A Blast To The Past

Since recently moving into our new home, my housemates and I have been living… without internet (dun dun DUN!). The horror, the horror! The only time we have access to the internet is when we’re on campus and, even then, it’s limited to the times that we’re not in class.

Our culture has become one that is so dependent on internet usage. We use it as a means of communication—from writing a quick Facebook comment, to receiving e-mails from professors, to keeping up with friends and family halfway across the world.

We use it for entertainment. We use it to stay informed with things going on around the world. We use it for academic purposes. We use it for the convenience of looking up directions.

We use it for everything. Moral of the story: without internet in this day and age, we’re all gonna die.

Luckily my housemates and I are survivors in this battle, and have (re)learned to function without it.

For those of you with limited internet access (which, if you’re reading my blog on your limited amount of internet time, then a big gold star goes out to you!), here are some of our top tips to keep yourself informed, entertained, and sane during the hard times:

*Cooking: Put down that takeaway menu! Step away from frozen meals! Preparing a meal with fresh ingredients, completely from scratch, is not only healthy, but it’s a fun way to spend an evening after a long day of working. If you’re like me and not much of a cook, then get a friend to help out and learn their techniques.

*Games: Lately my friends and I have taken to playing traditional party games, like charades. You can also pick up a deck of cards or some cheap board games in a charity shop, and do a whole game night.

*Reading: You know that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for months, just waiting to be cracked open? It’s calling your name! It’s saying, “leave that internet hussy and come back to me, baby!”

The same goes for newspapers. I’m sure the big wigs at The Guardian will be happy to know that there’s still a place in people’s lives for actual newspapers. And those people are poor students who didn’t realize that it takes a long time for internet to be set up…

*Flaneuring: Good ol’ flaneuring, always a great way to pass time!

*Face-To-Face Conversations: When I first started working for Ustream, I thought it was odd to be IMing your co-worker, sitting right next to you, instead of just speaking out loud. However, it quickly became the norm and I adapted accordingly.

Even with close friends, a lot of interaction is done through the internet. Facebook, Twitter, IMing, e-mailing, Skype—there is an endless source of ways to communicate online.

Now, it’s been nice to spend more time having long conversations with people. Each person has so much to offer, we can all learn loads of information from each other.

When you look up something on Wikipedia, you can’t ask follow-up questions or opinions. If you want to know something and ask a person to their face, a simple question can turn into a long and meaningful conversation, or an intellectual debate.

It’s easy to take all of these simple things for granted. That being said, I know I’m going to go back to using the internet a lot more once it’s set up. It’s something that is an integral part of our culture, and is here to stay. However, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot of value to be had in logging off sometimes.

So go forth and close those browsers! Turn off your router! But leave a comment before you do… ☺

Secret Cinema

It's officially autumn, which means one thing: Halloween is coming up! I've always loved Halloween--well, minus the 'welfare' year when my mom made me a ghost costume using an old, ratty sheet and a pair of scissors to cut out jagged eye holes (which I was subsequently teased for at school)...and the year that one old man gave us peeled, hard boiled eggs and a handful of chocolate chips for 'treats'...But other than that, crazy costumes, shenanigans, and candy? Yes, please! Before coming to London, I wasn't sure if the holiday was celebrated widely over here. Turns out, it is. Time Out (a.k.a my bible for all things interesting happening in London) has a great listing of different activities that are happening for Halloween. Many choices, but this year, I will be spending Halloween at London's own 'Secret Cinema.' Essentially, Secret Cinema is an organization that periodically puts on cinema viewings around London. The catch? The location and movie changes every time, and you don't know what movie you're going to watch until you get there. So naturally, a few of my friends and I purchased tickets. At this point, I still have no clue at all what movie they're going to show, or where it's going to be--although I assume that we'll find out the location shortly, as tickets have been purchased! All I know is that we will definitely be dressing up and ready to have a good time!

For those of you who celebrate Halloween, what were your favorite costumes? What will you be going as this year? I'm either doing some sort of parrot-inspired costume, or an innocent bystander being attacked by birds, a la Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, "The Birds."

And, just for kicks, here's a photo from Halloween a couple of years ago. I'm a mod zombie, and my friend Steena is a Mexican farmer!

we're not racist

Happy Halloween!


Throughout my four (and a half...*ahem*) years studying Media Studies at University of San Francisco, the term 'flâneur' would often pop up in lectures. I remember first hearing the term--originally coined by French critic/poet, Charles Baudelaire, in the 19th century--in Professor Andrew Goodwin's course, The Popular Arts. For those of you who don't speak French (I don't!), 'flâneur' essentially means "a person who walks the city in order to experience it." I can say, without hesitation, that living in London has turned me into a flâneuring fiend!

My first day back here (was it really almost a month ago already??), after recovering from jet lag, I found myself wandering aimlessly around central London, just to reacquaint myself with the city. Rather than feeling isolated, or overwhelmed about the big move, I found myself taking everything in and enjoying the amusing and iconic sights I came across on the South Bank:

A tower made completely out of cardboard paper rolls cardboard tower

Our future ruler robot dude

St. Paul's Cathedral st. paul's (hey, is that a fellow flaneur in the foreground?)

Big Ben/Houses of Parliament big ben

Tower Bridge tower bridge

I'm not sure if it still counts as 'flâneuring' if you're with another person, but then how else are you supposed to get a picture of yourself with The Monument? (This one's for you, Professor Robertson!)

the monument (Thanks for taking the picture, Anna!)

Regardless, I think the best part about experiencing the world as a flâneur (whether solo or not) is the fun in seeing the world unfold around you, without having any expectations or agenda. While hoards of tourists were rushing around, anxiously clutching maps and cameras so as not to miss a single sight, I took pleasure in the fact that I have a whole year to experience as much of this city as possible. And that, I will!

Dia de los Muertos, London-style

After being back in London for roughly three weeks now, my first time back in over two years since my last study abroad program ended, I've been particularly interested in finding as many interesting cultural events as possible. London is known for being a vibrant, cultural hub. Take an hour to walk around any part of London, and you'll meet people from all over the world. My MA course is practically a mini United Nations! This diversity is a large part of why I love this city so much. That being said, I come from a Mexican background (well, half of me) and I've lived in California my whole life, which sometimes feels like an extension of Mexico. In California, if I'm craving an authentic taco al pastor, or if I want to go to a mercado, I don't have to stray too far. In London, however, the Mexican population is vastly underrepresented. Because of this, it's hard to have that connection with Mexican culture that I have back home.

This brings me to today: I was exiting the tube at Tottenham Court Road station with my friend Trent, another Californian in London, because we were on a mission to find a frozen yogurt place cheekily called Snog. While we were walking, I noticed a poster for a free Dia de los Muertos celebration taking place at The British Museum! For those of you who may not be familiar with Dia de los Muertos, it's a holiday dedicated to celebrating the memories of loved ones who have passed on. Different countries celebrate in different ways, but generally there are special altars created with flowers and pictures, and there are candle-lit processions with music, dancing, and people dressed up in skeleton costumes. Here's a photo I took of two of my friends, Risha and Steena, in San Francisco in 2007: Dia de los Muertos in SF

Having never been to The British Museum before, I don't know what to expect but it sounds like it will be a fun way to spend a Sunday in London!

Now to figure out how to make a gluten-free version of pan de muertos...