Monday, March 25, 2013

That One Time in Philly


We had a hankering to see the Liberty Bell. So we threw caution to the wind and rented a car with a really dumb GPS. That's what we get for leaving ours in England. Then two hours and a million dollars in tolls later, we were there! The weather was glorious and I didn't even wear my coat for most of the day! 

The Liberty Bell was really our only agenda for the day so we wandered around Philly for a while to see what they had to offer. The only other thing I really know about Philadelphia is that they make cheese steak. Hello, west coast girl right here. We snagged a tour of Independence Hall and saw the famous Rising Sun chair the George Washington used. I was really impressed with the original woodwork so I made sure to touch the railings as much as possible because, you know, all the famous people. 

There are these two warring steak shops across the street from each other in Philly named Pat's and Geno's. A girl told us that Pat's was six blocks from Independence Hall. She lied. Maybe six-TEEN. I was completely famished by the time we finally saw it, but we decided to go to Geno's instead because it was closer and they support their troops. I don't know if Pat's supports their troops, but if they had been on the other side of the street, they would have had a little extra business that evening. Nine dollars for a sandwich (even a famous sandwich) seems a little much to me. I did enjoy it though. I think I put a little too much hot sauce on Forrest's steak while he was guarding a table for us. But don't worry, he just finished mine when he couldn't take the heat anymore. 

Sidenote: I actually overheard a few people who bought both sandwiches and they preferred Geno's so maybe we made the right choice after all. I guess we'll never know. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

England Feels Weird.

Ever since we landed, really, ever since we boarded the plane on our merry way back to this Great Britain, I have had these strange feelings rumbling around. It's unease or something. We left the U.S. and came back and now I'm missing something. 

I suppose I just know that I'm ready to be home. I'm done with the two year vacation from real life and am ready to finish school and figure out what we're going to do for the rest of our lives. Somehow I'm worried that all the good things in my life came too early and now all I have left is work and school. Forever. No more traveling, no more doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I enjoy my life excessively and even though I know that it's not practical forever (nor do I want it to be), I also don't want to become a 9-5 drone. Also, I'm really dreading going back to school.

I guess that's where these feelings of anxiety are coming from. I felt the same way when we got back from a month hiatus (for me at least) in Texas last fall and eventually it faded away as I got back into my routine and realized I still had a while to brood. But it's not the same. Now we're on the home stretch. America for good is coming up way too fast, but too slow at the same time. I keep looking around and realizing how temporary we have made this home of ours. We don't have any real furniture, not much decoration, and the bare minimum of plants or anything we know we can't bring back to the states. Okay, I may have gone a slight bit overboard with the plants. I have like 20. And I am so ridiculously upset about not being able to pack them (yet I still bought two more plants just two days ago! what is wrong with me?!) and I have been trying to figure out who will take them when I leave so that they won't be lonely or, you know, dead.

At the same time, I can't wait to finish school. I'm so ready. I'm not looking forward to going to class. I am ready to have my full degree and be accomplished. Because when I'm accomplished, I can do things like wear lipstick and high heels and I won't feel like I'm dressing up for fun. I guess. 

I also made a list of why I am especially glad to move back to America. 


1. I will no longer have to deal with the obnoxiously hard water. Like so ridiculous that I have to change my shower curtain once every few months even with a filtering shower head. We're talking water so hard that Forrest had to get a special skin cream when he first moved here because his face was getting so dry. Water that still has floating minerals in it after it has gone through the Brita. I really, really hate the water. It smells funny too.

2. I can keep my plants! I can't wait to buy plants (and other things) that I know I can keep forever. This is a really tragic thing for me because I have actually managed to keep living things alive. Some of them for almost two years! There's a special bond between a girl and her first house plants. Let's not talk of the empty flower pots that haunt my dreams.

3. I can buy things with $$ again. Spending pounds makes me want to cry. I think something is cheap and I'm all set when suddenly I realize that I'm actually spending 1.6 times more than I thought and actually could have bought this online for the same amount in dollars. Or cheaper. It's also really annoying to have more than one type of currency in your wallet. I currently have three. 

4. No more transformers. No, not the kind you're thinking. This kind of transformer is a 50lb blue metal box that all of our American appliances have to be plugged into in order to work. Those things have some sharp corners and make vacuuming even less enjoyable. 

5. Normal sized roads! This really counts for more than roads because everything is so tiny, but the roads are what bother (and terrify) me most.

There are so many good things about England that I was reminded of even as I was making this list, but I had to keep explaining to myself that I'm trying to make myself feel better about our inevitable move back to the Western Hemisphere.

It felt weird not to have a picture in this post, but since all my recent photos are of things in DC that I haven't blogged about yet, above is a picture of me being happy in Virginia. Mount Vernon to be exact. And my feet could barely reach the ground from that bench.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How I found out that I'm nobility.

We spent this day at the Jefferson Memorial and the National Archives. There were almost no people at the Jefferson Memorial. We were the only people on the guided tour. Whenever something like this happens, it makes me feel really special but then when that wears off, I feel really awkward because we are the only people the guide is looking at. That is way too much eye contact for me. I also feel like I have to give encouraging nods to prove that I'm paying attention. 

We also went in the Archives to look at the Declaration of Independence and the other famous documents. Did you know they don't let you take pictures in there anymore? 

You know how you always thought it would be cool to be descended from really famous people? After a little research in the National Archives, it turns out I am! Forrest had been wanting to look up his ancestry for a while, so we got our cool "Researcher" I.D. cards and went to work. Most of my family has been in America for a really long time. Like they came over on the Mayflower long time. So it was kind of boring to find out that most of them have been farmers for 400 years. 

Then I hit the jackpot. I found a family tree dating back really, really far. After clicking on random people to see where they were born, I found a woman who was born in a castle. "A castle?" I thought to myself, "Maybe she was rich! Or at least somewhat important." So I googled this Margaret Douglas and found out that not only was she a Countess, she was King Henry VIII's niece! I'm directly related to King Henry VIII's niece who was, at one point, next in line for the crown. Henry VIII may not be the most wonderful person in the world, but I dare say that pretty much everyone knows his name, so I'll take it. I could have been Queen. 

Now that I know I'm  basically royalty, I guess Forrest can do the laundry around here. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunset on D.C. (figuratively too)

The other day was the prettiest sunset. I had to stop and look back every two minutes while we walked to the Metro. I have really been enjoying this beautiful March sunshine and I really really don't want to leave but I really really really can't wait to have my car and house back. We actually rented a car this weekend and got our taste of freedom for the first time in three weeks. It was really hard to hand over the keys, but I have a new-found respect for those who do not have them. Cars, not keys. Although convenient at times, public transit gets old real quick.

I'm pretty sure it's supposed to snow this week in England and I feel like I have already gone through this being-in-warm-America-leaving-to-freezing-England thing once in the last six months. But really, I am so happy to go back home. I can only live out of a suitcase for so long and it turns out that 3.5 weeks is the limit.

P.S. It was 28° in England today and 63° in DC. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Military Day

The high for last Tuesday was 58 degrees so we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather and go to Arlington National Cemetery. On the way, we made a detour to the Pentagon Memorial and the U.S. Air Force Memorial. I spent the day in awe of the number of people who have given their lives for our country. I have been feeling extra patriotic ever since we arrived at the Capitol and that feeling has only grown with each  passing day as we see more and more of the great things that our country was built upon. 

As we viewed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I was overwhelmed with pride for my country and grief for the soldiers whose families never knew exactly what happened to them. I have never had anyone close to me die in a war or battle, but I couldn't stop picturing the wives and children of those who died and putting myself in their place. I think it's important to remind myself of this often so that I can stay vulnerable. It's way too easy to become callous to death and with everything happening in the world, I definitely do not want that. So what if I have to fight back tears walking through a cemetery of people who died hundreds of years ago? All of them were real people and most of them died way too young.

 Oh, and Arlington Cemetery was built on General Lee's wife's land. His house was pretty cool. 

*Pictures 1-6 and 18 were taken by my cute husband.