Friday, May 18, 2012

Better weather and Kenz finishes her first year

The weather finally broke, which is to say the sun came out for two days. I decided to take advantage of it by strolling around the city. It was nice because, despite the sun being out, it wasn't too hot. I hate walking in hot weather, but I enjoy it if it's still sub-65 degrees outside. 

The Imperial War Museum

The southside of the Thames River
Everyone was out enjoying the weather. Rightly so - it was a Sunday afternoon. It was as if, instead of a Sunday drive after church, everyone took a Sunday stroll. I walked north from our place towards the Imperial War Museum and found lots of couples taking in the sun while picnicking in the park that surrounds the museum. Afterwards, I just kept walking. I found myself all the way at the river near Southbank. 

Southbank has the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, the British Gallery, a public skate park, the London Eye, the London Aquarium, and countless restaurants. And a ton of tourists. And they were all out, walking slowly and stopping for no apparent reason. That's the thing with tourists - and I know I'm becoming one of those people that I get scared of when I'm visiting a new city (the type of person that scoffs at tourists stopping to take pictures, pulling out maps, or just gawking at some landmark) - they just stop. In the middle of the sidewalk. I invariably run into them because I'm absentmindedly walking myself, expecting the flow of foot traffic to be orderly. It's my own fault. I mean - part of why I was so excited to move here in the first place was because I'd never lived in a city that other people go to for vacation or for tourism. And now I have the audacity to complain about tourists? Shame on me. 

Usually I remind myself of this fact and get over it pretty quickly. 

Good skaters were out putting on a show for the tourists

I've seen this guy before. He plays a tuba and fire comes out the top. The amp he is sitting on plays accompanying music. 

Then, on Tuesday, as per usual, the sky opened up and a flash hailstorm happened. And the rain came pouring down exceptionally hard. I should've known better than to think we'd have a whole week of sunny weather. 


hail pellets
But then, on Wednesday, this fitful toddler that is London's weather decided to have a good day. I got down to Croydon for my first round of the disc golf club's summer league play. I hadn't been down to the course for two weeks, and immediately noticed that Spring has sprung down there. The trees had all grown their leaves, the grass was several inches tall, and the stinging nettles had returned. It made for an entirely different round of play than I'd gotten used to during the Winter. 

The bend at hole 9

The tee for hole 9 is 200 feet behind me, the hole is past that tree, up the hill another 100 feet, and to the right. It's a par 4. 

The grass here appears more green than the grass in America, but I could be wrong.

As it turned out, there was a travelling carnival (they called it a travelling amusement park, but it only had one major ride so I refused to call it that) just on the other side of the course. We were playing disc golf with a pop/rock soundtrack all evening as carnivals now usually have large PA systems blasting obnoxious Top 40 songs from their main attraction rides (in this case, just the one - so at least we didn't have competing soundtracks from different rides).  

Halfway down the fairway of hole 17
The evenings had been quiet, because Kenz was in her last week of school. She was burning the candle at both ends, trying to finish her work before Thursday. 

Kenz's socks. C'mon. At best they reflect the amount of work she'd been putting in. I think I know what to get for our 2nd year anniversary...

The Tulips finally kicked the bucket. Our vase came from the McDonald's Happy Meal collection. 

Then Thursday came! Kenz had her first year art show, along with all the other first year students, showcasing their most recent work. Kenz had to make a presentation in front of other students and her tutors, complete with a 15 minute power point slideshow. We're pretty sure she passed - she said she would've been pulled aside and "talked to" if she didn't pass. 

I got to the show Thursday evening, and met a proud Kenz, beaming, glowing, excited to show me what she had done. It was a trip to get to re-enter the school building only having been in there once before, about two weeks after we had moved here. The first time we "toured" the school, it was for the MFA art show and we got lost in the building. To be fair, the building is kind of a maze and we were on our own; we didn't know where to go or who to ask for directions, so we just meandered around, looking at all the students' artwork, and subtly trying to find the exit. I think we were both intimidated, anxious, and wondering what the hell we had just done with our lives.

This time, however, Kenz knew every nook and cranny of the school. She grinned as she took me to her exhibit, introduced me to her friends, showed me their work, took me to her locker, and introduced me to yet more friends. It was fantastic and had me overwhelmed. There were so many people there - and so much artwork! I felt like I was in a museum and at a performance art show (mainly because of art students' penchant for trying to stand out, wearing provocative or ironic clothing - each trying to look unique and different, but all looking kind of the same when clumped together. Maybe I'm just being cynical). It was a treat to see that she had a 'home' here - to see her in her element, happy and proud with the decision she had made to pursue this dream. 

I was happy for McKenzie, the woman who - 13 months ago - said, "Would you be okay with me applying to this art school? Fair warning: it's in London." She's done it all on her own - from applying for admission to applying for visas to booking tickets, helping find a place to live, helping find another place to live, and finishing her first year of art school! She faced fears of not being good enough, talented enough, fears of not following through, not being willing to practice, practice, practice, turning in work she may not think measures up to her own standards - all of it. I'm lucky just to get to be along for the ride. She's freaking amazing. 

The sign on the door. The degree is a BA in Drawing. Get it? They're minoring in being clever. 

The first half of her exhibit

The second half

One of my personal favorites

Obviously I'm not the one to ask about the meaning/experimentation behind this stuff. And now that she's done with school, we should pressure her to get on this blog and post an explanation of it! c.mckenzie.gibson [at] gmail [dot] com - in case you've forgotten. Get her an email that says, "We need you to explain your work!"

The artist!

Kenz with her school BFF, Alejandra. Look how happy Kenz is! Ha!

As I left, I reflected on the mixture of feelings we had when we arrived, during the riots, to this strange land with strange customs and strange people, with no one but each other and, well, simply terrified. It was cool to juxtapose that with what I'd just seen at Camberwell College of Art; as Kenz's face can show you, those feelings are long gone now - almost unrecognizable. We've made a home here and she's thriving in school.

All in all, quite the week. And to think - I was scared I'd run out of things to post about. 

Congratulations, McKenzie, you've done exceptionally well this year, completing your first round at Camberwell and putting up with me the whole time. 

Happy Campers

P.S. How has she celebrated her first day of no school? In classic McKenzie style - she's slept 17 of the past 24 hours. She's still asleep, and will sleep through the night. I assume she'll get up tomorrow at about 11am or noon - that'll mean that she will have slept for about 30 of 36 hours. I'm cackling as I type this. Who else do you know that can do that?!

Have a good weekend!