Sanctuary City: Part One

Sanctuary City: Part One

I called this post Sanctuary City for two reasons. One, San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989. We have felt the need for that status more than ever in the political turmoil and unrest that is settling itself around the country right now. The title is a nod to that, for sure, but I also wanted to remind myself that a sanctuary is by definition a safe space, a refuge. San Francisco isn’t just a sanctuary city for the nation, SF is also my actual home, where I come back to after I travel, where I feel safe, where I recharge my battery before I can go back out into the larger world again.

For Part One, I wanted to explore a little of this sanctuary city that I call home, a little corner of my world. For Part Two, I will showcase a little of my actual home and how I bring the world into it. Both posts will be based on my desire to get better at photography this year, so this is less about writing and more about visual storytelling.

I asked everyone for photography lesson books for Christmas and am saving up to get a new lens for my Canon Rebel. With the sun actually out for once, I decided to take a walk down Divisadero St. in San Francisco this week and take pictures of things that I gravitated towards. Here is a little taste of one little street in the great place that I call home.

 

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I wanted to practice using the Macro feature on my camera to explore odd details you wouldn’t necessarily notice. I live in what is considered Lower Pac Heights which is directly above Western Addition. I loved the cracked paint on these old murals and the way the two interplayed with the late morning light.

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My walk took me to the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Divisadero and Grove where I purchased some tasty citrus fruit.

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On the corner is 4505 Burgers and BBQ which is a great place to stop for some brisket and sit out on the picnic tables with a beer in your hand when Karl the Fog takes a break for the day and lets the sun shine.

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I was more interested in the kegs against the red wall then the people eating on the other side.

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Even the dogs are enjoying the nice day
On our way back up the street, we stopped in to two boutiques I’ve always wanted to peruse but stopped myself solely because of my desire to buy things and not being able to afford it. First stop Tanner Goods to find the man a nice leather backpack. The shop was well-manicured and had everything for the SF modern man from bar supplies to hygiene kits. Everything was immaculate and perfect and the price was, not shockingly, well above either of our pay grades so we left empty handed.

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Funky table in the store that draws using a system with weights
I wanted to look at some girly things too so we hopped across the street to The Perish Trust where I could imagine what having a millinery in my kitchen might feel like…and also wish I had a house to interior decorate.

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The Mad Hatter’s closet
It may have all been hipster-inspired madness but I loved the mixture of textured ribbons, wide brimmed hats and checkered floors. I’m still learning the features of my camera and had wanted to focus on the hat in the center, but because of its depth in the back of the room, my camera brought everything in the foreground into clear focus. While not my intention I do love that you can really see all the texture and colors at the front while almost feel like the back of the room is sucking you through a rabbit hole.

As any good San Franciscan will do on a free Sunday, we skipped the line out the door at the Mill (though I love their cinnamon toast) and headed over to Mojo for some equally good Ritual coffee without the wait (Fun Fact: Four Barrel was started by the guy who started Ritual, so same same.) and took that coffee on the road to stop in open houses that we will never be able to afford. Yay SF and being one of the most expensive cities in the world right now. Makes a teacher feel good. After looking at the small three bedroom apartment, we rode the squeaky elevator to the roof and checked out the views of the Victorians across the street.

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I liked the juxtaposition of the two chimneys with the beautiful houses behind them. The chimney stacks look like prison towers. 
Remember this is only a hop, skip and a jump from Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies but who says you can’t see equally pretty house fronts from your roof deck.

If you want to get better at photography too, here are the two books I’m working through:

Sidenote: I’m not being paid by DK or Canon, I just really like these products. *I wouldn’t mind being paid by someone to promote their product if I like it so hit me up (wink wink nudge nudge).

Dante’s Eyes

Dante’s Eyes

Another blast from the past. Italy 2004 continued…[Warning: some R content]

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Kim and I lunching in Capri

June 5, 2004 

Frescoes are a poor man’s Bible in a time when a Bible cost as much as a house.

Dante’s eyes in his statue look alive but trapped in stone, possessed or dying. Dante was excommunicated and tried writing very well to be reinstated to Florence. Milan Kundera’s theory is that being excommunicated from your home makes you a better writer.

I need to get kicked out.

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By Bruno Barral CC Wikimedia

 

June 6, 2004

The poppies on the hillside look like light blood stains on green pants, scraped knees and grass stains. Boys playing in fields snatching at footballs and shoulders, tumbling to the ground and bruising. Wrapping their knobby bones and flesh together for mere seconds then pushing apart and running with a continued fervor.

One of the girls on the trip is eating an orange like an apple and biting into the skin and swallowing it.

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Hotel view in Sorrento

We went on the Blue Grotto boat ride around the Isle of Capri. Drove into a cave –sounds of water clapping against polished white walls. Echoes of voices like shards of glass cutting the water and hollowness. The water rises and sinks sending diamond bracelets dangling from stalactite hands. Dipping my palm into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and when it dries in the Italian sun there is a shimmer of salt coating my fingers.

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Giorgio Sommer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Statue on the rock in Capri – Scugnizzo

The young man working the snack bar on the jetfoil to Capri looks like a man in a movie, not from good looks but in the nature in which he inhabits the room. Silent, sad eyes. He lightly probes the room. He trails a pretty older lady as she walks by then resigns to making espresso, staring at the slowly filling white cup with the same sad, empty expression. In the movie version of his life, we follow him back to his room. We call him Dante. He’s lonely, horny. He jerks off in his bedroom watching commercials for self-tanner. He imagines himself with the older lady. He lightly touches her breast. The linen of her shirt. Hesitates, pulls his hand away. His sad eyes searching her face. And then he’s back. Back to us, making the cappuccino, back to being alone.

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And for the hell of it, another poem:

Apollo and Daphne

Perhaps the characters will be named

Apollo and Daphne

Chasing one down a long hall of

glowering ancient busts,

Climbing into a laurel tree and

shivering from fear

and the cold night air. A predator

at the base with a gold

Arrow in his hind. Naming

oneself after a Greek myth

is only so cliché that it can

be new again.

The lead in her side causing an itch,

a tearing of the flesh, a vomiting

at the look of those loving eyes.

Let night come! She pleads,

Let the sun go away.

Let the leaves fall around the

Crowns of your head.

In Dante’s writing, the reader visited Heaven and Hell and everything in between…if that sort of fiction interests you, check out my satirical novel about religion on my other site here. A new chapter is posted each Wednesday afternoon. And don’t forget to add your email to both sites to follow all new content.

The Papal City

The Papal City

In honor of The Young Pope on HBO, I thought I’d share some more journal reflections from 2004 and a poem – what? Poetry? Read to the end for that lyrical treat.

June 4, 2004 – Vatican City

The walls of the Vatican support the hills of Rome. A cathedral built over a dead body of a saint. And in its walls, building up from the earth, it grew into his name, San Pietro, making rotting bone into crumbling wall. An idolatry of architecture. Walking over a grave.

St. Peter, crucified and buried outside the city. A heretic, outcast. 260 years later and his cathedral is revered, so easily reversed. Being outside the city, it was easily defeated and soon enough the walls were wrapped around to protect, to hold up the hills. Its own city, The Vatican. More prized than Rome itself.

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Perugino has Christ give Peter the keys to Heaven, a symbol of the Renaissance. St. Bartholomew holds his own skin that was taken from his body in life causing his death. And in this empty skin that he holds, Michelangelo’s face appears. St. Catherine holding her own spiked wheel was covered and her head was turned towards Christ after the artist died. The bodies emerging from the green, yellow ground with gap-toothed ugly faces and skulls draped with linen, a covered hand reaching up to a fleshless chin. The bodies are huge, holding up books and crowded among pillars. God is in a human brain touching Adam’s finger.

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The Sistine Chapel smells like air conditioning, coldness and slightly like paint or the stuff that cleans paint. It also smells like bodies, lots of bodies pushing and gazing.

I get dizzy, staring up and circling all the bodies moving and twisting, separating the light from the dark, night from day.

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Air conditioning, it’s all I smell.

There’s a demon in the orange, red glow of Hell. His head shaded in grey with fur horns or thorns circling his skull. They pull and push and throw the writhing bodies down into the pits. Pleading to be freed one last time. To be redeemed and resurrected like Christ, wearing holes in their hands and feet and praising the light.

Jesus on the cross pieced together like a plastic action figure with bendable arms reaching out on the beams. Blood runs from his ribs down to his thigh and streaks down his arms to his pits.

How horrible is the guards job in the Chapel, silencing people all day long?

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And now, a poem (apologies for the spaces between each line, unintentional):

A New Blue

A bird nesting in ash

rising with glistening new feathers

from its own death,

The columns of St. Peter’s

rise into a horseshoe of human 

forms and masonry

A grave beneath a city of God

on Earth

Handed to the red Cardinals,

a bird of a different color

Rotting bone into crumbling wall

Building into a new name

San Pietro

Holy City

A heretic crying dirty words

outside the city walls

Pentecostal pinnings, a bird

voice warbling an ugly song

turned on his side and drained

of life

Blood rushing to the Christ points

and draining into a pool that

no Pietà would care to show

The apostle rotted away

outside Rome centuries

piling up on his dirty bones

Ash upon ash 

Dirt and dust

Clay in shapes and rebuilding

A man in breaths

A wall is built up

A cathedral     A holy sight

A religion

And a man becomes Saint

Michelangelo paints us God

Creates a new blue

Sistine Chapel images from Commons.Wikipedia – Public Domain

Travel in Trump Era

Travel in Trump Era

For the day after Predator-in-Chief (thank you Jane Fonda) was sworn in for office, I thought it would be pertinent to repost this old article. Enjoy and see you at the Women’s March today.

I’m going to apologize right now. Things are about to get political, real political. And if you don’t like it or you don’t want to hear it, then I advise you stop reading right now…It’s your choice. I’m sorry that it’s come to this.

Things in America have been a little rocky these past few weeks, to say the least. I have been slowly moving through all stages of grief in the decision (that in my mind) is still pending for President (Electoral College doesn’t actually vote until Dec. 19th — he won’t be my president until after that is finally tallied and counted). While I am extremely worried for my home front, I also worry about what this means on an international scale. England tried to warn us with the last dying chirps of the canary during their Brexit vote, but we didn’t hear those furtive peeps, instead we kept marching, right into the heart of the coal mine just before all the air went out. More backlash populist movements could be rising up in countries all over the world. The refugee crisis is not abating, more acts of terrorism are happening around the globe, violent protests are targeting tourists. The world doesn’t feel safe right now. So what does this mean for world travelers?

One of the travel magazines that I subscribe to had a message to travelers telling them not to worry, to not fear travel or let that fear stop you from going to that destination you’ve always wanted to see. Having been in Thailand during the bombings this past August, I would say letting that fear go is easier said than done.  But I will admit, I didn’t go home even when my family was pleading for me to do so. Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t actually ever at a bombing sight. Would I still have had that strength and resolve to finish my trip if I had been standing near one of the flower boxes that exploded in a number of tourist locations across the country? Probably not. How do you come back from being targeted just for being an outsider?

And that brings me back to my own country. How do we come back from making our own citizens feel like outsiders? How do we make them feel comfortable walking through their own neighborhoods? They don’t have a home to go back to, they’re already there. The pain and fear they’re receiving is right in their backyards. Women, people of color, Muslims. To pretend that there isn’t a backlash of hate and racism clenching it’s dirty fist around our country right now is akin to staying in our bubbles with our hands pressed over our ears and our eyes closed tight, pretending that if we can’t see the bad man than the bad man can’t see us. How do we remove ourselves from our privilege to help those who are feeling disenfranchised, wondering if they’re going to be safe in their own home or rounded up and put in internment camps like the Japanese were during World War II? And if you don’t know anything about that, then you need to ask yourself what history you’ve been learning (or more appropriately not learning) in school.

During the Bush era, it was hard being an American in a foreign country. Your plans were to say you were from Canada if push came to shove or to pretend San Francisco was a country unto itself. “Don’t worry, I’m from San Francisco, I’m not like the rest of the country, I promise.”  But what does that say about you as a person, as an ambassador representing your home, that you’re so willing to rebuke it, rebuff it, throw away all that you are and all that you could stand for as a proud American because you’re afraid of what someone, whom you’ve just met, might think of you. I proudly tell people that I’m fifth generation West Coast, fourth generation Californian. I think of being from California as a demarcation of my heritage. I’m not of native descent, but I’m more closely tied to the culture and ideals of a liberal, free-wheeling California than I am the smattering of European countries that run through my blood. I have no connection to those places in body or spirit. I don’t know any Hungarian, I can’t make a homemade Italian pasta, the closest I come to being Portuguese is the time I visited, but put me on a snowboard and send me down a mountain in Tahoe, give me some flip flops and a pair of jeans and I’ll happily stick my feet up on any open chair to lay back and relax on, California is in the heart of me. And do I want to renounce that? Pick up my Italian passport (yes, I will have one soon) and leave? Do I want to travel around the world with Trump as our leader, proudly shouting that I come from America and gosh darn it aren’t we the Greatest (Again?).

No. I don’t want any of those things. I don’t want to leave. I want to see us moving progressive social ideals forward like women’s rights and gay marriage. I want to see this country bring our education standards back up. I want to see us explore a single-payer health care system and get people to understand that taxes are important but that reforming what they go to (education rather than the military for instance) would work better for us than cutting them. If that’s what people mean by making our country great, I’m all for it. If that can happen in my lifetime, I will be proud to travel the world waving my American flag and waxing on about how great the California Bay Area is (minus the rental costs).

But I fear these things won’t happen under a Trump presidency. I fear that I will have to explain to everyone I meet that I’m not one of those Americans…I’m the one who voted for the lady. I was with her. I will have to try to explain why we thought this was a good choice for our nation. I will have to be an ambassador for all the poor decisions we’ve made leading up to this one, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, choice of a “leader,” and I will do this because I won’t renounce my country. I won’t pretend to be Canadian…but I will, probably, continue to point out at that I’m from California, as if we were our own country, because that’s who I am.

And I do worry. I worry that Americans will be targeted in foreign countries. I worry that kidnappings will increase (to pretend that these things don’t happen is another way that we lie to ourselves but I will admit that the numbers have gone down from 12 to 0 in the last 3 years). I worry that I could get into confrontations that could be violent. I worry that I will leave, that I’ll have to leave because all my worst fears of who Trump could be as a president will come true and this will lead to a mass exodus and more refugees for the world to deal with.

I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that this is all hyperbole. I hope for the best in us. I hope that the electoral vote will be the biggest surprise in American history. I hope that I will move from denial into action. I hope that my brothers and sisters in world travel will support America and Americans when we most need it. I hope for us all to become a safer and more loving world to all its citizens in the future. I hope for hope. And with that…I will sign off, hoping that this article made you think, made you curious, made you mindful or made you care about what is going on in the world as well as what is going on in your own backyards.

Notes from Delphi

Notes from Delphi

Today my 23 year old self would like to say hello to you. I am directly dictating a few of my journal entries from 2004. This step back in time highlights when I traveled into Greece from Italy for the first (and so far, only) time.

July 8 2004 – en route to Delphi

The water is beautiful. It’s that turquoise blue right up to the shore like the water at a Caribbean island edge only creeping up to the mountains of the Sierras instead.

Stefiana has a hypnotic voice. In conjunction with the lullaby like rocking of the bus, I fall asleep. I try to listen and learn and keep my eyes open but I’m not even enjoying it because the whole time I’m trying to pry my eyes open.

I hear her, “Beware of the sea orchards!” As we pull up to the seaside restaurant, I realize she means, “Beware of the sea urchins!”

There’s all these pathways and trails in the water from the movement of the ships and boats. Watching the water mark their journey like footprints in sand.

The waiter reeks of B.O. We’re at a roadside family restaurant where we choose our food from a picture menu. We just dipped our feet in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. Kim’s lotion slipped her feet out of her sandals and now her soles are the red of the earth. This place smells like some sort of pickled fish, like squid or something. It’s not salty and it’s not solely fishy or sweaty, but a little of all.

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To get to Delphi, we travel up a large winding road along the hillside. When we’re almost to the top we look down and there’s a huge valley stretching between the mountains. It’s a dark olive green floor. The valley is composed of a massive olive tree grove.

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Olives must be soaked in salt water for a week, changing the water every couple of days before eating. Too bitter off the tree.

July 9 2004 – Delphi

Delphi, oracle city of Apollo.

Orange dust of walls turns to gold from noon day sun shining on them. Stones falling sounds like laughter.

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View from our hotel room. New part of Delphi

Delphi pulled the city-states together by making them write history in the same language with same religion, becoming one nation, The Greeks. Speaking water of temple gave Castilian girl power to prophesize. When water stopped talking, Ancient Greece ended.

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Ancient Greeks had two sayings left on the door that held their prophecies: Nothing in Excess and Know Thyself. One for balance and the other knowledge. In a place dedicated to a God, they were telling people not to believe a God controls everything and to believe in rational thought. Apollo and Dionsysus. Two opposites. Two paths. Two ways to balance yourself.

Kim and I are given a choice. Walk up the hill to the theater and temple or down to the museum. We take separate paths. I go up and she goes down.

On the way to the temple, Joe says to me, “Don’t worry, there’s a bar at the top.” These jokes are getting old. *

I am sitting under a tree writing, listening to birds chirping and watching yellow butterflies flit among the greenery. Kim and I pass each other on the road. We both decide to choose each path.

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On the right…the omphalos, the navel of the world. 

These Cypress trees are so strange how they spike out of the vast landscape in no general design or order. Loping hills of olive trees and then a lance of a cypress pointing to the blue sky.

In the museum – Charioteer Bronze Statue from 478 BC of a young boy who just won a chariot race in the Pythian games.

He looks content.

From a little further away, he looks slightly sad. From down the ramp, he looks mad. “Don’t walk away,” he says. “Watch my final lap.”

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*Sidenote: Joe was not making an old man joke. He was a 12-14 year old boy who was making fun of how much Kim and I drank on that trip. We were 23 and everyone else were teachers chaperoning children. Cut us some slack.

The All Seeing Eye

The All Seeing Eye

“I’m Jimmy the Gypsy. I’m from Ireland,” a man with faded tattoos down his arms and a toothless grin tells me as I sit in the grass of Jubilee Gardens watching the London Eye during the 2015 Festival of Love in Southbank.

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“I’m a psychic,” he goes on. He and his friend had just finished smoking a joint. I was trying to enjoy my cider alone on this hot day in London. I knew it was risky sitting on this part of the grass so close to these two characters, but almost every inch of space was taken elsewhere by people lounging in the warm day out by the water.

“I’m not interested. I’d just like to be by myself right now,” I tell him.

A few minutes later, he turns around again, sprawled out in the grass under the shade of the tree. The London Eye moves in slow circles in front of us. The water of the Thames sparkles.

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“There’s a woman on your shoulder. She watches out for you.”

I try not to listen. Not to engage. I sip my cider.

“She worries about you. She wants you to find love,” he goes on. I can’t help but be interested. Is he talking about my grandmother, Tutu, who passed away about five years before? A woman who I considered more like a mother than just a grandmother. I had also been dumped two days before and the message about finding love had me hooked.

He asks me to show him my hand. Well, if he wants to read my fortune for free, who am I to stop him, I naively think.

I show him my palm.

He tells me I shouldn’t look for love in empty wells and that there are too many people draining me emotionally in my life. That I am a moon child and I have five good moon child friends and don’t need more than that. I will come into some money in the next two years, big money. I will have many children, three girls and one boy. This makes me nervous, that’s two children too many,  an Indian palm reader told me something similar and I gulp. That’s another story.

He drops my hand. “What do I think that fortune was worth?” he asks.

I have absolutely no money. I only just arrived the day before and hadn’t visited an ATM yet. I tell him this but he doesn’t believe me. I start worrying about Irish gypsy curses. I hand him my cider. “I have this. You can have the rest.”

He pauses for a second, thinking about it. He takes the cider from my hand and gulps it down in one quick sip then throws the empty cup to the grass angrily.

I zip up my boots and jump up from the shade. I don’t want to stick around to see him give me the evil eye and I run away to meet my Afternoon Tea Tour bus.

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B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

I try not to feel bad.

Two years later, I find some things interesting. I did lose some friendships in the last years. Friendships that I wish I hadn’t lost but that I needed to let go as they weren’t healthy for me. I did find love. I haven’t seen any of that big money yet or babies.

I also ponder how the fortune shapes the future by the choices you make knowing it. He had also told me I would be with a man with dark curly hair, and he made a gesture that the man would make of sweeping his hair out from his eyes. Jimmy specifically said he saw that man would do that gesture. I dated a man for three months who did just that. He did it early on and I sometimes wonder if I only dated him because of that, even when I knew it was wrong, even when I knew we weren’t right for each other. Would I have wasted that time if I didn’t think it was meant to be? I can’t say, I can’t see the future like that. But I can say, I’m much happier now without the dark haired man who tucked the hair out of his eyes with his left hand.

As we circle around the carousel of a new year with a lot of unknowns, what do we want the future to hold? What parts do we want to shape ourselves? What do we want revealed to us? What do we want to keep mystical and unknown? How can we change things in front of us that seem unchangeable? How can we shift the story the cards are laying out?

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My New Year’s wish for you all is to shape your own future, to do what you can to make this world a better place for all, to find your moon children friends and your place of love and happiness within the world.

Happy New Year and kind wishes for 2017!

Lost Luggage in London

Lost Luggage in London

Summer 2015, IcelandAir lost my luggage on my way to London. The city was in the middle of a record setting heatwave and the only clothes on my back were the ones I was wearing in frigid Iceland the day before, a coat, sweater, pants and heeled boots. My dresses and sandals for a Cambridge study summer were gone and London was sweltering.

I had a few options open to me. I could sit around the airport all day and hope my luggage showed up on a later flight (highly unlikely as it seemed it had been lost back on my first leg through Boston), I could go to my hotel and strip down to my underoos and lay around on the bed postponing the inevitable which was finding things to wear, or I could use the technology in my hand and find a cheap clothing store and get myself kitted out as the British say.

I pulled out my cell phone while I still had airport wifi. I used Google Maps to find London’s version of San Francisco’s Union Square, SOHO, the place where I knew most retail stores would be cobbled so close together that they amassed into a corporation’s wet dream, and I planned my route, taking screenshots for when I knew my data would disappear. I had just finished two days of travel, three plane flights, was looking down the barrel of an hour long train ride and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew I could do this, I would get myself clothes to wear. I was born to shop…as we Americans say.

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So tired on the train

Bleary-eyed, tired, literally carrying all I had on my back, I popped out of the Tube at Oxford Circus and followed the crowd of people into the packed intersection like a lemming. There in front of me was the big box glass H&M store, shining like the Eiffel Tower…oh wait, I’m getting my similes wrong. Well, anyway, it was there. I stocked up on a dress, shorts, a skirt, two tank tops. I was hopeful that my luggage would arrive in only a day and wanted to compliment what I already packed rather than doubling up. I opted out on getting a pair of sandals and got some dress flats instead, thinking they would go well with some things I already had to wear.

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I took myself, backpack, shopping bag, camera bag and all to a restaurant for lunch down the street. The waitress sounded familiar, close to home. I told her about my harrowing travels and lost baggage and she brought me a free glass of wine. We got to talking. She was from the San Francisco Bay Area and had moved to London about a year ago to pursue acting. She gave me information for a performance she would be going to later that evening if I wanted to join. The travel writer in me, wished that I had for the story, but the exhausted traveler in me made myself find my hostel so that I could successfully navigate to Cambridge the next day.

I hopped back on the Tube, having gotten the appropriate pass back at the train station, and found my hostel, Clink78, an old courthouse converted into a shared dormitory. In the ten minutes that it took me to walk from the station to the hostel, my new flats opened a large hole in the back of my heel and blood dripped into the sole of my shoe.

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I couldn’t let this get me down though. I was about to shower, change and go to sleep at 7 pm as I always do when I’m jetlagged. I was proud of myself, happy that I wasn’t scared off by an unfamiliar city or lack of sleep or proper clothing to get myself what I needed. I was even more proud of myself, retrospectively, when it turned out that my luggage, that I was told would arrive at Gonville and Caius College the next day, didn’t arrive for another five, leaving me without my belongings for a full week.

I also think my shopping navigation bolstered my solo travel skills that whole trip, causing me to travel to more little pockets of London on my own, then I would have ever considered trying to find by myself before. I went shopping in Notting Hill, wandering down Portobello Rd and brunching at Farm Girl Cafe.  I ventured out to pick up iced cookies (or biscuits) from The Biscuiteers. I walked through Hyde Park, meandering by the Serpentine Gallery and the latest outdoor art pavilion. I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum at 9 in the morning and waited in an hour long line to get tickets to the acclaimed Alexander McQueen exhibit that was hands down one of the best curated museum experiences I have ever had.

 

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Inside the entrance to the V&A

I’ll be leaving for my first winter in Europe in less than a week, heading back to London, but this time with a very private tour guide, my boyfriend, where he will show me all his childhood haunts. In that spirit, I want to look back at some of my favorite memories of trips to England. This one will be my third.

Here are some things I remember and/or look forward to experiencing again:

Men roasting chestnuts outside the Tower of London.

Eating scones and clotted cream in a cozy tea shop.

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Not a scone but a Fitzbillies’ Chelsea bun is a good substitute

Sitting amongst the pink velvet cushions of sketch for afternoon tea and being dazzled by its opulence.

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Punting down the river in Cambridge accidentally feeding ducks and drinking wine.

Traveling on a coach with my fellow high school students visiting historic landmarks like Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the place where King Arthur might be buried if he’s a real person, as well as Stratford-upon-Avon and more.

Being wary of fish pie in a pub when I was fifteen and then later drinking a pint in a pub when I was thirty-three.

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Mayflower Pub in Cambridge

And in that spirit, here’s to all the pints that will be had very shortly. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

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Obligatory telephone booth shot
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One of my happiest moments on the trip…being reunited with my luggage in time for my hiking trip through Iceland.

*Sidenote: The posts have been few and far between as I am on a deadline to finish writing my novel by the end of the year. I hope to start posting more frequently once that is complete. Wish me luck!