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no question is a dumb question, right?

By on Nov 7, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Now that I’ve been here for awhile, I feel like I have found my way (literally) enough to begin to form some pretty solid questions about life in the old smoke. That may be one of my favorite parts of city life. It’s just never boring. Every day brings new questions. Like, why did that bus driver just look away and then completely ignore me at the bus stop? Why am I suddenly in a mosh pit? Where was that fun shop I wanted to walk around in? Is this an “obey or die” kind of thing? Truly, the questions are endless. But there are a few that seem to have been the most common/pressing of these first months: How does everyone walk so fast? I get it. It’s a city. It may even be THE city. People have places to go and things to do and buses to almost miss and trains to hop on. The walking fast thing isn’t a mystery. It’s just a part of life in the city. What is much more difficult for me to figure out  is how everyone walks so fast. I can be walking at full-stride, shins burning, whispering to myself that tomorrow I will stretch more before I leave my flat, while getting passed on the right by an 85-year-old woman pulling her groceries behind. I just watch in wonder and eat her dust. Does everyone get lost on the bus system? No? I mean, me either. Seriously, it’s been about 2 weeks since I got on the wrong bus. Now, I’m going through the newcomer hazing process that is “This bus will be returning to the station. Everyone needs to depart now.” Which let’s be real, is just a new level of lost on the bus. Let’s talk about scarves. I have always been something of a scarf skeptic. But my first few months had me asking am I the only person who missed the lesson on how to correctly wear a scarf? This city wears them well. I’d bet that a picture of London from space would show a scarf neatly tied for warmth. I will never be a scarf person.  Here’s what happened. In between my first draft and this posting, theweather turned. In a really big “I can’t feel my face” kind of way. So today I bought a scarf/blanket from my new favorite store. It’s really only been a little cold for a few days, and I already know that it is not going to be an either a coat or a blanket kind of winter. I am going to need both. ALL THE TIME. (So maybe I’ve gotten to the bottom of this question.) At what point do we think I will be able to quit talking about the election with complete strangers? I’m too much of a realist to believe this will happen tomorrow. Why does everyone always have a canvas bag? I figured this one out (I think)!!! At first, I just thought everyone was really environmentally friendly. Or fashionable. Or interested in making statements in passing. But then I was given a paper bag on a day when it rained and my bag began to disintegrate almost immediately. This is why you always carry a canvas bag! I’m still getting through that initial learning curve. It’s still steep. But it is filling up with Christmas lights and store window decorations, so it stills feels a little magical. And now that I have a scarf/blanket, rather toasty.  Isn’t Liberty...

the BIG move

By on Oct 2, 2016 in Uncategorized | 5 comments

Well, it has been two weeks. The first week, I spent getting oriented to my new home (re: dorm), the area (re: South London), and being back in school (re: a ton of reading and almost as much writing). Last week, I spent reading (see definition of graduate school) and going to classes, trying to solidify what I am going to take, what kind of eggs I am going to put in which baskets, so to speak.   I saw a few matinees, visited a few museums (if you understand modern art, please help me figure out the Tate Modern), took several long walks (some planned, others involved “getting lost”). All-in-all, it was a few good weeks. Said by someone fully aware that everything is about to get as intense as possible (re: ALL OF THE READING AND WRITING).   But I got cocky. I didn’t get lost once on transportation in week 2. I made it on time to everywhere I was supposed to be. I was prepared for all of my classes. I made a few friends. I even managed to not eat store bought sandwiches for a few meals (don’t feel too bad for me here, the sandwiches are legit). So I started feeling like I really had this whole “living in a city” thing down.   I should have known better. It started when I walked out of my home without grocery bags. I mean, really, how many bags am I going to have to buy before I actually remember to grab them from the shelf as I leave? My first stop, the train to Hillsong. but, when I got to the station, my train had been canceled. Canceled. I didn’t really think about that could be a thing. Then I got on a bus to transfer to another bus to only be 10 minutes late. But the 2nd bus wasn’t actually coming for another 30 minutes.   So I thought “let’s just go buy a few pots and pans so when your Hello Fresh order comes in today, you can cook stuff.” Guys. The pots and pans shelves were literally empty. Empty. Like, the GA forecast says an inch of snow, bread shelf kind of empty.   After a 1.5 miles of fruitless walking, I walked back to my room to regroup. I read a little, thought deeply a  little, may have exhaled a few heavy sighs. Then I walked to the bus stop, made it to a different grocery store, bought a few pots, and then walked myself back. Well, apparently, these pans do not comply with induction range standards.   So, that’s how today went. I got over confident. Let this be a lesson to you: always remember your reusable grocery bags. At least I have a view to look forward to on the bus tomorrow.   ...

on the eve of my 30th birthday

By on Dec 17, 2015 in Uncategorized |

There’s been a lot going on, like my recently launched smear campaign against Mary Jean* at my local post office, but also visiting friends, a short-term career at UPS** (I’m absolutely the worst person in the world to not even give a glimmer of a schedule. If I don’t have plans, I make ‘em.), moving houses, teaching ALL of my nephews to say very funny things, a few really inspiring meetings and a new job (in a new state). Also, I just bought a Vespa. It’s red, like all life-crisis vehicles should be. Thirty has seemed really close for awhile. It snuck up on me at first, but then it suddenly barreled down in all of its grey-haired, sun-spotted glory. I sat down today and tried to list some of the most important moments of my past 10 years, including the people and places they accompanied. The last five years were easier to remember than the five previous (maybe long term memory increases in my 30s?), and let me tell you – these were full years. It’s remarkable how much fit into a short span. It’s unfathomable how my life has changed in so few years. Over the past few months, I’ve found thankfulness a really difficult thing to come by. There is no part of my day, week or month that looks the same today as it did six months ago. It’s not bad, but it is all very different. I’m no longer “Anna that lives far away in a place that seems really mysterious and a little scary” I am now “Anna, the troll*** who lives underneath the stairs in her brother’s house.” These are dramatically different. I don’t think I knew exactly what to expect from my 20’s, but I am amazed by how they turned out. The places! The stories! All the primates! But mostly, the people! And after all that moving and traveling and making conversations with new people, it makes a lot of sense that I might need a little time to rest and prepare for a new decade. I worried for awhile about what 30 would feel like. Somehow it seems a lot more adult, like I should have prepared by having gotten more adult things. Like a couch. Or a TV. Also, children. But probably first a house. Now, looking back, I’m nothing but grateful. My preparation for this coming decade looked a lot different than most, but it was good. It was really good.   *Name has been changed for both of our safety. At least she taught me to always bring my own tape. ** Best advice: “Don’t pet the dogs. They’ll make your hands smell real bad.” ***Self-imposed...

#thestruggleisreal

By on Oct 12, 2015 in adapting |

When I was packing to leave Zambia, I had a few rules for my clothing: I brought nothing back to the US that had spots or holes. This narrowed my wardrobe by over half and crippled my ability to actually make a clothing choice. I’ve never considered myself to be particularly stylish. (Please consult my over-sized Tweety Bird t-shirt and stirrup pants middle school staples if this is a surprising comment.) But I have spent enough time in public to know some of the basics of what I should and should not wear in public. Yes to a plain-white-t, no to the random bubble shirt still hanging out in my closet.   But after spending 2 years predominantly outside the USA, I’ve been reminded more than once, that I now need to relearn the fashion landscape.   I have few reference points. The only Americans I have encountered in Zambia have been missionaries (re: in similar fashion conundrum as myself) or volunteers just passing through. And let’s be real, these groups of people tend to have very distinct fashion rules that are distinct and exclusive to their sects. I mean, my mu-mus and parachute pants were perfectly appropriate attire for a weekend BBQ in Zambia, less so for a movie night out in Athens, GA.   Every morning, I go through the very-real struggle of finding appropriate attire. Today my sister-in-law asked “Is that what you’re wearing?” It was. But then it was not.   There’s a lot about moving back to the USA that’s difficult to navigate, for reasons much deeper than clothing. Let’s give Anna a little wiggle room if I show up wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. That’s about all I can settle on.   But at least my awkward apparel matches my overall...