Europe Adventure

It's 12:43 am Wednesday September 17 and Jonathan and I have just finished packing up our London apartment. I am watching the second to last load of laundry spin in our washer/dryer and willing it to go faster so I can get into bed and rest up for our last week of European adventures. Yes, our last week in Europe is upon us! Tomorrow we fly to Prague, and for the next 7 seven days we will be traversing the cities of Prague, Salzburg, Venice, Florence and Rome. We'll arrive back in London on Wednesday September 24, and for the final five days we'll suck our last breath of English air, solidifying memories of London on our brains. We'll then fly to Denver on September 29th, arriving there at 6:30 pm or so the same day. It's sad to see the time go, but we're ready to close this chapter of our life and begin a new one.

But enough of sentiments. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from us when we return, and until then, keep us in your prayers if you think about it. Very soon we'll be seeing many of you back on American soil!


Mean Blokes

A play

Outside of the protection of their borders, innocent Americans venture into foreign lands looking for excitement and an expanded world view. As they live and work amongst the aliens, they uncover a dangerous secret that will turn their happy-go-lucky joyride into a societal survival struggle against the bullies of the world.

Cast of Characters:

Jag: Generally nice English bloke. Inebriated rockstar with fuschia hair.
Mimi: Sober American, wife of Joe, dressed in skinny jeans.
Joe: Inebriated American, husband of Mimi, slightly bearded.
Cat: Sober American from Oklahoma, whiter than white teeth.
Small Crowd: a small crowd, crowded around, crowding the pavement.

Act I, Scene 1: The Hazing Begins

Jag, Mimi, Joe and Cat stand outside the pavement at the Slug and Lettuce. Small Crowd hovers next to them. Fag smoke twirls through the air.

Jag: (light-heartedly) Tell me you're voting for Obama.

Joe: I don't know, man.

Jag: Tell me you're not voting for McCain.

Joe: I don't think I'll vote.

Jag: (suddenly serious) You have to vote. Take some responsibility! Your republicans have destroyed the world and now you have to change it.

Cat: Come on. There's republicans and then there's republicans. There's democrats and then there's democrats.

Mimi: (obviously nervous, turns to a piece of the crowd) Thanks for coming. It was great to talk to you. To meet you again. (turns back around to the other three)

Jag: (more irate) This is the Christian thing to do. (pointing to Joe). You're a Christian. (pointing to Mimi) You're a Christian. (pointing to Cat) You're a Christian. Christians care about the world.

Joe: It's not a democrat or a republican or a Christian thing. It's more complicated than you think.

Jag: You've *&%$^& up the rest of the world enough already!

Mimi: I am not personally responsible for the decisions my president makes.

Jag: You better vote for Obama.

Mimi: I'm hungry (looking around, walks to the corner with Cat)

Cat: You want some chicken? It's so good it tastes like it has crack in it. That's why we call it Kentucky Cracked Chicken.

Jag stalks to the corner and leaves the group.

Joe follows Mimi and Cat.

Joe: He's not usually like that.

Mimi: What got into him?

Joe: I don't know. He's not usually like that.

Cat turns right, and Joe and Mimi turn left. Joe and Mimi walk into the tube station.



Leaves are already spilling from the trees! Scarlett, bronze, sunset blushed, drenched in rainwater they stick like paper mache to the pavement. I resent London for stealing my summer. We had one week of warm sunshine in May, one in June, and a couple of days in July when my parents were here (they brought the Denver sun with them). But who am I to complain about clouds? I, who spent my youth ardently protesting sunny 70 degree weather Thanksgivings, who prayed for afternoon thunderstorms so I could cozy under a blanket and read, who wanted to move to Seattle (or London...), who in a month and a half will be living in northern California with sunshine shooting out of my ears? I just want the season to fit the season, that's all. Warm summers, brisk autumns, cold winters and mild springs. (And I'm looking forward to having a car again, so I don't have to push through blustery rain carrying thirty pounds of groceries and dodging stray pedestrians to bring home soggy boxes of Cheerios).

At least I was rewarded for my pain with an interesting find. Today I braved the rain and went to the library to pick up some travel books. On a whim, I decided to seek out C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Luckily they had it, but the library lady had to descend deep into the bowels of the Putney Library basement to find this one, and I can see why. The cover itself is enough to scare anyone away from Lewis, and there are even illustrations inside. This is one book I probably won't be reading on the tube.


A Day in the City

Up Notting Hill Gate tube station and get tripped up by windy gusts and speckles of rain. Squeak an indiscernable oomph, scarf flipping against your face and flats skipping away laughing, revenge for walking them everywhere all day. Too embarrassed to look around and make eye contact with the witnesses, you recover, pick up your bag and stride on to Portobello Road.

Pass tourists with cameras, the upper glass house with the grand piano, silken earrings, antique sports equipment and a chubby man shoving a posh Hummingbird Bakery cupcake into his face. At house 16, walk up 70 steps and pick up a friend. In leisurely minutes you two are galumphing down the 70 steps to Portobello Road and to the underground. Jump on the Central line to Liverpool Street, and at St. Paul's, you turn your face discreetly towards the glass divider when neighbour to the front pushes first his armpit, then his leaning, hot face within inches of yours. Breathe in the odours of the carriage riders and wonder about the curly-haired man with a puppet sewed onto the shoulder of his suit.

Swerve outside, up an escalator, where sunshine and rainless clouds dip into the shadows of backstreets and spotlight the iconic Gherkin, rising pointy and proud above his peasantry kingdom of churches and wine shops and monuments and Eat.s. Isolated in the quiet sphere of studious business men, you're sucked into the base of the giant phallic symbol, clicking across a pavement of empty tables and dispersed conversation. Enter Konditor and Cook, where latte steam wafts above the crowd and you choose a dark chocolate ganache cake, silky beneath the case light. On your way out to a table, admire the baby Gherkin cuddled in purple frosted flowers and enjoy the crisp afternoon, talking of re-appearing dreams and British actors and tinted window offices.

Into the blustery day again on London Bridge towards Borough Market which smells like the back of a restaurant. Suggest that maybe the cheese shops don't set up on Thursdays, which is why the lot across from Southwark Cathedral is empty. Tempted by the bread but no desire to buy, brush past the samples until you reach the basket of dried lavendar (is £5.99 per bunch a good price?) and the quieter than usual Market Porter pub. When he comes you'll say Market Porter three or four times before he remembers. Enjoy a pint of Kronenburg. Dart to the Slug and Lettuce for a couponed meal, and then to London Bridge underground for a trip north to Mornington Crescent station and The Koko Theatre, site of Charlie Chaplin performances and BBC theatre and Madonna's first ever UK show. Guitarist Simon leads you to the before-show hangout at the pub next door, where you meet your friend's brother's band from LA, Iglu and Hartly, the first band of the night.

After eight, it's time to go in. Your names are on the guest list, so the two of you + girlfriends + sisters enter the dark theatre, gilded with red box seats and chandeliers and three tiers of crowd. Then they come out: guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer, two singers, snapping across the stage and jerking their instruments, their mics, their bodies to symphonic 80's hip hop. Screams. Frisbees. The crowd swells. On the open floor around you people wave and dance to the beat that heaves the air. Finally, calves sore, drums ringing, ears happy, you meet outside the pub again. Say good job over and over again, and hope America will be the next Koko Theatre.

Part ways and home to Putney.