The awareness that travel brings

I saw a bug crawl across the window just now. A tiny bug. His feet went so fast to get across the expanse of double pained glass. Country life has slowed me down over these past 10 days. Enough to notice a tiny bug on a huge aircraft.

I had a knowing glance between a lady and me when the flight attendant just announced we were held up due to a strike in France. “Always France!” She proclaimed. I nodded my head and laughed in agreement. After all, this is my third time living in Europe. I understand how the English feel about the French and even if I don’t agreement with all the sentiments, it’s known the French love a good strike.

I can’t believe I’ve been in London a year now. It started going so slowly and then sped up as life takes over and routines allow you to forget about the passing of time and small nuances in your daily life. In my daily life. Amazing how a small 10 day trip to my home town has slowed down my breath, allowed me to see the moments again.

In front of me are two American guys discussing Europe and how it is going to impact their lives. Both of their first time getting free wine on a plane; first time in Europe. The one Guy in the blue jacket claims we will be here for another hour waiting for the bus. He says it matter of factly as if he knows the airport life. He says he’s moving here for work. It comes out it’s in the aviation sector. American Airlines. He speaks more loudly than he needs to – the type who wants everyone to know about how many places he’s lived; how much he knows and how friendly he is. I know these Americans well.

As I wrote that, the flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker to correct him. 5 more minutes she says.

In typical American fashion, he remains positive and is happy he was proven wrong.

The other in the green shirt is here to travel across Europe with his girlfriend – the veterinarian.

They will notice all the intricacies of European life in the meantime. For the next six months until it becomes home and the day to day isn’t as exciting but more comforting. They will notice such small things as bugs crawling on airplane windows because these are European bugs – these bugs got swagger.

Another 5 minutes for the bus, the flight attendant says. The guy in the blue jacket asks for a beer cart to come around. I notice his polo shirt is tucked into his khaki trousers and he’s wearing his class ring. He also is sporting a pair of white tennis shoes.

Took the bus. 45 minute wait for immigration. The television in the immigration line shows the royal family. A reminder of who to obey?

I’m asked the same questions in immigration as I always am – although this time she asks me where I’m born. I get confused and wonder if I’ve left that off my paper. She says no, she was just confirming it.

I leave the in-between space that is immigration and enter the land that is my home now…London, England. I wait for it, and sure enough the flood of European accents overtake my ears, and I smile.

I miss my family, my nephews growing up, the friends that have known me since I wore awkward bandanas around my head and deer running in front of my mom’s car. However, this is home now, and I have to think that fate has brought me here. I hop on the tube back to work with luggage in tow, a slightly weary smile and confidence that the next year will be even better than the last…and I hope I can keep this memory of travel and the awareness it brings with it…

don't look back, you're not going that way

6 months into the new year’s resolutions

So since I just had an amazing experience last night that reminded me of one of my resolutions, I wanted to take a look at the rest (you can read about the one that kickstarted this blog here)…will I finish all of them? Have I given up on any? Am I ridiculous?

My actionable items for 2014 (the italicized bits are what I wrote in the New Year on this post):

1. Finish my documentary by end of 2014

Work, travels and life have taken over and my planning has taken a bit of a back seat on this. I’ve watched several documentaries in the meantime – does that count? And I’ve made lists of the characters I want in the documentary, bought a camera, researched other artists doing similar things, and assessed Kickstarter as a means to funding this project. But honestly this is one resolution that I want to do right, and if I don’t finish it by this year, I’m not worried. I will do it, and I will do it better if I take my time rather than rush. That said, I don’t want to extend it too long where my excitement for the project wears thin. Maybe this summer I will pick it back up.

 

2.  Travel somewhere in the world once a month

So far so good!

January – Brighton, UK

February – Paris, France

1900104_791919560835735_1403290758_n paris france

March – Porto, Portugal

porto portugal

April – Cornwall, UK

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May – Berlin, Germany

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June – Baltimore, MD USA

July – Lezvos, Greece

August – Burning Man, Nevada, USA

 

3. Lose 15 pounds in the next two months through healthy eating and running, yoga and karma, then maintain

Have no idea what I weigh, and I think I would like to amend this one to “maintaining a healthy lifestyle.” Through my healthy lifestyle I should be able to keep slim – just have to watch all those late nights and happy hours in London! But been running, cycling, did Tough Mudder, some yoga and high intensity aerobics. I’ve just signed up for a boot camp this summer as well.

 

4. Tough Mudder in April

BOOM

VivaKi team takes on Tough Mudder and raises over 1500 GBP for cancer

VivaKi team takes on Tough Mudder and raises over 1500 GBP for cancer

 

5. Half Marathon in September (The Windsor Half Marathon looks nice!)

Thanks for the reminder! Time to sign up.

 

6. Audition for 2-3 plays by end of February

NOPE – I have not auditioned for anything, but I’d like to adjust this to taking comedy/improv classes rather than auditioning.

For number 7, click here to read about this huge one!

8. Save £1,000/month starting in February

Errrr, the traveling has made this more difficult…BUT, big news to come…all will be well!

 

9. Get 8 hours of sleep per night! (on average)

Perhaps, on average – sure, why not??

 

10. Call one of my closest family/friends once a week (can be a different one each week)

YES – been catching up with new friends and old friends and family members. Grandmom Kisner, I’m calling you soon – Amy B, Pascale, Cortney, Courtney, Kathleen, Tracy, Beth, Rachel, Kaitlin – it’s been too long, can we please catch up soon!?

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, how’s it going?

Intention or why New Year’s resolutions are not bullshit

When the New Year comes around, you have the inevitable nay-sayer who will chime in as everyone else is posting what they hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, and will say that resolutions are bullshit. Some of them will argue that they always are reassessing their goals and dreams, and to do it once a year just isn’t enough. Others will say that what’s the point in making a resolution when 9 times out of 10, people won’t stick to them. Well, if you are lucky enough to always be reassessing your goals, or unlucky enough to be so pessimistic that you don’t believe there could possibly be a positive outcome, then just keep on keeping on and leave us “others” to do our own thing.

To me, putting an intention out to the world, no matter what time of year, is important. New Years just happens to be when I remember to do that because, well, everyone else is and rather than thinking I’m just following the masses, I like to think that the collective energy around this time makes the intentions that much stronger…ya hear me?!

And what happened this week, – whether it had anything to do with my own intentions, sheer luck, or knowing great people I don’t know – but as I went through the list here I realized that without even actively looking at my list throughout the past five months I’ve somehow managed to get through quite a lot of what I set out to do.

If you want to read about the rest of my New Year’s resolutions, you can do so here. For this blog, I’m going to focus on the one about a play…

7. Act in a play in London in next 6 months (this one scares me! Please don’t make me speak in a British accent!)

I’ve had a week of inspiration. It all started with seeing my high school theatre director who always is full of wisdom, compassion and love – I saw him last Saturday while he was in town directing a play for the first time in over 10 years perhaps. I like to think his energy kicked this whole thing off.

donald hicken baltimore school for the arts

A few days later something amazing happened.

Always trust your friends to set you up with someone amazing. When I first came here, I had a couple of friends who introduced me to various people in England knowing I was moving and wouldn’t know many people. My one friend Andrew did an amazing introduction that I just couldn’t resist saying YES PLEASE! to. He started it like this:

It was just too much.
I could no longer live in a world in which you two did not know each other.
You are both trained actresses who have put their skills to work in other worlds.
You both spent years building up your respective scenes in Chicago then promptly ditched the city for London.
You both go by three names.

That intro alone was enough to make me want to meet her, but then of course he went on to explain in more detail how much we needed to meet. So, we did. Sarah is here on a Fulbright scholarship and the first time I met her I was blown away by her awesomeness – yeah, she’s obviously smart and so interesting but she’s also incredibly likable and so full of life. We instantly hit it off, and in between her travels between Edinburgh, Bristol and the rest of the UK, we’ve been able to meet a few times.

She knew I had trained as an actress since the age of 8 but hadn’t acted in over 5 years. We had talked in length about performing, and she really made me realize why I loved it so much back in the day. I have to admit, I do miss it at times.

Well, last week she asked me to be a part of this incredible production called The Roof at an outdoor theatre outside of the National Theatre. They were looking for supernumeraries, and she admitted it wouldn’t be a huge role but an important one, and I had to commit to at least 8 performances.

Without even really knowing much about it, I jumped at it. I mean, it’s put on by a company called Fuel Theatre, and is in conjunction with the Royal National Theatre – talk about an experience! Last night was our first rehearsal followed by our first performance. We are on stage for one minute total, but it’s exciting and such an incredible moment, and the fact that it fulfills one of my New Year’s Resolutions is just the icing on the cake.

Please, if you are in London and have a chance to see it, do. Buy tickets by clicking here. Unlike anything I’ve experienced before. But do it quickly because it’s selling out fast! 700 people per night…

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All in all, 2014 is shaping up to be a pretty incredible year. I want to continue to stay present, joyful and experience this amazing world around me. Less drinking wouldn’t be a bad thing either…

How’s it going in your year?

What a wonderful life

My life has been an amazing one (even if there are times I can’t believe that’s true), and this past month has proven just that. These past two days alone:

Portugal – spent this past weekend there. Left on Friday night and got back Sunday night. 150 GBP for flight, accommodations, food, taxis, wine. Hot sun, relaxing, and blue tiles everywhere – what more could a gal ask for?

Met with my friend Cedric and 5 of his friends whom I met in a chat room when I was 15 on AOL. We are still friends to this day, and keep in touch on a regular basis – have seen each other in NY, LA, Baltimore, Lyon, Paris, and now Porto. I love him to death, and 17 years later I still consider him one of my best friends.

Flew back into London on Sunday flying on the “worst” airline called RyanAir – however, proof again that people make the airline/experience. A father, worn out, falling asleep on the plane with his year and a half year old son. Four stewardesses came over at separate times to rock the baby to sleep. It truly takes a village.

Got into London, and started crying – no idea why. It was a full moon – that is the reason, I reckon. Emotions sometimes surprise me and can come out of nowhere. I had just had an amazing weekend with couples who shocked me how stable and lovely they are together.

Walked home from work today – 2 miles. Popped into several pubs on the way home by myself. It’s St Patrick’s Day, after all. The first pub: instantly a waiter asked where I was from when he heard my accent. He was also American. He gave me a 15% off discount card to come back whenever I please.

Second pub, two old ladies watched my bags as I went to the bathroom. Not unusual, but these two ladies had spunk. They were 80 years old, and made me laugh more than I had laughed in a long time.

Checked my email in the pub – my three articles I submitted for BBC America were approved! Including one that when I posted the question on Facebook about feminism that received 117 comments in just a few hours. It should be an exciting post!

Second email 10 minutes later – I left a locket at a person’s house I had met once in 2007 in Los Angeles. Somehow he was doing some spring cleaning and found my card. He emailed me to say that he had found my locket and wanted to mail it to me. He remembered it had sentimental value and inside was a dime. My mother loves dimes, and I do remember that locket. Love that he remembered me.

This past month has been full of surprises – I found myself at a wedding in Dublin to two people who met at a house party I threw in 2011 in Chicago last weekend. I’d love to take credit for their love, but I have a feeling they would have met without me regardless. They are that good together. He said to her that night he was going to marry her, and so they did.

I moved into an apartment in Primrose Hill exactly one month ago today with a lady who I already know will be a friend for life – a lovely American lady from Los Angeles who hung out talking with me until nearly 1am last night about life. I had never known her before a month ago.

I was in Paris three weeks ago visiting Cedric (see above) and his partner before they become fathers to a beautiful baby girl. That weekend, I popped into the pub in Paris I worked in when I lived there nearly 10 years ago, and my old boss just happened to be there for the first time in two weeks. He stopped in to grab a glass of wine before he went to see his mother. He shouldn’t have been there. I hadn’t seen him in 7 years. He just so happens to be in London this week as well – we are going to dinner with another good friend of mine that I met in Paris 10 years ago, James, on Thursday.

Went to my first horse race in London last week, and won some money! Actually I won every race I betted on – unfortunately I only bet 5 pounds per race, but still!

Just when you think things might not be going your way, shit changes and it’s amazing.

This past month has proved that to me – once again. Life is simply wonderful …

The Lady Who…is back!

But this time, she’s the “Lady Who Writes” – much more fitting than the lady who lunches. Don’t you think?

I’ve come back out of my shell, and have started writing again. This time for professional places like BBC America, and a lovely blog called Displaced Nation.

First up, blending weddings on BBC America’s blog Mind the Gap: “Throwing a Perfect Wedding: How to Combine British and American Traditions“. Read this if you’re interested in the subtle differences, and sometimes not so subtle differences, between British and American traditions. Sorry, Scots, it’s mostly referencing the English and the Welsh traditions.

british ladies in hats at a wedding

Second up, ML was kind enough to ask me to write a column on writing a novel! Writing these first two posts actually made me realize how much my location determines how often and how much I write. I knew there was a lack of writing while I was in Chicago, but I didn’t really realize why.

Here’s a part of it (if you want it all, click here):

The odd thing is that I found it difficult to write in my own country. My imagination isn’t sparked like it is when I am abroad, and out of my comfort zone. Living in America (where I’m from), I go through the motions of my day-to-day life without digging deeperand this, in my mind, makes my writing dull and uninspired.

When I’m in Europe, I question more, observe more, and simply write more because I have to in order to survive. My writing in Europe comes almost out of a necessity.

It’s more than that, though. For me, when I’m in Europe, I’m curious about everything around me—I am constantly walking around with a slight tilt of my head, wondering how humans are so much alike and yet so different. I question my own actions and why I do the things I do, because the Brits, the French, the Germansthey don’t act the way I act. Simple phrases I would say without thinking in an American bar, like “double fisting” (to carry and consume two alcoholic beverages simultaneously), can cause serious offense, or fits of giggles, in Britain. Saying my name in France makes people think of a car. Even walking on the sidewalk in England I don’t seem to do right.

When walking becomes a struggle, writing becomes a source of solace.

My next post on the BBC will be about repatriation – what you don’t expect to experience when you return to your own country…

Stay tuned!

Why age goals are nonsense

When I was 8 years old, I told myself that if I wasn’t famous by the time I was 18, then I should give up acting completely and just give up life. When I was in a previous serious relationship, I told myself that if I wasn’t married in 5 years, it was all pointless. When I was 25, I told myself that I needed to settle down in a serious job and find the place I wanted to live for the rest of my life by the time I was 30. When I was 30, I said, well those were kinda silly age goals.

There are so many things wrong with these types of thoughts, I can’t even begin. First of all, how can an 8 year old possibly know what it’s like to be 18, let alone what will happen over the next ten years? Also, what does 5 years of a relationship even mean? It means something different to each relationship and each experience range (notice how I didn’t say age?). For someone who is 21, 5 years could mean a lifetime, whilst someone who is 35 doesn’t have 5 years to test someone out if they want children. Finally, 30 is an age that society puts on us to mean something so much more than it actually does.

At the end of the day, our paths are our paths and putting an erroneous time limit on significant milestones is ridiculous. Goal setting is necessary, and a definite part of success and knowing what to aim for – but time limits are so ridiculous. Time should be more of a feeling than an absolute. Asking ourselves to understand the feeling of when something is over is much more productive than setting an end date before something has even begun. I’m notorious for this fault, and am slowly realizing that I can no longer live my life like this. If I need more time to complete something, I will allow myself more time. Why should I feel completely and utterly useless for not making a completely arbitrary goal that only I know about?

Again, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim for deadlines or goals, but as far as I’m concerned, I need to be a bit less stringent about it all.

The truth of the matter is that I’m finally at an age when I realize that I’m just figuring things out and it’s actually really cool. I don’t need to deny myself those thoughts any longer, or think I’m too young or don’t know enough, or even too old, for that matter. At the end of the day, I’ve led an amazing life with amazing experiences that I can only be so lucky to have experienced.

So, here’s to setting goals, setting deadlines with a clause that gives myself a bit of compassion. Because isn’t that the key to life? We work so hard being compassionate for others, surely we should be just as compassionate to our own selves.

I’m co-hosting for BBC America today!

You won’t see my face on television, but if you log into that social media site known for its 140 characters, you will! Still cool, and would love to have all you Twitter users join (I know, it’s a dirty word, Grampy :)

Please join me @meagan (easy to remember)  or and the hashtag #MindtheChat tonight at 7pm GMT/2pm EST as we discuss the cultural differences between dating across the pond. American and British expats are welcome to join – or anyone for that matter who have an opinion about dating!

You could win your very own Gavin and Stacey DVD collection: http://shop.bbc.com/us/comedy/gavin+stacey-the-complete-collection/invt/16184

Gavin and Stacy DVD Collection

From Ruth Margolis, the host:

I may not have gone on a first date in over a decade but this much I know: dating in Britain happens at night. There’s alcohol involved. And if you don’t end the night with a snog and cursory fumble then it’s safe to assume that one or possibly both parties was more turned on by the cutlery you used at dinner than the person sitting opposite. Here in the U.S., different rules apply.

Click here to read more about the Twitter chat.

Should be a lively discussion!

Join @MindTheGap_BBCA (Wednesday, January 22) at 2 pm ET on Twitter to discuss British vs. American dating rituals. Our guest co-host will be author and blogger Meagan Adele Lopez (@meagan). Tweet your questions using hashtag #MindTheChat for a chance to win a complete collection of Gavin & Stacey episodes on DVD.