monologues: sneak peek

A few pictures from Monday night's dress rehearsal, more (and stories!) to come after this week is through, and the shows with it!

HRH e. cawein


solution sundays

If you looked in the comments for Friday's quiz, you already know the answers. But here you go.

1. Cheeky means flippant, smart alecky.

2. A quid is slang for a pound, just as Americans would say "50 bucks," we'd say "50 quid."

3. This word has many uses, but it pretty much replaces the F bomb in cases like "Sod it," "sod off," "Oh sod!" or one of my personal favorites, "sod a dog." A person can also be an "old sod" or just a sod, which is semi-synonymous with bastard.

HRH e. cawein


fag break fridays

This week, a bit of a pop quiz.

Can you properly define the word cheeky?

What is a quid?

Name two different uses of the word sod.

HRH e. cawein


worldwide, part iii

So when we last left off, we were in the middle of Stef and I's whirlwind trip to Dublin. After we got our stuff dropped off in our hotel room, we set out exploring. The first stop on the list was just down the street from our hotel -- which was entirely coincidental -- Dublin City Hall. For those readers who don't know, Stefanie is the City Clerk for the City of Bartlett back home, so it was only appropriate that we pay homage to the Dublin equivalent.

From there, we kept walking into the centre of the city and stumbled upon Dublin Castle.

We were starving by then, and we walked deeper into Temple Bar and finally found a little pub that looked reasonable and got some ham sandwiches and, more importantly, our first pints of beer in Ireland!
As the sun was setting, we finally managed to find the tourist center that we'd been halfway looking for since we set out from our hotel, and with the help of the map we picked up there we located Trinity College!

And that is where my pictures from the evening cease. Thankfully, Stef's do not -- but not so thankfully for you, I don't have those pictures in my possession just yet so I can't show them to you now. You can see some of them here, on Stefanie's blog, which is also linked in the sidebar.

After we ate and bopped around a bit through the shopping district, we headed back to the hotel and got ourselves ready for a night out. We were planning on a bit of a pub crawl, just heading into Temple Bar and getting a drink here and there till we found somewhere that stuck. What we didn't know is that we would find that place before any crawling actually happened. We started (and ended) the evening at the Temple Bar, seen here in a lovely picture taken the morning after.

We drank Guinness and Bailey's, listened to an Irish folk band, chatted with the most gorgeous bartender on earth, flirted with guys from at least four different countries and spent much of the evening entertaining about 22 Frenchmen. Yes, 22. And yes, French. They were all in Dublin studying English as part of their engineering degree, and you would've thought we were the only females within a three-mile radius. They loved us. They loved our broken French. They loved buying us drinks. It was a marvelous combination.

The next morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed and headed first to The Temple Bar gift shop to stock up on memorabilia from our one night only tour of Dublin's cultural (read: drinking) district, and then off to St. Jame's Gate to do the tour of the Guinness Storehouse.

The storehouse itself is huge, seven stories, though only about three of them are full-on Guinness museum. We learned about every step of the Guinness making process, and perhaps the most entertaining part for me was getting to explore decades of Guinness advertising, like "Good day for a Guinness" and this little-known gem, which takes the cake for me. Blame it on my roots.

At the end of the tour, we headed up to the 360 Bar, where I got my free pint of Guinness and we checked out the best views of the city.

After we were done gawking at the skyline and taking pictures, we hopped on a bus for the city centre to do some more souvenir shopping and catch our bus back to the airport.

In the next (and final) installment, we'll head back to London for the last two full days of Stef's time on this side of the world, and you'll see the views from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the London Eye and hear tales of our Friday night adventure as Georgia girls.

HRH e. cawein


solution sundays

Brace yourself. This week's words, minge and gash, both fit in with the theme of my Five Month review post.

Still stumped? They are both slang words for the vagina.

HRH e. cawein


fag break fridays

What do the words minge and gash describe?

HRH e. cawein


Month Five

I don't know that I will ever attempt to make Nuts-n-Bolts on my own.

Every year around Christmas for as long as I have a memory, and still longer, my mom has made a huge batch of Nuts-n-Bolts. To some, it would appear to be "Chex Mix," but it's so much more than that. Namely, a few sticks of butter more. And some Worcestershire sauce.

But it's not that it's all that hard to make. My brothers have managed several successful batches over the last few years as jobs have begun forcing them to spend holidays away from home. It's that making it in my own kitchen, in another place away from Memphis, Tennessee, would be admitting something. It'd be admitting I won't get to have the real thing. Admitting that whatever comes out of that oven will have to suffice this year.

Right now, The Vagina Monologues is my Nuts-n-Bolts. It's a staple in my life, a big important thing that up until now was quite firmly attached with a big, important place -- Murray. But now, as February 27 nears and my first British V-Day experience with it, I am already starting to pull the pans out of the oven and see what I've got. I haven't botched the batch, that much is certain; the production promises to be incredible, as are the people I've met and adventures I've had thus far.

But the taste is bittersweet, because just as the taste of my own homemade Nuts-n-Bolts would make me ache for home, this is a taste that at every moment reminds me of Murray, the community of Vagina Monologues actresses there and everything else about my alma mater that I love.

As of February 4, I've been on this island for five months. And despite my lack of a month-in-review post for Month Four, I spent the month of January feeling, for the most part, ridiculously well-adjusted. My Christmas break ended, I came back and went to class on the day my plane landed. I got to work on my first performance exam, which was (thankfully) completed with flying colors on February 5. I started on my first major essay. I showed my best friend around my city with the agility of a born-and-bred local.

Then came these Monologues. We have been rehearsing since the beginning of January, but it's been during the last two weeks that things have really picked up. We've been selling cupcakes, selling tickets, having three hour rehearsals, talking logistics, getting organized, getting ready for the big night. As I sit through each rehearsal and listen to these monologues -- almost every one I know by heart, even ones I've never performed myself -- I am consistently in awe of the fact that I am the only woman in the cast who has ever performed in a VM production. Only a few had even seen the show before I brought in my DVD of Eve Ensler's performance. I'm in awe because they seem to get it so well, they seem to have cliqued with these characters, they seem so in tune with the women we represent and for that I am immensely grateful to whatever Vagina God brought them all to that audition.

Still, though, I am the voice of experience in the group and the girls consistently turn to me for guidance on every issue from inflection or pronunciation to ticket sales and sets. I absolutely love being so involved -- creating this show with such a different group of women has already taught me so much, and we're two weeks out from opening night. But it's also brought back so many memories, prompted me to tell so many stories, of Murray, of our first experience with VM, of our sold-out shows, of all the women who acted along side me, of so many other milestones in my life that happened around this show.

In 2006, on opening night, I received an e-mail from Andrew Rhodes informing me that I'd be spending a summer in New York as an intern with the American Society of Magazine Editors. Two nights later my best friend drove through snow and ice to come see me perform. In 2007, I introduced my then-boyfriend to my mom -- who saw me in the Monologues for the first time that night -- and the next day I told her I thought that he was The One.

So after a solid month of feeling so well-adjusted and so at home, here I am in the middle of Vagina season, thinking about my former castmates back in Kentucky and wishing I could be a part of their show, too. Wishing I could see it, share it with them.

But also? So glad I get to share it with these girls, here. Now.

I have already gained so much from my time as a Londoner, and in the next few months I will gain exponentially more as I finish two essays, my dissertation, perform solo on the piano for my final exam and qualify for a master of arts in contemporary music. But this month, with these women and through this production, I will leave a piece of myself here. Because so much of who I am is wrapped up in this play; I've shared so much of that in the past few weeks and I can't wait to share it on stage with hundreds more people who need to hear it.

Month five has been no less than mentally and emotionally intense; in addition to The Monologues, the day that would have been mine and The (un)One's one-year anniversary came in like a lion and out like, well, a lion. As previously mentioned, I lived through my first performance exam and as of 10 p.m. this evening have purchased all the sheet music for my final. I had a pretty unsettling cellulitis scare that led to a stressful run-in with the NHS. Stefanie came and went and I got to share this with her, even if for just a week. And of course, this month my mom also reserved her ticket to London to help me celebrate my 23rd year.

But all intensities aside, it's also been a pretty fabulous 30 days. Or 60, if you're still angrily counting my lack of a Month Four post. I'm getting things done, I'm getting involved, I'm making connections, I'm singing, I'm writing, I'm researching, I'm living. And I love it.

HRH e. cawein


worldwide, part ii

On Monday morning of Stef's visit, day two, we popped up and headed straight to central London for probably our most jam-packed day of the week.

We started our morning at Westminster Abbey, one of my favorite places in London. Before we went in to the Abbey, we gawked at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben for a while and snapped some pictures.

Then we headed in to the Abbey, where we did the audio tour. I highly recommend doing audio tours because they allow you to move at your own pace and you can pretty much guarantee they're going to have all the info a real tour guide would have, if not more. Plus, you can go in whatever order you'd like through the attraction and you know you'll always be able to hear what's being said. At the Abbey, the audio tour will also set you back one pound less than a guided tour, at just four pounds.

I love the Abbey because of its history -- the people who are buried there, the Kings and Queens who've been crowned there, its visible wounds from WWII, its gorgeous architecture and elaborate tombs. It's a London must-see. And luckily, what with it being January and all, we walked right in (no line) and never had to wait to continue our tour. Here's to the off-season!

After the Abbey we headed away from Westminster, toward Trafalgar Square, stopping at 10 Downing Street and the Horse Guard's Parade along the way.

Once we hit Trafalagar Square, we made a loop through Leicester Square, where we had lunch at a nice little pub, and then on to Picadilly Circus. From Picadilly we hopped on the tube to Hyde Park. We strolled across Hyde Park and skirted the edge of St. James Park and then walked down toward Buckingham Palace. By then, the weather wasn't as gorgeous as it had been, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the flat for a recharge.

After some wine, cheese and baguette, we got ourselves together and headed to West Hampstead to have some drinks. Even though I'd done some research before we left on good places to go, I was still a bit disappointed with what we found when we got there; but we did manage to find a good pub eventually where we had some weird interpretation of nachos, a few beers and played a few rounds of brain teaser trivia.

Much of day three, Tuesday, was spent in transit. We headed to London Bridge around 9, got a train to Luton and arrived at the airport around 11:45 or so. The flight to Dublin was short (less than an hour) and beautiful, with clear skies letting us get a great view of the coast of Ireland on the way in.

After we landed, we hopped on a bus to take us into the city centre. We were excited. Can you tell?
Even the views out of the bus window were incredible. The weather (besides being frigidly cold) couldn't have been better.

We walked from the bus station down the Liffey River on our way to our hotel.
This was the view facing out from our hotel, and the cobblestone street you see there might as well be the yellow brick road. We followed it that night and found the most amazing bar (with the most gorgeous bar tender), the most amazing people and a fabulously good time.

But before I get to all that, I have to fill you in on what we did that afternoon. But you'll have to wait for that! In our next installment, you can look forward to pictures of Trinity College at night, the Dublin Castle, our first pints in Ireland and tales of French drinking songs, The Temple Bar and Guinness, more Guinness and some Bailey's Irish Cream.

HRH e. cawein

solution sundays

Though I think this week's word, faffing, can be used in several slightly different ways -- much like previous FBF word "slag" -- it generally means "messing." Let me offer an example.

Last week at work I was briefed to call on a new campaign. So I'm no longer talking to people about Cancer Research UK, now I'm talking to people about babies with HIV for UNICEF. The briefing was small, just three other callers and myself. As we were getting ready to head out to start calling, one of the girls was saying that she'd considered cancelling her next shift so she could actually have a look at all the material we'd been given and make sure she understood everything. "I don't want to get on the phone and be faffing about," she said.

So in that context, she said "faffing" in the sense that she didn't want to be rustling through papers and not knowing what was going on. But apparently it can also mean something more similar to the wasting time angle of "messing" (procrastinating, good guess!), like "faffing about on a Saturday afternoon."

HRH e. cawein


fag break fridays

After a week's hiatus during Stef's visit, Fag Break Fridays has returned.

What would you be doing if you were faffing about or faffing around?

HRH e. cawein


only a tad different

A few weeks ago, as my voice lesson was finishing up, my teacher's next student came into the practice studio. My teacher and I were talking about my next lesson, and when we stopped talking for a moment the girl (whose face had been awash with the most ridiculous grin since she walked in the room) started gushing about how much she loved my accent.

I thanked her, said I didn't really try hard at it, but I appreciated the compliment. I said something else to my teacher, and as I was getting my things to go, the girl commented again on my accent. "I just can't wait until this summer when I'm surrounded by that accent!" she said. I asked why, and she told me she was going to be working as a summer camp counselor in the states.

"Where?" I asked.

"I'm not sure exactly where, but somewhere in South America."

HRH e. cawein


worldwide, part i

No matter where you live, you get lost in the minutia.

After two weeks in New York, I stopped looking up at the Chrysler Building every day on the way to work. I stopped staring out my bedroom window at the Empire State Building or listening to the taxis honking and drunk people hollering on the streets until all hours of the morning, thinking it was part of the ambiance.

And not long after I got myself settled into my flat in Kingsbury, I had become the ultimate Londoner -- forgettor of all things, blocking out the sounds of the city with my iPod, my head down, pushing past people quickly through the tube, oblivious. Somehow, it is easiest to forget what is right in front of you; we all do.

When I got the train to Gatwick airport last Sunday morning, I had my iPod on maximum volume. I was lost in a book. I barely glanced at the English countryside, absolutely stunning on a clear, sunny day as it was. But when I got to the airport, walked into the arrivals hall and spotted a bright red coat and long blond hair in the distance, I should've had an inkling then that all those habits were going to be turned on their heads for the next six days.

My best friend Stefanie, who I've known since I started as an editorial intern at The Bartlett Express in August 2001 while she was the Editor, came to stay in my tiny flat for a week, and by the time she left yesterday morning I could barely keep my eyes open any longer. We'd done it all. We walked what felt like the entirety of the city of London, and in the middle of it all even made a trip to Dublin, too.

Like little Georgie and the cherry tree, I cannot tell a lie -- there is a part of me that is looking forward to getting back into my old Londoner ways, sticking my iPod in and sleeping on the train, getting annoyed with people who can't figure out how to stand on the right, walk on the left, burying myself in books again and getting behind a piano to start working on my final performance pieces. But while Stef was here, for those six days, I felt like a Londoner in such a different way. In a this-is-my-city-now-let-me-show-you kind of way. In a now-let-me-show-you-why-I-love-it kind of way.

So for the next week or so I'll be working on recounting all the adventures of our week here. It'll be a slow process, as I've also got a busy week at university ahead of me: my first performance exam on Tuesday and work on my first essay, plus The Monologues and other sundries. I'm going to do it chronologically, as much as possible, and this will also buy me some time until Stef gets rested back home and is able to send me some of the pictures she took -- the nights we went out on the town, we only took Stef's smaller camera because it was easier to handle and carry, so she's got some of the most, well, infamous shots of the trip.

So for today, we'll get back to that arrivals hall at Gatwick. We headed for the train station to get Stef a ticket and go locate our platform. On the way down the escalator to the trains we were interrupted by a curiously tan fellow who was carrying some sort of surfboard and wanted to know (I'm not making this up) where the best places were to go surfing around here. I told him to go to the beach, not to London, but even then, why would he want to go surfing in Brighton? In January? When it was about 10 degrees outside? And there are no waves at that beach anyway? He asked a few more questions, and would later follow us through London Bridge like a clueless puppy, where he needed to be instructed on how to buy a travelcard and where the hell to go in London. Luckily he did not need information on tying his shoes or wiping his hindquarters, but then again I did leave in a hurry.

On the train on the way in to London, I was already noticing our accent garnering a lot of attention. Mostly, I could see people in the sits behind and across from us sort of grinning and chuckling every once in a while, trying to advert their eyes from our direction. It was entertaining, because I haven't experienced that much, mostly since I'm typically by myself and usually try to make a habit of not speaking out loud in those circumstances. That can also garner some attention. Different kind.

So we made it to London Bridge, got on the tube and headed for Kingsbury. After we got to the flat and got freshened up and put Stef's things down, we were starving and headed for brunch at Smith of Smithfield's, near Farringdon (in the city, to the east). I'd heard good things about the food and it was cheap, cheap, cheap.

But the best thing at Smith's wasn't the food. It was the moment when Stef was ordering her eggs benedict, and the waiter asked her if she wanted ham, salmon or spinach. She looked at him, then at me, and said, "What?" And I said, "ham, salmon or spinach." She laughed, and said, "ham," to which the waiter grinned and said "Haaaaam," just like we tend to do in the south when we create multiple syllables out of three-letter words.

After Smith's, we went to Harrod's to look at pretty, expensive things, play with toys, taste chocolate and touch designer purses. Then we headed home for some cheese and wine and an early bed time. I was tired, and I knew my exhaustion couldn't compare to Stef's. We had to get plenty of sleep, as well, for our adventures on Day Two: Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, the Palace and everything in between.

And all that is coming soon.

HRH e. cawein