After five months in The Second Most Expensive City IN THE WORLD, I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. But why aimlessly & disorderly ramble on about it when I can use subheadings to fart out air of deluded self-importance? Yeah!
(Even though I’m sure as I type this, I have jinxed everything and will be ridden to bedrest, run over by a mental bus driver & infested with a new form of malaria. It is London after all.)
1. Slaving for the
Back home, I worked in a relatively nice restaurant in the heart of one of the trendier places of the city. After six years, and though I met and befriended some lovely folks there, it’s not exactly a place to work on a daily basis if your mental health is so intricately dependent upon your Faith In Human Beings. So you have to ask yourself, why in the name of sweet baby Jaysus have I found myself in one of the busiest and ‘trendiest’ joint in town?
Don’t look at me.
I’ve been punched in the face.**
Also, as I’d hate to ‘bite the hand that feeds me’ (or some other proverb, maxim, aphorism or witticism – you know, one of those, I can’t b e bothered), it is kinda exactly what I’ve asked for, innit? And despite having to deal with people who seem to have bitterly overgrown their nappies & become vaguely aware that it would be somewhat frowned upon to be seen breastfed by their mummies, answering questions to which you’ve already explicitly replied, demands that boggles any human logic and rudeness that brings about the Godzilla within about 50 times more than what you deem should be the legal amount allowed before committing random acts of violence - with compliance and a warm smile! - it is actually not that bad…. (Aside, of course, for the slight twitch I’ve developped in my right arm from restraining it to swing forth.)
The food is purdhy awesome – and free *winks* - and the entertainment from the ubiquitous love affairs, cliques, backstabbing, whisperings and glares is completely fabulous if not completely exasperating.
And I did get to see Hugh Grant.
Complain not lest ye be judged, I say!
2. Being A Consumerist Whore
Portobello market’s insane and TopShop is pricier than it appears. But for the little time and money I’ve had in my name I somehow managed to buy five pairs of shoes/boots since I’ve been here. Count it – one, two, three, four, five – five pairs of shoes/boots in one, two, three, four, FIVE months. (That’s one per month without food, for those out there who’s counting, thank you.) Granted, I’m a long way from becoming Carrie Bradshaw, but foregoing basic survival instincts to, say, live, in exchange for footwear? T’is my new life aspiration!
Seriously. Never have I been surrounded by so many beautiful, comfortable and affordable shoes in my life. Yes, affordable. And comfortable. And did I mention gor-gei-yuuuusss? Forget Mr. Effexor***, give me pumps any day!
You see, the great thing about London, fashion and design are embedded in every corner. Paris is prettier, Florence sweeter, Vienna greater, New York grittier, in my humble opinion, but London’s art culture is within its guts. There’s an artistic urgency here that I’ve never quite felt anywhere else. It’s overwhelming, really. The sheer number of vintage shops, independent music shops, cooky designer products shop, art galleries and art schools and art bakeries and art-this and art-that, is mind-numbing. I never really considered myself to be a small town girl, but ma’, we certainly ain’t in Kansas no more!
Here are just some of the cool places to look for, like, cool stuff I've managed to take in:
- magma: I never quite know where it is located, or exactly how to get there as all the times I’ve stumbled upon it I was lost. But it’s in Soho, and if there’s only one thing I learned here is that every road leads to somewhere awesome in Soho. The flagship is a bookstore that carries cooky arty/design gems I’d all buy if I had the money, while a few steps down the road you’ll find one filled with a buncha cool cards, gadgets and decorations. Utterly useless stuff, yes, but my, how joy-inducing!
- fopp: Again, another awesome store in Soho. Originally a Glaswegian retailer, it provides books, music, dvds for a fraction of what one of those Big Megatstore offers. One can spend days there rumaging through their floors for big names or dodgy elitist shit. It’s like an music geek’s wet dream and it makes me slightly regret I grew up with Wham! instead (damn you, Big Sister, damn you! *fist to the sky*)
- Grant & Cutler: Biggest European bookstore I know, right behind Oxford Street, that carries French books. They have piles and piles of books over shelves stocked to the electrical-wired open ceiling. It's neither corky nor pretty like some other smaller bookstore I’ve seen but it feels like one of those school libraries where I used to skip classes to linger in and spent literally hours reading about authors whose works were covered in the same lectures I was incidentally missing. It makes me all warm & gooey in the inside.
- Marks & Spencer: I get it. I really do. M&S is not just another big chainstore– it’s a wonderful chainstore. And all because of their rasberry & marscapone cake. *drools* For some 4 quid, you can easily ascend to crusty sugar heaven and would pledge undying devotion to its makers with just one bite even though one bite is surely not enough. Unfortunately, others seem to have found this glorious treasure as it is rarely on the shelf for long. *pouts* Even so, like Tom Cruise, I can’t possibly keep such a holy revelation to myself, so just make sure to save me a piece if you ever get your hands on it (no forks needed, thank you).
3. Eating Until the Fat Lady Blows Up
The consensus seems to be that English food is shite. And I wouldn’t argue much against that had my stomach not been a rubbish bin. Also, it is not so much all English food that are a tad below international par – its pies and cakes and biscuits are absolutely divine.
What is quite special here however, in The Second Most Expensive City IN THE WORLD, is its gastronomical variety. Aside from Chinese & Vietnamese food (oh! My kingdom for a decent phở!), Asian food here, particularly Korean & Japanese, is freakin’ awesome! And if you feel like some Indian, any restaurant you encounter every two buildings can beautifully accomplish the task, let me tell you.
On the European front, a south Italian restaurant, arancina, offers cuisine that makes me drool sexily with longing every two hours, offering seasonal seafood and pasta, a whole range of sweet creamy goodies and friendly local staff. There’s also this belgian bistro I’ve recently found, Le Pain Quotidien, that serves the best in house coffee with fresh cold meats & veggie platters, all served with homemade bread and is, with free internet, my semi-permanent residence.
It wouldn’t surprise me if I needed to buy an extra plane ticket to fit the excess fat I’ve gained when I’ll fly back home. Luckily, I can’t be bothered. Specifically because my brain is busy concentrating on chewing, digesting and making more room for more food. I heart my brain.
4. “There’s nowhere like home.” (Especially if it’s cheap.)
I’ve moved out from The Oestrogen House. Not without a little regret, I must admit, as for the last few weeks I was there, some of the girls have managed to melt my cold barren heart. But when mice moved in, I figured no warm fuzzy human feelings can over-compensate my over-priviledged sissy repulsion towards rodents nesting in my bathroom and fled the fuck out of there.
I am now living in walking distance of Notting Hill, Holland Park, Kensington Gardens and Portobello Road, with every convenience food shop and restaurants I’ve ever craved for right around the corner. And I’m paying a lot less. And it’s in zone freaking 1. It’s freaking awesome.
So awesome, in fact, you feel like there has to be a drawback somewhere…
Like, I don’t know, living with a cat. When you are acutely allergic to cats. But, with the pros being what they are, I figured one just needs to hoover a bit more often and buy more tissue paper. Or, you know, kick said cat.
Or then again, you discover you are highly propelled to kick instead the person you live with, who just so happens to share not only an enclosed tiny space but also a bed and a romantic liaison with you...
Would that be rather inappropriate, you reckon?
Somehow, all the above has blinded me to the fact that (a) I seem to have acquired what some might refer to as a Boyfriend *shudders*, and (b) I am now bewilderingly living with said Boyfriend *gags*.
Yes, I’ve moved in with the boy who was featured in such previous episodes as this, this, and this one too, and that one as well, and ouh! let's not forget this one! Which means, in addition to all the benefits already mentioned, I get the luxury to see him and his strange boy-habits, day in, day out, twenty-four-freaking hours a day, and somehow still want to shag him senselessly. A feat, dear virtual friends, that test the very limits of my sanity.
We have now passed beyond the Farting Stage, Shaving Stage and Having Sex Every Other Three Seconds (Or However Long It Is For Him To Go Again, Ahem) Stage. Frankly, I quite enjoy where we are – the amount of effort, time and energy I am saving from keeping my body primmed and proper can probably get me through a doctorate degree in Astrophysics.
Or, you know, cleaning.
*tears hair out*
I. Am. A. Clean-freak.
I know this. This is me taking responsibility, okay?
Great. Can we get to the part where he drives me fucking insane?
By putting the cheese grater back in the cuboard, full of cheese on it?
By covering the stove with dried sticky tomato slices right after I cleaned it?
By piling the rubbish bin so high it becomes the fucking ninth world wonder?
By discarding bottle caps and lids god knows where so the kitchen emits a cheesy-garlic-ketchup smell mixed with cat food?
By leaving my body towel by the bath tub – WHERE THE CAT GRAZES BY?
I mean, seriously. SERIOUSLY! THE MAN IS OUT TO KILL ME!!!
*takes a deep breath*
Right. So maybe he’d have some darn good reasons to plot my demise, and sure, these are relatively 'little things'****.
But... aren’t these 'little things' just ramifications of how he behaves generally? That when push comes to shove, he just doesn’t fucking care enough to do anything? And instead, just bows down, defeatedly, gives up, looks the other way? Out of laziness? That when it comes down to it, he doesn’t have what it takes?
... How the hell did I become this kinda girl? The kind of girl who needs – demands! – that Love, with the proverbial capital ‘l’, should be proven, challenged & conquered? To transcend somehow? How did I, the girl who is weary of relationship and all its by-products, have such naïve romantic beliefs about ‘Love’? And more importantly, what if my love for him isn’t unconditional?...
*rocks back & forth in dark corner*
Um, yes. All this brought about by ‘little things’. Like him not doing the dishes. Or leaving his dirty socks on my clean undies*****. Neurotic much?
And then... he’d say something like, ‘Should I start tap dancing now?’, and I melt with laughter like a pile of dungshit in an overheated oven, all over again.
I hate relationships******.
* So when I said 'jiffy' I forgot tot take into account that I was also A Lazy Bum. Apologies. I know you were all anxiously biting down your nails, painfully awaiting for an encompassing update. To pardon myself, click here. Carry on.
** Nope, that’s still not getting old, I’m afraid! *thumbs up*
*** Speaking of which, I am weaning myself down to now 35mg per week!! Huzzah! It’s been a long & winding road, but that’s another post for another very fickle day...
**** And there are other 'little things' too – little things that my brain must erase from memory immediately as to keep itself from sucking itself dry out of sheer mercy. (Shush. What do you mean, do I exagerate a bit?)
***** No, but I mean, that’s enough to make me gauge my eyes out.
****** In a ‘not really, not even a little, not at all kinda way’. (Help. Me.)