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This is the moment we have all be working towards for the past year, and slaving over for the past three months. Handing in our dissertations. Our finest work to date. The countless hours spent at the library with makeshift picnics and obnoxious whispering, the pretentious hours spent at Starbucks on our laptops sipping one grande latte for 5 hours just for the free internet all leading to this moment. This is it.

After cutting 7,000 words from my first draft I was still 3k over and after my meeting on Monday with my professor I had 3k to cut and 2 scenes to add by Friday’s deadline. Only I didn’t have until Friday as I learned DHT, where we were told to go to get our dissertations bound, would have a queue out the door and several hours long on Friday since all the Masters students have the same deadline. My new deadline was now wednesday.

After 2 all-nighters, I went to the library Wednesday morning to do one more read through before printing and binding. I’d be home free by 2 pm. Roxy and I got to the library at 10 am, exactly 8 1/2 hours later we left the library without our dissertations printed or bound, but done. And then it began; the seemingly easiest task in the world became my Everest.

Once at home Wednesday night, I printed out Kiki’s dissertation to hand in and started printing out my own, only I ran out of paper with 75 pages left to print on my second copy. It was 1 am at this point and I was going off of 4 hours of sleep in two days and copious amounts of caffeine. I would just go to Tescos in the morning and pick up more paper.

I showed up at Tescos at 7 am only to learn it doesn’t open until 8. No big deal, I just sat in Starbucks eyeing the door for the next hour. My foot tapping the chair next to me. Once I got the paper home I ran to the printer to finish my second copy. I wanted to by the time it opened at 8:30 to beat the queue. With 20 pages left to print, my printer ran out of ink. No big deal. I’ll take Kiki’s to get bound at DHT, refill my ink, go home, finish printing, and return to DHT. Easy enough. Or is it?!? Of course not, this is Scotland where annual events (i.e. Festival, dissertations) sneak up on the residents.

DHT is run by idiots. I have never seen slower, more unorganized people in my life. It was bad, even for Scottish standards. After waiting 45 minutes at DHT with a queue of only 10 people I finally got the 6 colored pages I needed printed after 3 attempts. 45 minutes after that the print guy came out and yelled “‘Walk of Shame’ you’re done,” in which I responded, “oh! That’s me!” Kiki, I started to rethink your title after that.

Once I got home I took out my fresh ink cartridge only to see it exploded. 20 minute walk back to the place to get it refilled and 20 minute back to my flat only to discover the ink still wasn’t working. When I returned to the ink shop for the third time the man told me to come back in 2 hours. It was now 1pm, if I picked up in two hours by the time it was bound the creative writing office would be closed. I rolled my eyes and clenched my teeth as I refused and asked for my money back. “Fine, I do it.” he told me. 10 minutes later it was fixed. 20 minutes later I was printing off my work when my parents skyped me to wish me luck only to have me hang up on them three times as I was too stressed to talk. By this time any sentimentality I held for turning in the dissertation was gone. I just wanted to get rid of the wretched thing. After I finally got my dissertation bound at a completely different print shop, one that completed the task in 5 minutes with a queue of 10 people, the creative writing office was closed for lunch. Thankfully, Colm, Lauren, and Rosie had lunch with me and walked with me to turn it in to guarantee no more snafus would follow me.

I went home only to realize I needed to do it all over again on Friday for Lindsay…

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Lindsay and I left overcast, rainy, and windy Edinburgh for sunny Barcelona only to be greeted with overcast, rainy days. After Barcelona had two straight months of clear days and no rain it decided the best time to change this was the week we visited so our beach holiday became a cultural one (we have left with a new love for everything Guadi – especially La Sagrada Familia). Our trip was not short of it’s hitches but nothing a good sense of humor, good company, and sangria couldn’t fix. To give everyone a better idea of the commotion I’m setting this blog up for trip tips to follow when traveling.

1. Money

It is best not to wait until the last day to take out money from the bank to exchange at the post office, in case it happens to be some obscure United Kingdom holiday, such as . Also, if the bank is closed forcing you to go to the cash machine at 10 in the morning this would be a good sign notifying you it is a bank holiday and thus the post office will be closed so maybe you should wait to take out the money when you arrive where you are travelling. Not that I did this. Not that I ended up exchanging my money at some exchange place, therefore losing 20 euros in fees.

2. Airplane travel

It is best to avoid sitting by small children as they tend to cry for the entirety of the trip. Similarly, as we learned on the return flight, it is best not to travel with 15 12-year-old boys as this will be equally loud and even more so annoying. A good rule of thumb for this one is to look at the chaperones faces, if they look like the wished they’d done a better job of using birth control it is probably best to buy some nice drugs to knock you out for the flight. (or in Lindsay’s case be so incredibly sick you pass out without noticing the loudmouth, obnoxious teenagers)

3. Hostel living

When sleeping in a 16 person room in a hostel, do your best to not be one of the two only girls. This way when you wake up you won’t be gagging from the putrid smell of a boys hockey locker room, a dirty bar room floor, and a strip club all mixed into one.

Lindsay and I have decided, besides the chorus of snoring, our favorite night was when two of the boys came home drunk at 6 in the morning and had the following conversation.
Boy 1: Man I am so drunk.
Boy 2: Yeah, I know.
Boy 1: oh man, my bed’s all wet. Why’s my bed all wet?!
Boy 2: I don’t know
Boy 1: I’m thirsty. Give me the water.
Boy 2: you drank it all.
Boy 1: I’m thirsty. (pause) Why’s my bed wet?
Boy 2: there’s only a little left you drank it all

This went on for an unnecessary amount of time.

4. Breakfast

When breakfast is included in your hostel stay. Don’t get excited or factor this in as a benefit.

5. Cervesa

Ask how big “largo” really is…

These were as big as our heads. we were the only one to accidentally order them...awkward

6. Try not to get “Spring Breaked” from the beach

Lindsay and I got to enjoy one and half days of beach and sun. The first sunny day was on Wednesday. We were able to find a nice spot on the beach, lay out on our towels and enjoy the symphony of “massage-y, massage-y,” “aguas, cervesas, coke-a-cola,” “Mojitos,” of the vendors while enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing on shore. Or at least until some boys crashed the spot with a boom box playing rap music yelling sexual obsentities and derogatory terms onto the beach. Their comical conversations of not needing sunblock because they are “russian italians”, their waving down the vendors every two minutes for empanadas, cervesas, and mojitos, and sporting some new cornrows on their stark white scalps was fun for the first twenty minutes but died down soon after. The talk of the “bitches” they scored with, the “hot” clubs they went to, and the advice of avoiding the ever embarrassing “monica lewinsky” the locals play as a joke on tourists, eventually became a little too much. (I would describe what a monica lewinsky was if it was so inappropriate) Lindsay and I called it a day but were able to spend the rest of the evening laughing over their awesome conversations. (and for those of you who are wondering, they weren’t american! finally! they were, however, Canadian.)

7. To Catch a Thief

Become the stereotypical tourist before you exit the plane. Wear your backpack in front. Take a money belt. Don’t carry a purse. Don’t carry a wallet. Don’t use your phone. Don’t use anything nice. In fact leave anything valued over $30 at home (15 pounds for you U.K.ers)

Before every trip I’ve taken people have always warned me to watch out for thieves, pick-pocketers, and purse-snatchers. As in all large cities and holiday destinations they are more prevalent. Before Barcelona, Lindsay and I heard the same advice, even a few stories of people knowing people who had been robed, therefore we were definitely on our guard when we arrived but nothing prepared us for how true it was.
The street vendors and buskers were all aggressive, having no problem invading anyone’s personal space. The dozens of “massagey, massagey” ladies who roam the beach offering 10 minutes massages for 5 euros don’t take “no” for an answer but use it as a chance to change your mind. They often start rubbing your back or your legs trying to persuade you. The men on the streets selling flowers won’t turn and leave you alone after one “no” or even two. They will stand by you speaking broken english in attempts to sell a rose. So when we discovered how aggressive and non-discreet the thieves were, we weren’t surprised. 4 people in our hostel were robbed this past week. Me included.
Walking home early one morning with Lindsay, I had my purse wrapped around my wristed and clutched in my hand. A group of boys, fairly nicely dressed considering, came up behind Lindsay and I. They ripped my purse from my wrist. I, who for some reason still continues to think I can take anyone, took off running after them. My flip-flops flying in the air as I sprinted away in my dress, yelling obsentities to get my purse back. I caught up to them and grabbed at my purse as though it were a baton in track but still not strong enough was unable to keep a firm grip and fell forward. This did not stop me. I kept up with them until I almost reached them again. The culprit finally threw my purse down on the street. Thankfully, all they took was the cash, leaving me with all of my credit cards and identification.
Another person in my hostel was not as lucky and was unable to catch up with them, and another was scammed by one of the street dancers. Someone had an iPhone knocked from their hands as well.
(While I should have not have chased after my purse and I am lucky I didn’t get hurt, I couldn’t help but feel lucky not to have to be going through the pains of cancelling cards, finding money, and trying to get new i.d.’s.)

So what have we learned. Traveling in Barcelona is no joke.

8. Sunshine days

out in the sun as early as possible

If your last day in Barcelona is the sunniest and best day of the whole trip and you have 7 hours to kill before boarding your flight that does not mean you need to spend all 7 hours on the beach to make up for the previous cloudy days. If you do this, reapply sunblock. Thankfully, I am such a paranoid freak I reapplied like crazy. Some of us were not as lucky though.

I’m aware this post is not painting an awesome trip but it truly was. Even though it was not what was planned or anticipated Lindsay and I had a great time. We made some excellent new friends. We had a great time laughing at the comedy of errors of our trip. I Learned a new dutch sentence. We discovered how awesome Gaudi was. I was absolutely blown away by the enormity and amazingness of La Sagrada Familia. I do not have words to describe what an incredible magnificent catherdral it is and how lucky I am to have visited it. I believe everyone needs to make this trip solely for La Sagrada Familia.

gorgeous(having trouble posting pics of segrada so look for them on facebook)

This trip was stressful, however, so I’m happy to be home and back to work. Although with a few nights in at the hostel and some early mornings I was pretty productive for a holiday.

Cheers,

Jess

p.s. As usual I apologize for all typos and what not. I’m tired and wanted to get this up before diving back into my work tomorrow. P

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Well Colleen made it out to Edinburgh for me, but sadly Katie and Kellie were left behind in Ohio and while they were missed it did not stop us from having a good time.

Colleen came to visit at the worst and best time. The worst time because up until she arrived on Saturday I was stressed with work, getting my words in, and an all day event our tutors put on for my class bringing in people from all aspects of the literary world to talk with us. By the time I got to the airport on Saturday morning to meet Colleen I was beat and nervous she would want to just get to Lindsay’s flat and relax for a bit. Colleen had told me I didn’t need to meet her at the airport but just to let everyone know, if you are going to pay for a roundtrip ticket to visit me I will fork over the 6 pounds to greet you as you get off the plane. It is the very least I can do. The second I saw Colleen I forgot how tired and grumpy I was. I’m fairly certain our scene of reuniting could have played in the opening credits of “Love, Actually”
We weren’t on the Airlink, the bus to take us back to the city center, for two minutes before Colleen looked at me and said, “we should hike Arthur’s Seat today.”
That’s when I knew. This was going to be an awesome week and very busy! The first day Colleen arrived Scotland tricked her into think we have great weather with the sun out on a clear day.

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The winds were of course there but the sun made it all look so nice. The next three days were overcast, rain, and wind so  Colleen got to see the true Edinburgh. Arthur’s seat was an adventure in itself. And probably not the safest but with our “that looks dangerous. I’ll do it!” attitude we were good. The hike up takes about two hours, factor in the wind, and breaks to take pictures, and it’s an all day event, besides when you hike with me I make sure we get all the way to the top (insert sexual innuendos here). After standing a little too close to the edge and almost letting the large gusts of wind knock us off the extinct volcano we decided to sit for a bit and enjoy the weather and view.

30 seconds later, we decided to find the quickest way down Arthur’s seat to give us time to get home and get ready to go out. After watching an 80 year-old man step down a steep path to the bottom we opted to follow him. This was a mistake. That path was not safe, flashes of Colleen and I sliding off the edge and  spraining an ankle or breaking a leg flashed through my mind. As I sat down and scooted myself to the bottom of the path I couldn’t help but think that the old man must have been a retired Superman because he practically ran down the path. He didn’t even use the rock walls for support!

In the four days Colleen was here I had NEVER done so many tourist things. By ten o’clock each night we were both knackered and ready for bed. Aside from climbing Arthur’s seat we didn’t do anything I had already done. We went to the castle, this time actually going in. Don’t worry Brig we didn’t miss anything. The castle was not too impressive but glad I went.

Now, Holyrood Palace, I recommend to everyone. The palace was fantastic! Everything is so beautiful and there is so much to see. The audio tour was amazing! I don’t have words to describe how much i enjoyed this (especially in comparison to the castle). I should have taken Robin’s advice months ago.

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We also went to St. Andrews for a day with some of my friends. My friend, Lauren, went there for her undergrad and gave us the official unofficial tour. All of which was done in about three hours, giving us just enough time to grab a cheeky pint.
It was so great to have Colleen here, it was like a slice of home but it was bittersweet. Just when it became normal to have her here it was time for her to go. Saying good-bye was not easy (actually it kind of was because I was running out the door of our hotel room in Amsterdam after I accidentally overslept and was about to miss my flight but you know what I mean).
Although it is a huge bummer my parents had to postpone their trip and weren’t able to come this week, it just made Colleen’s visit more awesome. And now, if my parents can make it over later, I know exactly what fun touristy things to do with them and which ones to just leave them to do while I sneak off for a pint…

Cheers,

Jess

 

p.s. new computer and don’t know how to get the photos on this to work … so sorry

 

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Colleen and I journeyed to Amsterdam during her visit. It was the most amazing city! As I’ve been a wretched blogger I am just going to do a brief overview of the time spent in Amsterdam through a series of what we did and did not do. This will benefit any readers who’s attention span is as short as my own.

We did…go to the Keukenhof Gardens

We did not…get to see the tulips in full bloom as it was the last day of the season and most of them had been clipped however the ones that were there were gorgeous!

We did…take a lot of pictures of flowers

We did….go to the Red Light District

We did not…go to a sex show
We did…get propositioned to have sex with male and female prostitutes after going into every sex shop and eventually being recognized by the workers
We did…exercise our will power and turn them down, EVEN when they offered us safe sex. (Great selling points)
We did…watch a transaction go down between a woman in a window and a man on street, who started the conversation with “Are you good?” we had much respect for this as it is a valid question, we just figured what good prostitute wouldn’t lie?

Anne Frank Statue

We did….go to the Anne Frank House
We did not…purchase any souvenirs as it seemed odd
We did…think it was completely awesome and totally worth it. Recommend to all! Amazing!

Even the buildings don't know which way to go!

We did not…get lost. Who are we kidding? We got lost walking straight because oh yeah, none of the streets stay straight for long.
We did…figure out buying a map is no better than the free maps you can pick up anywhere.
We did not…admit to others when we were lost hence Colleen’s line of “I know where we are! Leidsplein!” she did not however, know how to get home from there.
We did…almost get run over by bikes, cars, boats, and pedestrians every five to ten minutes.
We did…go out drinking
We did not…order drinks appropriately as I discovered while talking to very nice Dutch man. Apparently no one orders pints, they all order half pints so that their drink stays cold until the last sip. I then spent the next ten minutes trying to gulp my pint down as fast as possible
We did…find a local bar
We did not…find the bar through the tourist book and out of respect for our new friends I will not say where it was because when they realized we weren’t Dutch (because we didn’t understand what they were saying) they freaked out. The conversation went like this:
Man: *says something in dutch*
Colleen and I stare at him for an awkward length of time
Me: Oh, we’re english. We don’t speak Dutch
Colleen: Oh my God, we blend in. They think we’re from here! Success!
Man: this is a dutch bar
Me and Colleen: Cool
Man: how did you find this bar?
Me: we were just walking and saw it
Man: what tourist book was it in?!
Me: it wasn’t in one.
Man: you have a tourist book though?
Me: yes but we were just walking and we found this. It wasn’t in the book.
Man: Just tell me which one.

people ignoring the sign and waiting in the queue when they don't have to be outside of the Van Gogh Museum

We did…go to the Van Gogh Museum
We did not…go to any other art museum
We did…LOVE the Van Gogh Museum

We did…learn all attractive men seem to live in Amsterdam. They are everywhere and they are gorgeous. Even better, for every 10 attractive males there is one female.
We did not…learn any dutch.
We did…say “Hallo” obnoxiously for about ten consecutive minutes every morning
We did…discover our hotel has thin walls and our neighbors seemed to be having much better morning than colleen and I. Now if only we could have figured out who they were at breakfast…

Our hotel in the museum district and right by the park. perfect!

I would like to end this blog with this final note. I LOVE AMSTERDAM. After spending a few days there I definitely fell in love with this city. Additionally, I have found myself daydreaming and fantasizing about…getting a bike. They are so cool! I want a bike so ridiculously bad now. And not just any bike, a fun, Amsterdamy bike. One with a neat lock on the back wheel with a fun color. And I want a cool basket on the front to put my stuff in, and one of those bags that drapes over the back tires to hold more of my stuff. I also want a seat cover to keep it dry when it rains and I lock it up outside. That is all. My blog on Colleen’s visit to Edinburgh will be next. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to keep my blog updated when I spend my days writing, so my apologies.

Cheers, Jess

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Alcohol. Yes. Fire. Yes. Nudity. Why not?

The Beltane Fire Festival was this past Saturday and in true Edinburgh hippy fashion it was celebrated at the top of Calton Hill with all the (fake) pagan fun. It is a Celtic fertility festival. The ritual is about the celebration of fertility of land and the animals practiced. Now it is basically an excuse for the hippies of Edinburgh, mainly students, to go up a hill, drink alcohol, play with fire, and get naked.

Enjoying the festivities

Rosie mentioned it in passing to Lauren and I and ten minutes later a plan and an evening was in the works. After reading the risk on the ticket – involves fire performance, uninhibited behavior, and semi-nudity; attendance at your own risk – my excitement only grew. Following the rules of the festival (no glass, drums, loud instruments, dogs or combustibles) we set off with Kiki, Colm, and a few extras to the hill.

The line to get up to the hill

The line to get into the festival was massive, with a prediction of 12,000 attendants. When we finally got there we did a wee once over of the set-up then found a nice spot to watch the sunset over Edinburgh while enjoying our beer. An hour later we were begging for the festivities to begin as we had not dressed entirely appropriate for a night out in the cold. All we could hope for was for them to starting lighting the fires.

When it did finally begin we forgot all about the cold as we made our way to see the torches. It was insane, 12,000 people all followed these specs of light like bugs to a zapper. The opening ceremonies consisted of lighting fire under the Athenian acropolis (intended to be a replica of the Parthenon but 200 years later still isn’t finished) followed by the Beltane performers scantily dressed and painted in reds and oranges to make their way to different areas of the hill with lit torches. When I say torches I mean legit torches, not how the English refer to flashlights as torches. As we came early we had a great spot for a majority of the show as we watched the performers dance around for an awkward amount of time without fire, then a nice amount of time with fire, and then began to take off some articles of clothing. Then they took off a little bit more. Lots of boobs and butt-cheeks. At one point they seemed to have created an orgy. Which for everyone, at least everyone not involved in the orgy, seemed quite uncomfortable.

No worries, after the orgy scene they went right into what everyone was waiting for – playing with fire! The second the fire tricks of juggling and twirling began so did the “oohs” and “aahs.”I know this was directed at the fire and not the nudity because many of the comments for the nudity such as “gross” or “show us more” stopped, along with some obnoxious American males sitting behind us.

Playing with fire...hopefully they are careful not to burn any of their exposed bits

Any thoughts of joining the nudity in any way shape or form were dashed by the frigid cold air, although attendants don’t normally get naked, it is mostly reserved for the performers. Dodged a bullet there. (I hear St. Andrew’s festivities are more broad to include everyone and more cold as they run into the water naked).

Any hopes of finding people we knew or them finding us were dashed when we realized how packed the hill was. After trips to the bathrooms we found ourselves still having trouble finding the people we left at our spot. Some of us, not mentioning name but rhymes with sholm and shessica, found the lines to the toilets too long. Too weak of a bladder to hold it we took to the hill! Right by the city observatory standing opposite of where all the fire fun was going on was a path. It split in two going in different directions around the observatory. Colm left me with the choice of where to go. I chose to go right. I chose wrong. We were instantly confronted with the back-ends of five men peeing. Clearly I had picked the boy’s bathroom side of the observatory. We quickly back tracked and went left where I found a nice bush while Colm ran interference for me. Once we managed to find our group again, we were up and running to follow the torches.

ohhhh pretty! (followed by "oh no is my hair burning again?")

The fire procession then moved from spot to spot ending with a giant bonfire that sent flakes of fire into the night sky. Another awesome sight which amusement lasted about ten seconds until we all realized we were standing down wind from the fire and our hair was burning.

Did I mention they sold mini torches to the drunks?

The night was a success. Fun, friends, and fire – I couldn’t ask for more. Oh, except a little nudity of course.

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I am in L.O.V.E. with the Meadows.

The meadows is the park separating Marchmont from Campus. It is a short 15 minute scenic walk from my real flat to the main area of old town where Uni resides and it is glorious. I have always appreciated walking along its path under the bare trees in the fall, snow-covered trees in the winter, and now the pink cherry blossom trees in summer. What’s different now is the people. All year we have rushed through the meadows, not looking around, not looking back. On the way to class, on the way to the library, late for a meeting, trying to make a lecture, etc. In the winter we tried to be out of the horribly tended walks covered in snow (no one seems to own a shovel and there are about 2 snow plows in all of Scotland) as much as possible. Even when the snow wasn’t around to annoy us, the days were too short to enjoy Edinburgh. The sun was up by 8 and down by 3. Pitch black at 4 in the afternoon.

Now with classes finished we all seem to mosey on through the meadows. People stop to take pictures of Jawbone at the start (or foot depending which way you are walking) of the path or try and capture the beauty of the cherry blossoms lining the way. Everyone is walking in the grass and finding a wonderful spot to call their own for the next few hours while they let the sun warm their skin and lose themself in a book or great company. The longer hours lead to a plethora amount of time to do things all day. The sun is up at 6:30 am and doesn’t vanish from the sky until 8pm and the days will only get longer. This beautiful sunshine will eventually stay out until 10  o’clock at night.

These past few days I have taken up shop with some great friends in the meadows. Which, with every passing day, is beginning to resemble OU’s south beach and sixfest more and more. Grills are out, people are sunbathing, playing football (Scottish), cricket, and rounders. Bands play in different spots throughout the Meadows. Dogs are running around free without leashes looking for friends to play with. People are flying kites, ribbon dancing, and riding unicycles. Others are tight rope walking and juggling. When I list these things off it is not a one time thing. Without fail each day we have seen all of things on several occasions. I am more specifically referring to the unicyclist, tight rope walkers, and jugglers. It’s crazy. The idea of Bingo game or scavenger hunt is in the workings of spotting out the randomness. Future barbeques are in the works as well. This is turning out to be a pretty fabulous summer!

Until August, when the I won’t be able to see the ground of the Meadows due to the festival, I plan on making The Meadows my office. Doing all my reading and writing under the sun.

p.s. I didn’t have my cam with me so the pics of the unicyclist and the tight rope walker were to far away. I promise to do better next time!

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The entire time I’ve been Edinburgh I have somehow managed not to lose my wallet, keys, camera, or phone. Not to break my computer, phone, camera, or any other electronic. Not to land myself in the hospital.  Until Monday that it is.

This past week, while Lindsay was away on a Parisian Holiday with Lauren and Rosie, she graciously offered me up her flat. IT WAS AMAZING! I knew it would be amazing the second I jumped on the offer. A bedroom twice the size of mine, a kitchen twice the size of mine, a living space twice the size of mine, a bathroom – well the bathroom is the same size but way better. It was glorious. I had room to move about the flat, nobody’s mess but mine own to clean up after, large windows, lots of natural light. The flat is no only huge but also in the center of everything. Everything is about a ten minute walk away. I was spoiled with only having to walk two minutes to Starbucks instead of 15. If I needed to stop back at the flat to grab something, it was no big deal. It wasn’t a 20 minute walk out of the way. I was in heaven until Monday.

As I left Lindsay’s flat for my early morning jog I made sure to check my pockets for the keys scared to be locked out. Right when my iTunes informed I had run 1 km I passed my friend, Topher, walking through the Meadows, I said “hi” and continued on my way. At that moment I realized I couldn’t feel the keys in my pocket. Confused I stopped, checked my pockets, and realized I didn’t have them. With nothing but my running clothes and my iPod I walked back to Topher. I assumed I had mistaken my iPod for the keys that morning when I checked my pocket. We then phoned Emily who couldn’t help laugh when I told her all I had to my name was my iPod and Topher. Not only could I not get into Lindsay’s flat, I could not get into my own, nor did I have money, an I.D., or even a tooth-brush. Why I couldn’t have locked myself out on one of my many trips to Starbucks to work I will never know. After a long, convoluted process of getting a hold of Lindsay (who’s phone number I no longer had since I did not have a phone) and her landlord I made my way to the letting office to pick up the spare set — still in my gross running clothes, still not having showered.

When I returned to the flat 6 hours after I started my run the keys I assumed I’d locked in the flat were not there. I looked everywhere. Then I took to the street again. Thankfully I’d only run 1km before realizing I didn’t have them anymore so I didn’t have to go far to retrace my steps, which I did. Twice. Then I went into the stores to see if anyone turned in a set of keys. I posted an ad on Gumtree. After returning  to the flat ( and searching the flat again) I emailed Lindsay and the Letting Agent.  I was extremely annoyed and disappointed in myself for having lost the keys that Lindsay trusted to me. Had they been my keys I would not have cared as much, especially since the 8 times I’ve lost my i.d. and/or phone they have always found their way back to me, but this was different. A complete accident but still my fault and still irresponsible.

The next morning I woke up to an email of someone who’d found the keys! It was a christmas miracle! I felt the biggest sense of relief. After I picked up the keys, I returned the spare set to the letting office, cleaned Lindsay’s apartment, then did as she instructed — locked the locks and put the keys through the mail slot. When Lindsay, Rosie, and Lauren got off their flight and back into town I met them for a pint before we made our way back to Lindsay’s flat. As Lindsay tried to get in the flat, I informed her I locked all three locks. She was confused. She only locks two locks on the door.

“Oh well, I locked the top one too.”

“I don’t have a key for the top one.” She looked at me.

“what?” Apparently the keys she gave me go to all three locks, and unbeknown to both of us her keys did not have a key for all three locks! We both thought both set of keys were identical. We were wrong.

“Did you still have the keys or did you put them through the slot,” she asked.

“I put them through the slot.”

“Well do you have the spare keys?” Lindsay and Rosie asked.

“No, I gave them back today.” Damn my responsibility!

We then spent the next twenty minutes with our arms (mainly Colm and Lindsay’s arms) through the mail slot with one of Rosie’s wire hangers trying to grab at the keys we couldn’t see. We based our judgment of where they were off Colm’s camera phone photos he managed to snap by putting his arm through the slot. As we are all making an effort to grab the keys, Rosie, eating her chips and garlic sauce, goes “to bad we don’t have one of those clamps they use to pick up garbage.”

“Yeah, or the magnet man,” replied Colm. At that instant a huge smile washed over Lindsay. Just hours before leaving Paris she impulsively bought an Eiffel tower magnet. She dug through her bag like a man digging for gold, tied it around the end of the hanger, and two minutes later, we were standing outside her door cheering to the success of obtaining the keys! Thank God! We were also forced to explain ourselves as the minute the keys magnetized to the Eiffel tower on the opposite side of the door Lindsay’s neighbors emerged from their flat to see four people huddled around a door with their arms in the mail slot cheering on the key retrieval. “Yes!! We got ’em! and we’re not burglars!” we screamed in excitement.

After this whole debacle I thought to myself, never again. Too much stress. Then Emily offered her flat up to me for a month and I jumped at the chance. This time though there is another girl, Kat, in the flat that could let me in if anything happened. But perhaps I should make a copy, just in case…

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