Hello again! Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve had several prompts from my loyal and loving fans to start posting again, and it just hasn’t happened. This is mainly because I’ve been super-busy with one thing or another, although I look back and realise that I haven’t achieved a great deal in the past however-long-it’s-been. My life has mainly revolved around my course, my job and my relationship and I haven’t dedicated a lot of time to anything else, really. Long story short – I’m never, ever, at a loose end. Oh yes, look at me, I have so much going on in my life – false. Actually, I’ve been moseying along, keeping my head down, trying to keep on top of things, deciding whether I want to have a job, and waiting for the 28th of October to arrive.
Well, the 28th of October has been and gone, and here I am in sunny Ohio once more. Alas, it’s not quite as sunny as I remember it, but the humidity was a little ridiculous anyway, and besides, autumn here is even more beautiful than autumn in Edinburgh. That’s right! I thought I was lucky to have the walk through the Meadows to class every afternoon, but this is something else. I can see why autumn is Grant’s favourite season, and not just because of the apple cider. I’ve only taken a few pictures of the scenery so far, but they really do speak for themselves – which is just as well, because describing it is pretty much impossible – believe me.
I took these on Saturday, right after the pumpkin-carving extravaganza – I think this was the event that we were both expecting to be the highlight of the trip. I’m having difficulty defining what the highlight was, but this pumpking was definitely a candidate. (No, that wasn’t a typo).
Several weeks before I arrived in Ohio, I should add, I stumbled upon a how-to which demonstrated how to make a “Cannibalistic Pumpkin“. It was magnificent. I immediately posted the link on Grant’s Facebook Wall and that was that – this was to be our project for Halloween. Grant had bought a huge pumpkin and a tiny pumpkin in preparation, the pumpkin-carving kits had come out, and at long last, I was there, Halloween was in the air, and we could get started.
Grant undertook the task of carving out the lid of the gargantuan pumpkin (henceforth known as Horace), and we got stuck in to his innards. We kept the seeds but discarded the stringy crap, since neither of us thought it’d make a particularly appetising pumpkin pie.
We then drew and began carving the eyes and mouth, taking care to make the mouth the right size to accommodate the tiny pumpkin (Arnold), who was to be Horace’s first victim. Grant worked on his frightened little face while I perfected Horace’s menacing teeth.
Four hours later, we had completed our masterpiece. We spent several hours just basking in the glory of it, telling each other how awesome we were, posting pictures on Facebook and realising we would never be able to look at another pumpkin with respect and admiration again.
I guess that’s the price you pay for being extraordinary.
That said, maybe whoever carved that pumpkin did so before going out in his or her ridiculously awesome Halloween costume to go Trick-or-Treating or to some elaborate dress-up party. Unfortunately, not having been able to bring my owl costume for fear of being detained and investigated, I had no awesome costume and the nearest elaborate dress-up party we knew of was in Athens. (Athens, OH, that is – we’re not that sad and lonely). Seeing as we would be going to Zanesville next weekend, and we didn’t really know anyone in Akron, we stayed in and watched Paranormal Activity instead.
Let me just say right now that it was probably the scariest film I have ever seen. Yes, I do say that about every horror film I watch, but I really mean it. For those of you who haven’t had the misfortune to have seen it, it’s a horror film in the style of a low-budget home video. The scenario is this: when Katie moves in with her boyfriend Micah, strange things begin happening around the house. Having had some contact with the paranormal in the past, Katie fears the return of whatever spirit or demon had haunted her as a child. Micah thinks this is hilarious, sets up a video camera next to their bed to capture whatever weird shit goes down while they sleep, and tries to provoke the “thing” in order to bring it out for entertainment value. The spirit doesn’t like being underestimated, and bad stuff happens. Very bad stuff. Interestingly, there are only a couple of scenes that are actually frightening, and even then it’s fairly tame – but the whole realistic, documentary-style filming really works, because I think it will be some time before I’ll be able to sleep with so much as a foot dangling out of the bed.
I couldn’t finish watching it. After the second-last scene, when we realised there was to be one more night scene before the end of the film, I hid behind my hands and pressed my head against Grant so I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. He eventually gave up trying to make me watch the film and instead complied with my requests to tell me what on earth was going on in that freaky house, until I started hearing screams. I tried to block them out, but couldn’t… and then there was silence. I’ve never heard anything so terrifying. It lasted a long time, and then Grant’s body, from which loud noises were emitted right next to my ear, jumped approximately six inches into the air, and I promptly reached out and snapped my laptop shut for protection – its or ours, I’m not entirely sure. That was pretty much it. There was a heart-stopping moment when, after having decided to watch The Office to cancel out the terror, we reopened the computer only to discover that the movie was not, in fact, over; and we had several more seconds of scariness before the credits rolled in.
I did not sleep well that night.
It could have been worse, though – I managed a little sleep (I’m not sure I can say the same about Grant, whom I woke up many, many times so he could suffer through the fear with me) and we did manage to drag ourselves out of bed the next day and head in to campus.
It is, to say the least, impressive. That giant glassy building is the Polymer Research Building – one of the most famous centres of polymer research in the country. This is basically because Akron was the centre of tyre production back in the late 19th century – it was here that Goodyear was born. As a result of this boom in Akron in its heyday, the drive along Merriman to and from campus is… a difficult one. This is one of the several streets in the city where the bigwigs of the growing tyre companies built their homes, and it is anything but easy to sit in the car and watch mansion after mansion roll past the window. Some of them are fairly modest, one or two are constructed from your typical American paneling, but a great majority of them are huge, impressive, Tudor-style dream homes, with huge front gardens and, presumably, acres of luscious green pastures, valleys and lakes out back.
There have been a few days when I’ve come in to campus with Grant, and every time we drive along this road we sigh with envy, point out our latest favourites, and speculate about what they do with all that space in there.
“Maybe they have a billiard room”.
“Maybe they have an indoor pool”.
“Maybe they have a Jazz Bar”.
“Maybe they have an aircraft hangar”.
“Maybe they have their own microclimate”.
What I would give to have any of these things in my home.
Maybe not the aircraft hangar.
In short: these houses were large. In fact, the big boss of Goodyear built his home not far from where Grant lives; and although the house is no longer inhabited, it is now a sort of heritage site, preserved pretty much exactly how the family left it. Stan Hywet Hall is open to the public (for a fee, of course) for guided or self-guided tours of the building and grounds, and when Grant’s dad told me about it, I set about convincing Grant to take me. I’ll keep you updated on that – but for now I’ll try to stay focused.
Despite the overwhelming sense of envy which Merriman Avenue instilled deep within my soul, it has to be said that it’s a very scenic route to campus. Grant parked next to the law building and we walked up to the union to get Pumpkin Spiced Lattés at Starbucks – I automatically added my two teaspoons of sugar without tasting it first, and very nearly made myself ill. Take note, readers – Pumpkin Spiced Lattes are extremely sweet.
The student union at Akron is a glorious building. Inside, at least, it’s visually stunning, has excellent views of the gardens just outside, and is home to a great deal of outlets, shops and entertainment options – much more than the union at Edinburgh. While Potterrow and Teviot both look incredible, they just can’t compare to the Starbucks, Subway, at least three American chain restaurants whose names I didn’t recognise, small mini-market Zee’s, bowling alley and billiard room which Akron’s union has to offer. Oh, and the grand piano in the main quadrangle, where a young man sat and performed beautifully for the two of us whilst we sipped our vegetabley beverages.
Once the sugar overload of the lattés became thoroughly unbearable, we wandered downstairs to have a look at what else the union had going on. We ducked in for a two-hour billiard extravaganza, in which we played I think eight games. I won five of them; six ended in one or other of us prematurely sinking the black. We vowed to return, and headed to the supermarket to pick up some ingredients for the meals we had such great plans to make. We spent the evening just relaxing together, rewinding, and enjoying being with each other. Grant had some work he had to do, of course – law school is no joke – so we left it at that in terms of going out and doing things, and just prepared for the week ahead.
You might be thinking that, compared with some of my earlier blog posts, this one is slightly less extravagant. You’d probably be right – we didn’t do much crazy stuff that weekend, and during the visit we didn’t get up to the same sort of nonsense that we have in the past. I apologise if it makes a less scintillating blog post, but for me, it was a wonderful weekend. In fact, I recently read in Cosmo (and so it came to be that my first external reference in this entire blog was to be from a glossy magazine…) that in long-distance relationships, while it can be tempting to go on tons of adventures and “make the most” of the time you have together; it’s also very important to spend time doing normal things and just being together. I totally agree, and I’d been looking forward to this element more than anything. I honestly can’t think of a more perfect weekend than that one – carving pumpkins, delicious lattés, ridiculous amounts of pool… Scary movies aside, it was unsurpassable as weekends go.
Stay classy, readers.