Friday, December 24, 2010

So this is Christmas

There should probably be another blog before this, a reflection of time in Wales, but it can wait.

It's snowing outside. Not surprising seeing as how it's December. But this seems special. It's Christmas Eve and there is snow. And my world seems to have slowed to the impossible pace, where the flakes seems to fall in slow-motion.
There's a sort of magic to Christmas in my mind. A breath of fresh air, a chance to shed the usual hustle and bustle of the world for one day. One whole day to sit and relax and enjoy the day, be it with family, friends, or alone.
Christmas will come, and in the morning I will join my family, though it has changed so much over the past 3 years, in a day of being together. But not tonight, Christmas Eve is my chance to be alone. To reflect on the past year and what has happened in the 365 days between the last Christmas Eve. All that I have gained and lost and haven't attained yet, how I grew up, how I got older. It's a chance for me to almost say goodbye to the past year. To me Christmas and New Years are about beginnings and hellos. I get nostalgic on Christmas Eve.

As I sit here, wallowing in nostalgia and listening to the voices of my mom and eldest brother drift faintly in the room, obscured by distance and walls and doors so that only the tone remains, I think of everyone I care about in this time.

I wish I was better with the mushy words, that they would come as well as simple reflection, but I can't make them fit right in my head. So I will simply say:

To all my family and friends around the world and sitting in my house,
You mean more to me than I can ever hope to say. I feel so lucky to know and share time with each and every one of you. You brighten my days, entertain my afternoons, stay up late with me at night, listen, talk at me, act like catty bitches, and make my life the ridiculously amazing thing it is.
I don't know what I would do without you. Thank you for the best gift you could ever give: yourselves and your time.

Merry Christmas.

Love, Hannah

Sunday, November 21, 2010

London Expo

Since you haven't seen me around these parts in a while, I guess you probably didn't know that I went to London Expo over Halloween weekend. Well, now you know. And you can continue reading to find out all about my wonderful adventures into geekdom across the pond.

Friday started out not quite so bright and oh-so-painfully early with a 5:15am alarm to get my lazy ass out of bed. Last minute packing was done, and I trudged out into the wind and rain to make a 6:15am train to London. For those of you who are curious, 6:00 am looks a lot like midnight. I got on the train okay, and proceeded to pass in and out of consciousness for a little over 3 hours to get to London.
Once I got to to Euston station, I had a couple of trips on the Tube to do to get to the Liverpool street station to then catch the train that stops at every station in creation between London and Shenfield. The tube was the part I was worried about, because I'm not familiar with public transport or London, or just life in general. But I got through okay, got to Shenfield, and met Cerys (Or Twin, has she shall be known from here on) without too much fuss.
Once we got to Twin's house, there was some last minute packing on her part and general getting ready until her friend Hollie came with her grandpa and her grandpa's cab. Until I had gotten to Twin's I had no idea we were actually driving to Expo. In a legitimate London cab. Fuck. Yes. The ride was uneventful, only midly annoyed by Hollie (What? I get annoyed by new people pretty quickly, and I was really tired. Sue me.), and soon we were at the Novotel, our home for the next two nights.
Major kudos and love to Twin. She knows how to pick a hotel. We were right next to the Expo center, it was clean, and our room had enough room for the 3 people who were staying there. Only iffy thing was the fact that there was no lock on the bathroom or the toilet. Granted, the room is made for two people, but still...
After we dumped our stuff in the room, it was time to go get Twin's friend from last Expo who was staying in the room with us. So we hopped on the DLR, then the Tube, until we got to Victoria station. After a little snafu where Twin's phone wouldn't work and we couldn't get a hold of her friend, Twin finally spotted him. I was kind of nervous. I was really worried that he wouldn't like me, he'd be really annoying, or that he'd bring drama into the room. Looking back, it's really hilarious that I had these worries because Mätti is one of the nicest people I have ever met. We didn't have a problem the whole weekend and holy balls is that guy funny. He's fast becoming one of my close friends. You should see the late-night antics we get up to on MSN. BUT ENOUGH SAPPINESS! I was talking about Expo.
Right, collected Mätti, hopped back on the tube, and made it back to Expo. We then went up to the room so Cerys and Mätti could get changed into costume and we could go wander about. Expo's a bit different to conventions I've been to in the U.S., where the Friday is only open to people who bought full weekend passes, and it's not technically one of the Expo days. For me, conventions have always been 3 day weekends where everything is in full swing by 1pm on Friday. Even when the convention wasn't in full swing, there were still plenty of people wandering about in costume. And also shouting dead and gone memes and holding free hugs signs. Ugh. I was hoping to escape the weeaboo-ness over here. In fact, it seemed to be worse here the U.K... Hmm...
Costumes were put on, and out into the thick of it we went! Twin looked gorgeous in her Courtesan outfit from Assassin's Creed II, and Mätti look awesome as Link from the Legend of Zelda ( I think it was the Minish Cap? Or maybe Wind Waker... I'm sure he'll correct me if I get this wrong.). I didn't feel like being Canada quite yet, so I simply tagged along with my camera and my TARDIS bag to carry everyone's things. We met Hollie's group again when we got outside (or did we go to their room? I don't know anymore...) and that's when the drama started...
I just have to say, I hate drama when it happens outside of the internet. It's really hilarious to watch DA journals and deviations spin out of control or  threads just devolve into stupidity. But I do not want to deal with it/watch it/experience it outside of a computer. And you know what? The people involved in this drama are just so stupid that I don't even want to type it all out. So there. All you really need to know is that it was drama and stupid and people need to grow the fuck up and tell each other what they feel and listen and not ruin everyone else's fun times.
But anyways, drama started happening. I started getting annoyed because, well, I'm kind of selfish in the fact that I wanted to spend time with Cerys outside of this ginormous group. I was really uncomfortable, I didn't know anyone really well, and I was in an unfamiliar place. Cue the "Of course everything's fine! You can't tell but I am so scared and annoyed on the inside I want to punch a baby" attitude. It's the one that got me through sea-level traversing and a Tyrolean traverse without a major freak-out. And it was how I was dealing with this group of people I didn't know.
And I did try to talk to people and get to know them and be really comfortable. I really did. But everyone but Twin and Mätti were really loud and that just puts me off. And I did attempt conversation with Mätti at that point if I remember correctly. But we were still in the iffy "We've known each other 2 hours stage" and it was just... Blah.
I don't remember how it happened, but Twin, Mätti, and I ended up on our own again and it was like BAM! Instantly better! Now that I think about it, I fairly sure that they wanted to go change into their other outfits so we flounced away. We were just walking along, Twin graciously trying to keep both me and Mätti in a conversation because I'm so painfully shy sometimes I just don't talk. Ever. But then I think Mätti made a comment about a shitty cosplay and I responded with something witty and it was like my attitude about the whole weekend changed and I was like: "Fuck yeah, this'll be the best weekend ever."
So, flounced back to room, changed (I ended up putting on Canada and Mätti borrowed my derpy Gilbird since he left his at home), and we flounced back down to walk around some more. We met back up with Hollie's gaggle of people. I was now fortified against them because I felt I had another ally against the craziness in Mätti. Drama continued throughout our time together with this group. It followed us to the convenience store, back up to their room and throughout ordering pizza. Speaking of pizza, someone didn't pay and I put like 15 quid in there and got paid back by the person I paid for but still... (At least I think that's how much I put in. When I write blogs I am apparently awful with details.) Those fuckers... I bet it was Smelly or 'Stache or both of them. The drama cows. I ended up taking over the money for Twin because no one was helping her and wouldn't listen and just sat there playing their games systems and being dumb titfaces. Mätti and I helped Twin salvage dinner and we got the best fucking Dominoes I had ever had. I think only eating a breakfast roll the whole day had something to do with it...
The drama group proceeded to then fuck about when we tried to go back outside. Took them forever to get their asses in gear, and then they ditched us twice. Not fucking cool. Not cool at all. So the three of us in the awesome room went back and settled down for the night, after Mätti declared his pull-out bed had a "tramp blanket" (erm, hobo blanket for anyone from the States. Not a whore blanket.) and that he was going to make his sheet into a toga in the morning. Then we slept.

Saturday dawned bright and early for us. We meant to wake up at about 8:30 I think and didn't start moving about until 9:30. We all got into our costumes after a general flail about. (3 cosplayers or more in a room and there will suddenly be a shortage of space to walk and put on costumes.) I went OCD with an iron on Mätti's costumes, Twin burned herself with a curler, and Matti talked about how his face looked orange after doing his makeup in the promised toga. Oh god how I love being friends with cosplayers. The shit we do makes me giggle. We were almost out the door, we were so damn close, when Hollie dropped in for Cerys to do her makeup and to get help with her friend's wig. I went a little "THIS HAIR WILL OBEY ME!" on the wig, causing us to be a little later to the con. Oops.
You're probably wondering what we were doing rushing about like chickens with their heads cut off. Well, we were worried about lines for wristbands. Expo is huge and we didn't want to wait in line all day. Luckily, the weekend pass line was easy-peasy-lemon-squeesy and we got out of there in no time. Seriously. After waiting up to 2 hours in a line at Anime Iowa I was kind of floored by how quickly they can process people. With our shiny new badges we went straight to the dealer's hall and derped about. Mätti and Cerys found the Assassin's Creed booth and flailed about. I got a Canada from Hetalia coin purse. We found cute things, saw scary cosplayers, and derped about. Sometime before lunch we went back to the room and Twin changed into her amaaaaaaazing Mr. Stripy Pants outfit. For serial, it was kind of intimidating to hang out with those two all weekend because their cosplays are awesome. Anyways, the nerdiness had us famished, so we grabbed some yummy chinese/japanese/mongolian food. I don't know what exactly it was, but it was delicious and there were noodles.
During lunch Mätti got assaulted by a frying pan. I am not fucking shitting you. A failtacular Hungary cosplayer came up and whacked him on the head out of no where. We all just kind of sat there, stunned. I could go on and on about the failure of Hetalia cosplayers, but I have that rant all typed up and ready for a different post.
So the majority of the day was simply spent hopping in and out of costume, being catty bitches and elitist cunts, and having the best time ever. There was a mild snafu with ordering supper for everyone and the drama was getting worse, but the drama-llama room smelled awful because of Smelly and his not-wearing deoderant or showering. So the awesome trio camped out in our room and laughed and derped until Hollie came down in tears. Well fuck. We were sitting there, trying to get her sorted out and all of a sudden Twin shoots out of there like a bat out of hell. We sat there staring at each other like 'tards for a couple minutes and then Mätti and I had a mutual "OH! FUCK!" moment and chased after her. So it was up to the drama room, where we found Cerys scolding the drama llamas like the children they were. Hollie tore up the hallway in tears again. I went after her. I don't know why. I'm not good with people I barely know, but I have this incessant need to try and fix broken people, even when I can't stand the arguing and the behind closed doors drama. It was like when my parents split. There was a lot of arguing behind closed doors, when they thought we were asleep, etc. And then the "It's fine, go away." responses I got from them. Eugh. Can't deal.
Got Hollie calmed down, chatted with the cosplayers who lived next door about the drama, had a generally awkward time. Eventually had Hollie and the Smelly one sit down to sort shit out and we went back to the room. We talked about a lot of things, but TL;DR the extra hour of sleep we were supposed to get got absorbed by drama. Eventually all non-residents of the room left. Twin fell asleep pretty early, but Mätti and I stayed up late talking about all sorts of things. It was a good time. Yay for insta-friends.

Sunday was our "lazy" day. We had to be out of the room by noon, so we dropped our bags in the drama llama room. We then derped about the convention in Hetalia for a bit, got pissed at more Hetalia people, and then went back so Twin could change into Stripy Pants. We wandered about the dealer's room and Twin and Mätti hung about and listened to the Assassin's Creed people talk and I bought souvenirs. There was a little snafu where Twin needed to be at a photoshoot and I got separated from her and Mätti. When I finally found them, they had met up with and Ezio and Leonardo and were standing in line. We didn't know what we were in line for at first, and then found out that we were waiting to meet Ezio's voice actor. I'm not a fan of Assassin's Creed (Haven't played the games, can only really identify the main characters, etc.) but I have a friend who's crazy about it and I wanted to get an autograph for her. Ezio's VA was super nice, joked around with us, and my friend got her autograph and the other two got pictures taken with him.
Sunday was a lot of fun and I didn't want it to end. But, all too soon I was standing on a platform with Cerys and Mätti as they waited with me for the DLR to take me to the Tube and then eventually back to Euston. I was trying really hard to not cry my eyes out. It sounds silly, but Expo was amazing, and it hit me that I don't know if I'll ever be able to come back. I had gotten so close to Cerys and Mätti and I didn't want to leave because who knew when we would see each other IRL again? I fly back to America in December and it feels like I'm going to the freaking moon. Soon enough the train pulled up, I got squished in with a bunch of Expo-ers and waved goodbye to two of the best people I know. Managed not to cry until I was at the next station. By that time the train was literally packed and no one really noticed the sniffling American who had tucked herself into a corner of the standing area.
The trip to Euston and then home was relatively uneventful, just a bunch of silly stuff happened in the station which isn't important. It didn't seem like it was long until I was stepping back onto a dark Bangor station platform and walking back to Ffriddoedd site.

So that was Expo. It was drama-filled, it was crazy, it was tiring, and I loved every fucking minute of it. Major thanks go out to my Twin, the loverly Cerys, for letting me come, putting up with me for 3 days of hilarity, staying on the phone with me so I didn't end up in the Thames, giving me food, and being an amazing friend in general. Her DA is here. And also a huge thank you is due for the hilarious Mätti, the BAMF, who contributed many lulz to my trip. His awesome art esta aqui. Go check 'em out.

And I have now written a waaaaaaaaaaaay too long blogpost.

Hwyl rwan,
Cynical Pie

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You wanna see awesome?

Stormtrooper at Euston station. Taken by moi

That is freaking awesome.

-Cynical Pie

(This was supposed to be my Expo update, but I'm being awful and waiting until tomorrow when I can fully look back and ask people questions to get the whole thing right. Expect lots of drama.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I have been to Cardiff, the capitol of Wales, this past weekend. And I have:

-Seen the Wye Valley
-Been inside the ruins of Tintern Abbey
-Eaten sketchy, yet delicious pears
-Eaten in an old pornographic theater (We didn't know at the time. But still, HILARIOUS!)
-Shared a nice evening with some friends and our program director
-Walked around Cardiff's city center at night
-Been in the gaudiest castle rooms ever
-Walked in a semi off-limits area of Cardiff Castle's wall
-Visited the Dragon's Den
-Hugged a Dalek
-Walked onto the ground floor/playing floor of Millennium Stadium
-Touched a TARDIS
-Found Torchwood
-Ate a fresh scone and drank fresh apple cider
-Sat in a Celtic hut and talked in Welsh with a very nice man
-Bonded with one of my friends, and with some of the other program girls
-Laughed along with my friends while watching Teen Mom
-Watched Star Trek and Inglorious Basterds with some nice, fellow hostel-ers
-Looked at gorgeous art
-Downed a McDonald's value meal in 5 minutes
-Woke up early, stayed up late
-Watched the sunset in Snowdonia

-Loved every, single minute of the past 3 days

I go to bed tonight, glad to be in my own bed again, but also so happy that I experienced all I have.

Nos da,
Cynical Pie

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Almost time for Classes!

It's Sunday afternoon here. Nice and quiet, a reprieve from the hectic-ness and loudness of Freshers Fortnight. I can hear people rustling about their rooms and clanging in the kitchen. But I think the magic of Sundays has won out, and the world has decided to rest.

Let's see... It's been almost 2 1/2 weeks since I updated! Wow! Time has sure flown. Let me see if I can update everyone on what's been going on...

Ireland was an amazing trip. I saw so much history in Dublin: places from the Easter Rebellion, the Book of Kells, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Temple Bar, The Old Library at Trinity College, bog people, and a lot more. They were all fascinating places, and it was so amazing to actually stand in places you've only read about in text books before. I also heard live Irish music and watched people spontaneously break out into Irish dancing in the middle of a pub. What an amazing experience.
As interesting as Dublin was, I liked that it was only a short trip there. I'm not a huge fan of large cities. Too many people in too small a space.

After Dublin there was a 3 1/2 hour bus ride though Ireland all the way to the city of Galway. I loved Galway. The beach and seafront was beautiful. The city was calm and manageable, and I didn't get overwhelmed like in Dublin.

We took a ferry to the Aran Islands one of the days to bike around the largest of the islands and visit the cliffs. I was surprised with myself that I could do the entire bike ride to the cliffs and back, only having to get off once or twice to push up a couple of steep hills. And I saw seals! And waved to America from the edge of the cliffs!

The next day there were more cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher, and a rather frightening bus ride on some still very sore bottoms from our excursion to the Aran Islands. It was really foggy and windy, but the cliffs were still beautiful in their own way. The next day we drove back to Dublin to catch the ferry to Holyhead and then drove back to Bangor. I then went straight to the train station to catch a 3 1/2 hour ride to London.

Ireland was an amazing trip, but it was very nice to be on Welsh soil once again.

I love London. I was a little hesitant of it since Dublin, but once I was walking around with Cerys, aka demi-goddess on DeviantArt (Her photography is awesome check it out here), I was absolutely in love. The Tower of London... How can you aptly describe getting to stand in the middle of a place that you have read so much about, seeing those walls that hold such a huge amount of history... It's been a week and a half since then and I'm still speechless.

The Tower wasn't the only place we went to in dear old London-town. We also walked along Parliament and Big Ben, went across Westminster Bridge, saw the London Eye (waaaaaaay too expensive to ride), saw Westminster Abbey, and went to see Buckingham Palace. They are all so beautiful. Even more so because this day in London was literally a dream come true for me. I'm so, so happy. I've walked the streets of London. I couldn't ask for more.

Back to Bangor

So after a beautiful time in London and another 3 1/2 hour train ride back, it was time to start Freshers Fortnight (a.k.a. Welcome Week) back at Uni. And the week certainly lived up to its expectations. It was loud, chaotic, hectic, frustrating, and a lot of fun. I've made friends with a really nice guy from my flat named Bob. Come to think of it, he's actually my neighbor! He was great and invited me to go out with him and some of his friends. We had an awesome time and I made friends with a girl named Sarah too. She showed me where the nail polish was in Morrison's, so I have new nail designs~! Yay!

Just yesterday the Abroad group went over to Chester for the day. Had tons of fun and geeked out about history some more (shocking, I know). I think History is the perfect major to have when you come to Wales. You're just immersed in so much culture, and the layers upon layers of history each town and city holds is just astounding.

And now for some actual photos to go along with this blog:

Please excuse me while the book lover in me dies of happiness...

St. Patrick's Catherdal

Christchurch cathedral

Along the riverfront in Galway, being a tourist.

The cliffs on the Aran Islands

The Cliffs of Moher

A very healthy lunch in London...

Just who is that damn tourist?

Parliament! Oh yeah baby!

I have no idea what time Blogger will decide I published this at, but it's now midnight and I have a History of Witchcraft and Magic class in 9 hours. Goodnight blog, I'll try not to abandon you for 2 1/2 weeks again.

Until next time, may you have blue skies...

And fair weather.

-Cynical Pie

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Breaking the Egg

I think I have my journals backwards. I have this blog, and also a personal journal that I keep a record of all the eventful stuff that happens to me in, but most of that wouldn't or won't get posted on here. This journal seems to be more of a reflection of what has happened to me. Specifics can be a fleeting thing here. Anyway, that was just a little side note. Now on to what I actually wanted to talk about.

We're not even a full week into the program here, and already I feel myself being tested and my boundaries shaken. So much of my life up to this point has been within the safe little eggshell in small-town Iowa. And the time I'm spending in Wales and various other places in the Celtic Isles is starting to crack that.

Emotionally, my boundaries on alcohol and the presence of it are being tested. I am kind of a bore when it comes to social events that are perceived as normal. I've never really been exposed to heavy drinking before, and wasn't raised in a house where casual alcohol consumption was a thing to do. Being over here, it's not that everyone is drunk all the time, far from it. It's the casual beer with supper and the glass of wine at lunch that tests me. I've developed this fear that one drink of alcohol is just going to lead to more and more and eventually cause problems. And I'm having to change my view of that for the most part. It's... Different.

But physically, oh my God. My boundaries are being battered like a shutter in a hurricane in that aspect. I find myself pushing to go the extra mile, to not just give up halfway through a hike. To climb 4 flights of spiral staircases with only a joking complaint here and there. Sure, I still huff and puff and wheeze and my legs hurt and I get tired. I'm not in shape, far from it and every time we go on one of these hiking excursions (a.k.a. walking off campus) I find my boundaries of what I can accomplish physically being pushed. A tiny voice in my head is saying, "You know, maybe I will be able to climb Snowdon with everyone." But I'm still worried as hell. I'm desperately hoping that I can to all these things. I WANT to do all these things. I'm just terrified that my body and my boundaries will hold me back.

Well, I don't want people to think that I'm not enjoying myself AT ALL. Far from it, I'm having a lot of fun. We traveled to Ireland today. Dublin is awesome! And I now have 3 flags in my collection of flags from countries I've visited. Got my U.K. one, my Wales one, and now my Ireland one. Soon I'll get and England one and hopefully my friends are bringing me back a France flag from when they go to Paris. Also, I'll soon own and England flag and hopefully a Scotland flag if I can get up there before the semester ends. Weekend in Edinburgh? I think yes.

But right now, I'm sitting alone in the hostel. Again. Ugh. This whole "I don't want to be around you while you drink because I get scared of drunk people and even if you aren't drunk my irrational mind will just assume you are" that prevents me from going out with everyone needs to stop. I don't want to be alone by myself anymore. But I don't want to be alone in a room full of people more than that.

Cheers and happy travels,
Cynical Pie

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday and Soup

Today? Today was not one of the good days. But that's okay. Not every day can be "OMG amazing!" and one big party. I didn't enjoy not being able to sleep until 4 in the morning due to my own body and its mild insomnia that I had hoped would stay behind at home and idiots breaking and effectively sealing the front door to the dorm so my friends couldn't get back inside until after Security had wrestled with it. I really didn't like the fire alarm going off at 6:30 in the morning. It's a good thing I'm still in Scholte-mode. Shoes and sweatshirt on, keys, phone, and ipod collected, and out the door in 20 seconds. I also didn't enjoy my miserable attempts to make meals today. Granted, it is my fault for not actually buying everything I needed while at Morrison's on Saturday, but food gave me my first little bout of homesickness. And it started with a can of soup.

It's just a plain can of chicken and noodle soup right? No frills or extra little bits? Oh yeah, of course not! I mean, it's chicken noodle soup! You get chicken, chicken broth, and noodles and heat it up! Easy-peasy lemon-squeasy! ...That is until I actually got it cooked. It was awful. Absolutely disgusting. I was so... disheartened. And hungry. Thankfully, Jessika gave me a box of her cocoa rice krispies so I ate something. I also had some tea. Oh good old tea. At least that never changes.

But still, I have this feeling looming over me now. "This isn't home... This isn't home..." is what keeps chanting in my head. I find myself longing for a can of chunky chicken noodle, a ham sandwich from home not made with ridiculously thin slices of meat, a salad with dressing. Hell, I even want a Big Mac from McDonald's and I haven't eaten one of those in forever! I just want familiar food. I want things to taste like I expect them to. I want a bowl of proper chicken noodle soup.

But not all of today and the weekend was bad. Last night everyone got together and made pasta, which was its own little adventure. It was nice to have everyone joining in and socializing. It kind of felt like home. Today 6 of us went down to the pier to see what it was all about. And it was well-worth the walk. The Menai Straits are beautiful even while the tide is out. We met a very exuberant young boy named Wesley and had fun watching his crab fishing attempts off the end of the pier.

Along our route to the pier we passed the Roman camp site. I think I'll go back Wednesday to see what I can discover there.

It's almost midnight as I finish this. I can hear the wind buffeting the buildings and there's a quietness on our floor that reminds me of Sundays at home. The kind where you don't talk, you just listen. You listen to your thoughts, your heart, and you listen to the world around you.

Here's a picture of the pier. It's a really relaxing place to go. I know I'll be back.

Until next time, here's to happier days.

Cynical Pie