Americans Go to a Pub

OldEnglishB

The single, most rewarding trip of my life was in the summer of 2013, when I lived in the outskirts of London, England. I had traveled the 3,459-mile trip to take my Shakespeare classes at Kingston University, where we visited the Globe Theater and experienced British culture. We stayed in flats in a village called Kingston-on-The-Thames; most days consisted of waking up, walking to lecture in the morning, and taking the train into the heart of London for lunch and excursions. I arrived on July 3rd, and had my first silly culture shock when I realized there would be no fireworks, no parties, no anything for my country’s independence day, a tradition I had celebrated the last twenty-one years of my life.

But thoughts of July 4th quickly slipped my mind. I was enthralled with a modern city in an ancient setting, and enjoyed every waking moment of my schooling and getting lost in London with my newly acquainted friends. It was almost like a cliché movie moment, a perfect “holiday” as the British would call it. And no matter what they tell you about London, it was anything but rainy, cloudy, or cold that summer—the average day was about 98 degrees and sweltering. We even had the (hot) sunny weather on our side.

I could handle the heat though. I was drunk off of the historical city and sometimes quite literally, drunk off of their drinks. Whether it was lunch or dinner, the pubs would have a steady flow of customers coming in for bangers and mash and a Guinness. It was cheap, and it was good. Every college student’s dream. On the first day of my Shakespeare class, my professor smirked at all of us and said, “You want to experience British culture? Go to the pub.”

One evening after class, my friend Jess and I decided we were going to walk from our flat to a nearby pub called The Coronation Hall. It was a fifteen-minute walk past local grocers, two petrol stations, an overpriced pub, and the local train stop. The cheap drinks and location made Coronation Hall “the spot” within days of us arriving at Kingston University. The pub is on the lower part of a two-story building, the name itself etched out in gold cursive against a black backdrop. The storefront is all windows, and you can see the boisterous crowd from the street.

Once inside, it opens up to a large hall littered with high tops and booths. Everything, from the bar, to the tables, to the ceiling, is made from a light, cherry wood. Paintings, photographs, and signs from all eras clutter the walls, as though you are imbedded in a 3D collage.

Being Americans, Jess’s and my accent stood out. This generally gave the locals some excitement, and they seemed to like interacting with us when we went out. Coronation Hall guaranteed drunken discussions of one another’s countries, giggling at little culture shocks—“New Jersey? Like the Jersey Shore? Is it really like that there?” “No, most people don’t call the bathroom the ‘loo’”—and simply appreciating the differences of one another.

Sure enough, after we ordered our beers and found a high-top table to sit at, a gentleman in his late fifties eyed us for a few moments before walking over.

“Are you American students? You sound like Americans.”

“Yes. We’re studying here for a few weeks,” I said as I sipped my Guinness.

“Whereabouts? I have relatives from California to New York.”

“Wisconsin,” Jess interjected.

“New Jersey,” I said.

“That’s by New York, right?” The man leaned on our high top between the two of us. I nodded. “I remember 9/11. Hearing about that. Horrible stuff. You might have been too young.”

“I was nine. I remember it. My dad was sent down to Ground Zero to film it for the news.” I pictured my mother’s panic that morning. The towers falling on the screen. The sound of the air force fighter jets rumbling above the house, too late to do anything.

“It’s a tragedy. Whenever I meet New Yorkers, I think of it. Really horrible. We have had terrorism here too, but not on such a grand scale.”

“Yes, it was horrible.” I didn’t know what else to say to this man. I felt a wave of strange protectiveness seep over me: pride for my country, a city I love, and the Americans that died. This was not discussing what “football” was versus “American football,” and this wasn’t a pop culture reference. My skin flushed from the beer and the identity this man gave me. Amy, American student, New Yorker, witness of terrorism in her backyard.

“England supports America’s anti-terrorism efforts.” He politely excused himself and walked away.

Jess and I exchanged looks. We are Americans.

Music Mondays: “Apparently” by J.Cole

I’m late posting today. Technically, as I’m typing this, I’m watching the little clock on the upper right hand corner of my screen tell me that it’s now Tuesday. Yup. Well, I have to share the song I’ve been loving recently. It’s not just “Apparently” by J.Cole, though. I’m completely, 100% in love with J.Cole’s new album, 2014 Forrest Hills Drive. “Apparently” is the only current music video, so I thought I would share. He’s a genius. I love that he took a chance and did no features on the album – it’s all Cole. I also really love the song Love Yourz. Definitely take the time to really appreciate and listen to J.Cole’s words. He’s telling us all to wake up.

Up And Over

Up and Over

I felt the sweat perspiring on my forehead, and held in a groan as I saw the long line of customers waiting for their iced coffees and lattes. An old man shuffled his way in front of my register and peered at the menu in front of him. The young woman behind him tapped her foot impatiently. Only two more hours, I thought to myself.

“I’ll just have a cup of black coffee,” he said. I punched in the code on the screen and reached my left hand out for the three dollars he held between his aged fingers. His crisp blue eyes widened as he saw the pink, freshly healed inch-and-a-half gash on my arm. I looked away and pulled my arm back quickly. It was the first week without my bandage, and I had specifically asked my manager if I could be the one making drinks, to avoid the customers’ looks. That didn’t work out. I saw her now, throwing ice into plastic cups, slamming buttons on the espresso machine, and calling out finished orders to the Starbucks fanatics who were waiting.

“What happened there?” the old man asked. I looked up and saw him staring, still.

“It was an accident.” I felt my pale skin flushing, but now it wasn’t only because of the heat.

“It’s a shame. You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.” He smiled, kindly, though the comment slapped and stung my cheek. He shuffled off with his coffee after wishing me a good day, and the young woman behind him exhaled loudly before rattling off her order to me.

“Iced caramel macchiato—”

You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

            You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

            You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

* * *

“Amy, it’s okay. You just have to put your foot between the holes in the fence, and push yourself up. Use your legs. Just go up and over,” my best friend, Nikki, instructed from the other side of the fence. My eyes traveled up the black fence and noticed the spokes at the top. Nikki and her sister stood on the other side, looking from me to the street and back again. A police siren rang in the distance—were they coming for us? Did the town pool system have an alarm? It was late, about 11 o’clock at night, and the streetlights in the distance showed no cars passing.

My adrenaline pumped recklessly as I stuck my foot into one of the fence holes. My fingers wrapped themselves around the black wires and I lifted. My muscles, out of shape, screamed in protest, and the wires bit painful wedges into my hands. I lifted, tugged, and pulled my way to the top. I raised my torso and, without thinking, swung my legs over the top of the fence and sat on the fence’s spokes. Pain ripped through my body as the spokes pierced into my butt and thighs.

“Shit!” I screamed. My body reacted without me—I shot up, into the air, awkwardly trying to hold onto the fence as my body struggled to get away from the sharp spokes. I was a tumbling mess of limbs, my arms and legs moving so quickly and haphazardly that I must have looked like a whirl of chaos. As I began to fall, I reached out for the fence one last time with my left arm, only to feel it graze one of the spokes on the fence. I hit the ground, somehow landing on my two feet. Nikki and her sister bit back awkward laughter, coupled with concern in their eyes.

“Are you okay?” Nikki asked, as I shakily took a step. My left arm was burning. I looked down and held back vomit. The white skin of my arm peeled open, with rose-red blood spilling onto the summer grass. Blood slipped down my pale legs too. The police sirens blared again. And there it was, my foolhardy teenage summer, forever carved into my arm.

Music Mondays: “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj ft. Beyonce

I’m late posting this today. I’m *trying* to study for my last two finals that I have tomorrow, but as usual, I’m procrastinating.

My first thought when I heard of this song was “yes! Another Beyonce & Nicki song! Flawless was my shit.” I’m feeling Nicki’s whole album right now. I loved the features on it too – B, Ariana Grande, Meek Mill, Drake, etc…but this one right here. Definitely something I’ll bump before going out with my girls. #FeelingMyself

Music Mondays (On a Thursday): “Her” by Majid Jordan

Welp, it’s not Monday, but here is the much delayed “Music Monday” that I owe you guys.

I’ve written about Majid Jordan before, and I have to say now I’m a huge fan. They are considered an R&B and alternative hip-hop duo that met at the University of Toronto. Majid is the vocalist, and Jordan is the one who produces the beats. Originally, the duo called themselves Good People, but then proceeded to combine their names. According to MTV, they helped produce Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and Beyonce and Drake’s “Mine.”

Majid Jordan just has a chill, eclectic sound with soft vocals and pretty dope beats. I personally think Majid Jordan is much more talented than PARTYNEXTDOOR, who is also signed to OVOSound/Warner Brothers with Drake. Not to throw shade on PARTY—I love his beats, but vocals, not so much. Even if Majid Jordan never blows up as mainstream, I think they will definitely contribute a lot to the music industry in terms of producing and experimental beats.

My current favorite song by Majid Jordan is Her. I chose this song in particular to share today because Majid Jordan dropped the music video for the song this past Monday, December 8th. It’s all black and white, and filled with optical illusions. To me, it’s art. Very trippy. Also, Majid is pretty cute, isn’t he? Take a peek for yourselves.

Ooops, I’m back.

I have been pretty negligent with The Purple Album in the last few weeks. I think I have a pretty fair excuse – I’m officially done with my undergraduate career as of next Tuesday, December 16th. As I’m writing this, I just put the finishing touches on a 25 page creative nonfiction portfolio that I am handing in at 4 o’clock today. I also handed in another 8 page literary analysis paper this morning on Their Eyes Were Watching God. That is officially the last paper I wrote as an English major. It’s crazy.

All semester I was pushing for these last two weeks. I wanted to be done, start working full-time and get on with it already. As I’m actually here, I’ll be the first to admit I’m actually pretty scared. I’ve known college for the last 4-5 years. I’ve been in the education system since I was 5 years old. Now I’m finally done, unless I go to graduate school or law school (not looking forward to taking the GRE’s or the LSATs). My life is “starting.” But I don’t want to start working on my resume (re-vamping it), or looking at job/internship postings, or worrying about 401k, savings, moving out…I just want to crawl into my bed and sleep and watch a shitload of Netflix.

I also want to get back onto this blog. That’s going to be easier for me now with more free time to work on projects (blog, writing) that I want to work on, not just things I need to hand in.

Hope you’ve all been enjoying your wintery December, and been listening to all of this great new music that’s coming out. Who coped the new J.Cole album yet?