27 February 2012

A Day in the Life

Today was a day just like any other - and I don't want to forget it. Some days are pretty freaking great (even in, or especially in, their simplicity).

7:22: Wake up, turn on the shower, fall back asleep until the water heats up (it takes a while)
7:45: Shower
8:15: Check the weather, get ready
8:45: Skip out the door: purse, tube pass, keys, vaseline lip balm, hair tie, iPhone, headphones.
8:48: Walk through the door of my favorite local coffee shop. The 4'10" man behind the counter knows me by name and begins making my regular order. I am not lying when I say it is hands-down the best cup of coffee I've ever had. I will most certainly miss it. No one has ever worn a smile larger than Jum's - he is the smiliest Cambodian you'll ever meet and he makes me smile, too, as we make small talk waiting on the coffee. I ask about his wife who sometimes works with him in the shop; he asks about Grant and school. I grab my order (which I get half price because I'm a local) and head out the door cherishing that first sip of the world's greatest coffee.
8:50: Start an Andy Stanley podcast - awesome start to the day.
8:55: Scan my student pass Oyster Card through the gate at the Underground and wait on a train
9:00: Catch a southbound train and hop on the tube - I get a seat if I'm lucky... That's a very big if.

{Before the Jubilee empties}

{After the jubliee empties}

9:22: Emerge two stops later, cross the street toward the church building that is now a night club; walk the block to my building
9:30: Begin my work placement, which I absolutely love. Seriously. Very few people love what they do as much as I love working in a publishing house.
5:30: Bounce out the door of Hodder and Stoughton, iPhone bumping again
5:59: Get off the tube, stop by local grocery store to pick up a few things (either Waitrose or Sainsbury's). Call ahead and order a calzone from our favorite little Italian place, Oregano's.
6:17: Stop in as they pull my calzone out of the brick oven on a wooden plank. They also know me and Grant by name.
6:29: Fish for my keys - the pink Master's key chain that Rick and Janice gave me before we left "so you'll have a little piece of home over there;" I use it every single day and cherish that feeling of home. Time my entrance with the motion-activated-and-timed light on the stoop. Push the door open so that it automatically hits the overhead-light switch just inside the outer door. Yell hello to our neighbor, Genti. Let myself into our flat, throw everything down and de-layer at the door - hat, scarf, coat, purse, bags, shoes. Deep breath. I'm home.

These are the little conveniences - knowing just how long it'll talk in between things, weaving my day together perfectly because I now feel like a local, taking advantage of getting discounts and being a regular {insert: "Where everybody knows your name" here}. Seriously, though, it makes a difference. And on simple, uncomplicated days when this little routine works like a charm, life seems almost easy. And I don't want to forget what days like these are really like.

A Day in the Life by The Beatles
Paul McCartney once said that this was the song he was most proud of, the quintessential Beatles song.

16 February 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

Valentine's Day was so much fun this year! We helped plan and host a Velocity party at a venue in the Chelsea FC Stadium.

Walking from the Entrance to the venue inside Chelsea FC.

The venue was Under the Bridge.

Here's a pic from the night.

There were DJs, live performances, games, drinks, and a whole lotta dancing! Very Fun.

We finished up the night with a late night run to the nearby Bodean's.

Y'all, this place is as close to home-cookin' as we're going to get in London.

Grant had a BBQ plate and a slab of ribs with sweet corn, cole slaw, and baked beans (yum!!).

I had chicken enchiladas and praise the Lord it's the best Mexican I've had since we moved here (making it one of my favorite meals!).

Then we headed home! Very fun day. Grant is amazing.

Everyday is like Valentine's Day with my honey. What can I say? I'm a cheese ball, but I love him! Hope you were able to celebrate with the one you love.

09 February 2012

Keepin' it Real

Life here is certainly an adventure. We have some fun trips and great pics to show for it. But the day-in, day-out stuff here really sucks.*

Exhibit A:
The Post Office
We received a package while we were out and got a slip to collect at the local post office. We could not locate this local post office on google maps. The phone number listed on our slip rang and rang with no answer and no voice mail; we were instructed to call back four separate times. Grant maps out the post code, walks in that general direction, finds the post office (victory!) only to have the lady not even check for our package. She takes one look at the slip in Grant's hand, says she's sure it's not here anymore (?) and walks away from Grant as he continues to ask her questions about the location of our package. Grant leaves empty handed. He said he's not sure he's ever had any one treat him like that--ever.

Exhibit B:
The Bank
City University attempts to take a large sum of money out of our account--so large that it's way more money than is in our our little account (despite my parents wiring the money to school). As a result, there are insufficient funds that affect our account and card use for days. I'd love to be able to check this online, but I can't because the bank has not texted me a special online banking code, so we are in the dark about recent transactions. Now, there are over-draft fees (unbeknownst to us, having been assured that we would not incur fees from the university only days before). I run to the bank this afternoon at 4:30, arriving around 4:40. The banks here conveniently close at 4:30 not 5:00. I get on the phone where it takes four representatives and two different security people to answer one simple question.  I'm honestly still not sure if anything was resolved.

There's an expression: "It's been real. And It's been fun. But it's not been real fun."

*I know the bank and the post office can suck anywhere.  I know they probably frustrate everyone everywhere. But there are things that are in general more difficult here and things that are in general more convenient at home. I'm not wishing our time away or complaining too much, but if I can't keep it real on here, where can I be honest? This is my safe place to write--when it's great and when it sucks, and everything in between.

03 February 2012

Plans vs Reality: a rare but perfect day

I don't have class on Fridays and Grant gets done with his by noon, so I've been dying to plan some fun outings for our Friday afternoons off together.

This morning, Grant skipped out the door on the way to his last marketing class ever (!) and I got up to straighten up a bit and plan our day. I had decided on going to Greenwich to explore and discover the National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, Old Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory and see the famous Cutty Sark. The highlight of the Greenwich trip: The Prime Meridian.

We'd make our way back by waterboat on the Thames, but not before attending evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. We'd finish up with dinner afterwards at a favorite little Italian place near Embankment and catch the Jubilee line home.

That is not what happened.

Instead, we were both so hungry when Grant got home that we decided to try out a little Italian place close to our flat in Hampstead, then head out to Greenwich. Luigi's was amazing and had unusually large portions (we had spaghetti and lasagna). Before we'd even paid the check, a food coma came over us--the perfect comfortably-full-but-not-stuffed feeling that demands sleep.

What could we do?

As we headed home to lay in bed, snuggle up with two hot water bottles at our feet, and watch movies all afternoon together, I didn't regret tossing our plans aside. It turned out to be a rare but perfect day after all.