A Proper Summer

It finally arrived. A real summer. Proper heat. Days in the park. SUN.

Also sweaty people, smelly tube cars. But no (NY) hot trash smell. And that I will continue to be thankful for.

I’m in the middle of uploading all of our photos from our week in France with Ally and Tim onto Facebook right now, and will do a blow-by-blow shortly. (If I say that, I will definitely do it, right?)

In the meantime, here’s pretty much the coolest photo I’ve ever taken, from around this time LAST YEAR, of the top of a building in the city that I can’t remember the name of.

dome

Boston, you’re my home

I can’t believe everything I’m seeing here today. I’ve kept the news streaming behind working. I spent most of the morning being really worried about my cousin, who lives up the street from these guys in Cambridge, and the rest of my family and friends all on lockdown right now. I can’t believe how truly close to home this has all hit. I’m so happy for social media and all of the amazing digital communication available to me, so I can easily check in with the people I love who are part of this chaos. It makes all the difference.

I have nothing to contribute other than some more memories of our city.

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Outside the restaurant on Newbury where we had our first date.

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The only photo of us from our 2004 graduation from Northeastern, outside the Garden.

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Sox.

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At Cactus Club, on Boylston, for my bachelorette party.

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Two of the best in Boston.

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Our engagement photos on the Common.

Inspired

So I’ve been quiet here. I’ve been working more hours than I care to admit, and we’ve been traveling as usual, and we’ve had some serious emotional hurdles the past few months. I’m a happy person, and writing about sad things tends to make me feel awkward. Like I’m asking for attention. I was English to the core before I even got here.

But today, the sad will get talked about. Not because I have anything particularly worthwhile to say. And it’s not even about London. But what I have to say, well, it just feels like it deserves it. And it’s personal and sappy. So, there.

I grew up where those bombs went off yesterday at the Boston Marathon. I wasn’t born there, and I didn’t go to elementary school there, but I went to college around the block and came into my own there. That neighborhood was my anchor, a place I visited in my early days at Northeastern because I’d visited in high school and felt cool knowing my way around. And as the years went on, it took on new meaning. Boylston Street became the place I went out with friends at night, and returned to shop and eat the next day. It’s the place my amazing bridesmaids took me for my bachelorette party, the place I watched a friend finish the marathon four years ago to support another friend’s mother who’d recently passed away, the place I made the “SO MANY RULES!” joke to my best friend which has gone down in (our) history.

Directly behind where the first explosion was, I had my first date on Newbury Street with the man who became my husband. (A year earlier, three doors down from the second explosion, I had a first date with a man who did not become my husband because I met the one who did.) I celebrated a friend’s graduation at the restaurant on the site of the second. Ordered a glass of pinot grigio when I was 20 years old at a Thai restaurant just to the left, and cheered quietly with my best friend that we were served. I waited for that same best friend outside her office on countless spring days, on the spot where people lay on the ground yesterday. Many years later, in a snowstorm, I walked my crew of Brooklyn friends–in town for a hockey game at my alma mater–down the cross street of the first explosion. We passed both locations on the way to a bar that–while it has been renamed and reopened three times since–was the first bar I ever went to based on a suggestion in my first text message ever, which also happened to be from my future husband. These, among countless other memories so ubiquitous it’s difficult to even pull them out.

We’re so incredibly lucky, given the odds stacked against us, that all of our family and friends are safe. If I had to put a quick number on the amount of people we know who we care deeply about who were less than a five-minute’s walk from what happened yesterday, it’d have to be close to 100. My (unofficial) future brother-in-law is safe. My best friend Rebecca is safe. Three people who stood up with us at our wedding were in the immediate vicinity, not including one of their wives–our amazing friend Jane who ran yesterday. Three more could have easily been there. And that’s just counting our bridal party. Eight years after we moved, we still had people checking in on us. Emails flooded in from former and current colleagues asking: Was my sister safe? Were my friends safe? Was I safe?

I said earlier to someone that it’s difficult to digest the enormity of this as I focus on the well-being of so many individuals. “Curious” doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about what explanation will eventually come for this. But right now, I’m just so happy that the hundreds of people in my news feed today on Facebook are alive and more fiercely proud of our city than ever. And no, I did not think that was physically possible.

(Some [blurry] shots from that night on Boylston, just for fun.)

becs-and-rissa

chris-dave

matthews

mcgreevys

mel-and-kev

My Gift to You

So, we’re all aware that US celebrities do commercials (ahem, adverts) in other countries to make some dough without hurting their Hollywood reputations. (Anyone ever see that Conan Bud Light commercial?) One of my favorite—while also cringe-inducing—things about living here is that we’re privy to some of these, er, indiscretions. It’s hilarious. It’s also terrible, a little, because these people take so much money I’m sure, and well, let’s just say they’re not exactly bringing their A game. I present to you, here, three currently on television every four seconds, in descending order of barely acceptable to utterly heinous.

1) Clooney for Nespresso. George is doing OK here. He’s not totally embarrassing himself, and—granted—Nespresso is a MUCH bigger deal in Europe than in the US. But as far as I can tell, it’s still instant coffee we’re talking about here, my friends.

2) Brad for Chanel. Then we have Brad. Brad, Brad, Brad. Dear Brad. Who the hell talked you into this? I gather this one is also airing in the US from my YouTubeing this morning, which makes this more horrifying I think. He doesn’t even have the excuse that this was only in other countries? This has been in every duty-free shop in every airport I’ve been in for the past six months and it is basically the MERMAN ad from Zoolander. Moisture is the essence of wetness, y’all. Compare and contrast, if you will.

3) Scarlett for D&G. And Scarlett. Please tell me this is not on in the US. This is halfway to making me lose ALL respect for her. “I’m not looking for a million things. TEE-HEE.” To use a phrase I have not used since 8th grade: Gag me with a spoon. Isn’t she better than this?

(And for anyone who missed that Conan Bud Light ad…watch now and get “vroom, vroom party starter” into your vocabulary as soon as possible. Your life will improve.)

Happy Christmas

This morning I got an email from the US Postal Service alerting me that our mail forwarding period is about to expire. This made me feel emotions. Surprise, mostly. A year! Almost a YEAR since we moved to London. I think I’ll save the sentiments for the actual one-year anniversary at the end of January, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Last Christmas we were feeling weirdly grounded as everything actually spiraled out of control. This time last year we were hosting Friendsgiving at our apartment, knowing it was the last time we’d host a big group of people for awhile, and that it was certainly the last celebration in that JC apartment. I remember the deliberation over it — thinking we wouldn’t be able to do it at first, because things would be so crazy, and then ultimately deciding to throw caution to the wind. I remember being distinctly worried about people leaving serving trays at our place and them going into storage for a few years because I wouldn’t be able to get them back to them. Turned out OK.

In the midst of that, Melody was HAVING A BABY. I mean, A REAL HUMAN was born unto the Abergs and I literally ran out of work to get to the hospital. In a cab. I’ll admit it. I took a taxi to get there faster. It was not cheap. WHO CARES.

Chris flew back to the US yesterday to spend some time in Jerz before heading to the farm. I’ll be making my way to Boston on Friday evening, so this is the first time I’ve slept in our flat alone and it feels…not weird. I actually feel so comfortable and at home in this flat and this city that it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. (Different from when he went to Barcelona three weeks after we moved here and I was absolutely freaking out in our temporary flat.) I’m excited to get home, but I’m equally excited to get back. Partially just because I really do love it here, and partially because Brynn and Jeff are coming back with us to visit for a week. I can’t wait!

I am so in the Christmas spirit this year, which is a marked improvement from the past, oh, three years or so. I’ve felt like Christmas crept right up on me in past years, and I didn’t have time to enjoy it. So I made darn sure this year was different. We started with the Southbank Christmas market the weekend after Thanksgiving, shopped on Columbia Road and bought our Christmas tree the first weekend in December, spent a weekend in Germany at the Christmas markets in Stuttgart and Esslingen, and walked up Oxford Street (like the lunatics we are) this past weekend. I’ve sufficiently excited myself. I bought wrapping paper at Marks & Spencer with little royal guards on it. I wrapped at least one present every night for the past two weeks, while drinking wine on the sofa. I bought pine-scented candles at John Lewis. English people help out a lot by unabashedly wish you a merry or happy Christmas, without bothering for a second to first check what religion you might be. I asked about using the term “holidays” in an email subject line and I was told that no, that would not make sense, and people would be confused. It IS the CHRISTMAS break.

I’ve never been in an airport anywhere NEAR Christmas, but this year I’ve found myself back and forth to Brussels, back and forth to Stuttgart, on top of the upcoming trip to Boston at the end of this week. I’m prepared for a hairy terminal three at Heathrow on Friday afternoon and keeping fingers crossed my flight is not delayed by a second. I need to get home, and get some Dunkin’ Donuts.
I’ve packed a carry-on with mince pies, cookies, and chocolates from Belgium, Germany, and England to make sure they get to the US in one piece. Hopefully it all makes it through security. I will probably sit there on the ground outside security and eat the entirety of the package of Fortnum & Mason mince pies if anything goes wrong. I will not share any with the officers.

Apologies for the few and far between posts that are pretty much just rambles of emotions. Perhaps I’ll find where my clever, biting wit went in 2013.

The BBC and This Blog

I wake up pretty early now. Too early for work. But too late to go to they gym. I’m trying to change that. (You might say that what I should have been doing with that time was writing this blog.) But until then, I actually, for the first time in my life, have time to watch the news in the morning before I go to work. So I find myself watching the BBC every morning and am, over and over, impressed. There’s a lot happening here right now with the BBC. It seems that there was a former much-loved presenter, three decades ago, who did some bad stuff to kids. And now everyone is crying a “crisis of confidence” in the BBC. Oh, how they have no idea HOW GOOD THEY HAVE IT.

I’ve talked with my mom a few times about the news here. She has come to the (only half joking) conclusion that because the BBC is—technically—owned and operated by the government, that it is most definitely propaganda. (N.B.: They are run entirely independently.) While there is certainly programming on the channel that I think is meant to soften public gripes (e.g. the Tube documentary that clearly intended to introduce whining commuters to the soft, lovely personalities behind the control room doors so they’d ease the heck up), the news is not in this category. I feel lucky to watch REAL news every morning; news with a global focus, and with fair, but pointed questions, where everyone comes away looking mostly happy with how the interview went. There doesn’t seem to be any unspoken prize for making your guest feel the most uncomfortable; no pat on the back and “job well done” for making someone cry on air. To be clear, this kind of stuff most definitely exists in the country on other stations and other programs—so this is not a statement about this country’s superior culture. But the BBC, man, that is just good, solid reporting. And they even manage to balance some personality with it, so it’s actually enjoyable to watch. And Chris and I really love our weather person. Her name is Karen. She has nice hair and is always happy about this shit weather. Ya gotta give her credit for that.

I, personally, am feeling no crisis of confidence in the BBC. But perhaps that’s just that I have the context of what the news can be, and how poorly the world’s events can be reported on. Perhaps it’s that I studied journalism in a time just before this sensationalist, wannabe mud-raker style took over, and I have an idealist’s view of what the news should be and know that the BBC pretty much nails that.

Sorry this post didn’t have pictures of Europe in it, guys.

Working Girl

To accurately describe how excited I am, this post would need to really just be one long “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” that extended to about 10x that length. But that wouldn’t be very informative.

I started working. In an office. In a real, live, big name London publishing company. It’s perhaps cliche to say it’s a dream come true, but what else can I possibly call it? Working from home was nice for awhile. I really did enjoy staying in my pajamas and hitting the grocery store whenever I wanted, and going to the gym at 11 AM. But it was all easily and happily given up. I’m in a great place, with great people, in an excellent neighborhood.

Each morning on my walk from Tottenham Court Road, I pass the Phoenix Theatre. The same show has been running at this theater since I was 17, and I visited the first time I came to London. It geographically marks where I consciously sealed my own fate; A place where I decided I just would absolutely die if I didn’t live here one day. I saw Blood Brothers with half of my school, and I don’t know if anyone else felt the way I did after that trip. But for me, there was never going to be anywhere else that made me happy after that. And now I walk by this place every day, and give it a little wink to say good morning. Close to 9 months in to our life here, and closing in on some sense of normalcy, it’s reminding me just how remarkable life can be.

And now I’m going to go get drunk with a bunch of English people at a Mexican restaurant owned by Americans.

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New Looks for Fall

I think this current header might be one of the coolest things I’ve ever designed. Your thoughts (as long as they’re full of praise and wonder) are welcome. Otherwise, keep it in your pocket.

It has been some month. I don’t really suggest dividing your time between three countries in two continents over a period of only one week. You will really, really hate everyone and everything around you. Each of these things deserves its own post, and with any luck I’ll get to that in the next few days, but for now, here’s a quick recap of the past few months in photos.

We went to Italy in July, and it looked like this:


This is Lake Como.


This is Milan.

Then I went to America in August, and it looked like this:


Lunch in Newport


We did one of the first grown-up family things we’ve ever done together and visited a vineyard in Newport. It felt weird. My sister is not a baby anymore.

Then we went to Paris to celebrate an “anniversary.” It’s not a real anniversary. It was ten years since Chris and I sat at a dorm room table, taking shots of tequila and drinking Bud Light, and realized that we were stuck with each other, for better or worse.


That’s the Eiffel Tower.

There are lots more photos to share and lots more stories to tell. We were so lucky to spend some time last week with Christy & Paul when they visited, and are looking forward to having more Wayne+Northeastern friends visit in a few weeks! And then we’re going to Greece for a week. Boom.

They’re Coming to America

So, I decided somewhat last minute that I needed to get back to the US for some time this summer. Since I’d expected to have a real job at this point, I didn’t think that was going to happen. But since I’m still freelancing, and…quite frankly, kinda livin’ the dream right now (whether I want to be or not)… I decided I needed a week of real summer. I needed to see some ocean. I needed to see my family, and spend a week on the farm, and have ice cream from Somerset Creamery.

So I’m flying from Heathrow to Boston on Monday, for a week. This will only be my second international flight alone, and frankly—I really am totally uncomfortable with that. I’ve been doing really well lately on our short flights, and not freaking out. But 7 hours is a different story. What’s the lamest thing that can happen to someone who loves to travel? To suddenly, in their late twenties, develop a moderate-to-intense fear of flying, and intense-to-severe claustrophobia. It’s better if Chris is there so I can squeeze his arm, and to make me feel like someone will take care of me if suddenly the Xanax turns on me. That said, the prospect of reading Game of Thrones for six unadulterated hours is getting me through. I wonder if I’ll get a flight attendant who decides they don’t care if I keep my Kindle on through take-off, or one who will require me to go BALDWIN. Reading is as good for me as Xanax. (How’s that for an advertising tagline?)

Things I learned the last time I visited the US: It’s really weird to be “home” and not have regular use of a cell phone. It’s really weird not to walk to the grocery store. It’s really weird to suddenly crave terrible food you didn’t know you missed.

Aside from that, this will be the longest Chris and I have been apart, since, um, I think, ever? Guess we’ll see how this goes!

But I am thrilled to get to spend some time with my family, and wear SHORTS!

Upon my return, we will be heading to Paris on Friday, the 24th for a long weekend. That day we’ll celebrate two really amazing things: First, our 8TH MONTH living in the UK, and second, the date that, ten years ago, Chris and I played cards at a dorm room kitchen table and sealed our fates forever.

More about Horses

Is there really anything more adorable than the miniature Tower Bridge they’ve created for the show jumping court? (Is that what it’s called? A court? I have no idea, obviously.) It slightly beats out the adorable miniature Lions-from-Trafalgar-Square and miniature St.-Paul’s-Creepily-Split-in-Halfs. Are they even showing this in the US? I don’t think I can remember ever watching half of the events I’ve seen this time around. Generally, I’m much more of a winter Olympics kind of gal, but I remember watching a decent amount of the Beijing Olympics, and seriously don’t remember half of these things.

Speaking of Beijing, I read an article about how to pronounce it. (Who knew?! Not me.)

(Sorry, I keep getting distracted by the little hurdle game on Google. My best time so far is 14.9 seconds.)

Here are my favorites from this course. (It’s called a course!)


Miniature Post Boxes (or are these enlarged?) [Image: ShropshireStar]


Miniature Tower of London. [Image: BusinessInsider]


Miniature Stonehenge. [Image: London2012]


Miniature Big Ben. [Image: London2012]


Miniature Big Ben with London Eye. [Image: Telegraph/Getty Images]


Miniature Tower Bridge. [Image: Yahoo]

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