Archive | September, 2010

Afternoon stroll: A really long photo post

28 Sep

Today was my first time being out of the tiny apartment by myself. I was torn between trying to blend in with the locals or being a tourist and snapping pictures of everything. I thought I came up with a good compromise–I dressed like a local (skinny jeans, scarf and open cardigan), but whipped my camera out when I saw fit. I spent a good amount of time on Google Maps planning my walking route. I decided to go down Kensington Church Street, turn onto Kensington Road, then cut through Hyde Park to get back to Notting Hill Gate. I don’t normally walk just for the sake of walking. I used to love to walk around Chicago, but only when I had a destination in mind, and that destination almost always involved shopping or food. But since I have a very small amount of £, I decided I’d just walk without spending any money.

The minute I set out something occurred to me–which side of the sidewalk are you supposed to walk on? In America, we walk on the right side. I always figured this was because we drove on the right side. But since they drive on the left side here, are you supposed to walk on the left side of the sidewalk? As far as I can tell, there isn’t really a rule. People just walk wherever and walk around people like me who insist on staying on the right.
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Hello, London. Hello, jet lag.

26 Sep

We made it! The flight went by extraordinarily fast, thanks to my reclining business class seat and array of movies and shows to watch. It was absolutely gorgeous in London when we arrived–an actual blue sky and sun! But before going out to enjoy it, we decided to nap…for six hours. I didn’t think jet lag would affect me so much. I figured it would mess up my night sleep schedule for sure, and it did, but not quite how I expected–I went to bed at 11pm and woke up at 2pm. That is 13 hours of sleep. Luckily I’ve got months and years to enjoy London, presuming I can eventually wake up.

Being here is still a bit surreal. I haven’t had a chance to really experience London yet, but I’ve had a few “Wow, this is England” moments already, like when the taxi driver exclaimed “Bloody hell!” when lifting one of our six suitcases. I’ve been watching a good amount of UK television, which, as my dad warned me, “sucks.” The commercials really crack me up though. I’m also learning a bit of British English. For instance, they pronounce “vitamin” with a short “i” and “zebra” with a short “e.” I know this because I’ve been watching a show called Zoo Borns all morning. Turns out not all British TV sucks.

The other thing I noticed is that the British love the word “mind.” This is clear from “Mind the gap” made famous in the Tube. But there’s also “Mind the step” written above our bathroom. In the airport yesterday a guy was trying to get a line of luggage carts through the door. This other guy was standing near the door completely oblivious to the near hundred carts coming at him. “Mind the door!” the guy with the carts shouted. When he didn’t get response he tried other variations–“Mind yourself!” “Mind the trolleys!” I was standing there laughing, both at the use of “mind” instead of “Excuse me” or “Watch out” and the oblivious guy who still wasn’t moving.

I’ll leave you with next week’s weather forecast, which makes me glad I brought my new hooded trench in my carry-on and sad that I slept through what was likely the one sunny day of the month.

A post about pedal steel guitars

18 Sep

I’m supposed to be sorting my belongings into suitcase, air freight and cargo ship piles, but for some reason I’m thinking about pedal steel guitars. I have a soft spot for the pedal steel guitar. I never really fancied myself a fan of country, folk or blues music, but the twang of the pedal steel really gets to me (in a good way).

But there’s one thing I’ve been wondering–how exactly does one decide to play the pedal steel guitar? Growing up I learned to play the piano, flute and saxophone, which I consider to be pretty standard school band instruments. I wonder what my parents would have thought if one day I decided I wanted to pick up pedal steel. Was there anyone in northern Kentucky that could have given me pedal steel lessons? I wonder if most pedal steel guitar players learned to play regular guitar, joined a band, and then someone in the band said, “You know what would sound perfect after this riff? Some pedal steel. Kenny, you should pick one up and learn how to play it.” Or perhaps Kenny, like me, was fond of the pedal steel and learned to play and then shopped around for a band looking to kick up their tunes a notch. I can’t imagine there’s a huge demand for pedal steel guitarists, but there probably aren’t that many either.

<Shameless plug> If you’ve never heard a pedal steel guitar, check out this video I shot at the Over the Rhine concert last weekend. Kenny (on the right) is playing the pedal steel.

“Goodnight Chicago, you are mine, tonight”

18 Sep

(I meant to post this earlier on Friday, not midnight so it’s technically Saturday. We leave September 24.)

"Goodnight Chicago, you have skies as red as any summer."

Today begins my last week in Chicago. They say life is full of firsts, but it’s also full of lasts. I’ve had plenty of lasts in my life so far–my last day at high school, at Northwestern, at every job and apartment. Each time I vividly remember standing there thinking, “I will never be here, in this context, ever again.” It’s an odd sensation. I always felt like I should do something to make it memorable.

I walked back to my apartment from dinner last night despite the wind chill telling me to take a cab. I wanted to spend some alone time with the city I once loved so much. I was trying to think of things I should do during my last week–food I should eat, people and places I should see. But the thing is, if I haven’t tasted it or seen it in six years, it’s probably not that important to me and I don’t really want or need to. I will remember Chicago for the six years I spent here, not for my last week. (I was going to use a drink metaphor here, about how it’s good to the last drop but it’s not the last drop you remember (which is often watered down), it’s the whole drink, but I thought it might be a stretch. Yet I still mentioned it…)

So here’s to my last week–may it be filled with walks around the city, packing, and, in the words of Mr. Haegele, one of my old high school teachers, “Not goodbyes, see-you-laters.”

(The title of this post comes from Lucy Wainwright Roche’s beautiful song, “Chicago.” I listened to it as the skyline came into view on my Megabus trip last weekend and was planning on listening to it as I left Chicago for real, except it always makes me tear up and I like to try to avoid that in public places.)

Amazon.co.uk FAIL

14 Sep

I was looking around Amazon’s UK site for a new curling iron (or curling tongs, as they call them ‘cross the pond). I got excited when I came across the same one my mom and my hairstylist use, but realized the listing was most definitely not for a curling iron (pay special attention to the technical details):

Here‘s the link.

My buddy

13 Sep

If you remember from a previous post, I’m not a big fan of spiders. Yet somehow I now have a spider buddy who goes with me everywhere–literally. That is because he has made my car’s passenger side mirror his home.

My buddy's work in Chicago

I first noticed my buddy after my car sat for two weeks while I was in China at the end of July. Stephen and I made jokes about how I need to drive more before my car is covered in spiderwebs. I didn’t think much of the web on my mirror and my driving destroyed it. I came out several days later to drive again and noticed a new web. Once again I drove and the web was destroyed. But my buddy is persistent. Every night he comes out and builds a new web. I have yet to see him catch anything in it, so I’m not quite sure how he is mustering the energy to spin so often, but he does. While I am driving he hides inside my mirror. The little bugger is smart, except for the whole web-placement-on-a-moving-vehicle decision. If only the web could withstand driving, he would have a feast, especially if the web caught half the bugs that my windshield did on my drive to Cincinnati Thursday. That’s right, on Thursday I made the 300 mile drive from Chicago to Cincinnati for possibly the last time ever. I was certain my buddy had found a new home or perished from lack of food. But I came out on Friday morning to find a large intricate web on my window–my spider buddy made it to Cincinnati with me! I almost felt bad destroying his web once again. I was outside tonight and actually caught him in the act. So far he caught a dandelion seed in his web. Hopefully he gets some insects soon.

My buddy's work in Cincinnati

I’m heading back to Chicago tomorrow on a one-way Megabus. It’ll be hard to leave behind not just my family and car, but also my spider buddy. Hopefully my mom won’t mind giving me spider updates.

The best advertisement ever

7 Sep

Stephen gets TradeWinds shipping newspaper at work. He showed me this ad on the front page, which is quite possibly the best advertisement I have ever seen. It is made even greater by the fact that they chose to capitalize “panda” but not the second half of their company name. I guess I’m just in copy editor mode these days.