. The biggest danger the Slade faces is fire. The floors are saturated with 150 years of mineral oils and if it sets on fire there’s no stopping it. As I was watching this awful awful film I remembered the time in first grade where the whole lower school went to the auditorium to watch a significantly less graphic fire safety video and I started crying hysterically because I was terrified and my teacher, Morah Chaya, had to take me out to calm me down. That didn’t happen this time, but I’m newly fire paranoid. Along with the rest of this country. Where every door is a fire door.

The video ended before 3, so I had enough time to stop at the supermarket to pick up some sandwiches and still make it home in time for Shabbos. I walked in the door less than 15 minutes before candle lighting, but dinner at Chabad didn’t start until 7, so we didn’t need to rush once Shabbos started. For once, we had time to catch a breath and take it easy after running 19 hour days for almost a week. This involved a coma-like nap. After nap-time I met Rosie downstairs and we all made our way to services at Chabad followed by dinner. The Chabad House was a 15 minute walk from our flat. It was so nice to get a good dose of Jewishness. And Yael, Rosie and I had a great Ramaz bonding experience. I also met some people who go to Chabad fairly regularly and met the Devorah and Rabbi Lew, the couple who run the Bloomsbury Chabad. The food was good, the company was good, and it was so nice that it was finally Shabbos and I could unplug.

After dinner, we walked back and the Brandeis crew came and chilled in our penthouse for a little while. Good times. I studied my map for a little while and read my London tourguide book and went to bed. We were planning on going to daven at Marble Arch Shabbos day and even woke up at 8 to make sure it happened. But we were both still so zonked that we passed out again and woke up after 11. It was definitely needed. Lunch wasn’t called for until 1:30-2:00 so we took our time walking over and had a few close encounters with some agressive drivers. Lunch was at the Lew family’s home, not too far from UCL. Because lunch started later and Shabbos ended early, we spent the rest of the day there. It was a lovely lunch–a great group of people, lively conversation and their kids are adorable. After Shabbos ended, Rabbi Lew drove me and Dana back home and even offered to take all of our kitchenware to Golders Green that way we could tovel (ritually purify) it all tomorrow and not have to shlep it on the tube. So nice of him!!

After we got back, I got ready to meet a bunch of people at a pub in Hampstead. You know how I was supposed to stay by my friend Lexi’s cousins this past Shabbos but couldn’t? Her cousin invited me to join him and some of his friends Saturday night at the Holly Bush and then a bunch of us got pizza/fried at Pizaza in Golders Green. I couldn’t really stay because I had to make sure I’d get back before the tube stopped running for the night. I managed to do that and when I got home I skyped (or Google Hangout or whatever) with the one and only Rebecca Pollack (who gets here in T-4 days!). At some point late at night I went to sleep.

Sunday! Fun day! Took the the bus to Pimlico and walked over to the Tate Britain to see the Turner Prize 2012 exhibition on its final day. I liked Elizabeth Price (the winner) and Andrew Noble’s work best.

Andrew Noble makes extremely detailed, intricate and geometric drawings, built out of letters. He uses a word as the center and subject of his drawing and uses that to guide the visual narrative that ensues. He walks the line between disorganized chaos and extreme order in a way that greatly appeals to my neurotic tendencies and uncontrollable imagination. All these drawings are done with different hard and soft graphite pencils to give the images different textures and sheen.   

Elizabeth Price, winner of the 2012 Turner Prize, made a film called THE WOOLWORTHS CHOIR OF 1979. First of all, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to watch that freaky fire movie last week because it gave me great context for this film! It’s going to be quite hard to describe this film in words, so forgive me. I watched it three times in a row. The first time I watched it I wasn’t really sure what had just happened. The second time I think I understood what just happened. The third time I wanted to make sure that I had understood what just happened. And then I read the artist’s statement and the explanation in the program and it seemed like I got it.

I’m going to quote the program because that’s the only way you’ll be able to glean anything from this:

“The capacity of video to formulate a common language between bodies of material that share little in terms of form or provenance underpins Price’s 2012 work THE WOOLWORTHS CHOIR OF 1979. Comprising of three sequential parts, the video plays on the multiple meanings fo the word choir as an area of a church  an ensemble of singers, and a sheaf of papers in bookbinding, while drawing parallels between the processed of artistic  archival and social assembly. A step-by-step guide to ecclesiastical architecture, illustrated by archival photographs, diagrams and arcane terminology is gradually interrupted by distorted footage of the sinuous movements of various girl bands, like ghostly apparitions from another world. Echoing this visual transition, the soundtrack segues from isolated, stark finger clicks and handclaps to the explosive and emotive chorus of the Shangri-Las’ Out of the Streets. The handclaps return to accompany the final chapter which draws on news footage and witness accounts of a notorious fire in the furniture stockroom of the Manchester branch of Woolworths in 1979.”


AND THIS IS WHAT I FIGURED OUT THE SECOND TIME I WATCHED THE FILM. I was even taking notes. It was like solving a mystery. Get this:

“Linking each section is the image of the hand gesture: an expressive twist of the wrist first seen in recumbent figures of church tomb effigies, echoed in musicians’ rhythmic gestures and, finally, repeated in the frantic waves from the windows of the burning shop.”

So that was thrilling. 

After I left the exhibit, I decided that even though I was exhausted, I had made my way to the Tate and it felt wrong to leave without seeing anything else. As I was walking upstairs, I noticed a sign that said a guided tour of some of JMW Turner’s paintings would be starting in 10 minutes. Given that I had just come from an exhibition bearing his name and that the Tate has quite a few Turners, it seemed appropriate. But I was tired and my bag was heavy and I was hardly paying any attention until I saw this:


It’s white.

It’s little.

It’s cute and fuzzy.

And it’s almost at the center of the painting.

And naturally, I perked up as soon as I saw it. Then someone asked about the significance of the rabbit in his painting and the doscent said something along the lines of how they represent fertility because they rapidly multiply. Hooray for bunnies!

After the tour I had planned to walk along the Thames but it was kind of gross so I decided to save that for a nicer day and started to walk to a tube station, not necessarily the closest one, to get to Covent Garden. So I walked and walked and can now color lots of streets on my map in red to signify that I’ve walked those streets and after a lot of walking I ended up at Victoria Station and transfered to the Picadilly line. The sun had basically set by the time I got out of the tube but Covent Garden was still lit up for Christmas so it felt very warm in a fuzzy kind of way. I looked at the different art vendors but didn’t linger long enough to get cornered into buying anything. In the distance I noticed a street performer attracting a small crowd so I joined to see what was going on. I ended up staying for the whole performance (guy on an 8 foot unicycle) and got some great pictures. The chance encounter of it all was the highlight of my day. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout his act. The audience was so giddy and it was nice to be inspired to take pictures for the first time in a while. 

After he took his bow, I headed to Moorgate Station to meet up with Caren for our long awaited reunion! Caren is in London for two weeks on a program through Johns Hopkins where she will magical libraries. We went to Golders Green to the same pizza place I went to last night and share a Quatro Formaggi pizza. It seems that Caren and I only get to see each other on this side of the Atlantic so I look forward to our next reunion destination!

After dinner we went food shopping at Yarden (Golders Green’s answer to Supersol) where I got olives with pits, olives with no pits, olive tapenade, and cheese–the staples of my balanced diet. Exhausted from our long days of traveling by foot and by plane, we got on the tube and headed to our respective destinations.

Once I got home I spent the late evening with Dana and GPod while writing this post. I ordered my student Oyster Card, which will save me a bit (only a bit) of money on the tube each month and looked into getting a student discount National Rail Card as well. I think you can only get those online, but before I do that I think I’m just going to ask next time I’m taking the tube. 


Until next time. Pictures later.



One comment on “I’m very tired right now.

  1. Daddy says:

    I am soooo glad you are getting to do all these wonderful things- I went to London 31 years ago this month for the first time (god i am sooo old -ttruly like the Crypt Keeper!) and lived there for three years… And if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have met your mother (yeah, I know, I met her in Israel, but I wouldn’t have gone to Israel if I hadn’t gone to London first… ) So enjoy every minute- it may change your whole life… But, uh, no pressure…

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