Day 1 – Wrestlers Rule, Kelly Drooled, and “Rosie” was Riveting
Mick and the girls dropped me off at the airport two hours before my flight departed. It was a treat to have my original family all together, and fun to listen to the girls and their sister banter – same style, yet tempered, smarter and more endeared toward the other. I just really love them.
Once they dropped me off, I checked in quickly and then sat and waited on the plane to arrive for one hour and forty-five minutes. [crickets chirping].
The desk attendant pleaded for one solid hour for people with “flexible travel plans” to accept a later flight to Chicago, a free dinner and a $200.00 voucher. Then she raised it to $250. Then she raised to $300. The $200 takers were frowning at that point.
I boarded the smallest jet American Airlines makes along with 20 other wrestlers from a university in New Jersey who had just been to a match in Oklahoma. They looked like babies, and as I glanced down the aisle of the tiny jet I saw ear after ear cauliflowered into unique shapes, worn like trophies among the greater wrestling community. The group of wrestlers changed the entire temperament of the flight – it was “young,” joking and good-natured. One of them was having a birthday and when the flight attendant announced it, the entire passenger group clapped for him. He beamed. He had red hair, a ruddy complexion and a million freckles just on his exposed arms and cheeks. The flight to Chicago was over in the blink of an eye.
My “better than fiction” moment…..And speaking of “red”: As I was standing in line to board the flight to London I saw a girl in front of me reading a book. The jacket cover had a stylized font that I thought read something about Stratford-shire-something…very curly writing. Then I finally figured out – it read “Scarlet Passion.” She was reading a romance novel. I looked at her again and noticed she had red hair. I laughed because I wondered if she liked red things and was drawn to that particular title. Then I noticed she was wearing a red shirt. THEN I noticed she was wearing red shoes and that she was clutching a passport with a wine-colored cover. Everyone else I observed had the standard navy blue cover on their passport.
I christened the girl “Rosie” and wished her well. Oh, and she was wearing glasses with pinkish-red frames. Rose-colored glasses for a girl who clearly saw the world through them. In red.
Really. See covert shot of “Rosie” in pic…don’t you just love cell-phone candids?
The only other note-worthy moment for day one was the fact that I bought a new release by Vince Flynn (A Mitch Rapp series) entitled “Executive Power” – a political thriller with a CIA operative-made-good as the hero. I was so tired from preparing for the trip that while the proverbial crickets were chirping in the OKC airport, I laid down on the floor and took a 15 minute nap. I jerked awake and noticed I had drooled on the “W” of the title. No offense, former president, for that little faux pas.
Day 2 – Debarkation, Disorientation and Diesel-Snorting
A couple of weeks ago my friends and I watched the recent “Sex and the City (SATC)” movie while in Bricktown. My personal rating for the movie is 1 out of 5 stars. There were three good things about the movie that I can appreciate – the fashion, the honest and open support system (with fairly decent accountability messages to each other) among the ladies and a quote that I completely discounted…and now completely embrace. The basic premise of the movie is that Samantha gets invited to the United Arab Emerits because of her business PR savvy, and gets sent home because she can’t respect the cultural guidelines for women. When fleeing the country in order to avoid paying for the over-the-top lifestyle they were granted by their host, Samantha said something that I hard-core judged. She screamed, “Girls – we HAVE to leave now! If we DON’T, we’ll have to FLY CCOOOAACHHH!!” That lit a fire under their NYC, Dolce & Gabbana clad backsides.
In my head I thought: “That’s it. This movie was ridiculous in terms of money, self-indulgence and extravagance and that quote just put a lid on it for me.”
And then I flew to London from Chicago, had the best seat “coach” had to offer, and never slept a wink. I wish I had a stop motion movie of how many ways 300 people try to sleep beside a stranger in an upright position within a constrained space. I never thought I would be able to articulate a redeeming quality about Samantha’s character on SATC, but she was right. About four hours into the flight I got up, walked up and down the aisles, stretched and peeked in on the first class group sleeping peacefully in their fully reclined chairs. And I whispered a little message to Samantha: “You’re right. I’m sorry. And, I feel the pain you wanted to avoid. I’m a little torn about it, but not a lot. I get it.”
The Brits must be keenly aware of this challenge for travelers because at debarkation the airline employee was sympathetic. All I did was say, “Well, I’m a bit tired but I’ll catch up soon enough.” She responded with, “Oh you poor dear. That jet lag is a bit of a bear, right?” Her kind and empathic response was genuinely delivered – and genuinely received. Thank you, debarkation attendant, for being so kind.
The ride from the airport was interesting. I noticed lots and lots of lovely Tudor architecture and also noticed that most of it, with occasional exceptions, was black-smoke tinged. The diesel smell wafts rampantly over every block and area I’ve visited. In the US, I only smell this scent when I’m around buses or farm trucks – but it’s the rule, not the exception here. It’s a shift that I’m adjusting to, but I noticed that the smell was so strong at times it pulled my attention from my travels. Bad diesel smell – you give my attention back to me…right now!
The cars, however, are an absolute treat to observe. I want to take them all home. They are the silver lining of the scent-sation of which I complain. Oh, if only European auto maintenance weren’t so darn expensive!
I suppose the final wrap up for Day 2 would simply come with this message: I’m confused. I’m confused about “the Underground – or, The Tube,” I’m confused about the maps, I’m confused about the money and I’m confused about the three-dimensional different place in which I am residing now as opposed to two days prior. I’ll get over it – but right now my brain is scrambled.
I thought I’d leave you with some pictures and a video to finish out. The first is my hotel (Nh Harrington Hall) in the Gloucester Road, S.W. 7 region. Next are shots from the grocery store – they sell fresh red currants here, and their pineapple is white. And finally, my first meal in London. It’s a video. The food was lovely, the writing in the menu was mostly Arabic and I was so hungry I guess I decided it was “video-worthy?” (Late note – I’m having a horrible time with internet connections here. The hotel connection is still not working, and I can’t seem to upload video. Therefore…I’ll leave you with a picture of three really funny blue-collar blokes who seemed to have a penchant for bologna sandwiches and bananas. I can’t really share their jokes here – way too PG-13, but I can share their photo…on lunch break, amid noise and construction and people stepping over them as they ate).
Day 3 – Unagi intern moment, teaching & learning + EURO STYLE!
I’ve served as the internship coordinator for our Child & Family Services undergrads at OSU for six years. A “no compromise” issue is that they must have internet access where they serve their pre-professional experience because they also participate in an online class. Invariably, the internationally placed interns run into problems. Do I always say, “Make sure – we’ve had internet issues in the past!” Yes. Do they always respond, “I did! Everything is A-OK!” Yes. You can see where I’m going with this, right?
One, two or three weeks down the road I’m usually getting a phone call from their parent – or a desperate plea for an expensive cell phone call appointment because their internet connection is: 1) 20 miles from where they thought it was; 2) spotty or intermittent service and it won’t stay connected long enough to submit their assignments; or, 3) utilized around the clock by others higher up on the food chain and they aren’t allowed the access previously granted. Again, I’m sure you see where this is headed…
I’ve been in my hotel over 48 hours and their service is still on the fritz. My PAYMENT went through, somehow, but the connection won’t hold. There is an internet café’ down the road, but the service was down. It is now working again, but for how long?
So, in case any of them read this today, just know – my dear students – that I empathize greatly with your iternat’l brouhahas. They’re not fun. And if you are a “Friends” fan, just know that today I experienced “Unagi (total awareness)” with you.
And finally, for something entirely different – I just want to say a word about the European fixtures and décor. I’m loving the fact that I get to open doors with sleek, architectural style handles – flush the toilet with interesting shaped handles, flip light switches DOWN to turn them on and look RIGHT to cross the street, and …I could go on and on.
Everything fixture-y and sign-y is different here and it’s fun! My favorite of the day was a glass that was a perfect circle on the top, and an oval on the base. It was so cool to hold and to drink out of – really weighted on the bottom. I’ve included a picture of the glass, (front and side view – see below), and a picture of a door handle (to the right).
I’m up late because I’m prepping for my trip to Bristol tomorrow…it will be my first train ride, and Bristol is so close to Bath I’m hoping to have the energy to go over there for a bit before I head back for my last night in London. AHHH – I almost forgot to tell you! Today I saw a gate and a garden JUST like the scene in “Notting Hill” where they have the Woopsie Daisies back-and-forth. I SO wanted to climb over that fence!
Woopsie Daisies to you! 😀