Part II: Welcome to Newark, I'm Sorry If the Firetrucks Alarmed You

[OK SAND DIEGO NOW I AM MAD AT YOU. Way to eff up the wifi and delete my entire post. Oh boy I am mad. THIS IS THE MADDEST I HAVE BEEN ALL DAY]

everyone take a nice break since the last post? i did. i ate some chex mix. yeah, that's right, somebody knows how to plan. also, want to point out that there is an abandoned book on a table in this airport called The Red Queen. my experience at the spy museum in DC leads me to believe this must be a spy drop point. maybe i should check it out and become a spy. i seem to have messed up my internal clock pretty good right now and am ready for another day...SPY

right. where were we? ah that's right.


about 30 minutes into the actual flight, the polite pilot comes on the PA (which is terrifying and loud when you have the headphones in. i jumped every time he announced anything. it was noticeable).
“So you may have noticed that we've turned around. We've uh..got a slight maintenance problem ..and uh ..we need to go back to Newark to check it out. This is not an emergency, we just uh want to make sure we take all safety precautions”
seemed like nothing was on fire, so I just shrugged, watched the ad on my tv telling me I should pay for the inflight tv, and ate my pretzels. But clearly the majority of the people on the plane starts freaking out and become convinced we are about to die a horrible fiery death.
Static “Welcome to Newark! I uh.. hope the firetrucks and emergency crews on either side of the plane didn't alarm you. It's just protocol. We uh .. didn't ask for them due to the MINOR nature of this problem..so uh, sorry about that”
people on the plane are murmuring through it all saying things like 'yeah, right. Not an emergency.' listen folks. I don't know how to tell you this, but if it was an emergency, the crews would actually be doing something and we wouldn't just be sitting there twiddling our thumbs. at least, I was twiddling.
Nothing was on fire, by the way, some sort of maintenance door got a bit flappy in the flight. They weren't sure if it was left open or came open during the flight. I should hope it just came open, or the guy in charge of closing that door needs to be backhanded. If my mom's car flips out every time I don't immediately put my seatbelt on, surely an airplane can have a flappy open door warning light.
Static “So uh, we've just found out that two of our flight attendants are illegal... (BIG pause here by the pilot, I thought for sure he was going to follow this with 'immigrants' and I just started laughing)... are illegal because they have been in the air too long (technically we havent really 'been in the air'..). So uh, we've got one flight attendant at the airport and we've got about 40 minutes before another one can arrive.”

another half hour or so of people rabble rousing and the pilot comes back on:

“uh yeah, so just a little more time before we can get that second flight attendant. If any of you wish to not continue flying, let us know. (Again, they are being very loose with this 'flying' nonsense.) for the rest of you, if you'd uh like to get off the plane and get some food, you may do so at this time. Unfortunately, we uh don't have any complimentary food on this flight (slight murmurs of outrage), but uh the direct tv will be free for everyone for the duration of the flight.

Everyone who was just mad now rejoices. AMERICA LOVES FREE TV. I just ate my pretzels and laughed every time the poor guy had to make an announcement. I was really running low on pretzels.

So we all get off the plane, which is a plan that could be disaster. I buy a protein bar and some chex mix (note: I hate chex mix now, I just ate about 3 servings of it. Vomit)

I sit down in the middle of the airport floor to charge my phone and decide to call anita, figuring she would try to check the status and would assume I died a horrible fiery death. Interestingly, several times when I tried to check the status of the flight I just got weird error messages. I would assume these error messages mean things like 'i'm terribly sorry but we have NO idea where this plane is or IF this plane is, please check back in a bit and hopefully no one will have died a horribly fiery death.' It is a bit sketchy, to be fair.

We somehow all make it back on the plane in a timely fashion and the poor pilot apologetically tells us that we have to watch the safety video again. The safety video includes an introduction by the CEO of continental. People were shaking their fists, muttering hateful things, mocking, and laughing. I wish I could have recorded this for a sound company's “disgruntled crowd murmurs before riot” track.

So we fly and we fly and we fly and we land.

The most unbelievable thing that happened today:


Part I: Welcome to Newark, I'm Sorry If the Firetrucks Alarmed You

Dont' worry San Diego, I am here. I know you were getting worried. I could tell by the way you set up some wifi for me and set aside a comfortable chair. the way you dropped the gate closing off the airport escaltor, thinking to yourself, 'i guess she's not coming after all...' WELL I AM HERE. do not fret. we will play together and i will enjoy your not disgusting weather and your famed zoo and your museums and your burritos and your fullagars.

what's that, San Diego? what took me so long? Well, funny you should ask. it has a little something to do with your good friend Continental Airlines. let's go back to the beginning, shall we?

i woke up as though i was going to be spending my day off doing nothing and then going back to work tomorrow. (note, that is not actually the case. i will not go to work until july 25th, if i ever do go back). around 11am when i was searching for travel size shampoo and trying to find a substitute for the bagel store that happened to be closed the one time i tried to go there, i realized 'oh hey, i am going on a plane today. maybe i should pack.'

so i walked somewhere else, got a bagel, and leisurely ate it.

ok really now, i should pack. so i do. then i think maybe i should repaint my toes. i mean really, San Deigo, i knew deep down you'd judge me. and i know my toes will be covered up most of the time while i rollerblade around town in a bikini (this is what happens everyday in every part of california, right?), but they will look nice when i try to surf and almost drown because i am so weak and then get saved by a seal only to be subsequently  eaten by a shark. plus the nail color was called Pacific Blue (thanks Katie Carroll).

i get to the airport with ample time. pay my 25 dollars to check a bag (that is poop, airlines. poop i tell you.) i obviously have ample time so i track down the jamba juice and get a delightful smoothie concoction that everyone at the gate is obviously jealous of. except for the two kids who were pretended to be cartoons and airplanes who RAN full speed around the whole waiting area. they weren't interested in my jamba juice.

so we get on the plane, i start watching the directtv (they charge you for THAT too! wtf kids. it's nearly a 6 hours flight.




is it just me?

Today i found myself in a quandary.

You see, i live to go to concerts. and i do not like the idea of concerts selling out before i have the time to find someone who wants to go. so i just buy two. today i had one extra and wasn't sure if i wanted to go it alone.

Only one time in my life have i purchased a sole, lonely ticket. that was for badly drawn boy in london, before i knew anyone well enough to convince them it would be a good time. or before i knew anyone well enough for them to just blindly trust my music judgement, as some have come to do. however, the week of that concert about 4 people told me they would have gone if i had only had another ticket. sigh. really?

so far my only experience with going to a concert alone involved everyone telling me it was socially unacceptable to do so, everyone telling me i would get murdered, not getting murdered, going into the venue and seeing that even though people waited outside no one went up to the front, going up to the front, moving cords that got stuck on speakers, seeing BDB singing and shaking hands with people, having sweaty hands since i was wearing several layers of clothes and it became very hot, thinking oh no i think he is going to try to shake my hand, having my hand kissed, thinking boy this is awkward, but enjoying myself nonetheless.

so. as you might ascertain, i was unsure about what going to Beirut alone might bring. the band, not the city. my friend wound up not being able to go and i didn't try very hard to convince anyone to go to Montclair NJ. why? because it was montclair and that is not nyc. people have a hard time with that.

1. i am about to get off the train and a man standing on the other side of the vestibule mumbles something to me. 'what's that?' i say, in a polite way, even though, when written, that sounds impolite or  like an old lady who wears her glasses on a chain and has to look up from her knitting to try to read your lips while you talk. the situation was not much different. i no knitting. but probably should get a chain...  he says ' nice pumas'. what? i was confused. i am wearing shoes that are at least 5 years old because i refuse to part with them, but the weird part is i really think he was sincere. that is all he says. then we leave the train.

2. i get to the venue and decide to check twitter. a fairly new band that i like very much (Pearl and the Beard), just tweeted that they are at the same show. literally as i am replying to the band's tweet, someone walks up next to me playing with their phone. i look over and think that looks like a whole lot like Jeremy from the band i am tweeting. i was intrigued by this new 21st century awkward situation that was born. i felt that tweeting ' i am standing right next to you' is a little too 'call someone on the phone, breathe heavily, then tell them what they are wearing and to look outside.' in other words, a little creepy murderer-y. i decided then that i should just say hi. luckily the minute i was going to do this, he moves forward to an open space further up. which is good because the only plan of action i could think up was poking him in the arm reluctantly, saying 'hi. so this is going to be weird unless the answer is yes, but are you in a band and is called pearl and the beard? if so you are awesome. and i like your beard.' see why it's good for me not to talk to people?

3. pretty sure a girl from high school came up right next to me two minutes later. this has yet to be confirmed because i was still trying to figure out if jeremy was really jeremy and i was starting to really question myself and my perceptions of who people really were.

4. wandering away from the concert (in the opposite direction from where i need to be), killing time because the next train wasn't for about 45 minutes. someone sort of skips up and taps me on the shoulder. oh hey kid from college that i havent seen or talked to in like 5 years; what's up? so we talk. then i go on my merry way because i was very paranoid about missing the only train left.

5. i get on the train. sit down and start to read Jane Eyre, which i am obsessed with right now, and a random girl comes over and says HI! in a very overenthusiastic manner. i look up in a very under-enthusiastic manner. 'so would you two mind sitting together so that my friend and i can sit together?'  'oh. uh. ok'. then me and the kid who picked a newspaper up off the ground unannounced, even though it was under the feet of someone he didn't know who was sitting across the way, had a quick battle about who would be moving. i lost. i move up to his seat and say hi, he barely glances up and feel like we are on some kind of blind train date that has already failed and that i didn't want to happen in the first place.

so i do all i can do. shove myself as far as i can to one side of the seat, hold my book like i have t-rex arms to minimize the risk of touching, and think do weird things like this happen to other people all the time, or is it just me?

afterword: beirut was absolutely fantastic. it WAS jeremy, as their twitter has since told me since i fessed up.


the public transportation diaries

i have a few minutes today so for those of you who havent heard this story in person, i shall do a quick one here.

i hope you all have experienced the various joys of public transportation as i have been lucky enough to witness. my twitter feed documents many of the things i have gone through, but i think there is one that stands out from the rest:

one time, a very large black lady sat on me. that's right. sat on me. she wasn't jostled. the train wasn't even that crowded. just. boom. large lady on my lap. i think i am just that not noticeable. there was an empty seat next to me, but i am almost positive that she didn't just miss the seat she was aiming for. the train hadn't even begun to move. there was no lurch forward that might explain why a stranger would sit directly on another stranger. no shoving that often happens when the path is having problems and people get a little nuts trying to squeeze in. nope. just a girl in a seat, and a lady who sat on her.

it was only for a brief moment. she noticed, and just went slip right into the seat next to me. i am not sure if she apologized. all i know is she was ok enough with what just happened that she continued to sit next to me for the entire  22 minute ride to newark (this was pre-hobo).

so here i am, sitting next to a lady who just sat on me, and trying not to laugh because of the ridiculousness of it all. everything of course is made worse because a friend from work was next to me and witnessed the whole thing. the chain reaction of laughing that happens when i try not to laugh yet see someone else laughing at the absurd situation we are in is quite dangerous.

let's just say it was awkward. to all the riders of the path, please peek before you plop


it's just snow, people

why hello boys and girls. perhaps you've noticed that i haven't posted anything in ohhh 9 months. maybe i had a baby? no. absolutely not. i did not have a baby. let's make that clear. but my friend did. and i could have. and that's what matters.
 actually, this hiatus lines up almost perfectly with the amount of time i have been at my new job. you figure out the rest. so i thought i'd start back up in a way that makes you not even miss this at all!  this post has photos! yay! lots of photos. but it also has words! boo! lots of words! read it if you dare.
backstory: i work in south street seaport and i live (sort of) in hoboken. my job may or may not make me dumber and less interesting. you be the judge. let's begin.

i wake up on the day after christmas (boxing day!) thinking of all the pancakes and candy i can eat, all the epic mickey i can play, and all the hours i can stare at my dog. (she sleeps a lot now.) i am told at 8am that the snow is going to start early and that if i need to go to work monday i need to go back to the hobo soon.
 i call hoboken 'the hobo' in hopes that one, just one, person may hear that and think i live in an actual homeless person.
after debating greatly whether i should go back to hobo or just screw it and stay home, i decide to make the journey.  i had some kitties to kittysit and i really like to hoard my PTO. plus my roommate had just called me up saying she had done the inevitable panicked grocery store run and bought loads of food. she didn't buy gallons of water (i asked) or fill the bathtub up with water (i assumed), so we didn't reach y2k crazy yet.

as my brother drives me to the train station we can tell it is clearly escalating in my home town. 
look at how that stick struggles! it knows what is to come.  i saved it from almost certain death and flung it on the lawn with its friends.

i get to the train station and try to wheel my wheely bag. this does not work well with snow, for the record. so i carried it with a lean like a peg-legger. it was heavy and i am weak. after a few chilly minutes standing next to a british person discussing his regrets over not asking for leftovers of the tasty ham (rookie mistake. even a veg knows that), the train arrives.

it was just nj transit, not the polar express.i looked for both santa and josh groban, but i only saw a guido and his lady friend. both of whom foolishly thought a tiny umbrella would help them in a blizzard..its a blizzard kids. i did not take a picture of these stereotypes in fear of someone calling me bro and trying to make me go to the gym. 
after a surprisingly efficient and undelayed ride, i get to the hobo  and drag my new draggy bag to my apartment. 

we spent the greater part of sunday evening watching the fools struggle up this hill. i mean really. where do you POSSIBLY have to go that you think its a good idea to slide your minivan all over the narrow hilly street?    the tires squealed like wildcats, and it made me come a-running to enjoy the show. i should note that no one was hurt and no parked cars were hit. though people did try to cross the street 1.5 feet in front of a car battling it out. we yelled things at those people.
then we went to sleep. 

i wake up and check my work email hoping they would close the office, like the normal people do, but alas, no such luck. we were given the offer to work from home, but since i was not set up for that, i decided i was going in. it's just snow. and i have snow boots and a dream. and a fancy camera phone.and by god, i will not use a PTO day.
 i make it down the stairs and stand in the vestibule that i once found a homeless man sleeping in (he made it very clear that he had no real intention of leaving when he moved aside to let me in). oh the memories.
and here is  what i see.
at this point in the story i get very indignant and slightly outraged. i let out an audible 'REALLY?!' and think REALLY?? HAS NO ONE LEFT BEFORE ME? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. i told this section of the story to a coworker who was quick to stop me and explain that i had it all wrong and that i was the crazy one. and she's right. i suppose i could not think others were crazy for not leaving, when nj had declared a state of emergency. (yes hoboken is nj, despite the people who live here who don't seem to understand that). 

but i have come this far! and i am not about to give up due some precipitation buildup! so after several hip checks to the door (which creaked a whoooolllee lot - but it's fine landords! don't you worry. ps SHOVEL MAH STOOP). i ninja kick my way out, despite a minor back injury and my dry-clean-only pants (whatever, i rolled them up). once out the door i quickly realize my journey has just begun.
yeah. my stoop has some snow. thats not a mini ski slope. that's my stairs. and my gate. i use my shovel boots and find a few stairs, then do the only thing an office assistant can do. threw caution to the wind and jumped the gate to a little snowy alcove below.
there were some immigrant workers shoveling the bodega down the street and no doubt mocking my 7 minute struggle. the signs of which remain in the photo above.

i get to washington street only to find that no one has even bothered trying to plow. YET PEOPLE STILL KEEP DRIVING. OMG.

yeah, this guy is probably an office assistant too. bet his stoop was shoveled. OFFICE ASSITANTS... UNITE!

don't even think for a minute that you can rest. there is no  rest for the weary here in the snow-crippled-square-mile town of hoboken. but i bet there was still a line for the cake boss. jesus christ there are always so many people in line for the cake boss.

at this point i tried to take a video to document a moment or two. kind of like 127 hours only instead of filming because i had to hack my arm off because i got stuck while doing something interesting, i filmed in case i decided to just throw myself face first into a 6-foot snowdrift because i lost the will to go on. the video turned about to be about 15 seconds of foot crunching and wind before the whole video turns black because my computer hand is too cold and just can' take it any more.

these guys dont have any idea where there are or whats happening. i think the front two are partaking in some ritual, synchronized, pagan, anti-snow dance in hopes that horror will all go away soon. THE HORROR, I SAY. for nothing is more horrible than this foreign white substance plaguing our town!

 i come across a familiar struggle halfway down the nearly deserted artery of hoboken. YES, boys and girls, YES. this IS the same van that i mocked while it crawled up the hill outside my apartment. and yes, it was getting mocked again.

  those men in the matching boots either work for the city or are just real pissed off men who shop at the same shoe store, but there was a whole lot of profanity for a peaceful, blustery monday morning. things like " WHY DON'T YOU GET SOME REAL FUCKING TIRES??" yes, solid point. but perhaps what we should really focus on here is " WHY ARE YOUR DRIVING YOU INCOMPETENT FOOL? DO YOU NOT NOTICE THE BLIZZARD?". i hate everyone.

finally i make it to the path station
it looks misleadingly glorious as the sun tries to show its face while it continues to snow. but don't be fooled! it was an hour and half long convoluted journey that took me deeper into nj before taking me to the WTC. but don't worry. i made a friend. jessica... or jennifer. i guess we're more 'acquaintances' then...
finally. i make it to nyc. where the streets look like this:
 and i decide i want a donut. so i go to one dunkin donuts. NO DONUTS. well, i think, that's two strikes for you, DD-that-ran-out-of-donuts-on-free-donut-day, i should have known better. so at this point i am already an hour late, and decide to try the other DD. because as i learned from the quick center: "it's easy to be late", but it's just as easy to be late with donuts."
 and i wanted a mother effin donut. oh what's that DD #2? OH. OK. YOU DON'T HAVE DONUTS EITHER. THAT'S FINE. NOT LIKE IT'S IN YOUR NAME OR ANYTHING. why are they even open? sigh.

i give up and soon see this lovely sign:

they are so not kidding about the falling ice. and somebody measured out the caution tape remarkably well. i was about 7 feet from the door of my building laughing about how i should have stayed home and i see a giant icy flash out of my peripheral vision. then a large crash, and my legs are showered with icicle shrapnel. totally almost Die Hard 2ed right there.


i get inside around 10:20 and the security man at the desk says with utter surprise " Stacey! you made it! is there even anyone up there?". the answer to that is yes. 11 people in fact. in my office. i later find out from the cleaning woman that our office had more people there than the rest of the building combined. its a 35 floor building. people in my office are crazy.
i decide i am leaving at 3:30 and i dont care who knows it. and so i do. and go back on another 2 hour journey that should take about 30 minutes. i regret not staying home home with the schnauzer, but then i wouldn't have experienced the 'city that never sleeps' taking  a little power nap.

oh and i took the ferry the next day. 

 i shall end with a quote from twitter that expresses my feelings better than i can:
Let's agree to not call every snowstorm the Snowpocalypse. Save it for the real Snowrapture when Santa returns.


end of hampstead heath day.

Hampstead. can't recall what street, but i liked it.

Fueled by this veg sandwich, I begin to make my way toward Baker Street to meet Helen. After I walk our of the Heath  and past Spaniard Inn (I want to eat there) I accidentally drop the last half of my sandwich onto the remarkably clean sidewalk. Let’s just stop right here before anyone gets worried- I did not eat it.

However, it was a pretty solid womp womp Debbie Downer type moment. My immediate reaction was to go ‘oh’ and droop my head Charlie brown style. I couldn’t decide if I should pick it up or leave it. it was just cheese and bread so the squirrels that you aren’t supposed to feed would probably enjoy it. however I don’t like litter, and it was started to drizzle and I didn’t want any strangers to suffer any cheese related slips, so I picked it up.

I walked a VERY long time carrying it. London doesn’t have many garbage cans, which is why I am all the more impressed with how clean they keep the city (especially compared to NYC). There must be a whole army of people dedicated to cleaning the streets and sidewalks of London, but I never see them. they are probably harry potter esque elves. I want to write them a nice letter. People deserve nice letters. Anyway, I think they cut down on the garbage cans to prevent terrorist bombings, so I suppose its fair, but it makes it all the more melancholy to have to carry your uneatable sandwich while your stomach growls.

I try to make mental notes of the nice stores and restaurants I see in Hampstead Heath and then try to divert to Keat’s house and John Constable’s gravesite/house, but I gave up because I figured out I didn’t plan my time right. Sigh. I never plan my time right when I go on walkabouts, as Crocodile Dundee might say. At this point it was too late to get on the Tube; it was one of those situations where by the time you walk to the tube, wait for a train, walk from the station blah blah. Also, I had commited myself to walking. And walk I did. Quite fast, considering I had been walking since 9am and sat once to eat my yoghurt and once for a minute to read info on a painting. It was tiring. But I loved every minute of it.

I walk through Regent’s Park and try not to get too sentimental. I miss it so much. But I rush by and get to the theatre on Baker Street, I seem to have memorized the location just from going to it once years ago. I was way late. The movie was set to start at 3:40 and I didn’t even get to the theatre til 3:50. luckily, I remember that they have loads of adverts on first. this is the same theatre Helen, Kristen, Adam and I went to to see the last James Bond 2 years ago. The nostalgia ran deep.

I try – and fail- to call Helen, then I decide to go in and talk to the nice man at the window. A couple before me was trying to get a ticket to the 840 show, although the in the window stated clearly that it was sold out.  So the guy said ‘ you can go in right now’, but I guess the lady wanted to eat so they asked for five minutes to decide. The window guy then said ‘in 5 minutes you can’t go in. it’s about to start.’ So they let me go talk to him. It’s a shot in the dark but I say I am meeting someone and he just says ‘ oh yeah shes in there already.’ ‘did it start yet?’ I ask. And he said, ‘it’s starting right now’. So I run, find Helen, grab my seat, and quickly apologize profusely for being the worst. I really like the movie [this is Quantum of Solace]  and will probably see it again. [ I have].

After the movie I tried to get in contact with jenna and celeste but it was not working out, so Helen and I go to a pub called The Volunteer, a place she apparently frequented but I have never been to. I get a half pint of cider 1. because I am cheap 2. we weren’t really ‘drinking’ and 3. I was a bit cidered out from the Strongbow 2 days ago.

After this we wind up eating at an Italian place down the way. Quite good actually. During our dinner conversation I say, ‘I need to look up the Christmas lightings. I think they start soon.’ WELL, next day in the London Lite (one of the free papers they give out) I find out they already had some. That night. One street over from where we were. The one I really wanted to go to. So that was a huge disappointment for me. I hope they have some smaller ones when I get back.  I will at least try to go to Harrod’s and maybe I can convince someone to ice skate with me at Somerset House.

Helen and I part ways and I go back to jenna’s and finally officially meet Colin, her flatmate. We just hung out, discussed life and everything for a few hours over drinks. It was wonderful. I love that kind of stuff. They are both great. I wish I lived there with them. well, somewhere else in London with them. we eventually go to sleep. Though I can’t sleep of course. And I must wake before jenna this time so I can wake up and get to Baker Street in time to meet David Brady, my art (architectural) history professor from when I was at Regent’s. he is kindly allowing Helen and I to tag along – for free as well!- on his class trip to Cambridge. Good man. 

this was around the corner from the above photo. i like it. the message is still very applicable today. "Cheer up folks. it's only money... love's the important stuff." just another reason why i need to move to this neighborhood.


Hampstead part III: Kenwood House

(part two is posted directly before this. i am posting in quicker succession than usual, so read the two preceding posts to catch up to where i am now, if you feel so inclined)

I begin to the left, as told, and it’s not long before I come to their library. It’s beautiful. I love libraries. It wasn’t enormous and it was ornate enough to be inviting but not too intimidating. I wanted to sit down and read a book. No photos were allowed but I’ll try to find a photo online or I may go back for some postcards or souvenirs.

(taken from the kenwood house section of english heritage's site. this is a shot of the library) 

I move onto the next room where I hear creepy music like some man is just singing some sketchy drinking song in a nearby room. I thought they must have some odd historic video playing upstairs until the man guarding the other room came in to try to figure out the music as well. We both looked at each other and kind of shrugged and laughed. We had a moment. Then I went into the room he was guarding, one of the main art rooms. In addition to some nice portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Romney there were two non-english works worth mentioning.

First is the self-portrait by Rembrandt which is widely thought to be one of his best, apparently.

Second is, and the one I am more interested in, is “The Guitar Player” by Vermeer.
I can’t recall exactly what the man said but either there are 6 Vermeers in the UK and 4 must stay at all times, or there are 4 Vermeers in the UK and 2 must stay at all time. I think it is the 6/4. But this one NEVER moves. Never.

Vermeer’s wife/lover had used this to pay off a debt and the person at Kenwood back in the day (I don’t know the whole lineage. You’ll find I don’t know the full story to a lot of things this trip as it was quite the whirlwind adventure, but hopefully I give enough info that you could google it if you want to know more). Anyway, she used it to pay off a debt, and this guy bought it from a dealer. She later tried to buy it back, to no avail; it was the only one she ever tried to buy back, which led people to believe that the girl in the painting might be one of their daughters.
vermeer's "guitar player" from the kenwood house site.

The painting itself is quite striking. It certainly fits in with Vermeer’s use of light and putting a girl in a domestic setting, but it looks different, more casual almost. In some ways it looks less detailed, but it others it seems more so. Like the guitar strings, for example, appear to be vibrating like they were just strummed. The girl glances to the side as though someone just called her name while she was practicing. A framed landscape hangs in the background (I love stuff like that: a painting within a painting). Evidence shows Vermeer possibly used a camera obscura. He has cropped the painting at her arm, but the canvas was not altered. This is how it was painted, which is unlike the style at the time. It was nice, and I learned quite a bit from my new ‘what’s that weird music’ friend.

I moved throughout the lovely house, to a room that had paintings by my boy JMW Turner.  I love him. There was also a portrait of a man whose name I forget already, but he was an inventor as well and the Skeleton Clock he had created sat directly across the room from him.

Kenwood House had a great decorative arts collection; much of it made possible by the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my favorite museums of all time. Another painting looked like it easily could have been my mom as a kid, and a different one in the room like pretty much exactly like me.

I walked through a music room containing a piano, harp, organ, etc. and then made my way upstairs. The second level had portraits of the people and the family related to Kenwood House in some way. Some were pretty awesome. One artist seemed to do things very much like Holbein (of the famed Henry the  IIV portrait). Another room contained jewelry (including some crazy iron stuff from Berlin), and a bunch of mini portraits –not really my thing. BUT there was a wall of shoe buckles. YES cases and cases of shoes buckles. I love shoe buckles now. I want them. Bring back shoe buckles!

I ended with a trip to the museum store, almost bought many many things, but actually bought a book for two pounds on sale that highlighted the free English Heritage sights across London and the UK. Worthy, I think, of 2 pounds.  Then I take myself to the other side of the building , past the orangery under repair and into the Steward’s Room – a little cafĂ© where I buy a huge and delightful cheddar and tomato sandwich. With mayo of course. Yuck. Why the mayo, England? Always. Mayo.