How lucky am I? The second time in a year to go to my favorite place on Earth, and this time, no one was barfing all over the Airbnb. (Okay, honestly, nothing could ever beat our trip last Christmas, but that was definitely a low point.)
This trip was for work. My team (the Happiness Hiring team, also known as Athena) met up in London to work on things, and then we went to Manchester for a couple of nights for an event. It was very busy, but what better place to be busy? Plus, we’d just made our three European teammates (Dan, Cécile, and Hannah) travel to Canada for the Grand Meetup, so it was only fair we went to them this time. We’re so kind and generous.
I brought my film camera (the old, beaten up Pentax K1000 that I’ve had since I was about ten) to Whistler, thinking the scenery there would make for much better photos than my backyard. I was sorta right…
I don’t know if the film was not great, or if I wasn’t getting exposure right or what, but these pictures feel a bit muddier and grainier than my last batch. I think the film was ISO400 this time as opposed to ISO200, which would certainly explain the grain. And I bought a new battery in Whistler but somehow the meter kept konking out. So maybe I just need more practice? Better film? A fresher battery? A less beat up camera? (Though this isn’t a hobby I want to invest a ton of money in.)
(None of these photos have been edited digitally in any way. The negatives were scanned for me at the photo lab.)
It’s also interesting to compare these with the photos I took with my phone. Maybe I’m just used to digital photography. I want to argue that the film pictures feel warmer or something, maybe I’m just hopelessly nostalgic or fooling myself.
Film left, iPhone right.
I look at the left photo and it just feels nice, but then I look at the right one and I think “oh yes, that’s much better.”
Who knows? Maybe I just need to try with better film, for a start.
I’m in Whistler again for our big company meetup, and there were rumors of aurora borealis. A giant group of us trekked to a lake tonight to see if we could catch the Northern Lights, but alas, they never showed up. But boy, did we see a lot of stars. (Click to see larger.)
And here’s a version the the exposure turned up – there’s the Milky Way!
If only I’d remembered to write this post yesterday…
Anyway, just wanted to share my memories of the day Princess Diana died. Not because we were close friends or anything, but because I (along with Kristina and Anne) was literally in the middle of it.
In May 1997, we moved to London with student work visas, which allowed us to work in Britain for six months. Our initial plan was to stay in London a few months, make some money, then spend some time backpacking around Europe. Well, after being in London for a few weeks, we decided to forgo the backpacking bit and just stay in London as long as humanly possible.
It was idyllic (I mean, with twenty years of rose-tinted hindsight.) We found a tiny flat in South Kensington, just off Gloucester Road, and a short walk to Kensington High Street, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and all that fun stuff. We found temp jobs (for a company called Office Angels, which is just…does it even still exist? Yes it does. (Maybe I’m being sexist by thinking it’s sexist. Who said men can’t be angels?)
Anyway, Kristina and I worked in offices around the West End, and Anne worked in a pub. We made friends. We spent our money on beer and rent. It was a glorious summer. Britpop (my favorite music, I was obsessed) was in full swing, the weather was gorgeous, we were young! We had no responsibilities!
One night, we got a phone call in the middle of the night. Or maybe early the next morning (look, it was 20 years ago, okay?) from one of Kristina’s friends, asking if we’d heard the news. We hadn’t, because Diana was killed in the middle of the night for us. We woke up to the news of her death.
It was sad, of course. But what was nuts was how close we were to everything. The tube station we took to work was the Gloucester Road station. If you left the station and walked down Gloucester Road, you’d eventually come to the front door of Kensington Palace. And that’s what everyone (or so it seemed) in the United Kingdom was doing. Walking from the station to the palace, with flowers.
It was nearly impossible to cross the street to get to the pub. Or to walk against the tides of people to get to the station. It was crazy. The front of the palace was a tide of bouquets. Flowers, notes, stuffed animals, everything.
A few days later, Kristina and Anne took a long-planned trip to Amsterdam (where they had originally met.) I was too broke, so I stayed behind. I remember thawing our tiny freezer with a hair dryer, and then leaving the flat to go watch the funeral procession down Kensington High Street.
Seeing the flowers with “Mummy” on top of the casket was the saddest thing in the world.
That’s about it. After it passed, I went back to the flat and probably watched it on TV. I don’t know. And that’s pretty much the whole story. Not exciting, but it’s kind of…interesting to have been so close to it.
The primary reason we planned this trip to Virginia was Kristina and Mike’s 10th anniversary back in March. Mike texted me to ask if I’d go to the Coldplay concert with Kiki if he bought the tickets. So at first I thought I’d take a weekend trip by myself. But then airfare was super cheap and the boys love to see their cousins, so I made it a long trip to take up time until school starts.
Anyway, so while the boys stayed with Aunt Jenny and Uncle Rob, Kristina and I made the drive to the stadium in Maryland where the concert was being held. She goes there often for Redskins games, so she got us all set up to tailgate before the show in the parking lot, just like they do before games.
So fun! We went to Wegman’s the day before and stocked up on so many yummy snacks.
Yes, even a little wooden table because we are fancy. We also made a jar of margaritas and brought some hard seltzer. Delish!
After we snacked and people watched, we headed into the stadium where we had amazing seats on the ground. We were only about 10 seats from the part of the stage that extended way into the crowd.
We heard lots of great songs and some new ones that I didn’t know (should have prepared better.) The show was really colorful and fun with light up wristbands and fireworks and lasers and SO MUCH CONFETTI. EEEEEEE so awesome!
Check out this slow-mo video I took during one confetti storm: