“Would you like to be one of my bridesmaids?”
“I’d be honored!”
“Bridesmaid…bridesmatron…? What are you?”
“I’m not loving matron.”
“How about attendant?”
“Yes, that sounds appropriately royal! I’d be honored to be your attendant!”
– Marie and C.
Marie announced her engagement publically a couple of days ago, I got the good news early and bounced around enthusiastically in my parking lot (so as not to become the Stompingtons to my downstairs neighbors). Then I emailed my mother and told her to ship over as many bridal magazines from the UK that she could get her hands on. Marie tried a few months ago to steal the ones I trucked home with me to use for my own wedding, the minx. I was thrilled to be able to send off for some of her own!
Then yesterday Hennessy texted me to say that we get to start making wedding plans for her as well. And she walked in today with what I can only guess is a small, sparkly country on her left hand. None of us in the office got any work done between 9 and 10 this morning. Congratulations, Hennessy! It’s a stunner!
Surprisingly, I’ve found I get lots more enthusiastic over my friends weddings than I did my own and I always love being included, whether it’s agonizing over flower arrangements, or being in the wedding party. I love seeing my friends happy and will cheerfully bend over backwards for them.
Also, I am deeply aware that the only reason my own wedding came together so well was because of the tireless effort and indefatigable support of this fantastic network of friends. Daae offered endless tips from her days working for a wedding planner, Catriona helped me stuff envelopes for hours on end, Venice went dress shopping and helped me check out the venue, Peregrine flew cross-country to be a part of the event and drove hither and yon with Snickers to pick up flowers, Fairy housed my parents and siblings and attended every single party associated with the wedding from the bridal shower to the reception, Marie supplied food, drink, and blotting papers throughout the day in spite of not feeling up to snuff…the sucess of the whole day is a tribute to lots and lots of people doing me and J. a great many favors.
“I wore dresses all the time. I like to wear dresses.”
– Willard Scott
Anyone else hitting up this awesomeness next week? Better believe I am! My sister-in-law is getting married in a month and I still don’t have a dress to wear. My belovedShabby Apple is going to be selling their fab frocks at the Riverwoods this weekend at discount. If I don’t score this for the upcoming nuptials (which look, by the way, to be the social event of the season!) it won’t be my fault!
“It’s January. Masterpiece Classic Season!”
“What are you, a fifty year old woman?”
– C. and Brando
I love PBS. Even with the unexpected gift from the cable gods, still gracing our TV by the way with no end in sight, I flick back to my beloved public broadcasting at almost every commercial break.
PBS has given me lots of fond memories. The first time I saw The Marriage of Figaro (my favorite opera) was on a PBS station when I was nine, I’ve watched countless Nature episodes with my parents, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Wishbone when I was younger, and BBC America now that I’m older. My particularly loves (currently) are Larkrise to Candleford and Sherlock Holmes…and whatever documentary is playing.
Some people’s entertainment lives cycle around the sweeps, but not I! I live and die by PBS’s Masterpiece! Contemporary I don’t really care for, but during Mystery and Classic season the TV is mine starting 8pm on Sunday evenings. January is the kickoff for Classic season and I’ve already swallowed Return to Cranford and the first episode of Emma whole. And! Not content with just Sundays, I usually develop cravings (staring early January) for costume drama mini-series not currently airing, which means I get on a long waiting list at the local library and torture J. with those on weekdays as well.
J. is tolerant and does homework while I watch, and is occasionally firmly shushed when he commits the cardinal sin of speaking before a commercial break.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
So! Flew in to Heathrow on the morning of Christmas Eve, met at airport by Dad and Snickers, drove home to Suffolk. Day spent hugging, talking, and trying to stay awake. Christmas Eve feast was superb. Went to bed. Woke up Christmas morning (siblings showed infinite patience and let us sleep in longer than I’d ever imagine they’d be able to) and tore into both presents and breakfast. Rest of day spent in rest and relaxation.
The adventures begin on December 26th, also known as Boxing Day. It’s part of the Christmas holiday in England and most people keep holiday hours on it, but this was the day chosen to go to London to show J. the sights. We checked online and it appeared some things would be open, so off we went.
Never trust the internet. The Tower, which really is the historical base of the city (thanks, William the Bastard/Conquerer) was closed. Luckily Westminster Abbey was open. Some of you may recall my raptures at visiting it two years ago? Well, it was nothing compared to this time. I was so obnoxiously happy to be back in England that I had a hyper litany of sheer enthusiasm trilling through my head as I forced myself to walk somberly through its hallowed naves. The Shakespeare alone was particularly thrilling, I may or may not have muttered the St. Crispin’s Day speech as I meandered past Henry V. Anne of Cleves got a nod and a, “Well done. Better off without him. Much,” Congreve got a cheeky grin, Elizabeth I another critical glance over (still not as pretty as she thought she was).
After Westminster we tried for the Tower but that as you know was a fruitless effort. So we traipsed across the city! I didn’t make it over to Kensington where I lived but I did stare longingly at the High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road stops on the Tube for a while. We walked through Trafalgar Square (scene of many a late night revel with Marie, Elizabeth, and AbFab so long ago), made our way to Leicester Square where, completely out of other ideas, we massacred three hours by watching Avatar. An observation: don’t see this movie in 3D from the second row of the theatre. Your inner ear thanks me. After that we saw Stomp and made our way home at a ridiculous hour of the evening.
Sunday we tried to recuperate a bit and celebrated Buddy’s birthday with a quiet family evening at home. The next day we celebrated it by scampering around the misty wet fields with nearly fifty people, shooting each other with paintballs. I had only been paintballing once before and been shot in the mouth, so I didn’t have a high opinion of the activity (this time I was shot at point-blank range while guarding a little girl, but it was during our mad dash for glory in a game of capture the flag and we were welcomed to the splotched sidelines like heroes). The boys loved it.
Tuesday we went to Lavenham, which is without question the most charming country village outside of the Lakes District. I’ve written about it before, but allow me to gush a little bit more! It’s just delightful, the crooked Tudor houses always make me grin like an idiot. I rummaged through my favorite antique store (trying on an Edwardian hat, drooling over Victorian jewelry, and rifling through letter boxes and cupboards) and we ate lunch at The Swan.
Wednesday J. and I basely ditched the family and hopped on the train from Cambridge back down to London so he could actually see things. The train was a necessity because, according to the news, a truck of pigs had gotten into a wreck on the M11 and, far from turning the passengers into bacon, a dozen or so had escaped and were wandering across the highway, grazing on things, and generally causing a bad time of it for the drivers who were backed up for hours waiting for the porcine perils to be rounded up.
We hit the Tower and the British Museum. Going through it was like visiting an old friend. J. seemed to especially love the awful imperialism it represented. “I mean, these guys just showed up and said, ‘I like that wall. I think I’ll take it!'” he said going through the Parthenon exhibit. During the evening we walked from Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus so I could get in some much needed shopping before we made our way back to Liverpool St. and hopped back on the train to Cambridge. Then, the next day, back to the States.
I’m going to be honest and admit that as we were driving back from J.’s parents house and I was looking across the valley and snow-covered mountains…I burst into homesick tears. When we got home I was absolutely howling with misery (or lack of sleep, one of the two). “I want to live two hours outside of London!” I sobbed, “I want to live where it’s green even in the winter! I hate the desert! I don’t want to go back to work on Monday! I don’t want to live here for two and a half more years while you finish school! I want my dog!”
J. just hugged me and promised to get me back there someday if he could, and he meant it. I calmed down, went to bed, and woke up feeling alright about leaving England behind for a while. In the meantime, I’ll just be here. Missing it.
I can always tell when finals week hits this campus: the odor of doom and futility gets a little more pungent, the faces get more harried, and it is impossible to navigate one’s way through the library as it is swarmed with knuckle-gnawing freshman. However, from the glorious vantage point of one who does not have to suffer through exams, papers, and finals projects, I’ve discovered that the nom de usage of this time of the term I and other used as students (“Hell Week”) isn’t really appropriate. If we were to be accurate, I think it would be Freak Week.
Cruel perhaps, but still apt. For example, Hennessy and I were walking down a corridor yesterday on an assignment, when we came suddenly upon a man carrying a pot of rice down the hallway. No explanation, just clutching it and looking worried. The theatre and dance people are scrambling around with drag queen worthy layers of makeup on their faces and their arms full of costumes (when they aren’t actually wearing them). Also, basic hygiene has become optional for many: I have seen (and smelled) a number of the unwashed masses as they scramble past and sleep in hallways.
This comes from nothing resembling a high horse. My alarm clock broke the day of my first final of freshman year, luckily I woke up anyway and made record time sprinting from my dorm to my test. Then once I misread a French exam schedule and showed up on the wrong day. And of course I had the computer crash right in the middle of a stellar ten page paper on medieval philosophy. I also had my share of forgone showers and undone makeup (and temporary eating disorders stemming from actually forgetting to eat for days on end, and the inability to let go of my pens following an exam from severe cramp, and…)
All in all, Hell Week/Freak Week/Whatever You Want To Call It looks much better from the outside!