19 October 2016

i'm 30

I turned 30 a few weeks ago.

Nearly a month, in fact.

I meant to write a big reflection-type post with lots of feelings and thoughts, but more than reflecting on my 30-total years--

--well, 29-total, since I'm in my thirtieth year, if we're being specific.

More than reflecting on my 29-total years, I've found myself thinking mainly about my twenty-ninth year specifically.

It was my best year.

I got to finish my 20's and pass into this grand new decade of (supposed) adulthood by having my very best year.

How lucky am I???

It was also my very hardest year, which surprises me since I had a few hard years in my 20's. 2006. 2014. Both pretty not great years. 2010 was hard too. But I think what's different between those years and this year is that I feel like I have so much to show for this hard year.

Not the least of which is, you know, turning 30.

I lived in England this year, which was life changing and dream-come-true and lonely and wonderful.

I visited Ireland, Italy, Spain, Scotland (twice) and traveled all across the country.

London has truly become my second home.

I saw 41 plays in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Liverpool and Carlisle.

I also saw Dave Matthews Band.

I visited the States twice. I went to LA, Las Vegas, Maine, and of course Utah sweet home.

I got engaged to the greatest man who ever lived, in Hollywood, CA no less, and then we celebrated in Disneyland.

I played the greatest prank of all time on my parents.

I got two sinus infections, a nasty bout of laryngitis, and my thyroid swung low again.

I performed in three plays.

I rang in 2016 in London with my sweetheart next to the London Eye and then walked 4 miles back to South Kensington on the greatest night ever.

I fell more in love with two small cats than I ever thought possible and have relied on them for emotional stability far more than any domestic creature should ever have to provide a human, which they've allowed me to do without complaint.

I cut a fringe in my hair again, which I think has been a success?

Turns out everything I thought I knew about singing, moving, standing and breathing are completely inefficient and wrong.

My sweetheart lived 4791 miles away, but he's been able to visit four times including two lengthy work assignments!

My family lived 4795.3 miles away, but they've been so supportive and encouraging and I can't wait to show them my home sometime next year.

I learned to cry again, in pain but mostly in joy.

I've never felt more excited, terrified, prepared, unqualified or ready for my career as an actor.

I lost 20 lbs-- and then gained it all back surrounded by my family and the best friends I never could have dreamed.

I began to adjust to and take on the joys and awkwardness and difficulties and excitement of blended families.

I have become comfortable with Military Time.

I was mugged for the first time ever in my life, without even knowing it!

I gave some drunken Scottish youths a good piece of my mind, like a proper curmudgeon.

I say "toilet" for bathroom and "corridor" for hallway and "shop" for groceries and (most horrifyingly) "y'alright?" for how are you.

My social circle has parred down so far I almost don't recognize the former butterfly I once was. I'm so grateful to truly know the meaning of friendship, and to have learned to rely on myself.

And as I stood on the south bank of the Thames at 11:30pm, 18 September, eating frozen yogurt from a Snog food truck whilst a street performer sang my favorite song "Here Comes the Sun", waiting for Big Ben to chime in my birthday like I heard him chime in 2016, I looked at the National Theatre in the dark and just knew that everything I've done, everything I've learned, everything I've unlearned, all of the letting go and taking on--

--it led me to that exact moment of peace and stillness and accomplishment and pure ambition.

I'm 30!

Oh how grand.

15 February 2016

i want to be a star

I was walking home from the bus stop tonight out here in Erdington and I looked up at the sky when I turned onto my little Grove, as I sometimes do, and stopped right in my tracks to appreciate the stars.


I can see stars in the middle of my neighborhood!

This is a thing I never expected when I moved across the world to the UK's second-largest city-- to be able to see stars from my doorstep, and quite a lot of them really.

It reminded me of that part of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the only part that made me spontaneously weep and weep and weep with the ugliest cry face that a person ever had (especially in the audience of a theatre), just giant tears dropping hard off my cheeks without knowing exactly why, the part about stars that's so comforting and sad and wonderful, all at once--

"And when you look at the sky you know you are looking at stars which are hundreds and thousands of light-years away from you. And some of the stars don't even exist anymore because their light has taken so long to get to us that they are already dead, or they have exploded and collapsed into red dwarfs. And that makes you seem very small. And if you have difficult things in your life, it is nice to think that they are what is called negligible, which means they are so small you don't have to take them into account when you are calculating something." 

I feel small in the world these days, living here across the whole world in the UK's second-largest city. Not small in a defeated, lonely way-- just small in a way that makes me appreciate the wonderful, lovely complexity of my teeny tiny little life which is, in the scheme of things, so minuscule.

So minuscule, but filled with so much light and love and satisfaction and goodness.

And in a way, the stars and red dwarfs and the galaxy and all the galaxies give me so much assurance that I am meaningful-- my life is meaningful, and my work is meaningful, and my relationships are meaningful-- because some of these giant balls of fire have been dead or exploded for longer than my brain can comprehend, but they continue to live on in light-years so that I can marvel up at them and think really big thoughts. I am inspired by these big, dead, exploded stars that live on in light. They matter. They matter to me.

And my little (by comparison) life matters.

What doesn't matter are daily annoyances or hiccups. What doesn't matter are frustrating little details that feel so important-- but aren't.

What matters is how I treat people. What matters is the work I do. What matters is burning so brightly that my energy continues to burn for hundreds of thousands of lightyears after I'm dead or exploded, because someday, somewhere, someone will look up into the sky and need my light that's still visible, even though I'm gone.

I can't believe I can see stars here.

It makes everything so much better.

Not my view exactly, but pretty close representation.

07 December 2015

end of term reflections

As of today, I have lived in England for 95 days.

I don't know why this is such a meaningful thing to me, but for some reason it is. 

Thursday is my last day of my first term in grad school. We finished classes this past Friday but we're spending this week mounting As You Like It for assessments. It's been really tough. Everything about this semester has been tough. I'm in school 45 hours/week, give or take. I feel like I don't have enough hours in the day/week/month to get everything done that I want to. But first term is nearly over. 

So far I've seen 3 plays at the National Theatre, 3 at the RSC, 2 at The Globe, 1 on the West End and 2 at school-- so far. I've got tickets to quite a few more by the end of 2015.

I've been lucky enough to work on The Globe stage, with members of the company. 

I've been to London 7 times since September. I'll visit twice more before the end of the year. I snapchat that wonderful silly giant clock every single time because I simply cannot get enough. I marvel that I get to see it with such frequency.

I saw Husbands and Sons the other night at the National and it completely changed me. I feel strongly that it may be the specific reason why I have contemplated acting school in the UK but didn't do it till now-- so I could be here, having experienced my life so far, this exact term, with a full and open heart that I was thrilled to have gutted and turned upside down by a simply terrific play that validates and challenges and questions and focuses everything I think I know about acting. 

I haven't had a single anxiety attack since I've been in school.



Anxiety attack.

I spend my days doing something I love, and looking forward to my future, continuing to do the thing I love, on the scale I seek to do it. 

I feel enlightened and energized and defeated and excited every. single. day.

But it's really hard in other ways.

I feel quite isolated. I am isolated. 

Fewer than 50 people in this country know me by name.

Fewer than 50 on this continent! 

It's been an incredibly giant and difficult adjustment for me. I know a lot of people at home. To know so few, to say nothing of actually feeling at all close to many of them, has been one of largest adjustments of all.

I feel very far away from myself-- from the person I knew even just five months ago, or a year ago, or especially two years ago, or more. Five months ago I was frantically making arrangements to get here. A year ago I had no idea I would be here. Two years ago I had just been here and wanted so badly to come back, but never thought it could actually happen, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that a Christmas tree could make up for things I didn't even know were wrong. The years before that at this time of year-- I was just so happy to have a Christmas tree in my grown-up house with my cats, or have my primary class over to decorate cookies, or take a break from rehearsing Urinetown at UVU, or do 100 seasons of A Christmas Carol while flirting with the male ensemble of the show that had just closed when I worked as a dresser while planning the most epic New Years Eve party, or whatever.

That's not even me anymore, I think.

It was me, so it's still in me, but it's not me anymore.

I think.

Which is hard to reconcile with social media. TimeHop is very healing for me, I love Instagram, but Facebook tends to be quite painful, I've found-- which is weird since I had deleted and just started over with Facebook about a year ago. I don't have the same kind of community or feed on Facebook that I once had, not even close, but I still somehow feel behind. 

Or left out?

Or less important?

When you've had a few years like the last few of mine have been, I guess that's how things go. 

When people feel caught in the middle, that's how things go.

When you're ready to move on and up, but other people want to stay the same, or don't want to but just do stay the same, that's how things go.

It's surprisingly lonely, is I guess what I'm saying.

But not in the way I expected, at least.

I don't feel badly for myself. I don't wish I were home and being included in things there. I want to be here. I want to be learning the things I'm learning, and seeing the plays I'm seeing, and living in this country. I was in London yesterday. I'm going to Scotland next week, and back to London next weekend. I sat two feet away from Anne-Marie Duff and the most brilliant, excellent actors who have been on Sherlock and Game of Thrones and all the TV shows and movies I've been watching at home. This is the circle I'm beginning to enter, so of course there will be some adjustment. It stands to reason. I'm ready for it. I'm doing it.

I'm forced to do a lot of things for myself, which is a giant change. I have to be my own cheerleader and my own biggest fan. I have to include myself in things and push myself ahead and be the most important person to myself, especially on the daily. 

And besides-- I have the most wonderful support system behind me, that is all real and true. They know who they are, the ones who have my whole heart and who give me theirs with texts and letters and packages and messages and emails and anecdotes of our best memories and encouragement in the exact moment when I need to hear kind words. 

I have the most true, true people in my life.

And the most true cats, who are such a comfort.

I think I may have fewer total people (and fewer total cats) in my life than I have had in years (or maybe ever), but they are all of them the most true. The real kind of people who just get it. They never make me feel badly about myself, or my feelings invalid, or my insecurities silly, or my experiences anything less than what I've experienced. I feel like myself with them. I so much prefer this than any social life I have had in the past. As I move on and up, I take with me and am supported by the people who will carry me forever, no matter where I land or when. 

One of them is coming to see me in 12 days, not that I'm counting. 

And for now, I've landed in England for 95 days so far, with hundreds more days to go, anxiety-free, creatively inspired, and so ready for my life to take off in the direction I've always hoped and dreamed.

Who ever, ever thought I'd be able say that???!

04 October 2015

what i've been up to

Hello, there.

I'm just here, blogging away as I sip hot chocolate in a china teacup and watch Downton Abbey-- in real time! No waiting till it airs on PBS for this kid! I get to watch the final series in real time. Just a perk of living in this place.

There a lot of perks. One perk is giant cans of my favorite dry shampoo that cost the same as the small cans in the States.

Another perk is trains. I love a proper train. They're everywhere. I get to ride one every day to school and back.

Another perk is I can order everything online and have it delivered to my door so I don't have to carry it home. Example: all groceries. Example: cat litter. Example: Indian food at 10:30PM. Free delivery! In fact I need to place an order for sometime tomorrow or Tuesday, while I'm thinking about it.....

OK, done.

So what have I been up to since my last post? Well to start, I've thought to blog a number of times and just haven't gotten to it. That means I'm keeping busy!

I moved into my very own townhouse last Tuesday night and we're all getting settled in quite nicely. I have completely lucked out. It's just wonderful. I have hardwood floors in the front room and dining room, as well as my bedroom and my en suite bathroom. There are fireplaces in the front room and dining room. I have a bathtub in the downstairs bathroom. And as it turns out, I think there may be enough space to hang everything between the armoire and the closet in the extra bedroom. It came to me entirely furnished and outfitted. And the front room is a darker shade of the turquoise color of my old living room, so I feel right at home. Erdington is an incredibly quiet neighborhood, which is quite lovely. And the kitties have been incredibly happy here (aside from the change of litter I tried to make-- lesson learned, we'll continue using the cheap stuff).

I haven't actually started school yet. That will start tomorrow. I have spent some time on campus getting oriented and attending various inductions. The truth is, the enrolment process has been incredibly trying but it seems it's all finished and I can focus on the real reason I'm here. We had a diagnostic performance for a few of our tutors last week. It gave our small cohort of 8 what we have to look forward to. I'm excited to work with these new friends from all over the USA. Our programme is designed for non-British students, so all the MFAs are American. It's nice bit of home.

We'll be performing a play at the end of each term this year in culmination of each genre we study. Since this is our "Shakespearean" unit if you like, we'll be working on AS YOU LIKE IT for our first workshop. I'm really glad I've had the experience I do in Utah working with people like Chris Clark, since we have five women and three men in our cohort, making it a bit interesting to put on a whole play. We'll certainly be doubling roles-- I imagine it'll be quite like my PERICLES days!

We also have a lot of movement classes, including a period movement class. Apparently we'll be studying some folk dancing, which again-- thank goodness for my BYU Folk Dance days!

I kind of just can't believe I live here. I took a train to Manchester today just for the fun of it (oh and there's also a Taco Bell, it's fine) and I was just overwhelmed that this is my life now. I can't say I'm exactly comfortable yet, but I'm more and more comfortable every day. (I imagine I'll feel QUITE comfortable once my student loan is deposited to my bank account haha...... but really.) I certainly have my work cut out for me, but I'm so glad I'll be able to take advantage of where I live. I may jaunt down to the "Hundred Acre Wood" next weekend, for example, since that's a place I can go like it ain't no thang. I'm overwhelmed daily and I hope I never take it for granted.

I suppose it's time to wrap up for now, as I have tiny cat named Jenna Macaroni standing in the way of my view of the computer screen.

Till next time. Maybe eventually I'll stop journaling and actually write an essay about this place...

20 September 2015

where did I leave off?


I've meant to update more than I have been.

The truth is, the last week has been hard.

Not hard like Week 1, because that was SO HARD.

It's been hard like-- well, Drew left a week ago. So obviously that's Hard #1. But also, we got so much done (because all we do is win win win, no matter what what) and now I don't have much to do until school starts. I don't really have friends around, and I'm not moved into my house yet, so I'm kind of in limbo.

But it's ok. Because I realize on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis-- I live here. I live in England. And that makes things a lot better.

So let's see-- the last time I updated I had just gotten the house. I've since signed for it and move in on September 29. Huzzah. It is rather enormous and much more house than I ever expected to be able to have while I'm over here, but it comes 100% furnished (to the point that my new landlord told me not to buy basically anything unless I ask her if she has something already because she's apparently got so much furniture and appliances and things, which is awesome) and it's in a gorgeous, clean neighborhood, and the train is 6 minutes away, making school exactly 18 minutes from my house.

Drew and I spent a few days in London. It was pretty amazing. We were able to see a few things that I've never done before (Buckingham Palace tour, London Eye, Royal Albert Hall tour during the dress rehearsal for the final evening of Proms, Shoes exhibit at the V&A) and we saw Matilda, which had us both in tears multiple times. We also had tea at the National Theatre and the food was all based around different plays. It was quite a delight. I wish we had had more time in London, but there will be other trips.

In fact, yesterday was my birthday so I popped down to London for the day.

(I get to say that. Can you believe it? I can't.)

I did a bit of shopping and a lot of strolling, then I saw The Beaux Strategum at the National, which I loved, and then had dinner with Nate Copier before I popped home. It was a splendid day to welcome 29.

I got enroled for school this week. It has been such a process. But I finally have my permanent student visa and my school ID, so we'll leave it at that because that's what matters.

I've got a cold and what may be the start of a sinus infection. Here's hoping it's not, since I've got a little performance to do with my class on September 30. We'll be doing a classical monologue, a contrasting monologue and a song. We can do our audition pieces but I think I'll only do one of mine-- Mrs. Lunn from Overruled. I've been looking at the Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland, come speech from HENRY VI part III and I'll be singing Stay With Me from INTO THE WOODS. I'm nervous for the performance, which I know is silly because I've already been accepted, so it's not like a test. But it is a checkpoint from which they can kind of grade my progress and it's the first real big introduction to each other in the class, so I want to make sure it's a good representation of me and what I can do and why I'm here. I want to do good work so they can tear me apart for the rest of the year.

The play I saw yesterday is a Restoration era comedy, which is a time period I'll be studying in the coming year, presented at my favorite theatre. For most of last year, until I got a new phone in March or so, I had the house of the Olivier Theatre at the National as the background of my phone-- the view from the stage, not the view from the audience, so that every time I looked at my phone, I would be able to visualize the view I want to see of that space. I had tickets on the fourth row yesterday and it wasn't until I was sitting there, eight feet from the stage, that I even remembered that phone photo. It felt very close, all of a sudden. Not necessarily tomorrow close, or next year close, or even ten years from now close, but it felt closer than it ever has.

I live here. I live in England.

And I'm an actress.

I'm doing it.

08 September 2015

cheers, i live in England now.

It is a true thing that the English say "cheers." 




Hi = cheers. Bye = cheers. Thanks = cheers. Um = cheers. Cheers = cheers. 

Drew and I decided it's so universally English that it wouldn't be fair to say until I can officially claim my temporary English status. 

It has been a long, hard week. The longest, hardest week. I have had a few long, hard weeks in the last few years and this absolutely tops the list. As moving tends to do, the mop-up-clean-up of moving out of my apartment in Provo and getting packed up to fly across the world proved to be a more lengthy process than I had hoped. By Tuesday afternoon I just adopted an attitude of "who cares, throw it away" rather than try to pack up the ends of things, whether to take with me or to put in storage. I'm amazed by how much stuff I have parted with in the last 18-months and yet more seems to accumulate. It has inspired me to try not to accumulate more stuff in the next two years because dealing with stuff is so frustrating and obnoxious. And wasteful. But I digress... 

Tuesday night my parents and Drew helped me pack and repack and repack and repack and repack my luggage. I was aiming to bring 2 checked bags and a carry-on plus a backpack and two cats in their kennels. I ended up bringing 4 checked bags and a carry-on plus a backpack and two cats in their kennels and also a corner of Drew's carry-on. 

It's fine...

But I brought with me a whole black wardrobe to wear as a terribly serious acting student and winter clothes and all sorts of things that I'm trying quite hard not to need to buy in the UK, and as shipping is so much more expensive, coughing out a few extra hundred dollars for a few extra bags for two years of my life I guess is a pretty good deal. 

The biggest thing I have learned this week is that it pays BIG TIME to DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I will probably write a more in-depth post about this another time, but I spent months and months researching and reading and comparing checklists and I'm so incredibly glad I did. I am so grateful for my mom, who is the best planner I know and from whom I learned anything about traveling. I did a lot of groundwork in ensuring my kitties would be able to travel with me and that all their paperwork was in order before we dropped them off at cargo for their flight. They had to go on their own flight through Houston so they could travel together. It terrified me out of my mind for all of the reasons, not the least of which is how legendarily difficult it is to migrate animals to the UK. In practice however, it was so easy. Like, we dropped them off and paid for cargo/customs fees ("Expensive cats," the cargo rep said to me snidely as I paid. Take my money and shut up, I thought to myself.) , and the United Airlines cargo people took them back to the holding area, and it was done. An hour later we watched them get loaded onto their plane at the gate next to ours and I nearly cried (ok I definitely did) when i saw little Lucille 2's ears perking up in the windows of her kennel. 

Then we got on our plane and flew to Chicago. We had Chili's express for my last meal in the USA and then I got a manicure while Drew had a chair massage. Then we flew to London which was, in spite of the fact that we were in the middle of the plane and couldn't see out the windows, so easy. We arrived at Heathrow at 5:55AM and getting through customs was EASY. The chap checking my paperwork made jokes and was so cheerful. We collected all the bags easily-- they came rolling along almost all together, in fact. Tossed them onto a trolly and got on a shuttle to rent a car. That part was a little less easy, but to be fair, the actual car rental part of the trip was the part we did the least amount of research about. And also in fairness, we had a reservation and we also knew exactly what paperwork we'd need (USA passport and current driver's license), it was just a bit overwhelming to avoid all the up-selling at 7AM. But we got the car, we got it packed PERFECTLY, and we got on the road with GPS and drove straight to Stonehenge. 


Off the plane and straight to Stonehenge

Drew did so amazingly well driving, especially all things considered (the early hour, having never been to the UK/Europe before, not knowing what to expect with the roads and driving culture, and without any experience on my part). We stopped at a McDonald's (obviously...) and were greeted by the Stonehenge cows and sheep, and then changed clothes, and then wandered about gd Stonehenge.

Welcome to the UK, Drew!!

We also popped into Salisbury for a moment and I fell in love. Salisbury Cathedral is the first giant, ancient, European cathedral Drew has ever seen, but even with my experience, it was overwhelming and inspiring and a wonderful way to being my adventure in this country. 

We popped back to collect the cats from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. I've read amazing things about the centre but again, I just kind of didn't know what to expect. The internet and people's experiences make it seem like such a relatively strenuous experience, and being a worrier, I just wanted everything to be fine.

So we arrived (for anyone stopping by the Centre in the future, it is TINY and the carpark is TINY and it all requires some clever driving/parking) and stopped in where a lovely girl came out to greet us. I started to say, "I'm Emily, I'm here to collect...." and she finished my sentence, "Two cats, Lucille and Jenner? Yeah, they're all ready, they just need to be loaded back in their kennels." I guess they were just fine and were let out for a good stretch, and they ate (all of) their food I had packed for them, and they passed their health inspections with flying colors. I signed the sign-in sheet, the staff brought them out, we had a minute to reunite in the lobby, and then we left.


The rest of our week hasn't been quite so easy, and I guess it's to be expected. I had three real goals to accomplish while Drew was here with me, namely: 1. get a local mobile phone. 2. open a UK bank account. 3. let a property. I had really hoped, in my American ignorance, that we'd be able to work quickly in getting it done....

Which is where it stopped being easy.

Friday and Saturday were basically wasted, aside from learning experiences, I guess. In spite of my (extensive) preparation, problems have really stemmed from a lack of proof of UK address. I'm staying with the loveliest friends in the world the Cartwrights (even though they're in Utah at the moment) until I find a place of my own, but I sadly underestimated my need to have their address on any of my paperwork. It was on my visa application, but I can't collect my permanent visa from school until my specifically assigned "enrolment" day, and the rest of my paperwork has my permanent UT address all over it. Don't worry-- the cats immigration paperwork has the Cartwright's address but apparently the UK government doesn't accept pet immigration papers as proof of address for an international student.... Go figure.... Just kidding, I totally get it, even though I also don't get it at all. 

Another challenge has been that UK banks require an appointment to open accounts. There's nothing really like just walking into a bank and opening an account, especially not in the middle of a giant city, especially not a month before school starts and there are one million new students milling around. We basically couldn't find a bank branch with an available appointment within less than three or four WEEKS. This does not appeal to our American sense of efficiency. 

And finally, the go-around is maddening. Essentially I couldn't get a bank account without proof of address, but most branches are incredibly specific about proof of address, meaning they want a utility bill or a letting contract, which means I'd need a house to let, but a lot of letting agencies (which represent a very large majority of available rental properties) require bank information as part of their referencing process. And in both cases, it's needful for banks and agencies to have a UK phone number on file, and a contract requires bank information (but no proof of address-- since by having a bank account, your address has been confirmed-- so at least there's that............. oh brother). We ended up getting SIM cards for our iPhones, which was incredibly helpful and solved at least part of the problem, but felt like really only half a solution to goal #1. 

By Saturday night, I was pretty done. We came back to the Cartwrights and I snuggled the kitties. The only true constant positive of my adventure so far has been how well Jenna and Lucille 2 have adjusted. They are so happy here. I don't know if it's the air, or if it's the fact that they survived a harrowing travel experience only to have solid confirmation that I will never abandon them, or if they just understand that they need to be good, or all of the above, but they are so content. They're eating better than they have in months, really. And even that-- I got a small bag of food to try for them, assuming I'd have to try a few before we found something they'd like since they're used to their food from home, but the first flavor of the first brand we tried has been a HIT. They LOVE it and I think they've even gained a little bit of weight, which doesn't hurt either of them. I'm so so so so so so so happy they're here. Drew has been so supportive and smart this whole trip, but there's just something about their little happy faces that has made me feel like everything truly will work out, even if it's just not as quickly as I had hoped or anticipated. 

Sunday we took a mental and urban break by heading to the Belfry for Drew to play golf on their PGA course. It was really nice to get out and just breathe and enjoy more of the countryside. And it helped us make a game plan for the rest of the week, since we have plans to head to London on Thursday before Drew flies to Utah on Sunday. 

Our motto yesterday and today has been "ALL I DO IS WIN (win win), NO MATTER WHAT (what): earn the right to say cheers." 

Using our American-ness to our advantage, we have managed since Sunday night to:
  • Find a bank account appointment 56 minutes away in Stafford for this morning at a Barclays, which was in my top two preferences for UK banking. 
  • Secure a special letter of admission from my admissions counselor which, while it doesn't say I've enroled yet (because I haven't till September 25, which is non-negotiable), it does say I will be enroled, and lists my local address on BCU letterhead. 
  • Email one million local listings on airbnb (Drew's idea, since letting agencies have turned up not much in the months I've been trying to communicate with them) with a terrific introduction to me as a person to see if anyone would be interested in long-term bookings. 
  • Visit a number of agencies in person to register my information and view a few properties in my preferred neighborhoods and within my preferred budget. 
  • Ramble around campus and Drew got a free Red Bull from the door guy while we waited to meet with a rep from the international student office. 
  • Get a visitor pass to use the computer lab on campus, even though I don't have my student ID yet. 
  • Meet the lady who responded quite positively to our inquiry on airbnb, see the house, and FELL IN LOVE, leaving with a solid meeting sign paperwork and a loose outline of when I can move in to my very own house in a very gorgeous/clean/safe neighborhood with a cat door (if I want to use it) and a bathtub and no additional pet deposit!!!
  • Eat Five Guys in front of a giant church.
  • Experience our first true grey and foggy English day (beautiful, but sinus headache-inducing). 
  • Attend my bank appointment where they took my shiny new admissions letter as sufficient proof and granted me an account! 
  • Made a deposit into my shiny new bank account. 
  • Visit the largest Elizabethan timber home in England. 
  • Get a new phone. 
  • Get a permanent SIM card and phone plan (with unlimited data and texting). 
  • Determine when my house will be available to move in. 
  • Eat a caramel and shortbread flapjack, and drink a pint of Diet Coke. 
  • Have a bunch of English people be just enchanted with our American accents.
I'm missing a whole lot of details in here which I'm sure I'll come back to at some point, but to conclude for now--

Good night, blogland. CHEERS!