London #2

Okay, so the correspondence hasn't been great for two non-defensible reasons. First, the landline with a soul-sympathetic international rate (only one of the 6 people who live in this house is actually from england) is in my flatmate's room and she goes to bed quite early. second, anyone who knows me will believe that I've been meaning to buy a calling card for about a month.

And Alex, I feel terrible about not calling you on your birthday, or the day after, and too sheepish to facebook you or something stupid the day after that. Happy birthday.

I have seriously been going out too much and it's hurting my academic performance... i really haven't produced anything in the 4 weeks I've been here and am going to show documentation this week. And commuting to school doesn't really help the situation either. Imagine taking a bus into midtown every single day. That's what I do.

Overall I really appreciate the general environment here way way better than in the US, there are just way fewer expectations for people. I think that Americans are too pulverized by the all-consuming "do something meaningful with your life" question. The attitude of everyone here is "just do it" and so they do. Most people here don't go to college right after high school, almost everyone takes a year or 3 off.

The Central St. Martin's 4D department is full of a group of people waist-deep in critical theory, everyone here is quite well-read and I'm struggling to keep up. When they talk about art it's like they're speaking in another language. And most of them have good work to back it up too. A common question people ask in casual conversation is "what are you reading?" I really don't know why that's not the way it's done at Pratt. The art history curriculum here is centered around seminars where you're required to read a book a week and then discuss them as a group of about 20, which I think is a far better way of teaching art history than stupid lectures which no one likes going to even if they enjoy art history.

I was told that my accent would soften up after a couple of weeks, and I don't think that's happened... I think it's different for everyone.

The English do not drink their beer warm. They drink it cold just like everyone else, but things like English ale and Stout are served at room temperature or cellar temperature just because that's the custom there.

The common greeting here is "You all right?" which is the equivalent of "Hi how are you" in America, except that the only reason you would ever say "Are you all right" in America is if someone really doesn't look like it. If I say "Hi how are you" here everyone knows what I'm talking about, but it took me a little while to really understand "You all right?" Similarly, I can swallow English sarcasm clean but NO ONE here seems to understand American sarcasm. There are, erhm, certain people who would LOVE it here. Someone here asked me if I was going to travel around Europe, "You know, to France," to which I sarcastically replied, "Fuck no, I ain't going near no fuckin' frogs!" Dripping sarcasm here, with exaggerated voice and shit-eating grin. "Excuse me, that's a terrible thing to say, you're missing a wonderful opportunity!" Thanks, ENTIRE BRITISH NATION.

If you think the celebrity gossip in the US is intense, think again. Seriously, though. It's pretty disgusting, people here just gobble the shit up, women with baby strollers pick up gossip papers at stores. Lately I have begun to feel genuinely sorry for Britney Spears what with all the pictures of here looking like shit and miserable plastered all over every news stand in the city, and I totally understand the outrage over Princess Diana's death after her car was swarmed with paparazzi. It is FAR worse here than in America.

I met a couple of douchebags from a different school the other day who really just seemed to be flat-out prejudiced against Americans. I mean, I knew that would happen but it really did hurt when I was actually faced with that.

I have gotten a great job shooting concert footage and interviews for indie bands, and an internship with a video artist, although the latter likely won't be that eventful save for a good reference.

All you Com-D kids may be amused that there is far less helvetica in public spaces and far more futura. And some other typeface I can't quite put my finger on.

I haven't smoked so many hand-rolled cigarettes in my entire life, and it doesn't help that everyone in the entire city smokes as well and cigarette breaks are a routine social activity, including with teachers. I would like to reiterate how comedic it is that the english call cigarettes "fags".

So anyway, I've secured some really great work opportunities for myself, now it's time to focus on the important part, which is work. I have been going out too much on the weekends and have gotten very little done. However, I plan on making a trippy-ass music video (music by myself and some friends) about planes and trains and string theory and london and fetuses, a 16mm essay film about the ritual of visiting dead people's graves, and a neo-Kevin Smith film about a dorky kid who borrows money from gangsters because he's whipped by his hot girlfriend who's threatening to leave if he doesn't pay for her boob job. I fear that the latter is actually the plot to a film I've already seen but can't remember. If this be the case please tell me.

I've really got to get cracking on this stuff, days are seriously going by.

Oh, but I'm getting way better at cooking, as in not relying rigidly on recipes for everything. Man, cooking is fun and time-consuming.

I haven't listened to classic rock in a very long time, and I don't know why that is. Radiohead is pretty much it these days. And Entrance.

Writing has become a constant part of my thought process. I don't know what I did before I wrote all the time... where did I get any ideas? By writing about my ideas for like 15 pages I can get so much more out of a simple idea, and then that branches off in every direction. It's such a great process and a way of externalizing my thoughts in a matter of seconds, whereas making a film takes weeks. This is something I can never, ever stop doing.

On a more serious note, I noted the other day that in the last four year s I have relocated eight times ("relocation" is a dramatic shift in not only location but activity, responsibility, etc- the seven months I spent at home after WWU were radically different than the summer after senior year, summer after foundation year, and last summer working for Bob.), which means that I'm not very used to staying anywhere for more than 6 months. Wherever I go, I start to feel like this is the forefront of my whole life, and everything else is just left behind. But this exchange is different, and it's difficult to actually imagine that in a couple of months I'm going to have to come back to the United States and resume my old life. It's not that that's a bad thing, it's just that I've never really had an "old life" to come back to, despite that I've been moving around all the time. The only time I've ever had my life on hold was last summer, the near entirety of which was spent wishing I was back in New York. I'm not doing that here (at least not often) since London is so exciting and new. To tell the truth, I find it hard to really grasp that I even spent almost 22 years there, and that I'm eventually going to have to go back, and that what I'm doing now is really just a paid vacation, not my "real life" as it were. It's not that I consider all this a bad thing, it's just something I'm having a difficult time counting as reality. I know that doesn't make sense.

Another thing I've realized, well I probably realized this last semester, is that upon graduation it will be absolutely imperative that I own my own camera, (probably a Panasonic HVX-200 if they don't replace it with a new model, or if RED's new "Scarlet" product is what I think it is, or if Sony's pro video department pull their heads out of their asses which btw is unlikely) The ability to make a film whenever I want would be such a great thing, and being able to do it without arranging a rental would be the best thing in the world, and would allow for a very large degree of artistic freedom. There's a concept which came about with the advent of digital cinematography in the mid-'90s of "two-suitcase filmmaking" where a filmmaker keeps a camera in one suitcase and an editing system in another. Being such a person is a very important thing, and I really think that anyone who doesn't clue in to the advantages of these great new cameras is going to get left hopelessly behind.

Okay, now I'm talking about cameras so I'll shut up, besides it's 3:30 and I have to wake up in 3.5 hours anyway so that I can get to school on time.

So that's how I'm doing. I love and miss all of you.

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