I Lied to The Huffington Post

A few weeks ago, I quit my job.

 

The decision was a tough one, but I had given it a lot of thought and been planning it for months. During that process, friends and family gave me a lot of great advice: don’t settle, don’t give up, and most importantly- don’t lie about anything. Be honest about your skills, be honest about yourself, and be honest about your situation.

 

The day after I quit, fate stepped in to help with my job search choices. A friend from school sent me a simple text that would completely change my world, “Would you be interested in applying for a Fellowship at the Huffington Post?” I screamed in the middle of a CVS parking lot, and immediately went home to edit my resume.

 

Over the next few days I went about prepping for my interview and made sure I refreshed everything I’d learned about social media and search engine optimization thus far. As I prepared to fly up to interview with HuffPost, I held true to almost all of the advice that I’d been given. I found that I could follow it, but the one item that I struggled with the most was not being completely honest about my appearance. I lied about my body.

 

My appearance is something that I’ve always struggled with. My problems aren’t that visible to most, because I’ve always been quite tall and thin. But after looking at far too many magazines, I know that my shoulders and hips are bigger than normal, my skin is far from perfect, and my teeth aren’t even close to the blinding white that they should be. With the help of makeup and whiteners, I’ve been able to fix a few of my “flaws,” but I know that the biggest flaw of all is my own insecurity. During the interview process (as silly as it sounds), I was determined not to let how I felt about my body affect my job prospects.

 

A few days after my phone call with fate and countless emails later, it was the night before my first Huffington Post interview. I’d researched and prepared about as well as I thought I could prepare for the interview. I’d bought a new dress, and even invested in a massive jacket. but along with that new dress and new parka, I’d also bought brand new Spanx. Yes, Spanx that could hurt my internal organs and make sure that everything was super-mushed around in there. I was going to lie about my appearance.

 

I was very honest about everything in my interview- why I left my job, why I wanted to write, why working for HuffPost really was my dream job, but I still couldn’t be honest (with myself) about my muffin top. I’m very “up” on women’s issues- I was a Women’s Gender Studies minor and involved in a lot of issues around campaigns. I make sure to remind friends not to “slut-shame” other women on The Bachelor, and tell them to never compare themselves to the photo-shopped models in fashion ads. And yet here I was, a semi-accomplished young professional, and I was worried that my hips might appear “too large” in my new dress. I’d prepared for my interview beyond belief, but were slimming my hips really a part of my necessary preparation? No one was making me wear Spanx, but I still felt like I had to.

 

Two weeks and a fellowship offer later, I was welcomed to the Huffington Post team. For some reason, I felt oddly guilty. Would I go back and change the outfit that I wore and the undergarments that I bought? Absolutely not. Do I thinking wearing Spanx and showing up in a pretty dress were the reason I got the job? Absolutely not. I think it was my background and brains that prepared me for the four rounds of interviews and eventual fellowship offer.

 

So when people tell you to be honest in interviews- what does that mean? Should I have showed them my “real” body, which might have looked a bit lumpy, but also might have come off as unkept and disheveled? Would they have put that toward my work ethic? No one can tell for sure, but we’ll see if Huffington accepts my wide hips this week. I’m ready to be honest.

Airport Encounters: Jason

busyairportsI heard him before I saw him. I was approaching security, and  his mother was shouting well- intended directions- “Listen to everything thing they say! Make sure you LISTEN and do everything they say!

He was a giant man- standing maybe 6’6. “I will mama. I know. I’ll listen.” The lanky giant looked to be about 35, and hugged his mother goodbye.

I caught him out of the corner of my eye when we got to the start of security where we had to take our shoes off. He looked at me with peering, inquisitive eyes, “What do I do?”

“No worries, you’re fine!” I grabbed a few extra containers, and told him to copy me. We took our shoes off, then out coats. I pulled my laptop out of my bag, and sent everything through the scanner. I had the giant take off his beanie, and we walked toward the beckoning TSA.

“Ma’am, please step inside and put your hands up.” I followed her directions, and glanced back at the giant when I was on the other side. He obeyed the TSA officer, but still the beepers went off. “Sir, did you forget to empty your pockets? You know you’re supposed to empty your pockets.”

The giant took out a few pens and scraps of paper as I silently kicked myself for forgetting about pockets. While he was being searched, I emptied his shoes and bags out of the containers and put the containers away.

Finally, they set the giant free. “What gate are you going to? We can walk together!”

He ignored my question, and extended a hand as he began to put on his shoes. “Hi, I’m Jason.”

“Hi Jason, I’m Carly.”

“I’m going to C5.”

“Jason that’s my gate too! Charlotte, right?”

“Yeah I’m going to Charlotte! My dad died yesterday, and I’m going to his funeral. He was 83. He had cancer. They gave him six months and he said ‘Nope!’ He told the doctors he would only be a week. But I’m okay with that. It was on his own terms.”

I was shocked, and didn’t know what to say. But we kept walking, and the giant who was Jason told me about his father.

“My dad couldn’t talk anymore. He wrote it out on a scrap of paper. He said ‘Give me a week.’ And that’s what it was, Sunday to Sunday. He turned down chemo and didn’t have surgery and he went on his own terms. That’s what I like- that he went on his own terms. What do you do in Charlotte?”

We talked a little bit about my job, and where I lived now. Jason had lived in Charlotte before, and was originally born in North Carolina.

“I love North Carolina. I used to want to go to Chapel Hill. But I went to Tufts in Boston. And that’s a better school!”

“Jason, that’s amazing! Hey- here’s our gate. I’m gonna go get food. You want anything?”

“No I’ll go get us seats. I lost my appetite yesterday. Today my mom made me eat something because I needed to eat. I’ll go sit down.”

I can back shortly after with a bagel and water. ”Hey Jason! I’m back.”

“Oh that’s good. I was checking to see if the plane was delayed. You know my flight was delayed? My brothers and sisters are already in Charlotte. I have six brothers and six sisters. I was supposed to fly out Saturday.”

His father had passed away on Sunday.

“I was supposed to fly on Saturday, but my flight got moved to Monday. I wanted to go down to say goodbye, but yesterday I got the call and I said ‘What?! He’s already gone? But he gave ‘em a week.”

We talked a little more, and tried to decipher what they were saying over the loudspeaker. Without thinking, I called my mom to tell her about my last interview. When she didn’t pick up, I dialed my father.

“Hey dad! Yeah… I’m in the airport. Just got finished with my last interview…”

Jason was playing with his phone, and I don’t think he could hear me. But by now I realized what I’d done, and I wanted to undo it. My own father had been in a serious medical accident a few years ago.

“You know what? I have to go, Dad…Yeah I’m sitting next to people and I know I’m probably annoying the crap out of them. I’ll call tonight, okay? Love you too.”

I hung up and finished my bagel, then looked over at Jason. He had put his phone away, and was resting on his bag in the seat between us. I’d just gotten to say goodbye to my father, a privilege I often took for granted.

“Jason, tell me about your brothers and sisters. You have 12 right? Where do they all live?”

For the next 20 minutes, Jason entertained me with tales of his siblings, describing in great detail their occupations and the current state/continent they called home. The conversation slowed to a natural pause, and we both moved back to scrolling through our phones. I figured I’d taken his mind off his father a little bit, and that he would be fine.

Thirty minutes later, I saw Jason’s jacket moving. Wrecked by sobs, he’d hidden his face in his legs. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“You alright, Jason?” My eyes started to well up.

He looked back at me with tears. “I’m alright, Carly. I’m alright.”

We both went to go get food, as it was time for a walk.

A few minutes after our return, a voice came over the loudspeaker “All passengers in Zone 1 and 2 may now board.”

“Jason what zone are you? I’m Zone 2.”

He searched his jacket pocket. The ticket was gone. Jason stood up and checked all of his pockets.

“Will you watch my stuff?” He raced off back to where he’d bought his food.

“All passengers from Zones 3, 4, and 5 please board.”

I could see Jason still scrambling, and make his way back to me without his ticket. Just then, a man stopped him and pulled out a boarding pass from beside the bagels.

I breathed a sigh of relief as he raced back to our seats.

“Last call for all passengers. Would a Ms. Ledbetter and Mr. Smith please report to the desk? Last call.”

Jason and I grabbed our bags and raced down to the plane. Our seats were both window seats right next to each other.

He turned to smile at me. “Hey at least we got window seats!”

I watched the flight attendant give him a run down of what to do in an emergency exit row, and we spent the rest of the plane ride apart. He slept, and I chatted with my seat mate. Then I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were about to descend.

As we finally landed and started to taxi down the runway, Jason started smiling and clapping loudly. He startled the passengers around him at first, but then everyone started clapping. Jason turned to look at me, “It was a good flight, but now it’s time to say goodbye to you; an old friend.” He smiled and reached out his hand, and I held it.

When the plane finally came to a stop, everyone jumped out to get their luggage and call family on cell phones. Jason helped me get my bag, and we made our way off the tarmac.

Right before we got to the gate entrance, Jason turned around and hugged me.

“Goodbye old friend.”

“It was nice to meet you Jason! I hope everything goes well tomorrow.”

We had a line of impatient New Yorkers behind us. ”Thank you Carly.”

“You’re good? Do you have family picking you up?”

“Yeah, I got family picking me up. I hope everything turns out for you really well, old friend.”

“I hope the same for you, Jason.”

With that, I walked to baggage claim, and left the giant behind. Once I got my luggage, I sat down and remembered that I had to call someone.

“Hey Dad! I can talk now, just landed. Yeah, yeah New York was great…no, no need to make a budget spreadsheet, I haven’t gotten the job yet! Hahaha no not really calling to say anything. Just wanted to say I loved ya. Hey- I did meet someone interesting on the plane today…”

Dreams… They come true.

This was a super embarrassing moment captured by one of my best friends, Kelsey. We were both crying. One of us looks more put together than the other..

This was actually the best day of my life.  This photo was taken right after my best friend Kelsey and I saw Beyonce on her world tour. We were both crying. One of us looks more put together than the other..

Welp, the best day of my life finally happened.

I got an article published on the Huffington Post.

For those of you who haven’t seen my self-promoting on Facebook, I’ve attached the link to the article below. Happy reading!!

7  Things That Happen When You Meet Beyonce 

Let me preface this by saying “meet” is a very strong word. Two years ago, while doing a legal internship in London, I had the privilege of standing next to Queen Bey in a moshpit at a Watch the Throne concert. Standing next to one of the most powerful people on Earth, I had a few powerful revelations myself…

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post here!!

 

Braces and the Bahamas

Sometimes, your teeth can become your Shworn enemy.

If you were to win the lottery today, the first question anyone would ask you is a simple one- “What are you going to spend the winnings on?” Most would say a visit to Disney World, buying a sick sports car, trip around the world- something along those lines. Of course, if I won, there are definitely a few things I’d love to throw my winnings at (I’m lookin’ at you, Range Rover). But in all honesty, my first purchase would be a boring one. I just want to get braces. Again.

 

I went to my first orthodontist appointment when I was just a gangly, pale third-grader (life was hard from the start). By this time, most of my friends already had their mouth full of metal, and, wanting to blend in- I had to get braces! After a few solid months of heavy petitioning with my parents, I finally got an appointment. I met with the dentist, got a few x-rays taken, and a verdict was passed along to my parents. “Carly’s teeth need to be straightened or she’ll develop a severe under bite. Schedule an appointment, she’s getting a Shwore.”

 

Suddenly, the lobby went dark and I was seeing stars. “I’m not getting braces? But I want braces!” I threw a mild temper tantrum at the thought of sleeping without headgear, and possibly never picking trapped, leftover lunch meat out of my teeth like my cooler peers were doing. I wasn’t even getting a retainer, I was getting some sort of low-budget, purple sparkly thing. Even though, yes, I picked the purple color and sparkles myself, that didn’t make my predicament any better.

 

For a solid two years, I wore a purple sparkle mouthpiece that was essentially a knock-off retainer. Of course, I had to wear it about a year too long because it turns out I’d been tightening my retainer the wrong way. Those preteens years are hard, but life didn’t get any easier when tragedy reared it’s ugly teeth right when I thought I was off the hook. I was finally getting everything I ever wanted, just a few years too late.

 

Right as my peers were getting out of their metal contraptions, the judge denied my appeal for regular, metal-free teeth. The Shwore had helped a bit, but now my baby teeth were gone, the real ones were coming in at every angle, and it was decided that braces were the only option. To make matters worse, I’d just decided that I wanted to grow out my bangs, and my life was officially over.

 

Three years later, the braces were still on as I entered my freshman year of high school. I was the only freshman to make the varsity volleyball team, so hazing was definitely in order. Luckily, no one actually needed to haze me because I ended up doing it to myself, in a moment that will literally be burned into my memory forever.

 

The day was a Monday. My volleyball team was in the middle of a blocking drill, and I was in the starting middle position.  The object of the drill was to yell as loud as possible when the middle on the other side of the net was coming into hit, and I was being as obnoxiously loud as possible. Just when I thought I’d won the drill, the older, more experienced middle faked going for a slide and came in for a one. I was caught off guard, so I jumped far too close to the net, all while screaming as loud as I could.  Unfortunately, after I jumped and got the block, I semi- smiled to myself at winning, and my teeth got HOOKED ONTO THE NET. Semi- realizing what was happening in the moment, I grabbed the top of the net right when I got hooked by the mouth, and brought the entire net down with me as I screamed.

 

“AHHHHHHGGGHHHHHHH!!!! My team and coaching staff couldn’t contain their laughter as I tried to unwind my teeth from the net on tip-toes. “You guyths are stho mean!! HELLPPPP!!”  While my teammates were attempting not to wet themselves, one of my coaches came to and was able to help untie my mouth from the equipment. Beet red, I recovered enough from my embarrassment to finish practice, and the braces came off at the end of freshman year. It could only get better from here, right?

 

Wrong. To further my reputation as a nerd-jock, I did weightlifting all four years in high school to help train for volleyball.  One day during my sophomore year, while the rest of the weightlifting crew was in the gym playing basketball, I was finishing up the last part of my workouts. That included a set of arms, and three rounds of pull-ups. I hated doing pull-ups in front of the guys, so I figured I would wait until it was just me, myself, and the mirror. As I looked in the mirror to check out my form, I reminded myself not to hit the bar with my teeth. Purposefully, I swung out a little farther- “THWACKKKKKK!” and promptly hit a bar above me on another machine, literally giving myself a concussion and almost knocking myself out.

 

“PWWWWEEEWWW” I’d heard a crunch in my mouth, and spit out what looked like a combination of blood, spit, and… oh my god… TEETH! I stumbled to the bathroom, and smiled wide. My eyes nearly fell out of my head as I surveyed a bloody mouth and chipped front tooth. “OH MY GOD! OH MY GODDDDDD!!!” I found my chipped tooth on the weightlifting floor, went to the school nurse, and cried/laughed like a madwoman until my mom picked me up and took me to the dentist. The dentist informed me that they couldn’t work on my tooth until my lip healed from the split, so I walked around school toothless for a week, absolutely refusing to smile.

 

Over the next two years, I had a few incidents where I would just be speaking normally or biting into a sandwich and then accidentally spew out my fake tooth. I would then usually burst into tears, and even once called 911 (that call didn’t go so well). Finally, my senior year of high school, I got veneers on my two front teeth, and the problems have subsided. Somehow, I made it through college volleyball without a single incident to my teeth (just a few torn ligaments and a concussion).

 

While my teeth have always been a source of terror for me, I’m now more than ready to accept them (even the fake ones). But unfortunately, because I didn’t get my wisdom teeth out on time, they’ve become a little bit crooked again. That’s why right after I win the $200 million dollar Powerball, you won’t be able to find me anywhere. No one needs to see headgear on a (still gangly) 23-year-old. I’ll be on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas where I can hide my braces in peace… If anyone needs me, I’ll be the one reflecting the sunlight with my metal mouth on the beach.

“HOLY F****** S***!!! CARLY IS IN TOWN!”

On September 16th, I read the Huffington Post’s article The Habits of Supremely Happy People. Three days later, I followed through with their advice, and it gave me one hell of an experience (and a great video). Here’s what the good people at Ariana’s place told me about happy people:

They uphold in-person connections.

It’s quick and convenient to text, FaceTime and tweet at your buddies. But spending the money on a flight to see your favorite person across the country has weight when it comes to your well-being. “There’s a deep need to have a sense of belonging that comes with having personal interactions with friends,” says John Cacioppo, Ph.D., the director of the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of ChicagoOne piece of advice really stood out to me, simply because I was about to follow it. The advice was this, “Happy people need to see other people. Simply going out and buying a ticket to see the one that you love is what we all need to do sometimes.”

This piece of advice really got me at the time that I read it, because it reminded me of a phone call that I’d received on July 8th. It was an ordinary call with my cousin Dylan, but the conversation we had planted an idea in my head.

“I’m turning 30 this year cuz. I’m gonna be old.”

“Dyl, you’re not old! What are you going do for your birthday?”

“You should come out for it! That would be really fun.”

“Dylan, you know there’s no way I could afford that! A plane ticket from Charlotte to California is an insane amount of money.”

He agreed that I was right, and we talked a little more until it was time for him to go. Little did he know that my corporate job paid me fairly well, and I was severely missing the West Coast (and my family).

Growing up, Dylan and I always fought.  We always wanted to prove to our families that we were the best at everything, so much to the point that both of us were jokingly referred to as “the golden children.” As time passed, Dylan and I realized that we butted heads because we were the same person, and both of us started to open up, call each other more, and exchange advice. Dylan recently went through a divorce, quit his corporate job, and went to Europe to “find himself.”  I recently graduated from college, got dumped by an asshole, started a corporate job, and had my former roommate go insane. It’s safe to say that we both needed each other in our lives, and I knew he meant it when he asked me to come out.

With the help of Dylan’s best friend Ralph and my awesome family, we were able to surprise Dylan on his 30th birthday in San Francisco. I left Charlotte early and got to California around 4, where Ralph was waiting at the airport. He was picking my cousin up from work to take him to the birthday dinner my Aunt and other cousin had organized. We’d talked on the phone about our “plan” countless time, and Ralph came up with a great idea.

“What if…What if I pick Dylan up to take him to dinner, and you’re walking on the sidewalk near his work? I’ll shout something like, ‘Hey- let’s stop and pick up that blonde,’ or something like that.”

Done.

Ralph and Dylan talked TWICE on the phone before Dylan was finally ready to leave work, and I nearly blew my cover by laughing and smiling so much. Finally, Dylan called and said that he was out of the office.

“It’s go time!” I looked at Ralph, grinned, and hopped out of the car more nervous than I’d been since my first day of preseason. Ralph sped off, and I started to walk slowly down the sunny sidewalk.

Trying to keep my head down so I wouldn’t immediately give my presence away, I spied Ralph’s car coming toward me, and saw Dylan on the phone (his dad called to wish him a happy birthday). Watch the AWESOME VIDEO (and swearing!) Ralph was able to capture, and check my cool surprise!

 photo-1

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who for Christmas

Hellooooo, Doctor! On the same note as the post below, I was able to get this lil’ list article   out in The Independent in early September about Doctor Who. As one of the all-time, greatest UK shows to ever grace the telly, I compiled a list of ten things that all Whovians can do until their beloved show returns in November. Click here to see the article!

To see the rest of the freelance work that I’ve done for The Independentclick here. 

 

My name is Carly Ledbetter, and I’m addicted to cider.

Two months into my drinking problem...

Two months into my drinking problem…

Whew, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I feel a little bit better. I sometimes write for the UK-based newspaper, The Independent, and this is a guest post I did for them about my sweet, sweet addiction.

Here’s a preview, and you can click here to read the entire article on The Independent’s website.  

When I was a young 21-year-old (sometime roughly last year) I ventured across the pond to do a legal internship in London. Now I know what you’re thinking- legal internship = solicitor, which means that I must have a black heart. Before you read on I must assure you that I that I do have a heart and sometimes even emotions, but it’s a complicated situation….

This is my water.

This is my water.

I say complicated because I’ve only ever loved two things in my life – my family, and cider. Once I read Sam Hill’s article on cider, I decided to profess my love publicly. Being blonde, I’ve always preferred drinks that taste like candy apples and fairy dust, even though I wish I could guzzle Guinness with the best of them. So don’t give me Irish stouts, or even liberty- just give me cider. I’ll pay for it, beg for it – heck, I’ll eventually have to start brewing it just to keep up with demand (my own demand, that is).

Click here to read the rest of the article on The Independent. 

If you’d like to check out more of my work at The Independent, click here. 

Let me explain…

Hello all! Welcome to Bonking Norah.

I first started a blog called Bonking Norah when I was studying abroad in London. On my second day there, my friends and I decided to try dinner at a local Indian place in Kensington. The restaurant was very small, and there was only one other party there when we were seated. My friends and I were very silent, just whispering about how “Everyone sounds like they’re straight out of Harry Potter!” We were very new, and still couldn’t get over how beautifully they sounded. Just when we’d finally stopped eavesdropping and were ready to order, we overheard the most amazing thing.

Random English woman: “No, no you guys I had no idea! I knew that SHE was snogging Nick, but I had no IDEAAA that he was bonking Norah!”

My table and I BURST into laughter! Not only was that the funniest thing I’d ever heard, but I immediately claimed the moniker as my own if I decided to start a blog. I had no idea that people actually knew that “bonking” was slang for something dirty, and hopefully you don’t get it either. Unfortunately, my audience at home (professors, friends, family…) totally understood what it meant, and wouldn’t stop giving me a hard time for thinking I could get away with it. Simply to spite them (and because I still love the name) I’ve kept Bonking Norah, and I’m going to use this as a little outlet to write.

Thanks for checking out the site! And thanks to Cath Isakson for letting me write a little bit about my writing- you can check out the article and her awesome site here!!

Touched by an angel… (Arch Angel that is)

After Mo and I survived the night, I
couldn’t even take a picture correctly. It
was that traumatic. 

Ah, the wee hours of Monday morning. “Homelessness” is not something I thought I would encounter in London, but here Mo and I were checking into our shelter for the night, the Astor Park Hostel. Okay, so it’s not exactly like being homeless and it was only across the street from my posh digs, but it was still a struggle. And people, the struggle is real. Read on. 
This was our hostel. Okay, so it’s kind of gorgeous.
I tend to exaggerate things. 
After showering and brushing our teeth at my place, we then changed into our PJ’s, and headed across the street. When we got to the front desk, Mo and I presented our passports as proof that we were indeed “aliens,” and then handed over the cash. I imagine this is is how drug deals go down. The two men at the front desk directed us to the fifth floor, and Mo and I immediately turned to each other and groaned. Stairs are a volleyball player’s nightmare *old bodies*
The inside of our hostel. You can see the monstrous
stairs to the left. Five flights people. 
As we wearily crawled upstairs, Mo and I entered a room seemingly asleep and very quiet for the five other people sleeping there. I climbed atop a bunk, and Mo took the bed situated in the middle of the floor (it was kind of an awkward setting). Aside from a bit of noise outside, my only concern was the tea I had earlier and how I was going to make several bathroom trips from seven feet above the ground.
After my fourth and final trip to the loo, I was just getting to sleep when it happened. The loudest, most obnoxious French people in the entire world walked through the door.
Not all French people look like this. I’d say 50/50. 
There were three of them, two girls and a lone guy obviously with one of the girls. This wasn’t a mixed hostel room, so I was a bit angry that a male was in the room (and not trying to hit on me). Also it was 1:46 in the morning and I was almost asleep when they barged in, turning on all of the lights. I cannot sleep with light or noise. So I decided to wake everyone up by *lightly* shouting at them “UMMMM hi, could you turn off the fucking light? Thanks!” Nothing better than being passive aggressive when you can’t sleep. The French people muttered something, turned off the light, and then kept talking. AW HELL NO. NOT IN MY HOSTEL. 
Sooo yeah. I’m kind of partial to America. 
I attempted to keep my anger in check, but there’s a special feeling that comes over you when you’re exhausted, want to sleep, and French people are initiating sexual intercourse in the bed to the left of you. I was so angry I think I literally could have strangled them with my bare hands and then taken on Jason Bourne and won. But I wouldn’t do that because Matt Damon is hot, an Obama supporter, and current father of three. And besides, other people would miss him, like his wife. 
Instead of committing a few felonies, after about ten minutes of this nonesense I angrily climbed out of my top bunk (hard to do while looking stern), stepped on my bottom bunk person (she yelped, I apologized) and slammed the door shut. I then realized that leaving Mo alone was not an option, so I went back into the room to wake her up. The French people were finally silent, probably because as I stood over Mo’s bed to wake her up I may or may not have looked like an ax murderer. I calmly informed Mo that I was unable to sleep and would walk across the street at 7 am to pick her up. Yes, it was an incredibly selfish thing to leave her alone, but it is difficult to pull multiple all-nighters in a row and appear awake in class. I made the guy from the front desk walk me home, because you never know when someone’s going to jump out of a Bentley in Kensington and try to kill you. Better safe than sorry!
Five short hours later, I was back at the hostel and met Mo on the steps. She told me that after I left, the French girls (who knows what happened to that guy) started having panic attacks and stood trying to breathe out of the window near her. A fire alarm then went off, and Mo may or may not have slept an hour. We would not be staying there again tonight. ANYTHING would be better than that. 
Lunch! I got a full English breakfast. DELICIOUS!
After a filling lunch on Gloucester Road, I had to leave Mo and go to “class” for a few hours. We made plans to meet at 5:00 pm in Camden, where she would go shopping while I laughed my butt off listening to my favorite Professor, Professor Ridgers. And today- he certainly didn’t disappoint.
I love this man. 
Professor: (Power walking in fifteen minutes late as usual) “Oh hello class! Sorry I’m late! I’ve decided we should do a picnic. Of course, no picnic is complete without alcohol or nibbly bits. I’m not rich, so you buy the alcohol and I shall buy the nibbly bits. I will purchase nibbly bits, you shall purchase nibbly bits if you should want. Ten minutes, nibbly bits, break!” 
Never in my life have I heard someone say “nibbly bits” so many times, or so seriously. It was almost like when at the Jubilee Prince Charles said, “Three cheers for the Queen. Hip hip, HOORAY!!….” The British are the most fantastic, fascinating people. 
PICNIC TIME. Professor opening up the cups for wine.
We’re a very classy class. 
We all bought “nibbly bits” and found a nice spot in the park. We discussed our trip to Parliament tomorrow, all while munching on British specialities. Here are the rest of my Professor’s golden quotes, just remember to read them aloud in a fake British accent in your head! ACCENTS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER!  
  • (Regarding our trip to Parliament) “Remember class, you can’t take high explosives with you.. I know, they’re discriminating against some of us!” 
  • “Samosas are beautiful Indian things. Here I’ll show you what’s inside of them.” (Proceeds to take a bite and show us the inside)
  • (Offering his food to everyone) “Disgusting sausage?” (Takes a bite) “My god that’s why they were discounted!”  
  • (Talking about how the sausage tastes) “I’ve been eating them my whole life, and look at me! HAHAH. But really, cordon bleu levels.” 
  • “These are disgusting, but beautiful. Okay to say about food, but not about people. Would shy away from them.” 
  • (Talking about a politician in Parliament) “The trouble is… He’s a complete wanker.” 
  • “Do you all mind if I eat this last samosa? You speak, I eat.” 
  • “Parliament. An interesting place historically with a LOT of boring people.” 
  • (Staring at his phone) “Oh I just tweeted that incorrectly.” 
  • “Okay, that’s it. Let’s talk serial killers!” 
  • “Great class everyone, see you tomorrow! Bring your floo powder we’re seeing DIAGON ALLEY!” 
Wine, grapes, and chocolate. HOLLA AT ME. 
Even though I ate some nibbly bits that were a bit disgusting (hardboiled egg, wrapped in chicken and then fried) I may have gotten my abs back from laughing so hard. It’s embarrassing how hard I crush on him. 
Once I got my act together, I met Mo in Camden and we did a little more shopping. We were both running on empty from not sleeping, but we decided we’ll sleep when we’re dead. After all, I organized Mo’s “Welcome to London” party for that night, so we had to muster up some energy to eat great food! 
Took this shot on my ride to Camden. I see you
stylin’ with the black nails man! 
Off to Hogwarts!
We decided to head home after doing some damage at Camden Street’s H&M (go there) but then I actually got us on the wrong branch of the Circle line. No problem, we stopped to take a picture at Platform 9 3/4 and then continued on our way. Walking home, we went down a few new streets and just observed a culture so similar, yet so different than hours. I’m still baffled these people don’t wear sweatpants more often. 
Beautiful South Ken. 
Around 7 pm, Alexa, Theresa, Eric, Laran, Tyler and Mo and I all met downstairs and walked up High Street Ken to “Arch Angel.” I’d been out there once for drinks, but heard they had AMAZING burgers so we decided to go there for dinner. The food and drinks were great, but our waiter was not that nice. He did eventually become friendlier when we stopped asking for unnecessary things, like “water” and “silverware.” We all had a great time talking, and decided to move the party to my new favorite place, MED KITCHEN. 
Laran with his Stella Artois “Cidre.” 
 Tyler, Eric, and Mo! Elon ’13 and ’14 :)
Found a cat that looks just like my cat. Pictures ensued. 
Looks like Sitka! Rawrrrr
Tyler had the right idea with dessert.
We’re all alcoholics now.
Ah Med Kitchen, so calm- so delicious. Mo and I were starting to panic about our sleeping arrangements for that night, as we had booked yet another hostel. This one was across the park, and called “Hyde Park Hostel.” The originality in the name was astounding. As we both mentally prepared ourselves for yet another night away from the posh digs, everyone divulged in decadent chocolate brownies covered in ice cream or carmel apple crumble. Tyler definitely outdid us all by getting the ice cream dessert that came with a shot. Mo and I should have taken the shot, because we were NOT prepared for the hostel situation we were about to encounter. It made sleeping in the room with the French couple actually more appealing. Let’s just say we missed a few buses at midnight, encountered a possible drug deal, and got cat-called by the men waiting outside our digs. The evening literally only got worse from there. WHY GOD WHY?!

Lord forgive us for our sins.

We LOVEEE Church. 

People wake up for two reasons on Sundays: either to puke or go to Church. Mo and I chose to go to Church.

Fabulous DAHling. 

I haven’t actually been to church since I was 13 years old. After fighting for gay marriage in 6th grade on a youth retreat, I was finally kicked out of Bible study in eighth grade for getting into a disagreement over the Iraq War (I’m sorry, “Operation Kill Civilians”) with an elder.  I’ve always been a firey little youth, but the family followed closely in my footsteps by abandoning religion once and for all one Sunday after our pastor asked us to pray for George W. Bush. The man needed more than prayers.

We should have stopped here. 

So picking up where my teenager-self left off, Mo and I decided it was best to wipe our sins clean and stumble on down to Church. We rolled out of bed around 12, showered, and changed into our Sunday best. Which was not your typical Sunday best.

Tired of the photo shoot yet? Don’t worry, more to come. PS,
we’re not drunk so this is just plain
embarrassing. 

Before I go any further, I really do need to clarify that we’re not talking about actual church. God knows (I told him) I probably will never go back. This church is a CLUB that people go to on Sundays from to keep drinking in order to prolong their inevitable hangover. If you keep drinking, you never feel it, right? ‘Church’ is actually a club run out of The Clapham Grand Junction. During the week it’s a regular club, but on Sunday it transforms to THE Church- a place where costumed patrons, bare-chested Aussies and hoards of strippers entertain the crowd (and each other). It’s not some huge orgy, but rather a very scandalous party. Located at 21-25 St. Johns Hill, the “order of the day is revelry” and the drink of the day is Fosters. People literally LIVE to dress up for this Sunday tradition, and costumes range from intricate to simply a thong. Beware of those people.  Whatever you want to make of this lovely place, this Church has still participated in less wars than the ones tied to organized religion. Make love, not war. Go to Church.

Keep in mind, haven’t slept. In days. 

Mo and I did our best to look outrageous, and took tons of white girl pictures to prove it. Tired and hungry, we posed dutifully for the camera and wrote down our less-than-clear directions on a piece of one of my old class papers. On this journey we would have to take an overground train, something I had yet to experience. With little sleep and no food in our stomachs, we were off.

One of us still looks pretty. Hint: she’s
not blonde. 

After a LOT of weird looks Mo and I arrived at the tube where we befriended a kind stranger who gave us directions. Once we were somewhat close, it was just a matter of following the people dressed in crazy outfits to our final destination. I grabbed a caramel slice as we ran out of the train station (chocolate, caramel and graham cracker- one CANNOT go wrong) so at least I would have a little sustenance in my system before drinking. Our motto for Church? WE READY.

We made someone take this photo of us.
No more selfies. 

We followed a gang of green men to the doorway, where we presented our ID’s and the 10 pound cover. The bouncers joked and gave us a bit of a hard time for our sequined dresses, making it clear that we looked a bit too conservative for church. And they were right.

Welcome to Church. 

Before entering the actual club, you could hear the 90′s music blaring and the smell of strippers (or what I assume strippers smell like). Our first glance inside revealed a stripper who was at the very end of her act, wooing the crowd with cheap lingerie and amateur dance moves. This crowd DID NOT CARE. Everyone was clearly there to party, and drinking like it was 2 am on a Friday night. The atmosphere was crazy, and the massive TV located just above the stage is there simply to take freeze-frames of the crowd and put embarrassing captions underneath the photos. I was caught in the act (not Chris Hansen style) twice by the lovely TV.

KISS meets Jubilee. Global ’10. Elon ’13.

Mo and I knew that two of my friends from the program (and Elon), Maddie and Barrett, were also attending church that morning. We were informed beforehand by our friends that they were appearing as members of the band KISS, so we combed the crowd for rockstars in black. Our only hope was Mo spotting them because I’m actually blind. I literally wouldn’t be able to see a mortar exploding in front of me. Of course, Mo was able to spot them within seconds. Surrounded by shirtless Australians and what looked like other Americans, Maddie and Barrett were clearly great at navigating the Church crowd. We immediately made our way over- it’s always good to roll with a wolfpack at this type of place. Any lone wolves are instantly identified by the creepers who move in for the attack. This can happen within minutes, so one must be careful to appear strong no matter what.

After hugging our friends (Mo, Barrett and I had a class together freshman year- Global buddies for life!) Mo and I made our way to the bar. They only serve Smirnoff or Fosters there, so Mo and I of course went straight for beer. I usually only drink PBR (because it’s classy, while also tasting of ‘water’) so drinking real beer is still hard for me. If you can even count Foster’s as real beer.

Elon University volleyball – reppin’ it. 

It’s hard to pregame at 11 in the morning, so we had a lot of catching up to do with our fellow Church-goers. Mo and I made friends with a group of guys from Villanova who arrived the week before, and actually lived on my street. There were about 10 of them, and they were all very impressed with my USA dress and Mo’s Union Jack dress. Sequins- all day erry day.

One of my goals of the trip was to go to the club Bouji, but so far I hadn’t even been able to locate it! Some of the Nova guys had gone the night before, and ended up spending over 3000 POUNDS ($5500 dollars). Yes, you read that right. Bouji is one of the most exclusive and expensive clubs in the world, with patrons like Prince Harry, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Drake frequenting it whenever they’re in town. You have to know a member to get in, and apparently the boys had a ‘in’ with one of their brothers. They had to pay 500 pounds to get in, another 1000 to get a table, and the rest was spent on alcohol. Words of advice to the young children- you should always spend money on alcohol. No bad can come from it.

This is a stripper. 

As we saw more and more strippers got on stage, our little group decided that it was our time to shine on stage. A select group of friends once saw my stripper moves in a Burger King, where the staff rewarded me with free food. I now try to use those skills to get through life.

I’ll do anything for fries. Anything. 

Although we lost Maddie on our way to the bathroom, Barrett was more than ready to take her clothes off. Of course, we knew that if we still wanted to keep our political dreams going, the clothes would have to stay on. While we begged and begged a bouncer to let us get on stage, I heard an announcement come over the speakers asking for volunteers for a musical chairs event! Perfect! We could keep our tops on AND get on stage! God was truly blessing us with a great opportunity. I asked the bouncer if we could participate in the chairs, and he happily obliged us by going over to the manager and getting us in. That’s when we started to get worried.

CLICK ON THE LINKS IN BLUE TO SEE CHURCH PICTURES
OF OUR COMPETITION!!!!



“I’m not taking my clothes off. Nooooo way!” Mo exclaimed. We were on stage, having just signed waivers that gave Church no responsibility if we accidentally broke a leg or naked pictures happened to end up on the internet. “OHMYGOD me either! Don’t worry. That’s so not happening.” I answered. Or at least I hoped not. We would probably just get booed off the stage, but dresses were staying on. “I’ll take my clothes off I don’t careeeee.” Barrett exclaimed. She was a wee bit inebriated, but was literally the life of the party. “Take your shoes off and get ready!” There were three other people in our group, and the manager was already telling us to take something off, Jesus take the wheel!



Before our event started, we bonded with the others in a group. One girl was literally dressed normally one second, and the next she was in a penguin suit. We all made a pack not to get naked, or injure in other in the pursuit of a chair. I then started the first of many USA chants- it’s important to establish dominance and get into your opponent’s head before the competition actually starts. And boy would we need wings in this type of musical chairs. These were no regular chairs- they were all about three feet off of the ground. And boy, were we about to witness an injury.

As our event started, it was clear that penguin girl and Barrett were taking the event very seriously. It was penguin girl’s birthday, and the announcer made it obvious from the beginning that she would be our winner. I was trying too hard to run “sexy” (the announcer said if we do that we could get extra points) that I missed a chair and was kicked out in the second round. I still got a fairly decent round of applause and USA chants as I took a bow and Babe Ruth- style pointed at the American flag as I exited.

With two Elon girls still in the competition, it was time to narrow the field to one. As I cheered from the sidelines, I witnessed one of the greatest/funniest/worst falls I have ever seen in my life. With music blaring, Barrett was running her little heart out- cheered on by the awesome crowd. Suddenly, the music stopped. Things literally unraveled in seconds. While everyone scrambled to a chair, Barrett spied another guy going for the same chair as her and took off in a mad sprint. The boy secured the chair just as Barrett vaulted herself into the air- remaining there for what seemed like hours. And hours. And hours. She slid across his lap like a cat on a hot tin roof and landed on the floor with a THUD. As the crowd went silent, Barrett didn’t move an inch. Two seconds later she started to laugh and raised a fist to the ceiling. USAAA USA! Barrett took one for all of us, and walked off her broken hip and shattered ribs with a smile and a “Ohhh. It kinda hurts! Hahaha!” Champ.

Mo, on the other hand, was a complete champ in a very different sense and made it all the way to finals! Penguin girl ruined her chance for the gold, but the entire thing was rigged anyways. Fuck Church.

After more bonding with the boys (and me writing ‘Elon’ on any body I could get ahold of) we decided that it was time to exit the sanctuary. One can only take so many pop classics and fat strippers in one day. It was time to begin the journey home.

While Barrett and Maddie were a bit more drunk then we were, but we could not have asked for better guides. Barrett had lost her Oyster card on the last trip to Church, so she and Maddie were pushing through the tube entrance like bandits. If you’ve ever wanted people to look at you, just wear crazy dresses and roll with two members of KISS.

Once Mo and I got home, we were absolutely exhausted. We decided that tonight we were leaving nothing to chance, so we booked a hostel just down the street to get a good night’s rest. After showering and mustering up a bit of energy, we pretended to like football for a few hours at Biershenke with Sal and his friends. I honestly can’t tell you who was in the Euro Cup final match (Germany and Italy? Spain or Italy?) but we did eat pretzels and drink good cider. Once it went into overtime, Mo and I decided it was time to leave. We grabbed an AMAZING dessert at Med Kitchen, then made our way to the hostel around 11:30. Mo and I nearly lost all our marbles that night, read the next entry to find out why! (Hint hint… French couple having sex in a bunk next to us. That happened. And that wasn’t even the worst part).

Look below for more pictures of Church and our late night adventures!!! 

WINNER

Beautiful High Registry Courts outside of Biershenke.
Weird to see them because I called here every day for
certain client information. 

I have no idea who these people are. 

Thoughts when taking this picture: “Cut off the steeple, leave
a lot of open sky, and make sure the trees are kinda
on the blurry side too.” 

SO HAPPY TO TAKE MORE PHOTOS
FOR THE BLOG!

Med Kitchen. I could easily make this
place my permanent home. 

Warm apple crumble with ice cream on top. And I wonder
how I gained weight on this trip. This blog
should be called “Carly’s pictures of food as she
eats her way through England.”