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Places to see, people to go

Getting ready for my trip next week has been interesting. It's been a really long time since I've been anywhere internationally, outside of trips to Canada which I guess don't count? But nowadays, apparently, you have to put what's called a travel memo or travel flag on your plastic, and since people pretty much use plastic exclusively now, you don't want to leave home without it. I wouldn't even have known except that my first hotel in London actually charges for the first night, and my credit card company called me with this "random check" on my card. Thinking it was some kind of scam (because they didn't explain it at all), I didn't call back, but then I was out with Snady's partner B and tried to buy dinner with the card, but it was declined, then it was declined again, and I was like shit, I better deal with this.

So that was my edumacation on international travel these days. I dutifully called all my credit card companies and debit card, also because I had no idea what any of the CC PINs were so I had to have them send me that information again. If I understand correctly, they use PINs for CCs where I'm going, rather than signatures like we do here. I'm crap with numbers, though, so I have to figure out a safe way to carry those PINs with me. I can't remember any of my passwords, either. :-( This ought to be very fun.

I also found out that my iPhone 4 from Sprint does not have a SIM card, so I cannot do international roaming. I'll have to buy a phone card or a burner phone while I'm there if I need to call anyone -- since I'm having a hard time finding anyone to meet up with, though, that's probably negligable, and I'm sure my hotels can book me tables if need be. I'd like to do at least one big afternoon tea. I bought a book called Tea and Cake London, and there are a lot of good tea shops I want to check out, but formal tea for one just seems so very sad, don't you think? Still, if I did nothing else but hop around London having cream teas wherever I can, that wouldn't be so very bad.

The big thing causing me agita right now is a play. So, my absolute favorite in the whole wide world is Judi Dench (seriously, you thought I just liked her because she's M? Mais non), and turns out she's treading the boards in the West End in a play with...Ben Whishaw. Yes, M and Q are in a play. And not just any play, it's about the meeting between the woman who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland (one of my favorite book series ever), and the boy who inspired Peter Pan. It's like this was made for me. But of course, it's sold out. Been sold out for long before I knew I was going to England. Tickets, when I've seen them online, are going for hundreds of pounds. It's been hard to locate one for my dates. They release a small amount of low-cost seats each day in the morning. However, as everyone who knows me knows, if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. I've never had any luck getting into a play I wanted to see in London, ever. I fear the likelihood of me getting a seat is small. I got some good advice on Metafilter about ways to maybe see it. But it's stressing me out fiercely. Right now I'm torn between abandoning all my food budget for a ticket I spied online, and asking the concierge at my second hotel (the first one doesn't have one, apparently) for help. But I'm only there for a couple days, so that feels weird.

Anyway. I have to stop worrying about it, because I'll make myself sick. Which I'm already dealing with because of stress anyway. Or maybe it's cancer, I don't know -- the symptoms of ovarian cancer are the same as pretty much menstruation, menopause, or stress. Handy, that. But at my recent checkup it looked like the CA 125 numbers are elevated, and that's been on my mind a lot lately. I recheck in June, but it's so hard to know if it's significant. There is no way to test for ovarian cancer, it's notoriously difficult to catch, but CA 125 markers are at least one thing you can look at -- however, people with high levels often never get cancer, and people with no markers at all show up with stage 3 cancer. You just have no fucking clue, and so it may be a largely useless test...or it could be very useful. It's impossible to tell.

Ever since sis_r died, I've been kind of waiting to see if I get it. The likelihood of a twin having the same cancer is pretty high. But it's still weird when you get that "they're still within normal range, but it's definitely higher than normal" note. I've also got some skin problems, and having had skin cancer so often, it worries me. (You're also at a higher risk of ovarian cancer if you've had multiple basal cell carcinomas, as I have.) I know there's nothing I can do till I get back, but...erg.

So that's been on my mind. The other thing that's been on my mind is that thanks to [personal profile] killabeez's mad song editing skillz, I am finally going to be able to make a vid for VVC that I have wanted to make for 15 years. It was never possible for one reason or another. The only bad part is that a) there's a shitload of source and I have to figure out how to narrow it down, and b) Sandy and I talked about it all the time, and she won't be here to see it. Which kinda kills me.

Tonight I'm getting my hair colored. Haven't decided what colors I want. I'm seeing someone different, and I don't know how good they are, so it could be interesting.

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(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2013 05:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, it'll be interesting to see what happens...for values of interesting that include terror, I guess. ;-)

Your icon reminds me that I finally have engaged in something in GoT -- I could never understand what people saw in it before, but golly I'm loving everything with Brienne, but especially these last episodes with the two of them (though I hated the sexist writing to some degree when they had her calling him a woman...grrr). I know from asking others they don't end up as a ship, which makes me sad because boy am I shipping them hard, but it's really changed a lot of how I feel about the show in some parts.
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
Hey, spoil away if you have info!! I am not only not averse to spoilers, I actively seek them. I'm one of those people who just has trouble watching certain things, and if I don't have an idea of what might happen, I sometimes can't deal. I asked SDWolfpup about a couple things because I was like, I can't keep watching this if I don't know what happens.

I had gotten the impression from things people said that J and B go their separate ways but still think about each other, so I guess I figured it was a lost cause (also, he has that thing with his sis!). He was a really hard sell for me. I just loathed him pretty much up until he said that you can't help who you love. It was finally something that made me kind of go, oh, OK, I see what people might see in him now. I'm still kind of...not sure, especially since I don't know what happens with him in the future, but I love that he sees something in her that allows him to stop acting like an ass long enough to let her see something in him. So all that made me ship them hard. ;-)

I can see the handwave of the "woman" comment. It's too bad the writers couldn't hew more to the books (based on some posts I saw on Tumblr, with her actual words) and bowed to the casual sexism that permeates HBO shows nowadays (hey, remember Rome and Deadwood, where guys got nekkid too, and it wasn't always women being abused and stripped and walking around with their bits on display for the mens, because we all know only mens watch TV? Ah, good times).

But I'm nervous about her story, I guess. Especially since the stories aren't finished! I am afraid of what will happen to her (and to Arya, and Dany, who are the characters I like most).
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
Ah! Ah! Flaily hands!! OK, this makes me really happy. There's this thing I have called reverse corruption -- Merry coined the phrase, and it identified a trope that I am really quite crazy about. It's when someone who's bad gets "corrupted" instead over to good by the love or friendship of someone good. So maybe even without knowing what was going to happen, I saw that undercurrent of reverse corruption in the two of them on their journey.

I'm so glad to know there's more coming up, too -- although, crap, I'm going to be in Boston and the UK for the next few weeks, so I won't get to see them until I get back. Waaaahhh.

That actually helps me a lot, about him being estranged from Tywin and Cersei -- I hate them both, just hate them, and I had this bad feeling he might go back and then let himself get put under Tywin's thumb again, the way the other two children backed down last week and let him force them to do things they don't want. And I just hate how she treats others, and was fearing that he would reject Brienne because of Cersei's cruelty. (And OK, I know I'm a weirdo, but incest between opposite sex siblings has never bothered me, one of my favorite movies from the '80s is about that). But with what you've said about how and why he became that way, I can make sense of out it, where I couldn't before (I think sometimes the showrunners and the writers are not that great at conveying deeper meanings, letting the actors do all the heavy lifting).

Killa once told me that there were a couple female characters who might change how I felt about the show/books coming up, and I wasn't too sure I believed her, but yeah, Brienne has changed a lot. I wish it could just be the Brienne and Jaime / Arya and that guy from last season who talked in the weird second person-third person hybrid (does he ever come back? God, I loved him!) / Dany and the dragons and her hot ginger advisor show. I would be content with that. Or just have Jaime and Brienne go around the land as the Lady Knight and the One Handed Knight, fighting crime. That's a show I'd watch!
May. 3rd, 2013 01:03 am (UTC)
Cream teas with just me and a book are always highlights of my trips to the UK. I refuse to be sad about being solo.

With regard to the play, I recommend showing up an hour or two before they release that day's tickets. I'll admit it's been awhile since I've done that, but I never failed to get tickets for the show at a decent price. If that doesn't work, go to the theatre before show time. There may be people selling tickets, and the value of a ticket drops as curtain time approaches. Be a bit willing to play chicken.
May. 4th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
Well, a cream tea and a formal afternoon tea are definitely different experiences -- the afternoon tea is really designed as a place to hang and socialize while eating fabulous foodstuffs and drinking tea, and not having anyone to socialize with kind of changes that dynamic. But I'll see how it goes -- one of my hotels does an afternoon tea that might be fine to do solo.

I ended up buying a ticket online, even though it was very expensive. I just didn't want to risk not getting to see it. The seat is very very good, so I'm trying to take the tack of "once in a lifetime event" and not think too much about the money. Because I just really have legendarily bad luck. It's a running joke among everyone here in town.
May. 6th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
I belong to a bimonthly afternoon tea group (eek! we've been at this for over 25 years!), so I get your distinction, but fabulous foodstuffs and tea can be awesome even with your own company.

I love the grand afternoon tea at Harrod's. It's spendy, but not horrific -- and they bring you more if you're not filled up the first time around. The last time I was there, I was traveling on business, so I was able to expense the tea, which I had instead of dinner. That felt amazingly decadent.
May. 3rd, 2013 02:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip about the credit card flags; it's been years since I've been outside of North America but I'm hoping to get to St. Petersburg (cue up "back in the USSR" though I've never been there before) this fall and it's good to know that I should let my bank know about my travel plans.

I'm not going to jinx anything by talking about the cancer worries. Fingers crossed and live your life. But I have an LJ friend (webcowgirl also Life in the Cheap Seats) who lives in London but is actually from Seattle (she's even visiting this week!) who is big into theatre. Do you want me to attempt to connect you? She might be helpful about tricks for tickets and/or know some other show you'd want to see. Hell, she may be up for tea. (Claridges was fabulous back in 1994.) Regardless, it'll be a great trip. -em.
May. 3rd, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'd love to connect with her! I mean, she might not want to connect with me, I realize, but yeah, that'd be fun. Thank you!!
May. 3rd, 2013 11:33 am (UTC)
Sending you all the best of thoughts for an excellent trip, good health, and the play tickets of your heart! Not necessarily in that order.

We recently had to deal with the overseas CC and phone issues, too. Your hotel can definitely make reservations for you, don't hesitate to ask.

Post pics of your becolored hair!
May. 4th, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
I tried to take some pics of my hair but it's not coming out well on camera at all -- it's really quite...vibrant. I wish I could capture it. It's all over a kind of deep red (supposed to be coppery, but it's really burgundy), with purple and a deep purple-rose pink layered on top of each other so that it's kind of almost electric. Then she also painted the ends of the red hair with the bleach, and layered purple on top of those. It's dark, but very bright.

Actually, if you can try to imagine these colors with more red around them, the colors are somewhat similar to this, if a little more vibrant.

Edited at 2013-05-04 05:14 am (UTC)
May. 5th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow! That sounds gorgeous.
May. 4th, 2013 06:55 am (UTC)
Been there, done that
1. The M and Q play isn't really that good. I can recommend better.
2. If you get in line at 7 AM on the day of the show you'll probably get tickets. Even better luck if you try on a day with a matinee. I walk by the theater every day and there's about 20 people in line at 10 AM so there's good luck you might make it in if you go super early. Make the jet lag work for you!

PS: emmarytz sent me here ...
May. 5th, 2013 06:20 am (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
Hi there! Thank you for dropping by! To be honest, the play is as much about my once in a lifetime chance to see Dame Judi treading the boards as almost anything else; the topic is the bonus. She has just been my favorite for so long, and I always wistfully read about people going to NYC or London to see actors they love in plays, and envy them. This is the first time I've ever planned a trip when not one, but two actors I adore are on stage -- I'm thinking of seeing if I can get tickets to The Audience, even though I'm not necessarily into the idea of seeing Helen Mirren as the queen again, but just the chance to see her on stage... It's really an event for me. My big problem is my dates -- I'm there midweek before running off for the weekend to Cardiff, and then again early in the week before leaving on a Wed mid-day. It's really making it hard to plan around things.

I'll follow your advice, though! I asked on metafilter, and they said something similar -- and if worse comes to worse, just going before showtime and holding up a sign. ;-)

Are you still in the states? I will be there from the 14th-17th, then back in London the evening of the 19th, before heading home on the 22. If you feel like meeting up, let me know -- any friend of emmarytz's is a friend of mine!
May. 5th, 2013 07:52 am (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
I am heading back to London tomorrow, so I will be back when you are there. I am sorta available the 19-21, actually need to make plans on the 21st, maybe you might want to see Hothouse (with Simon Russell Beale), Ibsen at the Young Vic, or Platonov at the Arcola?
May. 6th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
The Hothouse sounds interesting -- intense, I'm sure. I'm actually staying in Covent Garden on that end of the trip, so I will be pretty close to all the theatres, seems like. What night would you like to go?

PS: I guess we have another mutual friend -- varina8!

Edited at 2013-05-06 05:08 am (UTC)
May. 6th, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
The 21st would be best ... is that okay for you?
May. 7th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
I think that should work! It will be nice to have something fun to do on my last night there.
May. 13th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
Oof, tickets are running really expensive - if they don't get below 25 quid I won't be able to go!
May. 14th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
I'd be happy to pick up the tab for both of us. I can send you money by PayPal or meet up beforehand and give it to you, or pick up the tix if you tell me where. I'm in town now and though my cell won't work here you can reach me at gwyneth at drizzle dot com or call dean street townhouse rm 19
May. 16th, 2013 10:28 am (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
May. 16th, 2013 02:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Been there, done that
I bought them - we shall be part of "the onstage experience" - but from the back row.
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