Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunset, from the Balcony

(cross-posted)

I am sitting on the balcony of my flat.
My feet, bare on the smooth ashy-coloured wood, will get cold at some point. Weather in the summer here is like an endless spring: capricious, moody, mostly chilly, interspersed with the rare blinding sunny afternoons when the lawn in a park looks inviting as an oasis.
I've had a nice long bath, very hot to soothe aching leg muscles. Bless the British and their baths. One of the greatest civilizing influences of our time. That and, of course, tea.

Note to all British readers: despite having lived in Boston lo these many etc, I will never threaten your tea with seawater. I am, however, a fan of parties, up to and including Tea Parties.

The sunset has me holding my breath as though awaiting the climax in an action sequence, all cool purples and pinks with orange limning. It feels like surely, fireworks and cheering are about to burst out for a grand finale. The soundtrack is essential: gulls, of course (more on that later); traffic, from a fairly sizeable road, nearby but across the water - less, however, far less than back home for how close to a city-center area it is. Occasionally a snatch of voice; whisper, laugh, exclamation. A car alarm. Footsteps. Like all sunsets, though, its exit is silent and orderly, gradual as a tide.

It's a small city, Dundee. Fourth largest in Scotland, I think, with a population of around... a quarter of Boston's, maybe? Not sure. Most city amenities, a rep theatre, that sort of thing, plethora of bars-pubs-clubs-etc due to university student population. I know I've only just scratched the surface of places to go. I've made some friends here, good peeps all. I am relentlessly mocked for my Americanisms, and relentlessly mock all my Aussie, Irish and otherwise expatriot friends, and we all (mostly) refrain from relentlessly mocking the Scots because we are aware of our guest status here. :-) I keep far too many late nights. I have found people who like to go dancing, and in my book, that says a great deal about your quality of life. Some people at work and I started a band; we have now met a grand total of twice and I am feeling very positive. I sing karaoke when I can get to it and get bribed with drinks to sing, which is very flattering and only rarely awkward.

...
Mmmm, deliciousness. Pardon me, that was a small break to assemble dinner. Sauteed halloumi and shiitake mushroom saute on toasted wheat, with prosciutto. As I said in an IM earlier tonight, "basically bread meat and cheese, which I figure has been good enough for the human race for thousands of years and is still delicious!"

Right. So. Gulls.
An encounter today was utterly typical of my interaction with a percentage of Dundonian seagulls.
Gull, strutting across sidewalk right in front of me: You lookin' at me?
Me: I am twenty times your size.
Gull: What. WHAT, mofo? You want some of this?
Me, eyeing it warily: ...No.

These things have become the primary scavenger in the area. The pigeons live in fear. They kill other birds. As a base M.O., I do not fuck with several types of Dundonian: a certain kind of drunk pubgoing male and/or chav on the prowl, a Scottish pal looking for a drinking competition, and the local gulls.
Gull: Seriously! I'll cut you!
Me: *scuttles around its personal space*

It's a perfectly nice apartment I'm in, but I'm moving this weekend to another place.

Side note to Dundonian readers: combined housewarming at my new flat -- Realtime Worlders have taken over entire 5th floor, ping me if you're free for a BBQ this Saturday (1st Aug) from 5 pm on. You know you want to.

I'm moving to another place because current flat does not allow cats. Mine are joining me in December (waah, soooo lonnnng, rassen frassen quarantine laws for UK, at least they aren't in a kennel) from the States. It's a whole process getting them here. Also, privacy is good. At least packing only involves a few suitcases' worth of stuff.

Work's going well. Settling in there, too.

Tell me one thing that has surprised you in the last, oh, three or so weeks.
If you have more than a Tweet's worth of characters, tell me something you don't think I've heard of.
Heck, if you have a minute, sit down, dear, tell me about your day.

Tea?