Archive for the 'London' Category

The Best 24 Hours of 2010 (So Far)

I’ve been thinking about a running list of “reasons I want to go back to Ireland,” which reminded me:

I never told you about the best 24 hours of 2010. So far. It all started 36 hours prior…

Monday, April 26, 10PM, London: I read on The Swell Season’s Facebook page that Glen Hansard, my all-time favorite musician and mascot for the kind of passion with which I want myself and those around me to live, is playing a solo gig in Dublin. On Wednesday. In less than 2 days.

10:45PM: After several IM, in-person, and phone conversations, with me asking, “Exactly HOW crazy do you think it would be for fly to Dublin, like tomorrow…?” I booked a ticket to Dublin on RyanAir. Um, no, it was not £5. The gig was at a private club in Dublin, so I couldn’t get tickets, but was assured by several friendly Dublin-based Glen fans on Facebook that I’d have no problem getting in.

Tuesday, April 27, 9AM, still London: I wake up ridiculously joyful. I turn 31. I find out that the Glen Hansard show is sold out. I receive this news via phone from the only non-lovely Dubliner I will encounter in the next 36 hours. I proceed to celebrate a lovely birthday with lovely friends and am surprised by a VERY lovely homemade cake. I cry a little. Happy tears, shocked at how deeply I love this new branch of my global family. Blessed.

Wednesday, April 28, 11AM: I arrive in Dublin. See lovely airport stories here.

1PM: Armed with an email from an Irish friend-of-a-friend in the know, I stroll up to the Odessa Club. It’s closed. I ring the buzzer. I enter, no one’s there. No one’s even around. “Hellooo…?” I wander around until I find someone. The following dialogue enuses:

JS: Hi! I’m here about the Glen Hansard show.
Odessa Club guy: It’s sold out.
JS: (smiling broadly and twirling hair) Yes, I know, but I was just wondering… What’s your name? Peter. Well, Peter, here’s my story… did I mention it’s my birthday?

1:10PM: Peter acquiesces. He puts my name on the list and says the bouncer will let me in “if there’s room.” I remind him that (I honestly said this) I’m “narrow.”

1:15PM-5:45PM: I fall in love with Dublin, helped along the way by St. Stephen’s Green, a charming used bookstore owner, and Terry.

7:00PM: I have a pint of Guinness at the pub around the corner from the Odessa Club where my friend of a friend said I might find someone trying to sell tickets. I don’t, but I do learn from the bartender that Glen DJs here on Fridays. I write my adventure manifesto, gearing up to have a great night even if I don’t get tickets. I promise myself I won’t cry if I don’t get in. I wipe a tiny tear away at the thought.

7:45PM: I arrive at the Odessa. I glance at the bouncer’s list and don’t see the handwritten name that Peter had added. I start to explain that I’d spoken to Peter, and he’d put me on the list if there was room, and the bouncer replies, “Ay, you must be Jennifer.” He flips to newly typed portion of the list, subheaded “Extra.” Mine is the only name on the list, with the note, “Please let this lady in if there’s room.”

7:50PM: I find a seat on a couch SO close that I have to be careful not to kick Glen when he arrives (around 9). I frantically text and Facebook that “I’m IN! I’m IN!” I thank God several dozen times. I play it cool, sipping my stout, while I squeal like a little girl on the inside. After 25 minutes of hearing some stories from a lone super-fan on my right, I meet two of Dublin’s loveliest boys on my left. They tell me they’d had a bet running about whether I was Glen’s girlfriend since I arrived. I never did figure out which one lost that bet, but I certainly won. They proceeded to extend the most lovely Irish hospitality (kindness and pints) for the rest of the night.

9PM-12AM: Glen plays. FOR THREE HOURS. Mostly off mic and without his guitar plugged in, sitting less than two feet from me. There’s really no describing it. Roughly 140 people in a room. Transcendent.

12:15AM: Paul and Eoin, new Irish friends, convince me I should get a photo with Glen, against my, “I don’t want to bother him,” protests. Paul snaps a shot.

12:16AM: We realize Paul didn’t actually press the button and no photo was snapped.

12:25AM: We try again. Eoin successfully snaps the photo. Glen stops to ask me my name, we chat for several minutes about New York, his Radio City gigs etc. I beam like a giddy schoolgirl.

2:30AM: I walk back to my hostel singing “Heyday” through the streets of Dublin.

The remaining eight hours included too little sleep, an early morning walk, a trip to the airport, and a huge revelation that if God cares enough about me to give me such a huge, joy-filled evening with my favorite musician, who KNOWS what He’ll do when it comes to the significant things in my life?



I woke up the other day overcome by joy.

7:40 a.m. and a great big smile on my face. Laughter in my heart. Really, a giggle. A giddy, girly little laugh simmering on the inside of me to start my day.

There were circumstantial contributions to my condition: It was my birthday, and I’d just booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Dublin to see my favorite musician. (More on that to come.) But there were also circumstantial detractors: I shortly found discovered said concert was sold out, and there is that overriding condition of “unemployment” which can have its moments.

But this went above and beyond circumstance. Joy, joy, joy, joy. Like champagne bubbles dancing inside, nearly rising to the surface in my own little dance on the outside. Deep, abiding joy. Joy that gives me strength and a hope that cannot be shaken.

This joy moved me through the next couple of days. The strength that joy gave me allowed me to make choices to stay in joy. “Aha, problems. Nice try. I have experienced joy, and I will choose to stay there. I am not listening to your discouraging blathering.”

And the thing I’m finding is that when I’m vigilant about a continual choice toward joy on the inside, the circumstances just keep turning my way. Or I care a whole lot less when they don’t. It’s a choice, not a condition resulting from a lucky turn of events. I’m choosing to live empowered in a state of joy. There’s no turning back.

Stopping to Smell the Flowering Tree

I had a “stop and smell the roses” moment yesterday. No, really. They weren’t roses, but gorgeous fragrant flowers on a West London tree. I was rushing off to the Tube station, smiled as I noticed their perfume, and kept walking.

But then I stopped.

As a practical matter, I stopped to pull out my BlackBerry and snap this photo as I felt like there was something I could blog about. But it made me think about the importance of stopping. I could smell the flowers just fine, thank you, while I was on the move. I could see them, appreciate their beauty, smile in response, and allow them to add something to my day.

But then I stopped.

When I stopped, I thought about why I stopped; why the flowers meant something to me. In that moment, I was overcome with a huge rush of gratitude: for spring, for where I am in this season, for the ridiculous and frivolous beauty that God has added to the world (we don’t need flowering trees, do we?). Stopping made me grateful. And being grateful gave me hope that there is more to be thankful for in the season to come. And then I kept moving.

I turn 31 today. This year I’m going to stop more. I’d rather slow down and enjoy what’s before me than pass more territory that goes unappreciated.

All Thumbs is Not So Bad

I just figured out that the WordPress interface works well enough on my BlackBerry. What a wonderful tool we have in the opposable thumb. Armed with one of these little babies (well, two) we can dish out the latest news to friends, disperse advice on the best coffee in London (Caffe Nero for lattes; Pret does a mean Americano), muse on the nuanced societal differences between the UK and the big colony I’m from, and grip tightly to suitcase that will equip me for all these journeys. All with a total in less than six inches of bone, muscle, and flesh. Pretty impressive when you think of it actually.

Technology is wonderful, no doubt. But the thumbs we have to use them? I’ll take them over a smartphone any day..


Where I’ve Been

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