Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unexpected Pleasures

Here's a list of some things I love about London that I didn't know about, didn't expect to like or took me by surprise:
  • Not having a car. I enjoy driving (well, most of the time) and I absolutely loved my Prius. It was painful to give it up. But I've adjusted well to not having a car, and all that implies: you can't pick up Ikea furniture without getting a cab or home delivery, you have to limit yourself to small runs at the grocery store, and sometimes you get lost walking around. But you see so much more from the street than you do from a car. I love it.
  • Fresh food. Fresh ingredients just taste better. Not so many preservatives means better tasting food, believe it or not.
  • Living in the big city and being around so many diverse groups has not actually confirmed my stereotypes and prejudices. In many cases it has challenged them. Seeing people of different races, creeds and nationalities struggling every day for the same things I struggle for humanizes them. I take back things I said before about living in the city: this experience is not something you can get in strip-mall suburban America.
  • I've mentioned it before: there are some women who think an American accent is sexy. Who'da thunk it?
  • Things like this.
  • I kind of enjoy carrying an umbrella around with me almost all the time now.
  • Reading on mass transit. I've read more since I arrived here, mostly on the tube and on the bus on the way to and from work, than I have in the last two or three years combined.
  • Great acts of kindness. This is probably a blog post in and of itself, but I've seen complete strangers being extraordinarily kind to each other. So many people living on top of each other requires some sort of unwritten social contract, and it's amazing what I've seen - people helping women with strollers onto busses, people helping elderly people who have fallen down. Clerks just generally being friendly and helpful. Returning someone's wallet or Oyster card after they left it in the store, or it fell out of their pocket. I've seen people being complete assholes of course, but I'm always floored by how kind people here are, often to complete strangers. Even if a drunk stumbles into you, you don't yell, you just say 'steady on mate' and help him on his way. After all - someday that very well could be you.
  • Monmouth Coffee Company. Who knew some of the best coffee in the world is roasted in London?
  • I'm playing less games, but doing more social sorts of things. This can only be a good thing.
  • Photography. Who knew I'd take so many pictures here?
  • My muse. I'm writing more than I have in years. Since college. Since ever, really.
  • Contrary to what Republicans would have you believe, socialized health care does not suck. In fact, it fucking rocks.
This has been a great experience and I really do love it here.

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