Rock Climbing!

Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind. I decided against meeting with my mentor at 9:30AM and opted to sleep in, a glorious choice. Somehow, I accomplished almost nothing besides eating and setting up my room land line (you can now call me without Skype; you pay, I don't) before I had to start my day. But I did manage to set off the fire alarm while trying speed up the drying of my sweat pants. I'm not positive it was me, but just in case, I quickly unplugged my hairdryer and put it away to conceal all evidence. Then I stared the fire alarm down as it blinked and beeped until it shut off. Whew. Sigh of relief.

So I headed to LSE to meet the rock climbing crew and waited in front of the building where we were supposed to meet. I panicked at first when I realized I had no idea how to identify the rock climbing people. That's a problem I have here... I never expect to actually become friends with anyone I meet, so names and faces disappear from memory as soon as the introduction is over. And then I have no idea who to look for. I found them and we headed to The Castle indoor rock climbing facility in North London. Somehow when I walked in... I didn't realize that the building looked like this:

This is what happens when I'm preoccupied with new things; I don't realize I'm climbing in a former Victorian pumping house.

Anyways. The facilities were amazing. I was shocked to see how much there was inside. There's even a little cafe where people can buy "a spot of tea," a phrase I actually heard used for the first time, inside. They paired us two beginner climbers to one experienced climber. I was paired with Shane, another General Course student from USC. Our experienced climber was Kjerste (pronounced Shesh-teh, or something), a third year LSE student from Norway. Apparently everyone who rock climbs is Norwegian, which somehow makes the fact that I worked at Helly Hansen, a Norwegian company, hilariously useful for chit chat.

We had to rent shoes, tight ones that I think are supposed to let you use your feet and toes to the best of your ability. Then we were allowed to try bouldering, a type of climbing where you don't need a harness or rope. I think I might go for that more when I finally get to go by myself, because I can do it solo. We also did some lead climbing where we learned how to tie this special knot and strap everything to ourself. In order to be able to climb alone without an experienced climber to sign you in, you have to know how to do all this stuff yourself. We ended up climbing for 4 hours and my arms felt a little rubbery by the end. They're sore today, along with my forearms and parts of back, butt, and legs. Mission: accomplished. The picture to the right is of the area where we lead climbed and learned to belay others and tie the special knots. Climbing is both easier and harder than it looks. I can't explain. But I liked it a lot. I like the independent nature of the sport, at least for bouldering.

After I realized it was 6PM and I was still at The Castle, I panicked that I was still wearing sweats still yet scheduled to attend a Jack the Ripper walking tour with dinner at Brick Lane at 7PM. I raced back home and back up to the meeting place and miraculously made it in time. The tour was entertaining, as always, and surprisingly not creepy. I should've be more creeped out by hearing details of the brutal murders and mutilation of women in 1888, but I wasn't. I can see why people become obsessed about theories about Jack the Ripper though.

Alright. I've run on for far too long, but I was excited about rock climbing. Today, I purchased two texts for classes and found that it was either equally priced or cheaper than buying in the states. So refreshing. I also bought two used fiction books for fun to reward myself for surviving in London so far. It looks like books, or at least used ones, are the only products that don't rape you with exchange rates. Ahh, and here I am, back at Sidney Webb, enjoying a sandwich and comfort. I only got 5 hours of sleep thanks to late night necessary laundry, so a midday nap is in order.

Shoot me an email or anything to keep in touch more personally. Do I update this too much? Does it seem like I don't have a life? I feel compelled to reassure you that I do. Never fear.