It was a special time to be an American in Europe this week.
July 4th was Tuesday. Never have I appreciated the holiday as I did this year. As co-workers asked me about traditions and American history, I felt a present and authentic pride in being American.
My friends and I went to a July 4th pub crawl. Walking to the train on morning of the 4th, I had a simple and childish idea for a costume for the evening festivities, a tea bag headdress. I got to work and shared this idea with my co-workers who didn’t understand, but wanted to. However, later in the afternoon, I got back from lunch and my Greek co-worker had crafted an American flag headband out of the quality stock paper, a lovely moment of foreign aid. I snagged a few tea bags from the community kitchen at work, and right before my friends and I went out, I taped them onto the headband. The finished product was a great success with the army of rowdy Americans crawling through pubs. They championed my cause with shouts of “Tea Bag Boy.” All the attention was welcomed, and many friends were made.
At work, I finally presented my work to the client with my boss, Michael.
He and I stepped onto the elevator headed towards the client and our presentation of their new research program. He looked at me and asked with a smile, “So, where are you sitting in this meeting?” It was a question whose answer was likely to be corrected before entirely finished. My mouth opened slowly, and then he quickly said, “As far away from me as possible.” I did not think to ask why because I knew he was sure to utter the explanation in the following moment. “It’s an old consulting trick. The client is less likely to feel like you are ganging up on them if you disagree.” I began to wear his wry smile too.
The project is continuing forward under my management until I leave in August, and it has been such a fun challenge. I’ll have more updates next week.
My fellow interns and I had dinner with our internship professor/director person, Dr. Feinberg, on Wednesday. He generously treated all of us to dinner with his family at a Thai restaurant in Covent Garden. His two little girls, equally generous, gave us all three rounds of hugs at the end of dinner. He has been a champion to my and others’ experiences this summer, and is the reason for the weekly blog, so on behalf of all the Honors interns, thank you.
Skipping forward to Saturday, it was the London Pride parade, so I was out and about enjoying the West End. It all started at Ole & Stern, a Danish bakery and cafe. I ate a raspberry, marzipan tart that will be remembered until my hair is gone and face is wrinkled.
After my tart, I walked over to the Harold Pinter Theatre to check prices for their evening Hamlet show. The nice man at the box office said the words, “15 pounds.” Sold. I got front row seats with a very, slightly restricted view caveat. Andrew Scott, Moriarty from BBC’s Sherlock, made Shakespeare breathe in his performance as Hamlet.
This specific line from Hamlet in Act II, Scene II captured my mind and wouldn’t let it go even after the play was over.
“I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late — but wherefore I know not — lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air — look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire — why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.”
If you don’t take my barbaric tastes as fit to recommend, read The Guardian’s review of the production.
Hamlet review - an all-consuming marvel
After a sell-out run at the Almeida, Hamlet has transferred to the West End and is an all-consuming marvel. This vigil…
I thought a lot about what it means to be an American this week. My country is so divided, and its leadership is so controversial. It is parched for perspective and dialogue, but our culture seems almost to be split in two. A community is built on a common view of the past, and Americans cannot agree on its past. “Make America Great Again” was a patriotic cry for some, but an offensive dog whistle for others.
The history of America is not one of unblemished greatness, but one of an everlong journey towards “a more perfect union.” It does not feel that way right now, but if we can somehow start to look at the same history together, we can see how Americans of different colors and creeds have persevered through far more bleak and scarce times than ours. I hope my country is able to see that history is history, but that it’s still being written, by us.
Thanks for reading.