Day Twelve

London Travel Blog

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Trafalgar Square

This morning I woke up early and went to the National Portrait Gallery with my suitemate's photography class. It was really, really great. The older portraits were obviously impressive, but I really enjoyed the contemporary work the most. There was this one portrait of a girl wearing a red sweater, no makeup, wispy hair. Pretty plain Jane. But oh my goodness. Words cannot express how lifelike that painting was. I've been amazed by lifelike art before, but this was byfar the most amazingly realistic painting I've seen in my entire life. I swear it was a photographic. That girl was living and breathing. She was alive. It was absolutely incredible.

I remember seeing other portraits I really liked at the gallery, but after seeing that one painting everything else just faded away. There were one or two paintings that were almost as realistic as red sweater girl, but I just can't remember anything but them. As you can see, I fell in love with that painting. I can't stop gushing about it.

Moving on, we also went to The Photographers' Gallery. A couple things there I really loved. There was one series of photographs by Keith Arnatt (nine of them lined up on the wall like the introduction to The Brady Bunch) of people and their dogs. You always hear that dogs and their owners look alike and it was so neat to see that right before your very eyes.

Another series of Arnatt's that I loved loved loved was called Letters From Jo. They were the kind of messy, scribbles that you leave around the house on a spare envelope or scrap paper. In fact, a few of them were written on envelopes and the backsides of paper if I remember correctly. But the notes were absolutely hilarious, I wish they had postcards with them on it. One said "You bastard! You ate the last of my crackers." Another was a snarky, detailed explanation of how to use the microwave. It was brilliant.

Speaking of brilliance the other collection by Chris Coekin was about hitchhiking. He drew signs on old pieces of cardboard and old cereal boxes and hitched around the UK. He used a timed camera to take candid shots of him and his sign and then, later on, took photos of the people who picked him up standing by their cars. On the wall there were reasons listed around the photos explaining why the drivers picked him up. One was like I used to be a hitchiker, another said they wanted the company. The best one had to be the shortest though: to rob you. Overall, it was great.

Then after my art-licious morning we went back to the flat and ate some lunch. Did all my homework and took a nice little nap.

And that brings me to tonight... so there was an organized July 4th dinner at Texas Embassy Cantina. Pretty nice place, not dirt cheap as would be expected by NYU. So we're supposed to meet at 7:30 outside the restaurant (god forbid we go there together). We were a half hour late (for reasons outside my control and which I really don't want to go into much detail). So we walk to the second floor of the restaurant and as my suitemate so aptly put it we were greeted by people looking at us like what the fuck are you doing here. It was horrible. I didn't realize how incredibly cliquey it was here. So we go to find somewhere to sit. Oh, that seat is taken. Oh, there's no room here. Oh, you need to sign in with the program director.

So we go to sign in. No "Oh, we're glad you could make it." "Oh, good to see you." Nothing. Just crossed out our names, goodbye, you are dismissed. We were on our own to find a spot.

So by this time everyone had already ordered drinks and waiters were coming around for food orders. There was nowhere to sit and noone was making any attempt to find us someplace to sit. Not the waiters, not the students, not the NYU staff. So at this point we had a dilemma. It was a free dinner (well, not free since we paid a freaking $900 activity fee. Show me how I'm getting $900 worth of activities while I'm here. Hint: I'm not). We had dressed up for the occassion (unneccessarily so) and came all this way. But on the other hand we didn't feel welcomed and we didn't feel like squeezing uncomfortably into the end of a table for a Mexican meal that, quite frankly, isn't my favorite.

Long story short (well it's a little late for that) we were out of there. We both thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to some new people. It seems like a lot of people have clicked either from the group flight or from going to the local bars at night so we were both kind of left out. So a group dinner, what a great way to hang out with our classmates. Nope, not like that at all. It was absolutely horrible. No warmness, no attempt to squeeze over, no motioning to sit over here. Nada.

We went to Pizza Express and you know what our meal was fabulous (much better than my chicken, lettuce, and cheddar cheese salad would have been). I do feel bad not taking advantage of a free meal (and I'm sure my dad is going to email me after reading this scolding me for not partaking in the group outing). But in the end I'm glad we did what we did. I don't feel like we were isolating ourselves from the group; I feel like the group already isolated itself from us. It sucked coming in so late (and it sucked why we were so late... totally not our fault by the way. I guess that contributes to why I feel so bitter). And it sucked feeling unwanted. But you know what, their loss.

Now that I've gotten all my frustration and annoyance off my chest I don't have the time or energy to focus on how catty and repulsive some of the people in this program are. I have so much of London left to explore. No more drama!

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Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square
photo by: ulysses