Monday, February 03, 2003

It's the strangest thing to be in another country when something momentous happens in the one you claim as your own. I heard about the shuttle Columbia disaster from my younger brother, via MSN Messenger (don't you love the Internet?) but before that, I hadn't heard a word about it. In defense of Britain's newsmedia, I've never been one for perusing the papers or turning on the TV to catch the news. The closest I get is watching the headlines go by when I open up my browser, and clicking on the ones that interest me. It's a habit I should probably get into, if I ever want to contribute more than "Huh?" to a discussion of current events.

Anyway, back on subject, I feel kind of bad but I don't feel as if my entire life has been changed. I don't know how it is in the States, but other than it being all over the headlines, I haven't been affected very much about it. I feel very cold and callous. Sigh.

Had my first class today--was not what I was expecting, after all their warnings about the way levels are set up and about how people have known each other since babyhood in these schools. My professor was actually another American (weird) and it was a class of, no joke, ten. We sat in a circle in the classroom and had a discussion about how little we knew of the Renaissance. That was at eleven, a perfect time for a class if you ask me. However, I have a 9 am class tomorrow. That should be fun.

I'm also giving in and getting a cell phone. Now, for those of you who know me and are falling off your chairs turning purple in the face, the phone system is different here. They charge for local calls too. My landlady has said I could use her phone for calls, but I feel bad putting ££££ on her phone bill. I'm also getting a pay-as-you-go package, because I really do make so few calls that it would be madness (madness, I tell you!) to buy monthly minutes and all that business. The phone I'm looking at is about £70, or something like $120. Expensive, but in the long run it'll probably be worth it.

Book for today: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I'm having my semi-annual Austen binge right now. Other people go on eating binges, drinking binges, drug binges, TV binges . . . I go on reading binges. Anyway, of the six that Austen published, NA is the first one she wrote. (Earlier books were written, but were re-written later into Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice.) It's a send-up of all those Gothic romances that were being published at the time. You know the kind (she feared the dark cave, dripping with bat guano, but she went in anyway because she's a dumb heroine). Catherine Morland loves to imagine herself in Gothic situations, but she soon finds out that real life is completely different . . . although perhaps almost as horrifying. The really funny thing about this book is that in the 1960's, when Gothics were undergoing a revival, somebody published it as a serious Gothic. Guess they didn't read it, huh?

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