28 November 2009

tea for 2

28 nov 08

woke at 3:00 [pm]

early 50's

watched Doctor Who

read Hardy [for which I had to give a presentation, urrrrghhhh Hardy!]

where Stacey and I had lunch outside of Cambridge

27 November 2009

the last supper

27 nov 08


woke at 12:00

went to Oedipus starring Ralph Fiennes

Chips at local fish and chips shop


Friends and I reenacting The Last Supper, during our last supper together in '06

25 November 2009

25 nov 08

25 nov 08

woke at 1:00 [pm]

cool, early 40's, cloudy


tea at caffe nero

night class -- movie, Festival of Britain

School building in '06, view from my dorm bedroom

24 nov 08, London

24 nov 08

lower 40's, cloudy/rainy

woke at 12:00

opened bank account

went to class -- Bleak House discussed

Autumn at Cambridge University (where I traveled with Stacey and a former professor, the latter of whom was teaching a class there).

23 November 2009



woke at 8:00

Stacey left for America at 9:00

Sunny/rainy, cold, 40's



Once Stacey leaves, my time in London becomes a bit depressing. Fail a paper and return home to America.

It is hard to explain how a time can be so bad, and yet so great at the same time. That's what it was like in London. My first time there, in '06, when I was a study abroad student for 3 1/2 months was nothing but a pleasant experience. It is where I met Stacey and our mutual friend -- my roommate -- Kristen. My time in grad school was pretty bad, but I loved walking around London. That was the greatest part. Waking at 6:00 in the morning and walking across Waterloo Bridge before the sun came up; walking across the Thames Embankment while the sun rose. I miss it so much, that even now I'm welling up just thinking about it.

The theatre. I loved seeing shows. I saw some of the greatest performers of my time. Derek Jacobi, Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Dame Judi Dench, Rosamund Pike, Patrick Stewart, Anna Maxwell Martin, Kenneth Branagh, Ralph Fiennes, Dame Eileen Atkins, Sophie Thompson, Gina McKee. Saw productions like HAMLET and TWELFTH NIGHT, plays that are no where better made than in the soil from which they sprang.

I think back and I wonder if I didn't enjoy it enough. I knew when I was there that I should grab every moment, that one day I would be stuck in a bad situation and have something good to look back on.

I think I did make the most of it, the most of what was given to me; at least I took what I could from it.

And I know some day I will return to London, not feeling the visitor, but as though I've never left. I know a little of myself will always belong in London.

Trafalgar Square

St. Paul's from Millennium Bridge

Typically foggy London morning on Westminster Bridge

22 November 2009

dad; a year ago, in London (22 Nov 08)

My father is 75% hard of hearing, so when his alarm goes off in the morning to wake him up, even though it wakes me up all the way upstairs, he often sleeps right through it, and I have to go downstairs and wake him up.




woke at 9:00

saw jazz trio at Natural History Museum*

Lunch at V&A [Victoria and Albert Museum]

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park at night

* Here is a video that Stacey took of the performance we saw of The Neil Cowley Trio (and that's my big head in front of her).

21 November 2009

a year ago, in London (21 nov 08)

21 - 11 - 08

woke at 10:30

cold, windy 40's

Wallace Collection [saw Madame de Pompadour portrait and The Swing]*

Infiltrated Regent's College [former college I attended] with Stacey for dinner

Festival on South Bank

Jazz at South Bank Festival Hall

nutella crepes, Mmmmmm


20 November 2009

a year ago, in London

20 - 11 - 08

woke at 9:00

50's [degrees]

went to Harrods for tea and scones with Stacey

Apsley House near Hyde Park [museum, if I remember correctly]

Bond Street Christmas lighting -- real reindeer, fake snow blown out of the windows above the shops, entertainers

stopped at cafe in Leicester Square 4 dinner

19 November 2009

a year ago today, in London


woke at 9:00

early 50's, cool, sunny

class & Phd mtg

I really could have been a bit more descriptive, huh?

18 November 2009

a year ago

I'm scrap-booking my time in London last year, and came across my bulletined diary (that Abby gave me) from that time. Each day I wrote the basics of what I did that day.

Here's from a year ago.


cool, cloudy, sunny

woke at 2:00 [P.M.]

went to dinner with Stacey & watched Top Gear

I wish my life were an Austen novel, but I'm living in a Dickens world

I knew getting up this morning that my day was not going to be pleasant, because I need to consolidate my loans, and of course this can't be easy.

In order to fill out the forms online to consolidate I have to know what my educational pin is, something of four numbers that is apparently more important than my social number. I go on the department of education Web site to retrieve this omniscient number, but (of course) since I've already tried to do this years ago, I'm not allowed to do it again. So I call them up and they tell me to do something which I don't really understand as the lady on the line was talking fast and obviously didn't want to talk to me. So I try to do it on the Web site, but then a security question comes up -- what is your mother's maiden name? I put in Nichols. Nope, wrong. I put in Nicholls. Nope, wrong. I'm starting to believe that I don't know what my mother's maiden name is. I try it again. Oh, three times is not the charm, and now my pin is disabled.

I refrain from calling the Department of Education again, for fear of getting that lady who, through her tone of voice, will only verify how much of a moron I already know I am.

So I'll call back tomorrow. And go through the torturous process of getting my pin un-disabled, and then trying again to find out what the elusive four numbers are, just so I can put it in a little square box on my loan page, so they will let me consolidate my loans, so I don't have to pay the 600 dollars they want me to pay every month.

Life is like the Circumlocution Office in Charles Dickens's "Little Dorrit", a place where one goes to find information, but instead one is continually placed in circles, where "forms need to be filled in to request permission to fill in more forms" and in the end no information is attained, but only a sort of soul crushing defeat is felt.

I think we all wish our lives were like an Austen novel, where the rules of love are the only complex ingredients in life. I know I do. Especially since I don't really believe in love, and so, by process of elimination, I would have nothing to worry about at all.

16 November 2009

dude, I swear.

Remember that time people said that if George Bush, Jr. became president again, they were going to move to Canada? I thought they were being a tad bit overly dramatic. But now I understand them. Because I swear if Sarah Palin is ever the president of my country I am going to leave the U.S. so fast, you won't even know I've left.

09 November 2009


I'm reading a rather fat book about the rise and fall of the British Empire. I am at the beginning, so I am just at the part where Britain is infiltrating what would become America and the American's fight for independence against the British in the late 1700's. And just now I think that what happened three hundred+ years ago is still happening today in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Fort Hood.

On a happier note, I have watched the first half of the football game with my father. Me, reclining on the arm of his recliner, sharing a snuggly blanket, my father saying that we will pretend that we are at the game and it is 10 below.

My father turns on Fox News during the commercials. I listen to the ignorance of the people on that channel, and I know what it is to love, because I do not hate or even in any way dislike my father for his republican beliefs. There will always be differences between people and wars will only exist so long as people allow their opinions to supersede their love.

EDIT: Finishing this post I went downstairs to watch the second half of the game -- "All you need is love..." from the Beatles ringing through my head as a consequence of the post I just wrote-- picking up a fortune cookie left over from the chinese takeaway ordered earlier this evening, and I smiled as I read One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him. How very apt.

07 November 2009

coming home from work

after working 10 hours at the deli, my father tells me, in a jovial tone,

"I told your mother this morning, that Monday, my only day off, I don't want to hear anything from anyone. I'm going to wake up, have a nice breakfast, and sit in my chair and watch the game. And that is it. Nothing else. I don't care if the President calls. Obama-head will have to call back tomorrow, because I'm watching the Monday night game!"

And then, in his characteristic, after work, slightly demented mood, he moves his right hand up into the air, in an aristocratic french manner, and say's,

"'Avant. Be out of my sight.' That's from Shakespeare. And it's the only thing I know of Shakespeare."

To which I retort, "What about 'To be or not to be? That is the question?'"

We then spend the next minute trying to think up the next line, with my father, befuddled, muttering,

"nobler in the mind..."

"yes! 'Tis nobler in the mind..."


My father sits down. "Oh, who cares about Shakespeare, dopey Shakespeare." And then, "My legs are swollen tonight." Which of course must naturally transition into my father singing, a la West Side Story, "Tonight, tonight, my legs are swollen like a dyke."

"What?" I exclaim, laughing uproariously.

"Oh, I'm tired, and crazy tonight," my father exclaims matter-of-factly.

"No, really?" I'm still laughing as I leave the kitchen.


Like many people who come to New York to live and then have to leave before they really want to, I spent the next three or four years with the vague feeling that there was a great party going on somewhere and I was not at it.

03 November 2009

to live in the 1800's

Along with the many interesting, innocuous things one can do on Facebook, there is an application called socialinterview, where you can answer questions about your friends.

Here's one that one of my Facebook friends wrote about me:

"What would Helen Walko be like if he/she lived in the 1800s?"

'Almost exactly as she is now, except she'd fit in better, and spend her days wishing she lived in the 1600's.when men and literature were so much better......''

01 November 2009

my parents

note left my father in his chicken scratch that very much resembles my own,

Helen - Get the cats Kibbles -- and we need Bread -- See you all after 5 -- DADO

Some time after my mother writes below, in blue ink,

Do Not get this stuff -- Mom

Just as I'm about to write this on here, thinking this was enough to show the incongruity of my family, mom knocks on my door to reiterate her argument that I shouldn't buy anything at Rite Aid, a block away from where I live, her argument being that my father works at Giant Eagle, can buy it himself, and RA doesn't have the kind of kibbles that the cats like. I tell her they do, she tells me they don't, I tell her I have bought it there, she relents, but then says that she wants to buy a big 20 pound bag of it at Giant Eagle. I tell her go right ahead and do that but what are the cats going to eat in the meantime. Her response is that they can live a day without food. I want to tell her that she is a moron but instead don't say anything -- and then she goes in for the kill. Why don't I just take the bus up to Giant Eagle and pick up the kibbles there before dad gets home. Oh, and there's a list of other things on the kitchen table. I tell her to leave my room. She slams my door and her own.