Friday, December 7, 2012

England - "Almost the Home Stretch"

            The next morning was kind of a blur.  I had spent the entire evening repacking my belongings,  tidying up and making my final plans for Manchester.  I slept the entire car ride to catch up on sleep a bit.  The nice neighbors dropped me next to a train station and I was off to Piccadilly (the town center).

It was much colder than Northamptonshire.
To say it was freezing wasn't exaggerating.
I killed some time and stayed warm at a local coffee shop while I waited for my new host to get off work.
      He was really kind and full of great ideas.  That night we went to curry mile for some indian food and the University of Manchester for a beer and cider tasting. Have you ever had scrumpy?  ... Cider without the carbonation?  I hadn't. The bit I got tasted like sour sunscreen.  I'm sure it was just that brand....?   :/

      That night was a lot of fun!  Although, I feel like I climbed back into my shell that day.  The outgoing me all the sudden became the shy/quiet me.  I'm really not sure why.  Maybe I was complacent about going home.  Thinking about the week and a half to come and my flight back home.  The flight that as soon as I booked; I felt slightly trapped.  Trapped because I felt like I would get stuck back home.  I felt that one responsibility would turn into five and five would turn into twenty-five until the black hole sucked me in.

      I had to tell myself to stop being foolish and just be happy for the wonderful experiences that so gratefully came my way.

      I was happy.  I was slightly shy.  I was cold but optimistic about it.

In the morning I woke up to "pancakes". (He is German.)  Some sweet, some salty.
They were wonderful!
This is the view from the couch I was sleeping on.

       The sun finally came out.  I was overjoyed! ... even though everything was frozen outside.  The weather seemed so ironic and serene to me.  There was a quietness that came with the brisk air.  For most of the world this is probably normal experience.  
       Remember, I'm spoiled from sunny Los Angeles, California.  We're lucky if we get gloom on Christmas day!  I enjoyed bundling up in my scarf and hat from Norway..

...and my new WARM genuine leather and fur gloves that I scored for 8 quid, roughly 12 USD.
(Yes, those are the actual keys to the apartment!)

      The week was one awesome event after the other! We went to a CS barhop meet that included dancing and a lot of really friendly people.  I even made a friend who I later had coffee with in town.             

       Each day was a new adventure!  It was nice to get out. Especially after waiting inside for the rain and flooding to pass for a week in Northamptonshire.

       It was nice not to feel too much like a burden for a change.  I had a weekly bus pass and I felt pretty self sufficient.  

It had been a while since I had seen trash religiously on public transport.
I guess it made me feel at home... in a bad way.

        Finally, it was the day I was waiting for.  It was the reason or excuse I needed to end up in Manchester!  Yeasayer was playing at the university and tickets were unbelievably inexpensive!  I invited some CSers to join in the online forum but no one took up the offer.  

         I was going alone and I was determined to have a great time.  I got there early so I decided to have an irish coffee. At the coffee shop I met someone who was up for buying a ticket and going to the show with me. 

     The show was nothing short of amazing. They were playing a pretty small stage.  On top of that there were only about five people in the room when I showed up.  Was this real?  How could I be so fortunate?  I went into a little bit of shock.  Then, I just smiled and said to myself, "Yeah, this is my life right now and it's awesome."  The whole show I had a giant smile like a little kid who was about to meet big bird.

      The venue eventually got kind of crowded but I already had my spot saved.

      Here's a clip:  (Excuse the shaking etc.  I was paying attention to the band not the camera.  After all, I didn't go to the show for the camera.  :p)

       As I was leaving the venue I couldn't help but re-notice the vinyl albums they had for sale.  They were more than I wanted to spend and.... would it if in my backpack without getting crushed?  Would I have to ship it home?  Well, those are the thoughts I had before the show.

       The only thought I had when exiting the show was more like, "I'm going to get an album signed by the band... right now.  It's going to happen." (Those of you who know me in person know I'm usually very laid back, "go-with-the-flow"ish and low maintenance.) This was about conquering fear and proving to myself I can do anything.  Plus, the night was already going so well it was bound to happen.  

       I went next door to the ATM paid a fee for pulling out cash and bought the album.  I marched back up the stairs where the band should have been just to be stopped in my tracks by security.  I wasn't going to be pushy and I wasn't.  I wasn't going to give up either.  I went back down to the merch table and talked to the guy who sold me the album.  He told me that Yeasayer was definitely up there and they would probably be pretty likely to sign my album. I went back up to security just to be told that they had left the building. I don't want to call them liars.......buuuuut............ they were still in the building.

       I accepted and respected what they said even though it wasn't true; and moved on to the next solution. If they *had* left the building they would be in the tour bus right? But which tour bus was theirs?  I felt like a hopeless Britney Spears fan.  Oh well, this wasn't Britney Spears and it wasn't really about being a fanatic either.

       After poking around trying to figure out if there was anyone in the buses I finally found a driver who told me which bus was Yeasayer's.   It was the black one.  I waited patiently while it started to sprinkle.  I didn't have anything to protect the album. Was this going to work?   I tested my patience just a little.  About 20 minutes later the same guy from the merch table came to the bus.  He said it would be a while until they came down.

         I'll stop boring you.... but just after that the guy finished packing his table into the bus, grabbed a permanent marker and took the album up to the band to be signed.

Victory was mine!
I guess I decided it looked better upside down when I got home.
I'll stick to my gut.  :p

    I was happy.  I was in a great mood.  I had an incredible night.

< --  Post concert goofy face.


     The following night was a Tuesday.  Which only meant one thing. We were going to a céilidh also at the university!  I know what you're thinking.  What in the world is a "céilidh"?!!   

   This is the scene I thought of:

    It was more like this:

     Really confusing and really a blast!  

     Although, wiki has this to say about it: 

     "Céilidhs facilitated courting and prospects of marriage for young people and, although discos and nightclubs have displaced céilidhs to a considerable extent, they are still an important and popular social outlet in rural parts of Ireland and Scotland, especially in the Gaelic-speaking regions. Céilidhs are sometimes held on a smaller scale in private or public houses, for example in remote rural hinterlands and during busy festivals. It is common for some clubs and institutions such as sports clubs, schools and universities and even employers to arrange céilidhs on a regular or at least annual basis. The formality of these can vary. Some mix modern pop music with a Scottish country dancing band and dress codes range from compulsory highland dress to informal. Knowledge and use of the basic dance steps is not always strictly necessary, and dances often alternate with songs, poetry recitals, story telling and other types of "party pieces"."

      The next day would be a day of packing and traveling.  I was sad to leave Manchester.  I also figured I had already done every awesome thing there is to do in town.  There can't be that much more to keep my expectations up as high!   

      I'll tell you about the home stretch of the trip soon.  It's another five rad days!  Stay tuned!

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