Kenyon College

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Large Continental

Some little things:
  • Tea. I am perhaps more addicted to tea than I am to coffee, if only because tea is more mysterious about its purpose. Think of coffee like a golden retriever with the leash in his mouth, and think of tea like a black cat looking at you plaintively from the windowsill. You know they both want something, but the dog's motives are easier to guess.

    I need several cups of Earl Grey every morning and afternoon, or I will go about clutching my head. If you asked me before coming here if I thought that England would make me go off coffee, I would've laughed at you. Now, look where I am. Relying on tea to get me through the day. In the evening, however, my mood shifts, and I have a selection of tea for every shade of melancholy. Camomile? Peppermint? Lady Grey, the Earl's lighter, sweeter friend?

    The ability of tea to fill in shadows and bring out highlights in any given day is one of the many things I love about living here.

  • Trains. These metal beasts are a comfort in a different way. I stand on the platform, watching the neat and ordered ticking-by of the arrivals and departures. There is something reassuring in it, in hearing the wheeze and puff of the trains as they whine to a stop, sigh as if overtaxed, and push humans out into the drizzle. Something like the rhythm of poetry. There is an order to the operation of trains that, like the pulse of meter, can be felt but not immediately seen.
Thursday, 19 November, 2009.
This day, I have recently said to Ai Binh, holds the single happiest moment of my time here, so far. It is the night when one of my favorite bands, Frightened Rabbit, came to the Lemon Grove.
It was, in a word, glorious. It was, in many words, like this:
They were there supporting Gomez, a band in whom no one of my party showed much interest. However, the opposite seemed to be true for the rest of the crowd, meaning that when we got there at the opening of the doors, there wasn't much competition for standing room to see Frightened Rabbit. Meaning that I, TJ, Logan, Lauren, Sam, and our flatmate Melissa got to stand closer than anyone to these marvelous people. We were mere feet away from Scott Hutchison, the lead singer (though thankfully not situated properly to catch his flung-off beads of sweat). Unfortunately, and this was the only damper on an otherwise perfect night, the people at the door took away our cameras.

But nevertheless, from the first "We're Frightened Rabbit, we're from Scotland," until the last beautiful notes of "Keep Yourself Warm," drifted away, I was enchanted, entranced, in a state of pure musical bliss. I could barely move - usually one is inspired to punch other people when at a concert? - but I was rooted to the spot, transfixed, the music loud and all around.

And afterward, we got to speak to the entire band. Actual conversation! With Frightened Rabbit! I was still a bit loopy from the show, and so remember very little of what I actually said. But I do remember getting my broken drumstick signed (TJ got the other half), and being able to step on a guitar player. Like so:

So, like I said, basically the best thing ever.

There is still much to speak of, so if you'd like, you can take a break at this point. Get a cup of tea. I'll still be here when you get back.

Mama Stone's (again)
I love this place. It just so happens that they have the most delicious chips (but they call them fries, which throws me off, as I have already adjusted to chips) in the galaxy, and also the coolest vibe in town. It also happens that on Tuesday, 24 November, 2009, they hosted an event called Beat Roots, a night of spoken word, comedy, music n all that mixed together. All of us, however, came for Logan's performance with Jessie, and they were scheduled to play last. So we got there early for dinner, which was the right idea as the place filled up quickly as the night wore on, and we now had guaranteed cushions.

Mama Stone's was more packed than I had ever previously seen it. We chilled until Logan and Jessie got up, and then TJ and I went down to the very very front and took pictures. Here is a link to Logan's music, which rocks: Reindeer Johnny and the Hop Scotch Kid
And here are some pictures (please do click for larger versions):


Everyone on the stairs before the posh London party (a big thank you to our hosts!):

Some thoughts (inspired, if not coherent)

Now that it is December, we have been here for a little more than two months. It came to me as I was walking to Boston Tea Party on a silent Sunday morning. I am in England. My home is very far away, and very different to this place. The people who are most important to me are an ocean away, and yet I am here. I am creating something. In Plymouth we saw The Pitmen Painters, a play about coal miners who learn to paint, but also about (to me) how art is about single voices speaking together, and how people go about finding themselves, and expressing that to others, and the difficulty of understanding any of this or making yourself understood. Harry says, "Everybody has their own journey." You set about to create your life, and in doing so, find your own way of looking at things and processing the world.

And we are here, us Kenyon students, doing all this together. It is a properly epic chance to create something, and I'm being completely serious. It needn't be tangible. The Kenyon-Exeter program is about everyone's individual experience together.

This is a side-quest, to throw in a video game analogy. A track that diverts from the main thoroughfare of your life as you know it, but runs parallel, and when you see that thoroughfare through the trees, you'll be looking at it from under the mercurial English sky. Nothing will ever be the same again.

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