BACK FROM LONDON! (Why am I shouting?!)

Mercy, I love love love London England, people! Apart from the weather, which wasn't that bad for the week we were there, but pretty much can be found under the word "sucks" in most dictionaries, and the exchange rate, which can't be blamed on the English, London is fab. Granted, I scarcely saw any of it, having no free time whatsoever other than the four hours a night allotted for sleeping, but still....

Left LAX at 5:30 Monday, September 27. Arrived London on September 28th at 1-ish, made the death march of Britain (get it?!) to get to arrival immigration counter, got muh stamp, and walked another 7 kilometres (!) to meet my driver (!!). After a rather hair-raising escape from Heathrow, arrived at the hotel at 2:30 (sooo nice: Crowne Plaza London -- The City: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/cp/1/en/hd/loncy -- try it!), showered, unpacked, put on a reasonable facsimile of work clothes, then cabbed it over to the office at Canary Wharf to meet "the lawyers" at [my employer's London office], where Lucie had reserved and stocked a war room for us to use to prepare for the arbitration, which was to begin September 30.

Arrived at the office at about 4, cheery greetings for Rob and Eli, who are lovely, then worked for a bit, went for dinner in an empty restaurant at 5:30 (yes, yes, it was a little bit like being a senior citizen, but what the hell, since I hadn't eaten in about 8 hours, I was ready for anything!), and shock of shocks, the FOOD WAS GOOD!

You hear so much about the English and their penchant for ruining anything resembling food ("boiled salads" is the joke Bryan always makes, having last visited the UK in 1977, the darling), and it turns out to be false! Maybe it's the European influence on cuisine lately, or maybe it's the influx of foreigners who've changed palates as well as menus, but we not only ate well that night, we found pretty much everything to be really fresh and well-made. (There was that eensy little worm in my salad that one night at Mosaico, but I didn't eat it, so all's well that ends well, eh?) (Yeah, ew.) (But hey, finding a whole worm in your salad is a HELL of a lot better than finding HALF a worm, n'est-ce pas??) Dinner at Momo's was a standout, Sunday night, I think, and Rob humored me tremendously by accompanying me on the hour-and-a-half walk back to the hotel -- yes, yes, we should have taken Haymarket and wound up on Charing Cross Road, but what the hell, since it was virtually the only exercise and free time the whole week, it was totally worth it. Which is to say, I thought so; I'm not sure Rob would agree.

So let's see, skipping ahead to the rest of the trip, we worked anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day, spending virtually every waking moment together, Eli, Rob, and me, with flying visits from all our witnesses, who were, to a man, great people. It was especially cool to see Connie, who's a living doll; Patrick (with us from Geneva, the scamp), and Paul, whom I've missed (he made the trip from Hong Kong, where he's living the life of Reilly and is not sorry to have put [my employer] behind him, I daresay). The arbitration itself ran from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8, with only Thursday, Oct. 7 off -- Rob & I left that day. What a haul. But it really is true that the people make the job, and I don't regret a minute of it...well, ok, maybe that second big mojito, Wednesday night, but nothing else! (Did I mention I got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night?) (Did I mention that after staying up 'til after 4 on Sunday night, I slept right through the alarm on Monday morning and was 15 minutes late to the hearing, to my eternal mortification?!?!)

Stayed up 'til I'd-rather-not-know-when last night with Rob, drinking and smoking cigars (yoicks), finally relaxing after weeks on end of craziness. It's funny how an experience like going to trial together makes fast friends of people. I just adore these guys from [unnamed big NY law firm], and it was like the Fightertown trial all over again, albeit without the swearing at Howard at 5 a.m. after all-nighter #2.... Man, that was ugly.

All the adventures notwithstanding, it is so good to be home; Bryan missed me like crazy, which is nice, and is thrilled that I'm back. There was much joy at my return. I just got home from work, which I figured was smarter than trying to get back to CA time by going to sleep immediately upon my arrival! But now I'm exhausted, so it's outtie. Late.


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