“When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.” ― William Shakespeare
Five years ago, when I was barely 23, we got married.
Easily the best idea we’ve ever had though it was not at all what either of us had planned. Jeff didn’t want to get married until he was around 30, I was sure I didn’t want to marry at all. But as the months went by being together was simply right. It was a series of pieces clicking into place with each other. Marrying him was as easy as breathing and, whether in the midst of adventure or even argument, it still feels like that.
While still dating, I confessed to Jeff that I once joked my very idea of hell was marriage to an accountant, 2.5 children and a white picket fence. Jeff loves to tease me with this dire pronouncement still, although assures me he has no plans of inflicting a fence upon anyone. “I ruined every one of your plans,” he likes to gloat. He did. And I’m so glad. This is so much better than anything I ever came up with.
“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” ― William Shakespeare
As of yesterday I am (so one of my younger brothers informs me) “officially old.”
My Big Brother also weighed in…I find this a bit creepy, but weirdly sweet at the same time?
I had a delightfully low key birthday and got just what I wanted: flowers, savory food, sweet food, and hangout time with Jeff. May was a rough month for both of us, work wise, and it was nice to go out to dinner just the two of us to relax from it. For about an hour and a half, after which it was straight back home to the email piles. Adulthood, kittens!
On Sunday we trekked to Old Spitalfields Market in search of my specially requested cake alternative (cupcakes from Flavourtown Bakery), only to learn that they had not set up shop in their usual spot this week. It turns out, they are being featured in the Selfridge’s food hall – well done! So, undeterred, after grabbing a quick bite at one of my favorite food trucks, we shot off to Bond Street.
The cheekily named Mother Clucker specializes in Southern style, twice fried chicken. Spices and buttermilk are of course included, but what makes this joint the real deal is the (also Southern style) sweet tea marinade that juices up their meat. Seriously, you can’t get that level of soul food without heading south of the Potomac. They also make really good fries/chips, something both Jeff and I tend to be picky about.
On Monday we both went to work as per usual before slapping on red lipstick (in my case) and reconvening after 5pm in Notting Hill at our favorite pizza joint, Otto. I first learned about Otto thanks to Lauren’s Pizza Night back in January, and it’s been a regular date location ever since. We plumped for snooty artisan lemonade and ginger beer, a treat since we almost always stick to the wallet friendly option of water when we eat out, and wolfed down three slices each of the gorgeous cornmeal crusted wonders.
After this we went home, followed up quickly on a handful of work projects, and then cracked open the cupcakes and pulled up an episode of House of Cards, our latest entertainment addiction. It was exactly what I needed. Here’s to 28, I’m ready for it!
“And marbled clouds go scudding by The many-steepled London sky.” ― John Betjeman
London kicked off March (seriously, March already?!) in fine style with a gorgeous day. We were lazy getting up and about this morning but about lunchtime I turned to Jeff and told him I had a craving for a burger. Never a man to disoblige (or turn down beef), we headed to a perennial favorite BRGR CO and indulged.
The weather was a balmy 45 degrees, which is practically summer in our corner of Europe. In honor of the temperature, we wore t-shirts and ordered milkshakes. Then, one craving satisfied, we decided to soak in the Vitamin D and the city as well and went on an epic wander starting in Covent Garden and ending in Kensington. Jeff suggested Hyde Park and I wanted to show him where I lived when a student here.
Hyde Park was a glorious, green expanse.
Dogs were out everywhere and we crossed paths with many a kid atop their pony.
London has a bad weather reputation, some of it earned, but let me tell you when it gets it right, London gets it right!
Buds are shoving their way up and out of the soil and tips of trees, daffodils and crocuses are blooming turbulently, and the birds were singing. With respect, Game of Thrones, Spring is coming!
We passed Queen Victoria’s (in my opinion hideous) Neo-Gothic memorial to Prince Albert, and just down the path a ways and across the street, there it was:
My Kensington stomping grounds! Jeff stood still for a second with this mouth slightly ajar, glanced over his shoulder to where Hyde Park sat a mere 50ft away from the front door, and pronounced me an all my educational cohorts, “Spoiled.” Can’t say he’s wrong, though I will say I much prefer living in our flat south of the river. It might be less rarified than Kensington, but small as it is, it’s about a thousand times more comfortable and a hell of a lot less snobby an area.
We finished up with an amble up Exhibition Road, which turned into a short foray into the V&A (where I do not spend nearly enough time) before heading home.
“Though she be but little she is fierce.” – William Shakespeare
The other day Jeff was getting dressed and reached for a shirt of the drying rack, while still not too terribly awake. I know this because I came out from brushing my teeth in the bathroom when I heard him laughing to discover he had tried to put on a shirt of mine instead of his own, which apparently are awfully similar in color and pattern. (Personal note: must do something about this because one of the most odious things a couple can do in public is dress alike.)
That’s right. His forearm is the length of my entire arm.
Visuals like this often throw me because I don’t feel particularly short or small most of the the time, even though I know I am. Other recent height issues lately include me buying too much contact solution because I’d thought we’d run out when in fact Jeff had stored it on top of a cabinet out of my line of sight, and him walking into the kitchen and burst out laughing because he found me standing on a counter so as to rifle through items on the top shelf of a cupboard that I could not otherwise reach. Shortness, a never ending source of exasperation on my part and amusement on his.
A couple of weekends ago, Jeff and I went to see The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, a production by Punchdrunk and the National Theatre. It was a very new sort of theatre experience for us but from scope to scale, one of the most ambitious productions I’ve ever seen. Walk with me, kittens. Literally.
First of all, it’s an immersion experience. It’s promenade style theatre so you’re walking around, on your feet the entire time (and performances can last up to three hours). Second of all, you’re supposed to go exploring. Wander through the set, which takes up four floors of an entire building, poke into closets, rifle through papers, open shut doors to see what character or secret passages lurk inside. And lastly, everyone wears masks giving you a sense of anonymity as part of the set, and also the feeling of being a ghoulish sort of voyeur into the scenes you witness.
The play itself is loosely inspired by Georg Büchner’s famously unfinished play Woyzeck, set in a faded Hollywood production studio and the dying town surrounding it where has-beens and wannabes mingle together either waiting for their second chance or big break. There are two main plotlines both involving infidelity and the descent into madness. But, and this is the most interesting part, there are other storylines that intersect and weave throughout the main ones. Wearing your mask, you must follow the characters you wish to throughout their plot to understand what’s going on. All the while, though, you’re crisscrossing other characters, other plotlines and getting hints of other stories. It’s possible to mix up the crowd of other witnesses you’re in and end up following a different character entirely from the one you started.
Like not a few of the minds they are portraying, it’s very fractal and disorienting. Much like most people’s everyday experiences, a lot of things are going on around you as a viewer, but you can only focus on one or two of them at a time and get the sense that you’re missing out on a lot of information.
Wisely the production cycles through itself a couple of times, allowing the audience more than one chance to grasp onto a tale and follow it to its conclusion. But it is impossible to follow every character and every plotline in the time allotted, which means you as the audience member have to decide. The feeling is very similar to those choose-your-own-adventure books for children, but all grown up, adult and darker.
A shabby sort of town, a movie lot, a trailerpark, nightclubs for the beautiful people and honkytonks for the less so, a church, the woods, a cinema, doctors’ offices are all laid out in such a way that if you follow a character, the layout blends together and creates a plot. But if you don’t you’ll find yourself lost and turned around almost immediately. Watch the trailer below to get some idea of the set and creative. The whole thing is a labyrinth fearfully and wonderfully made, I cannot imagine the time it took to coordinate a dozen storylines simultaneous over multiple building stories, multiple sets, and interacting with one another.
For example, at one point one woman looks in a mirror and is clearly contemplating whether she should go through with her affair. The mirror fades to partial transparency and the audience can clearly see that the reflection is not her but her husband. Because there is no “offstage,” the husband’s storyline is proceeding with its own audience at the same time; he’s in a doctor’s office looking at those one-way mirrors, his mental state beginning to deteriorate and hallucinating his wife. Those sorts of integrations run throughout the production. And yet somehow, every audience member ends up at the finale in the same place at the same time. I seriously want to shake the hand of the person who blocked this thing because I have no idea how they did it.
As theatre goes there are times it stumbles – sometimes you can’t even hear the actors speaking because you’re too far away from them, and other technical concerns – but as an immersion experience goes it’s absolutely stellar. It’s intimate, closeup, and deeply personal. Audience members jockey for position to follow and get best views to the storylines, and in the end (as both the main plots end in murder) you’re left very aware of your own voyeurism.