London Day 1: brought to you by jet lag

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We have arrived in London! We got in about 3:45 pm London time and we were so out of sorts with our schedules all out of whack. My first impression of London was the smell of Tang. In fact it was sort of a theme because the orange juice they served on the plane was definitely powdered and very Tang like.  Poor Joon had an unfortunate accident with the tangy orange juice and ended up wearing it and possibly ruining her stuffed Pusheen. Anyway, after we got through customs and were funneling up and down the many stairways towards our car service, we smelled this very strange orange-scented cleaner. Like Tang! Cheerio! That’s my first impression of London.

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My second impression is that it is very bright! Maybe it’s because we are farther north latitudinally than Southern California and the sun is closer during the summer or maybe it’s because I’m used to living by the ocean with a marine layer constantly in the air. Or maybe it was just unusually sunny! Very sunny for three in the afternoon.

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My third impression is: why are there ladies dressed this way? Is there some sort of comi-con-kawaii party going on in the park?  I didn’t have the guts to take a picture face on but if I see more of these ladies I definitely will because they are everywhere.

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After a quick walk to the River Thames we figured out we were hungry and settled on the worst food chain ever: Garfunkles. I think this is where all tourists go first because we don’t know any better. We later figured out there are a ton of really nice restaurants on the other side of the square so I am not going to say that all food in London is terrible. But Garfunkles is definitely terrible. I think some of the terribleness is a bit sentimental though. Dense mashed potatoes that taste like they’ve been under a heat lamp all day, watery iceberg salad with bits of cabbage, mashed peas that look like guacamole but definitely are NOT. We were such blundering Americans.

By this time we were all getting very grumpy and tired because our internal clocks were clashing with the bright sunshine. We yelped a coffee shop thinking a shot or two of espresso would fix us up.

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But that didn’t work at all. My plan was to stay up all day and go to bed when the Londoners  do so we could beat jet lag but the kids thought that was a horrible idea. Nothing could keep them up and in the end I had to give in.london-day-one-jetlag-2

Of course me being being the extreme morning person that I am, I could not sleep at all with the sun shining so bright. My brain completely works off the sun and does not care at all what time it is. So I sat in our apartment and sulked for two hours straight while everyone else slept like the dead. I think possibly jet lag gave me a sour attitude but no desire to sleep which is terribly inconvenient when everyone else is sleeping. How could we be in London, just steps away from so much to explore and all anyone wanted to do was sleep?!! But also, how can you make kids do things when they are tired and grumpy? Sometimes you just have to accept your limits.

Why didn’t I go out and explore London alone you ask? Honestly, I was too afraid and I knew that Payam would be sad to miss the things I would be doing without him. The girls could care less but I know Payam would want to be with me. So I waited and sulked and worked myself up into a really foul mood.

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It was a mood that could only be cured by the most loving boyfriend who knows how to cheer me up like no other AND WONDERFUL SUNSET LIGHT! When everyone finally woke up and we got ourselves back down into town, the shadows were so long and everything was glinting with gold. Sweet-time light saves the day!

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We walked around Trafalgar square, trying to stay out of crowds because of course we are all paranoid of terrorist now.

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And through some kind of horse guard palace. I apologize I still do not really know where I am but we are taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour today so I will be much more educated about things when I blog about day two.

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Then we walked by Big Ben. Big Ben is under construction so it is not chiming regularly but I’m happy to report that it chimed twenty times this morning at exactly 8:24 (an odd time to chime) and it sounded lovely! I rushed  past all the sleeping bodies this morning to our balcony to listen to it and I was not disappointed.

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After Big Ben we walked over the bridge to the London Eye. We couldn’t take  ride in The London Eye as they only take reservations and were all sold out but we promised ourselves we would go make reservations online and try it again another day. Of course we haven’t gotten around to that but we have many more days to go.

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We headed back over the bridge, past a bumping dj party and ended up at Wagamama, a noodle restaurant chain that my friend Elyssa had told me about. It was delicious! london-day-one-goodnight-big-ben

Goodnight first day of London!

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The Great Broad Adventure

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We hit up the The Broad (rhymes with road) for my birthday this last Thursday. As everyone knows I’m a huge fan of making your birthday (or any day really) a great day by deciding exactly what you want to do and then doing it instead of waiting around for others to magically read your mind and help make your day wonderful for you. Because they don’t have a clue! That’s really how it is.

How many times have you walked into an Anthropology store (or whatever store is your favorite. Maybe it’s Cabellas or even Target…) and thought, I wish my friends and relatives would buy me presents from here because I like every single thing in this store!! but then wandered the displays for an hour and found yourself not able to pick one thing for a friend (who is probably just like you and likes every single thing in the store) because you just don’t know if that’s what they’d really like? I mean, what if they already have thirty-seven floral aprons and they don’t really want a grapefruit-lily scented candle? How well do you really know your friends?!! Of course there are some things that stand out and shout someone’s name and that is awesome but it doesn’t always happen.

So that’s my point: People don’t know that you would just like to have a quiet day at home reading books all day with your big ol’ mug of tea OR have a giant surprise party in Las Vegas with strippers jumping out of a cake wearing fishnet stockings. People have no idea! You have to tell them! Or better yet, plan it yourself and then invite them to come with. You’ll have the best time ever. I promise.

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So yeah, The Broad. That’s my idea of a good time. I’m a heavy instagram user (insert eye roll from my family) and I’ve been staring at photos of The Broad for ages wondering about this crazy museum and wishing I could go stand in a black room filled with rain, which turns out isn’t a room full of rain but actually an infinity mirrored room.  Sadly, we didn’t get tickets for that room so I didn’t get to see it but at least now I have an idea how the whole thing works and next time I will make sure I make a reservation!

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Not everyone shared my excitement over contemporary art but I think they enjoyed the adventure anyway and now their brains are expanded a little.

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I don’t think anyone really gets contemporary art. That’s the point, right? It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to make you stand there and puzzle. Like it says in  Steal Like an Artist  “Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.” (Which I stole from here because I haven’t even read “Steal Like an Artist” but I should!)

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There are so many ways to enjoy art. One is to read the little plaques about each artist and imagine how and why they created each piece. Another way is to walk around completely open-minded and just soak in your own feelings. Don’t even try to learn about the artist. Make it personal experience. And a third really super way to enjoy it is to watch how others interact. I think that might be my favorite thing: watching other people look at art.

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Which pieces make them smile? Which ones make them screw up their eyes in confusion…

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People are even more interesting than the art I think.

Some people stare and contemplate. Maybe they are on their lunch break and just soaking up some peace and quiet… Most people take pictures and selfies.   They bunch up their families against their favorite installations throwing in a peace sign here and there. Some people make funny poses and completely forget about their pride, only worrying about their followers on the other side of their phone.

Is it really that bad to be that person taking a million photos and posting them to Instagram (or on a blog like this one)? I could argue both sides and I do. Of course everyone is moaning that all anyone cares about is taking pictures these days and they don’t truly enjoy the moment anymore but is that true? I think I enjoy it more when I’m trying to capture something. I love the thrill of the hunt and taking pictures is FREE! the best kind of hunt of all!  I would have never even found The Broad if it wasn’t for so many instagrammers posting about it. So maybe I’m a lemming or maybe I’m onto something joyful.

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Payam and I argued over this piece for really long time. He was adamant that the artist used photoshop to create all these shelves at Amazon being so close together. I was sure it was just compression of a fancy camera lens. Turns out I was wrong!

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We all loved the giant table and chairs. Of course I had to go and pretend to be a cat rubbing up against a chair leg (because how could you not?!) and then I got scolded by a museum guard which made me feel terrible. It turns out the guards are not as mean as they seem to be. I got scolded again later for standing too close to a piece and when I apologized the guard engaged me in a really interesting conversation and told me not to feel bad. So there’s that! I totally get it and I want to protect this art too but it’s hard when it’s so interesting and screaming out to be interacted with.

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Like these lumps of grass in front of the building. It turns out they are fancy gardens tended by expert gardeners and sitting on them is NOT ALLOWED. Our bad.

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All in all it was a great adventure. Everyone had a different take. We bonded over our differences and it gave us tons to talk about which is what what I really wanted for my birthday. My love language is time after all. Time with my peeps.

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It was my day and I felt really special. Payam kept telling me that every little stroke of luck he planned especially for me on my birthday. He’s a comedian like that. We had just enough time to get coffee before we queued up for our reservation line, that was part of his plan. Then the fact that the line was just long enough for us to have enough time to sip our coffee (as it cooled) and finish it right before we had to throw away our empty cups (that were not allowed in the museum)—all part of a magically orchestrated plan! And then this piece that was for me, obviously.

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Happy sigh.