Friday, July 5, 2013

July 4th spent on the wrong side of the Atlantic

It appears I can write a blog post despite riding solo in London. Apologies for its brevity, lack of photos featuring the more photogenic of the two of us, and what may be a slightly melancholic tone. Let's get to it.

Song of the day: She Lit A Fire, Lord Huron.
The London Eye

The week has been relatively uneventful, which is exactly how I imagined it. In fact, that was part of the goal of staying back here while Kenz returned to the States. Less distraction (theoretically) means getting more work done. That's been the case...for the most part.

Ironically enough, Kenz and I have appeared to swap climates. She went back to Knoxville looking forward to laying out beside the swimming pool, getting a tan, sweating, enjoying the heat and humidity. I was perfectly happy to avoid all of that, staying behind here in the land of cloud-cover. Well, Kenz has yet to spend an entire day outside, experiencing a multitude of thunderstorms and overcast skies. England, on the other hand, will be hotter than Barbados and Malta this weekend (likely running into next week). Heat wave!

Kenz and I have continued with our lunchtime-ish FaceTime conversations. She has also continued to send me pictures from the land of milk & honey, seemingly to make me green with envy.

She is the queen of faces. 
Last weekend was a family reunion on my Dad's side. Kenz, awesome woman that she is, went along even though I wasn't there. I think everyone was impressed that she showed. She's only been to that family reunion twice, if memory serves.

She hung with the nephew, Garrett (who will be visiting next month!).

She hung with the niece, Lucy (who is tiny!). 

She hung with my awesome sisters. 

My father-in-law, Michael, has been happy to aid Kenz in tempting me to hop a quick flight to Knoxville.

Those are the types of steaks he cooks. On a Tuesday. Righteous. 

Kenz's school friend, Annie, has arrived in Tennessee safe and sound. Annie will be travelling with Kenz in the next ten or so days as they visit various art schools in the northeast. Annie has never been outside of the UK. So far this week, Kenz has taken her to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, and downtown Knoxville. She'll be taking her up to the Gibson's family friend's farm on Saturday to show her how to ride an ATV and shoot a shotgun. I'm disappointed I'll be missing the expressions on Annie's face as she comes into contact with countless new things, cliches, both good and bad.

I tried to coach Kenz on how to give a Knoxville tour. She didn't really pay attention.

They'll be shooting fireworks tonight. I woke up to the following picture (and very nearly just rolled over and went back to a self-piteous sleep):

They're going to have quite a show tonight. 
Speaking of the 4th:

Last night I was with an English friend of mine. The topic of the 4th of July came up and, all of a sudden, he got a tad embarrassed. Sensing a shift in his tone of voice, I opened up, trying to allow him the freedom to ask whatever seemed to be on his mind:

Him: This may be a stupid question, but...what...does the...4th...stand for?
Me: [clears throat, trying to resist the urge to be obnoxious] The anniversary of America's independence.

The damn burst. I couldn't contain myself. I repped hard.

Breathing in five gallons of air, I immediately embarked on a ten minute lecture about the history leading up to the Declaration of Independence, including topics such as the French & Indian War, taxation without representation, the Boston Tea Party, the Continental Congress, militias, George Washington, Valley Forge, etc. He seemed satisfied, but I went on, talking about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and what that represented in the 18th Century as well as what it means in the 21st, how America is an experiment, not a 'finished product', and that, in fact, the Continental Congress actually voted on independence on July 2nd, 1776 even though we celebrate it on the 4th. I finished with an addendum about how Jefferson and Adams both died on the same day - July 4th, 1826 - and how bald eagles sprung forth from their caskets, turning into fireballs in the sky, which is why we now use fireworks to celebrate America's birthday (just checking to see if you're still reading).

Of course, the entire monologue was littered with pronouns such as your and our. I thoroughly enjoy the discursive construction of national identity - especially on July 4th in London. If I had an American flag shirt, I would've worn it. I'll rectify this oversight on my next visit to the States.

Sometimes I think being here has made me more 'cultured' or 'worldly', then something like last night happens and I think there's a distinct possibility that being over here has caused me to safeguard or, at least value, my own cultural heritage a bit more. It's easy to take it for granted when you're living in it. Interesting timing for a realization like this as a debate over immigration reform rages on in the States.

Speaking of cultural heritage:

I failed to make it out to the grand opening of the new Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Covent Garden. It turned out to be quite a big event. Some enterprising young man showed up at 3:40am for the opening. You can see his pictures here. Honestly, looking at those pictures last night, after 'educating' my friend on the significance of the 4th, had me longing for the homeland. Even if one of our biggest cultural exports is fast food.

I look forward to taking Owen & Celia for a big 'ol greasy cheeseburger at some point this month.

Speaking of Owen:

He has taken pity on me since Kenz's departure, coming over for brunch on Saturdays. He and Celia will both be by tomorrow afternoon.

Burgess Park is getting a competition-grade BMX track. Apparently it's part of London 2012's 'legacy' initiative. The pump track will have automatic gates, lights, the whole nine. I'll be interested to see how often it gets used.

Oh yea, and if it wasn't bad enough being here for the 4th, I saw this sign on Tuesday evening:

I had half a mind to charge in there, yelling "Who can even tell me what 'old smokey' means?!"
Lastly, congratulations are in order. Perennial fan/friend of the blog, Nancy Rucker, got engaged to her boo, Patrick Greene!


That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

The house still smells like bacon and farts.