Day 6 – A Year of Writing

I realize I’m cutting it a little close today with writing and posting this blog entry. Honestly, I spent most of the day walking around or taking a nap. I have no regrets. Luckily I was able to donate my bike today to Oxfam (a charity). I sadly can’t take my bike back to Chicago with me, but this one has served me nicely. I tried to sell it for a while but realized it was easier and more satisfying to donate it to a good cause. I’ll post a picture of the bike in question to this blog, it will be my first picture posted! How fun!

have bike. will travel.jpg
My Peugeot!

I’ll also spend the next couple of days going through my clothing and books, finding which to donate and which to throw away. I always like going through my old things and minimizing my possessions. I’m rather amazed by the sheer amount of junk that I’d end up keeping for any period of time. Though there are other things that I later am sad I chose to give away. Such is life.

Upon my arrival back in the United States, while I apply for PhDs, jobs, and begin investing, I also plan on building another gaming computer. The one I have is woefully outdated and it has been way too long since I’ve properly played a video game. I’m probably most excited for playing Fallout 4 and the remastered Bioshock collections. I’ll post screenshots of those when I do finally play them. It’s also likely I’ll make a small guide on building computers and I’ll show off the rig that I make.

Day 5 – A Year of Writing

Last night I rewatched the Blues Brothers, one of my all time favorite films. The premise is two Chicago -well, Calumet City- brothers reunited after one of the brothers’ -Jake- early release from Joliet State Penitentiary. These two embark upon a musical and divinely driven mission to save the orphanage they grew up in, via legitimate means. It was nice to see Chicago on the screen, even if it was of the skyline long before I was born. One of the final songs the Blues Brothers play is “Sweet Home Chicago” which is a song that always puts a smile on my face.

I also downloaded a new Multi-wallet for my cryptocurrencies and I’m very pleased with it. Coinomi, seems secure enough for my purposes and allows me to exchange between cryptos by way of the native exchange service hosted by shapeshift. I’m really enjoying it and would recommend it to any of my readers interested in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and many of the other altcoins that have been released. I’ll do a more in depth review soon and have a non-expert beginners guide to the world of cryptocurrencies soon after that.

Day 4 – A Year of Writing

I’m eagerly waiting to know what my Master’s dissertation’s grade is. I’m told we should know either tomorrow or this upcoming Sunday. I handed the 15,000 word -well, 14,927 word- work over a month and a half ago at this point, and I’ve been nervous about it on and off ever since. My adviser seemed rather pleased with it when I spoke to him, he even suggested I convert my dissertation into the form of an article, so that I can have my theory attributable to me in an academic journal. I’ve been working on that ever since he suggested it, but it remains rather difficult still to produce a copy with which I’m comfortable submitting for publication. Cutting the paper which barely stayed below the word limit in half is no small challenge. I’ve got a deadline for November 18th to have a workable copy, here’s to hoping.

Of course, a different sort of stress is finding a job once I return to the United States. While I think that anthropologists have great worth in the professional world, many non-anthropologists tend to misunderstand exactly what anthropologists bring to the corporate table. It is my intention to stay within academia during and after a PhD program, but I also would am keen to stay connected to anthropology outside of applying for those programs. Perhaps a future post of mine will be why anthropologists are needed in the business world. Though I should probably do that as an ongoing series separate from this writing everyday challenge.

A Drinking Guide To London – Student Edition

I studied in London from September 2015 until November 2016 and have lived here before, but one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that this is a proper drinking city. But it is also an expensive one. Visiting all of the nightlife can leave your bank account wanting. Whether you’re a student studying in London or just a tourist with a student-like budget, this guide hopes to point you in the right directions for drinking in this amazing city without robbing you of all your pounds!


Drinking with Your Mates

There’s nothing like a great night out with your mates. The stories, the banter, the wonderful feeling of knowing it’s not your turn to buy a round for a few more pints at least, these are the reasons we love drinking with friends. Some bars and pubs lend themselves to it better than others, here are a few of my personal favourites.

The Holborn Whippet – Holborn

Located conveniently by the Holborn Tube stop, The Holborn Whippet is a crowd pleaser. Due to its popularity, it can get pretty busy. Even with the large number of people however, the sheer amount of beautiful beers on tap alone allows you to overlook any crowded night. This coupled with a knowledgeable bar staff makes for a great place to sit or stand, talk with friends, or talk with the staff about beer -or really anything-. They also have a nice mid-range Scottish Whisky selection for a fairly reasonable price (about £5 a pop), just be sure not to ask for ice in them!

Their kitchen is also amazing. While they may not serve Chicago Style Pizza -the best kind of pizza-, their kitchen churns out some of the tastiest pizzas outside of the US and Italy that I’ve come across.

It is moderately priced, I haven’t seen Siren Soundwave -such a good IPA- for anything less than 6 pounds, but here it’s a fiver for a pint! Their beers rotate frequently and you’re unlikely to see the same thing twice.

BrewDog – Camden Town

Right off the Camden Town stop on the Northern Line, this vibrant pub is one of the flagships for the brewery that helped launch Europe into the craft beer age. BrewDog Camden is a two floor punk tap room, with interesting and unique beers on rotation. Though this is a bit pricier, it will be cheaper per ml to drink BrewDog’s brew than any guest beers they have on tap.

With board games, punk music playing, and comfortable seating, this pub provides an excellent atmosphere for having a couple with your mates. The staff is often quirky and fun. This place is very popular on the weekends so I’d suggest getting there early if possible!


Drinking with Your Dates

Though London may not be as romantic as Paris or Rome (or Chicago!!!), it is still a great city to see with your better half or while trying to find that special someone. Whether it’s a first date or just spending the evening with your better half, these pubs are perfect for getting your date on.

Gordon’s Wine Bar – Charing Cross

Not so far from the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square is this tucked away gem. Gordon’s Wine Bar is a brilliant place for wines with a history to match its unique decor. This old bar has ample room to sit outside, but where you really want to get a place is in the candlelit cellar. The underground structure was used as a bomb shelter during the Battle of Britain, and legend has it that they still doled out the wine while Jerry doled out the ordinance. Essentially, it’s where people went to get bombed, in both senses of the word.

The low lighting, the candles in wine bottles, and the fact you can only buy wine by the bottle make for a great time with your date, and you can impress them with your knowledge of the bar. It also has a cheese counter where you can purchase cheeses paired to your wine selections, or whatever cheese you feel you’d like.

This is a bit more expensive than your average public house, but that’s mostly because you have to buy entire bottles of wine -which per glass end up being pretty cheap!-. When you’re in the cellar you can hear the rumbling of the nearby underground station Charing Cross.

Cahoots! – Soho

Cahoots in Soho is a speakeasy “Keeping the Spirit of the Blitz Alive” in a disused underground tube stop. Swing, Doo Wop, and Jazz music provides a sexy night out. The friendly staff feel like they belong in the woodwork of this pub, keeping in character of a WWII bomb shelter serving cocktails to forget about the world above. This place is particularly fun when you and your date choose to dress similarly to the feel of the bar. Victory rolls, tweed, flapper dresses, suspenders and penny loafers all fit in well here.

The cocktail menu is an old newspaper with different stories and adverts describing the drinks available. “All hot and buttered” is one of the most delicious things to drink, it comes warm in a hip flask.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be seated in the old tube carriage where the comfortable seats hug you as dearly as you’ll hug your date when you -let’s be real about this boozy place- stumble up the stairs.

For those of you who have played Bioshock, this bar has a very similar feel to that of Rapture, though that may just be the opinion of myself and my date when we went there. You’ll have to decide for yourselves! Go! And be sure to ask for the “Captain.”


Drinking with Yourself

Let’s face it, sometimes you need time to unwind and decompress by yourself. Here are a few pubs you can practice the Art of Drinking Alone (in Public).

The Volunteer – Baker Street

With comfortable couches, generous portions of chips, and ambient lighting The Volunteer on Baker Street -the same block as the fictional Sherlock Holmes- is a great place to escape from your Mates, Dates, and other stresses of this social life. Post up on the bar or on a table with a good book or your notebook and take in the soul of this old, proper pub.

Their Fish ‘n Chips are delicious, with a jaunty crew running the place. Once you’ve had a few here, if there’s still on your mind that you’d like cleared it is just a two minute walk from the southern tip of Regent’s Park.

The Euston Tap – Euston

The Euston Tap is housed in the old cloisters leading to the roundabout in Euston Station. Beer enthusiasts rejoice, this is the best pub in London for drinking good beer -great sours on tap usually!- alone. Its location by one of the busiest train stations in London means that you’ll never be bored by people watching either inside or outside this pub. A constantly rotating tap also means you’ll never be bored by the selection of beers on tap as well! I like to go here after a long day of classes and work on my dissertation to unwind with a nice pint -or a few!- while playing some chess online or just writing in my journal.


Not Just for Students!

While this post mostly focuses on student budgets, all of these pubs are fantastic even when you’re not a student or on a budget. All it means is you can have more of the delicious beverages available!

Day 3 – A Year of Writing

Today I went to my local pub to get a little bit of work done and enjoy a pint. Disaster struck as I handed back my card in the card machine. The barman dropped the machine which sent paper rocketing across the bar, but also my debit card cracked a little bit. Sadly, I probably cannot use it to get money out of the ATM anymore. Luckily, I’m transferring my pounds into USD very soon anyway, so the account is not nearly as important as it was to me -even- a few weeks ago.

I’m transferring the money because after a year and some months living in London, I’ll be heading back to the shining City of Chicago. This is bittersweet for me. Both Chicago and London are now my homes, when I’m in these cities I’ll always be halfway home, and when I’m in neither I’ll be homeless (potentially quite literally!). However, it will be fantastic to see my family and friends in the Windy City again. I’ll be returning just after the MLB’s world series wraps up. The Chicago Cubs are in it for the first time since 1945. This is passively exciting for a northsider like myself, but terribly exciting for the rest of my family, which have been avid cubs fans since their births and are far more loyal to the team than I’ve ever been.

I’ll be excited to see the skyline, drink Revolution’s Anti-hero, and be miserable in a proper winter. However, I’ll always remember the staff at the Holborn Whippet, the parks that I’ve lived near in Camden Town and South Kensington, and the countless afternoons spent drinking disgusting -but free- coffee in the student common room at UCL’s Anthropology Department. I was in that common room far more than any other place in all of London during my stay.

I have just a week more in this United Kingdom before returning to the United States. Here’s to hoping I get accepted into a PhD Program here, or in Chicago. Though the prospect of finding a 3rd place to call home is nothing short of exhilarating as well.

Day 2 – A Year of Writing

Today I caught coffee with a friend in the National Theatre’s atrium. We discussed our swiftly approaching PhD application deadlines, the GRE, and other complexities that go in hand with attempting to break into the world of academia. A rather terrifying prospect, but our mutual adviser made it sound very empirical and prescribed. Brilliance often appears effortless, and V is no exception to that appearance.

I hope to apply to MIT, University of Chicago, University of California – Irvine, and University College London for my PhD, and I’m in the process of identifying the individuals with whom I would like to work. This is always a somewhat terrifying process, since it feels like I do not have the appropriate level of expertise to even begin a conversation with these titans of anthropology.  Even more worrying may be trying to find recommendation letters. This is especially true when looking to secure one from a professor who may not know you as well as you’d like, or you have no been in contact with for some time.

The difference in deadlines between US and universities abroad also provides another opportunity for complications. While most US schools require your application for next year to be due by the beginning of December, European schools have yet to even open the application portals for their programs. If applying to both, this can be particularly perplexing and tiring. The rush to submit an applications followed by the process being drawn out longer. Mind you, this will always still be worth it to me.

Day 1 – A Year of Writing

A few years ago I made a promise to myself that I would try to write everyday. Perhaps this was doomed because it was a New Year’s resolution, but I only made it a few months into the challenge before I began to forget to keep up the writing. In an effort to keep a fresh array of writing topics, I used a daily writing prompt some blogger had suggested. These were rarely interesting and engaging. I feel that this may be one of the larger factors which led me to halt my work writing. Another reason may be that the writing was for only private consumption. Only I had access to it, yet it wasn’t a diary or a journal.

In hopes of making my dream of writing everyday a reality, I will do my best to mitigate the issues I’ve identified with my previous attempts. Firstly, this is not a New Year’s resolution and in my mind had already increased its chances of success. I also plan on finding more interesting and fresh topics to write about without having to resort to a prescribed set of writing prompts. Finally -as you, the reader, are well aware- I will make this writing challenge public on a blog. Even though I never expect to have anyone actually read this, the possibility of someone reading blog will keep me honest to them and myself. I promise to do the best I can with this blog, and become more comfortable with writing.