From London With Love ☂

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Hi Everyone! I am currently in the process of pulling everything together. I will still be writing How To Speak British and this will be the place for all my writing. However I also have a love of design, photography, fashion and home decor and wanted a place to share that with everyone. Hence, I’ve created a main hub called:FROM LONDON WITH LOVE ☂

Please stop by for a visit and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

London Roulette

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

I like to play a fun game called London Roulette where I get on a bus and get off when it looks interesting. I usually have a vague idea about the end of the line so I don’t end up totally lost however that wouldn’t be the worst thing either. Yesterday was gorgeous. The sun was shining, warm but with a nip in the air that filled me with delight as fall is coming.

I didn’t get very far at first. After about a 1/2 an hour deciding which bus to get on I finally decided to go up the Kings road which is just a few blocks down from my house. I put on my jeans and oxford Camper lace ups, a cardigan, hesitated on the jacket which I left behind, and headed out.

Once at the Kings road there was no bus in sight so I started walking up the road. I was hungry and figured I’d just find something on my way. About 2 blocks up was the cutest cafe that looked lively and fun. I knew I was supposed to be on my way, on my adventure, and toiled over whether I could stop so early in this plan. The outside was black and the inside was very modern black and white with wallpaper that looked like birch trees. It was filled with adorable couples in tweed jeans, oxfords and down vests cozied up around tables. It looked really good.

I decided I needed energy for my trip so I went in. It was about 1/2 full of well to do people my age sitting around reading the paper, talking to their significant others, having breakfast over coffee and recounting the fun of the night before. I picked a big table in the back by the window that is for 4, anticipating that I would be told to move, but I wasn’t. A kind Russian waiter came over and took my order of eggs, bacon, coffee and grilled portobello mushrooms. I don’t really eat these things but love breakfast on weekends and have decided after 3 years of being very strict about what I eat to branch out and “spark up” my weekend as my Dad calls it.

Then I discovered the holy grail. Magazines. Lots of them. All the recent ones, Tattler, British House and Garden, British Vogue, British Vanity Fair, you name it. I was giddy. I picked a few and laid them out on the table and settled in. I was in heaven. I love magazines but never buy them here because I’d rather spend my money on food and warm clothing. Shortly there after while enjoying a hot coffee and completely disregarding the ill effect this will have on my body a few more people come in.

It was like being in the Great Gatsby. I realize I’ve discovered a well to do hot spot for the young (my age). Am I that young? I feel young? I digress. I couple sits at the table next to me. The man is dressed in a tweed sport coat, jeans, a polo shirt and money. Not literally money but I’m sure if he could have he would wear it. His girlfriend, no ring I notice and is clutching him as he were her mulberry Alexa bag. Or perhaps she feared I might lure him with my magazine stash. She was in a tennis skirt and adorned with gold trinkets. They ordered eggs benedict and banana bread with “butter and jam” she says excitedly. She makes him sit next to her at the picnic table instead of across from her.

Then another couple comes in to sit at the only remaining picnic table and they have a new little baby that is quite frankly so adorable my ovaries want to jump out and cradle her. They also have a dog, a schnauzer I believe, who is quite adorable as well the only difference being that like her husband he knows it and both have been taken off the leash. He, the dog, runs around as if it’s his living room. A few seconds later a little schnauzer face pops up across the table as he sniffs my bacon. They apologize profusely without even breaking from conversation or moving to do anything about it.

The couple is very in sync right down to their matching Birkenstocks which they somehow pull off as being gucci-esque instead of hippy. I think they are the modern day yuppie hippies perhaps. I decide to call them Yippies. I could have sat there all day watching the yippies but I had an adventure awaiting. The waiter comments to the tennis couple how when the man has been in he hasn’t ordered coffee. But then he orders a latte and all is forgiven.

I then begrudgingly have to leave because it’s now 2 and who knows how long the sun will last. I leave my magazines and note I will have to come back next month for more. I go up to the til to pay. The waiter asks if I’m from America and I say, “yes, I just moved here”. He tells me how he is going next month to New York and Costa Rica and how excited he is. I agree, it is exciting. He says I’m welcome here anytime. He is not British.

Then I hop on the bus and listen to this woman go on and on about how long she’s be on the bus for and blah blah blah.

I decide to get off at World’s End just because I really love the name and every time I have passed it before I wondered what it would be like. Does the world really end here?

You a’right?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

It’s raining. My first commute in the rain. I put my tall black Italian leather boots on over my jeggings with a navy blue crop anthropologie rain jacket that I felt pretty silly for buying in LA and am so grateful I did. I put my mini umbrella in my Mike and Chris messenger bag. I check for the iPhone and I’m off to walk the 1/2 mile to Parsons Green. I had heard people don’t use umbrellas, or brollies here, but I see tons of them and am relieved I won’t stand out like a tourist. There are cute ones with polka dots, bright ones, clear ones, black ones, tattered ones, and there are little girls in their wellies stomping in puddles. Gone are the scooters and sundresses. The men pull up their collars and hold their newspapers above their head as we all rush to the tube.

It’s not even cold yet but I can feel the damp to come and I’m worried. Everybody keeps saying, “It doesn’t really get that cold here” and it’s the “that” part that scares me because “that” means it does get cold and to a Los Angelean any kind of cold is a new experience. I ask, “Have you ever been to Los Angeles?” to which they reply, “no, but I really want to go”…and they go on and on….”Hollywood what’s it like? Do you see Tom Cruise walking around all the time?”(at which point I’m sorry I brought it up) and to which I reply “this right now” (pointing outside at the drizzly 60 degree weather) “is our winter”, to which they do the now classic British reply that only lasts a second and if you’re not paying attention will miss it of raised eyebrows, head tilt back as if they are looking at me through spectacles – you’re an idiot for coming here – kind of stare. Which passes almost instantly and they throw a hand in the air and brush it away saying, “ehhh, you’ll be a’right”. Not a bit concerned about whether or not I will actually be alright.

I know this because they use this phrase all the time. If someone calls me on the phone at work they immediately say, “you alright?”. If I see someone in the hall they say, “you alright?” If I see someone in the kitchen who has followed me in there from the hall, the same person will say again, “you alright?”. The first time I heard this, or shall I say read this, was when Boy would text me when I still in LA. He would always text me and say, “you alright?”. I thought he was just concerned about my move to England and if I was handling everything okay. It wasn’t until I got here that I realize it was the equivalent of American for, “hey, what’s up?”

What really threw me though is when people do this at work. At first I thought, of course I’m alright, should I not be alright, why shouldn’t I be alright, do I need to know something? Have I been fired but haven’t been told but it’s traveled through the grapevine already? I rack my brain for reasons, double check my to do list, think about recent current events, do the medical check of family members in my head, check my body for any bodily harm,  perhaps I am not aware of an oozing wound or injury of some kind? They have successfully with the matter of two words set Hollywood me into total panic. Once I realize it is only a simple hello I am so relieved I want to scream, “Yes! Yes I’m fine!” but normally reply with “yes, how are you?” ……..I still have a lot to learn about the British.

The problem is I took this as a sincere question. My sincere answer “yes, thank you, how are you?” resulted always, no matter the person, in a blank stare of complete disbelief that I was asking them this. This stumped me for awhile. I would usually get a grunt or a grumbled “hmmm well, fine” followed by a sideways glance, head down, chin tucked, and a quick shuffling away with coffee or whatever we had encountered each other over. At first I couldn’t figure it out and spent many a morning with people running away from me with their morning tea or coffee. A few more times and I realized it was a look of disapproval about possible intrusion into one’s personal state of being in a way that was overly familiar. That’s when I realized it means “what’s up” and not “how are you?”.

I have yet to be able to mutter back the appropriate response of  “yes, you alright?” It just sounds so silly so I usually bumble a “good” and then without being able to stop it, “how are you?” just keeps coming out of my mouth and is as natural a response as “you alright?” is to them. It has been a very hard habit to break. I have shortened it now to, “yeah, you?” and have had great success of smiles and eyes that glitter with approval and happiness at a dodged intrusion into one’s true state of being. The truth of your well being is not what they are after. They don’t want to know if you are truly alright, if you’re sick, if you missed your train, if you are homesick or what not. They just want to have a pleasantry as I call it and what’s wrong with that?

It carries on into other areas too, this uber-politeness, and sometimes I fear to extremes. We have an online forum at work and everyone posts questions and topics. I posted something about my iPhone and needed to delete it but the button didn’t work. So I called the programmers and said it doesn’t work, please make it work, I’d very much like to move this to the appropriate category, etc. They say okay and call me back later that afternoon to say it’s been fixed. Then Ravi, the programmer, goes on to say, “Do you know you are the first person to call me to change something?” I said, “Seriously? Like, ever?”, to which he says, “Yes, ever”. Nobody had ever called him to tell him the delete button didn’t work, or that they put something in the wrong section or perhaps posted something they didn’t mean to. Ravi was so excited that someone was actually willing to give critical feedback that he asked me to go through the entire site and let him know what worked and didn’t work. I pictured him sitting in the basement with nothing to fix or do for months, maybe years, like the red stapler guy in the movie OFFICE SPACE.

Everything is polite in the office. There is no bell on the email to alert you to a new email. It is just assumed you will check it on occasion and perhaps reply at some point. Also when I inquired about setting up voice mail it was responded with, “eh, you’ll be alright” to which I replied, “soo”, wondering what that mean this time, “no voice mail then?” Yeah, no voice mail.  It is so different from the business I came from where my boss once asked me to call blackberry to see if they could deliver his emails faster and then made me time them from when he sent them to when I received them, which was about 3 minutes by the way, and way too slow for him. That was a fun day. I knew executives who’s mail alerts were so loud it was as if Notre Dame was in their office.

I still have yet to say, “you alright” but I will get there. There is one thing for sure. I like their uber-ploliteness whether meant to be sincere or not. I like pleasantries. I like tea in meetings with tea pots and biscuits I’m allergic to. I like that I have no voice mail and that I still have yet to sync my work email to my iPhone and nobody expects me to. I like that nobody is in a rush. That time is of a normal pace and I am not asked to change it or speed it up. That nobody says things like “don’t you just hate 3 day weekends” like a boss of mine used to say. I like that people ask me if I will travel while I am here. I like that people ask when I will take my holiday instead of telling me not to worry about my vacation days and that I can cash them in. I like that my new boss always asks multiple times a day with a huge smile and happy eyes, “you alright?” and that I smile back and say sincerely, “yeah, I am, you?”

Are you my husband?

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

They have moved me to another building. The Aussie and I have been separated. It is quite distressing. There is nobody to make me laugh all day or to answer my ridiculous newbie questions like “remember the button that did that thing to the thingy you showed me last week, where was that again?”.  It is almost like the first day of school all over again. I was just getting to know everyone on the other floor. I was beginning to earn their trust and in record time for an American. We were bonding. They were finally getting to the point where I would get the – oh yeah it’s you, your a’right, big smile – which is a very hard place to get to with Brits. Now when I see them I’ll have to go back to the – hmmm I don’t know, I haven’t seen you in a few days, you might have changed, head tilt, eye slit, lips purse, head nod.

The good thing is I have a new Aussie that I’m sitting next to. This one is a Finnish Aussie though which is why I call him Finn. There seem to be a lot of Aussie’s in this business and none of them seem to really know how they got here. When asked how they got into it they just sort of shrug their shoulders and say, “I dunno, just sorta fell into I guess” and scratch their heads as if they’ve never thought about it before and never will again. They are very casual and matter of fact about it. Finn is a very different breed though. Instead of being overly exuberant and happy like the other Aussies from downstairs his Finnish side comes through and he is quiet, reserved, strong, modest, intelligent and wearing a super dorky grey t-shirt with three wolves howling at the moon. The kind of t-shirt you expect nerds to wear in this business and exactly the kind one might buy a 4 year old at the zoo. I believe my best friends son has a similar one with a dinosaur on it.

Once Finn starts talking though the Aussie side comes out because you can not shut him up. He is eager to share everything he knows about everything. He tells me he is leaving at the end of the week to move to Toronto and he shows me the apartments he’s looking at on Craig’s list. He goes on to quietly and methodically explain the pros and cons of the location in relation to work and the rest of the city. We analyze the apartments possible position as there is no exact address given using google maps in a way I didn’t even know was possible, but let’s face it that’s not saying much. We end up going to lunch together and as we walk down through Soho to Paul’s French Patisserie and he points out every good restaurant that I should go to, tells me what to order, the price range, what happened in that building in 1903, why they built them with brick, etc. He’s like a walking talking google search page.

Finn is good looking in a Nordic viking kind of way. He’s tall, lean, has deep set eyes, and a strong broad forehead. He’s kind and seems to be very easy going. He’s also extremely apologetic that he’s taken me to a bakery after I explain that I can’t eat gluten. Luckily they have a salad and things are fine. He’s been everywhere it seems in the world. Finn would most like to live in Bangkok. He thinks, LA is too boring but nice and reminds him of Australia because it is all brown and crispy, London is too dark in the winter, Toronto is to full of Canadians, and so he goes on and on, in an interesting way though as he methodically explains the pros and cons of each place as if we are country together.

He takes me next door and shows me the Italian gelato shop that has the most delicious looking gelato I’ve seen since Italy. I notice they have one that is lactose free I almost can’t contain my joy. Then he takes me across the street to a tiny espresso shop that he joyfully says makes the best 1 pound espressos. It is stacked floor to ceiling with coffee from around the world and there is only room for a single file cue into the shop and out of the shop. It looks as if it should be in Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.

As we walk around SoHo I look at him and think – are you my husband? When I was little my favorite book was Are You My Mother by Philip D Eastman about a little bird’s journey to find his mom. The little bird asks everything from a cow to a tractor, “are you my mother?” I often feel like the little bird as I am also on this big search around the world for a very special person. I know the feeling of wanting to find it already and of the not knowing where to look to find it. Often when I’m with a potential single guy I find myself observing them and getting lost in the question, “are you my husband?” however unlike the bird I can not just ask them this directly. This pops into my head with Finn and I picture our kids, all wearing their matching nerdy animal shirts, becoming little encyclopedias of knowledge, with their little Bangkok accents…hmmm…not working yet. I didn’t want to kiss him and I ponder if I’ve given too much importance to this.

I remember I asked my cousin once why she married her husband and I settled in for a great romantic story. She replied, “well, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about him”. It was the most unromantic honest answer I had ever heard. It was also devastating to hear at 15. What about love? What about crazy chemistry? What about passion? People can get married based solely on ‘there’s nothing that really bothers me about him?’ Is that legal? I could not wrap my teenage head around this.

Finn and I walk back up to work as he continues to point out various landmarks and things I should go see. For the next few days I learn more about London than most Londoners and have a full list of things to do. Finn even takes me on a Google maps tour of Australia pointing out every place he’s been as we travel down to the beaches and walk along the sand with our little “Google man”. It’s quite fun actually. By the end of the week we have traveled around the globe a few times, jumping off in Fiji and Bali before lunch, then Tokyo and the far east all afternoon.

When we say goodbye he reveals that his shirt is a joke. He is completely aware of how dorky it is and explains that he had run out of clothes to wear as he had already packed to leave. I find this incredibly intriguing. I promise to stay in touch on facebook and to send him regular updates per his request as I cross things off my list of things to do. He says he’ll be back in 4 months or so and I know I will look forward to it. He’s sweet and I will miss him. Sweet Finn.

I guess I will have to find a new Aussie now.

Socrates wants to marry me

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Socrates wants to marry me. He does really. He just said so. He said I am too beautiful to be eating alone. He also asks if I’m a writer to which I smile and reply, maybe, I don’t know yet, although I’m secretly excited to be called one. I have also been writing in a zebra striped notebook for the past hour which shows that not only does Socrates have great taste in women but is also quite intelligent such as his names dictates. Nothing gets past Socrates I imagine. I’ve decided to come here and eat tapas and write after work since I have no other plans. Being my favorite place in the whole city I want to hang out here as much as possible. If my life were a movie it would definitely take place here. Of course my life is not a movie and hence my only proposal thus far is from my waiter, with all due respect Socrates.

Socrates comes back to offer me pita bread and looks genuinely hurt when I turn it down as if I turned him down. He says he loves my North American accent and he wants to marry ‘beautiful North American woman’. I’m not sure if he’s talking in general now or further driving his marriage proposal home. He says, he calls it North American because yesterday he told some Canadians that he liked their American accent and they got all huffy and almost walked out. “So now I say ‘North American’” he says to me with a big look-how-smart-I-am-aren’t-you-impressed-smile. I smile and say thank you and stuff my mouth with olives.

It wasn’t easy to get here tonight. Three trains passed me by with people so pressed against the doors that their flesh looked like smushed peaches. I started to question the great idea I had to be out amongst the ‘people’ and began to wonder why I wasn’t going home. Finally I make it on a train with a short squat man in a turban who keeps touching his neck and a girl with a suitcase who refuses to move it for anyone to get out or in. I can’t blame her really. Who knows where she’s been lugging that thing or how long she’s been commuting for. Nothing is worse the navigating the tube with luggage. She was probably hoping someone would just take the damn thing so she didn’t have to carry it anymore. I often wonder if people ever abandon their belongings on the side of the road from being too tired to carry them anymore. Or if they leave a trail of heavy items behind like milk and jars of jam, printers, etc. I’ve definitely felt that way before.

Finally 4 stops later I reach Chalk Farm and I think I hear angels singing. Once I walk out of the station and the nice cool breeze hits my face, that only feels this fresh and this clean in this part of town,  I know I’ve made the right decision. I decide on Lemonia because I love Greek food and the place is just stunning. I try to sit outside but the snooty hostess won’t seat me in the only remaining 2 person table and simply shakes her head and says, “no” in a Greek way where she snaps the ‘o’ and points to the back room without ever looking up at me. I’m so ready to sit down at this point it’s fine and I can still see outside. At least nobody can come up behind me and steal my bag which is tethered to me like a child at all times now.

I can tell Socrates knows immediately that I’ve gotten the short end of the stick here and have been seated at the “tourist” table which is my lucky day as it’s right next to his station. I think he gives me extra specially good service because I don’t seem annoyed by it. He is much more like a fisherman in Zorba the Great than John Corbet from My Big Fat Greek Wedding which really does change the image of marriage, just so my mom knows  as she has a thing for John Corbet from that movie and I don’t want her getting any ideas here.

Now I was never one of those girls who dreamed of getting married. I was always dreaming of being Wonder Woman, a Secret Agent Spy, a model or a scientist. I would have much rather walked down the isle in Linda Carter’s unitard than some lacy frilly thing. However there was one moment that did plant some ideas in my head as I’m sure it did most girls my age and that was Princess Dianna’s wedding to Charles. I remember watching it on a tiny TV in a light house tower in Brisbane Australia (that’s another story). I must have been about 6 or so.  There were hurricane gale force winds and rain outside and the windows were rattling like they were being ripped from the building. I thought we were going to be blown to pieces but I didn’t care as long as the TV and Princess Di came with me. I still remember it. The part that made me lose my six year old mind was when Dianna arrived in a glass horse drawn carriage and then got out like Cinderella in her flowing cream dress. It had puffy elegant sleeves and a long train that I still remember  went half way down the isle of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Someone really should have had a conversation with me then to tell me they aren’t all like that. The color was the same cream as the dress shop outside my office window.

It’s the most beautiful dress shop I’ve ever seen. I can’t say I’ve seen that many dress shops in my lifetime but I’m pretty convinced this would still remain the most beautiful even if I saw many. It’s an old shop with a facade like the kind you would see in Pride and Prejudice and I’m sure is from that era. It’s cream with black trim and black writing on the top in cursive elegant letters that in my head spell Agatha Christie but being she is a mystery writer I know that’s not the real name but can’t conjure up the real one to save my life. It has two huge square front windows they are separated by a wood framed glass door with a bell on it that goes off any time a potential bride walks through. The whole place looks like one big Jo Malone perfume box. In the right window is a gorgeous lace fitted strapless wedding dress. In the left window is an elegant short blue strapless dress that resembles an iridescent upside down tulip. They are both stunning.

I have friends who’ve made whole books with cutouts of their favorite dresses way before they ever got married. They knew just what ring they wanted, what dress, how it would fit, what it would be made of, etc. I have no idea what my dress would look like. They could talk for hours on end with animated hands about their “colors” and their shoes. I am not one of those people. If you ask me how I see my wedding all you will get is a confused stare while I try to conjure up some image of something I am okay with.

As I stare out my window I see a girl walk in the shop who looks a lot like Reece Witherspoon but it’s not. I watch her select a few gowns which only has a bout 12 gowns total and walk slowly around the shop which takes about 10 steps. She is admiring all the pretty fabrics and has a dreamy, ‘I’m so in love’ look on her face, as she lightly touches each one between her fingers and walks away before letting go pulling each one out ever so slightly, her head slightly to one side as she does so. You almost expect to see Cinderella’s birds fly up with some thread and a ribbon.  Soon she is standing in the middle of the room, the shop is only about 10×10, and her friend is ooohing and awwwwing and I get caught up in it. I can almost imagine it’s me.

Now it may be because it’s 26 degrees in my office and the fan above my desk is whirring like I’m in the opening of ‘Apocalypse Now’, or that I’ve worn jeans after haven mistaken clouds to mean cool yet again – which my California brain just can not wrap it’s head around – but the wedding shop is like a mirage in the desert, very dreamily, I slowly notice that I’m now the  girl in the middle of the shop, with my long strapless gown, a ribbon around the waist, turning around, admiring the long row of buttons that start at my mid back and go all the way down to the floor, picking it up by it’s sides and sticking my foot out,……… I mindlessly twirl the pencil in my hands as if it’s the fabric as I dream on and on about it. I can see it. I’m even begin to think about what shoes I’d wear and this is when I decide to go to Primrose Hill by myself to have dinner at Lemonia in hopes to meet Mr. Right and who knew I was about to get my first British proposal! Okay, he’s not British but it still counts.

dimples

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Dear Man on Tube:

I noticed you right away as I stepped on the train. It was packed as per usual. First you were right next to me but only for a second.  I notice your height immediately. You are tall. About 6″3.  Tall enough to make me feel small which at 5’10″ is not easy.  Then you got caught in the flow and sucked down the isle like a twig in a river. I was safe in the nook by the door. The hair on my neck stood up right as you passed me by. I could still see you though. You went right by me to the right.

I notice your fit body, square shoulders balanced by a broad and toned waist. I couldn’t see your feet though. I wondered what kind of shoes you wore. Your tan smooth skin set off your blue eyes. You weren’t looking at me though. I didn’t mind, it allowed me to study you. Your lips turned ever so slightly upwards like you know something others don’t. Or you know you’re cute and that I’m admiring you. Not quite a smile but more than the straight face. Definitely more than the zombie British commuting stare. I wonder if you’re British. I think there’s no way you can be. You have skin like Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby before it got all leathery. It the kind that’s been roughened by travel, weather and maybe some college footie.

You were facing me squarely. Me with my back to the doors and you down the isle.  Your arm reached up to grab the blue railing, so did mine.  A mirror of each other. Your blue and white fitted work shirt rolled up to the elbow. Your forearm was fit and strong. It flexed every time the train moved. It looked impressive. You knew it though as you looked at it too as if it wasn’t yours, admiring your own fitness. It was hot in there. I wanted to take my sweater off but couldn’t. I can’t take my eyes off your fore arm. You look at me. I look at you. Then we look away. Then I look back. It’s the kind of arm that is strong and would wrap you up in hugs and make the world disappear. I suddenly want you to take me in your arms.

I noticed your thick chestnut brown hair with flickers of silver at the side burns and nape of the neck. It makes you look distinguished. Then you looked at me. Only for a second. You looked right past the Indian man in fervent discussion with his friend. Right past the single father and child trying to figure out their next stop. You looked right at me and then you looked to your right and smiled. Or at lest I think it was a smile. My heart skipped a beat. I wondered how long I had. When you’d get off.

The train stopped at the station but your arm didn’t move. I knew I had at least one more stop. Some people got on.  A business man in a seat right below your knee gets up to talk to someone he sees. I can’t see you for a second. I lean right. I lean left. I can’t see you. I start to panic. I look down and all I can see is your left shoe and your left ear. Your shoe is a brown loafer. Camel brown. Nice. Square toe. Not the pointy kind that is in vogue here and so not attractive. Your crisp blue jeans hit at the perfect break point where the back covers the heels. Then you lean to the right. You’re looking for me. I get nervous and lean back to the middle so you can’t see me.

People get off at the next stop. I can see you again. You have a smirk on your face. I think you know you’re cute. I think you know I think you’re cute. God knows I’m trying to get that across. Then you smile. Not at me but perhaps for me. Two dimples pierce your cheeks. My god. I want to pull the train emergency lever. Could you be any cuter. I notice on your pinky finger is a pinky ring. I remember my room mate telling me that guys in London wear this as their wedding ring so they can pick up girls. Now I know why you’re so confident.  I remind myself though that it can also be a class ring but somehow I know it’s not. My mind wonders which it is. Oh I wish I knew. Your dimples are ridiculous. Your eyes pass over me as you look to the left. You know how ridiculous you are. Ridiculously cute that is. I imagine you as a kid and how you must have gotten away with murder with those things.

My stop is next. The train slows. Your hand doesn’t move. I have to get off. I do it quickly. Like ripping off a band aide. No last look. Nothing. Well perhaps a little scowl like I’m so not looking at you but I wonder if by some stroke of luck you are getting off too but I don’t wait to see. I have to switch trains and head to the escalator and feel the need to get far far away. The girl in front of me is hogging the escalator. I feel like a total local in my annoyance that she doesn’t fully step to the right. Finally I get past her and walk quickly up the escalator. I’m surprised at my speed. I get up to the Earls Court platform disappointed there’s nowhere else to climb. I want to forget I ever saw you. I wait to see which side my train will be on. There’s a train to Olympia waiting to leave. Then out of the corner of my eye I see you cross the platform. I can’t really believe it.

You go over to the other side by the Olympia train which I almost think you’re getting on but you wait and let it go. I look at you but you’re far away and you’re looking at the train board. Your facing me though. Almost as if on purpose. Taunting me. I wonder if you are following me. An arrow appears on my side pointing to Wimbleton. You don’t move right away. I turn my back and move to the yellow line.

This Is when you do it and I can’t believe you. You walk across the platform and stand right next to me. It’s not crowded. You’re so close our arms could touch. I don’t look at your right way. I ignore you. I don’t know what to do. I totally choke. I “George Clooney it” as my parents say (who’ve I not only met but made a movie with and have yet to be able to utter anything other than a garbled “hi”). I can’t speak, I can’t move. I can barely breathe. Finally as the train approaches it breaks the electric hold on me. I turn to you. You look at me straight in the eye and I smile. A really big obvious smile. An, oh yeah, I know what you’re doing, smile. We are smack in between the two doors. You should go left, I should go right. I don’t know what to do. I wait. You move to the right and so do I.

At first you stand right next to me. My back against the glass partition, your back against the door. I wait for you to say something. Anything! I smiled, now it’s your turn. Why don’t you do anything? This is when I’m convinced you’re married. You don’t do anything because you can’t do anything. The tension is thick. You could cut it with a knife and serve it as chocolate fudge cake. Then you walk away from me and move to the middle and hold the bar. It hurts. I admit it. I think I ruined it. I didn’t speak. You’re still facing me but now you’re too far away. I pout and stare out the open doors. Two German girls get on. One is wearing a fitted white t-shirt and has very perky boobs. I think she may ruin it for me. I’m thankful all you can see is her back. You’re still looking around. The doors close. I try to look at you in the reflection but you’re looking at me. I look away. I’m mad at you now.

There are only 2 stops left. I wonder if I should do something crazy like don’t get off until you do. I have a momentary fantasy that’s what your doing with me. Perhaps I could go to Putney now and deliver the photograph I have for Richard that is under my arm. Perhaps I could ask you where to get a card that says “thank you for returning my stolen bag, you are a real gentleman”. The train stops at the station. One stop left. You don’t get off. The German girls do though which is a relief.

Now it’s just you and me. I’m so nervous my legs are shaky. I can’t keep my feet from moving and I step on the corners of my sneakers just stop them from shaking. You stare at my sneakers. I wonder if you think they’re cute. I wonder if you think I’m cute. I think I’m too old to be wearing sneakers an I need to wear some lady like shoes. I curse myself for not getting more dressed up for work today. The train slows. I notice you are holding the middle bar with your right hand and your left hand is holding your forearm. The train stops. I have but a second to look at you. Your arms aren’t moving. As if in slow motion I know you’re not getting off. I step off the train. The doors close. I can still see your dimples through the glass as you disappear.

The whole walk home I think “why didn’t you say anything!”, “why did you cross the whole platform to stand next to me and then not say anything!”. I smiled!! I fight the urge to run back and find him. Then I think “why didn’t I say anything!” and I curse myself.  Then I convince myself he must have been married. I think of all the great things I could have said like, “are you following me?”, “you must have been trouble with those dimples when you were little”, “my what great forearms you have”, “does that pinky ring come with a wife?”,”If not, would you like it to?”, and on and on. I can only hope I’ll see him again and if do watch out! I wonder if it’s pathetic if I wait at Earls Court tomorrow in hopes of seeing him again.

So….. wherever you are Dimples. I think I love you!

I’ll be looking for you.

One day very soon.

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

While having drinks at a ritzy pub I turned my back for one second and poof my bag was gone. Just like that. What’s most odd is I was facing 5 people who were all looking straight at where the perp would have had to come from as we were in a corner. Live and learn. I was quite distraught at the time as my Irish passport was in it as well as my blackberry, i-pod, camera, ray bans and various other things I care about. Now I know you are going to wonder how my bag being stolen and love are connected and I’m going to tell you. This week has been a week of losing things I love, seeing people I love, and hoping to find someone to love.

I want to be in love.

This city will do that to you. It will make you want to walk up to a complete stranger and kiss them. I think the thing that is so great about London is that it’s not Paris. In Paris love is a presumed state of being. I’m surprised they don’t ask you at customs if you are in love before letting you enter the country. In Paris everything is in love. The streets whisper in your ear how beautiful you are, cheri. The trees mumble sweet nothings to you while you roam the streets of Montparnase.  In London love is a bold defiant expression, like a hippie in the 70′s.  A statement.  A choice. You can almost hear London say, “Keep calm and love on.”

Unlike Paris where one just assumes everyone is behind closed doors drinking champagne and feeding each other strawberries while writing love letters in french, London shows you the raw tangible love right in your face, in crowded places, with no remorse. A couple in a pub making out rather publicly and rather explicitly so much so that it causes the table of people I’m with to turn, stare and discuss for a good 10-15 minutes without them noticing or coming up for air. A man in a blue suit with balding hair and a plump woman in skin tight pink pants on a crowded subway, kissing each other and making a sucky sound the causes everyone to keep turning and looking. A man in a grey business suit in the tube lift and a girl in a blue cigarette work dress, his hands on either side of her against the wall. I’m so close to them I can see the time on his watch.

The best part are the British who just act like it’s not happening. You know they see it because quite frankly the man is practically kissing my ear, that’s how close we all are, but they pretend it’s not happening. I do think though that somewhere deep down inside they wish it was happening to them. I try and catch someone’s eye so I can at least share this moment with someone but they are very careful to not let this happen. It’s an odd feeling. I almost want to shout, can you believe the gall of these two? Just to see what everyone does. There was a moment earlier in the week when it was 90 degrees, I was sardined on the tube and you could hear a pin drop and I said very loudly, “I miss my car!”.  People laughed.

I don’t want to be one of these kissing in public people. I want a different kind of love. The kind where you sit in the restaurant for hours staring at each other in rapt conversation. I want to close the restaurant down and wander through the cobblestones streets at night trying to find a quite corner for a kiss and prolong the evening like Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset. It’s been a long long time since I felt this kind of love.

That’s the thing about love, it happens when you least expect it. There’s something so alluring about two strangers meeting under unusual circumstances. On Wednesday my stolen bag, against all odds, is found. Turns out a man, Richard,  found it in his skip (dumpster – word of the week).  Luckily there was a business card from my bank manager in my wallet and he was able to track me down. There are not many people who would actually take the time to track someone down.

I race from work to Putney to meet him at his house. I get terribly lost and have to ask a very cute guy coming home from work for directions. He stops and helps me and I make a mental note to come back here and pretend to be lost again sometime. I finally find this man’s house which is a few down from the gates to the Hurlingham polo club. I knock and peak through the stained glass doorway.  After a few moments, a man walks down the hallway but I can’t see much more than a moving blur. The door opens to reveal a good looking affluent gentleman. This is Richard. He invites me in to what is a house clearly in the late stages of renovation. He’s tall with white hair however the kind that you can tell went that way early on in life, distinguished but not stuffy. He is wearing a very nice tailored suit with silver cuff links that shows he either knows how to dress or has a very good tailor. I notice there is no ring.

After talking about how he found my bag and how he tracked me down, he offers to show me the whole house floor by floor, room by room.  It is a beautiful 100 year old 4 story house that he is restoring to it’s original condition. He’s done 2 houses before this one and said this would be the last one. He’d been working on it for over a year and is really ready to move in. For older men he definitely falls under the attractive category.

He mentions he had some help with the interior design. I ask if it was from his wife and he says no, a decorator. He shows me the kids room, of which there are three, each with their own room and won’t be there that often supposedly. I assume he’s divorced which is far to personal a question for me to ask a British person in these circumstances. The house is stunning with it’s original tile entryway, 14 foot ceilings, big tree height window seats in the master bedroom, wood floors, a huge eat in kitchen with marble counter tops and a beautiful yard out back. The master bathroom is at least 2 times the size of my current bedroom. After the tour, I thank him profusely and tell him how grateful I am to have my things back. He says “You’re welcome. I would always want someone to try and find me if it happened to me.”

I get back on the train home pleased to have my bag back and my head swimming with the romance and the mystery of it all. My romantic brain takes over and I think what a great story this would be. My friend says later that he probably does this to meet women, has their bag stolen and then calls them to say he’s found it. I think what a great french movie that would be.

I think about falling in love and the moment where that person is still a stranger. It’s such a great moment because it’s gone in a flash and only happens once. Soon that person is your friend, lover, boyfriend, etc. I think about some of the great “strangers” I’ve fallen for. I think about the lunch I had earlier in the day with an old romance. We originally met during the riots in San Sebastian 12 years ago in Spain. I haven’t seen him in so many years we can’t even remember how many it’s been.

We meet at an Indian restaurant called Busaba in SoHo. His family is gorgeous. 3 amazing kids. The littlest of which collects chopsticks from around the table and redistributes them, repeating this for the entire meal. She ends up charming the waiter and entire staff so much so that they make her a boat out of the place mat. I look at him and his family. He looks older but in a good way. It’s hard not to think about what might have been. It’s very Casablanca. We exchange pleasantries while my brain flashes back to the beaches in San Sebastian.  I can still hear the crash of the surf and taste the sangria. I remember the sound of the riots in the background while heading to the only open bar in town, and this guy turning around in the middle of the street, putting his hand on my cheek while saying, “You’re American aren’t you?”….  But that leads to another story for another day.

This town is full of love stories. Some in progress, some having come to end and some just beginning. I found a card in the shop today that summed it all up:

“Can we, shall we? One day, very soon, let us go away together, just you and me, call in sick and go to the sea and hold hands all day, eat our sandwiches on the train, get drunk on fresh air and come home tired and never tell anyone….ever.”

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you of course.

Express Yourself

Monday, July 5th, 2010

“You need to take the air, you need to get out of the city to the country and breathe deeply, go look at the reindeer” says Jeremy my roly poly medicine man who runs the neighborhood health shop.  I stopped in to try and find some adrenal formula as I had totally crashed. I was rebuilding myself piece by piece, mineral by mineral. Jeremy is in his 40′s and is a cross between Santa Claus and that actor in the Princess Bride who says, “Inconceivable!” whom I can’t remember at the moment. He is hardly the type who at first glance one would think to be a health/spiritual guru. Jeremy wants to know how I’m settling in to the new city and if I have found a rhythm with it yet. He tells me that London can be very hard on the body and you need to take it out to the fields to let it recharge.  He tells me to go to Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill and to let the wind breathe new life into me. I take this all on board. I really had only meant to stop in for a second. I had two bags of groceries, had already been all over London.

“You need to find a way to express yourself”, he settled in behind the counter ready to really dig in to the core of me and fix my weary stressed out inner body. I was not ready for such a discussion and really just wanted to know if he had my formula but knowing this is going to be a regular stop for me, and appreciative of his knowledge I didn’t want to be rude. After all he is the man who can order me things like gluten free flour from the states. Now that’s power, let me tell you.

“What do you do to express yourself?” he says while looking at me in a truly interested, I want to help you way. It was if I was having lunch with a close friend. Madonna’s voice suddenly came into my head and I felt like singing “Express yourself!!”. But I didn’t. It took me by surprise to realize that this is a very personal question and one that I wasn’t willing to answer. I tell him I’m a photographer. I figure that is pretty safe. He asks if that is working? Do I feel I am really expressing myself fully? “You need to let it out.” he says as he gestures with his hands as if he’s throwing something away. “You can’t keep it in. It is making you sick.”.  I tell him I write. I don’t tell him what about. This makes his eyes sparkle like Saint Nicolas. “Yes! He says! Write, write it all down. Go up to the hills and write!”

I am beginning to feel like Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music.I can almost feel the breeze as I run across Primrose Hill in my curtain dress! I I’m snap back to reality when he asks, “Do you do yoga?”.  It seems like such a peculiar question coming from him as I look at Jeremy all jolly and rotund. I say yes. Sometimes. He tells me about the place down the street where they do special poses that heal the body. He starts doing some and he looks like he’s replicating Dance Like an Egyptian and I have to do everything it takes not to laugh and to put on my serious “I’m taking you totally seriously right now” face. I wonder if he’s ever done yoga. I wonder with his body, which is so perfectly round, if it’s even possible.  I worry he may fall over. He continues to do poses behind the counter.

Some other people have come into the shop. I’m really having a hard time holding it together. In my exhausted state it is almost too much to bare. I tell him I will go to yoga and thank him for his help. I can tell he’s disappointed I haven’t fully engaged him in the healing discussion but he probably knows I’ll be back. Luckily a woman comes up behind me and wants to buy something so I quickly tell him what I need (kelp, zinc, nettle, Vit-c, B-Vitamins, sea salt, green powders, and of course Vit-d3). On my way out as he’s checking the next lady out he shouts, “And don’t forget to EXPRESS YOURSELF!” which feels just as embarrassing as when your mom says “I love you!” in public.

So I took Jeremy’s advice and I went Sunday to Primrose Hill. It was magical. The wind is rustling big leafy trees and the sound was spectacular and just like in Michael Antonioni’s Blow Up. It sound like rolling waves. I took a deep breathe in deeply. It was fresh and clean. The streets curve around the park in colorful arches. It reminds me of Paris. I understand why all the celebrities live there. I wander past cafes filled with girls in crisp white dresses and boys in little shorts and ties. Men and women in organic cotton ensembles and wrinkled linen, straw hats and fedoras, ray bans and vintage cat eye glasses. Style was everywhere. It was pouring out of the restaurants. Even the dogs were dressed up with neat colorful collars and special brightly colored canvas leashes that matched.  I wandered into Primrose Books for inspiration a bought something for the park.

A lady in the bookshop had green juice. I almost didn’t believe my eyes. I followed her around until she stopped talking to the shopkeeper (mind you it is a tiny store) and I asked her where she got it. I was beside myself with excitement. Green juice? Here? This is a magical place. She said she got it just next door. So I went next door. That was an Italian shop. They make wonderful apple and rocket salads and milkshakes. No green juice. So I went next door to that which was a baby shop. So I went next door to that which was a patisserie with mouth watering eggs, sausage, toast and bacon coming in and out on trays. They did not have green juice. Neither did the shop next door which sold shoes from Europe and had a gorgeous pair of gray oxfords that I am still thinking of going back for. I started to get a little nervous I wasn’t going to find it. Finally a waitress said, oh you want to go to the produce store down the block. I thought back to the lady and her poor directions. Next door, next door my arse. Finally down the street a block and 1/2 down mind you, I found it.

The shop was like something out of a movie. It looked like a beautiful Parisian florist but instead of flowers there was produce. I’ve never seen produce like that. It was unbelievable. Beautiful bins of fresh snap peas as big as a ruler, beautiful green and yellow squash that would take two hands to lift, huge carrots with massive green plumes, apples with the softest blush of red, huge dark intense berries, etc. The store itself was dark hunter green and the inside was yellow and brightly lit. At the far side against the far wall is a marble counter top counter with a big board of juices. An oriental woman behind the counter asks what I want. I order a #6. Celery, cucumber, fennel, lemon, ginger, lemon, spinach, watercress. I was giddy with excitement. Real green juice. No fruit or apple or anything messing it up. Just pure green magic. She didn’t smile. I told her how happy I was to find her shop and that it was my first time there. She just looked at me skeptically. I told her how hard it was to find green juice in London and that I’d been all over the city. I told her that her green juice was far better than the lesser juice I had gotten earlier in Camden town. Finally I see the corner of her right cheek deceive her and turn up just a bit and I felt like she understood.

I then walked up to Primrose Hill. As I passed all the families and couples lunching I secretly hoped one of them would adopt me so I could live there forever. When I reached the park I picked a beautiful grassy knoll overlooking the city of London and laid out in the sun with my book that I had bought in the Bookshop. I did as Jeremy said, “I took in the air and I wrote it all down”.

Lunch Break

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I’m sitting in the window of Mildred’s, an amazing Vegetarian restaurant, at a table looking out on the street. It is the most picturesque scene. The weather is perfect. Its about 75 and sunny. You can’t tell the difference of being inside or outside. The window is wide open with no screen. I love that about not having air conditioning. You feel a part of everything that way.

Cars, trucks and motorcycles drive by. Women in summer dresses, men in suits, people on bikes. I could sit here all day. A girl comes over to collect her moped helmet which has been left in the closet under my feet. She is Brazilian and full of smiles. Her eyes crinkle when she smiles. “Tank you”, she says.

The waitress comes back to tell me that the salad I ordered actually has soy sauce. I change it to a rocket salad, which is arugula here. They make gluten free crostini bread here and I’m really excited to try it.

The restaurant across the street is the cutest thing. Its black with no name and only a framed menu in a box on the right side. The outside is charcoal black and looks old but loved. There are two tables with a white and black chair at each. It is full. The chef is standing outside in her white apron with her legs crossed and arms folded. She has white blonde hair and is very fair. The contrast against the black is stunning .

Above the restaurant are offices and in the window a women sits down with some people and is animatedly talking. Next to her above an old photography shop is a man in an office talking on the phone. There are books lined up in his window. Thick volumes. I wonder what he does. I love books in windows. Especially old books in old windows. Why is this?

Two Americans are hugging right in front of me. Glad to be re-united from what is apparently a long break.

There is a guy leaning across the far wall wearing pink tennis shoes.

Two women walk by, one says to the other, “you’ve lost weight haven’t you”, “A little” she replies in a German accent.

The waiter sees a guy walk by and says to the bartender, “sexy Paki”, which I’m sure is totally not PC.

I’ve ordered desert because they have a raspberry vegan gluten free chocolate truffle cake.

I feel like I’m on vacation.

I love that this is my lunch break.

The chocolate cake arrives. I take a huge bite. It is divine.

I smile big.

Yummy!

Reading Signs

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Friday – June 26

I got stood up today. A total no show. Left all by myself and wondering if there was something I had done wrong. Not by a guy or a friend or a blind date but by a train. I should have seen the signs. There are always signs and no I don’t mean the actual sign posted on the back wall behind the bin, which I’m sorry, nobody can see that one, but other signs.  The biggest sign is when people who have been waiting as long as you who also had been letting multiple trains pass by begin to disappear and get on various trains – that’s your first clue. First you think, that guy over there in the horribly mismatched striped suit is waiting for the same train, oh…wait…no he’s not. Well that lady of there in the cute red patent heels, she’s let a few go, she must be waiting too so it’s all good….oh wait no she just got on that one. Checking the destination on the tube won’t help by the way. My stop is clearly on there. This has happened to me twice now, so when I see everyone is getting on a train I just get on and hope to figure it out by the next station.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people that can actually fit on the tube. Its like Harry Potter. They just keep going in. I’m sure if you measured the inside of the train you would find it to be twice the size it should be. Yesterday I got so squeezed into this poor man, no mom he was not single and by poor I just mean unfortunate, that I felt perhaps I should call his wife and explain.

I always feel bad for the people who don’t make it on. They have this look of “don’t leave me!” As if we are the last lifeboat on The Titanic. The men take it a lot harder than the women. The women just kind of politely back away and wait, harboring their hurt like an unreturned phone call. The men show it differently. Some get upset and wave their paper at the train mumbling curse words under their breath. Some stand up straighter and look around with an air of ” I wasn’t really going to get on that train, I meant to just help others get on, didn’t I do I good, I got the last lady on right before me right as the doors closed, that was close, she wouldn’t have made it on without me”. And some just don’t move. They stand just where they were when the doors closed and keep standing there until the next one comes as if the whole unfortunate incident never happened.

Tubes are like playboys. Totally naughty and always trying to pickup as many people as they can. They are constantly not showing up and leaving you stranded for some reason they never explain. They might as well have signs that say, “This train runs when it feels like. Best of luck mate”. It’s a lot like dating. I’ve decided we need to try a trial separation and have decided to try the bus.

Its hot on the bus today. It’s been hot all week. 25 degrees and very muggy. I have figured out that the 8:15 bus is perfect. Its right at the bottom of my street right next to the Tesco Express (which feels like a cross between Ralphs and 7-11) and Carphone Wherehouse.  It usually comes pretty quickly which I appreciate more and more after my recent tube experiences. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the stop where there are always multiple people standing around not wanting to make eye contact because they have not yet been formally introduced and therefore are unsure how to interact. They also seem to be completely skeptical that I might be a tourist. Nobody smiles on their commute. I smile at everyone. I always feel victorious when someone gives me a nod or smile back.

I always go upstairs and still haven’t gotten over how cool it is to look at the city from above as I go down the little streets. I love looking in windows that are at the 2 story height like Superman peering in on Lois Lane. The front two seats are highly coveted as they provide a 180 view as well as the feeling that you are playing a video game which is why I think the men will always take a free seat even if next to someone else. There’s an understanding if you sit next to someone up there and you can see it because when someone sits down they almost always nod where as elsewhere if someone sits next to someone they pretend the other doesn’t exist.

We go up Fulham Road where all the children are being walked to school and animatedly talking to their parents probably about the possibility of England winning the world cup or why can’t they have a pony in the city. The girls in their cute blue or red gingham dresses and the boys in their little shorts and blazers. I never get tired of this. I saw one little girl in her little dress with a union jack bag walking down the street and I wanted to force the bus to stop and take a picture but of course that wasn’t possible.

Then it’s on up the road where we stop at the fabulous Italian bakery Carluccio’s which is full of breakfast meetings and men pretending to have breakfast meetings which I’m sure is to escape their house of screaming children. It always makes me hungry. The window is full of yummy pastries and pies. Then we swing up past Edith Grove and the Brompton Cemetary which just fills my mind with stories of vampires and werewolves that come out at night. Then onwards past Kensington where there are corner after corner of lost tourists standing, maps out, pointing this way and that. We go around the circle, and up past the Museum of Natural History where there is a butterfly exhibit that I desperately want to check out.

The next part is my favorite, Hyde Park. Often if I catch the early bus I see the horseback riders riding down the trails while bikers and runners zip past. It always makes my heart skip. How much fun that must be! There was one rider on Thursday who was on this beautiful black horse and he was doing dressage and the horse was picking up his feet skillfully and magnificently like an army march. I watched, head craned as we passed, until he became a tiny dot. Then it’s on to Harrods and through Knightsbridge where I dream of stopping and having a leisurely day of wandering around food halls and having a high tea with friends. I remember coming there as a child and how much fun it was. I’d never seen a department store like that. Then past Fortnum and Masons which has the most wonderful food halls with all their amazing pastries, meat pies, vegetables, etc. I remind myself that I must get tea for my parents. Then past the Hard Rock Cafe where I was so excited to go when I was 12 and through Picadilly which is always madness. People are rushing around and racing to meetings. Nothing stops in Picadilly. It’s like one big over wound clock. Then up through the theater district where I check out the plays and what is going on in the theater. The guy outside McDonald’s is washing the walls down and for some reason I find this strange but when thinking about it makes sense. I guess everything must get really dirty and I’m reminded what a busy city it is.

Then up Tottenham Court Road and that’s where I hop off. I like to take my time and stroll through the back alleys of Soho by the Charlotte Street Hotel where everything looks sweet and has so much character. There are cute little pastry shots, and one Cafe in particular that is supposed to the be the best in Soho and it certainly looks like it as it is swarming with breakfast meetings and is a whirl of people making deals. I remind myself I must come earlier and try it. Then I walk down my street and too my office where I am now usually the first to arrive, except for the New Zealander, who is already diligently working away at something I have not yet figured out. The Aussie arrives shortly there after. He walks 45 minutes to work. He tells me he used to have a job in Sydney that was a 2 hour walk to work. This is hard for me to wrap my head around. They don’t have the saying walkabout in Australia for nothing. I’m wouldn’t be surprised if he walked to the UK from Australia.

By 4 pm it’s so hot and sauna like you start wondering when it will be time for your massage and have to remind yourself not to strip down and look for the towel and cucumber water, because, of course, you’re not in a spa you’re at work. I have been trying to get used to working in an office without air conditioning but I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I’ve a had few unfortunate outfits. Tuesday I wore boots. I thought I was going to burst into flames. Thursday I wore sneakers and jeans, again, not a good choice. Friday I wore a skirt and sandals and I felt like one of the three bears in Goldilocks and I finally got it right. The guys had all pulled out their vacation wear and were walking around in flip flops and shorts. Even my boss was wearing short sleeves.

The Aussie is training me. His humor and laid back attitude fit with me perfectly. Especially this week when we found out the quote for some things we were purchasing weren’t actually available. We’re still baffled at how you give someone a quote for a pick up of items they don’t have. The company selling the items was still perfectly happy to go on with the order even though they couldn’t say when we could get the items which made it even more peculiar. We finally explained that it wasn’t just an exercise in payment that we were after but the items themselves that were of most interest. And so my adventure begins. My word of the week is “blagger”. The Aussie taught me that this is was what we call the guy trying to sell us goods he didn’t have. Blagger is a “liar or robber”.

My favorite part of the week was when my new boss asked, “Shall we discuss you future over a pot of tea?” Not a cup but a pot. I said, “of course” with a huge smile. Someone actually brought in a tea tray. I think I’m going to like it here.