For the first time in my life, I didn’t go “home” for Christmas. Since my parents came for Thanksgiving, I decided I would stay in London with Stephen for Christmas and New Years for once. I had visions of a laid-back London Christmas. With the Tube and buses not running, I imagined a blissful tourist-free city. We’d go for a run through the empty park in the morning, then pop into an empty Chinatown restaurant for lunch, then catch a movie in an empty theatre. I was already planning the artsy tourist-free London photos I’d capture.
It turns out I was dreaming. It turns out there is no such thing as a tourist-free London. In fact, there may have been more tourists in the city than on your average Sunday. Though it was eerie to not see any double decker buses on the roads, there were plenty of cars and pedestrians. We weaved our way through the crowds in Hyde Park and pushed our way through Trafalgar Square. At the movie theatre in Leicester Square the automated machines were broken, so we had to wait in a long queue to buy tickets. Then my dreams of a quick Chinatown lunch were crushed when we saw the massive queues at every restaurant that was open. Who were all these people out on Christmas Day?! Though I guess they could ask the same about us. So Christmas lunch ended up being movie theatre nachos and popcorn, though we did go out for a proper fancy Christmas Eve lunch yesterday, complete with my first Christmas [figgy] pudding. And in an effort to keep some of the Christmas family tradition alive, I made Swedish meatballs for dinner tonight (and by “made” I mean reheated the frozen ones I bought from Iceland, but they were imported from Sweden and I made the sauce from scratch so that counts for something, right?).
So that was our Christmas this year. It felt a bit like that John Grisham book — like I skipped Christmas. I was a bit emotional earlier this week when it finally hit me that I was “missing” Christmas this year — not just the day itself, but all the traditional events that lead up to it — the Over the Rhine concert, cookie baking, shopping. But I realized I needed to stay back this year. Mostly to take care of housekeeping stuff (I found a good handyman and he’s been round 3 times this past week — the joys of owning an older home!), but also because it made me realize how much I treasure some of the Christmastime traditions. When you do the same thing every year, it can become predictable and expected. It’s only when you take a step back and a year off that you realize what you miss and enjoy. It’s not easy living far away from my family and friends, but it’s the time apart that makes the time together that much more sweet.
Even Santa can’t stand the crowds of tourists, apparently
I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. For weeks now my iPhone 6s has been randomly shutting off and rebooting itself. Apple admitted this was a known issue and replaced the battery, but the problem persisted. My phone was basically like the bus from Speed, except I had to constantly play music or Pokemon Go to prevent it from shutting off (which I admit is less dangerous than exploding). I was buying time until ios 10.2 came out, which I hoped might fix the issue. It didn’t — it bricked my phone. I was stuck with the dreaded restore screen, and I couldn’t restore or update because my phone would shut off in the middle of it.
Stephen came home right in the middle of it all and couldn’t understand why a phone could make me so upset. Of course it wasn’t just about my phone — it’s never about one thing. I was also stressed out about our new flat, which we’re still struggling to make feel like home. I had spent hours researching handymen to come replace our taps and fix our bathroom extractor fans and finally booked an appointment for Thursday, only to realize it would be cheaper if we bought the new extractor fans ourselves and just asked the guy to install them. It took me so long to get the appointment that I didn’t want to cancel it, but it meant I would have to spend the day extractor fan shopping after I spent the morning begging Apple to give me a walk-in appointment and fix my phone. Plus, I had my normal workload to get done too. Small problems in the grand scheme of things, but still problems.
I finally managed to pull myself together and switched into problem-solving mode. I started researching fans and stores that sell them. Of course none of them are in central London. Amazon had the best fans for the best price, but they wouldn’t arrive by our Thursday appointment if we ordered them Tuesday night. …unless we had Prime. So I signed up for a free trial of Prime and now the fans are scheduled to arrive on Thursday, with any luck at the exact moment the handyman arrives. Problem solved (hopefully).
Last night I constantly checked for Genius Bar appointments at the two Apple Stores near me, but their first available time was always next week. But then I checked this morning at 8am and there it was — 11am appointment today. So I schlepped my laptop and phone to the Apple Store, rehearsing my explanation the whole walk there. The Genius listened to my woes, typed a bunch of stuff onto his iPad, and presented me with a new phone, free of charge (even though I’m out of warranty!). It wasn’t that easy, though. He suggested I backup to iCloud instead of to my laptop just in case some software issue was causing my random shutdowns. So I sat at the Genius Bar while my new phone restored from backup then attempted to backup to iCloud … for nearly 3 hours. I was there so long my original Genius went on break. Luckily I brought my laptop and they have free WiFi, so I got a decent amount of work done. I’ve been using the new phone for several hours now and it hasn’t once shut down, so fingers crossed this means problem solved and my breakdown over my phone breakdown was unnecessary.
One final happier note:
I finally caught them all! (And yes, I am still going to keep playing, because they’ve since added baby Pokemon and Pikachus wearing santa hats. And also I have a Pokeproblem.)