School’s Out Forever

Confession: I’ve been suffering from a major case of writers block.

I blame school.

The entire month of March was spent researching and writing four papers: two individual papers, two group papers. In total I wrote about 9,000 words. So not only did I have nothing left to say here, but there was also nothing exciting to report.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I have exciting stuff to report now, I just have the time and energy to write 🙂

Luckily, classes are officially over! Yes, we started at the end of September, and ended the first week of April. This was the perfect masters program: the short kind!

Of course, there is a huge mountain of work still ahead, but the majority of the masters program is behind us. So now what?

Now my life will be consumed with mind-maps, books with multi-colored sticky tabs, and pages of notes. Now I dive into writing my dissertation. The 12,000-word paper is due in July and can be on any music related topic we choose. I have decided to write about the different factors that lead to the self-destruction of young pop stars. There has been very little written on this topic so I’m getting creative with my resources. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details now because I have until July to do that.

Onto more exciting stuff:

Okay, I guess I did one fun thing in March. I went to see In A Forest, Dark and Deep at the Vaudeville Theatre, staring Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams. It was an incredible play. I can best describe it as very serious but with comedic moments sprinkled throughout. After years of playing Dr. Jack Sheppard on Lost, was interesting to see Matthew Fox play a character who was unapologetically honest, evil, and flawed.

Fox & Williams taking a bow

The two stars play brother and sister, and Fox’s character has come to help William’s character move out of her home deep in the forest. It turns out that the sister house full of secrets that she’s been keeping from her brother. The play runs until early June and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to see a show in London.

I have also been working on my “27 before 27” list. I have definitely failed to complete many of them that required constant attention, but perhaps attempting this and a master’s degree was a bit too much. I am still working through it however, and I recently finished knitting a scarf!

I have also been working through the movies I have never seen, finding the best Mexican food in London (more on that soon), and planning trips to countries in Europe that I’ve never been to before.

More than anything I am now looking ahead to the next couple months. I will have lots of visitors coming between now and the end of May, including my parents. We are taking a trip to Greece for ten days, and then they will spend four days in London before heading back to the US.

Looking forward to Greece!

There is also tons of excitement surrounding the Royal Wedding on April 29th. I still have not decided where I’ll be watching it, since my invite was clearly lost in the mail. Considering the world-wide excitement surrounding this event, it is hard not to resist going down to the route to catch a glimpse of the couple.

Of course, the job search is also on. I am hoping to find something here in London in the next couple months so that I can stay for at least another year. In the mean time, I’ve got plenty of writing to do!




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Travel Tip #3 – Before You Leave

Continuing the travel tips series, the following are tips for before you leave on an international trip.


Before you leave…

1)  Who you gonna call? – These days most people have smart phones that make it much easier when traveling internationally. If you have never been outside of the country with your phone though, it is important to check with your cell phone provider regarding rates and charges outside of your home country. Be sure to ask about both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, as well as data charges.

2)  Print important documents – In the event that your smart phone does not work (which you won’t know until you arrive), be sure to print off any airline, hotel, train, or ferry confirmations that you have booked in advance.  Another important document you should have a copy of when traveling internationally is your passport. Keep that copy in a separate location from the original. If you passport is in your hand luggage, put it in your checked luggage. In the event that you loose your passport, having a copy is MUCH better than having nothing at all.

3)  Money Money Money – Another international travel tip is how to deal with credit cards and money. First, don’t take too many credit or debit cards with you. One of each will be plenty. Second, be sure to call your bank or credit card company to let them know you will be traveling internationally. Many cards will red flag any unusual activity, especially international purchases. If let them know in advance where you are going, and when you will return, it will prevent them from freezing your account after one purchase.

Finally, know where/when to exchange money. Sometimes your bank can order a specific currency if you request it in advance. There are always exchange places in airports, but they offer the worst exchange rates. There are ATM machines in the arrivals area of every major international airport so you can always take money out there. Either way, be sure to have cash in that currency before you leave the airport.

4)  Adaptors? Converters? Huh??? – Different countries have different electrical outlets and electrical voltages. This means that even with an adaptor, which just changes the plug for the socket, the difference in voltage will cause the socket to blow and kill your item. I personally don’t believe in converters and they sell in stores. I don’t think they work. Some items have converters built in (Apple products are known for this) so you are safe with those. Items like electric shavers, phone chargers, and camera chargers are usually fine as long as you attach an adaptor. Items like hair dryers and flat irons however will not work without a converter (again, I don’t think they work).

The best bet is to not pack those items. Make sure the hotel you are staying at has a hair dryer, and if you really can’t live without your flat iron, pick one up for less than $20 at a local drug store when you arrive at your destination.

Voltages around the world

For more information regarding voltages around the world, check out this site:

For more on the Travel Tips series, click here.



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New Year

Happy New Year!

A month into the new year and I’ve failed to post a new blog update. I know, I’m way behind.

I have however chosen a new layout for the site and moved some stuff around. I put all the food related stuff under Eating In & Out and have also been working on more travel tips (#3 and #4, coming soon!).

That was then…

The holidays were great (aside from the two papers I had to write). First, we went up to northern California for a week to see family. While we were there, we drove up to Napa one day and went wine tasting.

Wine tasting in Napa - Silver Oak

With Mom and Dad in Napa

For Christmas Eve, my cousins, parents, uncle and aunt went to a casino to enjoy one of our favorite family pastimes: gambling. I played little roulette and I must say, I’m loving that game more and more every time I play. Traditionally I always loved blackjack, but  now I feel that roulette is so much more exciting. It probably helps that I won $150 that night.

Christmas day was lots of fun, especially watching my cousin’s kids run downstairs to open their presents. I will not be posting photos of them here, however if you are friends with me on Facebook you can check out the ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ album for all the cute photos. Instead, I am posting a photo of our delicious Persian Christmas dinner.

Christmas Dinner

I spent New Years in Nashville with my dear friends, and it was wonderful to be back in the city that I called home for so many years.

NYE at Chris' place

I don’t really believe in new years resolutions, so originally I did not have one. Then I thought of one that is so out of my control that it seemed like a brilliant choice. So, my new years resolution is to not have surgery in 2011. In 2009 I had to have my tonsils removed, and in 2010 I had my eye surgery. I would really like 2011 to be surgery free. One month in and I have not broken my resolution yet.

Finally, my dad and I got certified to sail boats up to 25 feet long. No photos of that however since it is a bit difficult to snap photos when you are trying not to get hit in the head by the boom. What I can tell you is that I picked it up quickly and really enjoyed being out on the water. I’m definitely looking forward to sailing more next time I got home.

This is now…

Now I’m back in London, a few weeks into classes, and I am eagerly awaiting summer.

We are four weeks into the new school term and in approximately three weeks I need to submit my dissertation topic. I’ve known for a couple months what I want to writer about, however I need to refine it and be able to say it in just a couple sentences (right now it takes about eight sentences to explain). Once I submit the topic, I will share it.

Aside from choosing my dissertation topic, we have had a light work load for the first time since November. Unfortunately, it will pick up again in March, so I have been trying to work on my 27 Before 27 list. I have been watching films I’ve never seen, and even started learning how to knit using this handy kit that I found at John Lewis.

In other news…

This past weekend was the Super Bowl, and as many of you know, my family does pool which we participate in every year. I’ve come to believe that my dad and uncles used this as a tool to get their daughters into a sporting event which they may have otherwise cared less about. In my case, it definitely worked. The prospect of winning $500 has trained me to love the Super Bowl since I was a little girl.

For those of you who are not familiar with the football pool, let me explain how it works. There are 100 squares, each one is sold for a certain amount, and once they are all filled in, numbers 0-9 are randomly pulled out of a hat and placed along the top and left side. Money is paid out to the winners of each quarter, half time, and final score (the half and final usually pay out more). When it’s all done, it looks like this:

Every year, my dad buys 4 boxes: one for each member of our family (the 4th member being George, our dog). George has become somewhat of a good luck charm having won at least twice before. This year, George did it again and his numbers came up at halftime. Hopefully we can convince him to share some of his winnings with the rest of the family.

The luckiest dog ever

I believe that pretty much covers life for the past couple months. More coming soon…hopefully.



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