ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

London Archive

Tuesday

24

August 2010

2

COMMENTS

A tale of two (or three) cities

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Being back in Seattle is great. Riding the bus home from doing some work for my friends’ law firm causes my breath to catch a bit – the views stunning. Yesterday I got to see a lot of folks at a lovely BBQ my new roommates threw to welcome me home. I’m finding a few jobs to apply for, and finally, FINALLY secured private health insurance, which means no more COBRA at crazy high prices.

Today, however, for the first time I really started to feel the reality of not living in London anymore. I went through this when I left NYC – suddenly not being able to call up Jon Mark when something ridiculous happened, or not being able to meet up with Kathleen for brunch the day before a race. It’s a shock to the system and even though London was where I wanted to go after NYC, that didn’t mean I didn’t really miss my NYC family. I still do, all the time (and especially at Thanksgiving).

And now I’m feeling the same things. Seattle is where I want to make my home, and I’m so happy to be back, but that doesn’t mean I don’t really miss my friends in London. I met such wonderful people there – people who I learned so much from, and with whom I had such great times. Obviously I’ll work hard to be sure I see as many of them again as possible (graduation in December!), but again, I can’t just call Kate and Richard up to go see a movie for Orange Wednesday, or text Alissa to meet me at reception to go get coffee. And the eight-hour time difference is really, really tough. If I’m not up and moving early on the weekends, it gets too late to call or Skype.

I’ve moved a few times in the last dozen years, and have been lucky enough to make such good friends in those places. I’m lucky to have this problem, I realize. And as time goes on I know I’ll get used to communicating primarily via Skype and Facebook instead of texts and Mondays at the George, but right now, it’s still a bit sad.

Sunday

8

August 2010

1

COMMENTS

Are you sure we have enough money for [the gun] AND the wedding dress?

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Since I’m about to leave London, I thought I’d take a minute to list out some of my best times here. I did it when I left NYC, so why not now?

For my own enjoyment (which, frankly, describes most everything I post here), here is the list of my favorites of London:
Cultural
Theater-going experience: Seeing Priscilla Queen of the Desert with Jon Mark
Museum exhibition: Photography exhibition at National Portrait Gallery
Concert (large scale): Carmina Burana at Royal Albert Hall
Concert (small scale): Bonfire Band in Stoke Newington
Standing date: Orange Wednesdays + crap movies with Richard
Tea: Tie between National Gallery for my birthday and Gosvenor House with Kate
Pub Quiz Team Name: Taking care of quizness
Travel and Days Out
Adventure: Alexandra Park with Shawn
Premiere league football viewing: Blues v Spurs in Birmingham in January with Kate and Richard
World cup viewing: Final moments of the last US and England group match games in Berlin with Stephanie
Awe-inspiring architecture: La Sagrada Famiglia with Allegra
Celebration: Travel to Paris for my 30th birthday with Vanessa
Beer Garden: Royal Park Inn near Victoria Park
When in Rome moment: Brownies with Lesley-Anne in Amsterdam
Unplanned vacation: Getting stuck in the states when the volcano erupted, guaranteeing an extra eight days with my east coast friends
Holidays
Unexpected holiday: Bastille Day in Paris with Michelle
Tradition that kept going: Cookie Party (London AND NYC editions)
Trauma: Walking all around Barbican in search of the Waitrose to procure a whole turkey at 8pm the night before Thanksgiving
Meal: Dinner at Ffiona’s with my family to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary
Odd
Bizarro moment: Burlesque birthday party for advisor
Unexpected comment (not directed at me, but to a friend): “So, you know when you’re shaving your balls?”
Scene out of horror movie: Me and Alissa walking back from the department Christmas party, down Artillery Passage, noticing a trail of blood culminating in a pool of blood in front of an apartment door
I’ll miss you, London, but I should be back in December for graduation.
Seattle, here I come!

 

Tuesday

13

July 2010

0

COMMENTS

Saturday

10

July 2010

0

COMMENTS

I Miss Air Conditioning (a wimpy girl’s confession)

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When I moved here I was told a couple of things: it doesn’t snow in London, and the summers are full of cloudy and rainy days.

Neither of these have proved true this year. We had a few snow ‘storms’ this winter. Nothing major, but since Londoners claim it never snows here, the government does not stockpile the supplies needed to prevent the city from shutting down completely over an inch of snow.

And since exams ended summer has arrived, and it feels a bit like summer anywhere else I’ve lived. Only two days have I felt cool enough to wear jeans instead of a skirt or dress. We’ve had some muggy days, most of which were here when my parents were visiting, which was a blessing and a curse. A curse because we were tourists and thus riding the tube and walking loads, but a blessing because their hotel room had air conditioning.

That’s the other thing – because it apparently doesn’t get hot here, very little is air conditioned. The tube is a sauna, and buses are swamps. On the bus ride home from the theater Thursday night the HEAT was on. No joke. Movie theaters are sometimes air conditioned (although weakly), and restaurants are hit and miss. Some places have ice for drinks; others serve them warm. Lucky for me my apartment is in the basement, and the curtains keep out most of the light. Plus, someone left a fan here so I’ve plugged that in and am basking in it. 

Michelle visited this week and we did a lot of fun tourist things – London Eye, a West End Show, walking around town – but she’s off to Munich and I’m glad. Not because I wanted her to leave – we were having so much fun – but because it means I do not have to get on a tube, or a bus, or really leave my apartment other than to get some groceries and do my laundry. I shall be sitting in front of the fan working on my thesis and watching movies until the sun sets, at which point I might venture out for a walk just to make sure my legs still work.

I know those of you in NYC – and even in Seattle, where it’s been in the 90s – have had it worse. I hope you are able to cool down soon as well! 

Tuesday

6

April 2010

0

COMMENTS

Spring Break Part I – Two Weeks in London

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I have been done with classes now for over two weeks, and have been attempting to spend my days studying in the mornings and exploring in the afternoons. So far I have managed the first go-round of review for my courses – the re-reading of lecture and reading notes, review of past exam questions at a very basic level, etc – and have made a lot of progress on my thesis. And by progress I mean a load of words that may or may not all get edited or deleted.

I have definitely been successful in exploring London. My first day off I spent a few hours just wandering along the south side of the river Thames. There’s a great path along the water, and there are loads of cool buildings, museums and restaurants. I snapped quite a few shots that day, including a sand serpent being constructed during low tide. The next day I attempted to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy but the line was already 90 minutes long, so instead of joining a queue of old aged pensioners, I went into the main hall to see this exhibition of old photographs of London. Lately I’ve been finding old photography to be the most fascinating art, and so am seeking it out wherever I can find it. So naturally my next stop was the National Portrait Gallery for an Irving Penn retrospective. Very simple photos but so beautiful.

Later in the week I finally made it to the Hunterian Museum, which is just next door to my university. Is it wrong that I spent more time in this tiny space than I did at the Uffizi in Florence a few years ago? Possibly. But it was so fascinating. Loads of preserved specimens, a history of surgery, and the bones of an Irish giant. Very cool stuff. And free!

By the end of the week I dragged Kate (who was kind enough to play along) to the 50th anniversary of Carnaby Street exhibition. It was not exactly … large. There was a long shadowbox filled with some interesting photographs and artifacts, a few excellent pieces of clothing from the 60s, and … that was about it. But it did mean that we were able to scoot next door to explore Liberty of London, which is this fantastic old department store that carries things like components for hat-making, designer clothes, and artisenal chocolates. Browsing was a real treat. Even more of a treat? The Diner we went to around the corner, which serves excellent milkshakes and onion rings. I have an appointment to go back there for some french toast soon. The we met up with Stefani, who has just started a new job, which is very exciting, especially in this economy in this city.

A week ago Sunday I made it over to the Photographers’ Gallery, which is currently exhibiting the Deutsche Borsche Photography Prize finalists. Shocking absolutely no one, my favorite was Donovan Wylie, a Belfast man who was nominated for his work on documenting the demolition of The Maze prison in the North of Ireland. He also has a great book called Scrapbook, which shows some clippings and images from The Troubles.

Finally I ended the week with a tour of Somerset House. This place is fantastic. It’s a bit unassuming from the Strand – it just looks like another of the great large buildings here – but inside the courtyard is a gorgeous former palace with an amazing history. They give free tours twice weekly, so I latched onto one and learned so much about the place, and some other things, like the Great Stink of 1858. My favorite little tidbit was the story behind four statues on the upper level of the north side facing inward. They are personages representing Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The first three are bringing gifts to the Kingdom, but since the statues were commissioned around the time of the revolution in the states, the Americas are bringing fire. Awesome.

There is SO MUCH to see and do here, and I’ve just barely scratched the surface. Sometimes I make plans but don’t end up going, and that worked out to my benefit on Friday – I was supposed to go to the American Apparel Rummage Sale on Brick Lane, but as you can see, that would not have been a lot of fun.

Wednesday

30

September 2009

1

COMMENTS

Starting the week

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Monday marked the start of my first full week here in London. Each day has involved some manner of shopping (primarily for goods for my new home, like dishes or a toaster) and a visit to campus. Monday I registered for the National Health Service and joined some hall mates on Brick Lane for curry. It wasn’t the best, but it was cheap-ish, and the servers offered one free drink and a free coffee for LSE students. We seem to get discounts all over the place.

Yesterday was the general post-grad orientation. It was quick and relatively painless. Last night was The Graduate, a welcome dancing/drinking party at the three clubs on campus. Yes, that’s right. There are clubs on campus. One is more of a sports-bar-type place, one is a straight up dance floor and another is more appropriate for live music. I didn’t discover the other two until I’d spent too much time on the live music section. But there was much dancing, and a lot of fun meeting new people.

Today I met up with someone who I met at orientation yesterday and we went to the student club fair. I signed up for a few, including the celtic society (shocking), drama, philosophy and humanist. Could be interesting.

Tomorrow I finally meet with my department. I’m quite excited to get going on this whole studying thing.

Monday

28

September 2009

0

COMMENTS

Another day, another park

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I spent Sunday afternoon (another GORGEOUS day here) wandering around Regents Park after a quick run over the Tower Bridge. It’s huge and really lovely, especially the gardens (pictures are attached once again). For such a lovely day there weren’t as many people out as I would have expected, although one nice gentleman did ask if he could walk with me through the park (I politely, I hope, declined). 

I’m figuring out the buses fairly well, and am taking them as much as possible, as I’d rather pay one pound than the higher price for the tube. Plus, I have to read, and usually get a seat on the bus, so that’s another upside.

Sunday night was drinks organized by the housing, then dinner out with people. I’ve met folks from France, Brazil, Finland, German, the Czech Republic, Italy and Ireland so far, all of them quite nice. It’s always kind of weird meeting new people after the standard questions have been asked, at least for me. I did stick around for post-dinner drinks at Gun, the local pub.

Today was spent taking care of more paperwork and such for school, and getting a real phone plan and phone number. And I finally have kitchen items, so I can cook! Not that this means I’m going to start tonight, but still. I no longer have to eat my sandwiches while standing over the sink.

My ethernet is still a bit sketchy, but even with all the people possibly on the wireless network I’m using now, it seems to mostly be working, which is excellent. I’m trying to troubleshoot, but I still need to make good enough friends with someone to ask if I can try my laptop and cord in their system to see if it’s my room or computer. That could take a couple of days.

Oh, and last (and really most exciting): I found a good cobbler. I walk through my shoes at an amazing clip, and don’t see that being any different here. It’s those little things that really make this feel like a place I’m living and not just visiting.

Sunday

27

September 2009

0

COMMENTS

Well, really they should have changed it to “coler”

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My first long run in London! Ten miles along the Thames was a lot, but I was able to do it, and it felt good! I also attempted to iron something and managed to give myself a lovely three-inch burn (complete with blister!) on my leg. Yeah, it’s awesome.It was gorgeous here today. I was able to wear a sundress and sit in Hyde Park, enjoying a gorgeous day. I may have even gotten a bit of a tan. I’m reading the book suggested to me by the department for the people who weren’t so much philosophy majors, and it’s really interesting. I navigated the bus system somewhat successfully, and even bought some groceries to put together food. No cooking yet – but maybe tomorrow.

Tonight I met up with Dan and some of the friends he made when he lived here a couple of years ago. It was very fun, especially as we got down to the “here’s where the American accent and words are wrong” section of the evening. It was honestly quite entertaining.

After we went to Brick Lane Beigel Bakery, which is open 24 hours and has actual, good bagels. They are the perfect size and chewy and super yummy.

I also learned something AWESOME tonight. The housing I’m in used to be a flophouse run by the church for wayward women. There were tour groups outside earlier this week, and we couldn’t figure out why. Well, it turns out that when Jack the Ripper came back after a bit of a break, he came back RIGHT HERE. Like, a block away. In fact, if you visit this site and scroll down to the picture with the caption “Crispin Street Womens Refuge” and you’ll be looking at my new building.

I’ve attached some pictures – a few are from the neighborhood (Spitalfields Market is right near me), but most are from the park today. The one that looks like a stream running in granite is the Princess Diana memorial.

One last thing – I’m now signed up for the Paris Half Marathon – March 7, 2010!

 

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Saturday

26

September 2009

0

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Friday Culture

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I got about five hours of sleep Thursday night, so I was tired but not horribly exhausted today. I decided it was a day to explore a bit, so I wandered over to Brick Lane, which is known in the states as the place for good Indian food in London. It is not, however, known for that in London. Apparently the curries there are really not so good. But it does have a ton of funky stores, including at least a half-dozen vintage shops. It is also quite near an art house film theatre, so I did finally get to see “The September Issue.” I recommend it – Anna Wintour doesn’t come off like a horrible person, in my opinion, and it is interesting to learn about all that goes into putting together a magazine like that.

I stopped off at a local cafe for some very good hot chocolate, then went to Trafalgar Square to meet up with Kate and Richard. We wandered the National Gallery for awhile, then got some italian food nearby. I had a glass of wine, and that nearly did me in. They helped me figure out a good bus to take back home, and I was actually able to fall asleep before midnigh, and not wake up again until 8! I may actually be on London time now. We’ll see . . . 

This morning I ran about 10 miles, mostly along the Thames. It’s a gorgeous day, one that is just begging for me to go out and play, so I’d best be off!

Thursday

24

September 2009

0

COMMENTS

New London Flat

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Today was definitely a better day. I got about five hours sleep, and went out for a run pretty early. I then made my way to campus (about a 40 minute walk) and registered. The woman in line ahead of me grew up in the SF Bay Area – small world. I got my ID card, registered for classes and even opened a bank account. Well, I took the first steps anyway – it takes Citibank two weeks to get the info to me. But that’s okay – I’m glad it’s done.

I picked up some more things for the apartment so I could put away my clothes and dry off after a shower. All that I still really need are kitchen things, and my friend Dan (I met him at the LSE cocktail hour the alumni association held in NYC in August for new students), who also lives in this residence hall, suggested a trip to the Ikea. It’d be worth burning a day to get some cheap Ikea kitchen supplies.

Tonight Dan and I met up near campus and got some excellent Korean food near Tottenham Court road. It was my first meal here that wasn’t at a chain restaurant, and it did not disappoint.

Oh, it’s also London Fashion Week(end?) right now. They have this pretty cool set-up at the Sommerset, with wicked blue lighting. I wandered by, but shockingly was not allowed into the tents. I KNOW!

Since I now don’t have to register tomorrow, I plan to sleep in and then maybe catch a movie. Then Kate, Richard and I are to meet up for some sort of activity – hopefully the science museum.

I’ve attached some pictures of the new place. There are a few who will care, which is why I took so many (to give some perspective on the layout). 

Enjoy!