Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the American holiday that I miss the most (although in the summer, I say it's the 4th of July).  I miss having a few days off to go out with friends on Thanksgiving Eve, to stuff myself silly at dinner on Thanksgiving and then spend the rest of a lazy afternoon playing card games and chatting with my family.  

Today, I do have to work due to my ridiculous schedule of late, but I am taking a few hours off this morning to attend the Thanksgiving Day service at St Paul's Cathedral.  I have never been inside the cathedral before, which is one of my favourite London landmarks, and I thought that this special event would make today feel more like a holiday than just having turkey for dinner.  Apparently, the US Ambassador will speak and read out a message from President Obama and there will be an American Church Choir and US Marine Corps Color Guard, but I'm not really sure what else to expect.

If you're celebrating today, I hope you have a great holiday. In true Thanksgiving tradition, I will be taking some time out today to remember to be thankful and acknowledge the blessings in my life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

London Guide: Real Life Instagram

Wandering the streets of London, you may stumble upon an analog version of a familiar frame.  Brazilian artist Bruno Ribeiro has placed Real Life Instagram frames throughout London and near some popular landmarks like St Paul's and Borough Market.

Ribeiro claims to be a fan of Instagram and the way that it has brought photography into daily life and made people more observant of the detail around them.  However, Ribeiro also dislikes how modern technology is making us obsessed with staying connected while, at the same time, pushing away those physically close to us.

Ultimately, Ribeiro, who also works in advertising, is seeking to make people smile.  He claims that he doesn't want to make any serious statement but is simply trying to get people to stop checking their email and look at the amazing city around them that they would otherwise miss.

I will certainly be on the lookout for the Real Life Instagram's in London.  There is so much to see in London - there is new detail to see every time you take a second to look a bit closer.  I like that this installation is helping people to remember to stop and look at what is right in front of them.

(I know I said I was getting back into this last week, but please bear with me - there is a lot going on right now, that I will try to explain at some point. S xx)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Checking In

Today I am taking some time to check in.

I apologise for being largely absent for the past couple of weeks - things have been a little bit crazy on this end.  For me, the last couple of weeks have consisted of:
  1. An average work day lasting 12 hours, and when you add in my 2-hour commute (1 hour each way) and at least one night a week when I have to continue working when I get home, this does not leave a lot of spare time.
  2. Being granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a permanent resident - i.e. I can now stay here forever and they can't kick me out.  Amazing result but an amazingly stressful process.
  3. A man breaking into our flat via the bedroom window with socks on his hands to bee caught by our current houseguest and later arrested.

Life has been hectic to say the least.  On a side note, I'm pretty grateful for having discovered that stress does not necessarily lead to poor health, it appears that only the belief that stress is bad for your is bad for you (otherwise, I might be doomed).

I took some time out this weekend to decompress, and I'm easing back into things today.  With the upcoming holidays, I'm feeling a bit sentimental, so I wanted to share the John Lewis Christmas Ad for 2013.  If you're anything like me (read: an overly emotional crier), you will need a tissue at hand.  

They get it so right, every time.  I still think my favourites are from 2011 and 2012 though - see my recap of John Lewis Christmas ads here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Touching Strangers

This past week or so, I have felt particularly conscious of our shared humanity and the ability of a big city like London to impact the way that we interact with (or completely fail to interact with or even notice) the people around us, despite the fact that we are often surrounded by others (and, in London, this often occurs in very small spaces).  In fact, in London, it feels like an unwritten rule that "thou shalt not interact with strangers" and one should keep to one's self, even though this feels so unnatural (and I'm not convinced that Londoner's really want to revert to this - see the behaviour of Londoners during the 2012 Olympics).

I really took notice when I saw the video below.  For his series Touching Strangers, photographer Richard Renaldi seeks out two people completely unknown to each other and photographs them intimately posing as friends, family or lovers.  The result is sometimes awkward, but often emotional and natural.

A few of Richard Renaldi's subjects were interviewed in this video and they even go so far as to say that, after posing with someone that they do not know, they feel that they care for that person, that it broke down barriers and that it was nice to feel comfort.

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