Sometimes in the life of the superstar blogger, so much has happened since you last posted that you almost fear having to catch your large and rapt audience up with those thrilling events that have pulled you away from your solemn duty to your dear reader. I am filled with that fear right now.
So here’s how I’ve spent my time…
After booking my flight in a previous post, and deciding not to take my bicycle in another, I was all set – my funding was going to come in, my visa had time to go through, and I was going to attend the expensive but impressive Architectural Association School of Architecture.
Ridiculous paperwork snafus delayed my funding, which delayed my visa. So I came over to the UK on that previously booked ticket to arrange housing, get the lie of the land of the school and of the city. And I booked a flight back to the states to take care of the visa, for when the requisite paperwork would finally be in, but before school started. I got to London, had some tasty food, got to know the AA a bit and toured an endless succession of apartments of all qualities all over the boroughs. Searching for the right apartment is a great way to learn a city really well.
Ten years ago, an American wouldn’t have gone to Whitechapel or Mile End without reason, but now they are common places for AA and Bartlett students to live. I looked at multiple apartments there – it’s a really interesting area. Had I not turned up the unique situation below, I would have limited my search to that area of East London.
So – I helped a really cool diploma student at AA find a great place in North London and other room mates, and almost signed on with him… But I had to balk. Because it seemed for a little while that I might not be able to go to graduate school this year at all… I’ll spare you the details save to say that when the dust settled, I decided to jump the AA ship and instead to attend the Bartlett School of Architecture’s AVATAR program.
Through the apartment search, I found a place with a self-described “crazy vegetarian granny” in Tufnell Park. AND I also got an offer from housing from the University. I toured the very nice single room they were offering. The dorm is down the street from Kensington Gardens. Since I was in the neighborhood, I swung by. Currently outside the Serpentine Gallery there is the Serpentine Pavilion by SANAA. And it is amazing.
I got such a good vibe off of the “crazy granny” that I decided to forego the dorm to live in her spare room. And I was proud to realize later that week that Tufnell Park is also where Spaced is set. In fact, the house they used for the exteriors is one street away from where I’ll be living.
One thing you should know about London before you come to visit me is that it is torn apart. In every rebuilding, there is a stage of maximum deconstruction. London is all loose ends awaiting re-weaving in preparation for the Olympics.
Of course, I am personally and academically interested in the aesthetics of this state of incompleteness, and will be soaking up the states-of-becoming in the London public works while I’m here.
Back to the narrative – I was all set to return to the US for this visa deal, but first there was some cricket to be dealt with.
My best friend Charlie works for a sports team, and through his connections, he was able to score tickets to the one day match between England and Australia. I didn’t understand cricket one bit when I showed up to Lord’s Cricket Ground that day. I understood it one – or maybe two bits when I left, eight heat exhausted hours later. And I mean literally heat exhausted…
And as is their penchant in cricket, England lost. And badly this time. But they were taking a whole lot of solace in having quite improbably regained the Ashes last month. Which is a big deal, I guess.
Despite the loss, that was the last night of the Proms, so it was time to stiffen that upper lip and break out the Union Jack. Charles’s wife Kate, and their upstairs neighbors Matt and Paul – all English – explained to me that the Last Night of the Proms is the only time of the year when otherwise progressive Brits are pretty much under order to turn flag-wavingly patriotic and sing along to orchestral versions of Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem, celebrating their Imperial history. It was a strange transformation.
So the day after that, I went back to the states for a week – originally intending to have a full student visa by the time I came back. But, all this craziness with switching schools made that impossible. So I just relaxed a bit, and did the necessary leave and return routine to get at least a temporary student visa to initiate my studies. I’ll have to go back at Christmas and make things more official. But I just got back to London today, and I am looking forward to working hard, kicking ass and learning a lot. The last two and a half months have been full of business that was unfortunately not architecture, studying, or making money. I am happy to leave it behind.
Everything seems to be coming together well for the Bartlett – I start orientation this Wednesday, and I am incredibly excited by what lies ahead. Thanks for your interest. I will keep you posted, my dear adoring public.