Thursday, 18 June 2009

6/14/09 Graduation

We got up around 6 and made our way down to All State Arena. We got there around 7 and there were people outside, of course they all had their gowns on. I saw some people I knew and they all seemed to know that Charlotte was supposed to get my stuff. So I waited around outside for her for about 40 minutes, shook Conklin's hand (he said he'd talk to me after) and kept waiting. Finally I gave up on her and went in to see if my stuff was there or if I could get an extra. Turns out she didn't pick it up and decided not to tell me. Fail.

So I made my way in with everyone else (I was number 121) and my hat didn't really fit and me me sort of look ridiculous, but it was alright. I ended up talking with the girls around me (there was like a 10-1 female to male ratio of graduates) and soon we were led in.
It was dark in the arena, with fancy screens and such around. It was cooler looking than I expected. They played that graduation song over and over and then we finally took our seats. Being at the front of the alphabet, I had a good one.

David Axelrod spoke, and he was good, not very rhetorical but based in reality, which I liked. He didn't talk much about Obama, which I was surprised about, but I liked his speech in general.

They did all the CDM people first, so there was a lot of sitting around being bored time. I talked with Rachel the girl next to me about how boring this was. Eventually it was our turn.

It was strange being up on the stage, it went really fast. I shook Father Holtschneider's hand, and he talked to me really briefly. When I shook Dean Taylor's hand, she told me they'd be watching me. She might say that to everyone but it felt good.

Then I went back and sat down while everyone else finished with my new red empty diploma holder.

Afterward we waited around to try to find Conklin but we couldn't see him. I ran into Charlotte, Brooke and Joe and they were looking for him too. No one knows where he went. Oh well. I did run into Father Holtschneider and he asked when I was going back to Michigan. Just incredible that he remembered that, what a good guy.

We went back, packed up, and I changed and we made our way into the city. We parked in the same place and went down to Ghiradelli's. I had an ice cream sunday in a waffle cone, which was of course awesome.

I realized I left my phone stuck under the pull-out couch part so mom and dad went back to get it. I went with Mark down to the Trib and I tried to see Brian, but he wasn't around.

Mark and I walked across the new bridge to the Modern Wing of the Art Institute (really cool views) and went down by where I used to live. The bum park whre the Blues Brothers used to live is now a fancier, more paved bum park. Kinda cool. We tried to see Ryan Burke but he wasn't going to be back until later, so we went down to the Trib again and Brian wasn't there again.

We got a hold of Ryan and went over to see his awesome place for a few minutes before mom and dad picked us up and took down to the Cheesecake Factory to meet Dennis.

We got a table before ma and dad were back from parking the car. Dennis seems good, always working. I had my usual, the portobella burger and then a ice cream sunday cheesecake. Both were great. So was the bread. It was a really nice time.

We went back to the car and I slept literally the whole ride, which was great, I never do that. We got in around 2 and I went to sleep. A crazy couple of days.

It's good to be back, but I'm going to miss Europe a bunch. Hopefully I'll be back sooner or later. Either way, going to Europe was the best thing I've ever done.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


I came back and watched the Wings lose the finals while I packed up. It was definitely not as easy as I expected. I worked from midnight until 4 am when I showered. I basically frantically packed the rest of the time, up until 4:45, definitely could have used about another hour. I didn't get to vacuum my room or anything, so I kind of quickly went around and picked some things off the floor. I grabbed Hannah and ended up leaving her in the elevator, hoping that maybe someone would laugh/take it with them.

I checked out at security and scurried down to the bus stop. I had no problems with the bus, and slept the whole ride. I was completely exhausted.

When I got to Stansted (way early by the way) and went to check my luggage. Unfortunately it was six kilos over the allotted weight limit of 30 kilos, so I had to pay £90 extra. A nice parting gift. And it pretty much blew my whole profit margin by taking the ridiculous flights instead of just a non-stop from Heathrow. Oh well.

The flight was about an hour late leaving. I slept most of the flight to Dublin.

At Dublin there was a huge line to get through passport control, like 300 people in front of me. I ended up talking with a guy in front of me and he tried to see if I could get moved up since I had less than an hour until my next flight. He was really cool, we talked about travelling arond Europe. The line moved quickly (but not before I was already really stressed out) I got my bags and checked in with Delta (and didn't have to pay anything else, I was worried I would).

I got down to the gate (we had to go through US customs first, kinda weird) in the basement. Turns out my flight was delayed an hour because it was raining in Atlanta the day before and everything got pushed back. I had a lot of time to kill so I got an Aero and Yorkie bar out of the machine and took my computer over to an outlet and worked on the blog some.

The plane boarded and I was in the back, in the second to last row (and behind me no one was sitting so I could put my seat back. I sat next to an Irish dude, but I had the window. The plane didn't take off an hour late, so I ended up sleeping and waking up all confused when we were still on the ground. I watched "Gran Torino" (really good) and they brought me my vegetarian meal. It was a rice and vegetable dish that I really liked. I also watched "Revolutionary Road" which was alright, I didn't like it as much as "Gran Torino." Later they brought by a veggie sandwich and a margherita pizza. I slept on and off the rest of the flight and managed to have time to watch some sort of documentary on digging for opal. I was bored.

Since we were two hours late, my big cushion of time in Atlanta dissappeared. I got my bags quick, waited in another long line, checked my bags, and ran to the next gate. Luckily it was delayed ten minutes so I was alright, but not by much. I was sweating by the time I got there.

That flight was fine, I had a cranapple (like I always get on flights) and slept most that flight too, although not that well. It was a quick flight though. I ened up talking to the guy next to me about how we couldn't see the buildings coming in, apparently a big problem for him.

I went down to baggage claim and Mom and Mark were waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator. It was really exciting to see them.

We got my bags and met Dad with the car and made our way downtown. I figured it was the third car I rode in for the last six months.

We got downtown easy and parked over by Ed Debevec's. The city looked the same yet different, it was kind of weird. I forgot how the tall buildings felt all around you. I had sort of a reverse culture shock, I could talk and not feel embarrassed, even the little walk guy was white, and not green like every city in Europe.

We walked to the Rock 'n Roll McDonald's and had mint chocolate chip gelato (which is still some of my favorite in the world, mostly because of the chunks in it).

From there we went down to Due's and Unos, checking to see which had less of a wait. Due's did, so we put in our name and order and walked down toward the Water Tower. There is a big building that was knocked down on Michigan, no idea what it was. Otherwise, things looks just about the same. It was weird, feeling like I had lived there for such a long time and that I hadn't been there in a long time either.

We got our table and mom and I had a mushroom and spinach pizza, which was alright, not as good as many of the European pizzas. By the end of dinner I was getting pretty tired, and I slept the whole car ride back to the hotel.

The hotel was nice, we had a suite and I slept on the pull-out bed in the front room by the TV. I crashed pretty quickly.


I woke up around 9 and packed up some. This was much harder for me to do than last night, especially as I went through old papers and things like that. I went and printed out my boarding passes and bus tickets and then went across the street to get myself a Big Ben figure. I stopped for a Flake outside Madam Toussuds which wasn’t as good as I hoped because it was real ice cream and not the Cadbury soft serve stuff that makes them so good.

I packed some more, stopped in Marylebone Parish Church, and went out to get some Earl Grey and a strawberry chocolate gateux from a café along Marylebone High Street. I sat outside and read The London Paper, really enjoyable and helped to calm me down.

I went down to Oxford Street to look for any last minute buys. I went through Primark and then Topshop and didn’t find anything I could really justify spending the money one. Kim texted me and said she was meeting up with Lauren and Michael at Cha Cha Moon for lunch. I had some time to kill so I wandered around Carnaby Street and ended up at the Island Records store, where they had an exhibit on their 50th anniversary downstairs. I walked through here until it was time to meet up.

I got the tofu aubergine dish thing. It’s so good (although really impossible to eat with chopsticks). But one of my favorite meals from here. Cha Cha Moon was sort of the place where our group ate at the most, I went three times myself (it’s cheap and good).

After Kim and I went to Trafalgar Square and threw some coins in one of the fountains because she had a ton of two pence coins left. We counted up enough and planned to go get some bread to feed the ducks but it was getting late and Kim wanted to go check-in and print out tickets for her flight at the Marylebone library, so we headed back there.

Next we took the Jubilee line down to The Mayflower Pub. Parts date from the 16th century and from the dock is where the Mayflower departed to America. Christopher Jones, the captain (apparently) is buried at St. Mary’s Church behind it. It was a great old pub, and the best part was we went and ate out on the jetty over the spot where the Mayflower left from.

I had a cheese and broccoli quiche and an Earl Grey. We sat around there for a while looking at the water and talking.

We were a lot closer to everything than I thought we were, less than a mile from Tower Bridge, so we walked though the east side dockyard area along the water. In Dickens’ time this was the worst slum part of London, and is heavily featured in Oliver Twist. Today it’s nice, sort of like Brooklyn.

The views along the water looking toward the bridge were amazing. I wish I had known about this area earlier, there were a lot of restaurants right on the water there that looked pretty great.

The sun was setting as we walked back and the lights came on. The night was beautiful and it was actually warm out. It might have been my favorite walk in London.

We found a little alcove that I’d missed in the 40 or so times that I’ve walked the river and there were a number of shops and restaurants back there, pretty interesting. Kim got me a carbonated water because I was out of money, which was good.

We walked back past Westminster (Big Ben looks so impressive at night) to Trafalgar Square, Leciester, Piccadilly, Regent’s Street (my favorite at night) and up through my neighborhood, stopping at my old neighbor Paul McCartney’s place (I’ll never get over that).