You know nothing, Dr. Faustus

26 May

I can’t believe The Great Walk of London was already a week ago. I was not as sore as I thought I would be on Friday, though I did spend most of the day sedentary catching up on work. I’m lucky that my freelance assignments are due weekly, not daily, so I didn’t have to email my bosses and ask for a day off to walk. I did manage to get 10,000 steps in, because that’s another goal I have this year — walk at least 10,000 steps every single day. I haven’t missed a day yet in 2016, though I did come close the day I flew back to London. I faintly remember waking up and walking around my living room at 11:30pm. Not my proudest of moments.

dr faustus jon snow london.png

But speaking of steps, I got 23,000 today because I walked to Duke of York’s Theatre and back to see Jon Snow — er, Dr. Faustus. I went in with low expectations — the only reason I was even there was because the bad reviews meant I could score a £99 ticket for £29.50. I was front row centre about five rows back. A perfect seat for gazing upon Kit Harington — because let’s be honest, that’s why I (and probably 95% of the audience) was there. I didn’t know anything about Dr. Faustus so I quickly googled the plot line the night before. It was first performed in 1592 so of course it’s in Elizabethan English, though this particular adaptation included some modern scenes (featuring President Obama and referencing a President Trump!). The basic plot is that Dr. Faustus is bored with life so he sells his soul to the devil in return for the ability to perform absolutely anything he pleases with the power of black magic. The only catch is that it’s only for 24 years, after that he’ll be damned to hell. To quote the Jamie Lloyd Company, which put it on, “The story of this 400-year-old play is transported to a celebrity-obsessed society of greed and instant gratification, offering a fresh, new perspective that chimes with our times.”

Kit Harington was brilliant. It took a few minutes for me to see him as Dr. Faustus and not Jon Snow, but he was a believable tortured soul (even if at times his voice sounded eerily similar to Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) . The only problem with having such a big name star in a show is that everyone tries to sneak a photo of him. 5 minutes before showtime he came out on stage and just sat on the bed drooling and staring at the TV. The few times I’ve seen big stars in shows there’s usually a bit of a reaction from the audience the first moment they step on stage. But no one was prepared for it this time because the show hadn’t started. And because it hadn’t technically started, it was a grey area for taking photographs — was it or was it not allowed? I decided to respect the sanctity of live theatre and not snap a photo, but the girl next to me and seemingly everyone around me had their phones out trying to get a shot.

Then suddenly the house lights went down and the show officially began. And right off the bat there was full frontal nudity. Now I’m no prude when it comes to nudity in the theatre, but I couldn’t figure out why these particular chorus members needed to be completely naked. After a few scenes they returned with clothing on. Kit Harington was wearing sweats, though he did spend most of the second half of the show stripped down to blood-soaked skivvies. The few times my mind did start to wander during the show I wondered how uncomfortable that must be and how they wash the blood, dirt and satan diarrhea (yes, that was a thing) off the stage and all the costumes after the show. Does the brain splatter on the wall just easily wipe off before tonight’s evening performance?

As you may have guessed, it was a gruesome show. So much blood!
bloody kit harington
Photo credit

But it had its humorous moments too. It turns out Dr. Faustus’ first name is John. When this was revealed a soft chuckle erupted from the audience since we all know Kit as Jon Snow. During the interval the demon Mephistopheles came out and karaoked and riffed on the audience. All the songs she sang were about hell, obviously, and the biggest smile came over my face when I heard the opening bars to Bat Out of Hell. (I was the biggest Meat Loaf fan in high school.) She absolutely killed it (though at the end when he takes it up an octave she said “F— it, that’s too high!”).

Now the ultimate test of whether it was a good show: Would I have enjoyed it were it a no-name in the title role? I think the answer is yes. Though the material was heavy, I mostly understood what was going on, and the lighting, sound and special effects were amazing. But without Jon Snow, the show would be worth a £10 or £15 ticket, not my maximum £29.50. (Yes, I’ve seen 39 shows in London now and have never paid more than £30 for a ticket).

The Great Walk of London 2016

19 May

Stephen Facetimed me this evening as I was walking in Hyde Park.

“Are you running?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “I’m walking. I’ve been walking for six hours now.”

And because he knows me, his first question was not “Why?!” but, “Where have you been going to the bathroom?”

The Great Walk of London 2016 happened, my friends. And it was glorious.

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Eurovision and more in no particular order…

17 May

-I don’t think “wasted” is the right word, so I’ll just say I “spent” 4 hours of my life immersed in Eurovision viewing on Saturday. First I told myself I was just going to watch my favorites, then I was just going to watch all the acts and skip the voting, then I found myself halfway through the jury results and decided I’d turn it off after that since it seemed Australia was a sure thing. I did manage to turn it off and go to bed, only to find myself reading a live blog of the results on The Guardian, so I ran back into the living room and caught the end. Oh, the suspense! Australia won the jury vote, Russia won the popular vote, and yet somehow Ukraine won Eurovision 2016. Russia definitely had the best performance, brilliantly incorporating video and movement, but as someone wrote on the official Eurovision Facebook page, “It’s the Eurovision SONG Contest, not Video Contest.” Touche. I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to be judging them on — song catchiness, vocal talent, cool use of lights and pyrotechnics? All of the above? Based mostly on how good their songs are to run to, my favorites were Austria, Cyprus, Spain, Lithuania and Poland. Although I couldn’t stop thinking about how stupid Donny Montell from Lithuania’s hair looked and it kind of ruined it for me a bit.

lithuania eurovision hair.png

eurovision stupid hair.png

A random Youtube commenter said it best: “Well, apart from looking a Lithuanic Bieber I must admit that the song is good as hell.” To which another random dude replied, “A few years ago he looked like a proper lad on the stage. Been dressing like a teen ever since.” Now I’m gonna imagine that stupid haircut every time I jam to his song.

UK and France also had really good songs, considering they usually have rubbish entries. But enough about Eurovision, my American readers probably have no idea what I’m on about. They’re probably also upset I used the British expression “on about.”

-I ran 8.65 miles today! A new record by .05. Part of me wanted to go further, but my Band-aid on my ankle was starting to fall off and I didn’t want another incident like last week. It seems to be healing though, so hopefully that was just a freak thing and I just won’t wear those thin socks again.

-If the stars align, and it seems like they might, I’m thinking about attempting The Great Walk of London soon. I just checked and apparently I posted about it over a year ago. And yet it never happened last year because the stars never aligned (the stars mainly being my work schedule and the weather). London forecasts are never accurate though, so I might have to wait until the day of before I commit to it.

-I am going to see Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in Dr. Faustus next week! The reviews say it’s rubbish, but I still couldn’t resist. And because the reviews say it’s rubbish, I scored £99 primo tickets for £29.50!

Bloody no longer trusty running shoes

13 May

So my running shoes are stained with blood now. Before you panic, no, I did not get seriously injured nor step on some innocent creature. I’ve been wearing the same running shoes since January and have never had any problems with blisters or weird rubbing. But since yesterday was warm, I decided to wear thin socks. I’ve worn these socks before, but they’re not my go-to. About 2 miles into my run I felt something on my ankle. I stopped, thinking a rock or leaf had gotten into my shoe, but instead noticed the skin was peeling off and getting irritated from rubbing against the shoe. This is a problem I’m all too familiar with with flats and heels, and well, pretty much any shoe that is not my running shoe. But my trusty trainers have never let me down like this. I tried to push on, but the pain was starting to get to me. I ripped my sweat tissue in half (yes, I always carry a tissue in each pocket — one for sweat, one for snot. Gross, I know) and attempted to use it as a cushion between my ankle and my shoe, but it didn’t do much. I then tried to vary my gait by running on the tips of my toes. This relieved the pain, but seemed like a sprained ankle waiting to happen. That, and I looked feckin ridiculous. Like this pug:


I gave up and clicked “workout finished” on Mapmyrun then pseudo-limped the mile home. It seems I now need to add Band-aids to my emergency running kit (which so far just consists of a 20p coin in case I need to use the loo in the park. But considering how anti-paying-to-pee I am, it would have to be a super big emergency.)

I got home and drenched my bloody sock in Oxyclean, but didn’t bother to clean the back of my shoe. It feels like some strange badge of honor. But now I’m in a conundrum. Running shoes are supposed to be replaced every 500 miles, and so far I’ve put 334.99 on these ones (yes, that is the exact figure from Mapmyrun). I wasn’t planning on buying new shoes until I’m back in the US in July. So here’s hoping I can make these bloody shoes survive for the next 2 months with the right socks and Band-aids.

Conversations I have with myself regarding running

10 May

Saturday

“Alright, time to run!”

“But it’s hot.”

“Of course it’s hot, it’s July!”

“Um, it’s not July, it’s early May. You’ve been thinking about your upcoming trip to the US too much.”

“Wow, yeah it is unseasonably hot for May. But is there anything you can do about it?”

“I can complain!”

“Does that make it less hot?”

“…no.”

“So let’s run!”

….10 minutes into run….

“Dear god it’s hot, can I stop?”

“Will continuing to run cause injury?”

“…no.”

“Are you literally going to die or pass out, or just white-girl-just-found-out-about-Starbucks’-new-S’mores-Frappuccino gonna die?”

“…white girl.”

“Push on. The faster you run, the faster you get home and can shower and eat Japanese food. You love Japanese food!”

“Yeah I haven’t had it in forever!”

“…you just had sushi in the park 2 days ago.”

“Yeah but it wasn’t a bento box. I haven’t had a bento box in forever.”

“You had one last weekend.”

“It’s so hot, can I stop?”

“Are you injured?”

The conversation repeated, but I actually managed a decent run. I accepted that it was going to be hot and I was going to be a sweaty mess and I pushed through. Sunday, however…

Sunday

….3 minutes into run….

“Sweet baby George why is it so freaking hot out?”

“Because it’s July or May or whatever, remember? British summer will be over soon, as will this run if you keep pushing.”

“I’m so hot, I hate this weather! Why does anyone like this? This is so miserable! Can I stop??”

“Will continuing to run cause injury?”

“WHY IS IT SO HOT IN MAY?!”

“That doesn’t answer the question.”

its so damn hot.gif

“I give up, you can walk. Just know that when you stop to walk for whatever reason it makes you sweat more, so good luck with burning sunscreen sweat in your eyes.”

milk was a bad choice.gif

“You’re hopeless. What are you gonna do if it’s above 60 degrees in September when you attempt to run the half?”

awkward will ferrell.gif

will ferrell angry eyes

Tuesday (Today)

“Alright, it’s Tuesday, long run day! You took yesterday off to grocery shop and properly carbo-loaded with fried rice for dinner and peanut butter banana oatmeal for breakfast, let’s do this!”

“Um, it’s raining.”

run might rain.png

“But it’s finally not butt-hot, isn’t this what you wanted? Maybe we don’t need to do a long ‘long run’ — we can just do 5 miles.”

“OK… how about 4 miles though?”

“That’s fine, just get out there!”

“But it’s raining. I don’t want to bring my phone, it’ll get wet.”

“So leave it, have a nice ‘unplugged’ run!”

“But what if I slip in a puddle and need to call for help or an Uber?”

“Just be careful and don’t go that far. How about just 3 miles?”

“How about I just stay in and do an Insanity Max 30 workout. I’ll really push myself, I promise!”

…..12 minutes into 30-minute workout….

“Can I stop?”

panda facepalm.gif

Sweating, running and queueing

6 May

It’s starting, friends. That season when everyone can’t stop talking about how nice the weather is and I can’t stop complaining about being a sweaty mess. Every year it seems my intolerance to heat gets worse and worse. It’s 72 today (22C) and all I did was vacuum my flat and I feel like I’m gonna die. On Wednesday it was 63 (17C) and sunny, which should have been perfect, but I went for a run and could barely survive 4 miles, that horrid combination of sweat and sunscreen dripping into my eyes. Though I’m not sure I can blame the weather entirely for my exhaustion that day. Since Tuesday, the day before, was seemingly the last of the “nice” (by my definition — 50s and slightly overcast) days, I decided to go for a long run. And go for it I did — 8.68 miles, a new personal best distance. I went past Big Ben and then along the Thames. It was glorious and I was feeling surprisingly good. I wasn’t even sore the next day… or so I thought. Note to self: take a rest day after a long run.

In other news…
how is it may already
Even crazier, I can’t believe it’s May and I just waited in my first day seat queue of 2016 yesterday. It’s not because I haven’t been seeing shows this year — today was my 6th — I’ve just been using the TodayTix app or the Internet. But tickets to People, Places and Things were quite pricey on TodayTix and it’s gotten to a point where I can’t properly enjoy a play unless I’m in the front row (and have paid 70% less than the people sitting one row behind me). Plus, I was long overdue for a good day seat queue, so I set my alarm for earlier than I like and packed my laptop and oatmeal in my backpack. It was a pretty uneventful queue — everyone was glued to their phones or books — but I got my front row center seat.

people places and things london

Though I hate the early start, I forgot how enjoyable a day seat day is. I got an unbelievable amount of work done in the cafe then ate some sushi in the park before the show. And the show… if you happen to find yourself in London, go see People, Places and Things. It was the best show I’ve seen in 2016 and definitely ranks amongst the best shows I’ve seen ever. It was such a powerful glimpse into the life of an addict, with just the right amount of humor. Denise Gough wholly deserved her Best Actress Olivier and the use of light and sound was spectacular. I couldn’t stop thinking about the play as I walked home. It’s going to be hard for any show to top that one this year.

Long runs and seriously, what’s up with this weather, London?

29 Apr

I have decided that 57F/14C and sunny is the perfect weather. A few weeks ago we were driving along the Thames, sun beating down but still a nice breeze in the air, and I made this revelation. I also made another decision — I was going to run to Big Ben the next week. This was an easy decision to make from the comfort of the car, but took a little more convincing once my long run day arrived. But I did it — I ran 8 miles, my longest distance to date. I was not accounting for the massive amount of tourists that would be blocking most of the pavement when I calculated the route. It turns out running by Big Ben seems a lot more glamorous than it is. There’s a reason most runners stick to the royal parks when running in central London.

And speaking of running in royal parks, remember how gutted I was that I did not receive a place in the Royal Parks Half? Well, this happened the other day:

richmond half email

I’m officially registered for the Richmond Half on September 18. It’s a bit outside central London, but we’ll get to run through Kew Gardens, which sounds awesome. (And yes, the Richmond Half is in London, not Virginia, USA, which makes it hard to google!) The website tells me the race is still 141 days away, which seems like ages, but I’m sure it’ll sneak up on me. Once it gets closer I’m going to attempt to adhere to a training program to ensure I’m ready to tackle the 13.1-mile beast.

And since I opened with talking about the weather, I’ll close with it.

This morning I looked out my window and saw a brilliant blue sky. I was debating about whether I wanted to run, but the British Sun Guilt kicked in and I decided to go for it. I busted out the extreme 70 spf sweatproof sunscreen (can never be too safe!), donned my sunglasses and set out. It was 52F/11C, which is almost ideal running weather.

…30 minutes later I was covered in snow. SNOW. In April. When it’s 52 degrees. Someone please explain to me how that is scientifically possible?! I was a mile away from home, soaking wet and shivering. I could barely feel my fingers as they struggled to grip my plastic bag-covered iPhone (I always keep a little baggie in my pocket for these exact scenarios). There’s an old saying in the running community that you never regret a run — even when you have a really crummy one and you’re just not feeling it, you’re still glad you got out there. As I was struggling to wipe the rain drops and melted snowflakes off my sunglasses with my frozen fingers, I wondered if that was 100% true.

angry snow

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